Title: Ghostly Lullabies

Author: Tara W.

Post Date:11/5/99

Classification: X-File, MSR/Angst

Rating: PG-13

Time Era: Pre-Biogenisis

Spoilers: Emily and vague references to other episodes

Distribution: just ask & please keep my name with it

Email: xtara@abts.net

Disclaimer: The X-Files characters mentioned in this story do not belong to me but to Chris Carter, 1013 productions, and FOX entertainment. No infringement intended.

Summary: A strange X-File brings a special child into Scully and Mulder's lives sending them on a life-changing journey through joy and sorrow, love and faith.

:)Thank you to little Katelyn who was the inspiration for Elizabeth Prynne, and to my beautiful Annalee for showing me how special the bond is between mother and daughter. Special thanks to Mark, my Spooky, for making me fall in love with The X-Files and for helping me recapture my love of writing. :)I apologize beforehand for any typos, grammatical errors, or misspelled words. :)FYI--'cerebrum displacement' is just a fancy term for 'brain-suck.'

--"A child is a sign that the world will keep spinning."--

--Ghostly Lullabies-- A Story by Tara W.

 

 

--Prynne Residence (NY)---- 2:43 a.m.

"Drop the gun, Leslie!" Scully shouted. This wasn't the way it was supposed to go down. An hour earlier, she and Mulder had had everything under control. What the hell had happened?

"Come on, Leslie. You don't wanna do this," Mulder urged, his practiced Freud-tone in direct contradiction to the panic flashing in his eyes.

Leslie Prynne only heard the th-thump of her heart. Her ears were ringing. This man, the man who had promised to love her forever was staring at her; a gun barrel staring back. 'Till death do us part,' her mind taunted. He had to die. They all did. It was the only way.

"Leslie, listen to me," Mulder continued, stepping closer. "It doesn't have to end like this. We can help you. Please, just put down the gun and step back. Everything will be all right. You have my word." Mulder stepped closer; Scully to his right, a step behind.

"I just want it to stop," Leslie whispered, her voice breaking as the tears fell freely.

"It will, Leslie." The words escaped Scully before Mulder could respond. From the case's beginning, she had felt an odd connection to the woman before them. "I know what you must be feeling right now, but it isn't worth this. No one is going to hurt you, Leslie."

For the briefest of moments, Leslie Prynne turned and held Scully's gaze; a painfully bittersweet smile burdening her features. Time pausing enough for Scully to follow one trickling tear's slide from a watery pool of pale green to stain a pair of chapped lips that mouthed the words, "Too late." The clicking sound of a gun being cocked echoed through the room.

"Mommy?" The word surrounded them like an air bubble just as a gunshot was fired. A little girl silhouetted by moonlight stood beneath the door frame. "Mommy!" the child cried.

Leslie jerked the gun toward the child; the man now lying at her feet within his own crimson tide. A sickened expression paling her skin as if she had seen a ghost. Her body began to shake. "Please, God, not again," she cried and her trigger finger moved. Mulder grabbed the girl. Scully fired her weapon.

----Dana Scully's Apt.---- The next day 11:00 p.m.

The keys on her laptop clinked as Scully typed: Addendum to case report: In 1998, Leslie Prynne was committed to a psychiatric hospital having been diagnosed with schizophrenic paranoia. Three months ago, she managed to divert security and escape. One month ago, Leslie killed two men whom she claimed were sent to'take' her back. Early yesterday morning, she took the life of her ex-husband, Thomas R. Prynne and threatened the life of her 3-year-old daughter, Elizabeth Hope Prynne. When this case was assigned to us, Agent Mulder and I were unaware that Leslie Prynne had a child. The personal interest in this case was that Leslie claimed to have been abducted by 'aliens' in 1995. I write this in part to help myself better understand the outcome of this case, and to help me in justifying my reasons for having taken yet another life that was neither mine to give or take. What is this feeling in me that felt such a bond with a complete stranger who would threaten the life of her own daughter; a child left unmentioned.--

Later that night, Scully laid awake lost in her own memories. She heard the telephone ringing and knew who would be on the other end , but she only listened as it rang, and rang, and rang, and then suddenly there was silence. The moonlight cast eerie shadows across the ceiling, and Scully watched them dance with the oddest sensation that one would extend its hand for her to join them. One did; its dark form illuminating into the crescent of a smile, into blue opaque-eyes... "Emily," Scully whispered into the night air; the form blending with the shadows as if nothing more than the steam of warm breath touching cold air. A chill passed through Scully's heart, and it begged her to cry. The faint sound of someone humming filled the room. Such a sweet sound, Scully thought, as it lulled her into a deep slumber.

----Lone Gunmen Lair---- Two days later

"All right, Frohike, it's your turn," said Langly leaning against the desk .

Frohike pondered for a moment and then replied, "Okay. Who's hotter? Wonder Woman or Cat Woman?"

Langly responded first with, "Cat Woman." Byers second with, "Wonder Woman." Mulder last with, "Tie."

"Your go, Langly," Frohike informed.

"Lois Lane or Princess Lea?"

"No contest. Lois Lane," said Byers.

Mulder made an objectionable sound. "I don't know, Byers. Princess Lea was pretty hot with the whole balls-of-hair thing."

All eyes turned to Frohike who replied breathlessly, "Hands down, I must say Scully."

Mulder stifled a laugh as Langly rolled his eyes. "Scully wasn't a choice, Beavis," Langly snorted.

"Improvision is a must in life, butthead," Frohike retorted.

"Okay, you guys, my turn," Mulder said. "Who's hotter? Betty Rubble or Betty Boop?"

"That's a toughie, but I'm going with Boop," said Langly looking to Frohike for compliance.

"Yep. Betty Boop for me," Frohike said, nodding in agreement with Langly.

" Betty Rubble," Byers said.

"Whatever, Byers. Your go," Frohike prompted.

"All right. Who's hotter? Janet Reno or Hillary Clinton?" Byers asked, placing great emphasis on the latter of the two.

Langly looked to Frohike who in turn looked to Mulder, and together, the three of them vehemently replied, "Scully!"

"Scully what?" she asked coming in the door. No reply was forthcoming and Mulder couldn't help but laugh. "You guys are slipping," Scully teased. "I just walked right in."

"What can we say," Langly began, "when Mulder's around, who needs a dead bolt?"

"Cute," Mulder directed toward Langly as he stood to join his partner near the door. "What's up?" Mulder asked, indicating his interest in the papers that Scully was holding.

Scully cast a downward glance at the papers herself before meeting his eyes. "Can I talk to you? In private, please."

"Sure. You guys don't mind, do ya?" Mulder asked, never taking his eyes from Scully.

"You're our guest, Mulder. We live here," Langly insisted.

"Scram," Mulder said, his voice rising as the three exited their home single-file.

"I've been going over Leslie Prynne's case file," Scully began when the door closed , and *they* were alone, "and some things just don't fit, Mulder."

"What do you mean?" he questioned.

"I tried to get a copy of her recent medical history, and the hospital claims it must be temporarily misplaced. The autopsy report has apparently been misplaced as well. Nothing about this case makes sense, Mulder. I mean why was there no mention of the little girl when this case was given to us, and what about the little girl? I could find no evidence of her ever having been born in this country or any other, not to mention her medical history is also missing. There was no custody hearing when Leslie and Thomas Prynne divorced and no record of a child being placed in Thomas Prynne's care. No mention of a child whatsoever. What is going on here, Mulder?"

Mulder's heart rate doubled. This X-File wasn't over yet. It was only beginning. "Maybe, she was telling the truth, Scully. Maybe, she was an abductee, and maybe, she knew something that they wanted kept hidden. Maybe..."

"Not they again, Mulder. None of those maybes are going to get us any closer to explaining this case."

"Yeah, but they might get us a little closer to the truth behind what happened to Leslie Pyrnne. Maybe, she killed out of fear of going back or just out of fear. Maybe..."

"Maybe, she was just a broken woman, Mulder, who never got the kind of help that she needed."

"Well, how does that explain anything, Scully? You said yourself that nothing about this case makes sense, but I think it does. I think your keeping this file open because of a connection you felt toward Leslie Prynne, and I think I might know what that connection could be."

Scully knew what he was thinking because the thought had already entered her mind, but denial was a difficult habit to break. Should she tell him about that night? Should she share with him the other thoughts that had entered her mind since this case's end?

"I think Leslie Prynne was abducted, Scully, just like you. And I think that little girl was taken from her the same way that, " he paused and she finished it for him.

"You believe that Elizabeth Prynne was created in the same way as Emily, and that like me, Leslie had only just found her daughter when she was committed to the hospital."

"More than that, Scully. I believe that Leslie knew what her daughter was." Mulder grimaced at his crass remark. "I mean I think she knew how Elizabeth was made."

Scully noted Mulder's voice softening a degree. It always did, she thought, when the subject of Emily arose. He was so careful not to say anything hurtful, and she knew he still regretted that she never went to him for support. If he only knew, how much she had wanted to, but losing Emily, losing that part of her, was just too much. There was no comfort for that pain. "Mulder, if that's true then Elizabeth Prynne could be the missing link we've been searching for."

Neither one of them dared to get their hopes high; both knowing too well how costly hope was in the game that they played. They had been up to bat before only to strike out time and again.

"There's one way to find out, Scully. "

----LongRidge Home for Children(NY)---- Four hours later

Mulder stood outside a playroom and watched through the glass window as Scully approached 3-year-old, Elizabeth Prynne. The little girl was cute, he thought. Her flaxen colored hair was curly and flowed to her shoulders, and she had the biggest brown eyes that he had ever seen. Perfectly round, he thought with a smile, and those cheeks would be ideal for an elderly woman's pinchers.

Scully flashed the child a smile. "Hi, Elizabeth. My name's Dana. Can I sit with you?" Scully was using her 'mother' tone; the one she normally used with Mulder. The room was alive with chatter and giggles.

Elizabeth continued to bottle-feed the doll in her arms but offered Scully a bashful grin. "This is my baby," she softly said.

"Well, she's a very pretty baby," Scully responded.

"I like your T," Elizabeth said; her voice rising with the noise of the other children.

"My T?" Scully asked, confused. Elizabeth pointed, and Scully smiled. "Oh, my cross."

The little girl nodded. "My Mommy's got one. She says Jesus, up in heaven's, got one too. My Mommy and Daddy live in heaven now. I know 'Jesus Loves Me.' I can sing it."

An overwhelming surge of guilt stabbed at Scully's heart as Elizabeth began her rendition of the song.

----One hour later

As Eilzabeth hugged Scully good-bye, Scully ran her hand across the back of the child's neck. No sign of a cyst, she thought with relief. In fact, Elizabeth seemed as healthy as any of the other children, and she was so smart, Scully thought.

Mulder was smiling when Scully walked out of the playroom. "Cute kid," he remarked.

"Yes, she is," Scully sighed. "There was no evidence of a cyst. She appears to be a normal, healthy child."

"Appears being the key word here," Mulder said.

"We don't know that, Mulder, and we won't know that until she's medically evaluated. She's scheduled for a physical in two days, and they should do bloodwork which would detect any abnormalities. We may have been reaching on this one, Mulder. Elizabeth doesn't require daily injections as Emily did."

"That doesn't mean that they're not alike in other ways, Scully."

----Dana Scully's Apt.---- One week later

The case on Leslie Prynne had offically been closed, and any request to further investigate the mystery surrounding the case or Elizabeth Prynne had been denied. Scully sighed loudly, disturbing the stillness of her bedroom. She was exhausted having spent the majority of the week at the children's home in New York. The medical exam and blood-work done on Elizabeth had all come back normal. There was no reason for the case to remain open though Mulder had argued the contrary until he was blue in the face, and Scully couldn't shake the feeling that something wasn't right. She sat up in bed when it began; that same soft humming that had filled her apartment the night after Leslie Prynne was killed. Where was it coming from? Lying back, her eyes fluttered before closing. A lullaby, she thought with a weary smile. "Lullaby and goodnight, with roses bedight, with lilies bedecked is baby's wee bed; Lay thee down now and rest, May thy slumber be blest..."

----J. Edgar Hoover Building---- The next day 8:43 a.m.

Mulder was busy leafing through a pile of papers on his desk when Scully walked in. "You had me worried, Scully. I thought I was living in some kind of alternate universe when I actually got here on time, and you weren't here." He chuckled at himself and brought his gaze up to meet her eyes. "What's the matter?" His light mood darkening with concern at her too-serious-even -for-Scully expression.

"I've been on the phone most of the morning, and I had a little meeting with Skinner," she answered, sounding way too distant for Mulder's liking.

"Why? What's going on?" His concern now edged with curiosity.

"I've been doing a lot of thinking, Mulder, and I've made a decision."

Mulder didn't like the sound of that. "And that decision would be..."

She hesitated. "I want to adopt Elizabeth Prynne. I'm going back to New York tonight."

Mulder stared at the mouth that uttered the previous words in surprise. He was silent for a long moment before clearing his throat. "Adopt? Scully, are you sure? I mean..."

"I've never been more sure about anything, Mulder. I want to do this. She needs a mother, and I need..." Her voice broke unexpectedly, and her eyes fell to the floor. "I need this, Mulder."

"You talked to Skinner about this?"

"Yes, and he doesn't have a problem with it. It won't change anything with us, Mulder."

"So you're going back to New York tonight. Want any company?"

The smile she gave him was heart-melting.

----Margaret Scully's Home---- Four months later 9:30 p.m.

Scully had been staying at her mother's for three months; since the day she had been granted temporary custody of Elizabeth Prynne.

Elizabeth scrunched up her face as the hot air from the blow dryer swept through her hair. Scully was sitting on the edge of the bathtub; the child before her, wrapped in a towel. She smiled and shook her head at the frizzy curls bouncing across the little girl's head. ---- In pink pajamas, Elizabeth and her little alien doll(a gift from Mulder)were tucked into bed. Scully started to speak, but Elizabeth interrupted. "I can say it now," the girl piped with a smile and began reciting, "Thank you for the world so sweet; Thank you for the food we eat; Thank you for the birds that sing; Thank you, God, for everything!" "Amen," Scully said with a soft laugh.

"Amen," Elizabeth repeated after giving Scully a light peck on the lips.

Scully stood and bent to look under the bed and then walked to the closet and peeked in. "No monsters in here tonight, so you can be a brave girl and sleep in your own bed. Okay?"

"Sometimes they hide in the bathroom," Elizabeth said with grave seriousness.

Scully walked to the bathroom and opened the door. "Nope. No monsters in here." She walked back to the bed and tucked Elizabeth in a little tighter. "I'll leave your night light on and the door open, all right?"

"'Kay. Love you."

Scully could feel her heart swell. "I love you, too," she whispered; the well-known sentiment foreign on her tongue. "Dream sweet," she said, leaning forward to kiss the child's cheek.

---- Joining her mother in the living room, Scully sank onto the sofa with a sigh.

"You make a beautiful mom, Dana. You don't have anything to worry about," Margaret Scully reassured.

"What about Emily, Mom? If I couldn't get my own dau..."

"That was different," Margaret interrupted. "Elizabeth isn't Emily, Dana. Things will work out."

Scully smiled sleepily. "I hope you're right, Mom. I guess I'll find something out tomorrow."

"That's right, you have that meeting in New York. You know I'm leaving tomorrow, Dana, to visit Bill."

"I know. Mulder's promised to watch Elizabeth while I'm away." Every time she said those words, her nerves frayed.

----Later that night----

Scully had just lain down when the humming began. It wrapped around her like a warm blanket. The voice was strangely familiar, but once again, the sensation to sleep was too overwhelming for any investigating.

----Mulder's Apt.---- the next day 7:00 p.m.

Scully knocked on the door and was surprised when Elizabeth's voice called from the other side. "Who is it?"

"It's me," Scully said and smiled down at Elizabeth who opened the door. Her smile faded at the state of Elizabeth's clothes. The once brand-new white turtleneck and pink overalls now doned a lovely juice stain and several decorative chocolate designs. The knees of the overalls were grass-stained, and judging from Mulder's apartment, a trail of sand was following the little girl.

"We went to the park," Elizabeth informed, flashing Scully a chocolate-covered smile.

"I see," Scully remarked, shutting the door. "Elizabeth, where's Mulder?"

"Looking for the bugaboo," the child whispered.

Scully's brow lifted. "The bugaboo? What's..."

Mulder's voice drifted into the room. "Bugaboo, where are you?"

"Ssh," Elizabeth whispered, placing a finger on her lips and running into the other room.

Scully started to follow, but stopped at the sound of Mulder's voice. "Got you, Bugaboo!" Elizabeth screamed and Scully could hear her running. Another scream and a grunt of victory from Mulder that sounded close to a laugh. He suddenly appeared around the corner, carrying Elizabeth upside-down. "You do know what happens to bugaboo's, don't you? The person who captures it has to tickle it until it turns back into a little girl," he said, burying his fist into Elizabeth's stomach as she wriggled with laughter in his arms.

Scully couldn't help but smile. "Mulder, look at this place. Look at her," she said, gesturing towards the dangling child.

"What?" he asked, innocently. By the expression that Scully gave him, Mulder brought Elizabeth upright in his arms and chanted, "Shut the door. Lock and latch it cause here comes Dana with a brandnew hatchet." Scully stared at him dumbfounded to which he replied, "Yes, I said that."

"I heard you," she said, exasperated. "So, what else did you two do today?"

"We watched The Fox and the Hound," Elizabeth said, "and we..."

"Disney's version, not mine," Mulder teased.

"And we played the dog part when he says 'I'm a hound dog' and goes..." Elizabeth began howling with Mulder's assistance.

"Whatcha got?" Mulder asked, laughing.

Scully had completely forgotten about the bag she was carrying. "Dinner," she answered, walking to Mulder's kitchen area. "That is," she began, wetting a washcloth and cleaning Elizabeth's mouth, "if you two haven't already ruined your appetites."

----Two hours later---- After dinner, Scully had managed to get Elizabeth clean and was now trying her hand at Mulder's apartment. Deciding the latter of the two tasks was hopeless, she joined Mulder on his couch.

Elizabeth was asleep in his lap.

"You look tired."

"What makes you say that?" he asked, stifling a yawn.

A smile teased the corners of her mouth. "I take it the two of you had fun today."

"Oh, yeah, I get along better with her than I do most adults. I don't know, but I think me and three-year-old's... I think we're on the same wavelength or something."

His voice became distant as Scully watched him; one hand idly resting in the child's curls while the other protectively lay on her back. She could almost audibly imagine his heartbeat echoing in the little girls's head. The image surfaced a past memory of a time when it had been her that Mulder held so protectively. His hand in her hair; her head on his heart. The sound of her name brought her into the present, and she met his eyes. Those soul-searching eyes.

"How'd it go in New York?" he asked.

"Not as well as I'd hoped," she responded, clearing her throat. "Leslie Prynne's parents had no idea about Elizabeth. Two weeks ago, someone let them know, and now they've also filed for adoption."

"Yeah but you've got custody. Doesn't that..."

"Custody as my foster child, Mulder. The courts are going to be more willing to give her to biological family members, and they could certainly do that a lot quicker than going through legal procedure and processing with me."

"I don't get it, Scully. Why would Leslie Prynne keep knowledge about Elizabeth from her parents? Where were they when she died?"

"I don't know, Mulder, and I don't want to think about it right now. I just don't want to be denied a child again." It was a wounding admission that escaped her with surprise. Why was it so hard for her to share these feelings with him, and yet, the need to so great?

A comforting silence passed between them. He gathered Elizabeth in his arms and stood. "I think she'll rest better in here," he said, walking towards his neglected bedroom. Mulder gently laid the sleeping child onto the bed and covered her. He could get use to this, he thought with a wistful smile. If only he could play some part in the adoption. Scully's happiness was the foremost thought as he rejoined her. "Ya know, I could always pop in a tape," he said, settling back onto the couch.

She caught his tease and raised her brow. "What, your version of The Fox and the Hound?"

He sighed in laughter. "Okay, but the title's not exactly the same."

"Let me guess, the frisky fox and the horny hound, right?"

"So you've seen it before? Well, in that case, I opt for Peaches Pleasure Points. It's a classic."

"Peaches Pleasure Points? I think I'll pass, Mulder."

"Oh, come on, Scully. It beats the heck out of anything'd you see on The Learning Channel." He relished in the rarity known as Scully's laugh.

"I really should go, Mulder. It's late," she said, the laughter still lingering in her eyes.

It was almost like watching moonlight dance on the sea, Mulder regarded. "It's not that late. I know Elizabeth's not ready to leave." He spoke to soon. The little girl's cries had Scully on her feet and ready to slay any dreamed up monsters.

---Same Night/SameTime--- A Parking Garage/Washington DC

Shadowy figures slowly approached one another. Puffs of acsending smoke preceded a voice of insolence. "How did this happen?"

A feminine voice of conceit assured, "I'm not sure, but it's being taken care of. The elderly couple has already filed for adoption of Elizabeth Prynne as the child's maternal grandparents. Agent Scully will not be granted custody of her, so there's no need for concern."

"There is no room for risk-taking either," the smoking man replied. "I think this situation should be handled personally, don't you?"

Diana Fowley's conscience inhaled deeply. "What did you have in mind?"

---J. Edgar Hoover Building--- One Week Later

Scully dropped the files in her hand on Mulder's desk and awaited his inquiry into her foul mood to which she responded, "Skinner suddenly has a problem with me adopting Elizabeth."

"What do you mean? What'd he say?"

"That's just it, Mulder. He doesn't believe it's a good decision, but he had no reason to back that statement. He wouldn't even explain his sudden change of mind. It was..." The telephone interrupted her.

Mulder answered and then extended the reciever to Scully. "Your Mom."

"It was almost like a warning," she finished, taking the phone. "Mom?" Fear slithered into Scully's mind. "What's wrong?" It crept into her heart. "Where are you?" It mingled with her blood. "I'm on my way."

"What is it?" Mulder asked, standing to follow.

"Something's wrong with Elizabeth," she whispered, her hands trembling as she grasped the doorknob. This was a familiar fear.

---Georgetown Memorial--- Three Hours Later 8:00 p.m.

Mulder sat, head in hands; Margaret Scully at his side. His mind was a collage of emotions. That young life, less than 24 hours ago, had been full of zest, and now, laid frail clingling to a miracle. It had happened so suddenly, Mrs. Scully had said, fine one minute, gasping for air the next. The doctor discovered the slight formation of a cyst on the back of Elizabeth's neck. Mulder had warned them against performing a biopsy, so now, they waited.

"How is she?" came the voice of concern.

Mulder was only momentarily surprised at the appearance of Walter Skinner. "They've done all the tests they can do right now, so she's holding on. They really haven't told us much." Mulder's voice was low, soft .

"I was actually asking about Scully," Skinner said.

Mulder had no reply , though his mind bitterly projected the word 'fine.' His Scully was always fine, wasn't she?

----------

Scully sat on the hospital bed, cautious of the tubes decorating the little body in her arms. She gently smoothed the light curls in slow, rythmic motions.

"Sing the horsey song," Elizabeth whispered, the sound tiny and hoarse.

"Will you sing it with me?" Scully asked softly.

Elizabeth answered with a nod, and they sang, "Hush-a-bye, don't you cry, Go to sleep, little baby; When you wake, you shall have cake, And all the pretty little horses. Black and bay, dapple and gray, Coach and six white horses, All the pretty little

horses..." Elizabeth smiled weakly and her eyes fluttered sleepily. "Say our prayer, Mommy."

Scully smiled, holding the tears at bay; her blood running cold. God, please, don't take this precious soul, she silently begged. "How about we send a different prayer tonight, okay?" and she recited, "Hail Mary, full of grace, The Lord is with Thee. Blessed art Thou among women, And blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us sinners now, And at the hour of our death. Amen." Elizabeth slept. Scully let her eyes close; a tear slipping by.

----------

Mulder stood by reflex when Scully joined them in the waiting room.

"Someone should call the adoption agency. The grandparents need to know." Her voice was painfully dispassionate.

"How's Elizabeth?" Mulder asked.

"She's sleeping," Scully answered, catching sight of Skinner. "I'll call the agency," Margaret offered.

---Mulder's Apt.--- Four days Later

Mulder had finally made his way home, only meaning to grab a shower and something to eat, but sleep was much to tempting. His mind fantasized the demise of the man he knew was alive and well, and the only human culpable of robbing a child of life for the 'greater good.' His faith was in the truth but at that moment, he found himself wanting to believe in Scully's God and the glimmering hope of divinity defined. He was drifting in and out when the telephone rang.

He grabbed it on the second ring. "Mulder." It was Mrs. Scully. Elizabeth was dead.

---Scully's Apt.--- Two days later 12:30 a.m.

It was strange being back in this place, Scully thought, while laying in bed. So quiet. So empty. The funeral had been beautiful, she told herself. So many pink roses. So many kind words. After so much of something, only nothing remained. She should have seen this coming, her mind berated. Should have seen beyond the delusion of happiness and into the face of reality. The reality being that Elizabeth had been nothing more than the haunting memory of Emily reflected back upon her. She could have prevented this from happening. She knew the evil at work here; had known when the 'grandparents' failed to attend the funeral. Leslie Prynne had known the truth, had wanted it to end. She had killed her ex-husband out of love not hate, wanting to take him and Elizabeth away from this doomed world. Stolen time. Tested faith. Sickness. Pain. Loss. How easily it could have been Scully on the brink of madness, wanting it all to end. A light flickered in the window, and the humming began low, touching her skin like a gentle breeze. Two voices. Soft.

Soothing. It was too much.

---Mulder's Apt.--- 2:00 a.m.

Why did he let her push him away? The fallacy of her need to be alone had only sketched an invincible image of her on his brain. Maybe, he needed that image as much as she did. From the light in the hallway, a shadow played in the darkness beneath his door. No knock. Only the voice.

"Mulder, it's me." He took a quick glance at the clock as he rose to his feet. Concern made visible the lines in his face. "I know it's late," she said, excusing her way into the dark apartment. Mulder said nothing, as she sat down on the couch; the sheet he slept on beneath her body. Her hand absent-mindedly rested on his pillow. She stared into the empty air before her, lost in thought. Mulder found his place beside her and felt her shiver as she

breathed in and out. Her mask of strength betrayed her as she found her voice. "I wanted her, Mulder."

"I know," he whispered.

"They didn't have to do this. I would have let her go."

"I know."

"She was only a child, a baby really. Flesh and blood. No matter how she was brought into this world. They didn't have to do this." The mask began to slowly crumble. "I just wanted to fill that void in my life. They didn't have to do this. They didn't have to take Emily."

Mulder flinched. "Scully, don't."

"She was mine, a part of me. Never theirs to take, but I would have let her go." The words stuck in her throat, choking out a cough, and she cried, falling in to him.

"Scully," he whispered, his lips catching wisps of golden fire. "If I could have known, the day you walked into my life, the pain they would cause you..." His voice trailed off; his arms tightening around her. "I would have let you go."

"Liar," she called, the word smothered by the skin of his neck.

He smiled, gently pushing her away to cup the tear-streaked face. "I know," he whispered, catching her eyes with his and holding them. "I could never let you go." The confession proceeded a kiss he never meant to give, but she was there, so close. He could feel the thump of his heart against her. It was a light kiss; lips brushing lips. Mingling breaths. Her tears staining his flesh.

The humming slid between them, pulling her away, and she covered her ears. "No, please stop," she whimpered.

"I'm sorry."

"No, it isn't you. Can't you hear it?"

"What?" he asked.

"The humming. It started the night that I shot Leslie Prynne, and now, it won't stop. I can't make it stop," she said, burying her face in his chest. "I just want it to stop." Her words echoed in Mulder's head as he held her. Leslie Prynne had spoken the same. "God, I think I'm losing my mind."

"No, I believe you, Scully."

"Well, I don't believe me," she said, succumbing to the melody coating her mind in fog, and he held her through the night as she slept.

---J. Edgar Hoover Building--- Two weeks later A.D. Skinner's Office [9:05 a.m.]

Mulder's eyes once again found their way to his watch. This wasn't like her; an hour late, missing a meeting. He had already called but had got the machine. He figured that she was just on her way, but that was a half-hour ago. He was on the edge of the seat when Skinner, pulling off his glasses and letting out a sigh, requested that he find out what was keeping her.

---------- He had dialed her number twice before reaching his car. No answer. His gut told him something was wrong.

---Scully's Apt.---

Her car was parked in front of the building. Mulder knocked five times, shouted twice, then tried using his key, but the door was already unlocked. "Scully?" he called out, drawing his weapon. "Scully?" She wasn't home. Nothing seemed out of place, except the bed. Scully would never leave the bed unmade. Putting his gun away, Mulder reached for his cell phone. He dialed Scully first, hoping for an answer, but it rang in the apartment. He found it laying just under the bed. Still hoping for a simple explanation, he called Margaret Scully which only caused her to start worrying. Within an hour, the apartment was overflowing with investigators and forensic experts.

---Bethesda, Maryland--- Same Day/Same Time

The dim light emanating from the lamp obscured Diana Fowley's view of the man before her; sparks from a lit match illuminating the creases garnishing his skin. "Have you done as I asked?" the man questioned the shadow in the corner. The shadow nodded in compliance; a war of good and evil being waged within the pensive green eyes.

"I don't understand your rationale behind this," Fowley said. "Elizabeth Prynne is no longer a threat, and even if she suspected the truth, I don't believe that Agent Scully would risk speaking out."

"I've told you before that there is no room for risk-taking. Agent Scully has accrued her losses, has paid dearly for her loyalty to Mulder, and now, she may feel it's time to give the debtors their due. I will not let one woman's broken heart ruin decades of intricately developed plans." Fowley's gaze turned to the corner shadow as smoke burned her eyes. Alex Krycek noted the uneasiness but could not see past his own musings of deceit.

---J. Edgar Hoover Building--- Skinner's Office Two days later [8:30 a.m.]

He couldn't be reliving this hell, Mulder reflected. In retrospect, he considered Scully's abduction the beginning of their montage of misery. The irony of it all forced a malevolent smile. They had come full circle.

"All right, I think we've explored every possible avenue," Skinner said, his face a mirror of his agents exhaustion. "The most plausible being that, due to her distraught nature, Agent Scully is missing of her own accord."

"That's bull shit and you know it," Mulder said, rubbing his bloodshot eyes. A gift from two sleepless nights. "Scully wouldn't just wander off."

"There isn't any evidence of foul play, Agent Mulder. Under the circumstances, it would be understandable for Scully to need time alone. People often do unusual things when grief-stricken. You know as well as I do that she hasn't been herself since the death of that child." Skinner held his ground under the scope of Mulder's intense glare.

"She's stronger than that," Mulder contested, his voice gruff.

"I think our best course of action is to give it some time before jumping to any conclusions. We need to..."

"What in the hell are you thinking?" Mulder said, his hands forcefully slamming against the table. "Scully is missing not wandering around somewhere half out of her mind with grief! We need every available resource out there looking for her."

"Calm down, Mulder, we are looking for her, but right now, no one is relying on worst-case scenarios to try to find her. I understand your anxiety but you're not helping anything by..."

"You're wasting time," Mulder interrupted, and he walked out.

---The Pentagon--- One week later [7:00 a.m.]

Diana Fowley stared at her own reflection in the one-way mirror. Scully looked weak, she thought. She felt his presence behind her.

"The procedure went well I think," he remarked.

"What are you hoping to accomplish by doing this?" she asked.

" A guarantee," he answered.

"Why not just put her out of her misery? She'll be nothing more than a vegetable when this is over."

"I think you underestimate Agent Scully's brilliance. What a waste it would be to just kill her. At least this way, we'll have her most valuable commodity as well as a permanent legacy."

"And if it fails? Emily was not a success. To experiment in this way could be futile. She could serve as nothing more than an incubator for your sick plans."

Cancerman smiled. "Diana, please, it's much to late to play martyr. If the procedure fails, it will not have been in vain. "

---------- Krycek watched him light another cigarette before disappearing around the corner.

---Mulder's Apt.--- Later that day

Dazed by exhaustion and helplessness, Mulder sat. All was quiet. 'Nothing vanishes without a trace,' his mind kept repeating, but they had found nothing. Not a damn thing that could lead them to Scully. At that moment, he found comfort in self-inflicted guilt. A sudden pounding on his door caused him to jump.

"Mulder, open the door. It's Skinner."

Go away, his inner voice shouted as he stood to let the man in. "Tell me you've found something," Mulder said, gesturing his superior inside.

"No, I'm sorry, Mulder. I just..."

"Sorry? If you were sorry, you'd be offering me the truth right now instead of an apology." Mulder could feel his chest tightening in anger.

" You think I know something about this?"

"Why else would you tell Scully that adopting Elizabeth wasn't a good idea? She said it was like you were warning her against it, and why else would you lay on us that lame-ass excuse about Scully missing of her own accord?"

"Mulder, that warning was only a precautionary measure. I had suspected a problem with a few acquaintances of mine, but after Elizabeth became ill I thought... I had no idea that any of this would happen. I feel as helpless as you do right now." A soft rapping distracted both men.

Margaret Scully waited for Fox to open the door; the ache in her blue eyes from too many shed tears.. Times like these made her wish there was no such thing as the FBI or The X-Files; perhaps then, her baby girl would never have met the man whose door she stood before now and both her daughters would be safe now; the man whose life quest had consumed her daughter's life.

---J. Edgar Hoover Building--- Next Day [9:00 a.m.] "Fox?" Diana Fowley's heels had announced her arrival before her appearance in the basement office. Mulder seemed unaffected by her presence. "I'd heard the news and wanted to assist in the investigation. I hope I'm not disturbing you."

"Does it look like I'm doing anything that could be disturbed?" A drifting groan escaped his stiffly set lips. "I'm sorry. I'm just.."

"You don't have to explain. Is there anything I can do?"

"Short of finding Scully, I think we've got it covered," he said, the biting sarcasm colliding with her heart.

---The Pentagon--- Same Day/SameTime

The surgeon shook his head. "I'm sorry but this doesn't seem to be working. The procedure was a success but none of the eggs have taken. Should we begin the cerebrum displacement?"

With a nod, the man walked away, leaving behind the stale odor of Morley tobacco.

---------- Her eyes unfocused, Scully tried to familiarize her surroundings, but her thoughts were muddled, selective. She could feel them touching her, hear their voices, but nothing registered. Her body lay still, desensitized to their poking and prodding, but she could feel something slipping away. Mulder, her mind spoke, sheltering his memory. In the distance, she could hear heated voices, rising, coming closer and then silence. A figure stood above her, and it lifted her with ease. She knew its voice.

---J. Edgar Hoover Building--- 1:00 p.m.

The telephone call interrupted Diana Fowley's attempt at consoling Mulder within an embrace of deceit. "Mulder," he said into the receiver. The scrambled voice only spoke an address and the words, 'Lose something?'

---A Hospital in D.C.--- 2:00 p.m.

Almost two weeks of nothing, and one anonymous 10 second phone call returned her to him. Mulder's mind was in a dreamlike state, trying to make sense of the last several months, but, as was normal in his life, there was none to be made. He watched her sleeping from a bedside view and prayed for her anchoring strength in the waking hours. What the doctor had told him and Mrs. Scully about Scully's condition made him worry that this was far from over. Emily had been created from Scully's harvested eggs but recent x-rays showed nothing atypical within her reproductive system. It was as if they had, unintentionally, given back what had been taken.

---The Pentagon--- Same time

Diana Fowley stared in disbelief at the surgeon who claimed to have been attacked by a masked stranger. Cancerman listened in silence as the man recounted the events, his eyes roving towards Alex Krycek sitting smugly in the corner.; a circle of smoke framing the face of the handsome rogue. The two men let their eyes duel before Cancerman looked away. "Nothing happens without a reason. Perhaps, this stranger pocesses reasons of consequence beyond our plans." An unmistakable gleam shone in Krycek's eyes. Sweet evil.

----Hospital---- Two days later [11:00 a.m.]

Scully managed a smile when Mulder entered the room. He greeted her with a cheek-kiss and a handful of flowers. "From Frohike," he said , smiling.

"Remind me to thank him," she said, lifting the roses to her nose.

"How are you feeling?" Mulder asked, predicting her response.

"I'll be fine," she said on cue. "I'm just a little confused. I can't understand why any of this has happened. I don't... I can't remember, Mulder."

"It doesn't matter now, Scully. All that matters is that you're all right. Someone made sure of that." The hazy figure that had lifted her flashed in her mind, but the image was unclear. "I've been doing some research, Scully. Leslie Prynne had no family, save Thomas Prynne and Elizabeth. She grew up in foster homes. In 1990, she married, moved to New York, and got a job at a department store. In August 1995, she was reported missing by her husband. Two months later, she mysteriously reappears at a local hospital. There was no investigation, no credence given to her repeated claims of having been abducted by aliens. In 1997, she divorced shortly after Elizabeth had come into her life. A few months later, she was arrested after trying to committ suicide in front of the White House and was later committed to a mental

institution diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. The same week that she escaped, Leslie Prynne had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. To the men responsible, she was nothing more than a poster child for government trial and errors."

Scully took a minute to absorb his words. Rearrange a few details and he could have been talking about her, she thought. "I still don't get it, Mulder. Why would they see me as such a

threat?"

"Maybe they felt that our chance meeting with Leslie and Elizabeth Prynne was a little too close for comfort."

"I think it was, Mulder," she whispered, her fingers finding the tiny cross.

---Scully's Apt.--- One Month Later [9:00 p.m.]

Scully was watching Mulder. Over the last month, they had reaffirmed their routine, but something had shifted between them. This morning had begun like any other, but had ended with Mulder, somehow, inviting himself to dinner. Now, he was just sitting there, like a prop, on her sofa rolling sunflower seeds over his tongue.

"Hey, Scully, did you know that in Greek mythology that there's a story about a nymph called Clytie. She was in love with Helios, god of the sun. She was turned into a sunflower because a sunflower always turns its face toward the sun."

"No, I didn't know that," she said, amused.

"Speaking of sunflowers, I got something for you," he said, reaching into his shirt pocket. "Close your eyes." She did, smiling, and felt him slipping a ring onto her finger. "Okay." Scully stared at the plastic sunflower. "I got it out of one of those quarter machines. I tried wearing it, but it just didn't feel right." Her laughter took him off guard. A quarter well spent, he thought.

"Thank you, Mulder."

He saw the sincerity in her eyes and an undeniable desire to kiss her jolted his heart. She was beauty unadorned. "I guess I should go," he said, quickly standing.

She wanted him to stay. "Yeah, it'll be late by the time you get home."

"Yeah," he agreed, reaching the door. "Thanks for dinner." She held the door as he stood beneath the frame. His eyes were searching hers. In them, he found what he'd been missing, and before he could stop them, the words fell out of him. "I don't know what I would do if I ever truly lost you, and why I'm telling you this now, I don't know. I do know that I can't keep being with you like this without ever having told you that I'm in love with you. I love you, Scully, and that's the way I want to be with you." He touched her cheek as delicately as though she would break. His lips, soft and warm, grazed her temple. She took the hand that touched her in her own and walked him back into the apartment, closing the door behind them.

"This can't happen, Mulder. *We* can't happen," she said, finding no meaning in her words.

He smiled. "Sentimental's not exactly your thing is it, Scully?" he said, lowering his head. "We'll have to work on that." Tenderly, their lips met. She allowed his gentle teasing before their tongues mated. They kissed one another into a breathless frenzy, and when they parted, his hazel eyes were steaming. "Tell me you don't feel the same," he said; his voice hoarse from heated desire. "Tell me you don't love me." "I never knew that I could love like this," she admitted, forgetting that anyone or anything existed beyond Mulder. Their lips met once more before their minds drifted, finding them wrapped together beneath white sheets, and reality seemed a million miles away; raw flesh melting as they made unabashed love. ---Later that Night---

Entangled, his head over her heart, her embrace, the embodiment of their shared love. Scully laid awake, reveling in the warmth of his breath against her sensitive skin. Once again, she found herself watching shadows dance, and in the stillness, heard it. The humming. She welcomed the sweet sound, closing her eyes, and the shadows played. Their voices were soft, distant, but the lullaby filled her head. She felt them in her heart, saw them in her mind; those lost little souls. Giggling, they ran through her thoughts, hand in hand, turning once to offer a smile reflected in her eyes as she reopened them. They were together, Scully mused, forever children. Innocence preserved. Mulder stirred, lifting his head. His sleepy smile dissolved at her tears. "What is it?" he asked.

For once, she could honestly reply, "Nothing."

He wasn't convinced. "Are you sure? Is there anything I can do?" "Love me," she said softly.

"Forever," he said, capturing her lips for a gentle tug. The humming surrounded them. He pulled away to meet her eyes, and she knew that he could hear it--the ghostly lullaby.

**The End**




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