Title: We Wish You A Merry Christmas
Author: Vickie Moseley
Written: December 2010
Category: Holiday
Rating: PG
Spoilers: VS12: Displacement Disclaimer: I'm not profiting off this work of fiction, so back of lawyer dudes! No copyright infringement intended. Archive: VS 13 exclusive for two weeks from posting. After that, yes.

Summary: Mulder discovers that at Christmas, the most unusual heroes can be found in the most unusual places.

Author's Notes: This story is part of the Virtual Season Universe where Bill Scully Jr. has been killed and Charlie Scully is working for the consortium.

Mulder eyed his watch for the fifth time in the last half hour.

"Damn, damn, triple damn." His sotto voce mutter was just barely discernible over the din of the packed conference room at the Chicago FBI Regional office. He felt a hand clasp him on the shoulder.

"Sorry, Mulder. I know I promised - "

Mulder shook his head, and tried for a wan but honestly contrite smile. "Not your fault, Steve. I want this bastard as much as the next guy."

"Yeah, but it's a helluva way to spend Christmas," The AIC, Steve Michelson, said with a sad shrug. "If it's any consolation, Simons just called in an order to the Walnut Room at the Alegro. They're sending Christmas Dinner, all the trimmings. We'll just have to eat it off paper plates and with plastic forks."

"I've done worse," Mulder said with a chuckle. "I do need to make a phone call."

"I understand," Michelson said. "Give my best to the missus," he added with a wink.

Mulder tilted his head in reprimand but his colleague was not to be dissuaded.

"I don't care what you call it in DC, Mulder. Out here in the hinterlands, what you are is called 'married'," he laughed and headed over to one of the other groups of agents, huddled around a map of the southeast side of the city of Chicago.

Mulder got up from the table and headed toward the hallway. The task force was all crammed in one little conference room; the rest of the building was empty. He glanced at his watch again and realized he would have been high in the sky, just passing over Ohio, had he been able to catch his flight. Sighing heavily, he spoke into his phone. "Maggie's Home," he said succinctly and waited as the recorded voice repeated his request and then rang through the number.

"Scully residence, Matthew speaking," a young voice said breathlessly on the line.

"Matty, it's Mulder," the agent said. He couldn't keep the smile off his face at the sound of a familiar voice. "You answered the phone like a pro. We're going to have to get you a summer job at the office on our switchboard."

"Ah, Uncle Mulder, you know I want to go to camp this summer," came the reply. "You wanna talk to Auntie Dana?"

"Yes, please, if she's not elbow deep in turkey."

"Nah, Grandma put the turkey in a long time ago. Guess what? Santa brought me a fielders' mitt! Auntie Dana said you could show me how to break it in."

"Wow, that's great, buddy! Sure, I've even got some glove oil we can use on it. You'll be all set before tee ball season starts again."

"Do you need us to pick you up at the airport?" Matty asked innocently.

"No, uh, not yet. Just get Auntie Dana, if you don't mind." He tapped his foot while waiting for his partner to come to the phone.

"Hey, we've got a 22 pound turkey here with your name on it and at three presents addressed to both of us that I don't dare open without you," Scully said brightly. He smiled, just hearing her voice made him feel a little better.

Then reality crashed back down on him. "Well, save me a big slice of turkey and keep the presents under the tree a little while longer," he said sadly.

"Ah, Mulder. I thought they cut you loose. You gave them the profile."

"Yeah, I know. But the rat bastard slipped the net. I promised I'd stick around, see if I can give them a clue where he might run to ground. I'm really sorry, Scully. I know how much Christmas means to you - especially now, with Tara and the kids ... "

"Hey, it's all right. I mean, sure, I'm disappointed, but it's part and parcel of the job. I just wish I was out there with you."

"You wish you were stranded in Chicago, working a serial killer case on Christmas rather than being with your family, that 7 foot killer blue spruce in Maggie's living room and a 22 pound roast turkey?" he asked mockingly. "Wow, do you have strange fantasies."

"I said I wish I was out there with _you_," she reminded him. "So, are you at least going to get something to eat?"

"Yeah. Not shabby, either. The restaurant near the office is sending over dinner with all the trimmings. It'll be cold and on paper plates, but that's why they made microwaves, isn't it? I'll be fine."

"Any idea at all when you might make it home?"

"As soon as we have this guy in custody, I'm on the next flight. I'll walk home if I have to."

"Well, then we'll save you plenty of leftovers."

"I want some of that turkey, plenty of that. Oh, and your mom's green bean casserole with the little red things in it."

"Pimentos, Mulder. The red things are pimentos. I'll make up a couple of plates and put them in the freezer before we even sit down to eat." They were both silent for a while, content to just listen to each other breathe.

Mulder heard someone call his name out the conference room door. "Look, I gotta run. Tell everyone how sorry I am about not being there."

"You just stay safe, OK? Call me later, as soon as you can."

"You know I will. I love you, Scully."

"And I love you. Be careful."

Mulder disconnected the call and put the phone back in his pocket. He could just see Maggie's house now, the smell of the turkey and stuffing drifting through the rooms. Matty would be glued to the television, Maggie having broken down and finally purchased a PlayStation 2 to keep him occupied at her house, while little Claire amused herself with the toy kitchen Maggie got her for Christmas.

In the kitchen, all three Scully women would be preparing a feast and celebrating the holiday - with all their men absent. With a heavy heart he made his way back to the conference room.

The activity level among the task force had increased exponentially. AIC Michelson met Mulder's questioning look and motioned the agent over to the white board.

"We just got in some new information. You were right, there was another male influence in Bracket's life. His father."

"His father died three years ago and led a quiet life as a plumber. That wasn't the catalyst here," Mulder objected.

"No, it wasn't. But we found out that wasn't his real father. Thomas Bracket was James Bracket's step father. He adopted James when he married the kid's mother. Our guy's real father's name was Carson, Terrance Carson, and he was a convicted killer.

He was executed 20 years ago this August at Stateville Prison in Joliet."

"Wasn't Stateville decommissioned a few years back?" Mulder asked, his mind racing.

"Yeah. They've been shooting that new crime series 'Prison Break' there," one of the other agents piped up.

"He'll be there." Mulder didn't even bother to pose it as a question, it was a statement of fact.

"There's another problem, Mulder," Michelson said, refusing to meet his friend's eyes. "You were right about what he'd do when he ran. He's got another kid. Grabbed a 9 year old in Cicero about 6 hours ago."

"How fast can we get to Joliet?" Mulder asked, grabbing his overcoat.

"We have a SWAT team on its way. We're taking a chopper. C'mon."

In Mulder's mind it took almost as long to get to the chopper as to fly south to the suburb of Joliet, where the abandoned prison was located. Once on the ground, Kevlar was handed out and he quickly donned the protective vest. The SWAT team was in position, but Bracket was holed up in one of the cellblocks, and he'd had enough time to rig the place to explode. According to the State Troopers already on the scene, the serial killer was intent on taking more than a few people with him when he died.

The wind that hit him as Mulder got out of the chopper was bitter cold and stinging with ice. The dark grey clouds overhead promised snow, and plenty of it, to add to the dark grey slush already on the ground. "Just what we need, more white to accent all the blood," Mulder muttered as he ducked his head and head toward the compound.

The massive gates were open. The prison looked like a graveyard. Sharpshooters were stationed at each of the towers and on all roofs of the buildings. He could see them in their black helmets, weapons pointed at the yard and at the main cellblock. Not that it would do much good when the madman inside decided to blow the place to kingdom come.

"So tell me again why I'm here?" he muttered to himself as he skirted the open space of the yard and headed toward the cellblock.

"You say something, Mulder," Steve called to him, the wind snatching at his words.

"Nah, just thinking out loud," Mulder yelled back. "Has anyone gotten through to Bracket to talk to him?"

"The phones are still working, because of the TV show," another agent informed him. "The state troopers called him. He says he wants a car and some money or he kills the kid and blows the joint up."

"Great, serial killer turned hostage taker," Mulder quipped.

"Where's the location? Can we see him, see if the kid's still alive?"

"Setting it up as we speak. There used to be video but the state moved it to the new prison. The cameras, wires, everything. But we're rigging something up. Should have video and audio in about 20 minutes."

Mulder heaved another sigh. Time. Time they didn't have. This guy had gutted ten other boys ages 8 to 14. He didn't keep them alive, he didn't torture them before the killing blow. He just gutted them. The Medical Examiner for Cook County had said he seen the same technique used on rainbow trout or Coho salmon.

Someone in the press had nicknamed the bastard 'the Fisher King' after the old Robin Williams movie. The bastard seemed to like the notoriety so it didn't slow him down. He was a man of action. So why hadn't he already blown the cellblock?

More and more agents and officers were packing into the yard. There had to be thirty or more people there now. Mulder looked over to the gate and saw the telltale van with a dish on top - the news crews had arrived. Direct feed, it would all be on CNN in less time than it took to blink.

"He's going out with a bang!" Mulder shouted to Steve, who was several feet away, talking on a cell phone.

"What?" Michelson asked, shaking his head.

"All these people, he planned this, he's been here before today. He's going to blow it up all right. Right on the news. Film at 6 pm, just in time for Christmas Dinner."

"Oh shit," Michelson hissed.

"We have to get these people out of here!" Mulder shouted toward the assembled crowd.

"We can't," Michelson said, grabbing Mulder's arm. "If we leave, he'll slip out. We can't let him walk the streets - he's a monster!" Mulder chewed on his lip. "Then someone will just have to make sure he doesn't get away this time." He looked at the cellblock, a huge stone building with walls as thick as they were high. "Do we have interior blueprints?"

Michelson nodded. "Right over here. There're service halls down this way, they lead right to the area Bracket has the kid. From what the SWAT team can figure, he's got charges set here and here on the doors leading into and out of the cellblock. He could set them sequentially, blowing them as he leaves. This set of charges here," he said pointing to an exterior wall, "would blow this wall out and into the yard. It would be pretty bloody out there."

Mulder stared at the diagram for several seconds. "He'd hear anyone in that hallway," he said, pointing to the service way. "The sound would echo."

"Maybe we could distract him," Michelson answered with a shrug.

Mulder gave that suggestion and inelegant snort. "With the Chicago Symphony Orchestra playing We Wish You a Merry Christmas?" He shook his head. "I need one guy, a marksman, to go with me. I don't want to risk this bastard getting away."

"Mulder, you don't need to do this. I can send in two SWAT members - "

"Steve, I know what he's thinking right now. He knows he's trapped. Chances are real good he's even figured out what we just figured out and he's a step ahead of us. I don't want to give him another chance." Mulder stopped talking and looked around the yard. Finally he faced his old friend. "This guy has ruined too many families' Christmas. I will not let this bastard get away," he repeated.

Michelson frowned. "I don't like this," he said. "I want a wire on you, so we'll know if we need to move in."

"Just don't use the extra wide tape, it gives me a rash," Mulder replied dryly.

The marksman's name was Nate, a 28-year-old former Marine sharpshooter with a crew cut and ice blue eyes. Mulder shook the man's hand and donned the helmet Michelson had insisted he wear. Fortunately for Mulder's skin condition, the helmet had the mike and earpiece already wired in it.

"Can you hear me OK," Mulder whispered as they walked down the long hallway toward the cell block where Bracket was hunkered down.

"Loud and clear," Michelson answered.

"Good, wouldn't want to leave you out of the fun stuff," Mulder huffed, quieting when he got a glare from his buddy Nate. They were fast approaching the hall they'd need to be hiding in when Bracket decided to make a break for it.

Nate pointed to a cell closest to the door. "If we stay against the back wall, the shadows should help up," he said with a nod. Mulder nodded in agreement and followed the younger man into the tiny room.

Outside, Michelson paced a gravel path, directing news crew and non-essentials out of the yard area. A young agent appeared at his elbow, a ringing cell phone in his hand.

"It's Agent Mulder's phone, sir. It's been going off for the last ten minutes," the young woman said with a fearful expression.

"I'll answer it," Michelson said, taking the phone. He'd barely gotten the object up to his ear when he heard the voice on the other line.

"Mulder, CNN is reporting that Bracket's taken a child hostage and is hold up in a old state prison outside Joilet - "

"Agent Scully?" Michelson answered, breaking into her sentence.

"This is Steve Michelson."

"Steve, sorry. Where's Mulder? May I speak with him?" came the voice over the line.

Michelson cringed. He hated answering other people's phones, especially in situations that were best laid out face to face. "Um, Agent Scully, Dana, isn't it? Mulder is ... he's ..."

"He's doing something incredibly stupid, isn't he?" she replied with a tone that spoke of both anger and worry.

"Dana, he's got a sharpshooter with him. They're making sure that Bracket doesn't try to blow up the cell block and escape the back way."

"He's guarding the back way," she said flatly. It wasn't a question.

"Yeah. Like I said - "

"I heard, he has a sharpshooter with him. Steve, what do they call people who bring knives to a gunfight? What if this guy doesn't want to escape? What if he just wants to end it all? And Mulder is sitting right on top of him and - do you even know how much explosive Bracket has?" she accused.

"Look, Agent Scully, I understand that you're upset - "

"Keep this phone with you. I'm leaving now for the airport. It'll take me a couple of hours to get there - "

"Dana, there's no reason for you to come out right now," Michelson was saying just as the earth shook and there was a sound of thunder right next to his ear. He was flying through the air for a split second and after he landed, cement and glass rained down on him for several seconds more. As he came to his senses, he realized the phone was still in his hand, but no one was on the other end.

Stateville Prison Joliet, Illinois 8:43 pm

Fire crews, the Secretary of State bomb squad and numerous ambulances were scattered around the smoldering rubble that had been Cell Block H. The thick dust mixed with the falling snow, creating instant mud on any vehicle in the vicinity. Through all the noise and activity, in one small cell there was silence until a groan was uttered.

Mulder tried to move and found himself effectively pinned by cement from the ceiling and pipes. Dust choked him and he coughed, immediately regretting the action, even more so when he was forced to repeat it. He loudly groaned again.

There was an answering groan just a few feet from him. His sharpshooting buddy, Nate.

"Nate, you there?" Mulder called out as loudly as his closed throat would allow.

"Agent Mulder?" came a strangled reply.

"Yeah. You OK? You hurt?" Mulder asked anxiously.

"The bed. I'm under the bed."

"But are you hurt?" Mulder repeated.

"I - I - don't know. Can't feel my legs."

Mulder swallowed hard. That wasn't a good sign. "Just stay put."

"You OK?" Nate inquired breathlessly. "Can you move?"

Mulder thought for a moment. Everything hurt, but miraculously, nothing was screaming in pain. That meant he might possibly have escape relatively unscathed. His head hurt, he was dizzy, but at least he couldn't feel any bones scraping against each other. "I think I'm OK. But I'm pinned. I can't get this stuff off me."

"Don't try!" Nate rasped loudly. "You could bring more crap down on us."

Mulder ceased his actions immediately. "They're probably looking for us," he said quietly.

"More'n likely they think we're dead," Nate corrected. "And we will be, if this wall next to me decides to fall over."

Mulder licked his lips. "We can't just give up." He knew he couldn't give up; he had too many people waiting for him back in DC. "I won't give up. Not yet."

As if the darkness had been listening, a sound came through the chill night air. A soft cry, that of a child.

"Did you hear that?" he hurriedly asked Nate.

"What? I just hear these walls creakin'." The young man's voice was getting weaker.

"No, it wasn't the walls. It sounded like a kid. The boy. Bracket didn't killed him. The kid survived the blast."

"You got hit on th' head. You're hearin' things."

Mulder shook his head in denial and then listened closely. He heard it again. This time it sounded like a word - 'help'.

"We're here!" he shouted. "We're here and we'll try to get to where you are. Are you hurt?"

"I want my dad!" came the other voice, clear and strong.

"We're going to try and get to you ..." Mulder searched through the dizziness to remember the boy's name. "Jason," he added when it finally came to him.

"Nate, I think if I can get some leverage - " There was no answer.

"Nate! Nate, are you still with me?" Mulder shouted as loud as he could, coughing up cement dust for his trouble.

"He's out, Mr. Mulder." The voice came from over his shoulder. He tried to twist around, but the debris wouldn't let him move far.

"Who's there?" he asked breathlessly. Was it Bracket? God, how had they missed him?

"It's me. Bill."

Mulder coughed again and tried to puzzle that one out. Bill? He knew several Bills - one was locked up on a maximum security mental institution, one was his father, buried 10 years, one was Scully's dad, also buried for more than a decade - the only other Bill ... "

"Bill Scully," Mulder rasped out. "Bill, what the hell ...?"

"I have no idea. But here, when I say to move, slide backward as far as you can. On the count of three: one ... two ... THREE!"

The weight on his torso was lifted and Mulder inched out as quickly as he could. He was free. But before he had time to look around and find his rescuer, more debris crashed to the ground.

Dust filled the air and he covered his mouth and nose, his eyes clenched shut. When he felt it was safe, he opened them again.

A figure, he couldn't see it clearly, stood in the hall just outside the cell door. "You better hurry. He needs you." Before Mulder could respond, the figure vanished.

Mulder saw an arm flailed out under the metal beds, which were lying on top of each other. "Nate?" He carefully picked his way over and found the young SWAT member was still alive, but unconscious. Looking around, he used a solid steel bar to leverage the beds off the injured policeman. "I'll be right back. I have to get Jason."

Cautiously, Mulder picked his way across the blocks of cement and ruin cell bars to get to the hall. He could just make out the figure of Bill Scully as it moved through an opening at the end.

The figured stopped, looking back. "Would you hurry, Mr. Mulder?" Bill snapped.

"Look, would you at least drop the Mister," Mulder snapped back.

"And I'm hurrying as fast as I can!"

The two arrived in another part of the cell block. There, on the floor, huddled in a corner, was Jason. He was covered in dust, and had a few scratches on his face, but otherwise, he looked unharmed.

"Jason, I'm Agent Mulder with the FBI. I'm here to help you get out," Mulder said soothingly to the young boy. As he got closer, he could see the tears streaks through the dust on the boy's face.

"Who's he?" Jason asked, pointing directly as Bill.

"Y-you can see him?" Mulder asked, a chill running down his spine.

"He helped me. He helped me get away from that jerk. He helped me hide."

"C'mon, we don't have much time and someone still has to come back for your friend ... Mulder," Bill pushed.

"Can you walk, Jason?" Mulder asked. The boy nodded and held out his hand so that Mulder could pull him up.

"How do we get out?" Jason asked.

Mulder looked up and down the hallway. He could see patches of brightness, filtering into the gloom from the strong searchlights in the yard. "I'm not sure," he said evenly. He looked around for Bill but couldn't find him.

"Over here, this way," he heard Bill's voice from a few yards away.

"There's a way out. Over here!"

They followed the voice. When it looked like they wouldn't be able to go any farther, Bill would lead them in another direction. Finally, after painstaking minutes that seemed like hours, picking their way around the rubble, Mulder saw in the distance the way out.

The snow was falling in big fluffy flakes. It made it hard to see anything, even with the bright security lights. Scully stood near the command truck, huddled in her overcoat, feeling helpless.

"They found them!" came a shout from one of the radio operators.

"Wait, they found one of them."

Scully pushed her way into the back of the van, desperately wanting to tear the headphones away from the operator. "Officer Mulligan - they found Nate Mulligan," the young man reported to his commander.

"Agent Mulder was with him. Where is he?" Scully demanded frantically.

The operator looked up at the anxious woman next to him. "He must not have been in the same area, Ma'am. I'm sorry."

Scully sank back against the door of the truck and almost let the fear overcome her. Shaking off her despair, she jumped out of the van and headed over to where Michelson was standing with members of the Fire Department.

"The building is unstable. I really don't want my men in there much longer," she overheard the Fire Chief saying as she approached.

Scully grabbed the Fire Chief's arm. "My partner is still in there," she hissed.

"Agent Scully, in all likelihood - "

"They just found Officer Mulligan alive," she objected. "He went in there with Agent Mulder. Maybe they got separated. Maybe the crew just didn't see Mulder because of the debris."

"Agent Scully - Dana - I'm sorry," Michelson interrupted her, pulling her away. "I'm so sorry."

"No! No, he's not dead! I know he's not! He would never leave me! Now let me go so I can go find him!"

At that moment there was a huge rumble followed by an ear shattering crash as the remaining walls gave up their fight with gravity.

"Would you hurry!" Bill ordered again.

Mulder looked up at the man standing in front of him. It was odd, how the snowflakes seemed to float right through Bill Scully.

Mulder wanted to ask so many questions of the vision in front of him, but the situation did not allow for discourse. Jason was having a hard time making it over the rocks and cement. Finally, Mulder had picked the boy up tried to ignore the extra weight, which threatened to slow him down.

"Why are you doing this, Bill?" Mulder asked the vision.

"You've been good to them," Bill said shortly. At Mulder curious expression, Bill continued, embarrassed. "Tara and the kids. You've been good to them."

"But why did you come to help Jason? You don't know him? He's not family."

Bill looked Mulder square in the eye. "You're helping him, aren't you? He isn't your kid. Hell, Matty and Claire aren't your kids, but you treat them like they're family." The vision looked away.

"I know we never ... got along. I thought you were a bad choice for her. Dana's made some really bad choices with men and I thought you were just another in a long line."

Just as they hit the outside wall, Bill looked back. "In your case, I was wrong." As he faded away in the snow, Mulder felt the ground shake and ran as fast as he could with his precious bundle as the building they had been in crumbled to the ground.

11:45 pm

The last of the crews were packing to go. Scully stood in the six-inch deep snow, tears drying in the wind. She felt a hand on her shoulder.

"Agent Scully, let's get you someplace warm," Agent Michelson said gently.

"I won't leave till we find a body," she said through gritted teeth.

"The Chief says it's too icy right now to find anything in the dark. They're going to come back in the morning."

"Then I'll stay here for the night," she countered angrily. She stomped off, walking the perimeter of the ruined cell block.

The snow was deeper where the wind had blown it into drifts. It was still falling, not the large fluffy puffs that reminded her of cotton balls, but gentle flakes that landed on her lashes and mixed with her tears. The back wall of the cell block had blown outward and the rumble was taking the appearance of a bizarre snow sculpture.

"Mulder, I know you're still alive. Where are you?" she begged, her words catching on the wind and flying away from her.

One of the piles of snow moved.

She thought it was the wind, or maybe the snowflakes falling in her eyes were causing them to blur.

The pile moved again. This time, it broke into two distinct forms, a tall one and a much smaller one. The tall one rose up, gathered the smaller form to it and lurched forward.

"Mulder!" In seconds she was running, hopping over jagged pieces of concrete and stone, sliding on the icy patches and then she had him in her arms. "Oh my God, Mulder, you're alive!"

"He's cold. We have to get him someplace warm," Mulder rambled and she finally realized the small form in his arms was a boy. "He needs to be warm," he repeated, as if that was the only thought keeping him going.

"Yes, yes, he does. So do you. Just a minute, we'll get you both someplace warm." Scully pulled out her cell phone and dialed Michelson's number. "Call that ambulance back here, come to the far side of the building. I found them! Mulder and the boy, they're alive!"

Silver Cross Hospital Joliet, Illinois
December 26, 2005
10:45 am

Scully's eyes widened as the nurse's aide brought in another bouquet of flowers and tried unsuccessfully to find a place to put them. The windowsill, the bedside cabinet, the tray table and every other available space was already covered.

"Maybe you could take them to one of the other wards," Scully suggested. "We're only here till this afternoon."

"I'll get one of the spare meal carts, we can carry more that way," the aide said brightly. "But you might want to take the cards. This one," she said nodding to the large arrangement in her arms "is from the Governor."

Scully sighed and took the vase. "Thanks. We'll sort through them and then give you a call."

When the aide had gone, Mulder stuck his head out of the bathroom door. "Is the coast clear?" he asked, his voice a raspy whisper.

"Not a camera in sight. You're safe to come out now," Scully said, failing to hide her giggle. "I could get you a robe," she added.

"As you just pointed out to that little aide, we're leaving in a few hours." He hobbled over to the bed, but not before noticing that there was another bunch of flowers. "Not more! There can't be any more left in any florist in the state!"

"Mulder, you're a hero. Get used to it." She watched him crawl back into bed, coming over and helping him straighten his blankets.

"It wasn't me, Scully," he said quietly. "Of course it was you, Mulder. They brought Nate out on a stretcher."

"How is he?"

"He'll be fine. Some physical therapy and he'll be out on the roof tops in no time. You're dodging my question."

He looked at her for a minute, sizing her up. "You better sit down for this," he warned her.

She frowned, but did as he directed.

"I was helped, considerably, I might add, by your brother." He sat back, watching her for her reaction.

She bit her lip and furrowed her brow. "Charlie helped you?" she croaked out.

"Not Charlie. I'm sorry, Scully, but I think Charlie is a lost cause. No, it was your other brother who helped me. Bill."

For a moment she fought the tears, but it was a losing battle. "Bill," she whispered.

He held his arms out to her and she gladly fell into them. "How? What are you saying?" she muttered into his shoulder.

"Bill was there, with us. He got a bunch of rubble off me and then led me straight to Jason. Then, when I could see a damned thing in that cell block, he led me to the way out. We were just clearing the hole in the wall when the place collapsed. That's when I fell and covered Jason as much as I could. Something hard hit my head and that's all I remember until I heard you call my name."

"Bill led you out of the cell block?" she asked, looking him in the face. "Are you sure?"

"He told me who he was, Scully. And he wasn't just a vision. He had substance. He had form. He lifted stuff off me, for gods sakes! And he helped Jason, even before he came to get me. He helped the kid get away from Bracket. Otherwise, Jason would have been blown to bits, just like the monster that kidnapped him."

"Why?" Scully asked.

"I asked him that too. I don't know, I think he did it - he did it because he'd want someone to do that for Matty. Whatever reason, I want to take at least one of these bouquets back to DC with us.

There's someone who deserves to share the glory."

Calvary Cemetery Baltimore, Maryland
December 28, 2005

Snow fell softly on the brightly colored bouquet of carnations andlilies. Mulder rose stiffly, taking Scully's gloved hand in his. With a nod of gratitude, they started to walk back to their waiting car. But not before Scully touched her fingertips to her lips and then lovingly caressed the granite stone marker her brother's grave.


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