Title: A Faith Lost
Author : Joylynn Wing
Written: July 2000
Archive: Please? As always, permission given to Gossamer, Ephemeral, Xemplary and Spookys 2000. All others, permission also granted, just drop me a line so that I may visit. Rating: NC17 for violence, language and graphic sex. This is for adults only please. Classification: XRA
Keywords: MSR, MT
Spoilers: Up to Closure of season 7 is fair game. This novel is a post epi that deals with the events that occurred during Closure.
Disclaimer: Mulder, Scully and anything else you recognize are clearly not mine, they are being used for personal entertainment only and therefore are not infringement. All secondary characters are mine and may not be used without my expressed permission.

Summary: Mulder and Scully are on the hunt for an elusive X-File. However, in the end, they learn that they are searching for a lot more than just a ghost.

Author's notes: This novel celebrates the second year anniversary of my writing fan fiction. I would like to thank each and every one of you that have taken the time to write to me over the years. You have made me smile more times than you will ever know. My special thanks to Pita and Tracey: my amazing beta team, for your nitpicking. You both keep me honest.

'No coward soul is mine, No trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere: I see Heaven's glories shine, And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.'

Emily Bronte

'Faith is love taking the form of aspiration'

William Ellery Channing

2200hrs Jefferson Road, Route 252
Pittsford, NY

Jefferson Lowry looked out of the rain-soaked window of his car as he adjusted the volume on his radio. It had been a long day and it was looking to be a longer night. All about him as he sped westbound down Route 252: stark silence, thick and permeating, rolled across the glistening landscape. The only visitors to this silence were the howling of the wind and the occasional flash of lightning.

In town on business, he had been in meetings all day and after several hours of discussing Latex gloves he was more than ready for a break. As if *he* hadn't already heard every rubber joke on the market. He could probably write the book on the subject. The two vodka martinis he had earlier to dull the pain were just starting to wear off and he just wanted to get to his room before the bliss of the buzz was gone altogether.

However Mother Nature was not being accommodating. The storm had been bad, the high winds knocking out most of the power on the south end of the city. But that had not stopped him from venturing out. His company had chosen the cheapest dive in the city, and of course it was *across* the city from the hotel where they were having the conference.

At this rate, unless the National Guard came and rescued him, he would be swept out with the next rain surge.

Where was the Ark when you needed it?

After finally settling on a soft rock station, he settled back into the now warm, slightly damp leather of his seat. Breathing a sigh of contentment, he put his full attention back onto the dark, windswept road ahead.

Right at that moment all that Jefferson wanted was a hot shower and a take-out pizza to drive out the chill that had settled deep into his viscera. A beer would be nice, but he didn't think that he could get that to be delivered, so a can of soda 'touched' with the small bottle of gin, that he always carried with him, would have to do.

As he sat there silently, a small smile broke across his heavily stubbled features. At least he could take some small comfort in knowing that even if it took *all* night to get to his low-budget motel, he did have one *hell* of a nice rental car.

Jefferson, only the shower club singer, began to hum off tune along with the sultry voice which filled the lonely cabin of his car with companionship. A born again bachelor, Jefferson was in dire need of female companionship. The alcohol just didn't seem to do the trick anymore. It numbed the mind but not the body and soul.

At five foot six and two hundred pounds with a shiny bald head, he knew that he wasn't going to be getting any *anytime* soon and his hand was growing tiresome. With that sad realization in mind, he allowed himself to drift off, his pathetic life forgotten even if only for a moment and fantasize with the softly whispered lyrics.

' Dov'e l'amore Dov'e l'amore Where are you now my love? I need you here to hold me...'

The rain continued to fall, its primal rhythm as old as the ages. It conjoined with the music and became as one with the melody, the duet's strains now without a beginning...or an end.

'Come to me baby Don't keep me waiting Another night without you here And I'll go crazy...'

He tapped his pudgy fingers on the cool, slick plastic of the steering wheel. As he did so, his mind was thousands of miles away. Visions of beautiful women dancing seductively, just for him, flitted through his thoughts. As he drove along in this haze of hormones and loneliness, he just barely caught out of the corner of his eye a diminutive figure, with billowing skirts clad in white, standing on the edge of the road.

A crack of lighting filled the ravaged nightscape with momentary light, and a flash of dark fire just ahead further peaked his wandering attentions.

Turning the radio down, Jefferson pulled the rental off to the side, the spinning tires sending splashes of water up onto the passenger side door. For some reason he felt compelled to stop. He felt as if he had been waiting for her to show up all of this time.

He wasn't in the habit of picking up hitchhikers but his good judgement stepped aside for something more instinctual and subconscious. As he turned to look out the window across from him, another flash of light revealed bright blue eyes framed by wavy strands of dark, rain soaked auburn peering back at him.

Opening the door to let her in, Jefferson was buffeted with the gale force winds. His wrinkled, slightly cigarette smoke touched suit instantly became soaked with its insistent presence.

The misty figure, with her sweet features barely noticeable in the faint light of the dashboard, slid into the seat as the door softly closed behind her. She looked about hesitantly, studying the cabin with a cautious eye.

"What's a nice girl like you doing out on a night like this?" Jefferson smiled and quickly maneuvered the vehicle out onto the street. He was intrigued by this wisp of a woman. He hadn't seen a soul since getting off of East Avenue whom had been brave enough to weather the tempest.

"Walking home," is all that she said as she kept her face forward towards the windshield.

Jefferson smiled once again and turned back to the road. He wasn't sure where she was going, but he had no problem going anywhere with her. As he took a deep breath, the smell of fresh roses filled his thoughts. Stealing a glance at his mysterious stranger, he felt the stirrings of another sort of storm due south of his waistband. However *this* was the kind of a storm that didn't blow over easily.

The passenger was so beautiful, her face a lonely man's Holy Grail. Her body was a lush paradise, its lines and curves barely hid by her dress since the rain had rendered it practically transparent.

He wanted to take her home with him, making her body his even if only for the night. It had been so long and she was so beautiful, so mysterious. Just like the savage storm that raged before them. He longed to feel her silken thighs wrapped around him as he surged within her tight, wet paradise- he desired to feel her sighs fill the silence that only his heart knew.

As he tried to will away these basal urges, the lyrics on the station whispered seductively what he only wished he could say.

'Whispered so sweetly
Feel my heart beating
I need to hold you in my arms
I want you near me...'

Then suddenly just as he found himself about to kiss the phantasm of a woman in his musings, a honey-laden voice interrupted him. "The decisions which you have made until now have brought you to this point, but it isn't too late. It is never too late. Your faith isn't lost. You've just misplaced it. There are many roads still to travel."

Not sure if the woman next to him was crazy or really addressing him; Jefferson continued to daydream as he half pretended to listen, spurred by the intense throbbing in his groin. It was just *his* luck that he picked up a beautiful loony bin reject. However, he wasn't going to let her ruin a perfectly good reverie. She didn't *need* to talk to make him happy.

"You have the power to make this right if you can make some very hard decisions. You *can* have everything that you want but hard decisions take courage. The question is do you have that courage?"

Her words, now icy and halting caught his attention and he looked over at her, the lights of an oncoming car filling the cabin with a false sense of warmth. In fact in spite of the heater being on, the air in the car seemed to be as cold as a winter's storm.

"What did you say? What are you talking about?" Jefferson's voice trembled just as much as his hands. This situation was starting to get uncomfortable for him. Who was this woman and where did she get off telling him about his life? Oh God, what if she really was a crazy woman bent on killing him right then and there?

Sure, she was small and he could normally take her but driving on these slick roads he was at a disadvantage. He didn't like it one little bit.

Glancing back to the road, he noticed that the traffic was beginning to increase, and he could see some buildings in the distance. That alone for now made him feel more secure.

For the moment.

And as the next roll of thunder overtook them, she began to speak, sharing her non-judgmental words. He listened intently to her frank honesty. But this time, Jefferson was not scared. In fact he sensed no malevolence from her and he felt an innate trust building within him. Her words moved him, made him think. They even inspired him to act. He had never been spoken to in such away before, including by his ex-wife Delores.

When she finally stopped speaking, Jefferson found himself with tears in his eyes and questions in his heart. Suddenly in his need to connect with the woman next to him, he found himself reaching over to grasp her pale hand in his. As he touched her, he instantly recoiled in horror. Lifting his hand up in front of him, as if to study it, his desperate eyes were filled with fear. When he had touched her, he had felt the touch of the 'other' side.

Cold, stiff death.

"What in hell are you?" he cried, as he turned to look at her. His eyes grew wide, his heart nearly stopped beating in his tight chest but as he glanced about he realized that she was gone. Vanished.

"OhmyGodOhmyGod..." he chanted as he looked back at the road. He knew that *what* had been there hadn't been alive. It couldn't have been. There wasn't any sign that she had been there except that he was still quite wet from the rain that had come in when he had opened the door. As his only tangible proof, his suit clung to him like a bad memory and trickles of water were still making paths down the back of his neck.

He blinked in utter disbelief and suddenly a flash of light filled his vision. He became momentarily disoriented and he found himself trying to swerve to avoid it. But his speed was too great and the road was too slick. It was fate. The squeal of tires and the crunch of metal competed with the percussion of the falling rain. Jefferson felt a piercing agonizing pain shoot through his head, its burning touch making his whole body grow numb. As his eyes fell closed, there was nothing except for the overwhelming smell of roses.

0229am Scully's apartment

Dappled moonlight streamed brightly through the wind- caressed curtains, its promise of comfort filling every dark corner of room. Within those four walls the soft sounds of lovemaking floated freely, a musical symphony as old as time.

Sighs, moans and the slapping of wet flesh against one another mingled with the scent of arousal wafted about on the eddies of cool night air. These swirling ancient elements bathed the room in an irresistible heady rush, a sumptuous repast for one's senses.

In this haze, two shadowy figures moved against one another in eternal love and desire, seeking their release: bodies entwined, sweat covered skin pressed and moving against sweat covered skin, the physical consummation of their long-lived love affair. This love, once confined to the darkness, now immersed in the light.

Like waves crashing against an immovable shore, they collided, their combined passions spinning them higher and higher: the pull of the heavens bringing them to their ultimate destiny, completion with the universal oneness.

It had been a long journey, a journey fraught with trouble and heartache. Even now, as she was pressed into the mattress with the solid proof buried deeply within her, her mind still couldn't seem to accept that this was real. It was just too good to be real. However, her heart wanted to believe.

As the curtains billowed once again, the bright moonlight fell upon the two lovers and Dana Scully, stirred by its presence, looked up from behind heavy-hooded lids. When her shaky gaze finally caught his, she was dumbfounded at what her own desire filled heart beheld. The vision before her was awe-inspiring and she found herself drowning helplessly in the moment, like a wave crashing against the shore, her soul knowing a freedom unlike which it had never known.

Swirling hazel eyes dark with passion spoke of unconditional love and acceptance, a timeless gift from the limitless totality. These fathomless depths spoke of the stuff that dreams were made of. They and he were a vision born of God and of dreams and to one Dana Katherine Scully, the vision was of true love; a song as old as the universe.

From the deepest recesses of her memories it spoke to her, that same immortal bond which she knew existed between her parents. She knew it to conquer any adversity, its light filling all of the darkness in men's souls. It would erase the pain and soothe their souls, reminding them of all the possibilities that the universe had to offer.

She had seen that power limitless times during their father's constant absences and their frequent relocations. These issues would strain their love and patience, threatening to tear their very family apart. However, this bond would see them through the bad times and it would illuminate the good times. It would bind them together tighter than any mere mortal fetters could, challenging any threat to their home.

Such a profound connection was this that she herself began to hope that someday she would meet someone that would help to inspire that in her own life.

So, as she had made a life for herself, she had searched for that type of love in her relationships, but she had never succeeded. Her attraction to older men in positions of power had seen to that. Instead of treating her as an equal and respecting her wishes, they used and controlled her. She had been burned more than once and she had came to accept, over the years of heartache and frustration, that maybe kind of love just wasn't meant to be.


Her best friend. Her partner. Her touchstone. Her soul mate.

Now, it wasn't as if she wasn't a fulfilled, happy person on her own, but he did make it much more interesting.

It was the difference of seeing the world around her in black and white or in technicolor. Scully continued to gaze up at her soul mate; their physical union drawing her further into the moment. Her lover's eyes were closed and his mouth was open, revealing his white teeth as he took deep, struggling breaths. As she studied his dark features carefully, she realized that if she could paint, she would immortalize this moment in oils. On the canvas would be every shade of red, touched with oranges and violets...the colors that she envisioned passion would be.

A passion which would burn brighter than the sun and would light up the furthest recesses of the cosmos.

Scully's breath hitched as she let out another moan, her lover drawing slowly out of her until he was nearly gone. She desperately clawed at him, trying to fill the void that he left. Moaning loudly, she reached up with her hands and grasped the rungs of her head board as she brought herself up to meet him, burying him further within her body and soul. Burying him so far that he could never leave.

How had she lived so long without this?

Without him?

She wished that she could live in this moment forever; immortalized in that same painting she would create.

It would hang on the wall of a museum as a testament to unconditional love, which they shared. Then, from within the very depths of her being, the intense spiraling pleasure increased and her lungs began to burn with each and every breath that she would take. She closed her eyes in concentration. She didn't want to miss a single minute.

They were so close and as they moved with one another, their movements became erratic and desperate. Scully found herself slipping between consciousness' and she began to lose herself. She could feel her soul slipping from its mortal bonds flying out to meet the wonders of the totality and she stifled a scream that threatened to fall from passion swollen lips.

She pressed her face into the sweat covered hollow of his neck as she brought her hands back down and dug her fingernails into his sweat slick back. As she marked him as hers for the rest of their corporeal lives, she heard him groan loudly and she trembled in primitive response. She had always known that it would be like this with him, that he would inspire such burning passions within her. Passions that would tear down all of the walls and would free her heart.

To be as open and vulnerable as the day she was born and to not be afraid to show it.

That was the way with true love. Pulling out again, her lover thrust downward with a little more force and twisted his hips slightly against her. As he did this he caught her g-spot and then the edge of her womb and sharp twinge of pain coupled with her indescribable wave of pleasure. The burning discomfort lingered on the fine line between that existed between pleasure and pain and all that it did was to make her lift her hips up once again to meet his, not wanting the feeling to ever end.

Within moments their pace was out of control and Scully slid her hand down between them, gently stroking his tight testicles drenched with their essence. She was so close, the precipice right there before her and she was determined for them to finish together. It would be more than fitting. To her, this was more than sex, more than even making love.

This was about the only truth that mattered: their truth.

Suddenly her partner drew in a deep breath and shuddered. As his wet heat filled her, it sent Scully's orgasm washing over her in all powerful, unyielding undulations. As she was dragged out into infinity: from the depths of her soul, the night air filled with a scream. The low sultry tones signaling her ultimate release...

"Mulder!" Scully screamed as she sat up deliriously in the freshly washed sheets of her bed. Street lamps streamed brightly through the windows of her well-appointed bedroom, illuminating the semi-opaque silhouettes that surrounded her.

Heaving breaths wracked her slight body as arousal surged through every inch of her body. In spite of the cool night air that poured through the open window, sweat glistened across the furrowed expanse of her brow. Her normally pale skin now flushed bright pink.

Taking a deep breath and reaching up with a trembling hand, Scully tucked a silken stray strand of fire behind her ear. A bright smile broke across her face, her still vivid memories playing out before her in her vivid imagination. 'Jesus, Mulder. If you are even half as good in real life as you are in my dreams, I may never walk again.'

Scully lifted up the sweet smelling sheets, the delicate scent wafting up and filling the room with its soft fragrance. Beneath those soft sheets, her satin nightclothes clung like a misty cloud to her body; her skin was drenched in perspiration.

The shrill ring of a cell phone broke the enveloping silence, startling Scully from her reverie.

Reaching over on her bedside stand table, Scully grabbed her cell and answered breathlessly, "Scully." Her heart thrummed loudly in her chest and she could barely focus on what she had said.

"Do you know what time it is? Why are you still awake?" A low, sexy voice responded, humor dripping from every syllable.

"Mulder..." Scully slid down weakly onto her mattress once again, flipping over to lie on her stomach. Just hearing the soft tones of his voice stirred her quickly cooling arousal and she found herself blushing once again at the memories of them together.

"Are you alright, Scully? You sound a little strange..." Mulder had stressed strange and his soft inflection had dropped off into a sigh.

Scully's mouth curled up on the edges and she chuckled softly. "I'm fine. I had a dream, that's all." Ok that *might* have been a *slight* understatement. Dream, didn't quite cut it. How about the best sex of her life while she had been sound asleep?

"Would you like me to come over and kiss it all better?" Mulder replied teasingly, his voice all honey and molasses. It was as if he knew that he could charm the habit off a nun and made no qualms in using it.

"In your dreams, Mulder." Scully closed her eyes, pushing the hair out of her face. 'More like in my dreams,' "So why did you call me at..." Scully glanced over at her clock, "2:30 in the morning?"

"Ahhh, now comes the good part. I have two tickets waiting for us at Dulles...it seems we have been requested to assist the local police in Rochester, NY. The plane leaves in 2 hours. You won't be sorry."

Mulder's voice filled her body with more arousal and she trembled with need. How could she turn him down when she had already traveled for him to the ends of the earth? "I'd better not be...or else...." Scully warned as she smiled softly.

"Let's get it on...." Mulder replied tantalizingly and then the phone went dead.

Scully closed her eyes and let her face fall into the comforter. She knew that this case was going to be a long one. Every one had been since they had shared their first kiss on New Year's Eve. They both knew that the game that they had been both playing for seven years was coming to an end. And when it did, God help the others caught up in the storm.


0830hrs Flight 201: somewhere between Dulles and Rochester International Airport.

Fox Mulder sat stiffly in the too small airline seat, reading the folder that he held in his hands. Between the poor lighting, the heavy pressurization and the intense heat of the cabin, he found himself getting one hell of a headache. Putting the file down in his lap, Mulder took off his glasses and rubbed his hand across his brow. Perspiration, from the malfunctioning air conditioning, slicked cool and oily on his palm.

They had been delayed several hours at the airport in DC due to mechanical difficulties, so when the air had started to malfunction, they weren't surprised.

"You didn't sleep at all tonight, did you?" Scully reached over and squeezed the suit-clad expanse of his forearm, concern dripping from her soft tones.

"How did you guess? I thought the clean suit and the fresh shave would throw everyone off." Mulder leaned back against the headrest and closed his eyes. Mulder knew that he looked like shit. It didn't take the dark circles and faint lines that he had seen in the mirror earlier this morning to tell him as much.

He had to admit that the death of his mother and the truth about his sister had taken a great deal out of him. After they had finished up the case, Mulder had disappeared for a while. That time had helped him and he seemed more focused...even reborn.

But the body took longer to heal than the spirit and his face reflected that.

He was tired...but it wasn't a bad kind of tired. It was the feeling of fulfillment that one would feel after reaching the end of a long journey.

After searching for all of those years, not knowing if she was alive and safe or whatever...to know that she wasn't suffering was the best feeling he could have ever hoped for.

Of course, he mourned for the horrible life that she had lead after she had been taken from him, but now she was in a better place...a place where he knew that there had to be something bigger than just *this* working. Until now, he had never really believed in a God...but now his belief helped him to understand. The albatross had been removed from his neck and he was truly free. "Don't you know that I've taken up working on the Psychic's Network, Mulder?" Scully replied teasingly. It was obvious to him that what he had said had made her feel less concerned, since she had dropped the subject so quickly.

Mulder watched as Scully reached forward and grabbed the magazine in the rack before her. Using the periodical as a fan, she flipped it gently in front of her, as she closed her eyes, her lips pursed and wet.

Only Scully could make a simple act of fanning one's self look like a scene from one of his porno movies.

"Don't tease me, Scully. You know how I get when the aroma of a paranormal bouquet is about-" Mulder leaned sideways, opened his eyes and waggled his brows as he smiled brightly. Jesus, did he lust for this woman!

Beads of sweat fell down the snowy white lines of her neck, each and every one tracing a path which all seemed to collect in the deep v of her white shirt. As of late, she had taken to wearing her shirts unbuttoned as far as they would go without her falling out completely.

But now with the stifling heat, it was even lower. The white curves of her breasts shimmered with the fine spray of moisture. That same moisture nearly soaked the thin cotton of the blouse and that coupled with the cool air that she was generating from fanning herself, made her tight nipples stand out in relief.

It took everything Mulder had to keep his eyes above her neckline.

Of course his lust for her was only matched by his love and devotion. His love for her transcended time, encompassing the past present and future; just like the stars above.

Scully grinned and chuckled softly as she replied to his statement, "spooky?" Mulder watched as she shifted about in the tight quarters, trying to get more comfortable.

"You know what I like..." Mulder leered as he tried unsuccessfully to arrange his legs, not from the lack of space but from the awareness that some part of his lower anatomy was feeling.

He knew that she was deliberately baiting him and although he had promised himself that he would stop lusting after Scully, his good intentions had fallen off the wagon. A strange sense of sadness overcame him and he quickly pushed it away as he glanced back down at the file.

'This is just what I need to get my mind off my decision and off Scully. This is not a time for mourning what will never be, now is the time to celebrate what I do have. What we do have.' Mulder took a deep breath and allowed the sexual tension that he felt to subside. His time away had been a time of healing but it had been more...much more. It had been a time for making decisions; painful decisions that had to be made and the subject had been one Dana Katherine Scully.

Scully leaned over towards Mulder and pointed down at the well-worn file which lay there. "You promised me you would tell me about this supposedly great case," Scully said straight-faced, the slight quiver in her voice the only thing belying her excitement.

"You wound me," Mulder mused with mock indignation as he thumped his chest in response. "Like *I* would bring you anything else?"

Mulder knew that no matter how much she tried to appear disinterested in their cases, she found them just as exciting as he did. That was why both of them were still there.

Mulder handed the file to Scully; his hand brushing hers gently and he noted the slight shiver that possessed her momentarily. He didn't want to go there...he couldn't go there. The implications were just too great for both of them.

"It seems," Mulder continued. "That an out of town business man had a very bad automobile accident while driving to his motel a couple of nights ago. He and another driver hit head on during a very bad storm. When he was interviewed about the accident, he claimed that he might have been distracted by a hitchhiker that he had picked up earlier..."

"Might have been distracted how?" Scully arched a brow as she unsuccessfully tried to stifle a smile.

"She was there one minute...gone the next." Mulder said as he gestured with his hand in the air. Then he leaned over and whispered softly into her ear in his most spookiest voice. "She had vanished into thin air." He could hardly contain himself. This was too good to be true. Just the thing to get the juices flowing once again.

"Ok...and this is why we are traveling to Rochester, NY?" Scully continued to try to contain her grin, but the corners of her lips betrayed her as she continued to fan herself like a mad woman, her eyes dilated and dark.

"Yup..." Mulder nodded for emphasis and leaned back once again. It was getting hot in there...too hot. He could tell that this wasn't going to be easy. Logically he knew that it was the right thing but then he was never known for his leaps of logic. He needed to let her go, he owed her that much.

"Oh Brother..." Scully rolled her eyes and huffed in obvious false revulsion....

1245hrs Strong Memorial Hospital
Rochester, NY

"So let me get this straight Mr. Lowry," Scully muttered as she leaned onto the foot-board, her knuckles white with tension. "What you are *trying* to tell me is that this ghostly hitchhiker caused you to swerve into oncoming traffic?"

She dropped her chin down to her chest and closed her eyes momentarily. Now this was too much! Scully was more open minded than she had ever been, but she wasn't stupid. This story had more holes than a screen door and she would need much more evidence than this man's account.

"Yes...no....I don't know." Jefferson looked up at the two well-dressed agents and tapped his free hand nervously on the bed rail. He wrinkled his nose and let out a snort as he glanced about his small, starkly appointed room.

"All I know is that she was there one moment...gone the next. All that was left was the smell of roses that surrounded her. She didn't do anything to harm me...in fact she was trying to help me." He slowly closed his eyes and took in a deep breath, as if his energy were expended.

"She was trying to help you?" Scully saw Mulder lean forward as a smug bright smile broke across his strong features.

Scully knew how much Mulder was enjoying this. After weeks of desk duty, this was exactly what he needed to get him back and focused once again.

She wasn't going to rip the carpet out from under him just yet.

Jefferson nodded as he smiled, his eyes darting about furiously behind closed lids. "A new beginning," Scully heard him repeat as he sighed. "That was what she shared with me. She said that all I needed was the courage to let it happen and she was right...things have changed."

Suddenly he opened his eyes and Scully could see the tears shining presumably from the blinding bright light of the sun in them.

Those same tears began to fall from his eyes, mingling with the stubble and the dried blood, which streaked his bruised face. "I had lost everything, my life was a pathetic mess. I was alone, in a shitty job and had lost any hope of finding my way out. The only thing that mattered was getting to my next bottle of liquor. But now...my ex- wife...she wants me to come and stay with her when I get out of here. She wants *us* to have a second chance. My boss...he offered me a promotion; one that doesn't involve traveling and I will make a helluva lot more money. And to top it all off, while they were treating me, they found a very rare heart condition which would have killed me if it had not been treated properly."

Scully glanced over at Mulder and stepped back from the foot of the bed. This *was* too much. She wasn't the soap opera type. She had been more than patient and now was the time for some hard core evidence on the matter before they got too involved with the theatrics. It wasn't that she didn't want to believe -for she honestly did- however she just needed to rule out the irrational from the rational. "Mulder, may we have a moment?"


"So what do you think?" Mulder asked tightly as he narrowed his eyes and took a deep breath. He could tell that Scully was uncomfortable and it wasn't just over the aspects of the case.

Ever since arriving at Strong Memorial Hospital, she had seemed queasy and uneasy. He knew that hospitals were her least favorite place. Whenever they had been in one for the longest time, he knew that it had brought back bad memories, which seemed to haunt her.

Her abduction... Her sister's death... Her cancer... Emily...

He knew that all of these images, just as clear as the day they had happened...would slowly tear at her well-shored walls of denial and avoidance until she couldn't take it anymore.

He knew that she had just met her tolerance level.

"Mulder, don't get your hopes up too much." Scully leaned against the painted cinder block wall as she put one hand on her hip and the other against wall as support.

"Scully..." Mulder warned as he narrowed his sweet hazel eyes and shook his head in frustration in spite of his understanding. He then shoved his hands into his pockets. Mulder had always considered himself a good judge of character with few exceptions and he knew that Jefferson was telling the truth as much as he understood it.

He trusted Scully's judgement implicitly, why couldn't she do the same for him?

"There is no scientific evidence to substantiate the existence of ghosts, Mulder." Scully replied as she impatiently tapped her heel on the floor. "So bearing that in mind, wouldn't it be possible that there could be a perfectly rational explanation for his claims?"

"And what would that be?" Mulder questioned sarcastically as he squeezed his fists in his pockets in anger. He knew that he should cut her some slack but he couldn't seem to find the energy to do so. Why did she have to discount his theories so easily? Even after all she had seen?

Scully reached out and placed her small hand on his shoulder and Mulder could feel the trust and caring exuding from her. "Let's say for sake of the argument that he did pick someone else, but it wasn't a ghost; maybe it was a real live person that he wouldn't want to be associated with for whatever reason. Maybe something happened between them and that precipitated the accident."

"There was no one else in the car, Scully." Mulder smiled softly and relaxed slightly. Most of the hostility that he had felt earlier had slipped away with the simple comforting touch of her hand. In its wake was left the clarity of her role in their relationship. As much as he wanted her to believe, he knew that *this* was how they worked. They were Yin and Yang; night and day...the balance of all things...each existing in harmony with the other. When the balance was upset, they worked poorly, but when it was maintained...they were unbeatable.

Mulder saw Scully smile and nod in reply. "Maybe whomever it was walked away. That *could* be possible if drugs or alcohol were involved. According to the police report, it was a dark and stormy night and because they had declared it a no fault, due to the eyewitness accounts, they didn't secure the scene further..."

"And that's why there isn't any forensics evidence to prove either way...." Mulder finished as he brought his hands out of his pockets and placed them on his hips as well. Although Scully would pursue her avenues, he knew that in the end he would be right. Every cell of his being told him as much. "But why would a normal man make up a story so seemingly far fetched as this? Couldn't he think of something simpler and believable?"

"I never said he was normal, Mulder." Mulder heard Scully chuckle softly as she leaned back from the wall and turned to walk away. "And he wouldn't have to work too hard to make this one up. His story sounds just like a poorly crafted version of Resurrection Mary, with a twist. It is a very popular urban legend...in fact many versions of it exist. Some use a woman; others use a small child. However all have the same elements...a ghostly hitchhiker, a lonely road and a cemetery."

"Did you know," Mulder asked with an arched brow and a twinkle in his eye. "That according to the Northwest Indiana Society of Ghost Research, the girl's name was actually Elizabeth Wilson and the cemetery she's buried in is actually called Ross Cemetery? And did you also know that in 1977, a woman claimed to have seen Mary locked inside the iron fence of the cemetery. The next morning the metal bars seemed to have the imprints of her hands and those pieces had to be replaced?"

Scully just shrugged in reply.

Mulder then leaned forward and smiled brightly. "Now, from what I remember of the Urban Legend, the story began on a cold winter night in 1934 when a young girl was killed in an auto accident while on her way home from the O. Henry Ballroom on Archer Avenue in Justice, Illinois. Five years later, in 1939, a cab driver picked up a young girl in a white gown on Archer Avenue. She sat in the front seat and instructed him to drive north on Archer. After driving a short distance, she suddenly told him to stop...and simply vanished from the cab. The cab had stopped in front of Resurrection Cemetery, where the girl was thought to be buried."

Scully smiled and lowered her head slightly and he swore that she blushed softly as he heard her say, "now as I was saying, maybe he was also under the influence of drugs and or alcohol. There were no tests done at admission but...since he *did* have surgery...and *did* spike a temperature afterwards according to his records...I bet there are some blood samples still on ice which could still be tested." Scully then walked away, the clicking of her heels filling the empty corridor.

"Go for it, Scully." Mulder offered as he stepped in front of the door, his curiosity once again peaked. The thrill of the hunt was once again afoot and he for one was more than ready. Jefferson was the key...and Mulder planned to get to the truth whatever it took. "I'll stay and ask Mr. Lowry a few more questions."

"What did your passenger look like?" Mulder leaned back against the straight-backed chair and dropped his hands in his lap. Folding his fingers within one another, he looked straight into Jefferson's eyes, trying to convey his sincere interest. With Scully being out of the room, Mr. Lowry seemed more at ease and Mulder planned to take full advantage of it.

"She was beautiful." Jefferson's eyes slid shut and a bright smile danced playfully across his face. "Bright red hair, pale skin, with the most amazing blue eyes." Brown eyes met the bright light once again and his smile grew wider. "Very similar to your partner, Agent Scully."

"Really?" Mulder replied as his eyes lit up; just the mention of Scully's name invoking erotic images in his head. A bright smile then crept across his face and he tried to suppress it albeit quite unsuccessfully. So that was why Jefferson had seemed slightly distracted. Scully often had that effect on him also so he could sympathize.

'Ahhh, I have hit a nerve...' Mulder heard Jefferson chuckled softly, as he waggled his index finger in mock teasing way. "You really have it bad don't you?"

Mulder shook his head in vehement denial. He sat up as straight as a rod, his discomfort written on every feature of his face. This was one topic that was not up for discussion. Of course, it wasn't the first time that he had been put on the spot, but considering the decision he had made, it was too vulnerable of a time. "I don't know what you mean...now if we can get back to what we were discussing...."

As Mr. Lowry had confronted Mulder about his feelings for Scully, the door had opened across the room without the two men knowing since the curtain had been pulled.

Scully, having accomplished her goal, had returned to report her findings to her partner. However after having caught what was being spoken, Scully had let the door shut most of the way and held her breath in anticipation.

She knew that she shouldn't do this, since she surely wouldn't appreciate it if Mulder had ever eavesdropped on her, but the opportunity to finally hear how Mulder truly felt was too good to pass up. Of course, she had been somewhat put off by Mulder's initial reaction, but that was how they always dealt with it in the past so it wasn't a big deal.

Unaware of the audience hiding behind the door, Jefferson continued on the same line of discussion. "And she has it bad for you. You guys together?"

"We aren't like that." Mulder crossed his arms in front of his chest. He didn't need to discuss this topic, and his feelings, with a total stranger. Especially since he still truly didn't understand them himself. All it served to do was to remind him of the one thing he couldn't ever have, an intimate and loving relationship with the one he loved.

"But you two love one another..." Jefferson insisted as he tried to sit up further in his bed, but the heavy cast on his leg obviously prevented him from doing so.

Mulder dropped his head to his chest, those simple words spoken out loud to be finally be given life in this sterile hospital room was much too much to deny. To hear it was a forbidden song which he could never appreciate and he found himself suddenly saddened by the thought. "Sometimes love isn't enough." Mulder then looked up at the ceiling and sighed as he continued.

"Our work...puts us at risk. And I am not the most reliable of partners...I tend to get self-absorbed. I couldn't risk losing her...my stupid mistakes have already almost cost her *her* life in the past too many times for me to count. We could never be together, no matter what we might feel for one another. I could never allow it; we are partners with a job to do and most importantly we are friends and that I can never jeopardize. Besides, she deserves more than I could ever give her."

Scully closed the door and dropped her forehead to the frame, numbness flooding every cell of her being. Her limbs felt heavy, a deep chill having invaded them; thoughts which once flowed with the vigor of youth now stood still with the sudden truth which it never expected. As she stood there, she could still hear the words being spoken by Mr. Lowry yet she knew that Mulder would never heed them. The one thing that she knew was that when Mulder made up his mind about something, there was no room for negotiation.

She would have better luck convincing a lawyer.

Still unaware of the audience, Jefferson rolled his eyes. "Please spare me the bullshit, Agent Mulder. If you ask me, you are one lucky man to have such a woman in your life. I made nearly the same mistake as you are doing. I nearly drove away the woman that I love because of purely selfish reasons; because of fear and poor self esteem. However I have been given a second chance. You might not be."

Scully stepped back from the wall and took a desperate breath in spite of the burning pressure in her throat. Steeling her back, she tucked her hair behind her ear. Now was not the time to deal with this and to be honest she knew that there probably wasn't ever going to be a good one.

They did have a job to do and Mulder was right about that much. No matter what happened between them, the work had to come first. Scully pushed the door open and stepped inside, interrupting the conversation firmly, surprising herself with her strength. "Mulder, we need to go." Mulder scrambled to his feet, obviously eager to get away. "Thank you Mr. Lowry, if we have any further questions we will contact you."

"Remember what I said. You may not have a second chance." Jefferson shouted as Mulder literally rushed past Scully, leaving her to follow behind.

As the door closed silently, Jefferson Lowry closed his eyes and a single tear slid down his cheek and caught on the cleft of his chin. As he sat there quietly, musing in his own world, he counted his blessings one by one

1600hrs Village of Pittsford Police Station.
Pittsford, NY

"Agent Mulder...Agent Scully...here is the information that you requested."

Officer Mack Byrne held out a large yellow envelope and dropped it down on the front of the desk in front of the two agents seated just in front of his desk. Leaning back in his chair, he brought his well-weathered hands up behind his head.

From all about them, the soft noises of a partially empty office droned forth: the soft tapping of typewriters, hushed voices and rustling of paper. Bright sunshine poured through spotless windows revealing gunmetal gray desks neatly piled with the reports of the day.

Mulder leaned forward and grabbed the file, bringing it back to lie across his lap at an angle so that the woman seated next to him could see it. Turning his head to catch her face, Mulder found that she still seemed to be avoiding his gaze. She sat there just as stoically as she had on the way from the hospital. She had only spoken to him long enough to share that Jefferson Lowry had indeed ingested a sizable amount of alcohol just before the accident.

Mulder glanced back down at the file, his earlier frustration growing. 'What the hell is eating her?' Mulder couldn't remember doing anything to set her off yet she was clearly upset. Not only was she giving him the silent treatment, but she seemed pale and it set off fine worry lines around her eyes. Turning his attention back to the man seated at the desk across from him, Mulder promised himself that he would question Scully at the next available moment that they had alone.

Mulder looked back over at Officer Byrne as he heard him quickly summarize his voice slightly tremulous from nervousness.

"Now that area of the city is pretty quiet; it is on the outskirts and one of the more affluent parts of the city. I couldn't imagine whom he could have picked up out there. If he did pick someone up, maybe it was closer to where his convention was."

"However," he continued. "We do have some reports of some teenagers hanging out in groups with suspected drug use and low level dealing. We even have heard rumors of young women 'lending themselves out' in order to get drugs. These are primarily high school drop outs that live in the area with nothing else better to do but cause trouble."

Reaching forward Officer Byrne picked up his mug of coffee and took a tentative sip, the steam curling around the tip of his ample nose. "We have tried to corner the group on several occasions but they have been more clever then than we had anticipated."

Mulder leaned back in his chair and nodded slowly as his heart skipped a beat. Officer Byrne's words struck closer to home than he could have ever imagined.

Maybe she had been right.

Lowry could have picked someone up, either for drugs or money or both. He was a single businessman in a strange city. He could have been looking for action and instead had gotten more than he had bargained for.

He knew that Lowry's injuries had been a result of his seatbelt not being fastened. But what if his friend had been smart enough to buckle-up? The person could have survived the accident and walked away, totally unscathed.

Mulder turned his head and glanced over at Scully and what he saw there gave him more cause for concern. Scully was staring directly at the officer, her face as deadpan and disinterested as he had ever seen it. The Scully that he knew would be interacting more with the discussion; especially given the fact her theory might have more weight.

For her to not give a case her full participation was totally out of character and Mulder didn't know what to make of it. He had gotten her up early and the flight had been horrendous. Maybe she wasn't feeling very well. This would explain the sudden change in her behavior earlier.

Mulder leaned over and nudged Scully with his elbow, rousing her to look over at him, her eyes steeled and narrowed. "Are you feeling ok?" Mulder asked as he then reached over and put his hand on her shoulder.

"I'm fine, Mulder." Scully shrugged his touch off as if it were fire as she steeled her shoulders and planted both feet firmly on the floor below.

Dropping his mug to the desk, Byrne sighed, bringing a bewildered Mulder's attention back on task. "So, as I was saying, they remain out there selling and using dope and there isn't much that we can do about it. We have tried many sting operations but they have always been one step ahead of us."

"The residents of the area are rightfully angry...they pay their tax dollars and they still have to put up with such crap. Now given the information that Mr. Lowry *was* driving under the influence, we could take the initiative and assume that his story is suspect. Maybe he did stop and pick someone up, and now he is lying to cover it up however..." His voice trailed off as he looked about to make sure that no one was listening.

Mulder looked over at Scully once again, but this time there seemed to be some life stirring in the seat next to him. A raised brow and a slight tilt of her head accompanied the officer's words.

"Now, I never told you this...and I will deny it if ever confronted, but this isn't the first time that a report like this has come across my desk. They have all been swept under the rug, so I was surprised to hear that they even called you...considering that they have repeatedly denied any knowledge of it."

Byrne brought his hands to rest on the smooth surface of the desk as he leaned forward and lowered his voice slightly.

"Over the past 25 years, there have been reports of unusual happenings on that road. Many of the people involved are considered to be upstanding members of the community... above reproach. If you are interested in speaking to any of them, they are listed in this file. However, I would recommend that you go with the first name though. I have known him for years...he knows everything and boy...does he have a story to tell...."

1715hrs Jefferson Road, Route 252
Pittsford, NY

Thick cigar smoke filled the air, mixing with the stale smell of sweat and Scully found herself wishing that she were anywhere else but in the back of that cab. They had taken the first name on the list alright and now she was speeding down 252 towards the very place where Jefferson Lowry had picked up his mysterious guest.

This wasn't just a job; it was an adventure.

Glancing about Scully noted several religious icons scattered about on the ancient dashboard. But the one that caught her attention the most was the black and gold Rosary that hung off of the rear-view mirror.

For some reason it stuck in her mind: the sunlight reflecting off of the metal, the black well-worn beads telling a tale no one would ever hear. She found herself mesmerized by it, as if it held some deep meaning for her. But for the life of her she couldn't figure out why.

Shrugging, Scully leaned back and resigned herself to the knowledge that for the moment the meaning was lost to her and that since she was stuck there she should try to make the best of it.

Such as it was.

Looking about the cab strewn with dusty cigar ashes, Scully pursed her rose petal lips in disgust. She sure hoped that Mikos Gallipo wasn't one of Rochester's most upstanding citizens that the officer mentioned, for if he was she would hate to meet one of their less than upstanding. He seemed nice enough -although not the most hygienically gifted- but she wouldn't go as far as to put him on the top of the list.

Ever since they had gotten in the cab with him, he had not said more than ten words to them. The words that he had spoken had been expletives and had been directed to a discussion he had been having on his cell-phone with his boss, which she noticed just happened to be a woman.

Mikos had also cut off several other cars and had offered a not so friendly gesture to a fellow cabbie. In short, it had not been the most pleasant of rides.

From the small radio set deeply into the dashboard, familiar words from an oldies station flowed into the most uncomfortable silence.

'...The first time ever I saw your face...'

'Just wonderful,' she thought. 'What did I ever do to deserve this?'

Out of the corner of her red and irritated eyes she could see Mulder literally hopping about with the exuberance of a five-year-old on the fake leather seat next to her.

'Lord, just take me now...'her desperate mind mused. She closed her eyes and dropped her weary chin down to her chest. Try as she did, she couldn't seem to get it together. Not only was she exhausted, mentally and physically but she was also at her wit's end.

No matter what Mulder did, all he seemed to do was to irritate her more. She knew that she *had* been acting strange and that all he had been trying to do was to make her feel better, but he wasn't.

She knew that he had tried everything that he could think of to make her lighten up; he had even gone as far as to literally go to the ends of the Earth to get her the best cup of coffee that he could. But she just couldn't appreciate it, thanks to the knawing hole in the pit of her stomach. In the end, the cup had just ended up in the trash without as much as a sip taken.

It wasn't his fault; it was hers but that didn't make it any better. Mulder was a creature of habit in that he almost always acted out of fear. His decision was based on his need to protect her and himself. Sure when he had gotten his closure -he had claimed he was free- but he would never be truly free. His fear would keep him a prisoner forever.

And Scully, right along with him.

So after this case, she knew that a break was in order. A small vacation might do her some good; it might just give her some time to deal with her issues and go on. She would never stop loving him, for true love doesn't die easily. But she could learn to let go.

Not only did she deserve that but Mulder did also.

'I thought the sun rose in your eyes and the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave to the dark and the endless skies...'

'Oh shut the hell up...' Scully silently shouted right back. She closed her eyes, in an attempt to ward off a killer headache lurking around the corner.

Scully heard the plastic seat squeak as Mulder leaned back and let out a deep breath. She knew that they had been driving about for more than half an hour and she hoped that sooner or later his enthusiasm would start to wane.

Stealing a sly glance, Mulder momentarily studied the woman next to him, concern spreading like butter on warm pancakes.

And why wouldn't it. Exhaustion seemed to ooze from every pore. Her hair -normally perfectly styled- appeared mussed. Her make-up, almost minimalist as of late, totally faded and seemed to make her appear much older than she really was.

To say that she was having a bad day would be an understatement to say the least.

Shrugging, Mulder turned and brought his eyes back to the road ahead of them. A sad, forlorn look seeping into his features.

In the front seat of the cab, Mikos threw the phone on the seat next to him and exhaled loudly. With a start, Scully opened her eyes and leaned forward; relieved that they might just get what they had come there for.

"It was a very wet, very cold night" he began softly as he put out his nub of a cigar. "I had just started running taxis' and I was eager to please; going out of my way to take pickups where ever they called from. I was going down this very same road...about 10:00pm at night."

As Mikos turned the car into a curve, he grew pale. A violent shiver ran through his portly figure. He released the wheel with one hand and pointed out the window with a shaky finger. "She was right over there... right on the road-side near Locust Hill Country Club."

Mulder and Scully leaned over and glanced out the window to where his finger indicated. Large rambling maple trees lined the roadside, shrouding the magnificent driveway and perfectly manicured grounds which hugged the rolling hills towards the Greek style clubhouse.

"She was *just* standing there," he continued, "in her flowing white gown. I had to stop...I can't explain why. I felt like I had to. She was beautiful; long red hair and blue eyes. When I did, she just sat there...silently looking at me with the saddest look on her face."

Scully heard Mikos let out a soft sigh, his obviously deeply felt emotions seeping through. "Her eyes seemed to look right through me; like she knew all of my secrets...all the dark places in my heart and she didn't care. She still accepted me for whom and what I am. When she did finally speak...she told me things...things that would later change my life."

Shaking his head, he brought his hand up to his forehead to wipe off the perspiration that had collected there. "Now she didn't tell me what to do," he continued as he bit on his lip. "She told me that it wasn't her place. But she did share with me how things could be better if I would only believe. At that time I dated lots of women; I was young and didn't want to commit. But I had met this woman and she was just so...so...I can't explain it. I just knew that she was the one and I was scared. I had just gotten out of a really bad relationship and I wasn't sure if I was ready to make another leap of faith."

Mikos glanced out the windshield, the gates of Ascension Cemetery just at the edge of his view. "She seemed to know my indecision. She seemed to know all of my fears and she understood them. And I just sat there and listened...until I crossed in front of Mount Ascension Cemetery. Then she just vanished. I never stopped the car so I knew she just didn't get o-o-out..." his voice sputtered emotionally to a stop.

Getting himself together, he finished with a more confident tone. "When I finally got back to the station, I had -at first- been too afraid to tell anyone. But when I had heard rumors...and asked around...I found that I wasn't alone. They told me to go talk to the caretaker at the cemetery. I did...and what I learned there still haunts me to this very day."

Not another sound could be heard from anyone except for the words from the radio as the agents silently contemplated his ominous statement.

'...The first time ever I saw your face... your face...your face...your face....'

1830hrs Mount Ascension Cemetery
Pittsford, NY

"So you're here about Ascension Katherine?" The kindly old partially balding man questioned, as he threw the last bit of wilted flowers into the plastic garbage bag which he dragged behind him on the ground. All about him were dozens of dying wreaths, bouquets, and swags that needed to be tended to.

The living's offering of appeasement to the dead.

Priding himself on the quality of his job, the man scoured the grounds every two days, tending to the dead to please the living.

"Who?" Two voices, male and female replied in unison, their tones hushed and alert. In all of the reports and interviews they had never heard the woman called by a name. The spoken word can give life; thus for once she wasn't just a legend to deal with. Now she was something more. They stepped into line behind him, Mulder glancing nervously about as they walked along the perfectly manicured rows of weathering tombstones.

The sun, just starting to set on the horizon, burned brightly in shades of red, orange and burgundy above the fragrantly scented pine trees that bordered the area. The strong smell of freshly cut grass, the sickly sweet scent of drying flowers and the far off essence of a spring fed creek wafted about them.

Life superimposed over the field of memorial, a seeming contradiction in terms. As one would look about, it was peaceful...well as graveyards go.

"Ascension Katherine...or at least that's what folks 'round here call 'er," he volunteered as he continued to prune carefully, leaving no stone unexamined. "Katherine Mallory. That's her real name." Standing up, he dropped the bag to the ground and reached around, bringing his glove covered hands to his lower back. "For the longest time, we didn't even know her name. We just heard the stories...and saw things...then finally...some college kids doing some research for a thesis found out who she was. They came out here with all of this equipment: cameras, sound recorders, compasses, and some stuff which I had no clue about just to prove what we already knew."

After stretching himself backward until a loud crack could be heard, he picked up the bag and gestured with his free hand to the granite and marble mausoleum just to the right and the back of him. "Come with me..."

The groundskeeper smiled, revealing cigarette stained, well worn teeth. "I'll tell you...it was nice to finally be able to connect a name with the face..." Deep brown eyes turned to glance back at the stone edifice, and he then he resumed his earlier meandering.

"You've seen her?" Scully inquired as she looked about the neatly lined rows of markers. She scuffed her high-heeled shoes into the damp and glistening grass, her posture seemingly relaxed.

"Yep..." the man stated, "more times than I would ever want to count. And I have to tell you that she makes quite an impression." He then stopped still in his tracks, turning to face them with a far off look on his features. "Though I must say I am not disappointed that I have never had the pleasure of giving her a ride..." he chuckled and tilted his head.

Bringing his hand up to point to the rolling paved entrance, "I have seen her just outside of those iron gates myself several times...just a wait'in. It was always late at night...of course...that was when I would stay late at night." The man sighed and closed his eyes.

"You don't anymore..." Mulder looked over at the rusting iron gates, the hairs on his neck standing on end. Ever since arriving at Mount Ascension, he had been experiencing the most unusual sensation. It felt as if someone had been watching him. After years of looking over his shoulder, he just knew when he was under surveillance. But as he looked around, he hadn't seen anyone. Shrugging it off to paranoia, Mulder turned his attentions over to their host.

"It isn't safe after dark," the man replied as he turned back to the mausoleum and began to finish his earlier pilgrimage. As he walked the soles of his boot clad feet landed with soft thuds on the earth below. "For the last couple of years we have been having problems with some 'people'...mainly teenagers...hanging around. I have found dirty needles, condom wrappers...all sorts of things..." Wandering about the flower lined sidewalk, he turned and went down the wing to the left, finally coming to a stop when he met his destination.

"Ahhh here we are..." he stated as he gestured to the memorial wall next to him, "Katherine Mallory." He reached out and laid his hand on the gleaming granite slab, the name he had just spoken engraved timelessly into the gift from the earth.

"Oh my God." Mulder stepped forth, any other words beyond his tongue. Imbedded into the funerary marker was a small picture, its black and white photo faded and crinkled. However time and nature could not erase the beauty that lie there. Before him -immortalized forever- was an indisputable likeness of his partner, Dana Katherine Scully. "She looks just like you, Scully." Mulder stated deadpan, as he glanced over his shoulder at her.

Scully walked up to stand next to him, her face pale and etched in shock. Her mouth fell open revealing her perfect white teeth.

The groundskeeper turned and smiled. "You do look like her. I noticed that the moment that I first met you. By the way, I'm Stan."

"Now, from what I remember," he continued, "the Paranormal Society for something or another told me that she had attended a party -her engagement party- up at Locust Hill Country Club. From the rumors, she and her fiancé had gotten got into a pretty good tiff."

Stan pushed his hands into his pocket and shrugged. "I guess she caught him with another woman out on the greens. She left and tried to walk home in a bad storm but she didn't make it. She was hit head-on by a drunk driver and was killed instantly. She *died* right outside those gates, you know. Her parents lived on Karenlee off Edgewood, just down the road a-ways."

"Do they still live there?" Mulder lifted his wrist up to look at his watch, the warm metal cooling in the growing breeze. This case was getting better than better. He would have to track down the research team that had been out there. He had done his own research on the Internet but since it was such a sore topic with the authorities, maybe that was why the media had been kept out of it. 'Maybe after we speak to the team, we could go and speak to the family,' Mulder mused thoughtfully.

Stan chucked softly as he nodded over towards the crypt. "According to the investigators, they moved from the area just after she died. It is said that they were eaten up by guilt since they had ignored her pleas at the party. The house still stands there but it has been long since abandoned."

Bringing his hands onto his hips, Stan took a deep breath and offered, "they say she makes that trip over and over...hoping to help others. She wants to keep others from making the same mistakes that she made. Instead of facing her problems, she had left the party and ran away. I guess that it might be too late for her but it isn't for others."

"These are fresh flowers." Scully mumbled softly as she stepped forth and gently touched one of the numerous dusky pink roses, as tears shone in her eyes. She was obviously moved by the story and the gesture.

"Yes..." Stan reached down and picked up a single long stemmed rose. "I have worked here for 15 years and every 2 or 3 days new flowers show up while the others disappear. No one has ever seen who puts them there. Since she has no living relatives...I think it might just be that beau of hers...some sort of penance for his sins. I heard from the researchers that he married that woman he had been found with not soon after they had laid Katherine to rest."

Looking up at the quickly fading sun, Stan gathered his bag and turned to face the two agents. "Oh dear... I must go. It will be getting dark soon. I don't want to be out here when they get here."

"Would you mind if we stayed a while and look around?" Mulder inquired as he showed the man his firearm. Mulder surmised the only way that he would get to the truth -whatever it was- was to stay and see what might happen. Maybe Katherine would walk tonight and surprise them all. Of course, he did have an ulterior motive. A few moments alone with Scully, to figure out what the hell was going on inside of her head.

"You're hoping to catch a glimpse of her aren't you? Good luck. It is said that she only comes to those who need her guidance." With that Stan turned and walked away, his steps quick and sure.

2100hrs Mount Ascension Cemetery
Pittsford, NY

It was a night meant for lovers, however Dana Scully was alone. Well as alone as one *could* be when faced with a partner that didn't want to have anything to do with her. The clear ink black sky twinkled with a thousand stars, their light only challenged by the bright veil of the full moon. Scully pulled her black full-length jacket tighter around her waist, hoping to ward away the biting night air.

Next to her, Scully could see Mulder pace excitedly. As if he were waiting for...something. But what, she wasn't sure. They had remained on the grounds for hours after most of the traffic on the main road had stopped.

Pushing a stray strand of moonlight streaked hair behind a cold ear, she sat back against the granite and iron bench with a loud sigh. Scully no longer could contain the frustration, which she was feeling. "Mulder...I would just like to thank you."

Mulder turned, his face revealing his shock at her finally speaking to him, as his coat flapped in the steadily growing breeze. "Thank me for what, Scully- my fantastic sense of humor?" Mulder replied deadpan.

"You really know how to show a girl a good time," Scully's bright blue eyes shooting daggers straight into his heart, her honeyed alto tones dripping with sarcasm. "I am cold, wet and hungry. Instead of being in my motel room with take-out and a nice hot bath, I am in a cemetery, in the middle of the night, chasing ghosts."

"Scully...come on and admit it. You secretly love this little adventure of ours." And then as Mulder took in her infamous drop-dead look, he shrugged and replied, "or maybe not."

Mulder walked up and stepped in front of his slight partner, effectively blocking the growing winds from chilling her. "So even after all that you have heard, you still think he made up the whole thing? Mulder shoved his hands into his pockets and began to rock back and forth on the balls of his feet.

"Mulder...he did test positive for alcohol from his post- operative blood screens. He was obviously impaired." Scully crossed her legs and tucked her bare hands under the sleeves of her coat. Why did he persist in this manner? She had shown him the hard copy of the tests herself yet still he wouldn't even entertain the thought that maybe she might be right?

Mulder knelt down and brought his hands to rest on her trouser clad knees, tears shining brightly in his eyes. "Why can't you believe Scully?"

Scully's heart nearly broke when she heard and saw the pain the man which she loved was feeling. Scully brought her hands out from their warm cocoon and reached down, taking his hands in hers. "Mulder," Scully offered with the most sincere voice, "I must admit that I have seen and experienced many things which have defied science and logic." She squeezed his hand gently before she let go and placed her palms on his cool, stubbled face.

"Why, just in the past few months...let's just say I am more open minded than ever. However, before I believe...I need some creditable proof. That is who *I* am. This is what *we* are. I would not be honest if I were any other way...to myself...or to you."

Mulder smiled shakily, his seemingly fears relieved. "I couldn't have made it this far without you, Scully. You are my everything. You are my strength, my human credential, my logic...without you..."

"God Mulder," Scully interrupted as she rolled her eyes. "It sounds like a bad song..." She really didn't need to hear his professions of appreciation. All it served to do was to upset her more. What right did he have to tell her those things? If he wasn't interested in pursuing their relationship any further, he should just leave well enough alone.

"Scully, what is bothering you?" Mulder sat back on his heels, effectively disconnecting their contact. "Have I done something to offend you?" Mulder inquired in a husky, annoyed tone.

"Why did you kiss me New Year's Eve?" Scully dropped her face on to her chest and studied the material of her coat carefully. She needed to hear his words from him directly, then maybe in her mind she could accept her fate and move on. However, she knew that her heart could never follow suit.

Mulder's mouth literally fell to the ground. He moved his mouth several times; his eyes wide with fear, but Scully didn't hear any response.

After a moment, Mulder slowly stood up and slowly sat next to her. "I-I-It was New Year's Eve," he replied shakily, "everyone does it. It's a tradition."

"Ahhh...that's why I thought you did it." Scully lowered her lids, the tears threatening to fall. What had she expected? That he would be straight with her? Please, she knew that was about as extreme as any possibility could be.

Mulder leaned back and looked about the quiet grounds around them. Mulder then raised his hands and looked quietly down at them as if to say why did this have to happen now? "Why? What do you think it meant?" Mulder lifted her chin up so that her eyes would meet his.

"I don't know...considering this thing between us, I guess I might have been expecting more." Scully mumbled, her voice uncharacteristically nervous. She then turned to study his face, hoping to see something there to soothe the aching need that she felt.

She saw nothing but pity...an emotion, which she would never tolerate.

"Scully..." Mulder squirmed about in his seat, his discomfort most apparent.

"Don't deny it Mulder" Scully replied firmly, her eyes flashing with anger. Did he think he was going to get off that easily? "Don't deny how you feel about me...how I feel about you." Scully stood up, his closeness suddenly too claustrophobic for her at the moment.

"Scully, I have no idea how you feel about me." Mulder seemed to wince at those words just as quickly as he had said them.

"Please...you really have no idea? Why did you tell me then?" If Scully had been angry before, she was pissed now. How could he not know? He had even gone as far as to read her journal while she was in the hospital. Those were love letters. Well as much as she would ever write.

She knew that this was his denial at work. She knew that he did know, but to admit that would probably destroy any strength that he did have.

"And *what* a reception that was!" Mulder stood up, his body oozing with frustration.

"Mulder...you had nearly drowned." Scully stood up and turned away from him, as tears streamed down her cool cheeks. She wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of letting him see her cry. "You were strung out on drugs and had a head injury. How fair would that have been, throwing myself at you in that condition? Making you commit to something you might not have been ready for at a moment, when you were so vulnerable? I would never do that; not to you or to me. And you know what, I'm glad I resisted."

"What!?" Mulder grabbed her trembling shoulders and spun her around.

"Look at us now, Mulder." Scully raised her hands in the air as if to make a point. "We are still in the same place we were then...." Shrugging, she looked at her fingers. "Frankly I am disappointed that you are too afraid to go any further...to look for the truth -our truth- which has always existed within ourselves, *although* you aren't too afraid to search for the truth out *there* no matter what the cost."

"Scully, I never promised you anything." Mulder brought his hands up to rest on her shoulders, the heat of his skin cutting through every layer which she wore.

"But you did," Scully insisted as her tear filled eyes implored his as her hair blew about her drawn features. "Not in words, but in your actions and your intentions. I waited seven years, seven years...for the time to be right. Seven years is a long time to be alone especially when I didn't have to be. I've had offers, Mulder. But I believed we were worth it." Scully had stressed the word 'we'. How had they come to this? Maybe she should have left well enough alone.

"I'm sorry...." Mulder mumbled out as he looked down at the ground.

Scully turned, making sure that he couldn't see the emotions, which she knew were present on her features. "I just want to know one thing, Mulder. Why? Why now? When things seemed to finally be moving forward between us." Scully shoved her hands into her pockets and clenched her fists.

Mulder sighed and closed his eyes as if he didn't want to go into this any further. "I don't know, Scully. I guess it has been a long time in coming. I thought that we could work, that eventually we would be good together but after my mother-"

"Don't tell me that this is all about your mother, Mulder." Scully cringed as she resisted the urge to reach over and strangle the life out of him.

"It is...and it isn't, Scully." Mulder reached over and turned her to face him, his hazel eyes embracing her blue. "You're all that I have left, Scully...everything. You are it. I am alone in this and I can't afford to lose you. What I feel for you isn't enough. I have nearly lost you so many times before and my love can't protect you."

"Mulder..." Scully replied as a wave of overwhelming compassion encircled her heart. She reached up and took his face in her hands as his warm wet tears bathed away her anger in a baptism of fire.

"I'm losing you now, Scully." Mulder entwined his hands into her glistening strands of moonlit fire. As he looked into her eyes, the tears shone as bright as any star in the sky above. "Look at you; your hair, your clothes, your make-up. You are not the same woman that I fell in love with."

"Don't even tell me this is about my hair, Mulder." Scully chuckled softly and smiled as several more tears fell from her eyes. "Then I would have to shoot you again."

"You've aged...you seem so tired, so burned out." Mulder reached out and took a strand of hair into his hand as if the silk was etching her into his very being. "I've done this to you...my work has done this to you. I've taken away the fire...and there is nothing that I can do to bring it back."

"Mulder, I have changed...we have changed." A gust of wind swirled her hair about her face and she brought up her hand to push the unruly strands behind her ear. "And there is nothing that you can do about it. But it was my choice, Mulder. I chose to be here. I will always be here. Pushing me away will only hurt me more; I do not need you to protect me."

Mulder smiled, "I know that you can take care of yourself, never doubt that, but my needing you so much will surely destroy you." Mulder then stepped back from her as he continued. "And I do not want to hurt you. I couldn't live with that. Not now, not ever."

Scully wiped her eyes with the rough material of her sleeve, her skin stinging in the cool air. Just like her heart. Enough was enough. It was clear that Mulder wasn't going to change his mind and she certainly wasn't going to beg him. "On the contrary to what you may believe, not everything is about you." She then pointed to her chest. "This is about me and my needs too, you know. You may not want a chance at some sort of a real life, but I do..." her words fell off as she became distracted.

Scully walked to the side and searched the distance. She swore that just a moment ago she had heard footsteps, soft yet close enough to hear them clearly, even during her diatribe. Reaching behind her coat, she palmed the butt of her SIG P228.

Mulder also withdrew his SIG and automatically adopted a Isosceles stance with his arms in the resting position. However, he immediately regretted it. His feet were spread apart about shoulder width with his knees slightly bent. This made his balance less than optimal and his recovery time would increase. However, with the situation at hand, it would have to do. He knew that they would be on the move soon.

"What did you hear?" Suddenly all that had transpired just a few short minutes ago disappeared with a drop of perspiration which trickled down the middle of his shoulder blades.

"I thought that I heard something..." Scully turned around slowly, all of her well-trained senses on full alert. From what seemed all around them, the soft sounds began to grow. "It seems to be coming from two different directions; the north and the south gate." Scully continued, confirming what he already knew.

Mulder glanced over at Scully and with a mutual nod, they both began to quickly walk from the oncoming sounds. Since the bright moonlight and open expanse did little to provide safety, Mulder knew they had to get cover fast. "Let's get over there...we'll have some cover," Mulder whispered as he pointed to the granite structure.

Mulder and Scully walked quickly towards the middle of the cemetery towards the mausoleum, their shoes slip sliding across the dew covered grass. But no matter how fast they seemed to travel for cover, the sounds behind them seemed to increase, now containing the faint sounds of footsteps. After a few moments they found themselves flat against the stone wall.

"I still can't seem to make out how many there are, Mulder however they are making a little *too* much noise to just be one person coming from each entrance." Scully pressed herself further against the hard, cool surface of the granite monument, trying to hide herself from the decorative lights that lined the walkway.

"I agree. Since I think that we both can agree that someone isn't visiting old Uncle Joe at this time of the night, I would hazard a guess that these are the people that the officer and the groundskeeper spoke of." Mulder turned his head and quickly surveyed their slim options. Mulder noted the tree line in the distance, but they wouldn't make it there in time. And given where the noises were coming from, the road was definitely out.

"We need to hide," Mulder whispered softly. "Somewhere they can't see us but we can see them." Tactically he knew that they were at a disadvantage. With nowhere to run without being exposed and nowhere to hide, they could do very little to protect themselves short of a full frontal confrontation. As Mulder continued to look about -looking for any viable options- out of the corner of his eye, a glimmer of a possibility surfaced.

"Scully," Mulder whispered with the most devilish of grins, and with a nod of his head he directed her to exactly what he had in mind. About 10 feet up on the mausoleum wall, surrounded by all of the other sealed crypts was one that wasn't. It was covered with a partially open metal door. On the walk below were stacked chairs, flower stands and other such things in future preparation for a funeral.

"You can't be serious, Mulder." Scully's eyes grew wide with dread. "I'm not..." Scully managed to mutter nervously as she shook her head in disbelief.

Scully's words struck Mulder like a cold pail of water and he took in a deep breath of realization due to something that he had not even considered. Scully might not be as up to it as he had assumed. From just the look on her face and the tone in her voice told him that just the thought of being in that dark, enclosed space scared her beyond imagination.

And why wouldn't it.

Although she would never admit it to him, Mulder knew that as a result of her abduction trauma and her experience with Pfaster, she might have a fear of small spaces.

As much as Mulder didn't want to bring up disturbing memories, he knew that there was no other choice. With a firm but gentle touch, Mulder pushed her back towards the crypt, her slight weight no match for his effort. He then turned around and turned her with him.

"Mulder!?" Scully gasped as Mulder wrapped his strong arm around her waist to steady her as he began to pull off her shoes. As Mulder's fingers brushed across the smooth silky surface of her nylon, Mulder couldn't help but notice the shudder, which his touch elicited.

As much as he knew that he had made the right decision, just knowing how his touch could affect her made him want to throw her down on the ground and make her scream in ecstasy. He was pretty sure by the way Scully's breath quickened, it wouldn't take very much at all.

"Sshhhh..." Mulder admonished as he removed her last shoe and tossed it to the ground. Threading his fingers together, he created a foot-hold for Scully to step into. "You have to get...do you think that you can reach up there?" Over his shoulder, he could hear the voices grow louder and he knew that they had very little time left.

Scully shook her head, as she took a step back. "Mulder, I can't..." Even in the near darkness that their spot provided, Mulder could see the growing apprehension which was spreading throughout her features.

He wished that he could ease her into this, but their time was running out. "Hurry up...they are coming..." Mulder whispered as he reached down and pulled her foot towards him.

With a sigh and a slump of her shoulders, Scully acquiesced and stepped into Mulder's hands. From below, a bright reassuring smile flashed across Mulder's dark features. They would make it through this, just like they did everything else. Returning the smile, she brought her hands to rest on his shoulders.

Once Mulder was sure that Scully was steadied, Mulder slowly stood up, pressing himself into the wall behind. With Scully's legs and body in his way, Mulder could only rely on his other senses while he boosted her up. The scent of her perfume and her clothes assaulted him, literally enveloping him in his very own Scully-cloud. After a second, he felt her pull herself up enough to get her foot on his shoulder and in an instant, she was gone.

Mulder thanked God that that ordeal was over. Having Scully climb up over his body was more than he could have ever imagined. Feeling her slide against him had set off every inch of his body into a frenzy. Visions of him making love to her resurfaced and he found himself growing quickly aroused by them.

Mulder took a deep breath and grabbed her shoes, tossing them up to an awaiting Scully. He then jumped onto a bench and fumbled about like a boy on a first date, trying to get himself a good handhold. Once he found one, he stepped up on to the back of the bench and with a jump; he literally flung himself into the opening, landing right on top of Scully's back.

"Mulder, get off." Scully wheezed as Mulder pulled the grate shut, enclosing them in the thick darkness. Even in the predicament that he was in now he realized that being in there with Scully was probably more threatening than being out there with the unknown, since she was armed. Laying fully on top of her yielding form was playing havoc with his libido, and things were starting to stir below.

Mulder squirmed to get off of her, but the tight quarters served to only impede his efforts. He prayed silently that Scully didn't notice the impressive piece of wood digging in her back as he tried to slide his hips down and off of her body. "My, my Scully. Is there something that you haven't told me?" Mulder quipped before he could stop the words. Old habits were hard to break, as the bulk of her holster dug into his impressive hard-on.

"Mulder, you are such an ass." Scully brought her palms flat down and lifted herself up to her knees. Letting out a soft huff, she looked over her shoulder and shot him a look that could freeze lava.

"And you just thought of this?" Mulder chuckled nervously softly into her ear as he brought his hand up and ran it through his thick hair. This was too much. No matter what he tried, he couldn't get his wandering thoughts back under control. He could smell her; vanilla mixed with baby powder touched with overtones of what he knew to be Scully's own essence.

Both became silent as the crypt they were enclosed in, when the sounds which they had heard earlier were now finally just below. They could hear their heavy breaths; they could literally smell the alcohol up as far as they were.

"This is way too cool," a soft male voice commented. "Look at this...no one for miles to bother us. No wonder everyone is talking about it."

Scully looked back at Mulder as she arched a brow. The moonlight was just starting to creep in around the edges of the grate, sending small fingers of light to illuminate the very cramped space.

"We told you when we spoke to you earlier on the phone that this would be a good place. My associate and myself would never steer you wrong. We pride ourselves on our customer satisfaction."

Mulder smiled and waggled his brows in reply as he leaned forward just a bit more. Now that he had finally given up to the party going on in his boxers, he was having way too much fun for it to be legal. Scully's rapidly rising, very ragged breaths filled the silence, and he could swear that even in the near darkness he could see the arousal in her eyes.

Now he knew that he shouldn't be enjoying this but the Mulder-devil side of him just wouldn't relent. He had been in tight spots before with Scully, and as always she had remained cool and dignified. But his time...what he had always dreamed of seeing was right in front of him and he couldn't help but push her on.

"We have been meeting here for years and never have been busted. The two of us have everything under control. Out here in the country, no one bothers you. But just in case -as you can see- from up *here* we can see anybody coming into the cemetery."

After a lengthy beat, the conversation continued.

"So, how much for the bag?"

Those spoken words really got their attention. These individuals must be the ones that the officer and the grounds-person had spoken of. They were just about to deal. Mulder and Scully just looked at one another. They may have not gotten what they had come there for, but this would liven up the evening quite nicely.

"Fifty bucks for a hit- a hundred for the whole bag. My associate just got this shipment yesterday and it is fresh as you'll ever get."

"That much? It had better be good."

"It's the best weed that you will ever smoke...you'll be on cloud nine, I promise. Our customers are always pleased with our business. So much so in fact, we even have even started up a little sideline involving two beautiful young women that are waiting back in the car. For a little extra, they give good lovin'."

Ok...now things were *really* starting to get interesting. Not only did they possibly have a drug deal going down, but now solicitation; a two for one deal.

Mulder found himself growing more and more aroused by the moment. Not only could he sense the tension dripping off of her but now he swore he could 'smell' her similar state. He took a deep breath, his nose confirming what he had already suspected. That, plus the excitement of the hunt, was driving him insane. This was not good. How could they continue working together when they reacted this way to one another? How had they gotten along until now?

He wasn't sure of the answer to either question since the only thing that was different was their mutual understanding of how the other felt. Before it had been understood but now voiced thus they could deny what they felt and life would go on. But now it couldn't. They couldn't.

The only way he could think of dealing with it was to make a joke out of it so Mulder raised both of his brows and shot Scully the best leer that he could under the circumstances *without* her taking out her gun and shooting him again.

"Two women? At once? Jesus-"

As Mulder had predicted, Scully raised a brow, a small nervous smile breaking across her face as she carefully shifted her weight. Mulder sensed the electricity that crackled in the air between them and he knew it could easily power a small city...too bad it was going to be wasted on a bunch of loser punks.

"Yeah, they are very agreeable and beautiful. For a small fee, they will make your wildest dreams come true. So, what can I get for you this evening?"

"Hmmm. I think a bag will do. And there is no way in hell that I would pass up the company of two women. Men have died for less."

"Good choice. Two great tastes that taste good together. If you would follow us, we have the goods stashed not far from here."

Mulder and Scully sat there quietly until the voices they had just been listening to finally started to fade back into the rich night sounds. Mulder then quickly squeezed himself between Scully and the crypt's wall. He couldn't take it anymore. "I'm going to follow them, Scully." Mulder grunted as he pushed the grate open, "you call for back- up."

Before Scully could even respond, Mulder dropped to the ground with a loud thud and a groan and ran off into the night.

"Mulder?!" Scully called softly, as she too pulled herself up to the opening. Scully then leaned back against the rough wall, as she blew out a breath in abject disgust. Ditched again but this time in a cemetery.

'Down girl...what the hell are you thinking?' Scully mused as she tried to calm down the hormones that surged through her body. Those few moments spent in the crypt had been total hell for her, for no matter what she had done, nothing seemed to quell her desire.

For Scully, desire was often linked to danger...the dark side. She had always found herself attracted to dangerous men, dangerous situations. The rush that accompanied them so addictive, that oftentimes interchanging the two effected her the same way.

Add these two together, mix in a healthy dose of anger and voila, she was a powder keg ready to blow. "Sure, *I'll* call 911, while you the *big* strong he-man go off and save the day." Scully muttered as she grabbed her cell phone from her pocket. As she punched the numbers in with an angry touch, she looked down at the ground far below and said, "you owe me big time, mister."

Mulder ran quickly across the dew slicked, well-manicured grounds. As he tried desperately to keep his balance on the wet grass beneath his feet, he artfully dodged the markers which were scattered about in front of him. He could no longer hear the group that he was pursuing and he consciously increased his speed, praying that he didn't lose his balance and fall flat on his ass. Now wouldn't that just be 'manly'!

As Mulder made his way up to the top of a small knoll, he could finally see a lonely street light. He now realized that he was at the other end of the cemetery. Under the street light, Mulder could make out the steamed windows of an older model four-door sedan.

'Ah ha...the den of iniquity....'

Mulder stopped and quickly tucked himself behind a tall maple tree. Placing his back flat against the rough bark, Mulder peered around the corner to survey the area. He wasn't concerned with the occupants of the car, between the blurred windows and their activities, he knew that he could easily sneak up on them.

However, the two other suspects were still out there somewhere and were probably armed.

Mulder studied the area carefully noting that no one was around. "Ok, the area seems clear." Mulder took a deep breath and turned himself to look straight down the hill. Mulder chuckled softly as he put his hands into his pockets. "Poor guy...I guess that you won't be getting your rocks off tonight after all."

From behind him, Mulder heard what he thought was the sound of footsteps. "Scully?" Mulder questioned as he turned around and searched the grounds behind him. It had been a while since he had left her and he knew that she would be coming soon. 'What is taking her so long? And on that subject, where the hell is our back up?'

Mulder knew that it was protocol to wait to apprehend a suspect until after back-up arrived, but Mulder was already growing anxious. Not knowing what exactly the man had paid for, he could be done at any minute. The loss of the opportunity and the fact that the two others couldn't be too far away, made Mulder want to charge down the hill and take the initiative.

However, he stayed on the side of caution. Searching the hillside carefully, he noted a large tree just to his right. From there he had a better vantage-point to observe without being detected, so he decided to wait there.

But before Mulder could act, a sharp pain raced through his head, following the length of his spine and a bright light flashed before his semi-closed eyes. Mulder grabbed his head as he fell to his knees in the wet, cool grass below as wave after wave of intense dizziness and incredible pain ebbed with every beat of his thumping heart.

As Mulder desperately fought the need to vomit; he felt a sharp kick in the back and with the wind knocked out of him, he fell over completely.

Mulder fought to get to his knees but with his body not responding to his will and his vision blurred beyond use, he knew that it was useless. With Mulder's last conscious breath -filled with the overwhelming essence of roses- he heard the muffled sounds of a struggle, accompanied by the words, "oh my God...what in the hell are you?"

"Mulder?" Scully whispered as she looked carefully about in the unforgiving darkness. The bright light of the moon was now being obscured at times by thick rolling storm clouds, making her visibility less than optimal. Ever since freeing herself from her little predicament, she had been trying to make her way -with little success- to the south gate.

"Mulder, where the hell are you?" Scully stepped forward in her cold wet stocking feet, and she winced as a burning pain shot through her leg. "Goddamn does this ankle hurt," Scully muttered as she reached down and gently massaged the tender flesh with a practiced touch.

Getting down from the crypt hadn't been as hard as she had anticipated. After throwing her shoes down, she had just turned around and slid herself down the face of the structure. Her training at the academy had prepared her well, however the wet grass had proved less than successful.

Just after taking up chase after Mulder and the suspects, she had snagged herself on a small rock and had fallen in the wet grass. As a result, she had twisted her ankle. Although it did hurt like hell: she could bear weight and it did have full range of motion so she knew that it was nothing serious.

'I can't believe this....' Scully rolled her eyes in frustration, as she tried to relieve the tension that had settled into her shoulders from holding her service weapon at her side in readiness. A smug smile crept across her face as a not so nice thought cross her mind; Mulder tripping and falling over a marker, just desserts after dumping her ass. Of course she dismissed it as quickly as it had came.

Even in the mood that she was in, she wouldn't wish that on her worst enemy, let alone Mulder.

'Well at least we're not chasing demons, aliens or some such things.' She had to admit that chasing known life- forms was much easier than the paranormal.

Hobbling carefully, she picked her way from one piece of landscaping to another, using the greenery as cover. After a few moments, Scully finally found herself at the top of a big hill. As she stood behind a large pine tree, she looked down the hill below and noticed a four-door late model sedan. It was parked along side of the road on the other side of the gate with its windows steamed.

'Ok...I have found our three lovebirds but where is Mulder and our suspects? Turning around cautiously, being circumspect to remain protected, Scully carefully scanned the area for life. As she looked to her right she caught out of the corner of her eye movement behind some bushes. Pulling her gun up from the resting position and slipping off the safety, Scully instinctively chose the Weaver stance: placing her feet in a professional boxer- type position as she adopted a forty-five degree angle to her target. This stance; provided herself as less of a target while giving her greater mobility in case she needed to run.

She couldn't see from where she was what was behind the bush, but the movement had been too large to be an animal. Scully knew that without back-up and injured she was at a distinct disadvantage. She didn't want to give her position away but she knew in the pit of her gut that someone was there. But before she could decide what to do, fate intervened. From behind the clump of twisted matted leaves and thorns a tall broad-chested figure ran out. He headed toward the woods; his figure still partially obscured by the edge of the overgrown vegetation.

"Freeze! Federal Agent...put your hands up in the air!" Scully brought her firearm up in line sight: rear and front, her finger perched on the trigger. Blue eyes blinked in anger, from where she was she couldn't get a good target.

"I said freeze. I am armed." Scully warned once again as she took a step forward. She kept her gun up, even though a clean shot was impossible. She could feel her heart racing in her chest; the grip of her gun was slick with sweat from her palm.

The man looked about anxiously for a second and then ran up and into the woods, not for a moment leaving the cover of the pine trees.

"Damn!" Scully shook her head, as she dropped her gun down to waist level. Wrinkling her brow, she turned and began to limp her way down the hill. She knew that with her injury she would not be able to give effective chase, so her next logical step would be to find Mulder and help apprehend the suspects in the vehicle. They would be able to lead them to the others.

Clearing the first knoll and remaining undercover, she could just make out a small dip in the descent. As she carefully made her way down to it avoiding the thick bramble, her good foot caught on something that was heavy, warm and fleshy. Scully struggled to maintain her already precarious balance as she looked around to see what was holding her up. "Damn," she whispered. "I almost forgot how dark it is in the country."

Stooping over, Scully reached down to see what had caught her foot. As she felt about, something heavy covered in damp cloth greeted her tentative touch.

"What the-" Scully went down on her knees and looked under the shrubbery, keeping her gun ready. At first only darkness, thick and menacing stared back, but as the clouds moved once again, she could just make out a familiar, still figure of a man.

"Oh my God, Mulder..."

Scully grabbed the shoe in her pocket and tossed it on the ground. It was too dark to see what was wrong, so she got out her flashlight and turned it on. She then leaned over Mulder and she shielded the light as much as possible to keep her position secure.

What she saw there worried her. Mulder was lying on his side, his cheek into the ground. His eyes were closed, his breaths quiet. In the middle of Mulder's very pale forehead was a large, very dark bruise situated on top of a sizeable bump that oozed a great deal of blood. She tucked the flashlight under her arm and making sure that her gun arm was still ready, she quickly took a carotid pulse. 'It's thready...from shock' As she pulled her hand back up, warm sticky blood dripped from her fingers.

'Oh God...'she thought, 'Mulder, what did you get yourself into this time?' Careful not to move him, she backed up a little and grabbed for her cell-phone. She could hear the police that she had called earlier finally pulling up to the gate below but she knew that she needed to get an ambulance there fast.

Breathing a sigh of relief, she whispered, "hold on Mulder. The police are here." Scully settled down on the ground next to Mulder and placed the still lit flashlight next to her. With her eyes full of tears, she reached over and with the cell-phone phone still in her hand, brushed his hand with hers.

One would think that after all of the times that Mulder had been injured on the job, she would have gotten used to it. But she wasn't. Each and every time it caused an aching pit to grow in her stomach. However, now was not the time to dwell upon it. She needed to remain strong and professional for him and for herself.

As Scully looked down the hill, she saw several officers exit the three cruisers and walk over towards the car. Holding her gun in one hand, she dialed for assistance. As she waited for the connection, she called down to the police below. "I've got an officer down up here and an unknown number of subjects still at large. I am a federal agent and I am armed."


2300hrs Strong Memorial Hospital Rochester, NY

Spending the night as a guest at the local hospital's ER wasn't Dana Scully's idea of a good time. However as she had several times before in the past, she sat quietly next to her partner in the well lit exam room. She had already sought treatment for her twisted ankle, and now awaited results on Mulder's CT scan.

Scully looked up from her hands that were folded in her lap at her partner. Mulder sat stoically on the edge of the stainless steel trimmed gurney, his dangling feet making him appear to be more of a very tired little boy than of a man in his late thirties.

She watched silently as Mulder reached up with his hand and gingerly touched the tape, which held the dressing on his wound. "Can we leave now Scully?" Mulder asked with a pout. After waking up here to an overbearing, quite unattractive nurse bent on bleeding every ounce of blood that he had left in him, he had been more than ready to leave. However since he knew that if he didn't get treatment for his injuries Scully would kill him her self, he had behaved.

"Mulder...you have a head injury." Scully reached over and took his hand in hers, gently rubbing her thumb across his knuckles. The lateness of the hour was beginning to take its toll on her. Dark circles underlined blood shot blue eyes, once perfect make-up now smudged and faint. "They need to read the CT Scan, it could be serious. They did have to give you several stitches to close the wound."

"Scully, I have been hurt worse than this," Mulder chuckled softly, the corners of his mouth curling around his words. He did have to admit that he felt like shit. He swore that a herd of elephants had taken up residence in his head, their incessant pounding causing even his eyes to hurt. His back was quite sore from the kick that he had received, the muscles tight and achy. In short, he knew that on the Mulder injury index, on a scale of one to ten, he was at an impressive six. However, he would never admit it to Scully. If he did she would hover over him like a mother hen and right now a mother hen was the last thing that he needed. He knew that once he got out of there, he would instantly better. No two-bit punk wasn't going to keep him down long. All that he needed was a hot shower and a few moments to himself. "I just want to go back to my room and lie down," Mulder pleaded softly as he rubbed his lower back.

"That's a very good idea, Agent Mulder." From behind the pulled curtain a familiar figured stepped forth, Dr. Dailey: the emergency room attending physician. "Agent Mulder...your scan was negative. As much as I would like to keep you here overnight, You *can* go."

Mulder shot a look of relief at Scully, as a cat-that-ate- the-canary grin crept over his face.

Scully just shrugged quietly in return.

Fumbling through her clipboard full of papers, the thick curtain of her dark hair fell to obscure her delicate features as she spoke. "I have written you a prescription for Percocet and you can fill that at the pharmacy around the corner. However, until then, the nurse has been instructed to give you one before you leave. Now since you did lose some blood, and refused IV treatment, I recommend that you increase your fluid intake for the next few days. You were also unconscious, so please take it easy.

Looking down at her reports once again, a bright smile danced across her face. "Judging from your previous records that they faxed me, you know the drill probably better than I do. And Agent Scully...I am counting on you to keep him out of trouble."

Scully rolled her eyes in indignation as if to say, like *she* could ever keep Mulder in line.

With a smile the doctor handed Mulder his treatment reports, and then with a nod she left, leaving the two alone. The eerie silence of the room cloaked them in a thick oozing false sense of security.

Scully stood up slowly, her body showing clearly what little energy she had. A cloud of guilt settled over Mulder as he watched her stiffly reach back and pull her jacket of the back of the chair. Mulder then looked down and could clearly see the ace wrap tightly wound around her slight ankle.

'What the hell have I done? I promised myself that I would never ditch her again, and what do I do? I take off into the night after the suspects and leave her to call for back-up like an assistant. She fell because she was trying to save my sorry ass.' Mulder closed his eyes and sighed. "Come on Mulder. Let's get you out of here." Mulder heard Scully mumble as he silently admonished himself once again. 'You're such a putz.'

Mulder opened his eyes and slipped off of the gurney, his shoes thudding on the floor beneath. "Scully...I need to talk to you." Mulder stepped up to stand in front of her, his eyes dark and hooded with concern. They needed to finish what they had started, even though he knew that she didn't. He knew that if he let it go for too long, Scully would just retreat into herself once again and then it would be too late.

"Mulder, I don't think we need to talk anymore. I think that we said all that there was needed to be said." Scully turned away from Mulder to walk out of the cubby.

Mulder grasped her by the shoulder and Scully stopped as she turned to face him. "We need to talk, right now." Mulder took a deep breath and continued to speak. " Look, I am sorry about what happened, I just thought...I just thought that you understood. That you would just know. No matter what we might feel for one another, I value our friendship way too much to risk it on a long shot. I need you in my life, but I just don't think that..."

"Mulder it's ok," Scully interrupted as she reached up and caressed the curve of his bruised cheek. "I told you that I am not leaving; not now, not ever. This is as much my fight as it is yours." Scully then chuckled tightly, as she brought her hand back down to rest on her hip. "As far as I am concerned, I am glad that we got that all out in the open. Now we can go on with no expectations...no misunderstandings. You are right, we could *never* work. We are just too different. Besides, I could never afford your life insurance on my G-woman salary."

With that Scully turned and hobbled out of the room, leaving Mulder standing there alone as ever. He looked about the sterile well-organized room, the stainless steel accents gleaming brightly under the harsh lights. As he took a strained breath, he could feel his heart begin to bleed; the bright red blood dripping silently on the sparkling tiles below.

He knew that this was it.

He knew there would be no more discussion on the matter.

0015hrs Room 22 Sav-A-Lot Motel
Pittsford, NY

Mulder was way too close for her sanity. She could feel the heat radiating off of his lean body, his male essence overwhelming her. She could feel her heart pound in her chest; the cool sweat dripped down the middle of her shoulder blades as the hair on the back of her neck literally stood on end.

It had been way too long since the last time that she had gotten laid.

"Mulder, would you please lift up your foot? I can't get your shoe off." Scully mumbled through tight lips as she looked up impatiently at Mulder. The medication that the doctor had prescribed had worked all right...too well. After they had left the hospital, she had stopped to get them both a bite to eat. However, Mulder's roadside stop to vomit had put them both out of the mood for Chinese.

She ended up giving him a Ginger ale, a Percocet and now Mulder was the physical equivalent of a six-foot plus wet Mulder-noodle.

"You know Scully, I've have fantasized about you undressing me like this but I can promise you I wasn't this half out of it." Scully heard Mulder breathe, as he closed his eyes and fell down back on the musty garish bedspread in a vain attempt, she realized, to make the room stop spinning.

Scully removed his last shoe and sock. "Shut up Mulder" she replied as she sat back down on the floor. Looking up at the cracked, mildew covered plaster; Scully blew her well- mussed hair from her face in frustration.

"I can't believe Skinner pulled us off the case, Scully when we were so close to finding out the truth." Mulder brought his hands up to make a point but when confronted with the concept of gravity, they fell back down with a thud. Although Skinner had called when Mulder had been already medicated, Scully knew his mind was still lucid enough to be a pissed as hell.

"Mulder..." Scully warned as she stood up slowly, every muscle of her body aching. As bad as it was now, she knew that it would be that much worse in the morning. All that she wanted was to take a hot shower and go to bed.

Mulder chuckled as he looked about his less than spacious room and rubbed his hand across the tense lines of his forehead. "Jesus, Scully. What the hell did she give me, an elephant tranquilizer?"

"She gave you Percocet, Mulder." Scully slid down to sit next to him, and brushed his hair off of his forehead, noting the steadily growing bruising with concern. "That and an empty stomach," Scully continued with mild amusement, "added to not having any sleep in a while has literally made a wuss out of you. I must admit that given your size, this is quite unusual but-"

"I'm not a wuss..." Mulder pouted, as he speech became slightly weaker and a little muddled. "I'm just a bit *woozy*. Why did 'kinner pull us?"

"It seems our presence caused a few too many questions to be asked. You have to admit that our exit was a bit overblown wouldn't you say?" Scully shook her head and sighed as she reached down and began to unbutton Mulder's shirt, the warm skin of his stomach scorching her fingertips. It took all that she had to remain as professional as possible but as she quickly made her way down his chest, revealing inch after inch of enticing chest hair, she found herself growing more and more uncomfortable by the minute.

"Are ya 'cusing me of bein' anythin' less 'den s-s-subtle, Sully?" Mulder slurred as he tried rather unsuccessfully to sit up.

"No, Mulder... Scully replied with a strained chuckle, amused by his antics. "I'm accusing *us* of being anything less than subtle." Now was the test of her mettle. With Mulder's shirt unbuttoned, all that was left was his pants. 'I'm only human...how much more am I expected to take?' Now it wasn't as if she hadn't undressed him before, since she had on several occasions. But this was different. Everything was different now.

"Well...." Taking a deep breath, Mulder seemed to force himself to go on as he brought himself rather unsteadily up onto his elbow. "At least'r not so subtle moves got da 'thorities wha' they wanted...now the 'dents of Jefferson road can res' easy knowin' their cemetery's safe once'gn."

"Mulder, even though we didn't find this Ghostly Hitchhiker of yours, we did make a difference." With a surge of courage she never knew she possessed, Scully reached down and grabbed the buckle of his belt in her damp palm, the cool slick metal causing a slight shudder throughout her body.

"Y're right Sully...." Mulder fell back as Scully undid his belt, his stomach muscles quivering noticibly under her touch. "Its jus'...so 'ired of bein' 'lone."

"I know, Mulder." Scully leaned back against the dented faux wood of the headboard, as she let out a soft sigh of resignation. She did know. She had once told someone that 'loneliness was a choice'. And it was. It had been hers, in anticipation of the future. Now it seems that they were both destined to remain that way.

Following the sweet alto of her voice, Mulder turned and nestled his face into her thigh, burying himself into her clothing. "You sssmell so goo'," Scully heard as she looked down and saw Mulder sniffing her. "I 'ream nigh'... 'ow you sssmell... 'ow ya 'aste." Only in sleep would Mulder find the peace that he desired to have concerning Scully.

"Mulder..." Tears threatened to fall from Scully's eyes and she struggled to keep control. She tipped her head back and blinked, hoping that she wasn't too late. She needed to get out of there. She had promised herself that Mulder would never have to be subjected to her weakness again; She had made enough of a scene at the cemetery.

"I've...though'...us bein' 'gether." Scully watched tearfully, as Mulder's breaths became slow and even, his face grew slack. "'ave you?" Mulder asked almost unintelligibly as he brought his hand over to rest on her stomach, his fingers stroking the soft material that he found there.

"Mulder, I...." Scully closed her eyes and a bright blush stole across her fatigue touched features. She could feel the branding heat of his touch imprinting her as his forever.

"Sully?" Mulder tugged absently at her blouse, as if his mind was taking its very last lucid thought. His limbs appeared heavy as he tried to move them; his lips parted and pulsed with every breath that he took.

"Yes, yes I have...." Scully replied as leaned over and brushed her lips across his forehead. Slipping out from under him, Scully reached down and pulled the thin extra blanket up and around Mulder's neck. With a final loving ruffle of his hair and a sad smile, Scully turned and limped away.

0045hrs Room 23 Sav-A-Lot Motel Pittsford, NY


The soft sounds of slowly dripping water filled the cramped, mildew stained bathroom. In the dim light just above the crack in the mirror, Dana Scully carefully inspected the pale lines of her face.

Mulder was right. Where once a vibrant and young woman stared back, now a tired, lined face existed. Even the hair was different. Once striking, it now appeared dull and lifeless: as if the fire that once smoldered now was just a few scattered embers blowing about in the dry desert.

Leaning over the rust-streaked sink, Scully poured some facial cleanser onto her hand. Reaching up, she rubbed the pearly white substance into her face.

Every night she did the same thing, a ritual never broken since she was in college. Once she rinsed that off, she would then apply her eye cream and her moisturizer.


Her life was dictated by it, when not running around after Mulder *god* knows where. And even then, she would adapt her routine as much as possible when time permitted. To her, it was more than just what it appeared on the surface. It was almost compulsive; a means of relieving stress and restoring order into a life which oftentimes seemed out of control.

Reaching for the threadbare face towel, she carefully patted her almost translucent skin dry. Looking into the mirror once again, her mind mused upon her life and where it had taken her until now.

Where had that once young woman gone? What in her life had killed that blazing fire which had once burned so brightly inside her?

She hadn't even noticed the subtle changes consciously until a few weeks ago. She had just gotten up one morning and noticed that time had finally caught up to her.

Of course, it was just an observation. Scully had never been the type to obsess over her looks. It wasn't as if she wasn't aware that she was attractive. She knew that she was, however for her it was never the focus of her life. Turning off the light, Scully turned and walked back into her dilapidated room.

Now that she was consciously aware of her outward changes, Scully also was beginning to notice inward ones as well. She was tired. Not just a physical kind of tired but an almost emotional as well as spiritual kind of tired.

It was as if something was missing.

Stepping up to her suitcase, Scully reached in and pulled out a pair of undergarments which she then tucked into the pocket of the suit that she was planning on wearing the next day. Stepping back, Scully shook her head as a nagging feeling began to creep up on her.

If she was missing something, then what was it?

Scully looked about the room unconsciously, as if somehow *miraculously* the missing item would return.

Not likely...

Could she get it back?

Suddenly a flash of silver filled her meandering thoughts. Concentrating, it flashed once again; this time the form emerging from the haze of the evening's events.

The Rosary...in the cab they had been in.

The Rosary? Scully knew that it was somehow significant. It *had* caught her eye for a reason that she wasn't quite sure of.

Scully reached into the satin pocket of her suitcase, where she usually kept loose items and pulled out a soft gray velvet bag with a gold-toned pull string cord. Sitting down on the musty bed cover, Scully loosened the string and emptied the contents into her palm.

Amethyst faceted beads sparkled on a silver gold chain: just like the chain she had seen in the cab. 'Is this what I am looking for? Is this the truth that I am missing?'

'Or am I just finally losing my mind'

She fervently hoped that it wasn't the latter.

Scully clenched it tightly in her hand, the rough edges of the metal cutting into her tender skin. She had been given the Rosary on the day of her birth as a gift from her great-grandmother Scully. It had been with her on her baptism, her first communion, and beyond.

Scully knew that the Rosary was the ultimate symbol of her faith. It's purpose was to help keep in memory certain events of the mysteries in the history of salvation, and to thank and praise God for them.

Faith...that was what it had all came down to.

Was *that* what she was missing?

Scully closed her eyes; the dark auburn lashes falling gracefully down onto her softly freckled face. A wave of realization hitting her like a powerful tornado as it made its way across the landscape of her soul.

Her Faith...

Throughout all of her years in the X-Files, it had been her saving grace. Her faith in herself and in God: in the innate goodness of human kind, in her government and in Mulder had given her the strength to continue the fight.

And somehow...somewhere...she had lost most of it.

Sure she had found Mulder.

In that lonely, dark, dust-ball infested hallway when she had come to tell Mulder that Diana was dead, she had realized that there was no way on God's earth that she could live without him.

She could no longer fight the very thing that she wanted most in the world to happen.

But at the same moment that she had confessed to him that she no longer knew what to believe in and what to trust, she had lost a faith which had driven her most of her life. Just because of a ship that had been found in the sand.

Mulder had been right. She wasn't the same. But not of his doing as he believed. She knew that she was to blame. She had allowed it to happen. And not only had she been hurt by her mistake, but Mulder had been also. So much so, that she had literally pushed him away.

Loneliness was a choice; and she had made hers.

Mulder might just be a lost cause to her; but she wasn't to herself.

Pulling her fingers apart, Scully allowed the Rosary to dangle from her hands. Her Faith was in her hands and she planned to get it back. The night was late and much of her Faiths would require work but one particular one still was within her reach.

Holding the Rosary in one hand, her mind mused upon the meaningful words that she had learned so many years ago. 'I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only son....'

Scully looked up from her trembling hands; as tears -her offerings in the name of her faith- began to fall down her flushed cheeks.

Even as much as she would like it to be, she knew that the answer wasn't as simple as that.

Her mother had once told her that it wasn't what was on the outside that counted; it was what was on the inside that counted in faith. As much as the rituals meant to a true believer, it wasn't the measure of their true worth.

Scully knew that just saying the words didn't count, she needed to feel them with every beat of her heart. And this wasn't the way.

Unfolding her fingers, she let the Rosary fall to the bed below. As Scully took a deep breath and closed her tear- stained eyes, she brought her fingers up to clasp the cross on her necklace as she allowed her swirling thoughts to center upon faith and what it meant to her.

'Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen...'

If she were to have concrete proof of such things there would be no need for faith. And in that, there would also be no free will.

'Through God all things are possible.'

She had lost so much on her journey to this point; she had even gone as far as to take the life of another when the person was unarmed.

Maybe this all was part of the plan. Maybe all that she had seen and experienced was for a reason.

She wasn't sure if she was ready for that leap of faith just yet but she was willing to believe that maybe there still was room for God in her life. With that she knew that all other things would fall into place.

Outside of Scully's room, a cool drizzling ran began to fall; a solemn promise of life to the earth below.

0130am Jefferson Road, Route 252
Pittsford, NY

Fox Mulder had always known that the truth was out there. His whole adult life had been spent in pursuit of that belief. As he sped down Route 252, he once again was in search of his elusive quarry. Skinner's pulling them off of the case, of course, wasn't enough for Mulder. And that was why he was driving down 252, the lonesome sound of the crickets his only living company.

As the droning sounds of the radio filled his ears, Mulder gently rubbed his forehead, tracing the tape that covered his wound. After a small nap and a hot shower, Mulder felt almost human. The pounding, which he had felt earlier, had finally worn off and now his head felt like it was stuffed with cotton. Even his back felt better; he was just a little stiff.

Physically, he was almost healed but his mind and heart were in turmoil.

Who was Ascension Katherine? Was she really the perpetrator of the supposed haunting or had it been after all just another load of lies to cover up another ugly truth?

From the testimony until now, she certainly hadn't meant any harm. In fact she had helped to improve the lives of the people she had touched. What he wouldn't give at that moment to have some of her guidance. Back at their motel, Scully was just in the room next door to his but to him she was a lifetime away. She had basically admitted her feelings for him for the first time, and he had shot the moment all to hell by pushing her away. 'I'm a fuck-up...a real son of a bitch.'

He had turned down the most important person in his life, hell the *only* person that mattered anymore, because of his fear.

Mulder slammed his fist into the cool curve of the steering wheel, anger surging through every cell of his being. What was he going to do? Could he just go on living the lie? Pretending that they didn't mean anything to one another? Would their friendship be enough? How could it be enough on those nights when he feared he couldn't take another step? Would their friendship even survive? Mulder wasn't sure of anything anymore. The only thing that he was sure about was that his life had been in a tailspin since his mother died.

True, their relationship hadn't been the idyllic one; but it was all that he had. She was his only living link with the past...a past which he knew now to be false. But she was his mother...and he loved her.

She had become another person struck down in his life. And the one thing that he was sure of was that the only person left, the one that he held in the highest regard, would not be a victim any longer. He had tried to push her away more than once and she had steadfastly refused, of that he was eternally grateful. But since they were to be together, he would have to keep her at arm's length even if it destroyed him.

And in the end he knew that it would.

Mulder shook his head and rolled down the window, allowing the cool night air to caress his heated flesh. As he drove along, the lights that lined the roadway flashed by, their distinct lines blurring into one. The light illuminated the road and he noticed that the golf green for Locust Hill Country Club was coming up on his right.

Shaking his head, Mulder looked ahead heeding it no other thought. His answers were not here after all. Maybe they never were. He was just as empty as ever.

He was just running away. Just as he always had.

He had always thought that when he had finally found his sister, he would find the truth. But in reality, he was as far from it as he ever was.

"Agent Mulder, I have been waiting for you."

Mulder nearly gave himself whiplash as he turned violently off the road and slammed the car in park. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up and he could feel dozens of insects crawling all over his body. As he slowly turned to face the empty passenger seat next to him, his apprehension grew as Mulder realized that it wasn't so empty anymore. Seated next to him in a flowing white gown was the woman from the picture on the mausoleum. It was Katherine, the entity herself.

Mulder blinked slowly, his shock clearly written over his dark, distressed features. "How did you-"

"I knew you would come to me. It was only a matter of time," Katherine smiled and chuckled as she crossed her pale slender hands in her lap. "However, I couldn't count on you to stop long enough so I had to take matters into my own hands."

Mulder's jaw hung down on his chest, drool literally pooling there and dripping down onto his T-shirt. He tried to speak, tried to utter some semblance of discernable communication but his brain just wouldn't cooperate. For the moment, it was a lost cause.

"As you know," Katherine continued softly. "Sometimes the truth *can* be very elusive. In this existence, time is so finite that when you do finally find it, you need to treat it as the priceless gift that it is."

"I d-d-do," Mulder finally stuttered as he tried to keep his eyes on the road. In the distance he could make out bright, jagged flashes of light, a storm rolling in from the lake. He brought his forearm up to wipe the drool off of his chin, "b-b-believe me I do." Still stunned by the unearthly vision, Mulder's mind was just starting to comprehend the importance of the moment.

Right before him was the very thing that he had came all of this way for. Not only that, she seemed to have taken an interest in him.

"Really?" her blue eyes challenged him. "I am not so sure about that. I believe that you *want* yourself to believe but I think that you know the *real* answer to that. Remember, things will happen as they are meant to be, if you let them."

Mulder shook his head, a shiver running down the length of his spine. Even though her words had been vague, Mulder knew exactly what she had been talking about. Her words seemed to address exactly what he had been thinking about just before she had dropped in: his decision about Scully. "That's what I am trying to prevent," Mulder replied. "The inevitable."

"Before you can truly love another, you must first be willing to try to accept yourself." Her rich alto fell from long cold rose bud lips, the words filling the silence of the night about them.

"Life is a lesson of love-in love. Life is also a lesson of trust-in trust. Who are you? What do you want to be? Until now, you have lived your life in the definition of others -who you are to them- but now you are free. Now is time that you answer those questions for yourself and when you do, what you believe and have trust in *will* be. If you let fear be your light -your truth- it will only steer you further into the darkness. And in the end...is that what you really want...for you...for her?"

"It isn't that easy." Mulder ran his fingers through his tussled locks, as his frustration mounted. "My life is way too complicated." Every single word she uttered tugged at the torn scraps of his bleeding heart. His decision was in reality dooming them both to a life of pain, a life bathed in the darkness. Neither would ever leave the other, yet they would never be together.

"If that is what you are willing to believe, then it will be." She replied as tears glittered brilliantly in the sapphire depths of her eyes. She then looked out the windshield, her striking features belaying her distress.

"How do I let go?" Mulder asked as he waved his hand about in the air. "How do I just let things happen?" Mulder knew the answer even before finishing what he had said. He had lived his personal and professional life by it all of these years, until now.

A bright smile crept across her almost translucent features; her eyes lit up with the light of a thousand stars on a dark night. "Faith, Mr. Mulder. Believe and it will happen."

Then as suddenly as she appeared, she disappeared. Only the sweet smell of roses and her parting words were left as evidence of her visitation.

"That's easy enough for you to say...damn it." Mulder again slammed his fist into the steering wheel, as he noticed for the first time that he was sitting outside of gates of Ascension Cemetery. Suddenly another flash of lightning caught his eye as the heavens poured forth, the rain bouncing off the hood of the car. "You make it sound so simple yet you have no clue what our lives are like...what I have been through...what Scully has been through...."

Mulder's voice cracked on the last few words and his voice then trailed off, his last syllable accentuated with a loud rumble of thunder. It just couldn't be that easy. Nothing was ever easy for him or for Scully. Their paths -by necessity- weren't that way.

'If you let fear be your light, your truth, it will only steer you further into the darkness...'

Those words haunted him like a silent wind sliding over the rolling hills of his memories.

As Mulder leaned back against the headrest of his seat, the rain began to blow into the open window of the car; soaking him instantly, but Mulder didn't even notice. His thoughts were thousands of miles away, more confused than ever. He had been so set in his convictions but now his heart just wasn't in it.

For all of his life he had been searching for something to fill the emptiness which he felt in his heart. He had always thought that was his sister Samantha. However, she hadn't filled it as he had thought she would when he had discovered what had happened to her. He was still searching: but for what? What had she represented to him?

"Unconditional love...'his unconscious mind offered.

In a house full of violence and anger, she had been his love.

He had been looking for unconditional love and acceptance and Scully had been the only person in his adult life to offer it to him. However, did he have enough faith to believe in what he really wanted, really needed? Was his faith enough?

When hadn't it been enough? It was what had gotten him this far.

'I want to believe...'

Weren't those the very words that he had lived his whole life by?

How could he have faith in the existence of little gray aliens, Bigfoot, and past-life experiences and not have the same conviction of faith in his and Scully's love?

'I'm such a hypocrite. I would go to the ends of the earth for a werewolf but I am too afraid of taking a simple leap of faith.'

What the hell had he become?

He had sold out to the darkness just as his father had. And he had promised himself that he would never do that.

Suddenly, a long lost memory resurfaced and a shiver crept up his back like a cat in the fog.

Diana had been right.

Even in the secrecy of his dreams, his failures were reality. When he had been stricken with the unexplainable illness, which had left his mind a jumbled mess of other people's visions and thoughts, he had hallucinated the path not taken. Diana had told him that he had lived his life without any true responsibilities, that he had been literally living his life as a child.

And by Jesus, she was right.

He had made himself the martyr for all of the bad things that had happened about him. He had taken the guilt of the world upon his shoulders and had allowed it to paralyze him with its control. He had been refusing to really live, fearing of what it would do to others. He had stood back and hid like a coward in the darkness, instead of seeking his own happiness.

As another cold blast of rain pelted him in the face, Mulder finally gained enough awareness to roll up the window, his own tears mixing with the raindrops that slid down his face.

~ see the storm is broken in the middle of the night ~

With the windows closed, the soft sounds of the radio filtered through the pelting rain.

~ nothing left here for me it's washed away the rain pushes the buildings aside ~

What did he have left? His family all gone, most of the answers that he had been seeking found, what was there left to fight for...to live for....

~ i watch it lift up to the sky i watch it crush me and then I die ~

Sure, he was free. But what had that gotten him? His freedom had put him in the biggest prison that he had ever been in. His faith was gone. The strength which had driven him on this journey all of these years was gone and he was sacrificing the only thing that had ever mattered because of it. And in the end, he knew he was sacrificing himself as well.

He was already a prisoner of the darkness.

~ speak to me baby in the middle of the night speak to me hold your mouth to mine ~

As the music played on, Mulder pulled the car back out onto the road, the water splashing behind him. He wasn't sure where he was going, but he knew that he had to get out of there.

~'cause the sky is breaking it's deeper than love i know the way you feel like the rains outside speak to me ~

0230am Room 23 Sav-A-Lot Motel
Pittsford, NY

Faded moonlight flowed across the dingy motel carpet like spilled milk, its tendrils touching and illuminating the floor beneath and the rumpled blankets of the bed in the center of the room like a long lost friend. Outside, a flash of bright light and a rumble of thunder rolled by, the companions silently stealing into the room.

Under those mussed covers, a slight figure writhed almost violently, as soft sighs and moans filled the night air. A flash of sun-kissed copper brightened the muted colors of the bed-clothes as it peeked out from beneath. Full lips; lax in the eddies of sleep, parted....


The name, uttered softly into the night, floated with the vague moonbeams that dragged shadows beneath them. Behind fluttering lashes, a world of fantasy for only one was playing before unfocused blue eyes.

Another sigh escaped from rose petal lips, as the blankets once again quaked upon the thin mattress. The figure moved about, sleep laden limbs heavy with sexual tension.

Dana Scully, Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was having a dream. A very special dream born of a heart mourning what it could never have. Just as in nights in the past, the moment that her head had touched the pillow, the logical side of her persona had stepped back and her heart stepped forth.

Flesh against flesh, hearts beating as one; the two twilight lovers moved in time, their soul-choreographed dance as old as the cosmos about them as the spiraled further and further into heaven's awaiting arms.

Time didn't exist for the two of them, their love creating a world all of their own.

Soul mates reunited as it was in the beginning, their combined life force ebbing in one with the pulse of the creator.

As she felt her lover's hands upon her tender flesh, her body quickened; her breaths became ragged and fantasy melded into reality as her small slender hands slid down her stomach, under her nightclothes and buried themselves between her fully parted legs.

From the reverie of sensation in which Scully was lost, she could hear faint noises coming from across the small, cramped room and she nestled further into the thin blanket. She was loath to leave the nest that she had created for herself because for the first time since she had heard Mulder say those painful words, she actually felt warm. The warmth encircled her like a long lost lover, filling her empty bed and aching heart.

The noise grew louder, its unfocused dim quickly starting to resemble the sound of insistent knocking. It reached into her dreams and pulled her forth.

"Scully...open the door!" a familiar voice called out, its timber sending chills throughout her.

Dilated blue eyes met the milky shadows of night.

In a flash, they were gone. Only to awaken once again, but this time swirling hues of grays, browns, and flashes of silver filled her brilliant eyes, focusing her environment before her. Scully shook her head slowly, shaking the dusty corners of her mind free.

'I have to stop tormenting myself like this,' Scully mused as she pushed back her twisted bedclothes and got up out of her bed.

As the knocking grew more insistent, Scully walked quickly across the soiled carpeting, the cool night air raising gooseflesh across her burning sweat-slicked skin. Her body still tingled with the after affects of her erotic dream, and she had to take deep, even breaths to calm her irregular breathing. When was her wishful dreaming going to end? When would she be able to fall asleep for once and not have him haunt her dreams?

Stepping up to the peephole, Scully went on unsteady tiptoe as she peered outside.

'So much for peace and quiet,' Scully mused as she shook her head and sighed. Outside, standing just in front of the door was the man that had caused such a stir.

Quickly unlocking the door, Scully threw it open. "Mulder?" Scully questioned as she moved aside for him to enter. "What's wrong?"

Scully watched him look at her and shake his head as if in disbelief, like he couldn't comprehend what he saw. Mulder stepped forward, his eyes growing wide with curiosity. She could sense something feral in his presence and Scully felt waves of uneasiness overcome her, and she lowered her face slightly from his intensely scrutinizing stare.

"Mulder?" Scully asked again, as she watched him inhale deeply and lean forward, his nostrils flaring slightly. 'What the hell is he doing?' Scully mused as she looked down at herself, searching for whatever Mulder seemed to think was wrong.

'Uh oh....'Scully felt a bright blush creep across her face. She knew what was wrong, he had seen her many ways, on numerous occasions, but she had never looked or smelled like this. She could see a fine sheen of sweat glisten on her glowing skin, just above her neckline and she instinctively knew that her eyes were so dilated that they had to appear nearly black. And as for his sniffing, she herself could smell her arousal in the air.

This was not good.

Preferring denial to the alternative, Scully gestured for him to enter and Mulder mumbled "Scully, we need to talk," as he stumbled into the room, nearly knocking her over in the process. A rumble of thunder filled the room, and the pervasive smell of fresh rain followed him in as she shut the door.

"Mulder, what's wrong?" Scully stepped up to him, her feet instantly soaked by the rapidly pooling puddle of water at his feet. Flipping on the light, she really saw Mulder for the first time; dark hair slicked back and plastered to his head, his T-shirt and jeans dripping wet and tightly molded to his body.

Her dumbfounded mind supplied her with only one word as her arousal tugged at her burning abdomen...YUM. He looked so damn good she could eat him up in a second, but not before she screwed him until he screamed for mercy.

Mulder began to pace, his wet sneakers squeaking loudly in the stark silence of the dimly lit room. "I s-s-saw...she said...." Scully watched him as he nervously about the room, as if he were trying to think of something to say but his mind wasn't cooperating.

"Who said what, Mulder? What did you see?" Scully placed her hand on his trembling shoulder, totally unaware of what was making Mulder act so bizarrely. Scully was scared. Was the injury to his head worse than what they had thought? Was the medication that he had taken earlier having an adverse affect on him?

"I s-s-still can't b-b-believe it." Mulder shrugged her touch off as if it were fire. He walked a few steps over to her mussed bed and sat down on it, still oblivious to the tremendous amounts of rainwater now sliding down onto Scully's mattress.

Scully shook her head and went into the bathroom. Mulder wasn't going to make any sense soon. Grabbing a couple of threadbare towels, her mind resolved itself to first things first. A shivering and very wet Mulder was making a colossal mess in her room, and he needed to be attended to.

As she walked out, she could hear Mulder attempting to vocalize once again, but his speech was still halting and garbled. His chill had seemed to set in further, every inch of his body quivered.

"Mulder, you're babbling." Scully offered as she walked over and dropped the towels on the bedclothes. "Here... let me get you out of those." Grabbing the hem of his shirt, with a doctor's eye, she pulled it up and over his head. Her vision took in the bruises and lacerations, which he had accrued, in his earlier encounter. Then, with a sigh of pity, she took the ragged scratchy towel and draped his wet flesh with it.

As Mulder sat there quietly, she once again pulled off his sneakers and socks as she sat there and quietly watched him.

"Now tell me what is going on. How did you get so wet?" Scully sat down next to Mulder, the cheap mattress dipping noticeably under their combined weight. Even though Mulder's jeans were as wet as the other articles that she removed, she knew there was no way in hell that she could take them off. She might just lose her mind for good.

"I s-s-saw her, Scully. I saw Ascension K-K-Katherine." Mulder lifted his eyes from his lap, his hazel meeting her bright blue.

Scully sighed and reached for the other towel as she stood up and stood in front of him. "Mulder, now you know that is impossible. You must have had a dream, a vivid one at that, probably caused by the medication that you took earlier." She took the towel, brought it to his head and began to rub his hair gently, careful to avoid the small dressing on his forehead.

Mulder rebutted, "you d-d-don't understand...I- I-I went out for a d-d-drive, I c-c-couldn't sleep and she just p-p-popped in." His eyes wandered to the partially unbuttoned nightshirt that dangled just in front of him. He could clearly see the luscious curves of her breasts, her normally pale skin now flushed and her barely visible nipples peaked and tight.

An arched brow met his words.

"Popped in, huh?" she parroted as she lifted the towel from his head. She leaned forward just a bit more and began to rub the back of his head. This had taken a sudden turn from friendly concern into something quite different.

She could smell him, the fresh smell of rainwater mixed with 'him' and she found herself growing further aroused. At that moment, she had never wanted him more. However, since she knew that was a moot point, she would have to be content with what she had.

Reaching further over his shoulder, she grabbed the extra blanket at the foot of the bed, and draped it over his broad shoulders, on top of the towel. "You will be all right after a good night's sleep, Mulder."

Mulder looked at her, his face flushed and unreadable. "Will you stop mothering me?" Mulder bellowed, his eyes wide with anger, as he ripped the blanket and towel off himself and threw them to the ground at his feet.

Scully jumped back at his harsh words, her eyes growing wide with confusion. "I'm *mothering* you?" Scully asked exasperatedly.

"Ok, I'll admit that mothering isn't the right word." Mulder spat as he jumped up and started to pace the carpet in front of her. "How about coming on to me? Yeah, that's it. When you touch me like that...stand so close to me...."

Scully threw her hands up in the air, as she took a few more steps back from him. Logically, she knew that Mulder would never hurt her, but instinctively she knew this was not born of logic. A fire was burning between them, and not a hydrant in sight. "Mulder, you're driving me insane. You say that we can't be together, and that's fine -whatever- but then you come in here and flaunt yourself in front of me...and expect me not to want you? I think that you have finally lost it."

"What the-"

In a heartbeat, Scully's back was against the wall of her room and she wasn't sure as to how she had gotten there. Mulder's looming frame trapped her where she stood but she knew that she could bring him down with one strategic placement of her knee. However, she had no desire to. She could feel the intense heat that he radiated in spite of his being soaked and she could see the feral look in his dark eyes as his firm flesh pressed into her soft body.

And the only thing that she cared about at that moment was that she was completely and utterly turned on. Fear wasn't even an afterthought.

Without warning, Mulder reached out and took her hand in his, wrapping his long fingers around her wrist. Scully shuddered violently at his touch and her eyes closed. As she let out a deep breath, she dropped her chin to her chest and resigned herself to her fate. She was a woman in love, hopelessly trapped by her own emotions.

Mulder lifted her chin up and bright, passion filled eyes met his. "Ok, I admit it," Mulder nodded in affirmation. "I'm crazy as hell; crazy as hell over you. You do this to me! Every time I am near you, I just want to throw you to the floor and screw you senseless."

"Oh God...." Scully breathed nervously, as she looked away from him. Now, she was scared. As Mulder gently brushed his thumb over the curves of her palm, she found herself once again stupefied by his touch. She knew that she should pull away; she knew that would be the right thing to do but for once she didn't want to be the good girl. Where had that gotten her all of these years? Not very far, where romance was concerned. A fire burned low in her abdomen as it licked angrily at every inch of her being and it called for her to throw caution to the wind.

"I want you so bad, Scully, that it hurts." Mulder brought her hand up to his mouth and nipped the palm, eliciting another shudder for his efforts. Scully watched as Mulder took a another deep breath, but this time judging from the wicked smile that flashed across the face and the lustful twinkle in his eyes, he finally recognized it.

And she knew what he smelled; her hand was what reeked of sex, more pointedly, she smelled of thick, delicious female arousal.

With his free hand, Mulder reached out and traced the side of her face, her dilated eyes following every move that he made with utter detail. "You smell so damn good. I almost didn't recognize it...I was so out of it. To know that you have touched yourself, to know you feel that way...."

Scully watched as Mulder abruptly pulled his hand back as guilt touched his flushed features. "Oh God," Mulder cried as he fell to his knees, and buried his head into the firm plane of her stomach." I'm so sorry...I'm so sorry." As Scully stood there silently, she could hear and feel the powerful sobs that tore through his body.

Scully's hands crept down and entwined themselves into his sensuously thick, wet hair as she dropped her eyes to look at him. "Mulder, you're scaring me." And he was. Mulder was acting so irrational that she was way beyond worried. One moment he was hot, the next he was cold. This just wasn't the man that she knew. Sure, he wasn't the most stable of persons on a good day, but he wasn't down right hysterical. If she couldn't get him calmed down, she was going to seriously consider calling the hospital.

"I need you..." Even Mulder's own barely mumbled words seemed to move him tremendously and he buried his head further into her abdomen.

"Mulder, I told you...I'm not going anywhere. It's ok." Scully smiled and curled her arms further around him. The earlier conversation, that's what this had been all about. She should have known. Whenever he had been faced with losing her in the past, he had done 'strange' things, including the near-kiss in his hallway. She knew that it wasn't conscious on his part, he wasn't that manipulative.

It was motivated by his intense fear of being abandoned; of being left alone. It was dysfunction at its very best. "We can get past this...we can deal with what we feel for one another and go on," Scully reassured Mulder, her voice breaking with the tremendous love she felt for him. She knew that she was lying, and she knew that he knew it. After eight years of searching for the truth, they couldn't live with the lie. The time was now.

It was time to fish or cut bait.

As if he knew what she was thinking, Mulder pulled away from her and stood up quickly, pulling her slight body to his. From that moment on, all that Scully really knew for certain was that it was going to be one hell of a ride.

"Mulder, what the hell are you doing?" Scully replied breathlessly as she squirmed anxiously against him. She could feel his rock hard evidence digging into the soft sensitive skin of her abdomen and she found herself hopelessly turned on further by him.

"I'm putting us both out of our collective misery." Mulder replied huskily as he brought his lips to the lobe of her ear and sucked it into his mouth. His teeth worried at the soft, yielding flesh for a moment and then soothed his attentions with a quick flick of his moist tongue.

"Mulder, you've finally lost it." Scully's voice was soft and demanding, the calm before Hurricane Scully. 'This isn't the answer to anything.' She mused as she tilted her head to the side, allowing his warm lips to play across her skin. Of course all good intentions in the world hadn't the same strength as they had possessed in the past with Mulder's touch tormenting her.

"No, actually Scully...you're the one about to proverbially lose it." Mulder breathed into her ear, eliciting tiny shivers from her for his attention. His softly uttered words sent up red warning flags in her thoughts and once again the lustful pull of tension flowed throughout her lower body. As he pressed himself once again into her, Scully let out a ragged breath, her need nearly destroying all higher brain function.

But Scully wasn't about to give up that easily. Self control was a virtue she practiced regularly. Someone needed to be the voice of reason and it looked like she was the one that needed to be the designated driver.

"In your dreams Mulder," Scully managed to say with one last burst of self-restraint as she hurled herself against him, trying without success to move him from her personal space. Bringing her hands to her hips, she glared over at him as he stood his ground. She knew that if they were to do this, things wouldn't change...Mulder wouldn't change. In the end, Mulder would still be too afraid to make any sort of true emotional commitment.

And a cheap night of sex wasn't what she was after.

"If you think that you are going to just make me melt into a puddle of lust, you are sadly mistaken. I have more control than that." Of course, she was far from the truth. She had very little control and she knew it. Panting loudly, her panties dripping wet; her features flushed and eyes shining, she was the poster girl for lust.

"Come on Scully, you melt?" Mulder took a step back and began to pace back and forth in front of her, his intense gaze stalking her like the main meal. Even from where she was, she could smell the arousal dripping off of him like hot syrup.

"Mulder, we shouldn't do this..." Scully asserted as her betraying eyes flickered over his impressive state of arousal. Oh my...she couldn't recall about how many of her dreams had featured her curiosity about what lie there. Sure, she had seen him naked before but that was under less than advantageous circumstances. And now right before her a dream come true was unraveling, and she was fighting it?

It was true; she had finally lost her mind.

"Don't even try to fight it, Scully." Mulder offered as he stopped pacing like a lion in a cage and stepped up to stand in front of her. "It's time to stop the games and get down to the truth. You said it yourself, we *are* the truth. We always *have* been. We've just been too afraid of it until now. I almost pushed you away again because of it. That stops here and now." Mulder replied through gritted teeth, as he wrapped his arms around her and pressed his hips unforgivingly into her.

'Oh my God...' Was that what she had thought she had heard? It couldn't be. Could it?

Scully looked up at him with anticipation, her lips parted and moist. She could tell that he was acting out of pure animal lust, the look on his face told her as much. But it was more than that. She could see the love and devotion Mulder was feeling, it glimmered in his eyes like a bright sunrise; giving the promise of a new day. He didn't need to say the words, and neither did she.

Mulder was right; it was inevitable, they were inevitable. Like the waves return to shore, they were drawn together in a bond as old as the Earth itself.

Bringing her hands up to his neck, she entwined her fingers into the dark silky hair, which she found there. "Bring it on, Mulder. I can handle anything that you throw at me."

"That's my girl," Mulder breathed as he quickly brought both of his hands up to wrap around the curve of her jaw and he crushed his mouth to hers. Seven years of sexual tension and repression crashed over the well-shored dam between them in an instant. Tenderness did not exist in this moment, the time for that had way passed.

From within the inner shells they had both built, both opened their hearts and souls to one another. Lips embraced, sharing the bridge that they had created for each other.

'Mother of God...who would have thought?' Scully found herself weakened by his calling. Hot sweet breath tickled the curve her cheek; and she trembled. She could feel Mulder using his lips to gently tug on her upper one, and as he released it, he stroked the bruised flesh with a flick of his tongue.

Scully keened softly, her desire seeking more than just this. After waiting it for so long, she wanted it all and she wasn't afraid to get it. She opened her mouth fully as she leaned forward, pressing her lips forcefully against his. She plunged her tongue to his flesh and responded in kind, making sure that he knew exactly what she wanted.

In that instant, tongues met, swirling about one another, wet flesh stroking wet flesh. It seemed to Scully that Mulder was committed from that moment their tongues first met. He passionately delved her swollen lips; his tongue sliding across her teeth, along the top of the roof of her mouth. Desire flowed through her veins like warm honey, setting her flesh on fire with his touch.

Scully could have gone on like this for eternity, but Mulder seemed to have other ideas. Scully felt him give one more nibble on her bottom lip before he pushed her face away from his. Still entangled, they stared at one another for a moment, breaths ragged and labored.

"M-M-Mulder, that was...." Scully stuttered as she stepped back from him and shook her head in disbelief. She wished that she could say more, she wished she could share all that she was feeling, but her mind seemed to fail her.

Lust seemed to have that effect upon her.

"Unfuckingbelieveably amazing," Mulder finished with glistening wet lips as his bright hazel eyes glimmered softly in the faint light of the motel room.

"Oh yeah," Scully replied articulately as she lowered her forehead hiding her face from his view. A kiss had never before had the ability to render her that way. However, she had always suspected that with Mulder it would be like this; the way that he pursued his goals which such a single-minded determination seemed to indicate as much.

"And this is just the teaser..." Mulder replied as his eyes grew narrow, just the outer rim of bright green showing and he took a step forward, once again closing the distance between them.

"Really?" Scully bantered as she brought the tip of her tongue to her upper lip. Her eyes flitted across the lines and curves of his chest, taking in everything from the delicious dark hair to the small but quite hard male nipples. His golden flesh seemed to shimmer in the low lighting.

'Hooboy...is it getting hot in here.' Scully mused with a small smile. Things were definitely looking up from where she was standing. The fire deep within her thighs was burning bright, its flames brushing at the very depths of her soul. And judging from the excited inhabitant of Mulder's skin-tight jeans, he was in an equally aroused state.

Mulder then brought his hands down to the waistband of said jeans and slowly slipped the button from the hole. "Be prepared to have your world rocked." With an arched brow and a wink he peeled the wet material slowly down his waist, wiggling his hips to help reveal the soft gray cotton boxers that barely contained him. His words trilled with the challenge, which she knew that he had issued.

"Are you man enough for the job?" Challenge accepted. Scully stepped up and with the tip of her nail flicked across the ridge of his nipple, eliciting a groan. After tweaking the turgid flesh, the tight skin rose even further under her inquisitive caress. Then trailed her finger down the hair on his chest and stopped just above his open fly.

He was sex on a stick and she couldn't wait for dessert.

With the tip of her finger, Scully then began to trace circles in the dark line of soft hair, which led to his sex. Under her touch, Mulder's stomach twitched, and he let out in a deep growl. "I'm all the man you'll ever need."

"Promises, promises..." Scully teased with a sly smile as she waggled her finger at him.

"I'm all action, Scully. And don't you forget it." Mulder's eyes grew dark as he tugged his plastered jeans down the rest of the way to the floor and stepped out of them.

Scully reached over to assist him with his boxers, eager to get a look at the goods and before she could even get a good look; Mulder grabbed her bodily around the waist, scooped her up over his shoulder, and playfully swatted her on the ass. "Nuh uh", Mulder warned tantalizing, as he turned around and walked up to the bed.

"What the hell do you think you are doing?! You would think that after seven years I could get a *little* peek." Scully muttered, as she pulled mischievously at the waistband of his shorts. Jesus, had sex ever been this much fun before? Nope, not that she could possibly remember. It had been as sober as a funeral; all of the impulsiveness was shot to hell. Now this was more like it. She liked a man to be forceful, dangerous...and boy could Mulder deliver.

"I'm going to do what I have fantasized about for years..." Scully heard as Mulder pulled her back over his shoulder and dropped her down on the bed with a slight bounce. Scully felt her skin burn red hot as Mulder studied her for a moment as she sat there and then he smiled the most beautiful smile that she had ever seen.

'So this is love,' Scully smiled one of her rare full 'Scully' smiles in return, the room lighting up like a bright sunrise. 'I've waited all of my life to see a man smile at me like that.'

Blinking back unexpected tears, Scully scooted herself down closer to the edge of the bed and crossed her legs nonchalantly. This game was getting too good for it to end yet and she wanted to be up close so that she didn't miss a minute. "And what is that?" Scully asked innocently as she arched a brow in challenge. She watched with lustful eyes as he brought his hands to his waistband.

"Making your toes curl." Mulder replied as he pulled his cotton boxers down slowly, revealing inch after inch of steel incased in silk. She had been with Mulder during his many moods: cheerful, melancholy, enraged, sick...and all of those moments had blended together over time and had influenced every single moment of her life. However, she had to admit that never seen him *quite* like this.

Aroused, feral...only for her- a sexual being unleashed into the monsoon of their courtship.

Seeing him like this, for her, was too much for mere words to describe. She loved him, she wanted him; she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him. This was what she had been looking for all of her life. This was the kind of love that transcended evil, overcame doubt; unconditional love. Such a profound feeling was this, that Scully let out a ragged breath and closed her eyes as she tried to regain some focus.

When she reopened them, she heard him moan softly as he wrapped his strong hands around his cock, stroking the hot flesh harder than she would have ever dared. Now was not the time for reflection, there would be plenty of time for that later. The flesh could no longer be denied.

Scully leaned forward and with her forefinger, traced the length of his penis: from the reddish-purple head, along the enticing length to the plush nest of wiry curls. When *had* been the last time she had ever touched another human being in such an intimate, loving way? She couldn't honestly remember. But she knew that after today, neither of them would ever be lonely again.

"Now I am intrigued." Scully breathed throatily as she reached down to take his balls into her hands. She wanted to taste him: to smell him on her, to imprint him on her just like other species did that mated for life. When she was old and gray, she wanted this moment to be forever etched into her memory through her senses.

However, Mulder had other ideas. He grabbed her wrists firmly, "uh, uh...this can wait. I have a much better idea." Mulder dropped her hands and as he got down on his knees, he uncrossed her slender legs. With an arched brow, he brought his hands to her knees and dragged his palms down over her quivering flesh.

Scully's eyes rolled back into her head as his fingers explored every single inch of her flesh, sending tingles down every nerve along the way. Just before he reached her ankles, she felt him gently take them in his hands. As she opened her eyes to see what he was doing, he pulled her right to the edge of the bed.

"May I?" Mulder inquired with wide eyes as he hooked his thumbs into the waistbands of her panties and night-shorts.

Now how could she deny such polite manners? Scully nodded and leaned back against the sagging surface of her mattress, all her thoughts lost in the possibilities. She knew what was coming next and it was going to be her.

'Now this is how a man should treat a woman.' Of course, she appreciated foreplay just as much as the next woman, but sometimes getting to the point was more efficient. She wanted it hard and fast; just like she had dreamed of so many times before. She wanted to feel him in her soul, deep enough to be in her heart, just where her love for him had always been.

She felt out of control; totally at his mercy. And she loved every minute of it.

As she watched him through half-closed eyes, he slowly pulled the satiny material down her legs, his eyes growing wider and more desirous with every inch of pale skin revealed. Scully groaned softly, his fingers combined with the cool caress of her garments were almost more than she could bear. It had been so long since someone had touched her so reverently, she swore that she could literally come from just that.

When Mulder finally pulled them off, he sighed, "ah...the best seat in the house." Mulder then brought her legs up and over his shoulders. "I do believe that I haven't had dessert," he teased as he slowly trailed his fingers up the sensitive flesh on the inside of her thigh.

Scully rolled her eyes and huffed a small breath of mock indignation as she saw Mulder grin down smugly down at her. She could feel the cool air on her hot slick folds and on the moisture pooling there, sensitizing her even more than she ever thought possible.

The man was deliberately teasing her, and was getting off on it. 'He will get some serious payback later,' she thought as she thrust her hips, trying to make her point quite clear. Just out of the field of her vision, she could make out her service weapon, just in case he needed some *behavior modification*.

"My, my...aren't you an aggressive woman." Scully heard Mulder chuckle, as he brushed his fingers across the tight curls of her mons in his continuing journey to the sensitive skin of her other thigh. She shivered under his inquisition, gooseflesh prickled along her quivering curves.

"If you don't get down to business, Mulder..." Scully gasped as she felt his humid breath caressing her inner self. God, did she love oral sex. Men, in her experience, hadn't always been too keen on giving it but they loved receiving it. She didn't always climax with intercourse, but orally...

Looking between her legs, Mulder smiled and said, "I assure you this is all pleasure, Scully." He then ran his fingers across her pubic hair once again teasingly before he trailed the pads of his fingers down between her swollen folds.

"Muldeeeer!" Scully's chest heaved up and down as if she had run a marathon, sweat glimmered like tiny diamonds across her furrowed brow. Biting her lower lip, she brought her hands up to steady her thighs. What the hell was he doing down there? a gynecological exam? She was sure that it wasn't as if he hadn't see 'it' before. Lifting her head up slightly, she looked down at her partner as he carefully studied her.

Then without warning, Mulder touched her clit with the tip of his middle finger, and began to make small circles as Scully moaned loudly in response. It was as if his simple touch had literally burned through every cell in her body, the fire then returning to tug deep within her womb. Although it felt amazing, it wasn't enough. Gathering her self together, she struggled against her sexual fog to lift her hips and increase the pressure of his touch.

"Ooooooooh...Scully. You are so damn hot; I can't wait to see you come." Mulder growled hoarsely, as he burrowed his mouth deeply against her slit and ran his tongue from deep within her vagina to her clit; exploring carefully every inch along the way. From the sounds that Scully could hear Mulder making against her, she could tell that he was just as turned on as she was.

"M-m-m-mulder...so close...." Scully mumbled between tightly clenched teeth as she arched her back. She could now feel him nibbling on her sweet spot, as his fingers traced the outside of her opening with a reverence only known by the unknown. She hissed loudly as she dug her nails deeply into the soft flesh of her weakening, aching thighs. As her body hovered between the sweet tension and release, she realized that this was way better than any dream that she had ever had.

Scully wasn't sure how she had gotten to this point so soon. She was on that fine edge, looking into the swirling abyss but normally, it would have taken a little more work to bring her to that point. Maybe it was the moment, maybe it was the fact that after so long it was someone else's hands, but she wanted to believe that it was more than that. She wanted to believe that maybe it was just *being* with Mulder after all of the years of sexual tension.

" Scully... It's ok, lose control. I want to see you do it." Mulder rubbed her clit but this time flicking it harshly back and forth, his teeth scraping her hypersensitive flesh. As Scully listened to him continue to croon to her, she felt him take her clit between his teeth as he thrust two fingers into her, searching for the elusive release which he knew was there.

" Oh God...." Scully screamed as she sat up straight and entwined her hands into his hair, pulling him into her so far that she thought for a moment that he may drown in her. However as she felt him suck harder and then literally bury his entire hand in her, she suddenly realized that it really didn't matter anymore.

He would have died for a good cause.

She was too close to think clearly. Liquid heat traveled the same course as her blood and she felt it pool around her heart and between her thighs. It had weight, and it sat heavily on her. But now that burning pressure which had been building steadily until now, had reached to almost the point of pain -delicious pain- and she needed her release.

She could hear the moist sounds that he was making with his movements. Suddenly, the moans and soft sighs that he was making as he was doing this to her sent her over the edge. Bright speckles of light: violets, reds and blue flashed before her eyes, as she felt the ripples begin to start. "God, Scully.... You are so beautiful." Scully heard Mulder moan loudly, just before she lost it totally, thrashing about in ecstasy as surges of pleasure hit like waves during a storm on the sea. Scully fell back, her vision going black as she drowned in the sweet waters of oblivion.

0345am Room 23 Sav-A-Lot Motel
Pittsford, NY

"Hey, Scully...that was just the first course." Mulder said as he leaned over and brushed her damp hair from her face. As sure as he was of little gray aliens and government conspiracies, he was sure that he had glimpsed heaven in her eyes just before she had came. Of course, he had imagined seeing it in a much more suitable place than in a run down motel, but sometimes he knew that you just had to take it as it came.

"Yeah?" Mulder heard Scully sigh as she rolled her eyes and let out a noisy breath. Mulder had to admit, even without past experience with her, that she had had one hell of an orgasm. When she had blacked out, he had brought her up into the bed to make her more comfortable. Now, as she lay limply in his arms, struggling to gain some semblance of functioning, he knew that her climax had literally taken everything out of her.

He had never seen another woman come so hard in all of his life and frankly he was worried, he *had* woken her up in the middle of the night to fly here on very little sleep. He didn't want his needs to in any way harm her, and besides he did want to give her a night that she would never forget. *One* that she would be awake and ready for so he leaned over and brushed the damp hair off of her face. "However, I think that it might have to wait for another time."

"Excuse me?" Mulder heard Scully reply as he felt a strong hand take his penis and squeeze it gently.

"Scully!?" Mulder squeaked like a choirboy as his eyes rolled back into his head. He was so close. It had taken all that he had had to keep himself from going over the edge as he had watched her. As he felt her gently squeeze him again, he felt his whole body go weak and he fell back on the bed as a shudder ran through him.

He watched as Scully rolled over to face him with a look that could only be described as predatory. "Mulder, there is no way that I am going to miss this; I have spent way too long fantasizing about his moment."

With that she licked her lips and brushed a kiss across his parted lips.

"Far be it for me to stand in your way, Scully." Mulder watched as Scully brought her lips to his nipple and flicked it gently. Mulder moaned as a burning surge of lust raced straight from his chest to his cock, his erection twitching in response. Closing his eyes, he tried to focus his thoughts, hoping that he didn't blow the moment before it even happened.

As much as he wanted to savor the moment, he didn't want to miss the main event. "Scully-" Mulder managed to get out before Scully gently put her hand over his mouth.

Lifting her face up, Scully admonished him thoroughly with an arched brow. "Mulder," she said teasingly, "shut up." With that said, she leaned down and began to drag the tip of her tongue down his chest, Mulder's voice silenced by her touch.

Wave after wave of desire flowed through his flesh as she made her way down his stomach, pausing momentarily to create whorls in the thick line of hair just around his belly button. The heated moisture cooled quickly, sending quivers down his spine. 'Woman, do you get off on torturing me or what?' his overactive mind mused as she finally got to her intended destination.

"Hmmmm" Mulder heard her hum in delight as she leaned over and skimmed her tongue down the underside of his cock, her bright eyes twinkling with mischief. If *that* wasn't an ad for one of those videos that weren't his, he'd burn them. Of course, if this became a routine thing, they wouldn't matter anyway.

"Jesus..." Mulder wheezed as he watched her copper tresses dance across his abdomen. The gentle caress of her hair coupled with the intimate caress she was giving him, caused his balls to grow tight with anticipation. He knew that this was going to be good. Now he knew that many women didn't appreciate the fine art of a good blowjob, but he could tell she wasn't one of them.

Scully looked up at him, arched a brow and after letting out a deep breath and wetting her lips carefully, she opened her mouth and let him slide down her throat.

" J-J-Jesus, S-S-Scully... " Mulder stuttered as he thrust his hips to meet her, his breath cut off even before he can finish taking it. As he felt her moist heat envelope him, he thought that he would die. As the power of intelligent speech and thought left him all together, Mulder reached down shakily to thread his hands into her hair as he grunted in appreciation. Scully let him out slowly, careful to let her tongue to trail quite firmly along the way, as she gently grasped his balls in her strong hand, and kneaded the silky spongy flesh.

"Uhhhh..." Mulder managed to gasp. He found himself fighting the urge to close his eyes, to give himself up to the burning waves of ecstasy that threatened to overtake him, wanting to see her do this to him. If not, when it was over, his denial might just try to tell him it was just another dream.

As he looked down, he could just make out the curves of a smile. God did he love this woman.

" Jesus, Mulder. You look so beautiful." Scully whispered as she pulled back until just the tip was in her mouth and swirled her tongue around it, obviously savoring the pre-cum that greeted her there. "I love the way you look. Your smell drives me crazy; I just want to bathe in it, surround myself in it. I even love the way you taste...however I think that I have...that *we* have waited long enough. I need to have you inside me."

No words in the English language had ever had such power on one man. He literally felt his heart flip-flop, his lungs hitching in his chest. With a numbed tongue he watched as Scully slowly scooted herself up and straddled his hips.

"Jesus, Scully. You are fucking going to kill me." Mulder mumbled, infinitely proud of finally being able to make coherent speech. He could feel the heat of her body against his, the moisture between her legs pooling on his abdomen and filling the room about them with her arousal.

"Not until I have had my way with you, Agent Mulder." Mulder heard as Scully smiled and started to unbutton her nightshirt. His eyes grew wide with anticipation and his mouth watered as each and every button that fell away, revealing inch after inch of pale, delicate flesh.

When Scully finally slipped the last button, she opened the shirt wide, allowing it to fall off of her shoulders. With pursed lips, she brought her hands to her breasts and cupped them. Mulder felt himself grow impossibly harder, his balls growing so tight he thought that he would die.

"You really *are* psychic, Scully. That is exactly what I had in mind." Mulder then flipped them over, putting her under him and then nuzzled his face into her mussed hair. The essence there was potent, a heady aphrodisiac of her faint perfume, soap, baby powder and a thousand other things he couldn't identify.

Scully brought her arms up and wrapped them around his neck. "No, Mulder. Not psychic, just impatient."

Slowly he pulled back from her swollen lips and then began a sensuous exploration with his mouth.

Mulder kissed, nipped and licked his way down the smooth lines of her neck, the pale flesh trembling violently under his touch. He breathed in her essence as he finally reached the delicate skin of her breasts. They were creamy white, lined with faint bluish veins, crowned with tiny blush nipples.

Drawn to them, Mulder's lips fell upon the hardened nipple, his tongue tracing the pebbled flesh beneath.

"Muldeeer," Scully crooned as she reached up and entwined her fingers into his hair. "Harder, Mulder." Scully softly moaned under her breath as she arched into his mouth. It was too much. Scully's whispered words and gentle urging were driving him insane. Mulder sucked hard, pulling the wet flesh into his mouth as he began to thrust his hips into her leg.

She tasted so good, so damn good, and he knew that he would never get enough. She was like a rich red wine, heady with a multitude of undertones which he could spend a lifetime exploring. And he planned to do just that.

As Mulder felt Scully's nails dig into his scalp forcing him down even harder, Mulder began to bite her gently, pulling the hard pink flesh tight with his teeth. Beneath him, he could hear Scully's pleas growing louder as she called to the heavens for more. But as much as he wanted to pleasure her, he was going to embarrass himself if he didn't do something to relieve the exquisite pain.

"Scully, I need..." Mulder managed to gasp as he pulled back from her and made his way back up to her face as he crawled between her trembling legs. Hooded blue eye blinked, as a bright smile turned up the edges of her lips. Leaning down, Mulder kissed her again, as he brought his hand down to cup her mons.

Scully thrust her hips against his hand, their hips pressed into one another. It was obvious to him that she was more than ready. As Mulder nipped the curve of her chin, he felt the warm touch of her hand guide him to where he needed to be. And as in fluid motion she pulled him inside of her.

"Oh God," Mulder heard Scully whisper, as he slowly sheathed himself centimeter by precious centimeter until he could not tell where she ended or he began. He could literally feel the silken fist of underused tissues stretch to accommodate his sweet intrusion. Mulder watched with horror, as Scully closed her eyes and took shallow panting breaths, allowing her muscles to relax.

"I'm hurting you." Mulder raised to his elbows and looked into her clenched face. As excited as he was, he hadn't even considered the obvious size difference. Reaching over, Mulder pushed her mussed hair out of her face, trying to decide if he should continue or just pull away.

"Don't even think about it G-man." Scully opened her eyes and took his face in her hands, stroking the tears, which had fallen away with her thumbs. "It has been awhile, you know."

Mulder smiled, his hazel eyes bright with relief. Bringing his hand to her lips, he gently touched her. "Don't I know it. It has been so long you might have to help me out here a bit."

"Well, it might help if you-" Scully's voice sounded like it was cut off in her throat as Mulder suddenly pulled out and buried himself again, this time even deeper. Mulder was overwhelmed. He felt safe, accepted -loved- for the first time in his whole life. As he held her in his arms, their souls finally mated as one, he found himself floating between existences. Neither here nor there, but it a time of their own.

This wasn't sex: he had had that. This was making love.

As Mulder filled her with agonizingly slow, long strokes, Scully slid her hands down over the curve of his ass. Pulling him toward her as she met him half way, she pushed him inside her as far as she could. Slick with sweat, his body glided and ground into hers, his pubic bone catching her at just the right angle. Shuddering in pleasure, Scully tucked her face into his collarbone as she tried to hide herself from him.

"Look at me, Scully." Mulder moaned as he reached down and lifted one of her legs up and over his shoulder. He was so close, the burning pressure had settled in his balls, just on the edge of release. Thrusting hard, he rubbed his pelvic bone against the top of her pearl to add to the friction. When Scully's eyes finally met his, her face was grimace of pleasure.

With this new angle, Scully began to meet him fully, the slap of his wet flesh in hers filling the whispered silence of the room.

Dropping his face into her neck, he sloppily kissed her, nipping and sucking with each and every push. Nails dragged across his back, as he started to feel the fluttering of her muscles. Knowing he couldn't go much longer, and determined to bring her with him, Mulder leaned over on his elbow and with his other hand reached down and began to stroke her tender flesh. "Come on, Scully...."

"OH GOD! MULDER!" Scully gasped, the high-pitched cry echoing through the sparsely decorated room. She arched her back as she glanced up at him through heavy lidded eyes. As Mulder lost himself in the passion which he saw there, he swore on all that he knew to be real that she was quite possibly the most beautiful thing that he had ever seen in his life. He closed his eyes, as tears of joy filled his vision. He allowed the vision to sink into his memory, the moment forever etched upon his thoughts.

As her movements stilled and out of the silence that enveloped them both he heard whisper "Mulder," his name falling off her tongue like a rich brandy.

At that moment, he lost it. With a muffled groan, he began to thrust hard and fast into her. His thighs slapped hard against hers and in the din of his race for release he could barely make out her crooning words of encouragement. The words, dripping with trust and acceptance, seemed to bring his orgasm out of him. "God...oh God Scully..." Mulder groaned as he felt her warm hands stroke his balls. He could feel his balls tightening and a hot burst of semen shot out from the base of his back into her still shaking body.

The waves of intense pleasure rushing through his body in wave after wave. Bright hues of colors danced before his eyes; his ears rang with a music of their very own. He had had his share of women in his bed, although not as of meeting her, but he knew that it had never been like this. The feeling of connection to the one he loved, it had made his release more powerful than he had ever experienced or even imagined.

Finally, his strength left him; he fell on top of her, his cock still deep within her, his burning lungs struggling for a breath of any kind. As her arms slid up his sweat slicked buttocks and grasped him tight around the waist, his mind went as black as the night outside. From the cocoon that he was ensconced, the only thing that he could hear was the wild fluttering of his heart.

0630am Room 23 Sav-A-Lot Motel
Pittsford, NY


The bright, early morning rays of sun danced in reds, oranges, and yellows against the smudged glass of the window.

Dana Scully stood quietly, staring out that window at the silent world about them. In the wee hours of the night, the room had grown cold, and Scully pulled the rough blanket closer to her shivering body.

She felt unguarded, vulnerable; literally naked.

And she didn't mind it.

Funny, how life goes.

For until now, she had gone on walking through her life with her heart, her most valued treasure a secret from everyone around her. She had given of her body numerous times for whatever reason seemed good at that moment but not of her heart.

However, in the impetuousness naiveté of youth she had done so many times, and swore that she would never again. For the receipt of such a precious gift, by those ignorant of its true meaning, was truly unappreciated and they would inevitably use it for their own nefarious wants.

Out of the corner of her hearing, she could hear the soft sounds of a slumbering Mulder and she couldn't help but smile.

In the light of day, everything seemed new and promising.


Mulder and she had finally broken down all of the walls and the world hadn't ended.

They were still the same people, the same skeptic and believer, searching for the truth. They still had the same issues to work on and their differing personas would still clash at times; they were both just too strongly opinionated not to do so. But she knew that was what they were and would always be. The only discernible difference to her, in the revealing light of day was that there was more. They were more.

The air about her smelled of them, of the love that they had made and Scully took in a deep breath, allowing it to fill her lungs and her soul. So this is what they smelled like. They smelled of rain, of life, hope renewed. Faith reborn, as it were.

Scully continued to look out of the window as a bright smile flitted across her peaceful features. She still might not have all of the answers that she had been searching for but she was a lot closer than she had been in a long time. What she had seen in Africa didn't have to turn her world up side down. What had happened to her during all of her years on the X-Files, didn't have to drain her of all of her faith in the world and in the people around her. She could still choose to believe.

If she and Mulder could overcome the incredible odds they faced to finally be together, then why couldn't everything else just be?

'I want to believe'.

It wasn't just a want anymore.

She did believe.

As visions of the night that they had spent together flashed before her eyes, Scully's thoughts then turned to the day ahead. How would she deal with this? How would she stand next to him and not think of how he smelled and how he tasted? How would she keep from taking him in her arms when she knew how it felt to be held by him? How would she keep this part of their lives separate and distinct from their partnership?

She knew that she would get better at this. She knew that she just needed some time to learn to adapt to their newly evolved relationship. She knew that she was the master of compartmentalizing everything that wasn't easily referenced. This would allow her to work as they always have had without it disrupting the delicate balance that they maintained.

She also knew Mulder would not have such problems; his brilliant mind was rarely troubled sudden changes in the flow of things. In fact he seemed to thrive under such circumstances. Mulder, with intellect flexible enough to be open to all extremes would be able to go on, as if nothing had ever happened.

She had the faith that all would work out as it was meant to be.

"What are you thinking about?" The touch of his lips against her flesh startled her momentarily, but then she eased herself back against the warm body behind her. There was nothing to worry about. She was safe; for the first time in her life. The demons that haunted her were, for once, quiet.

She was with the man that she loved. The man which loved her enough to go to the ends of the earth for her...the man which loved her enough to die for her.

"How wonderful I feel." Scully answered honestly as warm tears came to her tired eyes. She could feel his arms envelope her and leaned back further into his embrace. What she had said was truer than she would ever want to admit. For once in her life she felt alive. Every inch of her body hummed with the effervescence that ebbed within every beat of her heart. And it just wasn't her love for Mulder, that made the difference.

Her very soul was at ease.

"We should have done this years ago." Scully heard Mulder whisper in her ear and a shiver ran down her spine. An all too familiar fire sparked low in her spine and it began to spread through her chest, stealing her breath away.

Scully took a deep breath and for once allowed her body to experience the feelings of arousal that were assaulting her, without admonishing herself for them. It had been so long since she had allowed herself the pleasure of a man's touch that it still all seemed new to her. "I guess that the time wasn't right then. However, it is *now*," Scully breathed as she felt herself grow wet at her very own words.

"We still have a lot to work on." She heard Mulder reply and with that Scully felt the blanket fall away and then she felt his warm, strong hand take her breast. Scully's eyes literally crossed as she felt him rub his thumb over her nipple, the feeling tugging deep at her essence.

"Yes, y-y-yes we d-d-do." She hardly recognized the breathless words as her own. As Mulder's hand made its way down her stomach, caressing every inch of smooth skin along the way, she found her words failing her. As they stood there, he drew runes on her quivering flesh and she felt as if she would lose her mind.

And if she didn't have him soon, she knew that she would.

"I did see her, Scully. You do believe me, don't you?" Mulder's voice blew in small puffs against the curve of her ear and she felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up in salute to his attentions. It was now official, she was losing her mind. She was literally drunk on his touch and she hoped that it would never end.

As felt his fingers gently grasp her nipple, tugging the turgid flesh with just the right pressure she gasped, "I want to believe, Mulder. I really do."

Wave after wave of spiraling pleasure crashed through her and she fought just to stay above water. "I want to believe for you and for me," Scully mumbled, quite proud of the fact that she still had the power of speech. The sexual lethargy that Mulder was inducing was fast making coherent thought an impossible task.

"It is just so hard...you...you can believe with the drop of a hat, your faith is so great. Mine isn't. I have this almost obsessive need for proof and that seems to undermine everything else. I know that faith is the belief in things unseen, to trust that they exist but...I need more. I guess that I have to reconcile those two parts of myself."

"Well, I happen to like your parts just the way that they are," Scully heard him chuckle as his previously wandering hand finally made its way down to where she needed it the most.

As he brushed his hand across the copper colored curls, her thighs parted as if by their own accord, hoping that he would relieve the sweet tension that was building there. "Mulder...." His name fell from her parted, still swollen lips like a benediction meant for only him to hear. "Whatever did happen out there and something *did* happen, someone or something changed people's lives. That in itself has to account for something. I would like to believe that whatever it is also played some part in *our* own little miracle."

With that said, Scully brought her hand down on top of his, stilling its seemingly aimless teases. Then with a firm insistence, she placed it between her legs. "I do love you, you know." Her voice cracked on the very last word, as he took her earlobe between his lips and nibbled on it as if it were one of his sunflower seeds that he adored.

Scully's eyes closed and her breaths grew ragged as his index finger began to draw small circles upon her most sensitive spot. She could feel the moisture pooling and could literally hear it as he continued his firm ministrations. "I guess that I have always known. I have to admit though, it is nice to hear," Scully heard Mulder reply as he gently inserted his finger inside of her.

"Jesus," Scully sighed as her eyes fell closed. "What you do to me Mulder." As he began to gently thrust his finger inside of her, she moved her hips in perfect time with him, the palm of his hand brushing across her sweet spot with every stroke.

"Actually, it is what I *want* to do to you Scully." Mulder whispered seductively, as he inserted another finger into her. "Come back to bed. I was badly injured last night and I'm sure that Skinner will understand if we can't make the early flight if I am not quite up to it."

Reaching behind her, Scully took him in her hand and caressed the sensitive flesh she found there. "Actually Mulder, I think that you are wrong." Scully's voice was husky and breathless. "Things definitely seem up from where I am standing."

Scully heard Mulder growl and she quickly turned in his arms and brought his head down to her. As their lips met, all of the outside world fell away into a drop of water which slowly trailed down the window pane.

0630am Mount Ascension Cemetery
Pittsford, NY

Sunrise: her most favorite time of the day.

For even in death, she was able to experience the wonder of such a miraculous event. Perhaps maybe even in some way she was able to better appreciate it without the fetterments of a corporeal body. Corporeal bodies are weak vessels, easily damaged. Tethered to such a thing would cloud the mind: not allowing all of the colors and nuances of the world around to be fully acknowledged. She just wasn't observing it; she was part of it.

A bright smile greeted the dawn, as she silently stood there and listened to the sweet murmuring of the birds, which seemed to sing for only her. And they did. For as part of the universal oneness, they were all connected. It had taken her death and ascension for her to accept that.

Shaking her head in joy not yet forgotten, the lone figure dressed in flowing white skirts began to take her ritual walk back to where she rested. The early morning dew wet her feet and dragged her skirts; for the chill even by a non-beating heart was noticeable, but she didn't mind. This was her time to walk, her time to live.

As she stepped across the resting places of those whom had decided to allow themselves to slip the mortal coil, she thought of how she had chosen to stay and how much it meant to her.

In death, as in life, she had only wished the best for others around her. In life, it had only gotten her hardship and grief but in death, it had given her a fulfillment that she could exist on for an eternity.

And she would.

For until the recklessness of the human condition was soothed, she planned to continue her journey. Somebody had to do it. Faith was such a hard thing to keep when faced with the evils of the mortal world. The human spirit was too much of a good thing to waste.

When she had seen the couple, which reminded her so much of her and her own fiancé, walking about in her world with so much pain in their hearts, she had to help.

She couldn't stand to see them suffer as she and Robert had.

Robert, even to this day, still visited her grave. She knew it was from the tremendous guilt that he felt over hurting her so and ultimately being the cause of her death. His once dark hair now streaked with gray, his once bright hazel eyes now dull and lifeless counted the years that they had been apart.

She knew that he did marry the woman that she had found with him but she also knew that the same guilt that brought him back year after year had also destroyed what he and his wife had had.

Maybe their coming to her had been her payment for all that she had done in her death. A way of making things right for her and for Robert. She knew that what you put out into the infinite universe, always has a way of coming back to you.

Suddenly a warm breeze brushed across her cold cheek and her bright blue eyes closed. A soft sigh fell off long dead lips as her mind mused upon two figures moving against one another in love. Sweet laughter filled the early morning air as her heart sang and a full teardrop slid down her pale cheek, her offering for the love that she knew was finding the light for the first time. Stepping up to her tomb, she reached over and gently touched the perfect roses that awaited her there.

Her job was done for now.

Another wrong was righted and she was once again at peace.

With a flash of light, she was gone...reduced to a fine shimmering mist. The mist floated up with the gathering winds of the morning and gently settled upon her resting place where she would bask in that peace.

Until nightfall, for then she would walk again.


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