Title: Faith in Believing
Author: J. Ackerson
Rating: G (There shouldn't be anything in here to offend anybody.)
Spoiler warning: This happens sometime between "Ascension" and "One Breath."
Disclaimer: The X-Files and well as the characters portrayed therein are property of C. Carter, Fox Broadcasting, 1013 Prod., and most importantly: they don't belong to me.

Disclaimer 2: I am using a Catholic church for this story because Scully is supposedly Catholic. While I personally am not Catholic, and don't subscribe to its policies, no offense to it or any other religion is intended in its use here.

Relationship: VA. This is a Mulder story, and contains just a little angst. For those among you who are relationshippers, you can get a good feeling from this by reading between the lines (so to speak).

Summary: Mulder goes to church during a crisis of faith and receives a visit from a higher power.

Notes: Hi All! I *know* "Ascension" and "One Breath" aired a *long* time ago, but this story just came to me today. I was thinking about Scully's necklace and wondered if Mulder might have had a loss of faith that sent him to a church. I'm sure that this story could have been darker or longer, but this is what my "heavenly" muse sent me. So, on to the story... .

In the late evening darkness, the old stone church looked Gothic and imposing as he walked toward it from across the street. Observation was second nature to him, so as he approached the building, his mind distracted itself by taking in the architecture.

It was the first Catholic church built in the Washington D.C. area, and the dark stained glass windows seemed clouded in the dropping twilight. The steeples and turrets reminded him of Notre Dame and Canterbury; somber and intimidating in their height, removed from the regular folks on the streets below.

Slowly he hauled himself up the dozen or so steps to the looming double doors. They were ancient oak, more than eight feet tall, and as he put a hand on the braided brass handle and pulled, he realized that they weighed enough to have been created from an entire tree.

Inside the church it was brighter. Besides the limited electrical lighting, candles filled in the rest, giving the interior a soft, almost warm glow. Stands of candles, on tall, elegant candelabra lined the two sides of the church, and a block of votive candles burned in one corner, illuminating a statue of the Virgin Mary.

His family had never been very religious. Church wasn't part of any traditions, and Christmas was done for the excuse to get and give gifts. Beyond that, paranormal beliefs about heaven and God were abstractly passed along to him. And he'd lived long enough, and seen enough to make him question the validity of God and a heavenly kingdom.

That was, until the abduction. It had been long months waiting and wondering, loosing his faith with each passing day in mankind, science, technology and even extreme possibilities. Despair and frustration had taken over his life, the futility of searching was beginning to take its toll.

He'd gotten a lead, actually it had been a fraudulent one, but it had raised his hopes. Only to dash them rudely. Then he found himself sliding farther into the darkness that was surrounding and engulfing him. It was dark where he was, and he knew it wouldn't get any better any time soon. Cloaked in his despair, he'd gone to the bathroom of his apartment, and looked into the mirror as he ran the water into the sink, and pondered the razor on the counter. But something made him reach over and turn off the faucet. A glint of gold. The light had caught the object at his throat, and sent the light refracting in the mirror.

He'd tried to forget it was there. To ignore the reason he was wearing the slight piece of jewelry. But he couldn't. It wasn't until that moment though that he saw the symbol resting on the delicate chain, and felt something. A renewed feeling in something he couldn't describe. With a click of the lights, he grabbed a jacket and headed out the door.

And found himself across town. In front of St. Anne's Catholic church.

Walking down the aisle of the church, he heard the sound of his own feet on the tiled floor reverberating in his ears. Suddenly he was very aware of the silence within the sanctuary. It was empty. Even on week

nights, he suspected there must be at least a few people coming in to light candles and say prayers. But tonight it was desolate. A stark reflection of his soul. The front of the church, the ornate altar and the religious relics seemed to be offensively bright in the low light. He didn't want to go down there. It was too much like asking for someone to come to him, check on him. All he wanted to do was sit down in a pew and hide in the serenity for a little while. And to ask whatever entity was listening to help him. Help her.

Stopping a few rows from the back of the church, he slid into the row, and sat in the half light corner, near the wall. The quiet had intensified his sense, and there was a feeling of peace that seemed to emanate from the building, and settle over him.

For the first time in a long while, he began to relax, and the weight of his life and his burdens eased a little, he leaned forward, resting his head on his clasped hands which sat on the pew in front of him. His mind whirled and stood still at the same time. Wrapped up in his internal landscape, he never heard the priest approach him.

"Can I help you my son?" the elderly clergyman asked, his voice kind, concerned and loving.

Startled, he nearly jumped from his seat. Quickly he composed himself and turned to regard the older gentleman. He was dressed in a simple white robe, as if dressed for mass. Around his neck he wore a simple crucifix, that rested in the middle of his chest. His face was lined with age, his hair turned white, and he sported a fairly well kept beard and moustache.

It wasn't until he looked up into the man's eyes that he wondered what paranormal being was standing before him. Because he was staring up into blue eyes. Ice blue that he knew better than his own. Except that they didn't belong to the priest before him. They belonged to her. At that thought, the despair closed in on him again.

"Forgive me my presumption, but it seems to me that you're having a crisis of faith right now," the priest stated, moving to sit in the next pew up. "Obviously you still have some beliefs that you hold dear, since you're here, and wearing that."

Slowly he looked down and realized what the priest had seen. The simple, small gold cross. Her gold cross. And his hand reached up to cover it protectively.

"It's not mine," he said, his tone dark and pain-filled. "Neither is this place. It's hers."

Waving a hand around the church, he tried to get the clergyman to understand his meaning. That his faith wasn't in the building, or the jewelry around his neck, or even the God both represented. The thing he believed in, trusted, had faith in was her. And she was gone, and along with her, so was his faith. Just thinking those thoughts, the darkness began to settle more heavily over him, showing in his face and posture as he slumped backwards against the hard wood of the pew.

"Yet you have had faith for a long time now, belief in *something*, correct?" the clergyman asked knowingly, then hurriedly continued so he had no chance to answer. "It's hard to have faith in something that you can't see, can't touch. But somehow when you reach out with your soul, you can feel that presence that makes you believe. That gives you faith. At times that presence is far away, invisible to our perception, but it's still there. Doubting is being human. But we cannot let our doubt lead us to despair. Eventually our faith is rewarded, and our questions are finally answered, our prayers granted. Until then, you must have faith, my son."

The priest's words hung around him, and slowly penetrated his mind and found its way into his soul. He had doubted ever seeing her again, of finding her. He had lost his faith in God, and her return. And himself. Somehow the fatherly priest had seen that, known what he needed. And he felt a lightening of his heart and soul. Because he felt her. Somewhere, but she was with him. Again, as the clergyman had said, they were separated but still connected.

And he felt his faith returning. That he would see her again. That he would find her. That the emptiness that he felt with her physical absence from him would be gone ... soon. Somehow he just knew that now. That she would be back very soon. That he would be able to see her. As he began to stand, he looked about for the priest, but couldn't locate him. With a slight shrug he started for the door, but was halted by the figure approaching him.

It was another priest, this one younger than the other, dressed in the black informal dress of the church. His mind wondered how busy this particular church was that they needed two priests to staff it.

"Excuse me sir, I was just wondering if I could help you with anything. I'm Father Martin, the parish priest here at St. Anne's," the young clergyman explained as he held out his hand in greeting. It dropped quickly back to his side as he got a closer look at the man's face.

"I was speaking with the other priest here already, and was just on my way out," he said swiftly, a bit surprised at the lack of communication between these two clergymen.

"I'm sorry, but I don't understand. This church only has one priest, and I'm him," the priest said, confused.

"Could there be another priest from one of your other churches here tonight?" he asked, surprised and wondering at once.

"No, not tonight. Usually we schedule visits, and there wasn't anyone scheduled to be here this evening. Are you all right?" the clergyman asked again. This time the look he saw was one of astonishment and something else he couldn't quite place.

"Yes. I am now. I think I just got the answer I've been looking for. Good evening Father Martin," he said as he headed for the doors.

Fox Mulder walked towards the door with a renewed sense of hope and faith that he hadn't had in months. he knew Dana *was* coming back to him. He'd been told so, even if it hadn't been in so many words. And he had it on good authority. *Very* good authority.

And behind him, he heard the parish priest call out to him as he reached the doorway.

"God bless you."

"He just did," Mulder said under his breath as he let the door shut behind him, and he headed off into the night.


Author's note: I figure this would/could have happened just before Scully's arrival/Mulder's phone call from Mrs. Scully in "One Breath".

The spiritual aspect of this story, and the identity of the first priest I leave up to you to decide, but I know what I was seeing here, and I hope it was conveyed with some semblance of recognizability.


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