Title: Spirit 01 - A Spirit of Fun
Author: Lycana
Written: 1995
Standard Disclaimer: The X-files, Fox Mulder, Dana Scully and Walter Skinner belong to Ten/Thirteen and are used without permission. Sue if you want, I have no money. Everything else is MINE! This is a work of fiction and any resemblance to anyone, living, dead or otherwise is a total coincidence. If these events seem familiar, I seriously suggest you get professional help.
Rated W for definite weirdness on my part. Some violence, a little *naughtiness*, but nothing we haven't seen before. Some names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Summary: A young woman's ghost decides that Mulder needs to straighten up.
Note: I had this thought last night at about 4 AM, so it's not entirely my fault. The thought was so funny, I just had to share.

The diner hadn't been crowded, just the manager/cook, a pair of waitresses, a scattering of customers in a few of the booths and the three eating at the counter. It was late morning, before the lunch rush, on an idyllic Thursday in Washington.

Jessica smiled softly, sipped her tea, and made faces at the little boy sitting a few stools down. He giggled, peeking at her around his mother's back and mirroring her expressions. It had started out as a distraction, to keep the kid busy while his mother relaxed. She looked awfully tired, and Jessica felt a bit sorry for her. But as he started making faces back, she had turned it into a game, rules unspoken. She'd always been a sucker for sad boys with big brown eyes.

She snorted at herself. <You make it sound like you're 80, for goodness sake.> She twirled a lock of raven hair around her finger, crossing her eyes and sticking out her tongue. <Thankfully you're only 17, and can get away with this stupidity.>

The diner door slammed open, and the man entered, wild-eyed. He pointed the sawed-off shot-gun at the ceiling and fired twice. "Everybody quiet and no one gets killed!" Dishes crashed as the waitresses and customers ducked under tables, seeking cover. He tossed the gun aside, stepping toward the counter and reaching for the little boy.

"NO!" The denial came from two women, his mother and Jessica. His mother pulled him into her arms as Jessica stepped between them and the nutcase. <You really must do something about this spontaneity of yours. It keeps getting you into trouble.>

The nut snarled. "A pretty hostage is as good as a young one." His arm gripped Jessica to his chest, and a large knife appeared in his hand and pressed against her throat. He turned as a pair in trench coats entered. "FBI," the man said quietly. "Drop the knife." His partner flanked him. Both had guns ready. Outside, screaming police cars and media vans pulled up. Jessica was sure she saw the SWAT team out there. <Who *is* this guy?>

There was a whisper of static. She realized the agents were wired. The nut laughed. "You drop your gun, 'Spooky', and then talk to me." They lowered their guns, slowly, and placed them on the floor. Anything to placate him. "Just let the girl go," he said. His partner's blue eyes fastened onto Jessica's green ones. She looked unworried, but Jessica figured it was training and not truth. She kept very still, fixed her gaze on the talker, and prayed.

"Not on your life, Mr. Secret-Agent-Man." A tiny dot of red light appeared on the maniac's forehead. Jessica could see it in their reflection. The agent's eyes widened as he noticed it.

"NO!" The shout and the sound of breaking glass was simultaneous. The SWAT team sniper had fired as soon as he got a clear shot. The lunatic's body twitched and fell as the bullet lodged in his brain. Gravity took over, and his arms opened, pushing Jessica forward as he fell. Forward onto the knife, which slit her throat.

It all seemed to happen in slow motion. There was a flash of pain, and she was gasping, gurgling through her own blood. She could hear screams, and the little boy crying. Hands curled around her neck, trying desperately to stop her life from flowing out of her. She looked up into his face. She couldn't feel much anymore, and her vision was getting fuzzy. Her fingers moved up, lightly brushing his cheek, as consciousness left her.

<Funny, he's got those sad brown eyes, too...>

 She expected a tunnel of light, ethereal music, and her deceased family members to be waiting for her. Instead she found an office, done in pastels. An almost-handsome man smiled at her from behind the desk. He looked constipated.

"Hello. I am your personal representative for the transition to the state of non-physical being." He smiled tightly. "Your name?"

"Uh..." she stalled, looking around. "Jessica Miller."

He typed rapidly into his computer, frowned, and typed some more. "Are you sure?"

"Yeah." She looked at him, eyes narrowing, as her brain caught up with his title. "You're the Angel of Death? The Grim Reaper? Where's the cowl and scythe?"

"It was decided that such melodramatics were out of date and had negative impact upon our clientele. Besides which, where would I put my computer?" He frowned at the machine. "Jessica Miller, daughter of Ruth and William Miller, born July 14 in Clarksville?"

"That's me."

His frown deepened. He typed some more, frustrated. The computer beeped. "Oh, dear," he sighed.

"What's the matter?"

He looked at her, a flush of embarrassment rising. "It appears you were rendered prematurely non-viable due to a clerical error in processing."

<Prematurely...?> "You mean I wasn't supposed to die? And I did because someone screwed up the paperwork?" She couldn't help herself. Laughter exploded out of her. "Are you sure this isn't Hell?"

He looked chagrined. "I'm afraid our options at this point are rather limited. Your corporeal existence cannot be continued, as the termination of your physical being is rather irreversible." He pulled out a thick manual and started flipping through the pages. "We cannot yet accommodate you here, you see."

"I thought there was a place reserved in Heaven for everyone."

"That is correct. However, we are facing a slight labor shortage at the moment, and our turnover time has increased dramatically." He stopped, his finger running down the open page. "You can wait around here..."

"Not a chance."

"Or, you can return as a materially-challenged entity."

That one took a few seconds to translate. "As a *ghost*?"

"Ah, yes." His eyes darted across the page. "You must anchor yourself to something, naturally. And I, as your personal representative, will collect you as soon as your place is ready."

"Anything beats sitting in this office. What do I anchor to?"

"Traditionally, the party of the first part... you... will *haunt*, in accordance with the rules and regulations outline in section 74853948, paragraphs 4 through 85, the party of the second part. This may be a place, as listed in Table 74853948-263(a) or a person, as listed in Table 74853948-263(b)." He flipped to the appendix to find the tables. Jessica moved around the desk to look over his shoulder.

"Places... the site of my death, the graveyard, my home..." She considered those. "No way. People... family members, witnesses to the death, those responsible for said death... Hey! Now we're talking. What happened to the jerk with the knife?"

Computer keys clicked. "He was also rendered non-viable."

"Crud. Who else qualifies?" Pictures appeared on the computer screen. The SWAT team sniper, various other police officers, in and out of uniform, the people in the diner, including the mother and her son, blue-eyed woman, and *him*. "Hold it! Who's he?"

"Fox Mulder. He was in charge of the FBI team investigating 'the jerk with the knife' when you died. He also tried to save you, apparently." "What, exactly, qualifies as 'haunting' someone?" she asked, chewing her lip thoughtfully. He handed her a smaller version of his own manual. She opened it to the title page.

"Rules and Regulations for the Restless Souls" or "So you want to be a Ghost"

She flipped through. It covered everything from hours of operation (between sunset and sunrise only, unless otherwise covered in subsection 38) to ways to communicate with the living (Ouija boards and Mediums, a guide for the dead). She could be a real phantom (complete with freaky noises and lighting) all the way through friendly spirit (Casper, eat your heart out!).

She thought about it, gazing at the picture on the screen. <A sucker for sad boys with big brown eyes...> "I'll haunt him."

He nodded, typing rapidly. "I'm processing it now." He pointed to a door which hadn't been there before. "That's your way. See you, eventually."

She walked over, her hand reaching for the knob. She pulled it open, then paused and looked back, curiosity too much to resist. "Why is there a labor shortage in Heaven?"

He answered, distracted by the work in front of him. "The cherubim have unionized. They're still in contract negotiations."

Jessica shook her head, laughter clamped behind her teeth, as she walked out the door.

Jessica stepped out of Limbo and into a pit of an apartment. She blinked in amazement, the door she'd entered by evaporating behind her. There was stuff *everywhere*. Files, paperwork, dirty laundry, old fast-food containers... <He needs a maid, not a ghost.> ...but no body.

She spotted a comfortable looking chair and sat down. She opened her manual. "So you want to be a Ghost" It made for interesting reading. She had assumed that she would walk in on the mysterious Mr. Mulder. This must be his place. <I thought I requested anchor to him, not his apartment. Jeez, I hope I'm not stuck in here. He'd better have cable.> She got up and walked over to the television, reaching for the remote control. Her hand passed right through it. <Well... the floor supports my feet, the chair held my butt... why can't I pick up the channel flicker?> She glanced around, then sat on the couch. It held her. She stood, thinking, then experimentally kicked the coffee table. Her foot passed through it as though it wasn't there. <No, genius, *you're* the one who isn't there.> She flipped through her book. There was an entire chapter titled "Inanimate objects in the physical world" that she avidly read. She couldn't effect physical objects unless she concentrated the appropriate amount of energy... pages flipped as she looked up energy requirements. "While ghosts, being non-matter entities, lie outside of the laws of physics, manipulation of the physical world must still obey said laws. Yakkity-schmackity... yatta, yatta, yatta..." her voice trailed off as she realized she was talking to herself. Then she shrugged. <Who's gonna care?> She concentrated, pointing her finger at the television's ON button. 'SNICK!' "It's America's favorite game show... WHEEL OF FORTUNE!" The crowd went wild.

Jessica sighed in relief. She'd been a bit worried, but things were looking up. She punched the television again, and the noise died.

This was going to take some getting used to.

 A key ground in the deadbolt on the door, it swung open, and he entered the apartment. He was still wearing the same suit he'd been in when she'd died. A glance at the clock told her that it was nine in the evening. She walked over to him, taking a closer look. His eyes were dead, and blood (*her blood*) still smudged his cheek where she'd touched him. She reached up and retraced the stain.

Mulder flinched as something cool caressed his face, shocking him out of his stupor. He dropped his briefcase and walked into the bedroom, ripping the clothing off of his body. He plunged into the shower and turned the water on full blast, leaning into the spray, trying to get her blood off of him.

Jessica "tsk-tsked" slightly and picked up the clothing he'd dropped. The suit looked expensive, and it wasn't too badly stained. She shook it relatively free of wrinkles and lay it on the bed. Then she turned, heading out of the bedroom. Her feet passed through his briefcase, and she realized he'd probably trip over it, himself. She slid it aside, out from underfoot. Then she glared at the living room. She'd been busy all afternoon, reading her book and learning about haunting.

She had been a bit of a neat-freak during life, and death hadn't changed her much. Her palms itched to *clean* the mess. But she stopped herself. The poor guy was already stressed. He didn't need her causing more problems at the moment.

The sound of water stopped, and he stumbled out, a towel wrapped around his waist. He stopped when he spotted his clothing spread neatly across his bed. Jessica sucked air through her teeth. <He looks like, well, death warmed over...> He was pale, too thin, and his eyes... His eyes were looking around the room, a bit wild. He grabbed a pair of sweat pants and pulled them on. Then he moved blindly out into the living room <I knew he'd fall over that case if I hadn't moved it...> and dropped onto the couch. He grabbed a bottle of liquor off of the table next to him and proceeded to drink himself blind. He sprawled across the cushions, the empty bottle sliding from his nerveless fingers.

Jessica draped a blanket over him. She knelt next to him, her fingers trailing over his forehead. "You don't need a ghost, Fox Mulder, you need a guardian angel." She shook her head sadly, feeling the irony of the situation. "And the angels are on strike."

 She discovered two important things that night. First, no matter how drunk he was, Mulder had nightmares. Screaming, sobbing, gut-wrenching visions of pain and terror. He never managed to wake up fully. Secondly, she found that ghosts don't sleep. She got through a lot of the book in the empty hours of the morning.

A pounding on his door mirrored the pounding in his head. "Mulder! I know you're in there! Open up!" Scully's voice carriedt hrough the wood, rousing him. He staggered to the door to let her in, if for no other reason than to stop the noise. His mouth felt like cotton. "Was th mttr?" he mumbled, blinking blearily at his petite partner. Scully waved him back, closing the door softly behind her. "You smell like you slept in cheap booze." She took one look at him, one look at the empty bottle next to the couch, and hauled him bodily into the bathroom, pushed him into the shower, and turned on the cold water. Mulder let out a yelp of surprise and tried to escape, but Scully firmly pushed him back in until he and his sweats were soaked.

Jessica watch the entire process, laughing until tears ran down her face. The fiery agent was her kind of woman... strong will, strong mind, strong hand.

"Let me up, Scully," his voice started at a low rumble, but soon built into a roar. "LET ME UP!" Scully turned off the water and glared down at him. "Are you sober enough to stand on your own?" She had had it with his drinking himself to sleep every time a case ended in innocent death. Guilt was fine, but Mulder took everything to extremes. Mulder raised his hands to his temples. "I've got a splitting headache---"

"Which you deserve for such stupid behavior."

He was a bit miffed at that. "--- but I'm awake."

"Fine. Get dressed and I'll make some coffee. Skinner wants to see us."

It was a standard government issue car. Jessica curled up in the back seat and listened intently as Scully verbally thrashed Mulder about his drinking while ripping through rush-hour traffic. She was very glad she was already dead. <The woman drives like a maniac when she's mad.> "You can't blame yourself for this one, Mulder. I thought we cleared this up yesterday."

He looked like a child denied his favorite candy. "I can blame myself if I want to. It was my fault." He looked down at his hands and whispered, "It's always my fault." Jessica frowned at that. <Who is he kidding? It's the moron who messed up my paperwork that got me killed.> She concentrated a bit of energy into her hand and slapped the back of his head.

Mulder jumped two feet, or her would have if the car roof and seatbelt hadn't been in the way. Something cold had just knocked into him. He looked into the back seat and found nothing. He shook his head, blaming his hangover. Scully was giving him one of her Looks.

"What is it?"

He glared at the windshield. "Nothing."

 Walter Skinner had been in Viet Nam. He had seen many men in the worst of human ways. He'd seen them dead, killed in almost every fashion known to warfare. He'd seen them crazy, minds broken by things they'd seen or done. He'd seen them high on everything imaginable and some things he preferred not to imagine. His buddies liked to party, to remind themselves they were still alive. He'd seen them all drunk out of their minds. He'd seen them, and been one of them, the next morning. He knew a massive hangover when he saw one. He was not pleased.

"Mulder, Scully," he acknowledged their entrance. "Have a seat." They sat in the chairs, shifting, unable to find a comfortable position. They weren't there to be comfortable. "The young lady who was killed..." his voice trailed off as he consulted the paperwork on his desk.

"Jessica Miller." Mulder supplied the name. Her face appeared in his mind. She'd been looking at him from the moment he'd stepped into the diner. She'd had the most beautiful green eyes. She hadn't screamed, or pleaded, or cried. All she'd done was look at him. To him. Trusting him to get her out of danger. And he'd failed. She died in his hands, her blood flowing over him. Mulder closed his eyes. He swore she'd smiled at him as the light in her eyes dimmed. And she'd touched his cheek...

"AGENT MULDER!" Skinner's voice finally cut through. "Are you back? Good. The funeral for Ms. Miller will be tomorrow morning. The family has requested that we keep our numbers to a minimum. The two of you will go as representatives of the Bureau. The service will be graveside at St. Martha's in Clarksville." He glared at the two agents, feeling his anger dissipate but not being able to show it. "Finish up the paperwork on the case, then go home." He looked back at his desktop, then glanced up as if surprised they were still sitting there. "Get out."

 The day dawned bright and sunny. Birds were singing, the grass was green, and all was right with the world. It was the perfect day for a funeral. Jessica was looking forward to it. After all, it was *her* funeral. This could be the highlight of her after-life. She grinned out the window as Mulder stumbled into the bedroom to get dressed. <Today is the first day of the rest of your 'after' life.> She laughed, looking around her. <This brings whole new meaning to 'I have no life.'>

Mulder looked up from buttoning his shirt, startled. He could have sworn he heard laughter. It had been soft, light, as though coming from a distance, carried by the wind. He shrugged. Must have been someone outside.

Jessica was suitably impressed when he walked out. <That's a killer look.> She burst into giggles again. <What a morbid sense of humor. But then, what else should one expect from the dead? Maybe I'll turn into the 'Giggling Ghost'.>

 The graveyard parking lot was filled to overflowing. Jessica looked around with interest. She figured she'd find out who was who at the service. Scully looked marvelous in a light charcoal suit. Mulder's was a darker gray, and his tie was a somber piece of silk reserved for serious occasions. She rested her hand on his arm and they walked toward the crowd. Quite a large number of people had turned out to mourn the loss.

Jessica was shocked. <I don't even know half of these people, not including the media!> It looked like the whole town was there. <What a load of crap!> Her step-mother sat on a white folding chair at the head of the coffin. <Wait a second. I wanted to be cremated.> The woman was crying, sobbing into a lacy white handkerchief. Jessica couldn't believe it. What the hell was going on?

The minister moved to the top of the grave, bowed his bald head solemnly, and quiet descended. "We gather here, today, to mourn the loss of a young woman, Jessica. Beloved daughter and friend, she risked her life to save another..." He droned on for quite some time. Jessica didn't know whether to be flattered or embarrassed. They thought she was some kind of hero! <I'm just a moron who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.> She walked over to the coffin and pressed her face through the wood and satin to take a look at the body. <Oh my god! I'm wearing that *repulsive* white dress from Easter. I don't *believe* this.> She pulled back out and hid her face in her hands. "I am *so* glad this is a closed casket. I wouldn't be caught *dead* in that outfit!" Her hands dropped when she realized what she'd just said, and laughter exploded out of her. "I guess I was caught dead in it, wasn't I?" Chuckling quietly, she walked away from the grave, trying to get a better look at the people gathered.

"What's so funny?" asked a voice from somewhere around her hip. Jessica looked down at the little boy from the diner. She stuck her tongue out at him. He giggled.

"Wait a second," she mumbled, squatting down to be on level with him. "You can see me?"

He nodded vigorously. "Yes. Aren't you supposed to be in the box?" He pointed at the coffin.

"It's a long story, kid."

"Mommy said you were an angel, now," he said, looking her over. "Where are your wings? Is Heaven nice? Did you get to meet *God*?" The last question was asked in hushed awe, his eyes wide with trust and wonder.

"Actually, I'm a ghost."

"Are not. Ghosts are green and glow-y and slime people. Or they run around in bed sheets with eyes cut out. I know." He was very proud of himself. "I saw the movie."

Jessica couldn't argue with that kind of logic. "Okay, I'm not a ghost. I'm a specter."

"What's that?"

She smiled at him. "It's a ghost that isn't green or glow-y and doesn't slime people." She passed her hand right through him and he shivered. "See?"

"You're cold!"

Camera flashes distracted her from the conversation. The funeral was over, and the guests were moving in to offer condolences to her father and step-mother. She watched in horror as Mulder stepped up with Scully at his side. She didn't hear what was said, but the sound of her step-mother's hand flashing across Mulder's face in a resounding slap was unbelievable. And he just stood there and took it as more cameras recorded the scandal.

Jessica stood quickly. Her eyes narrowed. She looked back down at the little boy. "What's your name?"


"Well, Greg, how about you do me a little favor?"

 Scully felt terrible. Mulder wasn't talking. He just stared at the coffin, the imprint of a hand blazing red on his cheek. She was sure it was some kind of justification to him, a mark of his failure.

"'Scuse me, Mr. Mulder," a small voice pulled them both back to the present. They looked down at the boy from the diner.

"What can I do for you?" Mulder asked.

"The angel said to tell you it's not your fault." Mulder cocked an eyebrow and looked at Scully. He sat on one of the folding chairs and lifted Gregory onto the one next to him.

"Who said what?"

"The angel said it's not your fault." Gregory was looking just over Mulder's right should. He and Scully turned. There wasn't anyone there. They turned back to the boy.

"What angel?"

Greg pointed at the coffin. "The one that's supposed to be in the big box." Scully paled and Mulder sucked air over his teeth. "She says her name is Jessica and she doesn't blame you or anyone else." He giggled at nothing. "She says she can't believe her step-mom hit you." Then his mouth gaped and he stared. "I'm not allowed to say that." He struggled a bit, then started talking again. "You must ignore that..." he paused, then whispered "bitch" before finishing "... and her mel o dra mat iks." The larger words were pronounced with extreme care. "She's probably thrilled that the death was accidental and the life insurance has a double indemnity clause." He looked confused and asked, "What's that?" of whatever he saw standing behind Mulder. He must have gotten an answer he liked, and his smile reappeared. "She says that next time you drink yourself stupid she'll help Scully throw you into a cold shower. A *really* cold shower." A breeze from nowhere ruffled through his hair and he giggled.

"Gregory! Don't bother the nice people." His mother picked him up and held him close. She nodded to the agents and walked away.

"BYE JESSICA!" he shouted over his mother's shoulder. "I hope you get your wings soon!"

"Scully..." Mulder began, watching the boy and his mother grow smaller in the distance.

"Don't say it, Mulder. Don't even say it."

 "Scully, I'm being haunted."

"Mulder, don't be ridiculous. There is no such thing as a ghost."

"How can *you* say that?" He stared at her from across the table. "After all of this time, all of the cases we've covered?"

She picked at the salad in front of her. "I can say it because there is no scientific evidence to prove that ghosts exist."

"Scully, sometimes you take this 'Scientist's Advocate' thing a bit too far."

She laughed softly. "*I* take things too far?" She grew serious. "What makes you think you're being haunted?"

"Well, things in my apartment don't stay where I put them, and I keep hearing laughter when no one else is there. And Greg's little speech this morning..." he trailed off.

"Why not suggest the boy is a telepath and picked that out of our minds? And the laughter is someone's television. And you just *think* the stuff in your apartment has moved. I've seen you when you wander around on auto-pilot."

"Well, there's one way to find out," he said, that familiar sparkle in his eyes.

"What would that be?" "We'll hold a seance tonight, in my apartment."

That earned him one of the Looks. "Mulder..."

 Jessica looked around her house, satisfied with her work. She'd smashed every mirror, hidden her step-mother's jewelry in air vents and heating ducts, and basically exacted ghostly revenge. <I should have chosen to haunt her. I cannot believe the act she's putting on!> For good measure she hid all of her father's cigarettes. <Don't want him joining me anywhere in the near future.>

 "Mulder, I cannot believe I let you talk me into this." Scully paced across the floor, wandering around the piles of paper and books in her path. Mulder looked up at her. He was kneeling next to his coffee table. He'd cleared the immediate area of trash. It was probably the first time Scully had ever been able to see the floor. He got up and crossed the room.

"Where's your sense of adventure, Scully?" He rooted around in the closet for a bit, searching for something.

"I left it behind, last time we were in quarantine." She shook her head. "There must be better things to do on a Saturday night."

"Like what?" Mulder emerged from the closet, dust in his hair and a box in his hands. The box was placed carefully on the couch. Scully sighed, walked over and brushed the dust from his hair. "Like a date? Remember those?" She rolled her eyes when he sneezed. "I used to have them on occasion."

"Well, we have a date with a ghost." He opened the mystery box and pulled out an antique Ouija board. Scully exclaimed at its beauty. This was no cardboard thing from Parker Brothers (TM). This was solid wood, inlaid with precious mother-of-pearl letters and numbers.

"Where did you get this?" she asked, her fingers tracing delicately over it.

"An estate sale. Supposedly it had been in the family for years." He paused dramatically. "A family of witches, Scully." That comment earned him a Look. He pulled out the marble indicator. He placed it on the board and gave it a slight nudge. It slid easily across the smooth surface. "What time is it?"

"It's 10:13. Why, are we waiting for midnight?"

He shook his head. "No. The power builds from sundown to midnight, peaking at 12, then wanes as the night wears on. We can start at any time." He began pulling thick candles from the same box. All were slightly used.

"You've done this before, I see." She set up several of the candles. "Any results?"

"Nothing conclusive."

"I'll bet." She took the matches he handed her and lit the candles. He did the same at the other end of the table. "Now what?"

He stared at her. "C'mon, Scully. You must have done this before. At a sleep-over party with a bunch of pre-pubescent girls?"

She pulled out the cross she wore around her neck. "Catholic, remember? Ouija boards were used to talk to the devil. We weren't allowed to party with demons and gouls."

He grinned at her. "Then how'd you end up with me?"

"Bad karma?" she suggested, deadpan. He couldn't decide if she was kidding or not. Then he heard it. An echo of far-off laughter. "Did you hear that?" he whispered.

"Hear what?" she whispered back. "Wait a minute, why are we whispering?"

"Just trying to get into the spirit of things," he answered, pleased at the humor. He earned another Look. "Here, sit opposite me, put out two fingers, like so, and *concentrate* on the ghost."

"Mulder, how do I concentrate on something that doesn't exist?" She frowned slightly. "And stop trying to move the indicator."

"You stop trying to stop it from moving."

"Mulder..." Her voice held a note of warning.

"Scully..." His was equally irritated.

Jessica shook her head in amusement. <They're like a couple of little kids.> She reached out with both hands and pushed suddenly *up*, sending both sets of their hands flying off of the indicator. The temperature in the room started to drop as Mulder and Scully looked first at each other and then at the board.

The indicator moved of its own violation across the wooden surface. It slid to a stop over one of the five sets of inlaid words. 'HELLO' The candles went out.


"Don't say it, Mulder. I don't want to hear it."

 Outside, on the street, two men sat in an unremarkable van filled with surveillance equipment. "Old Spooky's finally gone around the bend, and he's taken that sexy partner of his with him," commented the one on the headphones. "He's holding a fucking seance."

"Well, what else has he got to do on a Saturday? He doesn't date, ain't got no friends to speak of, and it makes the rest of us look bad when he works on weekends." He took a bite of the sandwich he held and turned back to the game on the radio. "Sounds pretty pathetic."

"Almost as sad as being assigned to watch him, wouldn't you say?"

 Jessica had to take her fingers off of the Ouija board. She was laughing so hard she was afraid she'd move it by accident and *really* freak the FBI out. Mulder had scrambled to retrieve a pad of paper and pen. Scully lit the candles again. Both were staring at the board like it was a live snake, partly in fear and partly in fascination.

"Now what do we do?" Scully asked.

"Now we ask questions. Is there someone in particular you'd like to talk to?" He smiled, delighted. She glared at him. Mulder looked around the room, then down at the board. "Who are you?"

There was no reason not to answer him. 'J-E-S-S-I-C-A'

"Why are you here?"

<Good question...> 'N-O-T-T-I-M-E' She stopped there. This was tiring for her, but way too much fun to stop, at least for now.

Scully frowned. It was bad enough the little piece of marble was moving on its own. She could explain that away by a... well, freak earthquake? Trucks driving by? But not if it insisted on spelling out legitimate words and phrases. "Not time? What does that mean?"


Mulder's eyes slid halfway shut. The thrill of a firsthand paranormal experience was tarnished by his guilt. "She wasn't supposed to die. It was too soon and she's stuck here on Earth."


"Apparently not, Mulder."


Neither agent knew what to make of that. "Choice? There's a choice to be made after death?" Scully wasn't sure if that made her feel better or not.

"Why me?" Mulder asked.


Scully grinned. "She felt sorry for you." Mulder shook his head in denial. "You bring that out in almost every female you meet." Her shoulders shivered with repressed laughter. "Even the dead ones."

Jessica lost it. Scully's humor was too much. And this time both agents heard her.

"Well, Mulder, it looks like she doesn't mind too much." Scully looked around. "I can't believe I just said that."

"Do you believe I'm being haunted, now?"

"I don't think so, Mulder. Give me a little while and I'll come up with a scientific explanation." She paused thoughtfully. "There's always an explanation."


 "I'm afraid that's enough, Jessica." She looked up from the arguing agents and found her 'personal representative for the transition to the state of non-physical being' standing at the other end of the table. He still looked constipated.

"What's enough?" she asked, slightly surprised to see him.

"It is not permissible to communicate with a group which has affiliation to any government or other large organization which investigates paranormal phenomena without an appropriate medium of questionable authenticity present." He shook a finger at her. "You didn't read your manual. It always has to look like it could be a trick when you're dealing with such people."

"These are FBI agents, true, but they don't investigate the paranormal. The government isn't going to be interested in me."

"Special Agent Fox Mulder is *in charge* of the FBI division that investigates the paranormal. Didn't you read his file?"

Jessica stood, hands on hips. "You didn't give me any *file*."

He looked a little guilty. "I didn't?"

"No, you didn't. You were so busy fixing my paperwork, you must have forgotten." Her foot tapped impatiently. "Well?"

"I, ah, that is ---"

"Listen, Mr... what is your name, anyway?"

"Wentworth. Bennington Wentworth."

"Well, Benny, I'd like it if you went back where ever you just came from, fix my paperwork and *find that file*!" He exited quickly though a door that wasn't there. Jessica threw her hands up in disgust. "He even looks like a Wentworth!"

 Mulder walked into the office early Monday morning. He and Scully had argued, not paying attention to the time, and by the time they turned back to the Ouija board it was after midnight. Scully had gone home, clearly not happy and thinking hard on *any* explanation that did not use the words 'ghost' or 'spirit'. Jessica hadn't done anything on Sunday. He couldn't decide if it was out of respect for the Sabbath or for some other reason.

Truth be known, Jessica had just hung around doing nothing on Sunday except fuming. <What happens when bureaucrats die? They just keep shuffling paperwork. Unbelievable.>

Now it was another work week, and Mulder was more than ready to bury himself in another puzzling case. He had accepted the fact he was being haunted by a seventeen-year-old girl whose death was his fault. He had accepted the fact that Scully wasn't going to admit he was right. Now he just need to figure out how to use this situation to his advantage. But not right now. Jessica was thrilled. She got to see the inside of the J. Edgar Hoover building. She was going to see real FBI agents at work, and this time she wouldn't be in mortal danger. <Cuz I'm already dead!> What fun... what excitement...

What a disappointment. Scully arrived and they spent most of the morning catching up on paperwork and sorting through new files. Jessica read over Mulder's shoulder, occasionally switching over to watch Scully typing. Jessica laid her fingers over Scully's.

Something icy brushed over her fingers. Scully yanked her hands away with a soft gasp of surprise. The keys in front of her clicked. 'I AM BORED' printed on her screen. She looked up at her partner. "Mulder," she said, looking from the screen to him and back. 'REALLY BORED' typed out. "Mulder!"


"Your ghostly guest is sending you a message," she said, gesturing at her computer. Mulder shuffled over, one eyebrow raised. "She uses computers?"

'WORKED FOR PATRICK SWAYZE' Scully started laughing. Mulder looked at her, confused. "Tell me you didn't see 'Ghost' with Swayze and Moore," she said. He shook his head. "Men."

'IS THIS ALL YOU DO ALL DAY?' Mulder couldn't help the smile that tugged at his lips. "I'm afraid so."

'HOW DULL' "Well, excitement usually means someone's about to get..." he trailed off, realizing where he'd been heading.

'KILLED' she finished for him. "Yes," he admitted. The temperature in the basement office was seasonal. Cold in the winter, boiling in the summer. It was summer, but the temperature was dropping, just as it had on Saturday night. He heard her laughing. One of the nearby file drawers opened, a soft breeze ruffling through the papers inside. Then the breeze turned, brushing across his face. 'LATER' The temperature in the room began returning to normal.

"She's gone?" Scully asked, looking thoughtfully at the computer screen.

Mulder nodded. "For now, I suppose." He headed back to his desk, one finger rubbing the side of his nose. "I wonder what she's up to."

 He found out what she'd been up to all day the moment he entered his apartment that evening. He looked around in disbelief, his mouth agape. He pulled out his cellular phone and dialed his partner. "Scully, you aren't going to believe this."

"What is it, Mulder?"

"How fast can you get over to my place?"


"Jessica's been busy this afternoon." He hung up, letting his briefcase fall to the floor.

 He pulled the door open after she'd knocked only once. She entered the apartment, pizza box balanced on one hand. She stopped, gaping in amazement, much as he had. "My god, Mulder. It's ---"

"Unbelievable. How could she do it? I can't find anything."

" --- clean," Scully finished in a whisper. The floor had been waxed, the windows sparkled, there wasn't a speck of dust anywhere. Even the shelves were clean, the books and magazines divided by subject, then alphabetized by author. Mulder pulled open his 'storage' closet, where he threw everything he didn't know what else to do with. It, too, had been organized. The bed had been changed. His laundry was clean and folded neatly in drawers or hung in the closet. His shoes were shined. The bathroom had been scrubbed from ceiling to floor and smelled faintly of pine.

Scully headed for the kitchen. It, too, was spotless. The floor and counter tops had been scrubbed. "Mulder, did you know the cupboards in here were white?" Dishes had been done. Scully pulled open the refrigerator. Clean as a whistle and almost completely empty. What it did contain was still good, however. Mulder walked up behind her and took her arm. "Come look at this." Scully followed him. Stacked neatly next to the door, out of sight, were several bags. Each was marked by a post-it note. 'PAPER' 'GLASS' 'PLASTIC' He ripped open the one containing glass. Bottles spilled across the floor. "She poured out every drop of booze I had."

"It's incredible. Do you think I could borrow her?"

"This is not funny, Scully." His stern look was too much. She laughed until tears ran down her cheeks. She sat down and leaned back, coming into contact with another bag. This one was folded neatly over the back of the chair and marked 'DRY CLEANING'. A soft breeze blew a long piece of paper off of the table, which had been polished to a mirror gloss, and onto her lap. She looked at it, then began laughing again. "Here, Mulder, she wrote a list for you." She handed it to him.

"A grocery list? What kind of ghost is she?"

"A ghost after my own heart." She laughed again, not noticing the soft echo which accompanied her. Then she saw the pile of electronic bits on the table. "Mulder, what are these?"

He looked up, walked over and poked a finger at the pile. "They look like electronic bugs." His eyes widened as his gaze met Scully's. The soft breeze whipped across his face and flew to the curtains of one window. Looking out, Mulder saw nothing unusual on the street. Just people, the parked cars... and an unremarkable gray van that wasn't as unremarkable as it wanted to be. "Well, what do you know."

 Jessica was pleasantly tired. She had worked her fingers to the bone, or would have if she actually still had fingers. It had taken all of her formidable skills and a few ghostly tricks from her manual to get it done in time. She had used almost every ounce of energy available, dropping the temperature in the building several times. Now she was sprawled across the couch, watching in amusement as Scully and Mulder wandered around the newly cleaned apartment in amazement and irritation, on his part at least. She was feeling drained and a bit transparent, which was terribly impressive considering she was already invisible. Her eyes slid shut and she giggled into the cushions.

Mulder was complaining to Scully when she looked up. He had discovered her little trick with the alcohol. She pushed herself off of the couch and wandered over. A flick of the wrist sent the grocery list she'd drawn up sliding into Scully's lap.

Then Scully spotted the electronic do-hickeys she'd found while cleaning. They'd been stuck all over the place, under light fixtures, around mirrors and windows, and basically undiscovered because Mulder never bothered to *clean* anything. She'd found the first one in the bathroom. It didn't take a genius to figure out that it didn't belong there. The rest had been easy to find, once she knew what to look for. <Two plus two equals four, and electron bits mean someone's listening.> She'd figured something nearby. Like on the street. That's when she noticed the van. A quick brush across his face and then wiggling the curtains brought him to the window. He spotted the van immediately.

"So, Mulder," Scully said as she came to stand next to him, "are you going to turn Jessica into an X-file?"

"I think we've got something a bit bigger to worry about first, Scully."

 Outside, in the van, two men were frantically trying to figure out why there was no sound coming in when they knew damn well Mulder and Scully were up in the apartment together. There should at least be the sound of breathing, if nothing else. When they'd seen Mulder come home, they'd turned on the equipment. Nothing, not a peep. Then Scully had shown up. The man in charge had been very specific. They had to log anytime she spent with Mulder, and he wanted to hear every tape of their conversations *personally*.

"We're in trouble, aren't we?" asked the first agent.

"Yes," came the reply. "Very serious trouble."

 "What are we going to do about it?" Scully asked, gazing at the van with narrowed eyes. Mulder looked down at her. "We work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Let's investigate." Both agents checked their weapons, glanced determinedly at one another, and left the apartment with silent steps.

Jessica sighed. <I hope I'm doing the right thing.> She pushed herself through the wall and floated down to the street.

 The two agents approached the van with care. Mulder pulled his gun out, checking the front seat through the driver's side window. Nothing. He motioned to Scully, and together they moved to the back. He nodded, and reached out to open the doors. "FBI!" he shouted, both pointing their weapons at the inside of the vehicle.

"So're we," came a languid reply. "Whadda ya want?" The two men inside looked unimpressed by Mulder and Scully. Scully took in the surveillance equipment with a calculating eye. "Who are you listening to?" she asked, her weapon lowering.

"That's none of your business, Agent Scully."

Mulder's gun was still trained on the men. "We're making it our business."

"No, Agent Mulder, you are not. I think we'll have to take this interference up with your superior." The man moved forward, totally unconcerned by Mulder, and closed the doors. A few seconds later the brake lights flashed and the van pulled away.

Mulder lowered his gun. "Skinner's going to want us tomorrow morning," Scully said. She looked at him, a bit apprehensive when he didn't respond. "Mulder?"

"Yeah, Scully. Maybe then we'll find out who's watching me, us." His weapon disappeared beneath his jacket. "If we're lucky." He placed his hand on her back, escorting her into his building. "Are you feeling lucky?"

 Jessica was worried. She hadn't known Mulder and Scully for very long. She knew next to nothing about the way the FBI operates. But finding bugs in an agent's home... there was something very wrong going on. The two men in the van had been listening to this apartment, she was certain. So were Mulder and Scully.

She waited until the two agents had returned to the apartment and settled down to eat the pizza Scully'd brought before making her presence known. She ruffled Mulder's hair in a gesture that was becoming familiar to both of them. He looked up from his pizza. "I really should be angry, Jessica." He tossed his half-eaten slice back onto his plate and leaned back into the couch. Icy fingers trailed down his cheek in apology. "But you found those bugs." His eyes flew wide and he looked at Scully. "Maybe we should give your place a good look."

Scully had not consciously considered the possibility. She felt slightly violated already. If they were watching her place, too... "Let's go."

 Jessica was ready to follow them and help search Scully's place in all of the nooks and crannies that a ghost was best suited to inspect. But Bennington Wentworth stepped out of nowhere, a thick file clenched proudly in his hand. He held it out to her, brandishing it like a spoil of war. "Here it is. The complete life and times of Fox Mulder."

She pounced on it. "What took you so long?" She sat down, ready to learn. "How's my place in paradise coming?"

"Slowly. We've almost caught up with those who've come across in the last five years. I'm afraid that as you are a, well, special case, showing up early and all, that your place is a rather low priority."

She glared up at him. "You almost make it sound like I died just to cause you problems, personally." He smiled faintly, exiting. She wasn't sure, but she almost swore he'd agreed with her.

 The file contained everything there was to know about Fox Mulder. Jessica read it avidly, sometimes going over a paragraph two or three times so as not to miss anything.

She read about his early childhood and the problems he'd had with his parents, especially his father. She read about his sister's birth and his relationship to her. She read about his education, how his photographic memory and high intelligence caused problems with his peers. She empathized with the lonely little boy he'd been.

She read about his sister's abduction. She was amazed at the existence of aliens, for that was indeed what they were. She read of his parent's disbelief and blame. She read of his guilt, his single-mindedness to find his sister. She read of his problems in high school, his inability to fit in, the rumors which dogged his heels. She wished she'd known him, then, when he was her age.

She read about his years at Oxford, his happiness in learning. She learned about Phoebe Green, and was ashamed to be female, for a moment. She read of his brilliance, his drive, his need and his loneliness. She covered his years at Quantico, and those that followed in Violent Crimes. She learned of his beliefs, his fears, and the hated nickname that hung over him like a shadow. And of the men who watched him.

She read and re-read the section about the X-files, his discovery of them, his surprise and need to know. She read of every crazy case he'd been on. She found out about Dana Scully's assignment to him, as a partner, as a spy. She learned about her as she became that partner, turning slowly against those who would use her. She followed avidly the cases they went on together, the secrets they uncovered. And the doors that closed on them when they found what others in power wanted to remain hidden.

She gasped at Scully's abduction, and Mulder's reaction to it. Scully was no longer merely a partner, whether Mulder admitted it to himself or not. She was drawn further in at her mysterious return, the problems with the closing and re-opening of the X-files. She was confused by Skinner. She was angered by Krycek. She was amused by Frohike and the Lone Gunmen.

The file contained only what Mulder, himself, knew. The information was often full of holes. Especially the small bits about Cancerman. Yet Jessica knew to hate this man.

She had been so absorbed by the file that she did not notice when Mulder returned. She missed completely when he settled in for the night. She never heard the television he watched or noticed him pacing the night away. She went on to finish as he showered in the morning, dressed and left for work.

Jessica was seventeen when she died. She had died at that time when ideals were still true, before cynicism set in. She believed in the basic goodness of people. She trusted in the government. She believed in a certain kind of universal justice. She had floated easily through life, cared for by her parents. She'd had friends, some close. She had a wicked sense of humor and saw life as a game, for the most part. She'd never really been in love, or had any great loss. Her death, as far as she was concerned, was just another play in the game. She was, compared to Mulder, a paper doll. Oh, sure, she'd been sad. And irritated on occasion. But she'd never burned with passion for anything, never desired truth as he had. Until now.

Jessica felt it at the bottom of her soul. It was a twisting pain that was almost pleasure. It burned white-hot, a blaze of fire. Her ideals had been shattered. The government was a faceless mass of lies and denial. People were not to be trusted until they proved themselves. There is no justice unless we make it, ourselves.

She stood up, the file sliding carelessly from her lap. Her hands clenched, and she trembled. There was no release for the energy building in her. Her eyes blazed with the fury of shattered trust. She looked around, noticing Mulder was gone. Seeing the time, she realized he must have left for work. She followed the route she'd traveled before. Jessica didn't know all that was going on. No one did. But Special Agent Fox Mulder sought out the truth, no matter what stood in his way. That was enough for her.

<They always told me I should get myself involved. Well, I'm about to do just that.>

 Scully had been right. Skinner's secretary caught them as soon as they entered the building. With resigned looks of irritation they stepped into the Assistant Director's office.

"Sir," Mulder began, then stopped in shock. He half-felt, half-heard Scully's sharp intake of breath. It wasn't just Skinner. Four others, three men and one woman, were seated around the conference table. And sitting in the shadows of the corner of the office, not part of the group but always lurking, was Cancer Man. A match flared, lighting one of his ever-present cigarettes and braking the silence.

Skinner pointed to the two chairs at the end of the table. "Have a seat, Mulder, Scully," he said. They took the indicated places. This would be no simple lecture on proper behavior and interfering in an investigation. It was a committee of inquiry, a board of execution.

A balding man in a gray silk suit took command. "It has come to our attention, Agent Mulder, that your behavior has become more erratic. You are, in fact, a danger to your fellow agents and a potential for great embarrassment to the Bureau." He paused, his gaze shifting to Scully. "Agent Scully, you were assigned as Mulder's partner in the hopes that you would be a calming effect on him, able to 'rope in', if you will, his wilder tendencies. Unfortunately, it is apparent that the influence has gone in the opposite direction."

A man dressed in a dark navy suit broke in, his eyes covered by mirrored sunglasses despite the dimness of the room. "That little ritual you held last Saturday was very enlightening. Not many agents believe they can talk to their victims." A soft rumble came from Cancer Man's corner, stopping the commentary.

The Gray Suit continued. "It is our decision to close the X-files, permanently. Agent Scully, you will be reassigned to teach at Quantico. Agent Mulder, you are going to join the 'White Collar' crimes division." Mulder felt his heart freeze. No more X-files. "In California." No! They were taking Scully away from him. Again. Navy Suit interrupted with a sneer. "Unless, of course, you can prove the validity of even *one* of your X-files." A coughing chuckle was heard from the corner. Mulder looked to Scully. Her face was calm, but her eyes spoke volumes. He felt the pain, the powerlessness, of their situation. Just once, *once* he would like to get the best of these people. To shove the impossible truth in their faces and scream "Here, *LOOK* at this."

Mulder looked up suddenly as a familiar set of invisible fingers ruffled his hair. A spark of hope lit inside of him. "Jessica?" Skinner looked at Mulder in disbelief. The sneer on Navy Suit's face deepened. "Surely you don't think your imaginary ghost will help you."

Whenever Jessica had manifested herself, the temperature in the room had dropped, slowly, as though someone had turned on an old air conditioner. This time, the room was plunged instantly into an Arctic freeze. The glass pitchers of water on the conference table iced over. Her laughter was not the soft, gentle echo it had been before. Now it was a banshee shriek, hysterical. A violent wind whipped through the room. Cancer Man's cigarette went out.

Scully's hand found Mulder's under the table. Her grip on his fingers was comforting. Red hair rippled around her face and uncertain fear filled her eyes. He squeezed her hand with more confidence than he actually felt.

The whirling wind collected all of the dust and smoke in the room, centering it into a silvery dust devil which spun in the middle of the table. One second it was silver dust and mist, the next second the form of a seventeen-year-old girl with flowing black hair and shining green eyes appeared. She sat cross-legged in the dead center of the table, glowing softly. "Hello," she said.

Skinner and the four members of the committee stared at her, openmouthed. Mulder's face never changed, save for a small smirk. Scully began praying under her breath. Even Cancer Man gasped, the cold cigarette dropping from his lip.

 Jessica had never been so mad in her entire, if short, life. She knew what Mulder had been through, how important Scully and the X-files were to him. She knew why there was never any proof for his cases. And she instantly detested the man in the Navy Suit. She already hated the cigarette smoker.

She reached out to ruffle Mulder's hair, to give what little support she could. "Jessica?" She saw the flash of hope cross his face. She saw Navy Suit sneer.

<They want proof of the paranormal? Wait 'til they get a load of *me*!> She reached out, stealing all the energy from the room. Her fury only added to her strength. She laughed, reveling in the feel of it. Then she manifested herself with all the flare of a late night 'B' movie.

"Hello," she said, looking intently at the hypocrites who dared threaten her anchor. She smiled, baring all of her teeth.

"Quite an impressive parlor trick, Spooky." Navy Suit had apparently recovered what few wits he had. Jessica slid across the table until she was kneeling directly in front of him. Her smile turned malicious. "Parlor trick?" she questioned. Her hand were pressing into his chest, her phantom fingers clutching around his rapidly beating heart. He choked, trying to grip her arm and pull her hand from inside him. But his hands passed through her. "How about I give this a little *squeeze* and you join me on my side. Then we'll see who's a *parlor trick*. Hmmmm?"

"Jessica, don't." Mulder's voice broke the fearful silence.

She glared at him. "Don't ruin my fun, Mulder." Her other hand came up, stroking her victim's cheek. "It can be lonely on this side of death," she crooned.

"Jessica..." Mulder's voice held a note of warning, like he was scolding a naughty five-year-old.

"All right," she agreed with an aggravated sigh. "But just because I like you." She release the heart and pulled away from him. Navy Suit was immediately out of his seat and across the room, putting as much space as possible between himself and Jessica without breaking through the wall. She looked around the room. "Anyone else wish to question my authenticity?" She let her neck split as it had when she'd died, her ghostly blood, thicker and redder than the real stuff, and in much greater quantity, flowed in a river from the wound.

Gray Suit's complexion had gone to ash. "No. It appears that we may have judged too hastily. Agents Mulder and Scully will have to continue with their inquiries into strange phenomena." With that he and his three colleagues quit the room as fast as humanly possible without breaking into a run. Navy Suit was the first one out the door.

Cancer Man was trying to light another cigarette. Jessica approached him, staring into his eyes. "Surely you did not think you were the only ones watching him," she said. His hands shook, dropping the match. "Let me." She smiled, placing a fingertip to the cigarette. His next quick inhale was matched by an orange glow. "We want you to keep up with your smoking. There are quite a few on this side who are just *dying* to have you join them." The skin and muscle melted off of her face, leaving a grinned skull under her black hair. Her laughter followed him out the door.

Jessica returned to normal, twirled before Skinner and reached up to tweak his nose. Then she bowed to Scully and Mulder and faded from sight.

Scully closed the basement office door behind her, leaning against it. She was certain there had never been a meeting like that in the entire history of the Bureau. She gasped in surprise as Mulder pulled her to him, wrapped one arm around her waist, and danced her around the room, humming under his breath. When he released her she collapsed into her chair. He perched on her desk, grinning like a maniac.

"That was beautiful!" He was glorying in their bizarre sort of triumph. "Jessica," he announced to the room at large, "you are incredible!" Her quiet laughter answered him.

Jessica materialized again. This time, however, the room temperature did not change in the least. She was glowing again, but now it was a golden light. She looked at the two agents sadly.

"What is it?" Scully asked. She had recovered enough to participate this time around.

"I broke a few too many rules this time," Jessica answered, turning slightly to look at a shadowy shape which hovered behind her. "My haunting rights are being revoked."

Bennington Wentworth had come to collect her. "Hurry up," he hissed. He looked eternally constipated and really irritated.

Jessica rolled her eyes. "Bureaucrats," she muttered. Mulder grinned. She turned to Scully, hugging her briefly. "Take care of him," she whispered, "he needs you more than either of you know." Scully nodded and smiled softly.

Jessica turned to Mulder. She hugged him as well. "Don't try blaming yourself for everything, you dolt."

He smiled sadly. "I can't help it." She was warm and solid in his arms. For a moment he could almost believe she was still alive. "They've come to take you away, huh?"

"Yup, but don't be too relieved," she teased. "I may be back. Just keep your mind open to extreme possibilities." She laughed easily, tugging on his tie until he bent down. She kissed the tip of his nose. "They may kick me back here just to get rid of me," she warned.

Then she faded from sight, taking her shadow companion with her.

 "What's going to happen to them?" she asked Wentworth. "Only God knows," he answered with a shrug.

Jessica looked at him thoughtfully. "I think the Big Guy and I need to have a little talk." Then she walked quickly away, thinking hard.

Bennington Wentworth smiled, his entire appearance shifting for a moment. What had been a short, constipated office rat was now a tall, handsome angel, complete with rippling muscles and snowy wings. He chuckled to himself. Yes, Jessica Miller was going to make a fine guardian.

She turned to her 'personal representative for the transition to the state of non-physical being' and placed her hands on her hips. The little man in pastel business wear was just standing there. "Are you coming or not?" He nodded, catching up to her, leading the way back to Heaven.

THE END (maybe)

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