Title: Keeper of the Rock
Author: Riptide
Date: March 19, 2000
Category: X-File, T, A, M/S Friendship, some UST
Rating: PG13 Spoilers: Quick reference to Amor Fati and Small Potatoes Story takes place shortly after "Amor Fati." Events in SUZ and CLOSURE have not occurred.
Archive: Yes. Spooky's and Gossamer OK. Elsewhere let me know please.
Disclaimer: Mulder and Scully are not mine. They belong to Chris Carter and Co. I am making no money from this. Feedback: Is always appreciated. Constructive criticism is also welcome. It helps a fledgling writer grow.

Summary: Mulder and Scully travel to Maine to investigate strange weather disturbances. A remote lighthouse seems to hold the key to both the investigation and Mulder's recurring nightmares.


Dedication: To my daughter Eleanor, who lights up my life.

"I've often felt that dreams are the answers to questions we haven't yet learned out how to ask." ~ Fox Mulder


Prologue

Matinicus Rock, Maine 1856

Facing into the wind, Sarah stuck out her tongue to taste the salt from the sea spray as it covered her face in a damp mist. It was a child's game, something she watched her sisters do on the many windy days they experienced living on the Rock.

Pulling her wrap more securely around her shoulders, Sarah Tolman shivered from the cold. She climbed to the top of a large rock outcropping and stared at the vast expanse of ocean before her. The sky was overcast and grey. A stiff breeze churned the waters of the Atlantic causing whitecaps, a signal to Sarah that a storm was approaching.

For the fifth time that day, Sarah found herself looking for any sign of a white sail marking the return of her father's small dory. Focusing on a spot of white, she stared at it until it disappeared. She knew that the waves sometimes played tricks on her, taking the shape of familiar objects that turned out to be nothing but dark shadows.

Looking back at the twin lighthouse towers, she was relieved to see the lights shining bright. The lamps would need to be filled with oil soon, to make sure that the lights burned from sunset to sunrise. She had promised her father over a week ago, when he had left to go to the mainland for supplies, that she would be able to tend the lighthouse towers for him in his absence.

Her father, the keeper of Matinicus Rock Lighthouse, should have been back after three days, but the weather had been too bad to make the trip. Crossing twenty miles of open sea in a dory was dangerous enough. Sailors and fishermen only made the trip in bad weather if it was an emergency.

Looking up at the two towers, Sarah groaned. She was as weary of climbing the steps to the tower, as she was of the responsibility of tending the lamps. At first, she had been delighted and proud that her father believed his fifteen year old daughter capable of doing such important work.

The extra job was tolerable because it took her away from the day to day drudgery of keeping house, taking care of three younger sisters, and a mother who was in poor health.

From her perch atop the granite rock, Sarah could look around and see almost all of the thirty two acres that made up the island. Except for the two towers, the keeper's house, boathouse and chicken coop, she saw nothing but rock and grass. A few gulls and terns rode the wind and Sarah wondered if they were the only ones enjoying the gale.

Sarah looked in the direction from which her father would approach, and again saw nothing. She knew crossing the bay in this wind would be extremely risky. Supplies had been nearly depleted before he had left and they were nearly out now. She hoped her father's worries for his family would not cause him to take a chance on coming before the storm worsened.

She had to be honest with herself. She had wanted badly to see the little dory and sail approaching and relief was mixed with disappointment.

Stepping down from the rock, Sarah braced herself against a stronger gust of wind and made her way back to the house. On the way, she prayed for the strength she would need to attend to her duties until he returned. She hoped it would be soon.

Several more days passed and the storm intensified. Sarah struggled to lift the spirits of her mother and sisters. The younger girls spent most of the day huddled around the stove. They cried and complained until Sarah yelled at them to stop. The winds came around northeast and the house shuddered under hurricane force winds. The cries of her sisters turned to screams as a large wave broke near the house.

Staring out the window at the raging storm, Sarah prayed for a reprieve. She thought of the five chickens out in the coop. They would drown for sure out there. Her father had brought them back from the mainland as pets for her. It had eased her loneliness and of course the eggs had been an essential staple in their diet.

Sarah knew she would miss her pets if the storm took them, but this was not the reason that made her decide to risk a rescue attempt. The food was gone, and Sarah could not bear the thought of losing what they had left.

Sarah left the kitchen and checked on her mother and the girls. They were all huddled around the stove and her mother was reading to them. Sarah backed out of the parlor and headed for the door. She hesitated as another breaker broke over the roof of the house.

Wading through the icy water that came up to her knees, Sarah headed for the chicken coop. She shifted the basket in her hands and groped for the door to the coop. Four chickens were scooped up and put in the basket. The fifth bird eluded her, so Sarah abandoned it and headed back to the house.

Halfway there, Sarah heard through the whistling wind, the roar of a great wave approaching. It seemed to have a sound all its own and Sarah could not help but stop to see it. She watched it come, oblivious to the icy rain hitting her face, and marveled at its beauty and ferocity. It seemed to grow and grow, a wall of black and green water. It towered above her, and Sarah tried to move but remained frozen to the spot.

The rogue wave that broke over the rock shook the house to its foundation, and tore away the wood chamber located off the kitchen. The frothing water receded back across the rocks taking with it, the boathouse, the spare dory, the chicken coop, and the life of Sarah Tolman.


Benjamin Tolman lowered the sails in his dory and pulled in the oars. Landing a boat on the Rock could be treacherous even on good days, so he approached carefully. He waited for the perfect wave to take him in. Jumping over the side, he waited for another wave, then pulled the dory to shore.

Benjamin secured the boat with a rope, then hurried towards the house. He had set out for home as soon as the storm had broken. Praying for the safety of his family, Benjamin had not given up hope that they had survived his absence. Sightings from other fishermen had assured him that the lights on Matinicus Rock were still burning. His Sarah had not failed.

Benjamin stumbled over some debris scattered near the house. The house itself looked to be intact and he rejoiced. Opening the door to the kitchen, he yelled out a greeting. He had half expected his family to have come rushing out to meet him when he had pulled ashore. He assumed that they were busy cleaning up and had not been aware of his arrival.

Benjamin made his way into the parlor and drew in a deep breath. His youngest daughters were huddled around their mother. She was crying softly and was stroking the heads of the girls.

Lydia Tolman looked up at her husband. She watched as his eyes searched the room for Sarah. He looked back at her and Lydia bowed her head.

Benjamin Tolman ran from the house and towards the second tower. He looked all through the tower then climbed to the top, seeing nothing from his perch but the flotsam and jetsam that floated on the tide. Wreckage of the boathouse was scattered all around the shore.

Heading back towards the house, Benjamin stopped to pick up a basket at his feet. He threw his head back and screamed Sarah's name, listening in vain for her to answer him, but she did not...and never would again.

**

1999 Hoover Building

Scully stuffed the remaining bite of chocolate chip muffin into her mouth. Gripping the bakery bag and coffee more securely, she clutched at the sliding briefcase. Stopping outside the door to the office, Scully breathed deeply. She set everything down, straightened her suit and ran her fingers through her hair, then bent over and picked everything up again.

Scully barely made it inside the door before her briefcase slid to the floor. Wincing, she hoped that for once she had beaten her partner in to work. The door had been unlocked though, so...

"Morning, Scully. I hope you have something in that bag for the rest of the class."

Shit. Scully looked into the next room and saw her partner leaning over the slide projector. Slides. Great. She hadn't even had her coffee yet.

"Of course, Mulder, I have a low fat bran muffin with your name on it." She tossed the bag at him and smiled. He'd wrinkled his nose as soon as she'd said the words "low fat."

Mulder caught the bag and set it aside. She watched him handle it like it was a dirty diaper.

The phone on Mulder's desk rang and he moved to answer it. Scully hung her coat on the coat rack, while trying to listen to the one sided conversation.

"When exactly was this sighting?"

Reaching into the desk, Mulder pulled out a pencil, one of the dozens of sharpened pencils Scully knew he had in there.

"When was the storm ... How long did it last?"

As Mulder tapped the pencil against his bottom lip, Scully counted the number of times he did it. He would stop at six. He always did. Mulder was nothing if not a creature of habit. Four, five, six...

"No Langly, I don't want to know how you did it; I'm sure that it was not legal. Call me if you have anything else."

After hanging up the phone, Mulder remained quiet, deep in thought as the pencil in his hand beat out a rhythm on the edge of the desk. After a couple of minutes of complete silence, he got up and walked over to the filing cabinet where he pulled open a drawer and began flipping through files. Pulling one out, he went back to his desk and began reading. He never once looked in Scully's direction.

Scully stared at his face. Hazel eyes were darting rapidly back and forth across the pages. His mouth was slightly open and there was a flush to his cheeks. She sighed and tilted her head to the left, then to the right, stretching sore neck muscles. This was the part she hated. The expression on her partner's face was familiar. He'd already left her. Not physically, of course. No, Mulder was already on some case, three jumps ahead and racing for the finish line. It was time for Scully to play catch-up.

"So...Mulder...you going to enlighten me here, or am I going to have to beat it out of you?"

Scully waited for the quick response. The inevitable quip she'd come to expect when he'd been given such an opening. She waited. And waited.

"Mulder?"

"MULDER?"

Mulder put the file down then glanced up. His partner was staring at him.

Sitting up straight in his chair, Mulder cleared his throat and tried to look apologetic. He wasn't quite sure *how* to introduce this case to her. Well, he'd better start. He could feel the heat from the holes her eyes were boring into his forehead.

"I've received some new information on an old X-File that I think we should take a look at. I've had this one on the back burner for awhile. I'd like to move it from my IN box to the OUT box."

Scully reached for the file and Mulder hesitated before he handed it over. Yes, an introduction was definitely needed. He could tell by her expression that he'd already alarmed her. She didn't even know what kind of case it was. Before he could offer any explanations, however, Scully snatched the file from his hand and began to read.

"Scully, before you say anything, I'd like to explain why I want us to investigate..."

"Ghosts?"

She'd already scanned the first page and was looking at him, head tilted slightly to the side, with the incredulous expression usually reserved for one of his more far out cases. Okay, so maybe this one fit the bill. Damn it. She was already "disbelieving before seeing," or in this case, before hearing.

Well, time to climb into the ring.

"Ghosts, Mulder?"

He waited for her to continue. Waited for her to tell him what a waste of time this would be for them. It took Mulder a minute to realize that Scully had not said anything else. She was looking at him and her eyes seemed to say "so tell me more." Mulder wasn't sure that this was what she was really thinking, but he wasn't going to waste his chance.

"Scully, I'd like you to hear me out on this. You know that cases involving ghost sightings usually go to the bottom of my stack. This one is a little different though, and I think you'll find it quite interesting."

Mulder leaned back in his chair and stared at his partner. She merely waved her hand at him to continue. Mulder smiled a bit in response. So that's how she was going to play it. Hear him out and then hit him with both barrels. Mulder was not worried. He was pretty confident that he was going to be able to pique her interest. If that didn't work he would just promise her a nice trip to the ocean.

"I first investigated this case back in late '91. I wasn't able to finish my investigation because I got called back to consult on another case. The 'powers that be' weren't giving me a lot of rope back then. I was kept on a pretty tight leash. Anyway, the reports of strange occurrences in the weather, accompanied by sightings of an apparition were enough to get me involved. Ground zero for all this is a lighthouse. It's located twenty-five miles off the coast. Now of course, strange weather that far out to sea is not that unusual. The interesting part, is that after these storms, which were all tracked on radar and forecasted by local weathermen, came freak gales that were complete surprises. There would be several hours, even a day or two of calm weather, no storms or strong winds predicted, then BAM......a nor'easter would rip through the area."

Mulder paused for breath and was happy to see Scully was still with him. Her lips were parted slightly and he knew what question she was dying to ask. He waited, but she said nothing.

"Now of course not all storms are forecasted, and weather can be very unpredictable. What *is* predictable, is that after every major storm, this second one occurs. This happens every time, Scully. And according to some eyewitnesses, during the storms, a ghostly figure can be seen standing near the lighthouse tower. Some of these reports have come from officers in the Coast Guard which took over operating the lighthouse, and also from people working for the Audubon Society."

Mulder again paused and noticed that Scully was sitting forward in her chair. A good sign.

"The reports go back over a hundred years. The local fishermen in the area know not to go back out in their boats until after the second storm. The storms are localized to about a fifteen mile radius. The small island with the lighthouse seems to be the center.

"An archipelago of five small islands is located near the lighthouse. Only one of the islands is inhabited all year by about sixty people who make their living lobstering. These people are no strangers to bad weather and they have lived with these occurrences for many years. The storms are something they're prepared for, and know how to deal with.

"The information I got from the boys is that the second storm is increasing in ferocity. After the last bad storm, several small sailboats were capsized and the Coast Guard was kept pretty busy. Remember that the second storm comes from out of nowhere. Visitors to the area are unaware of this phenomenon.

"It's getting dangerous, Scully. The weird weather has been investigated by people more qualified than I. Theories have been thrown around, but what I'm really interested in is finding out *why* this is happening. Maybe then something can be done about it."

"Mulder, bad weather is a natural occurrence in nature. You can't stop it even if you can explain why it is happening. Scientists can tell you why and how a hurricane forms, but they can't stop it from forming."

"Aaahh, but I don't think mother nature is behind these second storms, Scully. I think something ** or someone ** else is."

"Mulder, are you suggesting that this ghost, apparition, whatever, is responsible for these weather disturbances?"

He put his index finger on his nose, then extended the other hand, pointing his finger at her in a mock 'you got it' gesture.

Mulder saw her roll her eyes and was not surprised. She was on board, and that was what was important.

"I think we need to focus our investigation on the lighthouse. I'm going to spend the rest of the day reading up on its history. Something strange must have occurred there. There might be a record of it. I'd like you to help me make a list of everyone who was stationed there as a lighthouse keeper. We need to check into their backgrounds. I'll schedule a flight for as early as possible."

"Mulder, don't you already have background information? You started investigating this once before."

"No, I never got anything more than a few interviews, some raw data and these slides before I had to drop it."

"So where are we going, Mulder?"

"Pack your Bean boots, Scully. We're off to the Pine Tree State. Vacationland. Maine, the home of Paul Bunyan, Stephen King, and where killer dolls run amok."

**

** ** **

Keeper of the Rock 2/8 By Riptide

Apartment 42 Hegal Place 3:23 a.m.

//She raced ahead of him...white sneakers flashing...slowing down... catching up and moving ahead...laughing...pigtails bouncing...

''You can't catch me....can't catch....not supposed to be here, Fox...''

She reached the lighthouse first. Ran her hand along the stone pillar, tracing a finger in the cracks. She danced and twirled, then leaned down to pluck a dandelion growing near the door. He came up behind her, turned the key in the lock and opened the door.

''Stop whining; you begged to come.''

Looking back over his shoulder, he saw that she had not followed him inside the lighthouse. She was supposed to stay with him. He turned back towards the door.

''Samantha?...Where are you?...Where did you go?... Come back...''

Shining light. It was so bright. He could not see. Climb the tower...find her there in the tower...could see her from there.

''Samantha?... Where are you?.....Where are you?"//

Fox Mulder sat up in bed and fought to control his breathing. He looked down at the sheet that was clenched in his fists. He wiped his face with the already soaked sheet and stripped it from the bed as he got up. Pulling his damp t-shirt over his head, Mulder wadded it up and tossed it into a corner.

Mulder stumbled to the bathroom and flicked on the light over the sink. He splashed his face with cold water, then stayed bent over the sink as the water dripped from his nose and chin.

Samantha and the lighthouse. For three nights in a row, the dream had been the same, varying only slightly in the details. The dreams had started the night the Gunmen had given him the Coast Guard reports on the sightings.

It wasn't just a dream, however, it was also a memory. A pleasant one, of a summer day he'd spent with his sister. Samantha had been stuck to his side like a burr for most of the morning, insisting on going everywhere with him. She knew he had a place that he went to by himself, and that day she'd left him no chance to sneak off. He'd let her come, making her promise to keep his secret.

He had found a way into a lighthouse on Martha's Vineyard. The small lighthouse was automated and it only had the occasional visitor. Tourists sometimes came to take pictures. It was a long bike ride for Samantha, but he would leave in plenty of time to get her back before dark. His mother didn't care where they went, as long as they were back in time for supper.

As a boy, the lighthouse had been a special place for him where he would go to think, or hide, if the latter was necessary. It was the only thing that he had all to himself. Fox had been sure that an eight year old girl would not be able to keep a secret for long. As far as he knew, though, Samantha Mulder had not told anyone about the lighthouse, maybe because she'd never gotten the chance. Three months later Samantha had been abducted.

After that, the lighthouse became even more of a refuge. When the pain of her disappearance got to be too much, he would go there and think about her. He would try, in vain, to remember more about the night she had been taken.

After a time, he had come to convince himself that if she were to just reappear again, it would be at the lighthouse. He felt that it held some kind of magic. That if he sat there long enough, the answers would come to him. He also believed that his sister would know that he would be there waiting for her.

He would climb to the top of the tower, where he would watch and wait. While sitting there, he would be plagued by a single thought that would play like a broken record in his head. A bright light took her, surely it would be a light that brought her back.

Mulder grabbed a towel and ran it over his face. Fragments of the dream flashed in his mind. Something had changed in it. Samantha had never disappeared in the dream before.

He decided not to stay up and analyze it anymore. There was a flight to catch in the morning, and he hadn't packed yet. Glancing at the bed, he knew sleep was out of the question, so he walked over to his bureau and started pulling out clothes. Once the packing was done, he turned on the news to get the latest on Hurricane Harriet off the coast of North Carolina.

Scully had been none too thrilled when he'd told her that the trip was planned around a hurricane. After he'd attempted to explain why, she'd actually called him insane. Well, she'd said something more like, "That's insane, Mulder" but he'd known what she'd meant.

Mulder had told her that timing was everything on this one. The sightings had come after a major storm. He'd seen the hurricane as his best chance at solving this X-File. Scully had gently reminded him that the storm could go out to sea long before it hit New England. He'd argued that Maine would probably still get some strong weather from it. Research would prove him right.

Scully had continued to argue, but then she'd stopped abruptly. His rebuttal had been ready, but it hadn't been needed. She'd put a hand to her forehead then reached for her coffee.

In his mind, he'd seen a scantily clad blonde woman walking around a boxing ring holding a card with the number 1 on it. The bell had rung.

* **

Present day

Penobscot Bay Maine

The fishing vessel THREE SISTERS turned in a slow circle, then stopped. Waves lapped at the sides of the boat and it rocked back and forth gently.

The captain of the forty-two foot lobster boat kept the bow pointed into the wind. He watched as his two sternmen baited the last pair of traps and pushed them over the side. He nudged the throttle forward and let the rope run through his hands. After tossing the buoy over the side, he steered the boat away from it and over to the next buoy bobbing in the water.

Danny Philbrook looked back at the string of buoys and smiled. He felt good about this spot. He was sure that the traps would be loaded with lobsters when it was time to haul them in a few days.

He'd never tried setting traps so close to Matinicus Rock. This area belonged to the fishermen from Matinicus Island just five miles away. Danny was from a neighboring island fifteen miles to the northeast. Lobsterman had unwritten rules, and one of them was that you didn't fish grounds that belonged to another island.

Of course, over the years, fishermen had tested this rule and wars had broken out. Trap Wars. If a lobsterman caught another in his territory, he would simply cut the trap from its buoy. He would cut enough to send a message. If the message wasn't received, then things could get more serious. The encroaching fisherman always backed down in the end. Lobstering was a very expensive business, and few could afford a trap war for very long.

Danny Philbrook knew he was taking serious chances, but he was young and just starting out. Matinicus fishing grounds were the best on the coast and he needed the money badly. Between expensive payments for a new boat, and owing money for the traps and gear he'd stocked up on, he felt forced to take some risks just to make ends meet.

He glanced quickly at the lighthouse, then looked again as something flashed in his peripheral vision. Squinting his eyes, he stared at the figure he could now see standing on a rock high above the crashing waves. It looked like a young girl and Danny thought it was maybe a visitor to the Rock out to see the puffins. Something about the way she was dressed struck him as odd. As he watched her, she began to glow. He blinked then shook his head, cursing himself for starting his morning with a shot of coffee brandy. It was time to lay off the liquor.

One of his sternmen got his attention. He was pointing to the sky. Danny looked up and frowned. He saw the signs of an approaching storm and turned the boat, the girl quickly forgotten, as he headed it for home. It wasn't necessary to stay out any longer and get caught in a gale. He'd already taken enough risks for one day.

Danny shook his head and cursed. White caps were already forming and the wind had picked up a few knots. It was supposed to be a good day. There had been no reports of bad weather approaching.

Spray began pouring over the canopy and a particularly nasty wave rose in front of the THREE SISTERS. The boat rose up and over the wave. The bow hung out of the water for what seemed like an hour before it crashed back down into the trough of the wave. The boat shuddered and moaned.

Both sternmen were busy trying to tie down loose objects that were crashing back and forth in the boat. Danny couldn't believe what was happening. This storm had come from out of nowhere and was intensifying at an alarming rate.

Danny yelled back at the two boys in the stern. He screamed for them to grab on to something. He stared ahead at the monster wave approaching and braced himself for the impact. This time the boat rose out of the water and crashed down with such force that Danny was barely able to remain standing.

He glanced behind him and was relieved to see both boys, holding on for dear life. This distracted him enough, however, that he did not see the wave that hit the side of the boat. It hit with tremendous force and Danny fell sideways. Holding the wheel in a death grip, it spun with him as he fell.

The boat lurched to the port and Danny struggled to regain his footing. He slipped once, then managed to get his feet under him. His heart beat hard in his chest and he fought to get his breathing under control. Looking out at the angry ocean, nothing could be seen but churning green and white water. Another wave rose up and Danny turned the bow of the boat and headed into it.

Danny Philbrook did not have time to think about family, or friends, or things left undone. He did not see his life flashing before his eyes, even though on some level, he knew this was the end. Danny saw nothing but the endless waves looming ahead of him. Every wave appeared to him to be larger than the last. The boat under his feet was being pounded to pieces and he wondered briefly how long it could stay together.

What Danny Philbrook saw, moments before his death, was a breaking wave. A wave that was higher than his ship was long. The THREE SISTERS climbed the wave but could not gain the top. The boat slipped back down its face, and Danny looked back to see the stern bury itself in the trough. He felt the boat rise up and he grabbed at the wheel as the bow caught the crest of the wave. The THREE SISTERS flipped over and the hull floated in the foam. But not for long. The boat flooded, the water entering the wheelhouse and shorting out the electrical systems. The water rushed over the engine and bunk beds. It took only seconds.

** ** **

Portland Regional Airport Maine

Mulder shoved the luggage in the trunk and got into the driver's seat of the rented Ford Taurus. He removed his suit jacket and threw it into the back seat. After loosening his tie, he turned the key in the ignition and started the car.

Scully got into the passenger side of the car and looked over at her partner. It was a little unusual to see him shedding his jacket so early in the day. Mulder usually waited until the end of the day, when they were in their hotel rooms, before he made himself comfortable.

Scully watched as he unbuttoned the sleeves of his shirt and rolled up the cuffs. She briefly considered asking him if he felt okay. She'd noticed his slightly pale complexion and the circles under his eyes when she'd picked him up that morning. He'd also been unusually quiet on the flight. She'd assumed that he'd probably not slept well the night before and would catch a nap on the plane. He'd not slept, and he hadn't talked much about the case either.

They were about thirty minutes into the ride when Scully found herself glancing at him again. It was bothering her that he was being so quiet. Was there something about the case he wasn't telling her? It wouldn't be the first time he'd withheld information.

She looked out of the corner of her eye at him. This time he noticed, and looked back. She could see he was getting annoyed, so she focused on the road, trying to take an interest in the scenery. Coastal Maine was so beautiful, especially in the early fall.

Scully did her best to ignore Mulder and just focus on the view. After a while though, she began to feel the tension mounting. She glanced again at her partner, noting the flushed skin and the way his fingers were drumming on the steering wheel. Well, hell, she wasn't going to just sit there wondering...

"Mulder...?"

"What? What, Scully? Why do you keep staring at me? Have I sprouted horns or something? "

Scully stared at him with her mouth slightly open. He'd jumped on her so quickly. She watched his hands twist back and forth on the steering wheel. Mulder was obviously very tense and not in any mood to talk. What question would be the least likely to cause him to lose control of the vehicle? She hesitated, then decided to ask him a question she already knew the answer to.

"You look tired, Mulder, I was wondering if you got much sleep last night. Would you like me to drive for a while?"

Scully had tried to make her voice sound soft and only slightly interested. Reaching down to get some files from her briefcase, she hoped the casual gesture would put him at ease. She didn't want him to think she was overly concerned. Maybe then he would relax and let her know what was bothering him.

Scully flipped through the files in her lap, waiting for his answer. It took an eternity, and she lost the fight to keep herself from looking over at him. She saw him shift his weight a little. He'd stopped drumming his fingers. Now, both hands were gripping the wheel so hard his knuckles were turning white.

"I'm sorry, Scully. No, I did not sleep well last night. Yes, I did eat breakfast and I even had a glass of juice. No, I do not need you to drive. I think I can get us there in one piece."

Scully counted to three, then dived into the deep ocean that was Mulder's mind.

"I didn't suggest that you *needed* me to drive, Mulder, I asked if you would *like* me to drive. You could take a nap. You might feel more rested when we get there."

"What are you saying, Scully? Do you think I'm not up for this case, that I'm unprepared?"

"No...no, Mulder, I said no such thing." Crap. Okay, Dana, time to retreat. She was beginning to really worry. Scully thought about the best way to end the discussion. Silence was probably what he would want. Damn it. Of course. That's exactly what he wanted. Mulder had more defense mechanisms than could be named in a psych book.

After driving for nearly an hour in total silence, Scully decided that enough was enough. Maybe a safe topic would get him talking. It might not be enough to get him to spill his guts, but it could lighten the mood. After a minute or two, she thought of something, then opened her mouth to speak. "So, Scully, did you know that the world's largest revolving globe can be found right here in Maine?"

Scully glanced over at her partner and smiled. Okay, she thought, we're going to go that route, eh?

"No, Mulder. I didn't know that." Scully kept the imitation smile on her face and tried to think of a follow-up question. She knew he was doing this for her benefit. He didn't want her to worry about him and she figured his "MulderGuilt" was getting to him. She could play the game. At least until he opened up and told her what was wrong. He would eventually, if he knew what was good for him.

"And just where is this large revolving globe?"

"Actually, we passed it already. It's in a small town just south of Freeport. Maybe we can stop and see it on the way back."

Scully waited for him to keep talking, but he fell silent and didn't speak again for the rest of the drive.

** ** **

Mulder and Scully reached the coastal town of Rockland by mid afternoon. They were scheduled to fly out to the island of Matinicus at 4:00pm. Scully navigated and Mulder was able to find the airport after only one wrong turn and two arguments.

Mulder got out of the car and stretched cramped leg muscles. He glanced out at the runway and saw an assortment of small private planes and several Lear jets that most likely belonged to wealthy businessmen. Pointing to a sign on one of the hangars, Mulder motioned for Scully to lead the way.

Scully opened the heavy glass door and entered the office of Penobscot Air Service. Seeing no one at the front desk, she made her way over to one of the chairs lined up along the wall. She picked up a magazine and began to read.

Mulder entered after her and also took a look around. He saw his partner sitting in a chair and winced. How could she do that? She'd been sitting all day.

Mulder felt the need to burn some excess energy, so he wandered around the office a few times. Pacing back and forth, he picked up magazines, thumbed through a few pages, then threw them back down onto the coffee table. He fixed himself a cup of coffee from a machine by the desk. While they waited, the phone rang several times and a machine picked up and recorded messages.

Mulder peeked out a large glass window in the office and looked into the hangar. Several Cessna airplanes were in various stages of repair. He was about to go in and take a closer look when Scully tapped him on the shoulder. She pointed out the window at the airport and he saw a small plane approaching from the runway.

Mulder and Scully stepped outside and waited as the pilot brought the plane to a stop just outside the hangar door. The propeller stopped moving and a door popped open.

The pilot hopped down from the front seat of the plane and made his way toward them. As the man approached, Mulder opened his mouth in surprise.

Scully just opened her mouth.

The pilot of the small plane was at least 6'4'' and he was wearing a cowboy hat and a dark green duster that reached just to the top of his boots. He held out his hand in greeting and when he removed his hat, shaggy dirty blonde hair sprang from beneath it. He was thin and lanky and Mulder couldn't believe the guy could fit himself into one of those planes.

Mulder held out his hand but Scully moved in front of him and took the hand of the pilot.

"Hi, I'm Special Agent Dana Scully. This is my partner, Fox Mulder. We're your 4 o'clock." Scully let go of his hand and stepped back. Mulder had nudged her elbow.

"Hi there. My name's Brian. I was just checking out the friendly skies, which aren't so friendly right now. I hope you're not in any hurry."

Mulder looked up at the clouds overhead. "Well we did want to get as far as Matinicus today. Is there really a problem?"

"The cloud cover is too low to fly you out this afternoon. Why don't you get a room for the night somewhere and call me first thing in the morning. The weather is supposed to be good all day tomorrow."

Mulder nodded. He'd noticed the clouds gathering on the drive up. It hadn't occurred to him that a small plane would be unable to fly because of a few clouds. He knew though, that certain aircraft are restricted in some conditions if they don't have the right equipment.

He looked over at Scully and saw the look of disappointment on her face. This surprised him, because Scully didn't exactly love to fly. Especially in small puddle jumpers like the one Brian was flying. Mulder took a closer look at the pilot then. Oh shit. What was it anyway, the hat?

"So...Brian...any suggestions?"

"Well, I'd try the Navigator Motor Inn. It's right at the end of main street in Rockland. It's within walking distance of some restaurants and you also have a nice view of the harbor. They have a bar there too. I go there for a drink after work sometimes."

"Sounds good. Well, I guess we'll be going and I'll give you a call first thing. When will you be in?"

"Oh, I should be here around seven warming up the planes."

"That sounds fine. Is that okay with you, Scully? Scully?" Mulder nudged her again, trying hard not to show his irritation.

"What? Yes, that sounds fine, Mulder. We better go find a room. Thanks for the recommendation, Brian."

They walked back to the car and drove toward town. The motel was easy to find and it *did* have a nice view . After changing into casual clothes, Scully suggested that they look for a restaurant.

They chose a nice place on the waterfront that served mostly surf and turf. After several attempts to talk Scully into having the lobster, Mulder gave up and ordered a heaping plate of steamed clams. After watching her face scrunch up in disgust, he made sure he took his time eating them, dangling the soft bellied mollusk over his tongue before popping it in to his mouth, chewing enthusiastically.

**

Keeper of the Rock 3/8 By Riptide

Navigator Motor Inn Room 307 3:25 a.m.

//Climbing to the top....almost there...can see everything from there...He hears her yelling....calling his name.

''Samantha leave me alone....I want to be alone...come down in a minute....Samantha where are you going?.... Where did you go?...Samantha....where are you?''

At the bottom now...leaving the lighthouse. He sees her in the distance, her hair blowing in the wind. No pigtails today. She faces away from him. Walking away.

''Samantha come back...come back... I'm here now...''

Walking towards her...he gets no closer. She does not answer his calls.

''Answer me Samantha!...Come back, there is a storm coming. ...It's raining....come in out of the rain.''

He reaches for her. He is so close. She turns towards him. Wet dark hair covering her face. Dress flapping in the wind. Close. Almost to her...he holds out his hand. Clammy wet fingers lock onto his. Freezing cold. Her hand feels like ice. He tries to let go. Agonizing pain. An icy sting as the hand clasping his begins to squeeze. He struggles. Screams at her.

''Let me go...Let me go...Let me...."

Darkness. Oh God so dark. What happened? I can't breathe. So cold. Can't breathe. Can't breathe....can't....can't...//

** ** **

Room 309 3:26 a.m.

Scully woke suddenly. She sat up in bed, her heart pounding in her chest. She'd heard a crash. Something breaking possibly. Looking around the dark room, she tried to figure out where the sound had come from. She listened for a minute but heard nothing. Because of the cheap hotel rooms she and Mulder stayed in, it was not that unusual for her to be awakened in the middle of the night by drunken party-goers.

After convincing herself that that is what she heard, Scully pulled up the covers then whipped them off when a muffled noise came from the next room. Mulder's room.

Sliding out of bed, Scully straightened her pajama top, then walked over to the connecting door and knocked softly. There was no answer, so she opened the door and poked her head in.

The television set was on, but muted. It gave off just enough light for Scully to see most of the room. She looked over at the bed but did not see anyone in it. The lamp on the bedside table was on the floor. Scully walked further into the room. No light was coming from the bathroom.

Heading for the nearest light switch, she stopped when she heard a strange sound, a thump, that had come from the direction of the bed. Scully took a step towards the sound, then yelped in surprise when one foot stepped on something sharp. Feeling the bottom of her foot, she brushed away sunflower seed husks.

Scully walked over to the foot of the bed and saw Mulder on the floor in between the bed and the wall. He was backed up into the corner. She could see that one of his hands had a tight grip on the sheet from the bed. The other hand was on his chest. Scully could not see his face in the shadows but she could hear him. He was breathing in small hitches. As Scully came closer, Mulder slammed his left hand into the wall.

Scully got on her knees and called his name as she crawled towards him. He did not respond. She inched closer and could now see his face more clearly. His eyes were squeezed tightly shut. He appeared to be having trouble breathing. Scully could see no obvious injury. She realized then, that her partner was still asleep.

Scully spoke his name several more times. Putting her hand to his chest, she shook him gently. He would not open his eyes. When she touched him, he tried to move farther back into the corner. Scully slapped him lightly on the left cheek. Nothing. She slapped him again, harder. This time Mulder did respond. His face relaxed, arms fell limply to his side, then he slumped against the wall. Scully put her hand on his chest. Alarmed, she spoke his name again, then reached up for the ice bucket that was sitting on the nightstand. Fishing out the soft drink, she poured the half melted contents of the bucket onto Mulder's head. The reaction was immediate.

Mulder's eyes opened wide and he breathed in deeply. Ice chips and water dripped from his head, one small piece sliding down the side of his nose. He stretched both arms out to her, and believing he was finally awake, Scully grabbed one hand. She attempted to pull him out of the corner, but Mulder resisted. He grabbed for her hand and pulled it loose from his own.

Mulder screamed then. One long word, "NOOOOOO"...came out in a strangled cry. Attempting to rise, he hit the side of the nightstand and fell back into the corner, breathing heavily.

After he began to calm down, Scully spoke his name softly. This time he opened his eyes and looked right at her. He had such a surprised expression on his face. She couldn't help smiling at him. He'd scared her badly just a few moments before. Now, he had this comical, "What the hell are you doing here?" look on his face.

Mulder leaned his head back and rested it against the wall. He put both hands over his face and rubbed hard. She saw him shake and knew that he must be feeling the cold ice water that was running down his chest and back. He awkwardly swiped a hand at the water dripping off his nose.

She saw him look at the floor then, and see the empty ice bucket. When he looked at her, she shrugged her shoulders in response. He opened his mouth to say something, but Scully was already on her feet and leaving the room. On her return, she tossed him a towel from the bathroom.

Mulder used the towel to wipe off most of the water from his head. After rubbing his hair, he ran the damp towel over his bare back. Scully looked away when she saw him tug at the now very wet boxers he was wearing.

Mulder rose from the floor and headed for the bathroom. He passed her, but she said nothing. Scully turned her head slightly when he went by.

Mulder had never been shy around her. She'd caught him many times in various stages of undress. She always knocked before entering his apartment or a hotel room, and Mulder always told her to come in even when he was not fully clothed. The first few times this had happened, she had been a bit offended, but then she'd come to understand that it was just "Mulder." Mulder came back from the bathroom with a dry towel wrapped around his hips. He was rubbing at his wet head with a small towel. The wet boxers had been removed.

Scully sat on the edge of his bed. She looked at him now with real concern. Patting the spot next to her, she waited for him to sit down.

"So, Mulder, do you want to talk about it? If you'd rather I leave, I'd understand." Scully did not look at him directly. A large mirror was across from them and she stared at it. Their reflections could barely be seen in the shadow of the room. Mulder was sitting very still, head bowed.

Scully remained quiet for a couple of minutes. It didn't surprise her that he was not ready to discuss it. Maybe he would never want to talk about it. She had her own nightmares that were never to be shared with anyone.

Scully decided to give him some time, so she rose from the bed. She was almost to the connecting door when a soft voice got her attention. Turning around, she walked back a few steps until she was close enough to hear his words clearly. His head was up now, and he was looking at himself in the mirror.

"What Mulder?"

"I said....could you stay here for a couple more minutes? I could really use the company."

Scully walked back and sat down on the bed again. Reaching out for his hand, she felt fingers that were cold and clammy. Grabbing the rumpled blanket from the bed, she drew it around his shoulders. Mulder pulled the soft material around himself.

"What....what the hell happened, Scully? I know I must have had a nightmare, but waking up with my butt sitting in cold water is a new experience."

Scully turned to him. A hint of a smile was on his lips, but his eyes were full of confusion. For a moment she was lost in them. He was staring at her so hard, she had to blink and look away before she could answer his question.

"I heard a noise, Mulder. I came into your room and found you on the floor. I called your name, but you didn't respond. You seemed to be having trouble catching your breath. When I couldn't wake you up, I poured the bucket of ice water over your head. I knew the shock would bring you back to your senses. Or at least I hoped it would. You really scared me, Mulder."

Scully saw him shiver, so she put her hand on his back and rubbed vigorously. He pulled away after a moment.

"Enough, Scully. I bruise easy. Hey, I'm sorry I scared you."

Mulder got off the bed and started walking in small circles around the room. His body shook once, seemingly from head to toe. Scully was about to suggest he take a hot shower, but there was something she wanted to know first.

"Mulder, these nightmares...how often have you been having them? This wasn't the first one, was it?" As she spoke, Scully walked over to turn on the light next to the TV. She wanted to see his face more clearly.

Mulder stopped pacing. He looked at her. Scully wasn't sure he would answer her question. It had probably been too soon to ask it. She saw him look down at his right arm and wince. He'd dropped the blanket from his shoulder and was looking down. Scully could see the beginnings of a pretty good sized bruise on his upper right arm. She walked over to him and touched the area very gently.

"You should put some ice on that. I noticed the lamp was on the floor when I came in. You must have knocked it over when you were dreaming."

"Gee, Scully. I seem to be all out of ice for the moment. It'll be fine. I actually just really want to take a shower right now. A hot one."

"Mulder..."

Scully stopped talking when Mulder brushed past her and went in to the bathroom. The door slammed and she heard the shower go on. Walking to the connecting door, she wondered if she would be able to get back to sleep. The digital clock in Mulder's room was disconnected, so she didn't even know what time it was.

Scully heard the door to the bathroom open and she turned to look. The blanket came flying out and landed on the floor by the bed. Naked skin could be seen briefly before the door closed. Rolling her eyes, she closed the connecting door, then walked over to her bed and crawled under the covers.

** ** **

Unable to get back to sleep after his shower, Mulder stayed up watching the Sci-Fi channel. In the early morning hours, he switched to the Weather Channel to check up on the status of Hurricane Harriet. The timing, if Harriet cooperated, would be perfect. For today, the local forecast was calling for clear skies and good visibility.

Anxious to start the day, but finding time on his hands, Mulder walked down main street and found a restaurant where he perused the local paper and drank cup after cup of coffee. He liked this little coastal village. It was very different than most small towns he and Scully found themselves in. Most of the people in the place were obviously regulars. Several people greeted him when he came in. Mulder had forgone wearing a suit and was glad he did. He would have been the only person wearing one.

Mulder knocked on Scully's door at 6:15a.m. She let him in and then walked back towards the bathroom. She hadn't finished drying her hair, so two fingers were waved at him signaling that a couple more minutes would be needed.

When Scully emerged from the bathroom, Mulder tossed her a small brown paper bag. She opened the bag and pulled out a chocolate chip muffin.

Mulder saw the look on her face and grinned. His smile then turned to a frown when he realized he'd left her coffee back at the restaurant.

"Mulder. Care to explain?"

"You had just a little bit of chocolate on your lip when you came into the office the other day." Mulder was enjoying putting one over on his partner, but he knew he was a dead man when she realized there was no coffee in the bag.

"And you let me walk around in public like that? If you'd had spinach between your teeth, I'd have told you."

Mulder tensed his body. He was waiting for Scully to wad up the bag and throw it at him. She didn't.

"The weather is supposed to be good, Scully. I'm going to go leave a message for our pilot friend and tell him we'll be there at 7:00. "

Mulder was half way out the door when Scully called his name. "MULDER. Didn't you get me any coffee?"

Mulder did not wait to see her reaction. He was out the door before she'd even finished speaking.

** ** **

Mulder pulled into one of the parking spaces at the airport. He pulled the heavier bags from the trunk leaving the two sleeping bags for Scully. He walked towards the hangar, but stopped dead in his tracks when Scully passed him carrying nothing but her large hazelnut coffee.

When they got to the office, they could see Brian fueling up one of the planes. He saw them and waved. Scully waved back. Mulder carried the rest of the bags out to the small plane. He looked back at Scully, who was following. She had finished the coffee but had not offered to take one of the bags from him.

Brian took a bag from Mulder and tossed it into the back of the plane. He was wearing a baseball cap and leather jacket instead of the cowboy hat and duster. The baseball cap had a large red "B" on it. Mulder thought about commenting on how soundly the Red Sox had been beaten by the Yankees, but he didn't want to anger a guy who was soon going to be responsible for their safety.

"Mulder, are you sure we need all this stuff?" Scully was pointing at the sleeping bags, but was toeing at the other bags with her foot.

"Well, yeah, Scully. I don't know *exactly* what kind of provisions we'll find out there. It's not like we can go to Walmart if we end up needing something. The sleeping bags are a must unless you want to spend the night on a cot with nothing but an old musty mattress."

After stowing the luggage in the plane, Brian put a net over the bags to keep them in place, then turned to his passengers.

"So it should be a good flight. We'll be in the air about fifteen minutes. I'll warn you that the landing can be a little bumpy. It's a dirt runway out there and there's just enough of a breeze to make it interesting. You folks aren't nervous flyers, are you?"

Mulder looked down at his partner. Should he ask? It was one of those moments where you would be damned whatever the decision.

"You okay about this, Scully? There might be a way we can take a boat out there. I could check into it." Mulder did not like the idea of spending two hours in a boat on the open ocean. He was itching to get to the island as soon as possible.

Scully shook her head. "No, that's fine. It looks like a good day for flying. Right, Brian?"

"Agent Scully, would you like to ride up front? You'll be able to see the island from there. You can be my co-pilot."

Mulder saw the grin on the man's face. He closed his eyes for just a second and thought about how cramped his legs were going to be riding in the back. He hoped Scully would realize this and help him out. No such luck.

"Umm, sure, Brian. No need to be so formal, though. You can call me Dana." Brian opened the door and Mulder crawled into the back seat. Scully got in next and pulled her seat forward a little so Mulder had some room. Brian was last to get in. He adjusted the headphones on his head, then made sure the door was secure.

Mulder looked down at the seat belt. It had a shoulder harness and lap belt, but straps were going this way and that. He tried to untangle the mess and get everything strapped on. He sighed when he realized he might just have to ask for some help.

"You need some help there, Dana?" Brian reached over to untangle the seat belt. He pulled the belt across her lap, then helped her with the shoulder harness. "There you go."

Mulder watched all this and waited for Brian to make the same offer. When it didn't come, he looked over Scully's shoulder to see how she had it. She glanced back at him and asked him if he needed any help.

"Oh, no, Scully. I got it." Mulder was relieved when she did not keep looking to make sure. He struggled for a few more seconds, then smiled when everything locked into place. Whew, Mulder thought, crisis averted.

By this time Brian had the plane all warmed up and was taxiing out to the runway. He stopped the Cessna just before going onto the landing strip and radioed to the tower. Once he got clearance, he revved the engines briefly before taking the plane onto the runway. The aircraft advanced down the strip and in a few short seconds, they were airborne, flying over the tops of the trees.


Keeper of the Rock 4/8 By Riptide

Scully looked down at the mainland as it quickly disappeared behind them. Looking over to her right, she saw several small islands. On the horizon, she could see a small mountain range, dark purple against the sky that was an incredible blue that morning. Approaching takeoff she'd felt nervous, but as soon as the plane was in the air, she'd been distracted by the view. It was breathtaking.

Looking down at Penobscot Bay, she saw several small fishing boats and a couple of large sailboats that looked like toys. Before long, the small islands were left behind, and she stared down at the open sea that stretched out for miles in either direction.

Scully began to relax and enjoy the flight. It would be over soon, so she was determined to get the most out of the experience.

Before long, Scully could make out a small strip of land in the distance. A light flashed somewhere beyond the island, and she wondered if it could be the lighthouse. When the plane lurched to the right, it took her completely by surprise. Her stomach leapt up into her chest and she grabbed the door handle, holding it tightly. Scully tried to calm down by telling herself that Brian had warned about a bumpy flight.

The pilot looked unconcerned when she looked over at him. Fingers were no longer tapping, however. Scully looked back at Mulder and smiled. She didn't want him to think she was nervous. Mulder smiled back at her and wriggled his eyebrows.

When the plane hit another bump, Scully couldn't help but suck in some air. Brian was looking at the instrument panel, occasionally turning a knob. He still didn't look worried, though. Scully closed her eyes and gripped the door handle tighter.

The island loomed close, and she breathed a sigh of relief when she could feel the plane slowing down for its descent. They made a wide circle around the island, losing altitude as they did. Mulder had told Scully about how small the island was, but seeing it now covered almost entirely by trees, it seemed unreal to her that people could live on such a tiny piece of land so far out to sea. A few houses dotted the landscape and she could see several boats in the harbor. Suddenly, the aircraft took a vicious swing sideways, and Scully braced her feet against the front of the plane.

They came around to the north side of the island where the small dirt landing strip was. Brian had put the flaps down on the plane, trying to slow its descent. A strong gust of wind seemed to lift the plane at that moment, and the engine revved. The small Cessna veered off to the right, and the landing strip was no longer in front of them.

Scully again looked at the pilot. He was grim-faced this time. He increased the speed and took the plane up higher.

"Wind has picked up, folks. We'll have to try that again." Brian took the plane out around the island, and then lined up the runway for another landing attempt.

Scully kept her eyes open. Her heart was pounding hard in her chest. She seriously wanted to ask the pilot to turn around and go back to the airport.

They came down over the center of the island and Scully could see the dirt runway coming up quickly. There was a small barn that was just at the head of it, and a road just off to the left. A stronger gust of wind hit the plane and Scully could see Brian struggling with the controls, physically fighting to get the plane down lower. Looking ahead of her, Scully saw the barn approaching. It looked to her like they were going to just barely miss the top of it.

The Cessna was almost level with the trees now. They had missed the barn and were halfway down the runway. At this moment, the tail of the plane spun to the right and the body of the aircraft lifted. The plane was going down the runway sideways and the end of the dirt strip was coming up fast. There was nothing but rocks and water at the end of it.

The pilot swore loudly and fought to get the plane back under control. He increased his speed and pulled back hard on the controls. The nose of the plane came up and with the help of another strong gust, the aircraft lifted. The Cessna rose rapidly. Scully gasped out loud and clenched her eyes shut.

When she opened them, she could see the island was below them once more. Was this guy crazy? Surely he wasn't going to try that again?

"Damn. Well...looks like we'll have to try something different."

Scully couldn't believe she'd heard him correctly. She fought to get her breathing under control so she could reason with the man. Luckily her partner had gotten his wits about him first.

"Hey. Brian my man. We can do this another day. Let's head on back. You'll still get paid."

Brian looked back over his shoulder at Mulder. He shook his head and grinned.

"Shit, mister. Now it's personal."

Scully considered pulling her weapon. Staring hard at the pilot, her mouth wide open, she couldn't seem to make herself speak.

Brian brought the Cessna around again. He had the runway lined up. As he approached, he dropped the plane down fast. Buzzers went off and lights flashed on the instrument panel. Brian ignored them all and stared straight down the runway. He increased the speed of the plane when he felt the first strong gust. The plane shot down the runway, just barely skimming over the ground.

Scully felt the Cessna touch down and bounce once. Daring to open her eyes, she then wished she hadn't. The end of the landing strip was coming up fast. Arms and legs stretched out as she braced for the impact.

Brian applied the air brakes and the plane slowed. Just before the aircraft was about to hit the rocks at the end of the strip, the Cessna came to a stop. The pilot turned the plane around and headed back up the short runway.

Scully felt the aircraft shudder as another strong breeze hit it. Tree tops moved back and forth, swaying with the wind.

Scully glanced back at Mulder. She wasn't confident that she could produce more than a squeak if she tried to speak just then. Seeing his face, her confidence went up a notch. He was pale as a ghost, and Scully couldn't remember the last time she had seen such an expression of fright.

Scully took a deep breath and addressed her partner. "You okay, Mulder?" She looked at the death grip he had on the back of her seat and lightly touched his left hand.

"Of course, Scully, but I may need to find a place to change my pants."

The plane topped the small hill that was the runway, and came to a stop. Brian shut down the engine. The propeller came to a shuddering stop, and the Cessna shimmied. Brian climbed out of the front seat and motioned to Scully to do the same. Sliding across to the pilots seat, she carefully climbed out of the plane. Brian held out his hand to help her, but Scully waved it away.

"Brian, I don't know whether to kiss you for getting us down safely or shoot you for even making the attempt."

Scully smoothed her wrinkled jacket as best she could. Watching Mulder struggling to exit from the plane, it was apparent to her that he had recovered just fine. She wondered how long the indentations from his fingers left on the back of the seat would last.

Mulder and Scully walked around to the other side of the Cessna and retrieved their bags.

"Sorry about the landing, folks. Landing out here can be a real bitch sometimes. You can't let it get the best of you."

He gave them a smile that Scully assumed was meant to be charming. She just nodded in response. Mulder would have to find them a boat ride back to the mainland. At this point, she didn't care if he puked his guts out the whole way. Yanking hard on the bags, she began carrying them away from the plane.

"You folks know where you're going from here?" Brian had placed the last two pieces of luggage next to the sleeping bags. Mulder saw him look down at the bags and shake his head.

"Uh...no, not really. We have a ride waiting for us at the harbor. If you could just point us in the general direction, I'm sure we can find it." Mulder looked down at the luggage. Damn. It hadn't seemed like that much stuff when he'd put it in the car.

At that moment, Mulder turned at the sound of a loud vehicle approaching from down the road. Whatever kind of car it was, it sounded like it had no muffler and was in bad need of a tune up. He could see a dust cloud rising up from the small trees that dotted the head of the runway.

A dilapidated brown pick-up truck came around the corner and headed towards them. Just before it got to them, it veered off and spun around in a circle. Dust plumed and small rocks went flying as the truck did a doughnut in the dirt parking lot.

Mulder looked at Scully. She stared back at him. The "Don't even think it" look on her face was unmistakable.

The truck came to a stop in front of them. There were three young boys crammed into the cab. They appeared to be about nine to twelve years old. The one driving looked like he couldn't be more than ten. He leaned out of the truck and waved at the pilot.

"Hey, Brian. We saw the landing, man. That was cool! Sideways and everything. How'd you do that?"

"Well Corey, it wasn't exactly on purpose. These folks need a lift to the harbor. Can you give them a ride?"

Scully quickly moved forward and tried to get the pilot's attention.

"Oh no, Brian. I don't think that's necessary. I'm sure we can manage." Feeling Mulder tug at her elbow, she shook him off.

Stepping in front of her, Mulder whispered in a low voice, "Come on, Scully. Look at all this stuff. I for one do not want to have to carry it all. We're not even sure how far we have to walk."

"Mulder, it's a small island. How far can it be?"

"Scully, my knees haven't stopped shaking. Take the ride."

Scully leaned in closer and whispered, "Mulder did you see the kid driving? He should be home watching 'Pokemon.' "

Mulder tilted his head slightly and took a step back. "Look, it's not like we can call a cab... 'Pokemon' Scully?''

"FINE Mulder, never mind. I will get in the truck, but so help me, if they do one doughnut..."

When the boys peeled out of the parking lot, Mulder had not yet found a place to sit. Falling back into the truck, he landed on his rear end. The back of the pick-up was littered with small pieces of wire, rope, and empty beer cans. Mulder rubbed at his left buttock, then checked to see if anything had punctured his skin.

The truck continued down the road, sending up clouds of dust behind it. Scully's eyes teared up and her hair whipped at her face. She moved so that she was sitting directly behind the cab. It cut down on the amount of wind hitting her.

In only a few short minutes, they were at the harbor. Scully surmised they would find the most activity and people here. She could see many lobster boats of varying shapes, sizes and colors. The absence of any sailing boats or yachts told her that this harbor probably did not see much tourist action.

Glancing around, Scully saw a few small cottages along the shore front. Several "shops" had wharfs in front of them. The docks were piled high with lobster traps and buoys. Short stacks of coiled rope were lined up next to the traps.

Looking at the boats, shops, and buoys, Scully was amazed at how colorful everything was. The boats were either Navy blue, red, green or white. The shops were also different colors. The buoys were painted several colors, but she guessed that that was for identification purposes.

The gusts of wind seemed to have died down a bit, but there was still enough of a breeze to cause white caps on the water. The small boats were all headed in the same direction. They were pulling hard on their moorings and swaying in the wind.

The truck came to a stop. Mulder got out first and Scully handed him the bags. Mulder offered to tip the boy driving the truck, but he declined.

"Don't need it." The boy waved to them, and he and his friends drove away, tires spinning.

Scully turned her back as the dust cloud engulfed her. Coughing a couple of times, she patted down her jacket for the umpteenth time that day. Mulder was walking towards what she guessed to be the main town dock, so she followed him.

"So, Mulder, I take it you've made arrangements for someone to take us to Matinicus Rock. Do you know which boat it is?"

"Uh, no, Scully. Actually, I didn't make arrangements. I didn't know who to call. It's not like this island is a tourist spot. It's a little off the beaten path. I'm sure that we can find someone who would love to take the government for a little money."

Scully felt like she had been abandoned at some bus stop in a strange town with no money. Having not yet recovered from the plane flight, she didn't feel ready for any more adventures, so she turned to her partner in exasperation.

"So your big plan is to stand here and wait for some lobsterman to come by and then say, 'Hey can we rent your boat?' These men make a lot of money, Mulder. Do you really think one of them is just going to drop everything and take two strange people out to that lighthouse?"

Mulder flashed his badge at her, then did his best serious "FBI Special Agent" face.

Scully dropped her chin to her chest and groaned. "Mulder, if you go waving that badge around, you're liable to get us in some serious trouble. Look around you. Do you see any signs of law enforcement? Take that young boy who was driving the truck ** Opie. Do you think he just got his driver's license? These people must police themselves. I doubt they like 'The Law' poking their noses in where..."

Scully continued to talk, but Mulder no longer heard what she was saying. A boat was coming towards the dock, and he watched over Scully's shoulder as it tied up at the wharf. Well, he seemed to already be in the frying pan, the fire couldn't be much worse. He gently moved Scully aside and headed over toward the boat.

As Mulder walked to the edge of the dock, he could see the large boat had three men in it. As he approached, he guessed the older man was the captain, since the two men in the stern were both teenagers. The captain appeared to be in his fifties. He also looked like he should be riding a Harley and wearing a leather jacket that said "HELLS ANGELS."

Stepping back from the edge, Mulder contemplated his plan. He looked the boat over and saw the black flag with the skull and crossbones flying from the top of the canopy. Hmmmm. Maybe another boat would be in soon.

The rustling of fabric warned him of Scully's approach. He tried to head her off, but she moved past him.

"Did you find us a ride, Mulder?"

"Uh, I'm sure another boat will be in soon. I thought I'd wait and ask..."

Scully ignored his answer and leaned over the edge of the dock. He could see her nodding her head in approval. Surely, she would come back and discuss their plans before...

"Excuse me, Sir?"

Scully was talking to the captain, explaining their situation. Mulder could see that the captain was giving Scully his complete attention. The man smiled, a big toothy grin.

Mulder saw the big man wave to him. Wagging his fingers in response, he looked over at Scully who was already handing bags to the two young men in the boat. Mulder shook his head and climbed down the small ladder on the side of the wharf.

Mulder fought for balance as the boat pulled away from the dock and headed out of the harbor. He unsteadily made his way back to the stern where Scully had found a place to sit.

"It's getting a little chilly, Mulder. Could you get my coat? It's in that blue bag over there."

Mulder looked to where she was pointing and moved to get the bag. The bag was sitting on top of a large box that was resting up against the cabin. He grabbed at the bag, then drew back quickly when the smell reached him.

Sniffing at the box, it definitely smelled like dead fish were contained within. Curiosity overtook him and he opened the lid and looked in. Brown, oily water sloshed back and forth in the box. Fish and fish heads floated around in the bottom.

Mulder let go of the lid and turned around quickly. The smell of the bait was overwhelming. His stomach reacted immediately. Moving away from the box, and over towards the side of the boat, he leaned over and took a couple of deep breaths.

Scully was at his side in an instant. Looking over at her, he tried his best to smile. He looked back down at the water, then closed his eyes for a second.

"You going to be okay?"

"Yeah, just give me a minute. Whoa. How can they smell that stuff every day and not puke their guts out?"

"Well, I could never understand how people worked around cows. You just get used to the smell, I guess."

"I guess you would be speaking from experience, Dr. Scully?"

Mulder felt that he was recovering, so he chanced a glance at his partner.

"Yes, Mulder, in my profession, you do have to get used to an assortment of strange smells."

Scully tugged at his arm. Mulder allowed her to move him to the back of the boat. She hopped up onto the stern and patted the spot next to her. Mulder sat down and breathed in a couple of deep breaths.

Mulder focused on the clean smell of the air. Looking out at the water, he noticed that the wind had dropped out completely and that the water was flat calm. The boat was moving smoothly through the waves. Mulder was relieved that he didn't have to deal with rough seas on top of everything else that had happened that day.

He looked over at Scully, who was sitting with one leg tucked up underneath her, a wistful expression on her face. He knew that she had a certain fondness for the sea. How long had it been since she had spent a day on the water like this?

The lobster boat picked up speed. Mulder noticed that the breeze was making Scully's hair fly around. He got up and went to his black duffel bag and pulled out his New York Yankees cap. After he'd placed it on her head, she looked at him strangely, but didn't take it off.


Keeper of the Rock 5/8 By Riptide

** ** **

THE WHITE ROSE drew in close to the island. The two sternmen helped Mulder and Scully load the bags into a skiff, then one of the men rowed the two agents in to where they would be able to make a landing. The waves were gentle, and after only getting their feet a little wet, Mulder and Scully found themselves standing on some rocks looking up at the two lighthouse towers of Matinicus Rock.

Scully waved to the captain, who was still on the boat. He waved back at her, his fist clenching the several one hundred dollar bills Mulder had had to part with.

Scully turned to Mulder, who was busy trying to gather up as many bags as he could carry.

"Well. We're here. Now we just have to wait for Harriet."

Scully tugged at the two sleeping bags Mulder had tucked under his arms. Losing his balance, he swayed for a moment before righting himself. He readjusted his grip on the remaining luggage, then began ascending the rocks. Grateful for the help, Mulder refrained from commenting about his partner's assistance.

"Yeah. This might be a shot in the dark, but I think she'll show."

"Harriet or the ghost?"

Mulder turned back to look at Scully, almost losing his grip on the bags. He chuckled softly.

"So Mulder, I can't believe I haven't asked you this yet, but you *did* get permission from the Coast Guard to be out here, right?"

"Of course, Scully. Although I had to sit through ten minutes of listening to an officer tell me I was an idiot for *wanting* to be out here during a hurricane. I also put in a call to the Audubon Society and Fish and Wildlife for good measure. I was a bit worried we'd run in to some trouble with the Audubon Society but it just so happens that they were out here all summer doing new studies on the Atlantic Puffin. They were supposed to be out here this week, but canceled because of the hurricane. They left the keeper's house well stocked, so we should have plenty of food. They'll be out again after the storm. We can catch a ride back then."

They reached the house, and Mulder located the key that was left by his contact from the Audubon. He walked back to where Scully was standing with the bags.

Scully was looking all around, getting the panoramic view of the small island. She had taken off the baseball cap and was letting the wind blow her hair around. Mulder watched her as she shielded her eyes and gazed out at the horizon.

The island was affecting her already. He saw her breathe in deeply, then let out the breath slowly, almost like she was readying herself for some type of relaxation exercise. Red hair touched the nape of her neck as she leaned her head back, eyes closed.

Looking around himself, he tried to see what it was that she found so earth moving. Mulder had never been a naturalist. He appreciated the beauty of Nature and all its glory, and at times, it had moved him. In his life, he just hadn't had many opportunities to give it much notice.

Inside the house, Mulder checked out the generator and found the kerosene heater. Everything appeared to be working. Scully went to check out the rest of the house as Mulder rummaged through the well stocked pantry and the small refrigerator. In the pantry he noticed a bottle of red wine and wondered if he'd be able to talk Scully into drinking it with him.

Scully returned from her tour of the house and they both went back outside to take another look around. They walked down to the second tower, but found the door locked so they were unable to explore it. Mulder explained that the second tower was no longer in use.

They continued down to the end of the island and sat on a ledge. Neither one spoke, being content to take in the beauty of the Atlantic seen on a clear fall day.

Mulder squinted his eyes and tried to focus on some small objects floating in the waves near the rocks. He thought at first, that they were sea birds or ducks. They would be there floating in the waves, then the black object would disappear under the water, only to reappear a short distance away. Staring down at the rocks below, he smiled when he discovered what they were.

Tapping Scully on the shoulder, he pointed down at the seals sunning themselves on the rocks. She smiled delightedly then motioned to Mulder that they should go down and get a closer look. Mulder grabbed her arm when she tried to rise.

"Scully, be careful, that's a steep drop. Those rocks could be slippery."

Scully pulled her arm from his grip. "Wuss."

He stared at her in disbelief. What had she just said to him? Well, he couldn't let that one go by. Climbing down after her, he tried to see if any danger lay ahead. It would be just his luck to fall to his death chasing his partner who was trying to recapture her childhood.

They got closer to the seals than either of them could believe. After watching them for a few minutes, they continued walking. The island was so small, it took them only a short time to go all the way around it.

The rest of the day was spent exploring and unpacking. Mulder had tested the VHF radio and contacted the Coast Guard to let them know they were there. He got the latest on the hurricane and the next day's forecast. The storm was headed up the coast but was expected to weaken and go out to sea once it went over Cape Cod.

Mulder was happy with the forecast. It looked like they would have a day to prepare and do some more research. And if they had a day to just kick back and relax and commune with the seals, that wouldn't be so bad.

** ** **

Scully won the coin toss, so while Mulder cooked dinner, she retired to the parlor to read over copies of journals by various lighthouse keepers. Expecting to encounter dry reading, she was surprised to find herself drawn into the descriptions of that life.

Most of the day-to-day entries listed the chores and duties of the keeper. Every few entries, there would be an interesting description of the weather, ships seen in the distance, or family antics.

Scully skimmed over several months' worth of entries, then came across one that described a severe storm as it happened. She imagined what it would have been like to look out from the top of the lighthouse tower and see the storm clouds approaching from a distance. Did one stare out at the ocean and watch as it changed from a benevolent calm to a wind-whipped sea that held the potential to sink ships and end lives? How did it feel to be standing on nothing but rock and watch as the ocean came knocking on your door?

Scully came across the description of a northeaster so powerful that, when it had been at its peak, it had swept away the keeper's house. The family had been forced to take refuge in the tower. She shuddered at the thought of what it must have been like, to be held prisoner, listening to the sounds of the waves as they smashed against a tower of granite stone ** your only defense against being washed away.

So engrossed was she in reading the journal, that Scully did not hear Mulder when he called her to dinner. She sat on a small sofa with her legs pulled up under her and continued to read. A yelp of surprise escaped her lips when a hand grabbed her shoulder.

"Jesus, Mulder. Don't do that!" She put a hand on her heart to calm herself.

"Scully, I called your name three times. I might not be Emeril, but I promise my cooking won't kill you."

"Oh, I'm sorry, Mulder. I was reading this keeper's journal. It's really fascinating. A little scary, too."

"Come on, Scully, you can tell me about it over dinner."

Scully followed him out to the kitchen and looked at the table. It was set up quite nicely with real plates, a lit candle, and a bottle of red wine. She was impressed.

She sat down and watched as Mulder brought in a large bowl full of spaghetti. It smelled delicious. Her stomach growled in anticipation. She realized at that moment, that neither of them had had anything to eat since that morning.

"Wow, Mulder. You outdid yourself."

"Yeah. Boiling water and heating up sauce takes a lot out of you."

"Just take the compliment and sit down."

She grinned as he sat down at the table. Reaching for the already opened bottle of wine, he filled her a glass. After handing her the glass, he poured himself one. The site of Mulder holding the wine bottle made Scully feel uneasy for a moment. She had yet to take a sip, not realizing that she was holding it in front of her like a diamond that was being inspected for flaws.

"Scully. You going to drink that or describe its bouquet and heady aroma?"

Scully looked over the rim of the glass. Mulder was staring at her with a bemused expression. She couldn't believe she was thinking of Eddie Van Blundht . Forcing away those thoughts, she tried to say something humorous before Mulder caught on to what she was thinking about. Nothing funny came to mind, so she sipped at the wine. It tickled her throat, causing her to choke as the first swallow of the red liquid went down.

Glancing over the rim of the glass, Scully saw his smile fade, and she groaned inwardly. Mulder could no longer read minds, but he still had his uncanny ability to get into other peoples' heads.

"Mulder, I'm curious. I saw you and the captain talking. What was it about?" Clearing her throat, she took another sip of wine, then wrapped some spaghetti around her fork. She had to get him thinking about something else and quick.

"Oh, I just asked him what he knew about the strange weather that occurs around these islands. I also asked him if he knew about the ghost sightings and if he'd ever seen anything unusual."

She waited for him to continue, but he didn't. Usually once Mulder got started on a topic, he was off and running and there was no stopping him.

"And?"

Scully watched him take a large bite of spaghetti. He held up one finger, then chewed with gusto. After swallowing, he took a long sip of wine.

"He doesn't consider the weather strange because it's been this way for as long as he can remember. He did say that they've had a couple of freak storms this fall. He said that a lobster boat from another island went down a couple of days ago. No boats from Matinicus were out because they knew about the danger. Apparently this boat was close to Matinicus waters. I asked him why the captain of that boat didn't know about the danger of a second storm. He said that the boat and its crew were not native islanders."

"I don't understand, Mulder. Why don't more people know about this? Why don't they put out some kind of advisory?"

"Just how would they do that, Scully? I mean, *I* believe that we're going to be invaded by aliens. I'd like to let people know about it, but I can't even convince *you* it's true. Can you blame these people for keeping it to themselves?"

"Okay, point taken. Did he know anything about the ghost?" Scully stared down at her plate. She chided herself for having been the one to bring up the case. Mulder had seemed so relaxed when he'd brought in dinner. He seemed tense now, and she knew she'd been the one to cause the shift in mood.

"Uh, he knew that other people had seen her, but he'd never seen anything himself."

The rest of the meal was eaten mostly in silence. Scully tried to keep the conversation going, but found it frustrating when she had to keep saying her partner's name to get his attention. Every time she looked over at him, he would be staring at something, eyes unblinking. One time, she looked over and he was holding his fork in midair. He held the fork in front of him for more than a minute it seemed, before putting it in his mouth.

After dinner, they lit an oil lamp and went into the small room off the kitchen that had once served as a family room. Scully opened up the journal and began to read. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched as Mulder wandered around the room, touching various objects. He would sit down for a moment, close his eyes, then get up and pace some more. Distracted by his behavior, she finally gave up and put the book down.

"Mulder, are you channeling spirits?" She'd meant it as a joke, but the look he gave her sent chills up and down her back.

Sitting down in a chair, Mulder put his head down low, resting it in his hands, his elbows on his knees. Scully walked over to him and put her hand on his shoulder.

"Mulder, what is it?"

"I don't know, Scully. There is something wrong here. Can't you feel it?"

Scully looked down at her partner. He really appeared to be in distress. She could not get a feel for whatever it was he thought he was sensing. A part of her didn't really want to.

"Mulder, you told me earlier that a lighthouse keeper's daughter died here over a hundred years ago. That she had been swept away in a storm. I know you believe that the ghost supposedly haunting this island is her. Why don't you tell me more. What's your theory on why she's still here and what she has to do with the weather?"

Through the hand that was on his shoulder, she could feel the tension. Debating whether to push him, Scully thought about his mood swings. It was necessary to get him to talk about what was bothering him. For both their sakes.

"Okay, but when I annoy you with my leaps of logic, just remember, you asked."

He was looking up at her at this point, giving her one of his best "thanks for humoring me again, Scully" smiles. She squeezed his shoulder gently, then sat down next to him, and waited for him to continue.

"Actually, this one is a given. The sightings started shortly after Sarah Tolman was swept away in a severe storm. This story has tragedy written all over it. It is believed that she'd gone out to save some chickens. The family had eaten all the provisions, and the hens were all that remained. She must have been desperate. She not only had to care for an ailing mother and three younger sisters, but her father depended on her to do his job while he was away.

"Of course it was bad enough that she died, but it happened just hours before the storm broke. Her father had been stranded on the mainland for weeks. It was an amazing achievement that she had been able to keep the lighthouse lamps lit the entire time and also keep her family from starving. She died a heroine.

"I think the answer to this is simple. She wasn't able to give up on her responsibilities even in death. She was literally torn from this life. Her spirit must be stranded here. She either feels the need to finish something or...there is some confusion about the safety of her family.

"Another thought I have is that the number of sightings increased after the lighthouse was automated. Maybe she thinks she's still needed. There is no one here on a regular basis. That must be confusing to her."

Scully was not surprised by what Mulder had said. She felt no need to poke holes in his theory, or argue its validity. She only had one question for him.

"Mulder that explains why her spirit may still be connected to this place, but what about the second storm? How is that caused?"

"Well, my *best* guess is that Sarah is causing the second storm, simply by showing up. She may be appearing after the storm breaks because she expects her father to return. When she does, I believe she brings the bad weather with her, recreating the conditions that existed moments before her death."

"So Mulder, what do you think we can do about it?"

"I would *like* to think that some kind of intervention on our part might somehow break the cycle and put her soul to rest.

"Scully, I know that you, incredibly, still don't believe in ghosts, but I'd still like your thoughts and observations written down and put in the case file."

Scully nodded. She knew she didn't have to answer him. Mulder could always rely on her scientific opinion on a case such as this.

Walking out to the kitchen, she brought back the wine bottle and their two glasses. After refilling both the goblets, she handed him one. He took it from her and Scully noticed his hand was shaking slightly.

"Mulder..." She hesitated. Maybe it would not be wise to push him anymore. She saw him take a sip of the wine, then bring the goblet down slowly. He swept his thumb across the glass, wiping at a drop of wine that was dribbling down the side. The thumb went into his mouth taking care of the errant splash of wine.

Scully stared down at her own glass. Feeling warm, she hoped that the flush in her cheeks from the wine was not too noticeable. Red wine always went to her head so quickly.

Deciding to risk one more question, she opened her mouth to speak, but Mulder was on his feet and walking out of the room.

"Scully. It's been a long day. I'm going to call it a night. I set up the sleeping bags on the cots in the back room. That going to be okay with you? Are you going to be warm enough in there?"

"Uhh. Yeah...yes, Mulder. That will be fine. I'm going to brush my teeth and go out to the little ladies' outhouse."

"Watch out for those updrafts, Scully."


Keeper of the Rock 6/8 By Riptide

Matinicus Rock Lighthouse Present Day 3:38 am

That night he dreamed about the lighthouse on the Vineyard, Samantha, and being in the grip of something so cold that when he woke up screaming, his extremities screamed too. Hands and toes tingled like they had been frozen, then dunked into a tub of hot water. He was unable to think clearly, pain and fear were battling each other, and he struggled, as if he were caught in an undertow, going down for the last time. Fear gained the upper hand until something else entirely entered the fray, throwing him a line.

A voice. Calm and soothing. It reached that part of him that knew he was Fox Mulder and needed help. Latching onto the voice like a drowning man, he sensed the surface was near and reached for the life ring that was just within his grasp.

When he opened his eyes, nothing was in focus. Blinking a few times, he struggled to make sense of the image before him. Warm, soft fingers touched his face, and he closed his eyes for a moment, realizing finally, where he was.

Opening his eyes again, Scully's face swam before him. The light of the halogen illuminated her, showing blue eyes opened wide in concern.

Shaking off the last of the nightmare, he felt a cold wetness on his face, and he wiped at it, half expecting a melted ice chip to be on the end of his nose. When he realized that he was wiping away his own tears, he pulled back slightly, causing Scully's hands to fall to her lap.

"Mulder, are you okay?"

Turning his back to her, he sat up on the cot, not sure that his legs would hold him if he stood up.

"No, Scully. I'm not."

Grinding the heels of his hands into his eyes, he continued to wipe at the moisture pooled there. He cursed himself under his breath. He'd meant to stay awake until Scully had fallen asleep, then sneak outside.

Fatigue having gotten the better of him, he felt frustration and anger bubbling to the surface.

Feeling the warmth of her hand at the back of his neck, he wanted to pull away, but instead found himself leaning back, trying to further the contact.

She obliged by running her hand over the top of his head and through his hair. Closing his eyes, tears threatened yet again. Shit, he thought, my emotions are too close to the surface; I'm losing control over them.

He wanted to both push her away and wrap her around himself like she was the first bit of sunshine he'd seen in a month of rainy days.

"Talk to me, Mulder."

The words were barely above a whisper. A gentle request asked so politely, but he needed it to be a demand. Wanted the garbled and mixed up images of his dreams to be pulled from his mind and put together in some kind of message that made sense to him. It was so hard to put it all into words, but he could do it for Scully. He could deny her nothing. But could he explain something to her he didn't yet understand?

Struggling to get his emotions back in check, he focused on the warmth he felt as Scully rubbed her hand in small circles on his back. He evened out his breathing to the rhythm of her movements. Finally, he laid back down on the cot and looked up at her.

The lamp sat on the floor bathing her profile in the eerie glow of the halogen. Studying her, Mulder could see the concern for him written on her face, and he hated it. He hated that *he* was the reason why she was looking sad and tired.

Knowing that Scully deserved some kind of explanation, Mulder swallowed the lump in his throat, cursed the demons that haunted his dreams and began to speak.


They talked for hours. He told her about summer days with Samantha, secret hiding places and promises kept and not kept. He told her about the lighthouse and how a young boy had been convinced of the magic it held. How hopes and dreams had not faded away, but had been dashed on the rocks like the incoming tide.

Mulder told her about the nightmares; how Samantha ran away from him, then changed into someone he didn't recognize. He told her about the terror and the pain. Mulder did not tell her the part about being gripped by something so cold that he would find himself fighting for breath. This was a part of the dream that he hadn't felt ready to face. Even thinking about it was making him shiver.

"Mulder, you must have an idea about what these dreams mean? I assume this case triggered those memories for you, but why is it turning into a nightmare?"

"Guilty conscience, I guess. For a while now, I've been unable to deal with thinking about my sister or her abduction. I put her out of my mind, even going so far as to put away her pictures. I should have known better. I should have known what that would have cost my peace of mind. I think she disappears in the dreams because I've been pushing her out of my conscious thoughts."

"Why, Mulder?"

"After everything that's happened recently, I guess I just didn't feel like I had enough energy to devote to both working on the X-Files and searching for Samantha. I still believe that these cases are my best bet for finding her, but lately I've been unable to decide what direction to go in. Stepping back, I thought, would do me some good, but...maybe that wasn't what I needed to do."

"Mulder, I have to say that the intensity of these dreams has me worried. Are you sure that Samantha is the only factor in all this?"

"You're right, Scully. Something else is going on. I just haven't figured that part out yet."

Scully attempted to stifle a yawn. Mulder smiled at the sight, then was caught off-guard by his own yawn that was stretching his mouth wide. Looking at each other, they both smiled apologetically.

"Scully, I've kept you up long enough. Why don't you go back to bed. It's not like you have to get up to beat the morning traffic."

"Mmmm."

He waited for her to say something more, but she didn't. After Scully crawled inside the sleeping bag and pulled it over her head, all he could see of her was a few loose hairs peeking out from the top of the bag.

"Hey, that's MY sleeping bag, Scully."

He reached for the top of the sleeping bag. A hand shot out and slapped him away.

"Touch this bag and you're a dead man, Mulder."

Right. He'd almost forgotten how cranky Scully could get when she was tired. Mulder walked over to the other cot and slipped inside his partner's sleeping bag. It felt more comfortable than his own. Maybe it just smelled better. He looked over at Scully and was surprised to see her watching him.

"Good night, Mulder."

He returned the smile as she disappeared into the bag once more. As tired as he was, however, it was another couple of hours before he found himself able to think about something other than the lasting images of his dream.

Whatever was going to happen, it was going to be soon. He felt the excitement he always felt when a case was drawing to a close, the resolution at hand. He just wished he could see further in the darkness, to know what to expect as he sometimes did. Of all his senses, touch seemed to be the only thing he was in tune with. Skin that had felt cold and clammy hours before, now tingled. He could feel the raw energy that seemed to surround him. If he could see it, he knew the energy would be in the form of light blue sparkles, shimmering and bright.

It was the energy, he thought, of a coming storm.


The following morning was uneventful. Mulder listened to the weather reports given on the VHF. The storm was headed northeast. It had lost some of its strength over the Cape and was no longer a hurricane, but it was still large and dangerous.

By afternoon, the weather had changed for the worse. Dark clouds had gathered and the wind had picked up. It was blowing steadily and the sea had turned a dark green, white caps flashing.

As the storm intensified, Mulder found himself growing restless. He wandered around the house, then found himself in the parlor where the family probably would have gathered to wait out the storm.

Mulder tried to envision what it must have been like for Sarah and her family. They had been able to do nothing but sit and wait, hoping that the storm did no major damage, and that it would be over before they starved to death. He wondered what Sarah's last thoughts had been.

** ** **

They ate a quiet dinner then retired early. Mulder elected to read for awhile. Scully read the keeper's journal for an hour or two, then rolled over and went to sleep.

Mulder stayed awake for a long time. He listened to the wind that was now howling outside. The roar of the waves could be heard quite clearly and he found the sound to be somewhat disconcerting. The waves sounded like they were crashing very close to the house. Maybe they were. The urge to go for a walk and look around was strong, but he decided that that would be taking an unnecessary risk.

He wasn't sure when to go looking for the ghost that was supposedly haunting the remote lighthouse. The apparition had been seen by others either in the early morning hours of the first day of the storm, or after the second storm had started. Having seen nothing so far, Mulder guessed that his best chances for seeing her would be the next day, probably sometime that night.

Mulder got up and wandered around the house. He listened to the weather, and idle chatter from people using the VHF. Eventually, he found himself reclining on the short sofa in the parlor.

Mulder stared at the small window across the room. The rain pounded against the glass. Rivulets of water ran down in sheets, half hypnotizing him.

Trying to relax, he let his thoughts wander to where they wanted to go. The emotional roller coaster he'd been on was headed for another plunge. He had been building up to it for awhile, but even when you could see it coming, it didn't make it any less scary when you got there.

Samantha. At what point had it gotten to be too painful to think about her? Even the good memories were no longer comforting. He'd found that it was just easier not to think about her at all. He'd been lied to and misled on so many occasions. So many times he'd been close to solving her disappearance, then had had the rug pulled from underneath him. Each lie had drained him of energy. Every false lead had taken away more of his will to keep fighting. To keep looking.

In a way, Mulder thought that each bitter disappointment had also taken a small piece of his soul. Recently, he had found himself wishing that it could just all be over with, regardless of the outcome. This thought had stayed with him, and had disturbed his sleep for days.

It was not surprising to Mulder that his subconscious had taken over dealing with his problems. This had happened to him before. Answers would come to him in the form of dreams. Sometimes they were clear cut. Often it would be a jigsaw puzzle, needing to be assembled piece by piece.

He felt that this was what he was experiencing now. In time, he would be able put it all together, then figure out what it was he was supposed to do.

Mulder closed his eyes and listened to the wind howl outside. It might not be a hurricane out there, but it sure sounded like one. It dawned on him then, just how far away from help they were. They were twenty five miles out to sea. What the hell had he been thinking? He chided himself for giving in to panic. Scully was doing the smart thing, as always. She was sleeping through the worst of it.

Mulder took a deep breath, willed himself to relax, then searched for a safe topic to think about. He fell asleep remembering how good Scully's sleeping bag had smelled.

** ** **

Matinicus Rock 3:38 am

// "Come on Samantha, we're almost to the top." ..."What are we doing here, Fox?" ..."Looking for something." ..."What? What are we looking for?" ..."I'm not sure. I'll know when I see it. Samantha, why are

you stopping? Where are you going? Samantha?

Samantha?"

He chased after her out of the lighthouse. She raced ahead of him. He lost sight of her, then saw her again as he ran over the hill. She seemed different to him, but he was still so far away from her. He had to get her to stop. To come back. It would all be okay if she came back.

He caught up to her finally and turned her around to face him. The girl staring at him was not Samantha. He did not know her. When she spoke, she spoke with Samantha's voice.

"Can you see in the light yet, Fox? You have to believe to see. Do you believe? Do you? Do you?"//


Keeper of the Rock 7/8 By Riptide


The rattling of the window panes startled him into waking. He was still lying on the sofa. A groan escaped his lips when he attempted to move. Stiff, and feeling an ache in his chest, he sat upright to glance around the dark room. Reaching down for the lantern that was at his feet, Mulder turned it on. The house was still, except for the sound of the storm raging outside.

Mulder brushed a hand across his damp forehead, then got to his feet. Swaying momentarily, he had to reach a hand out to the wall to brace himself. He walked into the back room where Scully was sleeping and peeked in. All he could see was a small lump under the sleeping bag. He watched for a few moments, then left.

Feeling a sense of urgency, Mulder soon found himself at the front door, his hand on the knob. He could hear the whistling wind and the crashing of the waves. The need to go outside was overwhelming. He stood where he was, listening to the storm, then grabbed his jacket from the coat hook and opened the door.

The door was caught immediately by the wind, and he struggled to get it closed behind him. He had to turn his back to the wind because the air was sucked from his lungs when he tried to face forward. Why had he come out here? He turned back, but found he couldn't make himself reach for the door.

Mulder understood then. He would have his answers soon. Listening hard, Mulder could hear the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks, the deafening noise of a powerful force striking an immovable object. Turning his face into the wind, he could barely keep his eyes open, as the wind and the rain lashed at his head, blinding him.

Mulder tried to use his coat as a shield. He took a few steps toward where he knew the second tower was. The light no longer burned there, so it remained in darkness. He slowly and carefully made his way over to the tower, the waves breaking on the rocks just below him. One wave seemed to break close by and he jumped back, then held the lantern out in front of him to see how close it had come.

Then Mulder was wading through water, on a flat grassy part of land familiar from the walks he'd gone on with Scully. He wondered if the flooding was from the rain or because the waves had reached that high.

Mulder turned, startled, when a wave broke over a rock that he had just stepped across. He stood there frozen, pleading with himself to go back. Was what he needed to know important enough to risk his life?

If he hadn't glanced back over his shoulder, maybe he never would have seen her. She was just a few feet away, separated from him by a small crevice. Even though he had never seen her before, he knew her instantly.

A young woman, long hair flowing, stood perfectly still, her body unaffected by the same wind that was causing her hair to dance crazily.

Mulder could see that he had gotten her attention. She was staring right at him, eyes unblinking. Unable to look away, he tried to read her expression, wondering what it was she wanted. Was it possible to profile a ghost, to understand motivations and desires of someone who had been dead for over a hundred years?

Her face seemed to be devoid of all emotion, but he knew that if he could just see her eyes more clearly, he could maybe gain some insight. He stood very still, mesmerized by the way she was watching him. Her features were not very clear. She seemed to glow, but her image faded in and out.

A strong gust of wind nearly knocking him over, Mulder fought to remain standing. He brought the lantern up to get a better look.

When he took a step closer, she reacted immediately, seeming to move closer to him even though he hadn't seen her make any motion to do so. One arm rose up from her side, and she held out her hand to him. It glowed, a shimmering white, the fingers stretched out long and thin.

Unable to resist the gesture, he reached out and tried to touch her. He wondered if his fingers would slip through hers, or touch something solid. Would there be a shock or would it just feel cold and dead? Before he could find out, she pulled her hand away, her arm falling to her side.

She was no longer looking at him, but gazing towards the ocean, and he thought he finally discerned an emotion ** sadness ** on her face.

Mulder never saw it coming. The wave hit him with such force, that his body was slammed to the ground, all the air forced from his lungs. Enveloped in darkness and ice cold sea water, he was unable to hear or breathe. He felt like he was under water forever, even though it was only seconds until the water receded, tugging at his body and dragging him painfully across the rocks.

Suddenly, the rocks disappeared from beneath him and he fell.

Desperately trying to slow his descent using legs that were already numb from the freezing cold water, he managed to jam his left arm into a crack at the top of the crevice. The pull of the water was strong and he screamed as his arm was wrenched at the shoulder. Finally, the water let go, and he lay wedged in between the rocks, struggling to catch his breath.

The shock of what had happened wore off quickly. He knew he was in serious trouble. Working his legs and feet to get a better foot hold, he found them too numb to move.

Mulder wished that his arm was numb, too. He was in agony. He looked over and saw that his hand had been shredded by the many barnacles on the rocks. The rest of his arm probably did not look much better.

Attempting to move, he realized that he was stuck pretty securely in the crevice, which for the moment was a good thing. He didn't know when the next wave might rip him from the rocks like an oyster being shucked from its shell. At least the crevice might save him from being swept out to sea.

Saved. But for how long? And who was going to do the saving? He thought about Scully tucked away in her sleeping bag. Mulder thought about yelling for help, but he wasn't sure he had the breath. The noise of the storm would drown out his cries anyway.

Screw it. Mulder took in as much air as he was able to, then hollered as loud as he could.

** ** **

Scully was awakened for the third night in a row by a loud noise. She immediately looked over to where her partner was supposed to be sleeping, but could see nothing in the darkness. Reaching under the cot for the flashlight, she

shined the light over at Mulder's crib. It was empty. This did not alarm her. Mulder was known for his nocturnal wanderings. Suspecting that she would find him elsewhere in the house, she slipped out of her sleeping bag and threw on the clothes she'd worn that day.

Scully walked through the parlor and out towards the kitchen. The storm was still going strong. Every few seconds, the window panes would rattle as the wind blew against them.

As she passed through the parlor, she wrapped her arms around herself. The temperature in the room felt cold and damp. She felt the cool air against her face as she walked into the kitchen. The sight of the open door caused her to stop in her tracks. The door started to close, then swung open and slammed violently against the wall.

Scully moved quickly to secure the door. Rain pelted her face, and she could feel the strength of the wind as she fought it to get the door closed.

Scully stepped back from the closed door and shook the water from her hair. Her heart pounded in her chest. Suddenly overwhelmed with a feeling of terror, she shined her flashlight around, the beam falling on an empty room. Snatching her raincoat from the hook, she headed out the door, praying that she wasn't too late.

Scully had to cling to the house as she made her way towards the lighthouse tower. She had no way of knowing that this was the way he had come. Relying on her "Mulder radar," she yelled his name, but her voice was drowned out by the wind and the booming noise of the waves crashing on the rocks.

Holding a flashlight that was completely inadequate,Scully looked up at the lighthouse tower behind her, the one that was still operational, and wished she could somehow bend its beam to see the whole island.

Leaving the house behind, Scully slowly progressed toward the second tower. The wind and rain battered her, making it hard for her to keep her head up. She tried to protect her face as best she could while searching with her flashlight. She continued to yell his name, even though she knew her voice was probably not carrying far.

Wading through water up to her knees, Scully realized that she was in the flat grassy area and that the tower was near.

Stopping for a moment to catch her breath, she thought she heard a voice somehow reaching her over the din of the crashing waves. Listening hard, she was unable to tell where the voice had come from. She turned around in circles, frantically shining the light in all directions, listening for his voice.

"MULDER? ... MULDER?"

Hearing nothing but the screeching wind, Scully struggled to stay upright, the battle draining her of her strength. Closing her eyes, she tried to focus, but heard nothing for several agonizing minutes. Scully fought to remain calm, but on the inside she screamed in anger and frustration. She KNEW he was out there. But...

" PLEASE GOD, PLEASE, WHERE IS HE?"

She screamed out loud this last thought. Tears were threatening to spill, but she held them back by sheer force of will. Feeling the rage overwhelming her, she shouted his name, refusing to give in to despair.

Turning again, she heard a voice, very weak. She turned to her right, sure that that was the direction it had come from. Walking, slowly and carefully, she shined the light in front of her. As she walked, she noticed that the wind seemed to have let go a little, so that she was able to walk upright without the fear of being blown over.

Holding the light out in front of her, Scully saw no sign of Mulder. As she came to the edge where grass ended and rocks began, she could just make out the whitecaps of the waves crashing against the rocks. It was getting lighter.

"Scullaaay."

Moving in the direction of his voice, Scully could still not see anything but the rocks. She swept the light back and forth.

"Scully. Down here. Hurry. I don't think I can...I can't..."

Scully crawled to the edge of one of the rocks and looked down. Mulder was wedged in a small crevice. One arm was stretched out above him. There were cuts on his hand and blood was running down his arm. She couldn't see his face, because he had his head down.

She leaned out precariously to get a better look. One of his legs was pushed into the crevice, the other dangled above the water, just a few feet below. A large wave crashed against the rock, soaking him with spray. Scully spoke his name to get his attention. She wasn't sure he was conscious, even though he had spoken her name only moments before. She needed to know if he would be able to help her.

"Mulder. Can you hear me? I'm right above you. Come on, partner. Let me know you can hear me."

His head moved slightly. Finally, he raised his head up so that he was looking at her. She could see how drained he was. Knowing how much pain he was in, Scully worried about how much strength he had left.

Scully saw the relief in his eyes. His face was so white that the blue of his lips stood out in stark contrast. She focused on the light that was still shining in his hazel eyes and tried to think of what to do next.

"Mulder, can you move at all?"

"Mu...My...I can move my right arm. I...can't feel my legs. Numb."

"Try, Mulder. You've got to try to move your legs a little. I need to know what you can do."

She waited for as long as she dared. She would have to go back to the house to look for some rope. Something to pull him up with. Would she have the strength to get him up herself?

"I can move them...just a little."

"Okay. Mulder, I have to go get something to pull you up with. I'll be right back."

"Don't...don't stop for coffee, Scully."

She ran towards the first tower. There had been no rope in the house when they had checked the supplies, so she prayed that she would find something to use in the small supply shed. Pushing hard on the door, she grunted in relief when she found it unlocked. Waving the light around, she pushed over empty barrels and kicked her way through piles of glass jars. One broke as she booted it out of her way.

In the corner of the shed lay a coil of rope. It looked like it could be just long and thick enough to suit her needs.

Scully ran back towards the rocks, looping the rope into the knots her father had taught her. Hours of practice, sitting on his knee, finally coming into use.

She could see more clearly as she returned to the rocks. The storm had abated and the morning sky peeked through the clouds. Looking down, she could see Mulder still wedged in the crevice.

"Mulder. I'm going to lower this rope to you. Slip it over your shoulders and under your arms. Get it under your right shoulder, then work on getting your left arm loose."

She lowered the rope and watched as he struggled into it. She saw him get it around his right arm. He stopped moving at this point and she figured he was working on getting up the energy to move the arm.

While Mulder worked on his problem, she worked on hers. Leverage. There were rocks all around, but none suitable to wrap the rope around. Then she saw a metal spike a few feet above her and off to the right, probably once used to tie off boats.

Scully tied the rope around the spike. It was perfect for what she needed, and she gave a little prayer of thanks for the unexpected gift.

Tying one end of the rope to her waist, she slowly lowered herself down the rocks to Mulder. She could see that he had not made much progress. His head was resting on the rock and he was breathing hard.

"Mulder, hang on. I'm coming."

She reached him and put a hand on his back. He was soaked through and shivering violently. With one hand gripping the rope, she worked at getting Mulder's left arm free. The doctor in her noticed how blue his finger tips were, and she winced as she pried his hand loose from the rocks, trying not to add to the damage he'd already received from the barnacles and exposure to the cold.

She refused to look at him, knowing she'd be lost if she saw the pain in his eyes.

Once she got his arm loose and helped him secure the rope around his waist, she moved to one side and hauled herself up away from him so she could pull on the rope as he attempted to climb.

He was moving too slowly. She had to go back down and help him when he found he couldn't get a good foothold. Scully had to pull hard to get him up over the lip of the crevice. Once he was over, they both collapsed in exhaustion and relief.

Scully let him rest for only a few moments. Hypothermia was her main concern and she needed to get him back to the house. She pulled at him to try to get him to stand. When he resisted, she let him back down, thinking he just needed a few more moments to recover.

"Mulder. Please. We need to get back to the house. I need to get you warmed up and check that arm."

"Where is she? Did you see her?"

"Did I see who, Mulder? Who are you talking about?"

"The girl. The keeper's daughter. She was here."

Scully tried again to grab his arm, but he pulled away and struggled to his knees, looking around him as if he had lost something. She could see the confusion in his eyes and knew he needed medical treatment soon.

"Look, Scully. She's there. Over there."

Scully sighed and stood up. Not only was her partner in shock, he was delusional. She looked at him. His eyes were pleading with her. He'd done that to her once before. Begged her to look for something that she was sure wasn't there. She had not listened to him. But when she had finally looked, to see for herself, seen the Bug, Thing, Whatever, bending over her partner...

Scully slowly turned around to see what it was Mulder was pointing at. On the edge of the rocks, just above the water, stood a young woman. Scully could see her clearly. Not only because dawn was breaking, but because the figure was almost glowing.

She stared at the girl. She couldn't believe what she was seeing, but there it was right in front of her. Scully realized that she could see everything more clearly. She noticed for the first time that it was no longer raining, and the wind had stopped blowing. The storm was over.

Her attention was pulled away by Mulder pointing to something approaching in the distance. It appeared to be a small boat of some kind. The sea was still grey and rollers broke slowly on the rocks. She watched the small boat, a dory she thought, get swallowed up by a trough, then reappear at the top of a swell. As the boat got closer, Scully noticed that she could see right through the boat to the water surrounding it.

As Mulder and Scully watched, the dory drew alongside the rock where the girl was standing. A tall, bearded man stood up and pulled in the oars he had been using to row the boat. The man reached out a hand to the girl, and she took it and stepped into the boat.

The girl sat in the bow of the boat. Her back was to them, and so was his as he rowed away from the rock. As the boat gained some distance, the girl turned and looked back over her shoulder. She looked only for a moment, then turned back around. She did not look back again.

Scully watched the dory until it disappeared in a trough. She waited for the boat to appear on top of the next wave. It never resurfaced.

Mulder and Scully sat in stunned silence.

Scully recovered first, and found her voice. "Oh my God. Mulder, what was that? What did we just see?"

She looked down at him and couldn't believe the smile that was on his face. His eyes were almost sparkling.

"A reunion."

"What?" Mulder had almost whispered the answer and she wasn't sure she had heard him right. His body shook violently again, and she pulled at his arms in an attempt to get him to his feet.

"Come on, Mulder. I need to get you out of these clothes."


Keeper of the Rock 8/8 By Riptide

** ** **

They made their way back slowly. Scully tried to keep Mulder moving. She knew his wet clothes were stiffening in the cool air, and that he was beginning to really feel the bumps and bruises. It amazed her that he was moving at all.

Once inside, Scully set the heater on HIGH. She dragged a cot out into the kitchen and put it in front of the heater. Retrieving a shivering Mulder from the doorway, she sat him on the cot and began to strip off his wet clothes.

Mulder brought his hands up to try to help her with his shirt. He worked on the first button, both hands shaking, the left one scraped raw and bleeding. Scully sat back, frustrated with his progress. She knew that he would give up soon, but she let him try anyway. He was probably feeling helpless and wanted to do something.

After two more fumbled attempts, she could stand it no longer and pushed his hands out of the way. She needed to get him warm, but she also needed to take care of his other injuries.

He didn't object when a couple of buttons went flying. Once shirt and t-shirt had been removed, she opened up the sleeping bag that was on the cot and wrapped it around his shoulders. Pushing him gently on the chest to get him to lie down, she went to work on the jeans. It seemed to take forever. Cold, wet jeans were a bitch to remove.

Mulder did not say a word to her the entire time. This was both a relief and some cause for worry. She had expected some kind of comment from him. When he remained silent she began to wonder if he had hit his head and had a concussion.

She shouldn't have worried.

"Scully, I know you've been waiting for years to get me naked and helpless. I do feel like I should warn you about..."

"Mulder, say another word and I will slap you silly." Inside, Scully was smiling. He was going to be fine.

"Mulder, I have to clean those cuts before I can bandage them. I'll need some warm water. I think I'll change my clothes while the water is heating. Other than the cuts and bruises, you don't seem to be too seriously injured. How do you feel?"

"Sore. I wrenched the left shoulder. My hand hurts like hell, but I'll live."

"It's a good thing it's not January, Mulder. I don't think you would have lasted much longer if it was. Are you feeling any numbness anywhere?"

"Not anymore. My fingers and toes are letting me know they are alive and well. It hurts to move them, but I think everything's fine. Go change your clothes, Scully."

When Scully returned, Mulder was curled up on his side, covered head to toe by the sleeping bag. He sat up when she came over, then held out his hand for her to inspect. Putting the first aid kit on the floor, she looked at his hand. It had some nasty scrapes, but other than that, it looked fine. She rotated his shoulder, and he winced. She was surprised he hadn't dislocated it. He would probably still need a sling.

After pouring water into a small basin, Scully went to get a couple of towels. She saw him shiver a couple of times, but his coloring was better, so she stopped worrying about his body temperature. Scully cleaned the cuts on his hand and wrapped it in gauze.

"Lie down on your stomach, Mulder. I want to check your back."

He did so obediently, and she pulled the sleeping bag back to get a better look. It wasn't too bad. She worked on getting the cuts cleaned and applying bandages where they were needed. She kept the sleeping bag on the areas that weren't being worked on to keep him warm. He hissed in pain a few times, but remained quiet for the entire ordeal.

Saving his face for last, she applied bandages on a couple of nasty cuts, one on his cheek, the other on his chin.

"Well, that's it. Good thing, too, Mulder. I was running out of bandages. Mulder? Mulder, are you okay?"

"What? Oh... yeah, Scully. I was just thinking."

"About what you saw?"

"YOU saw it, too, Scully. Yes, I was thinking about what it meant. I mean, how would you describe it, Scully? Would you call what we saw a miracle? Two souls finally finding each other after a hundred years. I think the man in the boat was her father. He would have been the only one that could have convinced her that it was okay to leave this place. I wonder...if it will take me that long to find Samantha."

Scully cupped his cheek in her hand. She didn't like talking about Samantha with Mulder. She wanted to be supportive, but it was hard for her to get past the anger she felt. How much more pain and suffering was he going to put himself through before accepting the fact that she might never be found. Mulder was never going to allow himself any kind of life until his sister was a part of it again. Or at least until he knew for sure that she would never be.

"What we saw this morning; I can't help but wonder if I was seeing my future. If I don't find Samantha in my lifetime, will my soul keep searching? I don't know if I find that a comforting thought, or if it chills me to the bone."

"Mulder, why not see it the way I did? What I saw was evidence that nothing can keep you from your loved ones forever, not even death."

"I don't want it to come to that, Scully."

"I know you don't, Mulder."

Looking into his eyes, she expected to see pain and loss reflected there. Instead, they were shining bright, and he was smiling softly at her.

"Sometimes I worry that my search for my sister will cause me to lose sight of what I have right in front of me. You amaze me, Scully. Your strength. Your friendship. I just want you to know that I appreciate it."

Mulder reached over and grasped Scully's hand. Bowing his head, he held her hand to his stubbled cheek. His skin was still cold against her warm fingers.

Scully put her other hand on his head and rumpled his hair that was stiff with salt. It stood up in spikes, refusing to give in to her attempts to smooth it down.

"I am here for you, as you are for me, Mulder."

He seemed surprised by her words, then grinned.

"Now that, Scully, is what *I* call a miracle."


Epilogue

Two Days Later Apartment 42 3:41am

//He walked down the path, white sneakers stepping through the tall grass. Coming to the opening where the path ended and the cliff lay before him, he could hear the surf, pounding on the rocks below.

She was there, sitting on the grass, feet dangling over the edge. Her pigtails swung back and forth as she sang a song to herself.

''Samantha, how long have you been here?''

''A while. I've been waiting for you, Fox. Did you find it?''

''Find what?''

''What you were looking for. You said you'd find what you were looking for at the lighthouse. Did you?''

''No, I didn't, Samantha. I wasn't ready. I think I will be soon. Come on, Samantha. It's time to go home.''

She held her hand out to him, and he grabbed it, pulling her up from where she was sitting. They walked away from the cliff and the sea, holding hands and singing some song he hated, but she loved, so he sang it anyway, just happy to hear her voice.

THE END


Thanks for reading. Feedback much appreciated at: riptide_isle@yahoo.com

Author's Notes: The character of Sarah Tolman was based on the real life Maine heroine Abbie Burgess. Her story had a happy ending.

If you would like to see what Matinicus Rock Lighthouse looks like go here:

http://www.capecod.net/~gbenoit/me/w/matinicuspage.htm

If you would like to see what Matinicus Island looks like go here:

http://www.midcoast.com/~howen/

I would like to thank the following people for their help with this story:

Lenore Howard- You are awesome. You kept me on track with the characterization and canon. Your kind words helped me to keep going, and you came to my rescue when I was in a jam. I appreciate all the help you gave me.

Medusa- Thanks for being the first person to look this over for me. Thanks for the advice, and for pointing out a couple of those mistakes concerning the plane. I hope I fixed that.

Sarah- I'm so glad I had you check it over. I was only completely happy with it once you gave me a couple of helpful suggestions and told me I could safely do more trimming. I appreciate your taking the time to help me out.

Abigail- Thanks for helping me with the grammar and for getting me to think about how the characters would react in certain situations.

The scene depicting what it is like landing on an island on a windy day was not exaggerated. It is actually scarier than how I wrote it.


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