Title: Cassadaga
Author: Foxy
Rating: R, although most of it is PG
Classification: XA
Spoilers: Tithonus, Emily, Christmas Carol, and I'm not sure if there are others, so maybe I should just say any episodes up to season five or so.
Keywords: Casefile, UST, Scully angst

Summary: Casefile about a real town in Florida called Cassadaga. Mulder and Scully visit a town of mediums to investigate a series of bizarre murders. In the process, Scully meets the spirit of someone from her past, and does some soul searching.

Author's comments: I don't want to toot my own horn, but I just love this story. It was fun to research, fun to imagine, and fun to write. For more information on my portrayal of Cassadaga, see my comments at the end.

Disclaimer: If I owned these characters, I'd be rich. They belong to Chris Carter, Fox, and 1013.


"Remind me again, Mulder, what is this town we're going to?" Scully asked loudly so that she could be heard over the ever-noisier engines preparing for landing.

"Cassadaga," Mulder replied. "It's about forty-five minutes north of Orlando. The town is a haven for spiritual mediums, who believe that that particular area of Florida is a place where the spirit plane is unusually close to the earth plane. That's why they congregate in the town-because they believe it's easier to get in touch with the spiritual world there."

She let out a loud sigh. "A town full of psychics."

"Not psychics, Scully, mediums."

"What's the difference?" she asked, knowing it gave him great joy that she gave him a chance to explain.

"Some spiritualists believe that all people have some psychic abilities. It's considered a sixth sense which allows people to read vibrations from sources of energy, like thoughts from other people or spirits. A medium's psychic ability is enhanced, so that his or her own energy merges with the spiritual energy, allowing spirits to speak through the medium."

"So a mind reader versus a channeler?"

"Essentially. But don't say that to a medium. They're usually pretty sensitive about their abilities."

"You don't really believe they have these abilities, do you?"

"I believe we can sometimes pick up brain patterns from other people. Here, try this." He dug a quarter from his pocket. He cupped it in his hand and examined it in a secretive manner. "Without thinking about it, what's the year on the coin."

"1979."

"Correct."

She raised her eyebrows and nodded. "Impressive."

"Me and my friends used to do that all the time in high school. I guess that's why we couldn't get girls-we were too busy playing with trivial stuff like this."


*

At the airport in Orlando, they got the rental car and started north on Interstate 4, with Mulder driving. Scully sighed again. "I think I should take a vacation while I'm down here. I hear Daytona Beach is nice," she said.

"You? A vacation? Unheard of."

"Well I have time off after this case, you know." She didn't finish what she was thinking. She would never admit to him that she wanted his company on her vacation-in Sunny Florida-on the beach. She sighed again and looked out the window.

"Okay, Mulder, you've told me where we're going, now can you tell me why we're here?"

"Did you read the file I gave you?"

"My understanding is that some unlucky woman went to see a psychic-excuse me, medium, and the medium stabbed her to death. Then the crazed medium ran into a public place in town yielding a knife, so another medium beat her to death and ran away. An unusual turn of events, maybe, but I don't see an X-file."

"Do you realize who the first victim was? The one who was stabbed by the medium?"

"No. I didn't see that part in there."

"It was Angela Daniels, the mother of Rusty Daniels."

"Rusty Daniels? The serial killer who was executed two weeks ago?"

"Yeah."

"So?"

"So the reason we're here is because I got a call from Jackson Nichols, a medium from the town who witnessed the second murder. He claims that the same person, or spirit, was responsible for both of the killings in Cassadaga. That the spirit transferred itself from the first medium to the second medium, and that's why the first medium was killed."

"We came all the way down here for this? Mulder, it's the ramblings of a psychic."

But she had lost his attention. He suddenly turned up the volume on the radio. The voice on the radio announced, ".father of serial killer Rusty Daniels was found dead in his hotel room in Deland this morning. Ironically, Mr. Daniels was stabbed to death and mutilated, in a similar manner as the victims of his son, Rusty, who was put to death twelve days ago for the murders of five people. Rusty's mother was also stabbed to death in the small town of Cassadaga, after seeking the assistance of a psychic to help her communicate with her son. That same psychic was later murdered. The police have no suspects yet in the killing of Mr. Daniels."

Neither of them said a word. He didn't have to say anything for her to know that he was thinking "I told you so."


*

They unloaded their bags from the car at the Cassadaga Hotel, a two-story masonry reconstruction of a 1920's hotel. Several people were milling about at the hotel and on the porch of a church across the street, engaged in casual conversation. While Mulder checked in, Scully examined several photographs, family portraits really, which hung on the walls. Soon she sensed Mulder looming behind her, looking over her shoulder. "Pictures of spirits," she heard him say. Her eyes followed his pointing finger to a hazy blurb behind several smiling people in one of the pictures. She didn't believe it, but it sent a chill down her spine just the same. She looked at some of the other pictures again, and now she saw at least one "spirit" in all of them.

After settling into their hotel rooms, Mulder suggested they get started right away, by talking to Jackson Nichols at the Cassadaga Spiritualists' Camp, where he worked. "Let's walk," said Mulder, "Everything in this town is within walking distance."

"Have you been here before, Mulder?"

"Once, about a decade ago. I had to see it."

As they walked down Cassadaga Road, Scully took in the scenery. The town looked pretty normal, despite the somewhat rustic feel it had due to the lack of commerce. There was no convenience store, gas station, or shopping center of any sort. The town consisted of only the hotel, a church, a post office, two bookstores, some parks, a couple of eating establishments, and the camp at the end of the street. The rest of the town was filled with houses--mostly small, old, unassuming houses probably built in the 1920's. It seemed like every other house had a sign in the yard announcing the available services of some medium, psychic, tarot card reader, or palm reader.

After walking for a few minutes, Scully voiced an observation. "Mulder, do you notice anything unusual about this town.aside from all the spiritualists, I mean."

"What?"

"I don't hear any dogs barking. I haven't seen one cat. And listen.no birds." She paused. "Plus, there are no children."

He looked around, examining the trees surrounding them. "You know, I think you're right. Kind of eerie, isn't it?" She laughed nervously.

They reached the Cassadaga Spiritualists' Camp and went inside the main building. Jackson Nichols greeted them in his office. "You don't know how glad I am to have finally convinced someone from law enforcement to listen. Please, have a seat."

"So, Mr. Nichols." Mulder began.

"Please, call me Jackson."

"Jackson. You believe the spirit of Rusty Daniels was channeled into this medium, Rosie Franklin?"

"Yes. You see, the spirits of people who have died are independent entities, free to choose where they go. Sometimes they associate with the people they love after their death. Thus, the living walk around unaware of the spirits around them." He continued, "I wasn't there at Rosie's house, but I suspect that Rusty's spirit entered her and took control of her, killing Rusty's mother. I've never seen anything like this happen before, but it's possible that Rusty's spirit is strengthened by his rage."

"Do you know if he was enraged at his parents?" Mulder asked.

Scully handled the question. "I've read a lot about the Daniels trial, Mulder. He and his brother and mother were abused severely throughout his childhood by his father. His mother left his father several times, but always returned. When Rusty grew up, he became a criminal, robbing stores and burglarizing homes. At one point, he came home and tried to kill his father, leaving him for dead with a gunshot wound to the head. He began murdering people after that incident."

"So it's possible he was angry at his mother for not taking him away from his father for good, and for not doing anything to stop the violence," Mulder finished. He turned his attention back to Jackson. "You witnessed the second murder?"

"Yeah. I was talking to a friend of mine in the hotel, which is a common place to socialize around here. There were others standing around talking too. Rosie ran in with a butcher knife in her hand. She seemed uncharacteristically enraged. Then her eyes changed. She was just standing there with a curious look, staring at the knife in her hand. Next thing we all knew, Donald Philips, another medium her in town, ran towards her and punched her in the head. He beat her until she was on the ground, then started stomping on her head until we managed to pull him away. Poor Rosie. Anyway, Don shook everyone off him and ran away. We haven't seen him since."

"And then Rusty's father was found dead in his hotel room," Mulder added. "We have to find him before he goes on another killing spree. The police won't know who to look for."

"I tried talking to the police," Jackson said, "but I'm sure you can imagine their reaction. They said they would keep an eye out for Donald, though."

"Do you have any idea where he might have gone after killing Rusty's father?"

"No, I don't. I think I might be able to pick up some of his vibrations at the crime scene, though."

Scully couldn't help her skepticism. "Why didn't you 'pick up vibrations' in the first place, then."

Noticing her disapproving tone, he replied, "Because, Agent Scully, it took me a while just to sort things out. I may have extrasensory abilities, but I'm still human. By the time I realized who he was and what had happened, his sensations were gone."

"So won't his sensations be cold by the time we get to Deland?"

"Maybe. Do you have any other suggestions?"

'Touche,' she thought.


As they made their way to the hotel where Rusty's father was murdered, Scully asked, "Is everyone in your town a medium?"

"No, but a majority of the residents claim to have some sort of psychic abilities. Cassadaga was founded in the late 1800's by a man named George Colby, a medium himself who believed the spirit guides had told him to go there. He had tuberculosis, and the spirits told him to go to the place that is now Cassadaga to heal himself. He trudged through the wilderness to get there, and then drank spring water and inhaled pine smoke to heal himself." Scully was glad he couldn't see the look of disbelief she was sure had manifested itself. "In 1894, he started the Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp Association. The mediums at the Spiritualist Camp believe in 'natural' spiritual methods-we don't read tarot cards or palms. We believe in delving into the spiritual world unaided. In that way, we are different than many of the other psychics and mediums in town."

They arrived at the hotel room, which was still swarming with police officers. As they approached the door, Mulder and Scully pulled out their badges, and Mulder advised, "FBI." They brushed past the officer at the door, bringing Jackson with them. Jackson went to the bed and stared at the blood-stained the spot where the body had been. An officer approached Mulder and Scully. "I didn't know the FBI were getting involved in this." It was more of a question than a statement.

"Have you found any evidence yet?" Scully asked, without explaining their presence.

"Actually, we found fingerprints all over the place, but they don't match anyone in our database. Plus we have some hairs, a footprint, and a business card."

"A business card?" she asked in amazement. "What does it say?"

"Donald Philips, spiritual advisor. It has a Cassadaga address. We sent someone out there about a half-hour ago."

"We must have just missed him," Mulder said. "It makes sense. He's leaving a calling card because he's not afraid of being caught. Because it's not him."

"What?" asked the officer in disbelief.

"Nothing, officer. He's just speculating," Scully replied. "We're staying in Cassadaga. We'll let you know if we hear anything." With that, they walked away and approached Jackson.

"Feel anything?" Mulder asked.

"I'm picking up some vibes, but the sensations are too weak again. I feel like he might be returning to Cassadaga."

"We better get back there quick," Mulder said, "before he transfers to someone else."


When they returned, they found that several sheriff's cars were parked in front of Donald's house with their flashing lights on.

The approached the first sheriff's deputy they could find. "FBI." Mulder flashed a badge. "What's going on here?"

"We're arresting Donald Philips for murder."

"He's in there?"

"Yeah. Not for long."

"We'd like to question him."

"We're taking him back to the Sheriff's Station. You can question him there."

Mulder pushed past the deputy to enter the house, despite protests from the deputy. Scully followed.

When Mulder saw Donald being ushered towards the door in handcuffs, he said, "Is it you, Donald?"

"Yeah," Donald managed to answer before they escorted him out the door. "Rusty's in Marcia Lakeland. Talk to Misty. She saw the whole thing."

Outside, Mulder approached Jackson, asking "Who's Misty?"

"Misty? My assistant, Misty Andrews. She lives in the Camp. Number 314."

"Is that a house?"

"Yeah."

Mulder turned to Scully. "Look, I'm going to the station to question Donald. You want to interview Misty?"

"Sure."


Scully walked back toward the Spiritualists' Camp. By this time, it was starting to get dark. She was relieved, because the heat and humidity was almost unbearable. She found number 314, and knocked on the door.

A pretty, curly-haired woman with serious eyes answered the door. "I'm Agent Scully with the FBI. My partner is with Jackson right now. Can I ask you some questions about today?"

Misty only hesitated for a second before letting her into the quaint rambler. "I'm surprised that Jackson was able to convince you guys to come. Welcome. Would you like anything to drink?"

"No, thanks. I'm good." Misty glanced at her, and she sensed the woman could tell she really was thirsty. "Donald says you witnessed something today?"

"I was at the post office. I ran into Marcia Lakeland, a resident of this town. Donald, or Donald's physical presence anyway, came in and started looking around. He stared Marcia right in the eye, and I could sense it wasn't really him. Then, he looked different, and I sensed Donald was there. I couldn't understand what happened, until Marcia started laughing with some evil laugh and then she ran out." She paused. "I realize you don't believe in this. Please, just find Marcia, before more people are killed."

"I think you've told me what I need to know. I'll be going now."

Scully started to get up, but Misty stopped her with her voice. "Agent Scully-I know you don't like to be called Dana." Scully stared at her now, puzzled. "I think you should know.I'm sensing that someone you recently lost is trying to reach you. A spirit very close to you is still with you."

Scully averted her eyes. Why was this woman doing this? "Look, I don't believe."

"Scully, I know this is hard for you to accept. I also sense some bad vibrations coming from you."

"Look, I have no problem with you or what you do."

"No, you misunderstand me. The vibes are not from your attitude, they're from your life events. You've experienced great turmoil over the last few years. I know some really bad things have happened to you. That's why it might be good for you to speak to this spirit trying to get your attention. She might be able to give you some advice."

"She?"

"That's what I'm sensing, yes. I'm willing to give you a reading free of charge. I'm not trying to get your business, I just hate to see you continue on a self-destructive path."

"Look, I have to go." With that, she closed the door on the discussion and left abruptly.

On her way back to the hotel, she pondered the last bit of discussion. Why had Misty said that to her? For attention? To prove her abilities to non-believer? She was still skeptical, but now she had just a tiny bit of doubt eating at some far corner of her brain. If there was a spirit lingering near her, was it Melissa? She had been close to her sister, and she wished she could talk to her again, to apologize for what had happened. But she wasn't going to let some stranger intervene.


*

She was in her hotel room when Mulder knocked on her door. Jackson was with him. "The police found two more bodies in Deland," said Mulder. "They were killed in the same manner as Rusty's original victims. He broke into the apartment of two girls in their twenties with a screwdriver, taped their arms and legs with duct tape, and mutilated them. He cut off their nipples, which were never found. He sliced one of the girls open from her chest to her pubic area. Then he propped them both on the bed in sexual positions. The only difference between these murders and the ones committed in 1990 is that he left clues all over the place. He left the duct tape with fingerprints, which were Donald's, and he left another one of Donald's calling cards." He waited for her reaction, but she just stared at a spot on the floor.

He continued, "The police believe Donald was a copycat murderer, and since he's in custody, they're not looking for anyone else."

"We'll have to catch Marcia on our own," she finally replied.

"So you believe us now?" Jackson asked.

"Well, it can't hurt to take precautions, at least."

"We've notified everyone in the town to be on the lookout for Marcia," Mulder said. "It's likely he'll return to Cassadaga to change bodies again when he commits another crime. In the meantime, we've enlisted the help of some of the best mediums in town to meditate and try to get a fix on him."

Once again, she was silent, staring at that spot on the floor. "Did you hear me, Scully?"

As if he woke her from some trance, she snapped her head towards him. "Yeah. So what do we do now?"

"We have no choice but to wait. It's late anyway. Why don't you get some sleep?"

Jackson said good night and dismissed himself, after which Mulder turned his attention back to Scully. She seemed distant. "Scully, are you okay? Is this case bothering you?"

"No, I'm alright."

"I know these murders are pretty brutal."

"No, it's not a problem, really. I haven't even thought about it."

"Well is there anything you need to talk to me about?"

She paused, but she knew she couldn't force herself to talk about what Misty had said to her. In some way, she felt it would be an admission of her gullibility. "I'm just tired. It's been a long day. I'll see you in the morning."


The next morning they had breakfast at the Lost in Time Cafe in the hotel. Scully could hear parts of a conversation from the next table over, ".so at first we thought we were talking to Jesus, but it turned out to be my Uncle Bill."

Scully was quiet throughout breakfast. Afterwards, Jackson showed up with more news. "I just heard that there were two more brutal murders last night. No one can get a fix on Marcia, though. I have a feeling she might come back here today."

Mulder nodded. "Tell everyone you know to stay inside today. Are you willing to help me set a trap?"

"Yes. I'll risk my own life if I have to."

"Okay. I need one more medium as brave as you."

"I know Misty will do it."

"Great. You know what you need to do. I'm going to call the police and tell them they have to remain out of sight until we can draw her-him-in."


The four of them met back at the hotel. Mulder discovered there had been one more murder the night before. Ironically, it had happened at Clauser's Bed and Breakfast, a hotel just out of town where guests had been involved in a staged murder mystery. At first, no one even believed the murder was real.

They decided to split up. Mulder and Jackson would stay in the hotel lobby, and Scully and Misty would go across the street to the post office. Marcia, or Rusty, would likely go into one of those two places to find a new medium to possess.

Scully was somewhat hesitant to spend any more time alone with Misty, but she got the feeling Misty sensed her uneasiness, because the medium didn't speak to her again about her "vibrations." Scully loaded her gun, then sat in a chair to wait.

After several hours, Scully was suffering from severe boredom. She and Misty had barely exchanged two words since they had begun waiting. Scully finally broke the silence. "I think I see a coke machine back there in the back room. I'm going to get something to drink. You want anything?"

"No thanks."

She popped some change in the machine, pushed the button, and waited for the sound of the can falling. It didn't. "Damn," she said. She tried other buttons. No luck. Then she heard a door opening. It was the front door to the post office. Next came footsteps. Alert, gun drawn, she peered into the front room. Just as she did, she heard a cry of pain from Misty, and saw a woman running back to the door. She ran to Misty first, who was on the floor now, to see what had happened.

Misty was breathing heavily, but she spoke. "It was Marcia. She stabbed me. Rusty tried to take over my mind, but I wouldn't let him." Scully ran to the window, where she saw the woman approaching the hotel door. She hit a number on her speed dial.

"Mulder, it's me. She's coming into the hotel right now. She's got a knife, and she's stabbed Misty. Be careful."

"Right."

Scully called for an ambulance.


Before Marcia made her entrance, Jackson turned to Mulder and said, "She's here. Try to do this without shooting her. She's an innocent victim, you know."

"I'll do my best. Can you keep Rusty from controlling you?"

"I think so. None of the others had the benefit of knowing first."

Mulder nodded, then hid behind the check-in counter, gun drawn. He heard the door open. He heard footsteps approaching the spot where Jackson was standing. He wanted to wait until Marcia was close enough that she couldn't run out, because he didn't want to shoot her. He didn't know what would come of this, but he had to gain control of whoever Rusty was possessing.

The footsteps were really close now, and the silence continued. It was time. He sprang up, gun pointing at the woman, shouting "STAY WHERE YOU ARE!!"

She looked at him with utter fear in her eyes, and her hands shot into the air. 'Wait,' he thought, 'It's not her. Where's Jackson?' Then he felt the knife enter his side. Before he could turn his gun in Jackson's direction, the sharp instrument entered him again.

"Aah!" was all he could manage before he crumpled to the floor. He heard the gunshots, but all he could think of was the pulsing hot area in his side.

Scully appeared above him. "Lay still, Mulder. Hang in there. The paramedics are here. Stay with me." That was the last thing he heard before his mind went blank.


Scully was panicked when she saw him lying on the floor, blood oozing into a puddle. She removed his shirt, and pressed it against his wounds to slow the bleeding. If they were lucky, the knife had missed his vital organs, in which case the doctors would just have to make sure he didn't lose too much blood. If they weren't so lucky, well, she didn't want to think about that right now.

She rode with him in the ambulance, to keep an eye on the techniques of the paramedics. They appeared to know what they were doing, so she held his hand and watched him make faces and mumble some incoherent babble. His eyes were closed, so she knew he wasn't even aware she was there. "Don't leave me Mulder," she whispered.

At the hospital, she called Agent Skinner while Mulder was in the operating room and told him everything that had happened. With a low voice, he merely told her to keep him informed.

She saw Misty being rolled out of the operating room to a hospital room. She was going to be alright. Scully couldn't help but remember now what the medium had said to her earlier. Was she really on a path of destruction? It seemed like either her or Mulder were in danger in every case they worked on. There had been so many close calls-she couldn't even remember how many. Was it worth the risk? Worth their lives? Why was she still in this? For Mulder? He had shown more interest in her lately, but after almost seven years together, they still hadn't advanced their relationship beyond a mere kiss.

After what seemed like an eternity, someone finally rolled Mulder out, presumably heading towards intensive care. A doctor approached her. "The knife clipped one of his kidneys," he said. "We managed to sew him back together alright, so, unless he suffers from an infection, he should make it. Are you his wife?"

"No, I'm his partner. We're FBI agents."

"Oh, I'm sorry." She wasn't sure whether he meant sorry about what happened, or sorry for the mistaken assumption.

In his hospital room, she stared at his face, waiting for him to wake up, wondering how much longer they were going to keep this lifestyle. Would it be until one or both of them died?


Out of the darkness, Mulder heard her voice. "Fox-Fox wake up. Fox, can you hear me?"

It was Scully, alright. Why was she calling him that? What did it matter-he didn't mind. He opened his eyes, and there she was. She was sitting on the edge of the bed, with her hand on his face. Her hand smelled good, like flowers. "Hi," he said gingerly.

"You're going to be okay." A smile appeared on her lips. "I made you some soup. Feel like eating?" she asked.

Without answering, he asked, "Where am I?" He looked over at the window. He could see the side of a house out there, and in the distance, children were playing.

"You're home, Fox. I'm going to take care of you."

"Home?" Oh yeah, now he remembered. They were in their house, the one she hadn't wanted to buy. She had protested profusely, but she finally caved in when she saw how much he wanted it. It had the same feel as the house he grew up in.

"Okay, Dana, I'm ready for that soup now."

Her smile appeared again. He loved to see her smile. It didn't happen often. "I'll go get some before the kids eat it all." He gulped. Kids?

She stood from the bed, turned toward the door, and floated towards it. Floated? Wait, this wasn't. "Mulder? Mulder I know you can't hear me, but I'm feeling really down about you getting hurt."

This was the real Scully speaking. He kept his eyes shut, not wanting her to know he was eavesdropping on her private conversation with his unconsciousness. She continued, "There has to be more to life.more than this.more than being hurt over and over again, physically and emotionally. I hope when you come out of this." her voice broke, and he had to control his facial muscles to prevent a frown from surfacing. ".I hope we can get closer, and that we can talk about a safer life. At least get closer, so I don't feel so alone all the time."

She stopped. The pain in his side was growing again, and he didn't want her to know he was awake just yet, so he wandered back into sleep.


She had fallen asleep in her chair, but a shuffling noise woke her. She opened her eyes to see Mulder looking at her. "Mulder." She went to his bed, sitting herself gently down next to him.

"How do you feel?"

"I'm okay," he said softly. He was seeking her eyes with his, trying to get her to return the gaze. She gave in, looking him in the eyes. "How are you?" he asked.

"I'm fine. After I shot Jackson, the police took Marcia in for questioning. I don't know what's going to happen to her, but I could tell it was her, and not Rusty. Unfortunately, Jackson didn't make it." She had a feeling that wasn't what he was looking for when he asked the question.

"Scully, is there something bothering you?"

"Well, a little bit. It kind of bothers me that you were injured. But we shouldn't be talking about this right now. You should be resting now. Don't worry about me. I'll be fine."

"You sure?"

She gave him a reassuring smile. "I'm just happy that you're okay." She grabbed his hand and sat with him for a while.

After she convinced herself he was going to be okay, she dismissed herself. "I'll be back in a little bit. There's someone else I have to see." He nodded, knowingly.


Scully entered Misty's room with some trepidation. She wasn't exactly sure why she was doing this. Maybe just to foreclose any possibilities.

Misty was awake, reading a book, when she walked in. "I'm so sorry about Jackson," she offered. "I hope you understand why I did what I did. I didn't want to, you know."

To her surprise, Misty smiled. "I know. You were just protecting your partner. It's okay. Jackson is still with me right now. He will be for a while, and then he'll disappear into the spirit world."

Scully managed a weak smile and a nod. "Do you know why I'm here?"

She felt she must look rather sheepish right now. "I know. Come, over here. Have a seat." Misty pointed at the chair next to her bed.

After Scully sat down, Misty said, "It helps if you grab my hand." She complied. "Now close your eyes. Good. I'm going to be silent for a few minutes, just to wait for the spirit to come to me."

Scully kept her eyes closed in the silence, thinking about how silly they must look. She was about to call it quits, when suddenly she heard a small voice.

"Mommy?" She gasped. She was sure it wasn't the sound of Misty's voice. She decided to open her eyes to see if there was anyone else in the room. Misty was sitting in the same spot on the bed, her eyes closed. But beside her, there was a small blond-haired girl, about three years old. She wasn't solid, though-Scully could see the table behind her showing through. 'Oh my God,' she thought. "Emily." She said the name out loud.

"Mommy don't be scared."

"Emily?" she asked again, in amazement. "I thought it would be."

Anticipating her question, the girl answered, "Missy's okay. She's somewhere else. She told me you didn't need any help, that you were okay."

"Why are you here, then, Sweetie?" Hot tears stung her face.

"Because I don't feel like you're okay. I was scared about you. I'm scared that I won't see you again."

"Why?" she asked, still in shock.

"I don't think you're going to come here, where I am. Not for a long, long time, if ever."

"Oh, Sweetie, of course I will. I'm human. I have to die sometime."

"But you missed it. It left you behind."

"What did?"

"Death."

A shiver ran through her body. Now she remembered-the incident in Alfred Fellig's apartment, when he had told her to look away from death. Was it possible? Was she immortal?

"I swear, I will find a way to see you again. Don't worry, Baby." She didn't even notice the tears anymore.

"Mommy, there's something else."

"What is it?"

"You have to save them. Only you and Mulder can do it."

"Save who?" But she had a feeling she already knew the answer.

"The people still on earth."

"Save them from who?"

"From the bad people. They say they're God. But they're not God, Mommy, I know they're not. They know how you were made, but they didn't make you."

"Emily?" She was beginning to fade. "Emily, tell me more."

"I have to go Mommy. I love you!"

"I love you too." Then she was gone.

Misty opened her eyes. Scully sat there in silence, reliving the conversation over and over in her head so she wouldn't forget it. She looked at Misty, inquiring, "Is she right? Am I immune from death?"

Misty's hesitation confirmed her suspicions. "I'm sorry," she said. "I can't sense your death in the future. It's beyond my perception." Reassuringly, she said, "But we make our own futures, our own destinies, you know. You can change it."

Somehow it didn't help much. Even if she could change it, it would take a lot of work, possibly for decades, even centuries. She recalled the lengths Alfred Fellig had gone to in order to win his death, chasing after it with his camera.

She said goodbye to Misty, then wandered the halls of the hospital to think. She found an empty waiting room on that same floor, and paced back and forth.

She could feel depression setting in. Had she wasted her entire life? Sure, she had helped humanity, but what about her humanity?

She thought back on the major events of her life: She had studied her life away when she was younger, not allowing herself to enjoy herself or pursue anything personally fulfilling. She had sheltered herself from the companionship of others. She had taken this job with the FBI, only to risk life and limb every day. And for what?

She leaned her back against a wall, then slid down it so that she was sitting on the floor, wrapping her arms around her knees. For what, exactly? What was she getting out of all of this? Certainly not a normal life like everyone else. Sure, she had enough money, but money was only fulfilling if it could be shared, or at least used to pursue a personal life. She had no husband, no house, no close friends, no children.

She rested her head on her knees. She was past the thirty-year-old point now. Who would love her? Who would marry her? Mulder? It had taken six years just to get him to kiss her. How much longer would it take for him to marry her? He would probably be dead before then.

And what about children? She was barren. Her womanhood had been sacrificed to some government plot. Just when she had found out she was a mother, her only child was taken away from her by death. And now she would never have more. She would live for all eternity, no children, no one to love her, forever wishing death would whisk her away so she could see Emily again.

She was too depressed to even cry. She rocked herself back and forth, gripping her knees, turning her head so that her cheek was now resting on her knees. She didn't care who saw her like this. She didn't care anymore.about anything. Fuck the FBI. Fuck Mulder.


Mulder painfully sat up in bed. He hated laying here. He was going to go to Misty's room, impress Scully with his improvement.

He slowly made his way down the hall. He reached Misty's room and found it devoid of any signs of Scully. Misty turned her head toward him. "She's not here. She was, but she left."

Amazing how this woman could sense so many things. "What did she talk to you about?"

"She wanted some answers in her life. She saw her daughter."

"Emily?" Now he frowned at her. "You know, some things are better left alone."

He walked down to one end of the hall, then turned around and walked toward the other end. She had been feeling down already. Emily probably only released even more negative emotions. He saw a waiting room at the end of the hall. He headed towards it.


'Maybe I should test the theory,' she thought. If she tried to kill herself, she would know for sure, one way or another. She was aware of her gun hugging her side. What did she have to lose? If she didn't die, there was no harm done. If she did, well, it wouldn't be a big surprise to anyone, considering her line of work. They were all prepared for the possibility anyway.

She lifted her head, and removed her gun from its holster. She knew it was loaded. She lifted the barrel to her head, and stuck her finger on the trigger. She wasn't even shaking. No fear entered her mind. She shut her eyes. 'Goodbye world.' She started to squeeze the trigger.

Just before the bang that almost shattered her eardrums, something slammed into her wrist, deflecting her arm. It was Mulder's foot. She screamed at him, "WHY DID YOU DO THAT!!!" She knew the question was ridiculous, but she was furious that she couldn't end this paralyzing misery.


The pain from seeing what he had just witnessed was much greater than the physical pain he was experiencing from the stab wounds. Several medical personnel ran to the door, then stopped when they saw the gun her hand.

"It's okay," he said to them. "She's an FBI agent. She won't hurt anyone." 'Except herself,' he thought. He turned his attention to her. "Give me the gun Scully." He couldn't believe it was still in her hand after the force he had used to kick it.

She merely glared at him, her gun-yielding hand resting on the floor now. "Come on, please don't make me bend down-it hurts too much."

Without looking at him, she lifted her hand and gave him the gun. Relieved hospital personnel rushed in, along with a security guard. He asked them to stay back until he could talk to her for a few minutes. He knew this was a delicate situation-if they whisked her away to some padded room, or worse-a jail cell, it would only make things worse.

"Scully, I can't sit down there. Can you please come sit with me on that couch over there?" She hesitated, as if considering whether she had better options or not. Reluctantly, she got up and walked to the couch. Slowly, painfully, he followed her to the couch and sat next to her. Her eyes were wide, like it had suddenly occurred to her what she had just tried to do.

He wasn't sure how to approach this situation. He knew she needed his help, but he knew she wouldn't accept his help sometimes, because she didn't want to reveal her weaknesses to him. "What's going on in there, Scully?" he began, staring at her face. "What is it that would bring you to this point?" He spoke as gently as he could.

She was slow to answer. She sighed several times, then said, "It's not just one thing, Mulder. It's everything. I saw Emily. I can't explain it, but I did. When I saw her, I realized how much I wanted children, but my time is up for that. Even if I was married, or I could bear children, my career is not suitable for them." She paused. "It's just.it's just that I have no personal life. All I have is the X-files, and that's no life. That's just constant frustration and pain, from being hurt, from you being hurt." Mulder was surprised that she had told him this much.

Now she rested her elbow on her knee and propped her forehead on her hand. Her look was complete despair. "I have nothing to live for, yet I'm doomed to live forever."

Ignoring her "forever" remark for the moment, he said, "Nothing to live for? I thought I meant something to you."

Without raising her head, she said, "Yeah, but I feel like we'll never move our relationship forward. Will it take another seven years for us to kiss again?"

"I'm sorry, Scully. I didn't realize our relationship, or lack of it I should say, was affecting you this much. I'm ready to step it up too, you know."

Now she leaned back. "But even that, Mulder, even that does me no good if you die and I live." Her face turned wet and shiny with the release of tears.

"Wait. Does this have something to do with your statement before about living forever? What do you mean?"

She told him what happened with Alfred Fellig that fateful night. "That's why I did it, Mulder. I just had to find out if I would spend an eternity away from Melissa, away from Emily, away from.you, eventually." She leaned into his shoulder and began to sob.

He hugged her close and placed his free hand on her face, stroking her cheek and her hair. "It's okay, Scully. We'll find a way out of this-together." As her body continued to rock with sobs, he held her tight.

When she calmed down a little, he continued. "Listen, I want you to know-I'll be with you no matter what. I want to help you through this, okay? I think you probably already realize this, but I care about you very much. Please, Scully, don't do this alone. You'll hurt me as much as you hurt yourself." With that, he kissed her lightly on the forehead. "Do you think you'll be okay now?"

She nodded, her face still contorted from crying. "I think there are some people who are going to want to talk to you now. You ready for that?"

She nodded again, and stood up. She helped him up, and they walked with their arms around each other towards the door, where several people were waiting. He released her to the security guard and a nurse, and didn't see her again until the next day, when he was released from the hospital.


*

Ten days later, Scully was lying on a lounge chair on the sands of Ponce Inlet, a secluded beach south of Daytona Beach. She was wearing a bikini and sunglasses, basking in the sun, listening to the waves rolling gently to the shore. She turned her head as she sensed movement to her right. Through wind-blown wisps of red hair, she could see the figure of a man in swim trunks approaching her, holding something in his arms. She knew the man was Mulder.

As he got closer, she could see the thing in his arms wiggling. She sat up. She smiled when she saw that he was holding a golden retriever puppy. He smiled in return, dumping the pup in her arms when he reached her. "Oooh!" she cooed. "He's so cute!"

"She," he corrected. "Better think of a name, because she's yours."

She flashed another smile at him. "I'll call her.Casper." They grinned at each other, knowing why she had chosen the name. Casper reached up and licked her on the face, provoking laughter.

Scully put Casper on the ground and ran around, letting the puppy chase her. She tripped and fell into the sand, and Casper used the opportunity to begin another licking attack on Scully's face. Scully giggled in return, halfheartedly attempting to fend the dog off.

Mulder was glad to see her spirits lifted, in the figurative sense of the term. This vacation had done her a world of good, and they had had a chance to talk about a lot of things that had previously been taboo subjects.

He watched as she pulled herself to her feet and ran towards the ocean, Casper chasing her until she reached the water, where Casper stopped for fear of the waves. Mulder couldn't help but watch her breasts bouncing as she leaped into the water. The urge to follow her overcame him, and he ran to catch up to her. Once he reached her, he threw his arms around her in the warm water. In return, she splashed him, and they laughed and continued to play.

END

Author's Notes: Thank you for reading the whole story. Just a few words about the actual place called Cassadaga and the serial killer in the story.

I visited Cassadaga, Florida in 1989 when I lived in Daytona Beach. My then-boyfriend (now husband) and I were driving down the road and we saw a sign advertising the place. We were compelled to the town full of mediums. We visited the hotel and the church, and then took a walk through the town. Much of the description of Cassadaga is based on my memory of it. The rest came from research. If I got something wrong, please forgive me-like I said, it's been over ten years since I was there. What I remember the most was how eerie the town felt. If you have an opportunity, please visit.

The serial killer in the story is based on real-life serial killer Daniel Rolling. Rolling suffered child abuse throughout his childhood, then became a criminal. In 1990 he killed five young people, mostly women, in Gainesville, Florida. Most of his victims were stabbed to death and mutilated in some fashion (nipples cut off, head removed, etc.). Some were raped. Rolling eluded the police, who had a different suspect, until he was caught for robbery. The police then linked the killings in Gainesville to three earlier murders in Shreveport, Louisiana, Rolling's hometown. Rolling was convicted at trial and sentenced to death in Florida, where, as far as I know, he is still awaiting his execution. If anyone has an update on this, please let me know.




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