Good Night

Cover

TITLE: Good-Night

INFO: Written for I Made This Productions Virtual Season 8

AUTHOR: Rocketman

RATING: PG-13

CLASSIFICATION: X, M/S UST

ARCHIVING: Two weeks after first appearance, OK to

Gossamer, Xemplary and Ephemeral. All others please

ask.

SPOILERS: NONE

DISCLAIMERS: Mulder and Scully belong to CC, 1013, and Fox.

No infringement is intended, no money is being made.

Written for the I Made This Productions Virtual Season

Eight. Places are real, events are not.

SUMMARY: The cemetery is dark. A child’s cry echoes across

the tombstones, originating from below the ground. She has

been buried alive. Her premature burial opens the coffin on

a conspiracy of grave proportions, revealing the

machinations of a man who will stop at nothing to create a

cure for the black oil virus. Mulder and Scully stumble

blindly for answers as the Consortium eliminates its

mistakes.

My deepest gratitude to XochiLuvr, for a critical and

sharp beta-read, and for the support I never deserved.

=====

Clorinda Haywood

St Bartholomew’s, Edgbaston, England

Epitaph

Warm summer sun shine kindly here:

Warm summer wind blow softly here:

Green sod above lie light, lie light:

Good-night, Dear Heart : good-night, good-night.

=====

Prologue

9:39 p.m.

August 11, 2000

Colma Necropolis, CA

The summer sun was late in setting, forcing the lateness

of his arrival. He wasn’t sure if many kids got their kicks

by haunting cemeteries at night, but he knew his time was

short. The backpack was heavier than he had anticipated.

The walking stick caught on a flat headstone and he

tripped forward, managing to keep himself from falling, but

scraping his knuckles against the statue of an angel. He

hissed in a breath and sucked on the angry red wound,

wincing with the sting of it. Shuffling forward again, he

blew out a long breath and shook his head.

At least it wasn’t hot, he told himself. The breeze was

skittish, tumbling over tombstones and mausoleums, and the

night was leaching cool air from the dead. Consulting his

directions once again, the hiker turned left along a small

row and counted the plots as he moved. Four, five, six, and

then a sharp right.

He sighed. Poor baby girl. She was going to be scared to

death — no pun intended, he added mentally, glancing

around guiltily. It was just after twilight, when a

grieving man could swear the cemetery was giving off

darkness to the sky rather than the night falling upon the

earth. The hiker was presently in the shadows of two large

trees and hunched along the cover of the child’s family

plot. She had some affluent relatives. Her own stone was

two feet high and still the bright white of newness.

Kneeling to the ground, he propped his walking stick

against the tombstone and shrugged off the backpack. His

breathing sounded too loud in his ears, but there were no

longer any mourners in this section of the cemetery. The

zipper caught on the edge of the bag, and he growled as he

ripped it free, tugging ferociously in his haste.

He was rather close to panic. If they caught him here,

doing this…

Best not to think. Concentrate.

The battery-powered drill tumbled from the bag and clinked

too loudly against a neighboring headstone. He winced but

plunged his fist into the bag once more, coming up with

three lengths of three foot metal pipe. His hands were too

sweaty. He was going to fumble this if he didn’t calm down.

Keep it simple. Concentrate.

He pulled out a schematic from his left front pocket,

unfolding it carefully and laying it out along the brown-

tinted new sod, still loose in places. The coffin was here,

he thought, pointing out the place on the map, outlined in

a dark green. The lid of her coffin was about six inches

thick, padding and all, and her shoulder should be…

He marked the exact spot with a knife, digging into the

sod through the paper. Once a good sized chunk revealed his

target area, the hiker quickly folded the paper back up,

but put it into the backpack and not his pocket. He would

need to burn this later.

Wiping the trickling sweat from his eyebrows, the hiker

attached one length of pipe to the hollow drill bit, and

then he attached that to the drill itself. The diameter of

the pipe was about the size of a hole for a doorknob; it

looked ridiculously large to him now. Licking his lips, he

rose to his feet for a better angle, then jammed the pipe

into the place he had marked.

The hiker paused for a moment, glancing around, then

closed his eyes. The drill sounded like the gates of Hell

itself had come crashing down, but he only winced and kept

drilling. The pipe slid into the ground, down, down into

the resting place of the child.

This was taking too long, too long.

He unlocked the first pipe from the drill, allowing four

inches to remain above the slightly damp grass. Then he

locked the second pipe onto the drill bit and slipped the

free end over the exposed pipe. It slid on easily and he

smiled crookedly. Easy, easy? this wasn’t easy. He was

risking his life, digging into graves.

He nearly choked when he heard a car coming.

The darkness was absolute now. Somehow, the night had

fallen over the cemetery and he hadn’t noticed at all. The

car was creeping along the lane, but it stopped far from

him and he breathed out, returning to his drilling. It was

at the third and final pipe when he heard the change: the

pipe had hit the outside of the coffin now, it seemed to

shriek painfully in the darkness.

God, oh, God, please.

And then a puff of noise and he stopped the turning motion

of the drill to gently prod through the layers of lace and

trim and padding that the girl’s coffin contained. His

muscles were so tense that he could feel tiny tremors

racing through his jaw and exploding against his skull. He

unlocked the last pipe from the drill and bit, and both

slipped through his sweaty nervous fingers. He could hear

voices now.

A camera flash.

Oh God, no! He was screwed, he was really screwed. If

someone got a picture…

The hiker fumbled in the bag, looking for the bottle and

needle, but then he remembered he hadn’t shoved the dirt

out yet.

Growling curses under his breath, he grabbed his walking

stick and pulled the pipe up a bit. He slowly threaded the

stick through, shoving the dirt down the pipe, and

hopefully, God, hopefully, spilling the dirt harmlessly

inside. If he had calculated wrong … off a few inches and

the dirt would be covering her eyes and nose and mouth.

Stop thinking. Concentrate.

Clenching the stick tightly, he pushed the bit all the way

through, then hit something soft, pliant, yet firm.

Please, God, let that be her shoulder. If it was her eye…

He shivered as he quickly yanked the stick back up through

the pipe. Grabbing the end of his former walking stick, the

hiker taped a small tube down its length, then attached the

needle and serum to one end, connecting it to the tube. The

release pump attached firmly on his end, and the stick went

slowly back down the pipe.

Voices. Flashes of a camera.

A woman. God, please.

He hit that same soft, pliant hardness, and at his

perfectly vertical angle, the hiker took a deep breath and

jammed the needle down into the skin. He hoped it was skin.

He hoped.

Wiping his sweaty hands on his pants, he tried to block

out the darkness and the two voices getting closer and

closer to him. Please not yet. There was him and the little

girl down there and he had to do this. He had to do this.

Three pumps to prime the injection. He could hear his

heart beating overly loud in the dark, feel his hands

trembling with cramps from his tight, clawed grasp on the

stick. His breath came in tight gasps as time dragged away,

then the spit and hiss of pressure pushing down, down, down

the tube and forcing chemicals through the needle just as

it sunk in.

=====

10:13 p.m. August 11, 2000

Colma Necropolis

It was dark and thinly damp. A tattered sky misted rain

and dewed the grass. When he stepped onto the soft, almost

spongy ground of the park, he could almost taste the decay.

The arched gates of the cemetery rose before him like rusty

trap doors and he licked his lips, frowning.

He hated doing this in the dark. He hated looking over his

shoulder every five seconds for the guards or the

caretaker, but he couldn’t help his nervousness. It wasn’t

like what they were doing was illegal, but sometimes it got

to him.

“Johnny, come here for a second!”

John glanced to his wife and sighed, but dutifully

followed her into the cemetery. The darkness was like a

green veil over their eyes, the ground was sloping and

humped with stones and monuments. It was warm for a late

summer night, and the wind from the bay was sharp when it

fluttered over them. He could make out the Gothic-like

angels and shepherds, the dark stones, the knobs of grass

covering the dead.

It was so dark. So dark. Like a tight blanket around

everything, around his eyes and suffocating all common

sense. His pictures when they came out, they were good,

spooky and frightening, just like the graveyard here. He

slowly turned with a practiced photographer’s eye. He could

get some good shots of Joe DiMaggio’s tomb tonight, maybe

even Wyatt Earp, and sell them down in the Haight for five

bucks. Tourists were suckers for freaky things from the

Haight.

Terra’s hand was warm when she reached for the paper and

the charcoal, her fingers sliding past his with possession.

He jiggled the camera in one hand and adjusted the lens

manually, not leaving it to the whims of automatic focus.

The glowering tombstone was crumbling and dingy white in

the darkness, like a tooth jutting from an old man’s mouth,

single and spooky.

“Did you get it?” she whispered.

“Hold on,” he muttered and snapped the picture, squinting.

“Okay,” she said and kneeled next to the marker, spreading

the thin paper over the engraved letters with precision.

She rubbed the charcoal lightly and quickly and the words

came up in bold white amidst the black of the pencil.

“Matthew Arnold,” she muttered. “Wonder if he’s any

relation to the British poet and critic?”

“Right. And he’s buried here in our friendly neighborhood

graveyard.”

“Died 1932. Oh, too bad. This is an old one. I don’t see

any of the earthquake graves, though.”

“They’re over there,” John said and pointed to the

southern section of the cemetery. The graves from the 1908

San Francisco Earthquake were marked with bright yellow

ribbons and the survivors all got together on the

anniversary date at five in the morning to remember. Their

reunion was getting smaller with each passing year.

A whisper of wind brought a noise to John’s ears and he

paused, still and breathless in the night. The moon was

darkened by storm clouds and the earth was warm beneath his

shoes. He gripped the camera tighter and glanced around,

listening.

The faint cry came to him again and he felt his blood

freeze.

“Terra! Did you hear that?”

“Almost finished, John.”

“No. No, stop.”

He grabbed her arm and hoisted her to her feet, pulling

her into his side. His dark eyes seemed to reflect the dark

of the night around them and she shivered, pushing a strand

of brown curly hair behind her ear.

“What?” she hissed.

“Listen.”

The sound was continuous now, a wail almost, heart rending

and so cliched for a cemetery at night. But thoughts of

cliches vanished as he stood there listening, hearing that

frail sound reverberate around the granite and marble

markers and deep into his bones.

“It sounds like a child,” Terra said, and moved forward.

“What are you doing?” he hissed, and grabbed for her.

“No. It’s just a little kid. Probably lost and afraid.”

She began stepping through the rows of graves, treading

over the bodies of the dead with faultless steps and

precise movements. He didn’t understand how she could be so

relaxed, so intent on finding what was making that cry.

“Terra, I think we should go.”

She had stopped at one of the markers, her hands were

trembling and he could hear the paper fluttering with the

tremors.

“Oh, God,” she whispered and he saw a blur detach from the

shadows of bush and race for her.

“Terra!” he screamed and ran forward.

The dark shadow of a man pushed into him solid and hard

and he felt the sting of something sharp in his thigh, and

then the ground was meeting the back of his head. He heard

the man running off and scrambled to his feet, groggily

shaking the blur from his vision. His head thumped hard

with the blood and adrenaline and he crawled to where Terra

was sprawled on a granite marker.

“Ter?” he whispered and put a hand to her cheek.

She groaned and pushed herself up with her scratched

palms, wincing.

“Who the hell was that?” she said and angrily swiped at

the grass stains on her jeans.

“I don’t know,” he said and pulled her to stand.

He rocked slightly on his heels with his panting breaths;

her hand was still warm against his but her rubbings were

ripped and fluttering in the wind that lifted from the bay.

John turned and hunted for his camera, cursing the man

who’d barreled into them both.

Grass was lodged firmly in the shutter case, but the lens

didn’t seem to be cracked and the automatic focus still

worked. He sighed with relief and glanced up at his wife.

“You hear it?” she said.

Her face was intent and still again, her breaths

controlled to minimize the noise.

“No.”

But he did, just then. It was less frightening and more

heartbreaking.

“It is a kid,” he said and crept up next to her, hearing a

muted cry just below his breathing.

She started forward again, but he held back, still shaken

up by the sudden attack. He could hear it still, the

faintness of it like the kid was far, far away. He wondered

if the blur that had attacked them had something to do with

the crying.

She stopped.

“Here.”

“Where?”

“This is where that man came from. He was behind the

bushes, at this grave.”

“Yes, but where is the sound coming from?”

“Here, Johnny. I said that.”

“There? But…”

“Come here, come here,” she said and motioned him forward.

He moved through the graves, being careful not to step

where he thought the ground covered a body, unlike her

methodical and direct walk through the dead. He could still

hear it, and when he came to where she was, he knew she was

right.

The ground was fresh with dew, the soil sparkled like tiny

diamonds. A mound of earth covered the grave abnormally,

and the dirt was loose and freshly dug.

“Is it a ghost?” he whispered.

Her mouth puckered and she dropped to her knees to inspect

the tombstone.

“It’s a little girl’s grave. Madison Hall. Born in 1994.

Died … died two days ago.”

John looked down at the grave, but he could still hear the

sound of the girl’s crying through the ground. Through the

ground, like…

“Oh, God,” Terra said. “Oh, God, she’s alive under there!”

Her face came to look at his, their eyes met across the

darkness.

“She’s alive?”

John glanced down to the loose sod that stained his jeans

with wet dew and dark soil. He blinked, then cautiously

touched it with a shaking hand.

“Madison?” Terra yelled.

Shocked from the reverie of it, John grabbed her arm and

hissed at her.

“What are you doing?”

“John, she’s been buried alive!”

They both blinked, thrown by the reality of it, then began

to dig furiously, their fingers scraping through the soil

and the wetness. He could hear his ragged breath just above

the sounds of the sobbing and at some frightening point, he

couldn’t hear it any longer.

“No, no, we need help,” he whispered. “Terra, go call 911.

Call the police, anybody!”

She jerked to her feet and ran for the cemetery entrance,

hurtling over tombstones and markers as if the ghosts

themselves were spurring her on.

John kept digging, the darkness of the night spread over

his maniacal movements like a cloak.

The only sounds were his breath and the dirt scraping

through his fingers.

=====

Act I

August 13, 2000 2:37 p.m. Colma Necropolis

Dana Scully fingered the photocopied newspaper article in

her hands with a sigh and stepped from the taxi cab into

the light of a summer California day. Hillside Boulevard

fell away in a long hill of marble and lawn and memorials

and she heard the cab creak as she slammed the door. The

driver sped off before she had fully moved away, and she

frowned to herself.

“Scully.”

She glanced up to see Mulder pacing himself as he loped

down the hill. His tie flapped in the breeze coming in from

the ocean or perhaps the bay, and the smell of salt water

and concrete came with him.

“Mulder.”

“Is your mom feeling better?”

Scully flushed and nodded.

“What are we doing here?” she asked, shading her eyes with

a hand.

“Did you know that operating a cemetery is illegal in San

Francisco?”

“No, aren’t there two cemeteries in the city, now?”

She leaned slightly to the left to look around him,

wondering at the absolute stillness of the place.

“Well, yes, but they don’t take any more … ah, bodies.

San Francisco bought all this land out here because things

were getting crowded. Colma is a necropolis.”

“A city for the dead?”

“All the city’s cemeteries moved here: Eternal Home,

Golden Hills, Olivet Memorial. Wyatt Earp is buried in the

Hills of Eternity. His tombstone has been stolen so many

times, they had to finally set it in concrete. Hugh

O’Brien, the actor, offered a $500 reward for its return in

1957.”

She glanced up at him, eyes slanted with silent laughter.

“Wyatt Earp? Still have some of those childhood OK Corral

fantasies, Mulder?”

He tossed her one of those absurd grins and turned back

around to the cemetery sloping up before them. His back was

broad and dark against the outline of the sun, and the

varied memorials offered a backdrop of bizarre reality in

the golden dusk.

“Did you read the article?” he finally said.

“Yes.”

“This is the Holy Cross Cemetery, where the couple was

attacked, and then afterwards they found the little girl.”

He turned around to look at her.

“Buried alive, Mulder?” she asked gently.

He nodded, squinting his eyes at her, then looking back to

the graveyard. The fence was made of stone and wrought

iron, with ivy growing thickly all over. The wall rose as

the street fell, creating a flat surface for the dead to be

interred.

He started for the gate, expecting her to be behind him,

as she always was. With a brief rebellion, Scully stayed

rooted to the sloping sidewalk, staring at his back, then

she sighed and followed him into the relative cool of the

shady park.

Huge twisting oaks grew thick and dark, with occasional

palm trees that had been planted by the bereaved and the

little fuchsia trees that brightened the graves with a

flowering cheer. Elaborate meditation circles were clipped

into the grass with jade bushes and cinerarias.

High class Catholic graveyard, Scully thought to herself.

A huge gaping hole of dark dirt marred the beauty of the

place and she followed Mulder over to its side, slipping a

little in the damp grass with her heels sinking slightly.

He moved away so she could peer into the hole, then raised

his eyebrows at her.

“So what are we doing here, Mulder?”

“The girl the Kesslers found, Madison Hall, is now at the

hospital, being kept for tests, but seems to be whole and

healthy.”

Scully only raised her eyebrow.

“They thought she was dead, Scully. The family buried her.

The doctor signed her death certificate. What do you say to

that?”

“I’m glad they didn’t have her cremated,” she muttered.

He glanced to her with mock-sickened shock, as if amused

at this new wicked Scully who had come to meet him.

“How did this happen, Mulder?”

“Her family thought she was possessed.”

She glanced up at him through slitted eyes, blinking out

the brightness of the day and the absurdity of his claim.

“Possessed?”

“Yes. They called the Catholic church and asked them to

perform an exorcism. The priest there wouldn’t do it, so

they went to the Grace Episcopal church.”

“And they buried her?” she asked, trying to hurry along

his tale.

“No. They performed an exorcism. And they said it seemed

to work. She stopped being violent, but she slept all day

long, and was wide awake at night. Then she slipped into a

coma and died. Well, they thought she died.”

“Her family … called you?”

He shook his head and took the article from her fingers.

It was limp and soft from her handling it on the plane, on

the cab ride through the crowded, dangerously hilly streets

of San Francisco and then down to the City of Colma, south

of the bay city. She had asked to drive through the city;

she had wanted to see San Francisco one innocent time

before the case took over her perceptions of the place.

“This article was emailed to me, Scully. From an

untraceable account.”

She frowned and looked over the side of the empty grave,

down into its cool, dark depths.

“Someone’s giving you clues?”

“Looks like. And I only get clues, Scully, when there’s

something more going on.”

She looked up at him finally, the sarcasm, the

exasperation gone.

“Here we go again.”

Across the large expanse of green was an old and pitted

mausoleum, and a shadow seemed to grow from the side of the

monolith. In the midst of sunlight and marble, this dark

figure watched the pair of agents with calm serenity and

keen intelligence. His shoulders were hunched slightly, but

he made no attempt to hide his presence or his interest.

Had either Mulder or Scully, perceiving someone was

watching them, looked up and across to the low, long house

of the dead, they would have most clearly seen the man.

However, his dark features and dark clothes and blank

average face would neither have interested them nor allowed

them to recognize him at a later date.

He was content to watch.

For now.

=====

5:39 p.m. August 13, 2000

John and Terra Kessler’s home

Pine Street, San Francisco

The apartment buildings on Pine Street were crowded close

and tight, like stiff old men hunched together in line

outside a soup kitchen. The Victorian architecture was

limited by the space available, but the windows had opulent

and gaudy moldings, with ledges and trims in a riot of

colors. It was one of those cities were pink and red

collided and no one really noticed.

The Kesslers lived on the second floor front apartment, so

the FBI agents were heard outside before they actually rang

the bell. John, who had been people watching at one of the

three windows in their front bedroom, called to Terra to

buzz them in.

His wife stepped around the corner from the kitchen,

bringing her into the small hall that led to their

apartment door, then buzzed the agents in. She unlocked the

door and opened it a crack, then took two steps back into

the living room. The entire apartment had a fraction of the

space most people would have paying the same rent in

another city.

She sank down on the futon they used as a couch and guest

bed, and turned the television off. John slipped into the

living room and tapped her head as he passed. She smiled

faintly and sighed.

They could hear the agents walking up the narrow, creaking

stairs, the soft murmur of their voices carrying through

the slightly musty smell of summer in San Francisco. Terra

leaned back against the futon and listened to John pour

himself a glass of green tea from their plastic pitcher.

The windows were all open and a bay breeze meandered from

their bedroom into the living room. It caressed her over-

heated skin and made her eyes drift shut.

“Hello?”

She jumped up at the sound and went to open the door,

letting in the two agents.

“Mrs. Kessler?”

“Call me Terra. You’re the one I talked to on the phone

yesterday?”

Mulder nodded and introduced himself and his partner as

the woman led them into the small, tight living room. It

was dwarfed by their black suits and serious looks, but

John appeared from the kitchen with tea for everyone and

the agents seemed to relax.

“This is my husband John,” Terra explained, taking a glass

from him and smiling.

He sat down on the floor next to the television and the

agents took the lumpy futon. Terra was left with the wicker

arm chair, which made her taller than everyone else in the

room. The agents looked somewhat ridiculous in the

cramped apartment, their knees coming to their chests on

the low futon.

“Do you mind answering some questions?” Agent Scully

started.

“No, go ahead.”

Scully opened her notebook and balanced it precariously on

one knee. She could feel Mulder’s elbow digging painfully

into her side as he shifted for more room. She glanced up

at the Kesslers.

John was quiet and one of those dark, handsome types,

Scully immediately noticed. He sipped his tea and watched

his wife talk with Mulder; if he offered any details, he

did so infrequently. He looked cool and calm and brooding

at the same time. She could see that rebel and good girl

attraction in their relationship, but they’d been married

for seven years and seemed steady and strong.

“So, when this, uh, dark blur, rushed you …?”

Mulder gestured at Terra to complete the details.

“Oh, well, I saw him first, bent over in the bushes. I

thought it was a kid getting sick. Gross. And we’d been

hearing this weird noise, just the kind you expect in

graveyards, you know?”

She grinned and sipped at the tea for a moment, pausing in

the narrative.

“So I’m standing a little ways away from John and the

darkness sort of rippled, and he was a lot bigger than any

kid getting sick. I know I screamed. He scared me. And then

he knocked me down and I heard John coming up behind me.”

“And then it ran into me as well,” John added, with his

slow cool eyes and beatnik rhythm.

“Did the person say anything? Do anything afterwards?”

Scully asked.

“Don’t know,” John replied. “I went to see if Terra was

hurt, and by that time the thing was gone.”

“Thing?” Mulder said, tilting his head.

“Whatever it was. I went to get my camera and that’s when

Terra heard the sound again.”

“Yeah. It sounded so frightened.”

“It made you afraid?” Scully asked.

Terra turned her head to look at Scully, frowning.

“No. The girl, it was a little girl down there … she

sounded frightened. In my mind, I connected her crying with

whatever that man had been doing. I went back to where he’d

been bending over or hiding and that crying was coming from

the grave.”

“It took us a moment to realize the girl was alive. And

then Terra ran off to call 911 from the pay phones outside

the Colma Museum while I dug.”

“Did you dig her up or did the firemen?”

“The firemen. When they came I’d only gotten a foot or

two. They had shovels, and eventually one of those machines

…”

“A backhoe?” Mulder supplied.

“Something like that. It’d been in the caretaker’s shed.

They had to break the lock, I think. We stayed until they

got her out. I couldn’t go home knowing that girl was still

under there.”

Scully nodded and turned to Mulder, indicating that she

had no more questions. But her partner was looking

speculatively out the window and he idly put the tea to his

lips and sipped.

“How much do those photos of yours sell for, John?”

Scully was surprised at the question but John just gave a

grim smile while the ice clinked against his glass.

“Usually five dollars. The cemetery probably has some kind

of rights over them, huh?”

“Probably,” Mulder said, noncommittal.

Scully knew he didn’t mean the comment as an accusation,

but the husband and

wife looked nervous.

“Have there been a lot of child deaths here recently?”

Mulder asked.

John frowned and took a long draught of the tea. He looked

exhausted, and Scully could understand the trauma of their

discovery that night. Dark circles looped under his already

dark eyes and sallowed his skin. She wondered if he was

getting any sleep at night, or if nightmares kept him up.

“Actually,” Terra said softly. “I remember there being

something about a small outbreak at a school near here. One

of those private schools. Catholic, I think, but I don’t

remember which one. I don’t think that any children died,

but some of them caught one of those old-fashioned

diseases.”

“Old-fashioned?” Scully inquired, raising her eyebrow.

Terra smiled and shook her head. “Old-fashioned. Like

polio or whooping cough or smallpox. Something all the

children died from in the frontier days. But not now, and

certainly not in this country. That’s why there was a news

story about it.”

“Smallpox?” Mulder said, leaning forward. The movement

caused his knees to jut out awkwardly and his right leg

smacked into Scully’s. She stilled him and smiled at Terra

as the woman shrugged at Mulder’s question.

“Well, thanks. You have our number, should you remember

anything, or need our help.”

“Yes, thanks,” Terra replied and stood as the agents

pushed off the futon. John got to his feet slowly and

steadied himself against the wall, sipping the tea again.

His glass was nearly empty.

Mulder and Scully left more quietly than they had arrived;

the near darkness of the setting sun made them hushed and

the information they’d gathered tumbled around in their

minds. Their rental car was parked two blocks over and on a

hill, but Scully followed Mulder in silence, suffering in

her high heels.

=======

7 p.m. August 13, 2000

St. Francis Memorial Hospital Room 223

“We appreciate allowing us to interview you so late

tonight,” Scully said politely, nodding to the couple as

they clutched things: plastic chair, each other, hands,

their daughter.

They seemed nervous and edgy, their faces lined with

something akin to horror or possibly relief, and their

movements belied the icy anger churning through their blood.

“They said she was … gone. They told us that. Are you

going to prosecute them?” Kris said in a tight, nearly

angry voice.

“Prosecute?” Mulder said, surprised at their closely

guarded faces.

“The … doctors, all of them said she … It’s been a

very frightening and horrible … I don’t want this to

happen to anyone else, and they caused such grief … You

don’t know what it’s like to lose a child.”

“Mrs. Hall, right now no one is being brought up on

charges. But we are here to keep this tragedy from

occurring again.”

Kris seemed barely holding together her fragmented control.

She glanced to her husband, then squeezed her 6-year-old

daughter tighter. The girl, growing petulant from all the

cuddling and attention, pushed on her mother’s shoulder and

shrank back into the hospital bed. She looked thin and

wispy, as if a ghost.

Mulder smiled softly at her and she looked at him with

wide, almost frightened eyes. She was shyly fingering the

edge of the white hospital sheet, glancing up at him

occasionally only to hide her face again.

“Well, what can we help you with? We’re so grateful to God

for this miracle. Talitha cumi: Little girl, get up. We

know the power, we know it for sure now,” Kris said and

stroked the top of her child’s head.

Scully glanced around the private room and noticed the

many lighted candles, the pictures of Christ’s Agony, the

Holy Cross tacked to the wall, saints’ icons displayed on

the bed tray, and the rosary hanging like an ornament from

the bed railing. Their miracle might have been equal to

their faith.

She knew the story the couple spoke of: Jairus’ daughter

was sick and so the official went to Jesus seeking healing

for his child. Jesus was stopped along the way, so that

when he arrived at the house, the women were weeping

outside and said it was too late for him, that the girl was

dead. But Christ went into their house and took only her

parents and a few disciples with him into the girl’s

bedroom. In order to heal her, he spoke in Aramaic, saying,

“Talitha cumi.” Literally, “Little girl, arise.” And the

child woke as if from sleep and asked for food and water.

“Do you mind,” Mulder was asking as Scully began paying

attention again. “We’d like to ask Madison some questions

by herself.”

“She’s been frightened terribly by all this.”

“Can I see your badge?” Madison said softly, leaning

forward to tug on Mulder’s jacket.

They room was stunned for an instant, but Mulder pulled

out his badge and flipped it open for her.

clip_image001

She traced the

outlines with her

fingers, then

glanced up at the

man before her,

sighing softly.

“I can talk, Mommy,”

she said, although she

was looking at Mulder.

“Well … okay, baby.

Daddy and I will be

right outside. You

don’t have to answer

any questions you

don’t want to. Isn’t that right, Agent Mulder?”

“That’s right, Madison. Just what you feel comfortable

with.”

Scully watched as the parents left, quite anxiously glancing

behind them — Dave Hall as silent and stoic as before.

When they had clicked the door shut, Madison crawled to

the side of the bed and rested her head against the sheets.

She fingered the badge again and sighed.

“There was an angel with me down there.”

Scully quirked an eyebrow at Mulder but answered the girl

herself.

“Did the angel help you to not be scared?”

“The angel woke me up. He was not white. He was very dark

and I only heard his voice.”

“Well,” Scully said very gently, “it was very dark where

you were. Could that have made it hard to see him?”

“Well, yes. That’s what I mean. Angels glow, but my angel

didn’t glow.”

Mulder chewed on his lip and touched the girl’s knee.

“What did he say to you, Madison?”

“He told me he woked me up. When I woked up and it was

dark down there, I started to cry a little bit, but he told

it was okay. He said he was getting me out of there.”

“Was that John, Madison? The man who found you?”

“No, no. John’s got a very low smooth voice. Have you met

him? He’s got a low smooth voice.”

Scully smiled at that description and stroked the girl’s hair,

smoothing a stray dark wisp. The hospital gown shifted and

dropped off her shoulder; Scully pulled it back up gently, but

not before noticing a large bruise.

“You’re very right, Madison. If John’s voice is low and

smooth, how did your angel’s voice sound?”

“Far away. Like when Micah and I talk through tin cans.

It’s so cool.”

“Micah is your friend?”

“Yup. He lives next door to me, and we both go to Sacred

Heart Cathedral. I’m six and I’m going into first grade

next year.”

She pushed away from the bed and went to the window.

Scully noticed that her enthusiasm was flagged by the

trauma; she seemed to struggle to move fluidly. Madison

touched the pane of glass and her fingers made smeared

prints.

“At home, I have a tin can next to my bed and we can talk

back and forth — even when we’re supposed to be in bed.”

She looked back to Scully and gave her a sly smile. Scully

came towards her and looked out the window, then leaned

against the sill to see the girl’s face. The gown was again

slipping off her shoulder, revealing the purple mottled

skin.

“When Micah and I were sick, we talked when we were

supposed to be resting.”

“Micah was sick too?” Mulder said, leaning forward in the

chair.

“Yes, but he got better.” Madison looked back towards the

bed, but she leaned so heavily against the window that

Scully had a feeling she was too tired to move. She picked

the little girl up and cradled her close as she moved back

to the hospital bed, placing Madison on top of the twisted

sheets.

Scully sat down on the bed next to the girl and brushed

her dark hair from her face. “So, Madison, is that what the

voice sounded like? Far away like the tin cans?”

“Yup. He was very nice. But then he stopped talking to me

and I got afraid and cried again.”

“And that’s when John and Terra found you.”

She nodded and bunched the white sheets with her thin

fingers.

“They digged me up, but the angel woked me up.”

Mulder looked at Scully over the girl’s head, the

questions in his eyes matching hers exactly.

Who was this angel who had awoken the sleeping girl, and

was he also the dark blur who had raced at John and Terra?

Mulder laid his hand on Madison’s shoulder and the girl

winced, dipping away.

Scully frowned and her fingers curled along the bed.

“Can I look at your shoulder, Madison?”

The girl glanced up and nodded, tugging down the hospital

gown so that her right shoulder was exposed. The bruise was

about the size of a dollar coin, maybe larger, and seemed

to form a ring right below her collarbone. Scully carefully

touched the sensitive area, then leaned down to see it

closer.

A needle mark.

Blinking uncomprehendingly, Scully glanced up at Mulder.

She opened her mouth, then stopped and looked once more to

the little girl.

“I bet that hurts, doesn’t it?” she said sympathetically.

“Yeah.”

“It should be better in a few days.”

Scully quickly pulled Mulder to the side and licked her

lips, her eyes worried and her mind hesitant to explore

this new revelation.

“She has a puncture wound on her shoulder, Mulder,” she

hissed, her eyebrows raised in concern and disbelief.

“In the middle of that bruise?”

“Yes. I’m going to go find her doctor and see if we can

get a tox screen done on Madison. They might even have some

samples of blood from when she first came in. You can

finish up with the parents.”

With that, Scully was slipping out the door. Mulder turned

back to the little girl and sighed.

Angels and shadowy things, needle marks and premature

burials — and still, his informant had remained unseen and

unheard since that first furtive email.

======

Act II

5:35 am August 14, 2000

Beresford Hotel Room 329

The third floor smelled like mold. He told himself that

was why he couldn’t sleep. The real reason, he had a

feeling, was because of the two agents that slept four

doors down from him. He couldn’t believe that FBI agents

would choose a cheap place like this for their

accommodations, but it was just his luck.

Thankfully, he’d heard that the little girl had been

brought up safely, without any injuries. He had gone

yesterday to the hospital to see her but she was being

watched over by her parents; he hadn’t felt comfortable in

coming closer. It had been a foolish thing to do anyway. As

he’d left through the garage entrance, there were three men

glancing suspiciously up the stairwell.

He’d been stupid from the beginning. Thinking he could do

this on his own.

The girl was still alive. No sleeping sickness, thanks to

him.

But the FBI agents. They were going to dig around, they

were going to look for things, they were going to find him

and then he was dead. Dead.

He should leave. But there were men looking for him, men

much more deadly than the agents sleeping peacefully not a

floor away from him. Airports were covered, trains, buses;

he knew the drill — that had been him not two months ago.

Doing what he was told because he had once believed that

this was right.

He was stupid. The ignorance didn’t excuse what he’d done,

and saving that little girl didn’t repay the debt he owed.

But there was something about death that was ultimately

very real, and very frightening enough to make him want to

escape, to run, if only to live the rest of his life in

fear.

Pathetic, but he had always been one of those kind. He had

about four hundred dollars left of the cash he’d taken from

the joint bank account with his wife. *God forgive me,

she’s very likely dead.* And that was going to run out soon

and he’d be on the street. That might be better, but he was

going to fade out without effecting any kind of change.

That’s what made him want to weep. For decades this had

gone on, and there had always been men like himself who had

managed to save one life, but lost a thousand more. He

would die, he would either be shot by the men hunting him

or he would kill himself, but he would die.

And nothing would change. The world would keep on turning

vainly around the sun while the men beneath it plotted

horrible and cataclysmic things.

What the hell. He was a dead man.

=====

5:55 a.m. August 14, 2000

Beresford Hotel Room 335

“You’ve got to be kidding me!”

They paused — Scully sitting up straight and still on the

bed, laptop balanced on her knees, while Mulder was

slouched moodily into the chair, his finger hovering over

the mute button on the remote.

Suddenly, he gave her a sly grin and she smiled back. The

tension flowed smoothly and quickly from anger and

frustration to something like amusement. She brushed her

hair back with an impatient hand; he tossed the remote onto

the bed and stood up. She was just beginning her argument

again.

“If bees had attacked these kids at Sacred Heart

Cathedral, there would be something…”

“It doesn’t have to be bees, Scully.”

She stilled and his hand brushed the top of her bare

shoulder. A sleeveless shirt in a San Francisco summer and

he was trying very hard not to notice.

“What else then? Why change the mode of attack now?”

“They’re ruined — burned. How many are left? We know

Cancer Man is still out there. You take what you can get.

Sacred Heart’s absence records indicates that a great many

of these children were out of school for a two-day period.”

“Kids get sick. Kids give other kids what they got sick

with. It doesn’t mean they’ve been infected with the black

oil!”

He shook his head and peered at the laptop over her

shoulder. Her bare skin was a bright distraction at the

edge of his vision but he ignored it.

“Keep looking, Scully. There’s got to be something on

Sacred Heart Cathedral.”

He noticed that she merely shook her head and kept

searching through the FBI database. She had dark circles

under her eyes and she was still in her pajamas, but

neither of them had been able to sleep. He had stolen into

her room earlier that morning, searching for something.

Maybe her.

Mulder worked his fingers around his temples, pressing

deeply to ease the building pressure behind his skull.

“Maybe these kids … I can’t figure this out. What makes

Madison Hall so different? Why did she get so sick?”

“It’s obvious now that Madison was simply in a coma, and

not dead as others had thought.”

“A wannabe Juliet?” Mulder tossed to her.

She glanced up, ice in her eyes. A whirring of her

computer made her glance down in surprise.

“Oh.”

He took two strides and was at her side. “What ‘oh’?”

“A local pharmaceutical company gave the children of

Sacred Heart free immunization shots.”

“For what? MMR, boosters?”

She shook her head. “I think hepatitis. There has been

some recent outbreaks in Memphis and other cities. I didn’t

know it was a problem here.”

“Free hepatitis shots? Did Madison Hall happen to be

absent that day?”

Scully’s eyes slid up from the screen to meet his, and

Mulder felt a strange chill crawl up his neck and lodge

in his brain like a whisper. He didn’t like the answers

they were finding.

“The records you requested from the school are on the

table,” she said. Mulder was at the table in seconds,

flipping through the sheaves of papers and racing his eyes

across the words. Somehow, he knew what the answer was

before he found it.

“She was absent. She missed that day of school. She was

the only one.”

“She’s been the only kid to get so deathly sick as well.

Her friend, Micah, was sick but he recovered.”

Mulder was surprised that she had acknowledged that point,

but it was a fact. A solid, provable fact. No other child

had exhibited such severe symptoms as Madison Hall, and no

other child had been buried alive.

“I think those immunization shots were for more than

hepatitis,” Mulder said. “And somehow, all these kids were

exposed to the alien virus in some form — this time not by

bees — and Madison nearly died.”

“But … but she was in a coma. She was very, very sick,

Mulder. I can accept what you’re saying, but what I don’t

understand is how she woke up. How could she have possibly

gotten better on her own if she missed getting innoculated?”

He was grinning at her despite her frustration, grinning

because she had accepted it — maybe not the origins of

that virus, but she was beginning to believe. Impulsively,

he pushed away a stray hair from where it had caught and

clung to her lips, then squeezed her bare shoulder.

“Put on your blackest clothes, Scully. We’re going to call

on the dead.”

=====

7:08 a.m. August 14, 2000

Colma Necropolis

She shivered again and crossed her arms as Mulder led the

way from their car to the grassy sloping hill of the

cemetery. The sun was just beginning to lighten the sky

with a chilled warmth, and Scully could hear birds calling

in urgent and reproaching tones. She idly wondered whether

the birds were warning her and Mulder or merely acting out

their role in nature.

“What are we doing, Mulder?” she asked again, knowing full

well that he wouldn’t answer her until it was most

convenient to him.

“Discovering the real origins of this deus ex machina.”

“What?” she said, bewildered. Latin, she thought

automatically. Something about gods and machines.

“It’s a term in the theater — when the conflict is

resolved through some outside force: the gods decide to

save the hero, the prince grants a pardon, the girl is

miraculously raised from the dead.”

She nodded. “So, we’re looking for evidence of the Shadow

Man?”

He shot her an unamused half-grin, then shook his head.

“It’s too early for obscure comedy, Scully.”

She had the sudden urge to roll her eyes at him, but of

course, she didn’t do that. Instead, she walked on just a

little behind him, following him up the slope to the rows

of graves and family plots. She glanced out across the

relatively flat expanse of green grass, black and white

marble, and grey granite. The view was interrupted by the

four trees on this plot of land, each skinny and daintily

shading the deceased, and then the bright yellow police

tape, undulating, like thin fingers of the sun, in a slight

breeze.

Even if Mulder did not have the way to Madison Hall’s

former burial plot memorized, it would not have been a

difficult thing to find, not with the flapping yellow tape.

Scully winced at the discord it caused on a landscape that

was vainly trying to remain peaceful and serene. She felt

her blood crawl as they came closer, until finally she was

shivering again and they were at the edge of the grave.

“What are we looking for?” she asked, trying to hide her

discomfort.

“Ah … I’m not sure yet.”

She glanced up at Mulder’s grim, yet somewhat amused eyes.

This was just like him. She no longer questioned.

“Scully, mind jumping in the hole?”

She frowned ferociously and glanced down into the gaping

darkness of the grave. She looked up again, over to where

the coffin lay beside the large hole; the ropes used to

pull it up were still threaded around its short length.

“Why me?” she asked, glancing suspiciously back to Mulder.

“Because it’s over eight feet, and while I’m certainly

taller than you, it would be difficult for me to get back

out. However, I can easily pull you back out of there.”

She sighed at the logic of his answer: had Mulder gone in

there, he would be unable to simply scramble back out, and

she wouldn’t be strong enough to pull him out.

“All right.”

“Wait,” he said, “Let me help you — it’s a long jump.”

She scowled at him. “I wasn’t about to just jump down

there, Mulder.”

He smiled winningly and grabbed her waist, then dropped

his hands. “How should we do this?”

Scully was glad she’d changed into jeans and a t-shirt:

dirt stains like this were not going to wash out easily.

“Here, I’ll sit on the edge and sort of slide in, while

you hold on to my hands and lower me the rest of the way.”

It was awkward, but she ended up sliding on her back

against the side of the grave while Mulder’s large fingers

were wrapped around her wrists, letting her down slowly.

She had still not touched bottom when Mulder’s chest came

to meet the ground at the side, so she instructed him to

let her go carefully.

“No way, Scully. If I can’t reach you, then I can’t pull

you back out.”

“There’s rope around the coffin. You can use that. I’m all

right.”

Sweat was rolling into his eyes as he held on tightly, but

he saw the ropes wound around the coffin and licked his

lips. He wondered if he was bruising her wrists. This might

have been a stupid idea.

“Okay. I’m going to slowly let you go.”

He let go of one wrist first, his fingers sliding through

hers in a last touch that made him nervous, then he

released her other wrist, finally easing the stress on his

shoulder joints. She wasn’t heavy, but his arms ached now.

He laid there for a moment, waiting for her to say

something.

“Scully?”

“I’m okay. The bottom was about six inches below my feet.

What do you want me to look for?”

Mulder pulled his arms out of the dark hole and glanced to

the slowly rising sun, whose rays had not yet made it high

enough to pierce the grave. He dug a hand into his pocket

and came out with a flashlight.

“I’m going to drop the flashlight down to you. Look for

anything … that’s not dirt, I guess.”

He eased the flashlight down the hole, then dropped it. He

heard it clunk into hard packed dirt and then her fingers

scrambling over it.

“Mulder, you have a reason for coming out here and

dropping me down a grave, don’t you?”

She sounded a tad angry and then the flashlight came on

and he could see her staring up at him, lips pursed and

eyebrow arched.

“Of course. I think our mystery man left something behind.

In fact, I’m fairly certain he did.”

“Why’s that?”

Mulder smiled at their positions; he lying on his stomach

talking to her down a hole.

“And, Mulder, my neck’s starting to get a crick, so make

your explanation fast.”

He grinned at that and propped his chin on his fists.

“Well … in that case. Here are my reasons. One, the

Kesslers evidently interrupted the Shadow Man, as you call

him.”

“Why do you say that?”

“If we stop for explanations, your neck’s going to be

killing you.”

“Okay, okay, get on with it.”

“And two, Madison heard voices very clearly. Enough to

know that John’s voice was low and smooth, that her angel’s

voice was different. Why is that? She was in a coffin with

about eight feet of dirt on top of her.”

“Ah … and her angel, if he’s really no angel, must have

gotten some kind of medicine down to her. She had an

injection mark on her shoulder, Mulder, but she was woken

up before the men raised her out of the grave.”

Mulder smiled. “Precisely.”

“Okay, so let me start looking.”

Mulder cocked his head to the side, then nodded, and

Scully looked around at the dark dank hole. She could hear

her partner scramble back from the edge,and then begin

inspecting the coffin. It was very startling how clear

sounds came to her through the opening to the sky, how

distinct the noises Mulder made unthreading the rope or

opening the lid of the coffin were down where she was. For

Madison to have heard those voices, there must have been a

hole to the outside, to the night air and the living.

“Hey, Scully?”

“Yeah?”

“There’s a hole in the coffin.”

=====

Act III

8:13 a.m. August 14, 2000 San Francisco Police Dept. #57

After changing from their muddy jeans and shirts, they

took a taxi to the police station, feeling ridiculous in

her suit jacket and skirt when the temperature was reaching

the hundreds and women in bikini tops were threading

through the crowded sidewalks in all their golden glory.

She wondered if their motel had a pool; a nice cool swim

with Mulder would be the kind of relaxation she needed.

Scully smiled to herself and tugged at her jacket as the

cab pulled to a stop outside station house 57.

Mulder led her around to the back elevators, where they

rode up to the fifth floor in relative silence. Her fingers

were raw and aching from where the rope had slid through

her hands, and she knew that her partner’s shoulders had to

be sore from pulling her up. But the evidence they had in

plastic bags was enough to warrant filing it with the SFPD.

A drill bit, about the size of the hole in the coffin, two

lengths of three foot pipe bent by the backhoe, and

definite prints on both. Obviously, the Shadow Man had been

interrupted in his resurrection of Madison Hall and had

left behind objects that could implicate him in…

Scully paused in her train of thought. Implicate him in

what? The Shadow Man hadn’t murdered anyone, and he hadn’t

even endangered the little girl’s life — on the contrary,

he had most likely saved her.

“Mulder, what exactly is the crime in this case?” she said

hesitantly, watching his hand spell out the long lines of

his signature. The evidence was placed in double bags and

labeled with a neat, secretary’s hand, and then put in

lockers with a case file code. Mulder was then given the

receipts even as he tried to answer her question.

“I think it’s plainly obvious that government testing is

still going on, Scully.”

“To us, Mulder,” she hissed and pulled him into a short

hallway away from the milling police officers. “Maybe to us

this is obvious. But we have no evidence whatsoever that

testing is occurring.”

“Madison Hall is plenty of evidence.”

Scully shook her head. “No, she isn’t Mulder. She’s a

little girl who got very sick, and then was discovered

alive and well. There’s no hard physical proof.”

“The pharmaceutical company that sponsored the shots…”

“I looked. They’re completely legitimate. And they have a

good reputation for customer satisfaction, which means that

it would be difficult to cast any shadows of doubt on their

intentions.”

“Well … Scully, you know this is happening. We can’t

just let it go because you don’t see tangible proof. No one

in this organization is going to connect the dots for you!”

She leaned away from him, shocked and slightly hurt. But

instead of turning away, she merely fought harder.

“Proof, Mulder. No one will be punished if we don’t have

proof. It’s been our constant problem all these years, and

you know it. If we had proof of any of this, the men

responsible would be in jail.”

He turned away from her angrily, moving to leave the

police department. She was partly right, and he knew that,

but he was also disgusted with her attitude. Couldn’t

she just back him up for once?

“Mulder,” she said softly. “It’s not that I don’t agree

with you. I think you’re right; I think they’ve tested

their cure for this on these kids, and then released the

bees. Or whatever the carriers were. I know this is what

happened. But no one else is going to believe us.”

His shoulders slumped and he turned back to her, looking

as if he didn’t understand her words.

“Believe us?” he said, and she wondered if her words had

shocked him.

“No one is going to believe us. Just like I didn’t believe

it before. Until it happened to me, until I saw it with my

own eyes. We need proof.”

“Proof,” he repeated, looking dazed. She was beginning to

think he had never known of her faith in him.

“You know, Mulder, there’s a saying: Innocent until proven

guilty. I believe that’s what the justice system would need

to convict these people — proof.”

He shot her a long, slow smile, as if guessing that she

was kidding with him. He walked up to her and grabbed her

waist, darting down to kiss her lips, quickly and lightly.

“Thanks,” he said and stepped away from her.

Shocked, she opened her mouth to say something, anything,

to this sudden public display, but a police officer

appeared at Mulder’s shoulder.

“Uh, agents? Your Shadow Man has confessed. He’s in the

detention room.”

=====

9:34 a.m.

Holding Room C

“As my partner would say, we don’t have enough solid

evidence to convict you, Mr. Fitz, other than your

testimony. These days, that’s easily renounced.”

James Fitz shook his head and glanced warily to the glass

mirror. He wasn’t an idiot; he had seen enough cop shows to

know there were police officers, maybe more FBI agents

behind it. He had to do this, they had to put him away for

awhile. Lock him up where none of *them* could get to him.

At least, he didn’t think they could. Surely…

Surely their power didn’t reach this far.

He looked back to Agent Mulder and shrugged. “It’s all I

have. I wasn’t expecting to turn myself in for crimes

against humanity.”

Agent Scully glanced to him with a frown, then to the

report before her. His ‘confession’ was all typed out

there, neatly and in such precision, despite his rambling

and his fear and the attack of conscience he had when he

was giving it.

Some of it he had made up to get the officers to pay

attention to him.

“So, you’re willing to testify that this drug company,

Sharf-Appen, sponsored the immunization, but had no

knowledge of the contents of the medicine given?”

“Yes, right. It was all the institute.”

“And this institute is…?”

Agent Scully looked up at him and he sighed. He’d been

asked this question four times.

“The Center for Antiviral Drug Design, which is located at

UCSF.”

“University of California is part of this conspiracy to…”

“No. No, I didn’t say that. The institute isn’t entirely

corrupt. The part that is associated with the university

doesn’t know anything. It’s like the left hand doesn’t know

what the right hand is doing.”

“So what is the right hand doing, Mr. Fitz?”

“Experimenting on children. Senior citizens. Whomever they

can.”

“For what purpose?”

Fitz thought Agent Mulder’s face looked like a

thundercloud, as if he were ready to storm on the people

responsible, hurling down lightning and rain like he was

some Roman god. The atrocities that had been done upset him

as well, but Fitz was too tired of running, of being

afraid, that the horrors done to children just didn’t have

the same affect as before.

“How did you learn of these experiments?” Agent Scully

said, cleanly taking over for her partner.

“I was involved. I’m a scientist. All this sneaking around

is too hard — that’s why I turned myself in.”

Fitz winced at this near-truth and covered his mouth with

his hand, rubbing his chin with shaking fingers. This

wasn’t going as well as he had expected. He thought they’d

be glad to have his information, that they would

immediately go arrest those more responsible than he. And

he’d be safe.

“How were you involved?”

“Preparing the project. That’s what he called it. The

project.”

“Who called it that?” Agent Scully jumped in, eager now.

“The man. He’s old … we all took orders from him. But he

didn’t really deal with us directly. Just in the shadows

most of the time. I … I was always … he has power. He

could…”

Fitz stopped. There was no use at all. How could he

explain to them what he knew about this man? About the

darkness that surrounded him.

“Did he smoke?”

Fitz looked up. “Yes. He was always with this man, Allan,

who he had healed with the technology we were trying to

perfect. Allan used to be really sick. He had lung cancer

and miraculously, he was well again. Mr. Walker, the man

who smoked, he always lugged Allan around, trying to

motivate us.”

“Motivate you for what?” Agent Mulder asked, frowning.

“I guess for the job. I mean, *I* knew what we were doing

was wrong in some ways, but seeing Allan well again — it

made me stop questioning.”

Fitz sighed and rubbed his temples. “He’s gonna kill me.”

“Why do you think that?”

He looked up at the male agent, shaking his head. If the

man didn’t understand, there was no way he could explain

it. The power behind the old man was enough to keep him

cowed and doing the job. It still kept him cowed, but now

he just couldn’t do the job anymore. He had to stop. *It*

had to stop.

“He’ll kill me. It’s only a matter of time.”

=====

10:13 a.m. August 14, 2000

SFPD

Mulder was still shaking his head over James Fitz’s

explanation of Madison’s resurrection. The extreme

attention to detail that this kind of plan must have

involved baffled him. He wondered why Fitz had chosen that

time to rebel against his captors, to once more be on the

side of good. Fitz was the epitome of the absent-minded

professor: fumbling manner, intelligence without much

common sense, and not a very careful observer.

Fitz had told them that he hadn’t known what the Center

for Antiviral Drug Design was doing with the tailor-made

antivirus he had worked on for ten years. All he had known

was that there was a new disease, a lethal disease with

certain attributes, and unexplainable behaviors. Even

though all the scientists were on a ‘need-to-know’ basis,

the information they did know about the alien virus was

very extensive.

Mulder was surprised they had lived this long, that some

rebel alien force hadn’t wiped them out or the project

leaders hadn’t long ago decided to eliminate evidence.

“Do you think that the old man Fitz talks about is Cancer

Man, Mulder?”

He glanced up to see his partner heading towards him; she

had just finished the long interrogation of James Fitz

while he had run down some minor details. He smiled briefly

at her and sighed.

“Ah, finally, a woman who thinks like I do,” he retorted,

tapping her shoulder. “It seems too close to be

coincidence.”

They were standing in the far corner of the large

conference room on the fifth floor, Mulder able to see

right down the hallway to the interrogation room she had

just come from. The observation room, which connected to

the holding room by the two-way mirror was a little to the

left of his vision. Both doors were closed now, and Scully

again came into focus next to him.

She brushed off his comment and continued with her train

of thought. “Do you think he’s right, Mulder? That it’s

over now?”

“His story checks out, Scully. The center, or institute as

he calls it, does have a contract with the Department of

Defense to produce certain Antiviral drugs. Of course, I

wasn’t given the names, but I talked to Byers and asked him

to run it down for me, if he could.”

“Mulder, that information is very closely guarded. If they

do manage to hack into something like that, there’s going

to be all kinds of traps.”

“I know,” Mulder said, shrugging. “I told him as much. I

think Frohike is aching for a challenge ever since that

video game fiasco.”

He leaned against the small desk that SFPD had allotted

them, the computer at his back making a tired humming

noise. Scully stood just off to his right, her hip pressed

against the desktop. He realized that her stance gave her

the impression of standing up straight, while his just made

him look sloppy and exhausted.

But he *was* exhausted. He hadn’t been able to sleep much

the night before, and then he’d gone into her motel room to

discuss the case at four in the morning. After that, they’d

searched the little girl’s grave, thoroughly interrogated a

suspect, and it was only 10:30. He was needing a second

wind desperately.

The beige and blue color scheme of the fifth floor was

making him sluggish, and he had stared at the computer for

at least as long as he’d talked to Fitz in the holding

room. Mulder rubbed his eyes and felt a shadow pass over

his face. He glanced up.

“But do you think it’s over here, Mulder? That they’ve run

their tests and seen that the drugs work, and they’ll

disappear?”

He noticed she was leaning in rather close to him, so he

hooked a finger in her suit jacket pocket and tugged

playfully. She frowned and pulled away, resting against

the desk.

“I think they’ll disappear, but I don’t think this is

over,” he said finally. “In fact, it feels very unfinished.

Lots of loose ends. That’s not like them at all.”

“Fitz thinks they’re going to kill him.”

Mulder turned a pale face towards her once more, rubbing

his jaw.

“He’s definitely a loose end.”

She nodded and glanced warily to the holding room, chewing

thoughtfully on her lower lip. In a sudden fit, she jumped

up and made her way down the hall towards it, Mulder

following behind her, his thoughts running in the same vein

as her own.

When they reached the door, it was locked. Their eyes met.

“What?” Mulder hissed and rattled the knob. “It’s not

supposed to lock *us* out.”

Scully ran around to the observation room adjoining it,

leaving Mulder to find a key for the door. Stepping into

the room, she noticed immediately that Fitz was facing away

from her, his hands in his lap and his head tilted forward.

She couldn’t tell if he was being remorseful … or already

dead.

Outside, she heard Mulder berating an officer about the

key to the room, and the bewildered answer in the negative.

She turned and peered out of the open door to see Mulder

searching through a key ring, his hands frantic in his

haste.

A scraping wrench of the chair caused her to turn and look

at Fitz again, in time to see his body spasm and blood spew

from his mouth and splatter the wall like a modern art

painting. She froze, her instincts telling her to run, run

far, but she could not even speak.

Seizures wracked the man’s small frame for a full minute,

and then he vomited his intestines.

She prayed he was dead.

“Mulder!”

“Scully, I’ve got the key.”

“No! No, don’t open the door, Mulder.”

She hurried into the hallway, yanking the keys from his

fingers just as he pulled them away from the lock.

“Scully?”

“He’s been infected.”

“With what?” Mulder said, his face going into that shocked

and panicked blankness that she knew so well in him. She

knew it too well.

“I don’t know. But I think he’s dead. Or will be soon.”

She tugged on Mulder’s hand and he followed her into the

observation room.

“Oh, my God. They found him. I don’t know how, but they

found him.”

Scully shivered. “What were you saying about loose ends?”

Mulder grabbed her arm and dragged her from the room, she

stumbling after him and pulling her arm back.

“Scully, Madison Hall.”

“What? What are you talking…”

“Madison Hall is the only loose end left. We’ve got to get

over there right now.”

Scully glanced once more to the closed holding room door,

and then shook her head.

“You start without me, Mulder. I have to call the

paramedics, the CDC, get this contained just in case its

airborne. I don’t know what they injected him with, but it

could be anything. They have the entire arsenal of the

institute behind them.”

Mulder nodded. “See if you can get the security tapes as

well … maybe we can find out who did this to him. Someone

had to have seen a cop or detective enter that room and

maybe inject Fitz with something.”

Scully watched him hurry down the hallway, his tie

flapping behind him as he ran for the elevators. She was

partially in shock after this, not having expected

something so violent and final to happen to their only

witness. And their only proof of hard evidence.

She frowned and pulled out her cellular phone, herding

people away from the door and the sight of the man’s guts

splayed along the opposite wall in vivid reds and purples

and pinks. She was about to call the CDC for a containment

and clean up team, when she remembered.

Madison’s blood tests were due back that morning. And

while these men were tying up their loose ends, or rather,

obliterating the loose ends completely, those tests could

be solid proof of experiments. Madison’s blood contained

both the disease and the antivirus; those results were

crucial.

=====

10:58 a.m.

Hall Residence

Mulder was surprised they had released Madison Hall from

the hospital so soon, but the nurse he had talked with on

the phone had alluded to a fight between her parents and

the doctors. He could understand though. The girl wasn’t

sick any longer and all the doctors did was order more

tests. So when the taxi pulled up to her house, he was

pleasantly surprised to find her outside helping her

parents with their car.

As he paid the driver, Mulder watched the little girl

deliberately soak herself with the hose and then run around

the car, splattering the sides with sudsy water and her

smiles. Her parents seemed to be indulging her today, and

he hated to intrude on their family moment. Madison’s

bright purple swimsuit was an odd spot of brightness in the

horror of this case.

“Mrs. Hall?” he said loudly, to be heard over the spray of

water and the bass line of some song on the radio. The heat

was oppressive and he wiped his hand across his forehead,

regretting the suit. His jacket was back at the station

house, draped over a chair. He wondered if Scully would

remember to bring it with her when she caught up to him.

“Oh, Agent Mulder. How are you?”

Mulder nodded to the still tense woman and fondly patted

Madison’s head when she came to inspect him.

“Not so good, Mrs. Hall. Can I talk to you and your

husband alone?”

The blind fear that raced explosively across her face made

Mulder wonder what was going on in this family.

“Uh, actually, I’d rather not…” she said softly, and her

tone seemed desperate. She dropped the hose to the sidewalk

and rubbed her forehead. Finding some new strength, she

called to her husband and he came over to sit next to her

on the front steps, rubbing her back. Madison continued to

dance around the car in time to the music tumbling from the

portable stereo.

“Is this okay?” Kris said, and her words were low and

defeated.

“It’s not ideal, but it will work. Can you tell me your

reasons for taking Madison out of the hospital?”

Kris bit her lip and shook her head fiercely. “No reason.”

She should have made up some kind of excuse, elaborate or

not. Her terse reply told Mulder for certain that something

had happened, that they had been threatened into keeping

silent for some reason.

Dave seemed to recognize this and he shook his head. “We

just wanted to get out of there, Agent Mulder. You

understand that, right?”

Mulder nodded slowly, thinking quickly.

“Hey Madison!” he called then, and she came prancing over to

him, her face no longer the ghost white as it was at the

hospital but a gleaming healthy pink.

“Yup?” she said and grabbed his hand, swinging it and

hanging on to him.

“Madison, don’t pull on Agent Mulder,” her mother chided.

“Madison, do you remember the day all the other kids got

the shots at school?”

“Yes. I stayed home.”

“Why did you stay home, were you sick?” Mulder asked

softly, bending down to look into her face.

“No, Momma made me.”

=====

11:28 a.m. SFPD

“What do you mean the results have already been picked

up?” Scully shouted, one hand pressed against her ear so

she could hear the medical technician’s voice on the other

end.

The CDC had completely taken over the fifth floor, and

after all the officers and personnel had been thoroughly

decontaminated, herself included, she had gotten a long-

winded and cruel lecture for letting Mulder run out of the

building. She knew that Mulder was not infected, and she

had tried to explain her theory, but no one was listening.

She had just now gotten a chance to call the lab.

“Agent Scully, the woman who came in showed proper

identification and had the right to take the test results.

There’s nothing we can do about it.”

“What was her name?” Scully asked, with a sinking feeling.

“Kris Hall. The girl’s mother.”

=====

11:28 a.m. Hall residence

They were still outside, the water still running and the

suds a little flat, the music loud and tinny sounding, but

Madison was inside the house, in her room. Her parents

still sat on the stoop, Mulder towering over them, but now

he knew and understand more than he did before.

They were talking outside because they claimed their house

was bugged, and the running water and the loud music were

good at covering whatever they might say. Dave and Kris had

been washing the car as a pretext for discussing their

options; they were considering running away.

Mulder wondered bitterly if his parents had ever done this

— recognized the trouble they were in and held secret

conversations while their children were oblivious to the

danger. Somehow, he didn’t think so. He wasn’t sure his

mother knew that much about the project, and his father

hadn’t cared that much for keeping him out of trouble.

Dave had told him the long, miserable story of their

involvement with the project, of the man in the shadows who

had proved his power to Dave by healing a co-worker after

long months of illness. Mulder was sure the ‘kind’ old man

was Cancer Man, the same man that James Fitz had seen.

Eight years before, Dave Hall had been a contract worker,

a specialist in computer imaging but not making much money

because he was hired only for occasional jobs by Bay Area

companies. One of those companies was the Center for

Antiviral Drug Design, and his work was so good that he was

noticed by Cancer Man, who called himself Mr. Walker.

“He healed a man, my co-worker Allan, who had cancer. He

and his wife would come by the offices, telling everyone

that Mr. Walker had healed him. It impressed me. It also

kind of scared me,” Dave said.

Mulder looked to Kris, who was angrily and shamefully

looking at the concrete underneath her feet. She seemed

defeated.

“He told me that he knew that Kris and I were having

trouble getting pregnant, and he knew we didn’t have much

money at all. Not enough to live in San Francisco. He

offered to sponsor us as candidates for a new kind of

fertilization method. He said it was the same kind of

research that had made Allan well again.”

“Just out of the blue like that?” Mulder asked.

“No, no. This was after I’d been there a year I think. He

also said not to worry about money, because I’d have the

imaging job permanently. He was being generous, I thought.

He talked and acted like he was my father, like he was

looking out for me. The institute doesn’t have a need for a

full time design imaging operator, but he was promising me

a place in his company.”

“So he offered you a permanent job and money and a chance

to have the child you always wanted?” Mulder said softly.

Dave nodded. “We talked it over and eventually agreed to

it. It was a new method, he said, and just approved by the

government. He said it was a pet project of his. We soon

discovered that this project was a lot more than just

helping women get pregnant.”

He elaborated on some of the details, about how they had

gotten slowly sucked into allowing tests and other things

on their child, a little girl whose ‘grandfather’ was

always there watching. Dave explained that recently, the

tests had made Madison come home crying and they just

couldn’t allow it any longer. So they had kept her home

from school, the private school paid for by Cancer Man, on

the day the other kids were to have shots.

“And that’s how this all happened. I don’t know what

exactly they’ve done to her, but she’s … not like other

kids. She’s very special. We just wanted to keep her safe.”

This was sounding a lot like what he and Scully had

discovered about Emily Sims, about the tests she was

subjected to and her adopted mother’s fight to keep her

child away from the doctors. He wondered how many of these

children existed.

Mulder sighed just as his cellular trilled anxiously from

his pocket.

“Excuse me,” he said and turned to answer the phone.

“Mulder.”

“Mulder, it’s me.”

“Where are you?” he said, looking at his watch.

“On my way. Listen, Mrs. Hall took the blood test results.

You have to be careful.”

“Don’t worry. They’ve kind of confessed.”

“What?”

“I’ll explain when you get here. I’m at their home.

Madison was released from the hospital. Do you know what

killed James Fitz?”

“Not yet. The CDC is all over the place. They want you to

come in and get checked out.”

“Did you tell them I wasn’t infected?”

A sigh came over the line. “I tried. Look, I’ve got to let

you go, Mulder.”

“All right. I’ll be here.”

She hung up and he shook his head, sliding his phone back

into his pocket.

When he turned around, he felt the hard press of a gun to

his neck and saw the fearful, sickened faces of the Halls

before him.

“Walk inside the house,” came a cool and precise woman’s

voice, and Mulder knew there was a lot more to this than he

had been told.

It was Marita.

=====

11:35 a.m.

Hall residence

Madison looked like she was either going to run screaming

out of the room or break down in sobs. Mulder knew the

feeling. She was held tightly by Marita, her hand pale and

bloodless in the woman’s grip. The little girl was barely

moving, her eyes wide and frightened and locked on Mulder.

Kris Hall was openly sobbing for her child, leaning into

her husband and crying entreaties to the cold Marita.

Mulder had bound her and her husband with duct tape while

Marita held the gun on the little girl; he had done the job

right. He didn’t need the two of them trying to be heroes.

Slowly, he stood up again, then laid the tape on the end

table next to the couch where the girl’s parents were

sitting. Madison was staring up at him as if he were

betraying her, and Mulder softly shook his head.

“Why is she so important, Marita?”

The perpetually calm woman merely looked at him. “Stalling

for time, Agent Mulder?”

Mulder opened his mouth to deny it, then shook his head.

She was clever and not prone to making many mistakes. She

had nearly died once, he knew that much, and she was not

willing to take the stupid chances any longer. She had

learned a lot from Cancer Man and Krycek. Krycek…

“Did Krycek put you up to this?”

“Poor Krycek. He has no idea whose side he should be on,”

she said softly, and knelt down next to the little girl.

“Madison, please go over there with Agent Mulder.”

The child ran to him, and buried her head into his legs.

He sank to his knees and hugged her tightly, trying to calm

her down. Mulder realized that by placing Madison with him,

he could not very well rush Marita. Not without risking the

girl’s life. Marita was very smart in this game.

“Why don’t you just let the family go, Marita? And then

you and Cancer Man get off clean and easy,” Mulder said

soothingly.

“You don’t understand the game any longer, Agent Mulder.”

“So explain it to me,” he said, hoping that when Scully

arrived, she would provide enough of a distraction to let

him take Marita down.

“This isn’t just colonization anymore, this is war. And we

need all the weapons we can get.”

Mulder held Madison tighter in his arms, certain that he

was not about to let this little girl go. He had lost too

many children to them.

“Why is she a weapon? A child isn’t a weapon.”

Marita was busy doing something with the laptop computer

she had brought in with her; it was plugged into the wall

outlet beside the couch, where she could keep an eye on

both the parents and Mulder and the girl. Her back was to

the front door, and Mulder could see outside through the

curtains on the front picture window.

“She’s a step in a long staircase, Agent Mulder. Just as

your sister was a step, as Gibson Praise was a step, as you

were a step. We have moved beyond mere telepathy, beyond

limited physical and mental abilities.”

“But Madison doesn’t display these abilities. She’s not

telepathic.”

“Not yet,” Marita said and cast a bitter look to the

Halls. “Her parents interrupted the program we had her on.

She’s more important to us than anyone else, Mr. Mulder,

for precisely the reasons you said. She was not born with

these abilities.”

Mulder felt the blood drain from his face.

“She’s valuable because she’s proof that with a minimal

amount of genetic tampering, humans can *grow* the

necessary abilities. Humans can adapt into hybrids. And

survive the colonization.”

Madison was crying softly into Mulder’s shirt and he had

not noticed until now. He didn’t know what to do, but rub

her back and awkwardly smooth down her hair.

“Someone will be here to pick us up shortly, Agent Mulder.”

“What? Why am I going?”

“Like I said, you’re a step in this great staircase to the

stars. You’re a portion of our Tower of Babel, and we’re

going to need you.”

Mulder shook his head, refusing to believe that

colonization could be so close, that Cancer Man’s

horrendous plots could still be going on, despite the fire

at El Rico, and despite the many losses the project had

taken. It was more extensive and far-reaching than he had

initially assumed.

And they needed him.

His phone began to ring.

=====

11:41 a.m.

Hall residence

When the taxi pulled up in front of the Hall’s small

house, Scully had a feeling that something was dreadfully

wrong. It looked deserted, as if the entire family had

dropped everything and run. The stereo was outside and

blaring Backstreet boys or some similar pop group, and the

water was creating a river of the driveway. No one was

around.

She paid the taxi driver and checked the address again,

then walked dutifully up the sidewalk. She peeked into the

garage first, but saw no signs of life. She pulled out her

weapon and checked to make sure the safety was on, then

kept it at her side as she walked back to the front.

There were curtains pulled over the front windows, but she

could detect hazy outlines through their white silk layers.

It looked like they were talking, on the couch or

something, but it stilled seemed very odd to her. Things in

the air just seemed out of place, and besides that, Mulder

was not answering his cell phone.

She walked back to the side of the house, not wanting to

be seen on the street, or from the house, just in case. She

pulled out her cellular and called Mulder again. After five

rings without an answer, she assumed the worst and headed

back to the front again.

Weapon drawn, she climbed the front steps and licked her

lips. There was no storm door, only the old wooden portal

that looked as if it had weathered far fiercer storms than

the ones she was imagining. She put her hand to the knob

and took a deep breath, then shoved it open.

Dark. She couldn’t see.

“Scully, get down!”

Mulder!

She dropped and felt something hot and terrible tearing

into her. Then the explosions of sound that meant shots

were being fired at her. The darkness was more than just

lack of sunlight, it was enveloping her in a thick fog of

confusion. She rolled to the side, grunting when she hit a

wall, but feeling relatively little.

“Scully!”

“Here…” she whispered and moved to pull herself up.

When she had banged open the door and come in, weapon

drawn and ready, Mulder had tackled Marita, yelling for

Scully to drop to the floor. Marita had gotten off three

shots before he had wrestled the gun from her, managing to

knock her unconscious as he did so.

He had never punched a woman in the mouth before. It felt

vaguely dishonorable, but he was worried more about Scully.

She was crumpled against the wall, her weapon loose in her

fingers.

“Scully?” he said, hoping to hear her answer him. He

grabbed the duct tape from the end table and quickly ripped

off a long piece, fitting it tightly around Marita’s

wrists. He then jumped up and ran to Scully, his hands

shaking.

“Scully?” he said and lifted her upper body into his lap,

looking for blood.

She moved against him, then hissed in a breath.

“Mulder … Mulder, stop!”

He moved away, and saw that her thigh and shoulder had

been grazed by bullets, and her face was growing rapidly

pale. His trembling fingers grabbed for his cell phone and

called for paramedics and the police, then loosened her

suit jacket to staunch the flow of blood.

“I’m okay,” she said and winced as she tried to lean

against the wall in the entryway. “They almost missed me.”

“Scully…”

“Really, I’m okay,” she said, but gritted her teeth.

He frowned, but ran to the Halls and ripped the tape from

their wrists. Madison crashed over his legs and climbed

onto the couch with her parents, receiving a desperate

embrace. Mulder extracted himself and rushed back to Scully.

She was slumping down, her eyes closed as if in

concentration. He cradled her head, helping her stay

upright along the wall, then brushed his bloodied fingers

over her cheek. She smiled brokenly at him.

“I’m okay.”

He leaned down and kissed her lips very softly. “Looks

painful,” he whispered.

She curled her lips and clutched his shirt with her good

hand, shaking her head.

“Only you…”

Mulder gave her the best smile he could and glanced up to

the Halls, watching them cradle their daughter in relief.

He heard the sounds of squealing tires and glanced through

the thin gauzy curtains to the road in front of the house.

A car was speeding away just as three police cars with

their lights on lumbered up the street, an ambulance coming

in fast behind them.

“Looks like her ride left her,” Mulder said and moved to

open the front door.

The sun shone in brightly from overhead, hot and thick in

the air. The heavy rays illuminated the dark red stain of

Scully’s blood and the white blonde hair of Marita

Covarrubias. Mulder wondered if it was truly over now, or

if he would always be following the wake of the project as

it sped through the waters of the world.

=====

Epilogue

1:07 a.m. August 15, 2000

Saint Francis Memorial Hospital

Consciousness dashed into her like a cold ocean wave; she

was drowning in unfamiliar sounds and feelings and

impressions. She ached, she wanted to cry, she couldn’t

feel her hand at first, her leg felt thick and swollen and

dead.

She turned her head to the side, fighting tears of

frustration and pain and… and…

“Mulder?”

It was one in the morning, she could tell from his watch,

and he was crouching next to her hospital bed, fearful of

waking her. Too late.

“Mulder, what are you doing?”

“Marita is gone. Looks like her ride *didn’t* leave her.

She was in the hospital’s security ward, but someone got

her out. There’s a man on the security tapes, coming in to

see her. . .I think it’s Cancer Man.”

“Cancer Man got her out?” Scully asked, feeling sore and

confused and tired.

Mulder nodded grimly and pulled a chair up to her bedside,

taking her hand between his two warm palms. He looked out

of breath and just as exhausted as she felt.

“What about Madison? She could be in trouble again.”

“I sincerely hope not. Her family decided to enter Witness

Protection. The city is charging the institute with about

six hundred counts of criminal negligence, voluntary

attempted manslaughter, and some others. One for each child

from Madison’s school. Her family will testify.”

Scully nodded. The feeling of needing to cry had passed

for the moment; it was only the pain and the grogginess of

waking up in darkness and fear. Mulder’s hands felt

calming, but sweaty.

“Did you discover what killed Fitz?” she asked, looking

toward the window and the dark night beyond it.

“Yeah. The autopsy showed strains of the ebola virus, in a

mutated form. The CDC found out that Fitz had been working

on this prior to his death, so it’s being assumed that he

contracted the disease at work.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Scully said, disgusted. “He didn’t…”

“Well,” Mulder said softly, smoothing a piece of hair

along her forehead. “We know that, and the CDC probably

even knows that, but the city wants to quiet this aspect of

the case. They can’t have people afraid that ebola is going

around.”

“Yes but…” she sighed again and looked back to the

window. “Cancer Man has escaped prosecution, I don’t doubt.”

“Yeah. They can’t even issue a warrant for his arrest,

since there’s no record of a Mr. Walker, and the people who

work at the institute are mostly innocent. Nothing’s going

to change, really, but at least this is better than before.”

Scully sighed and closed her eyes.

“Oh. You probably want to get some rest.”

She shook her head and tugged on his hand as he attempted

to leave.

“No, not yet.”

He looked at her for a long moment, then sat back down and

leaned in close. She smiled softly at him and glanced down

to her thickly-bandaged leg.

“Any surgery?” she said softly.

He shook his head. “Just stitches. For both. You were

lucky — the bullets only scraped past you.”

She licked her lips. “Still hurts.”

He laughed and leaned forward to kiss her forehead very

gently.

“I’m sure it does. You’ve got a massive bruise on that

shoulder.”

Her smile unfurled slowly from her lips, causing her

entire countenance to transform, almost magically. He

grinned back and couldn’t help pressing a kiss to that

smiling mouth. Scully brought her hand up to caress his

cheek, and when he pulled back, her eyes were closed.

“Sleep, Scully,” he whispered and leaned back in the

plastic, scratchy chair to keep his silent vigil.

The darkness was relieved by a full orange moon peeking in

through the hospital room window. It framed the bed and

bathed Scully’s face in fiery fingers, soft and delicate as

she slept.

“Goodnight,” Mulder whispered, and the room and the moon

seemed to echo it around him.

=====

end adios RM

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