Title: Snapshots: A Brief History of a Life Less Ordinary
Word Count: ~20,500
Disclaimer: X-Files, Mulder, Scully and such don’t belong to me. No copyright infringement intended, no profit being made.
Summary: The title basically says it all - a brief history of Special Agent Jessica Morgan leading up to Weak in the Knees.
Archive: By permission only
January 1st, 1993
She wasn’t sure what woke her up. But she knew instantly something wasn’t right. The empty place next to her in bed let her know that her lover hadn’t made it home yet... Or had she? She got out of bed, slipping her robe on as she moved to the bedroom door and down the hallway. It was extremely rare that she could ever sneak up on her lover, but from Jessica’s posture, it was clear she was completely unaware of her presence.
Toni slipped her arms around her lover’s waist from behind and held her close. The tension just rolled off of Jessica’s body. She kissed the shell of her ear and whispered, “What’s wrong?”
After several moments, Jessica allowed herself to relax back into her lover’s embrace, the tension slowly seeping from her muscles. “Sorry I didn’t make it to the party.”
The older woman gave her a gentle squeeze. “I couldn’t care less about a New Year’s Eve party. I’m concerned about you. Talk to me. What happened?”
The younger woman let out a soft sigh. Toni always knew how to make her feel better without even trying. “It’s the case.”
Of course Toni already figured that much out. But she waited patiently for Jessica to continue.
“He’s made it personal, Toni.”
The rough edge to her voice concerned Toni. “What do you mean?”
“He left a message...” her voice broke as tears finally spilled, “carved into the body of the newest victim.”
“And then there was a letter waiting for us when we got back to the office. It had been dropped off by courier while we were at the scene.”
“What did it say?” She felt the younger woman tense up in her arms again.
“‘Now the game really begins.’”
Toni could tell there was more to it from the slight tremble than ran through her lover. “And?”
“It was addressed to me personally,” Jessica whispered.
Fuck! Toni let go of her, placed her hands on her shoulders and turned her around so they were face to face. “Don’t let him throw you off your game, Jessica. Don’t let him win that way.”
She sighed. “I’m not going to let him win, but...”
“But it’s hit you from out of left field,” she said with a knowing tone. “Come on,” she said, leading her to the couch. “You’re not the first one this has happened to.”
Jessica settled into the arms of her lover. “I know. I told Purdue I didn’t want to do that damn press conference, you know. That has to be how he knew my name.”
“Not necessarily. You’ve been seen at a number of the crime scenes. And, you’ve been in the news before. Only a little research would provide him with a name.”
January 25th, 1993
“Okay, people, we’ve got a sketch of the UNSUB from the description the latest victim gave us before she died. I want everyone to take a good look at the sketch and commit it to memory. We’ve got a face, now we need a name to go with it.” With that Cavanaugh ended the meeting. However, he did pull Jessica aside as the others filed out of the conference room. “Jessica–”
“You don’t have to say it, sir. I know. He’s escalating.”
“With this last one he’s gone past taunting you; he’s now threatening you.”
“I know,” she said softly.
“I’ll understand if you want off the case. I don’t have a problem reassigning you.”
She looked into his understanding eyes but didn’t say anything.
“Think about it, okay? If you decide you want out, just let me know. Come to me anytime; my door is always open to you.”
“So what did Cavanaugh want?” Toni asked when she met Jessica in the cafeteria for lunch.
She signed. “He said if I wanted off the case he’d reassign me.”
“What did you say?”
Toni reached across the table and placed her hand over her lover’s. She gave it a squeeze. “I’ll support whatever decision you make.”
“I know. But what do you think I should do?”
“Catch the bastard and put him behind bars.”
She’d had a long day and was looking forward to getting home. Actually it had been a long month. And what she wanted more than anything was to go home, take a hot shower, and crawl into bed with her other half. She needed to feel Toni’s arms around her. She had told Toni she’d be home by 6:00, but then they got a possible lead on the killer they were after. And Jessica was the best interviewer of witnesses and suspects. Even the jerks who resented her presence in the division came to her for the really tough interrogations.
Anyway, after the interview of the reluctant witness she was finally able to call it a night at 10:30. Jessica had to stop and get gas on the way home. When she went inside to pay for it, she bought a small stuffed bear on impulse. She smiled at the little five-inch bear as she started the car and pulled away. Toni had a secret collection of the cute stuffed animals that she’d kill to keep a secret from her fellow FBI agents. It didn’t fit with her tough as nails, no nonsense image. Jessica’s smile widened. Settling down with one person for the last four and half years didn’t fit with Toni’s reputation either. It was the last thing anyone thought Toni would ever do. But that’s how long Jessica and Toni had been together.
Jessica parked the car and picked up the little bear with a smile. “Come on, buddy, let’s go make Toni smile.”
She rode the elevator up to their floor, and had her keys out before she got the door. With a heartfelt smile she unlocked the door and stepped inside, turning on the light in the hallway... and stopped. There was blood on the wall and floor. Her heart dropped like a stone. “Toni... Toni!” she called. She rushed into the living room. “TONI!!”
Jessica dropped to her knees and pulled the lifeless, bloody body of her lover into her arms. The stuffed bear forgotten in a pool of blood. “NOOO!!!”
February 18th, 1993
As Casper drove to his home, he kept a watchful eye on his partner in the passenger seat. He was more than concerned. She was... too quiet. No crying, no talking, no anything. While she was obviously in shock, her lack of reaction was disquieting and worrisome.
When he pulled up to the house, he got out and went around to the passenger side. He opened her car door after getting her bag from the back seat. He had to actually reach in and grab her arm since she didn’t move a muscle. “Come on, Jessica. Let’s go inside.”
She moved as an automaton, without thought. Jennifer was up when they got inside.
“Jessica’s going to stay with us for a little while.” He led his partner into the guest room. “If you need anything, just ask.” He closed the bedroom door behind him when he left.
Jennifer was waiting for him in the kitchen. “John, what’s wrong? What happened?”
Tears welled in his eyes and he swallowed. “Toni...”
“Did they break up?”
He shook his head. “Toni was killed.”
It was a cold, clear day. Literally hundreds of agents had showed up to pay their respects to a fallen agent. However, John Casper was only concerned about one – his partner. Jessica didn’t break down, but he would have felt better if she had. She remained silent, not shedding a single tear. John didn’t like it. He knew she needed to mourn.
While John spoke quietly with a couple of agents that had known Toni in Cyber Crimes, Jessica moved toward the grave.
“It’s all your fault, you know.”
“What?” She looked up at the sneering voice.
“You’re the reason she’s dead!”
She didn’t know what to say to Mulder, who stood within her personal space, seething.
“You just had to be the fucking hero, didn’t you?! You wouldn’t back off the case and now Toni’s dead because of you!!”
A hand clamped down hard on Mulder’s shoulder and bodily spun him around. “That’s enough,” growled John.
“It’s not nearly enough! Toni’s dead because of the Freak! She may as well have killed her herself!”
John unconsciously balled his fist. “Get out of here, Mulder. You’re not welcome. Go back to the basement and your dusty files, your little green men and ridiculous, paranoid, conspiracy theories. Go back to the only person willing to put up with you, Spooky, your partner Diane Fowley. Oh, wait – you can’t go back to her, because she left your sorry ass and moved on to better things. Apparently no one is willing to put up with you and your bullshit.”
Mulder was apoplectic, but Casper calmly brushed past him and led Jessica away.
Stone faced, she walked up to the agents and the suspect they had in their custody. She simply stared at Devon Conrad. No one – not the agents present, not the police, not her partner, not AD Cavanaugh, and not the suspect – said a single word. Barely a breath was taken as she gazed at her lover’s murderer. The tension in the air was palpable. Finally she drew a breath and spoke in a disturbingly calm tone.
“Get him the hell out of here.”
The agents silently pulled Conrad away and put him in the back of a patrol car. With lights flashing and two Bureau cars as escorts, they headed to jail.
Lou walked up to Jessica where she stood, still as stone. He waited; when it appeared she wasn’t going to say anything he spoke. “Why don’t–”
She cut him off. “I quit.”
She removed her gun and holster, turned to face him, and placed them in his hands. She reached into her pocket and pulled out an envelope. She shoved the envelope and her badge into his hands. “I quit.” With that she turned and walked away.
“Jessica! Wait! We need to talk about this,” he insisted, following her.
“No, we don’t,” she replied without even a glance over her shoulder. She got into her car and drove away.
She used the key John had given her to enter the house. She packed up her things and paused at the front door. She placed an envelope on the shelf near the door where John and Jennie always dropped their keys. She placed the house key on top it and walked out of the house, closing the door behind herself.
March 5th, 1993
The taxi pulled up to Essington manor and she paid the driver. Grabbing her bag, she got out and walked to the front door. She paused for a couple of moments before entering. Edward came rushing (well, as much as a proper English butler rushed) out of the parlor.
“I’m tired. I’m going to bed.” Jessica simply turned and headed upstairs to her room.
Edward watched with sadness, his heart aching for the young woman’s loss.
Edward sadly shook his head at the woman in the parlor. “I’m sorry, miss, Lady Essington is still not receiving any guests.”
The tall, dark-haired woman actually growled. “Well she’s getting a visitor, whether she wants one or not.” She looked the butler in the eyes. “Unless, of course, you intend to physically stop me from going up there.”
Edward suppressed the smile that threatened to break out. “I would never lay my hand on a lady.” He received a smile in return.
Mallory Whattley was a friend of Jessica’s. They’d met at Oxford and had a number of classes together. Edward hoped that Miss Whattley would be able to get through to his distraught employer. She was too young to give up.
Mallory walked past Edward, out of the parlor and up the stairs. She barged into Jessica’s room without even knocking. “It’s time you and I had a talk.”
“I don’t want to talk.”
“That’s fine. You just need to listen.”
August 11th, 1993
It took more than one uninvited – and unwelcome – visit by Mallory to pull Jessica out of her black hole enough to acknowledge that life was indeed continuing despite her painful loss. Toni was gone, but she was still alive. Jessica couldn’t face going back to the Bureau... or anything that had to do with her life with Toni.
At a loss to know what to do, she picked up on a suggestion – one of many Mallory had thrown at her – and decided to run with. She would go back to school. However, it was well past any application dates to begin the fall term.
She picked up the phone and placed a call to her alma mater, Harvard. And for the first time, she used her family name and wealth, in conjunction with her own scholastic reputation, to pull some strings. Jessica was going to start medical school in less than two weeks.
Jessica arrived at her apartment after the last of her tests for the day. It was the one concession she’d allowed herself upon returning to Harvard. A place of her own – a refuge – a place to be alone with no one to see her fall apart occasionally. Fortunately that was happening less frequently, but it did still happen.
She dropped her bag, coat, and hat on the hall table and turned to head into the living area. If she hadn’t been so damned tired, after three days with no sleep, she’d have noticed his presence sooner. “Fuck! Bloody hell, Lou!” She put away the concealed weapon she carried whenever she was off campus and not at the hospital. “Bloody wanker, are you trying to get yourself killed?” She took a couple of breaths to slow her heart rate. “What the hell are you doing in my apartment?” she asked while glaring at him.
“I understand you’re about to graduate from medical school.”
“Yeah. So what?”
“There’s been a lot of changes at the Bureau since you left.”
“Again, so what?”
“I was appointed as the Director last year.”
“Congratulations. What does that have to do with you breaking into my apartment?” she asked not particularly kindly.
He shifted forward in the chair a little. “I want you to come back to the Bureau. Come back and work for me.”
Jessica sat down heavily on the sofa. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”
“No, Jessica, I’m not. It would be completely different this time.” He continued when she didn’t say anything. “You’d report directly to me, no one else, not even the Deputy Director. And you’d be senior agent on any case I sent you on. All you’d have to do is go in, profile the UNSUB and then move on to the next case.” He paused. “So what do you say, Jessica?”
“I say get out of my apartment, Lou.”
He stood and left the apartment. But as he closed the apartment door behind himself he heard the unmistakable sound of something made of glass or porcelain impacting a wall. He’d be back.
April 20th, 1996
Jessica rolled her eyes when she opened the door and saw Lou. She turned and walked away, but didn’t close the door. He followed her into the living area.
“You don’t give up, do you?” she asked.
“No. And neither do you. Which is why you need to come back to the Bureau,” he said gently. He sat on the sofa facing her. “You have a gift. There’s no one better than you are at figuring out the really hard ones. I need you to be my ‘go to’ agent, the one I can send in to shake things up and break the logjams – just like you did the first day you walked into the VCU.”
Jessica sighed. “If I came back to the Bureau then what I have I been doing in medical school the last three years?”
“I’ll grant that you needed to get away for a while and do something different. But I think you know where you truly belong.” He retrieved a business card from his wallet and handed it to her. “That’s my private line. Call me.”
It felt strange to walk into the J. Edgar Hoover building. It had been a little over three years since she’d walked away from the Bureau. Part of her couldn’t believe she was back. She went to check in at the security desk and was surprised to find her new ID and badge already waiting for her.
“Just sign for these, and you can go right up, Agent Morgan.”
She signed, accepted her credentials and walked to the elevators. On the top floor she exited and entered the outer office of the Director.
“May I help you?” asked the woman at the desk.
“Hello. I’m Jessica Morgan and I have an appointment with the Director.”
“Hi! It’s nice to meet to you, Agent Morgan. I’m Stacy Drexler, the Director Cavanaugh’s personal assistant. He’s on a phone call right now, but should be available shortly.”
“Would you care for some coffee?”
“No thank you, I don’t drink coffee.”
“Perhaps some tea then?”
“That would be nice.”
No sooner had Stacy handed a freshly made cup of tea to Jessica then the Director opened his office door. “Jessica!” To the surprise of his assistant, he gave the agent a hug. “I’m glad you’re here.”
They entered his office and sat on the couch together. “I was a little surprised you wanted to start today.”
She shrugged. “No use delaying.”
He nodded. “Well everything has been set up for you. All you need to do is see the range master and re-qualify with your weapon.”
“I can do that this morning.”
“Anytime before Monday morning is fine.”
“Don’t you have a case for me?”
“Well, yes, but it’s Friday. It can wait until Monday.”
“There’s no reason to wait, Lou.”
He looked at her for a few moments, gauging her. Finally he nodded. “Alright.” He stood, walked to his desk, and retrieved a case file. He came back and handed it to her. “It’s a serial rapist case in Oklahoma City. See Stacy for information about your expenses.”
She stood up. “I’ll book a flight as soon as I’m done at the range.”
“Good luck. And remember, you’re answerable only to me. If anyone has a problem with it, let me know.”
“Alright. Talk to you later.” They shook hands and she stepped out of his office and approached Stacy. “The Director said to see you about my expenses.”
“Oh, yes.” Stacy pulled an envelope out of her desk. “Rather than have you fill out expense reports every week, you have a Bureau credit card. Use it for all your expenses – travel, meals, hotels, car rentals, photocopying – everything. Also, you’ll find my number in there. If there’s anything you need just give me a call. I’ve been authorized to assist you in whatever way I can. And if I can’t handle it the Director will. He’s included his direct and private number as well.”
“Is there anything you need at this time?”
“No. I’m just need to re-qual before I head to Oklahoma City.”
“I’ll call the range and let them know you’re on your way,” Stacy said with a friendly smile.
Jessica was surprised to find someone waiting for her when she stepped off the jetway and into the waiting area. She even more surprised to see that someone was the Director himself, Lou Cavanaugh.
He gave her a smile and took her bag from her shoulder. “It’s good to see you, Jessica.”
“Thanks. But why are you here to pick me up?”
“I just wanted the chance to talk to you face to face.”
“You mean you want to try again to convince me to teach at Quantico.”
He smiled. “Well, now that you mention it.”
She rolled her eyes.
“Give me your claim tickets. I’ll have someone get your baggage for you and bring it to the office.”
She handed over the baggage tickets, which Lou gave to an agent waiting by his car at the curb.
“Takes us to Headquarters, Bill,” the Director ordered the driver.
Lou looked at Jessica appraisingly. “How are you doing, Jessica?”
She arched an eyebrow in response.
It was just three days until the sixth anniversary of Toni Jeffers’ murder. Whether she admitted it or not, he knew it was on her mind. After several long seconds of her continued silence he quietly sighed. “So, have you given any more thought to becoming an instructor?”
“Not really. I just finished up with the case in Indianapolis this morning.”
At headquarters, Lou escorted Jessica up to the taskforce bullpen. Assistant Director Ben Taylor was waiting for them as soon as the elevator doors opened. The Director handled the introductions.
They then followed Taylor to his office. On the way, Jessica couldn’t help but notice the cold stare coming from a face from the past – Mulder. She sighed internally. Maybe the case would take her mind off things.
Previous parts: Prologue | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 |