Title: Eve Of The Half Moon
Author: Mischa firstname.lastname@example.org
Spoilers: Nothing specific; general knowledge up to NIHT. .
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine; they are the property of 1013 and co, and no infringement is intended. Archival: All you have to do is drop me a line and ask.
Summary: Each candle represented a life, evaporating into time
The last time she had stepped into a church on Christmas Eve had been years ago. What was once a tradition had become a sporadic event. Scully breathed in the rich thick scent of melting wax as strains of carol singing reached her ears. A wry smile quirked at her lips. If she could carry a tune, she might have joined them.
She knelt at the aisle and placed William's bassinet beside her, crossing herself in front of the hanging crucifix. Smatters of people lined the pews. Not as many as she last remembered from church services, but perhaps they were all at home with their families, commemorating. //Or opening presents//, she amended, almost smiling again.
Christmas Eve came with a half moon this year, promising the new with the old, the light with the dark. Standing outside the small church with William in her arms, staring up through the clouds at the moon suspended in the sky, she remembered a time when lunar phases were clearly marked in her calendar. When telescopes were a gift hard earned. Snow had patted her upturned face with its soft flakes, and she could have stayed out there until she shivered. William had stirred in her arms, grasped for the tiny flakes of white, and Scully had taken that as her cue to move inside.
"Gloria, gloria, in excelsius deo..."
A clear, round soprano note soared above the voices of the choir as Scully rose and lifted the bassinet. She could have spent Christmas with her family this year, with Skinner, with John, with Monica who had apparently organised quite the gathering. Perhaps she would join one of them later... but somehow she felt the need for this solitary time, a return to her roots.
Maybe it was the half moon that triggered it. A crossroads between old and new, and she was standing on the threshold. She remembered conversations with Missy by campfires, years ago.
"Do you think a moon could ever be half-empty, Dana?"
"That's the pessimist's view, isn't it?"
"Yeah, but if they call a bright moon a full moon..."
"If they call no moon a new moon, wouldn't this be half-old, too?"
"Half old, half new, empty, full, who cares, really? It's the halfway mark. It's the bridge."
"Yeah. The bridge."
Even as she faced more situations in her work that made her question her beliefs, Scully refused to escape her upbringing. There was a comfort in the ritual of the church as much as there were restrictions within it. She found herself recalling all the old doctrines and habits with ease. Still a doubt remained that she couldn't easily pray away. She had seen... many things... how could she still believe? What did she believe in now? How much of what she had lived on once had been based on blind belief, and how had her need for evidence compromised that?
She thought of a rubbing of a mysterious metal panel with strange powers, of how it represented Genesis and the human genome. The foundations of religion and science, combined in a single alien craft. Scully wondered if she was just a hypocrite for staying here, for continuing to utter prayers to a deity she didn't completely believe existed anymore.
Scully ducked into one of the rear pews, rocking William slightly as he dozed. Her gaze drawn to the small but conspicuous signs dotting the aisles.
//Keep your belongings safe and with you at all times,// she read. //Professional beggars operate here.//
Scully knew she had faced worse than professional beggars before, but she was glad of the forewarning as much as the thought saddened her. As the few church attendees stepped forward to take communion, she considered her options in taking William and the carry case up with her.
She ended up taking everything up with her, feeling more awkward than she had in months. Scully felt eyes on her as she approached and lifted her chin proudly. Yes, this was her son. Yes, she was alone. But Dana Scully could survive, and so could William; she wouldn't have it any other way.
She accepted the communion, and as she did so felt its responsibility press on her heart.
//Lord God I am not worthy to receive you, only say the word and I shall be healed.//
Blind belief, yet she continued to rely on evidence.
The father leaned over and blessed William, and Scully felt tears pricking at her eyes. They shared a smile and Scully stepped to the left to acknowledge the crucifix hanging along the far wall, crossing herself again as her child cooed.
"Shh," she hushed him, and moved back towards the pew to utter a quick prayer.
Scully found herself staring speechlessly at the flawed wood of the pew in front of her, mind blank of a prayer. In her mind instead came an apology, a wave of regret. Her eyes fluttered closed.
//I *wanted* to say a prayer, but only this came: I would fight to keep us all safe, even if the notion no longer exists.//
She was at another bridge, right there.
Between belief, and something... something else.
She swallowed past the dull ache in her throat and quickly gathered her bag and her son, heading towards the small side room containing a statue of the Virgin Mary and the altars of candles.
"You see that, William?" she whispered to him, gathering him in her arms and resting the empty bassinet against her feet. "Look at all those lights..."
Scully had always loved the candles, the idea that each of them somehow represented a life that could be prayed for. Billy had tried to scare her when she was young, saying that guidance only lasted as long as the candles did. Although she had believed it for a time, it also meant she visited the local church far more often to keep their candles burning.
Charlie had been the one to find out about the real reason for her frequent trips outside the home, and when Bill found out Dana was renewing his own candles he stopped being a bully for a week or two. By then, Father McCue had pulled her aside and listened to her fears.
"I'm afraid, Father."
"Of what, Dana?"
"That if I let the candles burn out, God will stop watching."
Yet even now as she lit every wick she still believed each candle represented a life, evaporating into time. Her father, Missy, Emily, Mom and Bill and Charlie. Monica Reyes. John Doggett. Walter Skinner. Fox Mulder.
"May God keep you safe," she whispered.
She lit a candle for herself. When the wick on William's candle flared alight Scully couldn't help but hope it never, ever extinguished.
As she departed, the line of candles continued their soft weeping. Ivory teardrops slid to the warm metal supports. In time, they would all melt into one, brought together by the truth that they were all mortals, made of the same blood and flesh. In time, they would be replaced by other candles, by other wishes, by other truths.
The doors closed behind her with a solid thud. She looked up at the bright patch in the grey sky, where the moon was concealed by the passing clouds.
"It's half-full, Missy," she said. "Merry Christmas."
Swaddled in his blankets, William mumbled something in that universal, unknown tongue that all babies spoke. Scully looked down at him and smiled. Perhaps she would stop by a friend's place tonight, to bring together solitary worlds. They could reminisce.
She nodded, and moved down the broad stone steps towards her car. Dana Scully was a woman with purpose, and she couldn't stand around and watch the candles cry.
I wish a safe and happy holiday season to all. Thank you for