Title: Devil at the Door
Author: dlynn
Feedback: dlynn1...@my-deja.com
Category: vignette, MSR
Distribution: Please, don't forward to Gossamer; I'll take care of that. Others, feel free to link to my webpage. I'd just like to know ... so I might visit.
Spoilers: post-existence
Rating: PG
Disclaimers: I wish they were mine ... sigh.

Summary: "The Devil's at the door, Scully. And we can't rest yet."

Author's notes: This is the fourth, and final, installment of the Rama Series. You can find the whole series here:

dlynn's novel length, stand-alone, and post-episode stories can be found at http://home.mpinet.net/ **

There are moments in life that defy logical explanation: That little niggle in the back of the brain, which tells us that we need to call someone -- now.

Suicide prevented.

An illness, beyond the scope of the doctors'

capabilities, suddenly stumbles into remission - against all odds, against all hope.

Someone's already running late to work when the phone rings, but she pauses against her better judgement and answers - just because. Aggravated, she tells the telemarketer to please remove her from his call list, slams the receiver into its cradle, and curses the fact that the sixty seconds lost will put her even farther behind schedule. People milling around the drunk driver's car, slammed into the subdivision wall at the four way stop to her cul-de-sac, give stark testimony to how very late she might have been.

Two people are forced together, two very different souls, on what appears to be two very different journeys. They forge a bond unlike any other, and their journeys overlap, until they follow the same path ...together.

Fate, circumstance, luck, random chaos ... Divine intervention?

All a matter of perspective, I suppose.

My meeting Special Agent Dana Scully several months ago - at a time when she desperately needed sommeone to talk to - might be one such incident open to interpretation, a matter of perspective. Some might say it was coincidence that I traded shifts that night so that Margaret might attend her son's wedding. Others would say it's just the luck of the draw, a happenstance.

Since I believe nothing occurs without first passing before the throne of the Father, my perspective precludes those options for me.

That and the fact that I've lived more lifetimes than the average Methuselah ... but that's another story.

I hear the voices before I see them, and I slip back into the small crevice, which some might call a closet, before they enter the room. I don't mean to intentionally hide, but they've caught me off-guard and now I feel awkward stepping forth.

"Mulder, it's a cold. Your garden variety, mainline the vitamin C, baby saline drops for the nose, nasty blue bulb snot snorter, and lots of sleepless nights for the two of us, cold. That's it. Nothing else."

"Snot snorter. Dare you to say that three times real fast, Scully."

"Mulder, it's a cold."

"How can you be so sure?" Mulder says, poking at the white crocheted blanket that covers their son's head.

Dr. Dana Scully, M.D. raises her eyebrow at him as though it were loaded and cocked. The accompanying evil eye thing she does gives perfection to the entire look.

I really need to practice that; I'll find a mirror after work.

"Okay, so you might know how to diagnose a cold, Scully, but this is different. This is Will. This is our son.

This is -"

"Foolish, but endearing, Mulder, and I am going to humor you," Dana says as she shifts the fussy baby within her arms.

Mulder dives for a pacifier that is imbedded in the diaper bag slung over his shoulder. His expression lights up as though he's found the Hope Diamond, but Dana glares at the small, rubber nipple he presents her.

With the rising of her twitchy eyebrow again, Mulder reevaluates. Plugging the only unobstructed breathing orifice the child has is probably not the best idea.

Oxford educated and intuitive might work for the real world, but this is parenting 101, and sometimes a Dad makes a few false starts.

Mulder reaches down and strokes his son's fine auburn hair. He smiles at the baby, even as the child makes crinkled up faces as though he's trying to decide if it's worth a full blown wail or not. "Scully, here, let me take him." Mulder's hands reach forward like a running back who fully expects the quarterback to pass off the ball.

Apparently, there's been an audible called because the quarterback has another game plan; she plans to sprint through the goal posts on her own.

"Mulder, I ... "

"You *are* worried, Scully. The fever makes you nervous, too."

No more raised eyebrows. No more evil eye. Just a slight shoulder shrug and eyes full of apprehension. Mommy Scully has supplanted Dr. Scully and fallen into the first time parent trap. Every ache and lament is cause for concern and panic.

Although, with the history of this couple, I'm not sure their anxiousness is unwarranted.

My how the baby's grown. This is the second time I've seen little William. Scully brought her son to see me two weeks ago. We sat here in the chapel, and I cooed over her tiny miracle. The woman who sat with me that morning bore no resemblance to the shell shocked apparition I'd first met all those months ago. Instead, I gazed at a vibrant, glowing mother ... enamored with her son, shy and demure when I brought up her partner.

Unlike the first time we prayed together, our hearts were full of praise and thanksgiving, not mourning and supplication.

But I still haven't met Mulder. At least not officially.

At first he'd been so ill and so lost within a waking dream. My old bones would have provided no comfort to him ... stranger that I was, especially when he felt so utterly strange and bereft within his own body, within his own life. Within the circumstances of a miracle..."Scully, what time's the appointment?" Mulder asks, checking his watch.

"In a few minutes ... I just ... I was hoping to find Marty, that's all." Scully looks around the room. "I thought she might be on tonight, and I wanted you to meet her. There's something about her, Mulder. I can't quite put my finger on it, but she's ... she's been a Godsend."

My fingers quiver at the door's edge; I start to walk forward, to reveal myself to them ... but no. There's something ... I need to wait. Now is not the time.

The shrill trill of a cell phone intrudes. Mulder pulls the annoying interruption from the diaper bag and punches the on button.

"Mulder."

Scully paces in front of him as Mulder assures someone named Frohike? that everything's okay and they will notify them if anything develops.

"Just monitor the hospital, Frohike. You'll probably know any test results before we do. No I don't need the three of you to come down here," Mulder says as Scully, with great vehemence, shakes her head. She motions at her watch and grabs the diaper bag from Mulder. He holds up one finger, signifying he'll be right there. Scully kisses his cheek and leaves the chapel; Mulder slumps into the pew.

"Frohike, she's taken his temperature. It's 100.5. Yes, we used the rectal thermometer. He said what? ... Tell Langley he can shove it up his ... I realize ... yeah, right ... more accurate. Frohike ... put Byers on." Mulder fingers a ballpoint pen that he's pulled from a little shelf beside his seat. He raps the pen against a stack of prayer cards. "Byers... Listen. It's a cold. Scully assures me; that's all it is. Nothing more than that.

I'll call as soon as we're done. I promise."

Mulder cocks his head as he perches the phone up against his ear. He leans forward and picks up one of the little cards, trying to decipher the words written on it. He no longer rat-a-tats the pen against the stack, but traces the lettering with his forefinger ..."Hmmm ... yeah, I know. No ... we haven't talked about it yet," Mulder lays the prayer card down on the pew beside him; he leans forward ... placing his forehead upon the pew in front of him. He rests his head, as though suddenly he is Atlas, and the world is much to heavy to bear any longer.

Mulder's voice drops to a whisper. I can barely pick out his words. He mumbles in the direction of his shoes.

"Byers ... I know I need to talk to her. She knows too ...we've just avoided it. God, is it too much to ask for just a few weeks ... Just a couple of damn months ... the length of a friggin' maternity leave." Mulder's hand rubs the bridge of his nose. He swipes at his eyes.

Suddenly, he is so weary. "Look, guys, I gotta go.

William's appointment is any minute, and I need to be there. I'll catch you later."

Mulder clicks off the phone and tosses the small Nokia onto the pew beside him. He just sits ... and stares straight ahead at the slim, plain wooden cross, perched on the table at the front of the room. With a sigh ... he reaches for his phone and shifts in his seat, preparing to leave. The small card he'd laid down earlier beckons him, and he picks it up.

"Marty, you can come out now," he whispers, tapping the card against his leg. "It is you, isn't it?"

I push open the closet door and step into the dim shadows of the chapel. Mulder hasn't turned his head.

"How did you know I was here, or for that matter, that it was me?"

"Honestly ... I don't know. I just did."

I reach the pew and sit on the burgundy cushions beside him. I wait for him ... he takes his time.

"Scully's spoken a great deal about you. She says ...you've helped her. You've been a Godsend ..." Mulder's voice trails off as though he contemplates his words. He turns; his eyes are cold ... and harsh. "Who are you?

Really."

"I am Margaret Lassiter ... an old woman, who's seen more than her share of heartache and joy."

"And you just happened to find Scully? Just ... happened to be there all these times she needed you. Is that right? Ms. Lassiter."

"Mr. Mulder, I'm not sure 'happened' is the word I'd choose, but yes ... I've been here for Dana. She needed ...she needed someone to help her hang on ... to help her trust in her faith. God allowed me to be that person."

"Is this the part where you sprout an ethereal halo ... a soft, touched by an angel kind of air brushed glow? And tell me how God loves me?" Mulder pauses and looks back to the door. "If Roma Downey's gonna show up, she's superfluous, I already have my red head. But I know a great guy, who'd love to meet your angel."

"Wouldn't happen to be named Frohike, would he? I think I'd like to meet the man who's so concerned about the three of you and knows the importance of rectal thermometers."

Mulder smiles at my words, in spite of himself, I think.

But quickly ... he's closed up to me again. All angular and defensive, he's ready to serve my poor old gray head upon a platter.

"Who do you work for, Mrs. Lassiter? Who's pulling your strings?"

"Work for, Mr. Mulder? I presume you don't mean my present employer ... this hospital?"

"Every time Scully turns around, someone who's presented to her as well-intentioned, with only Scully's best interests at heart, is foisted upon her. The only problem is ... there's usually some hidden agenda." Mulder stands and begins to pace in front of the pew. "Let's say, Mrs. Lassiter, I don't take *anyone* at face value."

I bend forward, laying my head against the same pew he'd rested his forehead upon earlier. My voice is muffled as I speak in the direction of my shoes.

"Care to take a look, Agent Mulder."

That stops him. I don't need to raise my head, in order to tell that he's quit pacing and is standing perfectly still. Stunned.

"Go ahead. No bumps. Nothing."

"How ... how do you know about that."

"The same way that I know you worried that you might be forced to play Joseph to Scully's, Mary; although, we both know Will is a miracle of a different kind."

I raise my head and stare into the startled, perplexed eyes of one very tired and confused man. I place my fingers against the seat cushion, feeling around, without looking down. I don't want to pull my eyes from his.

"You need to fill out this prayer card, Mulder. I think you have something on your mind."

"How ... what? Who are you?"

"A friend ... a friend of yours and Dana's. Someone who believes in miracles and the power of prayer. Someone who believes that faith, hope and love ... have a place in this world and are a very powerful truth."

Mulder fingers the card, turning it over in his hand. He contemplates the door behind me - considering his exit or who might enter, I don't know.

"As much as I want the normal life ... a chance at that with Scully ... and our son, I can't just go on and pretend that all is well with the world. Everyone's telling me ... take your time, Mulder. Decide ... you've got so many options. Teach. Write your memoirs. Hell, they'll be a national best seller. Someone'll make a television show out of them," he says, a rueful smile at his lips. "But just because we've been ... blessed with William, there's still the Devil at the door."

"Yes, there is."

"And if I ... if Scully and I give into that normal life.

if we get out of the car, as she once said, then who guards the door? Who keeps the Devil back?"

"Your destiny is not an easy road, child. For either of you. But there's no need for you to travel alone. If nothing else, in these past few months, you have to believe that miracles do occur, and that there are some forces at work even greater than what you fight."

"We don't get to stop, do we?"

"No. But, Mulder ... you don't have to go it alone, either."

The door behind me opens; Scully enters. William's nestled in her arms. He's breathing easier. His face isn't nearly so flushed. The baby's sleeping peacefully.

"Mulder?" she asks, wondering why he's been so tardy.

Mulder raises his head and looks in the direction that he last saw me. He blinks twice and then spins around 360, as though he thinks this old woman has pulled a fast one. But I'm not there, and he won't find me.

I slip forward between the pews and walk toward the doorway, where Scully's now entered the room. I lean forward and place a gentle kiss upon Will's precious brow. And just as gently, I place my hand upon the crown of Dana's head and whisper a fervent prayer.

"Scully, we need to talk. There are plans that must be made." Mulder says as she touches her fingers to the back of her head. "The Devil's at the door, Scully. And we can't rest yet."

The End


Author's notes:

I watched Sixth Extinction: Amor Fati last night, and I thought of the scene with Scully ... where she tells Mulder he must get up. He has to fight. He can't succumb to the normal life when the Devil's outside. I guess I'd like to believe that Mulder and Scully don't have to do it all alone... But it's time for Mulder to get up and fight.

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