Peregrines (Parts 4) TITLE: Peregrines (4/?) AUTHOR: Maureen S. O'Brien EMAIL: email@example.com ARCHIVE: yes, please. SPOILER: anything through 4th season. RATING: PG CONTENT: Skinner/other CLASSIFICATION: CS SUMMARY: X-Files/Profiler/Due South crossover. Serial killer Jack-of-All-Trades causes problems for the X-Files, the VCTF, and the RCMP. DISCLAIMERS: see part 1 AUTHOR'S NOTE: Still dedicated to Joy Parker, because she keeps asking me about it. This thing was supposed to be done a long time ago.... -------------------------------------------------------- Peregrines, Part 4 ....Pairs are sometimes cooperative when hunting during the breeding season.... -- Regina Peregrine Falcon Project, "Description" CANADIAN EMBASSY, WASHINGTON DC She'd played guest-of-honour long enough. It was time to do her job. Meg slipped out of the room. She could be inconspicuous when she tried, and none of the distinguished Washington lawmen noticed her going. The only one who might have, she decided, was Walter Skinner, and he'd just been called into a huddle by the VCTF SAC, Bailey Malone. So. Let's see how my people have been doing. Out in the hallways, some of her people stood watching in their dress uniforms -- just making sure noone went into restricted areas. Others guarded the doors, just in case. The one at the main entrance kept tabs on which guests had come and gone. Everything seemed fine. Her second-in-command smiled. He was going to impress his new boss tonight! But something started to bother her. What was it? Had she seen something wrong and only noticed it unconsciously? She frowned and continued her inspection until she reached its end. The monitor room for the video cameras. The quietest post. She paused as she started to open the door. It was very quiet tonight. There should have been a little more noise. She motioned to her second. He didn't understand at first. Too slow, part of her thought. Getting soft at this posting. Then he backed her up, and she opened the door, careful to stay out of any possible line of fire from within. Silence. The lights were on, but the video monitors and the radio were off. Silently, Meg and her second checked out the room, drifting from cover to cover like ghosts. Nothing. Nothing but the monitor's very dead body under the video desk, and a sheet of paper on the empty chair. Meg looked grim. She needed those monitors for security, but she also needed to preserve the crime scene. "I want pictures of the exact position of every piece of equipment. I want someone to monitor this place. Have them wear gloves, and tell them to touch as few things as possible." "Where will you be, ma'am?" "I'll be downstairs informing the ambassador of what's occurred. And finding an expert on this killer." "You know who did it?" "Perhaps." She hurried downstairs to the library. Her people had seen Malone bring Skinner there, where Waters and the two X-Files agents waited. They stopped talking and turned to her as she entered. She felt as if she had intruded on some private matter. "Assistant Director," she began, signalling everyone that this was business, "with your permission I would like to consult the VCTF." "Of course," Skinner replied, almost startled. "What's happened?" "One of my people has been killed. And I believe Jack-of-All-Trades may have done it." --------------------------------------------- PHONE CONVERSATION BETWEEN DETECTIVE RAYMONDO VECCHIO AND CONSTABLE BENTON FRASER. CHICAGO, ILLINOIS THE PREVIOUS NIGHT [Fumbling pick up of phone] [Groan] "I'm not even gonna ask who it is, 'cause there's only one guy in Chicago who'd call me this time of night. Whaddaya want?" "Hello, Ray. I apologize for waking you, but it was an emergency." "What is it this time?" "Victoria came by." [Phone bangs on something. Probably dropped on floor.] "Hello? Hello?" [Phone retrieved.] "Ray, are you there?" "I'm here. Victoria's back? Jesus, Benny! Are you okay?" "I'm fine. And before you ask, I have already informed the authorities. However, from what she said and from certain non-verbal clues, I believe that Victoria may be carrying a grudge against Meg." "Jesus. Poor Dragon Lady. Have you warned her yet?" "I haven't been able to locate her and speak with her personally. I called the embassy and left a message for Meg, but somehow I doubt that she'll receive it. The person taking the message did not seem to take it very seriously." "What! What'd you tell them?" "That I believed a fugitive murderer, Victoria Metcalfe, was heading for the District, and that Inspector Thatcher's life might be in danger. And then they asked me for my name and number, so I told them." "Oops. You shouldn'ta told 'em who you were." "Why not?" "Uh, Benny, you got Inspector Gerard convicted of murder and a buncha other stuff." "After he killed my father, yes. You were there." [Sighs.] "Yeah, I was. And do you remember what how the RCMP rewarded you for catching their crooked cop?" [Silence] "Look, Benny. You did right catching the bastard. But there's probably a lot of Mounties who still figure you shouldn't have gone after another red-suit. Right? And from what Dragon Lady's said, you've got a rep for being weird. So if the Mountie you talked to believed any of that load of crap, he probably threw that message into File 13. Capish?" "Understood." [Clears throat.] "We've got to get to the District of Columbia as quickly as possible." "Well, you can try calling the airlines...but I don't think we're gonna get a flight." "Well, Ray, I've found that the airlines usually leave a few seats open for just this sort of emergency. They're really quite helpful in time of need." [mutters] "As long as the ticket agent's female...." "What was that?" "Nothing. I better call Welsh and tell him what's going on. See ya, Benny." "Goodbye, Ray." ---------------------------------------------- CANADIAN EMBASSY, WASHINGTON DC The video room had been carefully photographed. Now Mounties were bagging evidence, supervised by the VCTF. "I don't suppose you have a black light here." "I'm afraid not," Meg apologized. "Oh, well. We'll take it over to the Hoover Building and see what little message Jack left for us this time." Bailey frowned. "Wonder what he has against Mounties." Scully was looking at the body. "There doesn't seem to have been a struggle...cause of death isn't obvious." Mulder had followed Scully in, and noone had stopped him. "Poison? Just a very small wound?" "No telling, Mulder. Wait till we get this back to an autopsy bay. Then we'll see." The Canadian ambassador bustled in. "What's going on here? How did this killer get in when you were handling security?" He paled as he saw the body, then rallied. "Inspector, this embassy is part of Canada. Why is the FBI here?" Meg squared herself. "The RCMP does have jurisdiction. However, our people won't be able to get here from Ottawa for almost a day. By that time, the trail may have gone cold, and much evidence degraded. I thought it best to enlist the FBI to work under my supervision." She paused a moment. "Tonight's theme was cooperation, after all." Scully smiled so that only the body could see. Mulder was smirking openly, so she poked him one. The VCTF, as manifested in Sam and Bailey, did their best to ignore the politics; they could feel Jack close by, and that was far more important. Skinner stepped a little bit closer to Inspector Thatcher. Just a little reminder that ambassadors should be polite when high-level American lawmen are in the room. "Jack obviously has no respect for borders, Ambassador. But we at the FBI feel honored that the Inspector trusts us enough to request our assistance in this matter. We will do our best to respect that trust and act as good neighbors should." *For God's sake, our countries are allies!* he didn't say. *Pull your head out of your ass before Jack comes along and cuts it off!* "Ah...thank you, Assistant Director." He looked nervous. "Well. I saw that security has been increased." "Yes. I'm afraid that won't help us, however. Jack either has very good connections or is extremely adept at forgery. He didn't crash this party, sir. He probably had an invitation." "He could be anyone, then." "That's the problem, yes." The Ambassador looked nervous again, and who could blame him? "I'll leave it in your hands, then. And keep me posted on your progress." He left. Meg turned to Skinner. "Thank you. That little speech helped." Skinner looked at her. "Is this going to cause problems for you?" "Nothing that I can't handle." Probably. Canada didn't like to look dependent on the US, and some fallout was bound to occur. He sighed. "Damn politics. Well, you let your people know that I said we have no problem giving you the credit if we help catch the bastard. Not that I think we will, mind you." "Thank you again." She smiled wryly. "Don't say our party didn't have interesting guests." The other Mounties looked up, startled. Jokes from the fabled Dragon Lady? Skinner chuckled. The four other FBI agents looked up in shock. Was this their boss? Scully and Mulder glanced at each other. Mulder bent down, ostensibly to examine a bit of carpet. Scully knew better. She was the only one who could hear his monotone singing. "....Skinner and Thatcher, sittin' in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G." ---------------------------------------------- INSPECTOR MARGARET THATCHER'S OFFICE CANADIAN EMBASSY, WASHINGTON DC Victoria looked at her handiwork with satisfaction. A few incriminating pieces of paper had been tucked into files that Little Miss Inspector Do-Right would never have to touch. Earlier that day, she'd set up an account in Thatcher's name; Victoria would periodically deposit strange lump sums and, after a while, take them out again in equally large amounts. After a few months, when the frame was solid, she'd leak the story to a reporter or anonymously call the Mountie who hated her the most. She felt something cool on her neck. "Don't turn around. Don't move." She froze. She was no fool; years in prison had made her a survivor. "Victoria Metcalfe. What should I do with you? You started as a mere bank robber, but you made yourself into something more. Intriguing." "How do you know that?" "Constable Fraser left a warning for Inspector Thatcher that you might be dropping by." "So she told you to watch her office." Her voice was bitter. "Not at all." The man behind her sounded amused. "The Inspector never got the message. The man who took the message gave it only to me, and now he's dead. So sad. I bribed him to let me in, but he'll never get to enjoy the fruits of his labor." "Who are you?" she whispered. "If I told you that, I'd have to kill you." He laughed shortly. "I think I like you, my dear. Not as much as my lovely Sam, but you'll do." He lowered his gun. "You're letting me go?" She turned slowly. The man behind her looked incredibly nondescript, but something told her that he was in disguise. "Not at all. You have nowhere to go." He bowed. "You may know me by my nom du guerre. Jack of All Trades." "You're a killer." "So are you, my dear Vicky. I believe the term is 'spree killer'. Multiple killings within a short period of time, all stemming from the same stress point? In your case, your desire to even accounts with Constable Fraser. I'm not sure what to call your frames of Detective Vecchio, the Constable, and now the dear Inspector. But I admire your work. It's given me a few ideas for later." He smiled. "It's so good to be able to talk shop with a sympathetic ear. Don't worry. I have no reason to kill you. You haven't cut into my territory. But security is very tight. It would be highly useful if I could walk out with a lovely woman on my arm. And your date seems to have abandoned you for the charms of a platinum blonde. So, if I could offer you an escort? And perhaps dinner afterward. All this stalking gives me an appetite." Victoria thought hard. She really really didn't want to spend quality time with some crazed serial killer. On the other hand, it really wouldn't be a good idea to cross a crazed serial killer. And at least with him, she'd know where she stood at all times: at risk. "I believe I'll take you up on that, Jack." She offered him her arm. He took it, and she managed to suppress a shiver. "Then come along, my dear. The night is young. And we have much to talk about." --------------------------------------------- Maureen S. O'Brien firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.dnaco.net/~mobrien/ --------------------------------------------- The ticket agent watched the terminal nervously. She was used to seeing employees from all kinds of federal agencies. And it didn't bother her that the four FBI agents out there were "carrying". So what was it? She looked at them again and felt the tendrils of a poem begin to grow from her brain, as they often did in these lonely predawn hours. Dark trenchcoats on them all. The blond woman with the look of pained surprise etched in her wide watchful eyes and parted lips even while she slept. The hulking man with the gentle smile, whose fedora spoke fluent Dashiell Hammett. The other man, too hyper but brown and haunted, and the other woman, crowned with fire, still as a corpse. Fatality hung about them. Surely they sought some criminal, desperate and driven. Would they find their destiny or death? She scribbled and scribbled and scribbled. Mulder looked up at the woman at the ticket desk. She froze. He tried a smile. She looked stricken and looked away. "Is there a sign on my forehead that says 'Spooky Mulder'?", he wondered with annoyance. "They put the shy people on the night shift," Malone told him. "Why don't you get some sleep? Your partner is." "Scully's the one who gets to help cut up Canadians tomorrow. I'm the one who has to face my mother tonight." "Sam's asleep, too." "She must be the smart one." ----------------------------------------------- If you'd like to take a look at the meet site, try the National Shrine web page. Sorry, folks; I like the National Cathedral, but I love the Shrine. It grows on you. --------------------------------------------- SOMEWHERE ALONG THE BELTWAY WASHINGTON D.C. AREA "We are the yin and the yang, my dear Vicky. You are the science of murder, committing your crimes in specific ways to avenge specific grievances. I am the art of murder, constantly finding new techniques and creating new pictures to fascinate the eye and disturb the heart." Jack paused. "Don't you agree?" "Of course." Without turning to look, Jack released the stickshift and backhanded her across the mouth. "Don't lie to me, Vicky. 'Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord'," he intoned. Victoria Metcalfe fingered her lip and said nothing. She was beginning to think that she should have screamed for the Mounties as soon as she saw Jack. Yes, she would have been arrested. Yes, they would have sent her to prison for murder and robbery. She didn't care, somehow. Prison had had crazies, but nobody as bad as him. But she couldn't show him fear. He'd get off on her fear, and then she'd be dead. Her mind worked furiously. "I was just trying to be polite," she said smoothly. "After all, I am your guest." "That's true," Jack mused. Victoria tried not to laugh. He really was thinking about it. "A social lie. A little white lie, as they say. Hmm. I suppose so." He turned and looked into her eyes, while Victoria tried to forget that they were going 75 miles per hour without Jack's eyes on the road. "But don't lie to me again." "Fine," she replied. "I'll consider that a warning." He nodded, satisfied, and turned back to the road. And his musings out loud on the nature of crime. God. He was nuts. She wished she could take a deep breath or sigh in relief, but she'd better not. She had to keep him talking. As long as he was talking, things were okay. --------------------------------------------- [progress of investigation. Note left by Jack.] [Mulder and co. go to CT.] [Meet set up. Vicky sent to meet by Jack.] [Fraser races to basilica to save Meg from Vicky, not knowing it's Scully who's going in.] --------------------------------------------- BASILICA OF THE NATIONAL SHRINE OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION, WASHINGTON DC THE FOLLOWING DAY Scully looked around her in disbelief. What is this fascination criminals have with churches? Why can't we meet in Wal-Mart? "Coming, Agent Scully?" "Yessir." She walked a little faster to keep up with Skinner's long strides. The gigantic bulk of the crypt level of the National Shrine weighed on her, making her feel her shortness far more than usual; the 50's era decor made her feel far younger. This was her father and mother's Catholic Church, the one (in America, anyway) with massive amounts of money, parochial schools full of children, and St. JFK, President and Martyr. She looked at that bust as they passed by. Mm. Better not make that crack at home. She didn't hate that Church. Some people did, and were still rebelling against it all these years later. Some kept trying to get it back. She barely remembered it. She had been born after Vatican II, into a Church excited about reform and scared of change. And there had been plenty of change. She remembered how her mother and father had loved to boast that the Church was the same wherever you were: same Mass, same language, same beliefs. But on the bases and everywhere else, the Mass' format had changed for the first time since the 1600's. The priests and nuns all began to act and dress just like the laypeople. The fundamental beliefs of the Church were challenged by some and reinterpreted by nearly everyone. And the language of the Mass was English, not Latin -- unless it was in Spanish, for the Hispanic people on base. That was her Church. It had been almost disappointing for her when the pace of change had begun to stabilize. Was that why she had stopped going to church, six years ago? She had been at Quantico then. Had it been the pace she'd been maintaining? Had she just been too tired to get out of bed in the morning? Had it been Jack Willis, or Jack Willis leaving her? She still wasn't quite sure. But somewhere along the way, she had lost the urge to get out of bed Sunday morning or head over to church Saturday evening. Spiritually...she was at least as close to God as she had ever been. She had her ups and downs in that respect, and the downs were far lower. But whenever she and Mulder were in danger, God seemed as close as her partner, and listened far better when harangued. But there you are, she thought, as an old woman, a mother, and two rambunctious little boys nodded to them as Skinner and she passed. It's just Mulder, God and me against the world, and not the entire Body of Christ in all its pewsitting, handshaking, under-breath- singing, baby-in-the-back-wailing glory. And suddenly she missed it. She missed non-holidays, Sundays in Ordinary Time, the priest in green vestments and the altarboys' sneakers peeking out from under their robes. Then she remembered. There were official altargirls now, at all the Masses and not just the ones at girls' schools and 'liberal' parishes. Did they wear sneakers, too, or did their mothers make them wear flats? Or even, God help them, high heels? She had to smile at the thought. They were in the crypt church now. It looked like it had been transplanted from Byzantium. The fact that it was basically a basement had not stopped the designers from going overboard. In fact, 'too much and too many' was the mission statement for this whole place. Too much gold, too many mosaics. Too much iconography, too many statues and pictures and symbols to absorb at once. You had to examine each part separately, while the overwhelming whole built up around you until you were part of the mosaic yourself. Maybe that had been it. Maybe it had been the people. There were so many people in her life at Quantico -- students, fellow instructors, bosses, secretaries...she was a friendly person, she hoped, but she needed her privacy. And in church, whenever she tried to get private with God, she hadn't been able to shut the world out the way she used to. There were just too many people, each needing and wanting and yearning as much or more than she did. Maybe she hadn't turned her back on Mass or Catholicism, so much as the Church herself. And now? How can you shake hands with people who've never touched a dead body? How can they grant you peace, and what peace can you grant them when the Consortium is out there? It was like lying. It made her feel like some kind of whited sepulchre, all rotted inside. Contaminated. She should have a sticker marked "Dangerous to know" on her head, so no civilians got close enough to get shot. Leper, unclean.... But that was the funny thing. In Hoover's time, the FBI had been full of the young Irish Catholic men he'd recruited into his Bureau. He wasn't either, but he'd believed in their abilities in a time when the Irish were still discriminated against in every area of endeavor. The FBI had become a secular version of the priesthood -- more than a job, a vocation. Even now, there were more Irish names than you could shake a stick at. And she was one of them. Funny, that. She had felt a sinking feeling, years ago when she was arguing with Ahab, when she'd realized how proud her father would have been if one of his sons had joined the G-Men. It had never occurred to her that he wouldn't be proud of his daughter. But he thought she had turned her back on medicine, wasted all her training and her time. And so he had turned his back a little on her. And then, she thought, I turned my back a little on God. She grimaced. It seemed pretty stupid if you put it like that. Childish. She had never given up on God; she had just stopped going to His family dinners. But the more she thought about it, the more she wondered. Ahab and Starbuck, chasing that big white whale. Maybe she'd ditched the Pequod's crew and gone off on her own whale hunt. Maybe that had been a mistake. Maybe. --------------- [meet set up during tail end of Mass, so that Vicky can escape in the outgoing crowds.] ---------------------------------------- Peregrines are powerful, streamlined birds, capable of soaring to heights of 600m and are among the world's swiftest birds, flying at speeds of more than 200km/h. Peregrine falcons are expert hunters feeding on songbirds, shore birds, waterfowl, sea birds and pigeons, all of which are caught in flight. The peregrine is anatomically specialized for hunting by direct pursuit in open areas. The prey often tries to escape by gaining altitude but the peregrine uses its speed to stay above the prey, and then dives, killing the prey by a direct blow of the closed fist. In addition to speed the peregrine may use the element of surprise -- swooping from the direction of the sun or suddenly appearing from behind a cliff, or around the corner of one of our sky scrapers. ....The Arctic peregrine falcon (Falco Peregrinus tundrius) occurs across the wide arc of tundra from the Mackenzie Delta to Hudson Bay and Ungava, and north to Baffin Island. This subspecies is listed as vulnerable. ....Pairs are sometimes cooperative when hunting during the breeding season. Peregrines, and particularly the Arctic peregrines, occasionally prey on small mammals such as lemmings. On the wintering grounds, peregrines predominantly prey on migratory shore birds. In the breeding season, falcons nest on a cliff ledge, cliff top, a ledge or top of the tallest building is also preferred, preying on pigeons in nearby parks. Occasionally peregrines may nest on the ground. ....Peregrines rarely breed before three years of age. The average life span is four to five years but individuals have been known to live much longer. ....Peregrines are predators at the top of the food chain, and accumulate high levels from their prey, since pesticide residue becomes more and more concentrated as it works its way up the food chain. This phenomenon is known as bio accumulation. -- Regina Peregrine Falcon Project, "Description" Historically, peregrines resided in southeastern, southwestern, and west central portions of Illinois along the Mississippi and Wabash Rivers. Naturally cliff dwelling birds, they adapt readily to city buildings. The city of Chicago mimics the preferred habitat of the peregrine but with numerous advantages. The skyscrapers are pseudo-cliffs along a waterway (Lake Michigan) that funnels numerous prey species through the area during spring and fall migrations. Chicago provides an ample supply of winter food in the number of pigeons (Columba livia) and starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) in residence. Free of natural predators such as the Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus), the largest threat to the city dwelling peregrines comes from other adult peregrines attempting to establish territories. -- Chicago Peregrine Release and Restoration Project. Originating from the Latin peregrines, the term pilgrim evokes the one wandering in search of a deeper reality; one determined to discover a more profound truth...what the world offers is not sufficient to satisfy all of human longing. It is necessary to look elsewhere, even if it takes us far from home...Within the confines of time and space, a pilgrimage enables us to realize that in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, we are capable of also finding God, if only we venture to seek Him out. --- "Pilgrims of God" from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception home page. "The very act of killing leaves the murderer hanging, because it isn't as perfect as his fantasy...After a murder, the serial murderer thinks of how the crime could be bettered...nonfulfilled experiences become part of the fantasy and push them on toward the next killing." "All the murderers -- every single one -- were subjected to serious emotional abuse during their childhood...These children were deprived of something more important than money -- love." "In his mind, he had long since fused sexual desire with the need to damage and destroy." -- Whoever Fights Monsters, Robert K. Ressler and Tom Shachtman.