Title: Canticle

Author: CeilidhO

Summary: Four years after the capture of serial killer George Hoffman, Mulder and Scully's new life together is shattered when an unexpected visitor sweeps them into a new case, more terrifying and deadly than either could have imagined. (Sequel to "Disciple")

Disclaimer: Chris Carter and 1013 own the rights to Mulder, Scully, and all characters and concepts from the series. I, however, am the proud owner of all characters and situations I invented myself. All mine…

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Carbon County Courthouse
Price, Utah
May 26, 2008
3:54 pm
Seven months later.

"...Guilty."

At the foreman's words, the room burst into joyous noise, shouts and cheers and shared embraces. In the midst of the crowd, Scully closed her eyes in abject relief, tension sliding off her like a weight. As silence was demanded, she remembered that others were still waiting for justice, for deliverance, that first single pronouncement a hopeful beginning for the series to come.

"To the charge of first degree aggravated murder in the death of Simon William Brigham, we the jury find the defendant... Guilty.

"To the same charge in the death of Matthew Edward Hughes, we the jury find the defendant... Guilty.

"To the final charges of aggravated child kidnapping, aggravated unlawful confinement, and aggravated assault on a child, in the cases of Casey Jerome Whitman, Simon William Brigham, Matthew Edward Hughes, Thomas Robert Abrams, and Judas Laurence Hoffman, we the jury find the defendant... Guilty."

The room held it's breath, waiting. The judge leaned forward, his eyes narrowed. "And have you reached a sentence?"

The foreman, a heavyset man in his fifties, cleared his throat. "We have, Your Honor. Taking into account the defendant's age, mental health, and exceptional past experience, we the jury sentence John Francis Holtz to life imprisonment without chance of parole."

In Scully's direct line of sight, she saw the slumped shoulders of the young man at the defendant's table collapse onto the wood surface and begin to shake.

The judge leaned back in his chair and shrugged. "In that case, the trial of the State of Utah vs. John Holtz is now adjourned." The man's features hardened. "Get that thing out of my courtroom."

With the slam of the gavel, the room erupted into noise. Everywhere people were hugging, laughing, crying, slapping each other on the back and swearing vehemently in happiness. Reporters pushed out from the gallery, swarming to start interviews and scribbling frantic notes. In all the chaos and confusion, only three people remained immobile and seated.

Scully could see Jude's glossy black hair in between the shifting hordes of people, across the courthouse in what had become known as Mourner's Corner, where the grieving families and solemn children had sat through all the long weeks of the trial.

Directly ahead of both of them were the shuddering back and shoulders of John Holtz, clad in a white and grey prison jumpsuit and so thin that his bones made harsh angles beneath the fabric. They sat in a silent triad, each linked to the others in a bond inexplicably strong. Scully allowed her eyes to drift back and forth between the two boys.

She felt again how weak she had been in the weeks after the events at the bridge, how her body had lain just like this, faint and unresponsive. She had woken in the hospital on the 31st, on Jude's birthday, after four days of unconsciousness. When her eyes had cracked open, Mulder was sleeping in a chair by her side, bathed in the warm yellow light of the curtained room. When she had croaked out his name, he had held her and kissed her and chastened her all in a voice thick with pain and relief.

Mulder had explained in shattered tones how he had discovered her missing hours after the fact, last seen early afternoon, her cell phone ringing and ringing and eventually found in a pile of Jude's bedclothes. He explained how he had found the letter and determined where she had gone, how he had stormed the Field Office and demanded the helicopter; how he had flown above the flood pleading every moment with whatever force could hear him that she was not beneath its red water; how he had found them all unconscious on the riverbank, Scully's pulse so faint and her form so still that he thought her dead; about the infinite ride back to the hospital, every person involved at the bridge miraculously still alive. He spoke of the long hours in the Intensive Care waiting room, of receiving the final joyful news of her survival.

The scalpel- John Holtz's scalpel- had severed her bronchial artery and her right bicep, causing massive blood loss and tissue damage. What was more, the wound had become infected from the filthy river water, as had the others, and they were all confined in the same hospital for weeks with raging fevers, hypothermia and shock.

Those weeks had brought some of the strangest dreams Scully had ever experienced.

After her release from the hospital, a flurry of press and fear had rushed her back to Washington, sequestered there, recovering slowly, waiting for news of the trial, and finally, agonisingly, returning to Utah to sit through the endless weeks of testimony, to give her own, crucial account of events; to sit wracked with guilt and pain through Jude's pivotal speech; to learn with shock and horror of the tiny skeleton of another little boy, unearthed beneath the bridge by the ravages of the flood, the boy whose vindication had been achieved through the first guilty verdict read this day.

There was a flurry of motion at the front of the courtroom, jerking Scully to the present, as the guards stepped forward and lifted John Holtz to his feet. Reporters rushed forward, as close as they could get to the railings, and snapped photographs in blazes of white flashbulb lights. Scully found herself at the railing as well, a peculiar feeling of mingled fear and loathing pulsing through her as the thin young man- the boy, really- was led through the sealed doors and disappeared from her view forever.

His dead green eyes were the last thing she saw of him, thrown back to gaze at her, stark against the surrounding white of his pale skin and paler jumpsuit, chipped and flinty, shallow and milky, deadly and still dripping in the blinding rain of their past.

As the reporters trailed away, dispersing away down the outside steps of the massive spired courthouse, Scully drew a hand across her eyes and mouth. The late spring sunshine was strong against her face, close and warm and rising off the stones beneath her feet. Mulder came up to stand behind her, his presence gently brushing at her senses, his eyes narrowed against the sun.

"Are you about ready to go, Scully?" he asked carefully, his tone neutral and sympathetic.

Scully cast her gaze around the thinning crowd at the foot of the steps, her eyes catching the familiar faces: Dan and Peggy and their daughters, with newly adopted Jeremy laughing and flicking pebbles with glee, crouching adoringly at his new father's feet; Mrs. Holderman and her older son Cameron, Jude leaning in exhaustion against his tall foster brother's side, Mr. Holderman conspicuously absent; to the Brighams and the Abrams and the newly inducted Whitmans, the parents of the long-lost little boy uncovered beneath the bridge; to Rob and Jenna and the Abrams family, grasping the moments of publicity, deep in conversation with a reporter, Thomas' tiny face appearing fleetingly from behind his uncle's long legs.

Scully watched Thomas, examined his features and the way his body shied from noise and light and touch as if beyond his control. She turned to Mulder, weariness and sadness heavy on her eyes and shoulders.

"Do you remember what I said, Mulder, months ago, about the nature of the victim?"

He turned to squint at her against the glare. "About violence being like a haemorrhage, about how there's only so much we can do to stop it?"

"Exactly. We've stopped the bleeding, Mulder, but how much has already been lost, damaged and flooded beyond repair or reason? Does the cycle ever stop? How do we know that we won't find ourselves right here, years from now, mopping up the blood again, locking away another boy left crippled and broken from the events we believe that we're ending here today?"

Her gaze returned to Thomas, to his quiet dark eyes and his scarred and trembling body, and Mulder's followed. "I suppose we don't know, Scully, we can't know, not for sure. We can only trust in the strength of these new victims, and rely on them to keep us all from ever standing here again. We have to trust that they will all, somehow, be all right."

He reached over and took her hand in his gentle grip, and led her down the stone steps of the courthouse. On the final step, he reached out and clasped her chin, pulling her to him gently. The sun was as warm as his touch, and when they pulled apart she smiled softly up into his face.

Still smiling, Scully turned and cast one last gaze over the assembled pantheon of victims lit brightly in the falling rays. Conviction did its best to fill her, and she breathed a final goodbye.

"All right, Mulder," she said. "I'm ready to go."

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Final A/N: Well, this is it for this story and this fic-universe. It's been an incredible experience for me to start out in fanfiction with a story like Disciple, which so many of you loved, and for you readers to be kind enough to embrace my attempts at a continuation of the universe and the story line. Before I get much mushier, I'll just say a resounding, loving, heartfelt thank-you.

There is a last reviewer's question to answer: Guesto-Chan, thanks for noticing my little continuity slip-up. I've edited the previous chapter to fix the mistake.

Then, I'd like to thank, as I did for Disciple, all of the reviewers up to this time, in chronological order: Sqully, BrokenHeartsAndShatteredDreams, Gillian Leigh, Spooky'sAngel, Niobium, fae-de-luna, person, divad, jesseanne21, zelly, Erin, nina, asia27, thefreakyone, rachel, John, S-Bel, guardchik, V31, K, XImAnXFileX, 083186, Stefany, KT, and Guesto-Chan. Last but not at all least, Kennedy Morgan, who sent me a wonderful letter.

I'll being writing something else for you soon, I hope, so until then, thanks again and again.

-Ceilidh