Title: I Sing A Song of the Saints of God
Author: Rev. Anna
Rating: G
Disclaimer: Mulder, Scully, Walter and Sharon Skinner belong to 1013 productions. Cassie Skinner is mine. (And better looked after I might add).

Summary: This is my response to the X-OK Halloween Challenge to use electronic voice transmission/instrumental transcommunication, cold spots, goldfish, a war such as the Civil War, WWI, etc., a metal detector, onions, Jack the Ripper, an injury to Mulder, a quote by Walt Whitman, "orbs" and a Scully family mystery in a story taking place on Halloween or Dia de los Muertos.

"The smiles are way too big, Wally."

Skinner took in the disgruntled look on his niece's face as she glared at their pumpkin carvings.

"Oh I don't know about that. Let me lean back and get a better look."

Skinner tilted back in his chair, reaching blindly for the kitchen counter behind him to keep from falling. He stifled a curse as his fingers came back wet. He glared at the fish bowl and the goldfish inside it seemed just as intent on glaring back. He wiped his fingers against his jeans and turned his attention back to the scowling ten-year-old.

"These Jack O'Lanterns wouldn't scare a scaredy cat," Cassie pouted.

"Wait until you and auntie come back from the party and you see the candles lighting up those evil smiles. They'll be scary all right."

The little girl's furrowed brow lifted and a bright happy gleam radiated from her beautiful brown eyes.

"Scary enough to keep Stingy Jack away?"

"Scary enough to keep Jack the Ripper away."

"Jack the who?"

"Walter don't."

Skinner looked up and saw Sharon with her hands pressed against her abdomen, her knuckles white, her fingers trembling. He acquiesced to her silent plea not to answer.

"Hey, somebody's dressed and somebody else isn't," he said, pointing over Cassie's shoulder to Sharon. Cassie looked at her aunt, already decked out in her Queen Esther costume. The child let off a delighted squeal, oblivious to the distress on her aunt's face.

"It's time to go?"

"Yes sweetie. The All Hallow's Eve party will be starting soon. You should get dressed now."

Skinner watched the ten-year-old rush upstairs, her laughter echoing behind her as she sang.

"I sing a song of the saints of God,
Patient and brave and true
Who toiled and fought and lived and died
For the Lord they loved and knew.
And one was a doctor
And one was a queen
And one was a shepherdess on the green
They were all of them saints of God and I mean
God helping to be one too."

He watched Sharon close her eyes and lean her head against the doorjamb. Glistening sadness trailed wetly down her cheeks. He got up, went over and took her in his arms, gently singing in her ear.

"I mean to be one too."

Sharon pushed herself into his chest and sobbed.

"Why must every innocent thing she does have some horrific consequence?"

There was a time when blame would have flowed from his tongue in response. After all, Sharon had been one of the main champions of having Cassie develop her "gifts." But instead of "I told you so" he merely kissed her forehead and held her.

"Babe, it has been six years since you and mom and dad and Mulder convinced me not to freak over what happens because of what Cassie can do. Don't you cave on me now."

"That commemorative medallion she found by the Maryland Monument is the source of all this trouble. Why didn't we just throw the damn thing away?"

"How could we? It can't be a coincidence that Cassie's metal detector unearths this medallion and then within hours of finding it, we start hearing Mulder's voice through the fax machine."

Skinner remembered the dread he felt at that spontaneous and unwelcome proof that instrumental transcommunication was real. Mulder's voice could be heard reciting Whitman's On the Beach At Night Alone from the phone, the television, the computer -- from any electronic device where Cassie placed the souvenir struck in honor of the 250 Marylanders who gave their lives at the Revolutionary War Battle of Long Island. In addition to hearing Mulder speaking, there was a cold spot in the area where the medallion lay. It grew colder and colder while Mulder's voice grew weaker and weaker.

"Didn't the report you received from Monica today help?"

Skinner looked at the hope glistening in Sharon's tear filled eyes. He wondered if the same hope filled tears had pooled in Scully's before he told her what Monica's report said.

"I wish I could say yes, but Monica hasn't changed her original assessment."

Skinner had listened intently as Monica described the phenomenon of instrumental transcommunication, even though he didn't like what it might mean about Mulder. He liked what she had to say about cold spots even less.

To his knowledge there had been no history of any violent acts in his parents' Park Slope brownstone to account for any cold spots. Why would one appear here now? What did it have to do with hearing Mulder's voice? Where was he? Was he hurt? Was he dead? How was any of it connected to Cassie and this damned medallion?

"What about the photographs?" Sharon continued, refusing to give up. "What did they show?"

Taking Monica's advice they had kept the medallion in one place and took pictures of it at one hour intervals over the last 10 hours. The photos showed orbs growing larger, stronger in each exposure.

"If anything, they confirm her suspicion that Mulder's spirit has left his body and that he's dead."

Sharon's gasp was like a knife across the jugular.

"Is that what you believe too?"

"I think that's why the room where the medallion is is so cold. I can see my breath when I enter it. If those orbs in the photographs are Mulder's spiritual energy, and if this cold spot is also connected to Mulder, it means Mulder isn't long for this earth, if he isn't already gone."

"Oh God Walter, is Cassie seeing all this?"

"I don't know."

Sharon grabbed Skinner by his shirt. Her eyes bright with fear.

"Walter, do you believe Mulder is dead?"

"No, but I'm afraid he may be dying. Whatever's happening seems to be climaxing. My guess is if he isn't dead he will be tonight."

The baby inside Sharon's womb seemed to sense her distress at Skinner's answer and was kicking in protest. Sharon closed her eyes and pressed her hand against her abdomen again.

"And Cassie? What about Cassie?"

"Cassie's ready," the little girl sang, her voice full of pride. She twirled around for them in her shepherdess costume. "Don't I look like Saint Joan in the museum picture at the Met?"

"Exactly like her," Skinner proclaimed. "I bet you win the costume contest."

"Me too." She pulled on her coat and gave Sharon a quizzical look.

"Let's go auntie."

"We'll go in a second, sweetie. Just give me a minute." Sharon averted her eyes and hurried to the half bath off the kitchen. Cassie observed her aunt's scramble to the bathroom and listened, concerned by the sound of sobbing.

"Why's auntie crying?"

"Pregnant women are sensitive to smells, hon. Even the suggestion of smells. I told her I wanted you all to bring me back a burger smothered with onions and she burst into tears."

Cassie came over to him, fire in her ten-year-old eyes.

"She's crying about Foxy and you know it."

Skinner swallowed hard. He should have known better than try to lie to her.

"Yes. I'm sorry I lied to you about that."

"Why won't Foxy speak to me? Why does he keep saying those funny words about the beach and old mothers singing and the stars?"

"He's talking sweetie but I don't think even he knows it."

The little girl's body shivered violently.

"It's cold in here, Wally."

Skinner drew her into his arms, startled and concerned at how cold the kitchen had become since it was at least ten yards away from the original cold spot.

The sound of Sharon sobbing cut deep into his heart. Skinner closed his eyes to keep from crying himself.

"What's wrong, Wally?"

He opened his eyes and searched Cassie's young trusting face.

"I have a big favor to ask you Cassie."

"Anything for you Wally."

"You're going to have prayer time at the party, aren't you?"

"Yes. After we finish the games and march in the Saints of God parade, we go into the sanctuary and sing all the hymns about saints in the hymnbook. My favorite is When The Saints Go Marching In. We always sing For All The Saints last and then we pray for all the saints who from their labors rest. I always pray for mommy."

"Cassie, I want you to pray for Mulder."

Cassie pushed away from him, the fire in her eyes even brighter. He held out his arms to her but she stepped back, shaking her head no. Her small frightened voice chilled his conscience.

"We pray for the saints Wally. The ones who are gone. Who are in heaven. Like mommy. "

Her wide brown eyes brimmed with tears, her lips trembling with fear. She looked in the direction of Sharon's sobs then searched Skinner's face.

"Wally? Is Foxy gone?"

"I don't know sweetie." The use of her pet name for Mulder brought tears to Skinner's eyes. He cleared his throat. "I don't know."

"I don't want Foxy to be gone, Wally. Please God, don't let Foxy be gone. Don't let Foxy be gone."

Skinner pulled the weeping child to him. He didn't want it to be true either, but what else could it mean?

"Listen Cass. Not all the saints of God are dead."

The little girl sniffed and looked at Skinner through swollen eyes. Skinner nodded, trying to regain her trust again as he sang.

"They lived not only in ages past
There are hundreds of thousands still
The world is bright with the joyous saints
Who love to do Jesus' will."

Cassie joined in, despite the tears streaming down her face.

"You can meet them in school
On the street, in the store,
In the church, by the sea, in the house next door
They are saints of God
Whether rich or poor
And I mean to be one too."

Skinner smiled and she smiled.

"I'm a live saint, aren't I Wally?"

Skinner nodded.

"Well so is Foxy. Okay Wally. I'll pray. I'll pray for Foxy right now."

She ran into the den where the medallion was. Skinner hurried after her. He could hear Mulder's voice, weaker than ever before, the words barely a murmur now.

'On the beach at night alone
As the old mother sways her to and fro singing her husky song
As I watch the bright stars shining, I think a thought
of the clef of the universes and of the future."

Cassie picked up the medallion and held it to her chest, her eyes closed, her lips moving. Skinner could feel his teeth chattering before he reached the room, his fingers stiffening with the cold. He could see Cassie's nose turning red, her lips blue.

"Cassie, come out of there. Come to me."

The little girl shook her head no and kept her eyes shut, kept her little fingers curled around the metal object. Skinner rushed in and caught his niece in his arms. His breath caught in his throat as not only Mulder's voice but also the music of Ralph Vaughn Williams' A Sea Symphony swirled around him. The powerfully orchestrated setting of Whitman's poetic pronouncement on the interconnectedness of life and life forms swelled in tones of brass and winds and human vocalizing.

"A vast similitude interlocks all
All spheres grown and ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets
All distances of place, however wide
All distances of time, all inanimate forms
All souls, all living bodies, though they be ever so different, or in different worlds All gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes, the fishes, the brutes
All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, languages,
All identities that have existed or may exist on this globe or any globe
All lives and deaths, all of the past, present and future
This vast similitude spans them and always has spanned
And shall forever span them and compactly hold and enfold them."

In his arms his niece, this extrasensorally gifted ten-year-old child, had connected somehow with Mulder through this medallion and now was taking him with her. He couldn't hear Mulder anymore, only the overpowering Vaughn Williams music.

"I see him Wally! I see him! He's sleeping in the park!"

Skinner gasped, grabbed her hand and hurried into the living room. He thrust himself and the little girl before the fireplace. The warmth of the fire melted away the chill and his fear. He hurried to his father's desk and brought pencil and paper back to the little girl.

"Where is he, Cassie? Where?"

Skinner watched in amazement as she drew what her mind's eye saw. He recognized the Maryland Revolutionary War Monument, the Terrace Bridge, earth movers and park trucks doing renovations in the peninsula area and the hills of dirt she had climbed with such glee in her quest for metal treasure. At the bottom of one of those mounds, Cassie rendered a picture of a man, lying prone, right leg unnaturally askew, leaves everywhere, covering him like a blanket.

"Oh Wally, wake Foxy up. Please wake him up."

Hopeful for the first time in 24 hours, he kissed his niece and hurried to the front door. Sharon appeared, her coat on.

"Walter, were are you going?"

"To get Mulder. Call Scully. Tell her I've found him."

He rushed up Ninth Street, his lungs almost bursting as he dodged the traffic on Prospect Park West. He kept to the footpath meandering south behind the Lafayette Monument, past joggers and park workers, Frisbee tossing owners and their Frisbee catching dogs, through the carpet of fallen gold, red and orange leaves, inhaling the putrid smell of the broken nuts of the Gingko trees as he burst onto Center Drive, praying he wasn't too late. He stumbled once he left the main road, losing his footing on the first set of stone steps but not losing his grip on Cassie's drawing as he reached the pedestaled orb memorial.

He held onto the wrought iron fence surrounding the tribute to the fallen Revolutionary War heroes, verdigris with over a hundred year's worth of weathering and decay. Even now he could hear the orchestra and chorus in the concert grove, rehearsing Vaughn Williams' Sea Symphony. He knew he was close. If he could hear it, Mulder was hearing it too.

Skinner dashed to the Terrace Bridge and scanned the renovation area, looking for the excavation sites where Cassie clambered almost 24 hours ago.

"Oh God, oh God, let her be right. Let her be right."

He kept scanning the area, keeping Genelle Guzman-McMillan in mind. Buried in the rubble of the World Trade Center for 26 hours, Genelle had been found alive. Tons of concrete and steel beams covering her, but she had been found alive. Injured though he might be, Mulder didn't have those odds against him.

Skinner thanked God Mulder wasn't hovering near death on May 1, Walpurgis Nacht when witches celebrated awaiting the arrival of the devil. Or November 1, Dia de los Muertos, when families welcomed their dead back into their homes. But October 31 where Mulder had a 50-50 chance of either being hurt by the Druid spirits of Halloween, those who come back to take over the bodies of the living, or being helped by the saints of All Hallow's Eve, those who from their earthly labors rest but whose love remained with the living and would keep him alive, keep his spirit strong. Somewhere in one of those damn holes in the peninsula area of Prospect Park, close enough to hear rehearsals in the Concert Grove, Fox Mulder was alive and reaching out to them through Cassie and that medallion.

"Where are you, Mulder? Where are you?"

Skinner closed his eyes once more and evicted Scully's guilt ridden voice, bemoaning letting Mulder come to New York to find out what had happened to a younger brother Scully never knew existed, her mother's illegitimate son given up for adoption.

He flashed on images of Cassie and her metal detector, climbing every hill and mound in search of metal treasure. Somehow, somewhere Mulder had touched the medallion Cassie found and through that touch Cassie had been able to connect with him.

Opening his eyes now, he gazed from mound to mound until finally he found the one shaped exactly like the one in Cassie's drawing. He rushed off the bridge and dashed down the path, yelling and waving his arms at startled park workers. He clambered down a slippery embankment. A blanket of gold and red leaves contrasted sharply against the dark chocolate earth in which he was now digging.

"Hey, what the fuck are you doing down there?" someone yelled.

Skinner ignored the voice and dug on until he saw it. A leg sticking crookedly to the right. Carefully he smoothed away the mounds of leaves until he saw Mulder's long black lashes against his chalk white dirt smeared cheeks. The sight of Mulder's purple tinted lips seized Skinner's heart. Maybe the mounds of dirt and leaves hadn't been enough to thwart hypothermia. With trembling fingers he pressed against the clammy skin of Mulder's throat to find a pulse.

"Holy shit! Harry call a fuckin' ambulance. There's a body down here. Is he alive mister? Is he alive?"

Unable to speak, Skinner just nodded, crying with relief.


Title: I Sing A Song of the Saints of God II
Author: Rev. Anna
Rating: G
Disclaimer: 1013 knows which ones they own. Everyone else is mine.
Spoilers: The Truth; Minor ones for End Game, DeadAlive, Nothing Important Happened Today

Summary: This is my second response to the X-OK Halloween Challenge to use electronic voice transmission/instrumental transcommunication, cold spots, goldfish, a war such as the Civil War, WWI, etc., a metal detector, onions, Jack the Ripper, an injury to Mulder, a quote by Walt Whitman, "orbs" and a Scully family mystery in a story taking place on Halloween or Dia de los Muertos.

The soldier stood at the back edge of the growing crowd, watching the activity below the Terrace Bridge in Prospect Park. A young mother with a ballerina by one hand and a Jack the Ripper by the other stopped to have a look. The ballerina gave the soldier a brilliant smile. Jack stuck out his tongue. Clarity replaced confusion as a word clicked in the soldier's mind. Halloween. Today was Halloween.

"What's going on?" the mother asked, peering through the crowd. "A mugging?"

"Gotta be more than a mugging," an onion ring munching man told her. He offered some rings to the children who happily helped themselves. "The guy was buried alive." He offered some rings to the soldier.

The soldier shook his head no and moved away, a distant memory itching at the back of his mind. A pregnant woman, humming in a kitchen, smiled at him as onions sizzled in a pan. Something warm shined from her eyes as she offered him a plate of golden brown onion rings. What had he been to her? Son? Lover? He didn't know. He had to have been somebody's son, somebody's lover once. But no more. All he was now was soldier. A super soldier. He winced against a sharp pain that always accompanied this memory. To soothe the ache, he pressed his fingers against the bumps at the back of his neck.

He walked over to the Maryland Revolutionary War monument where he could be alone. The onion rings man was wrong. He hadn't buried Mulder alive, although God knows he would have loved to. No, he just covered him enough to stay hidden while he went for the medallion.

His mouth watered at the remembered feel of his fingers tightening around Mulder's neck, the rasping sound of death gurgling up from Mulder's throat. He wanted him to pay for the loss of Knowle Rohrer. But something kicked in and kept him from crushing the windpipe beneath his fingers. Good thing too. The son of a bitch had lied to him. The medallion hadn't been where he said it would be. He had to retrieve it. It held the location of another quarry where the supersoldier killing ore could be found. They had to find it and destroy it, just like they had the one in New Mexico when they took out someone named Spender. The soldier looked at his watch. Time to report in. He pulled out his cell phone, dialed and waited.


General Suveg's voice snapped the soldier to attention.

"Mission's compromised, sir."

"The nature of the compromise?"

"AD Skinner is in possession of the target."

Still on his knees, Walter Skinner held onto Mulder's hand, willing consciousness into the younger man's cold body.

"Come on Mulder. You've survived blood coagulating retroviruses, alien abduction and death. Don't punk out on this big bald beautiful man now."

Skinner closed his eyes, pained by the memory of Mulder's smart ass crack and the smart ass smile that went with it. He pressed his hands more firmly around Mulder's clammy one, wishing with all his heart he could reach him as Cassie had. Six years ago Mulder described her gifts to him: clairvoyance, astral projection, mind reading and an empathetic gift Mulder had no name for. Which one had helped her prayer locate Mulder?

He held Mulder's cold fingers against his forehead and spoke again.

"Come on Mulder. I know you're in there. Somehow you reached out to Cassie. Reach out to me. Give me some kind of sign."

A hand rested on Skinner's shoulder. He blinked away his tears and looked up into the face of a police officer.

"The paramedics are here, sir. Let them work on your agent."

Skinner nodded and rose. Loath to release Mulder's hand, he let off a despondent sigh and relaxed his fingers. His heart thudded to a halt when Mulder's fingers twitched. His eyes grew wide at the sight of Mulder's chapped purple lips moving ever so slightly. Skinner knelt beside him until his ear was practically resting against them.

"Come on, Mulder. Give me another sign. Anything."

Skinner felt Mulder's lips pucker then press a feeble kiss against his ear. He pulled back and saw the hint of a smart ass smile. He gave Mulder's hand an acknowledging squeeze and moved out of the paramedics' way.

From Lookout Hill the soldier watched the procession of police, park workers and EMTs escort Mulder and Skinner through the nosy crowd to the ambulance waiting on the Center Drive. Methodist Hospital was barely fifteen minutes away. The General already confirmed that as the ambulance's destination.

Left to his own devices, the soldier would have taken Mulder before they reached the ambulance, would have enjoyed killing anyone who tried to stop him. Take out a number of the onlookers just for the hell of it. That mother and her two little Trick or Treaters. And that onion ring eating guy too.

But his own devices were not the order of the day. He would proceed as directed by the General. Get the medallion back and silence Mulder with as little fanfare and collateral damage as possible.

He listened to the siren of the ambulance doppler out of the park then headed for the Skinner's brownstone on Ninth Street to wait for further instructions.

Sitting vigil over Mulder. How many times had she done this since that first time in Raleigh? Too many to list. Most noteably Eisenhower Field, Alaska. Farmington, New Mexico. Leon County, Florida. Winston Salem, NC. And Annapolis, MD.

Oh God. Annapolis.

Scully closed her eyes, forcing that memory away, choosing instead to remember that first time in Raleigh, after he'd been shot on the Boggs case. Somewhere along the way collegial concern deepened into respect and respect grew into love.

So here she was again. Another bed. Another vigil. She ran her hand gently along Mulder's arm, wondering how or if things could have been different for them, more normal. But if things had been different, more normal, would they have ever gotten together?

She watched his body shift, tiredly. Breathing steady. Heart rate fine. His lips moving gently, whispering in his sleep again. Earlier he had whispered about his broken leg and his bump on the head. Even unconscious he downplayed his injuries. She leaned closer to hear what he was saying now.

"Just half way - only half way ... more oxygen!"

She brushed the hair away from his forehead, listening to him repeat the words over again until he drifted off.

"That's it Mulder. Sleep. Just sleep now."

She wished she could too. God she was tired.

The door opened and she watched Skinner come in, kneel beside her.

"You okay?"

She smiled and nodded, lower lip trying not to tremble. Then as a tear slipped out, shook her head no.

"This was one family secret that could have remained secret. I'd lost so much: A career I loved. Melissa. William. Contact with my mom and brothers. Finding the son mom gave up for adoption seemed like a chance to connect with family again. I should have stopped him."

Skinner wrapped an arm around her shoulder and gave her a comforting squeeze.

"Don't do this, Scully. We've found him. He's going to be all right."

She looked at Skinner. Pain and guilt warred with exhaustion in her eyes.

"It was stupid to think that they would leave us alone for long."

Skinner smiled sadly, nodding in agreement. "He knows too much to be ever left alone."

Scully laid her head on Skinner's shoulder and cried.

The soldier stood at the corner, watching the house as ordered. There was a woman already inside, but she wasn't his target. He informed the general of the possible complication arising from her presence. The general saw none.

"Kill her if she tries to stop you from taking them."

The general's response thrilled the soldier. Yeah. Kill her. He'd kill her even if she didn't get in his way. It would satisfy the urge roiling around in his stomach. He hadn't killed Mulder and Skinner was now out of reach. But this woman ... he could kill her.

His targets, a pregnant woman and a little girl, had gone into the house about an hour ago. The little girl had been singing a song, something about saints and God. Her little voice rang clear through the crisp autumn air, summoning forth the memory of that woman humming in the kitchen. He knew who she was now. His mother. Pregnant. Promising to make him onion rings as a reward for being such a good boy.

"You're my good boy."

He winced as the pain came again. It was the only time he felt pain these days. His fingers found their way to the back of his neck and pressed hard against the bumps there. The pressure erased the memory and the pain along with it.

He looked up at the house and focussed on the task at hand. He needed Mulder to get the medallion. He needed Skinner to get to Mulder. He needed the woman and the little girl to get to Skinner.

He pulled an electronic device from his pocket, pointed it at the house and pressed a series of buttons.

Two hours ago Monica Reyes had been in the X-Files office doing more research on orbs and electronic voice transmittal. Within half an hour of receiving word from Skinner, they were all in New York thanks to the speed and stealth of Deputy Director Kersh. John took Scully straight to the hospital. She came here to the Skinners' to continue her observations.

She compared the set of polaroids she had taken over the last two hours with the photos Skinner had taken the day before. The orbs were much less pronounced. In the last one the glowing image was barely visible. The cold spot she had encountered in this room around the medallion was gone too. It had to mean Mulder was getting stronger. It just had to.

Remembering Scully's silent and grim face on the flight up made her eyes sting. She coughed to push down a sob.

"I hear you when you cry," Cassie said.

Monica turned, startled. She saw Cassie Skinner walking into the den with her nose pressed against the goldfish bowl that had been on the kitchen counter. She glanced over at Monica and smiled.

"Yesterday's quote for the day: 'Who hears the fish when they cry?' -- Henry David Thoreau, 1849. Miss McMahon comes up with some neat ones."

Monica couldn't smile back, her heart racing a little at the coincidence of the name.

"Whose Ms. McMahon?"

"A new substitute teacher. Ms. Reynolds got sick on Monday and Ms. McMahon took her place." The little girl placed the fishbowl on the coffee table. "Foxy told me the fishbowl should only be filled half way. So the fish can get more oxygen."

"That's right. More surface area."

"Foxy will help me buy a real tank when he leaves the hospital."

Monica smiled and tried to erase the details of Mulder's injuries from her mind so the little girl wouldn't pick up anything negative when she spoke.

"I'm sure he will," she said.

"No you're not." Cassie clucked her teeth and laughed when Monica blanched. "You're easy to read. Even easier than Auntie Sharon. She's worried too." The little girl spied the photos next to the medallion and smiled. "You don't have to be afraid for Foxy, Monica. No more cold spots means Foxy will be fine. Just a broken leg and a bump on the head."

Monica blinked.

"How do you know that?"

"He told me."

"He told you?"

"Yep." She pointed to the fax machine where the medallion lay. "Through that."

Monica's head was spinning. She had thought she'd heard Mulder's voice earlier when John called from the hospital. Damn! An instance of instrumental transcommunication and she had missed it. Cassie's voice interrupted her thoughts.

"He is worried about the bad man that hurt him though. So I made this breastplate for him."

"You made what for him?"

"Foxy needs the whole armor of God for protection. So I made him the breastplate of righteousness."

She went over to a desk by the window and held up a picture of armour.

"My metal detector found some nice sparkly metals right where Ms. McMahon said I would. Don't they make the breastplate look pretty?"

Monica looked at the picture of armour the little girl had drawn.

"The man can't hurt Foxy when he wears this. I'm going to make a get well card for Wally to take to him."

She glanced out the window behind her and started singing again.

"They were all of them saints of God and I mean--"

She stopped short with a sharp gasp.

"Ooo Monica quick! Look there." Monica hurried to the window and looked where Cassie was pointing. "See? See that man pointing at our stoop? He's the one who hurt Foxy."

Monica pulled Cassie to her just as the lights went out.

The monitors in Mulder's hospital room began to beep noisily. Scully and Skinner rose together as Mulder began to moan and shift uncomfortably in the bed. Scully placed a hand on his forehead and rang for the nurse. Skinner stood on the other side and took Mulder's hand.

"Mulder. Mulder, open your eyes. Talk to us."

Mulder's eyes remained closed. His head twisted left then right, his expression more agitated. His lips opened, closed, repeating the same words over and over.

"Cassie - the medallion ... throw it ... throw it."

Scully looked at Skinner and saw the fear she felt reflected behind his wirerims.

A doctor and nurse hurried in, moving both Skinner and Scully out of the way. John Doggett hurried in behind them and grabbed Skinner's arm.

"I can't get through to Monica. Your line is dead and something's jamming her cell."

Skinner looked back at Mulder, a chill spiraling up his spine as Mulder shouted.

"Cassie!!It's him! throw it! throw it."

Sharon came into the den, wiping her hands on a dish towel.

"The lights out here too?"

Monica pulled out her cell phone, dialed then swore under her breath. She took Cassie's hand and hurried over to where Sharon stood, but Cassie pulled away and went over to the fax machine, listening intently. Monica and Sharon heard it too.

"Cassie...it's him...it's him...throw it! Throw it!"

"I know Foxy. I'm ready. I've got the breastplate all ready. He can't hurt us."

A shatter of glass turned the two women toward the front door. A huge silhouette loomed against the frosted glass of the inner door. It was the only thing keeping the intruder from the main hallway. Monica pulled her gun and aimed.

"Sharon, take Cassie out the back."

Sharon hurried into the den and grabbed Cassie's hand, but the little girl pulled away.

"No auntie. No! Stay here!"

Sharon screamed at the sound of wood splintering and glass smashing. She watched horrified as Monica stood and fired, emptying her clip into a man who kept on coming.

Skinner could barely see for the fear and anger pounding in his brain. Mulder's words still stuck dagger deep in his heart.

The pedestrians and the cars made way for him and John, both running full tilt with their guns drawn over to Ninth Street. It was only two blocks but it felt like two hundred. His whole world was ending and he might be too late to stop it.

The first blow slapped Monica's gun from her hand. The second knocked her backwards and down against the desk. Sharon screamed for help and clutched Cassie to her. The little girl squirmed to be free, waving her drawing at the man.

The soldier's fingers twitched as he clamped down on the fragile cartilege of Monica's windpipe, anticipating the snap. Her head fell back limp and he shook her.

"Open your eyes. I want you to see your death coming."

Sharon sobbed, looking left then right for something, anything to fight him with. Then she looked to the fax machine and heard Mulder's voice, loud, frantic.

"The medallion ... the medallion ... throw it - throw it."

She saw the medallion and seized it. Gripping it with all she had, she hurled it at the man, but it whizzed past his face and dropped harmlessly to the floor. He jerked back, annoyed as if bothered by a mosquito then smiled when he saw what it was. He looked at Sharon and smiled.

"Thank you Mrs. Skinner. Now I can kill you all."

Sharon pressed her hands to stomach and fell to her knees, sick at her failure. She screamed again, her eyes wide when she realized her niece was now walking toward the man, holding her drawing in his direction. She screamed over and over, begging Cassie to run, but the little girl continued to move forward.

The soldier's eyes glistened as the child came to him. She was almost within striking range. He smiled and reached for her with his free hand.

"Come on little girl. You're next."

Skinner saw the front door broken and ajar. Rage roared through his mind like a fire through dry brush. The sound of Sharon's frantic screams emanating from within the house yanked him up the steps. He took them two at a time and burst into the foyer. John tumbled in after him, gun drawn, ready to fire. Both men froze at the sight before them.

Sharon squeezed in a corner, eyes shut, screaming for help.

Monica flat on her back, her body spasming with gasps for air.

And Cassie, little ten-year-old Cassie, forcing a super soldier to his knees.

The soldier felt the tremor in his hand first, then up his arm then to his shoulder. The closer the little girl came, the more intense his trembling became. Confused he pulled back. The trembling reached the base of his skull and turned into a sledge hammer, pounding its way to his brain.

He let go of the woman's throat and staggered to his feet. He reached out to the little girl, thinking he could grab her but moving closer made the pain worse. A burning sensation, hotter than anything he had ever felt before settled in the center of his forehead. Pinprick small at first then spreading out across his forehead, down his temples.


The soldier heard Skinner shout the single word. He looked to his left and saw Skinner and another man standing there with their guns drawn. He tried to move toward them but his trembling worsened. The burning intensified. Every limb vibrated, shaking him until he was on his hands and knees.

Pain melted over his brain. Pain worse than any he could remember. Ten times more vicious than the pain of the memory. The image of his mother, pregnant and loving, melted. Her words fading as the pain increased.

"You're my good boy. My good boy."

Doggett moved first. He slid to Cassie's side, took the drawing from her and pushed her into Skinner's arms. Skinner picked Cassie up and hurried over to the corner where Sharon cowered, sobbing. He put Cassie into her arms then hurried back and pulled Monica into the corner as well, using his body to shield his wife and niece from what was happening.

John moved on the supersoldier and laid the drawing on top of him. The man lay on his back now, jerking and smoking like bacon on a griddle. His flesh blackened and shriveled. John held the drawing against the soldier's chest until it grew too hot to hold. He pulled back just as it and the soldier burst into flame then disintegrated into a pile of ash.

The gold and red of autumn gave way to the white of an early winter. Wreaths, pine boughs, and red ribbon decorated every mantle, balluster and door of the Skinner D.C. home.

Skinner glanced down the hallway where Sharon and Scully sat in the kitchen stringing popcorn for the tree while his mother sided with Margaret Scully against his father over how much flour to use in the gravy. In the living room, he could hear Monica, John and Scully's brothers and sister-in-law arguing about who would win this year's Super Bowl. And upstairs in the bedroom, Mulder's voice mixed Christmas carols and Christmas songs to Cassie's unending delight.

The events of Halloween in Brooklyn, while not forgotten, were at least put to good use. Skinner had what was left of the supersoldier shipped back to D.C. where Kersh and an army of allies set to work analyzing his remains. While everyone at Cassie's school remembered the substitute, the office had no record of hiring her. Photographs shared with the staff confirmed that Cassie's Ms. McMahon was indeed supersoldier Shannon McMahon.

Through the Deputy Director and a bunch of off-duty NYPD friends of John's, Mulder had 24 hour protection while in the hospital. When he was able to be moved, Skinner brought Mulder and Scully to his home publicly, thus putting Suveg on notice that he was ready to openly challenge the farce that had forced Mulder and Scully into hiding in the first place. Any rumbling from DOD and from within the Bureau were summarily squashed by the Deputy Director's office. Backed up by Kersh, no one dared challenge Skinner.

But neither he nor Kersh were fooled by the lack of resistance. They both knew it would only be a matter of time before they were on the hot seat again. They used the time well and within a month overseas contacts were ready to fly Mulder and Scully out of the country to a safer haven.

Skinner sat down as Mulder and Cassie came downstairs, their convoluted Christmas medley finished. Cassie threw her arms around his neck and held the medallion before him.

"Foxy said I can keep it. A souvenir. Right Foxy?"

Mulder nodded, leaning on his cane.

"More. A medal for bravery. Just like the Maryland 400."

"Will you talk to me through it?"

Mulder took her in his arms and hugged her. "I'll try."

Skinner watched his niece plant a big sloppy kiss on Mulder then skip down the hall to the kitchen. He stood and looked at Mulder.

"Having you here this past month and a half felt like old times."

Mulder shook his head no.

"Better than old times. I'm going to miss you, you big bald beautiful man."

They laughed then embraced in silence, soaking up as much of the other as they could. Skinner let go first and watched Mulder join the others down the hall.

He stood alone, feeling much like Whitman must have when he penned On the Beach At Night Alone.

"All lives and deaths, all of the past, present and future This vast similitude spans them and always has spanned And shall forever span them and compactly hold and enfold them."

He thought about that similitude spanning his life, Mulder's, Scully's, Cassie's, the lives of every living thing and person on earth. He felt his fate and theirs, that of the whole world growing closer and closer together and gave thanks for the embrace of that similitude compactly holding and enfolding them all.

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