Title: All Dreams of the Soul: The Revelation 4/4 Author: Tiger Lilly E-Mail address: Tigerlillyme@yahoo.com Rating: R Category: XA Keyword: Scully Angst. Mulder Angst. X-file. UST Spoilers: 5th season and movie Summary: Scully and Mulder live through three nights of terror. Continuation of All Dreams of the Soul: The Numbers Disclaimer: Okay Chris, this one is for you. I don't own them, I just borrowed them. Thank you for your generosity. Warning: This story is rated R for language, adult situations, sexual content, and violence. Author's note: This is the fourth of four installments. If you haven't read All Dreams of the Soul: Genesis, Exodus, or The Numbers, then The Revelation 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's my first time out. Okay to archive anywhere. Just please send me an e-mail so I'll know. The Revelation A strange buzzing noise was slowly awakening her out of a deep sleep. Somewhere in her drowsy mind, she thought that she shouldn't be hearing odd buzzes in the middle of the night. But it wasn't until she felt the gloved hand cover her mouth that she jolted herself awake. Her first reaction was panic. Someone was in her apartment. In her bedroom. And they were covering her mouth so she would be unable to scream. Her heart jumped into her throat. Instincts kicked in almost immediately, and she tried to force the hand away. "Shhh, Agent Scully," a familiar voice whispered. "It's Frohike." Her eyes focused in the dark on a face partially concealed by glowing night vision goggles. Whoever it was looked like a giant electronic fly. Another hand came up and pulled the goggles on top of his head. Sure enough, it was Frohike. Her relief was quickly replaced by another shocked thought. What the hell was Frohike doing in her bedroom? In the middle of the night? And how did he get in? But she couldn't ask him because he still had his hand over her mouth. "I didn't want to scare you," he continued, "but we can't risk letting anyone know we're here." He looked around the room nervously. "We need to get you out of here quietly." By now, she had managed to push his hand off her mouth. What did he mean, WE? "What the hell..." she angrily started. "Shhh, keep it down," another familiar voice scolded from somewhere to her right. "Are you trying to get us killed?" Dana sat up in the bed and scanned her dark bedroom. The streetlight outside glowed just brightly enough for her to make out the form of Langly, also with his night vision goggles on his head, nervously looking out the window, carefully keeping out of sight from anyone that might be looking in. "How in the hell did you get in here?" She was pissed, but she managed to get it out in a controlled whisper. "First, we need to get you out of here." Frohike's hushed voice made her swing back around and look at him. It was only after he licked his lips and silently mouthed the word "Damn" that she realized his eyes were almost popping out of his head. She looked down and realized what he was lusting at. She only had a silk nightshirt on, unbuttoned just a little too low in the front to be entertaining mixed company. But she hadn't been planning to encounter the Lone Gunmen when she had thrown it on and collapsed into bed. And when she had sat up and looked around the room, the covers had fallen into her lap, giving Frohike quite an eyeful. She quickly grabbed the sheet and pulled it up in front of her. "Not until you tell me what's going on." She wasn't going anywhere with this trio without an explanation. So, exactly where was Byers? Probably eating all the leftovers in her refrigerator. "No time," Frohike answered. "We'll explain on the way." Frohike was handing her her bathrobe. "We've got to go now." Something about the urgency in his voice made the hair on the back of her neck stand up. So she obediently got out of bed and pulled the bathrobe on, even with Frohike standing there ogling. And she almost started to follow him out of the bedroom, but then her common sense stopped her. This was 2/3 of the Lone Gunmen. And where the Gunmen were, Mulder was never far behind. Suddenly, her mind clicked. Was this Mulder's way of getting back at her for the argument two nights ago? Or his way of forcing a confrontation between them? She had expected Mulder to call by now. She had actually gotten a few hours of sleep on the flight home, and she had calmed down considerably. By the time she spent an hour in the waiting room in order to be worked into Dr. Lipton's schedule, she had replayed their last few days together in her head several times, and she was ready to put it all behind her. She was still hurt by his accusations, but she needed to talk to him again. When she got home, she was disappointed not to find a message from him on her machine apologizing for his behavior, or at least admitting that she could have been telling the truth. But she figured that he had gotten tied up in Miami and would call her whenever he had a chance. She knew that for Mulder to admit he was wrong was probably too much to hope for, even with the evidence of the truth staring him in the face. All this time looking for the truth, and he still couldn't see it even when it was right in front of his nose. And her pride kept her from calling him, even when she desperately wanted to hear his voice. Besides, she had left him her package, and the ball was now in his court. When the day turned into the next morning and she still hadn't heard from him, she tried to squelch the returning angry she felt. But by the time that evening arrived and still no call, she was furious once again. Fuck him, she thought. He was alot of trouble anyway. She would be better off without him. And now, Langly and Frohike were trying to lure her to some undisclosed location for some unknown reason? Mulder had to be behind it. Dana widen her stance for stability. She wasn't going anywhere. "Scully?" Langly, now with the goggles lowered over his eyes, was looking at her curiously. He had stopped in front of her on his way out of the bedroom. He was obviously puzzled at why she wasn't following Frohike. And why she looked so determined all of the sudden. "No," she answered, raising her chin up. "No, what?" Frohike said, reentering the bedroom. "No, I'm not going anywhere. You go tell Mulder to go fuck himself." Frohike and Langly looked at each other, shocked by her anger and language. Obviously Mulder didn't tell them everything that had transpired between them. "Okay," Frohike finally managed to say with a gulp. "Have it your way." At that moment, Dana felt a sharp prick at the base of her neck. She spun around to see Byers holding the syringe he had just injected into her spine. "What the..." Dana managed to say, as the room started to tilt. Everything around her was swimming. She lost her train of thought as time suddenly slowed. She watched herself fall to the ground in slow motion, realizing that although her body was still in front of Byers, her consciousness was now across the room. She was fascinated by the way her body left a trail of color hanging in the darkness. She watched Frohike and Langly approach her motionless body cautiously and lean over to look at her. "Boy," Langly commented in slow motion, "she was sure pissed at Mulder." "Yeah, well," Byers replied looking knowingly to his two accomplices, also at the slow pace, "wait 'til she wakes up." Then her world went black. Her first realization was that her head was pounding. Not just a little headache, but an all out Indian war dance right on her left brow bone. The pain made the dim light tunneling towards her excruciating. She tried to push the tunnel away by squinting her eyes shut. Then she realized that wasn't working, so she tried to roll to one side to get away from it. That was when she had her second realization. Something firmly held her right hand bent next to her ear. The sensation of cold steel surrounding her wrist was a shock. She tried to pull her arm towards her, only to discover she could only move it about 2 inches in any direction. The steel rattled against something. Okay, she was going to have to open her eyes and glance at her wrist, only to confirm what her confused mind was already telling her. Here it goes, she thought. She opened her eyes and looked over at her hand. "Oh." The little gasp was all she could manage. Sure enough, one end of a pair of handcuffs was locked around her right hand. She raised her eyes and found the other end attached to a rusty, dirty pipe. Her gaze followed the pipe up to where it disappeared into the bottom of a crumbling sink directly above her head. Only then did it occur to her that she was in an old bathroom. She quickly shut her eyes again. Even through her closed eyelids, she could still see the dim light. And her head wouldn't clear enough to help her remember how she had gotten into this situation. She tried to concentrate on the other sensations she was feeling, trying to block out the throbbing in her head. She could feel her terry cloth bathrobe and silk nightshirt, their soft, nubbiness and contrasting smoothness surrounding her. Something told her this was strange, but she couldn't remember why it was strange. And the throbbing in her head wasn't helping either. Dana threw her left arm across her eyes. The darkness and pressure helped her head slightly. She just wanted to go back to sleep, or whatever she had been doing before she woke up. Besides, she realized that she wasn't thinking too clearly. Her mind drifted back to the wild dream she was having. She was floating in mid-air, looking down on the Lone Gunmen. Except it wasn't the Lone Gunmen. It was three giant flies with glowing green eyes who talked like the Lone Gunmen. And they were leading her body down the hall of her apartment building. Only her body wasn't walking. Instead, it seemed to be lurching forward. And she was watching the whole thing while she floated on the ceiling. It was a strange, strange dream. She never dreamed about the Lone Gunmen. She could barely stand to think about them when she was awake. Jesus, they must have used a whopper of a sedative on her. Her last thought sunk in and shocked her into opening her eyes despite of her headache. The Lone Gunmen. The fucking Lone Gunmen had been in her bedroom, trying to trick her into going to see Mulder. And they had knocked her out with some unknown substance when she wouldn't go with them willingly. And now, she was handcuffed to a sink in some old building's bathroom, lying on—she looked down to check—an old army cot, and higher than, well, than she had been in a long time. Violence. Pure violence was all she could think about for a moment. The satisfaction she would derive from kicking the three fly-boys asses. She imagined grabbing Frohike by the throat and strangling him as he gasped for air. The thought of him with his eyes bugging out and face turning blue actually made her giggle. Funny, her headache suddenly felt alot better. She could shoot the three of them before they would even know what was happening. That is, if Mulder didn't have her gun. "Mulder." She spoke his name out loud with a contempt that almost caused a bad taste in her mouth. That bastard was behind this. Which meant that he probably wasn't too far away. He probably had been in here while she was out, shaking his head and feeling sorry for his poor, crazy ex-partner. Well, he was going to pay for this. The time she had shot him in the shoulder? That was nothing. If she could get her gun back, her aim was going to be much, much lower. A noise caught her attention. She followed it through the dim light and noticed the closed door at her feet for the first time. She squinted her eyes and listened. The noise became voices when she concentrated. They were muffled, but they were definitely voices. Male voices. And although she couldn't make out enough to recognize who they were, she was sure that one of them must be Mulder's. And the longer she listened, the more she convinced herself that it was him. Oh, well, she thought. Here goes nothing. "Mulder!" she yelled at the top of her lungs. She patiently waited for him to open the door. After a minute passed, she realized there would be no reply, that Mulder would not be coming in to unhandcuff her. But she was certain he had heard her because the voices in the other room were now silent. "Mulder, get me out of here." Still no reply. What was he waiting for? Her to beg? There was no way she was going to give him that satisfaction. "Get me the fuck out of here! Mulder! Mulder! I swear I'm going to kill you!" She realized that she was now ranting out of control at the top of her lungs, but she couldn't stop herself. "Federal Agent! On the floor! Hands on your head! Move!" Mulder's heart was racing as he burst into the room, sweeping the area with his drawn gun as he had been taught so long ago at the academy. Based on the muffled conversation he could hear through the door, he had guessed there were at least three people inside the room. Three people, probably armed. He had also been taught not to enter a potentially deadly situation like this one without backup, without his partner. But it was his partner he was trying to save. He had panicked when, less than ninety minutes into his flight from Miami, he had suddenly become aware that Scully was no longer asleep in her own bed, but was handcuffed to an old hot water pipe in a condemned tenement building a few blocks from the Mall. Terror had seized him when the Gunmen didn't answer the phone when he called from the plane. They were too late, he had thought. Or worse yet, they were dead attempting to save her. There was no time to worry about them now. Scully needed help. He scanned the room and saw four figures dressed in black laying on the floor before him. Three of them looked very familiar. A head with long blond hair hesitantly raised up to reveal a pair of black horn-rimmed glasses. "Mulder, its us. Don't shoot." "Langly?" This didn't make sense. Why were the Gunmen sitting here chatting while Scully was being held in the next room? A pair of hands wearing biking gloves lifted above the balding head of the figure next to Langly on the floor. "Mulder, just put down your gun." Frohike spoke very, very slowly. Mulder lowered his gun. "What's going on here?" God, he was confused. Had he been wrong about Scully's predicament. "Scully?" he asked uncertainly. Byers was lifting himself from the floor. "In the next room. She's fine." "Handcuffed?" Mulder couldn't seem to get more than one word to come out of his confused brain at a time. Frohike was speaking in a very calm tone. "We did if for her own good. She was resistant to the idea of coming with us." Langly snorted as he sat on a dilapidated sofa in the corner of the room. "To say the least." Frohike shot Langly a look as if he were taunting a wild animal, then continued speaking to Mulder in his overly calm tone. "So, we handcuffed her while she was out." Events were beginning to become clear to Mulder. "Out?" A little too clear. This time Byers spoke. "We had to sedate her. She refused to leave, and she had a few choice words for you." "You sedated her?" Mulder reached out and grabbed Frohike, who was the closest to him, by the lapels of his leather jacket. "I trusted you, and you sedated her?!?" Frohike stood like a trapped animal. "Geez, Mulder, it was just a little Diprivan, nothing to get worked up about." "You idiot!" Mulder yelled as he pushed him away. "She's pregnant!" For a few seconds, the only sound was Mulder panting where he stood, a look of cold fury on his face. If anything happened to the baby because of what these guys had done, he would...well, he didn't know what he would do, but it wouldn't be something they liked. It was Langly who broke the silence. "All right, Mulder. Way to work those all night stake outs." Mulder and Frohike both gave him looks. Mulder one of dumbfound shock, and Frohike one that could have sliced right through him. Byers made a mad dash across the room. Frohike turned back toward Mulder, threw back his shoulders, and puffed out his chest. "Now, look here, Mulder." Mulder couldn't believe it, he was actually angry...at him! "If you've been boffing Scully and gone and knocked her up, we're going to have a little talk. Mano y Mano." Mulder didn't think his mouth could drop open anymore than it already had. "Not me. I'm not the father." At least he didn't think so. What Scully thought might be a different story. Frohike seemed relieved and angrier all at the same time. "Well, then who the hell is? Is he going to live up to his responsibilities, or was he just in it for a good time?" Mulder was starting to get a headache. This was not going the way he had planned it when he had called them for their help. If the three stooges had been paranoid of the government, big business, and anything related to the military, he would have swore they were standing in this room with him. Only Langly had more hair than all of the stooges combined. "I don't know who the father is, and right now, I don't care. All I want to know is if the drugs you gave her are harmful to the fetus." "Way ahead of you, Mulder." Byers was triumphantly holding up a CD that he had been frantically digging out of a bag. "Physicians Desk Reference," he explained as he popped it into the laptop Langly had just opened. Mulder went and looked over Byers' shoulder as he brought up the drug they had used. "Says here that it's use-in- pregnancy rating is B. There is no evidence of risk in humans. That is, if you can trust the FDA." Mulder let out a relieved sigh. "For someone who isn't the father, you sure are concerned about the mother and child." Mulder looked up to see who spoke and suddenly remembered the fourth figure on the floor. The man before him was tall and thin, about 40, with shoulder-length brown hair and a three- day growth of beard. He looked like he hadn't showered in that amount of time, either. He wore a black suit of the clergy that had seen better days, complete with the white collar of a priest. Mulder gave Byers a questioning look. "Mulder, this is Father Michaels." Byers said in way of introduction. "The priest you requested." Mulder shook hands with the priest. "No offense, but you're not what I expected." Father Michaels indicated his clothing and smiled a slight, bitter smile. "I minister to my fellow homeless." "You've taken a vow of poverty?" Mulder questioned. This time the bitterness was in the laugh. "Not by choice." Byers answered Mulder's questioning glance. "Father Michaels was cast out of the Catholic Church." Mulder couldn't believe what he was hearing. All he had asked was that they get Scully out of her apartment and find a priest. What they had done was commit felonious kidnaping and assault with the assistance of an excommunicated priest. "So, you're no longer a member of the Church?" The priest's answer was defensive. "I no longer serve the corruption of the Catholic hierarchy. I now work for God directly." Frohike stepped in. "Father Michaels learned a few secrets about the Catholic Church that the higher-ups didn't want to get out. Ends up that the holy brotherhood has been used by various world governments to carry out some of their alternate agendas." Langly took up the narrative. "Who better to undertake a secret objective than the Catholic Church, with their churches and missions in even the most remote area of the world? Ever think about what could be done under the guise of a childhood vaccination program in some third world country? With no one there to question it except Sally Struthers?" Frohike continued. "When he threatened to go public, they trumped up some charges against the good Padre. Claimed he liked to spend a little too much 'quality time' with other men of the cloth, if you get my drift." Frohike nudged Mulder with his elbow. "We met up with him last year, featured him in our Christmas issue of the Magic Bullet. When you said you needed a priest, naturally Father Michaels came to mind." The priest's eyes blazed. "The rumors they spread were all lies. And I'm not the only one they've tried to silence. But I made my vows to God, and even though they have cast me out, I uphold my vows to serve Him." Mulder almost laughed. Substitute the Catholic Church and questionable third-world practices for a world wide conspiracy and alien abduction and this could be his religiously devote twin. Something about the priest, his confidence and pride, even beneath the dirty facade, convinced Mulder that he truly was a man of conviction. Hopefully Scully would feel the same. Although he could take the arrogance down a notch or two. Scully! He turned quickly towards the room were she was held. He had so much to tell her about what he had discovered on the plane ride back. Frohike stopped him before he reached the door. "Uh, Mulder, just a warning. She's really pissed off with you. She was angry before we hit her with the goods, and it's even worse now." Mulder grinned, "I think I can handle it," and opened the door. Then again, he thought after one look at Scully's livid face, maybe he couldn't. The sound of yelling from a distance slowly entered her consciousness. It sounded like it was coming from down a long tunnel. "Federal Agent! On the floor! Hands on your head! Move!" She was exhausted. She had yelled for almost an hour, using every conceivable four-letter word she could think of. And growing up on naval bases, she had learned alot of four-letter words. And she had used all of them in reference to Mulder. And all it had gotten her was a sore, dry throat and another pounding headache. And she was still suffering the effects of whatever they had used to knock her out. She didn't know exactly when the thought had occurred to her that she was hallucinating. Maybe it was when she had panicked, believing millions of tiny electric-green flies were crawling all over her. Or that the small fluorescent lantern in the corner was transforming itself into two disembodied glowing eyes, that were still staring at her even now. But once she realized that was what was happening, she took any thought or belief that she had as no more than a reaction to the drug. That at least had keep the fear from welling up in her. A moment ago, she had felt like she was rising off the mattress. And now, she was imaging a raid in the other room. She forced herself to listen to the yelling, if only to figure out who it was so she could tell them to shut up. They were making her headache return to its original intensity. "You sedated her? I trusted you, and you sedated her?!?" Good, Mulder was the one yelling. Maybe he was in pain. The thought made her laugh hysterically. "You idiot! She's pregnant!" Her laughing ceased immediately. Until that moment, she had forgotten about her pregnancy. She was pregnant, wasn't she? She hadn't imaged that. Was this her mind's way of reminding her that she should be concerned about whatever substance the Gunmen had used on her? That her medical knowledge needed to kick in, analyze the symptoms, deduce the likely substances, and take whatever action necessary? Like she could take any action handcuffed to a sink in the dark, she thought sarcastically. Nevertheless, it was a cruel, auditory hallucinating. The memory of Mulder eluding that she was losing her grip on reality returned. His statement that she was suffering from some delusion caused by post-traumatic stress. Although she had confided in him in a moment of rage, it didn't diminish the pain she felt when he had casually brushed aside her desperate pleas for him to believe her. That pain once again swept over her. Suddenly, Dana felt very sad, alone, and afraid. She looked over at the eyes in the corner. "Leave me alone," she whispered. But then, as if to save her from her own thoughts, her mind turned over the other possibility. In some version of reality, had Mulder just admitted that he believed she was pregnant? It doesn't explain the Gunmen's actions, she thought, or why I am still handcuffed to this damn sink. She hadn't had time to fully consider this new possibility when the door opened. She looked up and saw Mulder's face. And her fury returned full force. If I am hallucinating now, she thought, let me hallucinate a gun. Because I want to hallucinate causing him to have a slow, painful death involving massive blood loss and genital trauma. And she did her best to convey that thought to the figment of her imagination staring at her from the doorway. She locked her eyes on Mulder's eyes and watched his face transform from a look of concern to uneasiness. Inside, she felt a great wave of satisfaction at his transformation. She wanted to make this imaginary Mulder squirm, if only to make herself feel better. And pass the time in this little room. She glanced over at the disembodied eyes. Yup, they were still there. Her imagination was definitely still in overdrive. She was at least going to have some fun with this new hallucination. "Scully?" the imaginary Mulder said timidly. "You okay?" She didn't answer. She wanted him to feel the same frustration and helplessness she had felt earlier when she had fruitlessly been calling his name. Okay, so she had called him several other things as well, but that was beside the point. Mulder entered the room and looked down at her. She watched him swallow, his adam's apple bobbing in his throat. Oh, this was a very realistic hallucination. The best one so far. Except for those damn eyes over in the corner. She took a deep breath to steady herself and push the fear back down. She could even smell Mulder. "Look, Scully," Mulder continued after a moment. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean for this to happen. I just told..." he trailed off when his eyes caught the uncomfortable way her arms was raised next to her body, courtesy of the handcuffs. "I should get the key." "Yeah, do that," she finally spoke through clenched teeth, the hoarseness of her voice surprising her. "Why don't you unlock these...so I can fucking kill you!" She punctuated the last part of her cresendoing sentence by half-raising her torso off the cot. At least as far as she could raise up towards him with the handcuffs rubbing her wrist raw. He gulped and didn't move. The look on his face reminded her of a deer caught in headlights. She could hear her ragged breathing as she glared up at him some more. And then, he slowly turned and went into the other room, leaving the door open behind him. Dana glanced over at the glowing eyes. Well, she thought to the eyes that weren't really there, I guess we showed him who's in charge. Too bad he wasn't really here, either. And she laid back down and threw her left arm over her eyes again. It had to be a side effect of the sedative—at least that's what he kept telling himself. He had seen her angry before. She had even yelled at him before. Their fight a few nights ago had been a prime example. But never, ever, had he seen her like this. He turned and left the room and tried not to shiver, anxious to leave those murderous eyes behind. This wasn't going to be as easy as he had originally thought. Of course, what he had originally thought had been a work of fantasy he had concocted to avoid his actual fears. In his fantasy, Scully began apologizing before he had a chance to and stopped him as he tried to apologize to her. They laughed it off, and she listened attentively as he explained his theory about the seven sevens of missing women. Granted, he knew that scenario would never play itself out. But even in his worst fears, she hadn't threatened to kill him. And even if she had, she never would have looked like she meant it The Gunmen were standing a few feet behind him, peering into the bathroom, as though they were afraid to get any closer. The priest was sitting on the sofa, watching events unfold with a curious scowl on his face Mulder held out his hand to Frohike. "Give me the keys," he demanded. Langly and Byers exchanged uncertain glances. Frohike shifted his weight from one foot to the other. "Are you sure that's a good idea, Mulder? She seems kind of....violent." Evidently Scully had heard him because sadistic laughter erupted from the bathroom. "Just you wait, little man. Your time will come." The three of them actually took a step back. Frohike cocked his head towards the bathroom and gave Mulder a look that seemed to say, I rest my case. "Give me the keys," he said in a very calm, yet forceful voice. He hoped the same tone would work with Scully. Frohike reluctantly nodded his head, and Byers fished the keys out of his pocket and handed them to Mulder. Mulder tossed them lightly in the air, as though he were weighing his options, but he had already made up his mind. It was time to set things right between them. He had decided that while he was still in Miami, as soon as he had seen that damn pink stick. It never should have gone this far. He still felt Scully was in danger from some unknown enemy, and the sooner they made friends again, the sooner they could get down to business. He had made some interesting discoveries on his flight back, and out of habit, he couldn't wait to share them with Scully. If he could get her to listen to him. Besides, he thought, even if she seemed capable of killing him with her bare hands, she would be too weak from the sedative. Right? As he closed his hand tightly around the keys, he leaned in close to the Gunmen. "If she bolts for the door," he whispered, "stop her." The three nodded solemnly, but Mulder could tell from their wide-eyed looks that they hoped it wouldn't come to that. And so did he. When he reentered the bathroom, Scully was laying on the cot, her left arm draped across her eyes. The early morning light was shining through the small, dirty window off to the left of her prone body, illuminating dust fibers in the air. "Scully?" he said softly. She didn't respond. He cleared his throat and tried again. "Scully?" "Go away," she mumbled from below her arm. "I don't want to hallucinate right now." Obviously the drugs were still effecting her. "Scully, this isn't a hallucination. I'm real. I'm really here." She turned slightly and looked out from under her arm toward the corner where a portable fluorescent lantern stood. She let out a "hmpf" of disbelief and recovered her eyes. Well, he thought, no turning back now. "I'm going to take the handcuffs off now, Scully. But first..." She raised her head and glared at him from under her half-raised arm. Her look of amazement made it clear that she expected no conditions placed on her freedom. Mulder stood his ground and held up a silencing hand. "First" he continued, "you have to promise not to run away. Second..." Again she gave him a look of shock, her mouth actually dropping open slightly at the addition of a second ultimatum. "...promise that you will hear what I have to say before you start yelling again." He finished quickly, preparing himself for the inevitable verbal onslaught. Instead, she let her head drop back down and let out a frustrated sigh. "Okay, Mulder, I'll listen." "And you promise you won't try to run away?" He hoped she didn't still think she was hallucinating. "Yes, yes, yes, I promise." She said impatiently as she tried to push herself up to a half-sitting position. "Now just take this fucking thing off me." Well, that was the best he could hope for. He knelt down and unlocked the handcuffs from the pipe. He figured he could always slap it on his own wrist if she tried to run, but she just sat up and slung her bare legs over the side of the cot. Mulder knelt before her now. The mattress smelled musty, like it had been stored in a basement. But the smell was underlain by the sweet fragrance of bath oils and fabric softener that permeated Scully's bathrobe. Only on rare occasions had he smelled the fragrance—before on a case once when she had just come out of the shower, and she answered the door to her hotel room in her robe; when he had been in her bathroom at her home; in her bed? That didn't seem right, he thought. Occasionally, he caught a whiff when she walked by him in the office, and it would make his head spin for a moment. It was sexy and innocent all at the same time, something forbidden yet exclusively his, and at this moment it brought back some forgotten erotic memory. He tried to push it into the recesses of his mind, along with some new thoughts he was suddenly having about the handcuffs. Holding her handcuffed hand in one of his, he turned her wrist and placed the key in the lock. The cuff opened with a small click, and he removed it while still holding onto her wrist, letting the metal links fall beside her on the cot. She tried to pull away, but he held her firmly and began gently massaging the feeling back into her hand. Her skin was soft to the touch, although her wrist was beginning to show a red welt where the cuffs had held her. He never looked up from their hands as he began to speak. "Scully, I'm sorry. About this mess, the fight, everything. You were right, and I should have listened to you. And I shouldn't have removed you from the case. You weren't doing a shitty job. I just wasn't ready to accept what you had to say." He still wasn't sure if he accepted all of it, but Danjou had convinced him that at least something about her dreams was real. He continued to knead her wrist and hand. "But I'm willing to listen now." She pulled her hand away, only without as much violence as she had before. This time, he let it go. He stayed squatted before her, moving his hand to the cot on either side of her hips for support. His fingers brushed the terry cloth of her robe. For the first time, he looked up at her. She had her head lowered, mere inches from his, watching her hand as she flexed it open and closed. Her hair hung down and blocked half of her face. She leaned in closer, and her breast brushed against the inside of his upper arm. She whispered, "Is that why you had me drugged and kidnapped? So you could apologize?" He icy voice was in stark contrast to the warmth of her breath on his ear. He closed his eyes as he clenched his fists into the blanket on the cot, willing the growing pressure in his groin to go away. It wasn't working. She has no idea what she's doing to me, he thought. Then he was struck with the even more exhilarating thought that maybe she did. He turned his head slightly towards hers, trying not to whimper as his nose and mouth brushed against her hair. "A fucking phone call would have worked just as well." She practically spit the words at him as she leaned back. Mulder's eyes shot open at the venom in her voice. Oh, she had known exactly what she was doing, all right. That was just cruel. He couldn't believe that she actually said that, after all the calls he had tried to make. "I must have called you a hundred times yesterday, but you never answered." She rolled her eyes at what she obviously felt was a lie. He curbed his desire to raise his voice and argue the point. He thought that he almost had her calmed down. If he backtracked now, he might never get her back. "Look, if I had known they were going to sedate you, I never would have called them. You know that I would never do anything to intentionally endanger you or the baby. Its just that you were in danger, still may be, I think, and..." He trailed off as he realized Scully was clutching her abdomen. The anger he had seen in her eyes had been replaced with guilty panic. "Scully?" he asked. Then it dawned on him. The baby. In her delirium, she must have forgotten about the risk the drug posed to the baby. "Scully, it's okay, the anesthetic they used was harmless..." But it was obvious she wasn't listening. She suddenly stood, but from his squatting position, he was able to grab her around the waist and hold her back tight against his chest. She started to pull away, murder for the men in the next room on her mind. "What the fuck did you morons give me? What did you do to my baby?" "Scully, it's okay! We looked it up! It's a class B! Diprivan!" Mulder hoped her medical training would surface through the rage of maternal hormones he was witnessing struggle in his arms. Evidently it was working, because he felt her struggle lessen, and she began repeating the name of the drug herself. He could almost hear the gears whirling in her head as she categorized the drug and accessed the pharmacological resources in her mind. She finally stopped struggling all together. "Class B." She was mumbling more to herself than him. "Studies must show it's safe." She took a few deep breaths as Mulder continued to hold her. Then she began shaking with silent sobs. Mulder sat her down on the bed, and she collapsed against his chest. "God,...I'm...I'm... go...going...to be...a lou...lousy...mother." He could barely make our her words as she gulped air. He placed an arm around her shoulder, stunned by her sudden transformation. A few minutes ago, she had been ready to rip out his lungs through his chest cavity. Now, she was wiping her nose on his shirt. One of the side effects of the sedatives had to be wild mood swings, and they didn't get much wilder than this. He held her and patted her back until the sobs began to subside. "You'll make a wonderful mother," he said in an awkwardly cheerful voice. "No, I won't. I can't even protect myself from those idiots. How am I supposed to keep my baby safe in the real world?" Mulder stroked her hair in what he hoped was a soothing manner. "I think" he said somewhat hesitantly, "that's supposed to be my job." She was finding Mulder's behavior...spooky...even for him. First, he apologized. Apologized! Fox Mulder never, ever admits he's wrong. Time had taught her that lesson over and over again. She had done her best to keep her face from revealing the shock she felt at his apology. Although, he hadn't eliminated her anger, just brought it down several notches. To a more...appropriate level. Okay, let's face it, she thought. Nothing she had done since waking up had been on an appropriate level. She prided herself on her control, her ability to remain distanced from her emotions in even the most tense situation. Boy, she had blown that facade tonight. Not that Mulder necessarily believed that she was the Ice Queen everyone at the Bureau thought she was, but he rarely had seen her completely lose it in the years they had worked together. Anesthetic or no anesthetic, she would like to have kept it that way. And now... Dana sat on the dilapidated sofa in the corner of what she guessed could be called a living room. If you could call the room she had been in for the last few hours a bathroom, then this could definitely be a living room. After she had regained her composure, Mulder had led her by the hand into the room, sat her on the sofa, and ran out to his car to get his briefcase. He had practically been bursting to tell her the latest developments and his theory on the Miami disappearances. Great, she thought, here he goes bouncing ideas off of me like nothing has happened. It made her a little angry at him for assuming that she would still care about the case. And at herself for letting him take advantage of her so quickly after their reconciliation. If she had come to any conclusions in the past two days, it was that there were now more important things in her life than being a workaholic. And she could almost kick herself for slipping back into that mode the first time Mulder tempted her with it. But another feeling was overwhelming her even more. Now that she was quickly coming down, she was terribly embarrassed by her behavior, regardless of its causes. My God, she thought, she was a medical doctor and a FBI agent. She should be able to control herself better, even if she was under the influence of a hypnotic agent. When Mulder stood up to lead her out of the bathroom, she had caught sight of the Lone Gunmen jumping back from the doorway, where they had been listening to the whole conversation. Not to mention listening to her ranting for the last few hours. Regardless of whether or not they showed her any remorse for their overzealousness in getting her out of her apartment, she still felt embarrassed. Even now they were busy trying to look nonchalant, like they hadn't noticed that the always professional Agent Scully had gone ballistic on them. And to top it all off, Mulder had introduced her to Father Michaels right before running out the door. A priest! She had been cursing literally like a sailor, and there was a priest listening to everything! She had immediately apologized for her language, but Father Michaels didn't seem to care one way or another. It wasn't like he hadn't heard those words before, she kept telling herself. She just wished he hadn't heard those particular expletives from her mouth. But just because he was a priest didn't mean he lived in a cave. She knew that. In fact, she had known some pretty partying priests in her life. And to look at Father Michaels... Not that she doubted he was a priest. Okay, maybe she did have her doubts. After all, this was Mulder and the Lone Gunmen she was dealing with. Their idea of a priest was probably a cross between Father Guido Sardoucci and the Exorcist. At least she was relatively sure that was the extent of Mulder's exposure to the Catholic Church. And she never assumed anything with Byers, Langly, and Frohike. The tension in the room was smothering her. She sat on the sofa staring at her hands, waiting for Mulder to get back. No one was talking to anyone. And all eyes were on her. She raised her eyes when she heard the door open. Mulder walked into the room, briefcase in hand. She had to admit, she was curious. Hadn't he said something about her being in danger? And when had he returned from Miami? Not that she was going to ask him these questions. She knew he would answer her questions on his own, in his own ostentatious way. She just had to wait him out. Mulder sat down on the sofa next to her and popped open his briefcase, pulling out what she immediately recognized as the Miami case file. It was nearly triple the size it had been when she had left three days ago. Apparently, there really had been some developments. The Lone Gunmen and Father Michaels were congregating around them. She glanced at them irritated, not necessarily wanting this conversation to be shared. Like she had any choice. As if on cue, Mulder turned to her and began. "After you left Miami, the six remaining women returned, completely unharmed, but unable to remember anything about the seven months they were missing." Dana raised an eyebrow and opened her mouth slightly. This was not how she was expecting him to start. In fact, this development was not what she was expecting at all. When she had left Miami, she was sure they would find the other six women dead sooner or later. Frohike had brought a milk crate and piece of plywood over from the corner of the room, sitting it on the floor in front of the sofa to make a makeshift table. Byers now placed a large brown paper bag on the floor next to it and began to unpack its contents. An assortment of muffins and bagels, pint-sized milk cartons, and Styrofoam cups of juice and coffee began to appear on the table. Luckily, they appeared to all be pretty close to the appropriate temperatures. She was hungry and starting to get a little nauseous again. At least they had planned on feeding her. Mulder continued while reaching for a bagel and a napkin. "All except one, who local authorities believed to be delusional. She was identified as Hellene Bonnelle. Only when I spoke with her, she claimed that was no longer her name. She and her six 'sisters' had taken the name of a single man, a man who had 'cleansed' them." She listened, not realizing that Mulder had sat the bagel on the napkin and placed it on the sofa next to her, until he motioned for her to eat it. She picked it up and took a bite just as Father Michaels cut in. "That's a reference to Isaiah 4:1— the sisters of Zion," the priest said. "And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, 'We will eat our own food and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by your name, to take away our reproach.'" "Yes, I'm familiar with the verse," Mulder replied. He was now sticking a straw into a cup of orange juice and handing it to Dana. "But she also made reference to 'seven sevens'." "No, no, no," Father Michaels shot back. "In the book of Isaiah, there are only one set of seven sisters mentioned. This Hellene Bonnelle has her scriptures confused." "No, I don't think so, Father. The same day the six Miami women returned, the body of another woman, Sarah James, a member of the Mormon church, was found in Utah." Mulder turned to Dana and handed her a carton of milk. "Scully, she was killed by a blunt trauma to the head, shortly after giving birth. Her baby was found a few miles away, also dead by unknown means. Sound familiar? Only this woman went missing exactly one month after Genevieve Baptiste." Langly handed her a cup of coffee, but Mulder smoothly intercepted it and handed it back to Langly with a disapproving shake of his head. "A data search revealed that six other Mormon women were reported missing in the two days before James disappeared." "Sounds like some sort of out-of-control Lamaze class to me," Frohike snickered. She and Mulder both shot him a look. Mulder grabbed a muffin and began devouring it, still talking between bites. "Another factor in both of these disappearances is that both groups of women disappeared on or directly before the new moon." Bite. "That's two sets of seven women from two different religions all missing on the new moon. Another data search revealed seven Hindu women went missing the following new moon, seven Buddhist women the next month, and finally seven Catholic women two months ago." He had stopped, and she realized he was waiting for her to make a comment. Honestly, she had only been half-listening to him since he had handed her the milk. It was a perfect example of the second reason Mulder was acting spooky. He was hovering over her like a mother hen. Ever since he had made that comment back in the bathroom about the safety of the baby being his job, she had been quietly simmering. She had originally wonder what that comment was all about. Face it, the last thing she needed was Mulder taking care of her and the baby. My God, the man couldn't even keep fish alive. About the time he had handed her the milk, she had realized with raised eyebrows exactly what he was doing. The bagel, the juice, the denied coffee...he was taking care of her. Not a partnerly kind of care, like looking out for each others' backs, but a nurturing, protective kind of care. And she was outraged by this. How dare he even assume that she needed his care! Not to mention, she had uncomfortably noticed Father Michaels intently eying this exchange. She didn't know if Mulder even had a right to feel this way. Yes, the conception had occurred when she was having the dreams about Mulder, but that didn't make Mulder the father, did it? This was a question that had been spinning around in her head since she left Miami. The whole thing was so completely surreal. She really didn't know how she felt about this possibility, or even if she accepted it as a possibility. Her uncertainty had made her jump at Dr. Lipton's advice to have an amniocentesis as soon as possible. The doctor had recommended it because of her age, but she had insisted it be done immediately because she needed to know exactly what she was dealing with. This was a pregnancy that she had only very recently begun to believe, but she still didn't assume that the fetus was genetically hers, or hers and Mulder's, or even naturally occurring. And after the procedure, she had managed to take a sample of the amniotic fluid herself. Dr. Lipton would send a portion out for the normal tests, but Dana needed a much more detailed genetic breakdown. Besides, the doctor would have looked at her incredulously if she had told her what she wanted. She had taken the sample to a friend at Georgetown School of Medicine, asking for a complete DNA breakdown. Including the data needed to compare genetic markers against the anonymous RFLPs she had provided. Both a maternity and a paternity test. Whether or not this fetus turned out to be hers, she needed to at least eliminate the one possibility she had for the father. Luckily, her friend didn't ask where the sample had come from. And Dana had led her friend to believe it was for a case she was working on. The results would be back later today. Another advantage of having a geneticist for a friend. You couldn't beat the turn around time. Meanwhile, she had pushed the nervousness and uncertainty down to a place where she didn't have to deal with it. Yet. Dana pulled Mulder's last few sentences out of the air and back into her head. Quickly, she counted and realized she could easily debunk this theory he was leading up to. "That's only six groups of seven, Mulder," she told him point blank. "Exactly." There was that scoreboard going off in his eyes again. For a moment she was relieved. The old Mulder had made a temporary comeback. "So, I went back a month before the women in Miami went missing. A coven of seven Wiccan practitioners went missing in Northern California that new moon." Another bite of muffin. "No one in the area really thought much about it because they were a reclusive group." "You know how outgoing those Wiccan covens can be," Byers interjected. Mulder just kept going over top of him. "But last month, seven months after their disappearance, they all returned except one. She was never found. However, three weeks ago the body of an infant was found by some climbers in a snowbank on Mount Shasta. I'll give you 10 to 1, Scully, that when the snow finally thaws, the mother will be found as well." "I don't like your odds, Mulder," she replied dryly. Okay, she thought, maybe he did have something. "And now," he continued without acknowledging her comment, "the second set of women have shown up in Miami complete with a dead mother and child. Seven months after they went missing." He popped the last bite of muffin into his mouth. Oh, he was damn cocky all right. She looked over at the Lone Gunmen and Father Michaels. They were all eating, intently listening to their conversation. All, that is, except Langly, who was doodling on a napkin. Mulder with a captive audience was almost unbearable. Mulder's bravado made the skeptic in her go into overdrive. "But Mulder, surely someone would have noticed this pattern before now." "That"s just it. The missing women have been from increasingly-wide geographical areas. They began with the coven in California. Then the Vodun in Miami, which is a rather small community. Then the Mormons, whose larger populations are mainly limited to the western United States. By the time we reach the seventh group, the Catholic women, they are pretty much spread out everywhere." "But why just the United States?" This comment had come from Langly. Apparently, he was paying attention. "A country that was founded on the principles of religious freedom?" Mulder asked, grabbing a cup of coffee. "What better place to choose?" "There's another flaw in your pattern." Scully noticed that all the eyes were once again on her. "The woman in Utah was only missing six months, not seven." "I was just getting to that, Dr. Scully." Mulder reached into the forgotten case file and pulled out what she recognized to be an autopsy report. He waved it in her face. "The autopsy report on the newborn indicated a low birth weight and incomplete development of the heart. Wouldn't that suggest a premature birth? Maybe the baby wasn't meant to born until next month." She took the report from him and began to read over it. The Utah coroner didn't made any conclusions based on those findings. "Four weeks premature would be hard to identify, Mulder." Mulder continued. "Look, if I'm right and if the pattern holds, we'll be seeing these sets of women resurfacing, with one from each group dead, over the next five months." "So, do you think the same person is taking these women?" She had asked this without looking up from the report. "The MO doesn't exactly suggest your run-of-the-mill serial killer." "That's just it, Scully. I don't think these women were taken. I think they left on their own. I think the six who returned originally left to protect the one who was pregnant." She looked at him incredulously. "Well, they obviously haven't done a very good job." It came out in a rush of air, almost on an unbelieving chuckle. "Maybe they have. At least they think so. Hellene Bonnelle said something—that a soul cannot be stolen if it is set free. I think these women believe they are saving the soul of the pregnant woman, or the child, by killing her before the soul could be stolen." He took a gulp of coffee. Oh, he was laying it on thick now. "Stolen by whom?" She made a point of returning the autopsy report to the folder, closing it, and scooting it back towards him on the sofa. Mulder shrugged and shook his head. "Evil?" That was all she needed to hear. She raised a hand in front of him to let him know he'd taken them far enough into the Twilight Zone, and she wasn't going to follow him any farther. He just scooted towards her and continued. "Look, I know it sounds crazy, but Bonnelle said something else. That death is sometimes necessary for life. What if these women who have already died, and the ones who are probably going to die, believe they are doing so for a greater good? Maybe they are some sort of modern day martyrs." "Revelation." She and Mulder both startled at Father Michaels' interruption. For a moment, she had gotten so caught up in their exchange that she had forgotten anyone else was listening. She could tell by Mulder's reaction that he had forgotten as well. When the priest had their full attention, he continued. "What you're talking about is a reference to the book of Revelation, although you seem to be combining various passages. The martyrs refer to the fifth seal. 'When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.'" Mulder picked where Father Michaels left off. "And they cried with a loud voice, saying "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?'" Where did he learn these things anyway? Okay, she knew he had an incredible memory. But she had a hard time imagining Mulder sitting around reading Revelation for fun. On second thought, maybe she could. Father Michaels was obviously surprised and impressed with Mulder's ability to spout off biblical text, as if in answer to a challenge. He began where Mulder left off. "And a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was complete." They reminded Dana of some sort of biblical dueling banjos. Mulder was absorbed in thought for a half a second. Then she could almost see the light bulb go off in his eyes, and he got very excited. "White robes...both dead women were found covered with white - salt in Miami, a white bed sheet in Utah." "The missing California woman is probably covered in snow," Byers added. "Don't forget her." He was excited, too. Great, they were all wrapped up in Mulder's evangelical theory. Once again, she was the only rational one in the room. "I don't know if you could necessarily call the snow on Mount Shasta white." That had come from who else but Frohike. "Oh, yeah, and what color would you call it?" Langly seemed almost upset by this. "Acid rain gray?" Frohike offered. "The hougan and Bonnelle both spoke of completing the number. Maybe that is what they meant." Mulder was talking to himself under his breath. Hougan? Where did that come from? "The seven different religions may refer to Revelation 2 and 3," Father Michaels asserted to shut the Gunmen up. "The book of Revelation is written as a letter from the Apostle John to the seven churches of Asia. Many modern scholars argue that these seven churches actually represent present-day global religious beliefs." "If I were going to pick seven major world religions, I don't think Wicca and Voodoo would top my list, Mulder." She was ready to put an end to this fairy tale. "Why not, Scully?" He just smiled back at her. Obviously, he didn't share her point of view. "Regardless, you're basing this whole theory on a women who is probably suffering from some sort of Jerusalem syndrome caused by post..." She stopped herself. She had almost rubbed salt into her own wounds with that one. She looked up at Mulder and realized she had stopped too late. He had silently finished her sentence anyway and was staring at her with a "don't go there" look on his face. "But what your talking about is absurd." Father Michaels was shaking his head and seemed a little upset by this. "This is about portents of the Armageddon, the filling of Biblical prophecy. I think someone is playing a joke on you." "Don't you think this is alot of trouble to go to for a joke? Besides, this is the only explanation that makes any sense." Mulder was taken aback by the priest's dismissal of his theory. It was one thing for her to debunk his theories. That was her job. He had come to expect it from her. But she knew that if anyone else questioned his beliefs, no matter how crazy they sounded, he became immediately defensive. "Look, I agreed to help you because I trusted the Lone Gunmen." Father Michaels was rising now and heading towards the door. "They have been good to me and tried to help my cause. But you don't need a priest, you need a psychiatrist. I have more important things to do with my time." Mulder was following the priest to the door, determined not to let him leave. Father Michaels opened the door and turned to Frohike. "Lock up when you're done." "Have you had any strange dreams lately, Father?" Mulder was standing about three feet behind Father Michaels, who had stopped dead in his tracks with Mulder's question. He shut the door and turned around to look at Mulder with a stricken look on his face. "Mulder," she asked, standing up and walking over to his side, "what are you talking about?" The only strange dreams she knew of were her own, and Mulder knew next to nothing about those. And she wasn't sure he even believed what little she had told him. Mulder turned to her and said, "The dreams, Scully. You've had them, and I've had them, although they were not nearly as entertaining as yours obviously were." For a moment she wasn't sure if that was a jab or an acknowledgement. Then her confusion gave way to open-mouth shock as his revelation that he had also been having strange dreams sunk in. Mulder turned back to the priest and said, "And by the look on the good Padres face, I'd say he has too. Dreams are an important aspect of every religion. They are believed to be omens, provide insight and understanding, reveal a glimpse into the future. In the Bible alone, there are multiple references to dreams providing the link directly to the word of God." He turned back to her, put a hand on her upper arm, and quietly continued. "I met with the hougan from the Vodun ritual we attended." He stopped for a moment and looked at her as if to say you remember the hougan, don't you? How could she forget? "He told me how important our dreams were. How we can't ignore them, or we'll fail. If I had paid attention to mine, I might have been able to stop your rape." A look of anguish washed over his face. "Mulder..." She wanted to reassure him that she didn't hold him responsible for what had happen to her. She knew he lived in a perpetual state of guilt and didn't want this added to it. He interrupted her. "But I think that by becoming aware of them now, I stopped whatever might have happened to you last night. And whatever might happen over the next couple of night." Oh, yeah, we're back to that again. Sometime his thoughts skipped around so quickly that it took all her concentration to follow him. She had wondered when he was going to get around to why he believed she needed to be pulled out of her apartment in the middle of the night. "And exactly what do you think might have happened?" "I don't know exactly. I just know that you are the next woman in danger." "Are you implying that somehow I fit into all of this?" Now she was really confused. "That somehow this evil you're talking about is after me?" For a moment, she had believed him. Now she had to smile and shake her head. This "was" absurd. She turned to walk away from him, but he followed her saying, "The new moon is upon us, Scully. The danger is still real." She turned around to tell him that he gone off the deep end, but only got out an exasperated "Mulder" before his attention was again focused on Father Michaels. "The hougan also said there is strength in three." Mulder's look was pleading with the priest for some answers to all this. She thought for sure that the father would just continue his departure, but instead he seemed genuinely affected by what Mulder was saying. She watched with wide, unbelieving eyes as Father Michaels started back towards the place where he had been sitting around the table. On his way, he took Mulder's arm and led him to the crate as well. The priest sat cross-legged on the floor with Mulder squatting next to him. They were speaking quietly to one another, and out of curiosity she came up behind them. She wondered if they were discussing their dreams, but when she got close enough to hear what they were saying, she realized that the topic was again back to the "seven sevens." She stood behind them and looked from them to Langly, Byers, and Frohike. The Gunmen had listened relatively quietly to the whole conversation, which was completely uncharacteristic. And now they were astutely listening to Mulder and Father Michaels with the most serious looks on their faces. Like they were discussing the Kennedy assassination instead of the end of the world. Frohike looked up at her and smiled. She smiled back and shook her head again. She really was the only rational, sane person in this room. The only one not swept away by Mulder's enthusiasm for a good, spooky theory, no matter how unreasonable it was. Mulder gestured for Byers to pull an item out of his briefcase. It was a large Miami Beach calendar, complete with color photos of scantily clad women. If they had not been in the presence of Father Michaels, she was sure the conversation would have digressed to the "assets" of each calendar model. Instead, Mulder very seriously began flipping through the calendar, pointing out the dates of the new moon that he had marked with large red "Xs." The first two months corresponded to the two groups of seven women, six alive and one dead, that had already returned. He then began flipping through the next few months, each new moon date marked with an identical red "X" and the name of a religion. Father Michaels took the calendar out of Mulder's hands and began looking through it himself. "All right," he finally said, "there have been seven months of women disappearing, and, if you are right, there will be seven months of women showing up dead. What comes next?" She watched as the priest flipped past the seventh X and turned the page to the next month. Despite the topless woman holding her breast and staring at the camera seductively, Dana eyes were immediately drawn to the date Mulder had made an notation on in black ink pen: "Next new moon. Does pattern repeat?" And the smirk on her face disappeared, along momentarily with a good bit of her skepticism. Even if Mulder's theory was total insanity, the date marked sent chills over her. Unconsciously, she gasped, and they all turned to look at her questioningly. She pointed down at the date on the calendar and found herself answering the priest's question. "My due date."
Living with denial is like building a house of playing cards. As each card is piled on, the house becomes larger and more and more fragile. Take a card from the middle or bottom and the house will crumble. Take a card from the top, the house waivers but for the most part still stands. Until the house becomes too big to support itself, and it will fall regardless of how careful the builder has been. Her life was that house of cards. Denial after denial piled on top of themselves. Each new denial had become necessary to support the ones that were already in place. It had begun before her assignment to the X-files, but the house had increased in size tenfold since she had met Mulder. Now it was a necessity to continue building the house, for fear that it would crumble around her if she didn't. She kept piling the cards on, thinking that someday she would start to peel them back off, cautiously, one card at a time. When she had more time to deal with the consequences of her building. But that someday had never come. Through all the horrors she had witness, through all the horrors that had been done to her, she kept building. And the house had grown to monstrous proportions. Sometimes she felt it inside of her, quaking, ready to crumble at any moment. She didn't realize that moment had arrived until the cards laid at her feet, scattered in every direction. Mulder was staring out the windshield, quietly tapping the steering wheel to the beat of the song playing on the radio. They had driven in complete silence since leaving the tenement. In fact, they had hardly said one word to each other since she had made her discover about her due date. And now, he was doing his best not to look at her. His face totally expressionless. She watched him in uncomfortable silence, wondering how she was going to bring this up. She was relatively sure he didn't think she believed him, but she wanted to make absolutely sure that her shock at the coincidence of her due date and the eighth new moon wasn't perceived the wrong way. She still thought this theory of his was totally out in left field. Well, he was obviously waiting for her to say something. She took a deep breath. "You know, Mulder, I think you're overreacting." "Oh, how's that, Scully?" He said it as unreadable as his face, his eyes never leaving the road. "Well..." She took another deep breath. "I think you're upset, and this whole story about the new moon and the missing women somehow being related to my pregnancy is..." She stopped, searching for the right word. "...Is lunacy, pardon the pun." He just kept staring at the road, slowly absorbing her words. They drove again in silence. She had just resigned herself to the fact that he wasn't going to respond when he said, "Just what is it that I am upset about?" "I don't know Mulder. Feeling guilty about my attack? Our fight? These dreams you claim to be having? You tell me." "You don't think I'm telling the truth about my dreams?" He was now looking at her, only glancing at the road. It made her nervous when he drove like this. "No, I do believe you have been experiencing...something. I just don't think that you're receiving some kind of omen from God." "Oh." That was all he said, and he turned all of his attention back to the road. After another long, uncomfortable silence, she asked, "So, are you going to tell me?" "What?" "About your dreams. What they were about?" "Why? According to you, they're some sort of psychological manifestation cause by guilt. A guilt so overwhelming that I'm probably on the verge of some kind of breakdown. Where I believe myself to be Joseph, you the Virgin Mary, and Byers, Langly, and Frohike the three magi. And any moment now, I'm going to start walking up and down Pennsylvania Avenue with a sign proclaiming the apocalypse is upon us. A claim I can only substantiate with statements from various delusional members of the Vodun community, the totally unexplainable coincidence of seven sets of missing women, and the fact that my partner, who is barren, now claims to be carrying my child even though I haven't laid a hand on her. Like you said, Scully. It's fucking lunacy." The only thing that had betrayed his emotionless demeanor was his voice. It was controlled fury. Well, that certainly explained how he felt. But he didn't have to say it in such a smart ass way. His venom had cause her to scoot as far over towards her door as she could without unbuckling her seat belt. She knew she shouldn't. She should just keep her mouth shut, get out at her apartment, and let the whole matter resolve itself. But she just couldn't let it slide. "What do you mean, I claim to be carrying your child? I never said I thought it was your baby." "Didn't you?" This was punctuated with a sideways glance at her. Had she led him to believe that? Maybe. Did she believe that? She didn't know. Nor did she even want to tackle that question, especially when the results from the amino would be back later today. So, she just pushed it out of her mind. Luckily, they arrived at her apartment a few minutes later. He pulled up in front, and she started to hop out. Then she realized he had turned off the engine. For a moment, she couldn't believe he intended to go inside with her. She got out, slammed the door, and put both hands on the top of the car, waiting for his head to emerge. "Look, Mulder," she began slowly when he rose out of the car, "I know you think that I am in some sort of danger..." He started to interrupt her, but she held a hand up and stopped him. "...BUT, I assure you that I can make it the 50 feet to my apartment in broad daylight without getting attacked by the forces of evil." My God, how many times had he dropped her off here in the middle of the night without even offering to walk her to the door? "Like it or not, Scully, I don't intend to let you out of my sight for the next two days." He said it with a smug look and something else she wasn't sure of. Was it fear? She smiled at her first thought in spite of herself. "That should make going to the bathroom interesting." Luckily, it broke the tension. He smiled back. "Ooo, I love it when you talk dirty to me, Scully." She rolled her eyes and began to walk to her building, with Mulder about 2 steps behind her. At the front door, he stepped in front of her to open it and led her through with his hand on the small of her back. When she had insisted that she needed to return home, Mulder had hesitated. Finally, she had told him that she couldn't walk around in her pajamas all day and at least would like to put on some clothes. But it was really just an excuse to get out of there. She had hoped that once back at her apartment, he would leave her to go back and play the Biblical prophesy guessing game with Father Michaels and the three techno-apostles. She had had enough of listening to their half- baked theories, complete with theological debates on the role of evil in the twentieth century. Somehow, Frohike had managed to wrap both World Wars, the assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Jr., the rise and fall of communism, and Hanson and the Spice Girls into an apocalyptic package that was fueled by the Jewish mafia and several Fortune- 500 corporations. She still didn't completely follow his logic, if you could call it that, even after standing there listening to him. The scary part was, everyone but her nodded in agreement with his observations. She knew Byers, Frohike, Langly, and Father Michaels were only a few minutes behind them driving what they referred to as the decoy vehicle. She called it a white service van. Not exactly an inconspicuous choice. With a sigh, she realized they'd probably invite themselves in, too. As she approached the door to her apartment, she became a little apprehensive. Her front door was slightly ajar. If the Lone Gunmen had forgotten to close the door and anything had been stolen, she was going to kill them. She was just about the push the door open when Mulder's arm came down in front of her. He silently motioned for her to stand behind him and pulled his gun out of his jacket. Almost as an afterthought, he reached back into his jacket, pulled out her gun as well, and handed to her. She looked down at it hesitantly; after all, she wasn't officially a FBI agent right now. But she took it anyway and put her back to the wall with her gun ready as Mulder kicked the door open. Mulder cautiously walked through the door, sweeping the room in front of him with his gun. She waited outside quietly until his hand came back out, motioning her to follow. Dana rounded the corner of her front door and stopped in her tracks. She didn't even hear the sound of her gun falling to the floor beside her. Her house of cards had crumbled. Mulder looked back and saw Scully stopped short in the doorway. Her apartment was beyond chaos. Furniture was not only toppled, but was mangled and torn. The remnants of drawers and shelves, papers, and books covered the floor. Cushions had been slit open by what he at first believed was a large knife. But when he looked again, he noticed that the slits were in parallel sets, as if clawed by an animal—a very large animal. He couldn't help but fell a little satisfaction that he had been vindicated, and Scully had been in danger. The only things that kept the smug grin from his face were the thought of what would have happened if Danjou hadn't warned him and the look on Scully's face. It was the look of a person who had experienced one shock too many. He walked over to her and put his hands on her shoulders, intent on leading her to....to where? There wasn't a piece of furniture left to sit on. "Scully?" he asked because he really didn't know what else to say. She seemed to snap out of her initial shock at the sound of her name. She shrugged gently out of his hands. "I"m okay," she said in a monotone while surveying the destruction around her. He knew what she was doing, looking for anything that might have survived while mentally preparing for the undeniable fact that everything was lost. He had done the same thing when he had entered the basement office to find the X-files charred and water soaked. He watched her as she moved wraith-like toward a toppled bookshelf. She almost tripped over an unnoticed table leg, but she did little more than looked down and kept walking. "Holy moly!" Frohike's words from the doorway reminded him that the guys and the priest had been in the car behind them. They began a sort of sweep of the room. Looking under debris for some clue to who or what did this. "Do you smell that?" Langly asked while wrinkling his nose. "It smells like wet dog." Byers held up the phone, tracing the end of the cable to the wall. "The phone is dead, even though it is still plugged in. Must be cut outside. I'll go check it out." Mulder heard all of this only peripherally. Some part of his mind registered that the cut phone line would explain why he couldn't reach Scully the day before. Most of his attention, however, was focused solely on his partner. He didn't take his eyes off her as she squatted and dug through the pile that had once been books. She picked up half of a hardback book, the front binding hanging limply from the pages. With an almost frantic motion, she rummaged until she found the other half. She carefully placed the two halves together and began dusting off the cover. Hold it together, Scully, he thought, and for a moment he thought she would. Then her shoulders slumped, and she clutched the book to her chest. He made his way over to her and knelt in front of her, placing a reassuring hand on her arm. She never looked up, but he could detect the slightest quiver of her chin. She lowered the mangled book to her lap again, and he read the cover. Moby Dick. He searched for something to say, but no words came. "Agent Mulder." Father Michaels was calling him from the kitchen. "In a minute," he said, not knowing what to do, but not wanting to leave Scully alone. "I think you should see this. Now." The priest's words left no room for argument. He lifted Scully's face to look at his own. Although she was obviously still upset, she seemed to be in control once again. He raised his eyebrows, and she nodded a positive response to his silent inquiry. Convinced that she was okay, he stood and went into the kitchen. He almost didn't see what the priest was pointing to among the broken dishes and glasses. But then, the five-pointed shape became clear. "A pentagram," he said somewhat happily surprised. "Does this mean demons did this?" The priest's question was more of a plea for Mulder to deny what he himself was obviously having trouble denying. "Not necessarily,." Mulder said as he squatted down for a closer look. "Pentagrams are used in several non-Christian religions. The Wiccan believe it represents the elements and spirit. They enclose it in a circle to represent the protection of the Goddess. Satanist, however, invert the pentagram, just as they invert the cross. But even then it isn't always used to summon demons. It's used as a form of protection against evil in general." Father Michaels leaned over Mulder's shoulder and studied the pattern. "Is this one inverted?" Mulder had been trying to determine the same thing. "I can't tell; its been broken. Though given the destruction here, I wouldn't be surprised if it was. But it also means we might have a fighting chance." Through all the destruction, he was finally seeing a ray of hope. "I don't see how an inverted pentagram can be viewed as good news." The priest was staring down at him, arms crossed. For some reason, the priest's stance annoyed Mulder. "The only reason a pentagram would be here is to protect the summoner from the demons, evil, whatever." "And that's good how?" The tilt of the priest's head was almost arrogant as he asked his question. Mulder had to check himself and not respond in a like manner. He answered him in a controlled voice. "Only a human would need protection from the supernatural—and the phone line was cut, by a human. I'm beginning to think that our supernatural opponent is more natural than super. Still, we should get out of here, and soon." The tingling sensation of warning he had experience with the hougan was slowly returning. Father Michaels uncrossed his arms and shook his head. "Agent Mulder, in case you have forgotten, we are humans. And just like this summoner, we are going to need protection from any demons, or whatever, that is running around." That's it, Mulder thought. He was tired. He hadn't slept in over thirty hours, and even before that, he had slept very little. He had also been wearing the same suit for the entire time he had been awake and was in desperate need of a shower, shave, and change of clothes. His emotions were raw, and he knew it wouldn't take much more to push him over the edge. He had spent most of the time awake worrying about Scully and when he was finally able to see she was all right, she had wanted to kill him. Even now he wanted to get her out of here, instead of dealing with a pompous excommunicated priest. Well, fine, if he wanted sarcasm, he could deal it out as easily as he could take it. Mulder placed his hand on his waist, his fingers resting lightly at his belt line. He shifted his weight, tilted his head, and gave the priest his cockiest grin. "Well, Father, I guess that's why we have you, now, isn't it?" Father Michaels opened his mouth to protest, but he was cut off by laughter from the other room. It was Scully's laughter, and it was bordering on the demented. Mulder pushed by the priest and strode back into the living room. Scully was nowhere to be seen, but the Gunmen were staring toward her bedroom where the laughter was coming from. Mulder walked past them and into the bedroom. The scene there was much like the one in the rest of the apartment. Everything was in shambles. Scully turned and faced Mulder as he entered the room. She was clenching what appeared to be a few pieces of silk and shear lingerie. She held them out towards Mulder as if she were proving a point. "Everything," she said, still laughing. "Everything destroyed except these." She continued to laugh. "When I first found them, all I could think was Frohike must have planned this so all I have left to wear is a see-through nightie." Mulder took her by the elbow and started leading her out of the room. Maybe all this was more than she could take. Besides, he was getting goose bumps from his growing apprehension. "We can get you some more clothes. I think we should leave now." She stopped laughing and angrily pulled away from him. "Leave? We're not leaving. We're calling the police." He turned back to face her. "The police won't be able to help. We just have to walk away." "Walk away?" She asked incredulously. "Mulder, this is everything I own. Everything I have worked for. This is my life." "Yes, it is your life, and that's why we have to leave. Now." He had realized that the summoner didn't know where Scully had been last night, and he wasn't going to risk revealing themselves by hanging around this apartment. She studied him for a moment and obviously read his anxiety to leave. "What's wrong? What did you find?" He hadn't wanted to tell her, at least not now. But it was obvious that she wasn't going anywhere until he did. "A pentagram, on the kitchen floor," he said reluctantly. She laughed in his face. "A pentagram. Mulder, you're not suggesting that demons did this? By comparison, my theory about Frohike almost sound reasonable." Now was not the time for her skepticism to kick in. "The pentagram.." he started, but she cut him off. "The pentagram only proves that someone who believes in demonology was in my apartment, not that demons are lurking in the closet." He moved closer to her until he was right in her face. "Then how do you explain the destruction? Unless, of course, you have been keeping a very large and angry mountain lion as a pet. And why didn't any of your neighbors hear it? If they had, surely they would have reported it to the police. I didn't see any crime scene tape, Scully. Did you?" He knew he was being hard on her, but his urge to leave was taking over. Scully had crossed her arms and was biting the inside of her cheek. He knew that look all too well. It meant she didn't have a valid argument, but she wasn't yet ready to admit he was right, either. He had to keep going before she came up with something. "This wouldn't be the first supernatural occurrence that either one of us has experienced during this whole ordeal, and I don't think its going to be the last. The dreams, your pregnancy, the missing women, this, all of it is tied together. And no matter how skeptical you are or how hard you try to deny it, it won't just go away. The hougan in Miami knew everything, Scully. He knew about the dreams, the baby, your rape. He told me your rape was a spiritual attack, but physical attacks would follow. Look around. I think he was right." He could tell she was giving ground, but knowing her, she would come up with at least one more argument, even if it was a weak one. "Okay, let's say that he was right. Then the attack is over." Mulder shook his head. "The new moon, Scully. The missing women all disappeared over a three day period leading up to the night of the new moon. Last night was the first night. We still have two more to go, and I have a feeling things are only going to get worse." Instead of giving in, Scully got a wild look in her eyes. He could tell she was desperately looking for some excuse, some explanation. This wasn't like her. Usually she eventually accepted his explanations, even if she didn't completely believe them. But for some reason, she refused to buy into this one. "I said we aren't going anywhere," she said as she began to pick up the wreckage that used to be her bedroom. Again he tried to take her by the arm, but she pulled away violently and screamed, "No!" at the top of her lungs. Mulder instantly let loose his grip and backed away a step. Scully continued to pick up the debris. "Demons did not do this to my apartment because demons do not exist. Do you understand me, Mulder? This was nothing more than a break-in, probably by a bunch of kids in some stupid cult initiation." "Scully," Mulder said softly, "what about your pregnancy?" Scully didn't stop her futile cleaning. "Pregnancy? How can I be pregnant? I haven't been with a man in God knows how long. And even if I had, I'm barren. So, obviously I'm not pregnant." She turned and faced him now. "Do you understand? I cannot be pregnant, it is a scientific impossibility." She slumped slowly to the floor still holding the tattered clothing in her hands and softly began to cry. "I'm not pregnant, I can't be." Mulder approached her slowly and knelt down beside her. "Scully, we both know that's not true." He found it ironic that just days before he had said almost the same thing when she originally claimed to be pregnant. As if she could no longer deny the evidence before her, she buried her head in her hands and began to cry. "Oh God, Mulder! How can this be happening? It goes against everything I know to be true. I can't explain this. I don't know what to do. What am I supposed to do?" Mulder sat on the floor beside her and took her in his arms. Welcome to my world, he thought. "What I always do, we'll make it up as we go along." She clung to him, crying. Her fears pouring out with each tear, flooding over the wall of skepticism and disbelief she had built against the unexplainable events she had witnessed in their time together. He held her in silence until the sobs had abated. When she finished, she pushed away and wiped her nose on the torn clothing she still held. Her eyes were swollen and red, but he could also see a new conviction in them. "Are you ready?" he asked as he brushed a tear off her cheek. His entire body was screaming to leave this apartment, but he would have sat and held her crying with one arm and his gun drawn with the other if she had wanted to stay. Scully took a deep breath before she spoke as though to build her resolve. "So, where do we go?" Mulder did his best to suppress a victory smile as he stood and helped her to her feet. "Eventually, we will go back to the tenement. It seemed safe enough last night. First though we'll go to my place, shower, grab a few things. Then we'll find you some clothes." She rolled her eyes in a mock thank you, but Mulder ignored it. At least it was a sign that she was returning to normal. "I'll send the Gunmen out to get us some supplies and food. Is there anything you need?" He had meant anything special that was pregnancy-related, but he knew it had come out wrong as soon as he said it. "Yeah," she said as she indicated the chaos around her, "one of everything." He really needed some sleep. If anyone deserved to have an attitude at this moment, it was Scully, but one more smart ass comment and he was going to have to hurt someone. Not that he wanted to, but his psyche needed some sort of release and violence seemed the most fulfilling way at the moment. As if on cue, Father Michaels walked in. The memory of their last conversation ticked him off even more, but he knew the three of them shouldn't be separated. "Let's get out of here," he said over his shoulder to Scully. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see her picking up the torn copy of Moby Dick as she took one last look around the room. Mulder started out the door, knowing Scully was following behind. As he passed the priest, he slapped him on the shoulder a little rougher than was really necessary. "Well, Padre, time to go to work." Yes, a shower was going to be a dream come true. He had to admit that he felt better now than he had that morning. The shower and change into jeans and a t-shirt had calmed his irritability. And even though his sleep had been limited to the short time it had taken Scully and the priest to take their respective showers, he had felt somewhat revitalized throughout most of the day. Now, as evening was descending and the fluorescent lanterns lit, his fatigue was returning. He, Scully, and Father Michaels had gone to his apartment, showered, and packed a few of items. Father Michaels had refused his offer of a change of clothes, although he had requested a donation of a couple of pairs of socks and underwear. Mulder had reluctantly complied with his request. He tried not to think of that as he looked up from his poker hand and glanced over to the sofa where Scully and the priest sat talking quietly. A pair of his sweatpants and a t-shirt, although several sizes too large for her, had worked well enough to gain access to a department store and buy her some new clothes. He and the priest had shuffled through the aisles as she had picked out bras and panties to go with the jeans and shirts he had purchased for her on the floor below. They hadn't taken the time to find her briefcase and wallet in her apartment, and given the level of destruction, a search would have probably been fruitless. Father Michaels had struggled in vain to find a place for his eyes to rest without embarrassment. Mulder, on the other hand, had tried to pretend it was business as usual. And he had actually succeeded until he had to break out his credit card to pay for the undergarments. The implied intimacy of that purchase had turned him into a babbling fool who was all thumbs when the clerk asked for his identification. That was something else that he tried not to think about as he watched the two of them across the room. Scully smiled and brushed her hair back behind her ear in response to something Father Michaels said. Jesus, was she flirting with him? Brushing back of hair was a definite flirtation maneuver, wasn't it? She was wearing a bra and panties that he had bought for her and flirting with a priest who was wearing his underwear. He tried to hide his grimace by popping one of the sunflower seeds from the ever-growing pile in front of him. "Mulder, are you going to bet or just eat your winnings?" Frohike was tapping his cards impatiently on the table. Mulder's cell phone sat on the table next to Frohike's small pile of seeds. He had confiscated it after Mulder had received a call from Agent Beaubrun in Miami. Beaubrun had only called out of concern for Mulder when he had not come into the field office that morning and was not at his hotel room. But Frohike had gone into a near rage at his use of the phone, claiming that by using an easily traced mode of communication, he might as well place a neon sign with a big glowing arrow directing the bad guys right to them. "Huh?" Mulder realized he hadn't even looked at his cards. "I fold," he said, ignoring the exchanged glance that passed between his fellow card players. He went to the cooler to get something to drink. "I'm out, too." Byers stood and followed him to the cooler. "Getting a little nervous about tonight?" Mulder shrugged his shoulders noncommittally. His growing concerns about the evening were yet another in the series of thoughts he was trying to block out. "So, how much do you guys actually know about Father Michaels?" Byers took a drink from his can of soda. "Not much more than we already told you. But I think you can trust him." And there was the problem. As much as he was starting to dislike the priest, he felt confident that he was critical to their survival. And that feeling of dependency was even more annoying than the sarcasm and attitude. Scully was still smiling at the priest. "Since he's no longer an official priest, do you think he still honors his vow of celibacy?" Mulder realized too late that he had actually asked the question out loud. Luckily, Byers had taken it as a joke and chuckled. "Geez, Mulder. Are you looking for a date or something?" Mulder went along with the joke and laughed, too. Just then Scully stood, said good night to the room in general, and went into the bathroom to the cot she had been held captive on the night before. Mulder grabbed the sleeping bag he had brought from his apartment and followed her into the bathroom. He began unrolling the bag without saying anything to Scully. Fortunately, the toilet and bathtub had been ripped out of the small room, or he would never have fit. Unfortunately, that meant the only thing separating him from the bathroom a floor below was an inch-thick piece of plywood where the bathtub had once been. Scully watched him for a moment as he tested the plywood. Convinced of its strength, he stretched out as best he could in the cramped quarters. "Mulder, I'm a big girl. You don't need to sleep in here for my benefit." Mulder wiggled on his bag, trying to figure out what was digging into his upper back. "Actually its for my benefit,' he said as he sat up and pulled back the sleeping bag to reveal a 3/8th inch bolt. How had he missed that when he lay down? Scully sat on the cot giving him an all too familiar skeptical look. "I'm serious," he said as he situated himself back into the bag. "Whatever this is that's happening here has made it very clear that I am not to sleep unless I know you are safe." He expected her to argue the point, but instead she asked in a quiet voice. "What is going on here? I mean, do you really believe all this?" He didn't have to ask what "this" she was referring to because everything was beginning to lump itself into one big "this." He rolled onto his side and propped his head up with his hand. All right, he had known this conversation had to take place eventually. And it was obvious Scully had known it as well and had dreaded it as much as he did. Now, he had to ask the question he didn't want to because no matter what her answer was, it wouldn't be good. "Scully, your dreams...with me... you were having them at the time of your conception, right?" Although the light was dim in the small room, he thought she was actually blushing. She lowered her head. "Mulder, like I told you, I never said that you were the..." He cut her off before she could say the last word. "You never said it, but you didn't have to with the implications of our last conversation in Miami." She didn't say anything so he continued. "Was there anyone else? In your dreams or...in your bed...." God, this was awkward. She licked her lips and shook her head. "No," was all she said. Well, there you have it, he thought. They sat in silence for a moment, neither knowing what to say. Then Mulder retreated into his old sanctuary. "Scully, no matter what happens, I'll be here with you. But I have to tell you...I failed wood shop in Junior High. And I don't think the Gunmen are the frankincense and myrrh sort of guys." She raised her head slightly and looked out at him with an amused glance. "I'm not sure how this happened, but I am sure this child is important," he continued. Almost every culture has myths associated with a hero- savior. A person who appears in a time of chaos to stand against evil and better the world. Jesus, Buddha, even King Arthur and Hercules, fall into this category with literally hundreds of others. And one of the most common threads in these stories is the mysticism associated with the conception and birth of the hero." "And you think my baby is one of these hero- saviors who is going to save the world?" Scully asked in disbelief. "I know it sounds crazy, Scully, but evil is running rampant. We see it everyday in the cases we investigate, on the news, even driving down the street. And nothing seems to stop it. Maybe it's only going to get worse, and it's time for a hero to save us from ourselves." Scully sat in silent contemplation, so Mulder continued. "Too many things have been made clear for me to deny that we have a major role in something that I cannot come close to explaining. With each answer, a new question arises. And the hows of your pregnancy become more and more of a mystery as I come closer to understanding the whys." "My grandmother used to say, 'Count your blessing, don't question them.'" "So you think you've been blessed?" "It's not a question of if, but of how. That's the biggest difference between us, Mulder, you want to know the whys, but the hows are inconsequential. As a scientist, I want to know—I need to know—the answer to how this happened. But for the first time in my life, I'm afraid to search for those answers." He could tell that she was genuinely frightened and tried to alleviate her fears. "Scully, whatever the answer is, we can...." She cut him off with a shake of her head. "I'm not afraid of the answer, but the risk associated with actually asking the question. It seems I've spent most of my life trying to coalesce my spiritual and scientific beliefs. For many years, I just ignored it. Which meant, as a scientist, I ignored my faith. But more recently, I've found myself in the precarious position of trying to balance the two. Now, I feel I'm being force to choose." Until that moment, Mulder had never comprehended how difficult her return to the church had been for her. Scully's smile was a little sad. "I was almost thrown out of Catechism for questioning the Virgin Birth." Mulder returned the smile. "A skeptic from the beginning, huh?" "It was when we were just starting to learn about genetics and DNA in fifth-grade biology. Remember those little boxes they would teach you to draw to determine all the possible blood types you could have had based on dominant and recessive genes? Well, we had just discussed chromosomes and how a person's sex is dependent on the combination of chromosomes received from the parents, particularly the father, who is the only one who can supply the y-chromosome for a male. I had always assumed that God had just started Jesus growing in Mary's womb. But the science lesson had just shown me for a fact that male DNA had to be involved somewhere in the process. If it hadn't, there was no physical way that Jesus could have been born a male. So I asked Sister Agnes if God had sperm." Sully began to laugh. "She drug me out of class by my ear and sent me to confession. The priest told me all things are possible with God, but I needed something more. So I decided that God must have taken Joseph's sperm and implanted them in Mary, and I never mentioned my theory again. Until now." They both laughed softly, the implications of her childish idea hovering between them. "So, you think that's what has happened here?" Mulder asked. Scully smiled weakly. "I'm saying that maybe some questions shouldn't be asked." He gave her a confused look, so she continued. "The scientific method teaches us to logically question what we don't understand. Faith, by definition, is acceptance of the unexplainable, even though it defies logic. The two are mutually exclusive ideals. What if by questioning these events too closely, I'm destroying the faith that is actually sustaining them?" "But questioning the world around you is human nature. Most religions evolved from the simple questions of why and how the world functions. Even Father Michaels questioned his religion." Scully shook her head. "No, he questioned the church, the political hierarchy. But his faith in the power of God has never wavered. Besides, Father Michaels isn't your typical priest." Her defense of the priest raised his shackles, especially since she was right. "Do you think he's the right person for the job?" She had spent most of the day talking with him, maybe she could shed some light on why he had concerns. "Mulder, I don't even know what his job is supposed to be, and neither does he. Why? Do think he's wrong?" He felt that she really wanted to know his opinion, and it boosted his ego. "I don't know," he answered truthfully. "There's just something about him that irritates me." She half-laughed at him. "Are you sure you don't mean he scares you?" Oh, that was just ridiculous. "Scared? Why would he scare me?" She looked at him full in the face for the first time. "Maybe because you see yourself when you look at him, and what the relentless pursuit of the truth can cost you. Or maybe you're afraid that you aren't dedicated enough to give up everything for your beliefs." Okay, she was hitting a little too close to home. Time to back her off a bit. "So tell me, Scully, if you were to have dream sex with Father Michaels, would it be as hot as the dream sex you had with me?" She opened her mouth to protest the idea, then shook her head and smiled. It was the first genuine smile she had given him in a very long time. He suddenly realized how much he had missed it. She curled up on the cot and closed her eyes, all the while continuing to smile. "Good night, Mulder," she said in a tone meant to end the conversation. "But, Scully," he said in exaggerated innocence, "you didn't answer my question." "In your dreams, Mulder." "No, Scully, I believe that took place in yours." She had walked right into that one and by the smile on her face, he could tell she had known it all along. "Yes," she said mysteriously, "it certainly did."' He found himself drifting off to sleep wondering exactly what she had meant by that. In the darkness, she became aware of the sound of sea gulls, followed seconds later by the roar of the surf. She could feel cool dampness underneath her, and the smell of saltwater and fresh air overwhelmed her senses. Lazily, she opened her eyes and looked around. She was lying curled up on one side, on the wet sand, looking out into the vast expanse of ocean. She lifted herself up, rubbed her eyes, and looked around. The beach was deserted in both directions, but she immediately recognized the landscape. The way the sand rose up to become a grassy hill. The black jetty of rock only about 50 feet off shore. The green, cool water that was now washing around her, soaking her knit shirt and jeans. The pier far into the distance on the right. It was the beach in San Diego that her parents had often taken her and her brothers and sister to as children. She half-expected the smell of hot dogs and pretzels to come wafting from the concession stand that had always been near where she sat now. But the concession stand was gone. Only deserted beach as far as she could see. But she couldn't really be on the beach in San Diego, could she? She had fallen asleep on the cot in the tenement. Mulder was only a few feet away. But regardless, here she was on this beach. She felt it was completely real. It is happening, a voice in her head told her. "Starbuck, the tide is coming in! You need to get up." Her father's familiar voice made her spin around. She was overcome by a sense of deja vu. How many times had she heard him say those words, or something similar to them, on this very beach? But this wasn't a memory. He was really there. He was walking towards her, looking down at her like she was a still a child. He positively glowed from the glare of the sun on his dress- whites, complete with the medals and insignias she had admired so lovingly as a girl. His white captain's cap sat perfectly on top of his head. The only thing missing from his uniform were his socks and shoes. Instead, he was barefoot and had the pants rolled up above his ankles. She would have thought he looked ridiculous if she hadn't been so shocked to see him. Dana closed her eyes and opened them again, thinking that maybe he would disappear. But he was still there, now walking into the inch- deep surf that was surrounding her. "Ahab?" she whispered. This is impossible, she kept telling herself. You must be dreaming. "Baby girl," he was now standing over her, holding out a hand, "you're getting soaked. Don't let your mother see you in those wet clothes." "I can't..." Her thought trailed off. She didn't know what to say. I can't believe it's you? Of course it was him. She could even smell the Old Spice that he had obligatorily worn during her childhood because she and her siblings had given it to him every year for Father's Day. He hadn't worn it since she was a teenager, when the gift had finally changed to something more original. But he definitely had it on today. Or was it tonight? Confused, she took his hand and stood up. Now closer to his face, she could see every wrinkle and freckle. This was the face she remembered seeing the last time she saw him alive. But he continued talking like she was still a little girl. "You were day dreaming again, weren't you Dana?" He wrapped a protective arm around her and began leading her up the beach. "Let's get you home and in some dry clothes. The boys and Missy are waiting in the car." She was dripping wet, and her jeans and shirt stuck to her skin uncomfortably. For a moment she let herself enjoy the sensation of her father's warm arm around her, talking to her like she was seven again. His presence was something she had longed for desperately. She closed her eyes and leaned into him. "Oh, Daddy," she sighed. "I've missed you so much." "I know you have, baby. And I've missed you, too." He suddenly stopped and stepped in front of her, intently looking at her. He looked very serious and sad. "You know that I would be with you if I could." His hand tenderly swept a lock of hair back off her forehead, and then it moved to caress her cheek. "I know you need me right now." She nodded silently, feeling her chin quiver. She lowered her head to hide the tears that were filling her eyes and threatening to stream down her checks. "Oh, Daddy. I'm so scared." "I know, Starbuck." He gently surrounded her with a big bear hug. She felt so small, just like a child swept up in his massive arms. She allowed the tears to fall as she buried the side of her face into his chest. She could feel the cool brass buttons digging into her cheek and could smell the starch on his uniform. "It's okay. It's okay," he whispered as he rubbed her back. "We all make mistakes." She looked up at him, confused for a moment. She wasn't sure what he had meant. "We all make mistakes, baby girl," he repeated in answer to her look. "The important thing is knowing how to rectify them." She pushed away from him. Vaguely, she remembered an identical conversation they had had when she was a teenager about a particularly nasty argument between her and her mother. He had convinced her to go and apologize, even though she felt she was right. She hadn't liked the disappointed tone he had taken with her then, and she didn't like the one that was seeping from his voice now. "Ahab," she said straightening up and wiping her eyes, "I'm not a little girl anymore." "I know you're not, Dana." He said it gently, but his frown and sad eyes let her know that he was unhappy with her. "That's why I'm trusting you to fix this." With the word "this," he looked down at her abdomen. Her hand flew to her stomach, realizing what he must be referring to. He continued, taking her firmly by the upper arms. "Your mother and I have tried so hard to instill good moral values in you and Missy and the boys." His voice was getting louder as his anger became more apparent. "I know you understand what we expected of you, of all of you. I thought you had more common sense, Dana." "Daddy, it's not what you think..." She was desperately trying to shrug off his hands, but his hold only tightened. "It's an abomination of God!" he said furiously. He began to shake her. "This child was never met to be. Can never be born. Do you understand?" "Daddy, you're hurting me!" She was scared. He had never talked to her like this, never treated her so roughly. He continued to shake her. His voice was booming. "I said, do you understand! Answer me, Dana!" "Yes! Yes! I understand!" She frantically yelled back at him. He let go of her arms, and for a moment they both stood looking at each other, panting. His face slowly softened, and he reached out to touch her cheek again. "I knew you wouldn't let me down," he purred at her. She jerked away from his touch and slowly backed away from him. Warily, she eyed him, as the blood rushed through her ears, drowning out the noise of the surf. "You are not my father," she said somberly without breaking her gaze. This creature looked just like him, talked like him, even smelled like him. But it was not him. He would never treat her so manipulatively. She took a few more steps backwards, then turned and began running down the beach towards the pier. She didn't know what she was going to do, but she had to get away from this creature. She felt her feet sinking into the wet sand, impeding her progress. "You can't run away, Dana!" he yelled after her. "You know what you have to do! It's the only way! Anything else will destroy you!" Dana half-sat up on the cot and gasped for air. Her mind slowly comprehended that the small room was just as it was when she had fallen asleep. In the dim light, she could make out the crumbling sink next to her, the desolate tile walls, the lonely shower head sticking out from decaying plaster. Nothing had changed except that Mulder's sleeping bag was now empty. She pushed her legs over the side of the cot and sat up, resting her elbows on her knees and her head in her hands. Her mind was jumping all over the place. This was the first time she had dreamed like that since her attack. Where the hell was Mulder? It had been so real, but so unreal. Why her father? And why so violent and angry? Yuck, she felt disgustingly sticky all over. She flexed her sock covered feet, and that's when it hit her. She was soaking wet. Mulder sat on the wide marble steps, his back to the mammoth image of Lincoln seated above him. It was well past midnight, and only the glowing interiors of the monument provided illumination against the darkness of the moonless night. He often came here in search of solace. The stony silence of the great men who surrounded him was usually a comfort when his mind and soul were troubled. But tonight the statues reminded him of ghosts, like the ghost of his earlier dream. The ghost that had driven him out of the tenement where Scully still slept to his office where he retrieved the photograph he carefully studied. He had never expected to see his father in his dreams. Although he had dreamed of him often since his death, his latest dreams had been almost exclusive to the events currently unfolding. But what was even more unexpected than his appearance were his words that still echoed in his mind. "Walk away, Fox. Walk away while you can. It's the only way. Anything else will destroy you." Mulder shook his head as if to dislodge the memory. Instead the words flooded back in stark detail. "I know you want to help her, your partner, but it won't work. You have good intentions, you always have. You think you can raise a child that isn't your blood, cannot possibly be your blood. But you can't. Try as you might, you won't be able to deny the fact that although the eyes or the hair look like the mother, the chin or the smile belong to someone else, another man. Eventually, you won't be able to concentrate on any other features. And soon you will come to feel the smile that belongs to someone else is taunting you, challenging you." Mulder closed his eyes, blocking the image of the photograph as his father's words continued to play in his mind. "You are lucky, Fox. You know now, before the child is born, that you are not the father. Walk away now, before the child steals you heart and eats it away like she did mine. All I could do was make the necessary arrangements to remove that taunting smile from my life." Mulder swallowed hard against the wave of nausea that again threatened to overtake him when he thought about the arrangements his father had made. He opened his eyes and began scanning the photograph of Samantha again. He searched for any sign of his father in the smiling face. The nose? Something in her eyes? Maybe he was trying too hard to see it. His body tensed as he replayed his father's final words as he lay dying in his arms. "Forgive me." Was this what he had begged forgiveness for? That he had taken Samantha from them and, in the process, had shattered their family? Mulder let out a sigh and looked at his watch. He should be getting back to Scully. His apprehension was beginning to overcome the queasiness he felt. "I'm surprised, Mr. Mulder. I would have figured you for a Jefferson man. He was such an idealist." The sound of the all too familiar voice made the hair raise on the back of his neck. He placed the photo in his back pocket and looked down to see a figure standing on the bottom step, just on the edge of the light. A shadowed hand lifted a lit cigarette to thin lips. Mulder couldn't help but mentally compare those lips to Samantha's. Blocking the thought, his mind instantly went into defense mode. "I wouldn't expect you to understand the idealism of a man who believed in equality for all." Best to play the game, at least for a while. The man shrugged. "Lincoln was an ordinary man who was remembered for his extraordinary times. Given the same situation, anyone could earn a monument, even you." Mulder's skin was beginning to tingle, and although he couldn't be sure, he felt it had more to do with Scully than with his visitor. Time to move things along. "Did you have a reason for this visit, or do you have a poli-sci final tomorrow?" "Very well, I'll get right to the point. Your partner has something that my associates want, only they can't seem to find her." Mulder's face turned to stone, instinctively knowing it was critical he betray nothing. With a flick of his cigarette, the man continued in a conversational tone. "It's a pity she found out about her condition. The plan was to harvest the fetus before she suspected a pregnancy. Now, I'm afraid the plans have changed." Mulder willed his voice to remain level. "Pregnancy? I don't know what you're talking about." "Come now, Mr. Mulder, you obviously do know, and you know where she is." Mulder's mind was racing. How the hell did he know about Scully's pregnancy? "Why would you think Scully is pregnant? After all, your tests left her infertile." The shadowed face moved forward into the light. Mulder could tell he was losing his patience. "Enough with the games..." "But I was hoping for a round of hopscotch after this." He couldn't resist one more jab. Besides, when he was angry he often revealed more. The voice had lost all patience. "I'm offering you a chance to save her life. My associates only want the fetus, and they care nothing about how they retrieve it." "And you?" He couldn't believe his intentions were anything but self-serving. "I went to a great deal of trouble to return her to the program. I would hate to see her participation terminated now." The words floated in the air like the smoke- laden breath that spoke them. Mulder could almost see their shape, the meaning becoming clearer even as the smoke dissipated. His heart was beginning to pound louder and faster as he said, "The chip," without intending to say it aloud. The man shrugged noncommittally. "It played its part." If that were true, if the chip that Mulder had given to Scully to replant into her neck had been involved, then he had played as big a role in this ordeal as this walking malignancy had. Mulder took a few steps down the marble stairs. "You son of a bitch, you told me that chip would save her life." "It did and will continue to do so as long as it remains in place." His tone was one of an innocent man wrongfully accused. "But is also serves other purposes." "What else?" Mulder asked between clenched teeth. "What else have you done to her? What else do you plan to do? And why always her? Why don't you just take a shot at me?" "Mr. Mulder, you're taking this all too personally." Mulder really wanted to slap the cigarette he was casually lighting. " It's not like she's the only one. There are many other sets of women in the program, as you have seen." His first thoughts were of Betsy Haggopian and the other women who had died of the same cancer that had almost claimed Scully. But the phrase "sets of women" was ringing in his ears. He might as well have said seven sets of women. Mulder felt trapped by the implications. Did all the missing women also have an implant? Was this all just another experiment using unsuspecting human specimens? But the dreams? Surely they had to mean something. But then, he had seen others brainwashed through hypnotherapy to believe whatever lie this bastard and his fucking associates wanted them to believe. And if they had access to Scully, they had almost as much access to him. They had done it before with the water supply in his apartment. Scully had the chip and to remove it meant almost certain death. He had traveled that road once before, and he never again wanted to experience the slow growth of death's shadow. But to leave the chip meant she was little more than a human lab rat, completely unaware of the cage she resided in. The thought of that infuriated him as much as his helplessness had during her cancer ordeal. "How were they planning to take the baby?" He was shaking with anger. The man shrugged and took another drag from his cigarette. "The same way they impregnated her." "Her rape?" He wasn't sure he wanted to know the answer but couldn't help asking. "An unfortunate reaction to one of her sessions. She awakened unexpectedly and tried to escape. Her subconscience remembered the subsequent recapture as a rape." Mulder's nausea was returning with renewed vengeance. He fought down bile that was rising in his throat. Maybe this was another of his dreams. If it was, now would be the perfect time to wake up. "Who is the father?" His knees were weakening, and soon he would have to sit down. "That's of no consequence." "Who is the father?" Mulder spit the question at the man. "A numbered specimen who's designation would mean nothing to you." Mulder looked around helplessly. How the hell was he ever going to tell Scully? What was he going to tell Scully? That her baby wasn't a blessing after all. That he didn't even know if it was human? That he didn't even know if it was hers? After all, they could have just as easily implanted a fetus in her as actually impregnated her. As if he could read his thoughts, the smoking man spoke. "I can help you, Mr. Mulder. Help you to help her." Mulder said nothing, trying to control his rage and yet disgustingly desperate to hear how this man might help him. "I can provide a drug that will cause a miscarriage. Put it in her food, make a 9-1-1 call that will be intercepted, and the ordeal will be over. Agent Scully will know nothing more than she lost a child. A child that she was never meant to have. In return for this service, I will provide you with some information you have been seeking—your sister's married name, her address, and phone number." Bribery, he had actually sunk to bribery. And the worst part was that if this son of a bitch could provide the information he promised, he would provide it. But at the cost of Scully's child. A child that was just as much a specimen as Scully. The thought made his stomach clench. "And if I don't," Mulder asked. The man took another drag and then studied the cigarette. "My associates will find her and kill her." The hell they will, Mulder thought. They would never find her. He would take her into hiding if necessary and deal with the ramifications when the time came. He and his associates could just go fuck themselves. "You go to hell," he spat as he walked past the man. A voice called after him. "Even if you elude them, and she manages to carry the child to term, it won't live." Mulder stopped in his tracks but didn't turn around. It was as if he knew his thoughts even before he did. Mulder listened as he continued. "Two, three years at the most. Like the girl, Emily." Emily. Scully had only known the child a matter of days before she died, but she still carried the loss with her. The voice behind him continued in a sympathetic tone that sickened him. "Wouldn't it be more humane for her to suffer a miscarriage at this stage than to watch a child slowly die. The helplessness is insufferable. Losing a child is often more than a parent can stand." Mulder suddenly thought of his mother. The way she had withdrawn into the pain of losing Samantha. It was something he would never wish on anyone, especially Scully, who had lost so much already. "You have 24 hours to think about the offer, Mr. Mulder." He never looked back, but he heard the footsteps retreating. The apprehension he felt was growing, and he knew he needed to get back to Scully. They were no longer safe at the tenement, and it was time to move. It was also time to come up with a new plan. The last hour had been pure misery. After waking up in soaked clothing that overwhelming smelled like stale seawater, Dana was almost immediately overcome by intense nausea. At first, she had told herself that she was only experiencing another round of the morning sickness that had plagued her over the last few weeks. And she spent quite a while curled up on the cot in the dark bathroom quietly praying that Mulder wouldn't return from wherever he had disappeared to to find her in her current state. She thought of how pathetic she must looked laying in a ball, holding her stomach, in drenched clothing. And it would be just like Mulder, in his current state of mind, to overreact to the situation. Although it wouldn't hurt if he could just not fuss over her and maybe bring her some crackers. She wanted to be able to objectively look at her latest dream and try to analyze exactly what it meant. To apply basic Freudian principles to understanding it. But she couldn't do it. It was more than a dream, she told herself. Somehow, it had happen. The wet clothes and coating of sand on her socks was more physical proof than she and Mulder had on most of their cases. And although she usually required more proof in order to remotely accept extraordinary events, this time was different. This time, it was happening to her. Again. She was only half-way examining these feelings, mainly because the attack of nausea was so intense and demanding so much of her concentration. She was so tired, she thought. She only wanting her stomach to give her a break so she could go back to sleep. The thought had barely crossed her mind, when her stomach seemed to comply with her wish. Just as suddenly as it had begun, the nausea subsided, and for a moment, Dana thought she could just roll over and drift back off. Then the cramping started. Her whole abdomen seemed to spasm, as if some unseen force was squeezing her middle from the inside. She immediately drew her legs up on the cot and let out a moan. Jesus, she thought. This is not normal. She was suddenly very frightened. As a doctor, she knew that she couldn't jump to any conclusions. It could just be a reaction to the questionable, but elaborate, dinner Frohike had prepared for them on Father Michaels' two kerosene burners. He had called it camp-out surprise. The real surprise for her had been that it actually tasted great. At the time, she had jokingly accused him of contributing to botulism. Now, she reminded herself, maybe he had. But the other, more prominent thought in her mind was that she could possibly be having a miscarriage. It was unusual late in the first trimester, but it was still quite possible. Regardless, she needed some help. It was pretty obvious to her by now that Mulder was not coming back any time soon. She wasn't sure how long she had already spent lying in the darkness since she woke up, but considerable time had passed. Regardless of his insistence that he was meant to protect her, he had once again ditched her to run off on some unknown quest without even a note or explanation. And she was beginning to think that she needed medical attention. Dana pushed herself over the side of the cot and began to crawl through the darkness out of the bathroom. She managed to push the cracked door open with her body and made it half-way through the doorway before she could crawl no further. She collapsed to the floor in the darkness and called out, "Father Michaels? Anyone? I need help." She raised her head and was blinded by a flashlight. "Are you okay?" Langly's shocked voice floated out of the darkness from behind the beam of light. "No, I'm....Ohhh!" She wasn't able to finish as an intense spasm overtook her. She put her forehead down against the cool but dirty wooden floor. "Wake up!" Langly yelled as she heard him struggling out of his sleeping bag. "We have a situation!" The sound of activity and sleeping bags unzipping came from four directions at once. The creak of the lantern being turned up proceeded light suddenly flooding the room. Byers was the first to reach her side. "Agent Scully, can you tell us what's wrong?" Byers was kneeling next to her with a hand on her back. "I'm having abdominal cramps...spasms...I need medical..." Again she trailed off as the next wave overtook her. "Jesus, she's drenched," Byers exclaimed. "Call 9-1-1," Father Michaels voice came from somewhere nearby and above. "No way," she heard Frohike say. "No way we are calling..." "For God sakes, look at her!" Father Michaels sounded panicked and exasperated. "She needs a doctor!" "Frohike's right," Langly piped in. "You saw her apartment. Calling 9-1-1 could lead whoever is after her straight to our location." There was an uncomfortable silence, only broken by Dana's whimpering as she fought wave after wave of pain. She could sense each of them looking at one another, trying to figure out what to do. "When will Mulder be back?" she heard Frohike ask quietly. "I don't know," Byers answered back. "He's been gone over an hour. Maybe someone should go find him." "This is insane!" Father Michaels cut in. "I'm going to call an ambulance!" "Grab him!" Frohike yelled. Dana heard the sound of multiple footsteps hastily retreating, followed by a scuffle. She heard Frohike let out an "Ow!" followed by several undistinguishable "Umpf!" The only person she knew wasn't involved was Byers, who was still kneeling beside her with his hand on her back. "Do you think you can walk to the sofa?" Byers leaned down and whispered to her. She could only shake her head since the spasms were increasing in intensity. Besides, she really didn't want a front row seat to whatever was still happening on the other side of the room. Suddenly, the room was pierced by an irritating high-pitched electric buzz. The sounds of the struggle ceased as Frohike calmly said, "We've got company." "Maybe it's Mulder." Langly sounded hopeful. "Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't," Frohike answered in a loud whisper. "Regardless, I don't want to be a sitting duck. Kill the light." The lantern creaked again as the room was bathed in darkness. Dana managed to raise her head to see Father Michaels stumbling towards her and Byers. He was sporting a very fresh bloody lip and a black eye. "What do we do?" he whispered to Byers. "Help me move her," Byers whispered back. Byers and the priest grabbed her under the arms and awkwardly lifted her, turned her around, and drug her back into the bathroom. In the darkness, they found the cot by running her into it, and she used her remaining strength to crawl onto it. Byers then quietly walked back to the door and pulled it almost to. Father Michaels sat down on the floor beside her and took her hand. "Is there anything I can do, Dana?" It was the first time he had called her by her first name. "Pray," she barely chocked out through her pain. She was wishing that maybe he could manage to ask God to magically transported her to a state-of-the-art medical facility who could at least give her whatever pain killer cocktail was on tap. It was obvious the Gunmen weren't going to take her. Instead he quietly begin, "I will love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies." Dana realized that he was praying that whoever was out there didn't harm her or him. For the first time, she recognized the look of fear that resided on his face. Father Michaels leaned over her and tenderly brushed a lock of hair off her forehead with his free hand. It was the same action her father had performed in her dream. Dana sucked in a deep breath at the realization and closed her eyes. The priest then rested his hand on her stomach. "Shh," he whispered as he continued. "The pangs of death encompassed me, And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid. The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried out to God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears..." Dana suddenly felt at ease. She seemed to enter a trance, where nothing existed except Father Michaels' voice. The pain was still there, but it was pushed into the background. She let herself float away on the sound of his prayers. "...He sent from above, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, From those who hated me; For they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, But the Lord was my support. He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me. The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord, And have not wickedly..." "Scully?" The sound of Mulder's voice calling her brought her back to reality. She opened her eyes to see the bathroom flooded with light from the next room. Mulder stood in the doorway with Frohike and Langly right behind him. Byers had moved away from the door and was now standing on top of Mulder's empty sleeping bag. In her trance, she had not even heard him come in. And now they were all looking at her and Father Michaels with a mixture of concern and...shock? "Scully?" Mulder repeated. "Are you..." "I'm okay." She didn't even let him finish. Dana propped herself up on the cot with one elbow. "I'm actually..." she searched herself for signs of the spasms that had given her so much pain. They were gone. "...feeling much better." "The guys said that you were practically incapacitated. Maybe we should get you checked out by a doctor." "No, Mulder, I'm..." she looked over at Father Michaels. He was now resting back against the wall with his eyes closed, still holding her hand. His face was covered in a thin sheet of sweat, but she was overcome by how peaceful he looked. "...I'm fine." Father Michaels opened his eyes and looked at her. His face erupted in a contagious grin, and she couldn't help but smile back. "Ah, yeah," she heard Mulder say. He obviously didn't know what to make of this. Mulder walked over and conspicuously sat down on the end of the cot. She and Father Michaels broke their gaze to look at him. He looked confused. "Do you want to fill me in on what's going on here?" he asked. "Well, Mulder," she said as she sat up, "for some reason, I think Father Michaels..." "Managed to cast off the demons," Father Michaels interrupted her. Both she and Mulder looked at him shocked. No, that was not what she started to say. In fact, the thought hadn't even entered her mind. Helped her to relax. Comforted her. Yes. But, demons? But the thought that maybe the dream, the spasm, all had been some sort of...attack...filled her brain. What was it Mulder had told her that afternoon? That the hougan said that physical attacks would follow? And that she was a target for the next two nights? And she unexpectedly found herself nodding at Father Michaels' interpretation of events. Mulder looked at her, then looked at Father Michaels, then looked back at her again. He pulled her up by the arm and began leading her out of the room. Reluctantly, she let go of Father Michaels' hand and let Mulder half-drag her into the living room, all the while looking back at the priest over her shoulder. "Scully," he said turning her around in front of him without letting go of her arm, "you don't really believe him? About the demons?" She looked up at him incredulously. Only earlier that day, he had insisted that she was in danger from some unknown evil force. Now he was questioning her belief in it? Why couldn't she and Mulder ever seem to get on the same page? She shook her arm free. His seemingly disbelief suddenly made her feel extremely unsure of the evening's events, and she said, "No. I don't know. Maybe. Look. Something happened in there. I don't know exactly what Mulder, but only a few minutes ago I was dysphoric. Now I'm standing here talking to you without even a trace of discomfort. Regardless of whatever caused the pain to dissipate, Father Michaels seemed to be instrumental in...." "You think he prayed the pain away? Like he waved his hands over you and, woo-woo, you're all better." He completed the effect by demonstrating with his own hands. "No, Mulder. He did not wave his hands over me. But, I think he definitely did something. It was like..." she paused not knowing how to make him understand. "Like he pushed me out of my body and then back into it." Mulder opened his mouth, as if to make a snide sexual comment, but Frohike interrupted him by walking up and saying, "We'll be ready to go in about ten minutes. If you're going to move on, I'd suggest we all leave together." "Move on? What do you mean," she looked from Frohike to Mulder, "move on?" "We're not safe here," Mulder replied sternly. Frohike backed away and quietly snuck over to the other side of the room and tried to look busy. Byers and Langly did the same. "How do you know we're not safe?" Could you be a little more vague, Mulder? He started to say something else. She could tell by the way he opened his mouth and closed it again. Instead, he replied, "I just know." He paused for a moment, his look challenging her to question him. Then he abruptly turned and walked back into the bathroom. She couldn't believe this. Mulder's complete flip-flop in the last 24 hours had her reeling. Since the last time she had seen him, he had gone from thinking that they were part of some sort of vague Biblical prophesy come to fruition to making that sarcastic woo-woo joke about her and Father Michaels. She was stunned. "Get you're stuff, Scully," Mulder called to her as he exited from the other room with his rolled sleeping bag under his arm. "As soon as I help Frohike unhook the alarm system, we're out of here." He walked over to where Frohike was desperately trying to touch a wire running across the ceiling. Mulder casually reached up and grabbed it. Dana slowly walked over to the sofa and picked up the department store shopping bag sitting next to it. Okay, she thought. I have my stuff. I have all the stuff I own in the world. My two changes of clothes, my shredded copy of Moby Dick, my gun, and my useless FBI identification. Oh, and I have a car sitting across town with four slashed tires. And suddenly, I have no choice but to follow my partner blindly wherever he decides to take us because I have nowhere else to go. She thought about her mother. She could always go there. Her mom would welcome her, no questions asked. At least, not many at first. Plus, she knew she needed to fill her mom in on the last few weeks events. She hadn't even spoken to her since before she and Mulder left for Miami. She needed to tell her that she had lost everything. Left her job. Was expecting her grandchild. Oh, boy, she thought. That should go over well. She clutched the shopping bag and sat down on the sofa. Maybe going to her mom wasn't the best alternative right now. Mostly, she didn't want to deal with Bill and his reaction when her mom called him on the phone and told him that his sensible baby sister was expecting a child and didn't know who the father was. And wasn't going to find out, even though she had the results waiting for her at Georgetown. After all, she had a little money in the bank. And she could cash out her IRA. It wasn't enough to replace everything, but it would be a start. And maybe if she went and met with Skinner, he could get her reassigned to Quantico. Another teaching position, something that wouldn't require her to spend too much time in the field. And with her accumulated sick leave, vacation time, and the Family Leave Act, she knew that the FBI's maternity leave would be more than sufficient. Then she could reevaluate what she wanted to do after the baby was born. Father Michaels walked out of the bathroom and began to gather a few belonging from around the room. Dana realized that he planned to accompany them wherever they were going. She knew that Mulder probably didn't have a clue where that was, that he was flying by the seat of his pants. That was just the way he worked. She was still lost in her thoughts about what she could do to get back in control of her life, and possibly changing her still damp and smelly clothes, when it happened. For a moment the air in the room seemed to still. Dana detected a slight shimmering in front of her, and then it was gone almost as soon as she became aware of it. She thought maybe she had imagined it. Like her eyes had ceased to focus for a second and then began to work again. It was probably just fatigue. Or stress. But something was different. She moved the shopping bag out of her lap and looked around the room. Everyone else was still absorbed in packing up. And no one seemed to notice the noise she was hearing. She could hear a buzzing in the room and feel a slight tingling around her body. It was like the unseen oxygen molecules floating around her were becoming electrically charged as they made contact with her skin. The vague taste of strawberries filled the back of her mouth. The buzzing entered her ears and increased in volume, blocking out all other sounds in the room. And she found herself completely focused on the sensation in her forehead. It started out as a slight pressure, but was rapidly becoming a vice gripping her head. At the same moment her hand grabbed her forehead, she remember where she had felt this pain before. In the last months of her cancer. The headaches were excruciating. The same pain, only it didn't build so rapidly. But she hadn't felt that pain in a long time, and now it seemed almost unfamiliar. She stood and was only able to take a few steps, then found herself immediately sinking to her knees onto the floor. A moan escaped her mouth, not loud, but loud enough to capture Father Michaels' and Mulder's attention. Both rushed across the room towards her. She was vaguely aware of Mulder kneeling behind her, saying her name. His hands softly held her shoulders. But the pain was all- encompassing, making it impossible for her to concentrate on anything. She bent over the floor, one arm supporting her, and squeezed her eyes shut. It was too much. Her whole head vibrated with the buzz, and it was agonizingly loud. She realized it was going to happen only milliseconds before. The pressure building inside her head seemed to pop, and then the gush of blood from her nose started. Not the slow dripping that she had experienced before, but a torrential spewing. She opened her eyes and watched it pool on the floor, still holding her head in her hand. Slowly, she became aware that she was chanting. "No no no no no no no no no no no." She could feel it. She knew it was impossible to be aware of it, but she could feel it. Filling her sinus, poking into her brain, growing every second. She could feel the life draining out of her with the blood that was puddling on the floor below her. An arm wrapped around her shoulder and a hand grabbed her forehead, forcefully knocking her backwards. She toppled off balance against Mulder, the room whizzing by in a blur. The only thing her mind wrapped around was Frohike's face, his eyes wide with shock. Mulder was trying to lean her back against him, forcing her face up towards the ceiling . She realized she was panting, her mind only able to focus on one sensation at a time. Then she couldn't breathe. Blood rushed down her throat, drowning her. She realized that she needed to push away from Mulder right before she began to choke. Blood spewed out of her mouth. Her whole body shook with each cough. She was gasping, hoping to find the air that was lost. The room was spinning, and her vision was quickly filtering down to just a tunnel in front of her. The blood from her nose was now pouring down her face, down the front of her chest, this time soaking her clothes deep red. She closed her eyes to block everything out. She was afraid that the last image she would see on this earth was her body's life force covering her and everything around her. She didn't want to die this way. She was spent. Tired of fighting whatever was happening. All the fight in her had just drained on the floor. She didn't realized that she had slumped sideways down to floor. She was laying on her side, in a pool of blood. Not that it mattered. She was covered in it anyway. The hand on her head was a cold shock. It felt like ice. The buzzing in her ears was being replaced by the sounds in the room. Father Michaels was calmly praying over her: "I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth....The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore." Over top of it, she could hear Mulder hoarsely yelling, "Frohike, give me the fucking cell phone. I don't care if the goddamn National Guard descends on this place, call 9-1-1." "No way, Mulder," Frohike was replying, forcing his voice to remain steady. "You're going to thank me for this later." "Then we need to get her out of here," Mulder was pleading. "Help me get her out of here." Her eyes opened wearily. The pool of blood that she had been lying in only moments before had mysteriously disappeared. She gasped and sat up quickly, practically knocking Father Michaels and Mulder out of the way. She looked down at her clothes and watched as the blood seemed to vanish into the garments, leaving only dark damp blotches where it had been. "The blood..." she gasped. Mulder wasn't listening. Instead he was apparently running on some kind of autopilot, sensory overload. He grabbed her around the waist, stood up and threw her over his shoulder. She was knocked off-balance as the world went topsy-turvey, and the next thing she realized was that she was looking at Mulder's back. She grabbed hold of him to steady herself. "Mulder!" she yelled to no avail. "Put me down. I'm okay. Put me down." "No way, Scully!" he yelled back as he used his free hand—the other was wrapped tightly over her upper thighs—to throw the door open. "We're leaving now." She raised her head the best she could to see Father Michaels grabbing a dirty duffel bag, her shopping bag, and trying to pick up Mulder's sleeping bag. She lost sight of him as they rounded the corner into the hall. "Mulder, I can walk. I need my clothes. Mulder!" Mulder kept walking at a frantic pace. Scully watched as Father Michaels came running out of the door, his arms full with all of their possessions. He practically sprinted to catch up with them. "Father," she pleaded as she turned her head to the side to catch a glimpse of his face. "Would you please tell Mulder to put me down?" "Not a chance, Dana," the priest replied. "If he so much as stops to catch his breath, I'm picking you up and carrying you myself." Dana let her head drop. The last hour had been pure misery. Well, she thought, I might as well relax and enjoy the ride.
The gold cross was slightly scratched from years of wear, and she couldn't remember when she had knocked it against something and taken a small chip out of the back. Over time, she had replaced the chain twice. For years, she had wore it out of habit, not really thinking about its significance around her neck. Only in recent years, she consciously had been aware of wearing the cross for protection and to signify her returning faith in God. Now, she sat in the corner of the old Catholic church's alter holding the cross in front of her and intently staring at it. When was the last time she had taken it off? She had definitely worn it everyday since the first chip in her neck had been found. Had she unconsciously hoped even then that it could ward off the frightening forces that had invaded her life? She didn't know. Dana looked from Mulder—who was lying on his sleeping bag studiously reading the Miami case file—to Father Michaels. The priest was sitting on the floor nearby, his legs crossed, his eyes closed, totally absorbed in his thoughts. In fact, all evening the three of them had hardly spoken to each other. Each only speaking whenever absolutely necessary. All three completely focused on whatever was going on inside each of their own heads. It had been a long day. They had arrived at the church right at dawn. As they drove up, the sunrise illuminated the abandon steeple in a breathtakingly beautiful way. The church had been deserted for close to five years, Father Michaels had explained to them when he suggested it. This was his former parish, and he felt confident that no one would think to look for her here. It was more than a little off the beaten path, that was for sure. From her place in the backseat, it seemed to her that they had driven through Maryland suburb after suburb before coming to the church. In fact, the church sat pretty much by itself, bordered on one side by a public park and on the other by a satellite campus of the University of Maryland. Behind the church was a graveyard, complete with weathered and falling tombstones that Dana guessed had to be at least a century old. Father Michaels had wistfully told them that the congregation had built a new church instead of going to considerable costs to bring the old one up to current building codes. Decades of shoddy renovations had taken it toll on the structure. And the land had been officially sold to the University, although plans to raze the church had been put on hold due to complaints by local preservationists. Looking around, Dana couldn't fathom why anyone would want to destroy such a beautiful example of early 19th century American architecture. Father Michaels had explained that much of the fight to preserve the church centered around the fact that it had been a way-station on the underground railroad. The church had underground passages that had been used to transport escaping slaves from a no longer existing nearby farm to the church. Ironically, these tunnels had been incorporated into the town's sewer system during the 1930s. The priest had told them that he had spent considerable time exploring the tunnels during his tenure at the church. Dana felt her eyes growing heavy. That morning, she had actually fallen asleep sitting up in the spot where she was now. She had awakened a few hours later, feeling somewhat refreshed and a little stiff, and found herself not in the corner of the alter but on Mulder's sleeping bag. She didn't even wake up when they had moved her. Mulder had been restlessly dozing nearby, stretched out on one of the old wooden pews. He had looked terribly uncomfortable and cramped. She looked over at Mulder, deep in concentration. He looked exhausted. She didn't know how much sleep he had actually gotten that morning, but she knew it couldn't have been much. Certainly not enough to make up for all the hours of sleep she realized he had missed over the past three days. Now, he was running on pure adrenaline. She noticed that even now, quietly hunched over the case file, his hands were nervously tapping on the edge of the manila folder as he read. He was more than on edge. She had noticed it that afternoon. He reminded her of a rabbit, every inch of his body attuned to their surroundings. Even in his prone state, he had still looked like he was ready to spring into motion at the first indication of trouble. It was if every muscle in his body was flexed and ready to go. She had seen him like this before but only for very short spurts. In extremely tense and dangerous moments. Not that this wasn't one of those situations, but she honestly didn't understand how he could maintain it as long as he had. His "fight or flee" instinct was on overdrive. Not that she was doing much better. After last night, even a Zen Buddhist monk would have been edgy. As the sun had gone down, her tension level rose steadily. Plus, she still wasn't sure what had happen the previous evening. From the little she and Mulder had discussed earlier in the day, it was pretty apparent that they had witnessed two very different ordeals. When she had mentioned the mysterious disappearance of her spilled blood, Mulder had just looked confused. "Blood? What blood?" he had said. My blood," she replied shocked. "It was everywhere, Mulder. You couldn't have missed it." "I didn't see any blood, Scully. All I saw was you on the floor, acting like your head had exploded." After staring at him in disbelief for a few seconds, she had merely mumbled, "Forget it," and walked away. It wasn't the only completely different perspective that she and Mulder had about last night. In fact, the only thing that they could agree on was that they couldn't agree on what had happened. Now she wondered what could be so fascinating about that damn case file. Yes, she knew the case had been what started this whole theory of his about the battle between good and evil, and the three of them now being a part of that. In fact, she now bought that theory even more than he did. But he was acting like he was looking for something specific. He had been over the victims' backgrounds and the autopsy reports at least half a dozen times. And earlier he had asked her some strange questions, vague even for Mulder. "Scully, do you remember anything unusual about the woman you autopsied?" The question had come up out of nowhere. "You mean other than the fact she was covered in salt?" "I mean anything medically unusual. Anything you didn't note in your report." "Nnno." She stopped to think for a second. Mulder knew how thorough she was. Even if she had chosen to leave any information out of her report, which she had only done once or twice, she would have confided in him what she had found. "Why, Mulder? What are you looking for?" "Nothing. Just wondering." He had quickly walked off. Dana stood up and stretched. It would be useless trying to go to sleep, even if she was exhausted. It was fairly obvious what all three of them were doing. Even with Father Michaels' reassurance that no one would think of looking for her or Mulder here, they were waiting. She walked over to Father Michaels and quietly sunk down beside him. With her approach, he opened his eyes and smiled at her. That morning, she had found him asleep in the old confessional. When she asked if he was comfortable, he had laughingly replied that he had spent many hours in the past napping there. Now, she realized how close they had grown in the last 24 hours. "Is everything okay, Dana?" he asked her with a concerned smile on his face. "As okay as can be expected," she replied. "How about you? How are you doing?" "Shouldn't I be asking you that question?" "You just did." They smiled at each other and both sat quietly for a few minutes. Father Michaels eyes turned to Mulder, studying him for a moment. "Is he looking for something?" So, she wasn't the only one who thought Mulder's obsession with the case file was strange. "I don't know," she answered. Under her breath, she bitterly added, "Usually it's impossible to decipher exactly what's going on with him." "He's an enigma," the priest nodded. "I personally don't know how you can stand to work with him." She raised an eyebrow at the priest's admission of not liking Mulder. So, Mulder's irritation towards Father Michaels was mutual. "He grows on you after awhile." Her defense of Mulder surprised even her. "His fidgeting is about to make me crawl out of my skin. I may have to go over there and slap him around." Father Michaels' smile let her know that he was joking about the slapping part, although she thought he was sincere about the rest. His face grew very solemn. "So, Dana, I'm puzzled. Exactly what is the nature of your relationship?" "Well, we've been partners for a little over..." "No, I mean, beyond work." Oh, she thought, the $54,000 question. She paused, not really knowing how to answer. Father Michaels quickly added, "Look, I know it's not really any of my business. Maybe the dependency and protection I sense from him towards you..." She looked over at Mulder. "...comes from being partners over so many years. But..." She looked back at Father Michaels, nervously wondering what the "but" was. "...this afternoon in your mother's living room, I thought he was going to have an aneurysm." Yes, Mulder had been a nervous wreck at her mother's house. When she had gone into the living room to tell them she was ready to go, all the color had drained out of Mulder's face when her mom had smiled at him. And he had chewed his thumbnail practically to his knuckle. But Mulder had been anxious all day long. Hadn't the priest noticed it? "Mulder can be a little high-strung." Why was she still defending him? "Funny, I thought it was because he knocked you up." Her mouth dropped open, and she literally had to tell herself to close it again. And it wasn't because of Father Michaels' crude euphemism. Deny it, she told herself. But truthfully, she couldn't. Nor could she confirm it. Father Michaels' snickered and said, "For someone who claims he's not the father, he certainly is worried about your mother's impression. Maybe it's because you believe that he is." He looked at her questioningly. "Don't you?" "Father, I don't know..." "Not that I expect him to believe you," he interrupted. "You two don't agree on much, do you?" She didn't bother to answer. It was obvious Father Michaels had been closely observing them. Finally, she felt the moment to ask him had come. "Father, what do you think happened last night?" He thought for a moment, then answered. "I think that God works in mysterious and powerful ways. I know that sounds trite, but that is the only way I can describe what happened last night. We saw the evidence of that." She let the full significance of his words sink in before she said, "I don't know if I can accept that." "Why, Dana, do you doubt your own experiences?" He had said it very solemnly. "Because, I'm not sure what I experienced. What I thought I saw last night. I don't know if it happened." She leaned her head back against the wall and closed her eyes. "Your inability to believe what you have seen with your own eyes weakens you." He stated it as if it were pure fact. She looked at him, unsure of how to reply to that. It was like he had reached inside of her and read her true weakness. Maybe it was their surroundings, maybe it was the pure stress of the events. Maybe she felt a need to confide in him. She wasn't sure why she even felt she could. But she began anyway, even if she was unsure of her own motivations. "Father, I have spent my entire life questioning everything. Examining everything. In my job, in my personal life. I have spent so much time analyzing every event, even the most minute detail, that I began to feel that it was impossible for me not to do it. It was more than my scientific obligation, it was the way that I made sense of the world. My constant examination caused me to discount anything that I couldn't prove. It was like I was living the scientific method. If I couldn't quantify the results, with repetitious accuracy, then I couldn't accept the reality of the experience. Even when I saw the miraculous, events that defied any logic, any explanation. Things that were never meant to be quantified. And I turned my back on them because they didn't support my need to see the world as an ordered, logical place. A few years ago, I found out I had cancer. And it wasn't until I was near death that I returned to the belief of my childhood. It wasn't that I quit believing in God, it was just that I quit thinking that he cared about the world. That it really mattered to him whether we lived or died or believed in him or prayed or anything else. I don't believe that accepting God kept me from dying. But it did ease my mind. Ever since then, I have found myself struggling against myself. And this..." She placed a hand on her stomach. "This pregnancy, the events of last night, whatever is happening—is causing a struggle in me of massive proportions." Father Michaels took her hand and quietly sat examining the pain written on her face. He waited expectantly, knowing that she wasn't done with her "confession." She finally found the resolve to continue. "This afternoon, when I went to see my mother. To tell her I was pregnant. When I told her, her reaction was predictably joyful. She embraced me, and I didn't...." She took a much needed deep breath. "...I couldn't hug her back. I felt totally empty inside. Instead of something to celebrate, this pregnancy is something that terrifies me." "Because it defies your view of the world?" He was prodding her to give him the information he needed to understand. "Because it defies everything. My understanding of the world, my belief in science, my faith that God will take care of me..." "Why do you doubt that God is looking out for you? Why do you think he has turned his back on you?" She didn't answer. This was becoming too distressing. He asked again a different way. "What has happened to cause so much pain in your life, Dana?" It wasn't a matter of not knowing what caused the pain, but where to start. She decided to try to keep it simple and short. "In less than one year, I lost both my father and my sister. I found out a few years later that I had an untreatable brain tumor. I miraculously recovered from my cancer, only to watch a daughter I never knew I had die and be able to do nothing. And now..." "Now you won't let yourself believe that this pregnancy is a gift from God?" "Yes. And for the first time in my life, I'm afraid to look for the answers that every cell in my body is screaming for me to find." She took another deep breath. No, that was not true. It wasn't the first time. There was still three months of her life that were missing. Father Michaels seemed lost in thought for a moment, then he asked, "What did you tell your mother? About not feeling happy about the baby?" "Not much. It wasn't that I didn't want to tell her everything. I just didn't know how. Or what to tell her." Father Michaels nodded his head, understanding that unless someone had experienced the last few days firsthand, they couldn't possibly understand. He closed his eyes and rested his head against the wall. Dana once again looked across the church to Mulder. He had stretched out on his stomach and put his head down on top of his crossed arms. She hoped that he had relaxed and fallen asleep. "Dana." Father Michaels voice brought her attention back to him again. "I don't know if I fully understand what is going on here. Even I have my questions about why the three of us, especially myself, have become a part of these extraordinary events. But I am certain of one thing." He lightly touched her stomach and then moved his hand away. "The life growing inside of you is not only a gift from God, but an indication that God does care about you. If he didn't, he would not have felt a need to reward you with such an important role. You have been chosen to participate in a miracle in the most intimate way possible." "I wish that I could believe that. I wish I could find the faith to accept that truth without question. But I can't." She pulled her hand away from him, put her elbows on her knees, and dropped her head into her hands. "Dana, God doesn't expect you to accept this without question. He wants you to find the answers you need, however you need to find them. He wouldn't present you with the truth unless he knew you could find a way to accept it completely. God gave you the ability to examine scientifically, and he wouldn't expect you to abandon that ability now. He realizes that sometimes you have to ask questions that seem on the surface to contradict the answers you're seeking. Sometimes you have to come full circle to find the truth." Dana's head shot up from her hands, and she looked at Father Michaels with her mouth open. The statement had resonated with her when the priest in Ohio had repeated it to her. Now, she couldn't believe that Father Michaels had repeated the exact statement again. It seemed improbable to her that it was a coincidence. Maybe God was speaking to her. "Why does that surprise you?" Father Michaels replied to the shocked look she was giving him. This is not just deja vu, she told herself. Instead of the vague feeling that she had experienced this conversation before, she knew that this was suddenly a replay of that confessional visit. "I've had this conversation before." She said it more to herself than him. It was like she needed to say it outloud in order to really believe it. "Really?" Father Michaels said with a smile on his face, not sounding surprised at all. "How about this then? The truth is inside of you." "Why did you say that?" This was truly blowing her mind. "Because, Dana, God has been talking to you all along." He reached up and grabbed the cross hanging around her neck. "You're just now ready to listen." "This is the message which we have heard from Him and declared to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth...." Father Michaels' voice floated around Dana. She closed her eyes and took solace in his words. "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin...." When Mulder had sat up and remarked that "it" was about to happen, the priest had taken out his tattered Bible and began reading quietly. She didn't know what "it" was, Mulder probably didn't either, but Mulder's words had filled her with terror. "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us...." Mulder's only response to the priest's reading was to look back at him with an irritated look on his face. He then looked at Dana as if to say, "can't you make him shut up?" And even though she knew that if someone was outside, they should remain quiet and turn off the lantern, she had no intention of telling Father Michaels to stop. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness...." Mulder had pulled his gun out from underneath the edge of the sleeping bag, stuffed a flashlight into his back pocket, and headed towards the church's front door. As he had passed her, he had indicated for her to follow. The best she could do was retrieve her gun from the shopping bag and turn off her flashlight. She couldn't even make the effort to put her shoes back on her feet. She now found herself crouched on the floor in her bare feet, waiting for whatever was going to happen to happen. "If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. My little children, these things I write to you, that you may not sin...." Now, she wasn't even paying attention to her surroundings. From behind her closed eyelids, Dana found herself once again drifting on Father Michaels voice. As her terror slowly dissipated, she heard the distinct sound of ocean waves crashing behind her. She looked around and found herself suddenly on the deserted beach in San Diego again. When she turned back, the church was gone. She was crouched at the edge of the grassy hill. For a moment, she was temporarily blinded by the sudden change from the dim church to the bright sunlight. Blindly, she stood and turned towards the ocean. As her eyes adjusted, she focused on two figures slowly walking towards her, down the edge of the surf. At first she could only make out their silhouettes. A woman and a child. But as they neared her, she knew instantly who they were. Missy's white dress billowed out behind her in the wind. She was holding Emily's hand, and they both were looking straight ahead, neither speaking. Emily had on the pink smocked dress that Dana had picked out for her burial. They had passed her before she was able to overcome her amazement at finding both them and herself on the beach and to run to catch up with them. The dry sand burned her feet and coated the bottom of her jeans as she stuffed her gun into the small of her back. She came up behind them, almost afraid to speak. But her need to hear their voices, for them to acknowledge her, overcame her fear. "Missy." The raw need in her voice was evident even over the roaring surf. Both Melissa and Emily keep walking, neither one of them showing any reaction to her. She knew that they had heard her. Her feet were now sinking into the wet sand, slowing her down. She quickened her pace and caught up to them. "Melissa, it's me! Emily! Stop!" She was right beside them now, right next to her sister's ear. But still they kept walking, looking straight ahead. Both their faces held completely blank expressions. The surf washed over her feet and the bottom of her jeans. "Please!" Her need, her pain, was becoming unbearable. She once again walked faster, this time stepping right in front of them. "Please! Talk to me!" They kept walking. Missy actually had to step to one side to go around her, and their shoulders brushed past each other. Dana just stood there and turned to watch them go. When they were about five feet away, they suddenly stopped. They turned around to face her, with Missy placing Emily directly in front of her. "Dana," Missy's voice sounded strange and emotionless, "don't waste your life looking for a truth that doesn't exist. You will only find yourself frustrated by the meaninglessness and futility of it. And sorry that you lost years looking for answers that can't be found. You're drawn to truth like a moth is drawn to a flame. It will only consume you." Dana sadly regarded the two figures in front of her, unable to reconcile her sister's statement with her memory. Instinctively, she reached out to touch Emily's face. As her hand came in contact with Emily's skin, a searing pain shot through it. Shocked, she quickly pulled it back and look at her palm. As she focused on the blisters rising on her bright red hand, the beach in the fuzzy background faded into the church's alter. Flames rose from it, quickly consuming the alter and spreading to the decaying plaster walls and floor around it. She turned to find Mulder standing at the front of the church, a look of total panic and helplessness overwhelming him. He was staring at the flames, frozen in place. "Go!" She jumped because she didn't realized Father Michaels was standing beside her. He handed her a flashlight and pointed in Mulder's direction. "I'll hold them back," the priest promised. She wasn't sure who Father Michaels was referring to, but she obediently ran to the front of the church as he shouted out directions for finding their way inside the tunnels. As she headed towards the door that led to the passageways, she realized Mulder wasn't following her. She turned back around—the adrenalin allowing her to grab his hand with her burnt one—and tugged him toward the stairway. She pushed Mulder in front of her and looked back. The last thing she saw before heading down the stairs was Father Michaels standing in front of the alter, silhouetted against the inferno raging behind him. "Mulder, no, this way." Scully had grabbed his arm, pulling him down a side tunnel. He followed her lead, glad that she had remembered Father Michaels' hasty directions. They ran side-by-side, the beams from their flashlights bouncing along the dirt floor and walls as they trotted along as fast as they dared over the uneven terrain. With each step, it seemed his panic was growing, even though he knew the fire was well behind them now. Fire, why did it have to be fire? And where the hell had it come from? One minute he was sure someone was outside the front door, the next a wall of flames was towering behind him. Scully had literally dragged him from the aisle of the church as he stood mesmerized by the fire. He suddenly had an image of the flames filling the tunnel behind him, racing along the walls, the heat radiating against his back. He closed his eyes at the moment he thought the burning tongues would overtake him, lost his footing, and stumbled. Scully reached out and steadied him before he fell. He stopped and opened his eyes to the cool darkness of the tunnel. Scully was shining her flashlight between them, illuminating both their faces. "Are you okay?" she asked between breaths. "Did you hurt yourself?" Scully seemed almost calm. A new conviction had come over her in the past 24 hours that he envied. She glanced down and noticed his flashlight beam dancing erratically on the floor. She stood their steady-handed while he was shaking like a leaf. She looked back up at him, concern in her eyes. "The fire," he said in a way of explanation, knowing she was familiar with his childhood phobia. She placed her hand on his shoulder then moved it to his face, gently running her thumb across his cheekbone. "Hey, you have to stay with me here. After all, you're supposed to be protecting us. Okay?" She smiled encouragement, and he weakly returned the smile. He knew what she was doing. Trying to distract his fears by giving him a task. And even though he knew she didn't really believe she needed protection, it worked. The problem was that he didn't know what he was protecting them from. A few days ago, he had been certain that a supernatural evil was stalking them. But after his run in last night with that black-lunged son of a bitch, his convictions had crumbled. He had spent all day going back over the case files, trying to find any clues that the missing women had implants in their necks. All to no avail, and unable to directly ask Scully if she found anything in the autopsy. He couldn't bring himself to tell Scully about his unplanned meeting of the previous night and the implications it held for her and the baby. Eventually, he knew he would have to tell her, but the immediate threat that was looming over them took priority. At least that was the excuse he was sticking to. Still, he couldn't shake the tingling feeling of foreboding that had repeatedly proven itself accurate. And it was vibrating through him, even now while he was questioning its validity, filling him with such dread that he found it impossible to ignore. It had warned him of the impending threat in the chapel above, and it was continuing to grow here in the tunnel. The problem was, if the attacks on Scully were the result of the chip in her neck, which he now believed to be true, how was he able to instinctively know the attacks were about to happen? And that was the question that he had really been trying to answer all day without any success. His mind slowly returned to the task at hand as his shaking subsided. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. When he reopened them, he had control again. He reached up and took Scully's hand from his face, enclosing her fingers in his as he dropped them to his side. She winced at the pressure, and he opened her palm to examine it. The last of his personal concerns vanished when he saw her skin was red and blistered. "Scully, you're hurt!" She pulled the burnt hand away, replacing it with her other and squeezed his hand reassuringly. "I'm all right. Don't worry about it." Mulder returned the gesture but didn't let go. The physical contact was too comforting to abandon. Besides, if he was touching her, the tingling apprehension lessened. "Where are we?" he asked, shining his light down the tunnel. "According to Father Michaels, we should find a grated entrance on the right that acts as a feeder line to the sewers." Mulder thought for a moment. "From there we should be able to find access to the surface. Let's go." They found the grate and entered into the cemented sewer culverts. From the looks of it, the system was used more for storm water discharge than sewage, which was a major relief. He had dreaded slogging through waist high water. Instead they found a few inches at the most. The blackness was broken occasionally by a ray of light cutting at an angle across the corridor. "Storm drains," he indicated to Scully, "Must be streetlights up there." Scully nodded in agreement. "May be a way out." Although the panic from the fire had left him, the foreboding electrical charge in his skin was still there, and it was getting stronger. He had to get Scully to the surface and soon. Whatever delay tactics Father Michaels had used, they were no longer working, because something was definitely coming. He could feel it vibrating through his bones. They ran hand in hand down the tunnel, water splashing up and soaking them from the knees down. They stopped at the first band of light. The storm drain was grated. So were the second and third. But the third one also had a small manhole cover adjacent to it. He would never fit, but he thought Scully might. "All right, Scully," he said as he cupped his hands together for a foothold. "Up you go." It was then that he noticed she was barefooted. "Where the hell are your shoes?" She looked down as though she had forgotten. "We left kind of quickly. I didn't have much time for putting on socks and tying shoes." Damn it, he cursed mentally. He almost made a joke about being barefoot and pregnant but stopped himself. Well, he definitely had to keep their pursuers down in the tunnel because she would never be able to outrun them barefooted. He boosted her up, and she pushed the metal cover off. It was a tight squeeze, but she made it out. Her head reappeared in the hole, and she lowered her good hand down to him. "Okay, Mulder, your turn." Mulder shook his head. "Scully, in case you haven't noticed, I'm a broad-shouldered, hunk of a man. I won't fit." Scully looked at the hole, then at Mulder, obviously agreeing with his assessment of his size. "Well then, I'll come back down." "No, Scully, you stay up there." "Mulder, I'm not leaving you behind." Mulder smiled up at her. He couldn't have hand-picked a better partner. "You're not thinking this through. There's more than just you up there." She was obviously torn by what she should do. She scanned the street to either side of her. "There must be a larger manhole somewhere near here." "Don't worry, I'll find one." But not before I lead them away from you, he silently added to himself. As though she understood what he was planning, her hand reappeared down the hole. "Promise you will come up as soon as you find one." "I'll find one, don't worry," he said as he squeezed her hand. He was loathe to let go, and by the lingering pressure she returned, he guessed she was too. "Promise me, Mulder," she said again, looking him in the eyes. "I promise," he said solemnly, returning her gaze. With one final squeeze of her hand, he released it. He pulled his extra magazine from his back pocket and handed it up to her. "Here, take this." She hesitated just a second before taking the clip, standing and sliding the metal cover into place. He shined his light down the tunnel, feeling very much alone. He hated the thought of Scully running barefooted, alone through the streets above, but the thought of her trapped in the tunnel was even worse. Besides, if he were lucky, they would follow his trail down the tunnel instead of hers to the surface. He started jogging down the corridor, slowing at each grate to look for an opening. In the far distance behind him, he could hear footsteps splashing. Looking back, he could see a beam of light waving with each splash. Time was running short, and no openings were in site. His flashlight was working as a homing beacon for his pursuer, so he clicked it off and waited a few seconds for his eyes to adjust. The flashlight following him stopped for a moment, then continued at a slower pace. He scanned the area ahead of him. The beams of light from the grates provided a line of direction, although they did little to illuminate the uneven ground. He started walking again, although much slower since he wasn't sure of his footing. He reached the next drain and looked for a way out. Nothing. The light behind him was gaining ground. Soon he would have to turn his flashlight back on and make a run for it. The other option was to pull his gun and make a stand. It was then that he saw it, about 50 feet down the tunnel—a small orange flame glowing against a bent head. The flame vanished to be replaced by an orange pinprick. The pinprick floated through the darkness down and to the right, then stopped. "You're 24 hours are up, Mr. Mulder. Have you made a decision?" The voice echoed past him, causing the flashlight behind him to recommence running. It would be on him in less than a minute. Mulder clicked on his flashlight and let it shine in the smoking man's face. The smoking man held up a manila folder to block his eyes from the glaring light. He tossed his cigarette aside and reached into his coat pocket. "I've upheld my end of the bargain," he said indicating the envelope. "Are you willing to uphold yours?" From his pocket, he withdrew a small glass vile and offered it to Mulder. Mulder couldn't take his eyes from the vile. The goose bumps were back, but he ignored them. He tried to recall something from the back of his mind, something about Scully, but it vanished. It seemed his entire existence was held in the vile. He took a slow step forward, then another, until he stood a few feet from the man. He could see the liquid was a translucent blue and was struck by how beautifully the color played against the beam of light shining through it. "Just take the vile, and you can have the information in the envelope." It seemed so simple. The envelope that would give him exactly what he had been searching for all these year was within his reach, and all he had to do was take the vile. He hesitantly reached out for the vile, afraid that the envelope would disappear like a small animal if he made any sudden moves. There was a sound coming from behind him that was really starting to annoy him. It was distracting, and he wished it would go away. "Take the vile, Mr. Mulder." Samantha. Soon he would know where she was, know her children. He was a uncle! He could take them to basketball games.... "Take it!" His hand inched closer. His mother would be thrilled. They would be a real family again, with birthday parties for the kids.... "Take it!" And holidays together. Just like Scully's family. His hand stopped short of the desired vile. Scully, there was something about Scully that he should remember. Something important. And what was that noise behind him? "Take the vile, now, Mr. Mulder." The words came out a snarl and like a child chastised for disobedience, he moved to act on the command. He gasped at the charge of electricity that ran through his body as his fingers began to close around the vial. The indistinct sound behind him became the clear voice of Father Michaels. "Agent Mulder, NO!!" Mulder jumped away from the priest's hand that rested on his shoulder and put his back against the culvert wall. He felt as though he were in two contradictory world at once, and his mind reeled trying to bring them together. "If you touch that vile, Agent Mulder, you'll kill Dana." Mulder looked back at the vile. As soon as he saw it, he couldn't help but move slightly toward it. Father Michaels continued, "Satan's greatest strength is his power to divide, to turn love into betrayal. If you take that vile, you will betray her, and it will be her end." Mulder felt as if his entire being was ripping in two. He looked at the priest who was holding his hand out pleadingly. "Your hesitancy is weakening her, even now. Listen to your heart, and you will know I speak the truth." The same words came to him in a memory, only spoken in a Haitian accent. An image of Scully struggling against Krycek's grasp coalesced in his mind. He moved toward the priest. "Do you want to know where your sister is or not?" the voice behind him snapped. "Samantha," Mulder whispered and hesitated. How could he turn away when the answers were within reach? Father Michaels face became stern. "What price have you put on her soul and yours, Agent Mulder? What will be your seven pieces of silver?" The voice behind him changed. "Fox, come here now!!" "Dad?" Mulder turned and looked into his father's face. Suddenly, he felt seven years old. His was holding the vile and envelope, and the smoking man was nowhere to be seen. But his father was dead, wasn't her? "Agent Mulder, that is not your father. He is the beast in the bottomless pit. Don't listen to him." Father Michaels had a sickened look on his face. His father made a sound like an animal's growl at Father Michaels. "This is no concern of yours. This is between me and my son." Mulder looked at the man. He looked and sounded just like his father, just like the father he had dreamed about the night before. Just as the smoking man that had been here had looked like the man he had seen at the monument the night before. He remembered the hougan's warning about trusting himself and seeing everything in his dreams. He closed his eyes and looked at his father, not with his eyes but with his heart. He could feel the evil, could almost smell a rotten stench emanating from the man. At that moment, he thought he heard Scully screaming a gut wrenching "Nooo!" in confirmation of what he now knew, that this man was not who he claimed to be. That meant that the smoking man also wasn't real and his associates weren't after Scully, that her child wasn't some twisted hybrid experiment. He reopened his eyes with a gasp and backed away from the man with the vial. It no longer held the beauty it had before. It looked putrid, as though death was held captive within the glass. He shuddered to think how close he had come to touching it, to embracing the death it held for him and Scully. "What the hell are you?" he asked, disgusted with the man and himself for being so tempted. The face of his father contorted with rage until it was more animal than human. "I am the deliverance of your death." Mulder was frozen in place by nothing more complex than wide-eyed shock as he watched the demented image of his father lunge toward him. Instantly, Father Michaels was in front of him. "You cannot harm this man, he is under my protection." The priest's statement surprised him almost as much as the attack had. Besides, he didn't need protection, he thought as he reached for his gun at the small of his back. The image of his father crouched as though ready to pounce like a cat. "What can you do, little priest?" he sneered. Mulder pulled his gun. "Father Michaels, get out of the way!" he yelled to get a clear shot. But the priest ignored him and seemed to stand even taller as he began speaking in a loud, clear voice. "I am the child of God, and I am beloved. I am the servant of God, and I do his bidding." Father Michaels began taking slow deliberate steps toward the man, who now snarled before him. "I am the sword of God, and I will smite thee. I am the light of God, and I will banish the darkness." Mulder still held his gun, "Father Michaels, move!" The priest seemed to radiate a faint white glow, although he was nowhere near a light source. He continued his advance while still speaking. "I am the hand of God, and I will crush thee. I am the eyes of God, and I will reveal thee." The glow around Father Michaels brightened dramatically into a blinding white light that washed over Mulder in warm waves. The man cowered now before the priest. Mulder dropped his gun as he raised his hands up to shield his eyes against the intense light. It seemed that the light permeated through his hands, his closed eyelids, and filled his head with a roaring. The man let out a snarl of misery. "I am the ears of God, and I will hear only the truth." The roaring in Mulder's head became a million distinct voices speaking at once. Among the voices, he could recognize those of people he knew and loved blending with those of strangers. The voices spoke in every language, and yet he understood every word. Words of love, fear, desire, hope, pain. Words spoken in praise, anger, thanks, and submission. The prayers of the entire world flowed through him, leaving him disoriented by the shear volume of sound. "I am the spirit of God, and I will fill the righteous with my essence." Mulder staggered back sightless against the wall, as the cowering man's moan filled the tunnel and took its own unique place among the myriad of voices he heard. The warmth of the light still vibrated through him, overloading his senses with emotions so raw and untame that he keeled forward on his hands and knees. A million images rushed through him to join the sound, one vision for each voice. The images intensified every thought, every emotion he felt pouring into him. Each image flowed through his being so fast that he was left gasping for breath. The sight of laughing children was replaced by a wailing woman, then a cowering man, a lost child, a woman giving birth, a man on his death bed. The ground was spinning below him as he pushed himself up and back against the culvert wall. It had to end soon, or he thought he would go insane. And yet, he didn't think he could stand to be parted from the beauty that churned in him. He had reached a state of euphoria so intense that spasms of pain wracked his body. The images began spinning around him in a dazzling spiral, and the roaring in his ears took on a rhythmic cadence. The spiral widened into a vortex of black that sucked him down as the cadence of the voices evolved into the quite flutter of a fetal heartbeat. The blackness closed over him and soothed the chaos in his head. As he slipped into welcome oblivion, he heard Father Michaels' final condemnation. "I am the voice of God, and I speak the word Death." She was running. She was outside, on some nameless street, in her bare feet, running. She had left Mulder in the tunnel, ignoring the screaming voice in her head that told her not to leave him there. As she had closed the manhole cover, the last thing she saw was his sad eyes looking up at her. Those hazel eyes. She was running as fast as she could, shining the beam of the flashlight down at the street, hoping desperately to find a manhole for Mulder to fit through. She had come up somewhere in the city park next to the church. But she didn't have an accurate way to measure how far they had run underground, or even which direction they had come from. Now, she had no choice but to follow the road in the direction they had been running and deduce that the drainage system probably followed it as well. She slowed down as she came a t- intersection. The street she had been following dead ended into a playground. She squinted at the dark swing set, trying to decide whether to continue straight ahead or follow the intersecting road to the right or left. She honestly didn't have a clue, nor had she noticed when she was underground if the dark tunnel veered one way or the other. "Eennie-minnie-minee-moe." Okay, so it wasn't very scientific, but she didn't have time to consider anything else. The beam of her flashlight landed to the right. That didn't feel right, so she turned to the left instead. No, that wasn't right either. She spun in a circle and looked up at the sky, trying to see or smell the smoke from the burning church. Nothing. So, she headed up the embankment through the dark playground. As she ran through the damp grass, desperately searching for signs of another drainage grate, a foreboding began building up in her stomach. It became stronger and stronger as it filled her body, radiating to the base of her neck. She tried to focus on her task, to remember that Mulder was trapped somewhere below her, but it was becoming impossible to ignore. She felt someone was behind her. Chasing her. As the grass emptied into a dark, deserted parking lot, the sensation became so strong that she had to glance back to see if anyone was there. She turned backwards, slowing her pace, and swept the flashlight behind her. No one was there. She forced herself to stop for a moment and catch her breath. "No one, no one," she chanted with her panting. She leaned over and put her hands on her thighs, trying to convince herself that her screaming fears were unfounded. That's when she heard it. The sound of footsteps echoing on pavement. They were approaching from behind her, in the direction she had been running. And they were getting closer, fast. She only glanced back as she began running back over her path. This time, her pace was much faster, abandoning her search for a manhole, and her feet burned as they slapped down on the hard pavement of the parking lot. She almost lost her footing as the pavement gave way to the grass. She ran back through the playground, straight through the swing set, knocking one of the swings out of her way with her burnt hand. Her only coherent thought was that she had to get back to Mulder. With Mulder, she would be safe. She was running. Through the dark, deserted park, back out on some nameless street, trying to get away from someone. She didn't know who. But the terror building within her told her that it was essential to her survival that she get away. As she ran, her eyes swept from side to side, looking for a place to hide. On her first time down the street, she had been so absorbed in her search for a manhole that she hadn't noticed that it was monotonously bordered by flat green lawn on both sides. No ditches. No shrubs or trees. Nothing, not even tall weeds. The only thing sticking up was the gracefully curved streetlights alternating sides every fifty feet or so, going on endless down the endless street. She was trying to avoid the pools of light, swerving around them. Her heart was beating out of her chest, and every nerve in her body was screaming. The footsteps were becoming louder and louder, closer and closer behind her. They resonated through her entire body, rising up into her throat, vibrating her cranium. She was running as fast as she could, now ignoring the pools of light. Whoever was there had already spotted her, she was sure of it. Shouldn't she be back to the manhole by now? It seemed to Dana that she wasn't getting anywhere. Like she was running in molasses. The harder she tried to run, the less her muscles seemed to respond. And the footsteps were gaining on her. As she ran in what seemed like slow motion, scanning the road in front of her, the panic rising within her suddenly filled her mind with the images of when she had been on this road. This wasn't an unknown street. She had been running down it another night before this one. In her dream. But she wasn't dreaming now, she was sure. This was real. Her legs were wet from the sewer, her feet painful from her running. Her hand throbbed. Her fear was exploding out of her body. Her brain was screaming to her that her pursuer was a man. He was chasing her, coming after her. It was someone she needed to be horribly afraid of, someone who was going to hurt her. This can't be happening. This can't be happening, she told herself. But it was. She knew the person behind her was Alex Krycek. She threw the flashlight to the side and reached behind her to pull her gun out of her jeans. As she pulled it around in front of her, she lost her grip on it. She desperately tried to grab hold of it, and for a moment she thought she had it. Then it bounced out of her palm and flew to the road in front of her. She stumbled forward, trying to slow down enough to reach down and pick it up. She bent forward, reaching down with one hand for the gun and putting the burnt one on the road to keep her from flying head over heels. At the exact moment she grabbed the gun, he was upon her. His weight jumping on top of her caused her body to surge forward, and she landed shoulders first on the pavement with a "Umpf." The rest of her body flopped down after it. He was now on top of her, his weight holding her on the ground. Her hand with the gun was trapped underneath her body, and she was desperately trying to raise up enough to free it. Her burnt hand was clawing at the pavement, her legs kicking, trying to free herself. Krycek's grabbed her free hand and pinned it behind her back. She raised up her head to scream, to call for Mulder to help her, but he took his other hand and pushed her face back into the ground. Her heart was beating out of her chest, and her breath was coming in pants. She was beginning to feel the rough asphalt through the knees of her jeans as her efforts to free herself ripped the material away. She needed to find the strength to twist around and get her hand with the gun out from under her. Instead, she felt like a rubber band, too weak to make any real effort to get away. She felt his hand fumbling for the waist band of her jeans, trying to force the material down her hips. In his frustration, he was lifting her hips off the ground. "Nooo!" she screamed. The strength she was desperately searching for surged through her with her scream, and with her hips off the ground, she was able to get her trapped arm out. She pushed her palm down on the ground and managed to flip herself over. Krycek looked down at her, shocked that she was now looking up at him. She absorbed the wide-eyed look on his face as she took her free hand and hit him as hard as she could with her gun's grip. He was knocked off-balance from the force of her blow and fell off of her to one side. She focused her panic into rage and pulled her knees up to her waist. She then hit him with both legs, her power knocking him backwards across the pavement several feet. Dana scrambled to her feet and stood over Krycek, pointing the gun down at him. She heard it click as she pulled back the hammer. She was panting, trying to desperately catch her breath and hold the gun steady. All the undealt-with emotions from her original attack flooded her. Her fear, her rage, her need for revenge for what he had done to her, all rose out of her. Tears began to stream down her cheeks. "We're not done." Dana's voice didn't sound like her own. It was cold and hollow and strangely empty of all the emotions she was feeling. Krycek looked up at her terrified and began to scoot away from her. Their eyes locked as Dana's finger squeezed the trigger. The force of the bullet entering his skull knocked him backwards. She watched as the back of his head exploded in slow motion. She stopped herself from emptying the rest of the magazine into his lifeless body. After his body came to rest on the street, she let the breath she had been holding out in a furious scream. "I said, we're not done!" She closed her eyes and managed to stop her tears. Maybe it had only been a few seconds. Maybe it had been hours. She wasn't sure. She came back to herself, quietly backing away from Krycek's lifeless body, and wearily began walking again in the direction of the manhole. She was spent. She just needed to find Mulder so she could go home. As she walked, she tried not to think about what had almost happen. Instead, she found herself blinded by the horrifying thought, staggering down the road. She just wanted to lay down right where she was and cry. To let all the terror and remorse and rage out. But she kept going forward, also needing to find the way back down to Mulder. Finally, she gave out. She stopped at the side of the road and fell to her knees, folding herself over at the waist. She could still feel Krycek's hands all over her, and that made her angry and frightened all at once. She didn't know when she began to chant. "God damn him. God damn him. God damn him...." The hand on her head startled her. She darted up, immediately drawing her gun in front of her. And it took her a moment to process. Mulder was kneeling over her. He looked relieved and worried all at once. She dropped her hand with the gun to her side and lunged into his arms without thinking. "Scully." He said quietly, wrapping a warm arm around her. He was running a hand through her hair. "It's okay. You're okay." She wrapped her arms around his waist and held on. His embrace made her feel safe, and she let out a wail as she cried against his chest. "I know." He said, whispering next to her ear. "It's over. It's all over. Everything's going to be okay." He rested his cheek up against her temple, his breath right in her ear. "Nothing can hurt you now." He tightened his hold around her. She sucked in a deep breath and relaxed in his arms. The hand in her hair moved down around her waist, rubbing soothingly over her back. His other hand came up to her jaw, and his thumb began caressing her cheek and lips. She suddenly became aware of his lips against her ear. He was kissing her. The arm around her waist pressed her against him. She closed her eyes and mentally let go of any control she had left. Whatever was going to happen was going to happen. She didn't have the willpower left to fight it. His lips were wrapped around the top of her ear, tugging on it slightly. Her hips involuntarily pressed up against his, and she felt him press back. She tilted her head up to give him more access. She lost control of her neck as his lip went lower, and his tongue traced her ear. She let out a low moan before she realized it. Now, she was panting again, but for a very different reason. The thumb on her face was tracing a path around her lips, and she parted them with her moan. He pressed his thumb into her mouth, and she began to suck and run her tongue over it. She couldn't believe she was doing this. She had just experience a near repeat of the most traumatic experience of her life, and now she was in the middle of a public park having an incredibly fulfilling sexual experience with her partner. Some part of her brain told her that maybe it was because she was almost raped by Krycek again, and her need to fill safe was allowing this to happen. But for now, she pushed rational thought out of her head. She needed to enjoy this. She pressed her whole body against him and was just about to suggest they take this to a more private place when he suddenly raised his head away from her. The air where his wet lips had been rushed in around her ear and felt cold. She let out a little whimper in protest. "Scully," he nervously said. "I can hear him." She didn't understand what he meant at first. But after a moment, the fear in Mulder's voice registered in her brain, and she realized he was looking in the direction where she had left Krycek. "Scully!" He sounded panicked. "I can hear him. He's coming." She jerked around. Her gun was still in her hand, and she held it in front of her, scanning the dark road for Krycek. She didn't know how he had survived the shot to the head, but she wasn't about to let him get near her again. She strained to hear into the darkness, over Mulder's agitated breathing, and the sound of running footsteps slowly filled her ears. Her heartbeat quickened, and the terror rose in her throat again. "There." Mulder's voice was a hoarse whisper. His hand grabbed hold of her upper arm and directed the location of her gun. "Krycek. He's there." She squinted in the darkness towards the direction he had pointed her in. She could hear the running closing in. And his fuzzy silhouette came into view at the edge of one of the pools of light. "Shoot!" Mulder yelled. She sucked her breath in and squeezed the trigger. Without thinking, without taking aim, nine shots fired off, the brass shells making a clink as they fell to the street and bounced in different directions. Her brain was blank, and she kept depressing the trigger long after the magazine was empty. Long after the silhouette fell to the ground. As her brain began to process information again, she turned to Mulder for reassurance. Shock slapped her in the face as she realized he wasn't there. She quickly looked to the left and right, frantically searching for him. He was nowhere in sight. The figure on the ground let out a soft groan. Hesitatingly, she rose to her feet and began walking towards it. She let the empty clip fall to the ground and pulled the new one that Mulder had given her out of her front pocket and clicked it into place. She cautiously held the newly loaded gun out in front of her. It wasn't until she entered the streetlight's beam that the face of the man on the ground clicked in her mind. It was contorted in pain, and he was gasping for air. She had shot Father Michaels. Dana ran to him and knelt beside him. She placed her burnt hand behind his head and lifted it slightly to help him breathe. She stuffed the gun into the front of her jeans and began searching for his pulse. He opened his eyes and looked up at her. His pulse was weak, and she knew he needed to get to a hospital immediately. She wasn't sure how many of her shots had hit him, but she could see blood pooling out from under his shoulder and right leg. She ran her hand over his chest and also found his shirt soaked in blood. "Dana." His voice was only a whisper. "Listen." "Don't talk," she replied. "I need to slow the bleeding." She looked around for something to apply pressure with. She leaned back and started to rip the bottom of her shirt. "No!" He grabbed her arm and pulled her back to him. "Listen to me." She hesitated. He was going to die without medical attention. Maybe even with it. She had to do something to help him. This was her fault. He read her face and said, "It's okay, Dana. I've dreamt this moment for months. I know you didn't mean to shoot me. But there is nothing you can do for me now. And I need to tell you..." His voice trailed off, and he winced. She leaned over him. "I'm listening." She would give him her undivided attention. She took his hand in hers and squeezed. He opened his eyes and said, "You must hide. The dragon will follow you. He will be waiting. Waiting to devour the child." He closed his eyes and began to choke. She took her hand from his and tugged to loosen his collar. A single tear slowly trailed down her cheek. She couldn't just let him die. Once again she began to rip at her shirt. She removed a strip of material and began examining his chest. Finding the entry wound, she began to apply pressure to slow the bleeding. The choking stopped, and he opened his eyes once again. He raised his hand to her face and wiped her tear. She thought how ironic it was that he was dying at her hand, and he was trying to comfort her. She looked up at him, and their eyes met. "Go to the wilderness," he whispered quickly to her. "Only stop on holy ground." His eyes shot past her, and she turned her head to see what he was looking at. Mulder was standing behind her, staring down at the priest. She hadn't heard him walk up. "Mulder," she said, still applying pressure to the chest wound. "He's seriously injured. I need you to go for help." Mulder didn't acknowledge her. All of his attention was focused on the priest. She was surprised at how stern he looked. "Mulder," she said louder. "Did you hear me? We need to find a phone and call the paramedics." In a single, forceful motion, Mulder approached, roughly grabbed her, and lifted her off the ground. As her hands left Father Michaels chest, Mulder's arm came around in front of her and grabbed the gun out of her jeans. He threw it several feet away. She began to struggle as he backed away from the priest. His hands tightened around her painfully, and he lifted her even higher. She was straining to get her feet back on the pavement, as well as trying to get away from him. She gasped as he casually tossed her into the grass, like she was nothing more than a rag doll. She landed hard on her bottom, several feet from Father Michael's feet, the breath knocked out of her. Mulder slowly walked towards the priest. Her brain couldn't wrap around what was going on. Mulder was standing over the priest, his face full of rage. A low, animal-like snarl left his mouth, and he straighten up, his features suddenly very cat-like. She watched in wide- eyed horror as he let out an inhuman roar and pounced upon Father Michaels. He began to devour the priest, reminding her of a leopard attack on a lame baby elephant that she had once seen on the Discovery Channel. She was frozen in place. Somewhere in the back of her brain, a voice was screaming to help the priest. But she couldn't move. Held to the ground by some unseen force. Blood poured and sprayed the ground around Father Michaels. The Mulder-creature snarled and roared, his arms a blur as he beat and tore and ripped at the priest's body. The gruesomeness of it caused her to turn her head upwards. Her nails dug into the soft ground. Above her, the bejeweled sky contrasted the awful scene before her. She caught sight of Andromeda just as it went out of focus from the tears filling her eyes. She took a deep breath and let out a scream. The stars above her seemed to swirl with her tears, and a group of stars spiraled towards her. She became mesmerized by them. She watched totally entranced as they descended from the sky, each becoming a ball of light the size of a glowing tennis ball. They reminded her of Tinker Bell, enchanted with fluorescent pixie dust. She gazed at them as they neared her, swirling around her head and body. Their light illuminated her. Their heat warmed her, overloading her senses as joy and child-like wonder poured out of her. Her trance was broken by the sound of female voices. "Dana! Dana! Dana! Dana!" They were gently calling her name, trying to get her attention. With disbelief, she realized that the lights were talking to her. Their voices filled her ears, their gentle whispers seeming to include the sounds of the ocean surf, the rain in the trees, the wind rushing past her ears. The voices caressed her. "A soul cannot be stolen if it has been set free. A soul cannot be stolen if it has been set free." The chanting of the lights became a roar in her head. It seemed as if the whole world was now spinning around her. She closed her eyes and tried to search her memory for the significance of that phrase. Where had she heard it before? She opened her eyes as four of the lights danced off into the distance, leaving behind the echo of a little girl's laughter. The three remaining lights hovered in front of her. "A soul cannot be stolen if it has been set free. A soul cannot be stolen if it has been set free." The three points of light suddenly became super novas, momentarily blinding her and rushing past her. In their wake, the shimmering images of three women stood, each radiating a pure white light from their glowing, white robes. She looked at the three faces, trying to find meaning in the phrase they were still chanting. They all wore expressions of utter bliss, filling her with a sense of protection and peace. "A soul cannot be stolen if it has been set free. A soul cannot be stolen if it has been set free." Her gaze came to rest on the face in the middle. She knew she recognized the woman. And as she gazed upon her, a name floated to her. Genevieve Baptiste. She gasped as she realized she had cut into this woman's cold body in Miami. Genevieve gestured down in front of Dana as the chant gently changed. "You know. You know. You know." Dana looked down to where Genevieve was gesturing and saw her gun laying on the street where the creature had thrown it. And suddenly her heart told her what she needed to do. She glanced over towards the attack. The creature was now standing over Father Michaels lifeless body. His features melting and blending, one second becoming Mulder, the next Krycek, the next her father. The priest's blood covered him, dripping from his clothes and hands. As if in response to her glance, his attention suddenly turned to her. She looked back to Genevieve and instinctively lunged for her gun. Her brain shut off, and she only heard her heart talking. A soul cannot be stolen if it has been set free. The creature couldn't harm her, couldn't harm her baby, if she set their souls free. She crawled on all fours and grabbed the gun. She sat back to find the creature now walking towards her, his face darkening into a mixture of a panther, and Krycek, and pure evil. Quickly, she put the gun into her mouth and squinted her eyes shut. Time slowed as her finger began to squeeze the trigger. She heard the bullet release in the chamber. The image of a Christmas when she was ten and her whole family had been happy and together. Mulder's face as her told her "No one down here but the FBI's most unwanted." Emily looking up from her coloring and smiling. Father Michaels brushing the hair off her face. As she felt the force of the bullet enter her mouth, she saw Clyde Bruckman as he told her how she would die. "You don't." At the time, she had thought it odd. Now, she thought what an odd thought to have for her last thought. She felt the bullet rip through her skull and exit the back of her head. The pain exploded through her body. Her last breath left her. Her heart beat suddenly stop. She felt the fetus' heart beat stop as well. She felt her essence being sucked into a black vortex. The blackness soothed her, enclosed her. For a moment, she was suspended in it. Dana opened her eyes. The dark, star-filled sky twinkled above her. She sat straight up, for a moment not sure of where she was or what had happened. She blinked down the deserted road, then down at herself. Her hand was still wrapped loosely around the gun. And she remember. There was no sign of Father Michaels' body. Or the creature. Or the three women. For a moment, she doubted that any of it had happened. And if it hadn't been for her pounding headache, she might have never looked. She ran her throbbing, burnt hand behind her head and pulled it back. There was no blood. But just to make sure that she really had lost her mind, she took her gun and pulled out the clip. She gasped at the empty space she saw. One bullet was missing. Her brain offered the logical suggestion that Mulder hadn't fully loaded the magazine, but she wasn't buying it. She looked down, her hands sweeping the ground around her, and she found it laying on the road beside her right thigh. The empty shell. Forty-eight hours. Forty-eight hours and...how many states? Mulder listed them off in his head in an attempt to stay awake. Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and finally New Mexico. Forty-eight hours that had become one blurred emotional roller coaster. It had begun in the sewers of Maryland and had lead them here to this now familiar motel in Farmington, New Mexico. In between had been a series of goodbyes, financial arrangements, and hours upon hours of asphalt, gas stations, and mini marts. Had it really only been 48 hours? To his mind it seemed like only 48 minutes, but to his exhausted body it felt more like 48 years. They needed to heal, both physically and emotionally. "Go to the wilderness. Only stop on holy ground," had been Father Michaels' final warning. So, the sacred red rocks of New Mexico and the Navajo healers had seemed the logical choice for the sanctuary they so desperately needed. They had arrived less than an hour ago, just as the sun was lowering over the western horizon. They had checked into the same motel Scully had brought him to. Now, that seemed like a lifetime ago. He hadn't been terribly surprised to find Albert Hosteen, the old Navajo code talker, waiting with his grandson in the parking lot when they arrived. As soon as he had awakened in the drainage system in Maryland, he had known that the previous three days had just been one set in many more to come. He also knew that even though forces were working against them, other forces were working to help them. They used their new identities to check into the motel, Don and Kim Lewis from Portland, Oregon. Byers had hacked into the Multnomah County DMV and obtained the new driver's licenses, which Frohike had printed using new photographs. New tags for his car would be easy to obtain from Oregon since there was no requirement to see the vehicle for registration in that state. New social security cards came next. He couldn't believe that Byers had chosen the name Donald for him. He definitely was not a Donald, but at least it was only temporary. This was just the first of many tasks the Lone Gunmen were handling. They were also in the process of selling Scully's car and most of his belongings to gain them some more cash. What he hadn't hastily packed, he had left for the Gunmen to keep or sell as they saw fit. The sight of his video collection had been a near euphoric experience for them, and Langly had solemnly vowed to care for his fish in return. They had withdrawn the money from both of their checking and savings accounts and put it in a separate account with Frohike's favorite alias as the name on the account. The problem was that Frohike wouldn't even tell them what the alias was, claiming they should have no connection to the account at all. It was a good thing that he trusted these guys, or they had just been conned out of almost everything they owned. Thank God they still had their federal pensions and 401Ks sitting in reserve. The guys were still working on hacking into the Mutual of Omaha system to get them emergency insurance coverage when they left. He knew that didn't come close to covering everything that they needed, but it was a start and had covered most of the immediate necessities. Given the short time they had for planning, he was impressed with how much they actually had accomplished. They had entered the motel room in silence. Scully did nothing more than take a trip to the bathroom before collapsing on the bed and sinking into sleep, not bothering to even remove her shoes. Mulder watched her from the other bed. The dimming light outside cast a rosy haze in the room. Scully breathed softly in her sleep, bathed in the warm glow of a southwestern sunset being filtered through mini blinds. Mulder yearned to close his still sensitive eyes, but he didn't dare let her leave his sight. The low light had lessened the pain in his temples, which had abated only slightly since the night of the final attack. He had never experienced such an intensely bright light. It had only last a few seconds before he passed out, but the burns around his eyes looked like he had been sunbaked for several hours. He would have also sworn that Father Michaels had been consumed by the intense white light, and he had told Scully that when she had found him leaning blindly against the wall of the sewer. He wasn't sure when he had actually regained consciousness because he awoke to the same blackness that had engulfed him. He guessed it must have been when the images and sounds had finally faded from his mind. The fluttering of the heartbeat had become the sound of splashing footsteps running toward him and Scully's concerned calling of his name. His panic over not being able to see had subsided somewhat when he heard her voice and knew she was alive. She had performed a cursory exam of him when she found him and helped him to his feet. He had tried to explain to her what he had experienced, but the words had come out in almost as great a flood as the sounds and images he was trying to describe. Finally, he had just told her what he believed was the demise of the priest in that horribly beautiful light. Scully had tearfully informed him that she had been with the renegade priest when he died and would say nothing more about it except his last words of advice. His death had been hard on both of them. It had surprised him how much it had effected him, given their rocky relationship over those few days. But he could no longer deny the selflessness Father Michaels had shown them both. Scully seemed almost inconsolable over the loss. She would often weep softly on their long cross-country excursion, and Mulder wasn't sure if it was from the priest's death, leaving her family, hormones, or a combination of them all. The whole ordeal had been rough on both of them, and they traveled mostly in silence, trading off driving so that one could rest while the other drove. Because of his eyes, he could only drive at night, leaving the majority of the driving to Scully. He had hated that more than anything else on the trip. Scully was bruised almost as badly as she had been after her rape, and he knew her burnt hand made driving difficult. But every time he opened his eyes during the day, the pain was so intense that he felt nauseous. At one of the truck stops along their route, he had purchased some large, square sunglasses with side shield—the type that little old ladies seemed so fond of—and they had helped somewhat, allowing him to drive from twilight to dawn. During their trip, they spoke only about their immediate plans, otherwise they were lost in their own thoughts. He had thought mostly about his mother. How he was the only family she had left, and how he was now leaving her alone in the world. Even doing what he knew was the right thing didn't relieve him of his guilt. They had decided not to say goodbye to their mothers in person, leaving quickly written letters to be delivered by the Gunmen. He had also sent an e- mail to Skinner explaining very ambiguously how they were in danger from a recent case and felt they must disappear for a while. He wondered if he returned in 20 years would he still be assigned the X-files? He surprised even himself at how easily he had walked away from his work. Evidently, he did have the necessary conviction to leave everything behind for what he believed in. Still, he had fought so hard to keep the files open, to search for the truth. The truth? The truth was that he and Scully were running for their lives and probably would be for a long time to come. Even here in New Mexico, he knew they could only hide for a month, maybe two, before they had to move on to the next safe haven Frohike could find. He knew now that they could not defeat this enemy, that was a battle reserved for the child. But it was his responsibility to keep the child, and therefore Scully, safe until that time. The reality of Scully's pregnancy was finally sinking in, and given their current predicament, it terrified him. Up until know, he had handled it instinctively, reacting to the immediate dangers. Let's face it, he had only known about it for about a week now, and what a week it had been. Now the more mundane concerns associated with any pregnancy were surfacing. He worried about the lack of medical care that would be available to her and the baby. Although, she had assured him that she had paid attention during medical school when they covered prenatal care. He also felt that this was completely unfair for Scully. She was actually going to have what she thought she never could, and she was forced to live the life of a fugitive. She deserved to have baby showers and a nursery to decorate. She should be worrying about her mother giving too much advice, cloth versus disposable, picking a name. Not what evil forces where lurking in the shadows. But sometimes, when she didn't think he was looking, she would place her hand on her abdomen and a look of such utter joy would come over her that Mulder knew none of that mattered as long as the baby was safe. At these time, a wave of tranquility would wash away the tension in the car, and he would be overwhelmed by the love he felt for this child and the woman who carried it inside her. It was a love that transcended friendship or sexuality, and he wondered if this is what fatherhood was like. That was a question that tickled at the back of his mind. Was he the father of this child? Scully seemed convinced that he was, although she had never come right out and said it. He knew she had requested a paternity and maternity test from the amniotic fluid, but he didn't think she had ever received the results. And she had shown no interest in getting them at this point. Maybe she would eventually want to know, but that would be her decision. But that still left him with the question, was he the father? Every time he tried to answer that question on his own, another, more relevant question would surface. Does it really matter? And the answer was always a resounding "No." Scully whimpered softly in her sleep. He wondered absently if she was dreaming. He would find out in the morning. That was one decision they had both wholeheartedly agreed on, to tell everything about their dreams. He had come to the conclusion that much of what had transpired over the past week could have been prevented or at least approached differently if they had known each others' dreams. He rose from the bed and sat softly next to her on the other. Ever so gently, he brushed some hairs back from her face. "Mulder?" she mumbled sleepily. "Everything's okay, Scully. Go back to sleep." She rolled over on her other side and sighed. "What are we going to do?" He knew that she wasn't talking about their short term plans; they had discussed those a number of times. She was fearing the same thing that he was, a completely new life filled with uncertainties. He slid down so that he was laying beside her, his chest resting against her back, and put his arm around her waist and rested his hand on her abdomen. He finally understood what the hougan had meant when he said that three was the strongest number. Before he had thought that Father Michaels was the third, and he had lost hope at his death. But now he knew they were three at this moment and had been three all along, and he could feel the strength as twilight descended on their motor lodge in rural New Mexico. "We wait," he said, as he finally allowed his eyes to close. "We wait together." Agent Beaubrun sat behind his desk at the Miami field office. Most of the other agents and staff had left for home over an hour ago. A cleaning woman vacuumed the next hallway over, so that he only heard the muffled hum of the machine as she ran it back and forth over the carpeting. Beaubrun picked up the receiver on his phone and reluctantly dialed the number from memory. He heard the phone answered on the other end, but no greeting was given, as usual. "Its Beaubrun." He said uneasily, fearful to give his message. "We've lost them. They are no longer in the D.C. area. Mulder isn't answering his cell phone or using his credit cards, so we haven't been able to trace him." And even the strength of the true new moon on the third night would not be enough to find them if they didn't have at least a general idea of where they were, he added to himself. He waited for a response, but there was none. The silence made him nervous, so he continued. "I have others looking, hopefully we will find them in time." Although he knew that time was running out, and if he didn't find them soon, his time would definitely run out. If only she had stayed in Miami until the new moon like she was supposed to, everything would have been taken care of. "Maybe if we could identify the people who were assisting them, but so far they have alluded us. Is there anything else we should do?" A deep voice, dripping with malice, finally responded. "Sooner or later they will make a mistake, then we will have them. Until then, we wait." "All dreams of the soul end in a beautiful man's or woman's body." W.B. Yeats Phases of the Moon