The Third Sacrifice

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Title: The Third Sacrifice

Author: Gina Rain (ginarain@aol.com)

Category: X, MSR

Rating: PG-13

Summary: Mulder and Scully run into a little girl who

claims to have been his daughter–in another lifetime.

Disclaimer: CC and Company own it all.

Special Thanks: To Sybil and the one and only Livia

Balaban for beta services. I’m extraordinarily flattered

that they would be willing to read my work in its

primitive stages and thank them for helping me polish it

into something presentable.

The following was written for IMT Productions Virtual

Season 10 project.

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The Third Sacrifice

Arabella: (Latin) Beautiful altar.

Teaser

The child wakes into her dream. As she often does. Her

soft brown eyes are wide-open and filled with curiosity.

The bright light doesn’t scare her anymore. She sits

back against the cushions of the couch, not questioning

how she moved from her soft bed to the sofa in the den.

Somehow, she just did.

The first time, she cried. Her eyes hurt. She was scared

of what was to follow. But no one listened. That’s how

she came to know it was a dream. Only in a dream could

you cry and cry and no one comes. Because no one can

hear or see someone else’s dreams. They are your own

personal movies. That’s what her Mommy had told her.

And besides, once she stopped crying, she realized the

pictures weren’t scary at all. Through the light, she

saw pictures of her other mommy. Her other daddy. Long

gone. Long dead.

Just like her.

_________________________

Act One

Starbucks

Washington, DC

Tuesday, 5:30 AM

Mulder looked out the window one more time. Scully

wasn’t late yet but he was still anxious to see her. He

enjoyed these early morning, once-a-week ‘dates’. The

coffee house they chose was close enough to the Hoover

building to ensure a slow, leisurely breakfast that

wouldn’t be followed by a mad dash to the office in

order to get there on time; but far enough away not to

run into the usual FBI regulars.

He spotted Scully maneuvering her car into a spot across

the street and left his table briefly to collect her

coffee and bagel. By the time he deposited her breakfast

on the table, she was just pushing open the front door

of the restaurant.

“Happy Tuesday, Scully,” he said, moving forward and

quickly sliding his hand down her arm in greeting. He

took his seat across from hers.

“‘Morning. I have to warn you, Mulder, I’m going to need

to finish three quarters of this cup before I’ll be

ready to talk. I’m really tired.”

Mulder’s smile faded. “These dates are not written in

stone, Scully. We can always cancel them.”

“No way, Mulder. You’re not getting out of it this

easily. I like this once a week thing. It gives us a

chance to talk without work or sex getting in the way.”

“Sex gets in the way?” he smirked.

“Yes–in the way of conversation. Well, with me, anyway.

Nothing much stops you when you’ve got a theory to

espouse. Anyway, don’t throw the baby out with the

bathwater. Just because I’m tired today doesn’t mean I’m

calling everything off. The only thing I need is for you

to do the talking until I wake up fully. Pretend we’re

in bed,” she added with a twinkle.

“Oh, okay. ‘Ride me like a stallion, baby … ‘”

Scully came as close to doing a spit take as she had

ever come in her life. Instead, she hastily swallowed

the sip of coffee in her mouth and laughed.

“I don’t remember you ever using that particular

expression, Mulder.”

“Do you want me to?”

“Generally, I can do those things without detailed

instruction or verbal encouragement.”

“Mmmm … yes, you can.”

“Mulder? First of all, you’re making me talk too much

and I’ve barely touched my coffee. And secondly, sex is

managing to rear its … well, let’s talk about

something neutral, please.”

“Beige or Switzerland?”

“Surprise me,” she said, taking a bite of her bagel.

“I don’t like beige, so Switzerland it is. Let me tell

you about my skiing trip in the early 80s.”

For the next fifteen minutes, Mulder regaled her with a

tale of mountains, snow, skis and a tree with Phoebe

Green’s name on it. After the laughter died down, Scully

looked up from her second refill to find Mulder looking

past her shoulder.

“What is it?”

“Nothing. Just … kids,” he said in a mock-exasperated,

world-weary tone. She looked behind her to see the back

of a woman’s head. Beyond her, on the opposite side of

the table, was a cute little girl. She looked to be

about five or six years of age with dark curly hair and

big brown eyes. She was leaning far over to her right,

staring unabashedly at Mulder.

“Your appeal to women apparently spans the generations,”

she said as she turned her attention back to him.

“I guess. She’s been staring at me since they sat down

about ten minutes ago,” he leaned closer. “It’s kind of

disconcerting.”

“Children stare. And it’s still so early. The poor child

probably feels like a zombie.”

Mulder leaned further towards her. It was time to narrow

their focus back to just the two of them. “Ah, Scully,

you know these gratuitous zombie mentions turn me on.”

Their world expanded again in seconds, as the child

suddenly approached their table.

“Hello,” Mulder said looking around the store until he

spotted the girl’s mother ordering another cup of coffee

to take out.

“Hello. My name is Arabella.”

“Well, hi, Arabella. I’m … ”

“Daddy,” she interrupted.

“What?”

“Daddy. Not now. But back then. When I wasn’t Arabella.

When I was Mary. You were my daddy. Once. Before we all

died.”

End of Act One

Act Two

“Arabella! What a thing to say,” the woman admonished

from her spot near the cashier. She was still fiddling

with her purse but kept an eye on the child as she

finished paying.

“But it’s true, Mother. It’s him. I told you I had

another daddy.”

“Arabella … ”

The little girl once again focused her attention on

Mulder. “I just wanted to say hello and to tell you to

stop worrying. See, you watched me die but now I’m alive

again. And so are you. That’s pretty cool, huh?”

Mulder sat there with his mouth slightly open. The girl

turned to Scully and stared.

“I should remember you, too. But, I don’t. Not yet.

Maybe next time.”

“Bella!” The well-dressed older woman had gathered their

possessions, laid her hand across the child’s shoulders

and steered her towards the door. “Sorry. She has a very

active imagination,” she said to Mulder, by way of

explanation. She hurried the child out before Mulder or

Scully could do little more than give a nervous smile of

reassurance in return.

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“Well, that was … ” Mulder began.

“Typical.” Scully said.

Mulder raised his eyebrows in response.

“I swear, Mulder. You’re a magnet. Anything or anyone

out of the norm automatically cleaves unto you.”

“You don’t seem so pissed when it’s you doing the

cleaving,” he joked.

“I’m not pissed. Yet.” She said, matter of factly,

laying her napkin on the table and smoothing it flat

against the surface.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked, slightly

defensive.

“It means,” she said slowly, “if you don’t go jumping to

conclusions, and properly categorize this as a ‘kids

say the darndest things’ moment, I will have no problem

with the situation whatsoever. If you start talking

about past lives … ”

“Reincarnation is a valid research subject, Scully. Many

brilliant people have been interested in this

phenomenon.”

“Mulder,” her voice held a warning.

“I’m dropping the subject. It’s dropped.” Beneath the

nonchalant tone of her voice, he knew she was serious.

It was not worth arguing about. Still, he was never one

to let an opportunity to push the envelope pass him by.

“She kind of looked like me, no?” he said with a smile.

“No,” Scully said, rising and gathering the remnants of

their breakfast together.

Their date was officially over.

Wednesday, 5:45 AM

The subject dropped but the interest remained.

Mulder drove through the streets of Washington, DC, lost

in his own thoughts. When children under the age of four

spoke of previous lives, those trained in the field sat

up and took notice. Children Arabella’s age were in the

‘iffy’ category. They were certainly old enough for

outside influences to have affected their thought

processes. However, this child was so offhand about the

subject that Mulder wanted to give her the benefit of

the doubt. She hadn’t seemed to want to shock him. She

just wanted to inform him of something she considered a

fact.

Getting Scully involved at this time was pointless. He

simply wanted to have a little more contact with the

child and possibly suggest further study if the parents

seemed receptive. If not, that was also fine. Scully

would think it was all nonsense and that he should stay

out of it altogether. He recalled a time when she was

vehemently opposed to just this type of exploration.

Adding to this essential prejudice was the fact that

they were now dealing with a child. The whole issue of

children was something they rarely brought up. It was a

sticky subject best left untouched.

So, he planned on a couple of early morning breakfasts

in the coffee shop without Scully. What harm could come

of it?

By the time he arrived, Arabella’s mother was trying to

balance a backpack on top of a briefcase on the empty

chair by their table. The child sat quietly and watched

as the well-groomed blonde fussed over their

possessions. She looked up as Mulder passed her.

“Hello, Daddy,” she said in greeting. He stopped and

smiled at her.

“Arabella … ” the somewhat harried woman said in a

warning tone.

The child looked irritated.

“You said I could. You said I could call him that.”

“Honestly, Bella. Your imagination!”

“It’s all right. I’m flattered to be the object of your

daughter’s … um … ”

“Yes, I know. Don’t know what to call it, do you?” She

said. “Bella? You want a cinnamon bagel with cream

cheese or butter?”

“I want the cream cheese with the raisins in it.”

“Okay. I’ll be right back. You stay here and don’t

move.”

Mulder took a seat directly behind Arabella’s. She

turned to him as soon as her mother walked to the

counter.

“Mister Daddy … where’s your girlfriend?”

Mulder smiled softly. “She’s not here today.”

Bella leaned back in her chair and looked upwards.

“I was trying to think if I saw her before but I don’t

think so. She was not the lady who was my momma. You

know, the time you were my daddy? That lady had brown

hair and brown eyes. Like me.”

“Ah. And what was her name?”

“Momma,” she looked at him as if he had a few screws

loose.

Mulder smiled again. The kid was probably right.

“Momma,” Bella mused. “That makes three. Momma, Mommy

and Mother. Pretty cool, huh?”

He frowned in complete confusion. “Um, yeah. Pretty

cool. Bella–do you watch a lot of television?”

“No. Not anymore,” she looked around conspiratorially

and nodded at the woman waiting for their order, “Mother

won’t let me. Mommy always did but not anymore.”

“I don’t understand.”

“My mommy–the one who is not here now–she likes TV. My

daddy liked it, too. But since they hate each other and

are going to get ‘vorced–mommy listens to mother now.”

“Oh,” he said, realization dawning. “You have two

mothers.”

“No, I have one mommy and one mother. Mommy is confused.

Mother knows everything about everything. She said so.

So, Mommy has to listen. And so do I. But really, I

don’t think I should because I’m not confused.”

“Where’s your daddy?”

“We lost him.”

“Lost?”

“Yes, we ran and ran and finally lost him. Mommy and

Mother were happy but I’m not. I love him. He’s nice.

Like you but better because I know him more.”

“Talking your ear off, is she?” Arabella’s ‘mother’ came

back with a tray filled with bagels, juice and coffee.

“It’s fine. I’m enjoying myself.”

“Do you have children?” The woman asked.

“No.”

“Well, they are a handful but also a great joy and

comfort. And a source of entertainment–when they have

active imaginations like my Arabella.”

She petted Bella’s head, much as she would a Golden

Retriever’s, before taking her seat.

Bella rolled her eyes.

“I have to go to the bathroom. Can’t eat before I wash

my hands. Mommy don’t like it.”

“Get the key from the nice lady. Want me to go with

you?”

“No. I’m a big girl. I go myself.”

They watched as the child approached the counter, got

the key and walked over to the ladies’ room. She opened

the door easily and went in.

Mulder looked over at the woman who sat a few feet away

from him. This time, it was her chair facing in his

direction. She looked more confident with the child in

the other room. Now was a good time to broach the

subject.

“Has she always–said things like that?”

“About second daddies and past lives? Yes. Ever since

she was a toddler.”

“I … have an interest in psychology. There is a whole

school of thought … ”

“Yes, I know. That all this could be based on reality.

We’ve explored some of the options but have decided that

Bella needs to lead her life. Not concentrate on some

bizarre memories that may not be more than some neural

aberration that most people don’t experience. The child

doesn’t need to be a lab rat. She needs to be five and a

half years old.”

“You’re probably right.”

“You’d know I was definitely right if you had a child of

your own.”

“I suppose I would,” he said, doubtful whether she had

any more experience of biologically having a child than

he did.

“I’m hungry now,” Arabella stated as she came running

back to the table.

The woman laughed and handed the girl her breakfast.

Mulder had no further conversation with either of them

until he was getting ready to leave.

“I’m sorry if I was a bit abrupt earlier,” the woman

said as he was putting on his coat. “You’ve been very

kind. Some people just don’t understand and pass

judgement on what she says. Anyway, I just wanted to say

I hope we’ll be running into each other again. My name

is Constance. Constance Jeffers. And you’re … ”

“Fox Mulder.”

“Nice to meet you, Mr. Mulder. We’ll see you around.”

Mulder smiled and left for work.

Hoover Building

Thursday, 12:02 PM

Arabella Jeffers. The other “woman.”

It was fairly easy to find out her name. The girl on the

early morning shift at Starbucks was more than happy to

keep her ears open. She knew a g-woman when she saw one

and was all too willing to act as a junior spy in the

making. No amount of denial on Scully’s part could

convince her that *they* weren’t on a case. She had the

child’s last name ready for her by the time she walked

into work this morning.

And also confirmed what Scully knew all along.

Mulder had breakfast there two mornings in a row without

her.

She couldn’t be angry. Well, she could but it wouldn’t

be fair. Children had the tendency to complicate

matters. She remembered when she discovered Emily. She

wasn’t thinking about her career, or ties with Mulder or

anything else but claiming the little girl as her own.

If Mulder were presented with a child who had any kind

of connection to him–no matter how remote–she could

understand his need to find out more about her.

However, the connection *was* remote. And suspect.

Mulder didn’t always think rationally in matters such as

these. It was her job to find and present the facts.

She thought of another time when Mulder didn’t think

with his head. A time when he so needed to be part of

something. Something big and grand that spanned

generations and lifetimes.

She had searched for facts then, too.

And came up with proof of the existence of the two

people Mulder named as belonging to him and his eternal

“soulmate”.

She kind of shot herself in the foot with that one,

Scully thought with a wry smile.

Mulder would have moved heaven and earth to get Melissa

away from Vernon Ephesian. And he would have tested the

soulmate theory. She was certain of it. He would be busy

testing while Scully was moving her own heaven and earth

to prove they were all full of shit.

But now she was treading in murkier water. A child was a

whole other story.

For one thing, she didn’t want Mulder to get himself in

trouble for meddling in Arabella’s life. The FBI didn’t

look too kindly on their employees stalking children,

and using a defense of parental rights through

reincarnation would surely not sit well with anyone.

For another, she didn’t want him to be hurt, believing

with his heart, instead of his head.

So, information had to be gathered. Facts had to be

presented.

She just hoped she wasn’t shooting herself in the foot

again.

Constance Jeffers’ Apartment

7:30 PM

Arabella was sitting on the couch, bouncing up and down

as she spoke to Elizabeth, her biological mother. The

woman looked younger than Constance. Her dark hair was

pulled up in a ponytail; her shirt tucked haphazardly

into her jeans.

“He’s nice, Mommy. He lets me talk and I like him. Not

as much as my daddy of now, but since he’s not here

anymore on account of we lost him … ”

“No, Belle, don’t even think about it.”

“What? I didn’t *say* anything,” a definite whine was in

the making.

“You were thinking it. The only daddy you have is your

real daddy. He loves you. Don’t ever forget that.”

The sound of a throat clearing interrupted the

discussion between Bella and her mother.

“Arabella–why don’t you go to your room and play?”

Constance told her.

“Play with what?”

“A game or something.”

“I can’t play a game by myself.”

“Then read.”

“I take too long. I can’t read good yet.”

“Don’t pout, Arabella.”

“I’m not pouting. I don’t like that name, either. It’s

silly.”

“It’s your name.”

“Daddy never called me that. Neither did Mommy ’til you

told her to.”

“Arabella,” Elizabeth said in a weary tone of half-

warning.

“Fine. I’m going. I’m going to play with my dollies.

They like me.”

She got up and went to the other room, closing the door

behind her with a definite slam.

“Elizabeth, I thought you were ready for this,”

Constance said, softly.

“I am. I was. But, she’s a baby.”

“She’s a child. Old enough to understand that she has

older people she must defer to. As we have Someone we

must defer to. Had you found the strength of obedience

earlier, you would be living your reward now and

Arabella would never have been born into the heartache

of this world.”

Elizabeth looked down, tears in her eyes.

“I tried. But, my child … .you can’t understand what

it’s like.”

“Can’t? I *can’t*? I have a uterus just like any other

woman. I was just able to control myself better. And, if

I had succumbed to the evils of the flesh, I can assure

you I still would have had the wherewithal to train my

child as a proper Christian.”

“I’m sorry. You’re right, of course.”

“Of course. Now, what did I interrupt? She wants to get

closer to Mr. Mulder, doesn’t she?”

Elizabeth nodded.

“Good. This should be encouraged. He must be the third

sacrifice.”

“You keep talking about the third sacrifice but you

don’t tell me anything other than it will lead to the

ultimate sacrifice.”

“You don’t need to know anything more. You’re acting

like Arabella. You already gave up one chance at eternal

life, for you and your child. He’s damned for this

world. Don’t do the same thing to Arabella. Prove your

faith.”

Starbucks

Friday, 5:45 AM

Mulder sat by his window seat watching Constance park

her car. The child unstrapped herself from her seatbelt

and let herself out of the car before Constance could

round the front of the vehicle.

Arabella had her arms crossed in front of her and her

lower sip stuck out in a pout that was truly Mulder-

worthy. She suddenly looked at the coffee shop window

and met his gaze. A smile crossed her face and she ran

through the door and into the restaurant. Inside, she

climbed aboard his lap before he could greet her, and

squeezed his neck with her little arms.

“I hate her,” she declared, the ‘her’ in question just

coming through the door.

“Arabella!” Constance noted the child’s position on

Mulder’s lap.

“It’s all right, really, ” For once, Mulder was

uncertain about what he should be doing or saying under

the circumstances.

“It’s not all right at all. This is highly inappropriate

behavior, Arabella, and you know it.”

“I want to talk to my friend.”

“Your friend?” Constance asked.

Mulder sensed a challenge behind the simple question and

felt Arabella shift in his lap.

“My old daddy.”

“He’s not your daddy, Arabella. Old or new.”

Mulder frowned.

Constance had goaded the words out of the child’s mouth,

then denied them.

“Come, Arabella. Let’s eat.”

“Can’t I sit with … him. While you get it?”

Constance raised an eyebrow in question and Mulder

nodded his head in agreement. She turned and went to the

counter to order.

“She made my mommy cry. I don’t like her any more. And

I’m not calling her ‘mother.’ No matter what she says,”

she said in a whisper.

“And what does she say?” Mulder asked softly.

“She says God won’t love me no more. But daddy and

mommy–they told me God is good and he loves me no

matter what. So, I like that better.”

Mulder smiled. “Me, too.”

“If she makes my mommy cry again–I’m gonna, I’m gonna

… find my daddy and he’ll fix everything.”

“Arabella, don’t pester Mr. Mulder. Come on. I’ve got

you hot chocolate,” she said, turning from the counter.

“My name is Belle,” she whispered to Mulder, squeezed

his neck and joined Constance.

Mulder spent the next half-hour watching them but had

very little additional contact. Arabella ate her meal in

relative silence, intent on buffing up her chocolate

milk mustache. Constance was equally intent on making it

disappear. More pouting ensued.

It was time for Mulder to call in the troops.

Hoover Building

Friday, 7:55 AM

Scully was pacing by the time Mulder walked into the

office. She didn’t want to bring the subject up but he

had to know certain things about his ‘daughter’ before

he became emotionally attached.

Mulder walked through the door. He reached out and

touched her shoulder.

“Good morning, Scully.”

“Mulder, we have to talk.”

“Yes, we do. Sit down a minute. I have a confession to

make.”

“A confession?” She sat in her chair, while Mulder

leaned against her desk.

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“Yes, I know there’s no dark booth but I thought I’d

just wing it. It’s good for the soul, so they say,” he

didn’t look completely convinced. “Anyway, I just wanted

to tell you I’ve been going to Starbucks every single

morning since we saw that little girl.”

“Yes, Mulder. I know.”

“You do?” He asked, thoroughly surprised.

“Yes, I assumed you would and confirmed that you did.”

“Are you angry?”

“No.”

“Hurt?”

“No.”

“Disappointed?”

“No, Mulder. None of the above. We can discuss all of

this later but right now, you have to listen to me and

keep an open mind because I’m pretty sure … ”

“I’m being played like a violin,” he stated simply.

“You know?”

“No. I don’t *know*. But I strongly suspect. I’m turning

to you for the hard evidence.”

She smiled a moment before getting serious.

“There are some strange, strange circumstances and one

very bizarre connection. It could be a coincidence but

that would really be a stretch of the imagination.”

“Tell me.”

“Okay. I got the child’s name from the girl who works

the morning shift in the coffee shop. She asked the

child directly while the mother was bringing things to

the table. Her name is Arabella Jeffers.”

“How convenient,” Mulder said.

“What is?”

“It’s convenient that everyone is allowed such access to

the child. I think that’s one of the first things that

aroused my suspicions. She’s not yet six years old and I

was allowed to be alone with her several times. Today,

she was even sitting on my lap with her arms around my

neck. This woman doesn’t know me. I’m just some strange

guy who has no business being anywhere near–never mind

being alone with her while her mother is on the opposite

side of the coffee shop. Not a smart move in this day

and age.”

“No, it’s not.”

“I’m sorry. I interrupted. Continue, Scully.”

“Arabella was recently registered into a kindergarten

class here in D.C. There are no previous school records

for her anywhere. Strange, but not completely unheard

of. While most children attend some sort of pre-school,

it’s not mandatory. However, what is really odd is the

papers used in her enrollment. She has both a mother,

and a guardian: Constance Jeffers. Unrelated. Arabella’s

last name is the same as the guardian’s. The Gunmen say

that the papers looked authentic enough but were not

filed anywhere. Apparently, they were so convincing, no

one went through the red tape necessary to find out they

were fakes. Anyway, a search using her mother’s

information turned up her birth certificate. She was

born Belle Wiley in Los Angeles, California to Elizabeth

Wiley: mother. Father: Unknown.”

“Okay.”

“It gets stranger, still. A search of Elizabeth herself

came up with the following information: eleven years

ago, she gave birth to a baby boy. Scott. Father unknown

in this case as well. The legal guardianship of this

child was given to Elizabeth’s parents almost six years

ago, right before she was due to give birth to Belle.

She moved to California, gave birth and married a David

Curtis when Belle was one. He legally adopted her. That

fact was conveniently missing in all the school records.

They have Elizabeth as a single mother, never married.

They were–and are–married. Six months ago, David filed

missing persons reports for Elizabeth and Belle. He

doesn’t have a great deal of money but he’s spent quite

a bit trying to track them down. Everything being under

Constance Jeffers’ name has complicated matters. Since

he’s an adoptive father, he just doesn’t have the rights

Elizabeth does. The police have pretty much considered

this case simple abandonment due to probable domestic

discord.”

“From what Belle told me, I was under the impression

they might be lovers–Elizabeth and Constance.”

“That, I don’t know. But wait–you haven’t heard the

good part.”

“Which is?”

“Before giving her son up to her parents, Elizabeth had

one address listed for six months. The Ephesian compound

in Apison, Tennessee.”

The hand Mulder was using to help him lean against the

desk slipped a bit and Mulder had to take a brief second

to steady himself.

Scully finished presenting her evidence. “And Constance?

Well, a little digging around has shown that she may

very well be one of the masterminds behind the Temple of

the Seven Stars.”

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End of Act 2

Act 3

“Close your mouth, Mulder,” Scully said after a few

seconds.

He closed it only to open it again.

“I’m shocked.”

“I thought you would be. I was myself. I have ordered

transcripts from Melissa Ephesian’s therapy sessions and

a few other files that will hopefully shed some more

light on the situation. But the Gunmen were pretty

certain of their facts. Constance was a psychiatrist.

Specializing in hypnotherapy. It is suspected that she

was on the outside of this movement–recruiting from her

patient base. When suspicions started being voiced, she

suddenly packed up her practice and wasn’t heard of

until her recent reemergence in Elizabeth’s life.”

“I’ll be damned.”

Constance Jeffers’ apartment

4:30 PM

“It’s time, Elizabeth,” Constance said, placing a pad of

paper and a pen before the woman resting on her couch.

“What’s time?” Elizabeth had been napping. She was still

not completely alert.

“It’s time for the second sacrifice.”

“You never told me what that was.”

“You need to join Vernon’s other wives. You need to

complete the cycle. He only took six wives with him. You

know you were meant to be the seventh. You need to join

him. Now.”

“I … can’t. My baby.”

“Your ‘baby’ will be just fine. No harm will come to

her. I am not Vernon. Now, come. Write the note and this

evening, your mission will be complete. We will all be

together soon enough.”

Elizabeth frowned as she slowly rose from the couch and

walked toward the desk.

Mulder’s Apartment

7:30 PM

Mulder unlocked the door and escorted Scully into his

apartment. She promptly sat on his couch and pulled a

few thick files from her briefcase.

“I could have read all of it, you know,” Mulder said, a

touch of annoyance in his voice. “You could have driven

us home and I could have read the entire report myself,”

Mulder told her.

“I know. But why open up old wounds?”

“For me, or for you?”

She stared at him. “I know you are trying to be

flippant and I’m not happy about it. I wasn’t happy at

the time, either. It’s interesting to hear you

acknowledge that the Ephesian case might have been

painful for me. At the time, you were so consumed with

what you *thought* was happening you paid very little

attention to anything–or anyone–but yourself. I hope

you won’t let history repeat itself.”

“Okay,” he said, still not quite understanding what her

problem with the case was. “I can see where you might

think my actions were selfish. You were never fond of

the regression sessions–for Melissa or myself.”

“No, I wasn’t. And I believe I told you so at the time.

But I really wasn’t fond of you falling hook, line and

sinker over this romantic notion of a disturbed woman

being your soulmate while I was risking life and limb

and sanity every day to stand by your side. I did it

willingly, and would do it again but I can’t say it made

me feel wonderful to know that, had she lived, you would

more than likely have run off to be with your ‘soulmate’

because she tickled your paranormal fancy. Even if the

situation itself made no sense.”

Mulder stared at her but chose not to say anything. She

had never talked of her personal feelings over this case

before and some of what she was saying surprised him. He

had always assumed the case struck a raw nerve with her

due to the extreme breach of protocol involved. It

hadn’t really occurred to him that the whole soulmate

issue was the problem. He wanted to hear more.

“Enough of this,” Scully said, “I only brought it up

because of the connection to the little girl. And please

don’t leap to the conclusion that Arabella was your’s

and Melissa’s love child in 1247 or something.”

He winced as she turned her attention completely away

from him and began rifling through the pages of the file

until she found what she was looking for.

“Ah. Here it is,” she said, after a few moments of

silence. Her voice was as calm as it always was when she

focused on a case. Mulder took a small breath and

concentrated on her words, leaving their relationship

issues behind, for the moment. “Melissa told us the

following, during her therapy session: ‘There was a …

woman who came to the temple. She and her son had been

living on the street.’

The therapist asked what her name was. Melissa replied

that it was Elizabeth. Her son was named Scott. She then

continued. ‘Vernon took a liking to the boy. He said he

was a prophet returning. He took the boy away from his

mother.’ Remember that story?”

“She snuck in and brought the child candy,” Mulder

responded. “Vernon was disgusted with them both and beat

them in front of each other. Then he rejected the child

as prophet, humiliated him further by calling him

garbage and threw them out.”

“Right,” Scully said. “Melissa never told us about the

timing but ‘Sidney’ did call the tip into the FBI saying

that Vernon was abusing children. That might have been

the incident that pushed her over the edge.”

“Elizabeth and Scott. Not uncommon names but it would be

quite a coincidence if another mother and son with those

names lived in the compound at that time,” Mulder mused.

“Yes, it would.”

“So, we have two women associated with the Temple–

trying to contact me. I assume it’s just me since no one

has mentioned you since the first time we met up with

them.”

“That’s a fair assumption,” she acknowledged.

“And a child who claims to be my reincarnated daughter.”

“Yes.”

Scully’s calm, businesslike demeanor was beginning to

make him nervous.

“I’m *not* leaping to conclusions, Scully. There could

be many rational explanations for all of this.”

“Yes.”

“I actually don’t believe she is my daughter. Not even

in the past.”

That seemed to get her attention.

“Really? Why not?” she asked.

“The circumstances surrounding this whole situation are

highly suspicious. I just believe it’s all a set up and

not a genuine case of reincarnation.”

She sat back against the cushions and gave out a small,

barely perceptible sigh.

“Mulder. When all this is over, we need to sit and

discuss your needs.”

He smirked at her comment. It was a force of habit.

She ignored it. A response also honed through years of

practice.

“We need to discuss your need to be a parent,” she

clarified.

“I don’t need to be a parent,” he said quickly.

“It’s not something you’ve probably even explored until

now.”

“I’ve explored it many times, Scully. There were times

when I thought about settling down, having children. But

it is all part of *settling down.* It would be

irresponsible to have children in the line of work we

are in now. And if we ever do settle down into something

more … sedentary … safe … we can discuss adoption

or whatever you want. Both of us. Both exploring our

needs. It’s not one person over the other.”

She nodded slowly. He was glad he still had the ability

to surprise her once in a while.

The phone rang.

“Mulder.”

“Mr. Mulder. I can’t talk for long. I am Arabella’s

mother. Her real mother. I live at 1298 Sycamore.

Apartment 9B. Please. There isn’t much time. She’s going

to make me drink the poison and then take Belle and kill

her. And you will be next. Please. Find my daughter and

take her back to her father. Please.”

He got off the phone and turned to Scully.

Outside of 1298 Sycamore

Friday, 9:00 PM

1298 Sycamore was quite a distance away and they had

called the police for help and/or backup before they had

even left Mulder’s apartment building.

The EMT were loading Elizabeth onto the ambulance as

Mulder and Scully were pulling up.

Scully was out of the car before Mulder completely came

to a stop. She flashed her badge and asked what the

local PD had found.

“Looked like an attempted suicide, except for what you

told us on the phone. A half glass of iced tea laced

with something, a note.”

“The child … the little girl … ”

“Nope, no little girl. Just the woman unconscious on the

couch.”

“Is she going to make it?”

He nodded toward the emergency workers. “They think she

might have a good chance. Her breathing was pretty

strong and they’ve been working on her since they found

her.”

“Can we have a look upstairs?”

“Sure. And we’ll be taking her to Mercy in case you want

to join up with us there.”

“Thank you.”

Mulder and Scully went to the upscale apartment. The

smell of vomit hit them as soon as they came through the

door. They bypassed the local police and went through

the rooms. There were two bedrooms–one functional, the

other a more cluttered adult bedroom clearly shared by a

child. Belle’s dolls and books were everywhere.

They opened the closet doors.

“It’s impossible for us to know what’s missing, Mulder.

There is clearly a good supply of clothing left but …

how much was taken, if any–we have no way of knowing.”

He frowned. “You’re right. I don’t think we’ll find much

here. And I have absolutely no clue where she’d take

Belle. We have to talk to the Elizabeth.”

Mercy Hospital

3:37 AM

Mulder and Scully approached room 717. An extremely

tired looking man in his mid-thirties was pacing the

hallway. When he spotted them, he went to them

immediately.

“Anything?” he asked.

“You are … ” Mulder prompted, pretty much knowing the

answer.

“I’m sorry. I’m David Curtis. Elizabeth’s husband. Have

you found Belle?”

“No. I’m sorry. We’ve been through the apartment and

have questioned people locally. Questioned a lot of the

tenants of the building–doormen, security guards. No

one saw anything,” Mulder said.

“The doctor called and told us Elizabeth was finally

awake and ready to talk.”

“Yes, go right on in. I’ll wait here in case she wants

to tell you things she might not necessarily want me to

hear.”

Scully gave him a brief, reassuring smile before she and

Mulder walked into the room.

Elizabeth was sitting up in bed as they made their brief

introductions. She looked pale and exhausted but leaned

forward, seemingly eager to answer any questions the two

agents might have for her.

They sat on mismatched plastic chairs near her bed.

“We’re going to need to have a brief history of your

involvement with the Temple of the Seven Stars, Mrs.

Curtis. Anything you can tell us might give us some idea

of where to begin looking for your little girl,” Mulder

said.

After a moment’s thought, Elizabeth began to speak.

“When I had my son … I was very young. Very young. My

parents were not happy with the situation, mostly

because I didn’t tell them who the father was. He was

married and didn’t want anything to do with either of us

and I swore we’d never ask for anything from him. Not

one penny.

Well, my parents were more than willing to have us all

live under the same roof, but they were still my

parents. They wanted me to do things their way. I was

headstrong and we argued a lot over decisions I was

beginning to make. We stayed with them for four years. I

finished high school and had some odd jobs here and

there. Scott was doing well with his grandparents. But

they still wanted me to sue Scott’s father for child

support, to ease the financial burden off of all of us

and let me use more of my own money for goals I should

be working toward. We had one last blow-up and, being

arrogant and stupid, I ran away. With my child. And

within a few months, we were moving from shelter to

shelter. But I couldn’t swallow my pride and go back to

my folks.

Vernon found me panhandling one day, me and my son. He

looked at my little boy, who was about five at the time,

and said he looked like one of his children. I was

messed up. Completely confused. And here was a man who

cared about me and my boy. And had the keys to eternal

life right in his hand. And he could surely talk the

good talk. There didn’t seem to be much to think about.

I went with him.”

“And he abused both of you?” Scully asked.

“No. Not until the night he threw us out. At first, he

was real nice. He told me that I would be his seventh

bride. I would complete his worldly obligations and we

could all move on to heaven. But, my boy needed to learn

a few more things about the way of the Lord and he felt

I was too easy on him. He took him away and, for a

while, I was content, knowing he was grooming the two of

us for the afterlife. But then, I heard stories. Of how

harsh he was to the children. How unforgiving. I was his

mom. I went to my child. And it was really my fault that

he was beaten. It was my fault that I was beaten. I

instigated it all through my stupidity.

He threw us out and then … within days, everything was

over. Everyone in the compound had killed themselves and

Scott and I were on the outside. And I was pregnant.”

“Belle is Vernon’s child?” Mulder asked, leaning forward

in his chair.

“Yes.”

“Did anyone know this?” Scully asked.

“Constance had suspected I was pregnant. There was no

real medical care on the compound. She was going to get

me a home pregnancy test on her next trip out but by the

time she came back, I was gone and the troubles were

starting. She went into hiding.”

“What was her role in all of this?” Scully asked.

“She was our counsellor. We saw her when we first came

in and during the whole time we were there. She made us

keep our goals in sight.”

“How?” Scully took note of her odd phrasing.

“Just by talking. Relaxation techniques.”

“Then what happened?”

“I knew I had to start over. I contacted my parents. I

couldn’t saddle them with two kids. So, I thought I

would go and have my baby and give her up for adoption.

I did give them Scott. I signed over guardianship and

moved to California. My sister was there. She enrolled

me in some secretarial courses while I was pregnant. I

gave birth and later worked in an office. That’s where I

met my husband. I never did give up Belle. I just loved

her so much. And I didn’t go back to pick up Scott

because … I don’t know. My parents just did so much of

a better job of raising him than I ever did. I almost

got the poor child killed. But with Belle–we had a

fresh start. My parents liked David so much, they agreed

with the arrangement completely. I see Scott a few times

a year and keep in touch with him.”

Scully looked like she was about to say something,

thought better of it, and dropped the subject.

“What about Constance? How does she fit into the picture

now?” she asked instead.

“I met up with her by accident. She saw me with Belle

and said something like, ‘well–I guess you didn’t need

the home pregnancy test after all.’ We started talking.

We’d meet every once in a while. She said that she

really thought our mission had ended too soon. That

there were those of us left behind that should be

experiencing the joys of the kingdom. She had her ways

… the more I listened, the more it all made sense.

We’d meet and have tea every once in a while, and then I

started having relaxation sessions with her, because she

was thinking of starting up a practice again and needed

to brush up on her skills.”

“And she convinced you to leave your husband and follow

her?” Mulder asked.

“Yes. David was a very down to earth man. He knew about

my past and a little about my connection with the Temple

of the Seven Stars but put it down to some youthful need

to belong. He would never, ever have gone along with

what we were planning. And, as Constance said, if you

weren’t for us, you were against us.

We wanted to start up the church again. But we needed to

prove some things to those who had been on the border–

waiting to come in. We needed to convince them that they

should leave their lives behind and follow our way. That

they should be our disciples. And for this to happen–we

needed three sacrifices. ”

“Three?” Mulder asked.

“I knew what the third sacrifice was. I always knew

that. But I only just figured out the first two were me,

and Belle.”

“And the third?”

“The third is you, Mr. Mulder. You were going to be

sacrificed so people could see how strong and powerful

we really are. Then we could gather everyone together

and make the ultimate sacrifice–our mortal lives in

exchange for eternal life.” Elizabeth shrugged her

shoulders. “It all made so much sense at the time.”

“And when did it stop making sense?” Scully asked

sharply.

“When the look in Belle’s eyes began to resemble the

look in Scott’s.” She looked blankly into the distance,

seemingly lost in her own thoughts. Then she turned her

attention exclusively in one direction. “You have to

stop them, Mr. Mulder. You have to get back my Belle.”

Mulder’s car

4:45 AM

“Get back her Belle,” Scully said with a huff, as the

car moved along the highway.

“Oh, come on, Scully. I thought you’d be a little more

sympathetic.”

“I was. Until she told me she let her child be

hypnotized into believing she had lived and died before.

She sat back and watched as that child was taken from

her bed–every single night. Put on a couch–in a dark

room–with a bright light shining in her face, while

pictures of you and Melissa Ephesian were projected on a

screen.”

“I think she needs help, Scully.”

“She needs serious help, Mulder. And I’m not so sure she

should be mothering any child until she gets it.”

“Well, fortunately, I think David Curtis is more than

capable of parenting the child while Elizabeth

straightens out her life. Now, I just need to get his

little girl back so I can prove my theory.”

“*We* will.”

“Scully, I’m not so sure both of us going is a good

idea. This woman has obvious issues with me, not you at

all.”

“Mulder. This is not up for discussion. Or one sentence

worth of debate. We are doing this. Both of us. Case

closed.”

He turned and looked at her face. Her eyes were looking

straight out into the darkness of the early morning, her

chin set and determined.

He smiled softly. Skeptical or not, she was the only one

he wanted to help him tickle his paranormal fancy.

“Fine,” he said after a moment. “Straight to the

airport, then? No stops?”

“No stops.”

clip_image006

Apison, Tennessee

Saturday, 2 PM

They were in a rental car on an all too familiar road.

Mulder was driving and Scully was in the backseat,

crouched on the floor, beneath Mulder’s trench coat.

They were heading toward the back of the former Ephesian

compound.

“Don’t talk anymore, Mulder. I don’t want them even

seeing your lips move. The field office should have

agents in place by now. Close, but not too close. Try

and park near an area with bushes … somewhere near the

perimeter so I can get out of the car and watch you

under cover of foliage,” she was silent for a moment.

“Mulder, be careful. We’re not through with this

lifetime yet.”

He cleared his throat in acknowledgement before parking

the car, and getting out. The cool air felt good on his

face.

After walking through the field a few moments, he felt

the familiar melancholy the location inspired, the

tragedy of lives lost. But he did not feel the spanning

of generations and the pull he once thought he had.

His soul had a home. It did not seek another.

After a few moments, he looked past a stretch of

dramatically overgrown grass and found them. He saw

Constance first, surrounded by twelve people. Men and

women standing in a circle. The group bowed their heads,

while their lips moved in a chant. Constance looked up

and saw Mulder. Her lips curled in a smile. It was not a

pleasant sight.

“Step aside, ladies and gentlemen. The third sacrifice

approaches.”

Mulder stopped walking toward them. “The third

sacrifice? Hey–if I can’t take first place, I’m not

playing.”

“Mr. Mulder,” Constance sighed dramatically. “Please.

Now is not the time to be flippant. We have some very

serious work to accomplish.”

“Lady, frankly I don’t care what you’re trying to

accomplish. All I want is the little girl.”

“Your daughter?” she asked with an even broader smile.

“Daughter, my ass. Just give me the child and I’ll be on

my way.”

“You don’t really believe I’ll do that, do you?”

“I thought it was worth a shot.” He shrugged.

The dirty dozen moved aside to reveal Belle on a

makeshift altar. A dozen lit candles surrounded her

still body.

“She’s not … ?” Mulder’s eyes widened in horror.

“No. Of course not,” Constance seemed genuinely insulted

over his assumption. “She’s alive. She’s just …

sedated. As you well know, she is not known for her

silence and Elizabeth never taught her proper respect

toward her elders. But she will stay alive as long as

you cooperate. However … ” Constance trailed off as

the man closest to Belle pulled out a hypodermic and

grabbed Belle’s arm, the needle pressing against the

baby soft skin. “Now, you will be a good little agent of

the FBI and come here.”

Mulder drew his gun.

“Put down the hypodermic. Now!” he shouted.

clip_image007

“Now, now, Mr. Mulder,” she said, pulling out a gun of

her own and aiming at the child. “I can assure you,

death by this type of lethal injection would be a lot

less painful than the type brought about by a gun.

However, it’s your choice. And that choice can be

avoided altogether if you will just cooperate.”

Grand gestures of any kind were too much of a risk with

Belle’s life in imminent danger. As Mulder approached,

two men grabbed him and tied him securely to a tree near

the altar.

“Let her go,” he said, watching Constance put her gun in

the pocket of her jacket.

“Mr. Mulder? Where is she going to go? She’s a child and

she’s unconscious. Of course, if you’ve fulfilled your

part of the bargain, she will be absolutely unharmed.

You don’t understand. She is worth far more alive than

dead. She is the child–the only living child–of our

former leader. Given proper training, she has the

potential to bring in many converts. Save many souls.”

“Elizabeth told me there would be a mass suicide.”

Mulder said. “Just as there was before. She mentioned a

third sacrifice. If I’m going to be that sacrifice … I

have a right to know why.”

“That seems reasonable. I knew it was pointless to tell

Elizabeth everything. She couldn’t even understand the

information she was given. There are three sacrifices

necessary to complete the first phase of the

reconstruction of our Temple. The first is Belle. She

will not die, but her life is going to be completely

tied to the church. From here on out, her every waking

moment will be occupied in gathering disciples–in her

own, immature way, of course. But she is charismatic.

How could she not be with Vernon as her father? And she

will learn. She’s smart and quick.

Belle’s mother was the second. At one time, she was

being groomed to be Vernon’s seventh bride. We’ve just

helped her fulfill her destiny.”

Mulder did not correct her assumption.

” And you … you are a representative of

useless earthly authority. Our people were not

ready for the ultimate sacrifice, but your

meddling forced their hands. Vernon hadn’t yet

taken his seventh bride when you interfered.

There were others involved but your death will be

noticed. And those who have left in fear, will now

return in confidence, assured that divine justice will

be served.”

“And then you will all kill yourselves?” Mulder asked,

hoping to buy more time.

“We shall see what course of action would better serve

our Lord,” Constance replied but Mulder noticed the

smile slipping from her face, and a look of pure

annoyance taking its place. She shook it off and picked

up a pitcher from the altar. She approached Mulder.

“The flames of justice will burn eternally,” she said,

as she poured the liquid from the pitcher all over

Mulder. He could smell some sort of oily substance. Not

gasoline–kerosene, perhaps. He swallowed hard, thinking

of how many seconds it would take before the flames

would consume him completely. He knew there was very

little chance that he would die instantaneously and the

thought of living long enough to know he was burning to

death made his breaths come from his lungs in quick,

painful bursts.

Constance bent down and gathered twigs and leaves and

placed them by Mulder’s feet. She looked up and spoke

only to him, “It makes the fire look more impressive,”

she said with a smile. Mulder felt the color drain from

his face. His breaths were even more uneven than they

were before.

She returned to the altar.

“Pick up your candles. It is time,” she announced.

Each of the twelve solemnly picked up a candle. As the

man with the hypodermic reached for his, a shot rang

out. He doubled over in pain and the needle fell to the

ground.

A sudden chorus of ‘Freeze, FBI!’ came from several

directions and there was frantic movement around him.

But just as Mulder focused on his own personal fireball

running toward him, his eyes widened in horror as

Constance freed her arm from the agent holding her,

grabbed a lit candle and threw it at the pile of leaves

by his feet. A small flame started and Mulder closed his

eyes, hoping that whatever happened would be quick. He

felt air whoosh around him as Scully threw her raincoat

over the burning twigs. After a few seconds, he opened

an eye to find no fire–just Scully stomping her boots

on the raincoat, making sure no spark was left to catch

the fuel that Mulder was doused in. Luckily, Constance

had gathered the leaves and twigs after she had poured

the kerosene. They were untouched by the accelerant.

Scully stopped her little dance and began to untie

Mulder. She was intent on the rope, while he was busy

watching the FBI agents arrest each member of the group.

After Constance had been read her rights, she looked

over at him.

“You have done well. Thank you. My unjust incarceration

will bring many sheep unto the fold, I can assure you,”

she said, calm and unflappable.

As soon as Scully freed him, they walked over to the

paramedics attending to Belle.

“She’ll be okay. We’ll take her to the hospital to run

some tests but I’m pretty sure they just have her

heavily sedated.”

Mulder watched the child. She didn’t look drugged. She

looked as if she were sleeping the sleep of an innocent,

her breathing audible through her slightly congested

nose.

They had succeeded. Mulder could bring a sweet,

precocious child back to the father who loved her.

__________________

Epilogue

Scully’s apartment

Saturday, 11:03 PM

Mulder opened the door of Scully’s apartment with his

own key. He walked directly to her couch and sat down on

the armrest without taking his coat off.

It had been a harrowing day. He had decided to stay in

Tennessee a few more hours to wrap things up, while

Scully took an earlier flight to check on Elizabeth’s

progress and start the dreaded paperwork on the whole

ordeal.

“Was your flight on-time?” Scully asked, coming through

the kitchen and lightly kissing Mulder on the cheek.

“Pretty much.”

“Did Constance sing?”

“Like a bird.”

“Tell me.”

He stood up and slowly removed his coat. He laid it on

the armrest he had been sitting on. He sat on the couch,

with Scully next to him.

“Constance and Vernon had been the masterminds of the

Temple. They both were very much in it together. Because

he had a naturally charismatic personality, he became

the ‘leader.’ She, however, was a brilliant

hypnotherapist. She recruited some members of the

religion this way, but more than that–once they were

involved–she brainwashed them into giving up more and

more of their personalities and melding them with the

group’s concerns.

A big stumbling block came with the actual

interpretation of the religion they both founded. He

very much believed in his own interpretation of the Book

of Revelations. She had religious beliefs, but she also

was on quite a power trip and had no qualms about

bending the beliefs to suit her own purposes. Vernon

went about his business and was convinced that his

earthly job was almost complete; while Constance felt

there were a whole lot of people out there with her name

on them. She wanted more conversions and a lot more time

on this mortal coil.

“Vernon was now a liability. In spite of the praises she

was singing to her new disciples out there in the field,

she *wanted* him gone. And she wanted the original

followers gone. They were completely taken by Vernon and

would never switch allegiances. But she could use the

mass suicides and the ‘legend’ of the church to her

advantage. To start her own religion. Enter Melissa

Ephesian. In one of her first sessions with her,

Constance realized she had a multiple personality

disorder. She used it to her advantage. She made some

suggestions during their ‘relaxation sessions.’ Talked

about true believers standing up for justice for the

abused children. She knew which buttons to push.

And, it worked. Through ‘Sidney,’ and the FBI’s

involvement, the mass suicide took care of Ephesian and

his followers. She’s been lying low–keeping her eye on

Elizabeth and plotting—all these years. She had enough

time to gather her twelve disciples and was ready for a

big time comeback. She still is. Only she will now have

to do it behind bars. And she’s absolutely convinced she

will. Apparently, those twelve people are not the only

ones she’s gathered. We can only hope they will not

carry on her work without her.”

Mulder leaned back a bit and Scully put her hand on his

shoulder, rubbing slightly.

“How is Elizabeth?” he asked, leaning into her touch.

“She’s fine. She’s already started therapy. Not a moment

too soon. Tell me about your last assignment of the

day,” she said, smiling but sympathetic at the same

time.

“Mission accomplished.”

“No tears?”

“Scully. What do you take me for? Some sort of

sentimental fool?”

She smiled and put her arms around him. He wrapped his

own around her waist and held on tightly.

Washington, DC

Days Inn, 10 PM

Belle was seated cross-legged next to David Curtis–the

man who had been her true “Daddy” almost all her life.

She was busy pulling the packaging away from two new

dolls, and talking non-stop about her adventure.

“And then … mommy took a nap, and then–that mean old

mother took me outside and said we needed to get some

help. I didn’t want to leave Mommy because she looked

kind of funny but that Mother-lady said I had to. So,

then she gave me some chocolate milk and I got real

tired. I closed my eyes for just a minute and didn’t see

her again until I woke up in a car and she was gone. And

I wasn’t where I was before. And that other man–the one

you met–the one who is not my daddy at all–not even a

hundred years ago or anything–he was taking care of me.

And then, we went to the hospital where that red haired

lady sat with me while they gave me tests–and she

brought me chocolate chip cookies and juice and told me

my mommy is okay and then, she had to go on account of

she had to go back and take a peek in at mommy, who also

went to get some tests. And then me and the not-Daddy

man got to fly in a plane.”

“And then we finally got to see each other again, huh,

Belle?” David managed to interrupt Belle’s tale. “I

missed you so much, honey.”

“I missed you too, daddy. But I have a question for

you.”

“Shoot.”

“If that other man–who is not my daddy–is not my real

daddy, how come he was holding onto my hand so tight and

his eyes were kinda wet when he said goodbye to us?”

David smiled. He remembered the exchange and felt a stab

of pain for the agent who obviously had been smitten

with his little girl. He could still see Mulder as he

placed his hand on Belle’s shoulder and gave her a

gentle push in his own direction. And she was right. His

eyes had a telltale sheen to them.

“I think, Belle, it just hurts whenever someone has to

say goodbye to a sweet girl like you.”

“Oh. Okay,” she said, satisfied with his answer. “Want

to play dollies?”

The end.

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