Title: All Dreams of the Soul: Numbers 3/4 Author: Tiger Lilly E-Mail address: Tigerlillyme@yahoo.com Rating: R Category: XA Keyword: Mulder Angst. X-file. UST Spoilers: 5th season Summary: So, what does Mulder think? Continuation of All Dreams of the Soul: Exodus. Disclaimer: Okay, I am stealing! I admit it! I have taken your wonderful characters and used them for my whim and fancy. (Well, I did make up a couple of my own. And the plot line is sort of original.) But, I'm not charging for this little story. Nosiree. Everyone can read it for free. And I'm not making any money from advertisers, etc., etc. In fact, I'm quite poor. Really poor. So, suing me would merely be a futile attempt. Right? Warning: This story is rated R for language and adult situations. Author's note: This is the third of four installments. If you haven't read All Dreams of the Soul: Genesis or Exodus, then Numbers is not going to make much sense to you. My suggestion—go back and read them. Please send me your feedback at Tigerlillyme@yahoo.com. Be gentle on me. It my first time out. Okay to archive anywhere. Just please send me an e-mail so I'll know. Numbers Mulder slumped in the motel chair with his long legs stretched out before him to their full extent. He was watching Scully pack, her suitcase lying open on his bed. He tried once more to get her to acknowledge him. "Scully, I said I was sorry." Her only response was to raise her chin a little higher. She strode between her room and his in icy silence. With each trip she would bring a single item with her—a blouse, a t-shirt, a bra—then fold and pack it with a fastidiousness that was only betrayed by an occasional quiver of her lower lip and chin. "Scully, talk to me." For the first time, she turned and faced him. "Why can't you see this?" Her tone was sheer frustration, but her eyes held a look of absolute terror. "Agent Mulder, would you please tell me just what in the hell is going on down there?" Mulder looked around the room for Scully. There was no sign of her or her suitcase. It took him a few seconds to orient himself. Oh, Jesus, he thought, another one of those dreams. He vaguely wondered how long he had been asleep. The light around the edge of the drapes indicated morning. He suddenly realized he was holding his cell phone, and Skinner's angry voice was on the other end. "Sir?" "Why am I sitting here looking at an e-mail from Agent Scully requesting a leave of absence for an indeterminant amount of time with no explanation as to why, other than undisclosed personal reasons?" The words were slowly sinking in....Leave of absence...Scully....But Scully was right next door. He looked at the adjoining door. The closed adjoining door. The fuzz cleared from his mind instantly as he bolted from the bed to the door between their rooms and knocked. At some point last night she must have shut it...again. He muffled his cell phone against his chest and called out "Scully!" in an angry, slightly frantic, whisper. No answer. Not that he was really expecting one because he somehow knew that at that moment she was sitting on a flight back to D.C. She must have changed to an earlier flight as well, after she shut the door. He knew it with a certainty that he couldn't explain but had been experiencing for several weeks. He felt that he could stand blindfolded in a dark room and point her out like some twisted game of pin the tail on the donkey. It was if she had crawled under his skin and was currently residing at the base of his skull, and it was driving him nuts. They were obviously spending way too much time together. "Mulder!" Mulder stopped knocking and uncovered the phone at the sound of Skinner's voice. He assumed his best agent-on-the-job persona. "Sir, it is my belief that Agent Scully returned to a full schedule too soon after her recent ordeal. Her work has been suffering as a result, and last night I suggested she return to Washington and take some more time to recuperate." "Agent Mulder, are you telling me that one of my best agents has all but resigned because of a suggestion that she take some time off?" Mulder ran his hand over his face and through his hair. He could tell Skinner wasn't buying it. "I actually removed her from the case." "You what? On who's authority did you remove her?" "We had an argument last night, and I may have overreacted." He could almost hear Skinner's jaw muscle tensing. "But I still believe she needs some more time to recover." Mulder cringed in preparation for the reaction he knew was coming. Skinner's voice was controlled rage. "Agent Mulder, I strongly suggest that you return to Agent Scully the gun and badge that she relinquished to you, start acting like adults, and work out these petty differences. If Agent Scully needs some more time off, fine. And I will consider any recommendations you may be inclined to provide. But any action will be at her discretion or mine, not yours. Do you understand, Agent?" Mulder took a breath. "Yes, sir". He pushed end on his cell phone and threw it on the bed, then flopped down beside it in a sort of depressed Nestea plunge. "Fuck." Skinner wanted to know what the hell was going on, and he had no idea himself. Things had been happening to him over the past couple of months that he couldn't explain. That he wasn't really consciously aware of unless he concentrated on them, like a bug buzzing just on the edge of his peripheral vision. First, there had been the dreams. Strange, hazy dreams that had started out with no form. He had to be somewhere, but he didn't know where, and he had to save someone, but he didn't know who. He knew this person needed help, but he didn't know why. He would wake from them exhausted and confused. Lately, they had become more distinct, extremely life-like, yet all the more disorienting. Waking dreams was the best way to describe them. He would swear he was awake, watching events unfold, even speaking to the cohabitants of the dream. Like the one he had been having when Skinner called. When he woke from these dreams, he was always startled to find he had been asleep. Scully had been a major player in these latest dreams and always exhibited an unsettling combination of impatience and fright. It was as if he were failing her, again. He wasn't sure which were worse—the dark, amorphous dreams that left him with a feeling of dread or the life-like accusatory ones that left him with a feeling of guilt. It seemed he lived his life in a constant state of guilt. It had started with his sister, worked its way through his father's death, Scully's abduction, her cancer, and most recently, her rape. Her rape, God, that was still a raw wound. Even though there had been no warning, he couldn't shake the feeling that he had known she was in danger and not responded. The night of her attack, he had just awakened from the first of the distinct dreams and his skin was prickling all over. In the dream, Scully had been yelling at him for not paying attention to the evidence before him, but all he was looking at was an empty table. It was then that his cell phone rang. In his disorientation, it had taken him several rings to find it. He finally found it in the inside pocket of his suit jacket. He answered it, and he heard her agonizing scream. All-encompassing panic had set in at that point as memories of the pleading "Mulder, I need your help!" on his answering machine the night of her abduction crashed into his dream-befuddled brain. The drive to her house had been a nightmarish deja vu, right down to the sinking feeling in his stomach that he was too late. This time when he arrived, it was eerily silent. He remembered how normal her living room had seemed when he entered her apartment, gun drawn, alert for an intruder that might still be there. The streetlight cast shadowy stripes through the venetian blinds and across the floor. He didn't even have to call her name, although he did out of habit, because he knew she was in her bedroom. He had entered her dark room and softly called her name. The only answer had been a muffled sob from the direction of the bed. He had slid his hand along the wall next to the doorjamb until he found the light switch. The click of the switch echoed through his entire body as he scanned the scene before him. Scully lay curled into a ball, sobbing into a pillow, her shoulder blade sticking out in a sickening angle. The sheets were soaked in blood— mainly from her legs and hands that looked like someone had taken a cheese grater to them—and her face was already bloody, swollen and bruised from the beating. But what may have been the worst was when he saw that her panties were down around her knees, and the absolute realization of what had happened caught in his throat, so that for a moment he couldn't breath, couldn't speak, couldn't scream. She had fought him when he tried to touch her and began ranting incoherently about not being able to wake up and the time of 3:15. By the time the paramedics arrived and sedated her so they could transport her, he was covered in as much blood as she was. He had thrown out his favorite Georgetown t-shirt because the stains wouldn't come out. The investigation had been an act of frustration. No sign of forced entry. Her door had been locked from the inside; he had broken the chain himself when he came in. All the windows were also shut and locked. The physical evidence was just as fruitless. No fingerprints had been found, no hair and fibers, no witnesses except Scully and her account was suspect at best—an attack outside by Krycek. Although her wounds were consistent with her story—asphalt and dirt in her knees, backs, and nails—there was no blood anywhere else in the apartment. A sure indication that the attack had taken place in her bedroom. The only other evidence was the semen samples—one fresh from the attack, which had no matches, the other found dried on the sheets from a previous encounter. That sample had turned up a match. Him. He couldn't quite figure out how he had contaminated that sample with his DNA, especially since Skinner wouldn't let him work the crime scene. It must have been when he was on the bed trying to help her or some laboratory error. Given the evidence before him, he was beginning to rethink his stand on the O.J. Simpson verdict. It was just as well that Skinner banned him from the apartment. He felt he had to be at the hospital with her. In fact, he hadn't been able to concentrate on half the questions he had been asked by the investigating officers because of his absolute need to go to the hospital. She was still in the ER when he arrived at the hospital, and he offered what little comfort he could to her mother as they sat in the waiting room. Well, she sat while he paced the floor and interrogated almost every passing nurse and a few orderlies as to Scully's condition. Skinner had arranged for some jeans and an t-shirt to replace the scrubs he had begged off an intern— Mrs. Scully had turned ashen after one look at his blood-soaked clothing. It was after dawn when she was finally moved to her hospital room. While Scully had spent almost the entire first day of her hospital stay drifting in and out of a morhpine-induced sleep, he had answered more questions for investigators and sat in the hallway. He was almost fearful to enter her room, the images of her after the return from her abduction had kept playing though his mind. Yet, he could not bring himself to leave site of the door to her room. Finally, at dusk, her mother had asked him to watch over her while she went to call Scully's brothers. Reluctantly, he had agreed and entered the darkening room to the quite mechanical whirl of the medical monitors. He noticed that the swelling and bruising on her face was even more pronounced once the blood had been cleaned away. But just seeing that she was no longer bleeding, that she was breathing softly in sleep, that she was alive, had relieved his looming anxieties to such an extent that he had collapsed into the chair next to her bed. He had stayed in that chair, even after her mother had returned, until she awoke the next morning. Since then, he had rarely spent an evening at home. He was either camped outside her hospital room or parked outside her apartment. He had gone through so many bags of sunflower seeds, he was thinking of buying them in bulk from a feed store. He would have sworn he hadn't slept either, except that he awoke each morning from one of the dreams. He had tried to stay away one night and was so fidgety and restless that he had gone to rent a porn film just to have something to do. But he ended up outside her apartment, the unwatched video on the seat beside him. He had felt protective of Scully before. After her return from her abduction, he had staked out her apartment for about a week, then things returned to normal. But now, over a month later, he was still uncomfortable with the thought that she was alone. And during all that time, he had never seen Mr. Dry-Sperm-Sample. During those nights outside her building, he found himself thinking about who this guy was. He hadn't even shown up at the hospital with flowers or anything. He could have been a one night stand, but that wasn't like Scully. Although there had been the tattoo incident. An old lover come back into town? Maybe. A new lover that hadn't worked out? Probably. That would explain why she had been so secretive those few weeks before the attack, why she couldn't look him in the eye, and why she kept leaving early because she wasn't sleeping. What really ticked him off was how great he had felt those two weeks before her attack. Despite his dreams, he had actually slept well for the first time since his childhood. He would wake up feeling refreshed—satisfied was the word that popped to mind. When he came in the office, there was Scully—eyes averted, head down, responding in monosyllables. Couldn't sleep! She wasn't sleeping well because she was screwing some asshole that didn't even come see her in the hospital. He probably sucked in bed, too. He was probably such a crappy lover that she dumped him. Although, he really couldn't imagine Scully sleeping in sheets with the spooge of an ex- boyfriend smeared all over them. So maybe they didn't breakup, and she's on her way back to D.C. to see him again. The thought of that just irritated him. It seemed that a lot of things she did lately irritated him. Like last night. She kept closing—correction—slamming the door between their rooms every time he accidentally left it open. It wasn't like anything improper was going to happen. Except that she seemed to think that it already had. In a dream! She may have been dreaming of him while she was boffing that jerk she was dating, but it sure wasn't his sperm on those sheet. Although, when she had mentioned the dreams, for a split second, he had the most bizarre sensation of water and her fingers running down his back. The sensation had been so overpowering that he had actually gotten a hard-on standing right there in front of her and had to turn away. It didn't help that she was only wearing a t-shirt that was clinging in all the right places and her nipples were as erect as his penis. And now she thought she was pregnant, by him as a dream lover. Granted she hadn't come right out and said that's what she believed. But she had certainly implied it. Telling him that they had sex in her dreams, then her next statement. "Mulder, I'm pregnant." It didn't take a giant leap to put two and two together and have a paternity suit. After the interrogation he had gone through when the FBI realized the sperm sample matched his DNA, the last thing he wanted was for Scully to be insinuating their relationship was anything but strictly platonic. He had sat through two grueling hours of questions about his relationship with his partner. Through the entire ordeal, he had adamantly denied any sort of relationship between the two of them other than professional. What he had really wanted to say was, you spend as much time with Special Agent Dana Scully as I have and then tell me that the thought of dressing her in leather and whipped cream doesn't cross your mind a time or two. It was only natural to think something like that. Scully was smart, attractive, sexy, and the closest friend he had. The majority of the agents in the Bureau were closer to their partner than their own family. It was part of the job. You couldn't truly trust someone to watch your back if that sort of bond wasn't there. Granted most agents were men, leaving relatively few coed partnerships and the potential problems that could arise. Those few partners that did become lovers were almost instantly reassigned. And that was the reason he had never crossed the line with Scully. If they had been on any standard tap, trace, and tail assignment, he wouldn't have wasted any time making his move. Before the X-files, he had done it on numerous occasions. But his work on the X-files held its own passion, and Scully was an integral part of his search for the truth. He wouldn't dare risk loosing her as a partner because of some raging hormones. Now, Scully was jeopardizing everything because of her ridiculous dream- induced pregnancy. These dreams she had involving him were obviously the ones she had told him about in her statement at the hospital. Although, obviously not in the detail she should have. After she had broken down and named Krycek as her attacker, she had told him a little more about her dreams. She had had a total of 14 of them on consecutive nights. All of them being extremely realistic, and all ending at precisely 3:15 a.m. The only one that had been violent was the last one—her rape. She sidestepped all of his questions about the other dreams, telling him only that they were pleasant in a disturbing sort of way. Now he knew why she wouldn't tell him any more about them. He was actually kind of flattered that she had been dreaming of him in that way, even if she did describe it as disturbing. And to make the leap from dreams to reality was not like Scully. Granted, he had reports in his files of women being impregnated by spectral visitors or during dream-like alien abductions. But these manifestations were typically related to psychokinetic sending, and most abductees never thought they were pregnant until they underwent regressional hypnosis or regained some latent memories of the abduction. Scully was convinced she was pregnant, even though they both knew that was impossible. Like some Non-Virginal Mary. He knew where she got that crap; her return to the fold of the Catholic Church. Another thing that annoyed the hell out of him. She was so closed- minded when it came to anything remotely extraordinary unless it was something she learned in Catechism. She had believed she was the appointed holy guardian of the kid with supposed stigmata. And, although she wouldn't talk about it with him, she had hinted at the possibility that she had seen angels while investigating a case as a favor for her priest. As far as he was concerned, the Catholic Church was the biggest bunch of charlatans on the planet and had been since the beginning. Convincing people they were celebrating Catholic holidays by sneaking them in the same time as the pagan holidays. Non-Christian religions tended to celebrate natural phenomena and celestial events, Catholics celebrated dead guys. So now Scully had convinced herself that God had blessed her for her devotion by giving her what she could never have, a child. It was obvious she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder brought about by the rape and was seeking some sort of mental sanctuary in the teaching of the Church. To the point that she was puking up perfectly good meals as a result of delusional morning sickness. Well, no matter what Skinner might say, he was glad he had taken her off this case. The down time would do her good, and he might actually be able to get some work done without her throwing up and distracting him all the time. It would be nice not knowing exactly where she was for a change. A knock at his door brought him out of his thoughts. Agent Beaubrun stood outside holding a large manila envelope. "Agent Scully asked that I give this to you. She left so suddenly, is everything all right?" Mulder took the package and hefted it in his hand. Her gun and badge, no doubt. "Agent Scully had some personal business to attend to and won't be returning to the case." Beaubrun gave Mulder a sympathetic look. "I'm sorry to hear that. Is she returning to Washington?" Mulder tossed the package on the bed. "Yeah, she's claiming her bags right now." The next woman and child were found later that morning. Only, instead of Miami, they were found in Provo, Utah. Mulder had to check his reflexes and stop dialing Scully's number on his cell phone. He would have to decipher this autopsy report on his own. He waited impatiently at the Miami field office for the case file and autopsy report to be sent from the Salt Lake office. He had bided his time questioning Beaubrun about some of the more intricate details of Vodun religion, particularly the superstitions regarding death and the nine night ritual. Beaubrun had been patient at first. However, after more than an hour, the agent had found an excuse to extricate himself from the inquisition. And Mulder was left with nothing to do other than reread the file on the woman found in Miami, identified as Genevieve Baptiste. He had studied the file so many times that now he was only halfheartedly reading as he flipped the pages. He stopped when he came to the autopsy report. Although written in a standard format, he could almost hear Scully's voice reciting the weight and size of all the major organs as she hefted them into the hanging scale. The report on the child was next in the file. To anyone reading the report, it would appear to be written with an emotional detachment, but Mulder knew the opposite was true. He knew how much she hated autopsying children, and this was the first child she had examined since Emily's death. And because of that, he refused to leave her alone in the examining room. Although she hadn't said anything, he felt certain she appreciated his moral support. He could use some moral support himself about now. He hated waiting. Scully was much better at handling downtime, patiently rereviewing case files when he wanted to question, investigate, discover the hidden truths of a case. He really wished she were in Miami instead of sitting in the waiting room of her doctor's office. Good, he thought, maybe she will get over this pregnancy fantasy once and for all. By the time the report arrived from Utah, it was late afternoon. A medical examiner from the coroner's office in Provo performed the autopsy and provided a report almost identical to the one Scully had on the first pair. The mother killed by blunt trauma to the head soon after delivery, and the child dead for no apparent reason. Although neither of the new victims were covered in salt, the woman had been found carefully wrapped in a white bed sheet that was so new it still had fold creases in it, and the child had been found less than a mile away in the matching pillow case. The Utah woman, an active member of the Mormon church, had been reported missing exactly four weeks after Genevieve Baptiste. Mulder sat at a desk in the Miami field office looking over the case files of the two women that had been found. Apparently both of them had been pregnant before they had gone missing, but there was no mention of their condition in either report. Both were single, no interview with even a boyfriend, both active in their respective religions, both reported missing by their families. With no signs of forced entry or struggle, it was originally assumed that they had left on their own accord. However, both had left jobs without any notice, and they had given no indication to friends or families that they were leaving. The same was true of the other six women missing in Miami, except that none of them had turned up dead with a crushed skull and an apparently still-borne child. At least not yet. Two unrelated cases, two women killed and found in disturbingly similar manners, thousands of miles apart. The only differences were the time frame they were taken, four week apart, and the additional six women taken in Miami. Were there more Mormon women missing as well? Agent Beaubrun came in and stood over Mulder with a cup of coffee. Mulder didn't look up from the files. "I need a data search of all the single women between the ages of 25 and 45 that went missing within a week of the woman in Utah." Agent Beaubrun nodded his head. "Do you think we're dealing with a serial killer?" "I'm not sure what we're dealing with, but I'd like some more information about the victims. Who identified Genevieve Baptiste's body?" "Her mother, Marrigot Baptiste." Mulder looked up from his file. "Do you think I could speak with her?" Beaubrun looked at his watch. "We can try tomorrow. Its awfully late now, and the ritual has already begun for the evening. But we'll go to her house in the morning." Great, Mulder thought, more downtime. "Thank God for remotes." Mulder lay sprawled across his bed flipping through the channels on the motel television. There was nothing on. He had been intrigued a few channels back by a Hispanic talk show on Telemundo that featured three women in tight spandex dresses. Although he couldn't understand what they were saying, he got the gist of it. It had something to do with one of the women's boyfriend and the other's dog. The third woman just seemed to smile alot. When it became obvious that they weren't going to end up wrestling on the floor in a Jerry Springer-like event, he began flipping channels again. Late night television in Miami sucked. The motel phone on the night stand rang, and he reached out and answered it. "Mulder?" Scully's questioning voice asked on the other end. Well, he thought smugly, she finally decided to call. "Yeah, Scully, it's me. Who did you think would be answering my phone?" "Mulder, what the hell are you still doing in Miami?" He hadn't expected such an angry response. "I'm working on the case..." Scully cut him off sharply. "Are you ready to admit you were wrong?" "Wrong?!?" She had gone too far this time. "I'm not the one who's wrong." Scully didn't respond. He waited a few seconds but nothing. "Scully?" His only answer was silence. "Scully, are you there?" Her answer was soft, almost loving. "Mulder, please come home." Mulder sat up in bed. The television was off, and the phone was on the hook. The clock read 6:20 am. Evidently distance didn't lessen the effect of the dreams. He realized then that the ringing of his cell phone had awakened him. He answered it in a groggy voice. "Agent Mulder." It was Beaubrun. "They're back!" "Who?" What was he talking about? "The missing women. Three of them were found last night, two more this morning, and Miami P.D. has an unidentified woman in custody that they think is the sixth." "They're alive?" He had never expected to find these women alive, not after the death of Genevieve Baptiste. "Yes, and they seem to be pretty much unharmed, except that they can't remember anything. Where they've been, what happened, even who they are. From what I understand, the only one who is saying anything about the disappearance is the last one, and she seems to be delusional." "Where were they found?" "All over the place. None of them were within twenty miles of each other. One was almost run over by a semi while she was walking down the middle of the freeway. Another wandered into a bar on the outskirts of Homestead. Another into an all night dinner. The police picked the last one up at a bus stop after someone reported her acting strangely." Mulder couldn't believe what he was hearing. He needed to speak to these women, as soon as possible. "Where are they now?" He could hear Beaubrun shuffling through some papers. "Uh, it looks like most of them are in various hospitals around the area. The last one is still in custody." Mulder jumped out of bed and began grabbing his clothes. "I'll leave here in ten minutes and meet you at your office." He clicked off the phone and pulled on his slacks. Finally, the waiting was over. The woman being held by the police had been identified as Hellene Bonnelle, although she refused to answer to that name. The officers had placed her in an interrogation room to await transport to a regional psychiatric hospital. Mulder and Beaubrun found her sitting at the table, her hand folded in front of her. Mulder was surprised at how calm she seemed, a serene smile upon her face. It was as if she were sitting on a park bench instead of in a police station. Mulder pulled out his badge. "Hellene Bonnelle? I'm Special Agent..." The woman shook her head and cut him off with her soft, almost soothing voice. "I am not known by that name anymore." Mulder pulled out a chair and sat down. "What is your name then?" Her face radiated devotion as she said, "I am called by his name." "Who is he?" Beaubrun asked from behind Mulder. Hellene turned her loving gaze upon the Miami agent. "He is the one who has cleansed me, has cleansed us all." "The other six women?" Mulder prompted. Her smile broadened, and she nodded her head. "They are my sisters, and we are all his, together." "What about Genevieve Baptiste?" "He came to her last. She was the chosen amongst us because she carried the child." Mulder leaned in toward her. "Then why was she murdered?" For the first time, Hellene's face took on a sadness. "You don't understand. Death is sometimes necessary for life. The number will be completed in the proper order at the proper times." Mulder ignored her answer. "Who killed her, Hellene?" "A soul cannot be stolen if it has been set free." Mulder stood up and motioned for Beaubrun to follow him out the door. He then began walking down the hallway, leaving Beaubrun to catch up with his long strides. "Aren't you going to question her some more about where she's been?" Mulder kept walking. "She won't tell us anything else. She believes she's part of a biblical prophecy." Beaubrun gave him a quizzical look, and Mulder stopped walking. "The seven sisters married to one man and cleansed of their sins, that's a reference to the book of Isaiah and the daughters of Zion. The women of Zion were egotistical and held themselves above others, so God punished them by taking away their finery and cursing them to a life of hardship and poverty. To remove the shame attached to the people of Zion, seven women married one man and took his name so that they wouldn't be associated with the sins of their ancestors. It's a prophecy related to the coming of the Messiah and is often used by religious cults, particularly doomsday cults, to justify the leader's polygamy. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy of the cult's belief in the pending judgment day." "So, she was a member of a cult?" Mulder shook his head. "No, I don't think so. These women were all active practitioners of voodoo up until the time of their disappearance." Mulder thought for a moment. He needed more information about how the other victim fit into this. "Did we get the data search results on the women reported missing at the same time as the Utah victim?" Beaubrun looked at his watch. "It should be at the office now. It was supposed to be ready by 9:00 am." Mulder poured over the list of missing women that had been faxed to him. Thirty-three women had been reported missing within a week of the Utah victim. Of these, fourteen had been located, alive or dead, including the victim. It left nineteen women unaccounted for. The women in Miami had all gone missing within a three-day span, so he narrowed his search down to two days before or after the victim's disappearance. That narrowed it down to nine women. Three had gone missing from various parts of Utah, one in New York, two in Nevada, one in Arizona, one in Michigan, and one in Oregon. Utah and Nevada were both large Mormon population centers, so he pulled up the case file summaries for those five women on the computer. Scanning them quickly, he found them all to be members of the Mormon church. He then pulled up the file on the woman in Arizona. She worked as a bartender. And the woman in Oregon was a lesbian, probably not Mormon. The woman in Michigan was a school teacher and had no religious affiliation listed in her case file. The woman in New York, however, was a graduate student at SUNY studying English Literature. She had obtained her undergraduate degree at Brigham Young University. Mormon number seven had been discovered. Two groups of seven women, each group a specific religion. Six women returned from one group, and hopefully six would be returned from the other. Each group taken within a three-day span exactly four weeks apart. What was the relevance of the timing? He pulled the calendar off the wall and flipped to the dates the women went missing. A little black circle in the date square indicated the new moon. Something Hellene Bonnelle had said was tugging at his memory. Something about the numbers being completed at the proper time. But she said they will be completed. Did she mean that there were more to come? More women going missing or already missing but destined to turn up dead? He flipped through the calendar and began jotting down the dates of the new moons for the year on a post-it note. Beaubrun stepped into the cubical Mulder was using. "Are you ready to go see Marrigot Baptiste?" Mulder continued flipping and writing. "Yeah, but before we go, I need another data search." He pulled the post-it off the pad. Beaubrun looked at the dates. "What are these for?" Mulder pulled his jacket off the back of his chair and headed toward the door. "We'll know when I get the results." Marrigot Baptiste lived in a small house in a Haitian neighborhood outside of Miami. Mulder and Beaubrun entered the front door into a houseful of people. Beaubrun asked a question in French of a woman standing nearby. Beaubrun turned to Mulder. "I'll ask if she will see us." The agent followed the woman he had just spoken to towards the back of the house. Mulder looked around the room. Tables had been set up for food on one side of the room which the people milled around. He was struck by how uniform they looked, all in their white clothing. They spoke with one another, and watched, but did not speak to him. On the other side of the room sat two smaller tables. A plate overflowing with food, an open bottle of rum, and a poured glass of rum sat untouched on a table draped in purple and black cloth. Burning candles surrounded the libations, which Mulder recognized as an offering to Baron Samedi, the death loa. It was an offering for the loa's protection of Genevieve's soul from forces that may try to use it for evil. The second table was covered in white. A photograph of Genevieve stood in the center next to a clay jar, both surrounded by candles. Fresh flowers had been strewn around the items on the table. According to Beaubrun's explanation, this was the shrine for Genevieve, and the jar containing her soul. Upon death, she had joined the loa and basically become a goddess. This worship would keep her from tormenting her family from beyond the grave. Mulder tried to look as inconspicuous as possible, although he knew he was failing miserably. A few moments later, Beaubrun came back and led him into a back bedroom were Marrigot, dressed in white, sat staring out a window into her backyard. A small child swung on a tire hanging from a rope tied to a tree branch. She seemed almost hypnotized by the smooth back and forth flow of the swing. Mulder stood for a moment, waiting for her to notice him, then cleared his throat. "Mrs. Baptiste...." Marrigot Baptiste never looked from the window. "You came to ask about my daughter." Her voice was thick with sorrow and the lilting French-Caribbean accent of her homeland. Mulder opened his mouth to ask his questions, but she continued. "She had a baby before she died?" She had hit on the very subject Mulder wanted to question her about. He dropped to a squat before her chair. "Yes, she was evidently pregnant before she went missing. Were you aware of her condition?" Marrigot Baptiste smiled ever so slightly. "My Genevieve was a good girl. She did not even have a boyfriend. That is why the angels chose her. She was blessed. She was the luckiest of all women. They chose her, chose her companions to protect her." Mulder leaned in a little closer to her. "Chose her for what? Why did she need protection?" She continued to look out the window. The child had stopped swinging and was skipping around the tree. "There is evil in the world. It is in all of us, and when we die, the evil cannot be controlled. It threatens us all, and only the child can stand against it. But the child must be protected as well." Mulder licked his lips with an apprehension that he somehow knew the answer to his next question. "Mrs. Baptiste, how did they choose your daughter?" For the first time, Marrigot turned from the window and looked him straight in the eyes. Hers were dark and red rimmed from tears, yet they were hard and filled with conviction. "In her dreams. Just as they chose you." "Agent Mulder, are you okay?" Mulder suddenly became aware of Beaubrun standing next to him. They were standing in the Baptiste living room, the people were staring at them from small groups and mumbling in French. The room seemed to be tilted slightly and rotating. "She doesn't want to talk to anyone right now," Beaubrun continued. "Besides, she's so upset, I don't think she would give us any information we could use." "What?" Mulder asked. He felt off balance, disoriented, like when he awoke from his anxiety nightmares. "Marrigot Baptiste. I asked if she would talk to us, but she refused..." Mulder mumbled a quick apology and spun on his heels. The air was suddenly incredibly thick, and he was having trouble breathing. He pushed his way through the crowded room and out onto the front porch. He placed his hands on his hips and drew in a couple of heavy breaths. It had been a dream?!? These were happening way to often to be ignored. Mulder felt as if he wanted to jump out of his skin. Dreams, pregnancy, and chosen by God. These were all becoming reoccurring themes. Somehow the Utah and Miami cases were related, and he had a sickening suspicion those cases also involved Scully, but he didn't know how. He and Scully had worked on cases in the past that had somehow drawn them into the complexities of event they were investigating. But never had he had a case that paralleled event in his and Scully's life so completely. Events that had been happening before their involvement with the case. Both of them with unexplainable dreams and now this. He tried to think about anything else he knew that tied these events together. What else had Scully said? Something she said about her dreams. 3:15. The dreams took place at 3:15, just like the night of her attack. What was the significance of 3:15? His mind seemed to be spinning, searching, trying to place the memory or reference that would answer his question. He pulled a note pad and pen from his breast pocket and wrote the numbers on the pad. Sometimes seeing it written down triggered something. He studied the numbers, retracing them with his pen. Then suddenly it came. "It's not a time," he mumbled, "it's a verse." Beaubrun came out the front door and gave him a puzzled look. "Agent Mulder?" Mulder grabbed Beaubrun by the arm and almost dragged him off the porch. "I need to get back to my motel room, now." Mulder went straight for the night table and opened the drawer to pull out the Gideon's Bible. The manila envelope with Scully's handwriting rested on top of the Bible. He had definitely screwed things up the night of their fight. He couldn't believe some of the things he had said, especially that crack about the drug use. But he had never expected her to leave like she had or take a leave of absence. That night, he had been convinced she was delusional, driven over the edge by trauma and desperation for what she couldn't have, what even her faith in science couldn't give. Instead of considering the possibility of a fantastic explanation, he had cast it aside as wishful thinking and believed she had turned to her faith in God. And now? Now, he wasn't sure what he believed. He picked up the folder. Maybe Scully had written him a note that might give him some more insight into what was going on. He ripped the top off the envelope and dumped the contents onto the bed. The holstered gun and her badge bounced once and landed in a small pile on the multicolored motel bedspread, but no paper came out. He looked inside the envelope to make sure it hadn't stuck in the bottom. Still no note. He let out a frustrated sigh. This was extremely un- Scully. Normally, she couldn't have resisted leaving some biting commentary about their fight. That was one of the reasons he hadn't opened the package earlier. And now, nothing. Frustrated, he picked up the Bible and turned to Genesis 3:15. "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." The verse concerned Adam's and Eve's dismissal from Eden, the first Biblical hint that evil existed in the world. God pitting woman against Satan. No, it was the offspring of woman against the offspring of Satan. The classic good versus evil standoff many thought would happen at the Armageddon, and others believed had happened multiple times throughout history. Maybe these women were being taken and killed because someone thought they carried one of these children. Had Scully come to the same conclusion he had about the meaning of 3:15, read this passage, and convinced herself she was pregnant? But that still didn't explain why Scully, a woman made barren by a government conspiracy, had been dreaming at 3:15 every night for two weeks. Why her dreams changed from erotic to violent manifestations of rape. Or why he was having the dreams he was. Genevieve Baptiste had been chosen by the angels in her dreams, and Hellene Bonnelle believed she and Genevieve and the others were fulfilling prophecy. Was this some sort of sign, a divine insight that he and Scully had been chosen to partake in a manifest destiny of Biblical proportions? What Scully was claiming would definitely qualify as miraculous; but miracles, he was convinced were a matter of believing is seeing. This was beginning to piss him off. He was recognizing patterns but couldn't get them fit correctly. Usually by now, he had pieced together enough to have at least some wild ass theory. Now he didn't even have that, or even a partner to bounce them off of if he did. He picked up Scully's gun and shoved it back in the envelope. There, under the nylon holster, shining pink against the brown and gold stripes of the bedspread, was a little stick. Hesitantly, he reached out and picked it up. He turned it over and found a little pink plus-sign glaring him in the face. "Holy shit." Scully had left her little commentary after all, and the subject was miracles. He had called Scully twice, and both times there was no answer. He knew she was home, but she evidently wasn't taking calls and had turned off her answering machine and cell. After each attempt at calling Scully, he had actually called and booked a flight back to D.C., then half an hour later called and canceled it. His urge to go home was instinctive, almost primal, but his belief that the answers were in Miami was enough to cull any feral outburst that he had. He tried her number again. Still no answer. He really wasn't sure what he was going to say if she answered. Apologize, grovel, beg for forgiveness? Not until he got desperate. Joke and pretend nothing happened? No, the fight had been too serious for that. Maybe he should just let her fume for a few days, then call. By then she would probably have come to her senses a little, and he could finish up this case. He opened his cell phone and punched in the now familiar number. "Yes, I would like to book a ticket on your next flight from Miami to Washington National." It seemed he had been driving down the once dirt, now mud, road forever. The rain hadn't let up and had actually intensified since Beaubrun had arrived at his motel. Beaubrun had been standing in the rain outside Mulder's door holding a hot pink umbrella. Mulder had winced at the color. He was never going to be able to look at pink quite the same way. The sun had set a several hours before, and Mulder had just finished canceling his fifth flight of the day. He was afraid the airlines were going to issue a restraining order soon, and Scully still wouldn't answer her phone. "Who wants to see me?" Mulder had asked over the pounding rain. Beaubrun's visit had been two-fold. First, to deliver the results of Mulder's latest data request; and second, to deliver a summons. "Danjou, the hougan, the Vodun priest from the ceremony," Beaubrun replied. "The one with the sheep and the blood. You remember?" How could he forget. Beaubrun had to take his gun away from him when Mulder had seen the zealots closing in on Scully. He had felt that she was behind him from the beginning, and he had been trying to block out that sensation in order to watch the ceremony, a macabre celebration complete with animal sacrifice and ingestion of blood. Without turning around he had sensed her slump to the ground and was actually kind of annoyed that she was getting weak stomached yet again. He had then become aware that the attention in the peristyle, the ceremonial building, had shifted from the sheep to Scully, and the hougan was focusing his energy on her. He had been ready to start shooting his way through the crowd to get to her when Beaubrun grabbed his arm. "No! They will not harm her, but you must remain calm, both of you. Get to her, walk her out slowly, and I will be waiting in the car. Whatever you do, don't panic. Just keep her moving toward the door." Mulder had followed his instructions, walking pressed against her so that he could feel her shaking vibrate through his entire chest cavity, fighting every impulse in his body to bolt for the door. Then just when he thought everything was under control, discovering that they believed she was the living embodiment of Erzulie. That was something you don't easily forget. "Why does he want to see me?" Beaubrun shrugged. "He didn't say. He saw you at the Baptiste house and recognized you. He said only that you should come at the magic hour between 11:30 and 12:30 tonight. His place is quite a ways away. If you leave now, you will make it." "Aren't you coming?" Mulder was taken aback by the use of you and not we. Beaubrun shook his head. "Agent Mulder, Danjou is not like the hougans and mambos you have been interviewing. He is a very powerful man in Miami's Haitian community, perhaps the most powerful hougan here. He does not give interviews unless he request them, and even then, you may be the one interviewed. He asked to see you, not me." So, here he was traveling through a flood to visit a hougan at the magic hour. Normally, he would have been thrilled. Instead, a feeling of dread had settled in the pit of his stomach, and he was itching to book yet another flight back to D.C. He slowed the car to a halt, flipped on the dome light, and read over Beaubrun's directions. He should be coming up on the meeting place soon. Scully was a much better navigator than he was. But instead of helping him find the place, she was sleeping in her bed while he traveled the back road to hell. He rounded a corner and saw a small wooden shack sitting back amongst a throng of moss- covered trees. A kerosene lantern hung on a peg on the porch, and a young woman, a girl really, stood beside it with her arms crossed. He parked the car a respectable distance away and turned off the lights. Mulder stepped out of the car into the muddy yard and pulled the jacket of his suit up in a futile attempt to cover his head. Scully was right, he needed an umbrella. He trotted across the yard until he was in front of the girl. She simply stared at him for a moment, looked up into the sky, then back at him. Water was beginning to run down his back in a most uncomfortable way. "Come," she finally said, "it is time." She removed the lantern and lead him into the shack. The building was dark except against the back wall where a small table sat with a single candle on it. Seated at the table was the hougan, Danjou. He was dressed simply in a white shirt and trousers. Mulder was somewhat surprised and rather disappointed by his mundane appearance. Behind Danjou were a series of shelves intermixed with jars and lit candles. Mulder was almost fearful to know what was in the containers. Hesitantly, he looked directly at one. Peaches, canned peaches. He grinned slightly, but his snicker caught in his throat when he saw the jar of animal eyes sitting next to it. The girl brought another straight back, wooden chair, and he sat down, the legs screeking as they rubbed against the wooden floor when he inched it closer to the table. Danjou looked across the table at him, studying him, but did not speak. Mulder looked over at the girl for some guidance, but she only stood staring, holding the lantern. Danjou nodded, and the girl went back to her sentinel on the porch. "You are strong of spirit, as is she," Danjou finally said. "That is good. It will be necessary in the time to come." His accent was similar to Marrigot Baptiste, only stronger, more authoritative. Mulder stared back at the hougan. He tried to maintain a composure that wouldn't be betrayed by the sweat that was threatening to soak through his jacket. "Why did you want to see me?" Danjou looked upward, as if he could read the pattern of the moon and stars through the roof and storm-clouded sky. "Now is the time of good in the magic hour. The time for evil comes after." He returned his gaze to Mulder. "It is time for you to follow yourself. To trust your heart." Mulder gave him a puzzled look. Danjou continued. "She is gone from here, and yet you stay even though your heart wants to follow. The new moon is upon us. You cannot delay, or all will be lost." Mulder tried to keep the shock from his voice. Every nerve in his body was tingling as he asked, "Is this another dream?" Danjou spoke to him in a tone usually reserved for children. "Do you see my granddaughter through the doorway?" Mulder twisted in his chair. The lantern illuminated her face in a warm glow, and the girl leaned against the post tapping her bare feet in the puddles forming on the porch. "Is she really there?" "Yes, of course," Mulder answered. "How do you know?" "Because I can see her. She spoke to me." Mulder was beginning to think the old man was crazy. "You see in your dreams, speak in your dreams, and yet you still doubt them. It does not matter if this is a dream or wakefulness. She is really there, and if I shut the door, she will still be there, still be real. Such is the way with dreams as it is with doorways. So many people never open the door. Never see everything that is there to be seen, to be heard, to be felt, to be known. But the door has been opened for you and for her, and you must see everything, or you will fail." The hougan's eyes hardened, as did his tone, "You must not fail." "Scully's dreams?" It was more of a verbalized thought than a question. Danjou nodded his head. "She has been chosen, as have you." Chosen, just as Marrigot Baptiste had said about her daughter, Genevieve, but chosen for what? Death by blunt trauma to the head? Mulder's heart was pounding so hard, he could feel the blood in his jugular. The hougan did not let his gaze wander from Mulder's eyes. "She carries the child." The hougan's lips curled at Mulder's indrawn breath. "Evil is at work. You have seen the work here and elsewhere, and more will be seen. The seven sevens will be revealed. The forces of evil have been searching, and they search still. But now is the time of good, and evil is not as powerful, so I can tell you this. There is magic in numbers—seven, twelve, but three is the strongest of all." Mulder's mind was racing as fast as his heart. Seven sevens. Seven Vodun women missing then found. Seven Mormon women... "The women..." There were obviously more, like he thought. Five sets more. Thing were starting to become frightingly clear. Danjou nodded his head. "During the time of evil, I will cast against the power to gain time. I will use the spirits of the chosen women who are to come before, although their number is not yet complete, to protect the one who is to remain. They must not find her." Mulder could feel himself shaking and didn't doubt that the hougan could see it. "She is strong." The hougan continued. "They have attacked her once, in spirit, but she survived. I could still feel the taint when I touched her with the blood of the lamb. They knew she had conceived, but the number was not complete. Seven sevens have now been taken, and the time is right. They will try again, this time in the flesh, and she may not be strong enough for that." Mulder's mouth silently formed the name "Scully" as he let himself accept what the hougan was saying. Danjou answered him by saying, "The others were one among seven, but she is unique, alone." Mulder's body was screaming to run, but he was held tight by the hougans gaze. His skin was fire and ice all at the same time, and he felt that electricity was running through him. Danjou leaned forward ever so slightly, "She needs your help" was all he said in little more than a whisper, but all Mulder heard was Scully's voice on his answering machine, her scream in his phone, her pleas in his dreams. His body was finally able to respond, and he jumped back so that his chair slammed to the floor. He ran out the door into the storm without even acknowledging the hougan or girl. "Damn it, Scully, answer your phone." It was after 1:00 am, and she still wasn't picking up. He had been in constant redial mode since leaving the hougan's shack, stopping only to book a flight on the red-eye that was leaving in 20 minutes for Baltimore. He didn't even have time to return to the motel, having only his briefcase with him, and would have to leave his suitcase behind. He was completely unconcerned if he ever saw it again. He was on autopilot now. That was the closest he could come to describing it. Danjou had said to trust himself, and that was what he was doing. He hit redial again and still no answer. He was trying to simultaneously hold onto his cell phone, airline ticket, and briefcase and look for Gate E, while he half jogged through the Miami International Airport. This is the most fucked up airport in the world, he thought, then noticed the arrow pointing out the direction of his gate. He followed the arrow until it came to a line at the security checkpoint. Even at 1:00 in the morning, the airport was a madhouse. All right, Mulder, time to think. Her mother. No, she would never believe him. Skinner? Best not to involve him. Then the answer came. He said there was strength in three. A deep, electronically altered voice answered the phone. "Frohike, it's Mulder, turn off the distorter." A small click was followed by Frohike's irritated, yet clear voice. "Mulder? Do you know what time it is?" "Yeah, it's 1:15 in the morning, and I'm about to get on a plane. I need your help." "Geez, Mulder, can't it wait until morning?" "No, it's Scully. She's in danger, and I can't get in touch with her." At the mention of Scully, Frohike was all attention. "What sort of danger?" "Hold on a second." He had not realized he had reached the metal detector until it started beeping wildly. Still holding the cell phone, briefcase, and ticket, he managed to reach into this breast pocket and pull out his badge. The stone-faced security guard examined his credentials and motioned him through with an irritated wave. In the background of his cell phone, he heard Langly ask "Who's in danger?" Frohike answered "Scully" as the metallic echo of the speaker setting came on. "What sort of danger?" Frohike asked again. Mulder scanned the gate numbers for E-7 and hoped his laugh didn't sound too deranged. "I honestly don't know, but you have to go to her apartment and make her come with you. Where the hell is E-7?" "Mulder?" He thought it was Langly's voice trying to regain his attention. He was standing in the middle of the hall spinning around looking for his gate. "Nothing....Hog tie her if you have to, just get her out of her apartment." A sudden thought popped in his head, and he let autopilot take over again. "And find a priest. Have him come with you, too." "A priest?" Byers let out a little laugh of his own, which said, Fox Mulder, you're insane. "Mulder, where are we going to find a priest at this hour?" "I'm sure you'll think of something." Finally, he thought, E-7. They were announcing the final boarding call. "Where should we take her?" Byers asked. "Anywhere you think is safe. I'll find you wherever it is." He handed the gate agent his ticket who gave him a tired smile. "I'm sorry, sir, but you'll have to turn that off now. Safety concerns." Mulder held up his index finger in a request for more time. "Mulder," Frohike asked, "what's going on?" Mulder cut him off. The gate agent was giving him and his cell phone a very disapproving glare. "I can't explain now. I have to catch my flight. I'll see you in about four hours." He hung up and ran down the boarding tunnel. Four hours. He didn't know if he could last that long without ripping his hair out. At least he had his list of missing women to review. God, he thought, what if I don't make it? That thought was so terrifying that he did something he hadn't done since he was a kid. He began praying. He prayed that the hougan had bought him some time. He prayed that the guys could convince Scully to leave with them. And he prayed that this time, he wasn't too late.