Mulder looked up from an email from Cera, as the bells on the door jingled, announcing an arrival. It was not Scully, but an older man and a little girl wearing hot pink furry earmuffs and a matching coat. They walked past him and he watched them approach the counter, smiling as the girl looked at all the cookies, as she decided on which one she wanted to buy.
He looked back down at his phone, at the photos she had sent over and he shook his head. The night she had been attacked in the amusement park, she had captured pictures of Elinor, unbeknownst to her until a couple of days later.
Elinor had not appeared as a ghost, but as a slightly out of focus person, getting clearer the closer she came to Cera. Not an angel in a graveyard, but a vengeful woman in her wedding dress. Mulder shook his head at the physical proof of an apparition that he held in his hand and all he could think was that it had nearly cost Scully her life. Not worth it.
Nothing was worth that.
“Hey,” Scully said, suddenly beside him and he jumped as he turned to look at her, locking his phone and putting it into his pocket. “Scare you?” She smiled as she sat down carefully, taking a chip from the bag in front of him.
“What have I been telling you for the past few days? I don’t get scared, remember?” he lied, his heart racing in his chest.
“Hmm,” she hummed, eating the chip and taking another. “Couldn’t wait for me?”
“You said twenty minutes and it’s been… at least thirty. So, I needed something to tide me over.”
“I believe the new established understanding is, if it’s longer than twenty minutes, bacon is involved. All the bacon.”
“Jewish deli, Scully,” he quipped, looking around and she laughed softly.
“Touché,” she said as she stood up just as carefully as she had sat down, brushing off her hands, and sliding off her coat and leaving it on her chair. “I’ll go order for us, you wait here and keep the table.” She stared at him and he raised an eyebrow. “Pastrami on rye, extra mustard, pickle on the side.” He kept staring and she smiled. “Coleslaw, unless the potato salad looks homemade.”
“Ahhh, Scully…” he said, more than a little aroused.
“Twenty five years, Mulder,” she said, shrugging and walking away.
“Yeah,” he said softly. “Twenty five years.”
He sighed as he watched her waiting in line, seeing her unconsciously rubbing gently at her chest. Knowing it was the ache of the bruises that covered the skin beneath the black sweater she wore, he shook his head, rubbing at his mouth.
They had only arrived home yesterday afternoon, after Scully had spent a couple of days in the hospital, making sure she was all right after nearly dying at the Boudreaux house. The ambulance had arrived not long after she had passed out and taken her to a hospital nearby, him following behind in the car.
He had not been allowed back until she was in a room, no matter how he had raged or flashed his badge. When he had finally been allowed back, he had walked into her room, believing she was asleep and causing him to pause in the doorway. But then she had opened her eyes and reached her hand out to him. He had walked over to her, grasping her hand and kissing her forehead, before resting his against hers.
“Thank you,” she had whispered, her thumb rubbing over the top of his hand.
“Scully,” he had whispered, pulling back to look at her.
“Stay with me. Don’t leave.”
“I’m not going anywhere.” She had tugged at his hand, trying to move over, groaning as she did. “Hey… careful. Let me help you.”
He had helped her shift over a bit, took off his shoes and suit jacket, and slid beneath the blankets beside her. Lying on their sides, she had nestled into him, his arms wrapped around her, and her hand grasping at his shirt.
“Mulder…” she had sighed, her breath warm against his neck, falling asleep almost instantly.
In the next few days, she had quite a few visitors for someone who knew no one in the area. Sheriff Lavonne had come to take their statement and her eyes had flicked to Mulder’s as he stood in the corner of the room, listening to her doctored version of events.
She had already told him what had happened, or what she thought had happened, shaking her head as she had said she did not know what was real or imagined.
“You think you imagined it, Scully?” he had asked, and she shook her head with a sigh.
“I don’t know, Mulder.” She had looked at him with a shrug, looking down as she rubbed the blanket between her fingers. “How can I explain to others that I believe I was trapped inside of a mirror with a woman who died over 150 years ago? I can barely comprehend it. How can I explain that without ending up in the psych ward?”
To that question, he had no answer.
Arielle, Davis, Cera, and Adam had come to see them, eager to tell their story of what had happened.
The four of them had met up, sharing the stories each had heard over the years concerning Elinor and Mary. When they had hit a dead end, they had done the same as Mulder, scouring past records for any information. They had called family members, friends, and friends of friends, asking if anyone they knew had ever mentioned or knew of stories related to Mary and Elinor.
They had found a person related to James Cormier, a man who had heard his mother tell stories that she had heard about lost loves and being sure to choose the right person as your life partner. To never settle for the most beautiful or wealthy because both will fade. But love, it lasts and remains forever, no matter a person’s social standing.
“Better to be poor and happy than rich and miserable,” Arielle had said and the others had agreed, but then debated that being happy and a bit rich would not be so bad. They had all laughed and then they continued the story.
After they had spoken to Reese, James’s distant relative, they knew what they needed to do.
“Truth be told,” Davis had said, shaking his head. “The minute Arielle showed me the pictures Cera had taken a few years ago, I knew what we had to do, but I was terrified to actually do it.”
“I was too,” Arielle had said, taking his hand and looking at him with a nod. “I felt nauseous at the thought of even being there. But then, we went and saw Farrah and Tyler in the hospital, something I had been unable to do until then, and I wasn’t scared anymore. I was fucking pissed.” Davis had nodded in agreement, clenching his jaw.
They had driven out, stopping at a hardware store for sledgehammers and protective eye goggles, gaining curious looks, but no comments from the gum chewing young girl who had rung up four people buying such items in the middle of a storm.
When they had pulled up to the church, Arielle and Davis both had a moment of hesitation, breathing hard and shaking in the pouring rain.
“But then Cera…” Arielle had said, tears in her eyes as she reached for her friend’s hand. “She grabbed my hand and that was all I needed. She nodded and we walked together in the rain, determined to end it.”
Knowing exactly where it was, Cera leading them, still holding Arielle’s hand, they had each taken a sledgehammer and put on their goggles, lightning flashing and the rain making it harder to see, but not impossible to get their task finished.
Simultaneously, they had hit Elinor’s headstone and the large statue of Mary that had been ordered to be erected there by Mary’s mother Elizabeth, years after Mary’s death.
“Hany, the slave girl who had been befriended by Mary, had also been entrusted with letters Mary had written when she was the most ill regarding her concerns about Elinor, that were to be given to her mother after Mary’s father had died,” Adam had explained. “Mary did not like her father and he did not seem to care for her either. After his death, Hany came back to that house she had lived in as a slave, and told the truth she had kept secret for years. Mary’s mother had the statue made as a sense of revenge: that Mary would always be there no matter where Elinor was. So… that bitch had to come down.” The other three had nodded vigorously and Mulder had looked at Scully, impressed by the little group of badasses.
Not stopping until both were piles of rubble, they had fallen to the ground, everyone but Adam crying, feeling free, the rain washing them clean.
“I didn’t even feel cold,” Arielle had said, crying and wiping her eyes. “For the first time in nearly two months, in the pouring rain, I didn’t feel cold.” She had looked at Mulder and he had nodded with a smile before glancing at Scully. She had wiped at her own eyes and looked at him, understanding that their actions had not only saved them, but had been what saved her as well.
When Scully had been released from the hospital, they had gone to see Farrah and Tyler, who were now awake and making a slow recovery, much to Doctor Audrey’s relief.
“It’s going to take a long time for them to heal,” Scully had said, taking a deep breath as they walked down the hallway, slowing her steps for a second. Taking another deep breath, she had placed her hand on her chest, giving him a nod. “I’m okay. Just some bruising.” He had stared at her, knowing he had been the one to put the bruises there, in his desperate attempt to keep her heart beating, and she had shaken her head.
“I’ll take the bruises over the alternative any day,” she had said softly and he had nodded, placing his hand on the small of her back as they had continued out of the hospital.
“Food should be up soon,” she said, sitting beside him, pulling him from his thoughts.
“Great, I’m starving.”
“Maybe this will help tide you over until then?” she asked with a smile, placing a black and white cookie in front of him on a napkin. He nodded as he looked at it, breaking it in half horizontally, two pieces of equal amount of both colors.
“Look to the cookie, Elaine. Look to the cookie,” he said, quoting Seinfeld and he handed her half. She laughed and nodded as she took a bite and he did the same.
“Order for Fox? Fox, your order is ready!”
“Really?” he asked, staring at her and shaking his head. She shrugged, not meeting his eyes until he started to get up and she looked at him, her eyes shining. “I’ll remember this, Miss Scully, mark my words.”
“I’m sure you will… Fox,” she giggled and he shook his head with a smile as he walked up to the counter.
“Fox?” the girl at the counter asked.
“Yeah, that’s me,” he muttered, and she nodded, sliding their tray of food toward him.
“Thank you for coming in today, Fox. And Merry Christmas!” He looked at her and nodded.
“Happy Holidays to you,” he said, picking up the tray and turning around. He shook his head as he saw Scully grinning at him as he walked back to their table.
“Did you get the food okay then, Fox?”
“You best watch it,” he said, setting the tray down as she took their plates off of it, and he moved the tray to the side.
They ate in silence, sharing food back and forth as they always had, and he found comfort in the comfortable. Glancing at her as she stopped eating to take a deep breath, he shook his head needing to tell her something that had been on his mind.
“I know I’ve joked that I don’t get scared anymore,” he said quietly, setting his sandwich down, and wiping his hands clean. “But… I was more scared than I have ever been when I couldn’t bring you around. You were so cold-”
“I thought I’d lost you, Scully. I really did.”
“Your panic face was showing?” she teased and he looked at her, his expression serious.
“I’m not joking. I’m not-”
“Mulder,” she said quietly, covering his hand with her own and squeezing his fingers. “I know. I… I was scared too. Very scared.” He nodded as he looked into her eyes and they spoke the best way they knew how; silently. He squeezed her hand with a deep sigh and a nod and she squeezed back.
Not saying anything further, words unnecessary, they sat quietly holding hands, in a busy Jewish deli on Christmas afternoon, her head resting on his shoulder, as life bustled on around them.
A snore startled her awake and Scully’s eyes flew open. The room was dark, the sun just beginning to light the sky, when she heard it again and she smiled.
Turning over carefully onto her left side, she watched Mulder sleeping, his chest rising and falling gently. Wanting to reach out and touch him, but knowing it would wake him, instead she stared, and thought about last night.
After the day she had, the autopsies she had to perform on those who had been too young to die, and seeing William in the youngest of the three, being alone was the last thing she had wanted.
As the door had closed, their eyes locked on one another, she had placed her hand on his chest, needing to feel his heart beating even though he stood in front of her, alive and well.
“Scully,” he had whispered, his hand covering hers and his thumb rubbing softly, had been all the encouragement necessary to propel her forward, her lips landing on his own.
Kisses had been shared, clothing removed, and then she was on her back, her legs wrapped around his waist as he had pushed into her, both of them breathing the other’s name. Her arms had been around his back, her hands gripping his skin. An arm around her waist and the other under her head, they had made love slowly.
His name had fallen repeatedly from her lips, her fingernails digging into his flesh, her heels pressing into his ass. He had whispered her name, as she had quietly fallen over the edge, holding him close, her head thrown back and his lips at her throat.
He had followed her, just as quietly, as she had clung to him, whispering his name and breathing hard.
“Mulder…” she had breathed, her hands running up and down his back. “Oh, Mulder. I’ve missed this.”
“Scully,” he had whispered, kissing her neck, her chin, her lips. “Me too.”
He snored softly again and she bit her lip, sighing as she quietly pushed the covers back and got out of bed. Nearly four years apart had taught her to resist her impulses, the timing never right, no matter how much she may have wanted it. Now, even though she knew it had been her who had asked him to stay and had made the first move, she needed to put some space between them.
Needed some time to think.
She took a shower, got dressed, put on her makeup, and still he slept. As she stood and watched him, not wanting to turn on the hair dryer, knowing it would wake him up, she thought of years ago when she would leave the warmth of his bed, far too early in the morning, in order to go home and get ready for work.
Until the night he had taken her hand and shown her the drawers and space in the closet he had created for her, his smile shy and awkward. After that, their mornings had been spent making love and getting ready for work, together.
He hummed, rubbed at his face, and stretched. She quickly walked into the bathroom and closed the door, letting him get up and dressed without it feeling anymore awkward than it did at the moment.
Listening at the door, she flushed the toilet, giving him a warning, and waited a few seconds before opening the door and walking out to the sink and washing her hands.
“Dressed for the day already… you must have been up early,” he said, his voice thick with sleep and she closed her eyes. His early morning voice always made her feel weak in the knees.
“Oh, you’re awake,” she said, feigning surprise as she turned off the water and opened her eyes, grabbing a hand towel as she turned around. He was sitting on the bed in his underwear and white undershirt, his hair mussed, and eyes closed as he rolled his neck from side to side.
He looked absolutely adorable.
How easy it would be to walk over and run her fingers through his hair, kiss him, and join him in bed for some quick morning sex. It would be fast and good, as it always had been, but she knew she needed to stay where she stood.
“Christ, it’s already quarter past seven,” he said, standing up and stretching, exposing that little bit of his stomach as his shirt moved. The skin she had licked and kissed far too many times to count. “Should we go to that diner again? Maybe in like twenty minutes?”
She frowned, but quickly erased that expression, not wanting him to see how his rather dismissive attitude was affecting her. Head down, she shook her head slightly as she closed her eyes.
“Scully?” he asked quietly and she opened her eyes as she looked up, finding him standing closer to her, his eyes asking her questions he did not voice.
“Twenty minutes,” she agreed with a nod. He nodded back, his eyes still searching her face. “Clock’s ticking and you’re far behind. You better get showered and changed.” She smiled and he tilted his head, still searching her face. She nodded again, and he sighed with a nod.
Gathering his clothes and his shoes, he opened the door and looked back at her.
“Go… or I’ll head over on my own and order all the bacon. And I won’t share when you finally make your way over. Looking good, sure, but taking your sweet ass time.” He laughed and nodded, licking his lips and biting the bottom one.
“Or no bacon for you. Tick tock, Agent Mulder.” She tapped her watch and he smiled as he walked out the door, closing it as she turned around and picked up the hair dryer, smiling at her reflection.
Corner Diner 9:00 a.m.
“It’s an intriguing story, Mulder,” she said, pushing her empty plate forward and picking up her half full coffee mug as he finished the story he had read in the book at Arielle’s house. “Creepy and disturbing as hell, but I’m not quite sure it’s completely factual.”
“Which is why I stated that upfront,” he said, taking the last bite of his waffle, which he had ordered after giving her a wink, as though he was proving he was not as predictable with his meals as she thought. To which she had rolled her eyes and shook her head with a smile.
“I mean it’s entirely possible that it all could have happened, but I think it would be more widely known if it did, especially in this area. I think it would have been quite the scandal.”
“Indeed. Which is why I am going to see what I can at the public records office about Elinor and Mary.” She nodded and set her mug down, wiping her mouth with a napkin.
“And I need to get to the coroner’s office. You can drop me on the way.”
Coroner’s Office 9:30 a.m.
“Okay, hopefully I’ll find out what I need quickly, though I don’t know. There’s something I’m missing, Scully. Something I’m not seeing.” He sighed as he drummed his fingers on the steering wheel and shook his head.
“With that and what I find out here, we should be able to fit more pieces into this puzzle.”
He nodded and as she took off her seat belt, he leaned toward her. Without thinking she met him halfway and they kissed goodbye. Both of them pulled back, equally surprised by what happened and the ease at which they fell back into the familiarity of their past relationship.
“I… I’m sorry,” he said, pulling back further and shaking his head. “I…”
“Mulder,” she whispered, smiling softly as she shook her head and squeezed his hand as she opened the door. “I’ll see you later.” He nodded, giving her a half smile as she got out of the car and waved goodbye.
“Sudden cardiac arrest?” she asked the coroner and he sighed with a nod. “Why?”
“Agent Scully,” he said and shook his head. “I can’t think of another explanation than that. They were all alive and then they weren’t. If that’s not “sudden,” then I don’t know what is.”
“But the others-”
“The others, Agent Scully…” He shook his head again and she stared at him. “The others were hard to pinpoint as well. Exposure would never occur that quickly, but what else could we call it? They had been exposed and everyone of those who came in here… they presented with symptoms of exposure… hypothermia.”
“In October in New Orleans,” she stated, just as she had to Mulder in their basement office.
“Yeah,” he said, staring at her with a knowing look. “Five people, all in one fell swoop. How else could I explain it? There were no true eyewitnesses, not until these three recent deaths, and according to Agent Mulder’s reporting of that accounting, it was sudden. Nothing else points to the cause of death, but a sudden cardiac arrest. They were all young and healthy… and the preliminary autopsies show nothing aside from the possibility of a cardiac arrest.”
She looked down at the file in her hand and sighed. “I understand what you’re saying, I just…”
“I know. Believe me I know. If you think you can find something different, something I’m not seeing…” He shook his head and sighed. “Until then, I have to go with sudden cardiac arrest. These kids and their families deserve an answer to what happened to them, and right now that’s the only one I can give them.” He looked tired as he stared at her and she nodded. Touching his arm lightly, she sighed.
Walking over to a table, she set the file down and sat down, beginning to read over the evidence once again, to see if anything had been overlooked.
“I’ll get you the other files,” he said quietly and she nodded gratefully.
Coroner’s Office 4:30 p.m.
Thunder rumbled and lightning flashed, the lights flickering, before glowing brightly again.
“Looks like we’re in for a good storm,” the coroner said, walking into the room and setting down a cup of coffee in front of her. “Thought you could use a little caffeine.”
“Thank you,” she said with a smile, picking up the cup and taking a deep breath, breathing in the wonderful scent of freshly brewed coffee.
“Anything?” he asked, sitting across from her and she shook her head as she took a drink.
“No. Not yet, but I feel like I’m getting close.” She set the cup down and rubbed at her eyebrows with a sigh. Thunder rumbled again, sounding closer than before, and she shook her head.
“Don’t like the rain?” he asked with a smile and she looked at him.
“No, I do,” she said with a small laugh. “It just seems that when it does rain, I’m somehow destined to be out in it, soaked to the skin and eventually covered in mud.” He laughed and as lightning flashed, her phone rang, causing her to jump. “See what I mean?” She gestured down at Mulder’s name and he laughed quietly, standing up and leaving the room.
She took a deep breath, eyes closed, as she picked up the phone, knowing this was the call that would bring them out into the rain. Opening her eyes, she pressed the accept button and let out her breath.
“Scully, it’s me.”
“Hey, Mulder. I’m-”
“Scully? Can you hear me? Christ, it’s raining and everyone seems to have forgotten how to drive. Yeah, same to you, fucker.” She heard a horn honk and she laughed silently as she knew he was most likely flipping off whoever had irked him. “I’m on my way to you. I should… in a few minutes. Almost… probably…”
“Hello? Hello? Mulder?” The call dropped and the lights flickered, went out, and did not come back. With a moan, she stood up, taking one last large drink of coffee.
Setting aside the file she had been reading, she grabbed her jacket and walked to the entrance of the building to wait for Mulder.
The rain was coming down in sheets when she saw the lights of the rental car pull up and she made a run for it, feeling nearly drenched as she opened the door and got inside the car.
“God,” she said, shaking off and exhaling a breath as he turned the car around. “If I would’ve known it was going to rain, I would’ve brought an umbrella with me today.” Wiping out her face, she looked at him, begrudging his dry clothing, obviously just missing the rain.
“I didn’t know it was even cloudy until I’d walked outside. I’ve been in front of a microfiche machine most of the day. Yeah, you heard me right, a microfiche machine.” He looked over his shoulder, glancing at her as he changed lanes and she shook her head.
“So, you found something.”
“I did. But, it was actually Arielle who helped the most.”
“I was surprised myself, but she called a little while ago, telling me that she, Davis, and Cera, were looking into some things. They even went to visit Farrah and Tyler in the hospital.”
“What? They left their homes?”
“That’s great. Jesus, Mulder, slow down.,” she said, holding onto the handle above her, feeling the car fishtail a little. “Where are we going in such a hurry?”
“I got another call from Arielle, telling me they were going to fix things. She mentioned something about the house, and I told them not to go without help, that we would be there, but I’m not sure she heard me, as that’s when the phone cut out. I wasn’t able to call her back. I was lucky to finally get through to you after I had tried five times. Fucking rain.” He shook his head as he turned the wipers up to the highest setting and lightning flashed, illuminating the very dark clouds.
“So… they’re at the house? The Boudreaux house?”
“But why? Why go there? None of them were attacked there.”
“No… but they found out some things that I would never have even thought to check, or even where to check.”
“What do you mean?”
“That story Michelle had in that book… well it was more fiction than fact, or they just had it backwards, and thought it was true.”
“You’re not making any sense.” He chuckled as he got on the highway, heading for the Boudreaux home.
“Elinor and Mary were cousins, that was true. But… it was never Mary who was mean or vindictive. It was Elinor.”
“Yeah… Arielle, Davis, and Cera went on a serious dive into the past. Turns out, there was a servant, no a slave, a slave named Hany who was bought… Jesus, just saying that…” He shook his head and she nodded in understanding. “She was bought to help with the unexpected twins Mary’s mother, Elizabeth, had in 1851. She was ill, as were the twins, so her husband, Robert, bought a young slave girl to help and not lose a slave elsewhere.”
“Jesus Christ,” Scully said under her breath.
“Yeah,” he breathed, shaking his head. “Her name was Hany, like I said before, and she was twelve. Twelve, Scully. That alone is disgusting. And she was expected to care for a woman and two babies, and who knows what happened if she didn’t do it properly.” Scully shook her head again, holding onto the handle as they hit a large puddle.
“Hany was there for only a few months when Mary fell ill, something the doctor couldn’t figure out. Elizabeth was faring better and Hany became Mary’s maid, seeing to her well being.”
“You found all this in public records? Seems an odd thing to have an account of, sounds more like family issues, not public ones.”
“Precisely!” he said with a grin and she frowned.
“Again, you’re not making sense.”
“No, it wasn’t in the public records. But it was something Arielle and her friends found out. Turns out the DJ at all the parties, while not involved in the attacks in any way, is related to Hany and he had also been hearing stories about Elinor and Mary his whole life. Well, Mary mostly.”
“Yeah… small world huh?”
“It is…” she mused. “So… we’re heading back to the house? And you’re sure they’re there?”
“They said the house. That’s the only house where there was an attack.”
“In the rain…” she sighed and shook her head. “And what will soon be nightfall. Perfect…”
“It won’t be the first time that we were out in the rain and the mud,” he said with a grin.
“No. But I always like to avoid it when I can.”
“Well, tonight we won’t be able to. I really hope they’re okay.”
“Did you call the sheriff for backup?” He looked at her and raised his eyebrows. “Right, the phone wasn’t working.” Looking down at her own phone, she saw there was no service. Great… fucking rain.
“Almost there,” he said, going a bit faster.
“It’s not enough to go on.”
“So, there was Hany who was taking care of Mary… why and how does that change the story?”
“It changes it greatly when you hear the rest,” he assured her and she nodded, waiting to hear it. “As Hany was caring for her, Mary began to confide in her. Told her about Elinor, who was a frequent guest in the home. Everyone always said Elinor was the prettier of the two, but get my phone and let me know what you think. I took a few pictures of what I could find.”
She took his phone from the cup holder and unlocked it, searching through his pictures. There were a few of the portraits of the Boudreaux family, Mary, and one of Elinor. Scully stared at it, going back and forth between the two women, a gnawing feeling she could not explain settling in her stomach when she stared at Elinor’s.
“There’s something… I don’t know.”
“Exactly. I know what you mean,” he agreed as she continued to stare at the picture and he continued with the story. “Elinor lived with the Boudreaux’s in the winter of 1854-1855. While she was there, she would force Hany away, insisting on waiting on her cousin. Bringing her drinks and treats, making sure she was comfortable.”
“She was up to something.”
“Mary certainly thought so, telling Hany it made her hesitant to accept her cousin’s help, when she had never behaved that way before.”
“Perhaps she was causing Mary’s sickness… poisoning her maybe… but why?”
“Same story as always. Anger. Jealousy. The affection of a man. Or lack thereof.” He glanced at her and she nodded. “Mary and James Cormier were taken with one another, and Elinor was jealous. Mary was always sicker on days when there was a party at the house or one planned elsewhere, forcing her to remain in her room.”
“And you heard all this from Arielle?” she asked as they exited the highway.
“Adam’s mother had a book, which she had to search to find. She lives in Houston so she read them passages over the phone.”
“But what about the one Arielle’s family has? How is that not true?”
“Because Hany wrote about that as well. Another slave, Coffey, was given as Elinor’s maid while she stayed there and Coffey never liked Mary, telling Hany when they were alone that Mary should let Elinor have James as Mary already had so much and Elinor was an orphan.”
“Yeah. At thirteen, she was orphaned and the church took her in.”
“Not her family?” Scully asked, beginning to feel nervous as they approached the house, something not sitting right with her.
“No. The pastor and his wife of the church where Elinor was eventually buried, had never had children and they offered to raise her, giving her all they could.”
“But it wasn’t enough…” she said quietly, the house looming into view, lightning flashing and rain pouring down, as the car rolled to a stop.
“Ready?” he asked, turning off the car and she shook her head, something niggling at her. He nodded, taking the flashlights they always carried out of the glovebox and turned them on, handing one to her.
He opened the door and stepped out as she followed suit, drenched immediately as they hurried toward the house. Through the doorway, they stepped inside and looked around, shaking the water from their body and hair.
“Mulder…” she said quietly, realizing what it was that was bothering her.
“No, Mulder, wait.”
“Where’s their car?”
“What?” She shook her head and looked at him in the dark of the house.
“They aren’t here, Mulder. Are you sure they said-”
“Agent Mulder! Help me!”
They both looked up, shining their flashlights upstairs, but saw nothing.
“That’s Arielle,” he said, turning toward the stairs.
“No, Mulder! Wait!” She grabbed his arm and he stared at her.
“What are you doing? She needs help!”
“It’s not her! Mulder, they aren’t here. There’s no car, Mulder….”
“Agent Mulder! Please! I need your help!”
“Scully, what are we debating here?” He shook his head, pulling from her grasp and starting up the stairs.
“Mulder! They wouldn’t be up there! Mulder!” She watched him as he ran quickly, but carefully, up the stairs and out of her sight. “MULDER! Come back down here! They wouldn’t have gone…”
And then she heard it. A sound she had heard the other day as she danced on the sidewalk, to a song she did not know, drunk and happy. Ignoring the words, she had listened to the beat of the music calling to her like a heartbeat.
Feeling that pull again, the heartbeat powerful, she looked to her left and started walking towards the sound, leaving Mulder running around upstairs, calling for her and Arielle, his voice far away, as she kept walking.
A light was shining under the door of the ballroom as she approached; a door she did not remember being there before. She froze, as at the same moment, music began to play. No longer was it only the sound of a heartbeat, but she recognized that it was the song she heard the other day.
She kept walking, the song getting louder as she got closer, the words like a siren song.
You’re so hypnotizing Could you be the devil, could you be an angel Your touch magnetizing Feels like I am floating, leaves my body glowing
They say be afraid You’re not like the others, futuristic lovers Different DNA, they don’t understand you
You’re from a whole ‘nother world A different dimension You open my eyes And I’m ready to go, lead me into the light
Pushing the door open, the music stopped instantly, as soon as she stepped into the room. The air felt thick and impossibly quiet, the room bathed in a bluish tint; as though she was inside of a swimming pool at night.
She felt every breath she took, abnormally aware of the air filling her lungs, as she stepped further into the room.
“Arielle?” she called, the word heavy on her tongue, her eyes feeling even heavier. “Arielle, are you here?” Her voice sounded echoey in her head and she suddenly felt very cold.
She started to walk back towards the door, knowing something was wrong. Stopping for a second, she turned around, noticing the room was not the broken mess they had seen a few days ago. The glass was once more in the window frames and there was no debris sitting around the room.
Get out, get out, she thought, turning around slowly, feeling as though she was walking through deep water, when the fireplace sprang to life. Her teeth chattering, she moved toward it, seeking warmth, the air still feeling thick and heavy.
But there was no heat coming from the fire, no matter how close she got to it, her body shaking. Looking up, a chill ran through her, and she quickly turned her head looking behind her.
Nothing was there but an empty room and yet, when she looked back in the mirror above the fireplace, the room was full of people.
Stepping closer, she felt as though the world had tipped upside down, the sensation akin to slipping and falling in a dream and she shouted out, calling for help.
“No one can hear you.” She heard someone say and she stared at the mirror, seeing the group of people, but no one was speaking.
“My partner is… he is…”
“Oh.” The voice laughed. “No, he won’t be coming to help you. He’s a bit preoccupied at the moment.”
“Agent Mulder, please help me!” Came the sound of Arielle’s voice, bouncing off the walls of the room, and Scully looked around, but Arielle was not there. No one was, except for Scully.
And yet, when she looked back at the mirror, it reflected that the room was full of people. People she began to recognize from their photos in the case files: Desiree, Becca, Tim, Zach, Jenkins, and Zara, specifically. They were sitting and standing around the room, quiet and unmoving.
There were others from the other parties, their names escaping her, as the cold pressed around her, her body aching as she drew in a breath and closed her eyes.
Screaming suddenly came from all around her and she covered her ears, her flashlight dropping to the ground. As quickly as it began, the screaming stopped. She opened her eyes and felt a sick feeling settle in her stomach. She was now in the room with the people, as though she had gone through the looking glass like Alice.
She was not the only one as there were two new people, sitting with tears on their faces and as still as the others: Regina Wallace and Jonathon Breaux, two of the four they had seen at the hospital. She stared at them, beginning to understand what was happening. Walking closer to them, she was stopped by the sound of that voice.
“I’ve been waiting for you.” She heard and she turned to see a woman. Not the one she had expected, regardless of the stories Mulder had just told her.
It was not Mary, but Elinor.
“It’s you,” she said and Elinor nodded, a dark smile on her face.
“Yes. It’s me. It was always me and no one ever suspected,” she giggled, a mad giggle that gave Scully goosebumps.
“I don’t understand,” Scully said, both because she truly did not and because she needed to take a moment and investigate her surroundings.
They were in the ballroom, but it was different, as though they had all gone back in time. Portraits hung on the wall, the furniture stylish though old, and candles glowed brightly.
Looking down in disbelief, she found herself wearing a dark blue dress and white satin elbow gloves, matching the style of the dress as those around her. She looked up at the other people in the room, a chill going through her at the still way they sat, the sound of conversations going on, but no one’s lips moving.
“Of course you don’t understand,” Elinor said, twirling around the room, her white wedding dress flowing around her as she did. “No one understands or has ever understood me. Not in life or death.” She spun again and Scully felt a pain in her chest, wincing at it as she touched it.
“This was all I ever wanted, to live here in this grand house. To be loved and given the life I deserved, but it never happened.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’ve been watching you,” Elinor said, no longer spinning and walking closer to Scully, who found the shift in conversation disturbing. “I’ve seen the happiness you have. I want it.”
Scully stared at her and Elinor laughed, that harsh mean laugh that made her skin crawl and the others in the room react by crying or closing their eyes.
“I’ll have it soon. I’ve been patient, but I can only wait so long. Sometimes I got bored waiting for the one I needed most to show up and I had to find ways to amuse myself.” She gestured around her and the group of people set up taller.
“You killed them for fun.” Scully stated and Elinor nodded.
“Some of them, yes. And it was fun to watch them die. But not to hear them when they had. Such crying and carrying on, none of them are allowed to speak anymore.” She shrugged and Scully saw it then, the spoiled girl who thought she deserved everything.
“You poisoned your cousin, didn’t you?” Scully asked and Elinor grinned with a nod.
“She had no idea. The doctor couldn’t figure out what was ailing her and it made me laugh every time he came to the house and couldn’t cure her. I would stop for a few days and then start again, just to make her feel she was getting better.”
“Who else did you poison? Who were your other victims? Your parents?”
“I didn’t want to, but… yes. They were poor… and I had bigger plans than they could give me.” Scully saw movement out of the corner of her eye, but Elinor was not paying attention. Turning her head slightly, Scully saw very angry faces staring at Elinor.
“It didn’t go to plan, however. With them dead, I thought my uncle would take me in, raise Mary and I as sisters. But, the reverend of the church near our home, and his wife, had never had children and they took me in as their own. I was so angry.”
“You killed your parents to get ahead and yet you fell even further back. Bad deeds don’t go unpunished.”
“No, they don’t,” Elinor said, and for a second she was different, almost approachable.
“Why do this? Why do any of it?” Scully asked softly, seeing she may have a way to fix things, to save others that were still out there. But then, Elinor glared at her and she knew it was hopeless.
“Because I never had the happy life I should have had and I want it now. I can have it now and I will.”
“You didn’t have a happy life because you killed and you stole. You create your own happiness in life and you murdered yours.”
“It shows what you understand. I had no chance at anything better than a life with someone such as a… a… tradesman, not a gentleman.”
“Would that have been so terrible?”
“A life of possible poverty? Living in a small home with no social standing? No parties to attend while my cousin had a happy life without any worries? It would have been death,” Elinor said. “I would rather have died.”
“And yet, you got the gentleman, you married him, and you did die,” Scully said, masking another pain in her chest, not wanting Elinor to see.
“That was a mistake,” she said angrily. “My cousin wasn’t supposed to be at the wedding. Laughing and dancing, charming everyone the way she always did. She flustered me and I… I made a mistake.”
“You poisoned yourself,” Scully said incredulously.
“It doesn’t matter anymore. That was a mistake that I am fixing.” She smiled and it gave Scully the chills.
“You’re dead. How could you possibly?”
“Oh…” Elinor giggled and started spinning again. “You still haven’t figured it out. You’re so intelligent and yet you’re also so stupid.” She stopped spinning and stared at Scully with that same malicious smile. “You’re dying, haven’t you noticed?
“What? No, I’m not…”
“But you are. All of them,” Elinor said, sweeping her arm to gesture to the silent people in the room. “All of them were nothing compared to you. I didn’t know until I did, but all of this began to find you. Their lives were tiny, though some of them fought harder and that meant I could use them longer, keep them hanging on until I got to you.”
“Ohhh… because you know… despair, sadness, happiness, and love. You’ve experienced it all and it’s made you strong. Imagine when I have that strength…”
“You won’t. Not from me.”
“Yes, I will. Go… see for yourself…” Elinor giggled and Scully frowned. But then, everyone in the room silently pointed behind her and she turned around slowly, the pain in her chest burning again.
Over the mantle was the same mirror and through it she could see herself lying on the ground, Mulder over her, his hands pressing on her chest. She gripped at her chest, feeling the pain of it and she started to cry as she understood what Elinor meant.
No! This was not how this was going to end. She was not going to die this way.
“No!” she yelled, turning to look at Elinor and her expression darkened.
“No?” Elinor said quietly. “You think that you can tell me what I can and cannot do? You’re dying and once you do, I will have your life, and your fellow. Hmm, he is ever so much better looking than James. It will be so easy.”
“It won’t. I won’t make it easy.” Elinor laughed and the others began to whimper and rock in their seats and where they stood. “You said yourself that I’m strong-”
“Ohhh, not right now, you’re not,” Elinor said with a loud laugh. “I’d say you have minutes left. Perhaps even seconds. You won’t…”
Scully stared at her as she stopped talking, confusion on her face. The people in the room began to move, coming closer to stand around Elinor, though not to protect her, of that Scully was certain.
“No! They can’t… no… it’s not…” Elinor stood in place, unable to move, as the people drew in tighter, moaning excitedly.
Scully stepped back, her heart aching as she looked in the mirror, watching Mulder breathing for her and tears ran down her face, not knowing how to get back to him.
“Break… it…” She heard, and she turned her head, watching Elinor crumbling to the ground, her body breaking apart like a statue. “Go… now…” The group seemed to speak as one as they stared at her and she nodded in understanding.
“Thank you. I’m sorry I couldn’t save you.” They nodded and turned back to Elinor, as Scully picked up a large candlestick, throwing it at the mirror as hard as she could, the glass shattering.
Taking a running leap into the unknown, the last thing she heard was Elinor screaming, before she gasped for breath, the pain in her chest now more pronounced, every inch of her body aching.
She opened her eyes as she took in big gulping breaths of air. They were in the ballroom, the wind whipping through the broken windows, and she began to shake, both from the cold and what she had just experienced.
“C… c… cold,” she stuttered and he nodded, taking his coat off quickly and laying it over her, despite it still being wet from the rain.
“Deep breaths, Scully,” he whispered, brushing her hair back and lying down beside her, an arm around her waist and a leg hooked over her legs, holding her close. “Keep breathing. An ambulance is on the way. I don’t know how, but I got through. They’ll be here soon. Just keep breathing.”
She nodded, closing her eyes and licking her lips, feeling the warmth of his body warming hers. Turning her head to the right, she opened her eyes and saw the shattered mirror above the mantle and she smiled. However and whatever happened, it was over now.
The sound of sirens in the distance had never sounded so beautiful. Taking another deep breath, her chest and body aching, reminding her she was alive, she turned her head to rest it against Mulder’s. Closing her eyes, she slipped into unconsciousness.
Arielle woke up in a cold sweat, shivering violently, as she laid back down. She pulled the covers tighter around herself, the portable heater humming as it began to pump out more heat.
Another nightmare. Screaming bouncing inside her head, someone crying, and the cold. Always so cold.
“I am safe. I am home. I am safe. I am home,” she whispered the mantra she had been saying to herself, finding it helped to calm her down. Taking a deep breath, she opened her eyes, the nightlight in the corner letting out a soft light.
Until this happened, she had blackout curtains on her windows, loving it as dark as possible. Now… now the dark was scary and she needed to have a nightlight, like some terrified little child.
Throwing back her covers angrily, she grabbed her robe and turned down the heater, leaving it just warm enough. Closing the door as she left the room, she shivered as she walked down the stairs and into the kitchen to make some tea.
She hoped not to wake her parents or her sister, but there was no chance she would be able to sleep any longer. She would be up most of the night now, the dream world too unpredictable. Once the sun was up, she would take a sleeping pill and sleep when it was safer.
Turning on the electric kettle, she got her cup ready and stood shivering until the water boiled. As the tea steeped, she set it on the dining room table and sighed, looking around at the dimly light room.
Her mother had put up nightlights everywhere to help her feel comfortable and at ease. They gave the room a cozy glow and for that she was thankful, so much out of her control right now.
Sighing again, she noticed the box at the end of the table and she walked over to it. As she looked at the contents, she smiled slightly. Great Grammy Corinne… she had been a character. She had so many stories and she swore they were as real as they could be without being completely factual; a statement which always made Arielle laugh.
She took out the book on top and sat down to look at it as she drank her tea. Reading through the stories, she shook her head at the thought of being a slave, bought and sold at a whim, taken from your family to never see them again. Tears filled her eyes as she thought of being in that situation, the fear they must have felt.
About to close the book, she saw a story that caught her attention, one she had liked and also been terrified of as a child: Elinor and Mary. Rereading the story, she began to feel a chill, her breathing becoming faster.
“Boudreaux…” she whispered, standing up from the table and bringing the book with her and walking to her mother’s study.
Turning on the light above the desk, she opened her mother’s laptop and entered the password, her heart racing. A few taps on the keyboard and she found what she was looking for. She saw the photos of the victims from the second attack and read the articles about it.
Taking deep breaths, she searched for information about the night she and the others were attacked. Finding them, she closed her eyes before she clicked on the links.
“I am home. I am safe. I am home. I am safe…” Opening her eyes, she clicked the first link.
Through tears that never seemed to stop, she read articles and looked at photos. She felt sick and frozen and yet she kept clicking, kept searching. There was something she needed to find, but she did not know what it was.
The last article she clicked on, she ended up on her feet, staring at the computer screen. It was an older article about areas of ruin around the city. Abandoned buildings, homes, churches. Some very old and some more recent.
It was not the words in the article that caused her to rise to her feet however, it was the photographs within it, or more accurately the tag underneath it.
There was a close up photo of a headstone in the church graveyard where they had been attacked. An old headstone that was missing letters from the first name. Then there was a wide shot of the headstone and the statue across from it. Last was a close shot of the statue: a woman in a long dress, her hands at her breast, head turned to the side and her eyes downcast.
Photographs courtesy of Sally Sparrow.
“Cera…” Arielle whispered as she sat back down and hit print, the printer whirring quietly to life.
The pages printed out as she began searching for more information about the attacks, specifically the most recent one.
“Oh my god,” she breathed as she saw the list of victim names, finding Cera Lee within them. “Oh…” She stood up, grabbing the pages from the printer and leaving the room, knowing this had been what she was looking for.
She hurried to her bedroom and opened her side table drawer, taking out her cell phone and turning it on for the first time in weeks. The battery was nearly dead and she plugged it in, pacing the room as she looked at the clock.
Five in the morning.
Shaking her head, knowing if he was feeling like her, he would be awake. She picked up the phone and scrolled through her contacts, pressed send and closed her eyes, hoping she would get through.
Three rings and the phone was answered, though no words were spoken.
“Yeah. It’s me.”
“Arielle… this is gonna sound crazy… but I’m… I’m almost to your house…” He sounded confused and not sure why he was driving to her house in the middle of the night.
“Good. I’ll going to get dressed and be out in a minute. We have some things we need to do.”
She was crying again, the sound echoing all around him. He could hear her, far away and right beside him, and he wished for the millionth time that he could reach her and hold her hand. Tell her it would be okay. But he was frozen in place, his body heavy even as it felt weightless.
Her sobs grew louder and he closed his eyes thinking of her smile and how her kiss had made his heart race.
T… Tyler? Tyler is that you?
His eyes flew open and he stared into the ever pressing darkness.
You can hear me? How? Why now?
I… I don’t know. Are we… speaking?
I don’t know.
He shook his head, not sure what to do or how this was possible. He had wanted to help her and now she sounded even more upset.
Tyler! Tyler, I… I don’t know where I am. Where… where am I? Where are you?
I don’t know, Farrah. What can you see?
Nothing. I can’t see anything. Just… darkness.
What does that mean?
IT MEANS… a voice said, one he had not heard since that night in the graveyard, and he heard Farrah gasp. IT MEANS IT IS ALMOST TIME.
Farrah began to cry harder, deep sobs that broke his heart.
Tyler… I don’t know where I am… please… it’s so cold…
His anger began to grow and he swore when he found out who had done this, who had caused her this pain, he would kill them.
Abandoned Amusement Park December 17, 2017 6:00 a.m.
Mulder shivered in the early morning air as they walked through the abandoned amusement park, taking in the broken, dirty, and heavily graffitied buildings. He cleared his throat as he put his hands in his pockets and glanced at Scully.
She was looking around too, while making sure to avoid debris, overturned trash cans and broken glass. She shook her head as she slowed down, reading a rather disgustingly graffitied wall.
“I remember reading about this place being so destroyed, but seeing it…” She shook her head again and he nodded in agreement.
There were police floodlights set up sporadically to light their way to the crime scene as the sun was not up yet. Police officers were stationed along the way with flashlights to also help guide the way.
Making a right at the end of the main street, they saw three white sheets covering the bodies on the ground. Sheriff Lavonne caught Mulder ‘s eye, excusing himself and walking toward them.
He sighed as he reached them and shook their hands, shaking his head as he put his hand into his jacket pocket and took out a pack of nicotine gum. Popping a piece from the pouch, he put it into his mouth, sighing as he chewed it.
“Sorry, I wouldn’t normally be chewing gum, but it’s this or I go out of my damn mind,” he apologized and they both nodded with a small smile. Sighing again, he began to tell them what had happened as they turned away from the bodies on the ground, back toward the main street, and continuing on.
“Katrina was terrible on many levels, and the damage left behind is perhaps no more evident than here. The way it was left to rot as its alternative is still left unknown. It’s been twelve years now, and this place sits here like an apocalyptic ghost town.” He shook his head, and then nodded to an officer as they passed a large pirate ship ride.
“Of course, it’s locked up and there are security guards stationed around it, but the curiosity gets the better of people, regardless of the threat of prosecution. People find a way in,” he said and Mulder nodded.
“Life finds a way,” he muttered under his breath and Scully elbowed him. He smiled and she shook her head.
“I’ve been out here to haul in some kids before,” Harry said, ignoring or not hearing Mulder’s comment. “Usually it’s just a few, but tonight it was a lot more.” He stopped walking in front of a large building with a sign that said it used to be a café.
They walked inside and found dark blankets over the windows, old tables with empty bottles of alcohol, red and green plastic cups littered the ground and faintly glowing plastic jewelry were everywhere in the room.
“What we’ve been told, is that they wanted to have one last party for the year, but nowhere “with a graveyard,” as I suppose they felt that would be safer.” Harry shook his head as he looked around. “How they failed to see that this is a graveyard, I don’t understand.” He chewed his gum, his jaw working hard, and then he sighed.
“Anyway, they set up a “silent rave.” Blacked out the windows, as you can see, blocking out any light. Everyone wore wireless headphones to hear the music in here and none was heard outside.”
“It’s a well thought out plan, aside from the outcome,” Scully said, and both men nodded.
“There were about twenty people in here and they had people posted around the grounds to watch for the security guards who patrol the area. When they knew it was clear, they would bring more people in and walk them to the party.”
“Wow… Scully said, raising her eyebrows. People tend to think the younger generations are lazy, but I would have to disagree.”
“Yeah. It was all meticulously planned,” Harry agreed with a sigh. “Aside from the outcome as you said, Agent Scully.” He nodded with his chin toward the door and they turned around, walking out and turning back to the entrance of the park.
“Here’s where things get a little hazy,” he said as they walked. “The people inside didn’t hear anything, not at first, but the others posted around the park did. Everyone had been strictly instructed not to make extra noise, so they knew something was wrong. They had a text group and they all checked in, asking if anything was going on, and everyone answered except for one girl, Cera, so they knew it had to be by her post. They came toward her, two of them stopping at the café to warn the partygoers.”
They had arrived at the crime scene, stopping a few feet away. Evidence was being gathered and photos taken.
“A lot of the people scattered, only a handful staying behind and helping those who were hurt.”
“So, they didn’t all die?” Mulder asked with a frown, looking at the three dead bodies on the ground, the statue of a woman standing in the grass above them.
“No, three of them were taken to the hospital.”
“Three?” Mulder asked, looking at the three bodies on the ground again. “Six.”
“Mulder?” Scully asked with a frown.
“There were six, three dead. Eight at the Thanksgiving party and four died. Ten at the Halloween party-”
“And five died,” Scully said quietly and he nodded.
“It could be a pattern,” he suggested. “We don’t have much else to go on, maybe that’s a starting point.”
“It’s as good as anything,” Harry said with a shrug. They nodded and walked closer to the bodies. Scully took some gloves from an officer and squatted down, lifting a sheet from one of the bodies. She drew in a deep breath and Mulder came to squat inside her.
The boy in front of them was on his stomach, his head turned toward them, his eyes and mouth open. He was young, younger than the other people who had died at the other parties. Pulling the sheet farther back she touched his arm, looked at Mulder, and nodded.
“Can I get some gloves?” he asked an officer and he handed him a pair. He put them on and felt the arm of the boy finding it covered in goosebumps. He nodded and looked at Scully.
“None of the others have any injuries either?” he asked and the officer who handed him the gloves shook his head.
“No, sir. No visible injuries.”
“Hmm,” Mulder hummed, looking down again.
“The coroner is here,” another officer said and they both stood up, pulling off their gloves and putting them in their pockets.
“Mulder, I think I’m gonna see if I can be of help with the autopsies. I want to see for myself what’s going on with these deaths.” She shook her head and he nodded in understanding.
“I think that’s a good idea,” he agreed and she sighed, moving aside as the coroner came through with a gurney.
“What are you gonna do?” she asked softly, her eyes on the sheet covering the young boy.
“I’m gonna go to the hospital and see if I can talk to any of the victims from tonight. I’m not sure if they will be able to speak to me, but I can see.”
“Okay,” she said, giving him a nod. “I’ll talk to you later.”
All Souls Hospital 7:00 a.m.
“Agent Mulder,” Dr. Audrey sighed, his head back and hands deep in his lab coat pockets. “I am beyond my knowledge of what to do anymore. I… this makes twelve people now who have come into this hospital with the same symptoms.” He stared at Mulder and he nodded. “Three this morning alone, though they weren’t as bad as the first ones on Halloween, I’m still over my head here.
“I know,” Mulder said with a nod.
“What is going on?”
“That’s what I’m trying to figure out, Dr. Audrey. That’s why I’m here. Is there anyone I can speak to? Any of the victims from this morning?”
“Only one of them is possibly coherent enough and that’s saying something. She was babbling about a statue come to life, that it had killed all those people. She screamed and cried until we sedated her.”
“She’s sedated?” Mulder asked with a sigh.
“Light sedation. Just enough to calm her down. She’s sleeping right now, but we could see if she’s awake.” Mulder nodded and followed Dr. Audrey down the hall and around the corner. He looked at Mulder before opening the door and they both walked inside.
A woman was asleep in the bed, an Asian woman in her early twenties. She was not resting comfortably however, moaning and twitching, her hands grasping at the sheets and into the air. She looked as though she was sweating, but as they got closer, he could see the goosebumps on her arms.
He reached out, touching her hand gently and her eyes flew open. She pulled away and began to scream, her eyes not focusing on him or anything in the room as she sat up and tried to scramble away.
“It’s okay. It’s okay,” Mulder said, his hand out and his voice low and soothing. He glanced at the doctor and he said Cera quietly. “Cera. It’s okay. You’re safe. You’re at the hospital. You’re okay. You’re okay.” He kept staring at her and she stopped screaming, but continued breathing hard, her eyes darting between them, the blanket gripped tightly in her hands.
“You’re safe, Cera. You’re safe. Can you hear me?” She nodded and started to shiver. “Could we get you a warm blanket?” She nodded again and the doctor left the room to get it for her.
Mulder stood staring at her as she laid back in the bed and begin to cry as she shivered. He waited until the doctor came back before he moved, not wanting to scare her. As the doctor covered her, Mulder grabbed a chair and sat down close to the bed.
“Are they… are they all dead?” she whispered, sobbing loudly into her hands.
“No, not all of them,” Mulder said honestly.
“Who?” Mulder glanced at the doctor and he nodded.
“Keenan Wayans and Devin Smith are here at the hospital,” Doctor Audrey said softly and she sobbed harder.” They are both doing alright, but have been sedated to keep them calm and help them heal.” She nodded, taking a deep breath as her tears began to subside.
“But… the others?” she asked, her head back as the doctor looked at Mulder and he shook his head. “They’re…”
“Yes,” Mulder said softly and she started crying again.
“It’s all my fault. Oh, God.” She cried harder, her body shaking and the doctor looked at Mulder, shaking his head, his expression hard. He looked back at Cera and crossed his arms with an angry sigh.
Mulder knew though that he simply needed to wait out the tears. He had been doing this long enough to know when people wanted to talk, but just needed a moment. Watching Cera, he waited for the right moment.
The door to her room opened suddenly and they turned, looking to see who entered. A woman who had to be Cera’s mother, stood in the doorway. Seeing the state of her daughter, she hurried to the bed, glaring at the two of them as she did.
She began to speak quietly to Cera in Mandarin, holding her as she cried. Dr. Audrey looked Mulder’s way again, looking uncomfortable.
Cera was speaking back in Mandarin and they could hear that she was calming down.
“What is wrong with my daughter?” her mother asked, her accent thick and her face set in a hard expression. “Is she in trouble? Why is she so cold?” She turned back to Cera, asking her and Mandarin but Cera shook her head.
“Mrs. Lee, I’m Dr. Audrey. If you would like to step outside, we could have a chat. Agent Mulder here has some questions to ask Cera.” Cera spoke quietly to her mother in Mandarin and she nodded. She walked to the door and Dr. Audrey followed. As the door closed, Cera looked at Mulder and shook her head.
“It’s my fault, whatever happened to anyone. I suggested we have the party out there. I planned it, just me, no one else.”
“No one else… I wanted… I knew it was wrong, but…” She started shaking and wrapped the blanket around herself, closing her eyes.
“Cera, that’s not why I’m here,” Mulder said softly, scooting his chair a little closer. “I’m here to find out what happened to you and to the others.”
“I don’t know if you’ll even believe me,”she said softly, shaking her head, tears filling her eyes as she pulled the blanket tighter around her.
“I will,” he said gently, holding her gaze and she nodded, the tears spilling down her cheeks.
Renee home 9:00 a.m.
“Another attack,” Davis said quietly, shaking his head, his eyes closed. He sat on the couch, bundled up in long pants, a couple of long sleeved shirts, thick socks, and a beanie. His house was warm, but not as much as Arielle’s, for which Mulder was thankful.
“Yes,” Mulder said, looking around the room, seeing small figurines facing the wall, just like they had at Arielle’s. He looked back at Davis, waiting for him to speak again.
His mother came into the room, bringing them cups of coffee and a plate of cookies. Mulder smiled his thanks and she smiled back, touching Davis on the shoulder.
“Thank you, Mom,” he said quietly and she nodded before leaving the room. “She’s been very understanding. I can’t imagine how high the heating bill will be, but I’m freezing all the time, I have to have it on.”
“Can I ask you something?” Mulder asked and Davis nodded. “Do you have goosebumps that won’t go away?”
“How did you know that?” he asked, pulling back his sleeve and showing Mulder his arm.
“Whatever happened to you and the others, goosebumps and feeling cold seems to be a common thread.” Davis nodded slowly, pushing his sleeve back down and crossing his arms.
“Who else have you seen?” he asked, his eyes downcast. “Arielle?”
“My partner and I saw Farrah and Tyler at the hospital and then we visited Arielle, yes.” David raised his eyes and let out of breath with a nod.
“How is she?”
“Have you not spoken to her?” Mulder asked softly and Davis shook his head.
“I’ve known her since junior high. She was always bubbly and happy. I was quiet at that age, puny and small. I hit a growth spurt and started playing football and running track. In high school she was a cheerleader for a while and she was always fun to be around. I gave her rides home a lot after practice, but never made a move, too chickenshit.” He looked at Mulder and he smiled, Davis shaking his head with a sigh.
“We went to separate colleges, though they are here in town and we would get together as a group on the weekends, but again I never made a move. Such a coward. So stupid to wait so long.”
“I know how you feel,” Mulder said absentmindedly, thinking about the years he and Scully had wasted and the recent years they had been apart.
Davis looked at him in surprise and then nodded his head with a smile. Taking a deep breath, he began to tell Mulder about the Halloween party, his story similar to Arielle’s.
“When we were out calling for Zach, it was fun and the fact that Ariellele was with me, well… I finally had taken a chance and I felt happy. The pot we smoked may have helped with that, too,” he said with a short laugh. “But then… it was heavy, and the air felt thick, like… walking through deep snow. It felt hard to get through even though there was nothing there and then we heard someone saying Arielle’s name and that was the first time I felt cold and got the goosebumps.” He stared at the floor and sighed deeply, shaking his head.
“I’ve never felt so scared, so sure I was going to die. The screaming… it was… I hear it constantly, I dream about it…” He took a deep breath and looked up at Mulder. “When it was quiet, all I could do was squeeze Arielle’s hand to let her know we were okay… that we were alive.” Mulder nodded, knowing that feeling all too well, needing to give and receive that certainty through touch that they had survived another battle.
“After I came home, I slept a lot, drifting in and out of consciousness, the pills I was given helping me to find some peace. A week had gone by, then two, and I hadn’t spoken to anyone, especially Arielle. Then, three weeks passed and I turned off my cell phone, not wanting to talk to anyone. I stayed in bed, my room warm while I shook from the cold. My mom was the only one who could reach me and I know I was horrible to her at times.”
“She understands,” Mulder said quietly and Davis shook his head. “Mothers are like superheroes in that regard. They put up with a lot of shit and still stay around.”
“Yeah,” Davis agreed quietly with a hint of a smile.
“Why don’t you turn your phone back on? Give Arielle a call today?” Mulder asked and Davis scoffed.
“No, I can’t do that.”
“Maybe visit her instead of-”
“No!” Davis stood up and walked over to a table, his back to Mulder as he fidgeted with a sheep statue, moving it to a higher shelf, facing it away from him.
“I can’t talk to her. And I can’t leave. I… I haven’t left the house since I came home from the hospital. I’m… I’m safe here. I know that might sound crazy, but it’s how I feel.”
“It’s understandable,” Mulder said and Davis nodded, turning around and, his eyes on the floor and his hands in his pockets.
“I can’t talk to Arielle, as much as I may want to. I… I couldn’t keep her safe when we were in the worst danger.” He looked up at Mulder and shook his head. “I couldn’t keep her safe. How could I call her up after all this time, like life is normal and everything is going to be just fine?”
Mulder stared back at him, no answer forthcoming.
Durand home 11:00 a.m.
“I’m so sorry, Agent Mulder,” Michelle, Arielle’s mother said, as she handed him a glass of ice water. “When we got a call that there had been another attack, Arielle took a sleeping pill. She was crying too hard and couldn’t cope with the news.”
“I understand,” he said, taking a drink of his water.
“I hope the outdoor porch is more comfortable for you. I know the house can be… very warm.” she said in an apologetic tone and he smiled with a shake of his head.
“This is more than fine, thank you.” She sighed, nodding as she looked down at the table.
“Agent Mulder, you’re going to figure out how to stop this right? You’re going to help Arielle and the others?”
“I’m trying, Mrs. Durand. We’re trying.”
“Michelle, please,” she said, looking up at him with a sad smile and then she sighed. “Did you know that Zara died today?”
“Her mother called about an hour ago and told me. I don’t know how I’ll tell Arielle when she wakes up.” She shook her head, folding and unfolding her hands on top of the table.
“How did she die?”
“Her mother said she started seizing and then went still and… just stopped breathing.”
“I’m so sorry to hear that,” he said, wondering what that could mean for the others in the hospital.
“Yeah,” Michelle whispered, shaking her head, her face worried. “The girls all knew each other since childhood. If anything happens to Farrah… I don’t know what Arielle will do, those two are very close.”
“I wish I could tell you that everything would be fine, but I… I don’t know right now.”
“I know. And I know that Sheriff Lavonne and the other officers are doing all they can, but… I worry every day and now with Zara…” She shook her head and picked up a napkin to dab at her eyes.
“Michelle, have you lived here long?” She looked up, surprised by his sudden change in topic.
“My whole life,” she answered, holding the napkin in her hand.
“Have you ever heard or known about… anything like this happening before?”
“No… nothing. Not in my lifetime, anyway. I mean there are people who act a fool and die in a graveyard, but that’s neither here nor there.”
“Right,” Mulder said with a smile. “We do act foolish in our youth.”
“Hmm,” Michelle hummed, her eyebrow raised as she gave him a knowing look and he laughed softly.
“Has your family always lived here?”
“A lot of my family were slaves here, Agent Mulder,” she said quietly. “Not on the property where the second group of kids were attacked, but around that area.”
“I’m sorry,” he said, shaking his head and sighing.
“Wasn’t anything you did.”
“No, but I’m sorry just the same.” She nodded and he thought of something she may know more about. “You say not the Boudreaux place, but close by… did you ever hear anything from any family members about Mary Bourdreaux?”
“The girl who killed herself?”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“Mary Boudreaux? Yeah, she killed herself. In… oh, hang on a minute.” She stood up from the table and went into the house. He drank the rest of his water, wondering what she was going to bring out and show him.
“Here we go.” She smiled as she carried a medium sized box out and set it on a chair. “My grandmother was very interested in finding out about our past, especially as she got older. She marched and went to protests, instilled in us girls the importance of voting and making our voices heard. She was a hardcore feminist and my grandfather was right there beside her, cheering her on. He always introduced himself as Corinne’s husband and she loved it.” She smiled as she dug through the box, found what she was looking for, and set it on the table. Sitting down, she looked through the book until she found the page she wanted and nodded her head.
“Now, this is a story of a story. It was told by the slaves who worked for the Boudreaux family, and then to their families throughout the years. But, from what my grandmother found out and tried her best to cross reference, while not completely factual… it’s fairly close and it’s one of the ones I remember most.” She pushed the book to Mulder and he nodded.
Elinor and Mary
“Elinor?” he asked, looking up at Michelle in surprise as he read the title. “Elinor Cormier?”
“Elinor Dubois was her maiden name. I always liked it, so I remembered it. But yes, she did marry James Cormier. She and Mary were cousins.” His eyes widened and she nodded with a slight frown, her mind not making the connections he was beginning to create. He looked down at the book and started to read the story of Elinor and Mary.
Elinor and Mary were cousins, closer than some sisters, though they were complete opposites in appearance. Elinor was petite, fair haired, sweet and kind. Mary was dark, tall, and awkward.
As they grew, Mary began to see Elinor as her rival. She was in love with James, but he loved Elinor. The day Elinor and James became engaged, Mary was enraged and no longer spoke to Elinor. She stayed in her room, would not see anyone and became very rude to anyone who did speak to her, her anger never far from the surface.
But on the day of Elinor’s wedding, Mary came out of her room, in a new dress, her hair done up elegantly, and a smile on her face. She arrived at the wedding and begged Elinor to forgive her, saying she had made a horrible mistake. Elinor, being the kind hearted person she was, forgave her and welcomed her to the wedding party.
Mary was happy and light, dancing with everyone, eating, and laughing. But later when the news came of the tragedy that unfolded, no one could remember if they had seen her later in the evening. She was not there when the couple said goodbye and goodnight, and left in their carriage.
Before they were halfway to their new home, Elinor was struggling to breathe. The carriage had pulled to the side of the road, the driver helping James to remove Elinor from the carriage, where she died in James’s arms, gasping for breath.
It could never be proven, but people suspected Mary of poisoning her cousin or some other dark kind of magic. She swore up-and-down she had done nothing, crying and begging to anyone who would listen. Her father was a powerful and rich man. He denied any wrongdoing by his daughter and kept her from jail and possibly even death.
After Elinor died, Mary mourned for her, but she also seemed happier and lighter, attracting the attention of men, but she only wanted James.
He did not want her, however, and brushed her aside in his grief and she did not take that well. Her mother arranged parties and tried to entice her to find someone else, but she only wanted James.
Mary began visiting Elinor’s grave, who was buried at her beloved church near her family’s home. She often found James there, mourning for the wife he would never have.
Mary bullied him, pestering him to stop thinking of the dead, and concentrate on the living. He became angry at her words and he pushed her away from him. She slipped and fell, scraping her head on a headstone. Seeing what he had done, he apologized profusely, as he fell to his knees, begging for her forgiveness.
Touching her hand to her wound, she smiled maliciously. She told him the only way she would forgive him was if he married her, loved her, and never spoke of Elinor again. She showed him her wound, telling him what her father would say, what he would think and James nodded, standing to his feet. He looked at Elinor’s headstone once more and Mary grabbed his arm, pulling him away.
One month later, a wedding was planned, and Mary was happy that James was quiet and withdrawn.
The day of the wedding dawned and Mary was ready to be married to the man she had always pined for.
As the morning progressed, a man rode up on a horse with a letter for her father. As he read it, he became enraged, stomping into his office, and yelling that the wedding would not be happening.
Mary followed him and demanded to know what he thought he was doing, thwarting her happiness that way. He showed her the letter, telling her James had killed himself, not wanting to go through with marrying her.
He had written down the reasons why in the letter her father had just read. She had brought shame upon their family. She has killed James with her selfishness and greed. And Elinor. He had always suspected she had done something and now he knew for certain. He would no longer protect her and she would receive the punishment she deserved.
She raged, pushing him, knocking him over and causing him to hit his head, knocking him out cold. She grabbed the letter from his hand and threw it into the fire. Bursting out of the room she screamed as she gathered her dress and ran up the stairs to her bedroom. She threw open her doors and jumped from her balcony, her wedding dress billowing behind her as she crashed to the ground, dying instantly.
Her mother insisted she be buried on the family land, though her father felt she should not. To spite Mary, and despite her mother’s pleading, he insisted she be buried in her wedding dress- so for all eternity her soul would be unsettled, searching for the love she would never receive.
“Wow,” Mulder said, shaking his head, as he closed the book. “That’s… that’s incredibly dark. Imagine treating your child that way.”
“Hmm,” Michelle said, taking the book back, and running a hand across the top. “I’d go one step further and say they helped to create that in her, spoiling her and giving her everything she ever wanted. No consequences leads to no regard for others or the world around you.”
“True. True,” Mulder agreed with a sigh.
“Not what you expected when you came for a visit, huh?” Michelle asked, letting out a small laugh.
“Not exactly, but I’m glad to know more about them. I saw their names in the graveyards and I was curious about them.”
“Well, remember to take some of that story with a grain of salt, Agent Mulder. While Mary Boudreaux and Elinor Dubois were real people, the details in that story won’t be ones you may find within any records information. Stories get told and details change as time passes. This story may be complete fabrication, or it may be the god’s honest truth.” She smiled with a shrug and he nodded.
Police Station 4:30 p.m.
Details change as time passes…
Mulder sat staring at the computer screen, his bottom lip between his fingers as he thought of Michelle’s words.
Coming back to the station, he had attempted to find out information about Elinor and Mary, but was told the records department for that far back was in a different location.
And it was closed on Sundays.
Determined to find out anything he could, he searched online, but found nothing aside from old newspaper articles announcing the untimely deaths of all three people. Nothing nefarious seemed to have taken place and yet he felt something was off, something he was not seeing…
“Hey,” Scully said, touching his shoulder and he jumped. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to scare you.”
“I don’t get scared, remember?” he asked as he shook his head and let out a breath. She smiled slightly as she sat in the chair in front of him with a sigh. She looked exhausted.
“How was your day?” she asked, crossing her arms and sighing again.
“Not as long as yours by the look of it,” he answered with a smile. “You okay?”
“Hmm,” she hummed with a nod, closing her eyes. “Just tired.” She opened her eyes and stared at him. “You ready to go?”
“Yeah. Have you eaten?” He stood up and grabbed his suit jacket, unrolling his sleeves before he slipped it on.
“I think I had a… muffin? Around 9:30?” she said, as she stood up with a sigh.
“That’s what I thought. Let’s get something to eat.” He placed his hand on the small of her back and they walked out of the station.
“Thank you,” he said to the bartender and took the glasses to the table, sitting down and sliding Scully’s to her.
“What’s this?” she asked, reaching for the glass.
“Perfect,” she sighed, as she took a large drink, setting the glass down and making a face as she let out a deep breath.
“Good?” he asked with a smile.
“Yup,” she nearly growled, letting out another breath. He laughed and she shook her head, taking another drink.
He took a drink and tried not to act as uncool as he felt, never really enjoying straight hard alcohol. As it burned his throat, he let out a breath and moaned.
“Smooth,” Scully said with a smile and he shook his head, setting his glass down, and drawing in a deep breath.
“Could I get y’all anything to eat?” a waitress asked and they ordered some sandwiches and fries.
As she walked away, Mulder looked around, enjoying the quiet atmosphere of the place, a band playing quietly beside a small empty dance floor, people more interested in food at the moment.
“So,” Scully said, and he turned to look at her. Her glass was nearly empty as she tipped it back and spun it slowly, her eyes on the liquid moving around inside.
“What did you find out today? Any revelations?” She looked up at him, her eyes sad and troubled.
“Uh… I’m still struggling to find a connection. There’s something I’m not seeing yet, and I don’t know what it is.” She nodded and looked back down at her drink.
“How about you?” She shook her head, setting her drink down, her index finger running around the rim.
“I don’t know, Mulder, I really don’t.” She sighed and crossed her arms, leaning back in her chair. “We’re waiting on lab results but… I’m at a loss for what could have killed those kids, I truly am.” She shook her head again and looked at him. “There were no signs of trauma, no injuries, no… no nothing, Mulder. I don’t understand it.”
“It was exactly like the other deaths?”
“Yes,” she said and he nodded.
“One of the women brought to the hospital, Cera, she also was screaming about a statue. About an angel.”
“I didn’t mention it to her. She said she saw the statue by the group “come to life” and kill those kids.”
“No, Mulder. Not tonight, okay? Just… for tonight, for now, could we please just not discuss the improbability of a stone statue coming to life and killing people? Please?” She shook her head, looking at him with those same sad eyes, and he knew there was more to her request than the thought of a serial killer statue.
“Okay,” he agreed quietly. “Okay, Scully.”
“Thank you.” She looked back down at her drink, beginning to swirl the cup again, the amber color almost hypnotic.
He waited, knowing she had more on her mind and would get to it at her own pace. Lifting her glass, she drank down the last swallow and set the glass back down with a heavy sigh, her eyes looking down at the table.
“The boy, the one we examined this morning,” she said softly, requiring him to lean in closer to hear over the laughter from the table close to theirs. “He was only seventeen.” With a deep intake of breath, he leaned back and understood now why she was acting withdrawn.
Seventeen. Like William would be soon.
He desperately wanted to reach out and touch her, tell her it would be okay, say something, but on this subject, he always found himself lacking and unable to express himself properly. Leaning forward again, he had his hand out when the waitress returned and the moment was shattered.
Scully asked for another whiskey and the waitress walked away to do her bidding. Scully did not look at Mulder, but picked up a fry and took a small bite. Another whiskey was set down and she murmured her thanks.
Sitting in silence, he watched her push food around her plate, never really eating anything, but sipping her whiskey slowly.
Hearing the band beginning to play a slow song, he wiped his mouth and stood up, leaving the napkin beside his own rather full plate.
“Come on,” he said softly, putting out his left hand, waiting for her to take it.
“Mulder,” she said, shaking her head and looking around.
“Come on,” he tried again and she shook her head again. “Please.” Hearing her own plea said back to her seemed to do the trick. She sighed and took his hand as she stood to her feet.
He led her to the dance floor, past the other couples, and to a quieter spot. Not letting her have a second to think and change her mind, he pulled her to him, wrapping an arm around her waist and holding her hand to his chest.
She felt rigid in his arms at first, but as he rocked them slowly, she began to relax into his embrace, her arm around his waist and holding on tightly. She sighed, holding onto his hand, as she rested her head on his shoulder.
“It wasn’t him, Scully,” he whispered, his mouth close to her ear. She stilled, but he kept speaking, still rocking them slowly. “I know it’s hard to not see him in those circumstances, I understand. But it wasn’t… it’s not him.”
“I know, Mulder. I just…” She stopped and drew in a sobbing breath as her tears began to fall. He nodded against her head and comforted her in one of the ways he knew had always worked.
He thought of times in their home when he would turn on some music, pulling her close and dancing around the room, both of them laughing. Then there were times, when a dance led to cleansing tears, words spoken with more ease while held in an embrace, the face hidden, giving a person a chance to decide to lie or really speak their truth.
“I know how easily it is to see him in others,” he whispered and she drew in a deep breath.
“He shouldn’t even have been there, his mother told us as she cried,” she said, shaking her head. “His cousin was going and brought him along and now…” He closed his eyes and held her closer, feeling her crying softly against him.
The band finished the song and everyone cheered except for them as they continued to sway slowly.
“You wanna get outta here?” he asked, his mouth pressed directly to her ear. She nodded and he squeezed her hand.
They walked back to the table, where he dropped down some cash and once more placed his hand on her back and walked beside her outside of the building.
The ride and walk from the car was quiet. He watched her as she walked ahead of him, noting the slump of her shoulders and the slowness in her steps, and he sighed quietly. He shook his head, wishing the night had gone differently.
They stepped into the brightly lit courtyard of the hotel and he sighed again, as he began to head to his room.
“Goodnight, Scully,” he said quietly, turning to her with a soft smile.
She stared at him, saying nothing verbally, but her eyes seemed to be shouting at him. She shook her head, her mouth moving but no words coming out, as she reached hesitantly for his hand.
Taking it, she tugged gently, silently asking him to come to her room. He opened his mouth to protest, or at least ask if that was the best decision at the moment, when the grip on his hand slackened slightly, and he once again saw the sadness in her eyes.
Squeezing her hand tighter, not letting her let him go, he nodded and she exhaled, clutching onto his hand. Opening her door, they both stepped inside, staring at one another as the door closed softly behind them.
She shifted beside him, humming softly in her sleep, her chin resting against his shoulder as he closed his eyes and sighed.
She shifted again, her bare leg running across his as she breathed his name and he smiled, kissing the top of her head, as he followed her into slumber.
Tonight, they had forgotten about the past, the pain, and questions about the future.
But fingertips could not so easily forget. Nor could lips, tongues, or bodies.
Abandoned Amusement Park New Orleans December 17, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Cera laughed as she took a picture of a guy wearing a large Santa beard and a red baseball cap with mistletoe hanging from the brim, trying to get the girls at the party to kiss him.
They all giggled quietly as they pushed him away, holding onto their headphones and shaking their heads. He tugged at his beard, silently asking if, without the beard, they would change their minds. They shook their heads again, dancing to the music they heard playing in their headphones.
“I really thought the Santa angle would work,” he said to Cera and she laughed again, taking one more picture of his happy bearded face.
“Well, you had to try,” she agreed with a shrug. He nodded as he took off the hat and beard, and put on his black headphones with green rabbit stickers on the sides.
He danced away, joining the group of people also wearing headphones, glow-in-the-dark jewelry, and dancing to music those without headphones could not hear. Cera took a few more pictures before she waved at the DJ and he nodded, silently dancing to the beat of the music he was queuing up.
She looked around the room one last time, proud of the work she and Adam, the DJ, had done earlier: blacking out any light so as not to arouse suspicion of the security guards patrolling the outside area of the abandoned amusement park. The silent rave had been a great idea and she felt happy that she had been the one to suggest it.
Stepping out of the room, she slipped her camera into the pocket of the hoodie, trading it for her low light flashlight. She twisted her hair up and put on her beanie, turned on the flashlight to keep an eye out for alligators. As she continued on toward her post where she would keep an eye out for security and help others get to the party, she looked around with a smile, happy to be in a place that had meant so much to her.
She had been devastated at twelve years old, when Hurricane Katrina hit, not only for the horror it caused her and many others, but also because it forever destroyed the beloved childhood place of fun and escape.
She had mourned for it privately after her endless discussion of it had caused her father to give her a look, one she hated to see. Many times she had wondered what it looked like, left to rot in the Louisiana heat and humidity. Once she was old enough to drive on her own, she had ignored her fears and found a weak spot in the fence. Her heart racing, she had kept looking over her shoulder as she silently walked through the now broken place she had loved as a child.
One time was not enough, and the next time she came, she had brought a digital camera with her, taking pictures of whatever struck her fancy and reminiscing for things that were lost.
When she had told people she had been in the park, they had not understood her desire to be there, calling it creepy and sad. It had been creepy at first, the place quiet, trees growing over the decaying rides and tracks causing her to feel as though the world had ended and she was the lone survivor.
But, the more she went out, the more she had found a strange camaraderie with the sadness held within. Some days she would find a spot and simply sit, thinking about her own time there and the sadness now held within it and the odd happiness it brought her.
“Sad is like happy for deep people,” she would say under her breath, smiling as she took her pictures, quoting a line from one of her favorite episodes of Doctor Who.
Once people learned it was her who had been the one sneaking in, they asked to see her photos, too nervous to venture into the park themselves, not wanting to get caught by the police. She had even sold some of them, remaining anonymous by using the name Sally Sparrow, the character from the episode of Doctor Who, who shared her love for the sad and the broken.
Taking a deep breath of the cold December air, she smiled again as she reached one of her favorite things in the park, both then and now: a statue of a woman known as the “wish statue” by locals. It was a statue of a happy smiling woman wearing Mardi Gras beads and a mask, the feather attached to it, broken long ago. She did not know when it became known as the wish statue, but everyone she knew knew it as such.
Making her wish for the night to continue being one everybody enjoyed, she kept on, nearly to her post as she hummed softly to herself.
“Cera Lee!” She heard someone call quietly, startling her out of her reverie, and she looked up. Devin Smith was walking toward her, a low light flashlight in his hand, a small group of people following him as he smiled at her and she smiled back.
“Devin, how are you?”
“Cera Lee, my favorite Cera Lee, far above THE Sara Lee. And nobody doesn’t like her and her delicious pound cake,” he said with a grin, giving her a hug. “Thank you for making sure all was well for tonight.”
“Of course. You know I love coming out here.”
“That I do. How many times have you been out here?” he asked with a smile.
“How many times in seven years? Hey look, just because I’m Asian, it doesn’t mean I’m good at math, you racist,” she teased and he laughed into his hand, covering the sound as they all knew they had to be quiet. She laughed softly and winked at him.
“Well,” he said with a cough, “I’ll remember not to ask that again.” She laughed and he winked at her, causing her to feel butterflies in her stomach.
“Devin… come on man,” one of the kids said and he looked back at him with a nod. Turning back to Cera, he smiled and saluted before walking away, the small group following him again.
“Bye,” she whispered, putting her flashlight into her pocket and taking out her camera, taking pictures as she watched them walk away.
She smiled as she watched him stop at the wish statue and she caught some more pictures, unable to hear them speaking, but knew he was telling them about making a wish.
One of the boys in the group reached out to touch the statue and a scream pierced the quiet night air. Chills covered her entire body as she watched the boy who had touched the statue, fall to the ground with a heavy thud.
For one second that seemed to last hours, no one moved and then to her complete and utter horror, the wish statue moved and reached an arm out, and the small group around her began to bend toward the ground.
Frozen in place, Cera was unable to scream or call for help. She saw the group on the ground and then screaming filled the air, screams that she could feel throughout her body, her head simultaneously feeling as though it was on fire.
Fighting to remain upright and resist the urge to cover her ears to block out the screams, she watched, her finger unknowingly continuing to press the shutter button on her camera. Then the screaming suddenly stopped and the deafening silence was worse, as she was certain they were all dead.
And then, the statue moved, but was no longer a statue. It looked like an angel, a female angel in a long white flowing dress. Cera gasped and the angel turned her way, apparently hearing her though she was yards away. She began to move towards Cera, silently, as though she was floating.
“Ohhh.” Cera heard in her head, felt it all around her, and saw the angel’s mouth moving.
As she drew closer, Cera’s knees began to fail her. She sunk to the ground, her fingers weakening, lifting from the shutter button, the camera slipping from her hands and falling to the ground with a crash.
“Yes… you will be a wonderful asset,” a lilting, terrifying voice said and Cera started to scream, goosebumps covering her body as she began to shake violently.
The dank scent of earth flooded her senses, as laughter filled the air and she started to cry for her mother. The world went black, and the last sound she heard was the continuous click of the camera shutter.
Scully sat in the diner the next morning, yawning before taking a drink of her coffee, the mug warming her hands. She sighed as she held it, looking up at Mulder outside, paying for a paper, opening the door and taking it out. Smiling, she shook her head at the old habits that did indeed die hard. He walked inside the diner and smiled, sitting down beside her and setting the paper to his left.
“You know, there is an app on your phone for the news,” she said, glancing at him and pushing his cup of coffee toward him. He nodded with a smile as he picked up the mug and took a drink.
“I do know that, yes,” he said, licking his lips. “I used it this morning, but I obviously don’t get the local news, the heartbeat of the area if you like.” He grinned and she shook her head, drinking a little more before setting down her mug.
The waitress brought over their food and Scully thanked her as she walked away. She heard Mulder exhale a breath as she glanced at him. He looked at the plate before nodding as he pulled it towards him. She picked up her fork and the fruit bowl from her plate.
“Am I so predictable?” he asked, gesturing to the meal on his plate, as he reached for the syrup and poured it on his pancakes.
“Predictable? I wouldn’t use that word,” she said, eating a piece of cantaloupe and smiling at him.
“You?” she asked with a snort.
“Obvious? Unsurprising?” He licked his finger as he wiped the syrup bottle, and grinned as he picked up a piece of bacon and took a bite.
“No. I just know what you like.” He looked at her again and her breath caught as she realized what she had said and how it sounded.
Memories of the taste of his skin, his hands on her body, and the way he felt inside of her, rushed to the forefront of her mind, and she felt her face flush. But then he started humming Chantilly Lace and she shook her head as she rolled her eyes, the tense moment passing.
“Mulder, I’ve known you for almost twenty five years,” she said softly. “I know what you like to order.” He nodded with a smile and she smiled back.
He placed a piece of his bacon on her plate as she ate one last piece of fruit before setting the cup beside his plate, leaving him the blackberries. His knee bumped hers under the counter and she bumped back with a smile as they continued their meals.
All Saints Memorial Hospital 9:30 a.m.
“I can’t give you more information than what has been steady since they were all brought here,” Doctor Audrey said with a shake of his head, as they stood in the hallway outside the room of Farrah Francois. “There were so many of them. Five dead and three in a coma-like state, nothing we did could bring them around. And the other two…” He shook his head again and Mulder looked at him.
“Why do you suppose the other two weren’t affected the same way?”
“Honestly? Medically? I couldn’t tell you,” he said, looking at Mulder with troubled eyes. “They were both really out of it, babbling incoherently about angels, graveyards and screaming, both hearing it and doing it sporadically, as we attempted to sedate them. And they constantly said they were cold. So cold.” Mulder caught Scully’s eye and raised his eyebrows. She nodded slightly and pointed to the room.
“Could we see her?” she asked.
“Yes, but…” Doctor Audrey looked through the glass and sighed. “I would advise you to ask any other questions you may have out here, or save them for after we’ve seen her. There was an officer here a couple of weeks ago, asking a different doctor questions about her and she began to seize. It was the only time she responded… in any capacity, in nearly two months. It took a long time before we were able to calm her and she has remained that way since.”
“Understood,” Scully said softly and the doctor opened the door.
The beeping of the machines was the first thing she noticed, a sound she was accustomed to hearing, having spent many years in a hospital. The next thing she noticed however, was the quiet of the room, aside from the sound of the machines. It was a stillness that was foreign in a hospital room and it left her feeling unnerved.
Stepping closer to the bed, her eyes already assessing Farrah Francois as she lay in the bed. She was pale, but unsurprisingly so considering the amount of time she had been in the bed. She was hooked to an IV, bags of medication hanging from the pole. Reaching up, Scully touched the largest one, the bag of sodium chloride and found it to be warm. Shocked, she looked at the doctor and he nodded, a finger to his lips.
Letting go of the bag, she glanced at the other bags of medication, taking note of what she was being given. Mulder cleared his throat and she turned her head, finding him at Farrah’s left side. He had taken her hand out from the bed and was holding her wrist gently, presenting her arm to Scully.
As she stepped closer, she saw it. Lifting her eyes to his as she gently touched her arm, he nodded at her unasked question, placing Farrah’s arm back under the blankets. Staring at Farrah’s face, Scully took a deep breath, imagining how much pain she had been through and the road to recovery she would be on when… if she woke up.
Turning her head, she nodded at the doctor and he sighed with relief. They walked back into the hall and once the door closed, Scully crossed her arms, ready to ask him some questions.
“The fluids you’re giving her are warm, she has multiple blankets, and her arm was cool to the touch. Far cooler than a patient should be- even in a hospital.” She stared at him and he nodded looking at her curiously. “I’m also a medical doctor.” Doctor Audrey nodded, looking back through the window and sighing.
“We’re treating her, and the other patients, as though they have hypothermia.”
“Hypothermia?” Scully asked, frowning at him, her mind racing through the signs of hypothermia and how it would apply in a temperature controlled hospital room.
“Yeah.” He shook his head and sighed again. “When she came in, all of them, they were freezing. Shivering and cold to the touch.”
“But it wasn’t cold enough, nor long enough for hypothermia to set in,” Mulder asked and Scully looked at him, nodding in agreement.
“You’re absolutely correct,” Doctor Audrey said with a slow nod of his head. “I… like I said it was confusing when they were brought in. Five were DOA, three were comatose, and two were raving like lunatics. It was… I’d never experienced anything like it.”
“But,” Scully said, glancing at the room again. “She’s still cold to the touch. That was nearly two months ago and hypothermia, especially if treated right away, would have dissipated by now.”
“I know.” She looked back at the doctor and he shook his head. “As a medical doctor, I know you understand the signs, treatments, and risks of hypothermia. But… this is unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed. She was freezing and we began treating her immediately. Once she warmed up, we thought she would start to come around, but she didn’t. None of them did. Once we stopped active measures as they began to maintain, they crashed. Their heart rates slowed, they began to shake as though they were seizing, but it was from being cold. As soon as we gave them warm fluids, warming air, heating pads and blankets, they evened out again. If they are not on a round the clock routine, they fail.” They both stared at him and he sighed tiredly.
“But even after all those measures, she’s still cold.,” Scully stated.
“And she has goosebumps,” Mulder added.
“I know,” Doctor Audrey sighed. “The goosebumps… that’s one I can’t understand or explain. It’s been like that since she came here. I… I don’t…” He shook his head and closed his eyes briefly. “She’s cold to the touch yes, but without the care we’re giving her, it’s much worse. It’s as if…” He stopped, looking away and licking his lips, appearing nervous.
“As if what?” Scully asked softly. He turned his head and looked back at her, taking a breath before opening his mouth to speak.
“It’s almost as if she were dead.”
Scully sighed as she looked out the car window, thinking about what the doctor had said and how she would treat the kids if she were their physician.
They had seen Tyler Landry, Jonathon Breaux, and Regina Wallace before they left, finding them in the same state as Farrah, though not as sensitive to questions being asked around them. All of them had persistent goosebumps, were cold to the touch, and had not woken since they had arrived at the hospital. Seeing so many of them, with no immediate answers to be of service, made her feel inadequate and impotent.
Zara Hebert had been moved to a private hospital, her parents, her father in particular, had felt the care she was receiving was not enough. Her father had screamed and shouted, Doctor Audrey had said, telling the doctors they were jealous and did not care for Zara as they should have because he knew the mayor and could rain hell upon the hospital.
“We sent over her records, telling them of her diagnosis and prognosis,” Doctor Audrey had said as they left, his posture slumping in defeat. “I truly hope they were able to help her.”
“You okay?” Mulder asked quietly beside her and she turned her head, giving him a small smile.
“I find it’s the best policy,” he said with a smile, parroting her words from a couple of days ago. Her smile grew and then she sighed deeply.
“I was thinking about the kids at the hospital, of course, but I was also thinking about my mom.”
“I was just thinking about… how hard it is to watch someone you love slowly die in front of you.” She turned her head and looked out the window again. “When I was told she had changed her advanced directive…” He reached over and covered her hand with his, squeezing gently and she squeezed back. “I was angry, but I understood. I just needed to… get there.”
“It’s hard to be on the other side of that hospital bed,” he said softly and she let out a breath, squeezing his hand and then letting go.
“Yeah… it is,” she agreed, thinking of days and nights beside his bed over the years. Sighing, she closed her eyes, the world passing by in a blur starting to make her feel dizzy.
Home of Arielle Durand 1:30 p.m.
“Just… just to get it straight, I don’t want to talk to you,” Arielle said, pulling her thick black cardigan around herself, and rocking back and forth slightly on the couch. She wiped at her eyes and looked back at them defiantly.
She was a dark haired young woman with caramel colored skin and dark brown eyes. She looked tired and older than her twenty one years, her vast amounts of hair piled messily into a bun, her clothes hanging on her small frame.
“I understand and we thank you for speaking with us,” Mulder said kindly and she shrugged, looking down at the floor. Scully fanned herself, hoping it was not too obvious.
It was incredibly hot in the Monroe home, the heater running on what seemed to be full blast, causing her to sweat excessively. Mulder caught her eye and gave her a slight nod.
“Arielle,” Scully said softly, watching her as she saw Mulder in her peripheral, looking around the room. “I know you’ve given a statement to the police, that they have questioned you since, but we were hoping you could tell us what happened that night, what you remember?”
“If you have my statement, then you know,” she said, not looking up, pulling her cardigan even tighter around herself.
“Sometimes it helps to tell someone new. To talk it out again. Maybe there was something you forgot, or that-”
“You think I could forget that?” she asked, raising her head, her dark eyes full of fire. “I wish I could forget. I wish I didn’t think of it every second. I…”
She began to cry, covering her face with her hands. Her mother came into the room, rubbing her back and murmuring in her ear. Scully stared at her, flicking her eyes to Mulder as they waited for Arielle to calm down.
“I’m sorry,” her mother said, looking at them, smiling softly with a sigh.
“Don’t apologize for me!” Arielle said with a loud sniff. “Five of my friends died and I don’t know if the others will ever wake up!” She cried again, her mother wrapping her arms around her, and holding her close.
Scully wanted to leave, let Arielle be and come back later to speak to her. But then, she saw Mulder lean forward and she knew he would be taking the lead on the questioning.
“Arielle, please take your time. But when you’re ready, I have some questions I’d like to ask you.” His tone was gentle, one Scully had heard many times in investigations and in their personal life, and every time it touched her. Arielle’s mother looked at him, relief on her face as she nodded, still holding her daughter.
It took a few minutes, but eventually Arielle calmed down, Mulder handing her the box of tissues from the coffee table in front of them. She whispered her thanks and wiped her eyes.
“Mama, could you get me a… my jacket hanging behind my door?”
“Of course, my love,” she said lovingly, stroking Arielle’s hair before she walked out of the room.
A clock ticked loudly, chiming on the forty five minute mark when Arielle took a deep breath and looked up at them. She shook her head, dabbing her eyes with a tissue, as she took several more deep breaths.
“Here you go, honey,” her mother said, helping her put on the jacket she had asked for.
“Thank you,” Arielle whispered and her mother kissed the top of her head before leaving the room. She zipped up the jacket with a shiver and shook her head once more. “I’m sorry.”
“You have nothing to be sorry for,” Mulder said softly and she nodded. Looking at him, she took another deep breath and began to recap the night.
After they had arrived, they danced and drank, having a fun time, laughing with their friends. The night was warm and as they danced, they were glad for the ruins of the church as it kept them all cool, in spite of the humidity around them.
“When we went outside…” She shook her head and wrapped her arms around herself. “It’s there that things get a little more fuzzy. I could blame the alcohol, and the pot we smoked, but it’s not that.” She looked at them and they both nodded.
“Did you see something when you were out there?” Mulder asked, and she nodded and then shook her head.
“I don’t know,” she said softly. “I feel like I do, but… it’s hazy.”
“You do, don’t you?” Arielle whispered, tears filling her eyes as she stared at him.
“I do.” She nodded and dabbed at her eyes.
“I remember… Davis, he was with me. I remember him squeezing my hand. I remember…” She gasped in a ragged breath, holding tightly to the neck of her jacket. “It was so cold. So… so cold. I thought… I thought I had died. The screaming. Jesus Christ…” She sobbed, bending at the waist and crying into her lap.
Scully took a deep breath and wiped quickly at her cheeks, removing any evidence of her tears. This was not about her and she needed to get her shit together before Arielle saw her, it simply would not do.
As Arielle’s sobs once again subsided, she began to rock back and forth, sniffling loudly and blowing her nose. She sat up, pulling the hood of the jacket over her head, shivering as she did. Keeping her eyes closed, she began to speak.
“It was so cold. It wasn’t… before. We were hot from being inside with everyone else. It was sticky outside and… Zach had gone out to pee, Zara said but he didn’t come back so we went to find him.” She took a few deep breaths, her eyes still closed. “The grass was… I remember my shoe got stuck so many times and Davis… he would laugh and help me pull it free.” She smiled and then her face contorted and tears leaked from her eyes.
“It was… was like… I can’t describe it. A feeling, a heaviness… but it went quiet. So very quiet, I could hear everything and nothing at the same time. My friends voices calling for Zach disappeared, the air felt thick, like we were underwater. And then…” She rocked back and forth, swayed side to side, her lips moving, but no sound coming out.
“Arielle?” Mulder said softly. She froze and nodded.
“Yes. That’s what happened. I heard my name, but not from Davis or any of my friends. It was a voice I’d never heard. It was beautiful and terrifying all at once. And then it was just terrifying.” She shook her head, whimpering softly. Scully looked at Mulder and shook her head, silently asking him to stop.
It was too much. For all of them.
He opened his mouth to say something, when Arielle took a deep breath and nodded her head.
“There was someone, or something, in the graveyard. I said before it was an angel, or something like it… but I… don’t know anymore. I saw a woman, or person, in a white dress, seeming to float by us, as it made no noise. Then… it was like I was pushed to the ground, forced to lie on my stomach in the grass. I heard screaming and I was so cold. I remember Davis squeezing my hand as the screams got louder, not just outside, but inside my head, and then they all fell silent. I thought we all had to be dead, because it was so dark and I couldn’t move. I was frozen.” She opened her eyes, but she did not seem to be seeing them, her thoughts somewhere else.
“It was quiet for what felt like forever, and I remember shaking uncontrollably. Then there were shouts, girls screaming and crying, and then someone was standing beside me, asking if I was okay, if I was hurt. I couldn’t answer them, just kept shaking. They put something on me, a coat or something, which was nice, but it didn’t help, not a bit.” She wrapped her arms around herself again. “Davis gently squeezed my hand and I knew he was okay. Or at least alive.”
Scully shook her head slightly, closing her eyes briefly as she imagined the fear she must have felt. What they all must have felt.
“I remember… a friend of ours Leann… she said Becca was dead. That… she wasn’t breathing and she was cold as ice. I started screaming, just screaming. I don’t remember stopping.” She shook her head and then looked at Mulder, seeing him this time. “I woke up in the hospital two days later. They’d kept me sedated because if I woke up, I would scream and cry, lashing out at myself and anyone who came near me.”
“You’d been through an ordeal, a terrifying experience. It’s understandable,” he said, his voice low and kind. She nodded and let out a breath.
“The police didn’t believe me, I know they didn’t and I know how crazy it sounds, but I know what I saw. I may not be sure if it was a man or woman, but I know I saw a person in a long white dress, walking soundlessly through the graveyard. Maybe they weren’t glowing, like I had thought, but there was someone there.” She stared at him and he nodded.
“I believe you.”
“Well, you’re just about the only one.”
The air outside was a welcome change after being inside the warmth of the Monroe house. Scully fanned her blazer as she walked down the porch steps and to the rental car.
Mulder hung back, talking to Arielle’s mother, giving her their business cards, making sure they had access to either of them for any concern that may arise. Scully saw her mother nod and clasp Mulder’s hand in both of hers as he offered it in a goodbye handshake. The relief in her posture was evident; she had faith in them being able to help her daughter.
He walked down the steps and to the car, unlocking it with the key fob, and taking off his suit jacket. As she got in, he opened the back passenger door and laid it on the seat before getting in the driver’s seat. As soon as he started the car, he blasted the air conditioner, tugging at his tie and unbuttoning the top button.
“Christ, I’m sweating in places I never knew were able to sweat,” he said, putting the car in reverse and backing up. She smiled slightly as she aimed the vents her way, fanning her shirt to let in the cool air.
“Seriously though, Mulder,” she said softly and he nodded.
“I know, Scully.” He glanced at her as they slowed to a stop at a four way stop sign. He waved the other driver ahead and looked at her again. “We need to talk to Davis and the others from the other party.”
“Whatever happened… right now, I don’t know how to explain it.”
“Me either.” He sighed and she attempted a smile. Instead, she lightly squeezed his hand where it rested on the gear shift and he squeezed back.
“Well,” Mulder said as they walked back to the car after attempting to speak to Regina Wallace. “I’d say this day has been… it’s been a really rough fucking day.” He said with a small smile over the hood of the car and she nodded.
“It has indeed.”
They got in the car and put on their seat belts, both of them sighing as they looked out at the Wallace home. Her mother was still watching them, yelling and throwing her arms in the air, though they could not make out her words.
It had been the same at every home, aside from Davis’s, where his mother had cried and told them he was sleeping and to please come back tomorrow, grasping at both of their hands desperately.
“He’s not my same boy,” she had cried, taking their business cards and pressing them to her chest.
“What do you say we head back to the hotel, call it a night? Decompress and discuss what we’ve learned?” Mulder suggested with a tilt of his head, and she sighed as she nodded in agreement.
“I think maybe I’d like to get a drink first. I feel it’s needed after this afternoon.” He let out a breath and nodded. “Also, some food would probably be a good idea, seeing as how we skipped lunch.”
“Okay,” he said, starting the car and backing up. “I saw a place… O’Brien’s, I think it was called.
“No, Mulder,” she said, shaking her head. “I may not know everything there is to know about New Orleans, but I do know that if we’re going anywhere, it’s not O’Brien’s.”
“Is that right? Well then, do you have a place in mind?”
“Yeah, I saw it in the paper this morning,” she deadpanned.
“See? The local newspaper is good to have-”
“I’m obviously joking,” she said as she rolled her eyes. “Did you see me reading it this morning?”
“No. Because I know how to use the apps on my phone. We’re going to Tropical Isle to get a Hand Grenade.”
“A hand grenade? That sounds… messy,” he said, cutting his eyes her way.
The tension of the afternoon melted away as she heard the sexual innuendo under his seemingly innocent remark. Not wanting to give him any hint that he had aroused her in any way, she shrugged as she programmed the address into her map app.
“I suppose it can be,” she replied nonchalantly, not looking his way but knowing how he would understand her implication. “But always worth it, right?” She looked at him then and watched him swallow before shaking his head and muttering under his breath. She smiled as the navigation began to give them directions.
Tropical Isle 5:15 p.m.
Tropical Isle was busy with people out and about looking for a drink during the holiday season. It was warm inside, with far too many bodies pressed close together, which added even more heat.
Taking off her jacket as they found a seat at the bar, she hung it on the chair and caught the bartender’s eye. He nodded and came over with raised eyebrows.
“Two Hand Grenades, please,” she said, smiling as she fanned her shirt a couple of times, the top few buttons undone. She saw his eyes flit down for a second and she felt both annoyed and slightly happy she could still elicit a look.
Especially at my age, she thought with a depressed sigh.
“So, I see you’re not above using your womanly wiles to get our drinks faster,” Mulder teased as he sat beside her and she bit back a smile.
“I have no idea what you mean,” she replied and he gave her a look.
“Uh huh,” he said, his own eyes glancing down at the hand still fanning her shirt.
“It’s hot in here,” she said with a shrug. “I’m not the one sexualizing my desire to not be so damn hot.” He shook his head and she raised her eyebrows.
“I’m sorry if that’s what I did, I just meant-“
“Mulder, I’m just busting your balls,” she said with a shake of her head. Now it was his turn to raise his eyebrows, a smile creeping across his face.
“You know I’ve never said no to you doing anything to-”
“Here you go,” the bartender said, interrupting his sentence, but she knew what he was going to say. Her heart pounded as she swallowed and reached for her drink. He exhaled and thanked the bartender as he took his own cup.
“Whoa,” he said, looking at her and she nodded with a smile.
The Hand Grenade was served in a green plastic cup aptly shaped like a hand grenade with a long neck, nearly like a beaker. It was filled to the top, where a small plastic toy hand grenade floated beside a green plastic straw.
“Well, this is uh…” He cleared his throat and she laughed before tapping her cup to his and taking a long drink.
Her eyes widened as she licked her lips. She looked at him and he raised his eyebrows in question. She nodded and took another drink.
God, that was good. Fruity and exactly what she needed after the day they had. She could feel the warmth of the alcohol burning her chest in the most wonderful way. Taking another drink, she closed her eyes and let out a breath.
“Oh, that’s really good,” Mulder said, smacking his lips together. He took the small grenade from his cup, squeezing out the liquid from inside of it. She followed suit and set the grenade onto the bar. They were quiet as music played and people laughed and conversed around them. Halfway through her drink, she looked at him and sighed.
“So, let’s decompress. Let’s hear your theory. I know you have to have one by now,” she said, stirring her drink with her straw. He shook his head and moved his own straw around.
“Right now… I’m not entirely sure.”
“What? No more Doctor Who episodes to try and reference?” she teased and he looked at her.
“Oh, I can always find an episode for reference. Always.” She nodded, feeling the effects of the alcohol in her drink. “The ever present goosebumps, the inability to stay warm, what the doctor said about those in a coma… plus that thing with the figurines.”
“What are you talking about?” she asked with a frown.
“You didn’t notice?” She shook her head and he nodded. “It could have been a coincidence, but I noticed the little figurines around the room at Arielle’s were turned toward the wall.”
“I didn’t even see that,” she said, frowning deeper as she felt it should have been something that drew her attention.
“It wasn’t that many, just something I noticed. Again, it could have been a coincidence, but…” He shrugged, his palms up.
“Hmm,” she hummed, thinking about it as she took a drink and nodded her head.
“Maybe it’s… you know, people believe items can be haunted, a soul trapped inside and left behind. Dolls especially have been known to be a conduit of evil forces.”
“Yeah, Mulder, I know,” she said, giving him a look, taking a deep breath and then a big drink. “I witnessed that in Maine.”
“Would that be the weekend away when you were on vacation and definitely not working? When you most definitely did not help solve a case involving a possessed doll?” She stared at him, saying nothing as she narrowed her eyes and let out a breath.
“Oh ho!” he shouted. “She finally admits it.” He clapped his hands twice and gave her a smirk.
“Shut up,” she laughed, pushing against him and he chuckled. “I admitted nothing.”
“Your silence spoke volumes however,” he said with a shrug as she took another drink, surprised to find it nearly empty.
“Well, that was fast. Thirsty?” he teased, moving his straw around his own drink.
“I was. As you said, it’s been a rough day,” she said, sticking out her lip in a pout as the straw hit the massive amounts of ice in the cup. “And now my drink is gone.” She sighed and looked at him sadly.
“Let’s get another.” He signaled to the bartender and she shook her head.
“No, that’s okay. Well, at least not that one or you’ll have to carry me out of here.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time. Remember New Year’s at your moms?”
“Ugh… vaguely. What I do remember is the hangover and vomiting a lot the next day. And that Bill had been an asshole.”
“Yeah well, that’s almost always a given,” he mumbled and she bumped his shoulder. They both laughed quietly and he shook his head. “You and Tara were drinking those purple drinks, and then champagne, giggling away most of the night.”
“Those drinks were good- going down, not coming back up the next morning.”
“Hmm, no, it wasn’t.” He chuckled as she moaned, remembering that day: the cool of the bathroom floor as she had lay beside the toilet, the world spinning as she had emptied her stomach repeatedly, and the soft cool washcloth Mulder had rubbed across the back of her neck.
“You ready for another?” the bartender asked, cutting into her thoughts as he eyed her empty cup.
“Not of the same,” Mulder said with a smile, looking her way. She closed her eyes as she smiled, the alcohol making her feel happy and light, a stark contrast to the rest of the day. “What else you got? Maybe something that’s perhaps in a bit of a smaller cup?” The bartender laughed as he looked at Scully and she slowly opened her eyes.
“Got just the thing. Do you want the same or two different drinks?” he asked, nodding at Mulder’s cup.
“Different sounds good. We can share,” Mulder said and Scully smiled.
“Coming up,” the bartender said, tapping the bar and walking away.
“Do you want the rest of mine while we wait?” he asked, motioning to his drink.
“Jesus, no. New Year’s Eve, remember?” He laughed and finished off his drink, pushing both of their empty cups forward, but putting the two small hand grenade toys into his pocket. She glanced at him and he shrugged.
“You never know when it could come in handy.” She snorted and dropped her head onto her arms that were resting on the bar, the alcohol doing its job quite nicely.
A bell rang and whistles were blown and her head snapped up as she leaned back in her chair, staring in horror at the group of bartenders who had gathered around. She looked at the cup set down in front of her, a plastic frosted cup with light colored liquid inside, and wondered why they had felt the need to cause a stir for such a drink.
“Shark Attack!” their bartender yelled, and a plastic shark was thrust repeatedly into the drink, creating a mess on the bar as it turned the drink red, as though the shark had truly attacked someone or something. “Holy shit! There’s so much blood!”
Scully put her hands up and sat back a little further, not wanting to get the alcohol on her. The bartender stopped, leaving the shark upside down in her cup, and she looked up at him, finding him grinning.
“Be careful, ma’am, that’s one aggressive shark.” He picked up a towel and wiped off his hands, winking at her as he stepped back, the patrons laughing and hollering as the other bartenders clapped and moved away.
“Well,” Mulder said, looking at her drink and touching the plastic shark laying atop the now very red drink.
“He called me ma’am,” she said with a pout dipping her finger into her drink and licking it clean. “Oh, it’s grenadine.”
“Did you think it was real blood?” he asked with a laugh and she glared at him.
“Do I look like an idiot?” she asked, picking up the drink, the straw missing her mouth, her tongue chasing after it until she caught it and took a big drink. She tilted her head, her eyes closing of their own accord.
“I’d say you look a little drunk,” he said with another chuckle and she opened her eyes, his face slightly blurry.
“Excuse me?” Mulder asked, both of them turning to look at the bartender who grinned and set a drink in front of Mulder.
“Horny Gator, sir. Enjoy.” He nodded and walked away.
“He called me sir,” Mulder said, taking the small plastic alligators out of his cup and setting them aside.
“Pssh… as if sir is the same as ma’am.” She shook her head and set her drink down, taking the shark from her cup. She squeezed it, grenadine dripping slowly from it, before she dried it with a napkin and handed it to him. “For your collection.” He grinned and set it with the other items.
“How’s your drink?” he asked, taking a drink of his own.
“Good, how is your Horny Gator?” She smirked and he pumped his eyebrows.
“Pretty stiff,” he replied and she snorted. “Do you want to taste it?” She looked at him, so many comments coming to mind, but she chose to keep it clean.
“Sure,” she said, handing hers to him and they switched. Taking a drink and finding they liked the others better, they did not switch back.
The bar was becoming louder as people traipsed in from the street, calling to friends and laughing loudly as they discussed gifts being purchased for Christmas. Whistles went off, bells rang, and a mix of regular and Christmas music played over it all.
Scully felt the alcohol nearly to her toes, and she hummed as she stirred the straw around the plastic alligator cup and she licked her lips.
“Anything else I can get you two?” The bartender asked and Scully turned to look at him, feeling slightly dizzy. He winked at her and she raised her eyebrows, even as her eyes closed.
“No.” She heard Mulder say and she nodded in agreement. “We’ll just take the check.”
Taking a deep breath, she opened her eyes and looked at her drink, deciding if she wanted to finish it considering how she was feeling. One more drink and she pushed the cup forward and away from her. Best not to tempt fate.
“Done?” Mulder asked and she nodded with a hum. He smiled and she rested her head on her hand. He drank the rest of his and took out his wallet, handing his credit card to the bartender as he walked back with their check.
“I think we should get some food in you before that alcohol joins the others and well…” He looked at her and smiled. “We’ve already mentioned New Year’s Eve.”
“Pffft,” she responded, sticking out her tongue and he laughed. The bartender brought his card back and they gathered up their things. He scooped up the plastic animals and put them in his pockets, along with the plastic grenades.
Scully put on her jacket, the room spinning as she stood still, grabbing onto Mulder’s arm for balance.
“Yeah, food isn’t such a bad idea,” she agreed, holding his arm as they walked out of the bar.
Deciding on a quick slice of pizza, they ate as they walked back to the hotel, it not being far, leaving the car where they had parked it earlier, planning to pick it up later.
They passed a different bar, music playing loudly inside. Scully stopped walking and started dancing, slowly turning and swaying her hips in time to the beat of the music.
“Hey, come on, dancing queen,” Mulder said and she once again stuck her tongue out at him, causing him to laugh. He took her arm and led her toward the hotel, the beat of the song still playing in her ears, calling to her like a heartbeat.
Distracted with her continuing to dance, and Mulder preoccupied with keeping her walking steadily and staying on the sidewalk, neither of them noticed that they were being watched.
A mannequin in a shop window turned its head slightly, staring at them as they waited for the light to change. They stood close together, the woman happy and smiling, the man’s eyes watching her intently.
Anger filled the air around the mannequin, the window vibrating from it.
“Please, no! I don’t want to die! No! PLEASE!”
The vibrating stopped and the anger slowly abated, as the mannequin continued to watch the couple, the sound of a steady continuous beep bringing a smile to the previously blank and expressionless face.
Mulder stepped out of the car, staring at the sight of the Halloween party, the abandoned remains of the church. Yellow police caution tape was fluttering in the breeze, having come loose from a tree it must have been tied around.
“Hmm,” Scully said, closing the passenger door, the case file in her hand. “This place looks like it could fall down at any moment.” He nodded in agreement, his hands on his hips.
“It’s pretty dilapidated.” She nodded and they looked at each other before walking toward the church.
He gathered the caution tape, pulling it from the tree and balling it up. Leaving it on a bush, they walked through the open doorway and into the church.
It was worse inside, the walls crumbling and the ceiling nonexistent in spots. There was litter scattered in the rooms they passed through, not only from the Halloween party, but from obvious recent visitors.
“Seems odd that people would come here after what happened only six weeks ago,” Scully said quietly, looking at the empty chip bags and crushed cans of beer.
“But that’s precisely why they would come out here,” he replied as he looked around. “The draw of the deaths pulls at the curious mind, as macabre as that sounds.”
“Yeah,” Scully agreed, walking to the back of the church and stepping through what used to be a doorway and into the backyard. “Whoa…” He followed her out and they stood on what was once a back porch, but was now a mess of crumbled stones.
“I knew it had a graveyard of course, but damn. The crime scene pictures don’t exactly capture the grand scope of it,” she said as they both looked around. He nodded, the sight of the graveyard having a chilling effect on him.
“So it was here,” she said, stepping down onto the grass and losing her balance a little.
“Careful,” he said, stepping down beside her. “You don’t exactly have the ideal footwear on for this terrain.”
“I’ve been walking into forests with heels on for years, Mulder. I’ll be okay.” She rolled her eyes slightly and he nodded with a raised eyebrow. “As I was saying it was… it was…” She grunted as she tried to pull her heel from the depth of the grass, only succeeding in pulling her foot from her shoe, and lurching forward. He caught her elbow and held onto her, catching her from falling over.
“Oof,” she said, grabbing onto his waist, the case file crushing between them as she hit his chest.
“So, you were saying?” he teased and she laughed before pushing off his chest and looking up at him.
“Shut up and grab my shoe, will you?” She smiled and he laughed softly, squeezing her upper arms gently.
She remained standing on the grass, one foot up, wobbling slightly as he stepped over to pull her shoe from the grass. It took a couple of tries to get the shoe loose, and when he had it in his hand, he wiped off the mud and grass from the heel as he turned around.
She held onto his shoulders as he bent down to slip her shoe back on, his hand holding her calf gently. Her skin was warm and soft and he was unable to stop his mind from remembering kissing that exact spot many times as he had moved even further up her body.
“Thanks,” she said quietly, moving her hands and standing straight, his hand moving down her leg as she did. He took a quick breath, his mind racing as he stood up and nodded silently.
“So… I think I might need to hang back,” she admitted. “My other heel is already stuck.” She smiled with a shrug and he chuckled.
“Probably a good idea then,” he agreed and offered his arm for her to hold onto as she pulled her shoe free and walked back toward the crumbled stone porch.
“I’ll look through the inside again, see if there is anything they, or we missed,” she stated and he nodded as she handed him the file and walked up the stairs.
“I’ll look around out here, sensible shoes and all.”
“Just don’t slip or anything or we’ll both be stuck.” He laughed and winked as she smiled, walking back inside.
Turning around, he put the file under his arm and walked around the graveyard, shaking his head at the large headstones and statues. Opening the file, he looked at the pictures and glanced up to see the exact location where the victims had been found. He walked the area, searching for any evidence that was overlooked, but found nothing.
Standing up, stretching his back, he sighed as he imagined the kids who had died out there, how scared they must have been, the grass high and headstones large. He remembered graveyards in England, in his stupid youth, when the dangerous was alluring and he shook his head.
As he began to make his way back to the church; a particular headstone caught his attention, the writing clearer than others he had seen.
Here lies E i r Cormier Taken from her beloved husband James on their wedding night Twenty years old The Angels be with you June 1, 1855
He felt a chill as he looked at the only missing letters on the headstone, as though they had been scratched out years and years ago. It seemed out of place within the clarity of the remaining letters.
Turning around, he jumped back and cursed loudly, his heart pounding hard in his chest.
A statue of an angel was directly across from the grave of who he could only assume from the missing letters was Elinor Cormier. It was a large statue, and he was surprised he had not noticed it before. It had its head turned to the side, the eyes downcast. Stepping closer to it, he frowned, noting that it was not an angel, not having any wings, but it was a woman.
He stared more intently and wondered if it had been a statue created in the likeness of Elinor. Her hands were laying atop each other at her breast and she was wearing a long dress. Perhaps it was of Elinor on her wedding day and added far after the headstone as it looked much newer.
In fact it was a lot newer, he thought, reaching out to touch it, when he heard Scully calling his name.
Turning his head, he dropped his hand and sighed. Looking back at it once more, he frowned, the newness of the stone strange to him.
“Coming, Scully,” he called and turned toward the church, curious thoughts niggling in his mind. Keeping the name Elinor Cormier in his head, he made a note to write it down and research it later.
As he walked toward the church, his thoughts busy and his attention pulled from the surroundings, he did not notice the sudden quiet or see the movement behind him. It began to gain ground on him, until it stopped a few feet before the church steps, hiding behind a large headstone, unable to proceed any further, as once again birds chirped and the wind blew through the grass.
Chalmette, Louisiana 1:30 p.m.
“Well, at least this place will be easier for you to maneuver,” Mulder teased, as they got out of the car and walked up the walkway.
“You’re hilarious,” she quipped back and he shrugged with a smile. “But yeah, this place is in way better shape than the church.”
“Of which I’m thankful, that church was… creepy.”
“Oh you say that about every church,” she teased as they both turned at the sound of a truck pulling up, out of which stepped an older black man in a sheriff’s uniform. He waved with a smile as he walked toward them.
“Y’all the FBI agents?”
“Yeah. Agents Mulder and Scully,” she answered, each of them showing him their badge. He nodded as he looked at them and sighed, reaching out his hand.
“Sheriff Lavonne. Harold Lavonne. Call me Harry. Nice to meet you.” They smiled at him and he put his hands in his pockets. “You been out to the church, I assume.”
“Just before we came here, yeah,” Mulder answered with a nod.
“It’s the damnedest thing the way those kids died. And the ones here. I ain’t never seen anything like it. I’ve been in law enforcement nearly forty years and I…” He shook his head and made to reach in his front shirt pocket and then sighed again. “Hell of a time for me to quit smoking. Again. I still think I’ll find that pack in there.” He chuckled good naturedly and they joined him.
“Well, let’s go take a look around. I got all the information back at the station, but it’s good to get a fresh pair of eyes seeing it for the first time. I know I sent you pictures, but… well, let’s just head in.” They nodded and followed behind him. He lifted the yellow caution tape for Scully and she whispered her thanks.
As soon as Mulder ducked under and into the house, he felt something different than he had at the church. Heavy. Almost dark. It was dark inside, a lot of the windows boarded up, but it was more than that, and he could not quite put his finger on it.
“How many people were at this party?” Scully asked and Harry sighed.
“About forty. Most of them were in the large room at the back of the house, though they had been all over, judging by the mess they left behind. At least they had sense to stay downstairs,” he said, pointing up and they looked at the ceiling, finding large areas of broken floorboards they could see through to the next level of the house.
“Jesus,” Scully breathed, moving away a little, shaking her head.
“Oh, don’t worry, Agent Scully. It’s quite structurally sound, considering. These houses were built differently over a hundred years ago.” He smiled, but Scully did not smile back. He shook his head and motioned for them to follow.
The house was large, with small rooms branching off all over: what was once a large dining room, sitting rooms, a library with many books still on the shelves, dusty and moldy. They walked through a kitchen, the remains of the party still evident and just as at the church, there seemed to be new trash there as well, curiosity getting the best of people.
“This is the room, the ballroom, as was its main use years ago,” Harry said as they walked into a very large room, the windows free of boards and cleaner than any of the other rooms.
“Wow,” Scully breathed, looking at the large room. “Imagine having this, plus all the rest of the house. That’s… wild.”
“Hmm,” Harry hummed, no other response forthcoming.
Mulder walked around, taking in the large fireplace, which was full of ash and trash, and spray painted with graffiti. The floors were dark, and not as dusty as the rest of the house, as it had obviously seen more foot traffic. Many of the windows were broken, large shards of glass lying on the floor, a slight wind blowing into the house. There was an old mirror above the fireplace, the darkened glass surprisingly still intact, considering the state of the rest of the room.
“The kids… well not kids, but you know,” Harry said and Scully smiled at him in understanding. “They’ve been coming here, the church, and a few other places since around the Fourth of July. There’s never been a problem, other than the noise at times and the mess they leave behind.” He looked around and shook his head, reaching again at his front pocket, sighing with a near growl, his hands in fists at his side.
“Is it every weekend?” Scully asked and Harry shook his head.
“No, more of a monthly thing. Someone must be in charge of finding a location and they get the word out to others so they have time to plan.”
They both nodded, Mulder catching her eye as he gestured to the back door, she nodded again and they all headed toward it. The doors themselves were gone, and they ducked under more tape as they stepped into the backyard.
“Do most of these homes have graveyards in the back of them?” Scully asked, as they stepped off the porch and walked along the broken up walkway. She stumbled once and Mulder caught her elbow and she thanked him with a look as he smiled.
“A fair portion of them, yeah. People tended to bury their family members on their property. This home belonged to the Boudreaux family for generations, so there are many of them buried here, along with their spouses.”
Standing in the graveyard, the grass thankfully not as unaccommodating as the church, Harry showed them around the area, where they had found the victims, both dead and alive, once more shaking his head with a heavy sigh.
“That first party, I felt sick nearly the entire time I was there, but this one… this house… The deaths were bad enough, but being here…” He looked back at the house and shook his head again. “These homes, people find them to be grand, destinations for elaborate weddings. But for me… these homes were where my ancestors, or people like my ancestors, were kept. They were slaves, bought and paid for, forced to do all the work, keeping the homes intact and the grounds beautiful, while they lived a life of hell. People speak of ghosts or dark magic… but these grounds, and those like it, that’s where the ghosts lie for me.”
Mulder looked around and nodded with a deep sigh, seeing it through different eyes, something that had not even crossed his mind before it was mentioned. He looked back at Scully and saw her smiling softly at Harry, telling him she understood. He looked at her and nodded as he sighed again.
“I know as a law enforcement agent, I should be above such things…”
“No. You shouldn’t,” Scully said firmly, touching his arm briefly. He smiled at her and Mulder nodded at him.
As they finished up, ready to head to the police station and discuss the case further, Mulder’s attention was drawn to another headstone, just as it had been at the church, giving him pause as Harry and Scully continued walking ahead.
Mary Boudreaux October 31, 1855
He tilted his head, frowning as he read again the no frills epitaph on a nearly 200 year old headstone. The one at the church had been personal and caring. This one by comparison was cold and impersonal, which immediately sparked an interest in him.
“Hey, Sheriff,” he called out, jogging slightly to catch up to them. “You said this was the Boudreaux estate. Do you know anything about a Mary Boudreaux?”
The sheriff turned around, Scully doing the same, frowning at him as they stopped walking and he caught up.
“Mary Boudreaux? Huh… I don’t know the name off the top of my head, but we can check at the station.”
Hours later, Mulder sighed tiredly as he came into his hotel room, closing the door as he took off his tie. Dropping the files from the station onto the table, he took his clothes off and laid them on a chair before he took a quick shower.
Sitting down at the table as he towel dried his hair, he began to look through everything in the file again. He reread the statements from others at the party, the victims, the officers, doctors, and the coroner. He laid the pictures out, looking at each of them intently in turn, hoping they would speak to him better than the printed words could.
Shaking his head after staring at them and finding nothing new, he started to gather them up when something caught his eye and he paused. Looking closer, he shook his head, looking up and wishing he had a magnifying glass.
In a moment of brilliance, he took a photo with his phone, zooming it up when he had. He looked at the other pictures in the pile, and took some more photos with his phone. Zooming and cropping them, he let out a breath of disbelief.
“Holy shit,” he whispered. Grabbing the file, he quickly walked out the door without putting on his shoes. The courtyard was brightly lit with the Christmas lights, and the ground was cold beneath his feet, as he crossed over to Scully’s door.
Knocking, he waited, bouncing from foot to foot, looking down at his phone, his heart racing that they may be onto something. He heard the door open and he began to speak before raising his head. When he did, he saw her sleepy face and realized how late it had gotten as he reevaluated the evidence.
“Oh… I’m sorry.” he said and they stared at each other. She sighed and raised her eyebrows. “I just… I noticed something and I think it could be important.” She tilted her head and waited. “One of the victims photographed, Becca Thomas, had goosebumps.” He showed her his phone and she squinted at it, looking closer and then raised her eyes to his again.
“It’s not uncommon, Mulder. Rigor mortis can cause many occurrences in a dead body.”
“I know, but look at this.” He handed her photos from Becca’s autopsy. “They’re still there before and during the autopsy. Is that common?” She took the photos from him, looking between them and the ones on his phone.
“I’ve seen this occurrence before, Scully. In Puerto Rico.” He stared at her, knowing she would understand what he meant.
With a tired sigh, she looked up at him and stepped back, allowing him into the room, and closing the door behind him.
FBI Headquarters Washington, D.C. December 14, 2017 7:30 a.m.
Scully stepped off the elevator with a shiver, holding tightly to the coffees in her hands, hoping it would help to warm her up. The basement was always colder than the rest of the building, something for which she was thankful in summer but not so much in the winter.
Shivering once again, she set one of the cups on the shelf behind her. Reaching to open the door to their office, it was pulled open from the inside, causing her to pull her hand back.
“Jesus,” Mulder said, his eyes wide as he let out a deep breath.
“Scare you?” she teased and he shook his head and cleared his throat.
“No. No, I don’t get scared.” He cleared his throat again, adjusting his tie as she nodded with a smirk.
“Mm-hmm,” she hummed and he looked down at the coffee in her hand.
“Oh. Did you ask me to get you a coffee?”
“No. But… I would have gotten you one.” He pouted and she mirrored his expression, before turning her head and glancing behind her at the green to go coffee cup with white snowflakes.
“Ah, Scully,” he said, stepping out of the office and picking it up.
“It’s sugar free,” she deadpanned and he paused, the cup nearly to his lips.
“Why? Why would you do that?” He sighed and pouted again. She laughed and he exhaled as he shook his head. Tentatively, he took a drink as she raised an eyebrow. “Mm… delicious sugar. You lie.”
“Hmm…” She shrugged with a soft smile, stepping into the office and setting her coffee onto the desk. He walked in behind her and shut the door. “One day, I will get you sugar free.” She started to unbutton her coat and then thought better of it.
“You may as well throw your money directly into the trash then,” he said, taking a drink and she laughed softly, glancing at him as she sat down. “Are you cold?”
“Yeah. It’s always cold in here in the morning.”
“It shouldn’t be today. I fixed the heater.”
“You did?” she asked skeptically and he nodded as he sat behind the desk, leaning back as he took another drink.
“I can fix some things.” She stared at him, narrowing her eyes, and he rolled his eyes at her. “Fine, I had the heat fixed. Happy now?”
“I find honesty is always best,” she said with a shrug, picking up her cup and taking a drink, looking at him over the lid.
“Mm-hmm,” he hummed with a smile. “Well, then I guess I should be honest and tell you it won’t really matter for long if the room is warm or not because we have a case.”
“Indeed.” He stood up and set his coffee down, walking toward the television and then sitting back down after turning it toward them and grabbing the remote.
She sighed as she waited, watching him and wondering what he would do if, instead of some video he was excited to show her, she took the remote from his hand and kissed him. If she kicked off her heels and straddled him in his chair. It would not be the first time, well… for that particular office chair it would be, but not for the thought of it in her head.
What would he do if she did? Rising over him, her hair longer than it had been in years, hanging in her face as she stared at his lips, waiting to kiss them after not doing so in so long. She licked her lips, remembering the taste of them after his morning cup of coffee; his kiss like an oasis in the driest of deserts.
“Uh… Scully? Hello? Did you hear me?”
“What?” she asked, swallowing hard and letting out a breath, her face flushed. Well, she was more than warm enough now. Setting down her coffee, she stood up and unbuttoned her coat, taking it off and laying it on her chair.
“Warm now?” he asked with a smile and she nodded.
You have no idea, she thought, squeezing her thighs together to help ease the ache between her legs.
“As I was saying, we have a case in New Orleans.” He looked at her and she nodded again, waiting for him to go on. “There has been… well some unusual activity and we’ve been asked to help.”
“What kind of activity?”
“Unexplained murders,” he said, handing her a file. She took it from him and looked through it, breezing over the report and examining the photos.
“I remember hearing about this. The kids, well… not “kids” technically, but college aged, they’d had a party at an abandoned church and…”
“Parties- plural,” Mulder interjected and she looked up, her eyebrows raised.
“I only heard about one. It happened on Halloween.”
“Right, that’s the file you have there. The second one was on Thanksgiving at a plantation style house. Same type of party, same outcome, though not as many affected.” She shook her head and looked back down at the file.
“Do you have the information from the second party?”
“No, we’ll be briefed once we get down there. But, the sheriff sent me some photos. I’ve hooked it up so we can look at them on the television.” She glanced up at him, giving him an amused look. “Easier to see.” He shrugged and she nodded slowly, knowing he had fought with her in the past about needing new glasses. He cleared his throat and pressed a button on the remote.
Closing the file, she folded her hands in her lap and turned to look at the television. The screen was filled with photos of the crime scene: the house, the grounds, and the victims lying facedown on the grass.
Standing to her feet, she put the file on the desk and stepped closer to the television, crossing her arms as she looked at the screen. There was no evidence of blood nor any obvious signs of assault.
“What was the cause of death? I don’t see any injuries.”
“Because there aren’t any, just like the first party,” Mulder said, getting up and standing beside her.
“Is it poison of some kind?” She looked at him and he shook his head.
“Toxicology only showed alcohol and marijuana, but that was only for the first party. The results for the second one should be in soon.”
“But they must assume the same, judging by the photos of bottles of alcohol.”
“Hmm,” he hummed and she shook her head.
“So, what was the cause of death?”
“Exposure. For both.” She scoffed and looked at him.
“Exposure? In New Orleans? In October?” He nodded and pursed his lips. “But you don’t buy that?”
“I looked up the weather for Halloween and Thanksgiving and combined, it never got lower than mid-50’s. Which I admit, is a bit chilly, but what do you say, Doctor Scully? Could someone die from exposure in those temperatures?” He tilted his head and she shook hers.
“It’s dependent on many variables, but…”
“While I don’t know all of the details about the party on Thanksgiving, the one on Halloween started around 8 p.m. and the cops were on scene by 2 a.m.” He picked up the file from the desk and showed her the paperwork. Shaking her head again, she sighed.
“Witnesses say that the group of kids attacked were in and out of the church but the DJ said he remembered seeing them inside at midnight and a little after, because everyone was inside dancing to a particular song being played. No one saw them again until they all heard screaming from outside.” She turned a few pages and looked at the photos, shaking her head, her brow furrowed.
“If they were outside for less than two hours, even in the lack of clothing some of them wore, it’s impossible to have so many of them die of exposure. It just doesn’t happen.” She closed the file, holding it to her chest as she looked up at him. “I assume you have a theory.”
“I always have a theory,” he said with a grin and nodded slightly.
“So, what do you think happened then?”
“Funny you should ask,” he said, turning toward the television.
“Ohhh, it’s never a good sign when you say that,” she grumbled, setting the file down and crossing her arms with a sigh. She turned on her heel and faced the television, already dreading what he would consider a logical theory.
A photo flashed onto the screen and she drew in a deep breath.
“Mulder, absolutely not.”
“Hear me out first.”
“I will not hear you out when you’re suggesting something so ludicrous.”
“What’s ludicrous about it?” She looked at him and scoffed, pointing at the television as she shook her head.
“You suggesting the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who, is ludicrous. That is a television show.” She exhaled and he hummed.
“But that you knew it immediately, Scully… that’s so hot.”
“Of course I knew what it was, how many times did you make me watch that particular episode? And the subsequent ones that followed?”
“Made you…” he scoffed and shook his head. “Like you didn’t enjoy watching them.”
“I enjoyed watching David Tennant…” she said quietly, looking down and then back up at him.
“I am very aware of that,” he sighed and shook his head. Rolling his eyes, he mumbled something that sounded like really great hair, and she smiled.
“You have two minutes to explain your ludicrous theory. And I don’t want to hear the name Weeping Angels.”
“As that particular name wasn’t used, that will be fine.” He rubbed his hands together and took a deep breath. She tapped her watch and he gave her a look.
“The only eyewitnesses both stated, separately mind you, that they saw what looked like an angel- ethereal being-” he corrected himself as she raised an eyebrow in warning. “An ethereal being walking in the graveyard.”
“This was on Halloween?”
“Yes, and before you think you’ve figured it all out, no one was dressed as an an…gel that night.”
“Nice save,” she scoffed and he smiled with a wink. “So… they say they saw an angel, how did they describe it?”
“They said it was…” He picked up the file and turned a couple of pages. “A large statuesque person, long white dress, seeming to glow from the inside and around it.” Both of them said nearly the same thing when interviewed separately.” He set the file down and crossed his arms as he looked at her.
“That doesn’t mean it was a statue of an angel come to life,” she said, raising her eyebrows and he shrugged. “Mulder…”
“How many unexplainable things have we seen over the years, Scully? Or have I seen as you seem to nearly always miss it?” He raised his eyebrows back at her and she closed her eyes briefly with a sigh. “There are no other suspects, no evidence to go on- footprints, fingerprints, DNA… nothing.”
“Aside from the other people at the party,” she said logically.
“Who have all been cleared,” he replied pointedly.
“It still doesn’t mean it was an… ethereal being, or a statue come to life,” she said, gesturing to the television and glancing at the Weeping Angel. “God, but that thing is creepy.”
“Imagine seeing it in person,” he muttered and she stared at him.
“Stop. That’s not what it was.”
“That’s what we’re going to find out,” he said as he turned off the television and grinned at her. “Be sure to pack your sparkliest strings of beads, Scully, and lots of ‘em, we’re headed to New Orleans.”
Guesthouse Inn New Orleans, Louisiana 9 p.m.
Tired and grumpy, Scully opened the door to the motel office and was greeted to an overwhelming scent of pine and cinnamon. A giant Christmas tree, decorated within an inch of its already depleting life, stood in the middle of the room with faux wrapped gifts sitting beneath it. Christmas carols played from a speaker overhead and Scully, who normally loved the holidays, thought if she heard Silent Night one more time she really would take out her gun and start taking hostages.
Their journey to New Orleans had not gone exactly as planned. The flight had been delayed an hour and then two. They’d had to change gates and then hurry back when their original gate had been announced, forcing them to run quickly through the airport.
Once they were on the plane, they had sat at the gate for twenty minutes before departing, Mulder cracking sunflower seeds the entire time, no matter how many looks she had given him, the sound like nails on a chalkboard when she had already been annoyed.
The flight had been terrible, the turbulence causing her to grip her armrest for most of the journey. They had been forced to land in Baton Rouge, nearly an hour and a half from their destination.
Discovering the air conditioner was broken after they had driven away and the rental place had closed, was icing on top of an already shitty cake. Their drive over was loud with the windows rolled down, the car too humid if they left them up. It made it impossible to speak without yelling, so they had eventually given up.
A new rental car would be brought over and exchanged in the morning, but right now all she could think about was taking a shower and sleeping.
“Evening and Happy Holidays!” A dark haired woman said with a smile. “Welcome to the Guesthouse Inn. My name is Moira. Did y’all have a reservation?”
“Yeah,” Mulder said, waking in behind Scully. “Two rooms, under the name Mulder.”
“Great, let me just check.” She typed away on the computer and Scully closed her eyes, already envisioning the warm shower that would wash away the travel day from hell.
“Oh, what’s this?” Mulder asked and she opened her eyes. He held a brochure in his hand that advertised a haunted walking tour with the Voodoo Bone Lady.
“Mulder,” she said under her breath and he glanced at her. She shook her head slightly as he glanced back at the brochure.
“Excuse me, Moira, could you tell me more about this?” he asked and she smiled, abandoning the keyboard, much to Scully’s despair.
“The Voodoo Bone Lady is the best tour in the area. She’s a voodoo priestess, who will take you through the St. Louis Cemetery as she tells you about ghosts, voodoo, vampires, and zombies. It’s seriously the best. The last one for the night is at ten. I can get you tickets if you’d like?” She smiled and Mulder nodded excitedly as he looked back at Scully. She sighed and shrugged, knowing there was no chance they would not be going on that tour.
An hour and a half later, after a quick shower, she was trying to hold back her yawns. It was not that the tour was boring, on the contrary, she had been creeped out a few times against her better judgment. But, she was also tired and longing to lay down before the case began in earnest.
Falling behind the rest of the small group, she was thankful it was not just them so she could disappear a little. Her attention was waning and so instead she watched Mulder, smiling at his excited questions to the voodoo priestess and his discussions with the others in the group. Shaking her head, she thought of how, even after all this time, he was still the same. Still him, and yet things were different…
He was quieter at times, not rushing headlong into things as he had in the past- a haunted voodoo tour through New Orleans notwithstanding. He was more attentive, picking up her favorite food or a coffee as he had mentioned earlier, or suggesting a movie night as they were spending more time together outside of work.
Things were different, but there was so much that was still the same. Especially the way she felt about him. The way she had always felt about him.
Even from the very beginning, he had a claim on her, as much as she had tried to fight it. He was her polar opposite, how could she not have fallen head over heels?
Looking at him again, something suddenly caught in the corner of her eye, and she turned her head. Down the long rows of vaults and tombs, she thought she saw something moving. Stopping, she watched, knowing there had not been anyone there when they had all passed by it a few minutes ago.
Stepping forward, curious if there was a need to be alarmed, she felt a touch on her shoulder, causing her to jump and gasp.
“Sorry. You okay?” Mulder said, staring into her eyes with an apologetic smile.
“Yeah. Sorry. I thought… it was probably nothing.” She gave him a small smile and he nodded, turning back to their tour group. Stepping closer to them, she looked over her shoulder once again, but saw nothing. Trying to shake off the feeling, she stayed close for the rest of the tour.
When they had finished, thanking the priestess for the tour, they drove back to the hotel. Walking through the festively lit courtyard between their rooms, and past the second overly decorated Christmas tree, they said goodnight.
Taking another quick shower, she put on a pair of soft pajama bottoms and one of Mulders old long sleeved shirts and paced the room, suddenly feeling wide awake. She felt off, as though someone was watching her. She pulled the curtain back and looked outside, double checking that there was no one standing out there, her heart racing.
The majority of her vision was obscured by the bright lights and the large tree. But she could also see that the light was on in Mulder’s room, and she debated whether or not she should go talk to him, even though she knew he would tease her mercilessly for feeling that way. But before she could convince herself to go over, his light turned off and she sighed, letting the curtain drop.
“You’re being ridiculous, Dana,” she muttered. Turning off her own light, she walked over to the bed and sat down.
Standing up quickly, she walked to the bathroom and opened the door. Turning on the light, she closed the door halfway, and walked back to the bed. Laying down, she took a deep breath as she stared up at the ceiling.
“Now go to sleep,” she said quietly, smoothing down the blankets, shaking her head as she closed her eyes. “Just sleep.”
Reciting the bones in the body to help her fall asleep, she began to relax, finding comfort in things she could control and count on.
As she turned over with a deep sigh, the long day finally taking its toll, she did not notice the shadow that passed by just outside her window.
In New Orleans, there have been two attacks on college kids. Unexplained deaths, talks of statues coming to life, survivors who are unable to leave their homes, and medical staff and police who are beyond stumped… must be an X-File.
This is the first case fic I’ve ever written and I had a lot of fun with it. I hope you enjoy it! Written for @tinglingworld for the Case File Fanfic Exchange.
October 31, 2017
The music was loud as the car pulled up to the old, abandoned and rundown church, low lights set up in the broken windows. Someone walked in front of the headlights, a black cape billowing behind them.
“God, I’m so ready for this party, y’all,” Arielle said, adjusting her top, reaching in and lifting her breasts and looking down at her cleavage. “So glad I bought this bra. It makes my breasts look amazing.”
“Yeah, it really does, Arielle. Damn girl, how did I not notice that?” Farrah asked, turning off the car and looking at Arielle. “What kind of bra is that? I should have had you get me one.” She looked down at her own chest, finding it looking rather flat compared to the plumpy cleavage Arielle had going on.
“Oh stop, Farrah. You have those fantastically big boobs that don’t need any enhancement. Mine are small and need the extra help,” Arielle said, rolling her eyes as she pulled down the passenger visor and opened the mirror. She took out her lipstick and started applying it. “You want to borrow?”
“I will,” Desiree said from the backseat, leaning forward and taking it. “This is a great color. You always find the best things, Arielle.”
“Half price too, or I wouldn’t have bought it. Never pay full price, ladies.” They all laughed, fixed their hair and costumes, then grabbed their flashlights, before stepping out of the car.
“I hope Davis has a super sexy costume on, maybe a sexy fireman, or something that requires no shirt to go with it,” Arielle said.
“Like an underwear model?” Farrah teased, as they walked carefully down the old broken pathway, their high heels clicking loudly.
“Mmm, yeah. Some short boxer briefs would be more than acceptable.” Arielle nodded, shaking back her long dark hair.
“I bet it would,” Desiree laughed, pulling her long blond Elsa braid over her shoulder, then tugging down the short sparkly blue dress she had made. “God, I think I got the measurements wrong. This dress keeps hiking up.”
“Hope you’re wearing underwear,” Arielle teased and Desiree just shrugged. “Girl…” They all laughed and walked in through the doorway of the church, the front door long gone, and entered a room full of people.
Walking further into the room, they saw many of their friends, all of them in Halloween costumes; though most of the girls were simply scantily dressed. They waved to the DJ, who pointed to his left and they nodded, the music too loud to speak as they continued walking through the church.
Walking into what used to be a small kitchen, they found bottles of alcohol sitting on an old dirty counter, along with Halloween themed bowls of snacks- chips and pretzels mostly. As the church had no power, and the DJ system ran off of a generator, all the rooms were lit by camping lanterns placed around the room to fill it with light.
In the middle of a counter sat a smoking black cauldron full of dry ice. Around it sat numerous bottles of alcohol and plastic black and orange cups. They reached for their bottle of choice and grabbed a cup.
“Boo!” Yelled a voice and all of the girls screamed, dropping their cups to the floor. Turning around, they found Davis, taking off the half mask he wore as he laughed.
“Ass!!” Arielle yelled, smacking at him with a smile. Looking him up and down, she tilted her head to the side. “So, what exactly are you supposed to be?”
He stepped back and put out his arms, showing off the black cape tied around his neck. He was bare chested, his brown skin highlighted by the soft light, and he was wearing black board shorts. Spinning around, he smiled as he faced them again.
“Well… what do you think I am?” He waited and Farrah watched Arielle look him up and down again with a smirk.
“I’m not entirely sure, but I like the lack of clothing involved,” she said, her hands landing on his chest, pulling them away quickly. He laughed and looked at Farah.
“You’re good at riddles. What do you think?” He gestured to himself and she narrowed her eyes, letting them travel over his body.
“Cape, swim trunks, no shirt… hmm.” She tapped a finger to her chin and he spun around, his arms once again stretched out. “Some sort of swimming superhero? Someone who can swim the length of a pool or body of water very quickly?” She raised her eyebrows knowing that could not possibly be what his costume was, as it looked more like he had made no effort whatsoever.
“Sounds as good as anything. I just grabbed whatever I could find to pass as a costume.” He shrugged and they all laughed, Farrah nodding, knowing she had been right.
Picking up their cups from the floor, they tossed them into a large plastic trash can. Resuming the task they had set out to accomplish, they made their drinks, tasting each of them and exclaiming over how delicious they all were. Walking back to the main room, they danced with their drinks as they listened to the DJ.
Standing outside amidst the crumbled stones of the courtyard, within their own small group of friends in the back of the church a while later, a few joints were passed around between them, except for Jenkins who had agreed to be the designated driver.
“I so needed this tonight,” Farrah said as she blew perfect smoke rings, much to the approval of the group. “School has got me wound tighter than ever. I don’t know what I was thinking, changing my major this late in the game. I am either incredibly stupid or it’s all gonna work out.”
“Is it mean if I say it might be a little of both?” Becca asked, her green eyes shining. She had arrived later than the others, changing into her costume in the kitchen, the group cheering her on when she had gotten down to the skimpy bathing suit she had under her clothes, claiming she was Malibu Barbie as she shook out her long golden blonde hair.
“No, because it’s how I feel too,” Farrah said, taking another hit before passing the joint to Zara. “Z? You hittin’ this?” She shook her head and looked around the yard with a heavy sigh.
“Did y’all see where Zach went? He said he was going to take a piss, but he’s not back yet.”
“I’m sure he’s fine,” Davis said, reaching over and taking the joint from Farrah. “I mean it’s not like he could go a lot of places.”
They all looked out at the large area in front of them, the dark of the night seemingly darker as compared to their flashlights and the glow of the inside of the church.
“This place is fantastically creepy, isn’t it?” Becca asked as she shook her head. “Seriously, some of the places we’ve been have been good, but this place is truly the shit. I mean, the last place wasn’t a church with a graveyard behind it, so bonus points already.”
“We should play hide and seek!” Tyler cried, a normally quiet and reserved guy, but when he drank, he was far more outgoing.
“In these heels?” Arielle asked and shook her head. “You must be out of your goddamn mind.” She closed her eyes with a happy smile and they all laughed.
“Oh, come on,” Davis said, untying his cape and letting it drop. “We can hide together. Buddy up, you know?”
“Oh. Well, then hell yes. I’m in.” She stood up and Davis grabbed her elbow, helping her become steady on her feet. He shook his head with a laugh and looked at everyone else.
They all scattered, laughing as they grabbed their flashlights and ran into the dark night. Farrah had a hold of Tyler’s hand, mellow and chilled from the pot and the alcohol.
“Here. This is good.” He pulled her behind a large headstone close to the church and they stood there, laughing and loudly telling the others to be quiet.
She shivered and he pulled her closer, rubbing up and down her arms. From around the graveyard, they heard the others laughing and Jenkins called out.
“Hey! Who’s the seeker? I think we forget something, y’all!”
“Oh shit,” Travis shouted back and laughter rang out.
“Come on, let’s start over,” Davis yelled and everyone agreed.
“Be careful, okay?” Tyler said, reaching for Farrah’s hand again. “I don’t know how you girls walk around with those shoes on normal ground, let alone on grass.”
“Well, this was obviously not what I imagined was going to happen tonight or I’d have worn my kicks. Kicks… kicks… that’s funny.”
“You’re stoned,” Tyler laughed and she gripped his arm as her heel got stuck and they stopped to release it, laughing hysterically, before walking back to the stone courtyard.
“Seriously, you guys,” Zara was saying, fear in her voice as they walked up. “Have you seen Zach?” She glanced out into the dark backyard, worry crossing her face, as she wrung her hands. “We didn’t see him out there and…”
“Z, I’m sure he went inside. Maybe to get a drink or something,” Jenkins said with a smile.
“I would have seen him. What if he’s hurt? What if he tripped or something?”
“We can look for him. Oh shit! We’ll be the seekers!” Arielle yelled and they all cheered, again leaving the courtyard, laughing and clinging to one another.
“That’s not what I meant to happen,” Zara called after them. “You all could get hurt! It’s too dangerous. Just… wait. Come back.”
“We got this Z. Don’t worry!” Davis called and then began calling for Zach, Arielle laughing as she called with him.
“It is possible that he could have fallen or something, Jesus, it’s dark and the ground is precarious,” Tyler said to Farrah, her grip on him tight.
“Precarious. Listen to you, fancy man.” She snorted with laughter, the word sounding funny to her ears as she felt better than she had in weeks.
“Yeah, yeah. Zach! Where you at man? Zaaaaach!” Tyler yelled and Farrah heard the call echoed by the others.
Their flashlights shined ahead of them, their calls echoing back and forth, but still there was no sign of Zach. Stopping a few times to loosen her heels from the deep grass, they laughed when she fell onto her ass. Pulling her up, Tyler stared at her and leaned in to kiss her, surprising her, before she kissed him back.
“I’ve wanted to do that for a long time,” he admitted breathily and she grinned.
“I’ve wanted you to do it for a long time,” she said, biting her lip.
“Let’s not wait so long next time,” he teased and she laughed, pulling him down for another kiss.
“Wait… let’s… let’s get out of this creepy ass graveyard and back inside. Let’s find that idiot Zach and bring him to Zara, then…” Tyler said, asking her with his eyes if that was okay.
“Hell yes,” she breathed and he laughed. Grabbing her hand, he pulled her forward, calling out for Zach.
Despite the happy feeling inside of her, Farrah shivered as a thought began to niggle at her. Straining to listen, hoping she was wrong, she clutched Tyler’s arm, breathing hard.
“Farrah… do you…” He looked at her and she knew it was not just her imagination.
“Arielle?” she called out, her eyes on Tyler, no answering call returning. “Becca? Desiree?” They waited, her grip on him becoming tighter.
“Why aren’t they calling back? Tyler… what’s…”
“Becca?” Called a voice to their left and Farrah froze, chills appearing over her entire body.
“Who is that?” she whispered to Tyler and he shook his head, breathing hard.
“Who is that?” The voice repeated in a lilting tone and Farrah froze. No chance anyone could have heard her except Tyler.
“What?” Farrah breathed and Tyler pulled her close, her body now shaking from something she could not explain.
“Dude, this isn’t funny. I don’t know who…” he said and then stopped, shaking his head.
“Not funny.” The voice seemed to breathe from all around them and right next to them all at once.
“Tyler…” Farrah closed her eyes, putting her head on Tyler’s chest, feeling weak and almost sick.
“You’re… leave us alone. We were just looking for our friend,” Tyler said in a strong voice, even as Farrah felt him tremble, goosebumps rising on his arm as she held it.
A haunting laugh seemed to drown out every other sound and Farrah began to crumble, feeling she was being forced down to the ground. Tyler followed and she briefly wondered if she was forcing him or vice versa.
The cool wet grass hit her knees and she felt dizzy as she continued down, feeling as though something was forcing her to the ground. Lying flat on her stomach, Tyler squeezed her hand and she whispered to him, her eyes full of tears.
“What is happening?”
“It… is happening.” The voice breathed and she felt it on the back of her neck.
Frozen, unable to turn her head to look to see who was doing this, she closed her eyes tighter, her tears escaping as she did. Tyler squeezed her hand once more as chills covered her entire body, fear coursing through her.
A scream filled her head, a sound that echoed around her, bouncing off the trees. Tears ran down her face as the screams from her friends joined the other voice. Every one of them she heard separately, feeling their pain, when it suddenly fell silent, and the world went dark.
A little future fic where after a late shift at the hospital, Scully comes home to sit on the porch and drink some wine with Mulder, discussing her day and hearing about his own.
I saw a poem on my timeline on Twitter and from six short lines, a fic was born. I hope you enjoy the story I have created. I love it very much. The fluff… 💙
Scully walked into her office and sighed. The later shifts at the hospital were always harder, but she was happy with how the day had gone. Well, content anyway.
She still had an hour to go, in which she would need to finish up her paperwork, leaving notes for the doctors on call in the morning. Sitting down at her desk, she sighed as he opened a file, rereading what she had written earlier, adding notes from the day.
As she moved it, reaching for the next folder, she heard a buzzing sound, and turned to her left, seeing her cell phone light up with a message from Mulder. She smiled as she picked up the phone and opened the message.
It was a picture of the moon, a bright full moon, taken from their porch, a small portion of the drive and the magnolia trees in the bottom corner. As she stared at it, the phone buzzed with another message.
Opening it, she found a picture of their porch swing, the new pillow Faith had insisted on sitting in the middle; white with numerous rainbows upon it. She grinned at the picture and then the phone buzzed again.
A picture of the porch chairs.
Then a picture of two glasses of wine on the table between the chairs.
She smiled, about to text him and tell him she would be home soon, when a message appeared and she sighed, the poetry of the words stirring her soul and arousing her all at once.
“Come home Beautiful lady I’ve left the lights on Though the stars And the moon Are burning brightly”
She exhaled, looking back through the messages and shaking her head; that man did know how to get to her. Exhaling again, she set the phone aside, not answering him, knowing it would only prolong things and she was now eager to hurry the paperwork along and get home to drink wine with him by the light of the moon.
Her notes may have been shorter than usual, but they were thorough and contained what was needed. Placing them onto Doctor McKay’s desk, she gathered up her things, walked out the door, and smiled as she headed to her car.
The gate to the drive was open, cutting out one stop she had to take in order to reach the house. She closed it after she drove through, not wanting Bella to run out and away. Driving up and parking beside the house, she saw him sitting on the porch, the white fairy lights on and the porch light off.
Smiling as she made her way to the stairs, she glanced at the moon across the field, wanting to see the view he had been enjoying as he waited for her arrival. Looking back at him, she grinned as she walked up the stairs.
“Hello there, beautiful lady,” he said and she stepped closer to him, bending and kissing him, her hand on his shoulder.
“Hello,” she breathed against his lips, kissing him again. Pulling back, she smiled as she took off her coat and tossed it onto the porch railing. Sitting beside him, she accepted the glass of wine he handed her.
Holding it in her right hand, she held her left out to him, silently asking for his hand. He interlocked their fingers, bringing her hand to his lips and kissing it.
“How was your day?” he murmured, kissing her hand once more.
“It was okay,” she answered, taking a sip of her wine, squeezing his hand and releasing it, bringing it to rest on the arm of her chair.
“Just okay? Hmm. Give me your high and low.” She smiled as she thought of the game they played with Faith, the high and low of the day, always trying to highlight the positive over the negative.
“Let’s see…” she said, leaning back, and resting her head against the chair. “Low of my day… there was only light cream cheese in the cafeteria.”
“Oh… that is a definite low.” She laughed and nodded, taking a drink of her wine.
“And my high…” She turned her head and smiled as she looked at him. “Knowing that you were waiting here for me.”
“Gross,” he said, shaking his head as he grinned at her and she laughed softly. Turning her head, she looked at the moon and sighed happily.
“What about you? What did you two get up to today?”
“Well… we decided on a color today.”
“What? Really? That’s exciting!” Looking at him again, he nodded and smiled. “So what’s the color then?” He cleared his throat and grinned as he lifted his glass to his lips.
“All of the colors.”
She laughed, the sound of it echoing in the still, dark night. Shaking her head, she looked at him and he nodded.
“So… then no decision has been reached?”
“No, Scully. The decision is all of the colors.” He spread his hands wide and she laughed again.
Over the summer, despite the heat, they had all been working on a non-tree treehouse. It was more of a playhouse, but Faith had called it a treehouse so often, that was what it had become.
Everything had arrived in a huge kit, the wood a light colored pine with a plan to paint it when it was put together and finished. Skinner had come over a few times to help with the building of it, the house more intricate than believed when it had been purchased.
When the last screw was put in, Faith had been over the moon, clapping her hands and hugging them all before she opened the door and stepped inside.
It was a decent sized house, one that Scully could stand inside with Mulder bending only slightly. One large room was all it had, but to Faith it was like a palace, considering all the things she had wanted to put inside of it. It had a Dutch door, the top of it with a heart cut out in the middle. There were seven windows, with window boxes beneath four of them. A gabled roof extended out over a small porch with railings on three sides.
They had numerous tea parties and even a movie night with a sheet hanging on the wall to project it upon. Mulder had needed some ibuprofen the next day, the house not quite large enough for his over six foot tall body to lay in comfortably.
But Faith had loved playing in there, always rearranging the furniture she had brought inside. Trading the books from the bookcase in her room to the small one in the treehouse, back and forth as her interests changed. Little plastic chairs were sitting on the small porch and the window boxes had real plants in little plastic pots, though they did not actually grow very well, as Faith dug them up frequently, curious as to how they were doing.
It was her house, however, and they let her do what she wanted with it- within reason of course. She wanted curtains and Violet, their wonderful neighbor, surprised her one day with white ones covered in rainbow colored polka dots. She helped her hang them up and Faith had loved them. She wrote Violet a thank you note, which had made Violet cry, hugging Faith and telling her she was more than welcome.
The color of the house… that had been a never ending discussion, the color of it changing every time they thought they had it nailed down. They had gone to the hardware store and let Faith pick paint sample cards, hoping it would narrow down her options, but instead she had walked out with a huge stack of them. She had laid them all out on the living room floor, laying on her belly as she had stared at them, her concentration unwavering, as she took the decision very seriously.
A color had not yet been chosen yet, and that trip to the hardware store had taken place over three weeks ago. She had decided against some of the samples, but there were still quite a few on the floor, with no one allowed to touch them but her.
“So,” Scully laughed again. “How did she uh… narrow it down?”
“Would you like to see?”
“Come on then,” he said, setting his glass down and standing to his feet. Reaching for her hand, he pulled her to her feet and set her glass of wine beside his on the table.
They walked down the stairs and around the house, the moon alone bright enough to light their way. He squeezed her hand and she smiled, grabbing his arm with her other hand.
Standing in front of the treehouse, he took a flashlight from his pocket and turned it on, before opening the door and gesturing for her to enter first. She smiled, ducking only slightly as she stepped inside, the beam of the flashlight revealing how the decision had been made and Scully laughed quietly as she shook her head.
All around the room, as high as Faith could reach, a different paint sample card had been taped to the wall. Clusters of colors were together, some random lonely ones, and some in a rainbow pattern. There was no rhyme or reason to it and Scully found that her usual need for organization was overpowered by the beauty in the chaos of colors.
She smiled and looked at Mulder, who was also grinning as he looked at them. He turned to her and nodded with a shrug.
“She was in and out of the house today, as I fixed the clothesline, Bella always trailing after her. I went inside to get our lunch ready and didn’t even notice the paint cards were all gone from the floor. We ate lunch and she asked if she could go back outside and I said sure. As I was finishing the clearing up, she came in with a huge smile on her face, pulling at my arm and asking me to come see something.” He grinned again as he held an ocean blue card between his fingers and then let it go. “She was so proud of herself, telling me she had finally decided on the color and wanted to show me, but I had to close my eyes before she would open the door and show me.”
“Did she lead you in?”
“She did and I one hundred percent hit my head on the way inside. Not too bad, but still…” They both laughed and she looked at the color samples again. “As I looked at them, I asked her why she chose all the colors and she said because she couldn’t choose just one and she didn’t want to make them sad and hurt the other colors feelings when they weren’t picked.” He looked at Scully and she shook her head slowly.
“That girl,” she whispered, taking a deep breath. “She has such a kind soul. So diplomatic. That’s you, through and through.” She smiled at him and he shook his head.
“No, that’s both of us,” he corrected her quietly and she smiled as she rubbed his arm. Sighing, she looked around the small room again.
“How will we ever accomplish this, Mulder?”
“Well,” he said, turning off the flashlight, and the room was plunged into darkness. He slipped the flashlight back into his pocket and pulled her close as she wrapped her arms around his neck. “I raised that question to her as well and I was told, “You can do it, Daddy. I know you can.”” He stared at her and she grinned.
“She has complete faith in you,” she quipped and he laughed softly.
“She does indeed. It’s scary sometimes, that’s for sure.”
“Why would you say that?”
“I… I just don’t ever want to let her down. To be less than in her eyes, but I know that someday, somehow, I will.”
“Mulder…” she whispered, shaking her head. “Neither of us will ever be perfect and while we strive to always do our best… there will be times when we fall short, either because of our own shortcomings or because she will find something we do to be so embarrassing.” She rolled her eyes and smiled at him. He chuckled with a nod and then sighed deeply.
“I know,” he whispered.
“But for now,” she whispered back. “You can do no wrong. You are her superhero, her helper, her confidant, her best friend. She knows that if she puts up all the colors on the wall, you will get it done. Not because she demands or expects it, but because you are her daddy and her daddy can do anything.” She smiled and he ducked his head with a smile. “Complete faith in you.”
“My Faith has faith,” he whispered and she nodded, stroking his face gently.
“She’s not the only one.” He bent his head and kissed her, her arms tightening around his neck as he lifted her slightly off the ground.
They left the little house, Mulder careful to not bump his head, and closed the door behind them. As they walked back to the porch, she took a deep breath as she grasped his hand, smiling at how happy she felt even as she imagined all the painting they would soon be doing.
“Do you want to head inside?” he asked as they walked up the stairs and she shook her head.
“Not just yet,” she said, sitting down and smiling at him.
“Then I will get us some more wine,” he said, picking up their glasses, dropping a kiss on her head, and walking into the house.
Bella came out, her tail wagging happily as she walked over to Scully, giving her a lick and nudging at her hand.
“Hey girl. How you doing, huh?” She rubbed her ears and pet her muzzle, scratching under her chin. “Did you have fun with Faithy today?”
“Mama?” She heard and turned her head to find Faith standing in the doorway, barefoot in her pajamas, a black nightgown with a sleeping rosy cheeked yellow moon and yellow and pink stars. Rubbing her eyes as she blinked in the light, she yawned tiredly.
“Hey, love. What are you doing up?” she asked as she sat up and opened her arms. Faith stepped onto the porch, climbing into her lap and snuggling close. “You should be sleeping.”
“I heard you talking and I wanted to see you,” Faith said quietly, the baby doll she had gotten for her second birthday and had loved ever since held tightly, as Scully wrapped her arms around her.
“Well, I’m glad you did. I missed you today.”
“I missed you too, Mama.” She yawned again and snuggled closer, her breathing already becoming slower. Scully smiled, rubbing her back and kissing the top of her head.
Mulder walked out, stopping in his tracks as he saw Faith on her lap. He raised his eyebrows in surprise and she smiled. Setting down their glasses of wine, he held his arms out to take Faith and put her back to bed.
Scully shook her head, happy to cuddle her for a while longer. He nodded with an understanding smile and sat down in the chair beside her.
Closing her eyes, she leaned back and situated Faith to lay against her chest. Resting her right cheek on her head, took a deep breath, breathing in Faith’s sleepy scent.
“This,” she whispered, opening her eyes and looking at Mulder. “This moment, this past hour, this is my high of the day.”
He smiled and reached for her hand, connecting the three of them. She closed her eyes again and squeezed his hand gently, wishing she could freeze this moment and stay there forever.
“Mama,” Faith breathed in her sleep and Scully smiled softly. She knew she could never truly freeze time, as much as she may want to make it happen.
Tomorrow would arrive, the sun rising and taking this night away with it, but it would be remembered; by the brightness of the moon, the richness of the red wine, the taste of Mulder’s kiss, a treehouse room full of color samples, and the warmth of the little girl in her arms.
Let tomorrow come, she thought, kissing the top of Faith’s head again and sighing a happy smile.
Tomorrow they had a wish to fulfill, with a visit to the hardware store, and a rainbow selection of paint to bring home.
So… as today it was decided, I had to add a little happy something to close out the Election Deflection series.
It’s short and sweet, but I felt it was needed. Especially as we are getting our FIRST female Vice President. ❤️🙌🏼
“I can’t handle this anymore, Mulder. I have to go for a run.”
“Honey, I’m sure they’ll call it soon. They’re waiting on the results.”
“They’ve been waiting on them for days, Mulder. I… I need to get out of here, clear my head.”
She ran until her chest burned and her eyes watered, imagining their daughter growing up in the current world they were living in. She stopped, bending and trying to catch her breath as she sniffed back tears and shook her head. Turning up the music, unable to listen to any news, she began to run again.
Once more around the path she normally took, she turned up the driveway, her legs aching, but the endorphins kicking in and making her feel better than she had in days. She opened the gate and shut it behind her, closing her eyes as she paced, cooling down as her breath slowed to normal.
Bang bang bang
Startled, she turned around and saw Mulder on the porch, banging a pot. Faith stood beside him, shaking her little tambourine, grinning happily.
Pulling her headphones from her ears, she walked closer to them, shaking her head, not daring to believe it.
“Whooooo!” Mulder yelled, a huge smile on his face as he hit the pot.
“What? Mulder… please. What?”
“They called Pennsylvania. 273.”
“Oh, God,” she cried, a hand on her chest as tears filled her eyes.
“They did it. She’s the next VP.” He grinned and she laughed through her tears.
She stepped close enough to scoop Faith up and spun her around in the grass as they both laughed, the tambourine shaking melodically.
“VP, VP, VP!” Scully shouted and Faith mimicked her, both of them shouting it as Mulder beat out the rhythm on the pot with a wooden spoon.
Raising her head, she pulled Faith’s head to her chest, tears streaming down her face, hope and happiness filling her heart in a way she had not felt in four years. She smiled at Mulder as he put his arms around them and he grinned.
“It’s going to be better now,” he said quietly and she nodded, as he kissed her forehead.
“VP, VP, VP!” Faith shouted, lifting her head and looking at them. Mulder laughed and began to jump, holding them close.
“VP, VP, VP!” They all shouted, jumping in their little huddle, the tambourine shaking out a happy tune, as a new future shined as brightly as the sun.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched just these few seconds from this episode. It is so beautiful. The look on Maggie’s face when she sees Mulder hovering above her. She’s seeing him from a different perspective, one that her daughter has seen him from on more times than she ever cared to remember. I could write pages on the heaviness of this scene and it would never do it any justice. Why look at Mulder? Why not her own daughter who is standing over her as well, rubbing her shoulder? This is a man she has grown to love as her own over the past 23 years. The man who in the beginning she thought of as a danger to her daughter. Now he is the familiar face of a man who loves and protects her daughter, the man who will continue to protect her and love her when she leaves this earth. The father of her grandchild. She is at peace knowing that he is there and will always be there for her baby girl. And Scully witnesses this fast interaction. She sees this from the perspective her mother has always been the bearer of. It is so easy to feel safe and comforted by Fox Mulder. Both Scully women have now been on the receiving end of such a powerful feeling. A dark wizard, indeed. What a way to go. These few seconds need to be talked about for eternity.
Thats so beautiful. I could cry again.
So… this is achingly beautiful and it made me want to repost a story I wrote last year.
After the finale￼, I began to write, and I created many stories, but there was one in particular I wanted to tell. I posted it here a few months ago, but trying to find all the chapters would be incredibly hard to do. 😊 So I will post the link to it on ao3 and I hope you read it. ❤️
It is a story that encompasses the breakup through season 11. Maggie plays a central character, there for Mulder especially as he and Scully are separated, being the mother he needed.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched just these few seconds from this episode. It is so beautiful. The look on Maggie’s face when she sees Mulder hovering above her. She’s seeing him from a different perspective, one that her daughter has seen him from on more times than she ever cared to remember. I could write pages on the heaviness of this scene and it would never do it any justice. Why look at Mulder? Why not her own daughter who is standing over her as well, rubbing her shoulder? This is a man she has grown to love as her own over the past 23 years. The man who in the beginning she thought of as a danger to her daughter. Now he is the familiar face of a man who loves and protects her daughter, the man who will continue to protect her and love her when she leaves this earth. The father of her grandchild. She is at peace knowing that he is there and will always be there for her baby girl. And Scully witnesses this fast interaction. She sees this from the perspective her mother has always been the bearer of. It is so easy to feel safe and comforted by Fox Mulder. Both Scully women have now been on the receiving end of such a powerful feeling. A dark wizard, indeed. What a way to go. These few seconds need to be talked about for eternity.
Hiya! I saw those instagram accounts someone made for your fics and was wondering where the fics in question are posted? Would love to read them!
How incredibly sweet are those Instagram accounts that @sugarskullzd made? I love them and have been thinking about them all day. ❤️
So, I actually posted all the stories here recently… BUT it’s a lot to wade through, so I am going to post the link to all of them on ao3.
I started the series with a novel length story, Soulmates, that delves into their breakup and weaves through until the season 11 finale. Then the story continues on, in real time, with how I imagine their life would be now. I love writing them happy and living in that little Unremarkable House.
I hope you enjoy the stories! Happy reading! And thanks for the ask! ❤️❤️
Okay! Last one in the Election Deflection series (for now anyway). Yeah, it’s Pine Bluff Variant. Yeah… you know the scene. ❤️
Why do this to you, Mulder?
They’re testing me, too. Haley’s paranoid … and spooked. I was sure he was going to kill me.
Scully took a deep breath as she looked at the bruising on Mulder’s hand and pinky. She shook her head as he drew in a sharp breath when she moved the ice.
“Sorry,” she whispered and he exhaled deeply.
“You know, I’ve been stabbed, punched, kicked… I’ve been shot for god’s sake, but this… Jesus Christ,” he said through gritted teeth and then he moaned as she nodded, understanding what he meant.
“I’d like to tell you it’s going to feel better in a few minutes, but…” she said softly and he nodded with his eyes closed. She watched him, seeing the exhaustion on his face.
“I wanted to tell you, Scully,” he said in a tired voice. “I hated not telling you, but…”
“I understand.” He opened his eyes and stared at her. “Well…” She looked back at his finger, angry that she had not been there to help him.
“I was very angry, as I know you were aware.” He scoffed and she looked down, again, that anger still sitting just below the surface.
“I’m sorry,” he said quietly. She looked up and nodded, squeezing his hand gently as she took a deep breath.
“I’m sorry too. This is going to hurt. Keep the ice there, I’m going to get the first aid kit.”
“Fuck,” he muttered, as he held the ice with his other hand and she stood up from the coffee table, touching his shoulder as she stepped away.
Walking into his bathroom, she took out the first aid kit she had made for him personally; a standard one not enough for the injuries he always seemed to sustain. Bringing the entire thing with her, she walked back to the living room and sat in front of him again.
Gathering the supplies, she laid them beside her as he moaned and let out deep breaths. She took the ice from him and set it on the coffee table before turning her attention to his finger; making sure it was not wet.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered and she quickly set the bone, tugging it back into place as he held back a groan. His head dropped onto the couch as his breathing increased.
“That’s… better,” he breathed, letting out a moan and a shaky breath.
“I’ll splint it and get you some ibuprofen to help with the pain and the swelling.”
“Hmm,” he hummed, licking his lips and shaking his head.
She carefully wrapped his finger and added the splint, taping it closed. He continued to sit with his head back and his eyes closed and for a brief second she considered placing a kiss on his hand; something her mother had done for every hurt requiring a bandage.
He lifted his head before she could follow through and she cleared her throat, feeling her face flush as though she had been caught out, even if he could have no knowledge of her thoughts.
“Thank you,” he said quietly and she nodded, rubbing his hand gently before she laid it carefully on his leg.
“I’ll get you some ibuprofen and some water. You need to elevate it. Be right back.” She handed him some cushions, which he put on his lap, his hand on top, as he leaned his head back once more.
She went into the kitchen and filled a glass with water and grabbed the bottle of ibuprofen. Walking back to join him, she set the glass down and opened the bottle. Shaking out five pills, she handed them to him along with the glass of water.
He drank them down and he sighed as he handed her back the glass. Picking up the ice, she placed it gently on his splint. He inhaled and leaned his head back. Drinking the rest of his water, she set the glass on the desk and sat beside him on the couch.
“I know you couldn’t tell me, but you should have, Mulder.”
“Skinner-” he said, as he raised his head.
“Fuck Skinner,” she said, glaring at him as he raised his eyebrows in surprise.
“No thanks,” he deadpanned and she shook her head.
“I’m serious. That shouldn’t have mattered, Mulder. I didn’t like the way it made me feel. Wondering if you…”
“If I’d betrayed my country?” he asked snidely and she shook her head as she bit her lip.
“If you’d decided you no longer needed me as your partner… or your friend,” she admitted softly.
“Scully… how could you think that?” he asked incredulously. “You…”
“Mulder… I…” She stood up and paced the room, the knowledge that he was okay, but could have been hurt far worse than he was, suddenly filling her with anger. “Watching you, seeing how easily you brushed me aside, it… I knew something was wrong, of course I did. But fuck, Mulder.” She stared at him and he had the decency to look away.
“I’m sorry. That’s all I can say to you. I know it hurt you because it hurt me as well.” He looked up, his eyes expressing more than his words how much of a toll it had taken on him. “I hated lying to you. Hated keeping it from you.”
“What if you’d been hurt and I…” He glanced down at his hand and then smiled softly at her. “Something I couldn’t fix?” She stared at him and he sighed, standing to his feet with a wince as his hand dropped. Stepping toward her, he stopped in front of her and sighed.
“That thought was always on my mind, I assure you,” he said quietly and she sighed as she shook her head, closing her eyes briefly. “Next time-”
“Next time a domestic terrorist organization recruits you to help them?”
“Yeah,” he chuckled darkly, and she shook her head again. “Next time… fuck Skinner.”
“You’re goddamn right,” she said, her expression serious. She sighed as she stared at him and then she nodded. “You need to keep this elevated.”
She reached for his hand and held it in both of hers. He drew in a breath as he grimaced and without thinking, she brought his hand to her lips and kissed his finger softly. His eyes darkened and when she did it again, she heard his breath catch. Bringing his hand to his chest, she held it there and gave him a slight smile.
“Keep it elevated. For a little while at least. Give the medicine a chance to work.” He nodded and kept his eyes on hers, until they moved to her lips and her breath caught. Moving her hand, she stepped back and nodded.
Neither of them saying anything, she walked past him and to the door. Taking a deep breath, she turned around and stared at him.
“Be careful. Whatever they’re using, however they’re doing it… we’ve both seen its effects,” she said softly and he nodded, still holding his hand against his chest. “I’ll see you later, Mulder.”
“You will,” he replied and she smiled, turning the knob and opening the door.
Stepping through it, she closed it behind her, not looking back again, unable to trust herself to not leave the apartment.
Letting out a breath, she walked down the hall and to the elevator, her heart pounding as she closed her eyes and sent up a prayer for his protection.
The poll numbers are starting to come in… time for another chapter.
I just thought it was a pretty cool keychain.
He smiled to himself as he heard her footsteps in the grass behind him. Turning around, he raised his eyebrows at her and she rolled her eyes.
“Just a cool keychain?”
“No, a pretty cool one,” he said and she grinned, looking down at it.
“Hmm. I mean, it’s a nice keychain. And a good gift, but also… what did this set you back? Five dollars? Ten dollars tops?” She held it out and he put a hand to his chest.
“Agent Scully… four years together and this is the first gift I’ve ever given you. And you don’t like it?” He closed his eyes as he put his hand over his heart. “I don’t think it’s beating. I think I need to see a doctor.”
Her hand covered his and he opened his eyes in surprise. She kept her hand there, her eyes moving back and forth, her expression serious.
“Well, Doctor Scully can feel that you’re obviously fine, so let’s hear the real reason for the keychain.” She moved her hand and he stared at her, his breathing heavier than normal. She smiled and crossed her arms, waiting with her eyebrows raised.
“I don’t know. It is a little gift, as you said. Not something that was terribly expensive. But…” He shrugged with a smile. “You remember Houston? The Space Center?”
“It would be hard to forget that. It was a very tense and stressful situation.”
“Exactly,” he said with another shrug. “It was and a lot of the time this job is as well. The Apollo 11 mission was also fraught with stress and worry and yet, it appeared to be smooth sailing.”
“Okay,” she said, uncrossing her arms and looking at the keychain. “And that made you think of me? With this gift?” She looked at him with a soft smile and he had to think how best to answer without saying too much.
“You…” He took the keychain and looked at the inscribed words once more, though he knew them by heart. “No one gets there alone. It takes teamwork and partnership, this is true. I wasn’t… exactly a team player, to say the least. I’m still not, but…” He handed it back to her with a smile and she laughed softly.
“So… I was right. That’s all you needed to say,” she said, putting the keychain in her pocket.
“You were right,” he agreed and she nodded happily. “But it’s also… I know the reputation I have, the stigma my name carries, the way people look at me when I enter the room.”
“Mulder,” she said softly.
“I mean, we both knew it couldn’t be me who went to visit Sharon in the mental institution. I would’ve been in a room down the hall.”
“Mulder,” she said again, laughing quietly, and he smiled.
“I just… it’s a small token, in all regards, but it’s something I wanted you to have. A reminder that… even when it may not seem it, I appreciate our partnership.”
“Stop or I might cry,” she said with an eye roll and he chuckled softly. She smiled and he saw the way his words had touched her despite her reaction. She nodded and stepped forward, once more walking toward the car.
“Still though,” she said as he fell in step beside her. “Four years and only one gift… a small token as you say… I’d say you’re still lacking.”
“Is that right?” he asked, bumping her shoulder lightly.
“Mm-hmm,” she hummed, bumping him back.
“Huh…” he mused, taking the keys from his pocket. “Would buying you dinner tip the scales in my favor?”
“It might,” she said with a shrug as she walked to the passenger side with a smile. He laughed as he got in and started the car, glancing at her as they put on their seatbelts.
mulder + scully instagram pages based on the sweet little universe @kikocrystalball created through fanfiction
There is quite possibly no greater form of praise than to see something like this. To know that words I’ve written, stories and a life I’ve created, inspires others to then create something. This is so cute and so them, it just makes me laugh and cry. It’s beautiful and I love it. Thank you @sugarskullzd You are so sweet. ❤️💕❤️
Help me understand why you have a gun on Agent Patterson!
It’s him, Scully.
They walked out of Skinner’s office, three days after Agent Bill Patterson had been taken to the hospital and was now under 24/7 police surveillance. Once he was considered healthy enough to leave, he would be transported to a correctional facility.
Scully looked at Mulder, taking in his defeated demeanor. He had at least two days worth of a beard he had failed to shave before coming in that morning. He was quiet and withdrawn, the cut on his cheek still prominent, and he looked as though he had not slept much in the past few days.
“I think I’m gonna head home,” he said, his voice low.
“See you tomorrow, Scully,” he said, barely above a whisper, turning around and heading for the elevator to the parking garage.
She sighed as she watched him leave, feeling highly incompetent to do anything to help him. As she stood in the hall, unsure of what to do, she saw Skinner come out of his office and stand in the doorway, staring at her with a questioning look. He looked past her and then over his left shoulder, seeing Mulder’s back as he walked into the elevator.
She sighed as she looked back at Skinner with a slight shrug and he shook his head in the same manner. Anyone who was watching them, would be unable to know what exactly was taking place.
He sighed as he nodded, inclining his head toward the elevator that had just taken Mulder away from them. She smiled slightly and nodded back, but turned to the opposite elevator, needing to get her things before she left for the day.
Her coat, keys, and phone procured, she made her way to the parking garage, not paying attention, so it took her a second to realize she had walked past Mulder’s car. Turning around, she doubled back, and saw that she was correct: his car was still there, but he was not.
“He must have forgotten his keys,” she said under her breath, still looking around, but not finding him. “Must have called a cab.”
She sighed as she realized she did not know what she should do. Taking out her phone, she tried to call him, but he did not answer. Shaking her head, she walked to her car and drove home, deciding that she would give him some space before she tried to contact him again.
Walking to her apartment door, she stopped at the sight of him sitting outside of it, his knees drawn close, and his head leaning back against the door.
“Mulder?” she said softly and he raised his head, looking at her with empty eyes.
“I forgot my keys,” he explained, his voice quiet. “I…” He let out a sigh and she stepped closer, her keys in her hand.
“Come on. I’ll make you some tea.” She extended her hand with a soft smile and he took it, pulling himself to his feet.
“Scully, I think we’re past tea,” he said with a tired sigh as he brushed his hands off and shoved them into his pockets.
“Mulder, there is never anything so bad that a good cup of tea won’t at least help a little.” She smiled again and he exhaled loudly with a shake of his head. Opening the door, she let him enter first, his shoulders slumped.
“Let me put the kettle on. Have a seat. Couch or table, up to you.” She took off her coat and hung it up, before walking to the stove and picking up the kettle.
Filling it with water, she watched him out of the corner of her eye as he took off his coat and sat at the table with a deep sigh. Setting it on the stove, she turned on the burner and looked at him.
“Are you hungry? I could make you something…”
“No,” he said, looking up at her with a half smile. “Just tea will be fine.” She nodded with a smile and took down two mugs.
They waited in silence for the water to boil and the kettle to whistle. When it did, she added a bag of chamomile tea to each mug, pouring the water into each and letting them steep before setting his down in front of him. He nodded his thanks, but said nothing. She took out the honey and sugar, placing them on the table, in case he wanted to use them.
She sat down across from him, adding a small amount of honey to her mug, stirring it with a spoon. She offered the spoon to him and he took it, adding a spoonful of sugar to his own mug.
She watched him from under her lashes as he took a drink and held the mug in his hands. He sighed and set it down, crossing his arms on the table.
“My time at the ISU… there were moments I thought it would kill me. I… I didn’t want to be Patterson-”
“But, you did want to impress him?”
“Sometimes,” he said, a smile pulling at his lips. “But it was more the physical toll that it took on me. I’m a profiler, yes… but…” He shook his head and sighed. “Becoming a monster to catch a monster…” He shook his head again and she nodded.
“It sounds awful, that’s true, but…I can understand his logic… to a point,” she offered, with a half smile and he looked at her, his eyes once more empty.
“It’s not worth the outcome,” he said quietly and she sighed.
“It helped you stop Patterson,” she said softly and he shook his head, looking down at his mug.
“You saw my apartment. What the process does to me. You said it yourself, I scared you.”
“No, Mulder,” she interrupted, touching his arm, causing him to look up at her. “I wasn’t scared of you, I was scared for you.” He searched her face and sighed as he covered her hand with his own. “I saw what it was doing to you… and there was nothing I could do to help you.” He sighed and shook his head.
“We’re partners, Mulder. But this time I couldn’t… I didn’t know how to be there to help you. To be the partner you needed.”
“Scully,” he breathed, and she squeezed his hand.
“I… I don’t want to see that happen to you again. Not… not like that,” she whispered and he stared at her. “I know you. I know you can’t promise me it won’t happen again.” She smiled softly and he sighed loudly with a nod.
“No, I can’t promise you that…” he said softly as he squeezed her hand. She looked down at their joined hands, nodding as she looked back at him and smiled sadly.
“I know, Mulder. And… I understand.”
He stared at her, his eyes speaking words he did not say and promises he could not keep. He sighed again as he squeezed her hand, the room falling silent around them once more.
No. No. But I… I found something I thought I’d lost. Faith to keep looking.
Scully smiled at him and he tried to smile back, but he felt so tired and he was not sure it came out properly. He closed his eyes and heard her breathing beside him, the sound calming.
“I’m sorry about your sister,” she said quietly and he forced his eyes open, turning his head to stare at her.
“It wasn’t…” His throat burned as he tried to speak and he closed his eyes from the pain as he felt her grasp his hand.
“Don’t speak. Your throat is quite raw. It needs to heal.” He nodded and squeezed her hand. “It wasn’t your sister, I know. But I’m still sorry.” He opened his eyes and stared into hers as he exhaled a breath. She smiled and he closed his eyes.
“You should get some rest,” she whispered, squeezing his hand, and then loosening her hold. He squeezed and made a sound in his throat, asking her to stay without the ability to speak the words.
“Okay,” she breathed in response, her grip tightening. “Sleep, Mulder.” He nodded as he squeezed her hand weakly, exhausted from the small effort it took to stay awake.
When he opened his eyes again, it was nearly dark outside, and Scully was gone. His throat was on fire and he was desperate for a drink of water. His eyes rolled in his head, still fighting sleep. They must have him on some strong medication.
Licking his dry lips, he forced his eyes to stay open and wake up fully. Not finding a call button and knowing he could not yell for help, he attempted to sit up. His head spun and he took deep breaths through his nose to stop it.
He pushed back his blankets as he turned his body and hung his legs off the bed. Taking a moment, he closed his eyes and took a few more deep breaths. Standing to his feet, his knees buckled and he nearly went down, but hands caught him and held him upright.
“What are you doing, Mulder?” Scully said softly, yet her tone was firm. “You shouldn’t be out of bed. Not without help at least.”
She helped him sit back down and he let out a heavy breath, dizzy and sweaty from the exertion. She kept her hand on his back, rubbing small circles, as she hummed softly.
“Geez, can’t leave you alone for a minute,” she said and he opened his eyes. Looking up at her, he saw she was smiling and he nodded.
“Thirsty,” he rasped out and she nodded, her hand stopping the soothing circles.
“Don’t move. I’ll go get you some water. Don’t try to stand up again.” He nodded in agreement and she left the room. He closed his eyes, focusing on the thought of water cooling his burning throat instead of the pain in his muscles.
The door opened again and he opened his eyes. Turning his head, he saw Scully walking in with a small plastic pitcher of water and plastic cup. His mouth began to water at the sight of it and he sat up straighter.
“I’m only giving you a little at a time, until I see you can drink it well enough,” she said as she poured a small amount into the cup and handed it to him. “Drink it slowly, okay?”
He nodded as he brought the cup to his lips, trying to go slow, but the feel of it in his throat was too overwhelming and he drank it faster.
“Mulder… slower,” she admonished him, taking the cup from him gently. “You need to be careful you don’t aspirate it. If you start to cough, it’s going to really hurt.” He nodded, his throat feeling better, but still incredibly thirsty.
“Scully,” he begged, but she shook her head, her expression firm.
“No. Slowly, or I have to take it from you.” She stared at him, her eyes so blue and open, her worry shining through. He nodded as he closed his eyes, licking any remaining drops of water from his lips.
“Good. Here, a little bit more. Slower this time.” He nodded again and took the cup from her, drinking the small amount of cold water slower. “Good. Feel better?” He nodded and she smiled.
A few more small cupfuls and he was laying back in bed, exhausted and ready to sleep. He took a deep breath as he felt Scully adjusting the blankets, his eyes closed and his forehead once again sweaty.
“You rest now. Here’s the call button.” She placed it by his hand and he inhaled with a nod. Her fingers brushed through his hair back and he sighed contentedly, leaning into her touch. He heard her chuckle softly and he smiled. “Sleep, Mulder.”
He found her hand, still by the call button control, and grasped it tightly. She squeezed back, her other hand still in his hair.
“Thank you,” he breathed out and she hummed, the steady stroke of her fingers the last thing he remembered.
Hey everyone… today is going to be a stressful one for those of us in America, so I have decided that fic is always a good distraction.
I’ve written a few little ficlets that I will be posting throughout the day. Here is the first one: a post Lazarus story that will hopefully brighten your day.
“It means… It means whatever you want it to mean. Good night.”
Whatever she wanted it to mean… but what did she want it to mean? She sighed as she stood up and walked to the parking garage, got in her car and drove home.
Setting the watch on the table, she opened a bottle of wine, pouring a glass as she stared at it. It seemed improbable that it was not Jack, but a killer taking over his body? It was just too much to believe… and yet, there was proof.
She sighed, took a big drink of wine and set the glass down. Jack had been a wonderful man and a great agent. Their relationship had been intense and had not lasted long, but it had been what she needed at the time.
The phone rang and she jumped, her heart racing. Walking across the room, she took a deep breath and reached for the handset.
“Hey, Scully. It’s me.” She heard Mulder say and she smiled softly.
“Hey. Everything okay? Did we get a case?”
“No,” he said with a chuckle. “Nothing like that.”
“Hmm,” she hummed, glancing at the watch as she walked over to the table.
“I uh… you can say no, but uh…”
“Yes?” she asked with a small frown and he sighed.
“Well, you mentioned that you and Jack celebrated your shared birthdays.”
“Yeah…” she said, picking up the watch and running her thumb over the inscription she had added to it.
“I uh… I know that won’t happen again and so I was… I uh…” He cleared his throat and she smiled, now knowing where he was going with his questions.
“You’re still two months early,” she said quietly.
“Oh, come on, Scully, you have to know me a little by now,” he said, and she could hear his smile. “Two months… that might as well be a lifetime away.” She exhaled a laugh and she heard him chuckle.
“We don’t have to go where you two have gone, if you don’t want to,” he said quietly and she nodded, even though she knew he could not see her. “I just thought… he was important to you, a fellow agent… we should celebrate his life.” She closed her eyes as they suddenly filled with tears.
“Okay,” she whispered.
“I could pick you up and we could go anywhere you want.”
“I’d like that.”
“Okay, good. I’ll be there in about half an hour.”
“Half an hour…” she repeated and he hung up.
Doing the same, she set the phone on the table and wiped her eyes. She put Jack’s watch on her arm, just behind her own. Even at the tightest setting, it was still a little too big, but she did not take it off. Not yet.
Going into her room, she changed her clothes, putting on something more casual, before stepping into the bathroom to touch up her makeup. Going back into the kitchen, she finished the glass of wine as she waited for Mulder.
She thought of the last time she and Jack had celebrated their birthdays and she had given him the watch. He had given her a necklace, one that was not exactly to her taste, but she had liked it well enough.
Well, until a liver eating mutant had taken it as a trophy, she thought, rolling her eyes with a shake of her head.
But they’d had fun at that dinner, Jack more relaxed than usual.
Sighing, she looked at his watch again, before she took it off and laid it on the table. Touching the face of it gently, she shook her head.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered.
A soft knock sounded at the door and she took a deep breath. Picking up her coat, she slid it on as she grabbed her purse and her keys. She opened the door and Mulder smiled at her. He had changed into casual clothes as well and smelled of fresh cologne.
“Ready?” he asked and she nodded.
As she closed the door, she glanced back at the watch on the table with a sad smile. Locking the door, she put her keys in her purse and fell in step beside Mulder, ready to celebrate Jack and their last double birthday.
your blog is dedicated to scully's style but i wonder, what do you think of mulder's sense of fashion?
I feel like a sleeper agent who has been called upon by the secret word. Buckle in.
The loose-fitting suits which bag at all the right places like they should are so much more appealing to me than modern, tightly-tailored suits. Strikes me as perfect for a romantic noir lead, which is of course what he and Scully are. The way he slings those hips forward, tie a little loose, jacket fronts tucked behind his forearms. That’s not even mentioning the Coats™.
If you ask me about the ties, well, don’t, because you don’t want to hear my answer. I’m the kind of person who thinks every (harmless) thing about the person they love is endearing, no matter how stupid or annoying or seemingly deliberately inflammatory (maybe he rlly did pick those ties just to mess with people).
There was the time in early seasons where Mulder was the civilized world’s most vocal advocate for washed out double denim ensembles, and I wholly, passionately support that endeavour.
Unfortunately, Mulder goes full middle-aged white dad who got really into shorty-shorts and race-walking in the 80s whenever he goes exercising. But you know what!!! I stan! I’m not a quitter!! Show off those arms, baby, you didn’t swim all those laps in your low-resistance speedo slip for nothing.
Never forget the time he dressed like Lesbian Icon Bruce Springsteen and we all went cuckoo for coco pops over a pair of blue jeans. There’s the classic and extremely handsome leather jacket look, which also happens to be a harbinger for a night of unpredictable course (not necessarily in a bad way…but often).
The sweaters….what can I say about the sweaters. I want this man to live in a log cabin with me, shake off his rain jacket at the threshold and sit by the fire to warm his hands. I make him a tea. He tells me he found evidence of primeval organ harvesting suggestive of enduring and barbaric mothmen activity in the dense wood beyond our little abode. We kiss and go to bed.
Really, though, I think the fact that fox mulder can sport a $2000 armani suit and a $2 left-handed scissors haircut and make it work says everything you need to know.
It’s Halloween again! 🎃 Time to celebrate the birthday of a certain little girl. Two years… where has the time gone? ❤️
This story… I have had some of it planned for months and some presented themselves to me, demanding to be added. I thought it was finished, but no, it needed more. I hope you all enjoy it. I do so love writing these happy family stories. God… they so deserve to be happy.
October 30, 2020
Scully looked out the kitchen window as she rinsed the blueberries for Faith’s dinner and smiled as she watched Mulder and Faith at the edge of the lake. Faith was wearing her fuzzy green Halloween costume, the alien-faced hood of it lying down her back, as she had asked to wear a black headband with a sparkly black bat attached to it, which Mulder was only happy to oblige.
Faith laughed as Mulder knelt in front of her, blowing bubbles as she tried to catch them, a few of them landing in her hair. She laughed harder when one popped on her nose and she covered it with her hand. Mulder kissed her cheek with a smile, before he blew more bubbles.
Drying her hands, Scully left the blueberries draining in a colander in the sink. She glanced at the timer on her phone and smiled as she slipped it into her pocket. Twenty five minutes until dinner would be ready. Perfect.
She grabbed the baggie of the ends of bread off the counter and stepped onto the porch. Double checking that Bella was sleeping inside, she closed the door and slipped on her shoes, walking down the stairs to join Faith and Mulder.
“Mama!” Faith called, looking at her and smiling. “Dada. Buhbos. Pitee.” Scully picked her up and kissed her, breathing in her nearly intoxicating scent.
“Yes, love, they are pretty. Dinner will be ready in about twenty minutes. Should we maybe take a little walk? See if we can find the ducks?” Faith’s eyes lit up and she nodded.
“Ducks. Yes, Mama. Down.” Scully laughed, setting her down as Mulder stood up with a grin.
“Well, let’s go then, my girl. Let’s go find those ducks.” He put the cap on the small bottle of bubbles and placed it into the pocket of his black fleece vest. Smiling, he took the baggie of bread from Scully and put it into his other pocket.
They each took a hold of one of Faith’s hands and began to walk toward the small log near the house where they had found a small family of ducks. Mulder glanced at Scully and winked as they walked over the stones and the sand, and she smiled as she took a deep breath of fresh air.
It had been a great idea to come to the lake. After Mulder’s birthday, which had gone wrong from nearly the moment they woke up, a change had been exactly what they had needed…
A little over two weeks ago
Faith woke up in a grumpy mood on the morning of Mulder’s birthday. She was very clingy, wanting only Scully to hold her, with no desire to see Mulder. He did not take offense to it, knowing she would feel better once she had woken up a bit more and had eaten her breakfast.
Scully was making breakfast while Mulder was outside with Bella. As the pancakes and bacon were cooking, Faith had picked up Grey’s water bowl and spilled it all over the floor, unbeknownst to Scully, who nearly slipped, catching herself against the counter and banging her knee into the cupboard. Tears sprang into her eyes as she heard the cat food hitting the linoleum floor and falling all around her.
“Uh oh,” Faith said, squatting down and beginning to spread the food across the floor.
“Don’t touch it!” Scully yelled, louder than she had intended, her knee throbbing. Faith looked up at her, her eyes widening and then filling with tears as her bottom lip stuck out. She began to cry, her head dropping down and Scully limped over to her, ignoring the excrutiating pain in her knee.
“I’m sorry, my love. I’m so sorry. Come here.” She bent at the waist, stifling a moan as she picked her up and snuggled her close. Faith buried her face in her neck, crying hard as Scully held her tightly, trying not to cry herself as she took a deep breath.
“Hey,” Mulder called, coming in through the door with Bella right behind him. He stopped in his tracks as he locked eyes with Scully, his eyebrows raising. At that same moment, they both realized the food on the stove was burning. He walked toward it, but Scully stopped him.
“There’s water all over the floor. Faith spilled Grey’s water and I slipped in it. She also dumped out her food and I yelled at her not to play in it. I didn’t mean to make her cry, but…” She shook her head and closed her eyes, hating that she had caused her to cry. Her knee aching, she kissed Faith’s head, shushing her softly.
“Well… Bella is making quick work of the cat food on the floor. I’ll be careful as I walk to the stove.” He walked past them as Scully opened her eyes and limped a few steps to the table and sat down in a chair. Rubbing Faith’s back, she closed her eyes again, the smell of burning food beginning to fill the room.
“There, at least one thing is taken care of, well by me anyway. Bella’s gotten all the food.” Scully opened her eyes and looked at him as he moved the pans of food to a different burner. The air around him was smoky as he turned on the vent above the stove, hoping to clear it away.
He looked over at her and smiled softly, walking over and squatting down in front of them, putting his hand on Faith’s back, rubbing gently along with Scully.
“Did you fall or just slip?”
“Slipped into the cabinet and hit my knee pretty hard.” She straightened her leg with a wince and he nodded as Faith sniffled and clung to her shirt.
As he pulled up the leg of her pajama bottoms, she winced again as she looked over Faith‘s back and saw the damage that had been done, already imagining the bruise she would have in a few days. Mulder let out a low whistle and looked up at her.
“Let me wipe up the floor and then I’ll get the first aid kit. You bashed it pretty good. It’s bleeding, but not too terribly. It’s gonna be a good bruise, though.” He left her pant leg as it was and stood up, grabbing the paper towels.
The floor clean and her knee bandaged, they sat on the front porch, the house airing out as they ate dry cereal; the last of the milk having been used for the now burnt pancakes. Faith was still rather clingy, laying back against Scully as she sat with her leg up, a bag of frozen peas on her knee to bring down the swelling.
She watched the hanging ghosts and witches blowing in the breeze, as she rubbed Faith’s arm. They had scaled down the decorations, neither of them really in the mood after the year they had. There were still the kid friendly ones: yard flamingos, scarecrows, cats, witches and bats. But the hay bales, pumpkins, and spiderwebs, were not added to the fray this time. The animated witch Mulder had purchased and then hated, getting scared every time she had laughed, had been placed back in the plastic tote, Faith absolutely terrified of it. Mulder had been ecstatic of course, shoving the witch away with a gleeful smile.
“So much for your birthday breakfast,” Scully said with a sigh, as Faith reached into her snack cup and took out some Cheerios, shoving them into her mouth.
“Hey, how is this not a fabulous birthday meal?” he asked, eating right out of a large box of Lucky Charms. “I’m eating only the marshmallow pieces, Scully. It’s perfect.” He shrugged with a smile, popping some into his mouth and chewing loudly. She smiled back with another sigh, shaking his head.
“Mama. Eat,” Faith said, sitting up and turning around, attempting to push some Cheerios into Scully’s mouth.
“Oh, thank you,” she said, moving them over her lips and into her mouth. Mulder chuckled as she glanced at him, chewing up the Cheerios and he held out an offering of a pink heart marshmallow. She leaned closer and he placed it into her mouth with a smile.
The phone rang inside the house and Mulder stood up to answer it, bringing the box of cereal with him. Faith leaned back, eating more Cheerios as Scully moved her knee, adjusting the bag of peas with a groan.
“Mama, owie,” Faith said, touching the bag of peas as she sat up again.
“Yes, my girl. I have an owie. But, it’s okay.” She hummed as Faith lay back against her again, closing her eyes with a small smiile.
“Okay, here she is,” Mulder said as he walked out and Scully opened her eyes, looking up at him as he handed her her cell phone. “Louise.” She took the phone and he picked Faith up from her lap, holding onto the cup of Cheerios and walking away a few steps.
“Louise? Hello,” Scully said. “How are you?”
“Dana, hello! I am doing well, how are you?” Scully laughed as she looked at the bag of peas lying on her knee.
“Well…” She laughed again and fell into conversation with Louise, hearing how her family was and telling her of their rather catastrophic morning.
“Sounds like you three could use some time away from that little house. You know the lake house is just sitting there… as always. No one has been out there in at least a month, and that was just me checking on a small tree that had fallen over. You all are welcome to borrow it again. A change of scenery might be just what you need.”
“The lake house?” Scully asked, looking up at Mulder and his eyes widened. He nodded and Scully smiled. “That sounds perfect, Louise.”
And so, they had packed up, taking Grey to stay with Denis and Violet, leaving them their house keys so they could stop by and feed the fish. Bella sat beside Faith in the backseat as they drove away, waving goodbye to Denis, Violet, and Jaf, the large wooden giraffe in their yard.
Sticking her head out of the half open window, Bella sniffed at the breeze, her tongue hanging out at intervals, as she whined happily and Faith laughed as she watched her. Scully closed her eyes as Mulder took her hand and she breathed out a contented sigh.
“This will be great,” he said and she nodded with a smile.
And it had been. Arriving on Wednesday afternoon, they had all gone to the house before Mulder went to the store for supplies and Scully opened the windows to air it out.
For two weeks, they had that change of scenery they desperately needed. Bella was in the water often, running down the dock and launching after the ball or stick Mulder had thrown for her. She would tire herself out and lay on the porch, napping as she dried off in a patch of sunlight.
The water was far too cold for them, and especially for Faith, though she did enjoy putting her feet in and splashing around, her eyes wide when the cold water hit her face.
They rented a boat and rode around the lake, Bella barking at birds flying by and Faith toddling around in a purple life jacket. They stopped and Scully showed her how to bait a hook and they ate lunch while they hoped for a nibble. Catching nothing, Scully reeled in the line and they headed back to the dock.
They went on walks, collected rocks, pinecones, leaves and anything else Faith found interesting. Mulder made another trip into town and bought some painting supplies. The next day they sat at the outdoor table on the porch and painted the rocks they had collected. Leaving them to dry, they walked down to the water and splashed along the shore, Bella chasing the ball that was thrown for her.
When the rocks were dry, Mulder placed them into his pockets and Scully picked up the backpack and the bag containing their picnic lunch. They walked to the spot, the one they had avoided since they had arrived. Mulder squeezed Scully‘s hand as the long log came into view and she drew in a deep breath as she squeezed back.
When they arrived, Mulder took the rocks from his pockets and placed them on the log, laying them in a line as he told Faith about her grandma. He laughed at some of the stories and was quieter at others. Shaking his head, he took a deep breath and looked at Faith.
“Faithy, she would have loved you so much. She would have given you anything you ever wanted, made you your favorite dessert and driven all the way over just to give it to you and see the happiness on your face. Her house would have been filled with toys just waiting for your arrival.” He smiled at Faith and Scully sniffled, thinking of how much her mother would have loved having a granddaughter to spoil. Mulder looked up and she nodded, letting him know she was okay. He nodded and looked back at Faith.
“So, my love, we will leave these rocks here to remember her and let her know we are thinking of her- always.”
He handed Faith the rocks she had painted and placed his own at the base of the log, showing her what they were doing. She squatted down beside him and laid her rocks next to his own. Scully picked hers up and bent down beside Faith, rubbing her thumb over the dark blue painted rock with the white heart in the middle that she had made. Whispering “I love you,” she placed it beside Faith’s and sniffled once more. Mulder glanced at her, his eyes concerned, and she nodded again.
Stepping back, they walked to a less rocky spot and laid down a couple of blankets, the log within their view as they ate.
A couple of days later, Skinner and Rachel had driven out on Thursday afternoon to stay for a long weekend. It was a much welcome change and their weekend was filled with laughter and fun. Wine was drunk with dinner and then out on the porch once Faith had gone down for the night. Bella lay at their feet, as they laughed and shared stories, the crickets chirping in the crisp night air.
Rachel and Skinner both doted on Faith, doing whatever she liked, taking her wherever she wanted. Scully smiled at Mulder as Faith was taken from them, given cookies, or read a book she had heard five times in the past fifteen minutes.
Sunday afternoon, Scully and Skinner stood on the porch watching as Rachel, Mulder, and Faith played by the water. Faith picked up rocks and threw them in the water, laughing at the splash they created. Scully glanced at Skinner and slid her arm through his, where it was resting on the railing. He turned his head to look at her and she smiled.
“So,” she said, clearing her throat and he hummed, as though reading her mind.
“Yes?” he asked and she put her head on his shoulder with a sigh.
“She’s great, Walter. More than great.”
“I know she is,” he agreed gruffly and she laughed, raising her head and looking at him.
“So…” She raised her eyebrows and he let out a heavy sigh. “It’s been a year… and I mean… a year .”
“No shit,” he muttered and she laughed.
“Well, what I mean is, this year has been like five pressed together.” He nodded and she smiled. “If the two of you can survive the craziness of this new life, I’d say you can get through anything.” He hummed again, looking over at Rachel as she laughed. “So, I suppose my question is: what are you waiting for?” She squeezed his arm before moving her arm, and clasping her hands together.
“Hmm,” he hummed, shifting and letting out a sigh. “You sound like me asking Mulder if twenty five years was enough time to know someone.” She laughed and shook her head.
“To be fair though, we weren’t dating for twenty five years.” He snorted and looked at her, both of them laughing.
“Whatever you need to tell yourself,” he said and she chuckled softly, both of them quiet for a moment.
“It’s not that he didn’t ask me or that he didn’t want it, I just… I didn’t feel it was part of our journey until…”
“Until you did,” he said quietly and she nodded, her thumb rubbing the wedding band around her finger.
“Yeah…” she agreed and he hummed in response.
“You know, since the quarantine started in earnest, I haven’t been working as much, at least not in the office. I could have, but… I’ve lived rather simply most of my life. I didn’t travel much or spend a lot of money. I’ve made good decisions with investments and I’m comfortable. Many of the people working at the VA office needed their paycheck more than I did and so I gladly stepped aside.”
“I would expect nothing less of you,” she said, looking at him with a smile and he nodded.
“I had more time at home as a result, obviously, and I could hear Rachel speaking to her patients. We didn’t discuss her patients and we still don’t, but I couldn’t help but hear her speaking to them. While I didn’t pay attention to the problems discussed, what I did hear was the kindness and also the firmness she carries. She doesn’t coddle anyone and yet she lets them feel and cry, sometimes crying with them, and more often than not, crying when the session is finished. She’s an amazing therapist, Dana.” He looked at Scully, his expression serious and she smiled.
“Yes, I know. I honestly don’t know where we would have been without her help.” She looked at Mulder making funny faces at Faith and she shook her head. “We may not even have had her if it hadn’t been for Rachel’s help, helping him to face the past to secure our future.” She looked back at Skinner and he nodded with a smile.
“Most of her patients were fine with the teletherapy and Zoom calls at first, but as time went on, some of them weren’t. They wanted the one-on-one meetings they were used to, but sitting in a room with someone, or many someones throughout the day, was not ideal. Or safe.”
He looked over at Rachel again, smiling as Bella ran out of the water and shook her body, spraying all of them with water, causing Rachel to gasp loudly. He laughed softly and Scully watched him, seeing the love in his eyes. Clearing his throat, he looked back at her and she grinned.
“So, anyway…” he said and she laughed as he shook his head. “She didn’t want to lose the patients, not for her , but for them, not wanting them to lose ground on their progress.” Scully smiled and sighed, glancing at Rachel as she smiled and took a rock Faith was offering her, and slipped it into her pocket. “Taking precautions, she made plans to meet with the few who wanted to meet in person. Twice a week now, she goes to her office and sits outside in the parking lot of the empty businesses surrounding hers, and talks to them face-to-face. They each bring a chair and wear masks, sitting far enough apart for it to not be a threat, but she’s there . She shows up for them in these worrisome times. “People need someone to talk to, Walter.” That’s what she told me that first day and every day since as she’s getting ready to leave, making sure she has everything she needs. She brings bottles of water, individual packs of tissues, and even prepackaged snacks for them.” He shook his head and sighed.
“Dana…” he said, turning toward her, touching her arm and taking a deep breath. “I knew that I cared for her, that I loved her, but that first day she packed up the basket of items to take… watching the care and thought she put into it… something changed. When she left, I picked up my laptop and began looking online for engagement rings.”
She clutched his arm, taking a deep breath and letting it out, as she scrunched her chin and smiled. He covered her hand with his own and grinned with a nod.
“I… that makes me so happy,” she said quietly, shaking her head. “I like her for you so much. I like her in general, but especially for you.” He patted her hand before she moved it, continuing to smile happily.
“So, I take it you found the perfect one, after telling me all that,” she said and he nodded with a grin. She hummed as they turned back to look at Rachel, Mulder and Faith. Shaking her head again, unable to stop smiling, she put her arm through his again and squeezed.
“Come on,” she said after a couple of minutes, wanting to join the others. Tugging at his arm and stepping back, she smiled as they walked down the stairs and past the pumpkins they had all carved the previous evening. They had all laughed as Faith pulled away, not wanting to touch the insides, declaring them “yucky,” though she had been intrigued by them when they were finished.
“Ohhh, ducks!” Faith said, pulling Scully’s thoughts back to the present. Faith began to walk faster, but still stepping carefully over the rocks, and they smiled at each other as they watched her.
Mulder took the baggie of bread from his pocket and opened it, taking out a piece and breaking it into smaller pieces. He threw a few of them out to entice the ducks to come toward them. They started quacking softly as they got up, eating the bread as they came closer.
“Hi, ducks. Hi,” Faith said, squatting down and waiting for them. She put her hand out and Mulder placed a small piece of bread onto it. “Eat ducks. Heah.” She showed them the bread and soon they were in front of her, taking the bread from her gently. She laughed and reached out for more bread.
Scully smiled and shook her head as she watched her. Tomorrow was her second birthday… where had the time gone so fast?
“Okay, last few pieces here guys,” Mulder said. “Or girls, as most of you seem to be. Here, honey, there’s just a few more.” He handed Faith a couple more pieces and the ducks gathered around her.
Scully shook her head again, watching her, smiling at how cute she was in her costume. Now that she saw how much she loved it, she was happy they had given it to her early, despite not actually going trick-or-treating this year.
“It doesn’t matter, Scully,” Mulder had said when he excitedly showed her the costume online. “She’s our Halloween baby, she needs to get used to wearing costumes.” She had smiled and nodded as he had ordered it.
Little did he know that as he was distracted with his glee, she had bought something for them. Not a costume, but something fun for them to wear that she knew he would find humorous.
“Okay, that’s it. No more bread, ducks,” Mulder said, standing up and brushing off his hands. “Let’s say goodbye, honey. We’ll see them tomorrow or the next day. Say bye, Faithy.”
“Bye ducks. See waytah.”
“I know she’ll outgrow the way she says things, but I hope it isn’t anytime soon,” Mulder said with a grin. “I love hearing it. It’s so cute.”
He put the empty baggie into his pocket and scooped Faith up, as it was now getting dark. Scully put her arm around his waist and he put his around her shoulders, and they headed back to eat the dinner that was very nearly ready.
A few hours later, Scully sat on the floor, her arms resting on the coffee table as she looked at her phone with a sigh.
“Hey,” Mulder said softly, stepping into the room after letting Bella out one last time before they went to bed. “Whatcha doing?”
“Ohhh…” She sighed again and smiled up at him as he sat down on the couch. She leaned back and set her phone down. “I was just sending an email to everyone. The ones at Faith’s party last year I mean and I…” She shook her head with a sigh as he began to stroke her hair.
“An email about what?”
“They each sent an email earlier and I was sending out a group one; thanking them for their early birthday wishes. I told them that I wished we could all get together this year, but…” She shook her head and sighed again.
“Hmm,” he hummed and she pushed herself up to join him on the couch. He put his arm around her and she laid her head on his shoulder.
“Two years, Mulder. How did two years go by so fast? The first year seemed fast, even though there were months that seemed never ending when we were so exhausted. But…” She laughed softly and he nodded against her head.
“I know, honey,” he said quietly and she snuggled closer to him, putting an arm around his waist. “But… although we won’t be having a party this year, the reason to avoid too many people being a devastating one… these past few months have been… calling it a gift sounds wrong, but I can’t think of a better way to describe it. We’ve had to plan things differently and limit our contact with others, but… it’s been good. Hasn’t it?”
“It has, yes. But that’s not what I meant.”
“I know you didn’t.” He kissed her head and she hummed. “I’m just saying that although I know this time has been crazy and scary, we’ve been good and I’ve loved our time together. Even the moments when, though you might not say anything, your eyes were angry and annoyed.”
“As if you never looked at me with the same eyes?” she asked, squeezing his side.
“I would never,” he answered and she pulled away, turning her body to climb into his lap and straddle him, his hands landing on her thighs and her arms wrapping loosely around his neck.
“You’re such a liar,” she whispered with a smile and he shrugged with a smug grin and a raised eyebrow. She shook her head, her fingernails scratching at his neck, his breathing became faster.
“It led to some amazing sex,” he admitted breathily, his hands moving to her hips, his thumbs stroking under her shirt as her heart began to race.
“It did indeed,” she agreed, her voice low, and he groaned as she rocked into him, desire coursing through her.
“What do you say we uh… we move this somewhere a little more… uh… to the bedroom?” he asked, swallowing hard.
“By this, you mean…” she teased, rocking into him again, yelping as he stood up with a mighty push and held her tightly, walking toward the stairs.
“You know exactly what this is,” he said and she grinned, kissing him deeply as they reached the base of the stairs, halting their progress. “Woman, stop distracting me.” She laughed happily as they stumbled up the stairs and into the bedroom.
Scully smiled happily, humming as she made breakfast the next morning, adding rainbow sprinkles to the birthday waffle batter. Mulder walked up behind her, grabbing her hips and pulling her close and kissing her neck. She laughed and smiled at him as he stepped to the side and she stirred in the sprinkles.
“What time will Skinner and Rachel be here?” he asked, popping a strawberry into his mouth.
“Noon. They’re bringing lunch to thank us for the weekend they spent here and… they’re picking up the cake. Rachel said Skinner picked it out.” She looked at him and he raised his eyebrows.
“Is that right? Hmm, it will be interesting to see what he’s chosen.”
“It will indeed.” She continued to stare at him and he bit his lip with a nod.
“Hmm… seems to me, those two should just get married already.” He held her gaze and she pursed her lips, trying not to smile and give anything away. “Mm-hmm.” He nodded with a smile, not inquiring any further, but obviously aware that something was up.
They ate breakfast, a rainbow polka dotted number two candle set in Faith’s waffle, glowing brightly as they sang happy birthday to her. Her eyes shone as she attempted to blow out the candle, both of them helping her in the end.
Whipped cream, strawberries, and syrup were added to her rainbow sprinkled waffle and she wiggled as she ate it, a huge smile on her face as she dipped her fingers into the whipped cream and put them in her mouth. Eggs and some sausages were added to her plate and she ate it all up, happy and smiling.
After breakfast, they gave her her birthday gifts: books, clothes, a stuffed yellow duck, and a plastic barn and farm set.
“Cow. Piggy. Sheep… baaa!” she said, taking them out and holding them tight as Scully smiled at her with a happy sigh.
Just before Skinner and Rachel were due to arrive, Scully took out the surprise she had bought for her and Mulder to wear that day. Faith was once again wearing her beloved alien costume over rainbow leggings and a black long sleeved shirt. A puffball headband with small black cat ears finished off her rather unusual costume.
She looked the part, ready for her Halloween birthday, now it was their turn.
“Mulllderrr,” she sang out and he walked in from the kitchen.
“Yeeees?” he answered and she smiled at him, her hands behind her back.
“Pick a hand,” she said and he raised his eyebrows, rubbing his hands together excitedly. He stood in front of her looking from one hand to the other, taking his time with his decision. She smiled, enjoying his excitement.
“Hmm…” he narrowed his eyes and pointed to her left hand.
“Are you sure?” she teased and he searched her face.
“Yeah. I’m sure.”
“Good choice,” she said, bringing her hand around and giving him the black T-shirt she had bought for him. He took it and unrolled it, laughing when he saw the picture on it.
It was the face of a grey alien with big black eyes, the yellow neck of a shirt showing within a blue arched frame. Underneath it, one word was written: believe.
“This is fantastic. I love it.” He took his shirt off quickly and put on the new one. Grinning, he looked at it and then at her. “Thank you.” She nodded, her right hand still behind her back.
“Close your eyes,” she said and he grinned again, doing as she asked.
Taking off her own shirt, she traded it for the one in her hand. Smoothing it down, she brushed her hair back and glanced at Faith, who was playing with her new barn. Grinning, she looked back at him.
“Okay, you can open them.” He opened his eyes and howled with laughter, causing Bella to bark excitedly as she ran over to them.
The shirt she had bought for herself was also black, but hers had a green alien in a small spaceship. Under the picture it said: “Not sure I believe.”
“Oh,” he said, wiping tears from his eyes and stepping closer to her. “This is too perfect.” He laughed again and she smiled.
“Yours is the only one that’s accurate, what with it being grey and all. Or, you know, maybe. I’m not entirely sure because…” She pointed down at her shirt and shrugged as he laughed and he shook his head.
“A perfect costume for the current state of the world we’re living in; low-key and easy.” She nodded with a happy smile as he bent to kiss her. “At least until next year when we will be wearing a matching family costume.” He kissed her quickly before she pulled back and gave him a look. He grinned with a nod and she shook her head.
Skinner and Rachel arrived a few minutes later, bringing in bags of food. They laughed at their shirts, Skinner shaking his head and rolling his eyes. As Rachel took out two pink bakery boxes from a bag, Scully saw a glint of light on her left hand. Her eyes swung to Skinner, who grinned with a nod.
Lunch was put on hold as the story of the proposal was told, Scully asking for all the details, smiling as she looked at the thin platinum band with a large diamond in the middle and smaller ones down the braided sides. It was beautiful and fit her perfectly, both in personality and in size.
Rachel’s eyes shone as she looked at Skinner and began to tell the story of how he had come to her office when she was done with her social distance therapy sessions. She had been surprised to see him, even more so when he set up a picnic meal in the back of his car, the same way he had one year ago.
They had eaten, talking about their day and as he got up to clear everything away, she stood up as well and when she turned around, he was on his knee and reaching for her hand.
Scully’s eyes filled with tears and she took a deep breath. Rachel smiled at her, the words of the proposal not said, but staying private as it should.
“Needless to say, I said yes,” she said with a laugh, holding up her hand and showing off the ring. Scully took her hand in hers, once more admiring it. Looking up at her, she smiled and shook her head.
“I’m so happy. Truly happy for you both.”
“Thank you,” Rachel said with a sniff. “It was hard to say no. I mean, he brought the fettuccine.”
“Oh, did he?” Scully said, with a laugh. “The magic fettuccine? The Maggie Scully fettuccine?”
They all laughed and a bottle of wine was opened to celebrate the happy news. Faith laughed and had the full attention of everyone as they ate and celebrated her birthday. They sang happy birthday many times during the meal as she asked to hear it, smiling happily and clapping her hands.
Lunch was cleared away and Skinner picked up one of the bakery boxes, moving it to the kitchen island. Scully looked on curiously as he used a knife to cut away the tape on the side. He glanced up at her as he lifted the lid and when she looked down at it, she gasped.
“Oh… that’s beautiful. The butterflies…” She looked up at him and he nodded as she squeezed his arm.
“I know she’s a Halloween girl, but…” He shrugged and Scully shook her head.
“No, it’s perfect.” She squeezed his arm again as she looked at the cake with a smile, remembering the weekend they had spent together.
As they had all been out for a walk one day, a small cluster of very colorful butterflies flew past and then around them. Skinner had been carrying Faith, her small legs becoming tired.
The butterflies flitted around them, coming close to Faith and then flying away, dancing on the breeze. Faith had been mesmerized by them, her eyes never leaving them.
“Buhafy’s! See? Buhafy’s. Pitee.”
They had watched them until they had flown away and they had continued on their walk.
Faith spoke about them, asking to see the pictures Rachel had taken and shown her, pointing at them and saying the colors she saw when the picture was zoomed in closer.
“It’s a perfect cake,” Scully said again, smiling at it.
It had sky blue fondant with bright rainbow colored butterflies and white clouds, also made with fondant, placed on the sides and the top. Skinner took the cake from the box and placed it on a stand that Scully found in a cupboard. Once it was set down, a rainbow, the same color as the butterflies, was added to the top with stabilizing skewers. Happy birthday, Faith! was written upon it, in white frosting with a happy font and the polka dotted number two candle from the morning was added as well.
“Before you take the cake over, you should see what Rachel picked out,” Skinner said quietly, nodding to the other box. Scully smiled as she reached for it and took off the lid.
“Oh, these are adorable,” she exclaimed as she looked at the Halloween macarons in the box.
There were orange pumpkins with and without faces, white ghosts with black eyes and pink cheeks, a couple of ghosts holding little pumpkins, and what looked like a ghost family gathered beside a pumpkin.
“I love these. They are nearly too cute to eat.”
“You’ll change your mind when you try one. We had a sample at the bakery and the filling tastes like pumpkin pie,” Skinner said and she licked her lips. He smiled and picked up the cake stand as she smiled back, following him to the table.
Catching Mulder’s eye, she glanced at the cake and he nodded slightly with a smile as the candle was lit and once again, they sang happy birthday as Faith yelled “Buhafy’s!” pointing and smiling widely.
No one blew the candle on the cake, instead Mulder took it out and held it closer to Faith, blowing on it gently as she tried to do it on her own. They all clapped and the candle was set aside.
“Dada, buhafy’s. So pitee. Puhpo buhafy’s. Geen buhafy’s.”
“Oh my girl, I love you so much. Yes, the butterflies are so pretty.” He kissed her forehead as Skinner placed a purple butterfly in front of her. She picked it up and kissed it, everyone groaning at the cuteness of it.
The cake was taken back to the island to be cut and served, Faith now showing Rachel the butterfly in her hand. Scully picked up a plate, putting some of the cookies onto it, deciding Faith should have a choice of what she wanted to eat. As she reached for a large knife to cut the cake, her cell phone rang. Seeing that it was Alan, she instead reached for the phone with a smile.
“Double scotch! Hello!” he said and she chuckled.
“You’re terrible. How are you?” she asked, shaking her head and.
“Good, good. Hey, I was wondering if I could get you to do me a favor. Could you meet me outside?”
“Mmhmm- you know that place that’s the opposite of inside?” he teased.
“Oh, Alan. I’m… I’m so sorry. We aren’t home right now. We’re-”
“Just… come outside, okay?” He hung up, the conversation ending abruptly and she stared at the phone in confusion, ready to call him back.
“Who was that?” Mulder asked, coming to stand beside her and grabbing a cookie from the plate.
“Alan. He said he wanted me to meet him outside and I told him we aren’t home, but I don’t think he understood. I think he may have a gift for Faith and wants to drop it off, but…” She shook her head and pressed the button to call him back when Mulder stopped her, setting her phone on the counter. She looked at him with a frown and he smiled.
“Maybe we should just do as he asked,” he said quietly, taking a bite of the cookie with a shrug, and she tilted her head.
“What are you talking about?” He stared at her and smiled again. “Mulder…
“Come on,” he said, shoving the last bit of cookie into his mouth, brushing off the crumbs, and reaching for her hand.
“What did you do?” she asked as she took it, still confused at what was happening.
“Me? Oh, I didn’t do anything,” he said, squeezing her hand as she noticed that Skinner had taken Faith from her high chair and was holding her, Rachel standing beside him.
“Did you two do something?” she asked and they both shrugged unconvincingly.
Mulder picked up another cookie, a pumpkin, and handed it to Faith. She grinned and showed it to Rachel.
“Puhkin, Raycho. See? Ohage puhkin.” Rachel grinned and nodded, looking at the pumpkin with her.
“Come on,” Mulder said again, tugging at Scully’s hand and they all walked out the back door and down the porch stairs.
Staying on the small path along the side of the house, they walked towards the front yard. Arriving there, they found no one. Not a car, or Alan standing in the street with a gift for Faith. The only cars in sight were Skinner’s and their own in the driveway.
“See? He must’ve thought we were home and is now standing in front of our empty house.” She let go of Mulder’s hand and crossed her arms with a sigh as she looked around and shook her head. “I need to get my phone and call-” But then, she heard something to the right and she turned her head at the sound.
A black car was driving slowly from the direction of the cul-de-sac, brightly colored balloons tied down all over it, and music playing loudly from inside; all the windows rolled down in order for it to be heard. As they got closer, she realized it was “Happy Birthday” by Stevie Wonder.
Behind the car was a line of people, spaced far apart, and all of them wearing masks and Halloween costumes of some sort.
Alan and Ryan led the group, dancing along with the music. Alan was wearing jeans and a black shirt that said ELECT MORE WOMEN in rainbow letters as bright as the balloons on the car. He also wore a long rainbow colored wig to which he had added a bobble headband with photos of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Ryan also wore jeans and a dark blue shirt that said Vote Your Ossoff in white letters with a white outline of the state of Georgia beside it. He was also wearing a wig, a short metallic blue bob, which was quite comical when paired with the scruffy beard that could be seen under his mask. He also wore a bobble headband, but the bobbles on his said Biden on one and Harris on the other.
Elise, Tyler, and Raina were next, all dressed as bunnies. Elise wore a short sleeved light yellow dress with a white pinafore apron over it. She also had a tail and white rabbit ears. Tyler wore a silly black vest covered in orange carrots over a denim shirt, wire glasses, and rabbit ears. Raina was in a full bunny costume, her mask made to look like a rabbit mouth and nose. She hopped along and danced happily to the music. The baby, who had been in utero last year, was now six months old and dressed as a carrot; Elise holding her in her arms.
Louise was next, dressed all in red as the Queen of England. White pearls were around her neck, a purse on her arm, white gloves on her hands, and a large fancy hat on her head. She waved at them regally as she walked closer.
Cassidy, Sean, and Jacob were last. Jacob, the same age as Faith, was dressed as a monkey; his zip up costume similar in style to Faith‘s. He held a felt banana in his hand, chewing on the end of it as they all walked and danced.
Sean was dressed as a chef, wearing an apron and a chefs hat over his clothes. Cassidy wore a hot pink and black tulle skirt over a pair of pink leggings. She was visibly pregnant, and wearing a black shirt with Bun in the Oven written in pink sparkly letters.
As the small parade arrived in front of the house, they stopped, keeping a safe distance from one another and the group watching them, as the music was turned down. Everyone clapped and cheered, waving at Faith as she stood by Mulder and Scully, hiding a little and holding onto Scully’s leg.
“Happy birthday, Faith!” they all called and she leaned further into Scully’s leg, watching them with interest, but also a little bit hesitant.
“What are you all doing here?” Scully asked, smiling at the sight of them.
“As if we wouldn’t be here for a mini celebration. It’s her birthday! Also, we are in the middle of a pandemic. This might be the most exciting thing most of us will do for a few days,” Alan said, pushing a stray piece of his wig back, as they all laughed and nodded in agreement.
Scully shook her head as she looked at them with a happy smile. At Elise and their new sweet little baby, Louise as she adjusted her hat, and Cassidy as her eyes crinkled from a smile Scully could not see and she rubbed her pregnant belly lovingly.
“Thank you. All of you for this-”
“Oh… did you think this was it? Oh, come on now,” Alan said and nodded to the driver of the car, who she just noticed was dressed like a Blues Brother. He nodded and Alan looked back at Scully, giving her a wink.
Scully looked at Mulder and he shrugged with a smile. Turning to Skinner and Rachel, her eyes widened as she watched them toss their sweaters onto the bumper of their car and put on their own masks.
They joined the group, Skinner wearing a Superman shirt and Rachel a Wonder Woman. She winked at Scully as the music started and Raina clapped her hands excitedly, bouncing up and down as everyone faced them. In that moment, as the music started, she knew for certain that it was Rachel who had a large hand in planning this little party.
Don’t think about it Just move your body Listen to the music Sing, oh, ey, oh
Just move those left feet Go ahead, get crazy Anyone can do it Sing, oh, ey, oh
Show the world you’ve got that fire (fire) Feel the rhythm getting louder Show the room what you can do Prove to them you got the moves I don’t know about you,
But I feel better when I’m dancing, yeah, yeah Better when I’m dancing, yeah, yeah And we can do this together I bet you feel better when you’re dancing, yeah, yeah
Scully laughed with tears in her eyes, as she watched them perform a little dance they had somehow rehearsed, their choreography absolutely perfect. Mulder picked Faith up and laughed as he too watched them, bouncing her happily.
When you finally let go And you slay that solo Cause you listen to the music Sing, oh, ey, oh
‘Cause you’re confident, babe And you make your hips sway We knew that you could do it Sing, oh, ey, oh
Show the world you’ve got that fire (fire, baby) Feel the rhythm getting louder Show the room what you can do Prove to them you got the moves I don’t know about you,
But I feel better when I’m dancing, yeah, yeah Better when I’m dancing, yeah, yeah And we can do this together I bet you feel better when you’re dancing, yeah, yeah
“What do you say, Faithy, you want to join the party?” Mulder asked and she pointed to the group of people with a smile, her pumpkin cookie long since eaten or dropped somewhere. He glanced at Scully and raised his eyebrows.
“Oh, hell yes. I just need a…” She stopped speaking as he took two masks from his pocket with a wink. “Oh, yeah. You definitely played some part in all of this.” She started to put on her mask, but he stopped her, bending close for a kiss.
“I’ll never tell,” he whispered and she grinned, kissing him once more before putting on her mask as he did the same. Winking at her again, they joined the group, though they kept a safe distance.
Oh, ey oh Oh, ey oh I feel better when I’m dancing I’m better when I’m dancing, aye, oh ey oh
Feel better when I’m dancing, yeah, yeah Better when I’m dancing, yeah, yeah, Don’t you know We can do this together Bet you feel better when you’re dancing, yeah, yeah
I feel better when I’m dancing I’m better when I’m dancing, hey Feel better when I’m, yeah, yeah
Cheering and clapping rang out as the song ended and a new one began, the music happy and fun. Scully looked around at all the people who had made the drive over to celebrate a birthday in the street. Not one of them looked perturbed to have done so, their happiness shining through as they laughed and danced.
She watched Skinner and Rachel dancing close together, her head thrown back in laughter as he then spun them around. She smiled at them and then she caught Louise’s eye.
Stepping closer to her, she put out her hands. Louise reached for them and Scully clasped her gloved ones tightly.
“Thank you,” she said, just loud enough for Louise to hear, knowing she knew she meant for more than just this moment of celebration, and Louise nodded.
“You’re welcome, my dear. A change of scenery is always good. It helps us to recenter and recharge.” Louise’s eyes crinkled and Scully nodded. “You know, amidst all of this the fun, I do hate to be a stickler.. but, it is customary to bow when one meets the Queen.” Scully stared at her before she laughed and curtsied slightly, apologizing for her insolence.
“Forgiven,” Louise said in a bored voice, though her eyes shone with happiness.
“Mama!” Faith called and Scully squeezed Louise’s hands once again before she walked over to Mulder and Faith.
“Happy birthday, my sweet love!” she said, wrapping her arms around them both, her heart incredibly happy.
“Happy day,” Faith said with a smile and Scully sighed.
“Yes,” she said, looking at Mulder and she could see the smile in his eyes. “Yes, my love. It’s a very happy day.”
As the Happy Birthday song began to play again, the three of them seemed to move as one, their foreheads coming to rest together as they swayed slowly in their own little bubble, as the sounds of the birthday celebrations continued on around them.
Yes, it was a very happy day indeed.
Oh, I hope you enjoyed this story. The tooth rotting fluff is my absolute favorite. I love them being happy, getting out of that little house, being at a lake, blowing bubbles, going for walks, finding ducks, and celebrating and remembering Maggie. I love the little parade party and the group of friends these previous hermits have made in the past couple of years.
And as always, I love Rachel. I love her so much and I especially love her for Skinner. She is the light HE needed, just as much as Mulder needs it from Scully. They balance each other out and thinking of him no longer alone in that sterile apartment makes me very happy. I hope you like her too, because she is 100% in their lives now. 💙
Oh… the song I used is Better When I’m Dancin’ by Meghan Trainor. It’s such a fun song and I can see Faith loving to dance to it.
Mulder picks up an old purchase, finding the effect of it is one he did not expect, but is most welcome.
This story came about for a couple of reasons. One- I had been thinking of it for awhile now, and two- I saw a tweet and it pushed the idea ahead. I had a lot of fun with it and I hope you enjoy it. ❤️
He had bought it as a joke years ago, bringing it home to see Scully’s reaction. She had laughed and then shaken her head, knowing it would be one more thing that sat in their home collecting dust.
For the most part, that was what it had done, sitting in a corner of his office, a sweatshirt thrown over it one day after a run. He would glance at it from time to time, deciding that would be the day he would pick it up and actually use it.
But then, an email would come in, or an article would grab his attention and it would once more be forgotten.
One night, as he was alone in the house, the silence pressing in on all sides, he stood in the office he no longer used, the desk now sitting in the living room. He looked around the room at his past, at the things that had seemed so important and he shook his head.
He sighed at the numerous articles thumbtacked to the wall, the blurry photos of “evidence,” and the piles of papers containing within them the obsession that had caused Scully to finally leave him, the weight of it becoming too heavy for her to bear.
Shaking his head again, he turned to leave, when his eyes fell onto the item in the corner. Stepping into the room, he moved things out of the way and picked it up. Leaving the room, he walked into the kitchen and wiped off the dust that had settled upon the guitar he had bought as a corny joke.
Staring at it, he let out a deep breath. He had never played an instrument. Well, not in any serious way. There had been music class in elementary school when he had learned to read music and play what was in the classroom, but nothing after it in his adult life.
He held the guitar and strummed it, not knowing if it was even in tune after years of not being used. Messing with it, he tried to see if it changed much, but he shook his head, not hearing a marked difference.
Walking around the house he played it, finding he enjoyed the feel of the strings beneath his fingers. He stepped out onto the porch and sat on the railing, looking out at the sunset as he played a random tune, liking what he had created.
As the sun went down fully, he stopped playing and set the guitar beside him on the porch. Crossing his arms, he looked into the empty house, wishing Scully was there, coming out and giving him a look as she saw the guitar. She would have something witty to say, something he would counter as he pulled her close and wrapped his arms around her.
“God,” he said quietly, shaking his head and standing up as he grabbed the guitar and headed inside, missing her greatly.
“What’s that doing out here?” Scully said, as she set a case file down on the kitchen table.
“Hmm?” he asked, glancing at a photo in the file.
“Mulder,” she said and he glanced up to find her pointing at the guitar. “Is that the same one you bought years ago. I didn’t even know you still had it. Are you… playing it?” She looked at him and he saw something cross her face that he could not place.
“Playing it would imply that I know what I’m doing. So… no,” he said with a laugh and she nodded with a smile, the expression he had seen no longer there.
“Are you going to take lessons? Or just… wing it?” He looked at her and saw that she was serious and not teasing him as he thought she would.
“Lessons? No. I… I don’t think I would do well in lessons.” He smiled at her and she nodded, her smile changing and her eyes shining.
“Wouldn’t take too well to an authority figure?”
“Ha ha. You’re hilarious, Agent Scully,” he said, handing her the file as they sat down. “I don’t know, I brought it out here… months ago. I had forgotten it was there, to be honest.” She nodded and any further discussion of the guitar halted.
After she left, with plans to fly out to Montana in the morning to investigate the case deeper, he looked at the guitar and made a decision. He would attempt to learn how to play, even though it would be slow going.
“So… I see the guitar is still sitting out here,” Scully said, as he took the Bigfoot mold of most likely not taint flavored Goop-O into the kitchen. He smiled as he set it down and turned to look at her.
“It is,” he responded and she nodded with a smile.
“Have you learned to play anything? Or does it just sit there and look pretty?”
“No. The only thing that sits and looks pretty in this house is you,” he quipped with a wink and she rolled her eyes. He grinned and she crossed her arms as she leaned back against the couch.
“So, you haven’t learned to play anything then?”
“Well, I wouldn’t say that.” He smiled and she raised her eyebrows in surprise.
“Play me something,” she said with a shrug and he nodded, walking out of the kitchen.
“I can’t play you something, I can only play one thing. For now, anyway.” Picking up the guitar, he walked over to her. “I looked for a tutorial online and found that this song was the easiest to learn.”
“Wait,” she said, sitting forward and staring at him. “You really learned a song? I was just joking around with you. I didn’t expect you to actually know a song.”
“Oh ye of little faith,” he said with a smile, sitting on the coffee table and taking the pick from the guitar. He strummed a few chords and her mouth dropped open, watching his hands and then looking at him, her eyes wide.
“Now… like I said,” he told her, tuning the guitar and playing the chords again. “It’s the only one I know and it took a little while to learn, so… no encores, okay? No calling out for “Freebird” or anything.” He grinned at her and she nodded, her elbows on her knees and her hands folded against her lips.
Clearing his throat, he started to play, humming before he closed his eyes and began to sing softly.
Won’t you let me catch your fall Won’t you let me lend a hand Those lonely eyes have seen it all But love’s too blind to understand Cause you don’t know what you have Til your everything is gone You need someone to show you how to live again
I wanna be there when you’re feeling high I wanna be there when you wanna die I’m gonna light your fire I’m gonna fuel your flame I wanna be there when you go insane I wanna be there when you’re feeling down And I’ll be there when your head is spinnin’ round Gonna be your lover Gonna be your friend I wanna be there til the end
He opened his eyes, realizing now how the words of the song sounded as he sang them to her and not just as he had learned the chords.
“I uhh,” he said, putting the pick back and setting the guitar down. “I think I could still do with a little practice.”
He smiled as he looked up at her and saw she had tears in her eyes. Shaking her head, she wiped them away and took a deep breath.
“Please keep going,” she whispered and he stared at her. She nodded and smiled slightly, bumping his knees with her own and breathing deeply again.
He nodded and picked up the guitar, strumming it as he began to sing again, keeping his eyes on hers, knowing the words that were coming and not wanting to hurt her or cause her to walk out the door.
You wouldn’t know that I was there Cause I have been there all the time And if I had my way I’d hold you in my arms And leave this madness all behind Cause you got so much to give But you throw it all away And all you got to show for who you are is pain And I’ve got so much to give If you’d only let me in I’m gonna take the time to show that I’m a friend You’ll believe in love again
I wanna be there in the pouring rain I wanna be there when you call my name I’m gonna light your fire I’m gonna fuel your flame I wanna be there when you go insane I wanna be there when I’m outta town And when your damn world is crashing down I’m gonna be your lover Gonna be your friend I wanna be there till the end
She put her hands on the guitar and stopped him from playing, taking it from him and laying it on the couch. He licked his lips, worried that the positive steps they had taken recently were all for naught and she was upset with him.
But then she was in his lap, kissing him, her hands in his hair. He gripped her waist, holding her close as their kiss deepened, his hands sliding under her shirt and stroking her skin.
They never made it farther than the floor in front of the couch, not even taking the time to remove all of their clothing. She still wore her bra and his pants and boxers were bunched around his knees.
“So…” he said, breathing hard as he lay on top of her. “You liked the song?” She laughed, her fingernails scratching at his back a little harder than she normally did.
“Hmm,” she hummed, tugging at his hair. He lifted his head and looked at her, finding her smiling. “I loved it. Remind me later that we should keep a lighter on hand.”
“Oh, I don’t think we need a lighter. You got plenty hot enough.” He grinned at her and she laughed.
“That I did,” she agreed, staring into his eyes and stroking his face. “You should have learned to play that guitar years ago.” He chuckled and laid his head back against her neck, his lips at her throat.
“If I had known that musicians did it for you… well,” he whispered, placing open mouthed kisses on her pulse point, his teeth scraping gently.
“Hmm… no need to worry, I’ll make you a list of other songs to make up for it. Maybe some Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young…”
“Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry. So just look at them and sigh and know they love you,” he sang quietly and she moaned, her fingernails pressing into his neck.
“Jesus, Mulder,” she whispered and he chuckled softly, kissing her throat again, as any other songs or artists were momentarily forgotten.
Mulder sat on the top of the porch stairs, the spring sun setting as he tuned the guitar that had sat unused for nearly a year. With the pregnancy and then taking care of a newborn, the guitar had once more been a dust collector more than a musical instrument.
He smiled as he played the chords of a new song he had looked up, finding it not too difficult. Trying it out again, he sang the song quietly, trying to get it right before he would sing it for Faith tomorrow.
The screen door creaked open and he looked up and saw Scully standing there staring at him. She shook her head and closed the door gently.
“What do you think you’re doing?” she asked, walking over and sitting beside him on the stairs. He smiled and played the song softly.
“I was thinking about our trip to the duck park a few days ago and then I saw the guitar sitting there and well…” He shrugged and looked down at the guitar, strumming a few chords and then looking at her.
“I don’t know if you’ve really thought this through, if I’m being completely honest with you,” she said and he grinned, knowing exactly what she meant and knowing she knew that he knew.
“I’m not sure what you mean,” he said however, giving her a confused look and she narrowed her eyes at him. “I’m simply learning to play a song for our daughter, one about ducks who get lost but eventually find their way back home, right where they are supposed to be.”
“Jesus,” she growled and he moved the guitar just before she lunged at him, her lips crashing into his as he caught her around the waist, her knees hitting the porch as she straddled him. He laughed as he pulled back and shook his head.
“So, are you trying to tell me that if I play the guitar for Faith, in a completely innocent way, this will happen?” He smiled, holding her tightly as she breathed deeply and sat back on his legs.
“Well… not directly in front of her, but just know that as soon as she is down for a nap, or in bed for the night, I will be coming for you.”
“So many responses I could make,” he murmured and she laughed, leaning closer to kiss him, her fingernails scratching lightly along his neck.
She pulled back and he smiled as she kissed him gently once more, causing him to moan softly.
“Do you know the song well enough?”
“Not quite. I’d like to practice it a bit more, get it perfect before I play it for her tomorrow.”
“She’s seven months old, Mulder. She won’t know if it’s the best song ever or if you completely mess it up.” She smiled and he nodded with a shrug.
“But I’ll know,” he said and she exhaled a deep breath with a nod.
Moving from his lap, she picked up the guitar. Handing it to him, she moved across the step, putting some needed space between them.
“You gonna be okay?” he asked with a smirk as he began to play the song.
“I’m going to do my very best,” she said, closing her eyes and folding her hands in her lap. He laughed and nodded as he licked his lips.
“Five little ducks went out one day,” he sang quietly, watching the strings as he played. “Over the hills and far away. Mother duck said “Quack, quack, quack!””
“Nope. I tried,” she said and he looked at her, her eyes flashing fire. “Stop. Put the guitar down. It sounds perfect. We need to get inside. Now.” She stood up, took the guitar from him, and walked into the house. “Now, Mulder.” He grinned and stood up, taking off his shirt as he walked across the porch.
He opened the screen door and stepped inside of the house, smiling at the sight of her already half naked, and shaking her head at him. He closed the door and locked it, walking toward her as she unbuttoned her pants.
“I’m sorry you aren’t able to practice the song, but…”
“I knew it well enough when I read the notes. I didn’t really need to practice it.” She stared at him, her pants halfway down her legs. He winked and she shook her head.
Stumbling a little as she pulled off her pants, he caught her and they landed heavily onto the couch, with her in his lap.
“You’re a clever man,” she whispered.
“Oh, of that Miss Scully, I am very much aware,” he said with a grin, as she once more shook her head, before kissing him thoroughly.
The song Mulder learned to play is called “I Wanna Be There” by Blessed Union of Souls.
And of course he sings “Teach Your Children” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young… which Scully seems to be quite happy to hear as she waits on hold in Rm9…
Please Please Please keep writing your wonderful stories. Soulmates go me through Covid boredom and paranoia. Loved A Different path. I said it to mldrgirl Fanfiction is Covid vaccination medicine.
Wow! What a wonderful message to wake up to! I am so happy you enjoyed Soulmates as that’s my baby and the story I’m most proud of. I am very happy it helped with boredom and especially paranoia. That is always good. 😊
I will keep writing as long as you all keep reading. ❤️ I love it so very much.
A couple of days ago I posted a story and had a comment on Twitter that included song lyrics and once I listened to it… I HAD to write a story and include it. So here it is, I hope you enjoy it. The song is North by Sleeping At Last. I suggest listening to it as you read, it is perfect for MSR.
On a night she hears a song that causes emotions to rise, she feels a deep desire to drive out to the Unremarkable House and remember the past and the happier times they had shared.
Scully sat in her car, the engine and lights shut off as she stared at the glowing lights of the house she had not lived in for over three years. She took a deep shaky breath and let it out, the pain and sadness she had felt earlier pushing its way once more to the surface.
Shaking her head, she picked up her phone and unlocked it. Finding the song she had heard earlier and then purchased, which had led to her driving over to the house at 9:00 at night, she pressed play and closed her eyes, leaning her head back against the headrest.
The beginning piano chords began, the sounds of it filling the car and bringing tears to her eyes. Swallowing, she took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
We will call this place our home The dirt in which our roots may grow Though the storms will push and pull We will call this place our home
We’ll tell our stories on these walls. Every year, measure how tall And just like a work of art We’ll tell our stories on these walls
Tears fell down her cheeks and she made no effort to wipe them away, needing to once again feel that pain.
Let the years we’re here be kind, be kind Let our hearts, like doors, open wide, open wide Settle our bones like wood over time, over time Give us bread, give us salt, give us wine
A little broken, a little new. We are the impact and the glue Capable more than we know To call this fixer upper home
With each year, our color fades Slowly, our paint chips away But we will find the strength And the nerve it takes To repaint and repaint and repaint every day
Weeping, she shook her head, covering her face with her hands.
Let the years we’re here be kind, be kind Let our hearts, like doors, open wide, open wide Settle our bones like wood over time, over time Give us bread, give us salt, give us wine
Let the years we’re here be kind, be kind Let our hearts, like doors, open wide, open wide Settle our bones like wood over time, over time Give us bread, give us salt, give us wine Give us bread, give us salt, give us wine
Smaller than dust on this map Lies the greatest thing we have The dirt in which our roots may grow And the right to call it home
As the song began to play on repeat, she opened her eyes, unable to see through her tears. Lifting the middle console, she took out the box of tissues she kept there, wiping her eyes and blowing her nose. Shaking her head, she began to cry again as she stared at the house.
God, she missed being there. Being home.
But… that little house in the field had begun to feel suffocating, and she had needed to leave. To get out before she could no longer breathe. It had hurt, but she knew it was the right decision, then as well as now. But, Jesus… she missed it so much. Sometimes it caused such a painful ache, it stopped her in her tracks.
She knew it was not just the house, but the man living within it, and the life they had lived, the happiness they had shared.
When they had first moved in, it was slow going getting everything they needed. Some days it was hard to believe they were actually safe, no longer needing to pack up and leave after a couple of days.
We’ll tell our stories on these walls. Every year, measure how tall And just like a work of art We’ll tell our stories on these walls
She laughed and then sobbed as she remembered painting the walls, picking out the right colors and bringing them home to him. The smell of it as they had painted with only a few lamps shining, the shades off to make the room brighter. They could have waited for morning, but nighttime seemed to be their time. When it was dark and quiet outside, it had felt different.
The living room had been first, the painting process time consuming and tiring, but worth it when they were done, the windows open and letting in the cold fall air. He had set his roller brush down, taken hers from her and set it beside his own. Pulling her close, they had danced around the room, mindful of the trays of paint.
“It’s just the start, Scully and it’s already beginning to feel like home,” he had whispered and she had sighed, a peaceful feeling in her heart.
Let the years we’re here be kind, be kind Let our hearts, like doors, open wide, open wide Settle our bones like wood over time, over time Give us bread, give us salt, give us wine
Without a table, there had been many meals on a blanket on the floor, laughing as they ate. Half a bottle of wine had spilled one night, his kiss intoxicating her far more than the alcohol had. Their clothes had been stained, something he had found hilarious as he had continued to wear the shirt, regardless of the splotches of reddish purple that refused to be washed away.
The hardwood floor had also been stained, the wine left sitting unchecked for too long as they clung to one another, their cries and gasps the only sounds in the room. Any attempt to remove the stain completely was futile, for which Mulder had been downright gleeful.
“This rug may cover it,” he had said as they had laid it down. “But we know it’s there. A little dinner and some sex… that’s always the best way to end a meal.” He had kissed her as she laughed against his mouth.
Happy. They had been so happy. And then…
“God,” she sobbed, shaking her head and letting out a breath.
A little broken, a little new. We are the impact and the glue Capable more than we know To call this fixer upper home
With each year, our color fades Slowly, our paint chips away But we will find the strength And the nerve it takes To repaint and repaint and repaint every day
Why was she doing this to herself? Reliving the pain and remembering that past? They were different these days, but God… the days of hurt, sadness, and loneliness were always right there below the surface, as though waiting to be called upon and do its worst.
The impact and the glue…
That was the line that had caused her to gasp and fall to her knees onto the living room floor. The music continued to play though her ears had rung as she drew in deep breaths, trying to calm her aching heart.
The impact- the past which they kept pushed away; William and the gaping hole he had left behind being the main one. They had never discussed the possibility of finding him, or trying for another child, as slim as the chance may have been. They were never careful or worried over the “what if’s,” but nothing had ever happened and every year that passed, any discussion became harder to broach.
The glue- their need for one another, the pull to be together no matter the cost, began to lose its ability to hold tightly. It faded and was picked away. His drive became only his obsession to find the answers he needed, and hers was to save him, to stop him from falling headfirst into the abyss.
She had failed him. Failed them both.
Let the years we’re here be kind, be kind Let our hearts, like doors, open wide, open wide Settle our bones like wood over time, over time Give us bread, give us salt, give us wine
She rubbed at her chest, directly over her heart, as the chorus played and she closed her eyes. Pushing down the pain, she thought instead of Mulder’s smile, his laugh at some corny pun he had made, and the way he made her laugh as he danced across the room. Listening to the song in its entirety once more, she took a deep breath.
With each year, our color fades Slowly, our paint chips away But we will find the strength And the nerve it takes To repaint and repaint and repaint every day
She could feel it… they were beginning to find their strength and their nerve to repaint… rebuild who they were with who they had grown into. Time changes, pain causes breaks, but if they were strong, the roots that had been planted could once more flourish and grow.
She had needed to come there tonight. To see, to remember who they were, to know that it was not all in vain. The song had awakened something inside of her, its haunting beauty hurting and healing all at once. They were not there yet, but that little house in the field was standing strong and resolute, not giving up, even when it felt as though they had.
She wiped at her eyes again and then closed them, the memories of their lives within those sturdy walls calling to her, reminding her it was not only sadness and grief.
Her mother’s laughter had been loud after a raucous game of cards, Mulder smiling as he was proclaimed victor and Scully had pouted, crossing her arms in defeat, unwilling to shake his hand and offer her congratulations.
A rainy night had led to a movie on the couch, her head on his lap as he stroked her hair, quoting all the lines, and causing her to smile.
The day the sink had broken and water was spraying everywhere. They had tried to stop it, bringing to mind a case long ago and Mulder crashing through the floor. She had doubled over in laughter, even as she had stood dripping wet and he had yelled to her to help him.
Waking up on the couch with a start, the book in her hand being taken gently from her hands. Staring sleepily into his eyes, she had stretched and yawned. A blanket was lying across her and she had smiled at his thoughtfulness. The nights had begun to become chilly, the house never holding heat properly. He had helped her up and they walked upstairs together, not staying chilly for long as his touch had created a fire within her.
A silly fight over something stupid had led to not speaking for a couple of days. She had stayed longer at the hospital, avoiding coming home. Finally knowing she needed to stop being childish, she had left, determined to speak to him and move past it.
Upon her arrival, she had found him in the kitchen, cooking something that had made her mouth water. Dropping her bag and her keys, he had turned around and looked at her. They had said nothing, but she took off her coat and walked over to him. She wordlessly washed her hands and picked up the knife to cut the vegetables on the cutting board. Still no words were spoken, but the brush of their arms as they worked together had been enough.
Days and nights of loving one another, fighting, either verbally or emotionally, laughing, crying, simply being had kept them together. Making that little house a home, the relationship that had been built on friendship, trust, and love had bloomed even further.
Sighing, her tears now spent, she nodded. It had been a good choice to come here, to simply gaze upon the home she loved and hoped to be back in one day. Blowing her nose once more, she reached forward to turn on the car.
Knock knock knock.
“Jesus Christ!” she yelled, jumping and dropping the keys. Her heart racing, she turned and found Mulder standing outside her window. He was breathing hard, his breath billowing out around him in great white puffs. “You scared the shit out of me.”
“Sorry,” he replied, his words muffled through the glass. He tilted his head, still taking deep breaths. She reached around on the floorboard and found her keys, turning the ignition on far enough to roll the window down as she turned off the song still playing on her phone.
“What the hell?” she asked, her heart slowly returning to normal.
“I think that should be my question.” He smiled, nodding toward her. “You’re sitting at the end of the drive, your car silent and the headlights off. Are you spying on me?” He chuckled softly and her heart ached at the sound.
God, she missed him. Missed him so much.
“Did we get called out? I was out for a run and didn’t bring my phone. You could have waited inside.” He licked his lips, his breathing steadier now.
“No. No, it’s not that,” she said, not sure how she could explain this one to him. He stared with a shrug, searching her face. She stayed silent, not knowing how to get the words out to tell him how she was feeling.
With a small nod, he took a step back and looked toward the house. Turning his head to look back at her, he smiled softly.
“You want to come in? Have a drink? Alcoholic or otherwise?”
There it was, her out, if she wanted to take it. She could easily say no, give no other explanation as to why she was sitting in the drive… in their drive, and he would not ask further. He understood, as he nearly always did. She could simply turn the ignition on, drive back to that overly smart house, and be alone.
“I… I could come in for a bit,” she said quietly, her decision made, and his smile grew. Stepping back further, he nodded and began to jog up the drive. She turned on the headlights and he waved a hand in thanks.
Starting the car, she stared after him, turning the radio on low, her phone connecting to the Bluetooth, the song starting once more. She followed him slowly up the drive as the chorus played and she took some calming breaths.
Let the years we’re here be kind, be kind Let our hearts, like doors, open wide, open wide Settle our bones like wood over time, over time Give us bread, give us salt, give us wine
She stopped the car as she reached the porch, watching him walk up the stairs and through the door, listening to the last few lines of the song for a bit of courage.
Smaller than dust on this map Lies the greatest thing we have The dirt in which our roots may grow And the right to call it home
With a slight nod, she turned off the car and got out, walking up the stairs and pausing at the doors threshold.
“Wine? Or something else?” he called and she took a deep breath.
“Anything is fine,” she said quietly, as she walked inside. Closing the door behind her, she took another deep breath, the familiar scent of home washing over her as tears pricked her eyes. Blinking them away quickly, she turned to him with a small smile and walked further inside.
The past was left outside. Tonight, she was home, and this moment of happiness and comfort would be added to the stories within the walls and would settle into the roots that had begun to grow long ago.
It’s Mulder’s birthday today! I have a delightful, squishy, and disgustingly sweet story in the works, but last night this little story sat up and demanded my attention. I love when that happens and so… this birthday story emerged. I hope you enjoy it. ❤
Finally able to slow down and take a breath, Scully has a realization, and that moment needs to be celebrated- no matter how small it may be.
October 13, 2004
“Well, we’ll need a few things,” Mulder said, looking around the empty room as Scully smiled.
“Only a few?”
“Hmm…” He smiled and walked into the kitchen, his fingers running across the stove. Turning on the sink, he touched the water and nodded. He opened up the refrigerator and closed it after a second. “Well, maybe more than a few things. Food at least.”
“It’s good that we’ve become used to living simply, I suppose. Everything we need, for a few days at least, is in the car. Aside from the food, of course.” He nodded and sighed, turning to look at her.
“This place will be good. It’s far enough away and obviously quiet with hardly any neighbors. I think… this will be what we need.”
She grinned and breathed a sigh of relief that he was pleased with the house she had bought nearly sight unseen. One tour of the place and she had known this was where they could stay and finally stop running.
It was a decent sized house, though it looked larger without any furniture. A large living/dining area with two rooms just off of it. Already she could imagine creating a library with cozy chairs in which to curl up. There was a full bathroom downstairs, a basement, laundry room, and two bedrooms upstairs.
The realtor had been surprised how quickly she had agreed to the price. He had been even more surprised when she told him she would pay in cash. The paperwork had been pushed through quickly and the keys were in her hand in less than a week.
Taking back roads, doubling back and finally arriving at the small motel she and Mulder had been staying in recently, she had walked in with a grin, asking if he was ready to go home. He had grinned and their few possessions were quickly packed up.
Driving over only after it was dark and cutting the lights as they drove down the road and up the drive, they had walked up the stairs in near silence. He reached for her hand as they stood in front of the door, staring into her eyes.
“This is it,” he had whispered, the bright moon reflecting in his eyes. “We’re home.”
“Home,” she had agreed and he stroked her cheek, bending to kiss her softly.
“Thank you,” he had whispered and she hummed quietly, her hand grasping his wrist.
Stepping back, she had taken the key from her pocket and opened the door, turning on the flashlight she took from her pocket. Mulder had done the same before she closed the blinds, feeling safe enough to turn on the dim lights in the room as they stood and looked around the empty room.
“Let’s see the upstairs,” he said, breaking into her thoughts of where they would place furniture as she looked around again.
“Okay,” she agreed and turned toward the staircase.
Walking up the steps, she turned to the right, and led him into the bedroom which would be theirs to share. She switched on the light and watched him look around, hoping this room was met with the same approval as the ones downstairs.
He walked into the bathroom and nodded as he let out a sigh. Turning around, he smiled at her, walking forward to pull her into his arms. They held one another, in the soft light of the room, the night quiet around them.
“It’s just what we need, Scully. I’m so tired of constantly moving. I’m ready to settle down. Get out of the damn car.” She chuckled softly, though tears pricked at her eyes; she was so ready too.
“Then let’s unpack that car,” she said, pulling back and smiling at him. He nodded, dropping his forehead to hers, each of them taking a deep breath.
“Let’s do it.”
They kept the porch light off, unpacking by moonlight and flashlight, bringing in their bags of clothing, bedding and an air mattress, toiletries and any food and water they had. Everything was brought upstairs, the bags placed in the corner and the bed blown up and made up with the bedding.
“We’ll need some food before morning. Granola bars and jerky isn’t going to cut it for me,” she said, grimacing at the thought. He laughed and nodded, taking off his shoes and sitting on the end of the bed.
“I’ll go get a few things, some basic staples and be right back.” He looked up at her, about to say something when she stopped him. “It won’t take long. Stay up here and keep the door locked, just in case.”
“Scully…” he started and she squatted down, her hands on his thighs.
“We need food, Mulder. I will be fine.”
“I know. I just…”
He sighed, closing his eyes, with a nod. Opening his eyes, he nodded again. She squeezed his legs and stood up, smiling at him before she walked to the door.
“Lock this. Wait for my knock.” He nodded and she nodded back. Stepping through the door, she waited until she heard the lock click to walk down the stairs and out the door.
Pulling up to a large grocery chain, she parked in a well lit area, always watching over her shoulder as she walked inside the store. Grabbing a cart, she kept her eyes ahead as she walked to the produce department.
Her cart full of the basic needs, she walked through the bakery, looking for a special treat of some kind. As she did, she frowned, realizing the majority of the cookies and cakes were of the fall and Halloween variety.
Not sure of the exact date, she avoided the fall decorated items, instead picking out a small toasted coconut loaf cake. Smiling, she placed it in the cart and walked to the baking aisle looking for candles. With a nod, she turned around and headed to the register.
As she left, she looked at the receipt and smiled; the coconut cake now an even better idea. Putting the bags of groceries in the car, she looked around again, making sure no one was watching her. Driving away, she kept an eye on the rearview mirror, making a few unnecessary turns, just in case.
Coming back to the house, she once more cut the lights before opening the gate. Closing it after she had driven in, she pulled up to the house and turned off the car.
Leaving the groceries in the car, she went inside the house and up the stairs. She rapped her knuckles on the door of the bedroom, using the special knock they had created.
“It’s me,” she said softly and she heard the door unlock. Smiling, he stepped out of the room and they walked downstairs to once more unload the car.
The refrigerated items were placed inside and the other food into the cupboards. Sliding the candles into her pocket, she kept the cake in the bag as Mulder put the empty bags in a pile on the counter. He looked at the bag and she shook her head.
“Just some things I need to take upstairs.” He nodded and she held it close, walking to the stairs. Turning off the lights, he followed her, after making sure the doors were locked.
Closing and locking the bedroom door, she set the bag on the bed and searched in one of the bags for the matches she knew were in there. Finding them, she took them into the bathroom bringing the bag with her.
Closing the door, she quietly opened the cake and took out the candles from her pocket. Sticking four into the cake, she lit them with the matches. Smiling, she opened the door and stepped into the softly lit room.
“Happy birthday to you…” she sang quietly and he looked up in surprise from the end of the bed. She knelt down, continuing to sing as she looked at him.
“What?” he asked, the glow from the candles adding more light to the room and creating a glow around his face.
“We get so wrapped up in simply existing, time slips past us. I picked this cake up just to have a sweet treat, but it’s actually your birthday today and well…” She looked down at the candles and then back up at him, with a smile. “We don’t usually have much to celebrate, but this…” She gestured around and he nodded. “It’s not much yet, but we have a house . A place to come home to. No more running.”
“No. No more running,” he whispered with a soft smile, caressing her cheek.
“Make a wish,” she whispered back and he shook his head.
“I don’t need any wishes. I have all I need right here.”
“I am.” He kept his eyes on hers as he blew the candles out, the room now darker, the smoky scent of burning wax heavy between them.
She pulled out the candles and set them on the floor, not caring if wax dripped and made a permanent stain on the hardwood. A moment had been created and a visual reminder was more than welcome.
They sat on the bed, leaning against the wall, sharing the cake in silence. She laid her head on his shoulder and he kissed the top of it as she sighed.
“This will be good for us. A place to put down roots and be safe.”
“Mmm,” she agreed. “We’ll figure out the furniture situation tomorrow. We also need pots and pans, plates, utensils…” She sighed and he rested his head on hers.
“A coffee maker… that’s definitely high on the list.”
“Indeed,” she said with a small chuckle. “Happy birthday, Mulder.”
“Hmm. Thank you, honey.”
“Yeah. We’re living in a house now, gotta play the part.” She laughed softly as he set his fork down and reached for her hand, giving it a small squeeze.
“I love you, Scully.”
“I love you too, Mulder.”
And in the soft light of the sparse room, roots began to grow and find their way into the ground, creating a place of refuge for two people who had spent far too long with nothing to hold onto, but each other.
#The X Files #XF Fanfic #Post The Truth #On the Run #Finding the Unremarkable House #Time to Stop Running #Mulder's Birthday... Unexpectedly
After Amor Fati, Mulder is left with many confusing thoughts rattling around in his mind. Scully is there to care for him and be sure he is okay.
Mulder stood in his doorway, his eyes closed, the sound of Scully’s heels clicking on the hardwood of the hallway as she walked away. He smiled as he thought of the feel of her thumbs grazing his lips while he drowned in the blue of her eyes. He sighed as he stepped back, closing the door, his hand remaining on it as it clicked shut.
He carefully took his hat off and hung it on his coat rack. Pulling off his tie, he laid it on the dining room chair and unbuttoned his shirt. Sliding it off, he laid it with his tie and walked over to the couch, sitting down with a heavy sigh, his head absolutely aching.
Scully was right; he was not in any state to come back to work, but he had wanted to go into the office, needing to get out of the apartment. So many thoughts were banging about in his head, it was hard to know which were true and which had been fabricated.
The memories of when he had been brought home after collapsing in the stairwell were stronger than others, though they seemed to be a lifetime ago. He remembered Diana being with him, though he did not know how she knew he needed help.
She was then beside him in his bed, an uninvited guest he could not force her out, his exhausted mind and body unable to do more than lay there. He remembered her voice in his head and then vocally when she believed him to be asleep. The feel of her hand on his face was familiar, but also that of a stranger, and one he no longer welcomed.
I’m so sorry, Fox.
He heard her tears as she lay her sins at his feet, his forgiveness asked, but the knowledge of her participation too late to put an end to. She laid close beside him, the feel and scent of her all wrong, his thoughts only on Scully.
In his hospital bed, knowing for certain who she was and what she had done, Diana’s hopeful words of them being together held within them an underlying fear. She had to have known there was not a chance of that happening. The past was long ago and now there was only Scully, the one person he would die for without hesitation.
He lay in that hospital bed for days, weeks possibly; he had no concept of time. Too many voices continued to clamor in his head, his brain burning and tired, unable to quiet them no matter how he tried to shut them out. But then, one voice, the voice he had wanted to hear the most, quieted all the others.
Scully had finally come to him.
He knew she had been on her own journey trying to prove the validity of the discovery of the rubbings they had found. He knew why she was gone, what she was doing, and yet he had ached for her, needing her with him.
The moment she walked into his room, he felt her voice everywhere, not just in his head. It settled in his heart and his soul. Her words were clear and concise, but her love even more so. It sang out, unable to be quieted, even though she may not have spoken it, or known of it herself.
Hearing it, knowing it to be fact when it had been something in the background and out of focus, was equally beautiful and frightening. For someone like Scully to be in love with him, was unthinkable. His crusade had become hers and what did she have to show for it? Two months of her life taken from her, her ability to have children stolen, her sister killed, her own health decimated, and for what? For him?
He did not deserve her love and yet there she stood, speaking of keys and finding the answers he had desperately been searching for, asking him to hold on, but the words she was not saying rang out louder than anything else.
I love you. I love you. I love you. Don’t leave me, Mulder. Stay with me. I love you.
He heard it all, and yet he could not look at her, could not give her the sign she asked of him. Her love for him filled his heart and froze him, knowing he was unable to speak the words to her in return. They were there on the tip of his tongue, screaming inside his head, his heart pounding out the words, but he could not speak them. Physically unable to do it, and also emotionally terrified.
He was sure he was dying, felt it in his bones. Everything hurt, his mind raced back and forth and he did not want to see her crying over him anymore.
One sorry son of a bitch.
Bill had been right to call him that years ago, as Scully lay dying in a hospital bed of her own and he did not have the balls to tell her that he loved her. He had loved her for so long and missed so many chances to tell her. He could not do it to her in that moment when he was sure she was going to die, just as he could not say it as he believed he himself was dying.
He did not deserve her love. He was a sorry son of a bitch. He had married her, but had never said he loved her. He should have told her every day, but he had not. He knew she loved him just as she had to know he loved her, but hearing it from her, feeling it in ways he never would again, it was a balm on his heart.
And then Scully was gone. People were speaking around him, about him, and he could do nothing. His mother, her face close to his, her eyes so worried, he tried to call to her, but his body was frozen.
Then … he was everywhere and nowhere all at once. Things did not make sense and yet made perfect sense.
You owe me this. I’ve done all you’ve asked of me.
Diana’s voice had cut into his thoughts, far away and close to his ear all at the same time, no idea where or when he was.
Oh, Diana. Came his voice, the one he heard like a snake, always lying and slithering close. Your sentimental side will be your undoing. You need to let go of that which makes you weak. But I will see what can be done.
He floated into a dreamlike life, everything handed to him. Deep Throat was alive. His sister was as well, with three beautiful children of her own.
Diana. Coming to him seductively, no longer repentant, but happy. They were married, had children, and then she was dead and gone. All of it happening far too fast, like a slideshow on super speed.
Though fast and confusing, it had felt perfect, exactly what a person should have had- a mate, children, a house in the suburbs, and yet … it lacked something.
As he lay dying, hearing of all those who had gone before him, one name had broken his heart and brought him to tears. Scully. Scully was dead. His perfect life had been without her. His thoughts of her coming fewer and farther between, until they were obsolete, almost as though done intentionally.
She could not be dead. Not Scully.
Then suddenly, she was there, walking purposefully into his room, very clearly not only not dead, but confusedly as young as the last time he had seen her, while he himself was old and dying. How was that possible?
But … she was not his Scully. She was cold, harsh, and cruel. Her clipped words cut him to the core.
Traitor. Deserter. Coward.
No, you don’t understand. He’s taking care of me.
No, Mulder, he’s lulled you to sleep. He’s made you trade your true mission for creature comforts.
There was no mission. There were no aliens.
No aliens. Have you looked outside, Mulder?
I can’t. I’m … too tired.
No, Mulder, you must get up. You must get up and fight … especially you. This isn’t your place. Get up, Mulder. Get up and fight the fight.
Scully … Where’s Scully? Scully? Scully!
He stood up from his couch, tears in his eyes, as he remembered the desperate feeling of loneliness when she walked out of the room, leaving him despite his cries. He paced his apartment, taking deep breaths to calm himself down. That exchange with her stayed with him, like bold typed print, harsh and dark within him.
Her appearance, her hard and truthful words, broke into the dreamland he believed was created for him, to lull him to sleep just as she had said. Her appearance and voice made his mind race in ways it had not done in years. He felt confused and scared, not sure if he had ever known the truth, or if the truth had walked out his bedroom door and he was too weak and stupid to chase after it.
Then he heard her voice again, but not the cruel Scully who had stood before him. Not the Scully who was incredibly angry and not afraid to show him. No. From somewhere, he heard the soft scared voice she only used when she was truly frightened. The one he heard most when his own life was threatened.
Mulder. Mulder, you’ve got to wake up. I’ve got to get you out of here. Mulder, can you understand me?
Mulder, you’ve got to get up. I don’t know how much time we have. You’ve got to get up, Mulder.
No one can do it but you, Mulder. Mulder, help me. Please, Mulder.
He remembered the horrible and painful screaming in his head, as though he were fighting with two realities, as her words pushed their way to be heard. He was old and dying. But no, he was not, he simply needed to get up, fight, get away from the horrible pain shooting through him.
He felt something fall on him, something wet, and it was as though it was the magic item needed to break the spell he was under. He opened his eyes and his senses were assaulted by Scully. She was there, all around him, wherever there was, and he knew he would be okay. She had found him.
You … help … me …
He felt the words rasped from his throat as he pulled her close, needing her help, but also to feel her, to know she was real. She held onto him, helping him up carefully. He could smell her and he nearly broke down at the familiar scent of his Scully.
They stumbled out of the room together, his lumbering weight slowing them down. Down long twisting hallways, she murmured to him to keep going, never letting him go. Her voice was the only thing he heard; her arms around his waist holding him tight was all he felt despite the pain coursing through him. Even when he felt he was about to crumble and fall on his face, she held him up and kept him moving.
They made it to her car, her gentle hands guiding him carefully to sit down. Her eyes, worried and wet, appeared behind his eyelids as he closed his eyes, his head pounding, his body weak and spent.
Her voice once again came through, centering him as she spoke, keeping him there with her and not back in some alternate world he seemed to have been living in. Her hand landed on his thigh and he weakly gripped her fingers with his own.
You’re okay, Mulder. I’m here, I’m here. Stay with me. Hang on, Mulder. We’re going to the hospital.
He had passed out before they made it there.
He had nightmares in the hospital, which continued even after he had come home. Terrible nightmares, in which Scully was truly dead and no matter what he did, he could not bring her back. No matter how he screamed, or the life saving measures he attempted, she lay cold and lifeless in countless locations. He wanted to die with her, but nightmares are never that kind. He was left to suffer, to live his life without her.
Diana also made appearances, her eyes unreadable, always watching him. She never spoke, though he tried repeatedly to speak to her. She stood in front of him, silent and stoic, as he fired questions at her.
Why Diana? You said you loved me. Why would you do this? Was your plan worth my suffering? Is this what I would have done? One suffering to save millions is still one suffering. I would have found another way. Diana … why?
She shook her head and disappeared down long hallways with many doors. He tried to follow her, wanting his answers, but the doors led to more doors and soon he was back in the room where Scully found him. He knew it by the smell and his own temporarily lucid memories.
Maybe that was Diana’s very last attempt to make things right with him, continuing to lead him back to that room in his dreams, to show him that no matter the horribleness that happened there, Scully would be there to save him.
For every time, whichever door he chose, he walked into that room. As he stood there, looking down on the table he had laid upon, his pulse rate increased and he would begin to hyperventilate. The pain and fear washing over him until he inevitably felt a hand on his back, and a soft voice speaking to him.
Scully. She was his constant, even in his nightmares. He could feel her touch, smell her near, and it calmed him. She kept him from falling off the edge in those horrible nightmares, her presence enough to quiet him. In dreams as well as reality.
She stayed with him for a couple days after she brought him home from the hospital. Administering his medication, checking him for any lasting trauma, and changing his bandage regularly, all fell onto her capable shoulders. He did not remember much of that time as he slept through most of it, his body beyond exhausted. Yet despite the medication he was given, the unrelenting nightmares interrupted his rest until he felt her close to him.
After she left, he felt so alone, his mind buzzing. He had more nightmares, not wanting to rely solely on the painkillers to help him sleep. He would call her sobbing, needing to hear her voice, to know she was not dead, her blood running across the floor as he had just dreamt. Or her face blue from choking, or her body only bones and found in a shallow grave.
She took every call, talking to him until he stopped crying, telling him repeatedly that she was there and she was okay. She told him what she had done that day, a story about her childhood, anything to calm him down. He would thank her quietly as he reached for the painkillers, knowing he could not stop taking them, not yet.
Scrubbing his hand down his face, he sighed, his head still throbbing. He walked toward the kitchen to grab the bottle of medication when his phone rang. His head pounded at the quick reverse of his motion when he walked back to the living room.
“Mulder,” he said, closing his eyes and wincing as he touched his bandage.
“Mulder, it’s me,” he heard Scully say, and he smiled softly.
“Hey, Scully,” he replied lightly, taking a silent breath, not wanting her to hear the pain in his voice.
“I was thinking, I could … bring dinner over later, if you’d like some company,” she said, and his eyes opened, his hand moving from his head.
“Dinner, huh? Yeah, that sounds great. I could even meet you somewhere,” he said hopefully.
“Mulder,” she warned, and he smiled.
“Okay, Doc. I’ll be a good boy and stay home,” he told her. And take some medicine for this terrible pain, he thought to himself; no chance was he going to say it out loud.
“That’s all I ask,” she said. “What would you like me to pick up? Is there something in particular you’re craving?”
You, he thought, but held his tongue, knowing he was in no shape for anything of that nature.
“Whatever you feel like bringing over will be fine,” he said, not caring what food she decided on.
“So, tofu, greens, and brown rice?” she asked, a teasing tone to her voice.
“Sure. And I’ll take a double bacon cheeseburger, fries, and a chocolate shake,” he quipped, and she laughed softly.
“Okay. I’ll be by later tonight. But no fries until you eat some veggies,” she warned.
“But Moooommmm,” he whined and she laughed again before he heard the phone click off. He smiled as he hung up and then went to find his medication.
“See? It’s not so bad, you gigantic baby,” Scully said with a roll of her eyes as she took one of his fries. He was swallowing down a piece of the broccoli she had gotten for herself, drinking a large mouthful of tea to chase it down.
Making a face, he shoved a few fries in his mouth. Shaking her head, she smiled at him, reaching for a couple more fries. He smiled, letting her take whatever she wanted.
“Anything interesting happen today?” he asked, and she shook her head.
“You didn’t miss anything,” she smiled, now stealing a drink of his chocolate shake. She raised her eyebrows, but he just smiled, happy she was there with him.
“I have something for you,” he said quietly, taking the shake from her and taking a few sips. “I’ll be right back.”
“Just sit tight,” he called back to her as he walked out of the room. He took the package from its hiding place and brought it out to her, laying it on her lap. She sighed as she looked at him and he shrugged.
“Oh, Mulder,” she breathed, opening it and staring at the painting he had searched for and had professionally framed. “You went out and found this? You were supposed to be resting.”
“No, Scully, no. I bought it weeks ago. The day after we … after I left your apartment early that morning,” he explained and she stared at him, then looked down at the painting with a sigh.
She touched it with her fingers, sighing once again. “It is a very beautiful painting,” she said quietly.
“It has a new story though,” he answered, just as quietly. Raising her head, she looked at him questioningly. “We thought the people who live there were on their way home, but I don’t think so anymore.”
“You don’t?” she whispered, and he shook his head slightly, taking her hand.
“No, I think they are already home. I think they are upstairs, happy and very naked,” he said and she smiled widely. “I think they had been out, but earlier in the day. I think that a baseball bat, and the basket of balls they carried, have been hastily dropped with the desire to get upstairs and get, as I already stated, very naked.” She was grinning now and he smiled back as she grasped his hand.
“Perhaps they had been out celebrating a marriage only they knew about, hitting fouls and home runs, the thought of returning for their own private home run, too much to wait for. The balls will have rolled all over, but it will have been absolutely worth it,” she said softly, staring into his eyes.
He nodded slightly, his fingers rubbing her naked ring finger in slow circles. She smiled and he felt the words on his tongue to tell her, to say how much he loved her, but then she moved her hand, placing it on his bandage. He knew what she was saying, just as he had earlier when she placed her thumbs against his lips.
It was a promise. A silent vow. They had jumped into this odd marriage, and then life had thrown them hoops and huge hurdles to maneuver. Their faith had been tested and yet they were there together, sharing a meal in his apartment.
They had time, they had each other. He knew. She knew. They did not need to hurry this, but let it unfold slowly. As they did everything it seemed.
He nodded at her, his hand reaching to hold her wrist lightly. She smiled, tears in her eyes, but he knew it was not from sadness. He squeezed her wrist and she nodded, taking a breath.
“Stay,” he whispered, and she nodded again. Leaning forward, she kissed him softly, her hand moving to his cheek, as he closed his eyes.