Title: My Arms Stretch Triumphant on Top of a Mountain
Summary: While on "vacation" Scully and Mulder discover a coven of witches, the Gold Dust Woman, and a thousand other mystical and beautiful mysteries...
Dedication: For the Gold Dust Woman, Sweet Girl, Mystic, Gypsy, whatever you might call her... a beautiful person and my inspiration in all things... So, without further ado....
"Oh, come *on* Mulder! You've had some bizarre ideas before, and I'll admit I'm glad I listened to you, but this! This is just... *dumb*." Scully stared at Mulder in disbelief. <He's crazy. Crazy!>
"Oh, Scully! Always the cynic! Can't you just run with a theory for ten seconds? It's not like we have anything better to do!" He had a point. She had to agree.
"Fine. For lack of a better case, I'll join you. But if something *good* comes along, we're dropping this, okay?" He nodded and tossed her a file folder. It contained stories of black cats, women on broomsticks, full moons and strange chanting.
"Mulder!" She whined. "Magic? Please!"
He gave her a sarcastic pout. "Aww, Scully, you promised!"
"Ugh." She sighed and dropped into a chair to study the accounts more carefully. One was a mother's complaint- her daughter had joined a coven. The seven girls ventured out to a small island in the middle of a lake in Vermont every night, even in winter. They wore all black and carried candles or kerosene lamps instead of flashlights, chanting all the while. Only they knew what went on when they got there. There were rumours of black magic and invocations, of dark spells cast, of devil-worshipping and all other sorts of evil. Their classmates were afraid of them, their parents worried about them, the authorities despised them. A mystical aura surrounded them, and they rarely spoke to anyone outside the coven.
"Witches..." Scully shuddered. The occult had always freaked her out- it was one of few things that could. Even if it wasn't an x-file, she was intrigued enough to at least find out what these girls were up to. She read on, deep in thought. When she'd finished she raised her head and asked, "Mulder, what did you make of this 'coven'?"
He smiled, rubbing her shoulder. "I knew you'd get into this! I don't know, but since there's no real *case* here, we may as well go check it out, hey?" She was relieved that he hadn't mocked her *too* much.
"Sure, but do you have any idea as to why this came to the FBI?" Mulder shook his head.
"None. Skinner looked pissed when he gave it to me, though." Scully raised her eyebrows, nodding. <I can imagine...>
"Well, we're leaving for Vermont tomorrow, then. We can tell Skinner we're taking some vacation time. Okay?" Mulder looked worried.
"But won't he think that...?" Scully smiled.
"I thought for some reason you'd like that aspect of the plan!" He rolled his eyes but couldn't hide his grin.
"Yeah, okay, ya got me." She blew him an exaggerated kiss as she left the room, on her way to the A.D.'s office.
Mulder shook his head, smiling, as he glanced at Scully. She was seated next to him in the passenger seat, her face buried in a bizarre-looking book covered with zodiac symbols and all kinds of strange looking signs.
"Man, Scully! Now I think it's *my* turn to give *you* a skeptical look!" She looked up to glare angrily at him. Upon seing his grin, though, her eyes softened.
"Just studying up, which is more than you can say!"
"Sure, Scully, I believe you." She gave him that look again, this time her eyes remained cold. He patted her knee, still shaking his head.
"Lighten up, Scully! We're on vacation, remember?"
"Hmph! Maybe you are!" She settled grouchily back into her former position and began reading again.
<Why is she taking this so seriously?> Mulder asked himself, just as she wondered the same thing. He didn't know whether she'd read his mind or if their thoughts had somehow coincided as she said, "Mulder, tell me why this intrigues me." <Demanding, isn't she?> He said to himself, half afraid he'd said it aloud.
"I have no idea, Scully. Becoming a believer, are you?" Again with the eyes!
"Don't you wish! I don't get it- I think these girls are crazy, and the mother is overreacting, and yet... there is something so very real about his."
He arched an eyebrow. "How so?"
"I don't know... I'm not even sure what I meant when I said that. I just have this bizarre feeling that... I don't know." Mulder was interested, and a bit concerned. "I don't think I can explain this sensation to you- I just can't *understand* it. It's like... like..." she trailed off.
"Like something is about to happen to you that will change your mind, your heart, your soul, your very *existence*, forever?" She was shocked. He had pinpointed her exact feelings.
"How... ?" He sighed deeply.
"I had the same feeling when..." He stopped there. He didn't want her to know what his next words would have been.
"When... ? What?"
He remained silent, staring straight ahead, gripping the steering wheel tightly. <Okay...> It was an awkward moment, but Scully took the opportunity to delve deeper into her "studying". When he looked over at her, he felt it more than ever- that desperation, the need to hold her, to touch her, to stare into her eyes forever- and longer. He winced when he told himself that it wouldn't happen. <Scully...> He wanted more than anything just then to feel her body tucked safely into his embrace, to smell her hair, just to touch her.
He laid his hand on hers, squeezing it gently. She absentmindedly returned the squeeze and ran her thumb over the back of his hand a few times before jerking her head up and staring at him in astonishment. She all but ripped her hand away and wrote furiously in the margin of her book. The notes made no sense wahtsoever, but she didn't care.
She could not let herself think about the moment that had just passed between them- she knew exactly what he'd been thinking, and was terrified that he had somehow understood her emotions, too. Her grip on the pen tightened with each passing nanosecond, and her writing became more senseless and less legible.
Her hysteria was ended, to her relief, when Mulder said, "Scully, it's okay," and smiled gently at her. She sighed heavily, reclining in her seat and closing her eyes. <No...> was her last thought before she drifted into sleep.
Mulder shook her gently back into consciousness, fighting the urge to kiss her on the cheek as he woke her. They hastily threw their things in the general direction of their respective motel rooms and made for the police department.
A tall, lanky young man greeted them at the desk with a cheery hello.
"Hi, I'm Agent Dana Scully, and this is Agent Fox Mulder- we're with the FBI, and we're here to check out the supposed 'witches of Birkton'." He stepped out from behind the desk, opening his mouth to respond. He cut himself short for a moment to run his eyes over Scully, making her stomach churn.
"Ah, yup. Those girls're a bunch of psychos. You're really wasting your time. I mean, we could care less, but there's not much of a case here. I'm sorry."
Mulder nodded. "We understand that, but we're here anyway. Could you get us some information on these girls? Or at least their addresses?"
"Absolutely, I'll be right back!" He flahed Scully an astonishing smile, and when she smiled back, Mulder felt a sharp pang of jealousy.
"It was only an act of politeness- relax." She'd understood what was going through his mind, though he was positive she'd never felt the same in regard to him.
"Chill out, Mulder! You're so tense! Vacation, eh?" He forced a smile, nodding. The policeman came out again and handed Scully a thick binder.
"Everything you need to know about those *witches*. Good luck, agents." The way he said witches, though intended to be contemptuous, had a ring of fear to it. As they left the building, Scully asked, "Why do you think these girls are so terrifying? I mean, the way they're called The Seven... it's so eerie. Do you actually think *she* could be capable of black magic?" She handed him a photo of a sweet-looking young girl with a blonde ponytail.
"I don't know, Scully- she has an air of Satanism to her." Scully rolled her eyes.
"You're adorable. Do you know what I mean though?" He nodded and let the "adorable" comment run straight to his head. He couldn't help but laugh aloud.
<Come ON, Fox! It's *Scully*, for crying out loud!>
"What?" Scully snapped, thinking he was laughing at her.
"Oh, Scully, I'm sorry. I do agree with you- just having a little chuckle at my own expense." She smiled- he could be so *cute*.
"Hey, Mulder, where are we going?" He was driving rather fast, with an air of determination about him.
"The blonde girl's house. She's first on every list- perhaps she's the 'leader'." Scully glanced at said lists.
"It could also be that her last name is Aaronson and it's alphabetized."
"Fine." He pulled over at a beautiful, serene-looking house: dogs in the yard, lacey curtains at the windows, a basketball hoop above the garage. The look the two agents exchanged was one of complete skepticism. Jenna Aaronson answered the door with a perky smile, ponytail swinging.
"Hi! What can I do for you?" She looked *so normal*.
"I'm Fox Mulder, this is my partner Dana- we're with the FBI- could we ask you a few questions?"
"FBI?? WOW! Oh, sorry. I guess... my parents are out..."
"No problem- ah- Jenna. It'll only be a moment." She was slightly startled that he knew her name, but let them in. After they'd taken seats at a large table, Jenna asked, "So what's the deal? Why me?" She didn't seem nervous- just confused.
"Well, your involvement in a group known as The Seven has come to our attention. Would you mind talking to us about it?" Scully replied. The girl was awed.
"What does the FBI want with info about that? Anyway, I'd be happy to answer your questions, Mrs. Mulder." Scully burst out laughing, which caused Mulder to giggle uncontrollably.
"We... we're, ah, not together. I'm Dana *Scully*. We're just partners in the bureau, not in life..." They couldn't stop laughing.
"Oh, I'm terribly sorry... you're not? The Gypsy said... oh never mind her.
What would you like to know?" Once the two agents had regained control of themselves, Scully started the questioning.
"Great. First of all, why are you so willing to talk to us? According to everything Mulder and I have heard, you aren't exactly doing the type of things you would want to tell government agents about." The girls expression changed instantly- she was indignant, almost angry.
"Miss Scully, I assure you that We do not, nor have we ever, *ever* practiced black magic! It is the most forbidden act in our coven to use the Power against another being!" Scully sighed, grateful that she wasn't dealing with an evil sorceress.
"I'm sorry if I offended you. The next question will be easier- what exactly do you *do* on this island you go to?" Jenna went on to describe, in some detail, several rituals performed on the island, the roles each girl played in them, the importance of moon- and star-shine and almost everything else Scully could ever have dreamed of knowing. Jenna also spoke of The Gypsy more than once, but neither agent bothered to ask who that was. They figured they'd find out soon enough. When the girl had finished, there was silence as Scully tried to absorb it all.
"One last question. Well, request." The girl arched an eyebrow.
"Take me to this island." Mulder was astonished. This wasn't Scullyesque behaviour...
"I'm sorry, Miss Scully, but I can't. I've taken an oath of secrecy, and I'm afraid I've bent it much too far." The gravity which had come over the girl in the past few minutes instilled respect for her in Scully's mind.
"I understand. We appreciate your cooperation greatly. Thanks." They stood to exit, but Jenna held them back for a moment. She pressed a silver heart-shaped locked into Scully's hand, saying, "Wear this until blessed by The Gypsy, Agent Scully." Although she was slightly confused, Scully fastened the chain about her neck, hiding it in her blouse as she and Mulder got back into the car.
"Scully, what's the deal? You've been acting so strangely lately! I mean, one second you're *you* and the next you're... not. Are you okay?" Scully immediately understood what he was talking about, but she didn't know what to say to him. She'd been doing a lot of thinking lately...
"I think so... Mulder, I have to talk to you about... something." His brow furrowed, eyes concerned, he touched her arm.
"Talk away, Scully. I'm all ears." She shook her head, removing his hand from her body. When he touched her... she shivered.
"No, we have to go somewhere quiet, okay? Somewhere where we can really *talk*." Mulder nodded consent. He was terribly worried about her- she was always serious, but only when there was something truly wrong did her voice have that kind of grave ring to it. She'd sounded just like she had when she'd told him about her cancer. He shuddered. <Scully! Oh, my sweet Scully...> What if it had come out of remission? What would he do if she had to be hospitalized again? He wouldn't be able to bear the anxiety of almost losing her again. His heart was already tearing in half for being as far from her as he was, and if she left him forever... he was sure he would follow close behind.
They sat on the bed of one of the motel rooms, staring deep into each other's eyes, searching. He was searching for some reassurance that she was okay; she was searching for some clue of how he would respond to what she was about to say. It was going to be so hard to tell him, and thirty times more difficult to follow through on it.
"Mulder, I..." She could say no more, for she had doubled over, sobbing. Her partner wrapped his arms around her, whispering comforting words and rocking her gently.
"I'm sorry, Mulder, it's just so hard for me..." <Oh, no. Oh, no.> He knew this was *not* good. Nothing was *ever* "so hard" for her.
When she'd regained her composure, she began again. "I'm not sure how to say this, Mulder. I love my job so much, I lead such a good life, I have you... I don't know why, but I'm not satisfied. At all. To get to the point.... Mulder, I'm leaving the FBI. For good."
He clapped a hand to his mouth in an effort to suppress a sob. "Scully! Why on earth... ?" She shook her head, spreading her hands.
"I need a change- I need to get away. This is becoming too dangerous, too taxing. I can't bear it any longer, Mulder. So I'm leaving." Upon seeing the expression of complete and utter pain which Mulder bore on his face, she took his hand in both of hers and squeezed it. He took it away that he could cover his tears- he could not believe what she'd just told him.
"Scully, Scully, Scully..." he sat there repeating her name over and over again for some time as she made every attempt to comfort him. It wasn't working- the fact was, they *both* needed some consolation. Scully had been obsessed with her job- to the point where she'd completely withdrawn from society, and even her family. It was going to be the hardest thing she'd ever done to leave it- and Mulder.
"The last time you left me I could barely function- what am I going to do now?"
Scully smiled. <You're so sweet, Fox,> she thought. "You'll live- I'm not that great an asset." He winced, and she knew that he thought she *was* a fabulous asset.
"Scully, I need you! Without you, I can't work, I can't solve a single case... I don't know if I can even *exist* if you're not with me!" While hurt, he was more angry with her than upset.
"Mulder, I'm sorry! This is something that I *have* to do. I don't want to do it any more than you want me to- I care more about the X-Files, about you, than anything and anyone else in the world! You have *got* to understand that!" She suddenly found herself in his arms, her head showered with his kisses.
"I'm sorry, Scully- this is just kind of a shock. It was always 'Mulder and Scully', 'Spooky and Starbuck', and if it's just me, there's just not that ring to it." Scully was touched. "And if I can't see you, I'll be crushed. I am going to miss you *so*, *so* much, Dana!" Upon hearing this, especially the last bit, Scully was required to wipe a tear off her cheek.
"I'll miss you, too, Fox. But I'm still going to do it." He again caught her up in an embrace, holding her close, wishing he never had to let go. He did, finally, and she told him she wanted to be alone.
As the door clicked shut, Scully threw herself down on the bed, hiding her face in her arms, weeping. She heard a metallic clinking sound and looked about and found the silver locket on the floor beside the bed. She'd forgotten about it- she opened it, finding a small inscription on either side.
Initials... she couldn't quite make them out... <Oh, my...> In a beautiful script on the left were the letters DKS and oppsite them: FWM. She gasped. <How on earth...?> She lay back down on her bed, amazed. She felt a hand on her shoulder, and though she didn't have a clue who it could be, she didn't look up.
"Oh, sweet Wildheart, shed no more tears," said a deep, scratchy female voice.
Scully looked up to see a woman with wild blonde hair framing her soft face, dressed in a black lace gown, an air of magic about her. Scully had never seen the woman before, but she was drawn to her, comforted by her presence. She wasn't even that curious about where the woman had come from- Scully knew that she was there to help. When she would have said something, a small silver- covered hand went up to silence her.
"No words, Wildheart. You know what you must do now?" Scully shook her head, wide eyed. She was awed by the woman before her, and confused by her words.
"I think you do, my sweet girl. You want to tell him- you want it more than anything. But you're afraid. And I tell you not to be. Fear not your own heart, nor should you fear his. I must go, Wildheart. Do as I tell you."
Before Scully could object or question her further, the woman had twirled once in utmost grace and was gone. Scully sighed and sank back into her bed, in deep thought. She understood what the woman had told her, and what she'd wanted her to do, but Wildheart didn't know if she *could*. She gave up thinking and slept, dreaming of magic, of love, of warmth and of starry skies.
Mulder looked up suddenly to find a strange figure standing silently in a corner.
"Who the hell are you? Ge the hell out of my room!" He grabbed his gun, pointing it at the woman. He was obviously not as affected by her as Scully had been. She took a step towards him, spreading her hands.
"I come as a priestess, in peace. I have no weapons. I wish only to speak with you." Mulder got visibly more angry, clicking off the safety.
"Bullshit! I want some answers! Who are you?" She shook her head, smiling gently.
"It's not important. If you must call me something, it's Gypsy." He sighed.
"You are insane! Out!"
"Look, you must speak with her- soon. You're losing her, and all because of your own stubborness." The gun clattered on the floor as Mulder stared at her in astonishment. She amazed him further as she began to sing, "You'll never get away from the sound of a woman who loves you..."
"I want to tell her- desperately! She won't listen..." The Gypsy held up a hand to silence him.
"No excuses! You don't know that- tell her! I'll say no more, except to reiterate that you'll lose her if you don't!" She disappeared into thin air, leaving Mulder standing alone, dumbfounded. He literally bumped into Scully as he opened the door adjoining their rooms.
"We have to talk," they said simultaneously, and each smiled. Mulder took her hand and directed her toward his bed.
"Dana... I... you... ah, we.... damn, this is hard!" She touched his arm gently, her eyes understanding.
"Then say nothing." She gave him her small smile, and, catching him quite by surprise, laced her fingers through his hair and pulled him towards her. She kissed him softly but passionately, quickly but with and air of never wanting to pull away. He smiled lovingly at her, stroking her hair.
"You just made this a lot easier. I love you, Dana. Always have, always will. God, I can't believe this is happening... I've been thinking about this moment for... ever." He laughed out of sheer joy and pulled her close to him, wanting to hold her forever... and longer. She pulled away gently, letting her hands remain in his.
"Why did it take us so long? We're such fools... oh, and by the way, I love you too, Fox." He smiled and kissed her cheek, overjoyed at what was happening.
"Oh, boy," She sighed. "I need a sec, okay? I'm just going to go for a little walk... need some time alone. I'll be right back." He nodded as she walked out the door.
She had no idea what was going on with her and Fox. <I'm not sure I *want* to> she thought. She set off in no particular direction- the cool night air felt refreshing. She found herself on a trail in the woods, walking slowly, looking about and philosophizing. Her thoughts drifted from her fellings for her partner to her plan to leave the Bureau. She had already decided that she was going to do it, and would not go back on that. It was going to be difficult- *that* was obvious- and she was going to miss Mulder, but she didn't think she could stand one more moment of the life she was living. She never had an opportunity to do what she wanted, and rarely even had time to think about what it *was* that she wanted so badly. She leaned back against a tree, squeezing her eyes tightly closed, wanting the thoughts to disappear. Before she'd opened her eyes, she recognized the feeling of the presence of the Gypsy woman, and a hand on hers. She looked up to see the woman for the second time, and smiled her mini-smile at the comfort the woman provided.
"So you have told him. I applaud you. Now come with me, Wildheart." She smiled and took Dana by the hand, leading her out of the forest. Although they went directly back the way she'd come, there was a large lake at the edge of the trees which Dana was positive* had not been there before. Wordlessly, she stepped into a small wooden rowboat as she was bidden. The Gypsy guided the boat across the water without ever touching the oars as she stood in the bow, hands spread. They glided silently into shore, and Dana felt a wave of...
<Power.>, she decided, come over her. She'd never had a like sensation before-she knew it was the power of magic. When she climbed ashore, she looked all around her, awed. The moon was shining brightly, and the leaves on the trees seemed to glitter in her honor, and though the isle was silent, she seemed to hear bells ringing. Almost like church bells... The Gypsy again took her hand and led her through the trees to a small clearing. The light here played on the forest floor in a definite pattern- as if there were someone working a lights booth in the canopy. There was a small pond in the middle of the clearing- perfectly circular, the deepest, brightest blue Dana had ever seen, and sparkling so dazzlingly that the astounded woman had to remind herself to breathe.
"Beautiful! It's so beautiful..." So amazed was she that she had to fight to keep from falling to her knees. Tears of wonder streamed down her face as she looked about her. Suddenly she realized that the Gypsy woman was singing softly behind her.
"Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love? Can the child within my heart rise above? Can I sail through the changing ocean tides? Can I handle the seasons of my life?" From between strands of that fabulous blonde hair, the Gypsy gazed at Dana. There was a confused look on the redhead's face, and she smiled a caring smile.
"Wildheart... you know as well as I do that that is how your train of thought has been running lately. Lay here by the shore of the pool, and rest, dearest. I will come back for you. Have no fear- you are more than safe with us." While she spoke, seven figures emerged behind her. With a gesture of blessing, the woman was gone and the girls sat in a ring around Dana. Instead of making her nervous as it would have under normal circumstances, their presence comforted her. She recognized Jenna Aaronson and touched the locked at her breast thoughtfully.
She woke, not remembering having fallen asleep, with the circle of girls still meditating around her. The moon was directly overhead, shining into her eyes. <That's not possible at this latitude in winter> she mused. Apparently, though, on this island, it was. <Winter?!> She was amazingly warm, and suddenly realized that her body was bare, her clothes no where to be seen. Somehow that didn't bother her, though. The Gypsy appeared beside her, helping her to stand. She guided the small redheard into the water of the pool, letting her submerse herself entirely.
The older woman turned her head to the sky and spread her arms wide. The prayer sounded through the night, though her lips never moved. Dana knew the steps to follow, even though she was *quite* sure she'd never done them before. She slipped quietly out of the pool and accepted a robe from one of the girls. It was fabulously woven blue velvet, bordered with silk. The serpents at the wrists and crescent buckle confirmed her suspicion: these were not just "witches"- they were royal priestesses of the Celtic religion. She took her place once more at the center of the circle, bowing her head, kneeling, arms parallel to the ground, and accepted the blessing of each. The Gypsy made her way across the clearing and assisted Dana in rising. With the words, "Return someday, Wildheart," she was gone, along with the seven young priestesses, leaving an astounded Dana to collapse to the ground, weakened by the power of the ritual.
"Scully! Scully!" His cry rang out, panicked and terrified. The trees lent no answer, nor the stars and the moon. He came suddenly to a clearing and was momentarily shocked by the phenomenal beauty, peace, and light of the place.
Until he saw the body. Crumpled and plae, with the calm of lifelessness overher body. She had never looked so serene, so at rest, as she did in the arms of Death. He wanted to cry out, to scream through the night for taking her from him, but his voice had forsaken him. <Dana!! No! No! No!> The word ran through his head over and over as he fell next her. He pulled the limp form close to him, his tears falling onto her cheeks. <Dear, sweet Dana...> He slept that night at her side and woke still holding her close.
"My love... it was not your time. You have been with me all this time, have been by my side to ridicule or support as needed. I have loved you and I have hated you, and I have wanted to kiss you and I have wanted to kill you, but more than anything I have loved you. Beautiful Dana... my heart and my soul, my love and my life, rest now." He cast his eyes upwards to the dazzlingly blue sky, hoping against hope that she could see him. "I love you." She seemed to stir in his arms, but he knew that it was a trick of the gods. "I'm sorry I couldn't save you this time, dearest. I will never forsake you or my love for you. I know you will be with me always, as I shall be with you, love. Eternal sleep will rejuvenate you, and I swear on everything I have and everything I cherish that we will be together again- soon. Sonn, dearest." He thought he felt her move again, and sqeezed his eyes against the pain.
"Mmm..." she murmured. <My imagination?> Impossible... "Fox?" She said weakly. His heart leaped into his throat and he held her to him, kissing her over and over- her cheeks, her neck, her hair, and finally her lips.
"Yes, yes, Dana, it's me, love. My love, my dear, sweet Dana..." His body shook with the force of his sobs and he wouldn't have let her go for the world. She smiled, turning towards him and wrapping her arms around his neck, kissing him back.
"Oh, Dana... I thought for sure..." She laughed, shaking her head.
"I sleep deeply. Now what were you saying?" He smiled and kissed her forehead.
"That I love you and I'll never leave you- ever, my love." She sighed contentedly and relaxed into his arms.
The sun shone brightly, the trees seeming to glitter in their honor... and somewhere a woman smiled.
"And if you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills, the landslide will bring it down..."