Title: The Fire Eternal
Author: Marisa Golini
Written: July 1994

An X-Files Story

Summary: Mulder convinces Scully to try hypnotic regression to see if they've had a past life together. It turns out that Scully was a healer accused of being a witch and Mulder was a witch hunter...

Foreward : Well, it's time for another Summer X-Files story and this time I wanted to play around with the idea of 'past lives.' I've always believed that there's a reason why we meet the people we meet, and why certain people become important in our lives. It is with that in mind that I write this story. Some of my research came from the film _The Burning Times_ directed by Donna Reed for the National Film Board of Canada, and the_Encyclopedia of Mystical & Paranormal Experience_ by Rosemary Guiley. As always, I must thank my DDEB Black Ops partner Patti MacKinnon for all the moral support (in all our lifetimes!) I also have to say thanks to .net personality Jim Poushinsky for letting me use his name for one of the characters. Jim *is* a walking, talking X-File. And thank-you Chris, David and Gillian for an awesome show. Of course, all the usual disclaimers apply.

And now...for something completely different...


"I'm beginning to regret this."

Agent Dana Scully crossed her arms and gave her friend and ex-partner Agent Fox Mulder her best pout. Mulder just smirked and kept driving.

"You just hate it when I'm right, don't you?" he said.

"I didn't say you were right!"

"Well, can't you at least open your mind to the possibility---"

"Oh please, Mulder...not that line again." Scully sighed. "If you hadn't *dared* me, I wouldn't even *be* here."

"I guess I know what button to push now. You'll never be safe again."

Mulder's car slowly made its way through downtown traffic. It wasn't going to be any ordinary Saturday afternoon, but he had a feeling it was going to be interesting. Scully had just closed a case involving a doctor who was suspected of murdering two of his patients-- by hypnotic suggestion. He was cleared when it was found that a jealous rival doctor had orchestrated the murders.

Dr. James Poushinsky was so glad to have his name cleared, he offered to do a session for Scully and Mulder-- so they could explore a past life. Mulder, of course, jumped at the opportunity...Scully the skeptic declined-- until Mulder challenged her.

"This is going to be a waste of time, Mulder. I hope you realize I'm doing this just to humor you."

"If you're doing this just to humor me, then why are you getting nervous?"

"I'm *not* getting nervous!" Scully exclaimed.

Mulder smirked again. He knew Scully was in this car because she was just as curious as he was-- even if she'd never admit it. She may have a perfectly logical scientific explaination for even the most unusual occurences...but secretly she craved the unexplainable-- if only to challenge herself to find that logical explaination. Their work together on the X-Files-- the FBI's unexplained and sometimes paranormal cases had given her plenty of chances to do just that. During that time they formed a bond that neither could really describe. The X-Files had put them in some pretty 'spooky' situations-- some situations where they could trust no one but themselves. Mulder never had a friend quite like Scully. They challenged each other, astonished each other and trusted each other implicitly. And they knew they could always count on each other in any situation.

"Really Scully, don't you think it would be an absolute scream if we knew each other in another life?"

Scully rolled her eyes, and adjusted a stray lock of red hair.

"Just knowing you in this life has been excitement enough, Mulder."

"Why thank-you, Scully."

"And even if I were so inclined to believe in the concept of reincarnation, I don't think I can buy into being able to access these 'other lives' through hypnotic regression. Investigations into past-life recall have been scientifically inconclusive."

Mulder gave her an amused look. Time for a Scully sermon. He was already preparing his defense.

"Please go on."

"Hypnotic recall is not reliable." Scully continued. "There was a famous case in 1906 involving an English woman who believed she had lived as Blanche Poynings in the 14th century and was a friend of Maud, Countess of Salisbury. Further investigation found that she'd read a book on the life of Countess Maud some years earlier and had forgotten she'd done so."

"One case." Mulder countered. "What about American psychologist Helen Wambach, who in the late 60's, conducted a 10-year study of past-life recall under hypnosis with over 1-thousand subjects.

She collected data concerning race, sex, class, clothing, utensils and the death experience. And she concluded that fantasy and genetic memory could *not* account for the patterns that emerged from the results."

Scully raised an eyebrow at him.

"You're determined to turn me into a raving lunatic, aren't you?"

"Only 'cuz I care." Mulder replied with a smile. He pulled into the parking lot next to the steel-grey tower where Poushinsky had his office. Yep, Mulder thought, it's going to be an interesting afternoon.

**

"Actually, I'd like to try something a little different." Mulder and Scully looked at each other as Dr. Poushinsky sat on the edge of his desk.

"And what would that be?" Scully asked.

"Well, I'd like to have you both under hypnosis at the same time." Poushinsky added," I've tried it before with people who want to see if they have shared a past life. The technique seems to work very well."

"I don't know," Scully said nervously. "I think one of us should be conscious while the other is under."

"There's nothing to worry about, Agent Scully," Poushinsky said. "The tape-recorders will be running and having one person awake in no way affects what the other will say. Besides, with both of you under hypnosis, it seems hardly likely that you could both make up the same story-- if that's what you're afraid of."

"Come on, Scully." Mulder pleaded with wink and a smile. "I have a feeling our bedtime reading is probably *worlds* apart."

Scully ignored him, and sat down in one of Poushinsky's soft leather chairs. The things I do for this man, Scully thought ruefully. I must be crazy. Unless, of course, there *was* something to all this 'past life' stuff. Yeah sure, Scully. Give your head a shake.

"O.k." she said, taking a deep breath, "Let's do it."

Mulder looked gleeful as he sat down. Like a kid in a candy store, Scully thought. A brilliant kid. She was starting to feel uneasy, but refused to admit it.

However, had she confessed her uneasiness to Mulder, he might've told her that despite his enthusiastic demeanor, he was beginning to feel a bit apprehensive himself. She heard the doctor's voice telling her to relax, and felt herself drift off while she stared at the little stucco bumps on the ceiling.....

My name is Rachel Duncan, and so far, today has been a good day.

Early this morning, I delivered the Stewart child. It was a difficult birth, but Ali is a strong woman and I'm pleased that both she and her little daughter are fine and healthy. Tonight, I must check in on old Mrs. Hewitt. Her fever and cough worry me. I will have to mix another treatment and look in on her again in the morning.

It is days such as these that I am truly happy with my life. It is true that I miss my father terribly. His passing two years ago has left an emptiness in my existence that I still feel. Perhaps it is because I feel he never approved of my life choices. I still believe that if he could only see the good I do in this village, he would be proud of me. I have always wanted that.

It has not been easy. There is a strange and unsettling hysteria sweeping the country...indeed I have heard terrible rumours from even beyond England. It is hard to believe that anything so vile could actually be occuring. I am told that even owning this home and the property that my father bequeathed to me, can make me suspect. How ridiculous that women cannot normally own property.

I yearn for a world that treats us all as equals, but I fear I will certainly not see this in my lifetime. The sky grows dark. I must go and see Mrs. Hewitt before the storm comes. I hope the weather is not a bad omen. Oh Rachel, don't be foolish. There are no such thing as omens...

How strange the weather should turn as I near the village of Exeter. Perhaps it is an omen. There is no question in my mind that there are evil forces at work. A wicked and corrupt conspiracy of malevolence. I know, from the writings of Mathew Hopkins, what to observe and I am confident that I will not disappoint my superiors in this first task. And yet I feel a gnawing sense of doubt within me. So many people have been convicted of these heinous crimes...hundreds, perhaps thousands of people if the reports I hear are correct. If all these people were indeed as evil as their accusers say, then surely all virtue and goodness across the land would have been destroyed long ago. I sometimes feel that I am looking for these perpetrators of evil in the wrong places. Could they indeed be the very people who spout truth and justice? Wolves in sheep's clothing. My minds reels with the fear of such deception. Perhaps I should rest now. This journey has tired me and I can only hope I think more clearly after a good night's sleep...

Mrs. Hewitt slept well last night and today she tells me she is feeling much better. I must make a note of the new herbal mixture I produced yesterday. I am pleased that it worked so well. More rumours this morning about the atrocities. It seems these stories circulate sporadically-- and certainly whenever a village is experiencing some hardships. Yet, these occurances are nearing in proximity. This worries me since we have had some unfortunate incidents in Exeter as of late-- all perfectly explainable of course, but-- there is no accounting for the power of hysteria. I hope our village remains safe from these dreadful developments.

I have also heard rumours of a mysterious stranger who has arrived in our village. I am told he is staying at the Warwick Inn. I do hope he does not cause any discord, as we do not need any trouble-makers at this moment....Strange...I hear a horse neighing outside...I best see what is happening...

Damn. What was that?

I sit here in the dirt, my hand now bleeding...as my horse whinnys at me a few feet away. I am sure he finds this all very amusing.

"Sir...are you hurt?" I hear a voice calling out to me. A young woman is walking towards me from a nearby home. What strikes me first is her wild mane of red hair....then her kind smile. I hastily get to my feet and brush the dust off my clothes.

"I am fine, miss, really," I say somewhat embarrassed. "I'm afraid my horse was startled by a wild animal from those woods."

"Oh that must have been Frederick," she says.

"Frederick?"

"Yes," she says with a smile, "he's a fox. He wanders by every once in awhile, but he's harmless...usually."

"You have named ...a fox?" I ask incredulously.

"Why not?" she says matter-of-factly. "Oh...you are hurt...your hand is bleeding." She takes my gently and examines it.

"No really...I am fine."

"Come inside for a moment and let me fix this."

"I don't want to be any trouble," I say.

"It's no trouble, Mr....?"

"Oh...yes...please pardon this rather humiliating first

impression. My name is Jonathon Samuel McGrath.""Well, Jonathon Samuel McGrath," she says with a twinkle in her eye, "it is no trouble at all. I've helped heal injuries and illnessess much worse than this."

She certainly is enchanting. Such a fiery spirit. How could I refuse?

For some strange reason I feel I cannot simply mend his cuts and send him on his way. There is something about him that intrigues me...something about his eyes. Besides, he looks as if he can use a cup of tea. He really seems a strange sort though. He eats seeds! How odd! He keeps them in a small sack and picks at them every so often. Imagine a young man eating something I might feed to birds. He says he comes from Chelmsford but seems evasive about his business here, although he does admit he had been on his way to look at the abandoned Anderson farm that burned down two weeks ago.

"I understand," he says to me matter of factly, "there have been some un

usual happenings in this area as of late.""Such as?" I inquire.

"Fruit shrivelling up on the trees, cows and sheep dying for no reason, a vacant farm going up in flames."

I laugh-- and tell him these things are no more unusual than the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. Surely, fruit rotting and animals dying can be explained away by some natural illness. He obviously thinks there is more to it, and asks me if I do not think there is something "sinister" at work in the land.

"If there is indeed an evil conspiracy afoot, Mr. McGrath," I say, "you will be sure to find it in the natural world-- not the supernatural."

That seems to make him stop and think a moment...as if it had been something he had already been pondering. He asks me where I am from and I tell him that my parents came from Scotland-- from North Berwick to be specific. He gets that strange look in his eye and I know he has heard the story. It constantly amazes me that people could be so gullible and nonsensical. It is said that 60 years ago, in 1590, a group of 'witches' in North Berwick conjured up a dreadful storm at sea to kill King James of Scotland, who had been travelling from Denmark.

"Do you believe I am a witch, Mr. McGrath, simply because my ancestors come from North Berwick?"

"No, of course not Miss Duncan," he says. "But are you aware you have the same last name as one of the women convicted of witchcraft in that town 60 years ago?"

"I have heard that, sir," I reply. "but I hardly think that rather unfortunate coincidence would give me the power to enchant your cup of tea."

He looks at his tea suddenly as if perhaps I may have indeed cast some spell without his knowing. I really should not joke about such matters but I can't help teasing him. Then he gives me the most endearing smile, and I know at that moment that he could not be that unreasonable in his thinking.

"Do you really believe in witches, Mr. McGrath?"

"Yes I do Miss Duncan," he tells me. "Do you not believe?"

"No I do not," I say. "Can you tell me *why* you believe?"

His eyes grow dark as if remembering some painful memory. His voice so quiet.

"Miss Duncan, many years ago, I lost my younger sister. She was 9 years old at the time...she was taken away...by witches."

I am quite stunned by this statement, but it is obvious to me that he truly believes this, and that it has been a source of great torment for him for quite some time.

"Surely this cannot be," I tell him. "There must be some other explaination...what do you remember?"

"Very little," he says. "I was a few years older than her. One night I heard her screaming my name. I heard some sort of commotion outside my bedroom door but found it locked when I tried to open it. She kept screaming, and I could not help her.

Later, when it grew quiet again, my father let me out, and told me that witches had taken her away. He would not speak further of it. We never spoke of it again."

His words move me deeply and I find myself grieving for his loss.

But I fear the truth is more painful than we can both possibly imagine. I have heard too many appalling stories...deplorable rumours from the Continent of children as young as three and four years of age being dragged away and accused of witchcraft. I tell him this is something he should consider, and he seems shocked by the suggestion. He is...so bewildered by something. I find his candidness and honesty refreshing, and his intensity frightening. He says it is getting late and he must leave. He thanks me for the tea and departs. I find myself hoping that I will see him again.

What a remarkable woman. Everything about her intrigues me, even though at this moment she has caused me more consternation and trepidation than I can possibly imagine. Could what she tells me be true? Instead of hunting the enemy...I may be working for the enemy. I sit in my room at the village Inn and find I cannot stop thinking of her.

There is a knock at my door. A man by the name of Aleister Locke says he has come looking for me. He appears to be in his mid 40's, with a grim mouth and black eyes. He says he knows I am witch hunter and he can point out who among the village is a witch. I already do not like this man's attitude and demeanor. He is brash and impudent, making demands like an arrogant despot. Imagine my astonishment, when the first person he names...is one Rachel Duncan.


I am surprised but pleased to find the mysterious Jonathon Samuel McGrath at my door this morning. I must admit I found it hard to think of anything else last night. He is a most intriguing and charming man...but today he seems troubled...

"Do you know a man by the name of Aleister Locke?" he asks me.

"What about him?"

"He has made some...disturbing accusations."

"Oh really," I say. "That is hardly surprising. What is it this time?"

"Nothing you should worry about," he replies. "He has only accused you of witchcraft."

I have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, as I stare at Mr. McGrath dumbfounded. I can believe just about any manipulative tactic from Locke...but this is inconceivable. I find the nearest chair and sit down.

"Mr. McGrath...I have been rejecting Aleister Locke's advances for almost a year now. He does not seem to understand the word 'no,'so I assume this is his rather appalling attempt at revenge."

"Miss Duncan, I believe you may be in danger."

"Oh? Do I not have free choice, Mr. McGrath? Does that make me witch?"

"No, of course not---"

"Do you believe I am a witch, Mr. McGrath?" I ask.

He looks at me for the longest moment with fathomless hazel eyes, then smiles.

"You are not a witch, Miss Duncan." He says, "Though considering where my thoughts were last night, I might be inclined to believe that you had cast a spell over me."

"If you have been bewitched, Mr. McGrath...then it is because you chose to be." I cannot help but give him my best coy look. "Tea?"

"That would be delightful."

We talk for hours. I have never felt so content. It is though I have known Jonathon all my life. Never have I felt I could trust someone as I trust him. It is now late afternoon, and he must leave, he says, to attend to some business...but he asks to see me again this evening. I, of course, say yes.

Twenty minutes after he leaves, I am already trying to decide what to wear for the evening. A harsh rap at my door interupts my reverie.

I... do not think I will see Jonathon tonight.


She is unlike any woman I have ever known. Her strength, spirit, and passion inspire me...and she has opened my eyes. As I sit here in my room making notes in my journal, I see now that things are not what they seem. The truth is out there...but so are lies. This insane hunt must stop...but I am only one person. Will they listen to me? Or condemn me? No...they will *have* to listen.

There is a knock at my door. I open it to find an elderly man who introduces himself as a trial judge for this area. He tells me that my services are required as they have brought in four females on charges of witchcraft. I ask him who they are, and he tells me there is one old woman, a woman in her 30's, a 15-year old, and...a nine-year old. A nine-year old...?

My heart grows cold.

As if in a trance, I am led to the jail where they are being kept. I am told I will be questioning the young woman. The trial judge and scribe lead me down a dank hallway to a door. I open it...and look straight into my Rachel's steadfast, beautiful eyes.

Oh...my God.

Tell me it isn't true. My Jonathon is...a witch hunter? This cannot be happening to me. I am terrified...even though I refuse to give them the pleasure of that knowledge. I sit here in this

stifling room, my hands bound behind me...and now, a man I thought I could trust with my life stands before me ready to do...God knows what.

He still has not said a word...but one of the men now hands him the bridle...the witch's bridle I have only heard of through rumour. I look at the loathsome iron instrument and wonder how its four sharp prongs will feel pressed into my tongue and cheeks.

Suddenly, he tells the others to leave.

"I wish to be left alone to question the witch." he says.

The others argue that the scribe must be present to record my 'confession.'

"When she is ready to confess, I will call you in...now *leave* us."

They leave reluctantly. The door shuts and I am left alone with the man I nearly gave my heart to. A man who has deceived me terribly. Now I am angry.

"What are you waiting for?" I ask him bitterly. "Go ahead and harness me."

He still says nothing to me.

"Or perhaps you would rather pierce me with a bodkin to find my 'devil's mark'? If you wish, I can show you the areas of the human body that bleed the most."

He still says nothing. If my hands were free, I would strike him...but I only have words for weapons. "Shall we conduct the water test, then?" I shout. "Yes, why don't you bind my hands and feet together and throw me into the river...then again if I don't float, and drown instead -- you'll miss out on the pleasure of hearing my screams when you insert red hot irons up my---"

"STOP IT!" He screams and throws the bridle violently against a wall. The clatter of it seems to echo endlessly. In the dim light, I can see his whole body shaking. He walks toward me and stumbles to his knees before me. There are...tears streaming down his face as he clutches my skirts and buries his head in my lap.

Out of relief, more than fear...I hang my head and weep.

Oh Rachel my love. What have I done?

Has my presence in this village put your life in danger? How could I have let my life be ruled by lies, and have a woman I care most deeply for pay the price? I am desolate. I can only weep bitter tears at her feet and say...

"I'm ...so sorry, Rachel..." ...the words seem so empty. I must try and make things right. She *must* live. She cannot be punished for *my* mistakes.

I reach for the pocket knife in my jacket and cut the ropes that tied her hands behind her back. She throws her arms around me and we embrace tightly-- part desperation, part passion. I bury one hand in that sea of red, and feel her lips against my face. She whispers in my ear...

"Jonathon...you don't have to do this. It is enough for me to know that you haven't lied to me...that you are not --one of them. If you help me now..."

"Shhhh...." I gently lift her to her feet. "We must leave...now."

######

We have ridden for over an hour. My knowledge of the countryside has helped our escape...but how long can we evade our now common enemy? Jonathon has sentenced himself to death by helping me. He is willing to die for the truth.

What kind of world is this, that such blind hysteria can rule over common sense and reason? Were I to live in a world where rational judgement and logic ruled, I would consider myself truly blessed.

We have found an abandoned stable where we can rest for a few hours. It is better if we travel by night. I am still frightened, but I feel braver with Jonathon by my side. "We have only each other to trust now, Rachel," he tells me, "Do you trust me?"

"You are the only one I trust at this moment."

He holds me in his arms and caresses my hair.

"You must try and get some sleep," he whispers. "Do you like poetry, Rachel?"

"Yes, I do."

"Then close your eyes and I will recite to you one of my favorite sonnets."

I close my eyes and listen to his soothing voice...

"'Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove: O, no! it is an ever fixed mark, That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wand'ring bark, Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken. Love's not Time's fool, those rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle's compass come; Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom...'"

Such beautiful words. I open my eyes and gaze into his. "Do you believe we are 'true minds?' I ask.

"Yes," he replies with a smile, "Even when we disagree."

I reach up to touch his cheek...to trace the outline of his lips. "I am afraid...that we will not have the time to find out." He kisses my fingers softly...and then the palm of my hand.

"Did you not hear the words in that sonnet,Rachel? Spiritual love never dies...it is a bond that lives on forever...through time."

"Forever...?"

"Through this life...and the next."

"Do you really believe that?" I ask him...I can feel his breath now on my cheek...warm and alluring.

"Don't you?"

"I...I am not sure..."

"Then I will believe for both of us."

I feel his lips press softly against mine...like the touch of satin. It kindles a flame within me that I have always denied myself, and I burn with a desire I almost find maddening. I ease further back into the hay and pull Jonathon closer. I can smell his hair, his skin...


My boldness astonishes me. To take such liberties with a woman of Rachel's sensibilites...some madness has taken me...some madness has taken us both. I want to bury my face in her red hair and seek sanctuary there. I want to ravish her angel's lips until she sighs and gasps and stirs under me. I want to do other things that I will surely be damned for...but I want her above all else.

"Rachel," I breath. I crave to submerge myself within her eyes, within her body. She gazes at me from under her lashes. I am lost.


This is against every law of God and man...but every law is wrong now, and everything in the world has turned against us. I open my mouth in a sigh, and am astonished to feel Jonathon's tongue between my lips. The smouldering fires I felt before are nothing next to the sensations flooding me now...Never have I felt this for a man before...never have I been willing to cast aside, in the madness of the moment, everything I have been taught to hold sacred. But nothing is sacred now...except this.


It is still hours before daylight, but I cannot enjoy the warmth of Rachel's body next to mine.

They have found us.

"Jonathon!!!" she screams as men drag her away from me. I try to reach for her, but feel a vicious blow to the back of my head...and another...and yet another. I crumple to the ground in pain...but it is the pain of realization that our night of love has ended in such despair.

I am beyond despair. Though separated for the bleak journey back to the village, Jonathon and I now find ourselves thrown together again in what looks like a hastily put together court. I see him across the room from me with such pain in his eyes that my heart weeps. My only thoughts are of saving him now. There is one way.

I pray it works.

"Jonathon Samuel McGrath...Stand, and face the court."

I am brought before the trial judge. With him, are some of the village clergy, two scribes, and Aleister Locke. His presence does not surprise me.

"Mr. McGrath," the trial judge says, "you have been accused of assisting in the escape of one Rachel Duncan who has been convicted of witchcraft."

"How can you convict her, without ever having spoken to her?" I shout back at him. Although I am quite aware that there are no words that can change their minds at this point. Indeed, there is not even a rational thought present in this room.

"Mr. McGrath...we are willing to absolve you of this obvious temporary loss of your senses...since the witch tells us she had cast a spell over you."

"She WHAT!" I look at Rachel in complete disbelief. How could she tell them such a story..such a lie? How can she think that I would be willing to save myself, if I could not save her as well ...But I look at her and see that is exactly what she wants me to do. And in doing that, I would only allow the lies to flourish.

How many more deaths before the madness ends?

No, Rachel. No more lies.

"M'lord," I say as I approach the judge, "I regret to inform you that it is this court which has lost its senses-- and judgement, and logic and reason. You are all guilty of a crime more vile than you could possibly imagine. You have taken something that is precious and personal to human beings-- their faith...and twisted it into an instrument of evil and destruction. This entire demented campaign is nothing more than an ugly conspiracy of power and greed to covet the property of innocent people, and fill the coffers of Church and State. The only evil in the land m'lord currently exists in the depraved hearts of those in power. You claim to be servants of God, yet you torture thousands of innocent men and women using the most hideous and abhorrent means possible. This is not God's will.

You can deny all the things I've seen and all the things I've discovered but not for much longer. Your lies will be exposed because there are too many others who know what is truly happening...and because no one...not even this laughable court of law...has jurisdiction over the truth."

Though red-faced, the trial judge manages to keep his voice steady and menacing.

"Are you finished, Mr. McGrath?"

"Not bloody likely."

"Jonathon Samuel McGrath," he growls, "You have sinned against God and country...You have been in league with the devil's servant...And for those heinous crimes, your punishment will be most severe."

We do not usually burn heretics and witches in England. I suppose it is because we think ourselves more civilized than the Continent. But *I* would be made an example of what happens to those who treason against the Church and its campaign against a perceived evil...

... My Rachel is on the gallows now, the noose around her exquisite neck...but she will not die until she is witness to the fire that will soon consume me. I see only too late how the truth had been kept from me my entire life...and how lies will be the cause of my death-- and of Rachel's. I swear to the heavens above that if God gives me another chance, I will not allow myself to be deceived again by those in power...that I will fight to expose the truth.

Oh Rachel, if only I had another chance, I swear that I would never let anyone or anything harm you...that is my pledge. I smell the black fumes...already stinging my eyes, and burning my throat...the pain is like hot spears tearing at my body. I will myself to keep my eyes open...to see through the smoke...to see Rachel one last time...one last time...


With the sound of a clap, Mulder was jarred awake. Blinking a few times, he thought he felt the need to cough, but the feeling passed, and he rubbed his eyes instead. It took a few seconds to focus, but when he did, he saw Dr. Poushinsky standing before him with a strange expression on his face-- something close to wide-eyed concern.

"How do you feel, Mr. Mulder?" he asked.

"Fine...I think." Mulder replied somewhat groggily. "So did it work, doctor? Did we tell you any interesting stories? Any 'Movie of the Week' material?"

Dr. Poushinsky walked around his desk and shut off the cassette recorders, as well as his own reel tape. "Mr. Mulder," he said, "you wouldn't happen to have a fear of fire, would you?"

It was Mulder's turn to go wide-eyed. "Well...yes, I do. It has to do with a childhood incident. Why?"

Dr. Poushinsky only answered by handing Mulder a cassette. He then observed Scully with the same look of concern he'd just given Mulder.

"Agent Scully, are you alright?"

Scully swallowed hard before answering. Her hand rested near her neck.

"I thought you were supposed to feel relaxed after one of these sessions," she said. "I feel drained."

"Something wrong, Scully?" Mulder asked.

"What?"

Mulder pointed to her hand. She looked down and removed it from her neck with a puzzled expression.

Dr. Poushinsky handed Scully her cassette.

"I'd like to thank you both for allowing me to do this," he said. "It has been most...enlightening."

Mulder and Scully both looked at their cassettes, then at each other.

"I think this is where 'The Twilight Zone' music creeps in," Mulder said with his usual deadpan.

The little black cassette sat on Scully's desk-- exactly where she'd left it yesterday. She had no doubt Mulder listened to his copy the second he got home. Scully, on the other hand, had gingerly picked the tape out of her purse as if it were a contagious virus, and put it aside. She wasn't sure if she'd ever listen to it. Well...maybe after she did laundry.

The sound of the apartment buzzer broke her ruminations. When she opened the door, she wasn't surprised. "Hi Scully."

"Mulder, what are you doing here?"

"Oh, I was in the neighbourhood, and thought I'd say hi."

Scully sighed. "Mulder that is the oldest line in the book."

"No. 'What's your sign?' is the oldest line in the book." Mulder replied with a grin. "Besides, I already know your sign. Mind if I come in?"

She stepped aside and motioned him in with the swing of her arm. "I know why you're here, Mulder" she said.

"Oh?"

"You want to know if I listened to the tape."

"And did you?"

Scully closed the door, and went into the kitchen. "No I didn't. Give me a minute while I finish drying some dishes in here."

"Well, that's o.k., Scully. You don't have to listen to the tape if you don't want to." Mulder walked over to a bookcase and began fingering the bindings. "It's no big deal."

"It isn't?" Scully said from the kitchen.

"Nah." Mulder replied, as he pulled out a book buried in a corner on the bottom shelf.

"I'm surprised, Mulder...I thought you would've insisted I listen to the cassette if only to have the opportunity to argue with me over its validity."

"Nope." Mulder flipped through the pages until he found what he was looking for. "I will forego that challenge."

Scully frowned as she finished drying the last dish. What was that man up to now? She was about to find out...

"Let me not to the marraige of true minds, admit impediments," Mulder read aloud from the book. "Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove. O, no! It is an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken."

Scully came running out of the kitchen looking a little bewildered.

"What are you doing?" she exclaimed. "Reading." Mulder replied innocently.

"Where did you find that book?"

"On your bookcase, why?"

"Well..,"Scully replied almost defensively, "I...never told you I liked Shakespeare, did I?"

"No."

"So you didn't know I had that book, did you?"

"No."

"Then *how* did you know that sonnet is my *favorite*?"

"Is it really?" Mulder said with mock surprise. "Imagine that? I'd say that's pretty 'spooky.'"

"Mulder!" Scully said in an exasperated tone.

"Listen Scully, I have an idea." Mulder offered, changing the subject. "'Dead Again' is playing at the rep cinema this evening. My treat."

Scully looked at him suspiciously with one raised eyebrow. She took the book from him and placed it back on the shelf. "I have a better idea," she said. "'War of the Worlds' is on T.V. in about 15 minutes. I'll make popcorn."

Mulder sat down on the sofa and looked up at her with a grin.

"You're the brains in this outfit, Scully."

Scully rolled her eyes and went back into the kitchen while Mulder turned on the television. After a few moments, Scully returned carrying a pitcher and two glasses.

"I must've known you were coming, Mulder," she said as she set down the pitcher on the coffee table before him. "Ice tea?"

Mulder smiled a secret smile.

"That...would be delightful."

*THE END*

-------

NOTES

It is believed that close to 9-million people were executed during the witch hunts that lasted over a 300 year period. The majority of those killed were women...but not just older women. In 1620 in Wurzburg, Germany --300 children, many as young as 3 and 4-years of age were executed.

The legend of the witches of North Berwick, Scotland remains to this day. The first person to be convicted of witchcraft and executed in connection with that alleged incident (in 1590), was a young woman, and healer, named Gillian Duncan. Mathew Hopkins was one of the most notorious witch hunters in all of England. Though his career lasted only 14 months (in 1645) he brought about the executions of 230 alleged witches-- more than all other English prosecutors in the previous 160 years. I just didn't have the heart to make Jonathon an "experienced" witch hunter. If he was, he'd have never come back as Mulder...he'd have likely come back as a toad. Way too much bad karma. That's why Jonathon was on his first "assignment."

And finally, "The Marraige of True Minds" is a sonnet by William Shakespeare (Sonnet CXVI), and has always been my personal favorite.

Cheers! Marisa

DDEB Black Ops

July 1994


The End

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