Title: The Third Sacrifice
Author: Gina Rain (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Category: X, MSR
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.
The Third Sacrifice
Arabella: (Latin) Beautiful altar.
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.
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
“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
“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.
“Daddy. Not now. But back then. When I wasn’t Arabella.
When I was Mary. You were my daddy. Once. Before we all
End of Act One
“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
“But it’s true, Mother. It’s him. I told you I had
“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.
“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
“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
“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
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
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
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
Mulder took a seat directly behind Arabella’s. She
turned to him as soon as her mother walked to the
“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
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
“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.”
“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.
“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
“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
“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
“I suppose I would,” he said, doubtful whether she had
any more experience of biologically having a child than
“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 … ”
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Mulder. We’ll see you around.”
Mulder smiled and left for work.
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
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
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
She just hoped she wasn’t shooting herself in the foot
Constance Jeffers’ Apartment
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
“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.”
“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
“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-
“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
“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?”
“Good. This should be encouraged. He must be the third
“You keep talking about the third sacrifice but you
don’t tell me anything other than it will lead to the
“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
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
“It’s all right, really, ” For once, Mulder was
uncertain about what he should be doing or saying under
“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.”
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.
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
“A confession?” She sat in her chair, while Mulder
leaned against her desk.
“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, 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.
“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.”
“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.
“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
“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.”
“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
“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
“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.”
End of Act 2
“Close your mouth, Mulder,” Scully said after a few
He closed it only to open it again.
“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
“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
“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 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
“That’s a fair assumption,” she acknowledged.
“And a child who claims to be my reincarnated daughter.”
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.”
“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
“We need to discuss your need to be a parent,” she
“I don’t need to be a parent,” he said quickly.
“It’s not something you’ve probably even explored until
“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.
“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
“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
“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.”
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.”
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
“Anything?” he asked.
“You are … ” Mulder prompted, pretty much knowing the
“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
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
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
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
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.
“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 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
“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.”
“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
“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
“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.”
“Scully, I’m not so sure both of us going is a good
idea. This woman has obvious issues with me, not you at
“Mulder. This is not up for discussion. Or one sentence
worth of debate. We are doing this. Both of us. Case
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?”
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
“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
He cleared his throat in acknowledgement before parking
the car, and getting out. The cool air felt good on his
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
“Step aside, ladies and gentlemen. The third sacrifice
Mulder stopped walking toward them. “The third
sacrifice? Hey–if I can’t take first place, I’m not
“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
“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
“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.
“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
“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
“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,
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
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
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
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
They had succeeded. Mulder could bring a sweet,
precocious child back to the father who loved her.
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
“Was your flight on-time?” Scully asked, coming through
the kitchen and lightly kissing Mulder on the cheek.
“Did Constance sing?”
“Like a bird.”
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
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
“Scully. What do you take me for? Some sort of
She smiled and put her arms around him. He wrapped his
own around her waist and held on tightly.
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
“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?”