Children of Light by bugs
SPOILER WARNING: Episodes up to 'DeadAlive', then 'Empedocles'
RATING: PG for disturbing situations
CLASSIFICATION: S, A, M/S, a whiff of D/R UST
KEYWORDS: Doggett, Angst
SUMMARY: "Will you pray with me, Agent Doggett?"
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Thank you, Timeline and Tiny Dancer's transcripts. Branwell, Ambress and Nikki helped me make sense of this jigsaw puzzle of a story.
"Pray always." --Thessalonians 1, 5:17
He's curled at my feet. I don't want to touch him, but
I have to. I have to assess - cold - he's cold and
bare. His skin is pale and laced with dark mottling
and tears. Mercifully, his eyes are closed; the lids
Whispers all around me, the swish of trench coats,
snapping from yellow tape, but not a sound from the
Warm hands on my bowed neck, a straining limb that
can't hold my head up. "I'm sorry."
What does she know about sorry? What does she know
about searching for a lost soul? She thinks she can
throw some runes down and read the truth. She doesn't
understand faith. Faith that God will bring the lost
into the light. She hasn't felt the bones of her
fingers crack in a too tight praying clasp. She hasn't
watched a mother - a mother now trapped in a black
space - move her lips over a name, treasure it, call
it, dissolve and resolve the fear in its combined
letters. Will it be answered again?
The hands smooth my skin, then grip the taut tendons.
I reach out again. Maybe he's just sleeping. I'll pull
the blanket over him--
"Agent Doggett, there may be evidence--"
I glance up. Skinner's teeth bite down on a thousand
words, only adding, "There's nothing more we can do."
I haul myself to my feet. Monica's hands are now on my
elbow, supporting me.
One more look at the victim: a Caucasian male,
approximately forty years of age, six feet in height.
Case solved, Agent Doggett. You've found Agent Fox
EMTs swarm over the body to begin obviously futile
resuscitation attempts, pushing me out of the way.
Monica squeezes my arm. "Agent Scully...someone should
go after her."
I look back over my shoulder towards the trees. She'd
run. She'd run with a flame chasing her.
The loud rip of a zipper; the bag's been closed over
Agent Mulder's face.
I answer, "She knows."
September 11th, 2000
A soft voice, almost a whisper, had asked, "May I
please speak to Agent Mulder?"
My eyes darted to his empty desk, then to Scully's
chair. She'd gone to check on some test results. I
knew she'd be back soon. I needed to work fast.
"Can I get your name please?"
The caller hesitated, and I considered getting up and
shutting the door. Craning my neck, I could see the
hall was empty.
"Kathy Lee Tencate."
"Could you hold, Ma'am?"
She agreed after another hesitation.
Contacting Danny, I told him to put a trace on the
I'd just clicked the line back to Kathy when Scully
"Ma'am, Agent Mulder isn't here. Would you like to
speak to his partner, Agent Scully?"
At first, Scully appeared confused when I identified
the caller to her. Then I could see she recalled the
name. Snatching her line up, she began talking in
hushed tones, vagaries, and monosyllabic answers. I
sorted my pencils by length while she did this.
When my partner hung up, I waited a beat, then picked
up the phone to find out the trace's results. Scully
didn't notice. She was concentrating on the file
cabinet, her face drawn and white.
"Yeah, you got something for me, Danny?" I muttered
casually. When he passed on an affirmative, I jotted
down the information, all the while keeping an eye on
She'd turned her chair, and stared at the wall.
Idaho Women's State Prison in Pocatello. Lovely area.
I looked forward to checking out the fall foliage
while we were there.
"Agent Doggett, I'm going to take a few personal
days." Scully rose from her desk and hurriedly
gathered her things together.
I affected concern. "Is there anything wrong, Agent
In my bid for best amateur actor in the Bureau, I
stuck my foot in it yet again.
Her eyes, cold, raked over me. "No, Agent Doggett. Not
a thing. I think I may have come back to work too soon
after my hospitalization. I don't want to jeopardize
your safety by not being 100%. I'll contact you when
I'm ready to work again."
Bobbing my head, I concurred. "Of course, Agent
Scully. Take all the time you need." I waved a hand
around the office. "I'll continue to familiarize
myself with the materials while you recuperate."
We were so damn formal; we should have danced the
quadrille before she left.
As soon as the door snicked shut, I leaned back in my
chair and contemplate its flat veneer surface.
I'd talked myself into believing she hadn't played any
role in Fox Mulder's disappearance. Although bull-
headed and resistant, I hadn't found her duplicitous.
But now I wasn't so sure.
She chose to keep her conversation with a state
prisoner to herself. Turning to my computer, I quickly
ran a check through the hard drive version of the X-
files. Mulder had apparently started to back up all
the paper files after a fire destroyed the originals
in '98. Dreading a manual search through the cabinets,
I hoped the name would pop up.
It did. Kathy Lee Tencate was currently serving a life
sentence for the murder of her young son. Her most
recent entries were directly tied to Mulder.
I put a call into the warden, a Ms. Pratchett, and had
a nice chat. Kathy Lee Tencate was a model prisoner.
The last time a notation was made in her file had been
shortly after a visit from Fox Mulder and his partner.
The prisoner had become anxious and required
medication for a month to be able to sleep.
Catching that, I asked her to check with the guard
about the prisoner's behavior today. As I waited, I
randomized my pencil arrangement.
She came back on the line. "You were right, Agent
Doggett. Tencate woke the whole block last night,
screaming. She demanded to use the phone, and when
refused, became even more agitated. When promised
phone privileges this morning, she calmed somewhat,
but was still observed pacing all night long. She made
her call first thing...just in this past hour."
"Yes, she called this office, Warden." Gathering my
thoughts quickly, formulating a plan, I began to run
down details with Ms. Pratchett.
I was entering the parking garage when Kersh appeared
from the shadows. I greeted him, and he nodded before
questioning me. "So, John, how's the case going?"
Momentarily confused, I asked, "The case, sir?"
His eyebrows rose above his glasses. "Fox Mulder. Our
Relieved that I hadn't missed an assignment, I said,
"I've just got a new lead, sir."
When he looked pleased, not surprised, I suddenly
found myself wary. How the hell did he know? What had
he done, had the office bugged?
I retreated. "It may be nothing, sir," I cautioned
him. "I'm going to check it out this afternoon. I may
have something for you tomorrow."
"And Agent Scully?" he prompted.
I played stupid, rather than being stupid. "Sir?"
"Will she be joining you?" he asked, rocking back on
his heels to appear taller.
"No, sir. I sent her home earlier today." Flashing a
confiding, man to man smile, I added, "I don't think
she's quite recovered from that slug removal. I don't
want her to be a detriment to my work."
His smile was nearly nice. "Of course not, John."
Giving my back a painful slap, he went on, "Keep me
abreast. I want to be in on this."
"Of course, sir."
Idaho Women's State Prison
I caught the next plane, beating Agent Scully to the
prison. Up in the guard's control room, I was intent
on the screen showing the visiting area.
Kathy Lee Tencate sat at a table, her hands twisting
in her lap. The area was miked. I was unsure about
doing that to a fellow agent, but weeks had passed
without a single lead. I needed to risk it.
I knew Scully had entered when the woman's head jerked
up. She was a small, nervy woman, and she jumped up
from her chair to greet my partner. The guard put out
a beefy arm, preventing the prisoner from touching
"Agent Scully, thank you so much for coming," she
My partner seemed nervous, glancing to the guard, then
the door, and finally looking directly up at the
camera. Even though I knew she couldn't see me, I took
a step backward.
"Yes, Kathy, I came." Scully settled into the chair
and lowered her voice. "What do you need?"
"I told you it was important," the prisoner insisted.
"Yes, I understand," Scully soothed her. "What is it?"
"I've seen him," the small woman rushed her words.
"He's there. With the others."
"Your partner. Agent Mulder. I've seen him. I saw him
last night. He came to me."
I knew Dana Scully just well enough to read that
stiffness that seized her shoulders. Her voice shook
when she asked, "What?"
Kathy began to cry -- just a dampening of her creased
cheeks. "I'm so sorry, Ms. Scully. You can believe me,
I didn't want to--"
"What do you mean?" Somehow, I could tell my partner
knew what the woman was talking about, but I was
frustrated by the exchange. This woman claimed to have
seen the missing agent--in a woman's prison?
Kathy repeated, "He came to me. In my cell last night.
I awoke, and he was standing over me--like the others.
Like my son. He smiled down at me--"
"No." The sharpness of Agent Scully's tone made me
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. Agent Mulder tried to help
me. I didn't want to see him--"
Scully stood. "You're wrong."
The tiny woman shrank back in her chair. "I know you
didn't believe me before -- that you didn't understand
-- but Agent Mulder is missing, right?"
Scully leaned across the table towards the woman,
imploring, "He may be being held somewhere. Perhaps he
was trying to communicate with you--"
Kathy's thin mouth tightened. "No. The people who come
from the starlight, they're all dead."
This time the word was said with defeat.
I was surprised when Agent Scully turned, and without
saying goodbye, walked away from the prisoner. I had
taken her for a polite woman.
I had to get some answers. Sprinting out of the room,
I dashed through the halls, hoping to catch her before
she got to her car.
Calling out as she walked across the parking lot,
"Agent Scully!" I caused her to turn and squint.
At first, she seemed surprised, then angry, but by the
time I stopped in front of her, trying to catch my
breath, her mask was in place.
"We need to talk."
"No, Agent Doggett. Not now. I'm not feeling well--"
"I'm sorry about that, Agent Scully, but I have to
She opened her door, and slid into the seat. "No. No,
Without another word, she drove away.
I returned to the prison, invoked Kersh's name yet
again. They took me back to Kathy's cell. She was
curled in a ball on her bunk.
"Mrs. Tencate, may I speak with you? I'm Agent--" I
dug out my ID badge. "Doggett, with the FBI. You just
spoke to my partner, Agent Scully--"
With a child's obstinate insistence, she says, "No,
Fox Mulder is her partner."
"That's the thing, Mrs. Tencate. Fox Mulder is
missing. I've been assigned to find him. If you have
any information that could help us--"
She pulled her knees closer to her chest. "No. I don't
"Please, Mrs. Tencate--" I leaned against the bars
towards her, lowering my voice. "He could be in
danger. You could save his life."
She shook her head. "No. He's already dead."
"Where, Mrs. Tencate? Tell me where I can find the
She covered her ears with her hands, and I knew the
interview with this disturbed woman was over. Scully
would have to answer my questions.
As the hours passed, my car got colder and colder. I
cleared a small hole in the condensation on my window
to see Scully's apartment. The lights were still on
and it was 2 AM. Occasionally, I saw her shadow pass
by the blinds.
I'd read the files over six times, finally catching
the paranormal details I'd missed in my hurry earlier
that day. I had all the data memorized. Too bad I
didn't understand a damn thing that happened. Kathy
Lee Tencate claimed to have seen her dead son's
apparition in her cell, as well as the souls of other
dead children. Mulder himself claimed to have seen his
abducted sister, along with many more missing
children, all presumed dead. But were they? Or were
they abducted by aliens, as AD Skinner and Agent
Scully claimed Mulder was?
Fantastical thoughts caused a headache. Needing a
break, I found a radio program on the all sports
station that would give me some Fantasy Football tips.
My team had been doing shit the past few weeks. Ever
since I'd had the pleasure of meeting Special Agent
Dana Scully, I hadn't had a lot of time to concentrate
on my picks.
I worked on them now, tossing over the choice between
playing Zack Crockett or Roger Smith at running back,
when my cell phone rang.
Fumbling in my pockets, I finally pulled it free.
"Are you cold?" asked a sultry voice and I had a brief
phone sex moment before I placed who it was.
"Uh--" Too bad I didn't have some good lie set up.
Scully repeated, "Are you cold? If you are, come on
up. I've put the water on for tea."
She hung up before I could refuse. I sat for a moment,
staring at the phone. I didn't think it would be
proper to go to her apartment, but I couldn't think of
After opening her front door, she left me standing at
the doorway to answer the kettle's whistle. When she
didn't return or call out, I bridged the divide and
A single lamp bathed the room in a low, yellow glow.
The apartment was expansive, decorated carefully but
obviously for comfort: large, overstuffed pieces of
furniture with warm-colored walls and fabrics,
clusters of candles and framed photos. It had the
determined air of being assembled as a lovely
A quick glance around the photographs revealed none of
Agent Mulder. That was very interesting. His apartment
was an antithesis of this space: dusty, musty-odored,
uncoordinated, dim, cold, but pictures of Dana Scully
were tucked everywhere.
The one with the most recent date stamp showed her
relaxed, curled up on his sofa, her face open and
smiling as I'd never seen her yet. Wearing a tight,
white long-sleeved shirt and a snug pair of jeans,
hair tousled, she was pointing a beer bottle at the
camera as though she'd been caught making a point.
"Finding anything new?" she asked from behind me,
causing me to jump slightly.
I turned and she offered me a mug of steaming tea.
"What?" I asked as I warmed my frozen hands on the hot
"You haven't searched my apartment while I wasn't
here?" Sinking onto the sofa, she pulled her feet up
like a bird.
I looked her over. You can tell a lot about a woman by
her bedwear. I had Dana Scully pegged as an old FBI
Academy tee shirt sort. She surprised me again. Classy
kelly-green silk pajamas were covered by a thick white
chenille robe. The robe was probably an afterthought
for my benefit.
She yawned but her eyes were bright. "Well?" she
"Huh?" I hadn't been listening.
"Have you found anything helpful?" When I continued to
appear confused, she added, "Searching my apartment."
I protested, "Agent Scully, I've never--"
She lowered her head to take another sip of tea.
"Never, Agent Doggett?"
"I have no reason to search your home--"
"But you had to. I was a suspect, correct?"
I repeated, "I didn't go through your home without
"But, Agent Scully, these latest developments are
causing concern to our superiors."
She simply looked back.
As though she didn't hear me, she queried, "Have you
had a female partner before?"
What did she know? She certainly had done a background
check on me. Had she been searching my 'home' for
evidence to use against me?
Carefully, I replied, "In New York. On the PD. For a
while." I hadn't drunk any of my tea and the cup had
cooled between my hands.
She set hers aside and continued questioning me. "How
"Having a female partner?" She must be after
Surprisingly, she said, "No, New York."
I relaxed. "Okay. In the end, not my kind of place. It
was where I got off the boat when my stint in the
Marines was up." Remembering my own background check
on her, I hoped the military connection would get me
It didn't. She seemed disinterested, making only a
"Do you practice a religion, Agent Doggett?"
That term was too progressive to describe my
upbringing. You didn't 'practice' anything in my
family. You got your butt to church, boy. Regardless,
I said, "I was raised in the Church of God."
She seemed puzzled.
"Oh, yes." She pinned on a pleasant, 'how nice,'
smile, and it was suddenly a hot Sunday afternoon
again at my Granny's. The lemonade was warm, my ass
was sore, and my Uncle Roy was railing about how you
couldn't trust those Catholics.
"Do you still go to church?" was her next question.
I'd gone from chilled to overly warm and wiped my
forehead. Perhaps folks were right. Discussing
religion was more uncomfortable than talking about
"Not much. Usually when I go back home for a visit.
More of a way to catch up with friends and family."
I expected her to begin digging deeper into my past,
but after sipping her tea, she confessed in a low
tone, "I don't pray the way I used to."
"Your prayers have changed?"
"Not exactly." She shook her head. "Remember what you
prayed for as a child? Silly things; like wishes to
"Every night, I'd ask God for eight brothers so I
could muster my own team."
A smile flicked across her mouth. "Yeah, like that. I
find myself doing that. Stupid, unattainable requests-
I joked, "What have you been praying for, a pony?"
She met my gaze for the first time since I'd entered
her apartment. She whispered so low I found myself
leaning forward, "I wish we'd had one more day. I know
it's silly, but I can't stop wondering how different
things would be if that one day was ours...maybe he
wouldn't have gone--"
I didn't understand. I had to ask this question: "Do
you believe he left willingly?"
I regretted it instantly. There was a flash fire of
pain in her eyes.
Neither of us spoke; then, "Will you pray with me,
Agent Doggett?" Her formality was jarring at this
moment, but in my panic, I ignored it.
I was back in the parlor again. Granny would decide I
hadn't shown enough faith, and needed to beg for
forgiveness. Down to my knees, head bowed, mumbling
along with her endless petitions.
Scully placed her cup on the side table. "I apologize.
I was being presumptuous--"
"That's all right." I put aside my mug too. I'd been
to a few Catholic services, but couldn't remember more
than it was complicated and I never knew what the hell
was going on. "What do you want to do?"
"Pray. Just not alone for once." She slid out of her
chair, and down to her knees.
I wasn't comfortable joining her on the floor. I
needed some distance in this suddenly intense
situation. But I reached out and offered my hand.
Taking it, she bowed her head. Covering my eyes with
my free hand, I dropped my head too.
When she remained silent, I decided she was waiting
for me. Perhaps she'd run out of her own words. I
dragged out, "Jesus, show your mercy. Give Fox Mulder
your grace. Protect him from pain and fear. Bring him
I didn't think it was much, but she crossed herself in
She pulled herself up on the couch, and curled up in
the far corner. "Thank you, Agent Doggett."
"I didn't do anything."
With a slurred whisper, she said, "Yes you did," and I
glanced over. Her eyelids were drooping.
I rose carefully, keeping from jostling the cushions.
Her breathing became regular and deep, her eyes closed
now. Unfolding a throw blanket, I covered her. I
glanced at the clock. It was after three. When I
looked back down at my partner, she was already in a
deep sleep. Before leaving, I laid a hand lightly in
her head, murmuring, "Lord, give peace to this woman."
The words, too light, floated away.
St. Jean Hospital
Skinner is in hushed conversation with Scully - tiny
in relief against his dark bulk - when Monica and I
enter the basement mortuary. Scully's nothing but a
hank of red hair and a ghost face on a narrow black
stick. Her hands are white lights, dancing together,
clenching and unclenching.
I know this scene: this moment. I've lived it, and I
hate what's coming next.
Behind me, Monica says, "John, should we--"
"We shouldn't do anything. Let's see what's going on."
Skinner greets us, "Doggett, Reyes." He shifts
slightly to shield Scully, and she turns, not to hide,
but to pass through the swinging doors into the
autopsy bay. His protest is lost in the doors flapping
"What can we do, sir?" Monica asks.
Before he can answer, a harried pathologist comes out
through the doors. "Excuse me, who's the senior agent
"I am. AD Skinner."
The doctor, a thin, tired man in incongruous eggplant-
colored scrubs, says, "There's an Agent Scully in
here. She's claiming to have the deceased's power of
attorney. And she's wants to perform the exam."
Skinner grinds out, "It's true."
"Which part?" the doctor asks in exasperation.
The AD doesn't answer, instead, he heads through the
doors, and we all follow.
Scully has suited up, pale blue scrubs making her face
even whiter and her eyes huge. The body is still in
its black plastic body bag.
"Dana?" Skinner says.
Her features are as smooth as an eggshell. "I'm going
to perform the examination and fill out the report."
"You don't need to do this, Dana," Monica protests.
"Yes, I do." Scully's latex-encased hands rise, and
grip the large zipper. She pauses for a moment, then
pulls it down fiercely.
Curled in the fetal position, Mulder's body had looked
nothing but dead. Now he's in a flat, resting
position, and I'd hoped for some peace, an appearance
of slumbering, but, under the bare light, he's just
another beaten and tortured victim.
Scully clicks on the recorder. She glances down at the
body, once. I marvel at the terrifying stillness of
her face. Words come out of her mouth without her lips
moving. "A surface examination reveals burns over the
heart and at the temples which would suggest the
victim died of electrocution. There are numerous
surface abrasions. Deep contusions on the limbs and
torso may have been contributing factors to the
victim's death. He would appear to be the victim of
foul play, by a person, or persons, unknown. End of
report." The sound of the off button is loud in the
She reaches for the zipper again. The other
pathologist protests, "Wait a minute. What about an
"Do you agree with my conclusions, Doctor?" Scully
asks as she closes the bag.
He blusters, "Yes, but there's procedure--"
"You're not cutting him open. There's no need. He's
dead. He's not going to be any more dead or alive from
you passing around his body parts in an exercise of
bureaucracy. Placing all his organs in Tupperware--"
Her voice finally cracks on the last note and she has
The doctor turns to Skinner. "Sir?"
"I can block any further intrusions," Scully, says
from behind him, rallying.
"I'll take responsibility, Doctor," Skinner promises.
The pathologist's exhaustion shows. He tosses up his
hands, shrugs and says, "Okay. Whatever. Send him back
This entire time, Monica has been standing close to
me, behind my right shoulder. I could feel her warm
breath on the back of my neck, and instead of bugging
me, it's reassuring in the cold room. She steps back
now, as though she senses my attention.
Scully snaps the unsullied gloves off and tosses them
When we move back to the outer hall, I pull her aside.
"Are you all right?"
She doesn't bother to reply such a stupid question,
instead, blinks her heavy eyelids slowly.
I try again. "Do you feel all right? This night--the
That gets her attention. "Don't say anything."
"I won't. I'm just worried." I flick my gaze up and
down the shadowed hall.
"The baby's fine." She starts to wander off with slow,
"Agent Scully, I have to make a report to Kersh."
She returns and backing me to the wall, states, "I saw
him, Agent Doggett."
Monica and Skinner are watching from down the hall,
but don't interrupt us. I'm confused and ask, "Kersh
"Kathy was right," she spits out. "Before we went out
to the ranch, I saw Mulder in my motel room." I don't
know if she's angry with Kathy, Mulder, God, or me but
I do know I'm starting to get scared.
I check Monica's proximity again, thinking I should
call her over - that she might be of some help with
Scully's current delusional mindset - then decide
Instead, I say, "Agent Scully, you've had a terrible
shock. I had such hopes we would find him alive. I
still can't believe--" I have to stop because I'm
talking ahead of my thoughts. It's true. Fox Mulder
had become a real, vital person to me in these past
few months, mostly through the vibrancy and passion of
Dana Scully's faith.
But a body doesn't lie, and now she's dead too.
Scully's been talking while I've been lost in thought:
"Kersh won't counteract what I've done. Trust me."
I have no answer.
"See you back in DC," is her parting as she strides
over, tugs Skinner's arm and they head off.
I'm still leaning against the wall when Monica joins
me. "Can I help? Are you all right?" she murmurs,
moving in close.
"Why? I don't need anything."
She swallows something she was going to say, and just
raises dark eyes to mine. I hate when she looks at me
that way. I do what I did four years ago. I walk away
without another word.
February 13th, 2001
Raleigh, North Carolina
The coffin hovers over its waiting hole. They've put
those Astroturf drapes around the opening, trying to
pretty up the fact you're about to drop your loved one
into the ground and toss dirt on top of them.
'I'm old enough to go on my own.'
'I can do it myself.'
'I hate you, Daddy!'
His words of love are easy to recall. The angry ones
pop up at the oddest and most inconvenient moments.
The minister rumbles along, "I am the resurrection and
the life,' saith the Lord; he that believeth in me,
though he were dead yet shall he live; and whosoever
liveth and believeth in me shall never die."
As her mother crosses herself, I note Scully doesn't
follow the older woman's ritual.
When I get to my car, Monica's sitting in the
I peer through the open window. "What're you doing
Her thin arms are wrapped around her slim body. It's
cold outside. She should have the window closed.
"Waiting for you."
"You didn't come to the service."
"It wouldn't have been right. I'm not here on a case."
Turning my back on Monica, I face towards the grave.
"Then why'd you come?"
Scully's leaning into Skinner. I can only see her
white calves between his wide-set legs and one pale
hand clawing at his back as they hug. Suddenly, the
day feels as though it's stretched for thirty hours,
and it's not even dark yet. Her mother is sitting in
the limousine with her window rolled down. Kersh and
his entourage huddle together by a low black sedan.
Scully's incompatibly dressed male friends are a tight
knot by their van. We must resemble a row of movie
"Where's your car?" I ask Monica.
"I took a cab."
"You want a ride?"
A smile twists her long mouth. "I don't want to call a
cab to a cemetery."
I get in.
"How're you doing today?" she says.
"Why do you keep asking me that? I'm not the one who's
lost my partner."
Scully and Skinner are slowly walking towards my car,
arms around each other's waists.
Scully gives me a watery smile and Monica a curious
look. "Agent Doggett--"
I interrupt. "I'll see you back in DC?" Pausing, I go
on with, "Take all the time you need, of course--" It
hits me. I have no idea what comes next. Mulder's
dead. Scully's pregnant. A glance at Skinner's face
reflects my uncertainty. We're men who need to know
the sun's coming up tomorrow.
"I'll call," she says, before leaving to join her
Why do I feel like I'm at the end of a bad date?
I turn over the engine. But then I just sit. I don't
know where to go.
I glance to Monica. "What?"
"Death makes me want to go to church. There's one up
on the expressway."
I start driving, for no reason other than I want to
get the hell out of there. But I keep arguing. "What
would you want to go to church for? Do you even care
what the denomination is? Or are you hoping they'll
have a drive-through?"
She sinks into the seat cushion, tilting her head so
her hair whips out the window. She's probably
freezing. "I think funerals are held backwards. We
should bury our loved ones first and then go pray. Aid
their journey to the next place."
I give her a quick glance to see if she's got any sage
smudge sticks protruding out of her pockets. I really
don't want to be party to an old country minister
dropping dead from shock.
A showdown is avoided. The door is locked on The
Little Chapel of the Holy Rock. I drop to the cold
cement steps, damn tired. The sun's come out. In
contrast to my chilled ass, the heat off the white
vinyl siding burns the back of my neck. Monica hangs
off the pipe handrail for a moment, then slides down
"We can pray out here," she says.
I shake my head.
She reaches over and tries to take one of my hands.
"Come on, John. It's the right thing to do."
I pull my hand away, intertwining my fingers. She
drops her head.
Starting, I say, "Dear Lord..." I raise my eyes,
staring into the sun until they feel as though they're
blistered. "Why did you do it? Why did you take my
boy, you bastard?" -- "Oh my God, John. I'm sorry." --
"If you wanted him, you could have killed him, but
why? Why did you let that animal hurt my boy?"
She's trying to pry my white fingers apart, as if
they're holding my anger in.
"I will hate you forever."
Her jagged breathing dams tears.
"Amen." I struggle to my feet, heading towards the
car. She hurries past me, snatching the keys from my
hand. I let her and get in the passenger side. She
pulls away in a spray of gravel. Looking back, I note
how the sharp edges of the cross on top of the steeple
cut into the winter blue sky.
'Daddy, say my prayers for me.'
'Luke, you know them.'
'Nah, Daddy, help me.'
'Together then. Ready?'
'Ready, set, go!'
'Now I lie me down to sleep. If I should die before I
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I was confused by Scully's statement
in '3 Words' about praying for Mulder. I was unsure
what the hell she was referring to. Praying he was
alive? Praying he wasn't suffering? Questions always
make me write fic. However, this story started out as
just that scene, and as episodes and time slipped
past, more and more was added. I'm interested to hear
if I should have just stopped, or if I've managed to
fuse the elements together into a cohesive story.
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