(PhaHks Series)

by GeeLady GenieVB

Summary: While Mulder fights for his life, the

Agents continue their investigation into a

frightening, global X-File.





AUTHOR: GeeLady (GenieVB).


language, violence, disturbing scenes, adult


SPOILERS: "FOCUS/FOLDBACK" by GeeLady (GenieVB). Various

X-Files episodes' & FF.

DISCLAIMER: The X-Files series, movie, characters,

are the property of Chris Carter, Ten Thirteen

Productions and the Fox Network. I don't want

any credit, fame or fortune from X-Files, I only want

to write about your show and characters to entertain

myself and others.

I drool stupidly for feedback.

SUMMARY: While Mulder fights for his life, the

Agents continue their investigation into a

frightening, global X-File.


We shall be fold back unto ourselves.

Returning to that which sent us forth.

The Divine.

The Unblemished Way.

We shall become as children

with no memories.

(Excerpt from:

"A Composite of Scripture

In the Manner of Songs"

by GeeLady.)


The double doors to Skinner's office burst open when a

storm hit in the kinetic violence of Dana Scully. She strode

in and paused on shifting feet when she saw Director

Skinner was not alone but just in the movements of

dismissing another agent.

By the time the doors closed after the retreating co-worker,

the sails were full set again and she stopped just short of

slamming into his desk.

"Look!" She said in a voice tight with terrified fury, throwing

a manila folder on his desk with such force, the contents slid

across its length, some falling off the other end.

Skinner, putting aside for a moment her tempest-like entry,

looked down. Paperwork with chemical equations written in

her educated hand. X-ray films. He picked up one of the latter.

"What am I looking at?" The one he was holding showed

the typical eerie sight of a human's radiated skull.

But dead-center was a white, opaque mass that looked - for

no better description fit - like a tiny, multi fingered hand,

"digits" stretching back and down as though reaching to

embrace the spine.

"That's Mulder's x-ray your seeing. He's dying."

Skinner looked up and dead serious Scully looked back.

"What are you talking about? How is it he's dying? Why?"

Scully picked up a second X-Ray and waved it like a sword.

"Because of that Smoking son-of-a-bitch! That bastard has

done this to him!"

"You don't know that."

"I believe that. Because that's his style. It's just like him to give

something and then take it right back!"

Skinner cleared his throat.


Now Mulder.

"Do you think they, as in "They" are the ones responsible for

his eight year abduction? Does Mulder?"

"Mulder is over at Mercy Hospital getting "treatment". But

there is no treatment. Do you hear me? This," she waved the

film in the air, "is ENMS. Emily Sim's Neuro-Morphoses

Syndrome, known otherwise as The Nemesis. Emily's Disease.

She was the signature case, my daughter. The primary patient.

Ground Zero! The same thing that Emily had - the thing that

killed her is growing inside Mulder's brain. There is no effective

treatment. Do you understand? No treatment! No cure!" She

threw the film aside, not caring where it littered.

Skinner had nothing to say to fill the dead silence that

followed, excepting, "How did he contract it?"

"The "fingerprint". It must have been that. However they did it,

however they manufactured it, in whatever method Mulder

received it or from whom, it is my belief that it mutated

inside his own DNA. It "piggy-backed" using his genetic


"During his abduction, or the time he was exposed to the

Black Oil in Russia or the Retro virus, or some goddamn

thing that they did to him, until now it's been hiding, maybe

mutating all this time. Now it's using his own code; it's copying

his tissues at the molecular level and then like a parasite,

manipulating them to do it's bidding. It's growing a copy of

itself inside him, living off him!"

"Is that the theory of the other physicians also?"

Scully looked down as if the combined knowledge of the

knaves known as "specialists" was a collective joke. "The

"doctors" have no idea in hell what it is, sir." She explained.

"And it is immaterial to me how this was accomplished. Or

why. I will not accept this from them. I do not."

Skinner didn't offer comment on that last. Refusing what

was evident were words easily said, but often there were no

choices otherwise.

Eventually you accepted what the universe threw at you

because you couldn't hop a train to anywhere else.

"What do you want from me?"

"One month ago, I came to you and requested the

reopening of the X-Files Division. I'm now asking you again.

NOW, in the face of this, will you reopen them?"

Skinner sat down, slumping over on his desk. "How is that

going to help Mulder? He's ill so he's pretty much restricted to

desk duty no matter what. He'd have a note on his jacket and

wouldn't be permitted to carry a weapon. So, will you enlighten

me, how would the reopening of the X-Files Division help Mulder?"

"If I'm right about this - about where this disease comes from

and from who, the answers may lie within those files."

"Most of those files are ashes, Agent Scully. Has it ever

occur ed to you that Mulder IS where he is because of getting

involved with the X-Files to begin with?"

Scully wanted to laugh but inside was hysteria, not humor.

"Yes, I have. But it's a chance and if it means Mulder's life, I'll

take that chance. We're already partners so all you have to do

is to assign me as the X-Files Division head and complete

Mulder's transfer. I'll do the rest."

Skinner gathered the papers and films back into the folder,

retrieving the ones that had tumbled to the floor. "Are you sure

about his, Scully?"

"Up to this point? I've never been more sure of anything in

my life." She took her file and headed for the exit. Skinner

followed. "Agent Scully, a moment more if you please."

She stopped, waiting by the door.

Skinner stood close. Real close and leaned over to speak,

his breath hitting her cheek somewhere between her ear and

her chin. His words were clearly and softly said but as hard

as granite.

"Putting aside for a second how I feel about you, if you

ever burst into my office that way again, I'll have you snapped

back to Protective Services and you'll spend the rest of your

career guarding the former President's tomcat!"

Scully flushed. "Yes, sir." She said aware that her breath was

falling on his skin and mingling with his particular scent. "I

apologize. It won't happen again."

Skinner looked at her eyes now and seeing she meant it, he

exhaled, satisfied. "I'm sorry about Mulder." He gave her cheek

a chaste peck.

Voice wavering for just a second. "I-I know. Thank you, Sir."

Skinner pulled a set of keys out of his pocket. "Here. Meet me

at my car, you know the spot. I'm going to accompany you back

to the hospital. Dismissed."

Taking the keys, Scully said:

"Yes, sir."

En route to Mercy General, Infectious Isolation Ward.

Skinner's car:

Scully cursed herself and her lack of influencing power over

Mulder's actions or those unanticipated events that seemed ever

determined to come against him.

"I shouldn't have let him go to Seattle; go off to prove to himself

to me that he's worthwhile or prove whatever to people who don't

give a damn about him."

Skinner maneuvered the car through afternoon traffic. "Mulder

cannot sit on his ass, Scully. Nothing would have kept him at home

drinking warm milk and waiting. Even if you had known, he still

would have gone." Skinner understood Mulder's reasons for his

exit west, things that Scully perhaps did not, but it was best, he

decided, to leave them unspoken.

"Maybe. But those first months might have been the crucial time,

for treatment and for blocking the growth of this thing, or maybe

even reversing it. Now those months are gone."

"How much time does he have?"

"From the time of Emily's diagnosis to her death, it was just under

two months." Mulder is an adult, he's stronger, his system less

quickly compromised...they're not sure."

Skinner shook his head, turned into Visitor's Parking at Mercy.

Mulder had looked bad upon his return from Seattle, but Skinner

had put it down to what they all had: stress. And the knowledge

that Mulder was less than year out of long-term psychotherapy.

Skinner'd thought Mulder's thin, white face and pinched features

in the Men's Room that day was Mulder-Standing-At-The-Edge-And-

Thinking-About-It, "IT" being a swan dive into mental chaos, lithium

pills and just another patient with a sad history.

Body sickness, plain and simple, had never crossed his mind.

Scully had assured him the doctors were consulting together and,

with her input, would formulate of some kind of short-term care.

That meant treating the symptoms but not the disease.

Scully mentioned "pain management", "blood pressure and over

all physical state monitoring". "For a time".

Skinner took that as an indication that all three conditions would

need constant watching. He assumed Scully would make herself the

overseer in that regard, and in a day or so Mulder would be released

into her care. With his approval, Mulder would also assume limited

duties as Scully's assistant on the X-Files.

For Mulder, it was still a step up from the previous year.

Scully spoke:

"I'm going to stay with him in the hospital this afternoon. They

think he'll be ready to come home tomorrow or maybe the day after,

after we've devised a treatment program. We're already consulting

together on one. He'll be able to lead a fairly normal life, however

long or short it turns out to be."

"And they don't know for how long? Can you guess?"

Scully fumbled with the words. "With Emily, her- she lasted less

than two months from diagnosis to death. Mulder's an adult, he's

strong - well, relatively - though right now he's in a weakened state

due to...recent events. He'll survive longer they think. With proper

treatment, if he takes care at not over exerting himself."

A losing bet if ever there was one, Skinner thought.

"...and vigorous antiviral programs, if it was the retro-virus that

even caused this..."

"Did it?"

"Who knows?" Scully knew she did not sound like herself and

straightened mental shoulders, "We don't know. He was missing

for eight years and according to him, he was ill part of that time

but he just doesn't remember how or why, so..."

"So what is the prognosis for him being able to continue working?"

"As I said, if we follow the treatments, if he does, maybe a

f-few months."

Skinner heard the catch in her voice. She'd already outlined for

him how those symptoms would develop and the underlying

physical changes causing them. The bile was still in his throat,

refusing to budge.

Mystery illness and who would it find to get cozy with but Mulder?

A god awful way to die, prolonged agony (that in its last hours

eluded all the strongest morphine manufactured) would be

the last call before multiple aneurism, bleeding out and death.

Skinner was not a religious man but he wondered if whatever

gods were exorcizing their will had somewhere along the line

taken a good long look at Mulder and given an unanimous

thumbs down.

The first thing Skinner did after dropping Scully off back at

Mercy General was expedite the paperwork regarding Scully's

reassignment and Mulder's transfer.

The first thing Scully did after consulting with Mulder's doctors

regarding his general state and conditional release from the

hospital was call the Bureau and arrange to have an old, empty

filing cabinet removed and enough space made for a second

desk. Next was to have them place two names on the door

and two nameplates made, one for each agent.

She felt that it was the least they - the Bureau - could do. Mulder

wanted to work on the God's Children case and they were

allowing him to. In her opinion, they owed him that much. Was

his illness related in any way to it or was someone getting their

rocks off watching him suffer? A nicotine stained fingered

old prick came to mind as that possible someone.

Tomorrow night she would bring Mulder home from the hospital,

or maybe the next night, and they'd have one evening's peace

before it all began, before the case.

Then, together they would delve earnestly into its murky depths

while she kept careful guard over him as he began not only this

quest for an answer but his unstoppable slide into the horror

chambers of ENMS.

In her nightmares, Emily screamed up at her from that place.

Emily, her disfiguring and mutating body pulsing with pain, had

suffered an agony only the most potent drugs had eased. Emily,

her innocent angel child.

Scully's hands shook as she remembered the day, hour and

minute that Emily had slipped from her. Her eyes teared at the

thought of Mulder's words to her:

"No matter how much you love this little girl, she was never

meant to be."

How those words had cut her. How she had rebelled against

them and how she had turned cold and hard when he later

offered her a shoulder of support. Though it may have welled

up from her emotionally irrational center, her feeling soul that

had ceased to feel, she'd needed to hurt him back because

in her rational mind the very fact of Emily's existence supported

the rightfulness of it. She may have been brought into the

world in a bastardized way and for a perverted purpose,

but once here, she'd had every right to stay.

For some reason Scully couldn't fathom, Mulder had not

understood that basic universal truth.

Scully remembered with sadness Mulder's confusion at her

sudden coolness toward him. Coolness for a long time. She

had not told him so, but after Emily's death, for a time she

had seriously considered quitting the Bureau.

In retrospect she was glad she had not.

"Not meant to be.", whatever that meant, had not been true

with Emily then, and certainly not with Mulder now.

He had two months, perhaps three. Not enough time to

finish what they had started, but enough time, perhaps, to

find an answer.


It explained so much.

Mulder's intolerance to changes in air pressure and

altitude, therefor his physical distress in the elevator

(the only incident about which she was personally

aware), and his fainting.

It explained why he had not flown back to D.C. but

had chosen instead to drive the entire five thousand


To Scully that said his condition had been developing

slowly over the previous year. A year in which something

could have been done had she not been so negligent

- and stupid - in not getting him to specialist after specialist

until the spurious DNA "fingerprint" could be identified

and dealt with.

It explained the pain in his abdomen that worsened

when under stress, the stress increasing heart rate,

the heart pumping faster, heightening his blood

pressure, the arteries then expanding and contracting,

straining, forcing his blood through cranial and upper

body canals that were slowly thickening and growing

more ridged with each passing day and stretching and

weakening his lower body vessels until a kind of body

wide migraine resulted, the worst effect - the feeling of

intense pressure in his abdomen as if something were

trying to be birthed from the stomach up through and out

the gullet.

It explained his headaches, the weakness and

malnutrition that was not simply the result of poor eating

because of a specific type of hernia that he had suffered

for the years since his return, but of what was happening

deep in his body and brain tissue.

It explained so much except what to do next.

ENMS was insidious, progressive and ultimately incurable.

Mulder was dying and whether it took six weeks, six months

or longer, she was helpless to prevent it.

The problem was, no one really knew what ENMS was.

They, the specialists with whom they'd thus far consulted,

knew what it did. That is, they knew what Emily's ENMS

had done to Emily.

They really didn't know what Mulder's was going to do

to him, although they had an idea.

In fact, Scully had read the few articles and research

reports that had been done on this brand new disease (it's

origin one that only she, Mulder and a few others held

any accurate suspicions about), that manifested itself in such

bizarre, painful and debilitating ways.

Scully had taken notes from those journals and read them

over and over to herself while she watched Mulder sleep.

Scully visited the hospital, for hours at a time, the list wrinkled

and damp from being held in her clenched fist, her eyes never

leaving his face, her heart barely beating in time to anything

that was earthly or real.

Simple living and hope seemed as remote from that hospital

room as Satan was from being seized with a change of heart

and crawling on bleeding knees to Saint Peter.

/"ENMS (Emily's Neuro-Morphing Syndrome): A mutative

disorder characterized by a systematic cellular metamorphoses

in the central and peripheral nervous system and/or

arterioscleroses but without the causal buildup of plaque (the

arteries instead becoming tunicated within a sclerechymatous

skeleton manifesting crystalline characteristics or calcerated


/"Although ENMS displays some symptoms similar to GBS and

CDIP, it is believed that ENMS (originating within the reticular

formation in the brain stem), is a spontaneous, mutative and

progressive disease that may or may not also have an outside

causal factor; virus or trauma not being excluded."/

Scully had read that and more. So much more. And she

remembered Emily's face as the agony would overcome her

and she would cry and beg her mommy to make it stop.

/"The symptoms of ENMS are varied but generally follow

as: Progressive tunication of the arteries and smaller vessels,

and all neurofibrotic tissue, causing pain that spreads first

to the neck and torso and, finally in the later stages of the

disease, the limbs and extremities. Due to the calcareous

encasement of first the larger blood vessels, the vascular

system is put under such pressure in the lower body and limbs

that multiple aneurism occur, resulting in internally bleeding out.

The same sclerechymatic involvement of the central and

peripheral nervous system result in first tingling, extreme

pain and, finally, loss of feeling and coordination throughout

the body of the patient.

/"Eventually, foreign material from the invading tissues

pollute the blood until the liver and kidneys reach toxicity.

At this stage, ENMS becomes fatal."/

Scully shifted in her chair.

Mulder's oxygen mask fogged and cleared as his sleeping

breaths came and went. His in and exhales and the beeping

of the machinery around them was a steady, comforting

music that tore holes in her heart.

/"Tunication of the arteries"/...

Scully felt the room spin.

/"Calcareous encasement"/...

It was cold and quiet.

/"multiple aneurism"/...

She felt as heavy as lead within its chilly air.

/"bleeding out"/...

Nurses came and went.

/"tingling, extreme pain,...loss of feeling,...toxicity"/...

Mulder slept peacefully.

/"...it is...fatal."/

Scully had read it over and over, understood it and

knew that, other than the terrible ordeal ahead of her

friend and partner, it told them essentially nothing.

The summation of the report, several pages of doctor-speak,

could in fact have been written with three short sentences:

"We don't know what causes it. We don't have any long

term treatments. There is no cure."

Mulder lay sleeping on the single bed, sparkling white sheets

under and over him, as yet unaware of his own condition. It

would be her job, she'd insisted to the attending specialist, to

inform him.

She still could hardly believe it herself.

Finally, Mulder stirred and opened squinting eyes on a bright,

white room.

Scully quickly drew the curtains on the sunshine pouring

through the window. She turned, "Hey."

Disoriented only for a few seconds, he looked okay. In fact,

he looked fine. "Hey. I'm still here?"

Scully gulped down the sickening lump in her throat and

swore she could feel it sliding down. "If you mean are you

still in the hospital, yes."

Mulder looked at her and nodded. Smiled for her and she

wanted, not to smile back but scream bloody, burning hell.

She smoothed the sheets over him, straightening the

creases. "Mulder-"

"-I know, Scully. Watts told me."

She sucked a quick breath, feeling betrayed and relieved too.

She'd wondered if Watts would decide to ignore her request

and inform Mulder of his condition himself. It certainly wasn't

standard for a friend or family member to do so, medical

background or not. "Oh, Watts told you?"


She nodded, suddenly finding she was without courage and

couldn't look at him at all. She didn't want to see his handsome

normal face while holding the knowledge that it would not

remain that way but slowly become distorted and drawn

tight by pain and weakness.

But, in this, he would not allow her to evade him and lifted

her chin to look at her, forcing her to look back.

And that was, as always, her breaking point; his gentle hand

on her, lifting her up; his compassionate eyes upon her, wanting

to share in whatever she was feeling, and she began to cry

with those long, endless tears, clinging to him, hiding her face

away in his hair and the curve of his shoulder.

He continued to hold her tightly. "Looks like I've got us into

another fine mess!" He joked in a Laurel/Hardy-ish mock.

It made her giggle just a little, in between sucking heaves

and more tears. "You make me crazy. How can you joke?" she

asked, her voice muffled by his skin and gown but knowing the

answer. It was often how he coped with fear.

Scully raised her head and looked at him, long and hard.

"You're...you've got ENMS, Mulder."

"I know, I know." He held onto her hand, so tiny, he noticed

not for the first time, in his large one. "We'll work something


Mimicking,"work something out."? "Mulder, you're not

late with the rent payment. This is ENMS, a debilitating

disease." One or two tears still fell but the un-

controllable storm of grief for now had passed. "What are we

going to do?"

He looked around. "Well, first of all, we get me out of here.

Then, while I'm being a good boy and taking all my medication

and obeying all those annoying "recovery restrictions" I know

the good Doctor Watts and you are going to outline for me,

we continue with the case."

Scully blinked. Stared. "The case?? Mulder, to hell with the case.

You're sick. That's what we should focus on, finding a cure or some

sort of treatment that will work."

He brought her hand up to his lips. "Scully. Right now I feel

pretty okay, and what's stopping us from doing both? I can still

do research and some limited field work, can't I? Let's get to


Exasperated, "Mulder-"

"-Scully. Let me look for my answers," he held her hand

tighter, "while I still have time."

She rubbed fingers, nodded. Understood. "Okay."


For now.

Three days later:

The first thing Mulder knew (stable-for-now and released

from the hospital) was to find himself sitting at his new desk

in his old basement office, reading "Fox Mulder" on a pewter

name plate and staring across at Scully, his new Division Head.

He had Level 12, though "medically restricted" status. The

same level (minus the restrictions) that Scully had achieved

after five years under him.

Two days back in the basement and his head was still spinning.

Scully had done this for him. Taken him home, taken him in.

Doled out his medication to him every morning. En route they'd

(she driving because it was no longer legal for him to), stopped

at Heavenly Hole and gotten extra large coffee's and donuts

by his insistence. He was sick of hospital food and besides, he

made a solemn promise that it would be the last unhealthy liquid

or solids to pass his lips as long as he was sick.

Now, in his new and polished swivel chair, he kept looking at

her over the top of his computer screen.

Strong, intelligent, goddamn beautiful female!

Sitting there opposite him in three inch heels, chewing on a

pencil and yawning sat, he was certain, the future Director

of the F.B.I..

Skinner parked in front of her building, sitting a moment

before entering and buzzing her apartment. It was a place

had been before but not enough times to feel at home

or even comfortable.

Scully answered and let him in.

"Here's his old work file, restriction orders, new badge number.

It's all there."

He could have waited until Monday and given it to Mulder


"Come in, sir." Scully ushered and closed the door after him,

gesturing to a comfortable looking chair. One built for

curling legs under and reading.

He sat, not removing his coat. "Is something wrong, Scully?"

She sat opposite him, "No. Other than..."

Than Mulder's dying, Skinner finished in his head.

She took an envelope off her coffee table and handed it

to him. "I just thought that since you're here, I'd give this to

you today instead of Monday. It's the treatment regime we

concocted. Medication, activity restrictions, my recommendations

as to filed assignments, daily hours,...for Mulder."

Skinner emptied it and glanced through the medical terminology.

Over his career, he'd learned to glean basic information from

sometimes incomprehensible scientific language.

"This is a strict regime. Are you sure you can implement all

this with him?"

"We'll do everything there is to do."

"He may not be willing to endure the regime of treatment

outlined here. We both know Mulder - he'll balk at the first

sign of being smothered."

"I'll convince him."

"And if he says no, will you force him?"

"That's not fair."

"If I understand it, you still have power of attorney over

Mulder if he is incapacitated, either physically or mentally.

Are you going to defy his wishes if he refuses some of this


"The treatment could help him."

Skinner looked beyond Scully to the bedroom, where Mulder

would be spending his nights beside her. Making love?

Touching her, at least. (He'd never seen her bedroom).

"And what about when the symptoms get to be too much and

hospitalization is needed? Will you force him then?"

"If necessary. If it comes to that, it'll be for his own good."

"It's not me you have to convince. Let him have the dignity

to make his own decision, Scully. From what you've told me

and from what I'm reading here, it will come to that."

"If it gives him a little more time to seek an answer, then

he will agree."

"And if it gives you just one more day, you don't care why he agrees,

as long as he does, do you?"

She was truck dumb by his words. Impacting her mind

like a tanker truck because they were undeniable.

No, no she didn't.

He eased off. "What can be done, in the later stages?

Surgery? Like with me? The Lazer treatments?"

Walter Skinner was a practical man. If there was a possible

solution, seek it out. If there was a course of action to be

taken, take it. If a question could be asked, an answer

should be forthcoming.

"Yes, we've already discussed Lazer surgery to weaken

the sclerenchymatous walls, but there is the risk that it

could weaken the blood vessels themselves. In any event,

surgery will only prolong his life, it is in no way a cure in

this case."

Scully was also a practical woman, and a woman of

science. But she was a woman who had seen things

that defied laws of time and space again and again,

though never admitting as much to herself or to her

partner who was now possessed by something

unnatural, at least unnatural to what she knew of time

and space.

People don't change into something else.

But something, something perhaps alien, was changing

inside Mulder. More than that, it was changing him,

and in the processes occurring within his body, he himself

would eventually become the instrument of his own death.

"We can make him comfortable as long as possible..." She

added with finality that made Skinner wince.

He heard the unmistakable dead ending in the phrase.

"Is there anything I can do, for you or him?"

"Let him keep working as long as possible. Let him find

an answer, if there is one." She seemed tired to death

of saying it. Skinner did not think she believed in answers

any longer.

"All right."

Scully thought to spend the rest of her Saturday alone in her


Tomorrow she would bring Mulder back here and they would

resume "living" together. Working. Maybe loving?

She didn't know and she was afraid to find out.

"Any exertion beyond walking on the level is to be avoided."

Watts had said and she had concurred, knowing the risks to

him physically. Cardiovascular pressure,...aneurizms

somewhere down the line,..bleeding out and death.

She and Mulder had melded for a few perfect hours. For the

first time in their lives they'd been physically intimate with

each other and she had never felt happier at any time in her

memory. Two wonderful days together drinking each other in,

even being so gloriously selfish as thinking about nothing

but their own wants and feeling so foolishly optimistic as

talking about their future and how they would share it and


Now, it, once again, had been ripped away like burnt skin.

She felt no more like Dana Scully but Dana Scully's corpse.

Loving someone meant touching them, making love to

them, and she would never be able to touch Mulder again

for fear of hurting him, causing the sickness to worsen and take

him from her sooner than she could stand. And as it stood

right now, the exit date was killing her.

Scully washed dishes that she had left piled high. Food stuck

to the plates like concrete and she had to scrub. One was

old spaghetti in a pot and some had burned to the bottom.

She scrubbed, making little headway against the sinewy pasta

adhering to the glass bottomed boiler. Hard, curled blackened

worms under her fingers refused to move until finally, with a

scream of rage, she flung the entire mess at the kitchen wall

behind her, breaking it into a hundred pieces.

She had hoped the breaking the pot would assist her, help her

begin the mourning of her ruined hope and his perfect and loving

life, the depths of which she had only just discovered in the

exploration of his warm flesh.

But it did not do that.

Instead, it was just a broken pot that she would have to clean up.

She would never be able to make love to him from now until

death did part him from her. She swept the shattered glass into

a pile, and then into the dustpan, ready for the wastebin.

Hand hovering over the bin, Scully hesitated. Something

held her back and she dumped them instead into a brown

paper bag and left her apartment.

Two hours later, she entered Mulder's tiny bachelor suite, bag in


Locating a plastic bowl, she filled it with lukewarm water from

the tap and with Mulder's tiny fishnet, scooped out his fish from

his bubbling tank into the plastic bowl to preserve them alive

while she completed her task.

Scully opened the bag over the tank and let the pebble-sized

yellow glass pieces, now ground smooth like marbles, fall to

the bottom of he tank and spread out. She arranged them a

little, smoothing them over the bottom, corner to corner. In the

dim light of his sole table lamp, they glowed eerily, as if lit

from within like pacific shrimp.

She replaced the fish and they swam contented.

A course was set and she'd go. Willingly and no matter what.

Somehow, Mulder would survive and even if he didn't and she

was forbidden to touch him as a lover should, she would hold his

head in her hands. If tiny kisses placed upon his hair and temples,

if the overwhelming love for him about which she now had no

doubts; if any of these things had the power to decapitate this

monster emerging from his cells, she would bestow them


And if they proved to be powerless, she would give them still

and slap it's hateful face.

God's Children Investigation. Case # 21,


Scully peeled off her fourth pair of latex gloves

and tossed them in the white, sterile bag she'd

been carrying from room to room.

Mulder was off questioning the workers, leaving her

to examine the dead.

In this case - five dead staff and one dead child. He,

seven years old, at a cursory glance appeared to be

sleeping, curled up on his side dressed in red pajamas

with little rocket ships on them.

He should be in his own bedroom in a nice house somewhere

watching Saturday morning cartoons and eating Coco-Crunchies,

Scully thought. Instead he was lying in an isolation room bed in

a State Care Center, his heart no longer beating.

Dead without cause, that's what she would find, just like

all the others. Disturbing his flesh by an invasive autopsy

right now seemed barbaric thing to her. There remained little

doubt in her mind that they would discover nothing new.

Mulder was making his way to her passed the uniforms

and apron clothed forensic team.

"How's it going?" When she didn't answer right away, Mulder

placed a hand on her shoulder. "Are you all right?"

Scully shook herself from her introspection and straightened,

taking the opportunity to stretch. "Yes, I'm just tired of

seeing dead children, especially these dead children. I'm

just - I'm at a loss, and I think so is everyone."

A sympathetic nod. "This one went down almost in plain

view of seven other staff members. You feel up to hearing the


She nodded and they moved away from the crime photographers

and the rest of the still living who walked to and fro.

"In a nut shell, three armed, masked figures, we'll assume males,

walked in the front door, took the stairs to this ward, shot four of the

staff in the usual way." Mulder gestured to the door where

beyond lay wards of now empty junior sized beds. "None of the

other children were killed."

"Why the difference with this one? At all the other crime scenes, all of

the adults and children were murdered by shooting except for the

mystery child, the one who is found dead without cause." Scully still

saw the little fellow and wondered what had happened in his so unfairly

short life that had first brought him to a State run child care institution.

Had he a mother once?

"I've been thinking about that and the difference in this case is this

little boy was being kept isolated. I'm wondering why."

"Maybe they felt they didn't need to kill everyone in the building

if it was the boy they were after."

"But it still doesn't make sense. Why not murder the other children

this time? Why not kill all the staff in the Center? Why only those

staff working in this ward?"

Scully shook her head as if to dispel a headache. "The children

are the key, Mulder. These dead for unknown reasons children, I'm


"Three of the dead staff members were also infected with the Black

Oil, Marchbank said you were taking samples. He didn't say of what."

Scully nodded. "I didn't tell him. He's just on loan from Quantico.

There's so many bodies..."

Mulder noticed how tired she looked. The whole thing was straining

her, stretching whatever reserves she had left after her worrying

constantly after him. "If you're finished your examinations, do you

want to take a break, Scully? I'll finish up here."

She shook her head. "This Black Oil, whatever it is, whatever it

does, I think it's a secondary element in whatever is going on. Even

if this is some deep, dark conspiracy with aliens on the one side

and CancerMan on the other, and the kids somewhere in the

middle playing some pivotal role, still these children should not be

dead. They are the primer to the entire equation."

"I think you're right, but without some idea about why these kids are

being killed and why they are being killed the way they are being killed,

I can't even speculate beyond some fantastic religiously motivated

cult murders. And even if these murders were the ritual of some

new Millennium Feak-Out Group, why aren't they letting the world

know? Why aren't they "enlightening" the rest of us about their

reasons and convictions that what they are doing is necessary

and "right" in the eyes of their god?"

"What about the faceless men? Maybe these are...I hate to say it,

I hate even admitting I'm considering the possibility of it, but

maybe these killers are the Rebels. Maybe they're killing off

those infected with the Black Oil and these children are

the reason.

"Nearly all the murdered adults thus far have been

the guardians of the children. Up until now, in each case it

was parents or legal guardians but this time, it was here, a

correctional youth facility, an orphanage. That dead little boy

in there had no parents but for the staff who worked here."

Exasperated, Scully tied up her bag of soiled gloves and tossed

them aside for the clean up crew to later remove.

Mulder smiled at her and it was only after a moment that she

noticed. "Alien Rebels? Scully, you're turning me on big time."

She allowed herself the luxury to return a small grin. "What about

the surveillance cameras - anything?"

"Funny you should mention that. They recorded the whole thing,

that is, the cameras were functioning, but what we saw when we

played it back was ten minutes of static."

Scully raised her eyebrows.

"Is this a File or what?" Muddling through what she'd said before,

"That brings us to another question. What is so special about these

kids that anyone - Smokey, the Rebels - whoever, felt they needed

to be watched over? I don't think we're going to find the answer to

that until we can find one who is still alive."

"How do we do that, Mulder. We have no idea who we're looking for.

These children were from all walks of life. Different social and economic

backgrounds. Different continents. How in hell do we target the next


He sighed heavily and was aware of Scully's eyes suddenly watching

him. "I'm all right, Scully."

"You may feel okay right now, Mulder, but you're far from all right."

He took her arm. "Scully, don't strain your neck looking after me

every minute. I appreciate it but it's going to make it hard for me to

do my job. You're not exactly tip-op yourself right now."

"Thanks a lot."

"You know what I mean."

"As long as you're honest with me, Mulder, when you do begin to feel

worse, then I'll tell you when I'm ready to call it a day."

"Done deal."

"In the meantim-" Scully's cellular chirped for attention. She pulled

it out, "Scully."

Mulder waited patiently for her to finish her call.

Her face was scrunching up by the time she'd ended the call. "Uh,

look, Mulder, I have to go back to Quantico, something to do with

some mix up with samples or something..."

He watched her eyes look everywhere but at him. "Okay. See you back

here in what, a couple hours?"

"Let me call you." She smiled once and hurried off, leaving Mulder

watching after her. Dana Scully was not a liar, not even white lies,

not even if being completely honest meant hurt feelings, but he had just

had the distinct impression that Scully had out and out bullshitted him.

"Agent Mulder." Someone needed his attention and he was forced to

delegate any more speculation to a back burner for the time being.

Scully put her explorer in Park and climbed out. The visitor's parking

lot was surrounded by trees and groomed pathways, all leading down

to artificial pools of leaf-covered water. A few ducks paddled through

the leaves, making little pathways of their own.

Scully found a bench and sat, waiting for the subject of her odd phone


In only a moment or two, he sat down beside her. He must have

walked up from behind.

"Thank you for coming." He said in greeting.

Scully turned to face a stranger. "Who are you?"

"My name isn't important, what I have to tell you is." At first glance,

she would have labeled him as a crazy old man.

He was old, though she suspected that he appeared older than his actual

years. A lot of fine, white hair brushed straight back from his forehead

surrounding a face so lined and wrinkled, it was as though an artist had

carved it from an ancient block of oak. Imbedded within those lines and

wear was two intelligent, watchful eyes that peered out upon her and

the world with decades of accumulated knowledge of good things and

bad. He had a thin wide, mouth put there by hard experience.

Scully speculated that those eyes and that face had perhaps taken in far,

far too much of the harsh side of life and when he spoke, the sound of

his voice reminded her of the winter wind that moves through naked

tree branches with icey puffs on its way to an empty place. A take

it or leave it voice. Soft. Bleak.

"What do you have to tell me that you couldn't tell me over the phone."

She asked.

He didn't answer directly, something that, she was soon to learn, was a

trademark of his personality. "You're working on the God's Children

case." He began.

She nodded. "Yes. And my partner, Agent Mulder."

He nodded back.

"That's common knowledge," she stated, "it's in all the papers."

He stared directly into her eyes for a few seconds and then turned away

to look out over the duck pond.

It disconcerted her. Maybe he was just a crazy old man?

"I used to be involved with some people." He began as if reciting from

a written confession spoken for the first time. "Those people, I believe,

have taken a great interest in these "God's Children". "

"Who were these people?"

"Are. They are a radical religious group who think that their

beliefs, their interpretation of the future is the correct one."

"That's true of most religious groups."

"This group plans, in fact I believe they have begun implementing

those plans, a plan to write the future. Or to help God do so."

"Are you saying this group of yours-"

"-NOT my group. I left years ago when I began to learn what they

really are."

"You're saying this "group" are responsible for the murders of those

family's and the deaths of the "God's children"?"

"It is possible they have taken an interest in these kids, yes. As for

being the killing force, I have no proof, just speculation."

He rubbed hands together and watched the ducks. "It is also

possible that this group was responsible for your recent abduction."

Scully was shocked but it passed instantly when a most logical

connection clicked in her mind. "Because I'm on the case?"

"It does follow. If they are somehow involved with the deaths of

these kids, and they know you are on the case, it would suit

their interests to exert influence; to keep the power in their hands;

to control it."

"What power? It wasn't me they were interested in, they-"

"I know. It's your partner, Fox Mulder."

"What do you know about these people? Why did they want Mulder

off the case? Why the threats? Why, if they're interested in these

children as you believe, would they want to prevent us from

finding a way to save them?"

He turned to look at her and his eyes lent an almost physical

weight to his next words. "Where were you when the North

West Outbreak was occurring?"

Scully thought for a second. "I, we, my parner and I, were in

Antartica actually."

He didn't even blink. "I was living in Seattle with my wife and daughter.

My wife died of it. My daughter and I were immunized."

"But how was that possible? There was no immunization, at least not

at that time."

""They" - the group - provided immunization for me without my

knowledge. You may think they were doing us a favor but it was

all about wanting control over us. Over me. Power and the exerting

of that power to bring about their own ends.

"A short time after the death of my wife, I left the group. When my

daughter turned twelve I sent her to live in the East in a location

and with people I will never reveal to anyone. I'll die before I'll

divulge her whereabouts. I wouldn't let them control me or my

family. You could say they were not pleased with my lack of

appreciation, they probably thought I should have been eternally

grateful that they had spared me. It was only through a good friend

that my daughter's life was saved at all. That friend paid for

her generosity to them and to me with her sanity and freedom.

"These people are dangerous, Agent Scully. They have

representatives that span the nations. They have men and

women in positions of wealth and power that allow them

near immunity from justice under any human law, and they

are very, very focused on reaching their goal. To emphasize to you

just how dangerous they are, then believe me when I tell you that

they are responsible for the North West Outbreak."

Scully stared. "Hundreds of thousands died in that outbreak."

"I could tell you how I know that, but none of it can be proved.

It's the truth. An engineered Prion virus that kills within minutes.

It was all part of their goal maybe. Rid the earth of evil, "prepare the

way", I don't know. I don't know."

"You still haven't told me what that goal is."

"I"m almost certain these kids are the key..."

Scully gave a start when she heard, so soon, her own words echoed

back to her from that windswept voice,

"...to their "vision" and that they believe these kids, these "God's

children" are not ordinary children. I'm positive they think these

children are supernatural. Divine. Humans with a destiny beyond

this earth."

Scully absorbed every word and her scientific and spiritual sides

battled with each other. "If that is so, why are the children's families

being killed? Why murder the children themselves?! Don't they fear

God's wrath for committing such heinous crimes? Acts that directly

violate his laws?"

"As I said, they believe they are doing God's work. They think they

are his instrument for some Holy Future; their vision of it I suppose you

could say."

"So the warning to me to keep Mulder away was to protect

their interests? Mulder is a supporter of the supernatural, he believes

in things beyond this world, though not necessarily deities."

"Ever since I was a profiler for the F.B.I., I've been watching

Agent Mulder, not as a spy or with some hidden agenda, but just out

of curiosity. He's brilliant. He's focused and he pursues his passions with

everything he is. I think others have been watching him as well, this

"group" included. Agent Scully, they believe that Fox Mulder is a kind

of prophet, one who preaches against, if you will, the common,

accepted picture the governments paint for their subjects."

"Look, whoever you are, you talk in neat little circles. They think

Mulder is a prophet so I assume that means they want him alive

and unharmed, yet I was threatened with his death if I did

not keep him from pursuing the case we're currently on. Do

they value him or do they want him dead? It can't be both."

"Ever read your bible, Agent Scully."


""A prophet is not dishonored, except in his own territory". He

quoted. Agent Mulder was a welcome and unexpected consort

to them and their agenda for years, but now Agent Mulder is

looking to finding out not only how the children are dying, but

who's killing them and he wants the killings to stop. If there is

one thing all scriptures preach, it's that a holy one does not

become a spirit until first its body suffers death. Agent Mulder

alive is a holy thing. Agent Mulder dead is still holy but out

of the way. Don't think they would not carry out their threat."

"So, they've tolerated, in fact applauded, Mulder's work until

now, but now they want him shut down?"

He touched her arm, just the lightest touch, but she saw his eyes

go dark and clouded for that second. They became pools

of black water swirling with images of her own face and the face

of another Agent not present but accounted for.

She sucked a quick breath and pulled her arm away.

The old man's face had fallen. "I am sorry,...I didn't realize

that they had already..." He didn't finish his thought.

"What?" She stared back, knowing yet not knowing what he was

talking about.

"I didn't realize." He said

Scully swallowed. He knew. Somehow he knew, about Mulder,

the fact of his ENMS, something no one but no one knew outside

the doctors, Skinner and herself.

"They..? They did this?" This new mystery group? They had done

this to Mulder? She suddenly had fantasies of tracking down each

and every last member, placing her gun against their temples

and pulling the trigger.

As if reading her very thoughts, "I don't know for sure, but it is

a possibility." Crazy Man said.

"The doctors are hopeful." Pointless to lie to him but she did so


Yet, Scully believed him - this wrinkled crazy old man-

speaking to her of "Them" and "The Group", as casually as

Mulder had often done of "Cancerman" and Cancerman's

behind the scenes "Them" and "They".

Scully stared into Crazy Man's eyes, now warmed over with

sadness for her and for her dying partner, and believed beyond

a grain of doubt that he was telling her the truth; that these

people were dangerous killers who wanted to rule the future

alongside God, and that at the center of it all was Mulder

whom they believed to be a now gone wayward prophet who

must be kept submissive and silent; her partner and life who was

infected with a terrible illnes that would kill him a few short

months from that moment.

Scully looked back at the white haired old kook and believed

every word. He had no reason to lie. Not about any of it.

And he had no reason to hurt her about Mulder or deny that he

now knew as well as she that Mulder was as good as dead.

"Yes." She said, dropping her gaze.

She did not want to see herself in his eyes as she spoke

the words aloud. They had been putrifying in her heart so

long, she was afraid they, once released, would somehow

reach him and worsen his illness by their terrible and

painful truth.

"Yes, he's dying." Scully repeated.

"I'm sorry. I wish I could help you. But I can't."

Her white haired, mysterious informant sighed and stood.

She grabbed at his arm. "Wait! How do I reach you?"

"You can't. IF I have anything more to say. I'll contact you."

Scully watched him walk away on the red pebbled path

back through the trees.

She wondered if she was going mad.

As Scully entered their shared basement office, she

caught Mulder in the middle of popping a palm

full of pills and swallowing them down with a few

jiggers of water, trying to hide the entire act from her.

"How'd your meeting go?" Mulder asked.

She'd walked in about his regular med.'s time. It was cool

and damp as usual in the room, which she reasoned was not

a very healthy environment for him in his present condition.

Momentarily, Scully argued with herself if whether, by putting

in a request, Skinner would assign them warmer accommodation

in an office above ground with decent access to heat and light.

Mulder was hunched over his lap top, typing away. Since

returning to almost full time work, paper work didn't seem

to bother him anymore. For the time being she decided she

would forego a request for a new office. Mulder was happy

where he was.

"Uh,...fine." Scully also debated telling Mulder of her unusual

encounter. Since her strange meeting in the park, she'd

come to think more and more that the man had been nothing

more than what he appeared to be, a kook.

Scully recalled his words, though, and his ability to almost read

her thoughts and his knowledge of Mulder's illness that no one

knew about except for a select few.

Unusual man. Odd man. Maybe a little crazy, even. But one

she felt compelled to take at his word.

Except there was no proof that what Crazy Man had said was the

truth. Scully decided she would keep her secret meeting a secret

until she had that proof. Tell Mulder and he'd likely be off like

a blazing rocket, trying to find the guy and get it out of him himself.

Mulder was ill. She wanted him near her.

"I was right. Some mix-up. Not worth dragging me away

from the investigation, though." She hoped she would not have

to tell Mulder any more lies should she meet up with Crazy

Man again. Her conscience couldn't take it.

"What happened while I was away?"

"We wrapped it up about an hour ago. When you didn't

return, I had them ship the bodies to Quantico, they're

there for you whenever you're ready."

"Tomorrow." She had little stomach for more blood and guts that


He nodded.

She watched him work for a moment. "You've put in a long

day." She said and saw his shoulder's tense up.

"Scully, we talked about this. I feel fine. I'm just typing. That's

all, just typing. There's nothing strenuous about it."

She tried to cover her worry. Couldn't help the worry, but tried

not to let it be obvious every time she looked at him,

knowing what she knew about what was happening inside

of him, that it was eating him alive.

And her.

Bit by bit she was dying right along side him. Every sigh from

him, everytime he stood to stretch cramped muscles or every

time he sat down in a chair to rest, a vision of Emily came to

her. In secret she would sneak up and with innocent eyes wide,

whisper his name in her ear.

(Three days later):

"We have another multiple killing." Scully placed the file

under his nose.

Mulder's face lit up like fireworks and Scully gave her

head the tiniest shake of amazement that Mulder did not


Even as sick as he was, it was as if she had placed an all

day sucker in the hands of a six year old. Big, round anticipating

eyeballs glowed from some deeply powered light, shining

out for all to see and be illuminated by.

All while standing out in the rain under an overcast sky.

Despite their years together, despite the disappointments,

despite his sickness that weighed over her like the stinking

corpse of a beached whale, she loved that look of his.

This, she thought, was why she had stayed.

Despite everything before and anything that might come,

they were back together in that crummy office.

Whatever truths needed uncovering, they would be

the ones found holding the shovels and their laughing

scorners, the Bureau and the whole sleeping, complacent

world was someday going to know what had been

accomplished here.

History was being written on two gouged wooden desks

in the corner of a basement.

Scully waited patiently as her partner read the typed

written pages and scanned the faxed photos of the crime


"England and Denmark. Two cases each." Mulder commented.

"Exactly the same M.O.. Dead family by gunshot wounds to

the upper back. One other dead child killed by unknown


Mulder shook his head. No matter how many of them he read,

the circumstances seemed extraordinary. An international

cult? Murdered family. One child dead (sacrifice?) but left intact.

Except no trace evidence of how the child had died. And

in country after country, hundreds of cases all the same. There

were now dozens of task forces across the U.S., Canada and

a dozen more nations all studying the cases and trying to make

head or tails of any of them.

"I don't know if the gunshot to the back is of any significance

other than that it is an effective way to kill someone. Death

at that particular spot is almost guaranteed." Scully offered.

"Except in the instance of Colleen Allenby, she survived."

"Yes, but it was blind luck that she did." Scully pointed to

a diagram. "The caliber of the bullet and the point blank

range - every victim had powder burns as well - plus

the location of entry would mean the heart would stop

almost instantaneously. There would be no blood pumped

from the wound at all, just some back spray. A few drops in

each case, because in nearly every case, the entry wounds

are small."

Mulder nodded. That was interesting. "No back spray? I

need to see the next crime scene if it's one we can get to.

If there are any more discoveries of the Black Oil on any

of the bodies, we need to know that."

"But your status-"

"Even if I can't go to every murder scene, I can go to some. I

need to know Scully. Call it a hunch, but I think we're going

to find the Black Oil at all of them."

"You think these people, these families were test subjects?"

"I don't know, but it wouldn't be the first time. Emily was

placed-" He stopped. "Sorry."

"That's okay. You are right. She was just a lab rat to them.

But her parents were not murdered the way these were."

"No, but this could be just a different type of testing. We don't

know enough about the Black Oil to know what it all does."

"What does it do, Mulder?"

Mulder didn't respond to the glimmer of skepticism in her

tone and answered without pausing, "It controls people;

their minds, their will, but that's based on only visual


"Things you saw."

"Does the fact that it was me who saw them invalidate the


Scully could almost see his little defensive wall builders laying

bricks. "No. Mulder, just because I question doesn't mean I doubt

your perceptions."

"But you need more proof than I do."

"You should expect that from me by now."

He nodded, smiled a bit to ease the little bit of tension that

had entered the room. "Sorry, Scully. It's really beginning

to feel like old times, isn't it?"

Scully forced a smile back while her mind wept: New "old time's"

would not be forthcoming.

As if to prove her correct, Mulder reached into his desk drawer,

took out his bottles of tiny, pink blood pressure pills and sundry

medications, dry-popping them.

Every hour on the hour. Each bottle had its little paragraph of

instructions on how many and when. Each bottle had an "Unlimited

Refill" stamp on it too. Each bottle claimed to be part of the treatment

that would keep him living for a while. None claimed anything

beyond that.

Mulder was dying. Scully reeled every time she thought about it.

Once, three words had changed her life over to such inner

joy and peace:

"I love you."

Mulder's sweet words of confession to her after his return. Words

she thought he'd found drifting around in his sick mind that meant


But she'd learned they had meant something, and to her soon

they meant everything.

Three other words again changed her life forever:

"Mulder is dying."

those having pulled and picked and yanked on her mind and heart

until now she felt herself unraveling.

They also meant everything. Everything that she was losing all over


Mulder was dying.

She loved him.

And something must come of those two facts.

Something would be discovered, something proven, something

made clear for every long term mocker, even if it was nothing

more than the story of how one man persevered through it all.

Together they would work until there was nothing left to do.

And the whole goddamn world was going to know it.

Scully's cellular trilled.

Scully made her second and last meeting with Crazy Man

with only seconds to spare.

Again, they rendezvoused at a park, this time,

one on the opposite end of town, and this time, he was

waiting for her.

Scully approached him. He looked bad. Thin and


"Please sit down." He said.

"What's going on? Why the call? I just can't keep

making excuses and disappearing"

"Yes you can. If you want to solve this. Anyway,

this will probably be the last time. The group is

watching me now. They have sources even I'm

not aware of." He turned to face her, swivelling

his legs to face her fully and placing an arm

across the back of the carved wrought iron bench.

He began to speak quickly, as if time was speeding

up for him and he hadn't much left to spare.

"You asked me over the phone why I'm helping you.

Let's just say I'd like to see justice done, if there is any

of that left around. And you're the only ones I trust

enough to divulge the things I have already told you.

I used to be important to them, but they won't be pleased

by my betrayal."

"How do we find this "They". Who the hell are they?"

"I told you. A dangerous apocalyptic group who

have the audacity to believe their version of

the truth is the real, the only, one. If you're

asking me how to find them, I don't know. There

is no club house, no list of members, no affiliations with

anything organized except at the most hidden level,

no tracks to follow..." He pulled a manila envelope from

his shirt and handed it to her. "This is all I have: a few

photos taken about fifteen years ago of some of the

members, their names at the time,...look over it later

with your partner."

Scully raised bemused eyebrows. "A hidden group

with a hidden agenda. Where have I heard

this before..?" It was rhetorical and spoken aloud.

"Yes, very much like your clandestine "Fire-Devil"." He

said, and at her widened eyes, "They know about him of

course. That's what they call him. "Devil" because they

believe he represents an Evil, and "Fire" because he

breaths it and his way leads to destruction of the holy.

"These people will not stop the slaughters until they feel

that the "holy ones" are safe, whether that means safe in

the physical body or safe in the arms of God,... I don't think

it makes any difference to them as long as the presence of

evil is removed."

"You seem like an intelligent man, how can you possibly

have been associated with these people? Didn't you

see what they were doing?"

He sighed from the weariness of wrong turns made and

regrets. "Your partner, Mulder, he believes in the paranormal.

Would you laugh if I said I have an ability that is unexplainable?

That I can read events, understand and see things that happened

or that will happen?"

"I don't laugh much anymore."

Nodding, "The group came to me twenty years ago. It was

after I'd left the F.B.I., I found I could no longer look upon the

evil that was the mind of man. I thought, so nobly, that by

joining an association of forward looking "visionaries" because

that's what I believed they were, that I could maybe repair

the damage I'd caused to myself and to my family. But evil,

Agent Scully, is everywhere. You're a woman in a unique

position to appreciate that statement."

"So they recruited you. What made you leave?"

"When I saw their need to control. A friend of mine went insane

with the knowledge she gained. I didn't want that to be me, and

for reasons I've already told you. They couldn't control me and

because of the things I could see, I began to really see them

and what I saw scared me to death."

"Your daughter?"

"Yes, they would have tried to control her, she has these unusual

"gifts" as well. She's safe but I will never see her again."

"They'd follow you?"

He nodded.

"Then how do we stop them? Mulder is,...he's not going to be

able to continue forever... we have so little time."

"You may not be able to stop them. But maybe you can expose

them. It's a long shot and a risk."

"Not surprising. How?"

"Remember Gibson Praise. Remember Steven. Remember

Emily and ask yourself this question: Were they made or were

they born that way?"

"Emily was engineered in a laboratory. I saw the data


"Things they said? Data they showed you? Can

it even be trusted?"

From her expression, he gathered she had never considered

that she'd been lied to on those points.

He continued:

"If they were made, it's humans and only humans trying

to manipulate each other, isn't it? The speculation that

malevolent aliens are true and will soon invade? Speculation

based on visible evidence but very little physical. Evidence

can be faked in many ways. Besides if aliens are prepared to

invade earth, then their own plans are well on their way and,

in my opinion, already unstoppable. But if the children were

born that way..."

He left off the last few words but Scully didn't need to

hear them to understand.

"Then they're from God?"she finished with a question.


"Your daughter,...she was born the way she is." Scully asserted

and when he nodded, "That's why you've hidden her away.

That's why you're terrified. It's not just her ability that they

may want to exploit, it's because they believe she was one of

these "holy ones", destined for God."

"If there are holy ones here on earth, then the forces at work

are greater than anything we could imagine, and nothing we

do can will alter the course of the future."

"Do you think they - the children - are from God?"

"Aliens, devils, angels?' He listed the choices. "I don't know.

I can't know. I don't think I want to know."

"Mulder does."

"This group may be responsible for his illness but that's just

a guess. The rest? The rest is a curtain before which lay all

theories, and we can't see beyond it."

"Then why do anything at all? Why even try?"

"Two millennia ago, one man tried his very best and died, in

fact, he was murdered by his own people. Now, one half the

population of the planet believe. A means to an end, Agent


"But we have no means. We have no idea at all who the next

child is. There could be dozens, hundreds dying right now,

their parents being murdered but unless we know ahead of

time who it is going to be..."

"The last child, was there something unusual about him?"

"Yes. He was considered to be a great artist. I was shown

samples of his work, they're extraordinary, ingenious really.

He was considered a prodigy."

"Seek out the gifted." He said. "These kids all died of something

mysterious and untraceable. They all died in unusual ways. Find

those unusual kids who are still alive, I don't know how. I'm too old

and, to be frank, too scared to help you."

He rose to go. "I don't know if you'll be hearing from me again.

Meeting like this could be very dangerous for you and your


Scully spoke quickly, breathlessly, before he walked away

and she lost the chance and nerve. "I need to know something.

Will my partner, will Mulder, is he going to..?"

Crazy Man understood, considering for a moment before

taking her hand in his and holding it tight. He eyes became

unfocused for a few seconds.

Then they cleared and he let her go, shaking his head once

back and forth. "The future is a curtain, Agent Scully."

Scully sat for a moment, stunned. It was time for more

truth and she pulled out her cellular. "Mulder. It's me. Um,

listen, we need to talk..."

Convincing the Bureau to fund and organize a huge

undercover operation had not been the easiest

task, but after two weeks of meetings and consultations

with Violent Crimes, the were allotted two task force

teams of six agents each.

Director Skinner had read their outline of approach, shaking

his head the whole way through.

He was duly impressed with the conjecture contained

within the their initial reports on the progress of the

God's Children case and secretly frightened by it's

paranormal flavor.

Mulder and the strange went together very well, like

gunpowder and sparks, Skinner secretly believed.

But no one else had come up with a contingency plan

that actually included a psychological profile of the


Skinner looked across his desk at his top agents. "The

only thing you didn't list, Agent Scully, was your source.

Where did you come by this information about," he read

from the report in his hands, ""Clandestine Apocalyptic

Religiously Motivated Group." and it's agenda of murder?"

Scully cleared her throat. "It is a confidential source, sir.

One I'm not at liberty to divulge." Not that I know where the

hell to find him anyway, she thought.


"As in anonymous." Mulder added.

"I know what it means Agent Mulder." Skinner sighed,

staring at both defeated ly, letting his eyes rest longer

on Scully.

"Okay. Twelve task force agents from the appropriate

departments, your choice. Twenty-four others for muscle,

infiltration, sharpshooting, what-have-you, again your

choice, and all the equipment necessary to finding these

assholes and putting them away. One month. That's what

you have to wrap this up or not. One month and if nothing

comes of it, we return to more conventional theories and

methods of investigation."

"Yes, sir." Both agents agknowledged softly, rising to go.

"Agent Scully, would you remain behind for a moment?"

Mulder looked back on his way to the door and then thought

better of it, leaving and shutting the door a bit harder than

was necessary.

Skinner stared at the door. "What was all that about?"

Scully looked up at him. Skinner was standing close.

"Mulder knows about...I told him about,.." She cleared her

throat, "...us."

"Does he understand there is no longer any "us"?"

She nodded quickly. "Yes."

Skinner decided not to pursue the line of conversation.

Scully had made her decision. "How is he?"

Immediately she looked haunted. "Holding his own. So far.

But it's only a matter of time before..."

Skinner nodded, hands shoved into his pockets to fight

the urge to throw his arms around her and pull her in.

"If you need anything,..." Sentimentality was not his

strong suit. "If anything happens in the field, if he

becomes...agitated,..hurt, what-have-you, call me first."

Scully stepped closer to him. "This is out of line, sir,

but..." And kissed his cheek. "Thank you."

Skinner nodded, trying to keep his senses straight and


"Dismissed." He said curtly.

Scully knew it was his way of keeping her at arms length

for his own sake and the abruptness wasn't intended to

hurt her. "Yes, sir."

Mulder was waiting for her in the hall outside Skinners


"What did he want?" He asked, pressing the "down" on

the elevator.

Scully flushed. "To know about you."

"What did you tell him?"

She faced him. "The truth. That you're fine for now, that

you're holding steady but that it won't last."

"So there's no danger of me being booted from the case


"No, not as it stands."

The elevator doors opened and they stepped inside. It

was empty.

Scully used the privacy to voice something else. "But,

your activity on this stakeout will remain limited in

adherence with the restrictions on your jacket. No gun

and you will not engage any suspect in what-so-ever way."

Mulder leaned against the wall and shoved his hands in

his pockets. "I know the restrictions, Scully. They're written

across my mind, they're impossible to forget because you

keep reminding me of them."

"I just want you to understand how serious this is, your

illness, it could turn for the worse at any time, any extra

exertion, extra push that your body is not ready for could"

"I know. I won't engage. I won't carry a gun, not even my

"leg iron". Solving this case may mean I get one of my

answers, and getting those answers depends on me keeping

my job and that means adhering to the restrictions I'm

under no matter how much I hate them. Even though it feels

like someone's pilfered my balls and made off with them.

"I'll stick by your book, Scully. You don't have to remind

me every time we're about to set foot outside the front doors."

She looked up at him, then down. "I know. I know, I'm sorry."

She faced forward again. Had to tell him, "I've assigned another '

senior agent to the second team because I want to be on hand

in case anything happens. "

"That's not necessary."

She didn't flinch or even change expression. "That may be, but it

is my decision. I'm your doctor and you are not only my partner but

my patient. Skinner supports me on this so that's how it's going to be."

Mulder rolled his eyes but didn't argue it anymore. "Now I have a

babysitter." He muttered.

It disturbed her that he seemed to be taking his illness as an

inconvenience only, not acknowledging its seriousness and that

one step in the wrong direction could mean a hospital stay.

When she reminded him of that his eyes settled back into

their sockets and he muttered a couple of okay's. Just

to please her, though, she was certain.

"What could happen? I'm just going to be standing around

like a mannequin." He said.

He made similar remarks as they set up shop for the stake out

until the remarks took a life of their own in humor, smiling as

his tease found its mark with her bemused look. "I should

look cute in my uniform, huh?"

As soon as she'd smile though the worry lines would return

and that bothered him. "It'll be okay, Scully."

Their choice for stakeout was East Virginia Learning Centre,

a school for "gifted" children though the senior Mistress

advanced vehemently that the term was archaic and

the school preferred "advanced".

Mulder, dressed in white pants and white, short sleeved shirt,

would pose as one of the school's Safety Monitors, the school's

term for Security Guard. Scully was posing as the main desk

receptionist in a dark purple suit and cream blouse about

which Mulder teased with lewd remarks until she glared.

When the school day began, though, and the kids started to

arrive, it was down to business.

"You look ravishing sitting behind that desk."

"Mulder..." Scully had nothing to do as the stand-in receptionist,

all calls to the school being rerouted (though monitored), but


"Can you at least try to pay attention to your job?" She spoke seriously

though she was in fact enjoying his affectionate play.

"We've been here four days, Scully, I'm beginning to think this source

of yours was some kind of-"

"Someone's coming up the walk." She said suddenly.

Mulder returned to his place by the door, and, as the lady approached

the all glass entrance, he swung it wide for her, giving her his best

"Part of my job, ma'am" smiles.

She, a petite brunette dressed in a neat white business suit, walked

straight up to the Receptionist desk.

Mulder watched closely. It was still a novelty to see Scully smiling

like a waitress and handing out pamphlets.

The lady left after only a moment and when she was gone, Mulder

wandered over to the desk again. "Well?"

"She just needed directions."

Mulder frowned. It was going on three o'clock in the afternoon. Soon

parents would begin arriving to pick up their children and another

uneventful day would draw to a close. Six other agents in stand-in

positions and five special forces hidden in prime target areas -

classrooms and lunchroom - completed the task force.

"Skinner's going to have to pull the plug."

"Mulder, it's only been one week." Scully reminded him, standing

to stretch her stiff legs and back. She had done some office work

while in college and had forgotten how exhausting it could be just

sitting all day.

From the corner of her eye is how she first saw the danger and

in the time it took her to turn her head and formulate his name

in her mind and say it - "Mulder" - it was already too late.

When Mulder turned to follow Scully's eyes to see what made her

eyes go from sleepy to frightened, they were inside the doors

and the first of them, glowing like a human sun, advanced, knocking

them both down without a touch.

Scully saw Mulder collapse and a second form move to stand

over him and look down. But a powerful sleep overcame her

in that instant of fear and panic for his safety and in seconds she

saw and felt nothing more.

As Mulder fell to the polished floor, the flash of an old memory

lighted the corners of his mind. A covered truck-box. A locked

metal booth and a man with no face. Then black but glowing

figures, an impossible balance, appearing from the air followed

by darkness of mind until he awoke to find himself being escorted

to a waiting car with Scully there to take his hand.

When he awoke from his split second dream, he was lying on

the school floor with a face looked down on him from above. Not

a faceless face nor a glowing supernatural vision but a man's

fleshly countenance partially hidden by a black wool mask whose

eyes, he felt sure, looked upon him with recognition.

"Holy Jesus." The man muttered under his breath.

And in those two words, the eyes behind the mask fell into

place with another old memory and, together with the voice,

brought the memory to life like a newly oiled obsolete machine.

One that is started up after years of neglect and accumulated

rust, the memories halting and noisy at first, finally settling

into a comfortable rhythm that had been missed for those

many years.

Mulder was going to sleep under the gaze of his enemy or

perhaps it was the power that had sent him collapsing to the

floor in a weakened heap, but before he did, his mind screamed

out the name and his heart cried his belief that he and Scully

were both about to die under this man's inhuman feeling

contained within his human hand.

Mulder kept his drooping eyes on the wide, green ones above



Then he slept.

Scully awoke to a nurses uniform and the distinct odor of hospital.

no matter which one she'd found herself in over the years (and

there had been a few), they had all smelled exactly the same.

The nurse, Scully glanced at the name tag, "Ramona" was taking

her temperature aurally. "You're awake." Nurse Ramona said,

pointing out the obvious.

Scully tried to sit up, and the nurse placed her hands on her shoulders,

easing her back down. "Take it easy, you're still weak."

"What happened?"

Nurse Ramona frowned, "Don't you remember?"

Scully licked her lips, they were dry and flaky. "Yes. I think so, but

I mean how did it happen? How long have I been here?"

"About twelve hours. You were both brought in at the same time.

I'd say you're lucky to be alive."

Scully's heart pounded. This time she sat up and tried to get out of bed.

"Mulder! Where's Mulder?"

Nurse forced her to stay seated on the edge of the bed. "Mulder?

That's your partner? He's just down the hall. He's being monitored."

"But they may not know about him. He needs special care, his-"

"Doctor Scully. They know. Doctor Watts was called immediately

upon Agent Mulder's admittance. He's in good hands."

Scully let herself relax a bit. "How is he?"

Nurse turned when the door opened to reveal Watts.

"So, our other patient is awake?" He said perfunctorily.

"Yes, but "patient" isn't a word I'd use." Nurse winked

at Scully and walked to the door.

Scully wanted to tell her to ram her humor up her ass, but

instead asked, "How is he?"

Watts read Scully's chart while waiting for Nurse Ramona

to exit.

"Well, he was having some difficulty when he arrived. Whatever

they used on you to knock you out like that must have been

very strong stuff. We still haven't figured out what it was."

"What kind of difficulty?"

"Just some shallow breathing. He was under pretty deep and

we put him on steady watch just to be safe. Because of his condition

we couldn't administer any stimulants at all."

Scully nodded, thank god she'd insisted on Mulder wearing a

medical band in addition to his wallet card denoting his special

medical status. "What about now?"

"He's not awake yet but as far as we can tell, he's doing fine.

that is, considering his underlying illness."

"I want to see him."

"Don't balk at going by wheelchair and you have my permission."

He paged an orderly. "I must state my opinion, Doctor Scully,

however you might not agree with it. I think Agent Mulder is

risking his life, shortening it even more I mean, by continuing

his field work. He needs to be in a hospital where he can be

monitored and his treatment more closely regulated."

"There is no treatment, nothing effective anyway. And just for

the record, I happen to agree with you, but he's made his own


The wheelchair arrived pushed by a young volunteer worker,

who rolled it over to the bed.

"I know Mulder," Scully said, "He needs to work. Take that

away and it would kill him anyway."

Watts nodded, thanking the young man. "I'll take it from here."

At Mulder's room, Watts left her. Scully left the wheelchair at

the door and softly padded in and over the head of the bed

that contained a somewhat pale but generally peaceful looking


But for the machines whirring and beeping, the room was


She took his hand, giving it a gentle squeeze, letting out a

breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding in. Mulder stirred

under the oxygen mask but did not wake up. However his vitals

she decided, after a look at the machines hooked up to him,

were normal.

There was nothing about the readings that at this juncture would

indicate anything abnormal regarding the physical state of the

man on the bed but that he was a healthy middle aged male.

No hint at all of the hidden demon sickness that possessed his

body and that would soon make its presence more pronounced

when it's other worldy hands molded its own body out of his,

until nothing human would be left of him and Fox Mulder ceased

to exist.

"Oh, god, Mulder." Scully said to herself and to him. "What are

we doing?"

Scully sighed, thinking once again of Emily. "You, Mulder,

are meant to be, you are. I just don't understand."

She hadn't prayed since Mulder's diagnosis and she and God

barely tolerated one another now. But Scully wheeled

herself to the hospital chapel and lit candles for him, praying

silently for a miracle, mouthing the words silently.

"Hear me, hear me..." she prayed.

No other words came to mind but if God read hearts as the

good Fathers claimed, her tiny prayer said it all.

Scully felt that if God did not hear her this time, his silence

would cause their tenuous bond, wove with painstaking

effort over the last ten years, would be severed forever.

Mulder woke to a red halo surrounding the face of a china doll.

Scully smiled at him but here eyes were lined with worry. "Hi."

"Hi." He answered. "We're still around to annoy Skinner, huh?"


He was happy to see that got a smile out of those baby


"Mulder. You've been out for nearly twenty hours."

By long experience Mulder knew she was leading the conversation

up to something. Bad news. Something he did not want to hear.

In this instance, he knew the maze and the trap waiting at the


"And," Scully continued, "Keeping you on this case is endangering

your life."

"Don't put me behind a desk, Scully."

She drew her mouth into a thin line. "Mulder, I'm your supervisor

and in my opinion, the risk is too high to-"

"-You're my supervisor and you're senior agent, yes, but you're also

supposed to be my friend." He softened his tone that he knew

was reeking of anxiety on its way to anger. "And more than that.

Please don't take me off the case. I have to know. That's all

I want, Scully. I have to have that answer I've been looking for

for,...too long to quit now."

She set her face aginst him, intending to argue the point. But his

expression was one of near terror that she was going to take away

his one last chance to find those truths he so desperately sought.

Scully saw that expression and gave in. "Okay. But one more incident

like yesterday, one more situation where your life is threatened and

I'll recommend Skinner pull the plug on your field work."

He took her hand. "Thanks, Scully." He thought for a moment. "Your

"source", the informant, has he contacted you since the last time?"

"No, and I don't expect him to. He said he might not be able to

and that he really had nothing more to tell me."

"How certain are you that this group he spoke of aren't just another

collection of Cancerman groupies?"

"Fairly sure. He knew about my abduction. He knows about the

children. And he knows an awful lot about you and your work, he

said he followed your career ever since Violent Crimes. He said that

at one time he had worked for Unit himself. I checked the data base

by the way and couldn't find any photos resembling him at all. Some

agents back then had no photo identifications though, in particular

those who worked in covert operations."

Mulder nodded. "He mentioned Gibson Praise and Emily?"

"Yes. And Steven, you remember him?"

Mulder nodded. The little boy with the stigmata, the case that had

sent Scully scurrying for her faith once again after years of

disassociation from the church.

"He thinks these people think these children are holy. If that's true,

why didn't they kill Gibson?" Mulder asked.

"We never did learn what happened to Gibson Mulder. He may be


"Gibson was part alien."

"We never proved that, remember."

"What do you think he was? Some kind of angel in the flesh? Why

would God allow a child to be kidnaped and abused?"

"I don't have the answers to that. What I do have are speculations

and no evidence one way or another. We also never heard from his

parents again either."

"Gibson could read minds. He knew what Cancer Man knew. If he's

still alive, if we could find him-"

"-Mulder. Today, if he's still alive at all, Gibson would be about twenty

years old."

"Twenty? Are we that old?"

"Yes." She smiled but thought "and not getting any younger or anymore


"You are in no shape to go out looking anyway." Scully reminded him.

"There's something inside you that's killing you. Alien, human, animal or

mineral, it is something foreign and if we don't focus our energy into

battling it, that is one war we are going to lose. That's where your

greatest fight should be, Mulder. Right here, right now."

"I can't just sit around and do nothing, Scully.-"

"-You won't. I said you can continue in the field and you can, but off

duty we're going to seek answers for what's happening inside you. I

respect your quest for truth, Mulder, but at the very least I want you

to concede that you may not find all those answers in the time left

to you.

"Those truths will always keep for others to seek." She placed her

hand on his chest and it slowly rose and fell with him as his breath

entered and left lungs that in only weeks, would be gasping for

oxygen as they hardened into useless cocoons.

"The rest is in here, in you, and that's the answer I want more than any."

He pulled her hand to his mouth. "I love you."


"You're relatively stable. For now." Scully emphasized

to him.

Mulder sighed up at her from the bed, the guest bed

in her guest bedroom.

Because of the illness, she reminded herself, looking at

his nude chest, abdomen and groin area barely covered

by the thinnest of sheets, that's why the guest bedroom.

Last night, he'd, without warning, run a temperature. His

blood pressure on the rise - and hers - she had quickly

stabilized him and in an hour or so he'd been fine. But it

had scared her and clinched what Watts had already


No sex. No lovemaking and no even sharing the same bed

together in case either one got the raging hormones and

ceased to resist the urges of sex. A chance taken like that

could be hazardous. Or deadly.

No cuddling, even, because even that, just that simple act

of providing physical and emotional comfort could raise his

temperature again, or worse his blood pressure.

He had argued with her about it. She argued back, adamant

in following doctors orders yet hating every doctor, physician

and researcher in the world who were shrugging their shoulders

and telling her "sorry-there's-nothing-we-can-do"...

"Do not touch him." Watts had said, making her nearly collapse

right there in his office. She knew of course, it would come to

that, but not so soon.

Emily's last moments were spent behind a glass partition,

screaming for her mommy.

"Mulder. Monday we go to work, just like always. Today you

rest and you rest all damn day, either in here or on the couch.

You will chase no aliens, no baseballs in the park,..."

She kept her voice light, teasing in fact, because her emotions

were so tied up, and her body in such need of touching him, that

this seemed the only connecting allowed - talking. Voices verbalizing

and exchanging thoughts and feelings. Just like they used to so

many years ago when they were first partnered.

"...no ice-cream trucks down the street. You will not jog in place nor

dribble a basketball and you will not, but any means what-so-ever,

watch any of your own videos as long as you are sick. Doctor's


He smiled up at her, one arm tucked behind his head, the other

on his stomach. Sick or not, he looked wonderful in her bed.

Smoothly muscled, masculine and made for her. The illness, at

that warm moment, seemed an error in diagnostics. A mistake. A

terrible, frightening, heart-tearing mistake that could be laughed

off later in years with a "Weren't we silly to believe...?" Any minute

now, Watts would call and tell her so. "We mixed up the charts"...

Mulder raised his arms above his head and moved under the

sheet, stretching like a languid tom cat just waking up and getting

ready for a night of prowling.

Mulder, to her always desirable though, when dressed, a gentleman,

looked at that moment, so unmistakably sensual, so in-her-face sexy,

it shot a bolt of desire straight to her loins flushing her pink.

But in that way, body on body, she could never touch him again.

Not even if he wanted it. "Scully, come here."

"No." Now it was time for the teasing to stop and she drew away

a good yard, even if her feet wanted to walk her over there so

she could do the opposite and lie down on top of him. Her mind

was filled with images of Mulder on her, in her, moving around

and moaning, coming in her, it made her sick with desire. Wanting

him so badly, a sob nearly burst from her lips as she quickly

turned away.

The only escape was to never touch him. Not even get too close

to him. "No, Mulder. We talked about this, I just told you..." Scully

had recovered her composure almost instantly and he suspected


She could hear the rustle of sheets as he pushed them aside.

"I know. All I want is a kiss. Just one kiss? What harm can it do?"

She faced him again, face and attitude perfectly Scully. "It could

raise your blood pressure."

He sighed and turned his face away. "This,...I hate this."

Scully wrapped her robe tightly around her. Last night was his

first night home from the hospital. Along with Mulder, she had

acquired several machines and other equipment designated for

emergency purposes. Cooling blankets if his temperature spiked

for any reason, like the previous evening. Oxygen tanks and

breathing apparatus in case he had any hyperventilating

episodes. Scully looked across her second bedroom room at it.

One whole dresser was covered with equipment all set up and

ready to use at a moments notice.

"Come on, time for your low fat, designer breakfast." She said,

retreating behind the mental armor of humor and to the physically

remote safety of the hallway.

"Oh, I can hardly wait. Mmmm, non-salted albumin substitute

baked, not fried, so as not to clog my already hardening arteries.

Plain flat, cous-cous bread with no butter, only unsweetened

raspberry jam and a mug of luke-warm water."

'It's designed to keep you alive and healthy, Mulder. You're going

to eat it. All of it."

"You sure are bossy."

"I'm your partner and your doctor. Did you expect any less?"

He threw back the covers and sat up, slowly, as he'd been instructed

to. Scully got an eyeful of nude Mulder before turning her back and

exiting to the kitchen. He'd done it on purpose to tease, give her a

thrill, make her change her mind about the kiss and maybe other

things. Lots of reasons probably. She'd have to be on guard and

ready to ignore such tactics. And with a physical specimen like

Mulder, it wasn't going to be easy.

"Luke-warm shower." She called after him.

"Yes, warden." He said.