A Fragile Shell

Title: Resurrection series: A Fragile Shell (series epilogue)
Author: Neoxphile
Feedback: Neoxphile@aol.com
Spoilers: The Calusuri, The Walk, Closure, William, The Truth
Disclaimer: Chris Carter created the characters you recognize. I created the two you don't.

Author's note: This is a final glimpse into this universe. This vignette follows:
I. Small Hauntings
II. Evoke
III. Teapot in a Tempest
IV. Plurality
V. Clothed in Starlight
Those previous fics can be found here at www.geocities.com/mulderscreek/resurrection.html

Summary: Easter 2007. We've long since rejoined the living. (Mulder POV)

Easter Sunday

People on there way to church sped past, but it seemed like I was the only one who noticed. Probably because the other adults were standing around talking and I wasn't.

Instead I was more or less supervising the morning's big event. There were approximately four dozen eggs hidden in our front yard, and half a dozen kids clutching baskets enthusiastically trying to find them...even though two of them had earlier protested they were too big to participate. Scully had made me promise not to give hints to any of them, so I kept my mouth shut when not congratulating William and Emily on their finds.

I found myself mostly watching the youngest of our guests because it amused me that he was so cheerfully bewildered by the event. The fact that you were supposed to find as many eggs as possible had not become apparent to him yet. Though in fairness, Emily and Tabby were making the egg hunt a team effort, so they didn't get it either. Or they were just flouting the rules.

Instead of actively searching with everyone else, two-year-old James Doggett squatted on his chubby legs and reached for a single blue Easter egg, not caring that there were two more in sight. He held it up and stared at it, as if transfixed by the plastic shell full of inexpensive candy.

Luke noticed his wonder a moment later. Trying to impress his little brother, I think, he took the egg from him, and cracked it open, revealing the treats inside.

James stared at Luke's hand for a moment, then burst into heartbroken sobs. Poor Luke stood there looking horrified long after Reyes picked up her wailing toddler.

"Luke, he'll get over it," Doggett assured him and cuffed him sympathetically on the shoulder. Luke ducked his chin before dropping the offending egg on one of the tables we'd set up in anticipation of an unseasonably early barbecue that afternoon.

It's no fun when an intended good deed goes as sour as it did for Luke. But I could really emphasize with little Jamie. I'd felt the same way when the mystery of our return had been broken open two and a half years earlier.

Don't get me wrong, I was still grateful that I'd been returned to life but some of the wonder had been leeched from it by learning the truth. Knowing the reality of my situation had the unexpected effect of making it seem nearly ordinary once the mystery had been excised. Almost as ordinary as folks saw us.

If people were ever aware that the greater portion of my family had once been dead, they'd long since forgotten. It seemed to me that few people I encountered day to day read or watched the news, and thereby never heard our cover story about cloning. Mostly, they seemed to see us as a normal family.

The only one of us who ever inspired questions was Samantha. The most common question being did I resent my parents leaving me their late-in-life baby to raise? With all honesty I was able to tell them no. For all their faults, I couldn't blame them for not living long enough to raise their youngest child. How could they have known that their sixties-born daughter would still be eight in the next millennium? She was aging now, though, Emily and Luke as well.

And though things in our family had gotten off to an admittedly rough start, they smoothed out after a few months. And after several sessions of therapy. These days the kids were happy and content. Most days Scully and I were too.

"Hi, Daddy," Emily said as she and Tabby passed by me.

"Hi girls!" I called back. They giggled and headed towards a new find in the grass.

When I turned to watch at them, I noticed the Easter egg that had been forgotten. I had an idea and made my way across the yard.

"Can I borrow your son?" I asked Reyes with my arms out held. Her little boy was perched on her lap, still leaking tears. Looking relieved that someone was going to distract him, she handed him over.

"Hey," I said to Jamie as I held him to my chest. "I want to show you something."

"What?" he asked. His voice was still watery, but I'd gotten his full attention.

"You'll see," I promised.

I set him on his feet once we reached the table where the egg had been set aside. At the sight of it his lower lip began to tremble, so I knew I had to act quickly.

"Jamie, watch." I scooped up the halves of the egg and its spilled candy. While he watched I stuffed the candy back in it and snapped the halves shut.

Eyes wide, he reached for it, and I handed it over. "Not broken?"

"Not any more. I fixed it. Sometimes broken things can be fixed so they work again."

As I explained that I could see the wheels turning in the little boy's mind, and realized that I'd just set Doggett up for frequent pleas from his small son to "fix it!" whenever a favorite object broke. I didn't feel too badly about that since he was bound to understand the concept sooner or later. In William's case it had been sooner, too.

By the time I returned Jamie to his mother, all the other eggs had been found. It was okay with him, though. It was easy to see that the one blue egg was enough for him. That simple contentment could have been a thing of envy to a man who'd spent so long searching for the same.

At least we both had it now.

"I thought," Maggie Scully said loudly enough to get the kids' attention. "We could go inside and I'll read the story of Christ's resurrection."

"Grandma, are there bunnies in that story?" William asked, making my sister and Luke exchange a knowing smirk.

"No, Will," his grandmother replied sounding regretful. I almost wouldn't have put it past her to adlib a rabbit, but she seemed bound and determined to stick to scripture.

"Will, there's a lamb, though," Samantha said with exaggerated innocence.

"Samantha," Scully said, shaking her head.

"But Dana, there is a lamb."

For a moment I thought they might argue in earnest, but Scully was smiling when she herded the kids inside after her mother.

As for me, I fully intended to sit at my mother-in-law's feet with my children, and listen to the story of another man who rose from the dead. Our challenges were less than his, and I couldn't help but be grateful.

The End

I hope you enjoyed the series, folks. I had fun writing it.

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