Angel de la Muerte

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Title: Ángel de la Muerte

Author: Skinfull

Rating: NC 17

Classification: MT Case file, X A

Disclaimer: Not mine, no profit, no harm.

Summary: A man on death row has found a connection to the outside

world.

Feedback: skinfull@undergroundtales.com Love all feedback. Thanks in

Advance!

Authors Notes: Quotes from The Holy Bible and The Satanic Bible. I don’t

believe in god or the devil so none of this was meant to offend. VS EP

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Ángel de la Muerte

By Skinfull

***

Wallens Ridge State Prison

Death Row

Virginia

March 10th

“Lights out in ten,” the voice boomed mercilessly over the crackling

intercom. Marcos Gomez slowly turned the page of the bible over and

blocked out the sounds of the other cells around him. There were eleven

other prisoners in this block and each of them felt the need to be heard. Their

shouts and cries were loudest at lights out, when the still silence of night

brought with it the sense of fear.

The soft footfall of the guard approaching his cell made him look up and

Marcos turned his head in time to see Kevin Patterson watching him through

the bars.

“Still reading that bible Marcos?”

“Yes.” Marcos levered his legs off the mattress and stood to face him fully,

his fingers keeping his page in the bible.

“A little late for that isn’t it?”

“Never to late to repent!”

“Well it’s lights out.” The guard lingered for a moment more then moved

onto the next cell.

Marcos stood up from his bed, walked over to the sink and placed the bible

on the floor by his feet. He turned the pages to find the passage he wanted

and slowly closed his eyes. Twisting the faucet he let the water run over his

index finger then he circled the ground around him, leaving a light circular

trail. Deep soft breaths filled his lungs and he loosened the muscles in his

chest to take it all in. He unbuttoned the prison issue denim shirt and tossed

it onto the mattress behind him.

The heavy clunking of the lights being switched off let him know it was

exactly eleven pm. The sounds of the cellblock slowly died down to the

almost eerie silence he was waiting for.

He locked eyes with his reflection on the stained, dirty mirror before him

and concentrated on his breathing. On his back a colorful tattoo marred his

smooth skin. The large picture of a bloodied pair of angel wings covered his

back, reaching across his scapula from one shoulder-blade to the other. They

were spread out as if in flight but scarred and battered, dripping blood

graphically around his back.

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“I who am the joys and pleasures of life which strong men battle for,” he

said softly, his voice barely a whisper in the darkness. He felt his body

swaying as the mantra passed his dry cracked lips over and over.

***

Providence Cancer Center

Washington DC

March 10th

“I’m sorry Mrs. Robinson, but there is nothing else we can do for your son.”

The hallway seemed such a cold place to be imparting news like this and Dr

Woodrow never liked it. But when the patient was as close to death as James

Robinson was, he knew the family never liked to be more then ten feet away

from his bedside. “I have called the Chaplain.”

“How long do you expect him…to…?” her words faltered and the doctor

squeezed her hand reassuringly.

“I’m afraid there is no way of telling. His organs are failing rapidly. It could

be a minute from now or an hour. But not much more after that.”

“Thank you doctor, for everything.” Vickie Robinson dabbed at her eyes

with an off white silken hanky then turned to the door of her son’s room. As

she opened the door to go in a strong hand rested on her shoulder. She

turned into the warm friendly face of the Chaplain who smiled sadly and

followed her into the room.

“Mrs. Robinson? I am Father Robert Kelly.”

“Hello Father.” They both approached the bed slowly and the priest turned

his back to rest his bag on the chair by the window. He opened it with a soft

click and reached inside. He lifted the purple sash to his lips and gently

kissed the embroidered cross, before placing it carefully around his neck and

slowly running his hands over the silky material, smoothing it over his chest.

From his bag he took out the small bible and clutched it over his heart with

both hands. In the doorway he watched as two prison guards held the door

open, standing guard over the patient with heartless diligence.

“This is a private matter,” he said stiffly, approaching them with a stern look

as he grabbed the door. “Would you step outside please?” His words and his

clothes carrying more weight then direct orders. With reluctance the guards

took a step back and the priest closed the door after them. “It’s just past

eleven PM. I’ll begin the final blessing now,” he said softly as he blessed

himself and genuflected at the foot of the bed.

“Thank you Father.” Vickie bent over her son’s head and gently kissed him

on the forehead. His skin was cold and clammy but she couldn’t pull away.

Tears fell from her red weary eyes as she rested her forehead on his.

“I love you James, I’ll love you forever,” she managed to say, her voice

aching past her throat. “I forgive you.”

After blessing and anointing him the priest spoke softly in words she

couldn’t comprehend before finally blessing himself again.

“Per istam sanctan unctionem et suam piissimam misericordiam, indulgeat

tibi Dominus quidquid per tactum,” he muttered softly his voice still echoing

in the silent room.

He sprinkled the room with holy water and prayed aloud waiting as Vickie

responded carefully through a teary, choked voice.

“By the Faculty which the Apostolic See has given me, I grant you a plenary

indulgence for the remission of all your sins, and I bless you. In the Name of

the Father and the Son and the Holy Sprit. Amen.”

Vickie’s breath caught in her throat as her crying took over her body,

wracking her with heavy sobs. Father Kelly placed an arm across her

shoulder but Vickie shrugged it away. She grappled to hold her sons arm and

pulled it up to her face, coming close to pulling out his IV Lines.

“Vickie, be careful,” Father Kelly began but her sobs were out of control.

She threw herself over James and held on but Fr Kelly pried her hands away.

He took her hands and held them in his own. He muttered a soft prayer then

led her out of the room past the officers to the chapel where they knelt and

prayed together.

The heart monitor in the room beeped slowly, the silence growing longer,

heavier between each shrill beep. The soft thud of the door closing,

disguised the sound of the whispers.

“I who am the joys and pleasures of life which strong men battle for.” James

opened his eyes and took a long deep breath. Then whispered again, “I who

am the joys and pleasures of life which strong men battle for.”

He pulled the oxygen cannula from his face, sat bolt upright and glanced at

the door. With one hand he lifted the bed sheets off his legs as the other

ripped the EKG nodes from his chest.

The room filled immediately with the shrill sound of the monitor alarms as

they were detached, so with one look at the door he raced over to the

window and lifted the latch off. The window swung open, caught in a gust

that swirled into the room, kicking the curtains up behind him.

James lifted one foot onto the windowsill and hefted himself up easily.

Looking down he glanced at the 15-foot drop, then without hesitation he

propelled himself into the air. He landed with a soft thud on the grassy ledge

below and took off into the night’s shadows before he had a chance to look

back.

***

Wallens Ridge State Prison

Death Row

Virginia

March 10th

Marcos slowly opened his eyes and held his breath as the room stopped

swaying. His chest ached with the burning need for oxygen, so carefully he

sucked in a shallow breath and watched his reflection as his chest rose and

fell slowly. Only the soft sheen in the hall from the emergency lights

illuminated the darkness of the cell.

Carefully he lifted one hand over his shoulder and gingerly touched the

throbbing center of his tattoo. The blood seeped out of his skin painlessly as

he traced his fingers over his belly in a small simple movement.

His head was slick with sweat from the excursion but the smile on his face

was immovable. With a soft sigh Marcos bent to retrieve his bible and

lurched for the bed, his body finally giving up its bearing and he fell into an

uneasy slumber.

“Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins,” he

murmured softly before he succumbed to the darkness.

***

Mulder and Scully Duplex

March 11th

Dana Scully slowly combed her hair back and lifted it into a tight ponytail.

No matter how tight she kept it several strands managed to get free and

gently tickle her neck, but it was the best she could do. It was going to be a

long day at the office she realized with a sigh as she mentally ran through

the list of meetings she had lined up for today.

In the mirror she could see Mulder behind her, where he stood in the kitchen

wearing only his boxers and an open freshly ironed shirt. She turned to him

as he spread the black pants across the ironing board and slowly pressed the

steam iron onto them. His tongue appeared at the side of his mouth in

concentration and she couldn’t hold back the soft giggle. It was that adorable

look he had on his face.

“If you could come in here and help me I might get this done quicker.”

“Mulder, ironing isn’t a two man job.” She sauntered by him and lifted one

of the freshly popped slices of toast from the toaster. He watched her in

mock annoyance as she spread raspberry jelly over it and sat at the table to

eat.

“If I had my way we’d send all our clothes to the cleaners!” He concentrated

again, smoothing the iron up one leg of the pants.

“Mulder if you had your way we’d just throw them out and buy new ones!”

“No, you know I hate shopping.” He said before yelping as the iron grazed

the top of his fingers. “Oh I give up. They’ll do.”

He pulled them off the board and gave them a gentle shake, then held them

up to examine them closer. One leg was perfectly ironed and smoothed with

the crease down the front but the other was still crinkled and scruffy.

“Here let me. Have your breakfast.” Scully finished the last bite of her toast

then took the pants from him. Mulder smiled gratefully and kissed her neck

as she passed by. He grabbed his toast and buttered it heavily then added a

generous layer of marmalade. Checking his watch he saw it was just past 6

am and flicked on the TV.

“I’m just gonna check the news. Don’t want to get caught in another traffic

jam on the bridge.”

Scully finished ironing his pants and joined him in the living room where

Mulder stood right in front of the screen.

“Here. And hurry we’re running late.”

“Okay, okay,” Mulder conceded as he held the toast between clenched teeth

and slipped into his pants and zipped them up. “Oh nice and warm,” he said

with a quirk in his eyebrow.

“Mulder…your shirt!” Scully pointed out the dollop of orange marmalade in

the center of his shirt.

Through a mouthful of toast, Mulder muttered a curse, rolled his eyes and

raced upstairs to the bedroom to change. Scully shook her head and checked

her watch again. Then the flashing blue police lights on the screen caught

her eye. She recognized the Providence Cancer Center and quickly turned up

the sound.

“The doctors here at the Providence Center didn’t expect James Robinson to

make it through the night but it seems he had other plans.” The camera cut

back to the footage of James Robinson being led into the hospital on a

gurney. Several prison guards flanked the paramedics who wheeled him in.

“He arrived here last week after taking ill in State Pen. In North Carolina.

He was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer two years ago and his health has

been degrading ever since. The hated debate continues over the lack of

health options for inmates and James had always been a spokesman for the

cause. Convicted for Murder of three men and the attempted murder of

another three years ago James was serving a life sentence.”

“Are you ready?” Mulder came up behind her and circled his arms around

her slender waist. His lips found the sensitive spot at the nape of her neck

and he kissed her teasingly.

“Mulderrr! lets go.” She flicked off the TV and tossed the remote onto the

couch, but Mulder didn’t move. His lips were intent on kissing and tasting

her neck and he showed no signs of stopping. “Mulder?” she said leaning

her head to one side to let his lips travel to her ear.

“Mmm?” he murmured against her skin.

“As much as I love this, stop it or we’ll be really late.” She wriggled free

from his grasp and whirled to face him. “C’mon.”

***

American University

Washington DC

March 11th

The halls bustled with students moving quickly between classes and James

Robinson blended in perfectly. The baggy jeans and tee shirt he had stolen

from the university laundry block made him look like just another student

lolling around the quad.

Just this once. That’s all. Then it’ll be over, please god just this once! He

whispered to himself as he felt the familiar hot flush of pain wash over his

body.

Then as if his prayers had been answered he watched as Professor Daly

stepped into the sun and started to make his way across the open square.

James stood up and moved to intercept with him, his fingers nervously

gripping the sweaty handle of the knife in his pocket. Deftly he fell into step

behind the professor marveling at the way he hadn’t been recognized yet.

“Professor?” Startled, James turned to see a young female approaching them

holding out a folder. “Professor you left your folder in the lecture room.”

“Oh thank you Jane.” As Prof. Daly reached out to grasp the folder his eyes

flickered over to lock with James’s and for a moment it was as if he had

been propelled back in time. The same cold blue eyes, the same look of hate

and determination sparked behind them “Oh my god!”

“Professor?” Jane watched the exchange that passed between them.

“Can’t be saved this time Daly!” With a surge of angry hatred James pulled

the hunting knife from his pocket and lunged at the professor. He stabbed

wildly, tackling him to the ground and straddling the older man’s bleeding

chest. Finally finding her voice, Jane dropped the folder and screamed in

horror, backing away from the macabre scene.

The quad was crowded with lunching students who raced over at the sound

of the frightened screams. James let out a feral roar as he stabbed over and

over again, lifting the knife over his head and plunging it down into Daly’s

chest with as much strength as he could muster. Some students shouted at

him to stop as other circled closer to stop him. But with the knife swinging

in vicious wide arcs there was nothing they could do, less they be hurt

themselves.

James stabbed the fallen Daly again in the chest, twisting the knife and

leaving it in his torso to the hilt then shakily stood up. From behind him two

campus guards approached their guns held out in front of them as they

shouted at him to back away from the professor. But James paid them no

attention. He stared at Professor Daly as his eyes glazed over and his chest

deflated, his body finally giving out.

“Oh my god!” one of the students shouted at the sight of the dead professor

and blood everywhere.

“Thank you God!” James roared as loud as he could before finally closing

his eyes as his body fell limply to the ground.

***

X-file Basement office

March 11th

Mulder jumped up from his chair as Scully walked in handing over her coat

from the rack. Startled she watched as he threw on his own coat and smiled

widely at her.

“I just went to the bathroom, what could possibly have happened in the last

two minutes.”

“The bat phone just rang Scully, clear your calendar.”

“What?”

“C’mon,” he said ushering her out the door towards the garage. “I’ll fill you

in on the way. We have a job to do. ” he added in his best Adam West

impersonation.

“Skinner knows?” she queried carefully, remembering the last meeting in

Skinner’s office where he promised to have them locked in the basement for

the next three months. That was only yesterday, she realized with a sigh.

“It was Skinner who switched on the bat signal.”

“Mulder, enough with the Batman references!” she said wearily as she

climbed into the car beside him.

“Sorry I couldn’t sleep this morning so I got up and there was a marathon of

Batman cartoons on.”

“Figures. So what’s this case?” she buckled up as Mulder peeled through the

streets at full speed.

“Professor John Daly was murdered this morning at American University.”

Mulder’s voice became solemn and low as he described the murder. “He was

stabbed fourteen times by James Robinson with a hunting knife in the

middle of the quad at lunch time.”

“James Robinson?” Scullys mind tingled with recognition. “There was a

news item about a James Robinson on TV this morning.”

“The one and the same. James Robinson was a convict who escaped from

Providence Cancer Center last night.”

“Escaped? He was a terminally ill cancer patient. Given minutes left to live.

He wouldn’t have had the strength needed to stab someone.” Scully watched

the road for a moment. “Mulder he was all but dead already!”

“Never the less there were over fifty eyewitness to the murder.” Mulder

pulled through the campus parking lot and stopped the car at the edge of the

police tape.

“What makes this an X-file?”

“You said it yourself Scully. This man was at death’s door.”

A misty rain clung to the air as they made their way across the quad. A

uniformed officer lifted the crime scene tape as they flashed their badges and

directed them towards the detective in charge.

“Is James in custody?” Scully asked softly as they approached the small

crowd of forensic technicians and police who surrounded the scene.

“He’s dead.” Scully looked up startled as Mulder took a step forward, his

hand outstretched to meet the hand of Detective Reece.

“Hi, glad you could make it out here. Jason Reece.”

“I’m Special Agent Fox Mulder and this is my partner Dana Scully.” Scully

nodded grimly, casting her eyes around the scene. Both bodies had been

covered over with blue tarps but the left hand of the professor had snaked

out, showing the shallow pool of blood that nestled in its palm.

“What can you tell us happened here?” Scully asked as she stepped around

the detective and crouched low next to a forensic technician.

“Professor Daly left his lecture room at 13.40 and was walking across the

quad to his office. He was attacked without provocation by James Robinson

with a diamond back 4.25 hunting knife.”

“May I?” Scully asked the technician as she reached for the corner of the

tarp.

“Yes, we’ve finished here, we’re waiting to transport him to the morgue.”

“ Fourteen stab wounds in total,” Reece continued as Scully lifted the edge

of the tarp. John Daly’s face was contorted in a grotesque image of terror,

his eyes wide and glassy sending a shiver down Scully’s spine. “After which

James Robinson stepped away from the body and then collapsed himself.”

“Collapsed?” Mulder asked watching as Scully remained on her haunches

and turned towards the second tarp. “Was he subdued?”

“No, witness’s say he stood away from the professor then shouted out…”

Detective Reece checked his notebook. “Thank you god,” then he just

collapsed.”

“Are you aware that James Robinson-“ Mulder began but was cut off by

Reece’s waving hand.

“Yeah, yeah I know. Escaped from the cancer center last night?” the

detective said with a grimace. “The state police have already been here and

identified him. I had to practically wrestle them off the body to stop them

from moving it. Because he was an out of state prisoner I had to call the

FBI.”

“Did he have a history with the professor?” Mulder asked.

“It was the previous attempted murder of Professor John Daly that had

James in the State Pen.”

***

Quantico Autopsy lab

March 11th

Dana Scully shifted her weight from one foot to the other as she let out a

deep sigh. Deftly she closed up the last of their autopsy incisions as her mind

reeled from the information she had just collected. She nimbly cut off the

final stitch before she covered the body with a teal green sheet. She crossed

the room to her clipboard and filled in the final notations on the attached

form. As she ripped off the latex gloves the large heavy door opened with a

groan.

“You done in here?” Scully turned to see a small heavyset man peering in

around the door.

“Almost.” She turned back to the form and continued writing, suddenly

aware that the stranger was still watching her. “Can I help you with

something sir?” she said over her shoulder.

“I just wanted to get the body back to storage…” he said nervously, his eyes

flicking from her to the covered corpse.

“You can take it, I just have a few notes to finish.”

“Thank you ma’am.”

Scully turned back to her notes and concentrated on jotting down her

thoughts and conclusions before they escaped her. Moments later when the

door opened with another groan, she rolled her eyes heavenwards.

“I just need a few more minutes!” she bit out angrily without turning around.

“Scully?”

It was Mulder who walked across the small lab towards her, his face a

picture of bemusement. His tie had been loosened almost half way down his

chest and his shirt collar was twisted and turned. The pants he’d taken so

much care in ironing that morning were caked with mud and grease, the left

leg ripped almost up to his knee.

“What happened to you?” she asked holding back a smile.

“The cab I took got a flat tire.”

“What?”

“Long boring story Scully. You done here?”

“Why is everyone trying to rush me out of here!” Scully snatched up her

clipboard and took the tape from the tape recorder. “I just need to wash up,

change my clothes then we can leave.”

“Did you find anything?” Mulder asked trailing behind her into the locker

room provided.

“James Robinson died as a result of heart failure.”

“He had a heart attack?” Mulder asked surprised. He was standing over the

sink cupping his hands under the faucet and throwing water over his grimy

face.

“No.” Scully pulled off the soiled scrubs and slipped back into her pants.

“His heart stopped. As did the rest of his organs. His whole body shut

down.”

Mulder dried his face with some paper towels and turned as she slipped into

her blouse. His eyes flickered appreciatively over the soft curves he knew so

well but pushed those thoughts aside with a small shake of his head.

“His body experienced severe organ failure. But that’s not the surprising

part.”

“No?”

“The effects of his deterioration came on so fast it’s impossible to confirm

the time of death.”

“But we know when he died.”

“His body doesn’t,” she said as she slipped into her shoes and turned to face

him fully. “His core temperature had dropped over 8 degrees. Liver mortis

was in stage three which should have been impossible.”

They walked back though the lab and out into the car lot. “Rigor mortis

takes only 6 hours to set in and for liver mortis it can take up to ten hours for

the discoloration to take place but James was alive less then four hours ago.”

“If you didn’t know about the murder at the university, and the exact time of

death — if you were given this body to examine, at what time would you

have placed time of death?” Scully took the keys out of his hand and

unlocked the car. She sat in and buckled up before turning to him. He was

watching her intently, waiting for her answer as if he already knew it.

“I would have put the time of death between 16 and 20 hours ago.”

“That’s just about the time last night when he was read the last

rites…according to his patient chart.”

***

Wallens Ridge State Prison

Death Row

Virginia

March 12th

“Don’t you think it’s strange doc?” Marcos said with a smile as the doctor

prepared the injection in front of him.

“What’s that Marcos?” without care for his bedside manner the doctor

grabbed Marcos’s arm and held it out tightly. He pressed the needle to his

skin and inserted it, swiftly finding the vein with ease.

“I get a little cut and the prison board goes mad trying to patch me up.” He

winced at the sting from the needle. “I guess they want me in perfect shape

for the electric chair, huh?”

“It’d be a waste of good tax payers money otherwise.” The doctor packed

the syringes and medical stuff away into a small metal case, which was

taken from the cell immediately by a guard. “So how did you cut yourself

this time?”

Marcos glanced over his shoulder, the bleeding marks along his tattoo

seemed more natural then any scar on his body. And after 14 years in the

American penal system, he mused, he’d had more then his fair share of

scars.

“Dunno. Must have scratched it during the night.”

The doctor didn’t believe him but refused to be drawn into the lie. Instead he

concentrated on applying the disinfectant to Marcos’s back, cleaning off as

much as the dried blood as he could.

“This is the third time this month that I’ve had to come and sort this thing

out,” the doctor groused, his eyes glaring in disgust at the angel wings tattoo.

“I don’t know where the real blood stops and the image starts.”

“Art Doc, its all art.”

“Pfft.” The doctor shook his head but supposed the argument was pointless,

so he pushed it aside and hurriedly cleaned his patient up.

“Think you could hurry up a bit doc. The Chaplain is coming round for

confessions in a few minutes.”

The doctor seemed surprised at Marcos’s genuine apprehension for possibly

missing his appointment with the prison Chaplain, but then reminded

himself which block of the prison he was in. The confessional times of the

week were always popular on death row.

“Never too late huh?”

“No sir. It says so right here,” Marcos tapped the bible he held so tightly in

his free hand “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is

covered.”

“Maybe it’s not the bible you should be reading Marcos. Ever try reading

the… other side?” With a smirk the doctor stood up and quickly examined

his bandaging. “Think you might fit in better over there.”

***

12th Precinct

Washington DC

March 12th

The compact office seemed to get even smaller with the rows and rows of

files that were stacked up against the walls, on shelving and every flat

surface that was available. Detective Reece sat behind his desk working

amongst the files, seemingly oblivious to the clutter. When there was a

knock at the door he stood up to see over the piles on his desk. Through the

frosted glass, he immediately recognized the silhouettes of the two FBI

agents he had spoken with yesterday and glanced around the room at the

disorder then sighed in dismay.

“Come in,” he called out, stepping around the desk and clearing the piles of

files from two seats. The door partially opened before colliding against a

stack of boxes and careening back against Mulder’s head. With a groan

Mulder held his hand up against the door and slowly tried to open it again.

“Security system?” Mulder asked, gingerly stepping sideways through the

door to squeeze into the office, his left hand rubbing the red mark where the

door had whacked him on the forehead.

“Yes, not sure if it’s to keep people out or to keep me in though!” Reece said

with a laugh as he shook both their hands and offered them a seat. “So you

found something in the autopsy?”

“Yes.” Scully pulled two pages from the file she was holding and passed

them over to Reece. “You said that two state police officers identified the

body?”

“Yes. Is there a problem? It is James Robinson, isn’t it?” Reece said

glancing at the page of autopsy report she handed him.

“It is James Robinson, of that there is no doubt. But the time of death is

incongruous with the extremis effects on the body. Also as you can see from

his hospital records, James Robinson had no tattoos or defining marks

anywhere on his body, and yet the body I examined last night had a pair of

angel wings inscribed across his back from shoulder blade to shoulder

blade.”

“What does this mean?” Reece asked confused. “Is it Robinson or not?”

“Oh it is Robinson.” Mulder confirmed. “And apparently after gaining a new

lease on life he escaped from the cancer center, went to get a tattoo then

killed an old professor.”

“Is there a point to all this?” Reece asked, his voice finally showing the signs

of exasperation.

Mulder and Scully exchanged a glance.

“To be frank detective, no.” Scully admitted with a sigh. “But aren’t you

curious to know how this man managed to survive long enough to kill

someone? How, when examined during the autopsy, the signs of death far

exceeded the time of death?”

“Look, this was a cross state murder. So I called the FBI.” Reece said with a

thin smile. “As per regulations.”

“You just didn’t expect us to actually investigate anything,” Mulder finished

for him.

“What is there to investigate?” Reece stood up and walked around the desk.

He leaned his hip back against the sturdy wooden corner of the over sized

desk and folded his arms across his chest. “James Robinson was witnessed

stabbing this guy, then he died as a result of his cancer.”

“What about his tattoo?” Mulder countered.

“Maybe he got it in the pen. Maybe the hospital records are old. Who

cares?”

Again Mulder and Scully exchanged a glance. Mulder stood and held his

hand out to the detective. “I guess there is nothing else here for us to do.”

“No. Thank you for your speedy autopsy and I will be sure to file it in my

report.”

Scully cast a withering look around the room that was already littered with

files and reports. She stood with Mulder and followed him out of the room.

They weaved their way through the station and out to the car. In silence they

buckled up and Mulder drove them back onto the road.

“Strange.” Scully muttered half to herself and half aloud.

“Sorry?”

“It’s strange. This case. Why would Skinner put us on this case if it was just

for the fact that FBI presence needed to be there for an out of state

prisoner?”

“Maybe Skinner didn’t put us on this case.”

“But you said-“

“Skinner called me and told me about this case. But who told him?” Mulder

drummed his fingers on the steering wheel as if his mind needed the

rhythmic distraction to keep his thoughts flowing easily. “If it was just

because of the cross state arrest then it wouldn’t have reached Skinner.

Those bulletins go straight to the Law Enforcement Cooperation Dept.”

“Did you ask Skinner?”

“No. He called the office and gave me a quick run through on the file and

told me to get out to the university ASAP.”

“Maybe we should ask him where he got the bulletin from.”

***

Providence Cancer Center

Washington DC

March 12th

The soft rhythmic beeping of the heart monitor was soothing. Cian Ford

clung to the sound for the lifeline that it was. Every passing second that it

continued to make that noise, was another second god had granted him to

live on in this world. He lolled his head to the side, no longer able to hold it

up and looked towards the priest as he donned his confessional garments.

His dry tongue came out to lick at cracked lips but it was no relief. Finally

the priest turned to face him and smiled warmly.

“Hello Cian,” he said gently as he upturned a small bottle of holy water on

his fingers and slowly made the sign of the cross on Cian’s forehead. “How

are you feeling today?”

“A bit better,” Cian said with a smile but the effort of talking sent him into a

spasm of coughing. The priest rested his hands on Cian’s chest as he waited

for his coughing to subside. “A bit…”

Cian opened his lips for the glass of water the priest held up to him and he

took a small sip before resting back onto the bed.

“Are you ready?” the priest asked, tapping his hand on the bible.

“Yes Father.” Cian closed his eyes for a moment and waited for the priest to

settle in the wide comfy chair beside his bed. “Bless me Father for I have

sinned. It’s been two days since my last confession.”

“Yes my child.”

“In those two days I have thought a lot of death. My own death.” The priest

nodded sagely but no sound passed his lips. “I am afraid Father. I need to

gain the forgiveness for the things I have done in my life. I need to beg for

forgiveness from her.”

“You ask me for forgiveness and I will forgive in the name of the Lord.”

“No Father,” Cian’s voice hissed painfully. “I need her forgiveness.”

“Cian,” the priest sat forward and rested his hand on his shoulder. “I know

you need the forgiveness but…”

“Please Father. Before it’s too late…find her. Let me ask for my forgiveness

before I die or else I fear there will be no hope for me.”

The priest watched Cian’s watering eyes before finally letting out a deep

rooted sigh. He stood up and approached the bed, resting his hand on Cian’s

forehead and closing his eyes. Cian closed his eyes too and concentrated on

controlling his breathing.

“God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son,

has reconciled the world to himself, and sent the Holy Spirit among us

for the forgiveness of sins. Through the ministry of the Church,

may God grant you pardon and peace. And I absolve you of your sins,

in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

***

M&S Apartment

March 12th

Mulder spread the file out on the kitchen table, his fingers leafing through

the open pages as his eyes darted across the words. Across the room Scully

stirred the pot and hummed mindlessly in the back of her throat.

“I can’t see it.”

“Leave it Mulder. You heard Skinner.”

“There has to be a reason. Has to be…” he muttered, frustrated as his fingers

pulled out the autopsy notes Scully had printed. “The body can’t decay as

rapidly as that. There was no drugs in his system?”

“No, the tox screen came back negative.”

“Then what happened to him? What made him able to leave that hospital

ward?”

“Clear the table Mulder, dinner’s ready.” As she tipped the pasta into a

colander and ran a gush of water through it. She added sauce and cheese

then spooned it onto their plates but when she turned around, she saw he

hadn’t moved so she dropped the pan and walked over to him. “Hey,

Mulder…leave it.”

He looked up distractedly and cast her a crooked smile before turning back

to the files.

“Well at least eat first.” She said, squeezing his shoulder as he acquiesced to

her command and shuffled the pages to the side of the large table. They ate

in relative silence, inane conversation floating between mouthfuls of pasta

until finally they had eaten their fill.

As Scully took their plates back to the sink Mulder pulled the report pages

back in front of him. She sighed as she spied him sinking lower in his chair,

holding the crime scene photo as close to his face as he could.

“I know why you’re doing this Mulder,” she said with a smile as she walked

around behind his chair and started to massage his shoulders. The tension in

his muscles was hard and unmovable, despite the ministration of her small

fingers. So she leaned down and gently kissed the nape of his neck.

“Doing what?” he asked rolling his head forward to allow her greater access.

“Immersing yourself in this case.” She said lifting her lips off his neck long

enough to talk and blow a soft waft of cold air across the wet skin she’d just

kissed. “You afraid of the mound of paper work that’s waiting for you on

your desk.”

“Waiting for us Scully!” he countered dropping the photo back to the table

and leaning forward to rest his forehead on the smooth wooden surface.

“Excuse me but I have completed most of my reports. While you were

wiling the hours away I was busy.” Her hands roamed up his back, feeling

the tight muscles under his pale blue shirt. At his collar she turned her

fingers in and pulled the material down to allow her more access to his skin.

“I wasn’t wiling the hours away…I was keeping busy.”

“Not doing reports.”

“You know Scully it’s hard work doing nothing all day,” he said with

indignation, but she imagined the smile curving his lips.

“I bet,” she muttered under her breath as she leaned over him to kiss him

again but he was too quick for her. In one smooth motion he sat up and

reached around to her, pulling her to the front and depositing her onto his

lap.

He kissed her hungrily and his mind absently wondered when he had last

made love to her in the kitchen. She laughed into his kiss as her arms looped

his neck to pull him tightly against her. In no time she had managed to

unbutton his shirt and he hadn’t even realized it until he gasped in pleasure

as her roving hands found the warm skin of his chest.

In the living room the phone rang loudly, but as he pulled away from her to

answer it she dragged him back with a moan and kissed him harder. All

thoughts of interruptions were banished from his mind as she pulled her lips

away from his and traced warm wet kisses along his jaw to his ear. His

hands rested on her hips, frozen in their search for the cuff of her blouse as

her lips moved further south on his chest. Somewhere in the back of his

mind he heard the answering machine click on and their recorded message

play out to the air in the emptiness of the living room.

“…please leave a message.”

“Hello? Hello? Oh no, a machine,” there was a pause and then the sounds of

shuffling pages. “This is Father Robert Kelly from the Providence Cancer

Center. I am calling for Ms Scully. I need to talk to you as soon as you get

this message. You can reach me at 555-2113 any time day or night.

Eh…thank you…Please hurry.”

***

The close air from the unseasonable early spring warm spell still clung to the

night like a drowning man to a life raft. With the windows open and a humid

breeze wafting over their bed Scully glanced balefully at the broken AC and

cursed Mulder for not calling the repairman when it quit working the

previous fall. For a man with alleged photographic memory she often

wondered how it was so selective. She looked over to Mulder’s sleeping

form and cursed his ability to sleep anywhere.

Lifting her legs over the side of the bed she stood and slowly padded her

way across the room. Remembering she was naked, she decided to leave the

lights off as she walked across the landing and quietly made her way

downstairs. In the kitchen she filled a large glass with chilled water from the

fridge and took a long gulp before refilling it again. Turning back with her

drink, a new chill settling in her stomach, she glanced across the room at the

table. The report pages had been spread across it and they spilled onto the

tiled floor. The dinner plates still languished in the sink waiting to be

washed but the mess wasn’t enough to wipe the smile from her face.

The memory of Mulder’s almost feral growl as he lifted her off his lap and

set her onto the table before leaning over her and pinning her down, made

her laugh. It had been a while since she had seen him so frisky and he

usually took more coaxing than that to get him away from a case file. Not

that she minded. She loved the coaxing part. And knew he did too,

prolonging his defeat for as long as he could before finally giving in to her

persistent kisses.

With a sated moan, Scully arched her back and felt her muscles straining

against the over use but it was a good feeling. A familiar feeling she

admitted with a wicked smile. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing that she

couldn’t sleep. Maybe it was time she woke Mulder up too, she mused, her

smile emitting a low chuckle as she passed through the hallway on her way

back up the stairs.

Passing the doorway to the living room she spotted the red flashing light on

the answering machine, casting an eerie red glow about the room. She

wandered over to it and pressed the play button.

“Hello? Hello? Oh no, a machine,” there was a pause and then the sounds of

shuffling pages. “This is Father Robert Kelly from the Providence Cancer

Center. I am calling for Ms Scully. I need to talk to you as soon as you get

this message. You can reach me at 555-2113 any time day or night.

Eh…thank you…Please hurry.”

Frowning, Scully pressed the play button and listened to the message again.

Standing in the living room transfixed in thought she didn’t hear Mulder

walking down the stairs behind her.

“Hey,” he said engulfing her into his warm arms. “What are you doing up?”

When she didn’t respond, he loosened his arms and turned her around to

face him, worry etched on his face when he saw the blinking light on the

answering machine.

“Scully? What is it?”

“Nothing, I …don’t know.”

“What was the message?” Mulder asked but even as the worried words

spilled from his mouth, he pressed the play button and listened to the frantic

priest on the tape. “What’s that about?”

All of a sudden the fear he usually confined to the dark recesses of his mind

roared forward in a tidal wave of raw emotion. Had she been seeing a priest

at the Cancer center? Had she been seeing doctors there? Why hadn’t she

told him? All these questions flew past his thoughts in a second and his grip

on her shoulder tightened in his growing panic, his fingers digging into her

soft flesh.

“I don’t know. I never met him before. I don’t know a priest called Robert

Kelly.”

“Maybe you should call him.”

“I will, I just want to grab a robe,” she admitted as she whirled out of his

reach and raced up the stairs with Mulder close on her heels. He too had

followed her down the stairs without a stitch of clothing so as she threw on

the terry cloth robe and tied around her waist, he pulled on a pair of sweat

pants.

Scully lifted the phone off the hook and quickly dialed the number the priest

had recited. It rang three times before an old nervous voice answered on the

other side.

“Hello?”

“Hi, this is Ms Scully. I’m returning a call I received earlier from Fr. Robert

Kelly.”

“That’s me. Thank you so much for getting back to me, Ms Scully. Before I

say anything, I need to know if you are who I think you are.” The priest

rambled.

“What’s this about?” she asked trying to avoid any eye contact with Mulder

as he leaned back against the windowsill in front of her, watching her face

intently.

“Are you the same Melissa Scully that attended University of Marylandin

1989?”

“…Excuse me?” Scully was stunned into shock. “Melissa?” Mulder stood up

his hands dropping to his sides.

“Yes, I’m looking for Melissa Scully.”

“My name is Dana. Dana Scully.”

“Oh dear, I am very sorry to have bothered you.”

“No, no wait!” Scully said before he could hang up. “Melissa is my sister.”

“She is?”

“She was. She died 8 years ago.”

“Oh, I am very sorry to hear that.”

“What is all this about?” Scully asked her anger and confusion diluting her

voice.

“I’m afraid it’s not something I can’t discuss over the phone. All I can say is

its in regards to a man named Cian Ford.”

The simple sound of his name sent a hot flush of anger through Scully’s

blood. Mulder watched in horror as her face paled and her eyes glazed over.

He rushed to be by her side, grabbing her arm and squeezing it gently as his

other hand cupped her shivering face.

“Scully?” he said urgently trying to wake her from this trance.

She shook her head a little and her eyes blinked, creasing her face in what

looked like pain. In her ear the priest was still speaking but his words meant

nothing to her. All she heard was that name repeated over and over.

“If you would care to meet me?” The priest’s gravelly voice finally broke

through.

Scully cast Mulder a wary look, knowing he would disapprove of her

meeting this man. And certainly he wouldn’t let her go alone.

“Of course.” She had to know. She had to find out. “Tomorrow.”

“Yes. There is a diner on Lincoln Avenue. Jake’s.”

“I know it.”

“Wonderful. Tomorrow morning at 9?”

“Okay Father. I’ll see you then.”

Scully hung up the phone and stared at her hands as they wrang the life out

of the belt of her robe.

“Scully? What is it? What happened?” Mulder’s voice was soft and

soothing, chiseled with care and comfort from years of practice with his own

traumas and those of others, but it was tinged with an underlying wave of

worry.

“It was…oh Mulder…”

“What? What is it?” he was getting more worried now as her voice broke,

her tears falling over her pale cheeks.

“Oh god!” she whispered into the darkness of the room. A flood of emotion

washed over her, anger, fear, frustration and despair all vowing for

supremacy.

Knowing his words wouldn’t make her feel any better Mulder wrapped his

arms around her and held her against his chest. She cried openly, hot tears

falling against his heart until finally only silent sobs racked her chest,

shaking her against him. Suddenly the warm spring air wasn’t enough to

keep her shivering at bay. He led her upstairs still tightly holding her, glad

she was letting him comfort.

Without a word, he maneuvered them over the duvet and slowly pulled her

robe away. Beneath the covers he tucked her small trembling body back

against his own and tried to cover her as much as he could with his warmth.

***

14 Mill Street

Alexandria

March 13th

The large hospital bed looked out of place in the living room. The floral

pattern that adorned the walls, the large pink rosettes that covered most of

the carpet and the lacy curtains that were closed over the window, added to

the bed’s misplacement. But it had been like that now for so long that Gerry

Black hardly noticed it anymore. He could barely remember a time when he

hadn’t been sleeping on this bed, in this room.

Pfft, Sleeping! He thought with a bitter laugh. When was the last time he had

even slept?

The tubes pressed uncomfortably down his throat helping him to breath but

stopping him from talking. The IV cables that wound their way over and

back into his arm gave his blood the energy it needed to move around his

body but it stopped him from lifting his hands, to scratch his nose, to caress

his wife’s face or anything else he had dreamt about doing one more time.

His eyes wandered around the room and fell on each piece of equipment that

took over the small space. The heart monitor beside his head beeped

mercilessly and no matter how many times he had wanted them to move it,

they could never guess what he was trying to say. As he gestured frantically

with his eyes and moaned around the tube in his larynx they gently tried to

soothe him. Eventually sedating him again when he got agitated.

The breathing apparatus was the most annoying. Knowing that if it wasn’t

for this artificial lung he would be in sweet oblivion by now he cursed it

with a glare, purposefully contracting his throat around the tube as if he

could physically hurt it in the way it was hurting him. The IV bags that hung

overhead, dripping rhythmically into each arm were more of a hindrance

than anything else. His arms had become too heavy to lift and the needles

had left a numbing area around the inside of his elbows from the amount of

times they had been stuck into him. He didn’t mind the numbness. It

reminded him that this was nearly all over.

With a jerk he turned his head to the large clock over the television and he

had to wait a moment for his weary eyes to focus. He pricked an ear towards

the door to his left where the nurse was sleeping.

At last, he felt his lips smiling around the tubes and he slowly closed his

eyes. The mantra he wanted to shout out at the top of his voice came quietly

to his mind, circling his thoughts as if it were going to attack, then pounce.

“I who am the joys and pleasures of life which strong men battle for.” He

said in his mind. Hearing his own voice speak so loudly and clearly in his

mind gave him power. Gave him the strength he needed. He said it again and

again and continued to repeat it until finally he felt his throat gagging, his

larynx rejecting the tube and his fingers moving off the bed sheets.

With a hard pulsating cough, Gerry reached up and pulled the tube out of his

throat. Even over the cough he found himself laughing and the sound of his

strong voice pounded more blood around his body.

“I who am the joys and pleasures of life which strong men battle for.”

Miraculously, Gerry swung his legs over the side of the bed and pulled all

the wires and connections off his body. He glanced around the room,

knowing he wouldn’t see it ever again but could only smile at the prospect.

With slow steady steps Gerry crossed the room to the hall and unlocked the

heavy front door. He stepped out into the warm night air and closed the door

softly behind him with a resonate click.

Over the horizon he could see the first tendrils of daylight caressing the city

ahead of him. Gerry took a lungful of sweet fresh air and stepped off the

porch.

“Beautiful Morning,” he muttered cheerily before walking away.

***

Wallens Ridge State Prison

Death Row

Virginia

Marc 13th

Marcos took a deep slow breath and tried to calm down his erratically

beating heart. His hands braced the slippery surface of the sink, loosing their

grip immediately. He fell to the floor with a thud but could only smile.

“Look upon mine affliction and my pain; LORD!” he shouted out through a

painful cough. Blood from his back was smeared over the concrete floor

where he’d fallen. “LORD oh LORD MY GOD, forgive all my sins.”

Marcos crawled across the floor over to the bed where he managed to pull

himself onto the mattress. Like before he reached over his shoulder and

smeared his hand across the wetness on his back. With careful precision he

was surprised he was capable of, he drew symbols again on his belly, trailing

a long line of red blood across his torso when finally the exhaustion was too

much for him, he fell back onto the mattress, asleep.

***

Jake’s Diner

Lincoln Avenue

March 13th

It had taken way too much effort to convince Mulder that she would meet Fr.

Robert Kelly on her own. Now as Scully pulled up outside the diner and

peered in at the patrons through the large windows she felt weary. Her mind

struggled to focus and all she could recall was that name.

Cian Ford.

The name she had learned to hate for so long. A name that instilled

everything she hated, everything she despised and everything she feared. It

had been nearly fifteen years since she had heard it and she was surprised at

how quickly all these emotions exploded in her. She thought she had put

them behind her, but it seems forgiving and forgetting wasn’t as easy as she

thought.

The weather seemed to match her mood as a dark cloud threateningly blotted

the sky. She stepped out of the car and locked it behind her, almost willing it

to rain. Slowly, she made her way across the path and hesitated a second

longer at the door. It opened with a dull creak and she spotted him

immediately.

Fr. Robert Kelly sat in a booth at the back of the room watching as she

slowly crossed the room . She bee lined for the booth and slid in across from

him without saying a word. A waitress, who’d watched her progress through

the diner, appeared by her side immediately and poured her a cup of thick

treacle like coffee into two waiting cups.

“What can I get for you hun’?” she said her Boston twang, confusing and out

of place. Scully glanced up and shook her head, with a click of her tongue

the waitress walked away.

“Ms Scully…” Kelly spoke softly, his eyes darting around her face as he

tried to figure out where to begin. “I guess there is no easy way to say this.”

“Just say it,” Scully hissed, surprised at her tone. The emotion that churned

in her had nothing to do with this priest, but it was he who pulled them all

from her past.

“I work at the Providence Cancer Center. I called you on behalf of Cian

Ford.”

“Why?” she spat out.

“He is dying. He is dying of Chronic Lymphoid Leukemia. He could die any

day now. He asked me to contact Melissa so that he may apologise to her.”

Scully’s eyes widened with shock as she listened to the words tumble from

the priest’s mouth.

“When you called me yesterday and said that your sister was no longer with

us, I hoped that you might help. That you might accept the apology on her

behalf.”

“Apology?” her voice was barely above a whisper.

“Over the past year Cian has been reformed. Religiously he has led so many

groups in the community in the name of the lord, preaching and offering

comfort where necessary. Now he is earnestly trying to atone for assaulting

your sister.”

“You mean raping her.” It was a correction more then a question.

“He is sincere in his request and if you could help me offer him this last

vestige of peace…..”

Scully watched his lips moving, glaring straight ahead and not seeing. just

the distress on her sister’s face that night. She barely listened to the words

but watched as they spewed out of his mouth, his kind eyes and beautific

smile left her cold and she sighed as her shoulders slumped. She slid out of

the booth and walked away without uttering another word.

***

Ocean City MD

Washington DC

March 13th

Gerry Black pulled off his jacket and stared out at the sea. The waves

crashed relentlessly onto the shore, coughing up white horses along the sand.

The roar of the water, the soft sand under his bare feet all collided to make

him smile. He tore at his shirt and pulled that off as well, discarding it in the

sand behind him as he made his way purposefully towards the water.

Pausing only to pull off his sweat pants discarding them behind him with a

laugh he walked on, his stride increasing. Long wide steps took him to the

waters edge where it lapped his toes like a dog welcoming his master home.

He smiled at the soft, cool sensation and stepped further into the water. Knee

deep, hip deep, waist deep. Further still he kept walking, holding his arms up

high to keep his balance.

The warm sea water was like salient solution to his wounds, basking in the

gentle caress of the waves he bent his knees and dipped his whole body

beneath the surface. He floated below the waves for as long as he could, his

lungs screaming for oxygen when he finally thrust himself upwards and

gulped down some air.

In the distance he could hear someone calling him. He turned to the shore to

see someone waving at him but he ignored it and continued to make his way

further out to sea. Pushing his legs off the bottom he thrust his arms over his

head, swimming easily through the waves until finally he could hear the

voice no longer. His arms ached from the exertion but he had to keep

moving. Something was calling to him and he needed to answer. Nothing

else mattered.

When his legs became to heavy to kick and his arms too weak to tread water

he felt himself sinking, but he couldn’t put up a fight. This was what he

wanted, this was why he was here, he told himself as he closed his eyes and

allowed his body to sink further.

His lungs ached and fought against him, begging for air but he refused.

Instead he welcomed the darkness. The heavy sensation that engulfed his

head, the peace he had sought for so long was finally surrounding him in its

tight embrace.

Thank you God, he said to himself as the darkness swallowed him.

***.

X-files Basement Office

March 13th

Mulder looked up at the clock. All day he had been watching the minutes

tick away. Slowly, painfully the minute hands circled the clock. And with

every glance his eyes were tugged back to the phone.

She left straight after breakfast, asking him to cover with Skinner for her.

After holding her trembling body all night in his arms he asked her to talk to

him the second she woke. But she refused, brushing the concern and comfort

he offered away. She raced around the house, showering, dressing and

avoiding him until finally he caught her in the kitchen. As she bit into a slice

of wheat toast he threw question after question at her, stopping only when

she rested two fingers across his lips.

He was sitting at the kitchen table, wearing blue boxers and an open white

shirt and he had managed to pull one sock on during his barrage of

questions. But the other hung limply in his hand when she touched him.

“Please Mulder,” she said, her voice but a whisper.

His lips moved to speak again but she replaced her fingers with a kiss,

muffling his voice. It was a lingering kiss and Mulder kept his eyes open for

the duration, watching hers flutter closed. When she pulled away she put her

fingers back on his lips and leaned in close to whisper into his ear.

“I’ll be back at lunch and I’ll answer all your questions then.” Then before

he could reply she swiftly moved away and left.

Now that lunchtime had passed and she still hadn’t called he was worrying.

Her cell was turned off but he left dozens of messages on their home phone.

But still there was no response. He knew he shouldn’t chase after her.

Shouldn’t try to talk to Fr. Kelly who had left the message but all of a

sudden he couldn’t resist. His fingers grabbed the phone as if they had been

expecting this command from him and quickly called the number that the

priest left on their answering machine.

“Hello?”

“I’d like to speak to Fr. Robert Kelly?”

“Yes, that’s me.”

“Hello. My name is Fox Mulder, I’m a friend of Dana Scully.”

“Oh I hope she is okay,” the priest said sadly.

All the hairs on Mulder neck jumped up to attention. He had to catch his

breath to stop it from leaving his body and he sat up straighter in his chair.

“Sorry?”

“She left in such a hurry.”

“Where? Where did she go?” Mulder shouted into the phone wondering how

bad it would be to threaten the life of a priest for information.

“I eh, I’m afraid I don’t know. She left without saying anything.”

“What were you meeting her for?” Mulder demanded.

“I’m afraid that is a private matter-“

“Is she sick?” Mulder’s voice was no longer the threat it had been moments

ago. Instead it had turned into a pleading tone, begging for mercy. “Is this

about her cancer?”

“I’m afraid I don’t know anything about that.”

Mulder felt his heart sink, his stomach agonizingly twisted and turned as he

said goodbye and hung the phone up. He banged out her cell number again

and cursed at the sound of her voice asking him to leave a message.

“Dammit Scully,” he shouted at the empty room then started at the sound of

the phone ringing. “Hello?” he said frantically into the receiver.

“Agent Mulder?” It was Skinner’s surprised voice. “Is everything okay?”

“Yes sir, I’m just waiting for a call.”

“Has Agent Scully returned from her meeting yet?”

“No. She should be here any minute. How can I help you sir?”

“I have a case I want you and Agent Scully to look into.”

“A case sir?” Mulder glanced up at the clock and watched another few

second pass by.

“Missing persons.” Skinner sighed frustratedly on the other end. “Will you

come up to my office for a few minutes?”

“Yeah. I’ll be right there.”

After replacing the receiver Mulder pulled out a page from the legal pad on

his desk and wrote a quick note to Scully, asking her to wait here if she came

back. He grabbed his jacket and hurried through the hall to the elevator.

Quicker he got up there the sooner he’d be back, he mused as he pressed the

elevator button for the tenth time.

***

Holy Trinity Church

March 13th

Sitting half way up the church in the center of an empty pew, Dana Scully

interlocked her fingers on her lap and let her eyes flutter closed. The priest

on the Alter was motioning for the patrons to kneel for the blessing of the

Eucharist, and the silence of the church was broken but the shuffling of

clothes and the creaking of wood as almost forty people knelt forward at

once.

Without even realizing it, Scully found her self pushing forward on the seat

and resting her knees on the cushioned step. Her hands came up to the back

of the pew in front of her and she rested her forehead on them. The soft

chanting of the congregation praying reminded Scully of a meditation chant

she learned from Melissa.

They sat facing each other cross-legged late one summer evening in the tree

house Charlie and Bill had built. Melissa showed her how to cross her legs

and tried to show her how to empty her mind. But it was no use. Too many

questions, thoughts and ideas swam through her mind that she had trouble

clearing it.

“C’mon Dana, concentrate.”

“I’m trying.”

“No you’re not, you’re sitting there thinking about our summer reports or

next terms subjects, or Mark Gibson!” Dana blushed and smiled and

Melissa roared with laughter. “Okay try this with me…”

Melissa rested her hands on her knees and watched as Dana did the same.

She straightened her back and lifted her chin in a defiant pose before softly

uttering three words.

“Thath Savithur Varenyam, Thath Savithur Varenyam, Thath Savithur

Varenyam.”

“What does that mean?” Dana asked watching her sister with a slight

grimace.

“It means God, the Sun, most adorable and enchanting. Say it with me.”

“Thath Savithur Varenyam, Thath Savithur Varenyam, Thath Savithur

Varenyam.” The two girls chorused in unison. They repeated it over and

over again until Dana could no longer feel her legs. She sat back with an

audible oomph and slowly stretched her legs out in front of her. They tingled

with the first signs of a cramp and she looked over at Melissa who was still

sitting cross-legged, her lips barely moving as she chanted.

As Scully recited the Nicene Creed with the rest of the church she found her

lips reciting another phrase.

“We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and

earth, of all that is, seen and unseen… Thath Savithur Varenyam.”

She looked up to the Alter where the priest was walking towards the front

step to pass out the Eucharist. She watched as the patrons filed up for it and

slowly she took her seat again. Her body seemed to be wiped free of energy.

Her hands wouldn’t stop shaking as she pressed them together and squeezed

them between her knees. A cold chill engulfed her as she tried desperately to

seek the answer.

***

14 Mill Street

Alexandria

March 13th

Mulder parked at the curbside and walked through the throng of onlookers to

the front door. The officer on duty glanced at his badge and pushed the door

open for him. In the living room, Detective Reece looked at Mulder with a

frown but greeted him. They shook hands stiffly and Reece led Mulder over

to the far side of the room.

The first thing Mulder noticed was the hospital bed and all the medical

equipment. The machines had all been turned off and were without a patient,

but they still added the sense of impending death to the room.

“Strange that you got called in on this case?” Reece asked pointing to the

room with his chin as his hands reached for his notebook and pen.

“Coincidence?” Mulder said with a half smile. “Maybe. Any leads?”

“No ransom note or demands. No contact has been made with the family.”

“You think it’s a kidnapping?”

“The missing person is Gerry Black. Aged 72, he was suffering from the last

stages of lung cancer. This man has been bed ridden for the last two months

unable to move his arms or legs. As good as paralyzed.” Gerry gestured

towards the medical equipment. “He’s been on life support for the last 4

weeks and was a DNR case.”

“What motive do you think there is for kidnapping?” Mulder looked around

at the floral patterns on the walls and carpets that he guessed had been out of

vogue since the Carter administration. “Was he rich? Powerful?”

“No. Retired English teacher.”

“So other then the fact that you don’t think he walked out of here you have

no basis for the kidnapping theory?”

“Do you honestly think he just upped and walked out of here?” Reece spat

out angrily.

“I don’t know detective. That’s what I’m here to find out.”

Mulder walked away from Reece and crossed the room to the bed. By the

door to the kitchen an elderly lady was being comforted by an officer.

Mulder examined the equipment for a moment longer before deciding to

approach them. He asked the CS Technician if the room had been dusted and

the tech nodded as he took a few more pictures. Mulder picked up the IV

tube for a closer look and noticed the tape that held it in place had been

ripped. The tracial tube for the oxygen was slick with blood as if it had been

carelessly tugged out of the patient’s throat.

Looking up to see the wife calmer now, he approached her slowly, a gentle

curve on his lips in place to reassure her he was there to help.

“Hello Mrs. Black. I am Special Agent Fox Mulder with the FBI.”

“You will find him won’t you? He won’t be able to make it far without his

oxygen.”

“What time did you realize he was missing?”

“At seven when I came down the stairs. I always wake him at seven so we

can watch the sunrise.” She sobbed anew. “We were taking a trip out today

to see the ocean. He loved the ocean. He just wanted to see it once more

before…before….”

Mulder touched her hand with a sympathetic squeeze.

“And he was gone?”

“Yes. The bed was empty. At first I thought he’d fallen but he was nowhere.

His tube had been pulled out and he was missing…just gone!” she started to

cry again and the other officer put an arm around her shoulders.

“Do you have any home help working with you?”

“Yes, A nurse. Sarah Wilcox.” The wife looked behind her to the kitchen

table where a younger woman was sitting as if in a daze. “She was sleeping

in the room over there but she said she heard nothing.”

Mulder looked over to the other door and saw through the open gap a single

bed and a wardrobe. How quiet would you have to be not to disturb someone

in the next room? He mused as he remembered the blood on the oxygen

tube. Having been the victim of too many oxygen tubes in the past he knew

how painful they were to remove, inducing severe coughing fits in their

wake.

“Thank you for your time.”

“You will find him won’t you?” she pleaded with him, her hand squeezing

his arm surprisingly strongly.

“I will certainly do everything I can.”

In the kitchen Mulder spoke with the nurse for a few minutes, confirming

the same things he had just heard from Mrs. Black. As he crossed the living

room again he spotted Detective Reece calling an APB out with Gerry

Black’s description. Reece put the phone back into his pocket and nodded

his head at Mulder.

“Still think he walked out of here?”

“It could be any number of things,” Mulder admitted, not wanting to claim

one theory. “The medical equipment was just yanked out. Possibly by the

wife.”

“You think the wife did it?” Reece said a little too loudly for Mulder’s

liking. He yearned to have Scully by his side, to bounce his ideas around

without them being taken as gospel, or ridiculed by the local cops.

“I’m hypothesizing…” Mulder glanced around the room and opened his

mouth to speak when Reece’s phone rang. As the detective took the call

Mulder pulled out his own cell and speed dialed Scully’s number. Cursing

her answering machine again he hung up in time to see Reece’s face pale.

“Lock up that scene. We’ll be right there.” He snapped his phone shut.

“What is it?”

“A body washed up on Ocean City beach this morning. Matched the

description of Gerry Black.”

“Lets go.”

***

X-file Basement office

March 13th

Dana Scully stepped wearily off the elevator and walked slowly down the

hall to the doorway. Hesitating for a moment, she took a deep breath before

reaching for the handle then pushed it open quickly, stepping into the empty

room.

The darkness surprised her as she expected to see Mulder huddled at his

desk, pretending to be finishing his paperwork. She reached into her pocket

for her cell phone only to find it switched off. Remembering then how she

had turned it off at the diner before she met Fr. Kelly. Tentatively she

pressed the power button and watched with guilt as it registered all the

missed calls. They came from a mixture of Mulder’s Cell phone and the

basement landline. Hurriedly she pressed the speed dial and called Mulder.

“Scully!” came his instant reply. From the wind behind him she guessed he

was outside but there was more noise there too. It didn’t sound like traffic

she decided, but it was just as loud.

“Mulder, where are you?”

“At a crime scene on Ocean City Beach. You?”

“I’m at the office. I’ll be there in about an hour and a half.”

“No wait Scully, can you meet me at Quantico?” he asked. “I need you to do

an autopsy.” Their talk would have to take a backseat.

“Alright.”

Scully hung up and glanced at the clock. Six o’clock was the worst time to

get to Quantico. Across the city traffic and over the bridge. She felt a

pounding in her head pressing into her temples and wondered if this day

would ever end.

***

Quantico Autopsy lab

March 13th

After parking her car Scully took a moment to calm her nerves. Her head

pounded, her hands gripped the wheel with white-knuckle ferocity, and her

back felt like the sand dunes of the Sahara with knots seizing up every

available muscle. Inside the wide glass doors of the Quantico building she

could make out Mulder pacing the tiled floor. His hands were resting on his

hips and every few seconds he lifted one to his mouth.

Sunflower seeds. She mused with a smile, feeling her fingers loosen around

the leather wheel. As soon as she opened the door and stepped onto the path

Mulder raced through the door, hurrying up to her. He grasped her shoulders

the moment he was within reach and pulled her against him, oblivious to

their surroundings or the curious onlookers leaving the building for the

night.

“Mulder?” she soothed, her face crushed against his chest.

“I was so worried,” he said holding her away for a second then pulling her

back into a hug.

“I left my phone switched off by accident.” She murmured, relaxing into his

hug and feeling her body melt against his. The weariness she was feeling

washed over her suddenly and she fought it back.

“Are you okay? Where have you been all day?”

“It’s a long story Mulder.” She stepped away from him and brushed her

hands down the front of her crinkled suit.

“Do you want me to ask Dr Wright to do the autopsy?” he asked, for the first

time fully seeing the tiredness in her eyes.

“No, I’m here now. I just need to get started.”

“Lets go in.”

With his hand on her lower back he steered her in through the building and

into the lab locker room. She slipped off her jacket and blouse and pulled on

a dark navy scrub top. Mulder sat on the center bench beside her as she

changed, telling her about the case.

“Why did Skinner call us for this?”

“He wouldn’t say.” Mulder took a seed shell out of his mouth with one hand

and replaced it with a full seed with the other. “I think he’s working on

orders to give them to us.”

“Why? Is there a link between this case and the Robinson one?”

“At the crime scene the coroner said that the body had decomposed past the

twelve hour mark.”

“And?” She slipped the scrub pants on and pulled on a pair of sneakers

Mulder had brought in from the car.

“Gerry Black was alive a little under five hours ago, according to two

witness’s at the beach.”

Fully changed now and ready to perform the autopsy, with a second wind,

Scully stepped through to the lab where the body was prepped and ready for

her. Mulder sat quietly in the corner, the only sound he made was the

snapping of the seed shells as he cracked them quietly. Aware that he was

watching her and also how worried he was about her, Scully made an effort

to conceal her exhaustion and concentrated on the autopsy.

The moment she examined the body she saw the similarities between this

body and the body of James Robinson. His corneas were clouded and misty,

liver mortis had settled past the point she would have expected for a body

that was alive only hours ago. And even though he’d been in sea water,

which should have staved off rigor, it had already claimed his legs, which

were stiff and immalleable.

She spoke confidently, clearly into the mic overhead, noting her confusion at

the state of decay for each discrepancy she found. Mulder remained in the

background leaning against the counter and watching her work. His ears

perked at every mention she made of something she didn’t expect but he

held his silence, not wanting to disturb her. He couldn’t help himself when

he’d seen her climbing out of her car. Couldn’t quell the need he felt to hold

her in his arms and kiss her worries away. And his own. Now watching her

work diligently on the autopsy when he knew all she wanted to do was sleep

made his heart swell.

He cursed himself for asking her to meet him here, knowing that Wright

would have performed the autopsy without hesitation. But after spending the

day apart, unsure what was happening with her, without her support he

needed to get her close. Needed to see her working as if it would be a

reassurance to himself that she was okay.

Mulder moved his eyes over her back, watching the play of her shoulder

blades through the thin material of the scrubs as she lifted her arms to place

a lung into a scale. The sudden vision of him drawing a bath for her, rubbing

oil onto her skin, massaging her painful muscles into remission made him

smile. As soon as she was finished he would do just that he decided, shaking

his head to remove the image and focusing back on the body on the slab.

“Mulder this man was dying of lung cancer?”

“Yes.”

“He had no right being out of bed. I can’t understand how he was alive.”

“A witness at Ocean City saw him walking across the beach, he stripped

away his clothes and then waded out to sea.”

“Are we sure it was him who was walking?”

Mulder pushed himself away from the tall counter and walked over to the

body, averting his eyes from the open Y incision on his chest.

“Positive ID.”

“It’s impossible. He was on oxygen life support. See this?” Scully pointed

with her scalpel at Gerry’s throat where his trachea protruded from his neck.

“Eh, yeah,” Mulder said with an uncomfortable cough.

“The tube was pulled out with considerable force. This tube was keeping

him alive and without it he would have died in seconds.”

“So he wouldn’t have made it to the beach alive?”

“No. He wouldn’t have made it across the room alive.” She spoke

definitively as if there was no more to be added.

“Whether he could leave the room or not, he was seen crossing the beach

and going in for an quick dip.”

“All signs of post mortem decay point to the fact that Gerry Black died

between the hours of six and eight this morning. He couldn’t have been seen

at Ocean City beach alive.”

“So we should be dragging the beach for another body?” Mulder said

flippantly.

“No Mulder,” she said with a tired sigh as she covered the body and pulled

off her latex gloves. “But you can’t argue with the science.” She crossed the

room and threw her gloves and goggles into the waste bin before turning

back to him. “There is any number of factors that could distort the witness

account.”

“Like what?”

“Like were they facing into the sun? How far away were they from the

person they saw walking down the beach.”

“The witness, Brian Hoffman, was facing north. so the sun couldn’t have

impeded his eye sight.” Mulder said as he circled the table where Gerry lay.

“He was about 200 feet away from him as he waded out to sea and he also

recalls a large intricate design that seemed to be tattooed across the victims

back.”

“Tattoo?” Scully, who was pushing the heel of her hands into her eyes to

ward off the powerful headache she was feeling, looked up suddenly. “The

medical reports didn’t have a tattoo listed on his body.”

“Help me with this.” Mulder stood alongside the body and lifted back the

tarp from it. He snapped on a pair of gloves and waited for Scully to do the

same. He grabbed Gerry’s torso as Scully squeezed her hands under his

shoulders. “On three…” Mulder said getting ready to lift him. “Three!”

They lifted him up and rolled him over onto his stomach. Even though the

body had been discolored from its exposure to the seawater and the decay of

muscles and blood vessels had left a staining beneath the skin, the tattoo was

plainly visible.

A pair of bloody angel wings stretched from shoulder to shoulder, red and

raw as if it were fresh, the sight of it making Scully gasp.

***

M&S Duplex

March 13th

Mulder brushed her hands away from the plates and steered her over to the

couch. He pushed her into the soft cushions with a smile and bent over her to

press a chaste kiss to her cheek. Waggling his finger he silently told her to

stay put and returned to the kitchen to clean up. After washing everything up

and clearing the table from their late dinner he joined her back on the couch

and lifted her feet to rest on his lap.

“Tired?” he asked pulling her shoes off for her and gently massaging her

feet.

“Mmmm,” she murmured letting her head fall back against the armrest and

wiggling her toes in his hands.

“Want me to run a bath for you?”

“Oh god yes!” she said in a hoarse voice that surprised him.

“Okay, wait here.”

Scully sank deeper into the couch as she listened to him puttering around

upstairs. He hummed a tune she didn’t recognize but it still made her smile.

Ten minutes later he called her up and stood waiting at the top for her. When

she reached him he rested both hands on her shoulders, steering her into the

bathroom where he proceeded to remove her jacket. Too tired to fight him

off and climb in herself Scully just yawned as he hung her jacket up and

started to unbutton her blouse.

“I’m undressing you Scully and you yawn?” he teased, smiling as he folded

it clumsily and dropped it onto a chair beside the sink.

“I’m just worn out Mulder.”

“I know.” His fingers grazed her shoulders and turned her around before

him. Her bra followed her blouse then he turned her round to face him again.

As tired as she was she couldn’t help the smile as he unhooked her pants and

pushed them down her legs, lifting one foot then the other to release her

fully.

“Now, get in and scoot forward,” he said matter of factly as he turned his

back to her and rummaged for something on the shelf. The bubbles in the

water tingled on her skin as she stepped into the hot bath and scooted

forward to huddle in the middle. Before she realized what he was doing he

had hunkered down on the tiled floor beside the bath and was rubbing

something on his hands. “Sore?” he asked as his hands started to massage

small circles into her shoulders.

“Mmmm,” was all she could manage as she lolled her head forward, resting

her chin on her chest and letting her body melt under his touch.

Mulder worked and kneaded his way across her back and as low as her

tailbone, massaging her back carefully with just enough pressure to banish

all the knots in her muscles. He finished by gently rubbing her with a soft

sponge then pushed her back to lean on the bath pillow.

“Now, should I do the front?” he said with a smile, waggling of his

eyebrows but her answer was cut off by the sound of the phone ringing.

“Saved by the bell,” she murmured as he pulled himself up and left the

room.

Mulder hurried across the landing to grab the phone in the bedroom.

“Hello?” he said curtly, his mind awash with the image of her naked and

soapy in the bath and how untimely this call was.

“Agent Mulder?”

“Yes.”

“This is Detective Reece. I just got a copy of the autopsy your partner did on

Gerry Black.”

“Yeah.”

“The tattoo on his back is the exact same as the one that was on James

Robinson’s.”

“That’s right. I’m having the ink tested and the blood around the tattoo to

see if we can link it to a particular vendor.”

“It doesn’t make sense.”

Mulder almost laughed. “It rarely does detective.”

“What does it mean?”

“I don’t know…yet.” There was a stiff pause on the other end.

“I will canvas the city tattoo parlors and see if anyone remembers doing this

design.”

“Good idea.”

“If Gerry Black was murdered then this could be a calling card.” Reece said

his voice taking on a new level of excitement as he landed on a theory.

“The tattoo is the only link we have so far so we need to follow it as soon as

possible.”

“I’ll let you know if we find anything.”

“Thank you detective.”

Mulder hung up the phone and turned to go back to Scully when he noticed

with dismay that she’d sauntered in to the bedroom wrapped up in a heavy

towel. She walked slowly across the room and perched herself on the corner

of the bed.

“You okay?” he asked wondering if now would be a good time to throw out

the full barrage of questions or not.

“No. Not really.”

Immediately he was by her side. One arm across her shoulder the other

grasping her tightly, interlocking fingers that rested on her lap.

“It’s about the phone call? And where you’ve been all day?”

Silently she nodded, a rogue tear crossing her cheek.

“It all happened so long ago I thought it was over. I thought I had put it

behind me.”

“What? What happened?” Mulder’s voice was almost quivering with fear as

his eyes darted from her face to her hands and back again.

“The call last night was from a priest. Fr. Robert Kelly. He was calling on

behalf of a man named Cian Ford.”

“Cian Ford?” Mulder racked his brain to see if she had ever mentioned the

name before. A shot of irrational jealousy bursting in his heart as he

wondered if it was an ex boyfriend.

“Melissa attended University of Maryland for a while. Three full terms. But

at the end of her third term she was attacked one night leaving the library.

She was raped by Cian Ford.”

“Oh my god…” Mulder whispered, tightening his grip on her.

“He was arrested and sentenced to a six month suspended sentence,” she

spat the words out. “That bastard deserved more.”

“Why is he calling you?”

“Fr. Kelly called for Melissa. Cian Ford is dying of Chronic Lymphoid

Leukemia and he wanted to apologise in person to her. Atone for his sins.”

“How convenient that he finds the need to repent on his deathbed.”

“When I told the priest that Melissa had…died, he asked if I would accept

the apology.”

“Oh Scully,” Mulder whispered as he moved off the bed and knelt before

her.

“I eh, I don’t know what to do,” she said with a harsh laugh, reaching up to

wipe her fingers across her cheeks to stem the tears. “I keep wondering what

Melissa would do and immediately I hear her voice saying that she accepts

his apology, but I don’t know if I can do it.” She let out a harsh laugh and

looked up to the ceiling. “I spent most of the day at my church today.

Praying for the answer. Forgiveness is such an important part of my faith but

now that I am faced with this decision I don’t know if I can go through with

it.”

“I have faith that you will do whatever’s right.” Mulder said squeezing her

hand supportively.

“No Mulder. Don’t you see? I already know what the right thing to do is. I

just don’t know if I can do it.”

***

12th Precinct

Washington DC

March 14th

Detective Reece stepped carefully out of his office and crossed the room to

the notice board. Pictures of the deceased had been pinned up along with

maps and photos of the crime scenes. Slipping it out of its envelope he

produced a photo of the tattoo on Gerry Black’s back and pinned it in the

center at the top of the board.

“Sir!” one of the officers called out to him, holding the phone between his

ear and shoulder, he frantically waved his arms for Reece to join him.

“What is it Goldman?” Reece asked as the young black agent wrote

something down on the pad beside him. “You got it? Where?”

Goldman thanked the person he was talking to and hung up before standing,

smiling broadly at Reece.

“Sacred Art Tattoo Studio on Canal road has a match. Here’s the address.”

Reece patted his pockets to make sure he had his keys, pulling them out

along with his cell phone as he hurried across the room to the main entrance.

He called Mulder’s number quickly and held the phone up to his ear as he

unlocked his car and jumped in.

“Mulder.”

“Mulder, its detective Reece. We have a match for the tattoo.”

“Where?”

“Sacred Art Tattoo Studio on Canal Road.”

“I know it.”

“I’m about fifteen minutes away.”

“I’ll see you there.”

Mulder placed his cell phone back into his pocket and turned to see Scully

standing with him, grabbing her jacket off the stand.

“We have a match for the tattoo design.”

***

Sacred Art Tattoo Studio

March 14th

Mulder pulled the car up alongside Reece’s and hurried out. The studio was

a small room no bigger then the X-files basement office but its walls were

painted a deep scarlet color that seemed to make it even smaller. The ceiling

was a swirl of colors with designs and photos showcasing the skin artist’s

talents. Several photographs were framed on the wall of specific designs

each with dates engraved on a metal tab that was fixed to the bottom of the

frame.

As soon as they walked in the door they noticed the large print facing them.

Obviously their favorite design, it had a prominent position greeting

potential customers the moment they stepped foot in the studio.

“See it Scully?” Mulder asked pointing it out and seeing her nod. They

approached it slowly and Mulder lifted his hand to touch it as if he expected

to feel the bumpy texture. “May 1999”

“We don’t have a title for it.”

Mulder swung around to see Reece approaching them, his face encased in a

deep frown as he looked down at his notepad.

“No name?” Scully asked studying the design closer.

“No. They have an exclusive deal with their designs though. You pay extra

for the tattoo to ensure that it is never repeated.”

“Looks like someone should get a refund.”

“Our designs are never copied.” They all turned to see a large heavy set man

approaching them his face contorted in anger. On his nose he had three

piercings, more through his eyebrows and one in the middle of his lower lip.

His shoulders were a canvas for a multitude of designs that reached below

the cuff of his t-shirt, and down to his fingers. “No one could do it if they

tried.”

“Do you recall who bought this design?”

“Our designs aren’t for sale.” He swept his arm around at the various photos

that donned the walls. “Our customers make their own designs and we

ensure exclusivity.”

“This is Dean Lebowski the owner,” Reece provided.

“Well it looks like someone messed up,” Mulder said to him, holding out the

photos of James Robinson and Gerry Black, both lying face down and

showing their bloodied identical tattoos. “So do you recall who was the

original customer for this design?”

The tattooed man looked incredulously back at the picture on the wall and

saw the date.

“That was over five years ago. I don’t remember.”

“Sir I hope you are not impeding a murder investigation?” Scully said softly,

somehow managing to infuse her voice with authority and understanding.

“Not his name anyway. I remember the design though. It took three weeks to

finish.”

“Why so long?” Mulder asked.

“You can’t just imprint the body like that without giving it a chance to heal.

You need to nurture the skin around the art and treat it properly or it will

reject it. The guy was tall though. Taller than me.”

“Was he Caucasian?”

“No. Hispanic, with numbers tattooed on his shoulder.”

“Numbers?”

“Yeah, like sides of a dice. Strange tattoo. I asked him what it meant but he

didn’t say. He never said anything.”

“You don’t recall a name?”

“No but there was something else.” Dean stepped closer to the photo and

lifted his hand to his chin, finger reaching up to twirl the metal ring that

pierced his lip. “He was on the news.”

“The news? Recently?”

“No, No.” Dean whirled around turning to face them. “Back then. I think I

remember because he paid double the fee we had agreed on and we were

throwing a party at the Dragon hole pub that night. He was on the news. Was

arrested for some murder in the city. We recognized him immediately as

they dragged him out of the building with no shirt on.”

“Do you remember who he allegedly murdered?”

“No I don’t.”

“Okay thanks. You’ve been a great help.”

Mulder and Scully stepped away to the main door. His hand was on her

elbow as he led her out onto the street and over to the car.

“We need to get a search started on all murder arrests that year. Starting in

May.”

“Mulder what does this prove?” she said exasperatedly. “If he was arrested

and convicted then most likely he’s still in prison. And besides, there were

no prints found at the house where Gerry Black went missing and if this guy

had taken him we would have found a match from his penal record.”

“It’s the only link we have to go on.”

“To go on what?” she asked incredulously.

“The murders.”

“Mulder, James Robinson was seen stabbing Prof Daly before collapsing

and succumbing to the disease that was already killing him. And Gerry

Black was in the midst of a painful degrading death. Isn’t it possible that his

wife decided to put an end to his suffering?”

“Possible yes. But that doesn’t account for the witness report of Black

walking into the sea, or the fact that both these man didn’t have enough

strength to lift their own hands but performed these amazing acts.”

“So the power of the tattoo?” her voice was polished with skepticism.

“Maybe it’s a residual effect, from the power transference,” Mulder

muttered squinting his eyes as he blurted the thought out, still piecing it all

together.

“What?” Scully turned around to face him fully, her face awash with

confusion and disbelief.

“Just a theory Scully, it would explain everything.”

“It explains nothing Mulder. You’re looking at all the evidence, what little

there is and you come to the conclusion that someone is giving them the

strength to act out on one final wish, one final deed before they die?”

“Yes! I hadn’t seen the reason before but now you have voiced it, yes. Some

sort of righteous wish, granting them the ability to finish what they started,

to tie up loose ends or die with dignity.”

Scully shook her head sadly at the thought that she fed his theory more

substance than it deserved.

“Well before we chase down that fountain of power there is something I

need to do. Can you get a lift with detective Reece?” she held out her hand

for the car keys.

“Yeah sure. Are you going to be okay? Want me to come with you?” He

didn’t need to ask where she was going, he already knew.

“No I want…need to go alone.”

Mulder placed the keys in her hand and closed his fingers over hers, holding

them there for a long moment. With a sympathetic wink he offered her all

the support he dared in this public setting before turning back towards the

studio.

***

Providence Cancer Center

Washington DC

March 14th

“Into Thy hands, Lord, I commend my spirit. O Lord Jesus Christ, receive

my spirit. Holy Mary, pray for me. Holy Mary, Mother of grace, Mother of

mercy, do thou defend me from the enemy, and receive me at the hour of

death.”

The verse was powerful enough to carry through the partially open door and

into the hallway where Scully stood leaning against the wall. Nurses passed

her by glancing at her curiously but it wasn’t an uncommon sight to see

despair in the halls on the cancer ward. Slowly she took a deep breath and

pushed herself away from the wall. She breathed in steadily, waiting a

moment longer before clearing her throat and taking a step forward.

She pushed the door open further and watched for a moment as Fr. Kelly sat

beside the bed in a large recliner, bent forward with a rosary dangling from

his fingers.

Cian Ford lay back on his bed, his head slumped towards the priest but his

eyes were closed and his lips moved in unison with the prayers. Neither of

them noticed her for a second so she stepped further into the room. The

sound of her heels on the linoleum floor brought her presence to their

attention.

“Ms Scully!” the priest jumped up out of the chair with an agility she

wouldn’t have expected from him. “You came.”

“Yes.” Her eyes were fixed on Cian’s face and she wondered if he was still

alive.

“You came…” Cian croaked out, lifting his head a little off the pillow and

prying his eyes open. “Thank you for coming. I thought…”

“I wasn’t going to come.” Her feet remained rooted to the spot halfway in

the room. She refused to step any closer.

“I don’t know how to say this. I’m just so very sorry. For everything I put

her through. And her family.”

“Did you know her? Did you just pick her? Why? Why Melissa?” the

questions poured out of her mouth before she could stop them. She had

promised herself she would speak as little as possible but now found the

words spewed out of their own accord.

“I don’t know. It never happened again.”

“I’ll take comfort in the thought that you singled her out for it then,” Scully

spat out bitterly.

“I met Father Kelly and he taught me how to ask for forgiveness. I want to

repent, please let me repent.”

“Repent? Because you feel genuine sorrow?” She looked around the room at

the various machines hooked up to his fragile body. “Or is it because now

you’re gripped with fear for the retribution for what you did?”

“Christ is with me right now.” Cian started to cough and Fr. Kelly jumped

forward to help calm him down.

“Then you don’t need my forgiveness.”

“Please…” Cian urged through another spasm of coughs.

“I want you to feel every bit of this agony every single moment until it ends

for you, and then maybe you’ll begin to understand what you did to my

sister, what damage you did to her peace of mind and sense of self.” Scully

took a step back as if her words stung even her. “You’re getting exactly what

you deserve. I hope you rot in hell.”

Her eyes locked angrily with Fr. Kelly’s as she backed away and walked

swiftly out of the room. Scully stormed through the hallway, her breath

pushing out of her lungs as she took each step, tears stinging her eyes and

her heart beating wildly in her throat. As she got into the car and pulled the

belt around her she fell forward onto the wheel, crossing her arms around

her waist as if she was in pain and she wept.

For a long time she stayed like that. The tears had dried, staining her cheeks

in red streaks across her pale skin and her eyes were swollen and sore. Her

breath was shaky and shallow as she pulled a tissue from the glove box and

wiped her face as best she could. She twisted the rear view mirror to get a

better view of the results of her tears and then the glinting of her gold cross

caught her eye.

For a moment she stared at it. Stared at the cross on the gold chain and felt

her heart sinking. Shakily she lifted her arms up behind her neck and

struggled with the fastening. Finally the latch clicked and she unhooked it

from the loop, pulling the chain from around her neck.. In the silence of the

car she held it up before her and watched as it dangled from her hand.

The sudden shrill sound of her phone ringing made her jump. She hastily

shoved the chain into her jacket pocket and grabbed the phone out of the

glove box.

“Scully.”

“We have a match. Marcos Gomez. Currently a guest of the state services in

Wallens Ridge State Prison.”

“Virginia?”

“Yes. I’ve got two flights booked from Dulles in 80 minutes. Do you want to

come?”

“Yes Mulder. I’ll meet you there.”

***

Wallens Ridge State Prison

Death Row

Virginia

March 14th

Mulder was unusually quiet for the duration of the drive. Instead of his usual

banter he immersed himself into the case file and studied it carefully, all the

while making a pile of seed shells on the dashboard tray before him. Content

with his quiet mood, Scully had taken the time to clear her mind. Silently

she chanted in her mind the long remembered words Melissa had taught her.

“Thath Savithur Varenyam, Thath Savithur Varenyam, Thath Savithur

Varenyam.” And she was surprised when they seemed to give her the calm

that she was craving.

After they arrived Mulder seemed to sense her need for peace and quiet as

he remained so all the way to the prison gates, where their guns were

checked and ID numbers noted.

“He’s been incarcerated here for the past two years. He is currently on death

row and awaiting execution.” He said suddenly startling her.

“Where was he before Wallens Ridge State?” she asked flipping through his

prison records to view his picture.

“As you can see from his records he’s made personal appearances in

correctional facilities in many cities across the country

They were led through a maze of corridors, each one looking the same as the

next until finally they stepped through two large metal detectors that led into

a separate building. The guard that was showing them the way passed a

keycard through the gateway to another officer who bore a different insignia

on his uniform. Mulder glanced down at the image of the American eagle

with a scripture in its beak.

“Different officers for this block?”

“In Wallens Ridge there are different officers for each block. We rotate on a

weekly basis so no bond can be formed with the inmates. Our uniforms

match the cell block insignia,” the guard stated as he tapped his badge with

two fingers and then pointed to a matching plaque on the frame over the

cellblock entranceway.

“How long have you been working at this prison?” Scully asked.

“Four years last month.”

“Do you know Marcos Gomez?”

“I do not know any of the inmates.”

Scully and Mulder exchanged a glance but she continued to question him.

“What visiting rights does he have?”

“He is allowed to have visitors that have been registered on a pre approved

list with the facility. Each visit takes place in a private room where they are

separated by glass. No visitors are allowed to touch the prisoner at any

time.”

“How many visitors are on the list to see Marcos?”

“None. In the two years that he’s been incarcerated here he hasn’t received

any civilian visitors. The Chaplain is the only one he speaks to. Him and

Doc Morgan.”

“Has he required a lot of medical treatment?”

“Some. It’s all in his file,” the guard said looking pointedly at the folder in

Scully’s hand. “This is it.”

He opened the door and ushered them into a small room. One wall was

prefab covered in regulation notices and housed a large window with a table

up against it. Beside the table were a chair and a phone. On the other side of

the window Mulder saw the cordless phone was fixed to the wall.

“Cosy!” he said as he pulled the chair out and let his partner sit down.

“I’m not entirely sure what you intend to find out here.”

“Those men are getting their power from someone, or something. The only

thing we have that links them is this Gomez tattoo.” He slapped the file on

the table and opened it onto the picture of Garry Black’s back.

“That’s not a link. It’s a supposition.”

“His wife said that she had never seen that tattoo on his back before. His

wife who bathed him daily from head to toe. She was almost happy to see

this, thinking initially that it wasn’t Gerry’s body and her husband was still

alive.”

“Isn’t it possible that who ever killed him inscribed this on his body before

dumping him into the sea at Ocean City?”

“Yes it’s possible but not likely. What about the witness who saw him

walking into the sea?” he urged her to explain that one but she was stumped.

Fortunately then, the door in the room across from them swung open and a

large thick set man walked in. He was wearing blue denim jeans, a denim

blue shirt and slip-on canvas trainers. His hands were cuffed to his waist and

his feet were chained together, making him shuffle further into the room

where he plopped down into the seat behind the glass window. Once he was

seated the guard came in behind him and fixed his cuffs to the table, giving

him enough slack on the chain so that he might reach the call button.

“Hello Mr. Gomez, I’m Special Agent Mulder with the FBI and this is my

partner Agent Scully.”

“Hello.” Gomez pressed the talk button with a slow sardonic smile. “What

can I do for you on this fine day?”

“We are investigating a murder in Washington DC and we have a few

questions we wanted to ask you.”

“I didn’t do it!” he said laughing in a startling maniacal fashion, releasing

the talk button to hold up his hands and clash the cuff chains together.

“Do you know anyone by the name of James Robinson?”

“No.”

“Gerry Black?”

“Don’t know that either.”

“Do you have a tattoo on your back Mr. Gomez?” Scully asked suddenly

fixing him with an impatient glare.

“Do you?” he retorted.

“Answer the question, Mr. Gomez.”

“Are you an admirer of body art Agent Scully?” he asked as he unbuttoned

the metal fasteners on the front of his shirt. With some degree of difficulty

he managed to lower it off his shoulders and droop it low across his back.

Slowly keeping his eyes locked with Scully’s he twisted around, turning his

back to them. His tattoo was almost an exact copy of the one she’d found on

the two bodies except his looked older. The edges were frayed with scars

and cuts and the amount of blood depicted on the wings looked more

graphic, vivid.

“Did you design it yourself?” she asked.

“Yeah. Got it done in a place in DC.”

“Sacred Art?” Mulder chimed in.

“That’s it. They were real proud of it and took a picture of it when it was

finished.”

“You were arrested for murder, Mr. Gomez.” Scully said steering the

conversation away from the tattoo. If he did have something to do with the

deaths of Jason Robinson and Gerry Black then she was sure it had noting to

do with supernatural powers from a tattoo.

“That’s right.”

“In 2003 you were convicted of the murder of Jayne Donovan. Your wife?”

“You did your homework,” Marcus said tightly but it was obvious his mood

had changed. Mulder wanted to stop this line of questioning, pull the speaker

off Scully but he knew better then to do anything.

“It’s not the first time you were in trouble with the law was it?” she held up

the file close to the window and flicked through the pages of arrests. “Since

you turned 16 you have racked up an impressive record with the law. Petty

theft, Grand Theft Auto, aggravated assault, resisting arrest, attempted

murder, 2 counts and murder.”

“What’s with the history lesson?” Marcus sat back in his chair and rattled

the chains around his wrists.

“I also see your approved visitor list is empty.” Scully leaned forward and

dropped the file onto the table carelessly. “Have you found God, Mr.

Gomez?”

“He found me.”

“And you have been repenting regularly with almost daily visits from the

prison Chaplin.”

“Would you deny me the chance to repent Agent Scully?”

“Not if you were truly repentant.”

Mulder sat forward and placed a hand on her arm. Suddenly the conversation

wasn’t about the case or the man on the other side of the glass. It had taken

on a new meaning, a new angle for her. Mulder took the speaker from her

and was annoyed at the spiteful smile that twisted Marcus’ lips.

“Thank you Mr. Gomez. We have no more questions for now.”

Scully stood up, gathered the pictures off the desk then walked out into the

hallway to wait for Mulder. He joined her shortly afterwards and the guard

beside them signaled for Gomez’s escort to return him to his cell. They were

led back through the maze of corridors and shown to their car. The car was

double checked then they were escorted back to the main gates of the prison

grounds.

“They don’t take any chances there do they,” Mulder said as he slipped on a

pair of shades and turned onto the main road, kicking up a cloud of dust

behind him. “So what do you think?”

“I think he has nothing to do with it.”

“What about the tattoo?” Mulder protested.

“What about it?” Scully ran her fingers through her hair. She knew she

wasn’t giving him the time he deserved to explain his theory but she

couldn’t help but blatantly dismiss it. “If anything it proves that one of the

tattoo artists from the Sacred Art Studio is a suspect.”

“They have all been questioned and have alibis for both nights.”

“C’mon Mulder, the link is tenuous at best. And at worst…”

“At worst?” he urged her to continue. He was fully aware of her mood, the

dark cloud that hung over her head from the moment she’d received that

message the other night but he didn’t believe it warranted this reaction.

“At worst it’s a bad guess. An unprofessional leap?”

“Is that what you think this is?” the anger and hurt in his voice was palpable

but she had uttered the words now and couldn’t take them back.

“Tell me Mulder,” she said with a sigh. “Tell me what you think.”

Mulder pressed harder on the accelerator and sped though the dust roads to

the highway. She watched him from the corner of her eye. Watching his

fingers grip the wheel tighter, his knee flexing tensely under his pants and

the deep frown that creased his brow.

“Mulder?”

“Do you see which the exit?” he asked curtly, keeping his attention on the

road signs.

“Mulder!” she touched his elbow and turned in her chair to face him fully.

“I’m sorry. I’m in rotten mood and I just snapped.”

He stared down at her for a moment, looking at the sorrow in her eyes and

his resolve melted.

“Ok.” His hand slipped over hers and squeezed reassurance.

“But still…this tattoo link. It can’t be the only thing connecting these people

to Gomez. There must be something more.”

“I agree. There has to be another connection.”

“Gerry Black was treated for his cancer at the Providence Center before they

sent him home for home care.”

“So was James Robinson.”

“But there is no mention of Marcos Gomez ever attending that hospital.” She

flicked back to his medical records in the back of the file. “He was treated

for numerous cuts and scrapes on his back, several times but that seems to be

the extent of his injuries.”

“What about his visitors?”

“Like the guard said none. The prison doctor, Dr Charles Morgan.”

“Does he have any connection with the Providence Center?”

“There is no record here about him.” Quickly she flipped through a few

more pages of the file, her eyes scanning the words swiftly. Just his

connection with Gomez.”

“Might be worth checking out. Who else?”

“The Prison Chaplain.” She checked the list again and froze.

Mulder glanced at her and watched in a split second as her face paled.

“Scully, what is it?” he asked

“Fr. Robert Kelly.”

“What?” That name that he had been cursing for the last two days. That

name that he never wanted to hear again.

“Fr. Robert Kelly is the prison Chaplain. He is also the chaplain at

Providence Cancer Center.”

***

Providence Cancer Center

Washington DC

March 14th

“It is time my son.”

“I’m ready father.”

Fr. Robert Kelly smoothed his hands along the front of his garments and

reached out to take Cian’s hand. Cian lay listlessly on the bed, his face

contorted in pain as the final stages of his life closed in around him. Kelly

reached for the small crucifix that lay on the bedside and lifted it up to

Cian’s dry cracked lips so he could kiss it. Then from a small dish he pulled

out a silver spoon and gently sprinkled holy water all around the bed.

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy. Glory be to the

Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.” Cian’s words were choked

and painful, each one dragging his breath from aching lungs.

“Hear us, holy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God: and be pleased to send

Thy holy angel from Heaven to guard, cherish, protect, visit and defend all

that dwell in this house. Through Christ our Lord.”

The priest made the sign of the cross over Cian’s body and then blessed

himself, all the while whispering words of prayer under his breath. He

dipped his fingers into a bowl of ointment and held it over Cian’s body.

“By this holy unction and his own most gracious mercy, may the Lord

pardon you whatever sin you have committed,” he uttered then made the

sign of the cross on Cian’s forehead, lips and chest. His lips moved in a soft

prayer as he washed his hands with holy water and wiped them on a small

towel that hung of the sash that circled his waist.

“Remember not, Lord, the offences of Thy servant and take not vengeance

on his sins.”

“I who am the joys and pleasures of life which strong men battle for,” Cian

mumbled incoherently as his head lolled from side to side.

“May almighty God bless you, Father and Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen..” Fr

Kelly looked at his watch and smiled. He rested his hand over Cian’s

forehead and felt the fever growing stronger. Cian moaned uncomfortably

but the priest hushed him. “It’ll all be over soon my son.”

Carefully he packed up all his belongings and slipped them into a small

leather bag. He turned back to Cian once more, then blessed himself as he

left the room.

***

Wallens Ridge State Prison

Death Row

Virginia

March 14th

As soon as he returned to his cell Marcos stripped off all his clothes and

walked over to the sink. He filled the shallow basin with as much water as it

would hold then dipped his hands in, cupping cool water into his palms.

“That these waters may be sanctified by the power, and effectual operation,

and descent of the Holy Spirit.” He lifted the water up high and let it seep

though his fingers. “That this water may be unto the bestowing of

sanctification; unto the remission of sins.” Again he filled his hands and

lifted it high. “That he will graciously enable us to perfect sanctification by

participation in these waters, through the invisible manifestation of the Holy

Spirit.”

This time as he lifted the water up high, he held his head back and tipped it

over his face. Rivulets of water splashed over his skin, down his back,

forming a puddle on the ground. He felt his heart rate increasing, the

adrenaline cursing more blood throughout his body as the familiar euphoric

feeling washed warmly over him.

“In this arid wilderness of steel and stone I raise up my voice that you may

hear. To the East and to the West I beckon. To the North and to the South I

show a sign proclaiming,” he intoned softly, trying to keep his voice neutral.

He was afraid of attracting any attention from the guards on duty so he kept

as quiet as he could. “Death to the weakling, wealth to the strong!”

He felt his tattoo pulsating, throbbing painfully but it was a good pain. The

pain helped him feel alive. With both hands he reached over his shoulders

and traced his fingers into the seeping blood.

A dizzy wave of nausea curled around his stomach but he pushed the

unpleasant feeling aside, concentrating on his reflection in front of him.

“I who am the joys and pleasures of life which strong men battle for,” he

incanted, struggling to keep his voice even as the pain in his torso increased.

The room seemed to sway around him but he gripped the sink tighter with

one hand, while the other drew designs on his stomach with the blood that

seeped from his back.

“For I stand forth to challenge the wisdom of the world;

to interrogate the “laws” of man and of God.”

***

Providence Cancer Center

Washington DC

March 14th

As soon as they got back to DC Mulder was on the phone to Detective

Reece. Without explanation he asked Reece to get a unit over to the center to

apprehend Fr. Robert Kelly for questioning and to his credit, Reece didn’t

ask for one. He jumped into the driver’s seat and Scully made a call.

“This is Special Agent Dana Scully, I need you to get an address for me,”

she said to the information department at the Bureau. “Fr Robert Kelly.

Prison chaplain in Wallens Ridge State Prison, Virginia and Providence

Cancer Center here in DC. I’ll be on my cell when you get it.”

“This morning.” Mulder said as they cleared the slip road on the highway,

crossing four lanes of heavy traffic in one dangerous swoop. “You went to

see Fr Kelly.”

“Yeah.” Her eyes were fixed on the road ahead.

“Did you speak to Cian Ford?” he asked in a strangely quiet voice.

“Yes. Why? You don’t think…” her voice trailed off. “But Melissa is dead.

Anything he might have to finish with her is long over.”

“You’re not.”

“Look Mulder-“ she began but he cut her off, his eyes alight with a quiet

terror.

“No Scully. You look. This man is a convicted rapist. He is a member of Fr.

Kelly’s dubious flock. Don’t make this easier for him.”

“Easier?” she scoffed. “Mulder I saw him this morning and he could barely

lift his head off the pillow. His legs have probably atrophied beyond use and

I’d be surprised if he was still alive at this point.”

“Gerry Black was all but paralyzed. James Robinson was read his last rites.”

“This doesn’t mean anything.”

“I can drop you home.” He ventured, prepared to take the verbal outrage he

was sure she’d blast him with.

“I’m coming.” Her voice was strong but quiet and it almost scared him

more.

“Scully-“

“Just drive Mulder.”

For the rest of the journey he was silent. Fuming but silent, she noted. But

nothing could make her go home in the middle of a case like this and he

should have known better then to ask her. Their matching moods were

clashing in the somber darkness of car but neither of them would back down.

Detective Reece was standing in the lobby of the Cancer center talking

quietly with one of the nurses when they both walked in through the double

doors.

“Where is Fr. Kelly?” Mulder asked immediately.

“He’s in the chapel.” Reece walked over to meet them and led the way

though the corridor to the large ornate doorway of the small hospital church.

Scully pushed the door open with her shoulder, walking in first and spotted

him immediately, kneeling on the red velvet carpet at the foot of the alter,

staring up at the crucifix in prayer. Two uniformed cops stood either side of

him.

“Fr. Kelly?” she said curtly. She watched as he blessed himself then slowly

got to his knees and turned to face her.

“Ms Scully. Have you come back to lay to rest your trouble with Cian?”

Scully took a steadying breath, grateful for Mulder’s attentive presence.

“No. I haven’t.”

“She knows him?” she heard Reece whisper to Mulder.

“I’m afraid you are too late now my child. He passed a little over twenty

minutes ago.”

“Do you know a prisoner called Marcos Gomez?”

“Ah yes. Marcos.” The priest walked over to the first pew and sat heavily

into it. “He’s a great student. I fear he may have taught me a few things too.”

“And James Robinson?”

“Yes,” Kelly said with a hint of sorrow in his voice as he bowed his head

and blessed himself. “Such a hard life for someone so young.”

“Gerry Black?”

“A wasted life. He was so strong. Stuck down with that dilapidating illness.”

“What did you do to these men?”

“Do to them?” the old priest laughed but there was no mirth in his smile.

“Nothing my child.”

“Fr. Kelly,” Mulder stepped forward and stood directly in front of the

elderly priest. “Cian Ford just passed away?”

“Yes.”

“Did you help him in the same way you helped the other men?”

“Of course!” he replied indignantly, offended at the thought that he wouldn’t

have helped in any way he could.

“Where is Cian’s body?” Mulder pressed, resting his hands on his hips.

“Cian is gone.” Fr Kelly blessed himself again and glanced up to the

crucifix.

“Where?”

“To where he belongs.”

“Mulder, this is useless.” Scully said exasperatedly, crossing her arms over

her chest.

“Look Scully,” Mulder took her elbow and led her away from the onlookers

who were watching the interaction closely. “Whether you believe me or not

you have to believe him. Believe the evidence.”

“What evidence?”

“Before each of them went missing they were blessed or cursed or whatever

by this man.”

“Mulder-“

“Now you know Ford was with him before he died,” he said making air

quotes with his fingers on the final word. “So there could be a chance that

whatever he gave these man to get their second wind he’s done the same for

Cian Ford.”

Scully had no rebuke so she kept her lips tightly shut.

“I want you out of this hospital.” Before she could argue he put his hand up

to stop her. “You know you’re the obvious target. I’ll call in for his file and

investigate all other possibilities but not with you here. Not like this.”

“I’m fine Mulder.”

“I know you are.” His fingers tightened on her arm offering the only comfort

gesture he could in this public room. Then lowering his voice slightly he

added, “I want to keep you that way. Let me take you home.”

All of a sudden she was too tired to argue. She saw his argument and

admitted she would ask him to do the very same if their roles were reversed.

With a sad smile she wondered if he would agree to leave though.

“Ok.” The word was a sigh uttered through tight lips. She conceded easier

then Mulder expected and it scared him.

***

Office of Ass. Direct Skinner

Hoover Building

March 14th

Skinner stretched back in his tall leather chair and raised his arms over his

head. A few bones in his back cracked satisfactorily and he sighed with the

pleasure. Letting his arms fall onto the table with a slap he sorted out the

rumpled pages before him and slipped them into a slim folder. A soft knock

at the door drew his attention up and he glanced over to see Kim edging

around the door.

“Sir, I’m about to leave. Can I get you anything before I leave?”

“No thanks. Have a good night.”

“Goodnight sir.”

Before she could leave the phone rang but Skinner waved her away reaching

for it himself.

“Hello?”

“I’m looking for Assistant Director Skinner?”

“You’re found him.”

“This is Detective Jason Reece.” Skinner recognized the name immediately

and felt a shiver travel up his spine wondering how badly Mulder had pissed

this man off, to warrant a phone call. “I am trying to contact Agent Mulder

but he seems to have turned his cell phone off. Do you know where I can

reach him?”

“Agent Mulder is on scene at Providence Cancer Center.”

“No sir,” Reece said carefully. “That’s where I am. He left here about an

hour ago to go back to Georgetown with Agent Scully.”

Skinner’s blood pooled at the pit of his stomach.

“An hour ago?” He did a swift mental calculation and shook his head. “Keep

trying him on his cell. I’ll go out to his place and see if I can catch him

there.”

Without waiting for Reece’s reply Skinner slammed the phone down and

pulled his jacket off the stand as he headed for the door. He was in the car

and pulling out of the garage and speed dialing Mulder’s home number at the

same time. When there was no answer he left his cell on automatic redial

and concentrated on his driving.

***

M&S Duplex

March 14th

The drive from the hospital was silent. Mulder cast worried glances at her

but she faced out the window, her thoughts buried deep, her emotions

hidden. She didn’t wait for him as he pulled up and locked the car. He

opened the door of the house and she walked straight in and raced up stairs.

Mulder stood in the hallway and watched after her for a moment then

sauntered into the kitchen.

Sitting quietly at the table he listened to her footsteps as she crossed the hall

and opened doors. He heard her switch on the taps to run a bath and decided

he needed to speak to her before he left. Glancing at his watch he hurried up

the stairs.

“Scully?” he called out and walked to the bathroom. Steam curled around

the room but she wasn’t there. He walked to the bedroom and called her

again. “Hey, Scully?”

The room was dark and the curtains were drawn, it took a moment for his

eyes to adjust. His fingers were fumbling for the light switch behind him

when he saw the faint outline of a figure standing across the room at the

head of the bed.

“Scully? What’s going on?” he said into the darkness and the silence that

replied him was terrifying. Finally his fingers found the switch and he

flicked it on, blinking away the light he saw Cian Ford facing him with

Scully lying passed out by his feet. In his hand he was holding a gun and it

was pointing at Mulder’s chest. He wanted to reach for his own gun but he

couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe or think. His mind screamed in frustration

and his body ached as he fought his instincts to lunge for Cian. All the while

his eyes fell on Scully’s body and immediately he registered the lack of

blood. Glancing again at the gun Mulder recognized it as a tranquilizer gun

and part of him was relieved.

Cian watched him with a crooked smile. Mulder watched as the barrel of the

gun was lifted and seemed to be aiming at the top of his chest towards his

left shoulder. Cian smiled again and his lips parted then he winked and

squeezed the trigger.

***

Providence Cancer Center

March 14th

Reece stared at the Assistant director of the FBI for a moment, waiting to see

if he’d smile or laugh, give any indication that he was joking but his face

remained deadly serious. Skinner paced the small chapel with one hand

resting on his hips and the other holding his phone to his ear.

“I want a full team out there to see if there has been any forced entry. If so

get in there and find out what the hell happened.” He barked into the phone

then ended the call and dialed a different number. For a moment there was

nothing, only the sound of Skinner’s feet pounding out a rhythm on the tiled

altar. “Baker? It’s Skinner…yeah, I need alpha team ready to go in ten

minutes…Okay.”

Skinner turned to face Reece.

“I went to the house. There was no one there but Mulder’s car was parked

outside. Neither of them is answering their cell phones.”

“I have an APB out on Cian Ford but we haven’t gotten any feedback yet. I

have a team at the precincts checking on any connections, any property he

has and they’ll call me as soon as they find something.”

“I have a swat team setting up at the Hoover building ready to go as soon as

you get me an address.”

“Of course, I’ll call in and check.”

Skinner nodded as he ushered hurried out to his car, Reece tight on his heels,

and started the drive back to the FBI building.

***

Chesapeake Bay

March 14th

Mulder started to come to and slowly realized he was traveling in the back

of a pick up truck. His hands were tied behind his back. with plastic cable

ties and his ankles strapped together with rope. He tried to sit up but his

forehead connected with the hard plastic covering that closed over the flat

bed of the truck. Falling back he slumped over on his side to relieve his

hands and saw Scully’s body lying next to his.

“Scully?” he said, his voice deep and groggy. With his head he nudged her

shoulder but she didn’t respond. His head pounded painfully, pulsating

through the fog of the sedative. He could tell they were traveling at speed

and it was a bumpy road, too bumpy to be a main road. There was little or no

passing traffic and soft sounds of country music came from the front of the

truck.

Mulder realized that he would have one chance of surprising Ford. One

chance of helping Scully get out of this and he had to take it. He shuffled

down to the back of the truck bed and braced his feet against the frame.

Pushing himself further down and pressing his knees to his chest he waited

for the truck to stop. He felt the car slowing down and finally stop. His legs

were almost cramping, the familiar tingling feeling beginning to creep up

from his toes. He heard the front door open and the footsteps approaching

the back of the truck on a gravel surface.

Mulder held his breath and braced his legs off the frame again waiting for

Ford to open the covering. Slowly the lid was pushed back and Mulder

threw himself at the opening.

His legs plunged forward with such force it lifted his upper body and

scraped his hands along the bed of the truck. But there was nothing there.

Nothing for Mulder to hit or connect with. With a sinking heart he realized

Ford was standing away from the truck removing the cover remotely.

“Finished?” Ford mocked as he approached. Mulder tried to get up again but

his legs refused to help, now stinging painfully with cramps.

Then he felt something connect with his skull, making him fall roughly to

the ground. Dazed and confused he struggled to roll over onto his back, but a

pair of large hands grabbed his shoulders and lifted him up. Mulder

struggled against the hands, fighting for his chance, fighting to be free but it

was no use. His strength was drained from him. Ford grabbed Mulders

elbows to lift him up and as Mulder fought back a painful snap cut into his

arm. White hot pain seared his elbow and he felt himself lose the light he

was fighting for. He was hoisted over someone’s shoulder and a warm

trickle of blood seeped from the gash on his head, into his hair.

The next time Mulder woke there was a length of purple satin cloth stuffed

in his mouth and tied at the back of his head, making it impossible for him to

scream. He lay now in front of a roaring fire trying to move away from the

blazing heat but it was no use. For every inch he moved he was dragged

painfully back in place. Ford seemed to intentionally grab Mulders broken

arm sending fresh wave after wave of pain up his arm.

The heat from the fire wasn’t helping him as he grappled with the darkness

that crept in around the edges of his consciousness. His eyes lost focus and

his neck lolled heavily from side to side, but he fought the emptiness and

pried his eyes open further. Across the room Scully was lying in the same

fetal position she had been in the truck. Still out cold and still painfully

vulnerable.

The satin was damp and clung to his skin from his heavy breathing but as he

worked it over his lips he loosened it enough to be able to spit it out and

scrape it past his chin. He blinked slowly, his eyes searching to room until

he found Ford.

“What do you want?” he called out to Ford, unable to bring him into

complete focus but knowing who he was.

“What do I want?” he laughed harshly stepping over to Scully and pressing

her ribs with his foot. “Oh I already asked her nicely. But she refused. So

now I guess I’ll give her something that will make her beg.”

Ford was swinging something in his hands but Mulder couldn’t make it out.

His eyelids became heavy and lowered slowly and no matter how much he

fought he couldn’t open them. Plunged into darkness again, Mulder didn’t

know how much time had passed.

Suddenly a sharp pain bit into his arm and he yelped. His eyes flew open but

he was blinded by the glare of an overhead lamp that seemed to burn into his

retinas. Slowly as his senses awoke, he realized his shirt was missing.

Searching For Scully he tried desperately to figure out how long he had been

passed out for, then he spotted her and sighed. She lay by his feet, flat on her

back and naked. The steady rise and fall of her chest was reassuring but it

was all futile at the sight of her so defenseless. His head slumped to the side

and he saw a small prick of blood on his elbow where Ford must have stuck

a needle.

“What did you do to me?” Mulder slurred, his dizziness sending a wave of

nausea through his head and straight to his stomach. His arm throbbed with a

heavy pain and it was all he could do not to pass out again.

“Preparation is the key. And we don’t have much time left.”

“Preparation for what?” his head thumped and banged out painful rhythms

that pulsed spots before his eyes. His eyes were fighting a loosing battle to

stay open.

“Just relax. I can’t promise you’ll enjoy it but you will be giving a dying

man his final wish.”

He stepped into the light and Mulder saw he was naked too. Horror flashed

over his mind and he shuddered in revulsion at the prospect of what Ford

was planning with Scully. Then Ford stooped by the fire and threw in

another log, when Mulder saw it on his back.

It was faint but unmistakable. Before Mulders eyes closed again they

focused on Ford’s back. The outline clearest as if the rest was waiting to be

filled in. The angel wings were strong, wide and seemed to shimmer in the

firelight as they moved and throbbed like a heartbeat.

***

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Wallens Ridge State Prison

Death Row

Virginia

March 14th

The soft squeaking that broke the silence was strangely rhythm less. The

guard stepped onto the row of cells and watched for any movement. But the

hallway was dark. The emergency lighting that kept the doorways visible

showed little else. But the noise was persistent, soft but high pitched. Every

two or three seconds once or twice, shattering the silence on death row.

“Hello?” the guard said taking his flashlight off his belt and fumbling to

switch it on. The strong beam of light spilt the darkness in two. He stepped

past the first cell casting the light over the sleeping occupant and walked on.

As he approached Marcos’ cell the squeaking became louder. He turned

quickly and shone the light on the bed only to see it empty.

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“Hey!?” he said carefully throwing the light around the small cell until it

caught what he was looking for. At the end of the bed, on the cold concrete

floor Marcos lay, shivering violently. His feet twitched in spasm scraping

the leg of the metal bed making the soft squeaking that had alerted the guard.

Immediately the guard pulled the radio from his shoulder and pushed the

talk button down. “I have an inmate down, needing immediate medical

assistance.” His left hand pulled the bunch off keys off his belt. He scrabbled

for the right one then inserted it as the radio cracked to life.

“What cell?”

“Cell eleven on eagle block!”

“Do not enter that cell,” the reply ordered, freezing the guards shaking hands

over the keys. “Wait for back up. Over and out.”

The guard’s hand stayed over the keys and he held the light onto the

convulsing body. Every molecule in his body wanted to go onto that cell, to

roll the body onto his side and make sure he didn’t swallow his tongue but

the barked order rang in his head. It seemed like hours passed until he heard

the pounding footsteps running towards him.

“What’s going on Brian?” the other guard shouted as the cell door swung

open and he rushed over and saw Marcos. “Oh Christ!” He turned his head

sideways and spoke into the radio that was strapped to his shoulders. “Lights

on!”

With a heavy electrical clunk the lighting in the whole block came on,

flickering and stuttering to life.

“He’s having a fit!”

“Where is all the blood from?” the guard fell to his knees and rolled Marcos

on to his side, lifting his upper leg to press his knee into his chest. An

expanding pool of blood seeped around him soaking the guards knees and

staining his brown uniform.

“His back, Christ look at his back.” Brian said pointing to the bloody mess

that covered his upper back from shoulder to shoulder.

“This idiot must have cut his back?” The guard held him tightly as Marcos

shuddered and convulsed.

“His own back?” Brian looked at the scars and cuts that bled openly and

wondered how a man could reach around like that to injure himself.

“This place will do strange things to a man,” he said with a wisdom that

came from too many years working on Death row. “He’s due for execution

tomorrow. Why the hell weren’t you watching him?”

“I was checking the block!” Brain defended. He had only been working

death row for three weeks and had yet to see an execution.

“Oh Fuck!”

With a heave the guard rolled Marcos onto his back and watched as his

mouth foamed and spat blood from his clenched teeth.

“Where the hell is the doctor?”

The hammering of running steps halted any reply as the doc came careening

into the cell. He knelt by Marcos’ head and opened his medical bag. Swiftly

filling a syringe with diazepam he pressed it carefully into a vein in

Marcos’s bloodied arm. They all watched with bated breath as the

convulsions continued.

“He’s not breathing!” Brian said as the doctor pulled an oxygen bag out of

his kit and passed it to him.

“Use this.” As Brian fixed the mask over his mouth and pumped the bag

with his own breathing pattern the doctor prepared another dose of

diazepam. But he didn’t need it. Slowly the convulsions stopped and became

only a mild shivering. The Doctor placed the stethoscope to his chest and

listened to his breathing. Holding up his hand for Brian to stop breathing he

waited but there was no response.

“I need to get him to the infirmary.”

Outside the cell another guard was waiting with a stretcher. They lifted him

onto it and carried him out of the cell. As they walked him down the hall,

with Brain pumping oxygen for him, the other inmates they all jeered and

yelled.

“Cant kill em if they’re all ready dead, Cant kill em if they’re all ready

dead!” they chanted aloud, seeing their escape, seeing their freedom in the

form of death by their own choosing.

***

FBI Hoover Building

March 14th

“I checked all of Ford’s records and it seems that Fr. Reilly wasn’t being

entirely truthful with you. Cian Ford was convicted of the rape of two

women. He served six years out of a nine year sentence and was let out for

good behavior.” Reece spoke clearly, casting glances at the crowd

assembled in the garage. The alpha team was all set and ready to go when

they had pulled in and Skinner quickly took control of the situation. As soon

as Reece got the phone call he shouted at Skinner and suddenly the room as

a flurry of activity. “Cian Ford owns a place on Chesapeake bay. He was

diagnosed with Lymphatic cancer shortly after his release from prison, then

bought the place to recuperate in.”

“Okay, we leave in five.” Skinner walked away and opened the trunk of his

car. He lifted the felt cover and checked the store of weapons that lay hidden

underneath. He pulled out two Kevlar vests and handed one to Reece, who

was beginning to see Skinner as a man of few words. They drove silently to

the FBI Garage and he knew the drive to the bay would be quiet as well.

Leaving the man with his thoughts Reece strapped up and checked his gun.

Pulling on a windbreaker he nodded at Skinner who climbed into the car and

gunned the engine.

They drove for miles in silence until finally Reece pointed to a small dirt

road that steered off the main stretch. Half a mile further Reece instructed

Skinner to pull up and park. As soon as the car stopped they jumped out and

waited for the swat members to join them.

“Half a mile through these trees is the hut. It’s a small split level building

facing north east.” Reece gave a swift description of the land surrounding

the building and how it looked out over the bay “There will be only one

point of escape so we need to make sure it’s blocked. If he gets into the

forest he’ll be lost.”

On a laptop Detective Reece had a map of the grounds and was showing

them to everyone. It was a secluded fishing hut on the edge of Chesapeake

Bay with wooded ground surrounding the house. Through the cover of the

trees they had planned to sneak up as far as they could then search the house

and see if they were here.

When everyone had been given their orders they all rushed forward through

the trees to the agreed point. From the edge of the wood they were only 20

feet away from the back door of the house. Skinner nodded to Agent Griffin

who switched on his infrared binoculars and scanned the area.

“I see three figures in the front of the house. Facing the east. Two aren’t

moving. The other is standing near the door.” Griffin whispered.

“You two stake out here and make sure he doesn’t come out the back way.

Griffin, Dunne and Reece follow me to the north side. Two more,” he

pointed at another two swat members and gestured for them to flank the

building from the south and another two to approach the west side.

Silently Skinner signaled to the other agents that he would be stepping

closer. Crouched low he hurried over to the sill and ducked low. He let his

heart calm down and took a deep breath. Holding it in his chest he popped

his head up over the sill for a second and peered into the window.

He spotted Mulder who was huddled on his side with his back to the

window. Skinner couldn’t tell if he was alive or not but he pushed that

thought away. He tried to see more of the room but his view was blocked by

a tall arm chair that was planted before the window.

Skinner looked over to the wooded edge where the other agents were

waiting and gestured for two of them to join him then peered in again

through the slit.

Skinner searched the room as best as his vision would allow him but he

couldn’t see Cian. Agent Griffin crouched beside him while Reece took his

spot on the other side of the door frame. Skinner took a second for everyone

to prepare then nodded at Griffin and gestured to the door.

The Agent nodded grimly then stood up against the door and with one well

placed kick at the lock he broke it in and it smashed open with a clatter. He

stood back as the others barged in. Reece entered first and Skinner watched

in horror as he jerked back with an explosion of Kevlar on his chest.

Scully’s breath caught in her throat as she opened her eyes to unfamiliar

setting. Her memory came roaring back to her. Walking across the hall to

grab some towels then entering the bedroom to undress. The anger she was

feeling at Mulder ordering her away from the hospital was still fresh then the

image of him standing by the window took over. A blot of fear coursed

through her body and she struggled to remember what happened next.

The explosion of gun fire burst all around her and she tried to sit up. But her

head was too heavy. Her body felt like it had been glued in place and

nothing seemed to be working. She rolled her head to the side and saw

Mulder huddled by the fire, looking cold and afraid. Glancing down at her

own naked body her mind suddenly screamed in protest and her body

responded.

Abruptly she found the strength to sit up to see Cian Fords hunched figure

crouched below the window exchanging gunfire with whom ever was

outside. As quietly as she could Scully inched her way over to the couch

where a blanket was tossed across the cushions. She reached out to grab it

but a sparkle caught her eye. Beneath the couch glinting in the fire light was

a small hand gun. She recognized it immediately as Mulder’s and grabbed

for it swiftly.

“Put. It. Down.” The smooth barrel of a shot gun pressed into her temple.

Cian’s voice was low and harsh as he gestured to the gun in Scully’s hand

with a small nod of his head, his eyes never leaving his hers. Slowly as she

could Scully snapped on the safety and lowered the gun to the floor. Her

knuckles brushed the barrel of the shotgun as she moved, making her

hesitate when she thought of grabbing it. But from the corner of her eyes she

could see Mulder. Lying still and completely vulnerable in the firelight, her

heart lurched, with pain and anger.

Scully carefully stood up again, starring daggers at Ford who was jerking the

gun over his shoulder to make the agent move. With her hands up in

surrender Scully crossed the room to Mulder’s side and knelt down beside

him. She reached out to check his pulse and found it slow but strong.

“What do you want?” she asked glancing away from Mulder to see Cian

backing towards the table that was against the opposite wall..

“I want to finish what I started.”

“Finish?” Scully looked at an old woolen blanket draped over the couch by

the door and she longed to grab it so she could cover his body but she didn’t

dare move.

“I asked you for forgiveness but you wouldn’t absolve me.” Cian’s voice

was hurried and strained. He was sweating profusely and Scully guessed he

wasn’t completely free from the pain of his cancer. “You had your chance to

help me but it’s too late now. It won’t be long before it’s too late for me. Too

late to ask forgiveness so I guess I’ll just have to make it worth my while.”

“Too late?” Scully asked trying to keep the conversation going, trying to

keep him talking so he wouldn’t notice the shadows that crossed the

window.

“I don’t have time to explain!” he shouted the gun shaking unsteadily in his

hand. The barrel was aimed square at Scully’s chest and she took a deep

breath as she tried to inch away. “I’m not going to die in that hospital bed!

I’m not going to die without my dignity like that. I decide when it’s time! I

decide!”

“I don’t understand!”

“You don’t need to understand.” He jerked the gun towards the window to

get Scully to move over to it. “I decided it’s time and I’m leaving with a

bang!”

With the barrel of his gun he motioned for her to walk over to the door. He

walked behind her, keeping low and out of line of sight then told her to close

the door. Then he instructed her to pull the dresser over to it and block it.

She dragged the heavy dresser across the carpet Cian watched her body as

her muscles strained and flexed and he smiled with anticipation. Then as she

stood up and turned towards him he jerked the gun over to the windows and

told her to cover them too.

“You wont get out of here Cian. Pieces of furniture wont keep them out.”

He laughed again as he watched her turn a couch over onto its side and place

it in front of the window.

“Get on the floor!” he said softly, his voice harsh and menacing. He made

Scully lie on her side and bend her knees to bring her feet up to her butt.

Roughly he pulled her arms down behind her and looped the belt over her

wrists then around her ankles. Trussing her up like a deer at hunting season.

She struggled against the binding and when she wouldn’t lie still he lifted

the gun and slammed it against her temple, stunning her into submission.

“If you just sit there and be quiet I won’t hurt you, but if you don’t…” Ford

grabbed the shotgun again, pressing it roughly under Scully’s chin then

shoved him back, making her roll and twist over her tied limbs painfully.

She watched as Cian pulled the bag closer to Mulder and gruffly flipped the

unconscious agent onto his stomach. Mulders arms bent awkwardly by his

side and Scully realized his left arm was broken. She could see the forearm

bruised and swollen already and seethed with anger.

“I intend to leave this world as I entered it.” Cian said distractedly. “I feel so

much closer to god like that.” Cian’s hand stroked Mulder’s back and pulled

on his arms to bring them down by his side. Scully winced at the cracking

sound of his arm snapping but was more fearful by the lack of reaction from

her partner. Noticing her gaze Cian smiled at her. “I will help him to feel

close to god. Our journey made together will be easier.”

“He doesn’t need to feel close to god.” Scully could make out Mulder’s

shallow breathing, the slight movement of his chest as he struggled for

breath.

“I’m afraid he is not long for this world either. Do you offer him

absolution?”

“He doesn’t need my forgiveness. He has nothing to repent for.”

“Everyone has sins that need forgiving. Even you…What about me?” Cian

continued as if she hadn’t spoken. “Do you offer me absolution?”

“Forgiveness? Is it my forgiveness you want?” Scullys mind reeled as she

tried to stall for time. To stall whatever thoughts were staining Cian’s mind.

“I need you to forgive me. I you cant forgive me for what I did to Melissa

maybe you can forgive me for killing him?” Cian nodded his head towards

Mulder’s body.

“Killing him?” Scullys rage engorged her mind and she felt the need to

scream, to shout, thrash and wail as loud as she could but the bindings on her

hands and feet were too tight.

“Maybe you can only forgive for sins against yourself…” Cian stepped away

from Mulder and crouched by her head. “Would you forgive me for killing

him?”

“No. Never,”

“Well I suppose it’s a good thing that I don’t need your forgiveness. The

devil is at the door and I don’t have time to beg.” She strained to get away

from him but it was no use. “I have stuff to do and your friends outside

aren’t gonna let me finish. I cant have you causing any more delays. You’ll

get your turn.”

Rolling away only exposed more of her body then she wanted him to see.

Anger flared anew as she watched Cian’s hand touching her shoulder.

Without taking his eyes off her Cian fumbled behind him for a bag and

pulled it up in front of her. She watched in revulsion as he took out a syringe

and flicked the top

***

Wallens Ridge State Prison

Hospital Wing

Virginia

March 14th

The doctor examined the chart carefully. Flipping the pages over the top of

the clipboard with a flick of his wrist. He shook his head slowly and

replaced the chart on the end of the bed. The nurse was finished cleaning

Marcus’ back and had applied a slim bandage. And was coving him up with

a warm heavy blanket.

On the other side of the bed was the Prison warden, wearing a pair of

rumpled brown slacks and a white undershirt. He had pulled on his trench

coat and his glasses but his hair was too ruffled to complete the image.

“Well?” the warden asked gruffly, barely glancing down at the prisoner.

“He’s suffered a stroke.” The doctor spoke clearly and slowly. He was used

to stabbings, punch ups, even the rare gun shot but never this.

“A stroke?”

“I’ll need to do an autopsy to be sure.”

“Autopsy? Is he dead?” At last the warden looked down to Marcus’ still

body and glazed over the oxygen ventilator that sank into his mouth to his

lungs and saline IV.

“As good as.” The doctor walked around the bed and stood at the head. He

fingered the IV and checked the dosage. “His brain is dead. He won’t

breathe without that ventilator. All tests have come back negative for any

brain activity.”

“Prison policy…” The warden began as he shifted his weight from one foot

to the other and slipped his hands into his coat pocket.

“Yes sir I am aware of the policy. There is a DNR statement on his chart.”

The doctor went back to the chart and filled in the current IV dosage. “We

don’t expect him to live through the night.”

“Okay. I’ll inform the state authorities.”

“Yes sir.” The doctor passed him the chart. “I need you to sign to authorize

the autopsy.”

The warden scribbled his signature on it and handed the chart back. He

caught the doctors eye and held it for a second.

“Get it done and get it done quickly and cleanly.”

“Yes sir.”

“I don’t want to go through any bad press for this. Schedule the cremation

before you start the autopsy. I don’t want any time wasted.”

***

Chesapeake Bay

March 15th

Mulder’s head pounded heavily and the more he focused on the light the

more he became aware of the stabbing pain in his left arm. He tried to roll

over but the pain was too much. He was stuck. Couldn’t move. He

remembered the drugs he’d been injected with and tried to shake the dense

feeling that settled in his head. With a soft grunt he lolled his head to the

other side and spotted them.

Tied up and rigid Scully was trying to move away from Cian as he held the

syringe to her arm. She was bucking beneath him and jerking her arm away

but Cian was too strong for her. Mulder gathered up all his strength. Luckily

Cian had straddled Scully with his back to Mulder giving him the chance to

move without being noticed. He managed to get his knees beneath his chest,

but his head seemed to be glued to the wooden floor. No matter how hard he

tried he lacked the strength to lift it. With his right hand planted flat on the

floor he held his breath and pushed himself up roughly. Kneeling now he

turned to see Cian get the syringe into her arm.

The sound of her voice yelling in pain seemed to give him a new boost of

strength. With a feral growl Mulder jumped to his feet and careened towards

them both. He half fell half tackled Cian, the power of his lunge taking them

both to the ground in a tumble. Pain seared through Mulder’s left arm in a

wave of white hot aching.

Cian rolled with him, yelling in shock, but Mulder felt his body collapsing

as he watched Scully roll away from them both, the syringe still painfully

sticking out of her arm. Cian landed on his back with his feet tangled in

Mulder legs. With all his strength Mulder pinched his thighs together

holding Cian in place.

“Skinner!” Scully called out and for a moment Mulder thought she was gone

mad. Until he heard the pounding on the doorway. The dresser that was

blocking it shook with the ferocity of what he knew was his superiors hefty

shoulder slamming against it from the other side of the door. Suddenly the

window pane across the room smashed and the couch that blocked it started

to shake as other agents fought for entry.

Cian stretched over his head where the shot gun was resting just inches out

of his reach. He squirmed under Mulders grip and tried to grab it as Scully

tried to wriggle free from her bindings. Mulder’s eyes started to loose focus

as his body lost all his strength. Cian’s fingers gripped his gun and with his

shoulders he braced himself off the floor and threw himself into an upright

position. He aimed the gun at Mulder’s chest but before he could fire a loud

thumping sound came from the roof.

Plaster and dust fell around them as the thumping continued. With a new

wave of power Mulder marveled at the adrenaline and grabbed the barrel of

the gun with his good hand. They both struggled to their feet, each trying to

get the upper hand on the gun. With his left hand throbbing in pain Mulder

gritted his teeth and grabbed the trigger, jamming in thumb in behind it so

Cian couldn’t fire. But with every jerk and pull of the gun new waves of

pain flashed up his arm to his spine.

Cian tackled him, jumping with him onto the table, smashing it to bits as

they both fell against it under their combined weight, making him loose his

grip. Mulder grunted but ignored a sharp pain in his leg and tried to pull the

gun up to aim at Cian. Scully managed to pull one hand out of the belt loop

and hurriedly worked on the others.

Cian grappled Mulder tightly with one arm, punching him in the side with

the other, over and over mercilessly. With his left hand in excruciating pain

from finger tips to shoulder Mulder fought blindly against the assault but

found there was little he could do. He slammed his right fist down on his

attacker’s shoulders, back and head but it seemed to have little effect on the

enraged man. He tried to buck him away but his leg didn’t seem to be able to

move. Imagining it pinned beneath Cian’s Mulder tried another way, but it

all seemed so futile. With a grunt Mulder rolled over to his left taking Cian

with him and crushing him against the splintered wood, then jerked his knee

to connect with Cian’s groin.

Finally it was enough to make him loose his grip and Mulder crawled away

from him, yanking the gun with him. Hearing Cian scuffling behind him

across the broken table and tried to get up, but the other man was too fast.

Mulder spun around to see him wielding a sharp stake of wood that must

have broken off the table and watched his eyes glare red then roll back into

his head. Cian held the stake up high, intending to plunge it into Mulder’s

chest but Mulder kicked him away. The front door was banging almost off

its hinges from the combined efforts of the Agents outside with riot door ram

smashing into it; Mulder prayed they would hurry up.

Cian’s face contorted into a wicked caricature as he lunged for Mulder

again, the stake swinging wildly at his chest but missing and spearing

Mulder’s leg instead, as Ford lost his footing. Mulder yelled out in agony,

falling back against the onslaught of pain that engulfed his body. Bright

spots of white hot pain dilated his eyes and he tried to blink them away,

aghast to see his assailant pressing harder onto the stake.

The wood was impaled in the front of his left leg, right through his thigh,

and out the other side into an expanding pool of blood that gushed onto the

wooden floor. Cian’s smile stretched further across his face, distorting his

features and for a second Mulder saw them change completely. His eyes

slanted and glared crimson red while his lips sharpened into a grotesque

grin.

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“Too late for me but at least I went out with a bang.” Cian stood over

Mulder’s squirming body and lifted his hands up to the sky. “Thank you my

god!” He roared loudly with a final laugh then slumped forward onto

Mulder, crushing the stake further into his leg.

The door finally blasted open pushing the couch and dresser across the

room. Agent Griffin hurried over to Mulder with his gun aimed at Cian then

carefully shoved him aside. He checked Cian’s vital signs.

“He’s dead!” he yelled over his shoulder at Agent Dunne who was sweeping

through the room, flanked by Murphy and Jones.

“Scully… check Agent Scully!” Mulder called out, jerking his arm over to

her as he tried to sit up but Griffin’s strong hands pushed him back down.

“We’ll get her too Agent Mulder. Just relax.” From his shoulder Griffin

pulled free a small radio transmitter and switched it on. “The room is clear. I

have two agents down. Suspect is dead.”

“Acknowledged.” Came the terse reply but it wasn’t enough to assuage

Mulder’s fear.

“Is she okay?” he asked blinking his eyes as tears pooled in them, distorting

his vision. He couldn’t hold his head up any longer and a strange chill settled

over his body making him shiver.

“Mulder, I’m fine,” he heard her say, her voice seemed only inches away

and suddenly he could feel her hands warm and comforting on his chest. He

looked over to her and saw she was wearing an FBI windbreaker, her legs

still bare poking out at the bottom.

“Thank you,” he muttered and she wasn’t sure who he was speaking to. Her

eyes traveled the length of his body to the large stake that was imbedded in

his leg. It must have been 2 by 2 inches square and she grimaced at the

thought of the germ laden splinters that she was sure had broken off into his

leg. “You’ll be okay Mulder, just lie still, and try not to move.”

“Move? I just want to sleep…” he said, his body finally giving up the battle

for strength.

“No Mulder you can’t sleep, not yet, stay with me.”

Sharply she slapped his cheeks to keep his attention. His eyes flew open and

rolled around the room, focusing on nothing before closing again. Griffin

loosened his grip on Mulder’s shoulders as he felt them slacken beneath his

fingers. He looked up to Scully and could see the worry etched so plainly on

her face. Her eyes were red rimmed and seemed heavy as she struggled to

keep them open and her fingers quivered as they reached out to touch her

partner’s face. Before she had to ask for it one of the Agents handed her

their jacket and she balled it up beneath his leg.

“Your tie, gimme your tie!” she snapped at Agent Griffin who deftly pulled

the tie from around his neck. He lifted Mulder’s leg as Scully slipped the

material under it and tied a makeshift tourniquet above the wound. “Keep his

leg elevated.” She showed Griffin how to hold the leg up high to help stem

the bleeding. Then she pulled the arms of the jacket out either side of his leg

and bundled it up against the protruding stake. Moving back up to Mulder’s

foot she pressed her two fore fingers to the middle of the inside of his foot.

“He’s definitely nicked his femoral artery.”

“Agent Scully?” Skinner’s voice was like an oasis in an eternal desert. She

had felt so alone, so helpless until his heavy hand squeezed her shoulder. “I

called for EMS. They should be here any second.”

“I need to stop the bleeding, keep pressure here,” She took Skinner’s hand

off her shoulder and placed it onto the now soaked jacket. “Keep it tight.”

She moved to his arm and noticed the twisted angle of the elbow and

forearm. But she decided against moving it. She pressed the back of her

hand to his cheek and gently stroked it. But there was no reaction. No

movement, grunts or winces as strapped his leg up. And it scared her.

“Excuse us.”

Everyone looked up to see two EMTs hurrying in through the battered door

and then placing their equipment around Mulder. Dunne helped Scully to her

feet and tried to lead her out of the room but she refused to move. She stood

over the EMT and told him what had happened. How Mulder had been

injured and how long he had been unconscious. She hurried over to the

fireplace where the needle she pulled out of her arm had been discarded.

“Here, he was injected with a sedative that is still affecting him.”

They worked swiftly and assessed the damage carefully. They replaced all of

Scully’s handiwork with bandages. Then attached a saline IV to his arm, an

oxygen mask over his face and a neck brace firmly in place.

“Okay we have to get him to the hospital.” One EMT hurried out to the

ambulance for the back board as the other gathered up the equipment.

Carefully they slipped him onto the board and tied him on with slim red

straps before lifting him onto the stretcher and placing him into the back. As

they stepped outside another ambulance took off down the dirt track taking

Agent Griffin.

“Are you coming?” the driver said as his partner climbed into the back with

Mulder. “You look like you could do with a once over yourself.”

Scully watched it all in relative silence her mind seemed to be working

through a thick fog where thoughts failed to materialize into actual concepts.

AD Skinner was by her side immediately helping her up the metal steps.

“Are you okay?” he asked as he tightened the blanket around her.

All she could do was nod. Then the EMT slammed the door after her. He

climbed into the driver seat and took off.

“How is she?” Reece asked softly.

“She’s fine. No real injuries. Just drugged and bruised.”

“And Agent Griffen?”

“He was lucky. The bullets hit his vest. Right in the center. If it wasn’t for

the new equipment…” Skinners words hung in the air sending shivers down

each agents spine. “I think he’s broken a rib or two but noting fatal.”

“Just got confirmation from the CS Unit, sir,” Agent Dunne called out as he

stepped into the room.

“Good. Start getting scene filed and processed.” Skinner ordered. Griffin

looked up gratefully at the distraction and called the others to help him.

***

American University Hospital

March 15th

Scully rested her head back on the chair and craned her neck, stretching it as

much as she could. Her back screamed for her to move, to walk, stand even

but she was reluctant to leave his side. He lay sleeping on his bed, eerily

quiet, despite the numerous machines hooked up. One IV was on his right

hand, his left arm was in plaster from his shoulder to his fingers, an oxygen

cannula taped over his face and nose while his leg was up in a sling to keep

it from swelling.

She had woken up in a room just before sunrise and found Skinner sitting by

her bedside reading a report. At her movement he put the file away and

stood up beside her. He explained about Mulder’s surgery and also filled her

in about the case but her mind was still groggy and she couldn’t concentrate.

Cian Ford had injected her with a sedative to keep her from fighting him.

And she was struggling to kick the effects away.

The wound on her head was superficial enough not to need stitches but still

looked painful. She got slowly out of bed and pulled on a hospital gown. She

needed to see her partner. Skinner helped her down the corridor to Mulder’s

room and with a compassionate pat on her shoulder the he led her to a chair

by his bedside.

“There is nothing you can do now,” he had said as he pushed Scully into the

chair. “The operation went well and he is expected to make a full recovery,

though he might be here for a few days and out of the field for some weeks.”

Scully looked over at the clock over the bed. That had been seven hours ago

and she was still sitting in that chair. His hand was warm, his brow was clear

and his heartbeat was strong and steady, but still he slept. She watched,

waited and listened for any sign of him waking but he offered her nothing

more than the steady sound of his breathing.

When Skinner walked in again later he was partly surprised to see her still

sitting there. He imagined the battle she’d had with the nurses to get her

back to her own bed.

“Agent Scully?” Skinner said, softly touching her shoulder. With a start she

looked around to him and saw his worried expression. “I brought you these.”

In his hand he held out a small plastic bag. She peered inside and found a

pair of jeans and a sweater. Some underwear and sneakers. They were

clothes from the change bag she usually stored in Mulder’s car. For nights

when he’d take a wrong turn on the way home and bring her to Maryland for

a romantic night off, or Langley AFB to spy on the flight tests. With a smile

of gratitude she took the bag and stepped into the bathroom to change.

At long last she felt human again. She splashed cold water over her face and

pulled her hair back into a ponytail before emerging.

“Feeling better?”

“Much. Thank you.”

“I spoke to the doctor and he said he’ll sign your discharge papers as soon as

you’re ready.”

“Good.” She took her seat next to Mulder again and clasped his hand.

“How is he doing?” he asked lowering his voice to a dull whisper.

“He lost a lot of blood. They gave him almost four units during the surgery.

He was lucky that the stake that impaled him missed his bone. It nicked his

femoral artery which was almost worse but the surgeon said they patched it

up completely. He’s going to have another great scar to show off.”

“Yeah he collects those like others collect baseball cards. When will he…”

“His body shut down to compensate for the lack of blood. It’ll take a while

for him to regain that strength again.”

“Agent Scully,” Skinner said suddenly. “It’s about the case.”

Scully turned around and saw Skinner backing away from the bed. He

walked over to the window across the room and waited for her to join him.

Reluctantly she let go of Mulder’s hand and walked over to him. In his hand

he held a slim file and he opened it towards her. There were several photos

inside of Cian Ford lying on his stomach.

“This picture was taken the morning that Cian left the hospital.” He held out

the photo and she took it to look it over, not registering the point Skinner

was trying to make. “This one was taken last night at the coroner’s office.”

“His back,” she murmured as she spotted the difference immediately. His

back was covered in the tattoo she remembered so vividly on James

Robinson and Gerry Black. “What happened?”

“I was hoping you might be able to shed some light on it.”

“I can’t explain it sir,” she hesitated wondering what Mulder would say.

Wondering if he would mention Marcos Gomez. But she couldn’t bring

herself to do it.

“Okay.” Skinner sighed. “There is something else.” He hesitated for a

moment as if he was unsure whether to tell her or not. “Father Robert Kelly

died last night in his cell.”

“What?”

“He was found this morning.”

“How did he die?”

“He bled to death.” Scullys hand covered her mouth and she knew, even

before Skinner spoke what he was about to say. “On his back was a large

tattoo resembling this one,” Skinner tapped the photo of Cian with his

fingers.

“Blood loss from a tattoo?” she queried incredulously.

“It was covered in deep wounds around the edges that bled out. No one can

really explain….”

“What about Marcos Gomez?” she asked her mind clicking through the fog

as her thoughts formed and began processing with familiar speed.

Skinner was silent for a moment. He looked down at the file in his hand and

took a deep breath.

“His execution is due on the 30th,” she said looking around the room for a

phone. “We have to stop it. We have to find out what he did to these

people.”

“It’s too late. He is already dead.”

“What?” her voice rose with her anger. “How?”

“At eleven twenty last night he suffered a stroke.” Skinner paused to let his

words sink in. But she didn’t utter a word. It was as if her thoughts had

frozen in shock. “He was in a coma and never regained consciousness.

Prison policy is for a DNR agreement to be placed on all Death Row

inmates. At quarter past one he arrested and died.” Skinner looked away and

stared at the passing traffic on the street below.

“He had daily contact with Fr Kelly, who spoke to all three men.” she said,

unsure what she was saying as her words seemed to tumble past her lips

without her control.

“That doesn’t prove anything. Fr. Kelly was locked up in his cell last night.

Alone.”

“It’s the only link. He must have been able to control them, like puppets.”

“Agent Scully-“Skinner began seeing her weary eyes darting around the

room.

“No!” she yelled. “He did this. He controlled all of this!”

“Agent Scully!” Skinner grabbed her arms and held her gently as she tried to

squirm away from him. “It’s too late. There is nothing you can do.”

She seemed to slump in his arms and he released her into the chair by the

wall.

“We have to try. We can’t let all this be for nothing.” Her words were soft

and haunting making Skinner reach for his cell phone.

“He is already dead.”

“Then let me do an autopsy.”

“The autopsy was performed by the prison pathologist immediately after his

death and the body has already been cremated.” Skinners voice was low and

resigned and it grated on Scully’s nerves as he spoke.

“That’s ridiculous!” She scoffed at the impossibility of it all. Her body was

humming with the need to react, to move, shout, scream, anything. “Then

get a copy of the autopsy report.”

“I cant. I tried.” Skinner sat down in the empty plastic chair next to her and

handed her the file. “Prison files are sealed.”

“Since when?” Scully rummaged through the pages as if expecting to find

something he missed.

“Since the warden decided the death of a death row inmate on the eve of his

execution would be bad publicity.”

“We can’t let them bury the evidence like this.”

“Agent Scully if you have some concrete proof that Marcus Gomez

instigated all of this then I will gladly go to the warden myself and demand a

copy of his autopsy.” He let his words hang but she didn’t have a reply.

“Otherwise I’m afraid there is nothing we can do.”

They stared at each other for a few seconds and she finally looked away.

Skinner touched her shoulder and closed the file. His simple gesture

knocked the wind out of her sails and she felt her shoulders slumping

further. It was over, she decided as she watched him leave the room. There

was nothing else she could do. No matter how many cases she worked on or

how good their solve rate was, it was the unsolved cases, the cases that

remained open and raised more questions then they answered that haunted

her the most.

Taking a deep breath she lifted herself out of the chair and slowly walked

over to Mulder. She slipped her hand beneath his and lowered herself into

the other chair suddenly feeling wearier then she could ever remember

being. Idly her hand went up to her neck in an instinctive move to touch her

chain. But it wasn’t there. With a sigh she remembered taking it out of her

pocket and placing it on her bedside locker and now longed to feel the

comforting chain circle her neck.

“Hey.” His voice was painfully croaky but it sounded like a heavenly

melody to her. His dark eyes met hers over the bedclothes. He looked

groggier than she did.

“Mulder!” she jumped up and hugged his chest, careful not to hit any of the

tubes. “How do you feel?” she stepped back and kissed his cheek but as she

pulled away his hand reached up and pulled her in for a deeper kiss.

“Better now,” he said as he released her. Just that small exertion seemed to

have his strength flagging again.

“How does your leg feel?”

“Feels like a UFO landed on it,” he looked over to her with a wan smile.

“How about you? Are you okay? Did he hurt you?” his eyes, suddenly

scared and serious raked over her.

“No. He injected me with a sedative and that kept me groggy for a while but

I’m okay now. Just tired.”

“Is he dead?” Mulder asked cautiously afraid of the result.

clip_image010

“Yes. Pronounced at the scene.” She seemed about to add more but then

didn’t. Mulder squeezed her hand and frowned.

“What is it?” he asked.

“Fr. Kelly is dead. He died last night in his cell.”

“And Gomez?”

Her silence was enough.

“We have…we have to…” Mulder struggled to sit up but the groggy pain

that was settled in his head flared up with the sudden movement. He winced

as his leg screamed in protest.

“It’s no use. He had a seizure in his cell last night. There was nothing they

could do. He has been autopsied and cremated already.”

Mulder let his head fall back onto the pillow heavily and shut his eyes

against the wave of pain that washed over his body to a dull thump in his

leg.

“Relax Mulder. You had major surgery last night. You lost a lot of blood

and you’re going to be weak for a while. Use the pain pump. ” She lifted his

hand and closed it over the pump by his side and closed his fingers over it,

helping him press it.

“So that’s it?” he said and she knew he wasn’t talking about his injury. “We

get nothing? Again?”

His frustration was palpable, made all the more obvious by his lack of motor

control from the rush of Demerol. He needed to get off the bed and pace

around the room. Get his limbs working to get his mind warmed up. She

knew he’d be egging to go for a run as soon as he could but recovery and the

physical therapy would take precedence over that.

“Skinner might be able to do something. If we can get authorisation for an

autopsy on Ford, maybe we can…”.

“We can what Scully?” he tested looking at her through hooded eyes.

“Find out how he managed to walk away from his death bed.”

“You think Marcus Gomez gave them the recipe for some miracle drug?”

“I don’t know Mulder.” This time the resignation she heard was from her

own voice. Scully leaned further over her partner’s body and tried to get

him to look at her, to see the comfort she offered in her own eyes.

“Mulder,” she said softly squeezing his shoulders to make him look up. “It’s

too late.

“So that’s it?” Mulder said bitterly. “Just go back to status quo?” He looked

down to his bandaged leg and grimaced. “After a couple of months of

therapy I’ll be back to normal and we can move onto the next case.”

“It’s always like this. It’s always going to be us and them. Hasn’t it always

been like that?” she said with a soft laugh. Her frustration was slowly ebbing

away. The familiar feeling of defeat settling in its place.

“I dunno Scully. I just feel like something needs to change.” His eyes fell to

her neck and he didn’t fail to see the missing chain. “Something has got to

give.”

His words stung. Words of surrender. Would he lose his fight? His energy to

keep going? She squeezed his hand and he squeezed her back, his eyes

rolling over her face where the blue and yellow bruise stained the skin on

her temple and disappeared under her hair.

“You’re hurting.” He spoke quietly and reached a finger up to touch the

nape of her neck, brushing the warm velvety skin there where her cross

would normally be resting. She looked down at him then took his hand in

hers.

“I was.”

“And now?” A sudden and powerful weariness washed over him and he

struggled to open his eyes.

“And now I’m not,” she said cryptically, kissing his fingers. Mulder knew

there would be more to that but his body was finished with this conversation

for now.

“Go to sleep Mulder,” she whispered against his cheek, brushing a soft kiss

where her lips touched him. “I’ll be here when you wake up.” Her words

were enough to push him over the edge and he released his grip to let the

exhaustion win.

The End.

Skinfull

Jan 2006. ©

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