Title: Daybreak 3. Darkest Hour
inspired by: "When the Bough Breaks" by Jennifer Frye(LFrye123@aol.com)

Author: Annie Jennings(Auralissa@aol.com)
Disclaimer: Okay. This is my third story. You know what? I still don't have any permission from Chris Carter to use the characters of Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, Walter Skinner, Frohike, Langly, Byers, Mrs. Scully, Mrs. Mulder, or even Cancer Man and the evil<g> Marita Corruvbias. But since some rules were made to be broken, I'm using them anyway. I also had no rights to the following musical selections: "Stroke of Luck", by Garbage; "When Angels Cry", by Janis Ian; "Lay Down Your Arms"; "Memory", from "Cats"; "Jesse", by Janis Ian, and "Because You Loved Me", by Celine Dion.
Rating: Due to some violent content, adult language, and adult situations, this story is rated PG-13. Also, may I please say that is a relationship-oriented story. If that kind of thing just makes you say "Oh, good Lord, not another one...", then stop your reading right now.

Summary: As the dusk fell in a fire of violence, Agents Mulder and Scully fought to save their child. Then, in the dead of night, they illuminated the sky with their love. Now, in that dark, black hour just before dawn, they will embark on the most horrible journey yet-- the search for the truth.

About the story: This story is the third and final(so far) story in my "Daybreak" trilogy. If you have not read the first two, you might not understand this last one. Sorry. I did not, not, not see "Leonard Betts" or "Momento Mori" when I started this story. Of course, now I have seen them, and I decided that people would have to live with the similarities, because I was not going to change my storyline. So there.

This is an alternate theory to Scully's abduction. Now, of course, I know that I am wrong. But hey, there's that old saying that the longest river in the world is denial, and my theory is that if that's true, then you can swim in it forever. So, grab your Speedo or your swimsuit and jump in before I face reality(which is kind of ironic because this show isn't real and that puts that Alanis Morrisette song in my head again, but that's okay because that's a good song and hey, I'm rambling like Ellen does on her show except that I'm not a lesbian but that's her personal choice and God makes us all differently and uniquely and we should respect that unless you're an aethiest or you listen to Marilyn Manson, and what is their problem...)

Run-on sentences rule.

You will have to excuse any medical, technical, or scientific inaccuracies. I am only fifteen, and I'm doing the best I can, okay?

This story gets half credit from Jennifer Frye, whose story "When the Bough Breaks" inspired this entire trilogy. My intense and wonderful thanks go to her, for daring to dream.

3131 Mockingbird Lane
Rochester, New York 7:09 PM, 1993

Suzanne Brinkley sighed, and wiped the perspiration off of her brow. She was getting cold and tired, and was getting worried about her sons. "Michael! Allen!" she called again, leaning on the broom she held in her hand. "Boys! It's late, get in the house!"

All up and down the streets of the suburban neighborhood, there was only silence. She took the kerchief off of her auburn hair, and tapped her sneakered foot on the front porch. "Michael! Allen!" she yelled. "Get in the house, or you're going to be grounded!"

In the bushes in the neighbor's yard, Michael Brinkley giggled. "She's really getting mad," he whispered to his younger brother. Allen Brinkley smirked.

"Hey, Mike, what if we do get grounded?" he asked, worried.

Mike shrugged it off. "Nah, we'll just say that we couldn't hear her. She never punishes you, anyway." He grinned wickedly. "Mama's boy!"

Allen pouted. "Am not!" he protested. Mike nodded.

"Are too!"

The boys bickered aimlessly, and neither noticed that the sky was beginning to grow darker with something unnatural, and something foreign. The wind picked up speed, and blew around the dead, crisp leaves of autumn and winter. Suzanne shivered, gooseflesh rising on her slim arms. "Boys! It's going to storm!" she tried again.

Allen looked up from his hiding place with his brother, and back at Mike. "Mike, Mom's right. We should go inside," he said, but Mike shook his head, dangerously.

"Just a little longer, Allen," he said. "Just a little..."

There was a bright flash of white light, and the earth rocked beneath them both. Allen screamed, and Mike held tightly to his little brother, clutching to the boy in fear. "MOM! MOM!" Allen cried.

Then, it all stopped. The wind ceased to blow, and once again, the sky over the two boys was clear. Allen and Mike ran out from their hiding place to the place where their mother once stood.

Suzanne Brinkley was gone. All that was left was a broom and a kerchief. Mike started to cry, and Allen, left alone with the realization that his mother had disappeared, dully walked into the deserted street, looking up at the sky.


"I peered through windows
Watched life go by
Dreamed of tomorrow
But stayed inside
The past was holding me
Keeping life at bay
I wandered lost in yesterday
Wanting to fly, but scared to try...
"Then someone like you
Found someone like me
And suddenly
Nothing is the same
My heart's taken wing
And I feel so alive
Since someone like you
Found me
"It's like you took my dreams
Made each one real
You reached inside of me
And made me feel
And now I see a world
I've never seen before
Your love has opened every door
You've set me free, now I can soar
"For someone like you
Found someone like me,
You touched my heart
Nothing is the same
There's a new way to live
A new way to love
Since someone like you found me
"Oh, someone like you
Found someone like me
And suddenly, nothing will ever be the same
My heart's taken wing
And I feel so alive
Cause someone like you loves me,
Loves me..."
-- "Someone Like You"

Jekyll and Hyde

Dana Katherine Scully sighed as she sat down in the old, worn, and familiar chair in the office. The papers stacked on the desk seemed a mile high, and she felt like she didn't have the strength to stand up and, heaven forbid, do her job.

She closed her eyes, deciding that a few minutes of rest weren't really going to hurt. She hadn't had much sleep in the last couple of months. Every time she dozed off, she would be started awake.

It wasn't the baby... on the contrary, she would be rejoicing if her son was crying in the middle of the night. That only added to her mountain of anxieties. Christopher Ahab, child born of lies and deception, was still silent and uncaring.

It was her dreams. Those disturbing, unsettling nightmares that forced her to stir from slumber in the middle of the night and shake for hours on end. The dreams about her abduction.

She hadn't told her partner about them. She didn't know why she hadn't, for they concerned him as much as her.

And she did trust him explicitly. But something kept her from spilling her thoughts.

Scully jumped when she felt warm, gentle hands on her shoulders, near the base of her neck. She spun around in her chair to find the handsome, smirking face of Fox William Mulder looking down on her, his hands caressing her skin. "Tense?" he asked, teasingly, his voice deep and rich. She sighed, and leaned back in the chair.

"A little," she admitted. He rubbed the back of her neck, massaging the stiff, tight muscles. She closed her eyes, and let the ends of her short, silky, red hair dance over the back of his hands like feathers. Mulder put a kiss on the top of her head, and she opened her eyes, smiling up at him.

"Mulder, you must be some kind of genie," she stated.

"You always pop up whenever I want you."

Mulder chuckled, and leaned down into her face, touching the tip of his nose to hers. "Your wish is my command," he murmured.

She shook her head, and stood up, shaking Mulder's hands off of her back. She turned to him, and picked up a file from the top of the stack, handing it to him. "As tempting as that sounds, we have work to do," she reminded. Mulder groaned, and sat down at his desk, propping his feet on the messy surface.

"You had to remind me," he said. She nodded, and he picked up a pencil, absently twirling it in his long fingers.

"Well, what does Skinner want to toss us into now?"

She sat down in the chair, and crossed her well-shaped, slender legs at the knees, drawing Mulder's attention.

"Skinner wants to meet with us today," she said, filling the air with tension and dread. Mulder leaned forward, taking her hands in his.

"You don't think that he knows?" he asked. Months ago, after their return from Charleston, they had both decided that it would be best to keep their affair secret, and not to tell Skinner that they were seeing each other romantically.

They were both aware of the disapproval the Bureau cast upon agents that were also romantically involved, and the Bureau already had enough disapproval for them. Scully could almost laugh at how odd that was. Dana Katherine Scully, Little Miss Goody-Two-Shoes, having a secret romance. So secret that only Scully's mother knew. No one else did, though there was the usual amount of rumors in the Bureau. The two hadn't even told Mulder's mother, or the Lone Gunmen. Mulder would tease her about breaking Frohike's heart, to which Scully would roll her eyes.

Scully shook her head. "I don't know how he could," she assured. "But it's never safe to tell..."

Mulder sighed, the tension relaxing a little. "I hate sneaking around like this," he admitted. "It doesn't make things easier on either one of us."

"I know," she comforted. "I hate it, too. But we have to stay together, for the sake of our work. And you know just as well as I do that these men are just dying for a reason to separate us."

Mulder nodded, musing over the irony. "And these are the same men that put us together."

She brought his hands to her cheek, loving the feel of his hands on her skin. "Perhaps that's the one good thing that they have ever done," she said, softly. Mulder stroked the side of her face, tenderly, and she kissed his palm, her lipstick leaving a faint rose-colored stain.

"You still know what it takes, Dana Katherine, to make a man love you," he said, drawing out the syllables of her middle name. It was something that he often did, and something that she adored.

"It doesn't take much to make me love you," she responded, and he leaned forward to kiss her on the mouth, heatedly leaving her breathless and wanting more.

She sighed, reluctantly pulling away from his face, and he leaned back in his seat. "We're going to be late for the meeting," she said, softly, guardedly. He stood up, straightened his tie, and put on his suit jacket. He then offered an arm to her, which she was forced to decline.

For the sake of the truth, she reminded herself, though it took none of the pain away.

Skinner looked up sternly at the two agents that walked through his door, cool, calm and collected on the outside, but there was something different about the two of them that had occurred in the past ten months. Something odd and unusual. He was overreacting, he assured himself.

They're also parents now, too. But that element in itself worried him. They would have to grow closer for the sake of the child, and that could lead to something completely out of place. And Skinner had heard the rumors...

The Bureau had strict policies about agents getting too personally involved. At first, he thought that he would never have to think about that occurring between these two.

They were total opposites.

Opposites attract, Walter, he reminded himself.

Mulder and Scully sat down across from him, and Skinner cleared his throat, his tone gruff. "We've received something that may interest you," he said, and Scully raised one perfect auburn eyebrow, interested.

"Sir?" she asked. Skinner picked up a file from his desk.

"About five months ago, Deirdre Milligan disappeared from her home in Rochester, New York. She was reported missing, but it was accounted to a teen runaway scenario.

She had been involved with drug rings, and gang violence."

Mulder didn't follow the track that he was getting on to.

"Sir, I don't see what this has to do with my partner and I, "

he interrupted. Skinner gave him a severe glare, and Mulder closed his mouth.

"Ms. Milligan was found in a ditch, nude, and comatose about a month ago. There were unexplained wounds to her abdomen and sexual organs, and she had lost a serious amount of blood. She has regained consciousness, and has no memory of her experiences. She suffers from severe amnesia, and cannot even remember her own name." He sat back and looked at the two agents. Scully spoke up.

"Sir, I agree with Agent Mulder," she said, her voice reserved. "These seem like matters for the local police, not for the F.B.I."

Mulder started to shake his head. "No, wait," he protested.

"These sound like the symptoms that abductees report."

Scully rolled her eyes. Even though she loved him, she could never understand why he seemed to always look for exactly what he wanted, and never what else there was.

"The two of you will be sent to investigate as soon as possible," he finished. "But the Rochester airport has been closed down due to a blizzard. You'll have to wait until it opens up again."

Skinner looked over the two for a moment, and he narrowed his eyes, silently observing something rose-colored on Mulder's long-fingered, elegant hands. His eyes must be deceiving him, for that looked like a lipstick stain. And Scully's make-up was smudged... were her lips slightly swollen from kisses?

He shook his head, and stood up. "Dismissed," he said, shortly, and the two agents quickly escaped from Skinner's watchful eyes.

Apartment of Fox Mulder
Alexandria, Virginia
8:09 PM

Mulder relaxed on to the couch, holding his son in his lap.

Christopher was silent, and Mulder looked upon the child with sad eyes. Scully was sitting on the floor, her hand absently stroking her baby's back. Christopher's face held no fear for her now, no sadness or regret in the face of a child born of a union that could never exist.

Scully finally stood up, and went to the comfortable chair that, over time, had become hers. She picked up the file on Deirdre Milligan, and started to read it over, putting her wire-rimmed glasses on her nose.

Mulder picked up the child, and put him in his crib.

Christopher looked up at Mulder silently for a moment, studying the now-familiar face of his father, then went to sleep. Mulder sighed, still frustrated.

Over the past months, he and Scully had taken the baby to every single doctor and therapist in the city, and even pulled some strings to take him to doctors elsewhere. Still, despite hours of counseling and tests, he would not respond. Mulder tried not to let Scully know it, but secretly, it broke his heart. Would the boy go through his entire life never speaking to anyone?

Scully looked up from her work, and put down the file.

"You're pacing again," she observed. "You only pace when you're worried or nervous. What is it now?"

He arched his eyebrows at her. "Is that a professional opinion, Dr. Scully?" he said, trying to hide his anguish behind sarcasm. She shook her head, and took off her glasses.

"No," she said, her voice soft and hushed, in that tender tone that was irresistible for Mulder. "It's my personal opinion and something that I know about you."

He sighed, and sat down. "Scully, do you ever regret deciding never to look at those files?"

After they had returned from Charleston, the two agents had agreed not to open up the files or look at what they had until Christopher was better. They could not risk his mental health, which was already so unstable and unsure. So, they had put the disks away, hidden tightly.

Scully looked down, her hands working nervously, and they fluttered, like two slender white butterflies, up to her crucifix necklace, tangling and untangling the delicate gold chain. Mulder watched her hands in fascination as he exercised his own nervous habit of endlessly walking the circumference of his apartment.

"Well, I sometimes do and I sometimes don't," she replied, her response cagey. He nodded.

"I sometimes wonder if the cure to Christopher's illness is in those files," he mused. She looked up, sharply.

"Mulder, you know as well as I do that the only cure to Christopher's 'illness' is love and stability." He shook his head, stuffing his hands into his pants pockets.

"But we have given him love, more love than I thought that I ever had," he replied. "And we have given him some form of stability. Scully, what if the only way to save his sanity is to endanger our lives? Wouldn't you do it for your own child?"

His questions were, as usual, thought-provoking and unsettling. She took in a deep breath, and carefully phrased her response.

"Yes. You know that I would die for our son. I would easily put my life on the line for anyone I loved. Including you.

But what would it accomplish if the truth about him wasn't in there?" she pointed out. Mulder stopped his pacing, and turned to face her.

"But how do we know if it is or isn't until we look?" he retorted. She sighed.

"Let's just drop it, Mulder," she said. "I have something here that you might be interested in."

He walked to her side, and leaned over her shoulder, his breath falling on her skin. She used her pen to point out the highlighted areas on the file. "Deirdre Milligan showed up in the same condition as I did when I was returned from my abduction. She also shares the same afflictions that I did.

Two other women in Rochester, New York, have had the same conditions and the same experiences."

Mulder shook his head. "That's impossible, Scully. We would have gotten a file on multiple abductions..."

"But we didn't ever get a file on the Allentown women, did we?" she argued. "And yet they were probably used in the same tests." He sat down on the floor, crouched next to her, his hand reflexively going to her knee.

"You know, what is so puzzling is that we only hear of the abducted women," he murmured, his hand gently stroking her leg. "What about the men that were used? It takes two to tango."

She tried very hard to ignore his touch, and stayed focused on the case. "Well, the men didn't have to be taken for as long of a period as time as the women did. You were only gone for twelve hours, at the most. Also, you remember nothing of what happened to you. With the women, we are looking at an abduction time of an average of four and a half to five months, which is another disturbing time because a child's development takes at least nine months.

And we never have had any reason to believe that these children have any physical problems."

Mulder nodded, and moved his hand to her thigh. "This is only more the reason to open up these files and see what is going on."

She moaned, frustrated by his persistence and his sensuality, and stood up. "Mulder, I am going to tell you this for the last time. The truth does not necessarily rest in those damned computer disks."

He sighed, and put the discarded file on the table. "Well, we have another week or so before we can even get into Rochester. Already, we're arguing. Would you take this as a good sign?"

She sighed as well, and went to him, putting her arms around him. How could he possibly know that the reason that she was so upset about this new case was due to these disturbing dreams of hers? How she was strewn out on the lab table, like a biology project, and she was unable to do anything to protect her own body? How he was always out of reach, and how she couldn't even cry tears of self-pity for herself as the humiliations mounted?

"I'm sorry," she whispered into his hair, and he held her tightly.

"It's all right," he whispered back. She could not fool him.

He knew that there was something bothering Dana Scully, but he didn't know what. All he knew was that it kept her apart from everyone and everything but her job and her work.

And that included him.

New York City
2:30 AM
Thursday, December 11

The smoking man put down the copy of the file on Deirdre Milligan. It was all coming back to him now. He would have to start the deaths and the killings again. Now was the time to put the plan in action.

He inhaled on the cigarette.

Oh, well.

He looked over at the obese man beside him. "And Mulder and Scully have this file?" he asked. The obese man nodded.

"They have this file, and it would be safe to assume that they can draw their conclusion about the relation between the woman and the project."

The smoking man nodded. "And do you still have our insurance?" he asked a British man. The man nodded as well, and folded his well-manicured hands on the table.

"Indeed we do... indeed we do..."


From the diary of Jesse Ann Phillips

December 10

Maybe Auntie Helen is right. Maybe I am only fooling myself. She says that I never came to terms about Mom and Rob, not to mention Joe and Alex. She's right about Mom. I don't think that I ever got over the fact that she's dead because of me. And she's right about Rob. He was irritating, and he was whiny. But he was my brother. And Alex, too, for she was my confidante and my best friend.

And, of course, Joe as well, for he was the only love that I knew. I don't think that I will ever have another one after him.

"When a great tragedy occurs, people tell others that they have to go on with their lives. They have to live on, for that is what the deceased would want them to do. And so, that is what I have done. Only, I think that I took that piece of advice to the extreme, and I never reflected on the memories of the dead. I never took the time to sit down and weep the tears of remorse for my family and for my friends.

"I did love them. I did care about them. But there was so much chaos and so much left to do that I assumed that I had to detach myself from the mayhem and from the maelstrom of despair, and continue on. And it is never a good or healthy thing to deceive one's self about something so important.

"When I started this diary today, I thought that maybe this would help me be able to return to how horrible that time was. I thought that I could be able to return to the time when I needed to mourn, and do so in these pages. I thought that I could be able to fill up these pages of this journal with my slightly sloppy handwriting, and in the process, fill up this journal with my inhibitions. But it's not that easy.

"I have a good life here in Rochester. I have an aunt that tries her hardest to make ends meet, and I have my band. I am able to continue with my musical career. But I am no longer Jesse Phillips. Thanks to the Federal Witness Protection Program, I am Anya Karen Barrett. I am no longer the sloe-eyed, sly, tomboy that I was once. Now, I am supposed to be the vivacious, sultry singer for 'Sculpted Angels'.

"I know that by writing this, I am violating the rules of the Witness Protection program, but I have to tell the truth. The truth is what is important. It is liberation. Liberation from tyrants and from dictators. I recall the dream I had of Alexandra the night my mother and brother were killed.

Her last words to me then had been 'And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free'. In this journal, I promise myself that the truth about all of the wrongs, all of the injustice, shall be known. Damned with all of the personal consequences and risks. I serve a greater cause. I serve the people, and the only way for the people to stop their opressors is to know that they are being opressed.

And, perhaps, somewhere in the process of writing this journal, I can find enough time to mourn for the opression against me.


"God, I feel like hell tonight Tears of rage I cannot fight I'd be the last to help you understand Are you strong enough to be my man?

"Nothing's true and nothing's right So let me be alone tonight You can't change the way I am Are you strong enough to be my man?

"Lie to me I promise, I'll believe Lie to me But please, don't leave

"I have a face I cannot show Make the rules up as I go It's try and love me if you can Are you strong enough to be my man?

"When I've shown you that I just don't care When I'm throwing punches in the air When I'm broken down and cannot stand Could you be man enough to be my man?

"Lie to me I promise, I'll believe Lie to me But please, don't leave" --Sheryl Crow "Strong Enough", Tuesday Night Music Club, 1993

Apartment of Fox Mulder
Alexandria, Virginia 4:56am

She was all alone. Alone, in this cold, unfeeling room, with nobody who gave a damn whether she lived or died.

Dana Scully was afraid. She was very afraid. She had no one to turn to, no one who would or could help her.

She tried to speak, and found that her voice had returned. She formed her dry lips, and with all of her might, spoke the one word that she thought could help her.


But he wasn't there. He didn't come. Tears finally came to her eyes, and they streamed down her cheeks, in wet ravines. He was gone, and she was all alone. Mulder was alive, and she would soon be dead.

She felt a warm hand touch hers. "It's all right," she heard a feminine voice whisper. The voice was soothing, and calming. The voice had no hint of fear or death in it. "You won't die."

Scully used all of her energy to turn her head, and looked at the pale, skeletal face of a once-beautiful brunette lying on a metal cot, much like the one Dana herself was strapped to. The woman was scantily clothed, and she had a great, swollen belly. How could such an emaciated, starving woman have a stomach so huge? Scully's voice returned, and she kept it in hushed tones.

"Who are you?" she asked, her voice ragged and wispy. It felt as though she had not used it in so long... the woman clutched Scully's hand in her own thin, spindly one.

"I can't say... you can call me Angel," she replied. Scully was confused as to why the woman could not give out her real name, but decided not to ask too many questions.

"Why are we here?" she asked, her voice feeling a little better. Angel nodded, her great green eyes enormous in her shrunken features. Dana wondered if she, too, looked like Angel. She could not remember the last time she had eaten, or the last time anyone had let her walk. She could remember very little.

"There is no reason," she answered. "Perhaps if there was a logical explanation, I might feel better. But we have no purpose being here."

Scully accepted this, having no other choice. Either accept the fact that her pain was unjust, or be mentally stressed as well as physically stressed. She just nodded, and let it be.

Then, a shadow was cast over the women, and Angel's hand fell away from Scully's grasp. Angel looked up at the shadow in fear, and Scully looked up as well...

Scully awoke, her eyes wide and alert. "Angel," she whispered into the curve of Mulder's arm. He did not stir, lost in the realm of dreams. Her lips moved against his skin, but he was not aware of her words.

There was something warm on his skin as well... something red and warm... was he bleeding? She sat up, only to find that the blood on his arm came steadily from her nose.

With a trembling hand, she touched the warm liquid on her upper lip, and slowly, as not to disturb Mulder, slipped out of the bed and walked into the bathroom.

She turned on the light and gasped. In the mirror, she saw that she had blood on her face, as well as her nightgown. How long had her nose been bleeding? She quickly grabbed tissues, and attempted to stop the nosebleed. The tissues all-too-swiftly turned soggy from the blood, and she had to throw them away.

Eventually, the flow slowed, and she could clean up her face and clothing. She had just finished changing into her robe, when she cried out. Pain stabbed her in the abdomen, and she doubled over, clutching tightly to the side of the sink. Tears poured down her face, and she grabbed her stomach, fearful. Merciless cramps besieged her, until she was curled up in a ball on the floor, silently sobbing.

What was happening to her? Why was she now, of all times, suffering for the sins wrought upon her such a long time ago? Scully wrapped her arms around her torso in protection and pain, crying without making a sound.

J. Edgar Hoover Building
Washington, D.C.

Walter Skinner looked at the man who sat across from him. The man had a cigarette lit, and the Morley's smoke curled lazily around his old, ragged features.

"What you are suggesting is impossible. I cannot pull out the X-File on Deirdre Milligan. Even if I could, Agent Mulder and Agent Scully have already seen it, and I would highly doubt that they would let this go," Skinner said. The smoking man only stared at him.

"You are the authoritative figure, Mr. Skinner," he said. "Have you forgotten that? You decide what Agent Mulder and Agent Scully do and don't do."

"Of course I remember," he snapped at the smoking man, who was calm in spite of Skinner's words.

The smoking man raised an eyebrow, and smiled his lecherous, slippery smile. "It would appear that you have forgotten that you are of higher rank than they are, Mr. Skinner. I would suggest that you swiftly and silently regain your memory."

Regardless of the expensive rug beneath his feet, the man dropped his cigarette on the floor and stubbed it out, leaving Skinner agitated and curious. It was rare that the mysterious figure who had always haunted him would grow so concerned over one case.

He needed to know why.

Scully tried to keep her attention on the files in front of her, attempting to distract herself from the occurrences of last night. She had felt nothing more of the pain she had felt last night, and she had eventually gotten up off of the floor and back in bed. Yet she was afraid, afraid of what was happening to her body.

She was usually so healthy, too. What would cause her body to react that way? Stress? The dreams? She sighed, and put down her pen.

Mulder looked up from the file that he held. "Scully, are you all right?" he asked. She nodded, waving the inquiry off.

"Yeah, I'm fine... just a little disturbed by these medical reports," she said. It wasn't a complete lie. The medical reports were unsettling, for they greatly resembled her own condition when she had returned. She personally had no doubt that Deirdre Milligan had been taken to the same place that she had gone, and had undergone the same humiliating tests and experiments. But Deirdre Milligan had had some complications that Scully had never experienced. Hemorrhages, violent seizures, infertility...

The last complication worried her. Due to all of her trauma, and the tests that she had undergone, was Scully barren? Would she never have any more children other than her poor, lost son? The thought had crossed her mind on other occasions, but she had put it in the back of her head. At her age, she was unlikely to have a family, and she would never want her children to be endangered by her line of work.

But now, she did have dreams of tall, dark-haired boys and girls like Mulder, strong, intelligent, and ambitious, but cool and rational like herself. She didn't want to find out that all of her dreams and her hopes for a family would be vanquished by the sword of an uncaring human being.

Scully looked up at Mulder for a moment, closely examining his handsome face. She knew him so well... his dark, thoughtful, green eyes, his sensual, silky lips, his fine, soft brown hair that carelessly fell on his brow... what had happened to him during that period of time he was missing? What consequences would he pay?

Mulder looked up again, the light reflecting off of the flattering wire reading glasses that he wore. He furrowed his brow, looking at her, and she quickly averted her eyes. "Scully, what's wrong?" he asked, concern filling his deep, masculine tones. "First you act distracted, and now you keep staring at me."

Scully drummed her fingers absently on the papers before her. "The reports on Deirdre Milligan..." she murmured, carefully measuring her words. For some reason, she did not want him to know about the nosebleed she had had, or the severe cramps. "Her health is slowly deteriorating, for some unexplained reasons."

Mulder nodded, his eyes still worried. "And you think that this has something to do with her abduction experience..." he concluded. She looked him in the eyes.

"Yes, Mulder, I do. And..." Scully let her voice trail, and she shrugged. "I don't know. It bothers me. That's all."

Mulder leaned forward, and took her hand from the file. "You're worried that the same thing might happen to you," he realized. She nodded. That was the partial truth. She was worried because some of the things were starting to happen to her, and she didn't know how or why. "Go to a doctor. Get this checked out."

His solution was so simple. He couldn't see the fear in her heart, or the dread in her soul. Deep inside, Scully was beginning to confirm her suspicions, one by one, and hearing it from another would only make it real. She couldn't handle it at the moment. She needed it to stay in her head, when she could attribute it to paranoia or stress.

She smiled, shortly, not really meaning it, and he knew it. "Thanks," she said, tightly, and went back to highlighting the medical files.

Mulder knew that there was something else bothering her, and he wished that she wouldn't keep it all inside of her, where it would rot and fester until she would become so upset that she would explode. He opened his mouth, preparing to press her, but then decided that she would tell him in her own time.

And Mulder, too, was afraid of what that fear might be. Because if she died, he would not be able to go on living without her, and he couldn't bear it if she was no longer at his side.

The agents worked for hours, only stopping to get more coffee or to ask the other a question. Scully had racked her brain, remembering every single thing she could about medicine, trying to find a logical explanation for Deirdre Milligan's condition. She finally stood up, and took her coat.

"Mulder, I can't do anymore with this," she confessed, and he looked up. His hair was disheveled, and his tie loose. The disappointment on his face made her feel slightly guilty, but she remembered that this wasn't about him, it was about Deirdre. "I have a friend who's a specialist at the University of Maryland. I'm going to bring him these records and see if I can get a medical opinion."

He sighed, and reluctantly nodded. "Okay. Meet me here after you're done," he replied. She rocked on her heels.

"These files could take hours," she warned him. "I might not get out before midnight." He arched his eyebrows, and didn't change his mind.

"I'll be fine," he said. She arched hers back, and put her cellular phone in her trench coat pocket.

"Yeah, well, I might not be," she reminded. "For some odd reason, I actually require eight hours of sleep in order to function." Mulder shook his head, smiling to himself.

"You're one weird person, Dana Katherine," he said, and she walked to him, kissing the top of his head. He brought his hands to her hair, and tried to pull her face to his. She pulled away, hastily. Mulder seemed hurt.

"I think I'm coming down with something, and I don't want you to get sick," she covered. To tell the truth, she was hoping that she had caught the flu, and not what she suspected it was. He nodded, and his fingers played in her hair.

"Have you forgotten?" he teased. "I already am sick."

She rolled her eyes, but he brought a smile to her face. "Physically sick, Mulder. We all already knew that you were insane."

He smiled seductively, and she wished that she didn't have to go. She finally satisfied him with a brief kiss on the lips, and she walked to the door, leaving without a word.

University of Maryland 4:54pm

Dr. Brandon Haile shook Scully's hand, vigorously and warmly. "Dr. Scully, I presume," he said, his voice clipped with a British accent, and his jet black hair streaked with white at the temples. She smiled politely, and nodded.

"Yes," she confirmed. "I was looking for Dr. Richard Burke, the resident specialist in oncology."

Dr. Haile shook his head, still charming in his old-world ways. "I'm sorry, Ms. Scully, but Dr. Burke has gone to Los Angeles for a conference. I work rather closely with him, and when our secretary notified me that you had come, I recalled your name from Richard. He spoke very highly of you, if I do recall."

Scully was pleasantly surprised by the praise, and her eyebrows hiked to her hairline. "Really?"

The elder man nodded, and started to walk down the hallway. Scully followed at his side, toting the files in her arms. "Oh, indeed. He had quite a deal of respect for you, and a good deal of admiration. He did express some surprise at your field of work, but apparently you have been very successful. He never did tell me what you do, though. If you would ever be so kind as to inform me..."

She nodded, and looked at the kindly man beside her. "I'm a Special Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation," she explained. "I came to Richard with a case that, quite frankly, has me stumped. My specialty is forensic pathology, which doesn't help me that much in this case."

With a knowing look, Dr. Haile opened the door to his office, allowing Scully to enter. "I see... then perhaps I can be of some service to you."

She walked in, and he gestured to a mahogany and leather seat. The room had a charm and warmth that reminded her of her father, and the English doctor did as well. She sat down, and crossed her legs. "Perhaps..."

After Dr. Haile took a look at the medical records that she gave to him, he shook his head, amazed. "Exactly what do you do in the F.B.I. that would give you these kinds of files?" he asked.

"I work in a division of the Violent Crimes Section known as the X-Files," she said. "We deal in the paranormal and unexplained. My partner, Fox Mulder, and I received this case yesterday, and, to be perfectly frank, I can't make heads or tails of it. Apparently, the patient was taken from her home and returned five months later, comatose and suffering from various wounds to her internal and sexual organs." Dr. Haile pointed to a few notes in the files.

"Well, according to the file, the wounds should have been taken care of and well-healed," he said. "Why these new symptoms are showing up is extremely unusual... but the truly unsettling part is their origin... namely, I can't find any origin in nature that would comply with this one."

Scully was startled, and her heart skipped a beat. "Excuse me?" she asked. The doctor nodded, and showed her the files, pointing out the notes as he explained.

"The patient's early symptoms were ordinary enough, according to the family physician. She suffered from moderate to heavy nosebleeds, some cramps, and coughing fits. She started to lose weight in excess, dropping nineteen pounds in one week. Then, there seemed to be some early symptoms of cancer... anemia, some hair loss, problems with blood not clotting, unexplained bruises. But there were some abnormalities." Scully unconsciously began wringing her hands.

"The sores..." she murmured. Dr. Haile nodded.

"Normally, I might attribute that to the usual fever that is associated with the early stages of cancer, but these sores were not fever blisters. Look at the fluid found in the sores. The blood and pus samples were extremely abnormal. It's as though part of her DNA is missing.

"These sores were along her mouth and nose, and her abdomen was littered with a combination of the sores and some dark bruises," Dr. Haile went on. "Then, there are these odd sores on her vocal chords. These sores are different..."

Scully interrupted. "When I viewed the file, I put the sores with the violent fits of coughing that had been reported." Dr. Haile shook his head.

"I would, too, except that the nature of these sores is also abnormal, and there were already some sores from the fits," he disagreed. "No, the sores on the vocal chords would definitely be classified with the sores on the rest of her body.

"It says here that the patient was brought in to the hospital after hemorrhaging, and was sedated and treated. Now, here is where I start to worry." Dr. Haile put his hand to his chin, and scratched at the tiny beard that grew there. "The patient was released from the hospital after staying there for about a week and a half, being treated for her symptoms. But they did discover something extremely abnormal and terrifying when they did a CAT scan..."

Scully knew what was coming up. "This is where I can't draw anything else from the case," she said, her brow furrowing in frustration. Dr. Haile shook his head, putting on thin glasses.

"Well, Dr. Scully, I don't know who could..." he murmured. "The patient is suffering from something that resembles cancer. Do you, by chance, have the X-rays?"

Scully pulled the sheets from the medical file, and he walked to the display board, where he pinned them on and illuminated them. He gasped when he saw the readings. "My God..." he said, his eyes wide. "This woman is... ridden with these 'tumors'..."

Scully felt weak. Ridden with tumors that couldn't even be diagnosed... "What can you deduce?" she asked, hiding that note of fear under her calm, unwavering voice. Dr. Haile cleared his throat, and loosened his elegant tie.

"Not very much... only that the tumors are rapidly increasing in size and in quantity," he said, his voice hushed as he tried to think. "They first appeared in her kidneys, and seem to be spreading through her internal organs. I would give this patient very little time, and, I'm afraid, she will most likely spend her last days alive in a great deal of pain."

Scully's vision blurred for a moment, and she wanted to sit down. "How long would you give her?" she asked, dreading the answer. Dr. Haile turned off the light, and gave her back her X-rays.

"I would give the patient one month. Tops."

J. Edgar Hoover Building
Washington, D.C.

Mulder hummed to himself under his breath, as he hurriedly breezed through the file, marking here and circling there, taking detailed notes on a laptop computer while headphones blasted music into his ears.

He was oblivious when Skinner walked in his door, and took the headphones off. Mulder jumped, and looked up at Skinner with a surprised look on his face. "Sir?" he asked, feeling like a kid in high school who knows that he's done something wrong. Then, as that analogy ran through his head, he realized that he had being doing something very wrong with his partner. Oh, shit, he thought, he knows...

"Agent Mulder, I need to talk to you about the file on Deirdre Milligan," Skinner said, and Mulder could have melted from the tension he released. Just the Milligan case...

"Yes, sir, Agent Scully has gone to the University of Maryland to have some records looked at," Mulder said. Skinner nodded.

"I am assuming that she left the name off of the files," he said. Mulder nodded, and Skinner sighed. "Agent Mulder, I received a visit from someone we are both very familiar with today."

Mulder knew immediately who he meant. The so-called "Cancer Man", who had opposed Mulder and Scully so many times, and had been responsible for the abduction of his partner, and in that course responsible for much of Mulder's anguish and determination. Ironically, when the son of a bitch had stolen away the most precious gift Mulder had ever received, he had been doing so to prevent Mulder from continuing with his quest for the truth. Instead, he only furthered his pursuit.

"What did he want?" Mulder asked. Skinner looked sternly and intensely at Mulder.

"He told me to take you and Agent Scully off of the case," he said. "Of course, I refused. There is something in this file that he wants that you have."

Mulder looked on at the assistant director with a new-found respect. "I assure you, sir, my partner and I will find it," he promised. Skinner nodded, and clenched his jaw.

"As you investigate this case, I am sure that you are aware of the obstacles that this man will put before you," he said. "You and Agent Scully will have to be sure to avoid them. Whatever you have, he wants it. Make sure that he doesn't get it."

As Skinner left Mulder's tiny basement office, Mulder looked down at the files in his very hands, and shuddered.

Scully opened the door to her car, and sat down in the driver's seat. She put the file on Deirdre Milligan in the seat next to her, and buckled her seat belt. She sat there for a moment, her hands on the steering wheel, and realized that she didn't know where to go from where she was.

Did she walk willingly and nobly to her lover, and tell him that she could be dying, and let him hold her and comfort her, or did she run, and die alone, where he would never be haunted by the memories of her last days alive? Scully didn't know what to do, or even if she should do anything at all. She could only sit in her automobile, looking at the road in front of her, and wondering where it would lead her in the future. She flipped down the vanity mirror, and looked at her face. She still looked the same as usual, her red hair falling in her eyes, her skin clear and unblemished, her lips sensual. But what would she look like a month from now? Would her mouth be laced with sores from the disease which would later claim her life? Would her beautiful and cherished ruby colored hair thin and eventually fall out, leaving her bald? Would her skin grow pale, and thin, and she would be left an ugly, dying, rotting skeleton, a shadow of her former self?

And... perhaps most of all... would he still love her?

She had never had doubts of his love before, but now she was forced to sit and wonder. If she was dying, and broken down, would he be able to hold her thin, papery hand, and tell her honestly that he loved her?

She didn't know. She was afraid right then, more afraid than she had been in so long. Afraid for her life, and afraid for Mulder and for her son. How could Christopher ever get better without a mother? And yet, because of a cruel twist of fate, she may be forced to leave him alone.

"Please, God," she whispered,"let me live..."

And Dana Scully wondered how long ago it was when God stopped hearing the prayers of mankind. She wondered how long ago it had been when God let the wishes and pleas of humanity fall silent on deaf ears.

Because although she had prayed many times before, she would still die for nothing.

From the diary of Jesse Ann Phillips

December 11

You know, my new friend and back-up guitarist, Francesca Panerosa, always has said that when two or more people grow close, there is a special, magical bond that connects them all. I could easily invest in that. After I met Agent Fox Mulder and Agent Dana Scully, I felt a sort of connection to them. There was something that we could all relate to. They had been betrayed as I had been betrayed. We had a common factor to our lives. I needed to find someone to talk to. Someone that understood what I was going through. And they were those people.

That week that I spent in their care was an ironic mixture of self-discovery and self-destruction. I learned more about my emotions and my pain, and I learned that life came with its sorrows and its strife. I hoped that I was going to be able to come out a better person from this incident, and I feel that I have not done so.

They learned something about themselves that week, too, I think. People say that there is no salvation for this damned world of ours, and that humanity has degraded itself so badly that we all ought to just give up and have fun with our lives. I think that we proved them wrong. For during that one week in the Omni Hotel, I learned that there is a savior: love.

Man can be saved. Not by deed or reason or service or truth, but by the most simple of all human emotions. For is it not the only emotion that you cannot force? Love strikes without warning, for it is blind and without inhibitions. One can easily make one's self hate, or feel fear, or feel sadness or anger. But one can never force love. It comes naturally.

There is the old saying that love has no boundaries. This is true. How else does one explain homosexuality, or interracial marriage? Or, for that matter, the love that I was witness to in South Carolina?

If ever there were two that were 'star-cross'd lovers', it was them. They were never supposed to fall in love, and all of the world was set against them. Yet, somehow, they did love.

Yes, I do admit that when Joe and I were together, we had no walls to climb over. Our love was without any factors to keep us apart. But now he is dead, and death is the only wall that cannot be torn down in the name of love. We will be apart until the day that I die, and even then I do not know if there is an afterlife for us to meet in.

I hope to God that there is an afterlife. I hope that I will have a chance to tell those that I killed, either intentionally or unintentionally, that I am sorry, and that I never meant to cause them to die. Please, God, let them know that I am sorry.

I feel guilty for killing Gretchen in the abandoned building. It was an act done out of paranoia. I killed her knowing that the men who had taken the children knew where she was. If they found her, she could be persuaded to tell them where we were. I know that she knew our location because she had called Scully's hotel room. And so, to protect the agents and their child, I pulled the trigger. I tried to tell myself that when she was found(and she would be found; such an event was inevitable), she would be killed. I decided that this was an act of mercy.

Now, I see that it was an act that I regret. We could have saved her. She did not have to die. At the time, I thought that if I had taken her with us, the government men would have traced her to us, and we would have been killed. But looking back, I have a different belief. I think that the entire time we were in Charleston, they had us under surveillence. They knew exactly where we were the entire time. And for some odd reason, they let us move freely, thinking that we could do them little to no harm. Or they were biding their time.

"Gretchen did not have to be killed. And I killed her anyway.

Who would be next to suffer from my over-calculated planning? I hope that no one, ever again, will die at my hands. But I know that it will happen again. There is no way to prevent that. And I will live with that knowledge until that day when I die."


Apartment of Fox Mulder
Alexandria, Virginia Wednesday, December 12 3:46am

Scully was in the room again. That bright, cold room, so sterile and unfeeling. She couldn't move her lower body, and felt heavier than usual. She was crying, sobbing loudly. A doctor stood over her, and smiled for an instant, before moving on. She lay nude on the table, with no blanket to cover her her naked body. She could not reach for any way to cover her body, and her degradation and humiliation was left exposed to the world.

Her stomach was grossly out of proportion, stretched and enlarged. She knew why. She was pregnant, pregnant with her partner's child. She was sobbing, and the tears ran down her cheeks. She brought her shaking hands to her belly, and felt the shame and humiliation when she touched her abdomen. Why her? She was so afraid...

Angel was there, though, and Scully saw that her stomach was also extended and distorted, and knew that the woman was also with child. The same stage of pregnancy that Scully was in.

"You know who the father is, don't you," Angel stated, and Scully nodded. "You are lucky. You're one in few... but I feel sorry for you still. The embarrassment of bearing someone's child can only be multiplied when you know the man."

Scully bit her lip, holding back her tears. Angel didn't know the half of it all. That the man whose child she was carrying was also the man that she loved. The man she was looking to for safety and sanctuary. Every time she closed her eyes, she thought of how she was stripped of all her dignity and pride, and how she felt as though she had been raped. Brutally raped, and left with the marker of her disgrace.

"I know how you feel," Angel promised. Scully was surprised. "I have two children already... and I am pregnant with the child of a stranger."

Scully rubbed her belly with a shaking hand, and wept bitter tears. She would always be left to suffer for her partner's sins.

Scully awoke, and she sighed. He was there, beside her, his arm carelessly strewn across her chest in his sleep-filled daze. She had been returned to him, and she was safe.

Scully lay in the bed with Mulder, watching him sleeping. She had grown so used to his presence; the smell of his cologne, the way his unruly dark hair fell on his brow... Scully couldn't imagine life without him.

Tenderly, she stroked his head of dark hair, singling out each and every individual hair between her fingers. He had such beautiful hair. Each strand was richly colored, and silky textured. She brought her face to his head, and rested her cheek against his hair, breathing in the smell of it. Her lips rested against the strands of brown-black-gold, and she closed her eyes, savoring the moment.

Scully had grown so close to him. She knew everything about him. He was as familiar to her as her own reflection, and she hoped that he knew all about her, too. She knew that he loved to touch her hair, and every time that he kissed her, his hands would softly brush the fine, red strands. He knew that Scully liked it when he caressed her face with his lips; feathery, wispy kisses that would send chills down her spine. She knew that he was the most contented when he could simply hold her in his strong arms, and keep her close and complete. He knew that she was the most contented when he held her and put his face in her hair, taking in the mingled scents of her shampoo and perfume.

She sighed, running her fingers down his chest, clutching him close to her. She knew that she would have to face whatever was going to happen to her on her own, and that no matter what he said or did, in the end she would be by herself in her pain and agony. Scully wanted to be as close to him as possible, for she knew that she would eventually have to give up touching and holding him, and she would one day never be able to smell the scent of his cologne, feel the softness of his hair under her lips, or run her fingers over his mouth.

One day, one horrible, dark, day, she would have to give Mulder up forever, and sleep alone in a coffin under the ground.

She would take this night, this starry night in his apartment, and remember it forever and ever. While she could, she would be with him, and hold the memory of that blissful night in her heart forever.

Somewhere in Washington Washington, D.C. 9:00am

The man opened up the folder, and looked at the photographs inside. "These are excellent," he said to the young, ignorant photographer. The younger man smiled, eagerly. "

"I thought that they were taken from a bad angle," he said. "They would have turned out much better if I had had some shadowing in it-"

The older man cut him off. "No. You caught their faces. That was exactly what I wanted."

The photographer nodded, and walked away, puzzled but still pleased.

The man left behind took out a cigarette, and lit it. He coughed immediately, but smiled after the fit had passed. His coughs were minor compared to the ones that Agent Dana Scully would soon experience. His smile broadened when he imagined the look on Mulder's face when he heard that the love of his life was going to die.

But his mind darkened when he thought about Walter Skinner. Skinner was proving to be more of a problem than he had ever imagined. The man had refused to take the Milligan case away from Mulder and Scully, and had resisted his threats. Skinner would have to be taken care of, and swiftly taken care of.

But there was a bigger problem, and that was the file on Milligan. But these photographs would take care of everything...

J. Edgar Hoover Building
Washington, D.C.

Walter Skinner sat down at his desk, easing into his leather chair. He looked around his office. Stern, yet warm. Impersonal, yet somewhat friendly. He thought about all that he had done to get to where he was now, and realized that in comparison to Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, he had done very little. Skinner had played by the book, and done exactly what he was supposed to. In time, he had grown to power, when he had changed nothing, accomplished nothing, been nothing.

He contemplated the unfairness in the world. While Mulder and Scully made a difference, did all that they could, and in their own way changed the world as he knew it, they were at the bottom of the Bureau. Ignored, neglected, and ridiculed.

Yet there was no one else in the F.B.I. that did as much as they did.

The door opened, and in walked the notorious man who had threatened him yesterday, a grim look on his face. The man carried three video cassettes, and one thick black file. He set them on Skinner's desk, and Skinner looked at him, cold and dispassionate.

"What the hell is this?" he asked. The smoking man took out his signature package of Morley's cigarettes, and put one between his thin, twisted lips. The man pulled out a silver lighter, that seemed to have something inscribed on it, and lit the cigarette. After taking the first inhalation, he took it out of his mouth, blowing out the cigarette smoke through his nose.

"Something you may want to know," he said, cryptic as usual. Skinner looked candidly at him.

"What is that supposed to mean?" he asked. The smoking man just gave him that oily smile that he seemed to enjoy smiling, and took another drag from the cigarette.

"Whatever you want it to mean," he replied, and pointed to the files before leaving the office.

Fuming, Skinner would have preferred just leaving the damn tapes and files where the smoking man had left them, but realized that he had no choice but to look. His first priority was to the Bureau, and if this was something that would affect the state of the country or the Bureau, he would have no choice but to read it. Disregarding the file for a moment, he picked up the tape on top. It had a label that read "November 10." Curious, he put the tape in his VCR.

Immediately, he saw a scene that had been recorded at the apartment of Fox Mulder. Mulder watching Agent Dana Scully go back into the room, and sitting down on the couch, burying his face in his hands. His words were plain and simple, and easily understood.

"How do I tell her that I love her?"

Skinner's mind froze. Oh, Jesus Christ, he thought. Oh, Jesus Christ. Mulder had fallen in love with his partner. All of his former suspicions were confirmed as the tape rolled on.

The tape skipped to Dana Scully walking into the room, and walking to the sleeping Mulder on the leather couch. In horror, he watched the woman put her hand lovingly to his cheek, then stroke his hair, and finally bend down as though to kiss him. Abruptly, she stood up, and went to the chair, curling up in it. "Good night," her soft voice said. "I love you."

The camera lingered there for a moment, before crackling into static. Skinner turned off the tape, and mechanically he put in another tape.

The next tape seemed to take place in a sterile, white room, and had the two agents tied to chairs, ropes binding them. The anguished looks that they gave each other spoke volumes to Skinner, and he watched the scene play out, watching the agents carefully. Watching Mulder break down and falter and stammer, then utter the words that Skinner had hoped that he would never hear.

"Dana... I love you..."

Skinner looked away for a moment, then watched as the attention was turned to Dana Scully. The man known simply as Mitchell scratched Mulder's ear with the knife, and Scully was also forced to speak.

"I love you, Fox Mulder," she confessed.

Skinner was forced to watch as the tape went on, showing the proud, hard Dana Scully spitting into the man's face, the two being slammed together so close that it was obscene, the man cutting into Mulder's skin. So that was how he had gotten that scar on his face. The man leaving, and the two escaping their ropes only to hold each other for a long moment.

That tape stopped, leaving Skinner with a sense of dread. He had honestly seen enough. But this time, it was sheer curiosity that propelled him to put in the last tape. He wished that he hadn't.

The last tape was a scene from the Omni Hotel, the nice resort that Skinner had sent the agents when he assigned them to the case of Jesse Phillips. He watched as they slowly kissed, then climbed into Mulder's bed. Skinner closed his eyes as not to see, be he still could hear Dana Scully's moans of ecstasy.

He took out the tape, and cursed. "Dammit," he muttered. They knew that this would force him to reassign Scully. He would have no choice but to separate them. This time, it was their fault. Their mistake. They had known that they couldn't keep up the masquerade forever, and they certainly had to know that he would eventually figure out what was going on. Oh, but they knew that he would have to find out.

Skinner suddenly remembered the file on his desk, and picked it up. He opened it up, and his jaw dropped when he saw the photographs that lay before him. Glossy blow-ups that were full of the proof of their romance. Pictures taken during their intense and passionate lovemaking, pictures taken while the two kissed and petted, pictures, pictures, pictures...

And a final photograph of Mulder and Scully in their basement office, he stroking her leg, her kissing him. That was it. This all had to end, and he would be forced to end it.

Right then.

Skinner picked up the phone, and dialed Agent Mulder's cellular phone number. Within minutes, he heard the detached tones that he recognized. "Mulder," the agent answered.

"Agent Mulder, I would suggest that you come down to my office immediately," he said. Mulder was alert.

"Sir? Is there a reason?"

"I would say so."

"Sir, I called in sick today." Skinner tightened his jaw. Sick? Was he sick enough to refrain from jumping his partner's bones? "I rarely do that, so I didn't think that anyone would care..."

"Get down here right now. I want you and Scully in my office." Mulder was getting worried.

"Scully's sick," was the agent's short reply. "And I am not going to disturb her. If there is something important, sir, I will repeat it to her."

Skinner nodded. "Fine. But we have to discuss something right now."

Within an hour, Agent Fox Mulder was in Skinner's office. Mulder was worried, worried about what Skinner had wanted to talk about, and worried about Scully. She had gotten up at about six to throw up, and had stayed in the bathroom for an hour, leaving the water on so that he couldn't hear what she was doing. She had been losing weight, and looked a little paler. She probably had come down with the flu, he reassured himself, and the added stress due to her line of work and the file had only hurt her even more.

Skinner looked sternly at Mulder. "Agent Mulder, you have some serious explaining to do," he said. Mulder looked up, mentally flinching.

"Explaining about what, sir?" he asked, innocently. Skinner glared at him, and passed him a thick file.

"This, to start," he said. Mulder opened it up, and felt his face quickly change from flaming red to pale, pale white. Skinner watched the agent, and Mulder's reaction only confirmed it. "Explain. Now."

Mulder cleared his throat, and stammered over a hasty, flimsy explanation. "Well, um, sir," he started. "I suppose that... well..." He threw down his hands in his lap, and nervously rocked back and forth. "Sir, I suppose that there is no explanation. We had loved each other for a long time before these photographs were taken, but we never knew it until..."

"Until the night of November 10," Skinner confirmed. "Yes, Agent Mulder, I do know about that night. I also know about the man known as 'Mitchell', and I know about what happened in the Omni Hotel."

Mulder staggered mentally. "I see..."

Skinner sighed. "You know that the Bureau will not permit two agents that are romantically involved to work together. Therefore, I am reassigning Agent Scully to Quantico, and I will find a new partner to work with you, which should prove a daunting task considering the track record that precedes the X-Files, and your own reputation." Mulder felt the blow, and took it heavily.

There would be no more going to work and seeing Dana Scully in the basement, the secret smiles that she would flash him, or the look in her eyes that expressed all of the love and the passion she felt for him. There would be nothing now for him in that little office, only cold, painful files that spoke to him the insanity of mankind.

He looked down at his knuckles, which where white from grasping the edge of the chair so tightly. Skinner stood up, and crossed to Mulder. He leaned down to Mulder's level, and stared the man in the eyes. "Why did you do it?" he asked, his voice low and disappointed. "Mulder, you and Scully had the most potential out of all of the agents in the Bureau. Certainly, you know that. You tossed those opportunities out of the window the moment you fucked her." Mulder winced at the harsh, nasty term, but Skinner was already moving on. "You realize that this will not help the X-Files division in the least. When funds come up..." Skinner shook his head. "Why did you do it?"

Mulder's voice was quiet, and pensive. "It wasn't something that was planned," he said, softly. "It was something that grew over time. I did not mean to fall in love... but who ever does?"

Skinner, for a moment, forgot all of the codes, the regulations... He knew that Mulder was able to do something that Skinner had never been able to do. Mulder was able to mix himself in his work perfectly, and never forget who he was. Skinner respected him for that, and then he remembered that he was responsible for the agent.

"Whether or not it was intentional, you will have to tell Agent Scully that she will report to Quantico as soon as she recovers. I will start interviewing candidates for her replacement." Skinner went back to his desk. Mulder gave the file back, and left, holding a broken heart on his sleeve.

Skinner looked after the shattered man, and put his head in his hands, massaging the bald scalp with his fingers. What had he done? After all of his thoughts of making a difference, he had played even deeper into the hand of fate that had been dealt to him.

Home of Margaret Scully 12:34pm

Dana Scully picked up her son, and looked down into his beautiful blue eyes. They were so bright, so clear... they could only have been more beautiful if there was a spark of personality and brilliance in them. She looked at his face, so similar to the face of the man that she loved, and wondered if she would ever live to see the day that Christopher woke up from this walking slumber, and spoke to her the word that she longed to hear. "Mother."

Her own mother, Margaret Scully, walked to her and put her hand on her young daughter's arm. By now, Maggie knew everything about the situation that her child and Fox Mulder were in. She knew about what had happened to Christopher, and some of Jesse Phillips.

Maggie hugged her daughter, and was surprised to discover that Dana had lost some weight. The woman had always been thin, but this was pushing it. "Dana, how are you?" she asked. Scully hugged her mother back, kissing her cheek.

"I'm all right," she said. "I think that I'm coming down with something, though." Maggie cautiously looked at the baby, and picked him up.

"We don't want Christopher to get sick," she said. "Sit down, make yourself comfortable. Tell me what's troubling you, and kick off your shoes."

As usual, Maggie had been able to perfectly guess that her daughter was not her usual self. Scully sat down, and looked around the comfy room. Bright, colorful toys that were still in excellent condition because they were never played with. No sign that there was a toddler around. Most of the time, Christopher would endlessly walk around the house, pausing to stare coldly at anyone who tried to talk to him, including his parents and grandparents.

Scully wondered if she would ever live to see the day that her son opened up and realized who his mother and father were. She wanted to live long enough for her son to know that he had a mother that loved him deeply, and a father that loved him, too.

Maggie walked back into the living room, and sat down next to her daughter, kicking her feet onto the table. "How's work?" she asked. Scully sighed. The one subject that she really didn't want to discuss. How could she describe the way that she felt every time she looked at the photo of Deirdre Milligan, the young woman who had been robbed of her youth?

"Work's depressing," she admitted. Maggie raised her eyebrows. She knew that the Bureau work could take a toll on her daughter, especially the particularly violent and dark work of the X-Files.

"I know, honey," she tried to console. "But at least you have your son, me, Fox..." She stopped, and narrowed her eyes. "You aren't having any problems with Fox, are you?"

Scully sighed, and shook her head. "No, Mulder and I are fine," she assured. Maggie shook her head.

"Dana, why is it the two of you can't for once just use first names?" she asked. Scully smiled slightly, and folded her hands in her lap, demurely. It was on the tip of her tongue to tell her mother that it made sex kinkier, but held back the comment. This was her mother. As far as Maggie was concerned, her daughter was a nun.

"Mom, I suppose that we've grown so close that our last names are as familiar and personal as our first names," she said, quietly. And each name is spoken with the same amount of love, she silently added.

Maggie knew what her daughter meant, and put her hands on Dana's. "I understand," she said. "You've been losing some weight," she observed. The words that were meant as a compliment instead turned Scully's heart to ice. The words of Dr. Haile echoed in her head.

"Started to lose weight in excess..."

Another symptom. Which would come next? The sores on her mouth? The coughing? What would be next?

Her cellular phone rang, and Scully looked apologetically at her mother. "I'm sorry," she said,"but I still have to take this." Her mother nodded, and Scully answered, walking into her mother's bedroom.

"Scully," she said.

"It's me," came the typical Mulder answer. "Scully, I don't know how to say this..." He stalled for a moment. She could hear the breaking on the line, and concluded that he was in his car. "Scully, Skinner knows."

Her heart plummeted into her stomach. She sat down on the bed. "What?" she whispered. "But how..."

"He had photographs, videotapes... three guesses as to who might have sent them," was Mulder's bitter reply. Scully winced. "He knew everything. Even knew about Mitchell. There were some graphic photos, Scully. Some really graphic ones. Great memories," he added, sarcastic as usual. Scully flinched under the power of his anger and rage.

"What did he do?"

"What else? You're back at Quantico, and I'm stuck with a new partner. Good old Spooky, back in the basement, ruining another person's life and career," he said. Scully could easily detect the note of self-hatred in his voice, and wanted to be able to speak not with her voice, but with her eyes.

"It's over," she whispered. Mulder stayed unusually quiet for a moment, then spoke up, his voice fierce.

"They want it to be over, Scully, they wanted it over from the start," he reminded. "It isn't over as long as we're together. Skinner can go to hell for all I care. We still have each other."

Tears threatened to escape her eyes, and she shook them away. Where do we go from here, she thought. She wiped away the tears that ran down her cheeks with the back of her hand. Oh, but he could never know that one day, one day looming in the distance, he would only have himself and his son, while her ghost stood behind him, watching yearningly.

"I'll be at your apartment shortly," she promised, and hung up. Scully walked slowly out of the bedroom, and when Maggie saw the tears on her face, the older Scully stood.

"Dana!" she exclaimed. Scully looked at her mother, and the look in her eyes was apparent. Something had happened.

"I've been reassigned," she said, flatly. "That's all."

Apartment of Fox Mulder
Alexandria, Virginia 11:56am

Scully arrived at the apartment first, and looked around, fondly. It was, of course, a wreck, and there was stuff everywhere, but these days the mess had a more female touch. While there was the mundane assortment of hideous ties(Mulder claimed that they were unique, she claimed that they were revolting) and boxer shorts, there were also the panty hose with the runs in them and the occasional set of panties.

She still thought that her apartment was nicer, but his was definitely more like Mulder. Except for the crib in the corner that was reserved for Christopher.

Scully sat down on the sofa, and looked down at the coffee table. The usual files that were sprawled everywhere... and one, strange, foreign black one. She picked it up, frowning with confusion.

"What in the..." she muttered, and opened it up. Photographs fluttered to the floor, and there was a little note that was stapled to the back.

"Fox Mulder and Kristen Kilar," she read. She looked at the date, and saw that they had been taken during her abduction. She bent down, and picked up the first photo. Her face turned white.

It showed a sulky, stunningly beautiful woman, her dark hair sleek and elegant, kissing her partner passionately. He was holding her tightly, his arms stroking her back. "Oh, Jesus," Scully whispered. The pictures, one after the other, each one showing Mulder and Kristen Kilar in different suggestive positions. There was a set of photos taken while the two were in bed... They had been lovers.

Scully's face reddened with a mixture of embarrassment and rage. So, that was what he had been doing while she had been abducted. Off with some slut, having his fun while she had been suffering with the burden of bearing his child. While she had been sobbing in pain and misery, each day her stomach growing and her body weakening, he had been fooling around with this Kilar bitch.

She threw down the files. Oh, he had certainly taken her absence hard. He had really mourned her. He didn't need her. He was just using her until the next bimbo came along. His words were meaningless. They were promises that he didn't ever intend to keep.

The door opened, and in he walked, an angry and depressed expression on his face. He started to walk to her, but she stood quickly and backed away. "Don't come any closer," she warned him. Mulder was surprised.

"Scully, what is it?" he asked, and her response was a glare.

"I think that the pictures on the table should say it all better than I could ever," she said, and her tone was frigid and icy. Mulder looked down, and sucked in his breath. Kristen Kilar... the deadly, sultry beauty who had seduced him in Los Angeles. Kristen...

"Oh, shit," he said. Scully nodded.

"Yeah, 'oh, shit' might be a good way to put it," she snapped. "This is what you were doing while I was gone? While I was off, having your child, for Christ's sake, you were off screwing some goddamn bitch!" Mulder flinched, and Scully almost forgot her rage. "Oh, you tell me that you need me, that you love me, that you would die without me, but the minute I'm gone, possibly dead for all you knew, you shrug your shoulders and go on to the next one."

"Dana, that wasn't--"

"Don't try to get affectionate with me," she ordered. "Right now, I'm not exactly in the mood."

"Let me explain!" he protested. "It wasn't like that..."

"Then why did you never tell me?" she demanded. "When I had that fling with Ed Jerse a while back, did I ever keep it a secret? No, I told you! I let you know. If things were completely innocent, and you really did mourn me, you would have told me!"


She glared at him, even though her heart was breaking. "Mulder, it's obvious that somewhere along the line, you stopped caring. I can't stay involved with a man who doesn't love me nearly as much as I love him."

Those words hurt more than any of her accusations, her threats, her cruel words. She couldn't possibly think that he didn't love her... oh, God, what had he done...

"Scully," he whispered, his voice hoarse. She shook her head.

"I can't. I just can't..." she said. Her jaw clenched, she put on her coat, and walked to the door. "If you want to see Christopher, call me. Otherwise, I don't want to hear from you again. We'll never have to meet." She gave him one last sad look, the look of a woman who had had her heart broken. "I thought that you were the only one who loved me... but then I found out that I was alone."

And she left. Left him alone in that dirty, bedraggled apartment, littered with her belongings and her personal touches, and the scent of her perfume. Mulder sat down on the couch, amid those bright, shining memories of her, put his face in hands that had touched her tenderly, and wept for the life that he had thrown away.

From the diary of Jesse Ann Phillips

December 12

I just read the last line from yesterday's entry. 'And I will live with the knowledge until that day when I die'. That day will, unbeknownst to the people who know and love me, a blessing to them. When I die, the threat to their safety will die. There will be no Jesse to ruin their chances at life and happiness.

I used to have so many dreams of fame and glory for myself. I used to believe that I could touch upon the riches of the world, and that my voice would be heard to the far reaches of the globe, and that Jesse Phillips would be a household name. Now, I am damned to mediocrity, and damned to anonimity. All because of my curious nature. Dreams of a youth shattered and broken. How many dreams and aspirations have I destroyed? Not only my own, but the dreams of those around me. I have killed the hopes of my mother and brother, and my boyfriend and best friend. Even the dreams of Gretchen.

I still live in the constant fear of being discovered. I know that they know where I am. I wonder at why they have chosen not to start the massacre over again. Perhaps they know that if they do, then Mulder and Scully will certainly find out, and start their publication of their deeds.

I hope that that is true.

You know, having this secret life of mine hurts. It hurts so badly that I feel as though I can't breathe at times. This is my body, and this is my heart, and my soul and my mind, and I can never let anyone know how I feel. The memories of my lost ones need to be known.

I want people to know that Joe, Alex, and Rob were wonderful people. But, most of all, I want people to know about my mother.

I have spoken little about my mother, perhaps because I miss her the most. She was caring, compassionate, and loving. She struggled through life, but never let life harden her. She kept her sense of mankind and emotion. I wish that I had been more like her. The moment that disaster struck, I broke my own heart, before it could be broken. I doubt that I can ever mend it, and I refuse to let anyone near enough to do it for me.

Oh, God, let this misery end, or will I be afraid for the rest of my life? When will the day come when I have enough courage to stand up and loudly proclaim my identity to the entire world? Jesse Ann, Anya Karen, who I am, and who I never can be... are they both the same?

Who am I? Another statistic. Another victim? Well, by God, as I still walk the Earth, I will not let my name go to waste! I will not die weak, and in cowardice. I will make a difference before I die! There will be no one to overshadow my glory, and no one to repress me! My voice will be heard from the shores of the Atlantic to the mountains of Spain! I will rise above it all!

Or I will die trying."


"Don't leave me in all of this pain Don't leave me out in the rain Come back and bring me my smile Come and take these tears away I need your arms to hold me now The nights are so unkind Bring back those nights when I held you beside me

"Un-break my heart Say you love me again Undo this hurt you caused When you walked out the door And walked out of my life Un-cry these tears I cried so many nights Un-break my heart My heart

"Take back that sad word good-bye Bring back the joy to my life Don't leave me here with these tears Come and kiss this pain away I can't forget the day you left Time is so unkind And life is so cruel without you here beside me

"Un-break my heart Say you love me again Undo this hurt you caused When you walked out the door And walked out of my life Un-cry these tears I cried so many nights Un-break my heart My heart

"Don't leave me in all of this pain Don't leave me out in the rain Bring back those nights when I held you beside me

"Un-break my heart Say you love me again Undo this hurt you caused When you walked out the door And walked out of my life Un-cry these tears I cried so many nights Un-break my heart My heart

"Un-break my heart Come back and say you love me Un-break my heart Sweet darlin' Without you I just can't go on Can't go on" --Toni Braxton "Un-break My Heart", Secrets, 1996

The week that passed their parting was cruel to Fox Mulder. He had gotten his new partner, as promised by Skinner, and realized that he hated his job. Scully had always made his life worthwhile, and now that she was gone, he had little to shine for him.

Agent Eric Ford was a son of a bitch. He had been reluctantly recruited for the assignment, and had come down to the basement with some serious disgust. He didn't know the real reason that Scully had been reassigned. He thought that Scully was being moved to another area because of her responsibilities as a single mother.

Mulder knew Ford from the Violent Crimes Section, and from Quantico Academy. Ford had hated Mulder to begin with. Mulder had excelled at Quantico, immediately establishing himself as a prime agent. Ford had struggled through, and barely made the Bureau.

Ford had been exceptionally cruel to Mulder while there, going out of his way to make Mulder miserable. Mulder had always found it very difficult during weapons training and target practice not to put a few bullet holes in Ford's head, and little had changed.

Scully had been skeptical to the end. She had staunchly refused most of his theories, and never believed him. But Ford took that to the far extent. Scully's arguments were always intellectual, and very diplomatic. Ford made it a point to not only discredit Mulder, but to ridicule him.

On the afternoon of December 16, the day before Mulder and Ford were supposed to finally get to Rochester, Mulder finally lost his temper.

Mulder sat at his desk, his feet propped up in the way that had always amused Scully, and Ford was out getting himself coffee. Mulder missed the way that Scully had always remembered him, and brought him coffee, the occasional doughnut, and the recent but always appreciated kiss. Ford never brought his partner coffee, ate all of the doughnuts(but still remained looking trim and good-looking, Mulder noted with disgust), and Mulder had sworn long ago that if Ford ever tried to kiss him, Ford would end up hanging from the ceiling with his intestines for a noose.

The image of Ford dead was attractive.

The image of him killing Ford was extremely tempting.

Eric Ford sauntered in, a full cup of coffee in his hands, smiling spitefully at Mulder. "Well, Spooks, you're the talk of the Bureau today," he said, grinning from ear to ear. "So, the reason I'm stuck down here with you is because you finally got into the Ice Queen's pants."

Mulder had grown used to Ford's attacks on him, and had learned to disregard Ford's insistence on using the derogatory nickname that he had never wanted, but Ford had never attacked Scully. "Excuse me?" he asked, lifting his eyebrows. Ford chuckled.

"You kidding? Half of the Bureau's male population has been trying to pop her cherry, only to find out that you were busy porking your partner," Ford sneered.

That was the last straw. He had put up with Ford's mocking him, with Ford's rudeness, with his crude, unrefined vocabulary, but this was too much.

Ford leaned forward, speaking as though Mulder was(God forbid, ) a close friend. "So, tell me, Spooky, is she good?" After seeing the cold, forbidding glare that Mulder shot him, Ford's lecherous smile turned cold. "Never thought you had it in you, Spooky. The boys upstairs and I always thought that you walked the other side, if you catch my drift."

Well, gee, Mulder thought, I wonder whatever that could mean.

He finally spoke. "Ford, the only drift I catch is that you are an asshole," he said, his words soft and hard at the same time, creating an effect that Mulder liked. Ford stood up, and looked down at Mulder.

"Look, Mulder, you know that I don't like you," Ford said. Well, if that wasn't the most obvious statement in the history of the F-B-fucking-I. "I think that you have to be nuts to stay down here, and you're fucking insane to think that even half of the bullshit you research is true. I'm leaving this shit hole of a Violent Crimes division." He looked down at Mulder, and glared at him, putting his coffee on the table. "I don't want to end up dead. And these damned files are cursed. You're cursed. Everyone who works with you ends up dead. Purdue, Lamana... and even that whore, Scully. Every single one." He picked up his coat and his briefcase, and turned to leave. "I'm not going to be next."

Mulder stood up, picked up Ford's forgotten coffee, and smiled. It was the sly, cunning, deadly smile that personified his name. "You forgot your coffee, Eric," he said, and tossed the liquid in Ford's arrogant, smirking face.

Later, in Skinner's office, Mulder had to really kiss some ass to get off of the hook, but he did win one point: Ford had been a bad decision for a partner, and Skinner promised that the next one would be better. He told Mulder that he was to finish the Milligan case alone, and that after the holidays, he would get a new partner.

As Mulder was leaving the office, he did receive some news about Scully. He had not spoken to her in a while, hoping that a little distance from him might make her reconsider her departure.

"Agent Mulder," Skinner called. Mulder turned around. Watch Skinner tell him that during his entire speech about dignity and pride, his fly had been unzipped.


Skinner cleared his throat. "How is Agent Scully?" he asked, his tone uncomfortable. Mulder was confused.

"Sir, I wouldn't know. Agent Scully hasn't spoken to me since we were reassigned," he said. Skinner inwardly winced; had his choice hindered the relationship between the two?

"I see... she hasn't been to work yet. She had called in sick, but no one can seem to get a hold of her," he admitted. "She has turned off her cell phone, and is not answering the phone at her apartment. I tried to call her at her mother's house, but Mrs. Scully said that her daughter was ill." He cleared his throat. "I also tried your apartment, but apparently she has not been there."

Skinner was wrong about that. Scully was always at his apartment. She was asleep in his bed every time he went to sleep, curled up at his side, her red hair sweeping his skin. She was in the kitchen, her lovely legs crossed as she read the morning paper, looking stunning in one of his work shirts and nothing else. She was like a beautiful ghost that haunted his memory, and would never let him rest. Everywhere Mulder was, there was always Scully, at his side, never escaping his memory or his desire.

She was that treasure that was out of reach.

Skinner observed Mulder for a moment, and then shook his head. "If you have any contact with her, tell me."

Mulder left the director's office, worried over Scully's health.

Apartment of Dana Scully Wednesday, December 17 10:34am

Dana Scully coughed into her hand, wiping the blood off of her nose. The nosebleed had stopped. Finally. This one had been a bad one, leaving her weak after bleeding for over an hour.

God, I'm dying...

Her health had been on a steady decline since she had left Mulder. It had started out with fits of coughing, and the nosebleeds that had grown worse. Her mother had taken Christopher, so that Scully wouldn't get the baby sick. But she knew that what she had was not contagious.

Clumps of her treasured red hair, those same shining strands that Mulder had loved to run his fingers through, had been appearing on her pillow every morning, and were tangled in her brush. She could look down on the scale, and see that she had lost twenty-two pounds. Her professional, tailored suits didn't fit her anymore, and she walked around in elastic-waisted pants and shirts, whenever she could actually walk.

Her bones hurt her, aching badly every time she moved. Any type of strenuous work left her wheezing and coughing. She had started to vomit blood, and that frightened her. The abdominal cramps that she had experienced once before had only gotten worse, and she spent most of her time in bed, trying to stop them.

But the worst had been the other night, when she had coughed so hard that her throat had been rubbed raw, and she coughed up a disgusting mixture of blood and mucous.

Scully's body was breaking down.

She slipped out of her old, ratty sweat suit, and stood in front of the mirror in her cotton bra and underwear. She hadn't really looked at herself in days, and what she saw shocked her. She had taken the symptoms in a detached way, like her mind was the doctor, and her body was just another patient. But when she saw who she had become, it all sank in.

She was so thin... so horribly, terrifyingly thin... Scully could easily count all of her ribs. Her skin was ghostly white, and stretched tightly over her protruding bones. The hair that she had left was sparse and limp, not at all the bouncing red glory that had captured Mulder's attention. Her eyes were puffy and watery, and they were red from crying. Dark shadows underlined the blue and red orbs. Her face was hideous. Sores had erupted around her mouth, distorting her once flawless features. She was gaunt and horrible.

She broke down crying, leaning against the wall of her bathroom. She closed her eyes to the woman in the mirror, and sank to the floor, drawing her thin, stick-like legs up to her diminishing chest. Scully was dying... and she would die alone.

God, how many times had she wished for Mulder? She yearned to see his familiar, beautiful face that would never be so repulsive as her own face was. "Oh, God," she choked out, her voice ragged and hoarse from the inevitable sores on her vocal chords. "Please, God, send him to me... let me see him one more time... don't let me die alone..."

But the nausea sieged her poor, run-down body, and she crawled wretchedly to the toilet, regurgitating more blood.

From the diary of Jesse Ann Phillips

December 17

Deirdre Milligan is dying. Of what, I do not know. Watching her cough and wheeze brings back memories that I wanted to forget so long ago. I had wanted to forget the sight of my sister, Julia, coughing and crying at her deathbed. I guess that such a memory is impossible to put behind one, but I tried very hard to do so.

I really don't want to think of Dana Scully in that same position. Dying of a disease that she cannot explain. A wasted and aching hag. It just magnifies the pain to think that he would be witness to it all, for I know that the instant that she turned ill, he would be at her side, holding her hand until she was gone, and carrying the memory of her in his heart until he, too, was dead.

Oh, Momma, why aren't you here to help me through this all? Daddy was never there for me; he was too busy being young and reckless to want any kind of responsibility. You were there, Momma. Why are you gone? I'm so sorry, Momma, that I was the one that killed you. I never wanted for you to pass away. I never wanted to lose you. I'll always mourn you, Momma, even if I never cry again, I will be mourning you. I will remember you.

Dig me a well to cry for us all in. But my tears dried up long ago. I have taken life, and tried to return it. An exchange of evil for good, of which no success was ever determined.

The files still remain with me, but due to Mulder's command, I have not touched them. They remain in locations around the world, except for one. For the purpose of my safety and for the safety of the world around me, I will not mention that particular location. Who am I argue with that decision? I did as he said, and gave up the truth for security. I regret that decision at times. I know that the cure for the disease has to be in there. It has to be.

Of course, I realize that it would do no good for a teenager to find it. How could I go to an oncologist and tell him, 'hey, here's the stuff, have a ball'?

I want so badly to talk to them, and tell them that her life could be in danger. Tied to my silence by my good word... how trapped I feel."

The Electric Eel
Rochester, New York
Thursday, December 18 12:45am

Fox Mulder felt extremely out of place as he entered the night club in downtown Rochester. The place vaguely reminded him of Club Tepes, the same place where he had met the now deceased Kristen. He now regretted walking in there and seeing her under the fluorescent lights.

He was supposed to meet the dying Deirdre Milligan that day, and Deirdre had requested to meet the agent at her favorite club. "Just tell the bouncer who you are," had been the girl's hoarse, grainy reply.

There was a poster advertising two local bands, one a heavy looking band called Boris, with an illustration of the infamous Boris Badenoff, the villain of "Rocky and Bullwinkle", and the other called the Sculpted Angels. There was a large picture of the young lead singer for the Angels, Anya Barrett. It was stylish, showing the young girl in profile, her rich red hair falling dramatically in her face, and magical looking feathered wings protruding from her slender back. She wore a slinky looking black leather mini-dress, and had her hands on her slim, curvy hips. Mulder was reminded of Jesse by the singer's green fingernails.

He had not thought about Jesse Ann Phillips in a long time. The mysterious, wise, dangerous teenager had disappeared from his life long ago, and he had always assumed that Jesse was safe. He wondered where she was now.

Mulder waded through the crowd, and looked up at the stage. The Sculpted Angels were playing, and the young, stunning Anya was singing and jumping wildly around on the stage. There were hordes of youths jumping around her, and a mosh pit. Mulder wondered what would happen if he decided to join the drunken youths, then shook it off when he caught sight of the emaciated Deirdre Milligan.

She was sitting at a darkened table, smoking a cigarette. She was scantily clad in a leather dress that fit her like a sheath. She had bottles of beer stacked up on the table, and looked up, amused at how poorly the federal agent fit in with the crowd.

"Couldn't find a better disguise, G-man?" Deirdre Milligan asked, blowing smoke in his face. Her voice was scratchy and grating. Mulder sat down across from her, and showed her his badge.

"Special Agent Fox Mulder," he said. "I thought that this was a disguise. I came dressed as a lawyer." The woman chuckled.

"Sure," she said. She sighed, and propped her feet on the chair. "My feet ache. I always hurt. I guess you always hurt when you die." Mulder noticed the sores around her mouth, and the dark circles under her eyes. She caught him staring at her and smiled. "I used to be a real beauty. I've seen pictures of myself."

Mulder nodded. "Do you still suffer from amnesia?" he asked. She shrugged.

"Yeah, but it doesn't really bother me anymore. Discovered that I don't really care all that much." She exhaled the smoke. "You find out that when you're dying, you don't really give a shit about your past. After all, you really don't have much of a future."

Mulder raised his eyebrows. "So that's why you hang out in these clubs, Deirdre?"

She laughed, a sound that sent chills down his spine. "The music's good. Both bands really kick, but Sculpted Angels really sound wicked. The lead singer does a bitching cover of Alanis Morissette, and her Garbage and No Doubt stuff rock, too."

Mulder looked up to see Anya Barrett, wearing a pair of black vinyl pants and a forest green crop top, singing into the microphone, enchanting the crowd around her.

Mulder shook his head. "They don't care about me," Deirdre said. "These shits in the clubs. They all know I'm gonna die. So who cares? The only one who even cares is Suzanne."

"Who's Suzanne?"

"Suzanne Brinkley. She was abducted few years ago." Deirdre coughed. "Only one who don't want me to die." She took one last puff. "Her and Anya."

He turned back to Deirdre, who was crushing out a cigarette. "Do you want to die, Deirdre?" he asked. The woman shrugged.

"Don't know, don't care. I'm gonna." She stood up, and took her leather jacket off the back of her chair. "I'm leaving. Don't give a damn if you stay here or not. Your funeral... oh, wait, is it mine...?" Puzzled, Deirdre left Mulder, and walked out of the bar, coughing loudly.

Mulder remembered that he would have to talk to Suzanne Brinkley. It was obvious that they had gotten all they would get out of Deirdre.

Sculpted Angels stopped playing, and Anya picked up an electric guitar, and started to play a haunting, beautiful rock melody.

Chapter Four: SCULPTED ANGELS(continued)

"Hanging by threads of palest silver, I could've stayed that way forever. Bad blood and ghosts wrapped tight around me, Nothing could ever seem to touch me. I lost what I loved most...

"Did you know I was lost until you found me?"

Mulder took a long drink of the bottle of beer. He was giving in to a slight indulgence, though he promised himself that he would never get drunk again. That only seemed to lead to trouble.

Young Anya Barrett was up on the stage, looking dangerous in leather pants and an indigo tank top. The glitter was back on, and she shimmered under the lights. Her voice was low and haunting.

"Stroke of luck or gift from God, Hand of fate or devil's claws? From below or saints above, You came to me. Here comes the cold again, I feel it closing in, It's falling down and all around me ...falling."

That was how he had felt about Scully. She had been the best thing that had ever happened to him, and yet he had probably been the worst. He had only brought her fear and sorrow.

"Don't ask me why...don't even try...

"You say that you'll be there to catch me, Or will you only try to trap me? These are the rules I make, Our chains were meant to break... You'll never change me."

He watched as the lead singer took her bows, and walked off of the stage, into the audience. Reflexively, she had put on a pair of large, dark sunglasses that seemed to cover her entire face. Added to the dark lights, he could hardly see her features. Anya Barrett of the golden throat sat down across from him.

"I am assuming that this seat is not taken," she murmured, her voice low and throaty. He raised his eyebrows.

"Apparently not," he said, taking out his badge. "Agent Mulder, F.B.I."

Anya arched her eyebrow at him, something that painfully reminded him of Scully. "Is this the part where I'm supposed to be impressed?" she asked, her voice deadpan.

He gave her a look as deadpan as hers. "Yes."

Something about his reply seemed to amuse her, and she leaned back. "You're investigating Deirdre Milligan, aren't you?"

Mulder put the badge back in his coat pocket, and nodded. "Yes. How did you know?" Anya shrugged impassively.

"I'm an intelligent girl. This is the dregs of society, Agent Mulder. They would never call in a fed just to bust a few underage drinkers."

A waiter approached the table. "You did a great set, Anya," he said. The girl shrugged. "You want a beer?"

Anya looked frankly at him through her dark lenses. "Try that line again when I'm legal."

The waiter, embarrassed, walked away. Mulder hid a smile. She was street-smart, and tough, but also law-abiding. "An underage alternative musician turning down a free beer," Mulder said, slyly. "I never thought that I would see the day."

She just looked cagily at him. "What, Agent Mulder? I would think that as a federal agent, you too would obey the law."

He took another drink of his own beverage. "When it suits me." He could be as cool as her. He pointed the beer at her sunglasses. "Why the glasses, Ms. Barrett?"

She stared frankly at him. "My boyfriend beats me and I have a black eye, but I love him so much that I don't want anyone to find out."

There was something about her answer that satisfied him. "Okay. Why did you want to talk to me? I don't like having my time wasted so that some teenager can have a little fun."

Anya raised her eyebrow again. "I wanted to talk to you about Deirdre Milligan. I have some information that might help to further your investigation."

Mulder was interested. "Okay, I'm listening."

Anya asked a waiter for a virgin banana daiquiri, and when it came, complete with a colorful umbrella, Mulder was amused. A dark, mysterious young woman, who had thought that she was so cool, ordering a colorful tropical fruit drink. With the umbrella to boot.

Anya began. "Before Deirdre was abducted, she used to come around the Eel a lot. She was one of the party girls. A regular. She did a lot of drugs. She was a heroin addict. Crack, marijuana, acid... you get the picture.

"Deirdre was also very popular with the local color. She lost her virginity before she even knew what that meant. She never had a steady man, but she was also never single." Mulder wondered what she was getting to. "About four years before she was taken, Dee was with a guy named Hank Richardson. Hank was H.I.V. positive. So was Dee."

Deirdre Milligan had AIDS? That was impossible, Mulder thought. That would have come up when she was medically examined. Mulder shook his head. "No, she was not. I've seen her medical records."

Anya held up a green-tipped finger. "Let me finish. Deirdre took a mail-in test. It came back positive. She only told me. Deirdre was deathly afraid of dying. She used to think that she was immortal. She learned her lesson." Anya leaned forward, pushing her half-finished daiquiri aside. "After Deirdre came back from the abduction, her H.I.V. was gone. Without a trace. It was as though she had been cured."

Mulder's eyes widened slightly. "Are you saying that whatever happened to Deirdre while she was gone cured her of her disease?"

She nodded. "Whoever took her knew how to cure the largest epidemic of this century."

He could hardly believe it. Had the men at the Forrester Commune discovered the cure for the H.I.V. virus? Human Immune-deficiency Virus... how in the name of God had they known the cure? They had to know how much the population of the world would need this cure. Millions had died, millions were diagnosed... Jesus Christ.

"The people that abducted Deirdre cured her of her AIDS," he mused. "You must realize how badly that cure is needed."

She nodded, but kept her voice calm. "And you must realize how costly that cure would be," she added. Mulder looked at the teenager abruptly.

"You sound as though you do not believe Deirdre's so called alien abduction," he said. She laughed shortly.

"Agent Mulder, the whole theory of alien abduction is a load of shit," she said. "It's a crock. Made up by drunken Rednecks whose life's desire is to be on the Jerry Springer show." She shook her head. "I hardly think that little green men know the cure for the most deadly disease on the planet Earth."

Mulder knew what she was insinuating. "You say you're not old enough to drink?" he asked, shortly.

She smiled even broader. "Agent Mulder, I'm barely old enough to vote." She stood up, and put a wad of cash on the table. "I'll cover whatever you had. And remember, Mr. Mulder, that the most expensive substance on the planet these days is human life."

He pondered that for a moment, and wondered just how high the price could be.

Apartment of Dana Scully Washington, D.C. 10:13pm

Scully moaned as she rolled in agony in the bloody sheets. Her nose was bleeding again, one of the worst ones yet, but her pains were so severe that she was unable to get a tissue. She felt like her organs were being squeezed to death inside of her.

She wanted to end it all. To just end all of her pain and her suffering. She couldn't bear living life alone, in these conditions. She didn't want to suffer anymore.

Why should she have to go through the last months of her life in pain? Scully didn't want to have to lie in a bed, tortured by pain and plagued by memories. She reached for the gun on her nightstand as the pains began to let up, and sat up in bed.

She aimed the gun to her temple, and cocked the hammer. She would die by her own will, by her own decision. She would kill herself, and end her misery and anguish. No more memories, no more silent tears, she reminded herself.

She put her finger on the trigger.

She applied pressure.

She closed her eyes.

And she dropped the gun.

Scully had closed her eyes, and all that she had seen was the mournful, sad face of Fox Mulder standing before her, his eyes bleak, and his lips pouting. She realized then that he would be shattered if she committed suicide. Just like how he would mourn when she died.

Like he had mourned when she was abducted.

Oh, how had she been so stupid? So foolish? So blind? Of course he loved her, he loved her with his heart and soul. Oh, but she had been so dumb to walk out on him that day. Now, she had to get him back. See him again before she died.

From the diary of Jesse Phillips

December 18

He was there tonight.

Yes, I thought that I would never see Fox Mulder again, but there he was last night, sitting down across from dying Dee. It was obvious as to why; she was screaming for an X-File. But still, it was a shock, to see him once again in that damned suit and loud tie. It was a miracle of miracles, so to speak.

I had no choice but to speak with him. I knew something that nobody else knew, and therefore he had to know. It was vital information to the case, and I hoped that it might somehow help him out. But I still was afraid of being recognized.

God, it would feel so good to hear the name 'Jesse' ringing from someone's tongue, and instead, I am Anya. I would have cried tears of joy to hear him speak my name. But I hid from him. I did not want to. It was certainly not a proud thing to do.

Oh, God, tell me that I have done the right thing..."

3131 Mockingbird Lane
Rochester, New York
Friday, December 19

The house was charming, and seemingly normal. White picket fence, covered in white snow, ice on the sidewalk from the blizzard. Mulder shivered under the thick, wool trench coat, and his breath showed in the air. God, the last time he had been on assignment without Scully had been... Jesus...

He walked to the front door, and rang the doorbell. Suzanne Brinkley had been abducted in 1993... the same year that Scully had. For the exact amount of time, too. Day matching day. That fact only brought up bad memories.

Suzanne Brinkley opened the door, looking perfectly healthy and radiantly happy. She was wearing a red cashmere sweater, and a pair of blue jeans. Her long auburn hair flowed gracefully down her back, and behind her two boys looked at Mulder, curious. "Can I help you?" she asked. Her voice was calming, and tranquil.

"I'm Special Agent Fox Mulder, with the F.B.I.," he said, flashing her his badge, and she lost her smile, paling. "I'm investigating--"

"Dana's Mulder..." she whispered. This time it was Mulder's turn to be shocked. What had she said?

"Excuse me?"

Suzanne started to nod her head. "You're Fox Mulder... the one that Dana knew... please, please, come in," she invited. She shooed her boys upstairs, and lead the bewildered Mulder to the kitchen.

She sat him down, and offered him hot cocoa. He at first declined. "I insist," she said, and brought the agent the mug. "No trouble at all... though I am sure that you must be a tad confused over who I am," she admitted. Mulder nodded.

"Why did you tell me that I was 'Dana's Mulder' on the porch?" he asked. Suzanne sat down.

"I was taken to the same place that Dana Scully was taken. The same day. The same experiment."

Mulder nodded, biting his nails. "The Forrester Experiment. Yes, I know."

Suzanne nodded, surprised that he knew. "I was also impregnated. We were on the same schedule, and we were stored in the same room."

Mulder interrupted her. "Stored?" he inquired. Suzanne nodded.

"Oh, yes. We were not allowed to go anywhere or do anything, so we were put in a large, white room. A train car sometimes, as though we were goods being shipped." Her voice turned bitter as the memories came back. "Like cattle... We were starved, left exposed, rarely even dressed. They would sedate us sometimes, sometimes not. But Dana and I were always together. I told her to call me 'Angel'. We comforted each other," Suzanne recalled, sadly. Mulder's hands were shaking in his lap, not from cold but from fear.

"She knew then whose child she was carrying. Often times, she would lie awake, crying, and whispering your name over and over. It was as though she was praying to you for help." Mulder received an inward blow with that. Oh, dear God, no wonder Scully had been so furious with him when she found out about Kristen. While she had been tortured and crying for him, he had been with another woman, as though the world went on and nothing else mattered.

"We would talk to each other so that we could find some comfort. The doctors noted this, but for some reason ignored it. I think it was because of that one man , a man that always smoked so many cigarettes, and used to watch Dana so carefully..." Mulder knew who that one man was, and was furious to know that he had been watching over her. "I told her about my two sons... and she told me about you. We both had lights that led us through those months in confinement. I had my children, and she thought only of you. It seemed that she loved you very much."

And he had let her down. It only furthered his decision. He had to see her, to tell her why he had been with Kristen, to get her back into his life. He had to rebuild his shattered family, and put order back in his world.

Suzanne watched the agent's face, curious. "Are you all right, Agent Mulder?" she asked. Mulder nodded.

"Yeah... I never knew. I don't even think that she knew what happened to her. We did find our son... but I never knew that she suffered like that..."

Suzanne looked down. "Many women did, Mr. Mulder. We weren't the only ones."

Mulder wanted to shudder. "I was here to discuss the connection to Deirdre Milligan," he said. Suzanne nodded.

"Of course," she said. "Deirdre. I worry a great deal about her. She's dying of what we all will die of... the disease that is a part of the package we get from the abductions. I see it happening to her, and I know that one day it will happen to me." Mulder felt his jaw start to twitch in fear, remembering the hacking coughs of Deirdre Milligan, her emaciation, her sores and her near-baldness.

She looked at Mulder. "Deirdre was a mistake. Somehow, I know that. They weren't supposed to take her, or else something went wrong."

Mulder narrowed his eyes. "How can you tell?" he asked. She nodded.

"Her memory. They erased all of her memory, not the parts that were important. The entire memory was erased. They screwed up, and that means that there is something about Deirdre that they have to hide." She looked at Mulder. "I think that there is something in Deirdre that may be a cure to this disease."

Mulder looked seriously back at her. "Suzanne, I promise that I will do whatever it takes to find that cure."

Washington, D.C. 4:34pm

Scully lay in bed, and threw her paperback novel to the floor. It was pointless; spending this kind of energy on a stupid book that she wouldn't even remember. She was frustrated and tired, and every hour was one more hour that she was wasting without him. She was squandering the last days of her life away, doing useless things.

She started to cough, but the fit was brief. The night had been mild, though her bones were in constant pain from aches and her great weight loss. She was down to eighty-eight, and as a doctor, she was aware that the loss of weight was putting even more strain on her heart.

Scully stood up, preparing herself to get some more juice, when she moaned, and stumbled to her knees. The pain that squeezed her stomach was unlike any of the pain that she had ever experienced. Like a new form of torture against her already tortured body.

She collapsed on the floor, hacking up blood. Then, she noticed blood spurting from between her legs. Hemorrhaging... oh, Jesus, the last step...

Her sanity and rationalism left her as she thought of what that meant. She would die on that carpeted floor, stained with blood and littered with tissues. Scully would die there, with no one there to tell her that she would be missed and loved forever.

She reached for her cellular phone, and dialed the only number that she wanted to reach. Mulder... her mind thought, weakly. Have to talk to him one more time...

Forgive him...

The cellular phone rang, and Mulder gave an apologetic look to Suzanne Brinkley. "I have to take this," he explained, and turned his shoulder tooher, keeping his end of the conversation private. "Mulder."

The sound of his voice in her ears. Miles and miles away, his familiar, rumbling, masculine tones were like music. Scully clung to that one fragile lifeline, as her own life ran out.

"Mul... Mulder..." she rasped. Her voice sounded foreign to his ears, but the emotion put behind the words were unmistakable. Scully.

"Scully? Scully, what is it?" he asked, alert immediately. Suzanne sat up as well, immediately aware of the agent's tension.

"Mulder," she whispered, and if she had the strength, she would have laughed with joy at the sound of his voice. Like the sound of church bells, as holy and as sacred. So beautiful... he had the voice of an angel to her then. "I'm scared... I'm bleeding..."

Her revelation sent him reeling. Oh, Jesus, she was bleeding... and her voice, it sounded like the voice of Deirdre Milligan. She was dying, oh, God, dying, and he was miles away. "Scully, you're going to be fine, I'll be there," he promised to her.

Tears were torn from her dry, puffy eyes as she bled. "No, I'm not," she said, gathering all of her strength. "I'm going to die. Hemorrhage..." she managed to get out, before losing her voice again. Mulder staggered as he stood, and Suzanne looked at him, concern filling her large green eyes.

"I'm going to call for help," he told her, but he was interrupted by her protests.

"No! No, don't hang up," she pleaded. "I want to hear you... stay on..."

Suzanne got up, and quickly walked to the kitchen, picking up a pad of paper and a pen. She passed it to Mulder, who nodded.

"Call this number and ask for Margaret Scully," he wrote, and quickly jotted down the number and area code. She looked up at him, and he added more. "Tell her that her daughter, Dana, is hemorrhaging. Get an ambulance."

Hemorrhaging? Deirdre had done that, Suzanne thought, and her eyes widened. Oh, no. Dana had fallen ill with what Dee had had. Her worst, secret fears uncovered and confirmed. If the woman who she had comforted and held had fallen ill, Suzanne knew that she would be next.

Suzanne picked up the telephone, and speedily dialed the number given to her. "Hello?" a weary, tired voice said.

"Is this Margaret Scully?" Suzanne asked, and she could hear the confusion in the woman's voice.


"Mrs. Scully, my name is Suzanne Brinkley. I'm in Rochester, New York, with a friend of your daughter's. Fox Mulder. Dana called us here, and she is experiencing a hemorrhage," Jesse explained. Mrs. Scully could hear Mulder's voice in the background, trying to calm Scully on the cellular phone. "Please, call an ambulance. She's at her apartment, I think."

"Oh, my God, right away," Mrs. Scully whispered, and the woman hung up. Suzanne sat back down at the table, not knowing anything else to do then watch the agent grapple with the problem in front of him.

Mulder perched himself on the edge of the table, then restlessly paced the room. "Scully, I'm still here," he said. "An ambulance is coming. You'll be fine."

Her hacking, haggard cough echoed to his ear, sending chills down his spine. "I'm... sorry..." she rasped. Mulder's heart wrenched, and he slowly began to rock back and forth, steadily increasing his speed.

"I'm the one who should be sorry," he whispered. "I'm coming back, Scully. I'm coming back, I promise."

She coughed again, and cried out in pain. Her apartment was growing blurry... she could hardly see... "Mulder..."

"I love you," he breathed, and he heard the E.M.S. at her door. Scully looked up in time to see the medical crew come through her door, and vomited once before plummeting into the darkness that invited her.


Where do we go from here?
This isn't where we intended to be
We had it all, you believed in me
I believed in you

Certainties disappear
What must we do for our dream to survive?
How can we keep all our passions alive
As we used to do?

Deep in my heart I'm concealing
Things that I'm longing to say
Scared to confess what I'm feeling
Frightened you'll slip away
You must love me

"Why are you at my side?
How can I be any use to you now?
Give me a chance, and I'll let you see how
Nothing has changed

Deep in my heart I'm concealing
Things that I'm longing to say
Scared to confess what I'm feeling
Frightened you'll slip away
You must love me
You must love me
You must love me
-- "You Must Love Me" Evita


Georgetown Hospital 7:09am

With no other thoughts in his head than thoughts of her, Fox Mulder walked down the halls of the Oncology Ward. He was blind to the sights around him, and could only see the door ahead of him.

Margaret Scully stood when she saw him approaching the room. She looked disheveled and bedraggled. Her dark hair was harried, and her mascara was running. "Fox," she said, and the relief in her voice was apparent. Mulder swallowed hard, and looked into the petite woman's eyes.

"How is she?" he asked, his voice low. Mrs. Scully looked away, unable to meet his piercing green stare.

"I don't know, Fox," she said. "The doctors say that it doesn't look good." As he tried to go into the room, Maggie stopped him. "Fox, wait! She's changed a lot since you last saw her," she warned. Mulder didn't care, he just had to see her, make sure that she was...

He opened the door, and his knees almost buckled. Scully was lying in the hospital bed, an old Afghan quilt draped over her body. In the harsh white light, it was easy to see the physical changes that she had undergone. She was a shadow, a ghost of the former radiant Dana.

She had turned from curvy and slender to thin and skeletal. Her beautiful face, that lovely, young face had turned gaunt and pasty, and was dappled with sores. Her blue eyes were the only thing that had remained the same, looking at him with such longing and sorrow that they seemed enormous in that face. Her once-luxurious red hair was thin and brittle. She was a sad remainder of her old beauty and glory.

But in those exaggerated sapphire eyes, Mulder saw through the dying body, and saw her soul shining through. Her body could be failing, but her spirit would be forever strong.

He walked to the hospital bed with no disgust or disdain in his heart, like she had feared he would. Tenderly, he enclosed her papery, spindly hand in his long-fingered, warm one, and put his other hand in the remnants of her ruby hair, stroking the fragile strands as he used to do.

"Dana," he murmured, and she brought her hand to his face. She had thought that she might never see him again. That he would be only a memory to dwell upon during her later days wasting away. Now, he was here, flesh and blood, that strength in his eyes that she could use to cling to in days that she was weak and depressed.

"Mulder," she whispered. It hurt her throat to speak his name, yet she had to know that it really was him. He nodded, and, to her sorrow, bent down to gently put a kiss on her brow, beaded with sweat.

"I'm so sorry," he whispered back, and, with one frail arm, brought his head to her small chest. She just wanted to feel him near to her, to know that he was there. He looked so good to her eyes, like an angel sent to protect her. She held his head there, once again fingering his hair, longer in the back because she hadn't been around to nag at him to cut it. The strands brushed the edge of his rumpled shirt collar, curling at the ends. She felt so much older than him at that moment, like she was telling him that he was dying, not the other way around.

He looked up, and his eyes were stricken and unsure. "I should never have let you go," he said, immediately settling the blame for her condition on his shoulders. She shook her head, her heart wrenching.

"No, Mulder," she assured. "I started to get sick before you left." This came as a surprise to him.

"Why didn't you tell me, Scully?" he asked, furrowing his brow. "We could have gone to a doctor, done something for you before it got too bad..." She shook her head, and rested her cheek on the top of his head. Oh, and she had thought that she would not ever feel those silky strands on her cheek again. Foolish Dana.

"It wouldn't have changed anything," she said, sadly. "I wish that it would, but it would not have changed a thing."

The door was cracked open, and Margaret Scully watched a broken and humbled Fox Mulder comforting her emaciated daughter. She did not speak, did not move. She merely observed. Listening to her reciting what the doctors had told her. Listening to Mulder deny it, claim that there had to be a way. Listening to her requesting to go home. Leave the hospital.

Maggie's attention was drawn to a tall, bald man in a suit and a trench coat, bearing a bouquet of dark red roses. He had a pair of wire-rimmed glasses accenting his strong, stern features, and there was an importance about him that commanded respect. Jesse looked calmly at him, and the man nodded to Mrs. Scully.

"Is this Dana Scully's room?" he asked. Before the man could reply, Mrs. Scully's suspicions and paranoia heightened. The dark suit, the trench coat... he could be one of them. One of the ones who had done this to her Dana.

"Who wants to know?" she asked. The man took off his glasses.

"Walter Skinner, Assistant Director of the F.B.I.," he told her. "Who is asking?" The answer impressed her, and she cocked her head, extending her hand.

"Margaret Scully, Dana's mother," she introduced. "She's in there with her ex- partner." The answer was meant to sting, and under Skinner's professional cloak, her aim was true. Skinner inwardly flinched, knowing that part of the reason that the two had had this falling out was because of his decision.

Jesse sighed. "Go on in." Skinner walked past her.

Skinner paused for a moment, looking at the heart-wrenching scene in the hospital room. Scully lay in the bed, an I.V. hooked to her wrist, pale and skeletal. She did not look a thing like the powerful woman that had terrorized monsters of both the supernatural and of the human race. She looked like one of those monsters.

Mulder, at her side, was stricken with the knowledge that his true love would die. He sat stiffly in the plastic hospital chair, caressing her cheek with tenderness that Skinner had never thought possible of such an intense man. The way that he swept away the stray strands of her hair with the tips of his fingers, the pain and devotion in his hooded eyes... he had not been shown that in the graphic photographs of their heated sex.

Skinner interrupted the scene with some reluctance, but knew that he had to talk to the both of them. Mulder immediately stood, hastily taking his hand from Scully's face. She turned her head to Mulder, and Skinner saw the wrath of the disease etched on her face. Skinner shook his head at Mulder, letting him know that he did not care that Mulder had been seen stroking the face of his former partner. Mulder saw that, and, haltingly, put his hand back on Scully's face, knowing that he had provided Scully with some momentary relief from her pain.

"I'm truly sorry to hear this, Agent Scully," Skinner said, putting the roses on her nightstand. Of all the times that she or Mulder had ever been in the hospital, the only time that Skinner had ever come to either of them had been when Scully was in her coma. She didn't remember it, but Skinner had visited her, and saw that this time, she could be in even more danger.

Scully shook her head. "Thank you, sir," she rasped. She brought one bony hand to cover Mulder's hand, which was still cupping the side of her small, hollowed face. That sight, of one woman's small, frail hand covering one man's larger, but more delicate, brown one unsettled him. It would not be an image that he would soon forget.

He thought about making a difference. Changing the world... and knew that if he ever regained the opportunity, he would have no other choice than to right his greivous wrong.

Skinner looked at Mulder for a moment, then back to Scully. "I hope that you will recover, Agent Scully," he said, gruffly, then walked out of the door.

Scully was left alone in the room with Mulder, the tension set high. Finally, she broke it with a feeble attempt at humor. "Christ, Mulder, the last time we were in a room alone together, I wasn't the only one in the bed," Scully cracked. Mulder chuckled slightly.

"Yeah, but that time you didn't have a deep and personal grudge against me," he said, and his black humor was not fully appreciated. She sighed, and looked away.

"I didn't mean to overreact, Mulder," she said. "I was hurt and angry. I wasn't acting rationally."

Mulder nodded. "At all times for you to be irrational," he muttered. She shot him a look that was not completely cruel. "Scully, when I met Kristen, it was during a dark part of my life. You were gone, I was alone, and nobody had heard anything from you. She needed me, and I needed her... that was all. Not a want, or a love, but a need."

She understood, and, her voice scratchy and broken, spoke three words Mulder needed to hear.

"I forgive you."

Mulder brought her hand to his lips, and she sighed. If only she could spend forever there... but forever was being cut short. He put her hands at her side, and held one until she drifted off into the realm of sleep.

A doctor opened the door, and looked at Mulder. "Mr. Mulder?" he asked. Mulder nodded. "Would you please step outside?"

Mulder kissed Scully's hand once again, and followed the doctor out of the room. "What in the hell are you doing to help her?" he demanded. "I'm not a fucking doctor, but I can damn well figure out when someone's in pain." The doctor looked sternly at him, commanding Mulder's attention.

"Mr. Mulder, there is nothing we can do for her," the doctor said. "Nothing but make sure that her last days alive are comfortable."

Mulder was stunned out of his anger. Last days alive? "What do you mean?" Mulder asked, concerned.

The doctor sighed. "The tests have come back inconclusive. Her disease cannot be diagnosed. She will die within days. I would give her two weeks, at best."

Two weeks... fourteen more days...

Mulder closed his eyes, and put his hands up to shield his face.

Home of Margaret Scully Tuesday, December 23

After Scully had been given her grim prognosis, Mulder and Maggie Scully arranged for her to go to her mother's house, where she would be comfortable during her final weeks. Mulder could not give up hope on her, and, to Maggie's sorrow, neither could Scully.

As soon as she was moved into her room, she opened up the file on Deirdre Milligan, and began highlighting. Searching, desperately for an answer. Between fits of coughing, hacking up blood, she tried to do what she could.

Mulder looked at the woman that he loved as she continued to waste away, leaving him with a sense of deep regret and admiration. He could not let her die. If he did, he would be failing her. She simply *had* to make it. Not for two weeks. Not for three.

She would live on to see Christopher grown and well, and live to see him marry, and live to see him with his own children. She would live to see generations of their children, carrying on the love that they would pass down.

Scully had a goal. She wanted to be able to live to see the New Year. God, it was late December. She was asking for days.

He was asking for years.

Mulder sat in the hallway, outside of her room, listening to her great, hacking, rasping coughs. Her condition was weakening. There was nothing in the medical files on Deirdre Milligan that would help her, and Mulder knew it. The only thing that would save Scully was the disk.

Anya had told him that there was something about Deirdre Milligan that he should not forget. And she was right. The truth was in those files, and he had to open them and seek out the cause of the disease. There was something that made Deirdre different from the rest of the abductees. Something that was keeping Deirdre from dying. And he had to know what it was.

He had approached Scully with the proposition, and, stubborn as always, she had refused. "Mulder, if we open up the files, and start looking for the answers, then Christopher..."

"But if we don't, then we lose you," he protested. "How do I decide, Scully, which person that I love dies? Do you want me to make this decision? Like my father did with Samantha? Scully, he had to choose between his son and his daughter. Which one would be taken, and which one would stay. I can't make that choice. I can't choose between the woman that I love and my own son. If I leave the files as they are, then you will die and Christopher will never be well. If I try to do what I can with them, then both of you could be saved. It's our only hope."

Scully had looked away, upset and disturbed by his words. "Mulder..."

His mother had visited Scully, still frail from her stroke, and had done so only to please her son. Mulder did not have the same relationship with his mother as Scully had with her own, and Mrs. Mulder had not known that he was romantically involved with his partner. But somehow, the instant she had walked into Scully's bedroom, and seen her son next to this dying woman, she had known.

So, now, he sat on the floor in the hallway, his face buried in his hands, trying to hold back the tears that threatened to escape his eyes. A choice... like his father had to make.

Was that his last option? To go the the cancer man and beg him for help? Sell his soul to the devil himself, and pay for Scully's life with his own? He would do it. Christ, he would do anything for her. Kill for her, lie for her, steal for her... he would die for her.

Follow in his father's footsteps...

Mrs. Scully walked to him, and put her hand on his shoulder. "Fox, we can't stand here and watch herself do this," she told him. He looked up at her, his knees drawn to his chest, protective and guarded. "There's nothing that she can do to save herself now."

Mulder looked down at his hands. They were hands that had touched her face, tenderly. Hands that had rested in her hair, twisting the fiery locks around his fingers. Hands that had learned to become familiar with every curve and crevice of her body.

But they were also hands that had held numerous guns. Hands that had killed. Now, with these same, long-fingered hands, could he take his own life to be able to touch her lovingly?

Hands of death, hands of mercy...

Mulder looked up at Margaret Scully, and shook his head. "No, there isn't."

From the diary of Jesse Phillips

December 22

They're all dead. Killed, shot, strangled... all of them, dead. Francesca and Jackie, and Auntie Helen... all dead. At my hands. Now, there is no one left, nothing left for me to do, no one left for me to strike dead with my miserable existence. I have no one.

And so, I set up my computer again.

Dana Scully has the disease, and is dying of it. I prayed for her, though I have never been religious. I know that she was, and I feel that that is the only way to help her now.

Poor Deirdre. She, too, is dying. There is no more time left for her. She is going to fall dead. I wish that there was more that I could do, but I am doing the best that i can to help myself. I have money, thank God, but nothing else. Nowhere else to go, and no profession to take. I will have to fend for myself.



J. Edgar Hoover Building
Washington, D.C.
Tuesday, December 23 3:47pm

Fox Mulder looked at the desk before him with a sense of macabre. It was littered with paranormal paraphernalia, and with memories that he would never trade. He walked quietly to the desk, and looked at the photographs that he had put on his desk.

A picture of Samantha, at eight years old. It had been her birthday, and she had been dressed in a pink gingham dress, trimmed with white lace. He smiled, remembering how Samantha had loved that dress, and how she had cried when she tore it. Demanding that Mom fix it, and crying even more when Dad had said no. Mulder recalled how he had finally done his own clumsy, tattered job of sewing the hem back together with his mother's sewing kit.

And six days later, he had never seen her again.

The next photograph was of Christopher. Scully's mother had taken him to a professional photographer, and had a studio portrait done. Mulder remembered how much Scully had loved the photograph, and he smiled, thinking about how she had tried to convince him to go for a family shot. He told her that he was "unfit for cameras." She told him that he was lazy, and that he was perfect.

But the last one was of him and Scully, taken while on a case in Newark, New Jersey. It had been an interesting case, involving murders in a monastery. The grounds of the place had been so beautiful that Scully had wanted some pictures other than crime shots, so she had convinced a monk to take the shots. This one in particular had been taken in the rose gardens by the river. It had been in May, so the flowers were all in bloom, and Scully had had her arms around his neck, putting the flower in the button hole of his dark suit, while loosening his tie. He picked that photo up. She had been so full of life that day, and so beautiful.

Not the dying fragment of a woman that she was now.

Mulder sat down at the desk, and turned on his computer. There was his usual Playboy message. Thanks, Karen, it always helps me to know that I'm *the only one who turns you on*, he thought. He skipped the initial program, and took out the little square of plastic that had been carried in in his pocket.

In this disk, he thought, there was the information that he both feared and dreaded. He could kill with it, or cure with it. And with that disk, he would save Dana Scully and her misbegotten child.

He put in the disk.

Soon, he was lead to a main directory. Names, names, thousands of names. Men and women, all a part of the project. There was his own name, Fox William Mulder, aged 33 when taken. A photograph of him at the time was shown. Jesus, what a dorky haircut, Mulder thought, and read on. There was all of the information, from blood type to sperm count.

He finally got to Deirdre Milligan, and looked at the information before him. A personal history, detailing the life and heritage of the girl. And then, there was something that he did not expect.

Deirdre Milligan had been a mistake. She was never supposed to have been taken. She had already been pregnant.

The doctors decided to try and experiment on the fetus, anyway. In all of the previous experiments, all of the eggs and sperm had had genetic tests performed. Deirdre had never had the DNA treatments. She had had the baby "the old-fashioned way", and they had still tried to test the fetus. It had been a disaster, and the child had died. The mother had been left with a mutation of the inevitable disease, set on by the hormones released when she was naturally impregnated.

So, the reason that Deirdre Milligan was still alive was due to hormonal imbalances. Mulder had found the cause.

Now, to find the cure...

Deirdre had the mutation that sustained her, but the disease still raged on inside of her body. They had to find a way to correctly balance her hormones, and reduce the disease.

Mulder took the disk out, and held it flat in his palm. He had the cause for Scully's disease... but not the cure. He still had yet to possess that, and that was what was really important. Getting her better.

There was a knock at his basement door, and Mulder called out for the person to come inside. In walked Walter Skinner, cloaked in a trench coat. Mulder stood immediately, and concealed the computer disk. He felt immediately tense, and thought about the picture of Scully kissing him that was resting on his desk.

Skinner looked around the office, and walked to Mulder's "I want to believe" poster. He put his hands behind his back, and stared soberly at it. "You want to believe," he muttered. Mulder cleared his throat, and shifted his weight, nervously.

"Yes, sir," he said, and Skinner nodded.

"You know, Mulder, in a way, so did I," he said, surprising Mulder. "I used to want to believe in America. I used to want to believe in this country. In this system. I wanted to believe in mankind. I came into the F.B.I. wanting to make a difference. I believed that if I did what was right, and did what was expected of me, the world could be changed." Skinner turned to Mulder. "I was wrong. I fell right into the system's trap. I did exactly what was expected and told to me, and I followed the steps right to the top. But you know what? I never made a difference. I was just another government bureaucrat. That's all that I ever amounted to. I still wanted to believe. I thought that at the top, I could really do something." He looked away, and shook his head. "I was wrong."

For a moment, both men were silent. Mulder had once gotten damned close to not believing. After he and Scully were reassigned, when she was in a place that he could not touch, and a place where he did not belong. He had almost stopped believing, but she had kept him going. She had been there for him, and had helped him to continue believing. He had been pushed along by his blind faith, and that had kept him going. She had been his star to guide him through the blackest night.

Now, in her darkest hour, she needed him. And he would be the one to keep her wanting to believe. Not in extraterrestrial life, or the unexplained, but in science and in government. In humanity. In America. He would make her want to believe in miracles.

And in that respect, he would perform one for her.

Skinner cleared his throat, and began to speak again. "Five years ago, Agent Mulder, when you sat in front of me in my office, and I became your superior, I started to want to believe again. Your ambition, your determination, and your eagerness was much like my own when I joined the Bureau. Your work with Agent Scully has made a lot of us want to believe again." He walked to face Mulder, whose hands tensed. "The other day, when I saw Agent Scully lying in bed, dying, I started to lose that belief. I knew that her fellow man had done this to her, and lost that faith in humanity." Skinner looked carefully at Mulder, and his next words were words that surprised and stunned him. "But when I think of you, Mulder, sitting at her bedside, holding her hand, somehow, I can believe again. I know about your special relationship with Agent Scully. And I respect that. Agent Mulder, I know that you're feeling frustrated right now. But let me tell you this: there is nothing that you can do for her except be with her. I know that I once prevented that..." He looked back at Mulder, putting his hands on his hips. "You want to believe. Don't stop wanting, Agent Mulder. Because the minute you stop wanting to believe, that is the minute that you stop believing."

And Skinner left.

Mulder slowly opened his palm, as soon as he left the room. He stared down at the plastic disk, and turned it over in his hands again. In this square of information, there was all the information that he needed.

Skinner was right about a lot of what he said. But he was wrong about this: there was more that he could do than just sit around and hold her hand. He owed her more than that. He loved her too much than just sit around and watch her die.

He remembered when Melissa, Scully's younger, impetuous sister, had told him that he should tell Scully his feelings for her. She had known even then. Scully had been greatly traumatized by her sister's murder.

Mulder owed Scully so much. Shouldn't he owe her a chance at life?

When Mulder arrived back at Mrs. Scully's house, Mrs. Scully was sitting on the couch, holding her grandchild in her arms. Christopher looked up at her with some trepedation, then remained silent.

When she spoke to Mulder, her words were quiet and soft. "When Bill had his children, I was ecstatic," she murmured. Mulder sat down for a moment across from her, watching her face closely. "They were all lively, exuberant children. So bright, so eager to learn... I was so happy for my son, in that he was able to experience the same joy that I had experienced with him, with Charles, with Melissa, and with Dana. Charles had his children. Melissa wanted hers. And, now, Dana has one of her own." Mulder inwardly flinched. Babies that should have had a life of their own, that should have had a chance to survive and thrive on the miracle of life. He had been the one to prevent Scully from having that opportunity.

Maggie continued to speak. "When she was younger, she had often talked about having children one day. Up into medical school... even when she first joined the F.B.I." Maggie looked thoughtfully at Mulder. "But, for some reason, after she was assigned to you, she did not ever speak again of wanting children." Maggie smiled softly. "Dana used to have such ambition. She used to laugh with her sister over the 'perfect man'." She took Mulder's hand, and looked very seriously at him.

"She used to say that she wanted someone who was a protector. A man who was happy, and kind, and gentlemanly." She looked into Mulder's eyes. "After being assigned to the X-Files, her vision of the perfect man became more specific. Someone with dark hair, dark, green eyes, someone athletic, and someone who honestly needed her. She wanted someone who would not only need her but want her, and love her, and not only need protection but would protect her." She squeezed Mulder's hand. "Then, the night that Dana was abducted, and I met you, I knew exactly who she had been describing."

Mulder's lips parted, slightly, like he wanted to say something, but didn't quite know what he should say. "You changed her life, Fox," she said. "You've changed Dana, and in that respect, changed us all. And, I have a feeling that she has changed your life as well. Now, my daughter is dying. She needs someone who will protect her and love her. And I hope that you're the perfect man for that."

Mulder, in a rare sign of affection, took Maggie's other hand. "I hope so, too," he vowed. He stood up, and walked to Scully's room. He opened the door, and walked to Scully's side. She was asleep, but quickly awoke at the sound of his footsteps.

"Get away from me," she rasped, and Mulder stopped in his path.

"Scully, it's me," he told her. She brought herself to a sitting position, and glared hatefully at him.

"What do you want from me, you son of a bitch! I've given you all that I've got! You even took my fucking child! What do you want now!"

There was something blank and glazed over in her ice blue eyes. Mulder put up his hands, to show her that he did not want to hurt her. Her words struck him to his very core. There had been only one time when she had said such words to him, when she had been affected by the subliminal messages in the television sets.

Now, she spoke such words to him again, with greater conviction and violent intent. "Scully, it's me, Mulder," he said, his voice calm, and soothing. "You know that I don't want to hurt you."

She shook her head. "I don't know who you are. I don't know who you are!" She started to cry. "Why are you here? I can't give you anything else. Just... just go away!" She closed her eyes again, and fell asleep.

He had read about this in the file on Deirdre. Increased paranoia, temporary amnesia... it did not take the pain away. Just because it was a medical symptom, something that could be explained, did not make it hurt any less.

Mulder walked to her side, and watched her breath fall in and out. The oxygen that she took in through her parted, dry lips was filled with a ragged sound, and Mulder winced when he realized why.

She was fighting to breathe.

Of all of the battles that they had undergone. Fighting Congress, chasing monsters into places that human beings had never gone, struggling for the thinnest, most fragile truths, the most arduous one of all was Dana Scully's quest for one more breath.

With that one breath, maybe one more second. Maybe one more minute. An hour, a day, a week... with each breath, she earned another moment in life.

All with that endeavor for one breath.

Mulder put his hand on her abdomen, feeling with his own flesh her war with death. She had no allies in the dark place she was in. It was her will to live versus the evil of mankind. She was all alone in the ending of her life. He could not help her. He was utterly, dreadfully powerless.

He moved his hand to her lips, and she awoke again, her eyes fluttering into life. One more breath, two more, three.


With that weak inquiry, how much strength had she wasted? Lost one second? Or was it two? His mind grappled with calculating how much time alive she had lost by the uttering of his own name.

He shook his head, mournfully. "Don't speak," he begged. "Save your strength. Just listen."

She shook her head, slightly. "To what?"

"To the music," he replied, and went to the stereo. She had been calmed in the past few days by the music, and he had hoped that she would once again find some sort of comfort in the songs that she heard on the radio. He turned it to a soft song that she had heard before and liked, and turned to volume to a soft pitch. Mulder took her hand, and held it while she rested, listening to the music. He held her hand until she fell into sleep, and then he released it.

Mulder looked down at the peacefully sleeping woman in the bed, and the small smile on her face was enough to resurrect the memories of the woman that he had fallen in love with. Gone were the sores, the near-baldness, the paleness, and the gauntness. She had been revived by that glowing half-smile. He was about to stand when he heard the lines of the next song.

"Wait Your tired eyes must rest Let this moment pass Wait until the morning"

Mulder closed his eyes, and leaned in the door frame, his own lanky frame filling the space. He was so tired. He had aged so much in those past days, much like Scully had. Only her aging was physical. He had grown up mentally.

"Close your eyes and let me see Who you used to be Left without a warning Who knew one so big could grow so small Lighter than the writing on the wall"

Mulder knew the lyrics to be true. She had once been so powerful, so formidable an enemy and so commanding an ally. Now, the woman in that bed was a shadow of her former self. Who knew that she could become so tiny and weak?

The singer's tender voice reached the chorus.

"When angels cry, can I stand by? When stones weep, can my heart sleep? Wish I'd never heard Wish I'd never heard Wish I'd never heard The power of a four letter word"

When angels cried, could Mulder stand by and watch? Could he truly stand aside and watch them sob? He didn't know. Holding her hand and telling her that he loved her was supposed to be noble and tender. It was supposed to be enough, yet it was not. He did not know if he was capable of standing by and watching her die. He thought that she was worth more than that.

He thought that he was more than that...

"Only love will matter in the end For woman or for man What's the difference now? Here, we live with bottles and needles and truth Here's your living proof that death cannot be proud Some say it's a judgment on us all I can't believe that God could be that small"

He could not believe that God would be so cruel as to take the lives of innocent men and women. How many other than Scully lay as she did now, coughing and gasping, fighting for their natural right to one more day? He wanted to know, and he wanted her to be able to stand up, and win that battle for one more day.

"When angels cry, can I stand by? When stones weep, can my heart sleep? Wish I'd never heard Wish I'd never heard Wish I'd never heard The power of a four letter word

"If ever was a heart that longed to fly If ever was a soul that longed to bloom If ever was an angel, it was you So close your eyes and say goodbye Goodbye"

Oh, but she was his angel. Her heart had had that desire to fly, her soul to bloom... God, she was his own angel. And he had to protect her, keep her safe, so that her heart would be able to fly to greater heights, and so that her soul could become the most brilliant flower in the garden of mankind.

"When angels cry, I can't stand by When stones weep, my heart can't sleep Guess I've finally learned Guess I've finally learned Yes, I've finally learned Love is just a four letter word Hope is just a four letter word"

As the singer's agile fingers plucked out the final notes, Mulder knew that he could not stand by when angels cried for souls like Scully. His heart could not sleep. He would defend her as long as she was alive, and even until they both were dead.

"I promise, Scully," he whispered,"you won't die before I do."

From the bed, Scully's body stirred, and her heart beat with a slightly stronger intensity.


Hold on
Hold on to yourself
For this is gonna hurt like hell
Hold on
Hold on to yourself
You know that only time will tell

What is it in me that refuses to believe?
This isn't easier than the real thing

My love
You know you're my best friend
You know that I'd do anything for you
My love
Let nothing come between us
My love for you is strong and true

Am I in heaven here or am I...
At the crossroads I am standing

So now you're sleeping peaceful
I lie awake and pray
That you'll be strong tomorrow
And we'll see another day and
We will praise it
And love the light that brings a smile across your face

Oh God
If you're out there, won't you hear me
I know that we've never talked before
Oh God
The man I love is leaving
Won't you take him when he comes to your door

Am I in heaven here or am I in hell At the crossroads I am standing

Am I in heaven here or am I...
At the crossroads I am standing

So now you're sleeping peaceful
I lie awake and pray
That you'll be strong tomorrow
And we'll see another day and
We will praise it
And love the light that brings a smile across your face

"Hold on
Hold on to yourself
For this is gonna hurt like hell
--Sarah McLachlan "Hold On", Fummbling Towards Ecstasy, 1993


Margaret Scully's home December 25 11:32am

Scully slowly awoke to feel Mulder's hands caressing her hair again. He had been so good to her, and he never had left her side. He was there for her, and she needed him there so badly. He kept her going, kept her alive.

She opened her eyes, and gasped when she saw the room. It was full, literally full of angel-faced roses. They were delicate blooms, full and perfect, except for the one rose that Mulder had in his hand. They were the same kind of flower that he had given to her on Valentine's Day in Charleston. He smiled down at her, and helped her sit up against the fluffy pillows.

"Merry Christmas, Dana Kath-er-ine," he said, and she wrapped her bony arms around his neck, putting a dry kiss on his cheek. Never had a kiss felt so sweet.

"Oh, Mulder," she whispered. "It's so beautiful..."

He put the rose in her hands. "Do you know what this rose means? On January 3, it will die, just like the doctors predicted for you. But you'll live to see many, many more roses, like this one."

She only wished so. "And I'll see them all with you," she promised. He bent his head to hers, and she took his head, putting it on her shoulder. There were times when she felt guilty for leaving him, knowing that she would go before he was ready to let her out of his sight. There were times when she knew that the disease had affected him more than her.

But she had her regrets. She was secretly afraid of when she would die. She had her beliefs about the other side, but when one faced the prospect of going there, one's beliefs faltered. What if there was no other side, and when you died, there was only darkness?

Scully did not want to think of such things. Not when she was surrounded by these life-filled flowers and this life-filled man.

Mrs. Scully was the next one to enter, holding a somber yet festively-dressed Christopher in her arms.

"Merry Christmas, Dana," she said, and brought the baby to her. "I swear, he has missed you."

Scully could not tell the difference, but took her son from her mother. Her son would grow up without a mother, only with a father and memories of a woman that had died for him.

The day went on with continuing festivities, including food, music, and memories. Scully laughingly relayed the events of the Valentine's Day to her mother, and Mulder helped her out whenever her memory, now shorting out, would fail her. Mrs. Scully laughed at the description of how the onlookers would stare at the couple.

Scully smiled at her lover, who was tenderly sweeping her hair from off of her brow. "I still remember what you said to me when you brought me back to that hotel room, and carried me over the threshold," she said. "You said, 'They're angel-faced roses. I couldn't think of a more appropriate rose to give to an actual angel.'" She smiled. "I never could forget that."

Mrs. Scully smiled as well, looking at the couple. Ever since the name of Fox Mulder had been uttered in her prescense, she had hoped that this mysterious man would bring some sort of light into her daughter's heart. Over the years, she had watched as the two had grown increasingly closer to one another, and she had often suspected, even hoped, that the two would one day express the feelings for each other that were so apparant to Mrs. Scully's experienced eyes.

"Why don't we move into the living room," she suggested, and Scully smiled.

"I'll try," she promised.

Mulder looked down at Scully, her fragile form hidden beneath the blankets, and leaned down. He picked her up, blankets and all, and was stunned at how little she weighed. "Mulder!" she exclaimed. He shook his head.

"Just let me," he told her. He wrapped his strong arms around her failing body, and carried her into the living room, where he let her down on the couch. The love that resided in the two restored Maggie's own faith in the power of love and life.

Mulder walked into the room, a look of surprise on his face. "Mrs. Scully, you have a piano?" he asked. Mrs. Scully nodded.

"Why, yes. Bill used to play the piano, and when he moved out, he gave us the old piano. It's still in good shape, since Bill's kids play it when they come over," she said. Mulder ambled to the piano, and Mrs. Scully sat beside her daughter, smoothing her red, rich hair.

He began to play, his fingers dancing over the keys. "Carol Of The Bells" was the piece, a haunting, beautiful song that had been his favorite Christmas carol for a long time. But Mulder had lowered the key, bringing what was once a light piece into a piece that was dark and shadowy. It reflected his own persona, a life that had the potential for greatness, but had been lowered a key into a life of darkness and despair.

The song went on, and Mulder's piano playing was simply exquisite and lively. Scully had had that simple taste of it when she was in Charleston, in Jesse Phillips's music room, when her partner had sat down and touched her heart with the most beautiful rendition of "Moonlight Sonata" ever written.

The day progressed, shifting into the night. Scully finally decided that it was time to open gifts, and Margaret volunteered to go first.

Mrs. Scully presented Dana with her gift to her daughter. It was a beautiful quilt, that Scully immediately recognized. "Oh, Mom," she murmured. "This was Grandma's quilt..."

Maggie nodded. "I know... but I knew of someone who really needed it," she said, and Scully's mother tucked the quilt in around her daughter's body. Scully kissed her mother's cheek, and Maggie smiled.

Maggie then handed a present to Mulder. "Fox, I know that you know that I consider you a part of this family," she said. "You've been such a blessing to us in these past days. I don't know how to thank you enough."

He opened it up, and found a selection of both brightly colored and more conservative ties. He chuckled, and shook his head. "I think that this must be a message that my wardrobe could use remodeling," he said, and passed the gift to Scully, who smiled.

On an impulse, the stoic, cynical man let down his guard for a woman that had been the mother he had never had. He bent across to her, and took her into his arms, offering more than his thanks for the gift. He was offering her a chance at owning a piece of his soul, and she accepted.

Mulder and Scully gave out their gifts, and Mrs. Scully was dazzled by the silk scarves that Mulder gave her. "Am I supposed to take this as an insult?" she tossed back at him. Maggie smiled at her daughter's gift of diamond earrings.

Mulder and Scully quietly, and lovingly exchanged their own personal gifts to each other. Mulder was urged by his lover to open his first, and he obeyed, tearing open the present with a childlike eagerness that amused Scully. Inside was a gold pocketwatch, that had an inscription on the back.

"To Fox Mulder, I'll never stop loving you, and I never have," he read aloud. "From your Dana Katherine."

Scully smiled. "It used to be my father's watch," she said. "When he died, it was passed on to me, and I added the inscription on the back a month ago." She smiled. "I was always an early planner. And I mean every word of it." She closed her hands around his. "Whenever you look to see how much time you have left, remember that for every minute of your life, you have my love."

Mulder embraced her, and put his lips to the back of her neck. Mrs. Scully smiled, sadly, knowing that the two lovers had so very little time left.

Mulder put the pocket watch in his own pocket, and urged Scully to open hers. She opened the wrapping to find a small, velvet jewelry box. She opened it up to find a slender, gold ring, carved to look like a wreath of roses. She gasped, for in the center of each individual rose, there was a sparkling diamond.

"Oh, Mulder," she breathed, and he slid the gold band on her finger, where it fit loosely.

"A diamond is forever," he said,"and that is how long I'll love you."

She kissed the back of his neck, this time, and the rest of the night was full of merriment and laughter, without one mention of the disease that riddled Scully's body.

That night, Mulder walked into Scully's room, dressed for bed. She was resting her head against the pillows, slowly twisting the gold rose band on her finger, admiring the way the light caught the tiny diamonds in the roses. He walked to her side, and took her hand.

"Good night, Dana Kath-er-ine," he said, drawing out the words in a way that still aroused her emotions. And he did something that Scully thought he would never do again. He leaned down, and kissed her fully on the lips, meeting her mouth with his. In spite of the sores that graced her mouth. Forgetting the dryness of her lips. He remembered only the love that still remained.

He stood back up, and she brought her hand to his left hip, caressing his firm muscle. "Stay with me, tonight," she whispered. "I'm not asking for anything else... just lie next to me again, and hold me."

How could he resist that? He pulled the covers aside, and climbed into the bed, his body pressing next to hers. He turned out the light, and put his strong arms around her weak body, holding her tightly to him, keeping her safe and near to him. He had missed the perfect way in which her body fit into his side, and the way her arms felt around his neck, and put his stubbled cheek to hers, comparing the softness of her skin to his rough face.

"I'll be here every night, from now until eternity," he vowed, and she fell asleep, once again surrounded by his tight embrace.

Mulder kept his promise, staying at her side at all times, only leaving to relieve himself and to eat, and when he did eat, it was a meager meal. Mrs. Scully noted that her daughter was not the only one losing weight, and tried to press on her homecooked meals. She knew the real reason behind Mulder's lack of hunger. He was only famished for every precious moment left with his fading partner.

Scully continued to rapidly lose weight, and her condition only worsened. Her coughing fits were now frequent, and consistently followed by hacking up blood and mucous. Her memory lapses were more severe as well, and once she could not even recall who her mother was. Most of the time, however, it was the face of the man who loved her that would throw her. She suspected him of anything, and once tried to throw her lamp at him. She was so weak that she could not even lift it. Her paranoia and mistrust of him hurt Mulder deeply.

But then, the night after Christmas, Scully could not breathe. Fluid had filled her lungs, and she was forced to be re-admitted to the hospital. The doctors told a bereft Margaret and a stricken Mulder that her final days had arrived.

And so, on December 27, Mulder sat next to her, holding her hand. "I just want to die," she confessed. "It hurts so much, Mulder... nothing works... just please, Mulder, cut the I.V. Slip me a cyanide capsule... anything to make me stop hurting."

He held her hand, and pressed his lips to her palm. Oh, but did she know that her words were hurting him, too? Her pleas of mercy by condemning her to death were killing him as well.

Mulder held her hand tightly. "Hold on, Scully," he begged. "The rose isn't dead yet... you have to wait. Keep your strength." Silently, he added, Because I cannot go through life without you at my side.

She fell asleep, and he stayed beside her for a moment, kneeling at her side. He held her small, delicate hand in his larger, browner one for a moment, before taking it to his brow, pressing her palm against his forehead. The skin of her hand felt cool against his own skin, and he took her hand, tracing the outline of his profile with her fingers. His hand still controlling hers, he put her hand through his hair, forcing her fingers to wrap around his brown strands. The side of her hand brushed past the tip of his ear, and her fingertips smoothed the slightly longer tendrils that gently brushed his collar. He finally moved her hand to cup the side of his face, and her hand rested there, a small, white, limp hand against his rough, unshaven face. He tried to will the life into her, his eyes closed, remembering when her hand had moved on its on, kind and doting.

Realizing that that hand was now lifeless and slack, he dropped her hand, and it dangled at her side. "Scully, don't leave me," he whispered, and she did not stir.

Mulder looked down at that limp, white hand with quiet inquiry. The illusion of his once lively and beautiful partner was captured in time in that hospital bed, creating the delusion that her life was still continuing.

But oh, how difficult science and medicine had made it to distingush reality from fantasy. With modern machinery, a corpse could breathe, and a cadaver's heart could beat. It could create miracles, only to prove that they were worth nothing. In days of scientific discovery and exploration, it seemed that the only miracle that science could not perform was the only one that mattered. Science still could not perform immortality.

It could create, it could destroy, and it could sustain for a short period. But there was nothing that it could do to prevent the eventual death of anything and everything. Mulder knew that immortality could only be gained through one's actions and words, and that an act of great wealth could gain eternal life, and that that could be used in both a good and a bad way.

Mulder realized then that anything could be used for a good or a bad way, and still carry the same amount of importance and the same potential for manipulation. A horrific genocide was just as memorable as a cure for a deadly disease. Anything good, no matter how pure, could be twisted and distorted into something sick and evil, and vice versa. In that respect, the most evil and terrible mind could create the purest and awesome inspiration.

Perhaps that one inspiration of good in the lives of the cruel and the unjust was Christopher Ahab. He was a complete and total good. Mulder realized this. The woman who had given life into his fragile and tender body would now have no life to give to her own. Mulder himself would have to be the only one to hold the child, and breathe the words of intelligence and wisdom into the empty lungs of his son. And he owed it to the woman who had given him this opportunity to do so to the best of his ability.

Mulder left the room, and walked to the door of the hospital. But first, he must go and try to breathe life into her lungs with his power.

J. Edgar Hoover Building

Mulder sat before the computer, and put his hands through his hair, as though the simple act of pushing his fingertips through his sandy locks might somehow give him the answer that he sought. Quietly, he reviewed all that he knew about the Commune and project.

The Forrester Project started out as the Michigan Experiment in 1953. Mulder noted that the dates would have been set after the Roswell crash in New Mexico. The original experiment involved creating soldiers in case of a war against Russia, and began as a voluntary situation. But when volunteers ran short, the project was shut down. It was later revived in 1976, under a different name, and under extreme levels of secrecy, for its patients were taken by force, and brought to the Commune with no consent. History was not helping him.

He turned on the computer, and opened up the link to the current system of information. There was the list of names of all of the men and women involved. Mulder had not yet gotten to them, and decided to look through their records. Aaronsen, Kelly was the first name. He opened it up, to find that she had fallen ill in 1992. Dead.

He went through and began to notice an odd pattern. All of the bodies had been reported missing from the gravesites. They had been taken from their resting places to a new location. Except for some of the women, who had been taken before they had died, and their whereabouts were still unexplained.

Mulder opened the file on Dana Scully. The photograph of her while she had been abducted was painful. It was a picture of her in the last month of her pregnancy, and her body was swollen and extended. She was nude, and the rest of her body was pencil-thin and emaciated. She was ghostly pale, and her red hair was fanned about her face. Her eyes were open, and there was fear and pain etched into her china eyes. He winced, and concentrated on the report of her treatment.

He knew about all of the medicines. He had read of those earlier. He saw that his name had been recorded there as sperm donor for Dana Scully, and saw his own medical synopsis beside her own. And he looked at her current status. It made note that she had had a genetic mutation, and that the disease given to her had finally taken its course through her body. And he looked then at her situation, and stood up, his face draining of color. "Scully," he uttered, and grabbed his coat and gun, running in a great hurry to his automobile.

On the computer, her situation was reading "Transfer to location in progress."

Georgetown Medical Center
December 27 3:47pm

The special agent flew through the halls, his eyes wide and his hair disheveled. He had raced to the hospital as quickly as possible, and had arrived there with only a miracle to thank. The room where Scully lay was just ahead, he assured himself. "Scully!" he yelled, and the interns around him stared at the agent.

Mrs. Scully's attention was drawn to Mulder, and she walked to him. "Fox, what's wrong?" she asked.

"Is Scully still there?" he asked, bending down, grasping his knees with his hands to keep himself from falling over. He took in breaths with heaving gasps, and Margaret put her hand on his back, steadying him with her support.

"I would assume so, I was there only a few minutes ago," she said, and Mulder burst into her room.

The bed was empty.

Mulder staggered, and braced himself against the doorway. She had been taken, oh, God, she had been taken. The sheets were neatly folded on the bed, and the pillows were fluffed. It looked as though Dana Scully had been checked out, and the nurses had already fulfilled their duties.

Scully was gone.

His eyes flashed to the makeshift crib in the corner, where Scully had wanted Christopher. He raced to the crib where the infant had lain, and looked inside.

So was Christopher.

Margaret walked into the room, and cried out, pressing a hand to her fist. "Dana!" she choked, and Mulder turned to her, a look of despair on his face. "Oh, my God, where is she?" Maggie uttered, and Mulder walked out of the room.

"Where in the hell is this patient and the baby?" he demanded, and the nurses loked up at the enraged man. "I want to know! Who was on duty?" There was no response, and a doctor approached him with some trepedation.

"Sir, I don't understand..."

Mulder pointed furiously to the empty hospital room. "They're gone." The doctor and an entourage of nurses flooded the room, wrapping the ward in chaos at the missing patient and infant. Mrs. Scully had a chance to look back at the man who stood amidst the flood of medical officials. His eyes were wild, and his jaw clenched. His entire face was flushed with his heated fury. She shuddered for a moment, and walked into the room where her daughter and grandson had once lain.

Out of the corner of his eye, Mulder caught sight of a slender, tall, blonde nurse. She was walking to the elevator in a manner that somehow reminded him of someone. He followed her, and the blonde turned around. It was the U.N. representative that had helped Mulder out on occasion, alluding him with her sparse information and her cold demeanor. Marita.

Mulder raced to the woman, and she kept her cool, though those icy blue eyes widened ever so slightly. She turned to enter, but Mulder caught her sleeve, taking her into a darkened corrider. He drew his gun, and jammed it into her ribcage. "What in the hell are you doing here?" he hissed, and she did not resist.

"I had an assignment, Agent Mulder," she said, coolly.

Mulder jabbed the barrel of the gun harder into her side. "You were the one who helped take Scully and my son out of the hospital," he accused. She arched her eyebrow, coldly.

"We all have our side duties. This was mine."

"You bitch," he spat. "I thought that you were an ally." Marita smiled.

"Maybe I am," she said, coyly. He wasn't falling for her *maybe I'm a nice girl, maybe I'm a bad girl* shit.

"If you were an ally, you would tell me where Agent Scully and the child were," he replied. She chuckled.

"Ah, the crafty fox, the wily fox," she murmured.

"One more bad pun about my name and I pull the trigger," he warned. She shook her head. Mulder looked down at the beautiful blonde that he had pinned to the wall. She was like a parody of Scully, with her short hair, blue eyes, and calmness. In fact, Mulder would venture as far to say that Marita was what Scully would have been if she had joined the cigarette man. Cold, impassive, and ice-covered.

Mulder finally realized that if he did kill Marita, he would be fitting into the cancer man's plan. He had to let her go. He released the pressure on his gun, and stepped back. "Just get the hell away from me," he muttered. "Just get the fuck away."

Marita straightened her nurse's uniform. "You're making the right decision, Agent Mulder," she said. "And as I have said before, not everything dies."

The last thing that she said unsettled him, throwing his judgment on Marita again. Was she an enemy or an ally? She seemed to want to help him at times, and at others, was his sworn enemy. Marita walked away, and left him feeling bereft and bewildered.

He sat down in the stiff hospital chair, anguished at the loss of Scully and Christopher. His blank eyes searched the opposite wall, and he pondered Marita's last words.

Not everything died. The truth never died. It could be covered by lies and decieit, and shadowed by greed and tyranny, but it would never die. And so he looked up, determination running through his veins.

There was still hope for his family.

From the diary of Jesse Phillips

December 27

I know what I must do. I feel so useless, sitting in this hotel room, a fake I.D. in my purse. I tell them that I'm a college student on my way from *your university here*, visiting Nana in *your town here*. I find myself moving closer and closer to Vermont... of course, I know why.

Because that it where the torture is taking place.

Dee and Suzy were taken there. I read their reports. I know exactly what is going on, and what am I doing about it? Nothing! Jesus fucking Christ, I need to do something! There has to be anything that I can do for one of them, two of them, all of them!

Why did you make me seventeen, God? Don't you think that I could serve my purpose better as an adult? I could be worth more that way. I could be better used. Nobody wants a teenager. Why give this all to me? I don't want it anymore! I'm sorry that I ever decided to put my nose in business that it never belonged in!

But now, there is nothing that I can do about it except walk on and do my best. And realize that there is no one that could do better.


"I've wept for those who suffer long But how I weep for those who've gone Into rooms of grief and questioned wrong But keep on killing

"It's in the soul to feel such things But weak to watch without speaking And oh what mercy sadness brings If God be willing

"There is a train that's headed straight To Heaven's gate, to Heaven's gate And on the way child and man And woman wait, watch and wait For Redemption Day

"A fire rages in the street And swallows everything it meets It's just an image often seen On television

"What do you have for us today Throw us a bone but save the plate On why we waited till so late Was there no oil to excavate No riches in save for the fate Of every person who died in hate Throw us a bone you men of great

"There is a train that's headed straight To Heaven's gate, to Heaven's gate And on the way child and man And woman wait, watch and wait For Redemption Day

"It's buried in the countryside Exploding in the shells of night It's everywhere a baby cries Freedom..." --Sheryl Crow "Redemption Day", Sheryl Crow, 1996

Offices of the Lone Gunmen Wednesday, December 27 12:33pm

Mulder entered the offices of Frohike, Langly, and Byers with a small smile on his face. There was consistency in chaos, and in consistency there was comfort.

Langly was furiously typing at a computer, his dark, thick glasses sliding down his nose. Byers and Frohike were having a heated argument over a prospective lead, and somewhere in the middle of the room, a tape recorder rolled.

Mulder took off his sunglasses, and looked at the trio of men. "Hey, guys," he greeted, and the men turned to the tall man in blue jeans and an untucked dress shirt. He looked rumpled and disheveled, and there were dark circles under his eyes. His chin was rough with stubble, and his eyes and voice were tired.

Frohike approached Mulder with a stack of papers. "Mulder, maybe you can settle this," he started. "I have an excellent lead on where constant UFO abductions could occur. Highly classified government document. Could be the next Roswell as far as publicity."

Byers approached Mulder. "No, Frohike. This is all an elaborate hoax to throw the public off of another site. A better one." Mulder leafed through the papers.

"This is an eyewitness report," Frohike explained, giving a synopsis for each sheet of paper. "Radius, weather reports..." Mulder pulled out the last picture, and gave Frohike a questioning look. "Oh, that's just a naked picture of Teri Hatcher that I got from the Web."

Mulder shook his head, and pointed to the log. "The reports given by the witnesses are exactly alike in sentence construction and format. The adjectives and times have been changed, as well as names and locations. Example: Marielle Lewis says this: 'I was on the way home from a strenuous day at my job as a waitress when I encountered a bright flash of light.' Samuel Parker says this: 'I was coming home from my difficult position as a lawyer when I was struck by a brilliant white flicker.' Byers is right; it's an elaborate hoax. Not even that elaborate."

Byers raised his eyebrows as though to say,"I told you so", and Frohike sighed, frustrated, and threw the stack of papers away, keeping the picture of Teri Hatcher.

Langly turned to face the weary F.B.I. agent. "Something on your mind, Mulder?" he inquired. Mulder sat down, and rubbed his hands over his face, attempting to awaken his soul again.

"Agent Scully and Christopher are missing from the hospital," Mulder said. "They were taken, and I don't know where." Mulder sighed. If the guys were going to help him, there could be no secrets. It was an unspoken policy. "This means more to me than you know. In the past few months, Agent Scully and I have been... more seriously involved."

There were looks around the circle, their unspoken language that conveyed their conversations. Byers clapped his hand on Mulder's shoulder, a gesture that accepted his query of help.

He looked up at the men. "Look, guys, I've gone through all of my resources. There's nothing there. I need your specific help."

Frohike nodded. "What've you got with you?"

Mulder rolled his chair to a nearby computer, and slid in the disk. "This is a record of the experiments that took place in the Forrester Commune for the Militant Child, as well as records of the men and women used in the Forrester Project. My name as well as Scully's name is on record as being used. In the past few weeks, men and women have been disappearing from their locations, and being sent to another one. Where this location is, I don't know."

Frohike looked at the records. "What do you want us to do?" he asked. Mulder took in a dep breath, and slowly let it out.

"I need for you to find out where the women and children have been taken," he said. "Then, I'm going to go and find her. I'll need anything you boys can get me, surveillance equipment, computers, the whole nine yards. I know that you guys can handle it."

Frohike, Langly, Byers, and Mulder strained over the files for three hours. Finally, Frohike produced a map of Vermont that he had printed out from the files. "This is it," he said, pointing to a red dot on the map. "This has to be the place. This map has the number 110681 in the right-hand corner. In every file of the abducted woman, this number has been in the same place: by their date that they were transported."

Mulder took the map from Frohike's hands. "There's no road nearby," he mused. "The facility was built on an island, it seems, and is inaccesible by all means of transportation... the only approach would be by foot."

Byers folded his hands. "We can offer our services to help you," he said.

Mulder nodded. "The topographical area suggests foothills. The lake is deep, I would say about 24 feet. You would need a boat, but that would most likely not work out. A helicopter would be too risky. They have most likely patrolled the entire area. Heavy firearms would be very wise to take along, as well as communications devices. And, Mulder, might I suggest that you take along someone else."

Mulder gave a short laugh. "There's no one else to take," he muttered. "Thanks, guys. I have something to give you to replace that piece of shit that you were going to put on the newsletter cover." He passed the men a thick file, and a stack of disks. "This is all of the information on the Forrester Project. Run it. Print it. Sell it. Do what you want with it, but by the time I have Scully and Christopher back with me again, I want this story on the cover of every major magazine and newspaper in the nation."

Langly thumbed through the file, shaking his head in confusion. "Why?" he asked. Mulder cocked his head at the men.

"Why not?" he asked. "There is only one way to help Dana Scully and Christopher Ahab. There is only one way to help all of the Scullys and Christophers out there, potential and existing. That weapon is the truth. And you guys are going to be the ones to wield it."

J. Edgar Hoover Building
Washington, D.C.

Skinner looked at Mulder. "This is the place where you believe that Agent Scully and your son were taken," he said. Mulder sat before him. He was dressed in the standard Bureau suit. Dark, conservative, and well-lined. The man who wore it was rumpled and disheveled. He stared intensely at Skinner. There was no humor in this man. There was only dark, dark, rage.

"This is the place where I know that they were taken," he corrected. "I have indefinite proof."

Skinner stood up, and held the file in his hands. "And what do you plan to do with this, Agent Mulder?" he asked. "Take off like you usually do, without plans or permission, once again putting your career on the line for a foolhardy lead?" He shook his head. "No, not this time. This time, you come to me, the Assistant Director. Walter Skinner. And this time, Mulder, you're getting assistance. I'm not letting you go on this alone. This doesn't mean that I'm assigning an Eric Ford to you. I'm assigning myself."

Mulder was not expecting this. Skinner was telling Mulder that he was going with him? This was not the Skinner that Mulder had known before. This was a different man, a man that was willing to help his allies and destroy all enemies.

A man that Mulder might be able to trust.

Skinner looked carefully at Mulder. "I made a mistake when I took Agent Scully off of the X-Files, Mulder; a mistake that I have grown to regret. There was something that I could have done for her then, and I threw that away. But there is something that I can do for her now, and I will not squander that opportunity. And, in the process, maybe I can do something for you as well."

Mulder looked over the man in front of him, and shook Walter Skinner's hand.

From the diary of Jesse Phillips

December 27

I am leaving today. There is nowhere else for me to go. Nowhere else for me to hide. There is nothing left for me in this place. I have no friends to go to, and no family left to burden with my dangerous existence. I am leaving for the facility in Vermont. I will probably not return. I am going to Vermont, and I am going to blow up the facility.

I read all that I could about creating such an explosive, and I have devised one powerful enough to destroy the pain, the terror, and the men who create such death. I will preserve the truth, and I will make sure that such an event never happens again. And I will most likely die in the process.

I have written my will in this journal. I have enclosed all of the truths that I uncovered. And I have left my legacy of music behind me. I will survive in spirit and in soul, even if I never speak with my own lips again. My voice will reach the far ends of the world, just as I had once dreamed. And it will travel such distances in the form of the diary of a young girl.

After Julia died, my mother and I sat down and talked. She sat down next to me, and told me that whenever someone died, time stood still. There were no seconds to pass, no minutes, nothing. They took their last breath, and stopped.

When I die, will time stand still for me as well? Will the hours end, and the days cease, and all that will be left for me is that last breath?

Momma, I'm coming home to you again, and our family will be whole again in the clouds of Heaven and in the arms of God. I have never been a religious person, but now I feel faith dancing upon my mind and heart.

There's no one else for me to love. No one else that cares about me. The only people that ever loved me are all dead now, and soon, so very soon, I will join them in Heaven.

When I die, I will not be Anya Barrett. I will die as Jesse Ann Phillips. My voice will be heard.

Interstate 190
Outside of Harley, Vermont
Thursday, December 31 3:56am

The woods were the one distinguishing feature to the travel-weary eyes of Fox Mulder. He sat behind the steering wheel, driving the rental car that he and Skinner had taken.

Precautions, precautions... he was tired of precautions and paranoia. He just wanted his family back, alive and well. He wanted his son to speak, and his lover to smile. He wanted his two reasons for living to be there for him.

If he had them back, there would be some changes that he would make. He would never let them out of his sight again. He would make sure that they both knew that he would never leave them. Mulder would do whatever he could to change the way things were.

He just wanted that chance to do so.

The plan was to approach the facility on foot, then enter the building as swiftly as possible. Kill the captors, evacuate the abductees, and summon the federal agents in the nearby Harley to bring in the helicopters to get the patients out of the facility. But first, Skinner and Mulder had to penetrate the building.

Skinner was in the seat next to him, awake and clear-headed. He had remained almost completely silent on the trip, and Mulder longed for the banter of his warm, caring partner. Skinner looked out of the window, then nodded to Mulder.

"Turn onto this road," he said, and Mulder obeyed, steering the black automobile onto the dirt road. The map instructed them to stop the car on this road, and they would have to get out and abandon the automobile. The final approach to the facility would be on foot.

Mulder stopped the car, and Skinner looked at Mulder. "The instant that we step out of this car, Agent Mulder, you and I will have to concentrate on the task at hand. Get the people out of there as quickly and harmlessly as possible. Nothing else matters. Nobody else matters."

Mulder knew what Skinner was getting at. He was going to have to forget the fact that his partner and his son were in there, and think only of the greater cause. "Yes, sir," he replied.

Skinner still kept his eyes on the younger agent. "Mulder, between you and me, I want to tell you just how sorry I am that such an event has had to happen to someone as close to you as Agent Scully. Not many people would have pity for you in this situation, but I do. If something like this had happened to one I cared about so deeply, I doubt that I would be able to function at all. You've pulled through for her. I know that she knows just how much you're doing for her, and is grateful."

Mulder stayed silent during his monologue, and wondered at how Skinner had managed to keep his calm. He had accepted the fact that he and Scully were together, and had accepted the fact that he and Scully were going to remain that way.

The two men got out of the car, and went to the trunk. They had earpieces and microphones from the Bureau, and hacking devices courtesy of the Lone Gunmen. In each bag, there was enough ammunition "to blow the bejesus out of the state of Wisconsin", according to Langly.

The men started out through the woods, silent and dark, dressed all in black. They could not use flashlights the entire time, for that would run the risk of being seen. Mulder kept his focus on his partner, remembering her face before him. Bright, shining eyes, soft, silken hair...

He was coming for her.

The woods were easily navigated, and fairly unguarded. The lake surrounding the facility would be the most difficult part of the approach, and after an hour of running through the forest, the two men came upon it.

Mulder looked at Skinner, and the two men set up the float for the bags. The knapsacks could be floated across, but the men would have to swim after them. A boat was out of the question. Skinner put his glasses in his bag, and they put the float in the lake. Mulder gave a quick glance to Skinner, and eased himself into the lake.

It was freezing cold, and Mulder winced as the chilled water reached his waist. Oh, this is fun, he thought, and quickly ducked his head under the water, hoping that if he exposed his entire body to the cold, he might be able to stand it. Skinner had to admire the persistence of the youthful agent, and followed suit.

An accomplished swimmer, the lake was not an obstacle to Fox Mulder. It was the cold water that was truly painful. He tried to keep his focus not on the frigid lake, but on the child and woman in the building that needed him. Dragging the floating pack along with his arm, he crossed the lake underwater, barely coming up for air. His feet reached solid ground, and Mulder climbed out of the lake, drenched from head to foot.

Skinner used his broad strokes, and had no trouble keeping up with his new "partner." Once on land, Skinner made an attempt to lighten the atmosphere. "Now I remember why I was so anxious to stop field work," he muttered, and Mulder gave a short laugh.

He crouched down on the ground, and opened up the computer. Recalling Frohike's instructions with his eidetic memory, he unlocked the computer locks, and made the entrance a first-story window. "According to the plans of the building, this will put us in a storage room," he told Skinner in a hushed tone. "We get in through the window and head for the quarters where the nurses and doctors are sleeping. That's three doors down. We change the locks, keeping them in. The next stop will be the room where the children are being kept."

Skinner shook his head. "We have to get a better exit than a window. These women are mostly sick and dying. They can't climb out of here." Mulder nodded, and sought out the escape route, plotting it through another doorway.

Finally, the men walked through the window, Mulder taking the lead. But when they stepped through the window, they entered not a storage area, but a makeshift morgue. Women and men, covered in plastic tarps, hiding their stiff, cold, faces. Mulder stared at the scene, and unzipped a body bag. Staring back at him was the cold, dead face of Deirdre Milligan.

"They know we're here," he whispered.

The door was thrust open, and Skinner and Mulder were surrounded by men dressed all in black, guns pointing to the two intruders. The men brought Skinner and Mulder to the ground, handcuffing them. "Shit," Mulder muttered, and he looked up to see a syringe being jabbed into his arm.


"Jesse, come home There's a hole in the bed Where we slept Now it's growing cold

"Hey, Jesse- your face In the place where we lay By the hearth, all apart It hangs in my heart

"And I'm leaving the light on the stair No, I'm not scared I wait for you Hey, Jesse, I'm lonely Come home

"Jesse, the floors And the boards Recalling your steps And I remember, too

"All the pictures are faded And shaded in grey But I still set a place At the table at noon

"And I'm leaving the light on the stair No, I'm not scared I wait for you Hey, Jesse, I'm lonely Come home

"Jesse, the spread On the bed Is like when you left I've kept it for you

"All the blues and the greens Have been recently cleaned And it's seemingly new Hey Jess- me and you

"We'll swallow the light on the stairs And do up my hair And sleep, unaware Hey, Jesse, I'm lonely Come home..." --Janis Ian "Jesse", Stars, 1972

Harley, Vermont December 31 10pm

He couldn't move his arms. Strapped to a table... he couldn't move his arms, his legs, Jesus, his entire body... he opened his eyes to see a bright, brilliant light over his face, and doctors observing him.

Mulder tried to speak, but his mouth wouldn't move to form the words. His protests and screams stayed in his mind, trapped in his thoughts and subconscious.

"He's coming to," a doctor said. A man stepped next to Mulder, and Mulder wanted to strike out at the man. The man with the cigarette in his mouth. The cigarette-smoking man gave Mulder an oily smile.

"We've been expecting you, Agent Mulder," the man said, and Mulder tried to sit up, to do anything, but he was utterly helpless. "Now that we have you, the experiment is finished. You and your family will die here."

They're weren't dead yet, Mulder thought, relieved. There was still hope if they weren't dead yet. They were still alive, and he was still alive, and if he could just move...

"I assure you, Agent Mulder, that they will indeed die," the man said, and his words held an eerie likeness to Mulder's previous thoughts. As though the man knew what he was thinking. "You, Agent Scully, Baby X, and about six others, are the only ones alive. Nine left."

Nine out of hundreds... nine out of thousands... Jesus Christ, how many people had been massacred? What kind of bloodshed had happened in this place of death and pain? "And yet, Agent Mulder, they will die in good health. We have the cure for the disease. We've had it ever since we created the disease. But thanks to your bringing our crimes into the public, we are forced to eliminate any and all evidence of the project. This was your doing."

No, this all began before I ever even considered telling the public, Mulder mentally argued. The cigarette man smiled. "It's all over, Agent Mulder. No one here leaves this building alive, including the lovely Agent Scully. She's being taken care of by a mutual friend. And Skinner, the spineless bastard, won't make it tonight, either. Neither will you."

Just as Mulder opened his mouth, preparing to call out for any form of mercy that could possibly serve him, he passed out.

She crept through the building, keeping her voice silent, and her footsteps unheard. Things were going well, very well. She had only a few places left to go, when she came across the sleeping men.

A tall, muscular, stern-faced bald man, dressed all in black and soaked to the bone, was strapped to a table. She furrowed her brow, and shifted the heavy sack on her back. There were still live ones in this place, and she had a duty to them to save them as well.

She approached the man, and untied his restraints, and the man opened his eyes. She had a mask over her face to keep her identity secret, and all the man could see was a tall, slim figure, dressed in black and wielding a weapon. "You're safe," she murmured, and the man sat up.

"Who are you?" he asked. She shook her head.

"No time. Help the others."

The bald man and the girl took their positions, and the girl came across a man that was familiar to her. In sleep, his years were taken away from him, and he seemed a child in innocence held. His eyes were closed, and his lips parted. He was dressed in similar attire to the bald man, and was also wet. The man's dark locks clung to his brow, and she shook her head, not really surprised to find him there.

"Mulder," she muttered, and untied the unconscious agent. He awoke, and she took off her black ski mask, keeping her hair covered by the cap she wore under the mask.

"Jesse?" he asked, and she smiled. It felt good to be called by her real name. She peeled off the other hat, and her red, bobbed hair, fell about her young face. In that instant, Mulder realized that Anya had been Jesse that night in the club. He had seen that red hair before.

"Fancy meeting you in a place like this," she said, and helped the agent to his feet. "I can figure out why you're here. She and Christopher were abducted, I know that much. I'm also going to guess that cue-ball's in your little party, too."

Mulder took Jesse's arm, and swayed a moment, getting his bearings. The next words out of his mouth were spoken with such a mixture of love, fear, determination, and worry that Jesse almost stumbled. "Chris... Dana..." he mumbled, and she nodded, putting an arm about his waist and bringing a wobbly Mulder to his feet.

"Yes, they're going to be fine," she promised. "How many more of you are there?"

Mulder brought a hand to his head, steadying himself. "Nine," he muttered. "Just nine."

Jesse stared at him for a moment, taking in all that he had just told her. There were nine of them left. Nine, out of so many. "I see."

The agent looked at the bald man and the other man alive. The other man was a tall, thin, black man, with dark hazel eyes. "Skinner," Mulder called, and the bald man looked up. Jesse took it that her assumption was correct. "Let's go."

The black man was Henry Harrison, a veterinarian from Los Angeles. "Why am I back in this place?" he asked, and Mulder wished that he could give Harrison an answer.

The trio, led by the black-clothed Jesse, were preparing to abandon the room when there were screams from the next room that Mulder recognized. "Scully..." he muttered, and ran into the room.

She was strapped to a gurney, unable to move, with a tall, dark-haired man with a military man burning numbers into her thigh. She could only open her mouth and scream, scream for her life which she was afraid she would lose. The man turned around at the sound of Mulder's footsteps, and revealed himself to be Mitchell, the same man who had tortured them so badly in West Virginia.

Scully looked up at her partner, and her eyes were full of terror. "Mulder!" she cried out, her voice stronger than it had ever been before. "Mulder, help!"

He needed to hear no more. He lunged for Mitchell, taking the tattoo needle from him and throwing it across the room. He hit the man repeatedly, and Jesse raced in, Skinner and Harrison behind her. Thinking quickly, Jesse pulled out her gun and threw it to Mulder. He caught it and looked down at Mitchell. "Tables are turned, aren't they?" he asked, and shot the man in the head.

With Mitchell dead, Mulder stood up and bent over his partner. There were only two numbers on her thigh, the numbers six and three. He untied her, and swept her up into his arms. She thrust her arms around his neck, and the two stayed that way, the lace on the edges of her white cotton nightgown sleeves tickling the sides of Mulder's face. "Mulder," she whispered, and he looked into her face. There was color in her cheeks again, and the sores were gone. Her hair was fuller, and her eyes were brighter. Her voice was clear, and strong, and she was not so thin. She seemed to be healthy.

He looked over her, and shook his head. "What happened?" he asked.

"They were cataloguing us," she replied, and her eyes were once again full of that Scully pride that had often filled her eyes before. "Numbering us before they killed us. Mulder, I was going to be number 6, 309. That's how many of us were going to die. That's not even counting the men and the children." She took a deep breath, keeping her cool. "They cured us before they were going to kill us. I don't know why."

Jesse spoke up, walking to Scully, and next to the older titian-haired woman, she was a youthful version of the agent. "I can tell you my best guess," she said. "They had the cure. They needed to get rid of it. The easiest way to do so would be to use it on the women. That would also eradicate any trace of the disease during an autopsy, so if the bodies were found, there would be nothing to prove that the women had been ill. They got rid of any evidence that there was a disease and a cure."

It was the only logic that made sense. They had blessed the women with life before taking it away. A cruel teasing of a life that they could never have.

Mulder brought his mouth to hers, and she kissed him back, glad to be able to taste his lips upon hers again. A luxury that had helped to keep her alive during all of the times when she had been sick. The cure had hurt at times, and had been painful, but she could always focus her mind on memories of her lover.

Skinner watched the agents embrace, and a smile reluctantly crossed his face. Mulder had his prize. The smile left, realizing that Mulder would still have to get out. "The children," Skinner reminded, and Mulder and Scully broke apart.

"There's still time," she said. "Mitchell didn't get to them yet. There's only one baby left, and they killed the rest of the women, except for one."

Mulder helped his partner to her feet, and the cotton nightgown flowed around her bare legs. She padded to the woman on the gurney next to her, and looked down at the sleeping face of Suzanne Brinkley. "They brought her here," she told Mulder, and Mulder unstrapped her, bringing the mother of two to a sitting position. Suzanne's face was still warm and healthy, and she was more appropriately dressed in a pair of blue jeans and a silk blouse.

"Agent Mulder?" she questioned, and he nodded.

"We're going to get you out of here," he promised. "We're all going to get out of here."

The nursery was abandoned, and Mulder and Skinner made their rounds, before Jesse walked to Scully, a sleeping Christopher in her arms. "I thought it best not to wake him," she whispered. Scully took her son in her arms, blessing the fact that she was able to once again.

The corpses of poisoned children were left haphazardly in cribs around the room, and Suzanne Brinkley walked to the crib in which Baby D, daughter of Suzanne Carol Brinkley and Allen Lambert Oliver rested. She brought a shaking hand to smooth the baby's auburn curls, and started to cry. "I always wanted a daughter," she whispered, and Mulder put a hand on her shoulder.

"You still have two sons," he reminded, and she was immediately grateful for the man's compassion.

Jesse put her hand on Mulder's arm. "You have to get out of here. Get them all out of here. I have something that I have to do." He gave her a questioning look.

"What's going on, Jesse?" he asked.

"I'm going to blow up the building, that's what I'm going to do," she said. "And you have to get them all out of here when I do it. There's a boat in the lake. That's how I got across. It ought to hold everyone."

Mulder shook his head. "Jesse..."

She gave a small smile. "This will never end, Mulder," she whispered. "It's just going to go on and on, them hunting you down and plague you until it's over forever. I can't let that happen. You have a future with her, and a future with your son. I have no future. This is the only thing that I can do to ensure that the last of you do have one."

Jesse reached into her bookbag, and pulled out an obsidian music box and a journal. She opened up the journal for a moment, and scribbled in a last note. "Sign this," she ordered, and Mulder obeyed. "You and Scully are now the sole heirs to the Jesse Phillips estate. Congrats. Believe it or not, I actually had some money from my little business excursions. Take these," she said. "This is the box that holds all of my memories of my life. This journal has all of the evidence and all of the truths of what was done against me. They tried to take that away from me, but I have my memory. All of the disk locations, and my will is in here."

He took these items, and held them closely. "I can't let you do this," he protested. "I'll set the bomb..."

"You don't know how," she said. "I have to do this. I'm sorry, Mulder... but this is the only hope for any of us." Her eyes grew sad. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free..."

She turned to Scully. "Take this, Scully," she murmured, and passed the gold, heart-shaped locket that hung about her neck to the agent. Scully held the locket in her hand, and read the inscription aloud.

"'One Heart, One Soul, For All Eternity'," she murmured, and Jesse nodded.

"Joe gave it to me a long time ago," she said, sadly. "And I have found it to be true. One heart and soul, made from two, will last through out eternity..."

Jesse's eyes turned sad, and the agents took Jesse into their arms, holding the youth tight for a moment, comforting the woman before she left them forever. "I'll never forget what you did for us," Mulder whispered.

"Then make sure that the entire world remembers," she whispered back. He released her, and she walked away, her red hair bobbing behind her.

Scully put a hand on his shoulder, and he turned around. "We have to get out of this building," he said, his voice clipped. "It's going to explode."

Jesse climbed through the air duct, reaching her destination. There was a small, hollow shaft where she could set up the explosives and not be noticed by any security cameras. She would die in that hollow shaft, for she could not set the timer without risking the bomb not going off. If something went wrong, she would have to be there to fix it.

She went about planting the devices, and hooked the timer up to her computer. She set the bomb to go off in twenty minutes, giving the men and women just enough time to get to safety, and enough time to transmit her message to the F.B.I. headquarters. Specifically, to Fox Mulder's computer.

She did not want anything trite, or anything planned. She just closed her eyes for a moment, and reflected upon the hurt in her soul. She drew up her knees to her chest, and tears finally came to her eyes. Oh, but that was true irony, for she had thought that she would never cry again. She had sworn it, and now, before her death, she would weep.

Then, Jesse hooked up the microphone, and sang.

And Jesse opened her heart, and spoke her last words in music.

Dear God, please hear us
Listen to our prayer
And help us do thy will
Upon this Earth

Let our children
Suffer war no more
And let a peaceful world
Be given birth

Every hand that holds a sword
Can hold a baby
Every heart can learn
To love

Lay down your arms
Begin the journey home
And join the human family

Somewhere deep inside a soldoer
There's a dreamer
Dreaming of a World of peace

Lay down your arms
Let time heal every wound
And love will someday set us free...


Mulder took his lover's arm, and led her from the boat. She struggled to run, the pine needles sticking into her bare feet and the sleeping child tight in her arms. As his watch turned from 11:59 to 12:00, the building exploded.

The evacuees were knocked to the ground, Scully and Christopher landing on Mulder, and Skinner landing on top of Harrison and Suzanne. Mulder sat up, holding his partner and their child tightly in his arms. They were safe, but the life of a child had expired in that fatal blast.

"Jesse," Scully whispered, and his hand reached up to touch her hair in a comforting gesture.

The child below him opened his eyes, and looked directly at Dana Scully. "Momma," he said, his voice clear.

Scully gasped, and Mulder looked down into the eyes of their son. They were full of peace, love, and serenity. The spell that the men had cast with science and technology had been shattered, and Christopher was all right. "Happy New Year, Dana," Mulder whispered. She kissed him, long and full, and they sat on the forest ground in their embrace while Skinner called for the helicopter.

Just as the helicopter flew overhead, Mulder opened up the journal of Jesse Phillips, and read the last entry, his eyes clinging to her last line.

"My voice will be heard."

He picked up the pen that had rested in the binding of the book, and added the final line in Jesse's life.

"And time stands still."

As the helicopter landed, Mulder opened up the music box. The tinkling music of the song,"Memory", played over the sound of the helicopter landing, and as they left the place, he saluted the lost life of a young girl.


Midnight, not a sound from the pavement
Has the moon lost her memory?
She is smiling alone
In the lamplight, the withered leaves collect at my feet
And the wind begins to moan

Memory, all alone in the moonlight
I can smile at the old days
I was beautiful then
I remember the time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again

Every street lamp seems to beat
A fatalistic warning
Someone mutters and a street lamp gutters
And soon it will be morning

Daylight, I must wait for the sunrise
I must think of a new life
And I mustn't give in
When the dawn comes, tonight will be a memory too
And a new day will begin

Burnt out ends of smoky days
The stale cold smell of morning
A street lamp dies, another night is over
Another day is dawning

Touch me, it's so easy to leave me
All alone with the memory
Of my days in the sun
If you touch me, you'll understand what happiness is
Look, a new day has begun...
-- "Memory" Cats


One year following the death of Jesse Phillips
Washington, DC
May 3 3:56pm

The sunlight burst through the cotton shaped clouds, forming golden haloes all around the party-goers. Waving softly in the cool May breeze, azaleas and angel-faced roses spotted the scene with their virbant colors and sweet scents. A round of applause sounded the small crowd as the happy newlyweds appeared.

Fox Mulder walked proudly onto the lawn, his new bride Dana on his arm. She graced the scene with a rare smile, and he laughed, his velvety chuckle adding more warmth to the beauty of the day. "Congratulations, Mrs. Mulder," he said, and she just laughed as well, her voice chiming like a bell.

"Congratulations, Fox," she said, and threw her arms around his neck, embracing him with her heart as well as her limbs.

It seemed hard to believe that only a short while ago, they had been apart. In the comfort and solidity of their love, they found a wholeness unknown to either one of them before. He had been so romantic when he had proposed. He had gotten down on one knee, once again bearing that angel-faced rose that had come to mean life, freedom, and fantasy as well as love and beauty. Pulling out a traditional diamond ring, she had pulled out her own small rings.

"Do you remember these?" she asked, and he laughed, telling her all that she needed to know. In her small hand were the two plastic rings that Mulder had gotten from a gumball machine after just finding Christopher.

Now, with a silver band on her finger, she put her arm around his waist. Dana was aglow with the joy that entered her heart, and she looked the part of the perfect bride. Fox was suitably uncomfortable in the tuxedo that Margaret Scully had forced him into renting. He had earlier whined to his fiancee about it.

"Dana, to be frank, I would rather go see the softer side of Sears than wear this thing," he had said. She had stubbornly stuck to her guns while being kind and polite.

"Deal with it," she had said, passing him the suit.

Fox rubbed the collar of the cursed tux with mocking melodrama. "The kind of torture I go through for you," he said, and she kicked him with her elegant white heel.

Margaret Scully approached the couple, smiling broadly. "Congratulations," she said, hugging her daughter and son-in-law with increasing warmth. "I'm so happy for you."

The newlyweds obligingly returned the embrace, and Dana straightened her veil. "Thank you, Mom."

Margaret stepped back, admiring the couple. The radiant bride and the dashing groom. And she had thought that she would never live to see the day in which Fox Mulder settled down and got married, let alone get married to her daughter. "The first dance is yours," she said, and Fox put his arm around Dana's waist escorting her to the dance floor. They had spent a lot of time trying to decide on the song, but then found a box of tapes and CDs that had belonged to the deceased Jesse Phillips. All of them were of her and her band.

The CD started to play, and the couple started to dance to the sound of the girl's beautiful voice.

For all those times you stood by me
For all the truth that you made me see
For all the joy you brought to my life
For all the wrongs that you made right
For every dream you made come true
For all the love I found in you
I'll be forever thankful baby
You're the one who held me up
Never let me fall
You're the one who saw me through
Through it all

It had been the first time that they had danced since Valentine's Day in Charleston, and neither of them had forgotten how the music had swept them away from all of their troubles and their fears with the simple flow of music. Dana looked elegant and healthy in her white lace dress, which was cut slim and tight around her shapely legs, falling just below her knees. The veil was also remniscent of the 1940's, and her red hair was curled and styled. Around her neck hung the rose and diamond ring that Fox had given her for Christmas.

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn't speak
You were my eyes when I couldn't see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn't reach
You gave me faith cause you believed
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me

You gave me wings and made me fly
You touched my hand I could touch the sky
I lost my faith, you gave it back to me
You said no star was out of reach
You stood by me and I stood tall
I had your love, I had it all
I'm grateful for each day you gave me
Maybe I don't know that much
But I know this much is true
I was blessed because I was
Loved by you

Fox looked out beyond the others, at the flashing and radiant sun. He kept his hand on the small of his wife's slender back, and tilted his head for a moment. Home at last, with a family and the woman he loved, he wondered if life would ever be the same.

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn't speak
You were my eyes when I couldn't see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn't reach
You gave me faith cause you believed
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me

"You were always there for me
The tender wind that carried me
The light in the dark, shining your love into my life
You've been my inspiration
Through the lies you were the truth
My world is a better place because of you

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn't speak
You were my eyes when I couldn't see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn't reach
You gave me faith cause you believed
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me

The sun smiled down upon the selective wedding party, gracing the husband and wife with its allusive touch. Perhaps there was some hope in life after all, and happiness that lived inside of every man and woman. Hope springs eternal, after all, he thought.

Later that night, after the wedding party was over, and the husband and wife sat on the balcony of the expensive hotel, Fox sat out on the balcony, looking at the sunset. For a moment, the sky was filled with the same shade of indigo as Jesse Phillips's eyes had been. He wondered if she was happy in that netherworld of death, looking down at the two with her family and friends. He chuckled to himself. Jesse would have a smart remark for that musing.

Dana smiled, taking his hand. "Fox, I have some news for you," she murmured, and he heard the words that he thought he would never hear from her.

"You're going to be a father. The old-fashioned way."

He smiled back, an impish look in his eyes. "Isn't that way the most fun way?"

As a response, she kissed him, and he held her tightly, keeping her as close to him as possible.

They laid there, happy and contented, with the rest of their lives and their children's lives in front of them, and watched the sun rise, and a new day break.


This is the final story in the "Daybreak" trilogy. I hope that you have enjoyed it, mes amis, for there will be no more. Thank you for your time.

You will have to excuse any medical, technical, or scientific inaccuracies. I am only fifteen, and I'm doing the best I can, okay?

This story gets half credit from Jennifer Frye, whose story "When the Bough Breaks" inspired this entire trilogy. My intense and wonderful thanks go to her, for daring to dream.

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