Disclaimer: I obviously do not own "The X-Files" or "Criminal Minds."

AN: As for setting, um, kind of whenever. It's pretty general. Let's say Season 5 for "Criminal Minds" just for the fun of it. And "X-Files" … Season 4?

The BAU Works an X-File?

Part I

BAU Headquarters

Quantico, Virginia

"I'm telling you, vodka is for college students and Russians. Brandy is a more sophisticated beverage," David Rossi told Derek Morgan as the two of them walked into the BAU conference room, where the rest of the team — minus Aaron Hotchner — was already gathered.

"More sophisticated, sure," argued Morgan, "but sometimes you don't want sophisticated. Vodka is just better for some things."

"Yeah, a disinfectant," shot back Rossi. Morgan just shook his head good-naturedly, a smile on his face. Further argument would be pointless and he knew it; he would simply have to bring in a good bottle of vodka and prove his point.

"All right, people," said Hotch, striding into the room with his head down and several files under his arm. "We have three murders in Hoban, Maryland." Hotch nodded to Penelope Garcia, who brought to their display screen several photos of the three murder sites, as well as the murdered girls. "In each of the three murders, the victims were found naked, displayed on pentagrams, with their hearts removed. The hearts are still missing."

"How were the hearts removed?" asked Dr. Spencer Reid.

"Not surgically," answered Morgan, looking at crime scene photos in one of Hotch's manila envelopes.

"No," agreed Hotch. "The Hoban M.E. doesn't know yet what type of weapon was used, but the chests appeared to be hacked open, rather than surgically opened, and the hearts were literally ripped out."

"Who were the victims?" asked Emily Prentiss, studying the crime scene photos with thinly-veiled disgust.

"Tricia Sourson, Emma Carris, and Maria Lopez," answered Hotch. "All three were students at Hoban High School."

"So they were all teenage girls," summed up J.J. "Any other similarities between them?"

"None that are evident at this time," answered Hotch. "All three were different ethnicities, in different grades. Emma was an athlete, Tricia was a cheerleader and Maria wasn't involved in school activities."

As Reid turned one of the photos in his hand, he posited, "Hearts have historically been used by witches, according to lore, for various types of spells to gain wealth or love. The un-sub probably believes in the supernatural and believes he has some sort of power."

"Shockingly enough, we were able to get there by ourselves," said Rossi jokingly. "The real question is what kind of supernatural rite this un-sub believes he's completing."

"I'm not sure," admitted Reid. "However, many occultist rituals revolve around the numbers seven and thirteen, so there are likely to be more victims."

"I agree," said Hotch. "Wheels up in thirty."

0 ~ 0 ~ 0

Police Department

Hoban, Maryland

The BAU team — minus J.J. and Reid — had reconvened at the Hoban Police Department, having already been in town for a few hours. They had split up to visit the crime scenes, which had noting in common except that they were devoid of people in the middle of the night, which is when the murders had occurred.

"The only thing that seems to tie these murders together is the method and the fact that all the victims are teenage girls," Morgan summed up. He was feeling frustrated. They barely had a profile yet and teenage girls were being murdered viciously.

"This criminal likely thinks he's going to gain some kind of power or wealth by sacrificing these girls," said Rossi. Suddenly having a thought, he asked, "Were they all virgins?"

Looking through the M.E.'s report, Prentiss answered, "No. Emma had been sexually active, though not on the day of her murder. The other two were virgins, even through death. There was no sexual abuse of any kind."

"So what do we know about this guy?" asked Morgan.

"Well, he's likely a white male, in his late 30s or early 40s," answered Hotch. "He is likely single, but charming. The victims either knew him or found him non-threatening, because there weren't any defensive wounds. There weren't any wounds beyond the obvious chest wound."

"Then how did he get them to sit still while he ripped their hearts out?" questioned Prentiss.

"The M.E. found traces of a paralytic in the girls' systems, as well as needle marks," supplied Rossi.

"We have a problem," said J.J. from the doorway, as she and Reid entered the room.

"What's going on?" asked Hotch concernedly. Although his job was catching serial killers and protecting the public, his number one concern was always his team and their wellbeing.

"We were interviewing one of Tricia's friends and she asked us why we needed to speak to her when she had already spoken to the other FBI agents," said J.J.

"What other FBI agents?" asked Hotch, furrowing his brow.

"She didn't remember the agents' names," recounted Reid, "but she was able to give us a general description. The female was approximately 5'3" or 5'4", with shoulder-length red hair and bluish-green eyes. The male agent was approximately 6' tall, with brown hair and what the witness described as 'very warm' brown eyes."

"They were vague descriptions," supplied J.J. defensively.

"I don't know about that. I think my brown eyes are warm," said a smiling interloper from the doorway.

"You?" barked Rossi, jumping out of his seat. "This is our case. We certainly do not need help from the FBI's cranks."

"Thanks, Dave. You're a real prince," said Fox Mulder sarcastically.

"This is a BAU case," said Hotch, jumping in.

"This is an X-file," argued Mulder.

"There is no such thing. It's a fantasy," fumed Hotch.

"What's an X-file?" asked Morgan.

"It's nothing," said Hotch and Rossi simultaneously, with grim expressions taking over their faces.

"It's not nothing," said Mulder, turning to Morgan. "They are cases whose origins are either extra-terrestrial or supernatural. Just because the government is trying to cover it up, doesn't mean you have to give in."

Turning away from Mulder, Morgan asked Hotch, "Is this guy for real?"

After eliciting a small sigh, Hotch told Mulder, "While we always love getting help on our cases, we really have all the personnel we need right now. Additionally, we were assigned this case. It is a BAU case and you are no longer a member of the BAU."

At Hotch's last words, the rest of the team members — minus Rossi — turned to him with shocked looks. Their faces said it all; they were all thinking: This nut job is not only actually an FBI agent, but he used to be a member of the elite BAU?

"Walter Skinner OK-ed me being here," said Mulder testily. J.J. raised her eyebrows slightly at the name-drop. It caused both Hotch and Rossi to tighten their jaws.

"I'll need to check on this," said Hotch, pulling out his cell phone and excusing himself from the room.

"So, Dave, how have you been?" asked Mulder, with a slight smirk as he leaned against a wall, now fully in the room.

"I was better ten minutes ago," said Rossi angrily. Mulder just pursed his lips, with a slight half-smile, and looked at Rossi. He, like Morgan, knew that sometimes argument with Rossi brooked nothing but more argument.

"You used to be a member of the BAU?" questioned Reid curiously. It was rare for there to be something that Reid didn't know — especially about the BAU.

"Yeah," said Mulder expressively. Holding out his hand to Reid, he introduced himself, "Fox Mulder at your service." Reid shook the proffered hand. "I worked with Dave here and Jason Gideon. Two of the best profilers I've ever worked with."

"Jason is a friend," said Reid quietly.

"He ever take you bird-watching?" asked Mulder conspiratorially.

"Yeah," said Reid smiling. "We saw a Kirtland's Warbler once."

"Nice. Rare," said Mulder, taking a seat at the table with the BAU team.

"How long were you with the BAU?" asked Morgan, still very unsure of this man, who was quite possibly crazy.

"Four years, then I went to Violent Crime. Now I work on the X-files."

"The extra-terrestrial and supernatural cases?" asked Prentiss disbelievingly.

"Well, somebody needs to investigate these things," said Mulder. "The truth is out there."

"Are you really an FBI agent?" asked J.J., suddenly having the ridiculous idea that this was all an elaborate prank being pulled on her.

Mulder pulled out his badge to show them. "As real as you are."

"Fox," said Rossi, cutting in on Mulder's pointless conversation with the BAU team. "You know it's not that I don't like you. But we are handling this case. This isn't some crazy conspiracy, Fox. This is some sick bastard murdering teenage girls. This case is going to be solved with psychology and good police work."

"And I don't use psychology and good police work?" asked Mulder, feeling a bit hurt at his former teammate's wording, but letting his hurt shine through as mock pride.

Rossi decided not to touch that one. "When we come into towns to solve murders, we need to be seen as a helpful authority. Theories about aliens don't help us make that point. I'm really sorry for everything you've gone through, but this is not an X-file. This is a psycho killing young girls."

"So you say," said Mulder, shrugging. "It looks a hell of a lot like an X-file to me."

Hotchner came back into the room and said to Mulder, "You can stay, but you take a backseat to this investigation. The BAU is lead."

"Fine with me," said Mulder, holding up his hands as if to say 'I surrender.' "But you might want to tell Dana Scully, my partner, that. She's down at the morgue performing her own autopsies on the bodies."

"Call her," said Hotch with his no-nonsense voice. Rolling his eyes slightly, Mulder left the room to call Scully. He wouldn't tell her to stop the autopsies; he was just going to let her know that there were a few more agents playing in the Hoban sandbox.

As soon as the door closed behind Mulder, Morgan broke out, "So, what is that guy's story?"

"You just met Agent Fox Mulder," said Rossi, sounding wearied. "He was one of the best profilers I've ever worked with and now he chases aliens on an FBI paycheck."

"Agent Mulder can be helpful; he's a great profiler," added Hotch, "But he is known to let his personal feelings interfere."

"He's so obsessed with proving that aliens are real that he makes some really poor decisions," supplied Rossi. "He's a joke."

"How did he pass the FBI psych eval?" asked Reid.

"He wasn't always this bad," capitulated Rossi. "He really was brilliant. But after he left the BAU, he stumbled across the X-files, something that had been shut down for years and he reopened it. He's desperate to prove that aliens are real and he's such a good investigator that the FBI keeps him on regardless."

"Why is he so desperate?" asked Prentiss, sensing more of a story there.

"When Fox was a child, his sister was abducted," said Rossi sadly. "Police never found her. Fox became convinced that she had been abducted by aliens."

"That's actually really sad," said J.J.

"Yeah," agreed Rossi, just as Mulder re-entered the room.

"So what do you guys have?" asked Mulder.

"Not much," admitted Hotch, handing Mulder their case file.

"I think the key here is going to be victimology," posited Prentiss. "We have a loose profile for the un-sub, but until we know exactly how he's choosing his victims, I don't think we can catch him."

"There really doesn't seem to be anything tying these girls together, other than age and location," said J.J. "Maybe that's all there is to it."

"I don't think so," said Mulder.

"What do you mean?" asked J.J.

"Well, these were all troubled girls," put in Mulder. At the rest of the agents' quirked eyebrows and blank faces, Mulder asked, "Didn't any of you talk to the school?"

"Of course we talked to the school," bit off Rossi. "The principal told us that Emma and Tricia both participated in a lot of school activities and were never in trouble — a pleasure in every class. Maria, though not really a go-getter, was not a disciplinary issue; she was a sweet kid."

"Troubled doesn't necessarily mean criminal," said Mulder judgingly. "Never talk to principals; they only know the troublemakers. Everyone else is 'a pleasure' to them. If you want to really know about students, you talk to the teachers and the guidance counselors. Emma's father died two years ago and she had been having serious issues. Ms. Mackey, the guidance counselor, told me all about it. After Emma's father died, she fell into a fit of despondency and started doing things with boys that she later felt extremely guilty about. Tricia was diagnosed last year as being bipolar; she was struggling to come to terms with her diagnosis and escape the social stigma of it. And Maria's parents are getting divorced and have been fighting about who'll take her. Just to be clear, each parent thinks the other one should take her. It's ugly."

"And you got all this from the guidance counselor?" asked J.J.

"Yeah," said Mulder, shrugging his shoulders. "Ms. Eugenia Mackey was very helpful. She figured that, since the girls are dead now and I'm a federal agent, she could tell me some of their personal info if it'll help catch the guy who did this."

"So, our un-sub is targeting girls with problems at home," said Morgan, mulling over this new information. "That means we're looking for someone who would have had access to that information." Pulling out his phone, Morgan dialed up his computer goddess and put her on speakerphone. "Hey baby-girl, can you find out who in town would have had access to our victims' personal information? Information about turmoil at home?"

"Of course I can, my chocolate god. I'll hit you back in a few."

"Chocolate god?" questioned Mulder with a barely restrained grin on his face. Morgan at least had the decency to look embarrassed.

The team just hunkered down to continue going through files. A short time later, Garcia called Morgan back. "Hello beautiful, sculpted abs … and Morgan."

"You're on speakerphone, baby-girl," supplied Morgan.

"Right," said Garcia quickly. Morgan just smiled, picturing the way she was probably sitting a bit straighter now. "Well, I have a list of doctors for you, psychiatrists, therapists, priests, etc. There is only one overlap. Dr. Matthew Brown. He's the general practitioner for all three girls."

"How long have they been seeing him?" asked J.J.

"Well, Dr. Brown is a fixture in Hoban," answered Garcia. "They've all been seeing him their whole lives — as has half the town."

"He would definitely know about any problems at home," said Prentiss. "He probably knows what's going on behind closed doors all over town."

"Oh, the stories he could tell," said Rossi with mock wistfulness.

"Right," said Garcia, jumping back in. "I've sent his address to your PDAs, my loves." Garcia hung up on that.

"So, let's go talk to Dr. Brown," said Mulder, standing up.

"Not you," said Rossi. "Morgan and Prentiss should go."

"No way," argued Mulder. "Whether or not you actually believe this case is supernatural — which it is — the un-sub clearly thinks it is. You need someone there who knows about this stuff, who can talk to the guy on his level. I'm that guy."

Rossi looked like he was about to continue arguing when Morgan interrupted him. "He's right, man," said Morgan. "He knows this stuff." While Morgan partially agreed with Mulder, he was also just really interested to see how the agent behaved in the field.

"Fine," said Hotch, making a snap decision. "Morgan, Prentiss and Mulder: Go."

"Sir, yes, Sir," said Mulder, saluting the BAU chief.

"And don't do that," called Hotch, as the three agents left the room.

0 ~ 0 ~ 0

Dr. Matthew Brown's office

Hoban, Maryland

"So, you saw all three girls?" double-checked Morgan.

"Yes, it's such a shame," said Brown, wiping some tears from his eyes. I gave Maria her booster shots when she was a baby and I remember that she cried so hard she stopped breathing. They were all lovely girls."

Prentiss took a deep breath. Although this guy was their only real connection, she just didn't peg him for it. The man was in his sixties and in an office surrounded with smiling pictures of children he had taken care of. He was drinking coffee from a mug shaped like a frog. She just didn't think he had it in him.

"It is a shame," agreed Mulder. "Are you familiar with how they died?"

"Murdered," said Brown quietly, as if not saying the word too loudly would banish the action from Hoban.

"Yes, but do you know how?" asked Mulder.

"No," said Brown, with a look on his face that clearly indicated that he did not want to know how the girls had been murdered.

Mulder either didn't notice it, or more likely did not believe it genuine. "What would you say if I told you they were killed in a satanic ritual?"

"What?" spluttered Brown. Turning to Morgan, who certainly seemed the most caring to the doctor, he asked, "That's not true, is it?"

"I'm afraid it is," said Mulder, forging ahead. "Tell me, what do you know about the use of pentagrams in black magic?"

"Nothing!" exclaimed the doctor. "Absolutely nothing!"

"Nothing?" questioned Mulder, raising an eyebrow. "You've never seen one horror movie with magic? You know nothing?"

"Am I being accused of something?" asked the doctor.

"No," said Mulder, shrugging his handsome shoulders. "I'm just wondering if you knew that the pentagram is said to be used in certain satanic rituals to call forth the Devil or to give the magician wealth or power."

"I am a good, God-fearing man," said Dr. Brown stiltedly. "I go to church with my wife every week. If these sweet girls were hurt as part of some satanic perversion, I am not the person you want to look at."

"And who do we want to look at?" asked Mulder.

"I don't know anyone like that," said Dr. Brown, glancing at the pictures of smiling children decorating his office.

0 ~ 0 ~ 0

"We got nowhere with the doctor," announced Prentiss, entering the conference room in the police station that had been taken over by the BAU, "but I don't think he had anything to do with it."

"Me either," agreed Mulder.

"If you didn't think he had anything to do with it, then why were you pushing him so hard?" questioned Prentiss.

"For a lead," said Mulder. "His entire demeanor changed when I brought up Satanism. He was affronted. And his eyes kept wandering to the wall of children, as if he were wondering, 'Did one of these angels do this?' He knows everyone in town. He probably does know the murderer, and he knows that. He's going to be thinking about this all day and when he thinks of something, he'll call us."

Hotch just nodded his head at this, knowing he might have done the same thing.

Walking into the police conference room currently housing the BAU, Agent Dana Scully announced, "We have a problem."

"And you are?" questioned Morgan.

"FBI Agent Dana Scully," answered Reid, before Scully even had a chance to open her mouth. The man had obviously done research in the interim since meeting Mulder; he did not like not knowing things. "She has a B.S. in physics from the University of Maryland and an M.D. from Stanford University. She is the field agent and forensic pathologist partnered with Agent Mulder."

"Very thorough," said Scully, seemingly shrugging with her face.

"What's wrong?" asked Mulder.

"I'm not entirely convinced this was murder," said Scully slowly.

"Excuse me?" asked Rossi.

"At least not in the traditional sense," put in Scully quickly. "I examined all three bodies and none of the girls have defensive wounds. On top of that, I think they injected themselves with the paralytic. Obviously someone else cut their hearts out, but all three girls were dead before their hearts were removed. They each died approximately five minutes before losing their hearts. The paralytic arrested their respiratory and circulatory systems."

"But someone still cut out their hearts in some hack-job," said Prentiss.

"Yes," agreed Scully, "but not without their permission. The trajectory of the shots, as well as the hesitation marks, show fairly conclusively that the girls injected themselves."

"Well, this changes the profile," said Reid. "The killer is definitely someone the girls know, someone persuasive who could convince the girls to end their own lives."

"But the only overlap we could find was the doctor," said J.J., "and Derek and Emily don't think he was involved."

"But that's not the only connection," said Mulder. Off of the others' questioning looks, he added, "School."

"Let's go back and talk to the principal again," said Hotch.

"I want to talk to the guidance counselor again," supplied Mulder. "She was very helpful in my first go-around."

"All right," Hotch said. "Rossi and I will speak to the principal. J.J., you go with Mulder to talk to the guidance counselor. Everyone else, just stay here and continue sifting through the information."

"I'll miss you," Mulder told Scully as he walked out the door. She just shook her head and pointedly didn't look at him.

0 ~ 0 ~ 0

Hoban High School

Hoban, Maryland

"I really told the other agents everything I know about these girls," said Principal Mark Salazar.

"You told us there weren't any disciplinary issues, but did they have issues with other kids?" asked Rossi. "Was there anything that made them stand out?"

"Emma was a great athlete," said the principal, "and Tricia cheered at games. Tricia was on the dance committee. That's about it."

"Did they ever have issues with any teachers?" asked Hotch.

"Not that I knew of," said the principal, holding out his hands palm up. "I really wish I could be of more help."

"Thank your for your cooperation," said Hotch, sweeping out of the office with Rossi on his heels.

"Hopefully J.J. and Mulder are having better luck," Rossi said.

Meanwhile, in Ms. Eugenia Mackey's office, J.J. was doing her best to keep from retching as she watched Agent Mulder pour on the charm so heavily it was overwhelming. Were his charm an odor, she would have suffocated.

"I completely agree that ballet allows for the dancers to bare their souls," Mulder was saying to the guidance counselor, who was just completely fawning over him.

Seeing this as the perfect opportunity to jump in, J.J. asked, "Were any of the murder victims ballet dancers?"

The guidance counselor turned to her, almost as if seeing her for the first time. "Not that I know of," Mackey said, blushing slightly and self-consciously straightening her skirt.

"We were hoping you could provide some more information for us," said J.J.

"Yeah, I mean the info you gave me earlier was really helpful, and I know you have more in you," said Mulder.

"I know just about everything that happens in this school," admitted Mackey.

"Did any of the girls have issues with another student maybe, or one of the teachers?" asked J.J.

"Well, Emma didn't have the best reputation," divulged Mackey. "She was a bit loose with the boys and, well, the boys talked. They teased her for it … the poor thing. She had been trying to get her life back on track, though. She really was."

"Were any boys especially cruel to her?" asked Mulder.

"No, maybe Pete Tinniman, her ex-boyfriend," said Mackey, "but Pete is a nice boy. He would never hurt Emma or anyone else."

"What about Tricia?" asked J.J.

"She didn't have any issues with students that I knew of," said Mackey. "She was terrified they would find out she was bipolar and tease her for it, but, as far as I knew, she kept it a secret. And the same goes for Maria — she had a couple of close friends and didn't really make any ripples."

"What about with teachers?" asked Mulder.

"What do you mean?" asked Mackey nervously.

"Were there any teachers that made the girls feel uncomfortable or who they didn't get along with?" asked J.J.

"No, no, they were fair students," said Mackey. "Emma had a couple of run-ins with Principal Salazar, but nothing big."

"What kind of run-ins?" asked J.J., sharing a look with Mulder. Agents had spoken to Salazar earlier and he hadn't mentioned anything like this.

"Emma sometimes wore inappropriate clothing," explained Mackey. "On a few occasions, Principal Salazar told her to change into her gym clothes, as her regular clothes were a bit too risqué for school."

"Is that all?" asked J.J.

"They got into a fight," added Mackey, discomfort all over her face. "Emma told him that he shouldn't even be looking at her body long enough to notice her clothing. Specifically, he shouldn't be looking at her breasts to see if they were properly covered."

"What did Principal Salazar say?" asked Mulder.

"What could he say?" said Mackey. "After that, he began asking me to speak with her when he felt her clothing was inappropriate."

"What about Maria? Did she have any run-ins with the principal?" asked J.J.

"There was an incident last year," admitted Mackey. "Principal Salazar was doing rounds of the school, to make sure all students were where they were supposed to be, and he entered the girls' locker room. Maria was taking a shower, even though she was supposed to be in English. She was furious. Principal Salazar swears he didn't see anything, but Maria was very upset."

"Was this reported?" asked J.J.

"No. I spoke to Maria's parents, but they seemed more concerned that she hadn't been in class. When Principal Salazar told them that he hadn't seen anything, they believed him."

"Did you?" asked Mulder.

"I honestly don't know," said Mackey. "I believe that he didn't intend to see anything," she rushed to say, seeing the looks on the agents' faces.

"What about Tricia and Principal Salazar?" asked J.J., trying to shake away images of a possibly perverted principal peeking at his female students' bodies. Mackey just sighed deeply and pursed her lips. "What don't you want to tell us?"

"The students love Principal Salazar!" exclaimed Mackey. "He has had nothing but positive interactions with so many of his students."

"But was Tricia one of the students with whom he had a negative interaction?" asked Mulder, beginning to form a mental picture of how things at Hoban High School worked.

"After she was diagnosed as bipolar, Principal Salazar called her into his office, just to let her know that the school's staff was supporting her one-hundred percent," said Mackey. "He told her that if she needed anything, she could ask any teacher. But, after they spoke, Tricia told me that he gave her a hug and she felt uncomfortable."

"Why didn't you report any of this?" asked J.J. accusingly.

"Report what?" asked Mackey. "That in the course of the principal doing his job, some troubled girls misinterpreted some things. I'm sure he didn't mean anything by it."

"You've been a big help," said Mulder, as he and J.J. left a distraught looking guidance counselor behind.

"We need to leave," said Hotch, as he and Rossi met up with Mulder and J.J.

"What's the matter?" asked J.J.

"Another body was just found."

0 ~ TBC ~ 0

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