Truly Madly Deeply II: Lights in the Sky

Title: Truly Madly Deeply II: Lights in the Sky
Fandom: X-Files
Pairing: Mulder/Scully
Warning: Post-series, alternative universe
Rating: NSFW
Summary: The previous summer: Mulder and Scully race to find a missing girl while trying to make sense of their relationship.
Notes: Superhuge thanks to zara hemla, bugs, and SLS, who dotted my i’s and crossed my t’s; and Marasmus, who told me how they do things on the other side of the pond. Ladies, you are my sun, my moon, my starlit sky, and I salute you.

~Truly Madly Deeply: Lights in the Sky 1~

~December 20, 2000~

Mrs. Scully had a Christmas wreath on her front door: evergreens and pine cones and poinsettias, artfully arranged. Mulder wondered if she had made it herself. It seemed like something she would do.

He pressed the doorbell and looked out to the street while he waited for someone to answer. The neighborhood looked so normal, with its holiday lights and Christmas cheer. It was the kind of place Scully should live. There was even enough room for a dog in those picket- fenced yards.

His hand fell away from the doorbell and he took a few shallow breaths. How could he tell Mrs. Scully he’d lost her daughter?

The door opened behind him. He turned and Mrs. Scully said, “Fox? What’s happened? Where’s Dana?”

“Mrs. Scully—I—can I come in?”

“Of course.” She stepped back and shut the door behind him. The house smelled of pine and bayberry wax, and from another room Nat King Cole sang about chestnuts roasting on an open fire. “My sons are here with their families,” Mrs. Scully said. “Would you like to come into the kitchen? Say hello to everyone? You look like you could use something hot.”

“Thanks, um, no.” A dark-haired young man looked out from the kitchen. “Mom?”

Maggie smiled at him briefly. “Charlie, this is Fox Mulder, Dana’s partner.”

“Oh. So you’re Dana’s partner.” He gave the same quick smile and said, “We’ve got hot cocoa and fresh cookies, if you don’t mind playing Monopoly with my kids.”

“Thanks,” Mulder said again. “No. I just stopped by to tell Mrs. Scully the latest news.”

“Dana,” Mrs. Scully whispered. “You found something, didn’t you?”

He watched as Charlie moved closer to his mother and took her hand. “I did. I—I found Dana in Alabama. She’s all right—” Mrs. Scully gasped and Charlie squeezed her hand. Mulder had to look away. “She was all right.”

“Was!” Charlie exclaimed

“Charles, let him tell it. Go on, Fox.”

He focused his eyes on his shoes, noticing absently that they were scuffed and muddy. “She was kidnaped while I was there.”

Mrs. Scully closed her eyes and turned her head towards her son for a moment. “No,” she said.

“The local police sent me home. They told me they’ll let me know when they find anything. I’ll let you know as soon as I do.” He couldn’t look at her. The pain in her face was too much.

“Who would take her, Fox? Why would they take her? Why would they take my baby girl?”

Mulder grimaced at her choice of words. “She’s—she’s got something they want.” He was certain Mrs. Scully didn’t know about Scully’s pregnancy, and if Scully hadn’t deemed it wise to tell her mother he was not going to tell her either.

“Is it that thing in her neck? Is that what this is about? Do they want it back?”

“No,” Mulder said. “I don’t think it’s about the chip.”

“Then what is it about? Tell me! Tell me what they want with my daughter!”

He looked up at her at last and said, “I can’t. I can’t just yet. Please trust that it’s important, that it was worth running away for, and I will do everything, absolutely everything that I can, to bring her home.”

Mrs. Scully nodded, though he knew from her eyes he was not forgiven. “Bring her home, then,” she said quietly, “and thank you for letting me know.”

“Goodbye, Mrs. Scully,” Mulder said, and let himself out. He went to his car, which was still packed with Scully’s things. He hadn’t stopped at his apartment yet, and he wasn’t sure what he would do with her things when he got there. He sat in the car for a few minutes, looking at the warm, brightly-lit house, and then started up the engine.


Bereft of Scully’s vibrant presence, his apartment seemed as stark and stale as if no one had lived there for fifty years. There were few of her actual possessions here—a spare toothbrush, a book she’d lent him, a bag of her favorite coffee beans—but still he thought every piece of furniture she had touched, every piece of clothing she had borrowed, every utensil she had used, knew she was gone.

He stacked the boxes and suitcase from the Leslie apartment in his bedroom, along with the pieces of the crib. Part of him wanted to assemble it, give it a place of honor, but this struck him as both morbid and hopelessly pathetic. If anyone saw it, what could he tell them?

Even after two weeks of searching, he and the police had to admit defeat. There wasn’t even a cigarette butt’s worth of evidence back in Leslie. Too many fingerprints in the restroom, no witnesses, too much commotion from the fire for anyone to properly remember what they had seen and heard. It was as if she had been snatched from this plane of reality, to be found only in his dreams.

Before he left Leslie he had sat with Luana in the diner, turning the ring over and over in his fingers, and she said, “You made her happy, you know. You *make* her happy. She’ll stay alive for that.”

“Love isn’t stronger than death,” he said quietly, and she gripped his hand.

“Don’t think like that. Don’t. It won’t help her. If you aren’t strong for her what will she rely on?”

“You don’t understand what we’re up against.”

“I understand plenty.”

“The man who has her could take her anywhere. It’s a big world, Luana, it’s easy to get lost. And I have nothing.” He stared at the tiny ring. It barely fit past the first knuckle on his smallest finger. “I’ve never had nothing before. There’s always been some clue, someone to give me information, something. Never just this—emptiness.”

“You’ve got to have faith,” Luana said earnestly, and he jerked his hand away from hers.

“I had faith! I had faith that we were finally going to be at peace and looked what happened. If there is a God, He laughs mighty hard at my life.”

“You know that’s not true. You know Katie—Dana—doesn’t believe that.”

“I don’t know what I believe.” He closed his hand around the ring, more precious than ever for the brief time it had adorned her finger. He stood up from their table and said, “You pray if that gives you comfort. I’ve got to get going.”

“I will pray,” Luana said. “You let me know when you find her.”

“Yeah,” Mulder mumbled and left the diner.

For three days he had traveled every highway and side road out of Leslie with a picture of Scully, this time with a better description than his first journey through the area. “She was with an older man,” he said to merchants and gas station attendants and hotel clerks. “He smells like cigarettes. She’s about four months pregnant. Please, think hard.”

Every person shook their head and handed back the picture. Sorry, mister. Haven’t seen her, mister.

Now, alone in his dark apartment, the reality of it hit like a fist to the gut. Gone. Taken. Happiness, love, family, all were within his reach and now—

Mulder leaned against the wall and slid down to his knees, almost retching from the physical pain of missing her. They would take the baby, he was certain of that. They had the technology to bring a child through full gestation without the mother, if they desired. He had a moment of horrible imagination: her child stolen, Scully driven to madness, eternally asking why her love had not come to save her this most important time.

Her child, he thought, our child, my child. Ours. He had placed his hands on her body and felt the warmth and life within her. He had seen the wonder and joy in her eyes when she felt the baby move. He had allowed himself to daydream that this child would somehow be exempt from the curse of the Mulder family, that she would be happy and safe and loved all her life.

It appeared instead that this child would disappear as mysteriously as she came.

He crawled across the floor to where he’d put her suitcase and opened it up. Tucked away were the stuffed animals, the Eeyore Scully liked best on top. He took out the sad-eyed donkey and got onto his bed, lying down with the toy wrapped up in his arms.

I can’t j
ust lie here, he thought, but neither could he move. Helpless to the onslaught of memories, he did not fight them when they came.


They kissed the first time in a hospital waiting room. It was sweet. Simple. A kiss between friends, a good way to ring in New Year’s Eve. They kissed the second time just a few days later. He sat in his desk chair as she stood between his legs with her hands on his shoulders. With no preamble or even warning she bent and kissed him. As soon as she lifted her mouth she went on speaking as calmly as she had been before she kissed him, but stood for a few moments more with her hands on his shoulders before she moved away.

They kissed the third time outside her apartment building after he took her suitcase out of the car trunk. She stood on the curb and grasped the back of his head in her hand, captured his lips with her mouth. At first it appeared she meant it to be brief and sudden like the previous kiss, but they ended up standing there, kissing, looking at each other, kissing more, pausing for breath, kissing still more. It wasn’t until she took the suitcase from his hand that he realized he hadn’t put it down. “Good night, Mulder,” she whispered and darted into her building like a will o’ the wisp.

They kissed the fourth time in the Hoover Building parking garage, her body pressed between his and the car, both of them praying no one would come for another minute or two or five. When they parted he stood there panting, trembling, his hands on either side of her head on the car, waiting for her to say what she wanted to happen next.

She wiped her mouth with both hands and slid them down her neck, and said in a low voice, “See you tomorrow, Mulder,” and he said simply, “Yeah,” and still neither of them moved until she regained her breath and found her keys.

He found she was in his thoughts even more than usual. He found himself window shopping for trinkets she might like, things that would make her lips part in wonder and her eyes sparkle. He found himself obsessing on little things like her shoe size. He found himself showing off in front of her, anything to amuse or entertain her. He found himself carrying around the ring again.

“You know,” he said one night in her hotel room, apropos of nothing, “they don’t know why whales breech.”

“Why they what?” she said absently.

“You know, when they jump out of the water and fall in backwards.” He demonstrated the motion with his hand, making the appropriate splashing noise with his mouth. “Scientists don’t know why they do that.”

“I bet you have a theory.”

“I do. I think it’s because it’s so cool being a whale, and they know it. I’m a whale! Pssht!” He demonstrated again with accompanying hand gestures. “I love being a whale! Pssht!”

She stole some of his sunflower seeds and said, “They’re animals, Mulder. They don’t have the cognizance to recognize things like coolness.”

“But if you were a whale, wouldn’t you jump for joy sometimes, just for the sheer wonder of being a whale?”

“If I were a whale, Mulder?” She cracked a seed and slipped the meat out with her tongue. “If I were a whale . . . maybe I would jump for joy sometimes.” She grinned at him, holding the meat of the seed between her teeth, and he grinned back.

He loved it when she played along. He loved it when she slid her fingers between his. He loved it when she answered her phone and her voice warmed because she knew it was him. He loved it when she fell asleep against his shoulder.

They kissed the fifth time on his couch. Kissed and groped and paused to look at each other in amazement before diving back in to kiss some more. Her slender body was lithe and warm above him, her breasts felt soft beneath her sweater, her hands combed through his hair. “I love you,” he whispered at one point and she answered him with her eyes squeezed shut, her lips against his cheek, “I love you too.”

They were on the road to something grand, something uncommon, something beautiful. They both knew this kind of love did not happen to everyone, every day. They took it step by careful step, making a relationship that was apart from their regular lives. It was a secret nestled between them, new and precious. It was the beginning of something wonderful.

It was taking forever.


With no one else to talk to about his romantic troubles, Mulder had taken to confiding in Frohike—discreetly, of course. It had amazed him, actually, how simply his friends accepted the fact of his and Scully’s togetherness, as if they’d expected it all along or thought it had been going on a while.

“Women,” Frohike told him over a bottle of Jack Daniels one evening in June, “are strange and mysterious creatures. That is the extent of my understanding about them.”

“And how many times have you been married?”

Frohike held up four fingers and said, “Having come to that realization, that is why I have graced no one else with the name of Mrs. Frohike. I don’t get women. Acceptance is half the battle, right?”

“No man gets women.” Mulder stared at his drink morosely.

“Women are the true different species. They think differently than we do, they feel differently than we do, their bodies work differently . . . the true aliens aren’t Reticulans. They’re women.”

“Don’t tell me you buy that men are from Mars and women are from Venus bullshit.”

“It has its valid points. Scully operates on a different frequency than you do. Than I do. Than any of us do. I pity her sometimes, spending all her time with us geeks who find her so confusing and exotic.”

“She’s not one of the boys,” Mulder said. “Yet she is. More than I am, sometimes.”

Frohike cocked an eyebrow at him and drank a long gulp of whiskey. He said, “She’s adaptable, up to a point. Women have to be, to get by in a man’s world. But still she’s very much a woman.”

“Very much.” Mulder sighed. “So why can’t we adapt to them? It’s a mistake to throw up our hands and admit defeat. It’s lazy.”

“There’s the rub, my friend. To have a successful relationship you have to learn to think the way that they do, and that is very difficult, if not to say impossible.” He refilled his glass and waved the neck of the bottle at Mulder. “Your problem is doubled in that Scully is not the most open person. She’s . . . painfully private, even. Maybe what you need to do is listen to what she’s *not* saying.”

“What she doesn’t say would fill volumes,” Mulder said.

“Body language. Silences. Unanswered questions. Avoidance methods.”

“I know, I know. All my training and all my education and I still can’t get into the most important person in my life . . . sometimes I wish I could crawl inside her brain.” They both drank, and Mulder said softly, “She’s so unhappy.”

“You’re not going to fix her, dude.”

“I know. It doesn’t make me want to stop trying, though.”

~Truly Madly Deeply: Lights in the Sky 2~

~memory: June 2000~

Scully showed up at his apartment one night in June. She’d begun to do this more and more frequently, always with something to show or feed him: tea, a movie, a book. Tonight she bore a grocery bag, complete with a loaf of French bread sticking out of the top. “Don’t argue,” she said, “I’m making you dinner tonight.”

“I’d never argue with that,” Mulder said, standing back from the door to watch her as she set down her grocery bag and took off her shoes. She had changed her clothes since she left the office: she wore linen trousers and a pale blue blouse with a bit of ribbon at the low scooped neck. He liked it—she looked pretty and fresh—but he couldn’t remember seeing her in this before, or in anything like it for that matter. “What’s the occasion?”

“No occasion.” She smiled at him as she tied a dishtowel around her waist.

“Oh,” Mulder said. He leaned against the doorway with his arms folded over his chest. “It’s not Christmas. It’s not my birthday. It’s not even summer solstice. What gives, Scully?”

I felt like making you dinner.”

“Spur of the moment, you felt like making me dinner?”

“Spur of about two hours ago, yes.” She stopped taking fruit out of the grocery bag. “Unless you’d rather I didn’t.”

“Oh, no, stay. Please. I—uh—this is great. I really appreciate it.” Scully nodded and went on preparing to cook, and Mulder said, “So is there anything you’d like me to do?”

“Do you have anything to drink with chicken?”

“I have beer, milk and Yoo-Hoo.”

She smiled at him again and said, “Will you get a bottle of white wine, please, or the equivelant? Something that will go with chicken.”

“You are the real Scully, right?” he teased gently.

“How would you like me to prove it?” She walked to him, a pear in her hand, and stood up on her toes to kiss him briefly. “Does the real Scully do things like that?” she said in a low voice.

“Lately she has been. Somewhat infrequently, though.”

“Well,” Scully said as she went back to the counter—and it seemed to Mulder that her hips were swaying more than usual—”she’ll just have to do it more often, won’t she.”

Mulder sighed happily. Fortune, in its mysterious way, had chosen to smile on him this day and he was not going to quibble with it any further. He picked up his carkeys from the desk and said, “I won’t be long.”

“This will be ready in forty-five minutes.”

“I’ll be back before then.” He started to go, then went back to her and hugged her quickly around her waist. She gasped but he put that to surprise, since she reached back and stroked his face. “You’re perfect,” he whispered into her ear, squeezed her again and left.


Scully was nervous. She didn’t say so, of course, but Mulder could see it. She ate slowly and wiped her mouth frequently with her napkin, and whenever she caught herself touching him absently she would stiffen and pull away.

Something, Mulder thought, is up. And he thought he knew what it was, too.

When they had finished eating and were cleaning up, Scully slowly the wiped the counter with a paper towel and Mulder watched her face as he put the dishes away. He said, “That was really good chicken. What was on it?”

“Lemon pepper.”

“I liked it. Usually I bake chicken with garlic.”

She nodded, balled up the paper towel and tossed it into the garbage.

“But I think you didn’t want garlic tonight.”

“No, I didn’t.” She surveyed the kitchen and said, “Well, you’re decently fed. I think I’ll be on my way.”

“Don’t go yet,” Mulder said. “Stay a while. Let’s  play.”

She rubbed her neck and said, “You want me to kick your ass again at Super Mario Brothers?”

“That wasn’t exactly the kind of playing I had in mind, but if that’s what you want . . .”

She shook her head, rubbing the back of her neck absently. “I’m really not in the mood for a video game. How about a movie?”

“What do you want to see?”

“You choose.”

“Mmkay,” he said, leading her towards his video collection. “There’s my two Disney movies, my testosterone classics—” She chuckled: she’d given those movies that nickname—”my great films, and then the videos that aren’t mine. What do you think?”

“I wouldn’t mind a testosterone classic. Something with lots of explosions,” she said.

“And many love scenes filmed in soft focus,” Mulder said, and Scully paused to smile at him a moment before plucking a box off the shelf.

“The first ‘Highlander’ it is, then.”

He grinned at her and put the tape into the machine, and they settled themselves on the couch. Scully leaned her head against his shoulder and Mulder held her loosely around her waist. Before Connor MacLeod won his first duel, however, Mulder noticed Scully was restless, rearranging her legs and squirming her shoulders.

“Aren’t you comfortable?”

“You’re bony.”

Mulder chuckled. “Bony?”

“Right here.” She poked his hip.

“You could lie your head down.”

“Then I’ll fall asleep.”

“I have no problem with that.”

“I wouldn’t be comfortable.”

“Scully,” he said seriously, “what’s wrong?”


“You’re never this fidgety. Tell me what’s up.”

“Nothing’s up, I’m just not comfortable.”

“You need a back rub,” he decided. “Turn around.”

“I’m watching the movie.”

“Then sit on the floor.”

She sighed but moved to the floor between his feet. He placed his hands on her shoulders and whistled. “You are tense! Did something happen today you didn’t tell me about?”

“No.” She leaned her head forward. “Will you rub right here?” she said, indicating the base of her neck, and so Mulder circled his thumbs above, below and over the protruding vertebrae. He moved his hands up and massaged the base of her skull as well, and down to rub her shoulder blades.

Soon she was so relaxed she swayed slightly with the rhythm of his hands. Mulder swept her hair back from her face so he could see her expression, and she murmured, “Mm, don’t stop yet, Mulder.”

“You look sleepy.”

“I’m not,” she said softly. “I’m wide awake.”

“Oh,” Mulder said. He went on rubbing her shoulders for a moment, and then let his hands drop as Scully turned and rose onto her knees. She supported herself on his thighs and leaned forward, and studied him a moment before softly touching her lips to his.

It was a solemn kiss, and Mulder didn’t smile when she moved away. “You sure you’re okay?”

“I’m better now.”

“Well, that’s good.”

She cupped his face in her hands. “Is it all right if I kiss you?”

“Always,” he said, so she kissed him again.

“Do you realize,” he said when they parted again for breath, “that this is only the sixth time we’ve kissed?”

“Is that all? Surely it’s been more.”

“Well, only six separate occasions. I’ve lost track of actual kisses. It’s not much, though.” He stroked her cheek with the backs of her fingers. “All things considered, it’s not much.”

“Oh, Mulder,” she said, teasing her lips against his mouth, “you want to get laid, don’t you.”

“Scully!” he said, not sure if he was only pretending to be shocked.

“It’s okay. It’s very flattering . . .” She flicked her tongue on his cheek. “Tell me something.”

“What?” He closed his eyes, but the kiss he expected didn’t come. He opened his eyes again.

Scully said softly, her hands lightly kneading his thighs, “If I need you to go slow, you would, wouldn’t you? And if I asked you to stop—if I needed you to stop—would you?”

“Of course.” He touched her cheek and she closed her eyes. “Of course I would, Scully.”

“Good. That’s good to know,” she said, lowering her head for a moment. She kissed him abruptly, wrapping her arms around his neck. She let him go just as abruptly, got to her feet and held out her hand to him. Her face was nervous and excited.

“Scully,” he said cautiously.

“Well, are we or aren’t we?”

“I hope we are.”

“Come on, then.” She opened and closed her hand. “I would like to be comfortable.”

“Okay,” Mulder whispered. He put his hand in hers and stood, and they walked quietly to his bedroom. He wasn’t sure who was trembling harder, Scully or himself.

She sat on the edge of the bed and Mulder sat down beside her. It struck him as she kissed his face, exactly what she said and what it meant. He said softly, “Slow like you borrow my pajamas and sleep over tonight, or slow like we take our own sweet time, kiss a lot, talk some, and make love around dawn?”

“Either,” she said, “both. Oh, Mulder, you taste so good right here.” She licked him below his ear and kissed his mouth. She was going to make him delirious, he thought, with these sweetly passionate kisses and her warm roving hands.

Mulder pulled himself farther onto the bed and lay back, and Scully smiled and lay down with him, her head on his chest. She stroked his chest and started kissing him through his shirt, and moved back up to his mouth again.

Kissing was easy. Kissing they had done before. Kissing they wer
e pros at. It was the moving farther part that made him nervous, that he had tried before with minimal success.

In high school he had dated a girl named Linda Kessler, a pretty, brunette, pure-minded girl with perfect breasts that taunted him beneath her angora sweaters. Touching her breast as they made out had been tantamount to pitching for the Yankees, and he held no hope his entire junior year of getting any further: not to her skin, which he imagined was palely pink and warm, and not between her knees, which were dimpled and smooth between the top of her socks and the hem of her skirts.

Twenty years later, he thought with a dry chuckle, and he still couldn’t get past second base.

“Do your knees have dimples, Scully?” he whispered and she laughed from her throat.

“No, they’re just kind of round.”

“Sweet little Scully knees,” he said, squeezing one affectionately through her trousers. “Sweet little Scully elbows . . .” He kissed the inside of one elbow below the short sleeve of her blouse. “Sweet, sweet Scully . . .” He kissed her mouth again and she cupped his face in her hands. Her legs fell open easily and wrapped around him, and as he kissed her she made soft hungry sounds in her throat.

Ground control to Major Tom, Mulder thought, countdown’s started, engines on. Her shirt had ridden up from her waistband and there was a tantalizing patch of skin exposed: her belly button, a little indentation in her smooth stomach. He circled it with his fingertips and then moved down her body to kiss the soft skin.

“You’re so sweet, Scully,” he murmured as he kissed her belly, which quivered beneath his mouth. “Sweet as strawberry pie . . .” She laughed again and he smiled, glad she was enjoying herself. He began kissing her again, slowly, everywhere. “Sweet tummy . . . sweet thighs . . . sweet little feet . . . sweet lips . . .” They parted beneath his and Scully thrust her hands into his hair to pull him down and kiss him deeply.

“Sweet,” she whispered. Her body arched up towards him. “So sweet.”

He caught the hand that caressed his face and kissed it, “Sweet hands, Scully . . . your sweet pretty fingers . . .” He kissed these with particular tenderness. He had never told her his thoughts that night in February when he drove to her apartment, the chords to that strange song echoing in his head, hoping beyond hope that all he would find was sleepy Scully. He had thought he might find her fingers—her slender, strong fingers with their perfect oval nails—in Pfaster’s box of frozen peas. He had thought Pfaster might mail him her head in a box. He had thought if he found Pfaster and Scully’s violated body that nothing would stop him from pounding Pfaster into a pulp.

She stroked his face. “What is it?”

“Nothing.” He shook his head. “Thinking too much.”

“Stop thinking and kiss me.”

“Yes, love.” He kissed her. She kissed him back, so of course he had to return it. And she was so generous that she had to give him the kiss again.

This is going well, Mulder thought, this is going very well. She didn’t stop kissing him as he unbuttoned her blouse and slid his hand over her smooth soft skin. She didn’t stop kissing him as he cupped her breast in his hand and  played with her nipple. She didn’t stop kissing him even as he turned her beneath him and his hips thrust against hers. She moaned into his mouth as he humped her through their clothes, her own hips bumping up to meet him.

He broke off the kiss first. “I’m sorry—this isn’t—you have no idea how much I want to be inside you—”

Scully’s fingers scraped the back of his neck. “Yes, I do.”

“I’ll try to slow down, honey, but—but oh, God—” He barely stopped kissing her long enough to speak. “You know how much I love you, you know how much I want to please you, you know me, you know how well I know you—you’re all I think about—”

He felt her stiffen and she shoved at his shoulders. “Get off!”


“Get off me!”

Mulder rolled away and Scully sat up, gasping and fumbling with the buttons on her shirt. “Scully? Honey? What is it?”

Her hands dropped from her shirt and she said softly, “It’s nothing. I need to catch my breath, that’s all.”

“Scully, it’s not nothing. Not if you push me away.”

“I’m sorry. I—really, it’s nothing. I’m sorry. Kiss me.” She twisted towards him and kissed him sloppily, grabbing his neck.

He hated to do it, but he pulled away, just enough to separate their mouths. “Scully,” he whispered. “Talk to me.”

She breathed against his lips and then moved away from him, sighing, to lean against his pillows. She did up another button on her blouse and said quietly, “He had me down on the floor and tied my hands behind my back. He said, ‘You’re the one who got away. You’re all I think about.'”

He didn’t need to ask who “he” was. “So when I said it . . . oh, honey.” He rubbed the sole of her foot gently. “I’m sorry.”

“You didn’t know.”

“Is there more you haven’t told me?”

“Most of it’s a blur, Mulder.” She had finished buttoning her shirt, and she played with the tails of her shirt before sighing and letting them drop. “It’s stupid that I still get like this. I shouldn’t get like this. I know it’s you.”

“It’s not stupid. It’s understandable.”

“You know I still can’t take a bath?” She didn’t look at him, focusing instead on some distant point beyond his shoulder. Her fist dug into her thigh. “I’ve tried. I double-check all the locks. Triple- check them. I run the water and I put in my favorite bath oil . . . and I still can’t do it. It looks like the Black Lagoon. It looks like the undertow will suck me away. And it’s just a bathtub.”

“Give yourself time, honey.”

“I’ve given myself time!” Her lower lip trembled and she bit down on it. “And now here we are and I—” She got onto her knees and wrapped her arms around him, laying her head on his shoulder. “I do want you. I want you so much but I can’t stop panicking, Mulder.”

“Oh, Scully,” he whispered, his hands on her back, “Scully, love. Psychological healing does not take place on a set schedule.”

“I used to love sex, Mulder. I used to enjoy it. I’d do anything to feel that way again.”

“You just need more time,” Mulder murmured, but it was mostly by reflex because his mind was whirling with the picture of a Scully who loved sex. In his arms, beneath him, over him, her friendly thighs open to receive him.

“I should go.” She got off the bed.

“You don’t have to go, Scully, stay. I’d feel better if I knew you were sleeping here.”

“I really should go, Mulder,” she said again, already tucking in her shirt, her back to him. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”


“Will you walk to me my car?” She paused long enough to look at him, and he nodded and slid off the bed. “Or maybe you shouldn’t,” she added, glancing briefly below his waist.

He ran his hand through his hair and smiled at her sheepishly. “Think I’ll get arrested for public lewdness?”

“You might.” She smiled at him, somewhat regretfully, he thought. “I’ll be fine. I’ll call you later.”

“Yes, please, do.” He walked her to the door instead and she allowed a hug. “I love you,” he whispered into her ear, and she squeezed him extra hard.

“I know you do. Good night, Mulder.” She gave him a sad smile and walked slowly down the hall to his elevator. Mulder stood in his doorway until the elevator doors slid shut.

He sighed heavily and shut his door, and leaned his head against it for a moment. The leaning turned into a soft banging, which kept up until his head began to ache.

The pain, however, did nothing to cause his erection to subside. “Fuck,” he muttered, rubbing his forehead where he was sure there would be a bruise tomorrow. Try explaining that to Scully. I was so frustrated with our situation I had to bang my head against the wall for a while . . .

“Fuck,” he said again with a defeated sigh, and went back into his bedroom. He threw
himself onto his bed and stared at the ceiling. Is it that fine a line, he thought, between love and obsession? If you nudge me just enough into the shadows, do I become Pfaster?

He felt tears in his eyes and wiped them up with the back of his hand. No, he thought. It was her living body that appealed to him, her responses that excited him. Her hands touching him, her mouth open to him, her throaty moans sounding in his ears . . .

Mulder groaned. This train of thought was not going to get him to sleep any faster.

He opened the fly on his jeans and lay still for a few moments more, his hand on his stomach. Just do it, he thought, get it over with, get some sleep.

He stripped off his clothes and lay down again, glad he’d taken down that bizarre mirror. He didn’t want to see himself as he did this. He kept his eyes open as he grasped his cock roughly, instead visualizing Scully: her bright head bent over his lap, her neck as fragile as a flower stem, her tongue and then her lips caressing his cock with eagerness and hunger . . .

No, he thought again, on top of me. Her head back, her body flushed and sweaty as she raised and lowered herself on his cock, her nails digging into his chest, her hips bucking, and Scully groaning his name, groaning Fuck me, Mulder—

“Fuck!” he shouted as hot semen covered his hand, stomach and thighs. He fumbled for a tissue, wiping the tears from his face before wiping up the mess. He balled up the tissue and threw it towards the garbage can, turning onto his stomach without bothering to check if the tissue had fallen into the can.

Mulder pulled up all his blankets and cocooned himself into them, even though it had to be eighty in the bedroom already. I just want to sleep, he thought, squeezing his eyes shut. Just a peaceful night’s sleep . . .

The dreams were heartbreaking. This time, he and Scully were going slow. Her touch was tender and giving. Her breasts were warm under his palms. His tongue was able to go all the places she was hiding from him. And this time when he cried, he cried for them both.

~Truly Madly Deeply: Lights in the Sky 3~

~memory: June 2000~

Mulder was on the phone when Scully came into the office the next morning. She looked at him questioningly and he nodded and signaled her to the desk. He scribbled, “Case, New Mexico, we leave today,” and handed her the notebook. Again she looked at him, a bit more skeptically than before, and he communicated through a few vague gestures that he would tell her as soon as he had finished on the phone. She waited, looking over his shoulder at his other notes as he took down their flight number and time. “Thank you,” he told the booking clerk and hung up the phone.

Scully leaned against the edge of the desk. “Why is there a bruise on your forehead?”

“Oh—I tripped over my shoes this morning. Kiss make better?” Mulder said hopefully, leaning forward in his chair.

She rolled her eyes and said, “We are at work.”

“I know. Kiss me anyway?” Dutifully she slipped a kiss onto the bruised area, and said briskly, “Does my memory deceive me or did you say something about a case?”

Mulder sighed and said, “A girl named Cristina Reyes and her cousin Reynaldo disappeared yesterday and their family is desperate to have them  back. The details of the disappearance are right up our alley.”

“Lights in the sky?”

“Lights in the sky,” he confirmed, and she nodded.

“Why is the family desperate?” she said, already taking a requisition form out of the top desk drawer.

“Because Cristina was recently diagnosed with juvenile leukemia,” Mulder said quietly, “and she was supposed to start chemo today.”

“Oh, my,” Scully said, visibly stunned by this news. “Does her family think she ran away?”

“No. Yesterday she, a cousin, and family friend went to an Anasazi site near their home, but last night only one of the boys came back.”

“Do you think he killed the girl?” Scully said softly.

“I’m not ruling it out.”

She nodded again, slowly this time. “All right. When do we leave?”

“I was hoping you’d say that. Eleven-oh-five, and pack hiking boots.”


The Albuquerque precinct lieutenant’s name was Carl Reyes, and he had a prominently displayed picture of several children on his desk.

“This is Cristina,” he said, turning the picture around to face them and pointing to one of the girls in the photograph, “and this is Rey,” pointing to one of the boys.

“May I?” Mulder said, and at Lt. Reyes’s nod he looked at the picture more closely. She was a pretty girl, with long black hair and braces on her teeth. “How old is this picture?”

“We took it last year. It’s all the grandchildren in the family. The braces are off now. Agents, I know I didn’t mention it over the phone but it’s an important detail. Rey—Reynaldo—he’s my son. We’re most concerned about Cristina because she needs to be in a hospital, but I hope,” he paused a moment, looking at another photograph on his desk, “I hope wherever Cristina is we’ll find Rey there too.”

“What do you think happened?” Scully said softly.

“I don’t know what to think. Our suspect’s name is Justin Black and he’s been friends with Cristina since they were children. He’d be the last person you’d think would hurt anybody. He’s always been a good kid, but even good kids have secrets.”

“We’d like to talk to him,” said Mulder.

The lieutenant nodded. “I’ll have him in a examining room in a few minutes. He’s going to tell you lights from the sky took her. Ever heard anything like that?”

“We have,” Mulder said.

“Does it ever turn out to be true?”


“Right.” He ran his finger over the top of the picture frame. “If he killed her I’m not going to go soft on him, no matter how much I hate it. He’s always been a good kid but if he’s killed my boy . . . if he’s killed Cristina . . . I’m sure you understand how important this is. Not just to the family, to the community too.”

“We know,” Mulder assured him, and Reyes sighed and pushed his chair back from the desk to stand.

“I’ll go make sure Justin’s ready for you. Excuse me, Agents.” He left the office and shut the door behind him.

Scully said after a moment, “Before you say abduction—”

“I wasn’t going to say abduction.”

“I find it hard to believe with this entire scenario you’re not thinking abduction. Lights in the sky, the Anasazi connection—”

“A terminally ill child,” he said, looking at her intently, and she bit her lip.

“Do you think it was because of her cancer?”

“One way or another.”

The door opened and an officer leaned in her head. “Agents? Will you come with me, please?”

Mulder and Scully looked at each other and got up to follow.


The suspect—or the survivor—sat nervously in the orange county jail jumpsuit, his hands folded together. He rocked slightly as he waited, and looked up sharply when the officer let Mulder and Scully into the tiny examining room. He was just a kid, seventeen, good-looking with short black hair, and his voice cracked a little when he said, “Should I have a lawyer?”

“Do you want one present?” Scully said.

His eyes darted from her face to Mulder’s, and he said, “Nah. Tio Carl’s already decided I’m guilty. Nothing I say is going to make a difference anyway.”

“Are you guilty, Justin?” said Mulder, and the boy flinched.

“Are you here to entrap me or to hear my story? I know how you Feds treat us.”

“Us?” said Mulder. “You mean kids?”

“I mean Native Americans and you know it.” He crossed his arms over his chest, glaring at them.

Scully said, “We’re here to find Cristina. Right now you’re the only one who can help us.”

“I don’t know where she is. I can tell you what happened but I don’t know what it means.”

“Tell us what happened, then.”

Justin blew out a puff of air. “Crissy’s sick. We’ve known it a long time but she wouldn’t
go to a hospital. She said the cure would kill her before the cancer did. But all the prayers and the blessings and stuff, they weren’t doing anything for her. Finally her family said, You’ve got to go to a hospital. But I guess you’ve heard all this from Tio Carl.”

“Tell us your version, Justin,” Scully said gently.

“Yeah. So yesterday she called me and she said, I want to go out to Pueblo Bonito, I want to ask for a blessing from the ancestors for when I go into the hospital. Rey, he’s Tio Carl’s son, he’d come out too to help her walk.”

“Is Cristina Native American too?”

“No, their family came up from Guatemala. But we have this thing— Rey, Crissy, and I—we’ve always felt really at home at Pueblo Bonito, so we kind of figure it’s, you know, home, in a way. That they’re, like, family. I mean, nobody knows what happened to the Anasazi, right? So maybe some of them stayed out here and married Navajos and some of them went down to Guatemala and married Mayans. It could happen. So we’d go out there and we’d commune.” He dropped his eyes. “That’s what we called it. Communing with the ancestors. Looking to them for guidance. Her parents, my parents, Rey’s parents—they all thought it’s a phase. It helped Crissy, that’s all that mattered.”

Even as he listened to the story, cataloguing it for truth and lies, Mulder had to watch Scully. They’d fallen into the good cop-bad cop routine without even thinking about it, and she listened to the boy intently, nodding to encourage him. It was hard to lie to her face. He didn’t think Justin was doing it.

“So we went. We drove up. We made the hike. We went to our favorite kiva. Crissy cried a little and told us how scared she was, and we talked and prayed. And then the sky got really dark, so we thought we should go. I don’t know if you guys have ever been in the desert during a thunderstorm but they can be fierce, and we didn’t want Crissy to get sicker.” Tears were in his eyes now and he wiped them impatiently with his forearm.

“We were starting to hike out, and it began to rain and there was thunder and lightening, and then—and then . . .” He stopped, visibly struggling for control, and said, “And then a bolt of lightening came from the sky and took Crissy.”

“You mean it struck her?” Scully said quietly.

“No. I mean it took her. It struck where she was and then she wasn’t there. It took her. The lightening took her.”

“Go on,” said Scully.

“Rey screamed ‘Crissy!’ and started running, and lightening took him too. And I started running and I kept thinking that lightening would hit me too, but it didn’t. So I drove home and told everybody what happened and now they think I killed her.” He was frowning with the effort to hold back his tears. “Can you believe that? Crissy’s been my best friend since I was five and now they think I killed her.”

“Did you?” Mulder said bluntly, and Justin glared at him.

“No,” he said just as bluntly. “I’d never hurt her. Never. I’d do anything for her to get better but I’d never hurt her.”

“Then tell us how to find her,” Mulder said.

“I don’t know!” Justin said between clenched teeth. “I wish I could tell you, I wish I could say exactly where she is, but I don’t, I don’t know anything.”

“If we find out you’ve lied to us, Justin—”

“You’ll what? Put me in jail?” he scoffed. “Can I go now? I want to go back to my cell.”


Scully was quiet as they drove to their downtown motel. She had turned the air conditioning as high as the little rental car could go and aimed the vents straight onto her, but Mulder didn’t think it was only the heat that perturbed her. He said, “I don’t think he was lying to us about what he saw.”

“The shock of seeing his friend struck might have convinced him the lightening actually took her instead of killed her,” Scully said, her eyes on the passing streets.

“Then the park rangers would have found the bodies.”


They stopped at a light and he took the opportunity to study her. “Are you okay?”

“Of course.”


“I’m fine, Mulder.”

Traffic started up again and he said when a few blocks had passed, “Because if it’s too much for you right now-“

“It’s not too much for me. We’ve faced this a hundred times before.” She said after a moment, “We should talk to her family, and Justin’s, too. Maybe they’d had an argument, maybe he was scared about her cancer and thought a mercy killing was in order. Maybe Cristina did. I want to examine her room, maybe she kept a diary.”

“We should talk to her parents,” Mulder said. “But I don’t think euthanasia is the issue here.”

“If she killed herself Justin might not tell us.”

“But I don’t—” He stopped at her look. “I think this is the place.” He pointed to one of the signs on the road ahead. “Scully?”


“Were you ever—did you ever think about—when you were sick—”

“Suicide?” she said quietly.


She didn’t answer until they pulled into the hotel parking lot, and she said, “I never thought about suicide itself but sometimes I thought—sometimes I wouldn’t dread death so much because at least then the pain would stop.”

“Oh, Scully,” he said softly.

“Oh, don’t. It’s ancient history.”

“You’re so brave,” Mulder said genuinely. “I don’t know if I could handle it.”

“It’s not about bravery, Mulder,” she said, embarrassed, and she unbuckled her seatbelt. “You just endure, that’s all. Come on, let’s check in, we have work to do.”

He got out of the car too and said, as she started to walk towards the front office, “Hey, Scully.”

“Hm?” She paused, looking at him over her shoulder.

“I’m glad you could bear it. I’d—I’d really miss you.”

“I’d miss you too,” she said softly. “Come on.”

~Truly Madly Deeply: Lights in the Sky 4~

~memory: June 2000~

Jim and Salma Reyes lived in a long, low adobe house in the suburbs of Albuquerque. Carl Reyes had picked up Mulder and Scully from their motel and driven them out to the house. He stayed in the background while they talked to Cristina’s parents, hovering in the doorway of the girl’s room with his arms crossed.

“This Anasazi fascination didn’t worry us,” Jim said. He, his wife and Scully sat on Cristina’s bed, which was white oak with a pink coverlet and a pink canopy overhead. Cristina has a bookcase of the same wood, filled with CDs, books and worn stuffed animals. There was an old Underwood typewriter on her desk as well as a small CD player. She had hung  postcards and pasted stickers of saints over her bed, along with a small wood and silver crucifix. “We thought, It’s good to be interested in history. We thought it was healthy.” Jim paused, and Salma quietly took his hand.

“Mr. Reyes,” Scully said, “how close are Cristina and Justin?”

“They’ve been inseparable since they were children. They’ve been playmates and best friends and—” He had to stop again.

Salma said, “They’ve been talking about getting married after college. Or sooner, if Cristina didn’t—if she doesn’t get better.”

“And you had no objections to that?” Scully said.

“They’re very young but Justin has never given us a cause to worry.”

“My brother thinks Justin hurt Cristina but I don’t believe him,” Jim interjected. “Justin has never raised his hand or his voice to her, or to anyone. He’s always been a good boy.”

“Did you talk to him?” Salma said anxiously. “He told you what happened?”

“We spoke with him earlier today.”

Salma nodded slowly. “If you talk to the Navajo people around here they will tell you stories about Pueblo Bonito, about any of the Anasazi sites. They will tell you there is something there that isn’t quite right, that is very frightening. Many people in Albuquerque are afraid of the pueblo. They say strange things happen there. But Justin was never afraid. He loved the Pueblo, so Cristina loved it too.”

“How does Reynaldo fit in
to their relationship?” Scully said in her soft voice.

“Carl and Rey had lived with us since my sister-in-law died,” Jim said. “Cristina has always been a little mama to him, even though they’re only a year apart.”

“She has a very big heart,” said Salma. “She’s always been the defender. Justin liked him. The three of them are very strong together.”

“Has he been ill recently?” Mulder said, and all three of them looked at him with surprise because he hadn’t said much, choosing instead to look around Cristina’s room.

“Reynaldo has asthma,” Salma said. “He has since he was small.”

Mulder nodded and picked up a medallion that hung from Cristina’s necklace tree. “Which saint is this?”

Salma took the medallion and smiled tenderly. “This is St. Peregrine, the patron of cancer patients. This necklace was a gift from Cristina’s classmates.”

“And who are the others?” He indicated the pictures and stickers Cristina had placed over her bed.

“Most are of the Blessed Virgin, of course,” Salma said, pointing. “This is St. Agnes, she carries a lamb, and St. Catherine, she carries a wheel.”

“Protectors of young girls,” Mulder said.

“Yes, that’s right. What do you think it means, Agent Mulder?”

“I don’t know,” he said honestly. “What do you think, Scully?”

Scully paused, then said, “I liked St. Agnes when I was a girl, too. She made me feel safe.” Salma smiled at her kindly, and after a moment Scully smiled back. She said, “Does Cristina keep a diary or a journal?”

“Yes, but surely you don’t need to read it. We have always respected her privacy.”

“It may give us some clues, Mrs. Reyes,” Mulder said apologetically.

Salma looked at Jim, who nodded his consent. Salma rose and opened the top drawer of Cristina’s desk. She took out a small leather-bound notebook, which was held closed by a strap of leather that wrapped around a large button on the front cover. She gave the notebook to Scully. “I don’t want to know my daughter’s secrets,” she said, then added, “unless you think I should.”

“We’re just looking for clues to find her,” Scully assured her.

“My brother doesn’t think you’ll find her alive,” Jim said softly, and Carl shifted uncomfortably in his position in the doorway. “Please prove him wrong, Agents.”

“Please,” Salma said.


As he drove them back to their motel, Carl glanced repeatedly at the diary in Scully’s hands. “I don’t know what you’re going to find in there,” he said finally. “I don’t think anything was going on with Cristina that her family didn’t know about. She’s perfectly normal. Always has been. Just a good, sweet, giving girl.”

“I’m sure that’s what we’ll find,” Scully said.

“But even the best kids have their secrets,” Mulder murmured, and Carl glanced back at him in the rearview mirror.

“They do. That’s what worries me.”

“Lt. Reyes,” Mulder said, “were you aware that Justin calls you Uncle?”

Carl glanced at him again. “Yeah. I know. He calls Cristina’s parents Tio Jim and Tia Salma too. Do you think that’s significant?”

“I think it’s interesting, considering.”

“Considering? You mean considering that I arrested him for murder, that he still calls me Tio Carl like he has since he was a boy. Yes, that’s very interesting. I might call it manipulation.”

“Or you might call it hope,” Mulder said.

Carl snorted as he pulled off the street into the motel parking lot. “Agent Mulder, you were recommended to me as an expert in the unexplained but I’m beginning to think the explanation is very simple. Justin killed Cristina. Maybe to end her suffering, maybe they had a quarrel. And because he was there and might betray him, Justin killed my boy too. That is what I believe—not this ‘lights from the sky’ bullshit. We should treat this case as a homicide, nothing more.”

“Lt. Reyes,” Scully said, “were there thunderstorms in the vicinity of Pueblo Bonito yesterday?”

Carl said reluctantly, “Yes. But that still doesn’t mean what Justin says is true.”

“No, it doesn’t,” said Scully, “but there might be a correlation between what he says happened and what actually did. I know you’re worried and grieving—but Justin is, too.”

Carl stared out the windshield, his nostrils flaring, and he said gruffly, “Well, you folks can judge for yourselves tomorrow. Dress for hiking—and heat.” He got out to help Scully down from the high SUV, and once both she and Mulder were out of the car he took off quickly.

“I hope I haven’t upset him,” Scully said.

“Justin’s right. He’s already made up his mind. Hey,” Mulder gestured to the diary, “do you want me to read that?”

“I thought I would. After Samantha’s—” She paused, biting her lip.

“I’m okay with it, Scully. I’m more worried about you.” She’d been the picture of professionalism all day, but he wanted to spare her any pain that he could, especially after the debacle of the night before.

“Let’s go inside,” Scully said. “I’d rather not discuss this in the parking lot.” She took out her keys and unlocked her door.

“Do you trust me in your room, Scully?” Mulder said in a low voice.

She looked at him with her eyebrows raised as if she expected a joke, then said, “You’re not serious.”


“You are.” She sighed and opened the door. “Come in, Mulder. We need to talk about more than the diary.”

He followed her into the room but stayed by the door as she put down the diary and took of her blazer and holster. She sat on the edge of the bed and patted the coverlet beside her. “Sit,” she said. “Please.”

Hesitantly Mulder took his place beside her. “Last night was my fault. I pushed you too fast.”

“Mulder, I wanted to be there.”

“But you also couldn’t leave fast enough.”

“Well, you didn’t want to see me have a complete meltdown, did you?”

Mulder leaned his face in his hands and groaned softly, “Oh, Scully.”

She moved closer to him and put her arm over his back. She leaned her cheek against his shoulder. “I didn’t mean it like that.”

“Then how did you mean it?” He dropped his hands and looked at her. “Do I frighten you, Scully?”

“No,” she said earnestly.

“But the thought of having sex with me does.”

She started to answer, then shut her mouth and sighed. “I’m no good at relationships, Mulder. I always do something to muck them up. I want to be with you but I don’t know how to make it happen. And now this whole fear thing,” she said with some disgust, “I don’t know how to move past this.”

“You could go back into therapy,” Mulder suggested gently, and she rolled her eyes.

“I hate being in therapy.”

“But if you need it, Scully—”

“I don’t know what I need! No, that’s not true. What I need, Mulder, what I need is to be able to go to bed with you and sleep with you and feel you with me all night long and to feel *safe*. That’s what I need.” She added softly when Mulder didn’t answer, “And you need to tell me how you really got that bruise.”

“I was a little frustrated after you left last night.”


“And I hit my head a few times against the wall.”

“A few times?”

“Several times.”

“Oh, Mulder,” Scully said, and lifted his head to kiss the bruise again. Her lips gently touched his temples and his nose, and even as he waited, breathless, touched his lips as well.

When she ended the kiss she smiled at him shyly. “Kiss number seven,” Mulder whispered.

“Lucky number seven.”

“Can I sleep with you tonight?” Mulder asked abruptly—too abruptly, if her expression was any indication. “I’ll be good. I promise.”

“I don’t think that would be appropriate.”

“Inappropriate is for salad forks and white after Labor Day. I need you. You need me. You can even handcuff me to the bed if that will make you feel better.”

“I’m not going to do that, Mulder, but I appreciate the offer.”

“So . . . does that mean I can stay with you tonight?”

He thought she wanted to say yes, but she said softly, “No. It
‘s not the right time.”

“Okay,” Mulder said, resigned. It was what he expected, really. “You hungry?”

“No. I’m fine.”

“Guess I’ll go, then. You’ll call me if you need anything, right? Anything at all. I’ll be here in a second.”

“I don’t think—thank you. If I need anything I’ll call you.”

“Anything at all,” Mulder said again on his way out the door.

“I know. Good night, Mulder.”


Mulder knew he was dreaming. He recognized Scully’s front room as he passed through it, his feet floating smoothly over the ground. Her things were strewn everywhere: broken glass all over the floor, books pulled off the shelves, blood on the carpet. Scully, he called to her in a soundless voice. Scully, where are you?

He heard water dripping and changed course for her bathroom. The door was partially open and he pushed it the rest of the way. He could see her in the bathtub, facing away from him.

Scully, he said again. Scully, are you all right?

There was something wrong with the water. It was too dark. He went to the tub, calling her name: Scully, Scully.

He touched her shoulder and her head fell back. Her eyes were open, staring, red with broken capillaries. Rictus had pulled her lips back from her teeth in an obscene parody of her smile. A nylon stocking was knotted around one bruised wrist. Her neck was bruised and her throat was sliced open, crimson with blood that had dripped down her chest and stained the water red.

Mulder stumbled backwards away from the body and caught sight of himself in the mirror. The face was not his own: it was forgettable and evil at once, with blank eyes and a mouth that never smiled. Pfaster’s face. Mulder looked down: Pfaster’s button-down shirt and jeans were stained with blood. His hands were gory with it.

He scrubbed his hands furiously on his shirt front. I want to wake up, he chanted, I want to wake up, and the ringing in his ears grew shrill and insistent.

“I want to wake up now!”

He jerked awake, panting, knowing he’d said the words out loud. He sat up, dry-scrubbed his hands over his face and turned on the bedside lamp. His hands were clean.

“Of course they are, stupid,” he muttered and picked up the ringing phone. “Scully?”

There was a slight pause, then Carl Reyes said, “I’m sorry, I think I have the wrong room.”

“It’s all right, Lt. Reyes, you’ve got me. I was expecting Agent Scully. Has something happened?” He rubbed his eyes. Just a dream.

“I hardly believe it, Agent Mulder. Rey—my boy—he’s come home.”

Mulder pushed aside the sheets and swung his legs over the side of the bed. “Is he all right?”

“He’s unhurt. He’s shaken up. The park rangers found him earlier tonight and brought him home.” It sounded to Mulder like Carl was crying. “He’s home. He’s home, Agent Mulder.”

“Agent Scully and I will be there as soon as we can.” He clicked off the line and dialed Scully’s room.

She picked up at the first ring. “Scully.”

He felt more than his usual relief at the sound of her voice. “It’s me. Did I wake you?”

“No. What’s going on?”

“Carl Reyes just called me. Reynaldo has come home.”

“Is he alive?”

“Yes. Alive and unhurt. I want to question him right away.”

“I’ll be ready in a minute.”

“Scully—you haven’t slept at all?”

“It’s only one-thirty. I’ve been reading the diary. I’ll tell you about it in the car.”

“All right.” He hung up the phone and got up to dress.

~Truly Madly Deeply: Lights in the Sky 5~

~memory: June 2000~

Barely five minutes later, Scully knocked briskly on Mulder’s hotel room door. He opened it and gestured her inside, saying, “I’ll be ready in a second.” He sat down on the edge of the bed to finish tying his boots. Scully had changed her suit for jeans, T-shirt and a casual-looking blazer. She had the diary tucked carefully in the crook of her arm.

“Are you okay?” she said as she shut the door. “Your face is pale.”

“Yeah.” He smoothed down his jeans and stood.

“You know, I can hear you through the wall.”


She watched him as he shrugged into his holster and put on his leather jacket. “Just before the phone rang I thought I heard you say something.” She went on when he didn’t answer, “It sounded like ‘I want to wake up now.'”

He couldn’t remember where he’d put the car keys, and hunted through the pile of papers and change on the table. Finally he found them in his pants, which were draped over the back of the chair. “I had a nightmare,” he admitted at last, tucking the keys into his jacket pocket.

“Oh, Mulder,” Scully said quietly, and crossed the room to put her arms around his waist. She pressed her cheek to his back. “Tell me what you dreamed, Mulder.”

He closed his eyes for a moment and put his hand on top of hers. She was warm. Not feverishly hot, not clammy and cold. Just warm. He said, “I don’t want to, Scully. I just want to forget it.”

“I promise it will make you feel better.” She squeezed his waist. “Isn’t that what you always tell me?”

“Scully, it was a really freaky dream.”

There was amusement in her voice. “You think I can’t take it?”

“I dreamed that I killed you.” He expected her to let him go and step away, but she didn’t. She squeezed his waist again and nuzzled her cheek against his back. He said, lowering his head, “I dreamed that I killed you like Pfaster killed those women. I had his face, I wore his clothes, but it was me. It was me inside.”

“You’re nothing like Pfaster, Mulder,” she whispered. “He was evil. There’s nothing evil in you.”

“Sometimes I wonder.”

“Shh…” She stroked his chest and turned him around. She held his chin in her fingers and smiled at him gently. “You’re a hero, Mulder. Not a devil.”

Mulder felt tears in his eyes and blinked, hard. “Thanks,” he whispered and bent to hug her. She wrapped her arms around his neck and he felt the brush of her breath against his ear as she exhaled. He kissed her forehead and she smiled up at him.

“It’s time to go to work,” she said seriously, and he nodded.

“I’m ready now.” He kept his arm around her shoulders as they walked out to the car.

“I’ve been reading the diary,” Scully said again when they were in the car and on their way. “She’s very articulate for a girl her age.”

“And what have you learned about the inner life of Cristina Reyes?”

“She intermixes English and Spanish a lot. Her favorite subject is chemistry. She wants to go to college but is worried about the cost so she’s applying for scholarships. She wants Justin to go to college but doesn’t think he wants to. She and Justin have been having sex for almost a year—”

“Oh, there it is. “

“—but they haven’t since she was diagnosed.”

“So, reeling with guilt, she joins him in his Anasazi fascination even though she doesn’t agree with it?”

“No—reeling with guilt, she thinks her leukemia is punishment for premarital sex.”

“Oh, no,” Mulder said softly. “Poor kid.”

“She’s also afraid that Justin will stop loving her if she gets really sick. That’s one reason why she didn’t want to do chemotherapy: she was afraid she would lose her hair.” Scully glanced at Mulder, her fingers twisting the leather band that held the diary closed. “Justin really likes her hair.”

“Okay. So . . . no clues about what they were planning for the other day?”

“None. She just wanted to pray.”

“Does she believe it, that there are Anasazi spirits hanging around Pueblo Bonito?”

“Well . . .” Scully opened the diary and turned a few pages. “She says a few times that Pueblo Bonito feels like a church to her. She’s got something I like here . . .” She scanned the page and read, “‘It doesn’t matter who is listening to me there. I only know that I am heard.'”

“That’s really nice.”

“I thought so. I like her, Mulder. We have to find her.”

“If she’s there to be found.”

Scully glanced at him again. “All right. W
hat theory do you have now?”

“I don’t. I have a lot of questions. I hope Rey can answer at least some of them.”

Scully watched the street lights go by, then said pensively, “What if his story contradicts Justin’s?”

“Then we tell Carl to keep Justin in jail, I suppose.”


Reynaldo still had baby fat and round cheeks, and he wore jeans and a bright Santana T-shirt. The rest of the family were in pajamas and bathrobes, sleepy-eyed, but Rey paced around the living room like he’d been slurping espressos all day. He watched with interest as Scully laid Cristina’s diary in Salma’s hands.

“Did it help you at all?” Salma asked.

“Well . . .” She glanced at Mulder. “We know what she *wasn’t* planning.”

Salma nodded, looking disappointed, and stroked the leather cover lightly.

“We’re sorry to keep you up, Rey,” Scully said to him. “We’re sure you’re tired.”

“Nah, I’m fine, I’m great, I feel great. But where’s Crissy? I don’t get it. She should be here too.”

“The park rangers who found you,” Mulder said, “they didn’t see any sign of her?”

“I thought maybe she’d come home already.”

“So you think she’s all right.”

“Yeah, of course! I mean, I’m here. I’m great. That’s weird, though, I thought maybe since we were taken at the same time they’d return us at the same time. Is Justin still gone too?”

“Justin wasn’t taken,” Scully said gently, and that stopped Rey’s pacing.

“He wasn’t? Wow.” He sat down on the arm of the couch beside his father. “Tio Jim, I don’t know where Crissy is if she’s not here.”

“It’s all right, Rey,” Jim said quietly. “That’s why the FBI people are here.”

“We need you to tell us what happened at Pueblo Bonito, Rey,” Scully said in a gentle but firm tone.

“What did Justin tell you? Did you talk to Justin?”

“We’ve talked to Justin.”

“Well, whatever he said, that’s what happened. We went up there because Crissy wanted to pray and left when it got stormy—or tried to leave. Then the lightning came down . . .” He frowned and scratched his head. “I wasn’t afraid. I remember that, but not much else. I’m sorry. There was the lightning . . . and then it was night time.” He shook his head. “There’s only whiteness in between.”

“Not a place, not people?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Rey,” Mulder interjected, “the park rangers found you at the Pueblo itself?”

“No, I hiked down to the visitor’s center.”

“How’s your asthma?”

Rey blinked, startled by the question, and took a deep breath. He let it out and said, “It’s not bothering me at all.”

Mulder nodded, and saw that Scully was looking at him with expectation. “Later,” he said to her. “Lt. Reyes, I think it’s time to release Justin Black.”

“Papi?” Rey said. “Justin’s in jail?”

“We thought he’d killed you and Cristina,” Carl said.

Rey made a scoffing sound and got up from the couch. “Papi, this is Justin. Justin! Justin beat up bullies for me. How could you think that?”

“Because we couldn’t find you,” Carl said quietly. “Because we thought you were dead.”

“Does he know I’m home?”

“No. He’s probably asleep.”

“Not if I know Justin. We need to tell him that I’m home. I’ll come with you, Papi, and you can let him go. He didn’t hurt Cristina.”

“Rey, you need to rest—”

“Now, Papi, tonight. Justin needs to know we’re okay.”

“But Cristina’s not home yet,” Mulder said softly.

“She will be. And soon, too. I’m sure of it,” he said in the same absent way he’d told them about the lightning. He gave his head a little shake and said more firmly, “So are we going, Papi? Or should I ask the FBI people to take me?”

Carl closed his eyes. “We’ll go. Let me get dressed.” He opened his eyes and stood, then added, “Let me see the agents out first.” He went with Mulder and Scully to the tiny atrium of the house, and stopped with them before the door. “Thank you for coming so late,” he said. “It was less helpful than I hoped.”

“It was very helpful, I thought,” Mulder said.

“I think in light of all this, I won’t go with you to Chaco Canyon. Releasing Justin is going to take most of the night, and then the paperwork-endash I can have a ranger meet you—”

“It’s all right,” Scully said. “We have a good map. We’ll find the way.”

“It’s a strange place, the Pueblo,” Carl said absently. “I’ve only been there a few times. It makes me feel . . . it’s so ancient. Not a sense of history, I know what that feels like. That’s entirely different. Pueblo Bonito just feels . . . ancient.” He smiled at them, embarrassed. “Well, you’ll see when you go there. Good night. Thank you for coming.” He went back into the main part of the house.


“Are you up for a really early breakfast?” Mulder asked as they drove back to their motel.

“We need to get some sleep if we’re going to get to the Pueblo at a decent hour.”

“I’m jonesin’ for coffee and a Denver omelet.”

“Coffee and greasy food are the last things you need at this hour, Mulder.” She shifted in her seat and cleared her throat. “If you, um, if you’d like me to, uh, rub your shoulders so you can sleep . . .” She glanced at him and just as quickly looked away.

He smiled at her. “Thank you. I’d like that.”

She cleared her throat again. “Your room, though.”


Scully nodded and stared fixedly out the window, her hands folded together in her lap.

Her little hands looked so tight and tense. Mulder reached over and put his hand on top of both of hers, and rubbed them until they loosened and wrapped around his.


In Mulder’s room, Scully waited while he put on his pajamas. He got into bed, sitting up, and she knelt behind him. She put her hands on his shoulders and began to rub them, deep—penetrating him, he thought, to his muscles and bones. He closed his eyes and sighed, content.

“You know,” Scully said after a while, “none of this makes sense to me. It was easier to believe we were looking at a homicide.”

“I don’t think they were abducted,” Mulder murmured, almost too relaxed to speak.


“It bears none of the earmarks of abduction . . .” He let his head fall to the side and exhaled. She had incredible hands. “I think it’s more like spirit possession. . .”


“Something like that. I’m still working out all the kinks in the theory. When Albert Hosteen performed the Healing Way ceremony on me I saw several entities in the . . . spirit plane, I guess you could call it. I only spoke to my father and Deep Throat but there were several shadowy figures there as well.”

“Who do you think they were?”

“I don’t know. The spirits of my dead, maybe. Maybe they were guardians or guides. Anyway, Pueblo Bonito is a sacred place to a lot of groups around here, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the kids tapped into the same kind of spiritual plane.”

“But what you saw may have been an hallucination brought on by the ceremony. Weren’t medicinal herbs of some kind involved?”

“I don’t think it was entirely a creation of my own mind. I think the kids were brought to a healing place, and definitely not one of this world.”

“That’s why you asked about Rey’s asthma.”

“Yeah. Most asthmatics that I’ve known tend to wheeze even when they’re not exerting themselves, and Rey was bouncing off the walls without so much as a whistle.” He twisted his head to look back at her. “What do you think?”

“He didn’t show any symptoms of asthma that I could see. What puzzles me is what you expect to accomplish when we got out there tomorrow. Just seeing the place?”

“That, of course, but also to feel the energies and figure out the attraction.”

“Feel the energies,” she repeated. “I see.”

“You know, whenever you use that tone of voice I always want to check my teeth for spinach.”

Scully chuckled, patted his shoulders and got off the bed. “Good night, Mulder.”

“Tuck me in?”

“Mulder . . .”

“Bedtime story? Glass of water? I bet you do a grea
t ‘Goodnight Moon.'” He pulled up the sheet and lay his head on the pillow She smoothed the sheet over his chest and kissed him gently. “Good night. I’ll be ready to go by six.”

“Hey, Scully,” he said as she was on her way out, and she paused and looked at him patiently. “Love you.”

That brought a deep and quiet smile, and she said, “Love you. Good night.” She shut the door behind her.

In a few minutes he heard her through the wall, getting into bed and settling herself on the mattress. He brushed his fingers over the wall that separated them.

“Sleep sweet, Scully,” he whispered, and closed his eyes.

~Truly Madly Deeply: Lights in the Sky 6~


Pueblo Bonito in the morning sun struck Mulder and Scully silent. The pueblo itself was on a shelf about halfway up the side of the canyon. The colors of its crumbling walls were subtle, baked by the sun of a thousand years, sienna and sepia and burnt umber. The canyon behind the pueblo was the colors of the sunrise, red and pink and gold. Even from the bottom of the trail Mulder could feel how much history this place had witnessed: births, deaths, wars, ceremonies, droughts, harvests. It exuded a strong feeling of great age and greater dignity. Despite its state of ruin and neglect, it was a grand sight.

They had bought a guidebook at the visitors center at the mouth of the canyon, which Scully consulted with a serious expression as they drove to the pueblo. There were only forestry service trucks in the visitors center parking lot, and no other cars were parked at the Pueblo Bonito trail. It appeared they had the canyon to themselves.

The reason was easy to see: even if the murder investigation would not keep tourists away, the thunderheads piling up at the horizon would.

They both had light knapsacks for extra water, sunblock and so on, and when she had looked her fill, Scully slung her knapsack on her back and put on her sunglasses. “Come on.” She started up the trail that would take them up to the plateau, her footsteps sure on the hard-packed ground.

Mulder was slow to follow. He took another long look at the whole of the pueblo, and then at Scully, who had paused a few yards ahead and stood waiting for him. He slipped the straps of the knapsack over his shoulders and hurried to catch up.

It was hot and dusty, and the wind blew continuously. They both wore hiking boots, but Mulder still scanned the sides of the trail for rattlesnakes and scorpions. He saw only lizards sunning themselves on rocks and a jackrabbit dart into the brush.

He stumbled a little and Scully caught his elbow. “Careful,” she murmured, and he smiled at her sheepishly.

“I wasn’t looking where I was going.”

“Just a little further,” she said soothingly, and Mulder chuckled.

“Did I ever tell you I went to Greece?”

“No, when?”

“A break at university when I was nineteen. The water of the Mediterranean is *amazing,* Scully, it’s so blue.  But this,” he gestured towards the approaching cliffside houses, “this reminds me of this village we stayed in, only in different colors and with less water.”

“What was the village’s name?” Strands of hair blew into her mouth as soon as she pushed them back, and she shoved her hand through her hair with annoyance.

“I don’t remember. But it was like a postcard, you know, or a travel poster. All these houses, sometimes a blue one, sometimes a pink one, but mostly these gorgeous whitewashed stone houses all nestled together on the mountainside. These families who’d lived together for hundreds of years—thousands of years, probably. And they knew everybody’s business for generations back, whose grandmother slept with whose great-uncle andendash -and all that kind of thing. Anyway that’s what I imagine this place was like when people lived here. Only without all the fishing boats.” She didn’t answer and Mulder glanced at her: her face was serious but the corner of her mouth was threatening to become a smile. He said, “You know, I’d really love to take you to Europe someday. You’d love England.”

“Give me a better reason than crop circles and we’ll go.” She wiped the sweat from her forehead with the back of her arm.

“Do you ever wonder how all these people came to just pick up and leave?”

“I thought the accepted explanation was they left because of drought.”

“That’s one theory.” He glanced up at the ever-more threatening sky. Their visit might be shorter than they planned if those clouds caught up to them.

“And . . . you think it’s because the mother ship came to bring them home.”

“I’ve seen things, Scully,” he said in an exaggerated mysterious tone, and Scully rolled her eyes.

“We’ve all seen *things*, Mulder.”

He couldn’t tell if she was joking, but she was ahead of him again and it was hard to tell her humor from her retreating back.


The trail took them around the outer walls of the pueblo, past the rectangular outlines of houses—some complete walls, some no more than a few bricks high—to the circular openings of the kivas. The marked trail in the guidebook directed them past the Great Kiva, the largest and deepest of them all, but Mulder climbed over the ruined foundations to its edge and knelt down to look into the stone pit.

“See anything?” Scully said from the trail.

“There are steps down into it.”

“We’re supposed to stay on the trail.”

Mulder took his flashlight out of his knapsack and shone it into the opening. “Justin said they went into their favorite kiva, I’m betting this is it. Come on, Scully.”

She sighed, but followed him down the steps into the kiva.

There were stone seats built against the walls, and Mulder shone his flashlight all around to check for snakes. Scully took out her flashlight as well and looked at the walls, which were made of irregularly-shaped, tightly-packed bricks of the same reddish stone as the rest of the pueblo.

“What are we doing here, Mulder?” she said quietly.

“Looking for clues, of course.”

“Oh, yes, of course,” Scully murmured. “What kind of clues are you expecting to find, though? She’s not here. We’re certain of that.”

“I know she’s not here. My question is, where was she taken and by whom?”

Scully turned to him, shining the beam of the flashlight onto his chest so she could see his face. “You’re not asking why?”

“I think I know why. Reynaldo’s asthma was cured—”

“It’s premature to say it was cured.”

“—and I’m confident that when we find Cristina her leukemia will be cured as well.”

“Mulder, you’re not serious.”

“I am serious. They got what they came here for: a cure for Cristina. Just not the way they expected it.”

“Then why have we never heard of this before? Don’t you think that if people thought they would be cured here it would be overrun like the fountain at Lourdes?”

“Maybe it’s never happened before.”

“Okay,” Scully said, “okay. But, if the children were cured, how? And by whom?”

“Archaeologists think the Anasazi worshiped thunder.” Mulder shrugged. “You never know.”

“Thunder gods. Right,” Scully murmured, turning away from him to shine her flashlight on the walls again.

“‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy, ‘” Mulder quoted lightly, and Scully smiled at him for a moment.

“I want to look around some more, melancholy Dane,” she said, tucking her flashlight away in her knapsack, and she climbed up the stairs to the top of the kiva. Mulder cast the beam of his flashlight in one more wide arc, then put it away to follow her.


The designated trail took them past more, smaller kivas and into the denser ruins of houses of the Anasazi. Scully read aloud from the guidebook at each marked stop like a good tourist, peering at the highlighted areas as if she would be tested on them later.

Mulder found himself growing more frustrated as the morning progressed. Sure, it was beau
tiful, it was ancient and moving, but in the end it was just a pile of rocks where no one had lived for eight hundred years. Nothing about it, despite what Carl Reyes had said, felt especially magical.

So how did it happen? he thought. Why now? Why these kids? Maybe it was just the kids themselves: Cristina and her St. Peregrine medallion, Justin and his search for meaning through history. Something about them, maybe their prayers, maybe their beliefs, maybe just their needs, had spoken to some mysterious Powers That Be. He frowned, unsatisfied with his thoughts, and Scully stopped reading.

“What is it?”

“Do you think that faith alone can bring about a miracle?”

Scully closed the guidebook, keeping her place with her finger, and said, “I think that faith is necessary for a miracle.”

“Do you remember the boy with the stigmata?”

“I’m not going to forget him anytime soon, Mulder.”

“Do you think he had stigmata because he believed, or he believed because he had stigmata?”

She sighed, considering it. “He’d been raised to believe he was special. I don’t think there was moment—or many moments—when he *didn’t* believe he is what he is.”

“Which is?” Mulder prompted, but Scully shook her head.

“A special boy, Mulder, and let’s leave it at that.”

Mulder couldn’t let that pass, though. “Why does your faith make you uncomfortable?”

“Only around you.”

“That’s not fair.”

“Fair, Mulder?” She raised her eyebrows at him. “Does ‘fair’ enter into this? It’s a simple fact. It’s hard for me to express my faith in the face of your disbelief and disrespect.”

“I don’t disrespect your faith. You believe in God, I accept that.”


“Any less patronizingly than you accepted my belief in extraterrestrials for seven years?”

“The difference being that you’re looking for proof. You can’t find proof about God and therefore you refuse to believe a thing. That’s the antithesis of faith, Mulder. Faith is just faith. No proof required.”

“But you don’t blindly accept religion.”

“I’m a scientist,” she said with a shrug. “It’s my nature to question things.”

“I don’t see how it’s different. You’re looking for proof too.”

“I believe that God exists. I’ve even come to believe in the Devil. It’s the other things that are hard. Miracles. Heaven. Hell. Redemption,” she added softly, rubbing her fingers along the stone wall. There was a petroglyph carved into the stone: two simple figures, one with a narrow waist and stick legs, one with a wide body. She touched that one lightly and let her hand drop.

At the sadness in her voice and face, Mulder wanted to pick her up and cuddle her close. As it was, he put his hand on her back and said, “If there is a God, I don’t think he would punish you for killing Pfaster half as much as you’ve punished yourself.” She didn’t say anything but her shoulders quivered, and Mulder said, “You’ve seen an angel, Scully. That’s got to mean something.”

“Do you believe that I did? Do you believe that’s what I saw?”


“Then believe that I’ve seen demons, too, Mulder. And knowing that they both exist does not help me sleep at night.” She stepped away from his hand and opened the guidebook again, and began to read in her official voice, “At stop eleven you can see an example of the Type III masonry . . .”

Mulder didn’t follow her at first. He thought he was seeing her clearly for the first time in months. She was not the same round-cheeked girl who’d come into his life nearly eight years ago. She was not even the moonlit creature who, one not-so-distant night in April, had stripped down to her underwear, borrowed one of his t-shirts, climbed into bed beside him, spooned herself to his back, and fell asleep with her arm around him and her hand on his chest. She had been brave that night—renewed, he thought, by her realization that her past was a guide, not a curse. She’s been trying ever since to overcome the biggest and latest block to happiness, Mulder thought sadly, but she feels like she’s failing.


She stopped reading and looked at him. “Aren’t you coming?”

“Have I ever made you happy?”

“Mulder . . .”

“Have I?”

“Mulder, some of the happiest moments of my life have been with you.”

“And some of the worst have been because of me,” he said gloomily, and Scully sighed.

“If you’re going to start flagellating yourself I’d rather not hear it. Your guilt wears me out. You have done nothing to me, Mulder, nothing but love me, and I—” She stopped, gnawing her lip, and Mulder wished she would take off her sunglasses so he could see her eyes. “You tell me something: do I make you happy?”

“Every day.”

“When you’re not beating yourself up for dragging me into this crazy life.” She cupped her forehead in her hand. “I didn’t want to get into this now. We have work to do.”

“I’m sorry,” Mulder whispered, “I’m sorry. I just want you to talk to me and I—”

“Mulder,” she said, and he shut his mouth. “Hush. When we figure out what’s happened to Cristina, when we go home again, you can psychoanalyze me to your heart’s content. But not now.”

“Right.” He joined her up the trail, thinking that even when they did get home it would be more of the same: he would have to batter at her defenses to get even the smallest insight.

It’s worth it, though, he thought. It’s worth it.

“Tell me a happy moment, Scully,” he said after they had walked a while.

She said without hesitation, “Baseball practice.”

“Oh, you liked that.”

“I liked it. You and me and a sky full of stars. It was nice. It was very nice. Tell me one of yours.”

“Waking up to find you holding me.”

“That was a good night,” she said after a pause.

“One I hope to experience again.”

“You never know. Come on,” she said briskly, “I want to see more.”


They had been warned at the ranger station that the weather could change abruptly, and as they neared the end of the trail the clouds had spread out over the sky. Mulder and Scully stopped in a rest area and Scully leaned back her head, her sunglasses pushed to the top of her head and her eyes closed, her face tipped up to absorb the fading sunshine.

Mulder said after watching her a few minutes, “We should head back to Albuquerque. I’m not sure why we came.”

“You wanted to feel the energies.”

“Well, I didn’t feel anything special.”

“I did,” Scully said softly. “I feel . . . something here. Haven’t you ever been to a place that just spoke to you? Just . . . felt welcoming?”

“Yeah,” Mulder said. He kicked his heel against the dirt. “Oxford felt like home.”

She opened her eyes and looked at him. “You really loved it there, didn’t you.” It was less a question than a statement.

“I’d go back in a heartbeat if I had a good reason. You know, you’d love Ireland. Talk about your green and pleasant land. Your homeland.” He winked at her.

“Ancestral homeland. It’s a big difference.”

“Anyway,” Mulder said, “let’s go. It looks like rain.”

“Just a little longer? I’m not ready to go yet.” She shivered as the wind picked up, and Mulder thought the clouds wouldn’t wait much longer to let loose. Nonetheless, he leaned back against the stone seat with his legs stretched out, folded his hands behind his head and closed his eyes. He had just about dozed off when a thunderclap boomed, loud enough to rattle his teeth. His eyes flew open and he jumped to his feet.

“Scully, we should go,” he said firmly, though Scully was already pulling on her knapsack.

“We might make the car before the rain hits,” she said, when the heavens opened and rain poured down. It was a swift, harsh storm of the high desert, with rain so thick it was hard to see and thunderclaps loud enough to feel. Lightning streaked in forks and branches across the sky.

With no trees and only the crumbling stone walls around them, they were the highest points on this open shelf. Mulder grabbed Scully’s ha
nd. “We need to get under cover somewhere—”

She nodded. “Or into one of the pits.”

“We’ll get rained on.”

“We’re going to get rained on anyway. We need to get to a lower place.” She tugged on his hand and led him up the trail, back towards the settlement area of the pueblo. They ran at a swift trot, trying not to slip on the suddenly muddy trail.

At the first kiva they came to Mulder went down the stairs first, cringing as thunder crashed overhead. The lightning flash that accompanied it was close enough to blind him momentarily and cause colored spots to dance before his eyes. It must have startled Scully, too, because he felt Scully’s hand fly out of his. He rubbed his eyes with his fists then, still blinking and trying to focus his vision, reached out to help Scully down the rough stairs. Scully wasn’t there.

~Truly Madly Deeply: Lights in the Sky 7~

~memory: June 2000~

For a moment Mulder just stood there, his hand hanging in the air. She’d been right behind him just a second ago, her hand in his, letting him lead her down the steps. He stood on the top step and scanned the ruins. She hadn’t slipped and fallen. There was no reason for her to go into one of the other buildings—roofless, they were no safer than the open chasm of the kiva.

Mulder wiped the rain from his face and rubbed his eyes again. He cupped his hands to his mouth and shouted, “Scully! Scully!” drawing out the ‘Y’ until he ran out of breath.

He climbed out of the kiva and looked around desperately. Where could she have gone? He opened and closed his hand, focusing on the details—had it only been a few seconds ago? Their hands had been wet but held tight, and then the thunder—the lightning—and her hand was yanked from his as if someone had physically torn her away. That flash of lightning had been close enough for him to still feel the electricity in the air.

“No,” he whispered. It was too fucking unbelievable. He cupped his hands to his mouth again and shouted, “Scully! Where are you? Scully!”

There was another boom of thunder, and another bolt of lightning struck the ground just in front of him.  He scrambled away, gasping.

For several seconds lightning flashed and thunder boomed. Each streak of lightning came dangerously close to wherever Mulder had been a second before as he rolled and struggled back towards the kiva stairs.

As abruptly as the barrage had begun it ended, and Mulder lay in the mud, panting. Red, muddy water ran over the undernourished earth in rivulets. Mulder could hardly dare to raise his head, not sure what he was waiting for. His fingers dug into the mud.

Nothing happened but falling rain.

Anger surged through Mulder and he jumped to his feet. “Is that all you’ve got!” he shouted, waving his fists at the sky, his feet slipping in the mud. “Is that the best you can do, motherfuckers! You missed me! You missed me! Now give me back Scully, goddammit! Give Scully back! Give Scully ba—”

White heat enveloped him. Jumbled images surrounded him. He was a baby, and his parents played with him on a beach blanket while ocean breezes ruffled their hair. His father lifted him up to see the newborn Samantha, pink and wide-eyed, in her bassinet. Samantha fell off her trike and scraped her knee, and he gave her gum and she hugged him and stopped crying. He was lost on the Oxford campus, and a pretty girl named Abby helped him find his first class and later kissed him as they watched the rowers on the river. Patterson clapped him on the back in congratulations for bringing another criminal to justice. A serious-faced rookie held out her hand and said she looked forward to working with him. He opened his eyes in an Arctic hospital and saw her smile. She held him on a dark night in a strange forest, and sang to him so he wouldn’t be afraid. She fell asleep in his arms, spooned up like baby cats, exhausted from their ‘moving day.’ He stood in his doorway and she kissed his forehead, traced his lips with her thumbs, and whispered he was her touchstone. She held his hand while he read the record of Samantha’s final days. He woke up to find her gathering him to her, and he breathed easier knowing she would hold him all night. She sat companionably beside him, and he paid the movie no attention because he was happy to just bask in her presence. She lay on top of him on his couch and whispered between kisses that she loved him.

Hands touched him: his face, his chest, his head, his legs and arms. He thought he heard a voice: “Rest now. Just rest.”

He exhaled. He rested.


When Mulder opened his eyes he was lying face down in the mud. Warm rain pelted him through his already-soaked clothes. He spat, got up onto his knees, and scrubbed his face with the front of his shirt. He felt exhausted, light-headed, like he’d been holding his breath. He thought dizzily that he’d been struck. He could remember—something— like an hallucination. Scully had been there. Hadn’t she?

He wiped his face and looked around the plateau. Scully sat cross- legged, a few yards away from him, her arms around a dark-haired girl who was crying and kicking against the ground. The girl started screaming: “I want to go back! Let me go back! I want to go back!”

Mulder crawled across the mud and put his hand on Scully’s foot. She looked at him and shook her head, the rest of her attention focused on the girl in her arms. “Sh, sh,” she soothed her, stroking her hair. “It’s all right. We’ll take you home. It’s all right.”

“Cristina Reyes?” Mulder croaked.

“Tell them to take me back!”

Mulder let his head fall into the mud. His hand stayed on Scully’s foot, and the rain poured down on them all.


It was a dirty, wet and quiet trio that finally hiked down the trail to the rented Taurus. Cristina’s sobs had subsided into sniffles, and she accepted Mulder’s flannel shirt with a barely audible, “Thank you.” She crawled into the back seat and curled herself up into the corner.

He started to get into the driver’s side when Scully said, “I’d like to drive, Mulder.”

“Are you sure you’re up to it?”

“I feel fine. I feel better than you look.”

He had to admit she looked better than he felt, and went around the car, passing her the keys. When he was in the car, he leaned back his head, closed his eyes, and heard her start the engine and the windshield wipers. They hadn’t driven far when he heard humming.

He opened his eyes and looked at Scully in amazement. The humming came from her.

Scully never hummed. He couldn’t even get her to sing for him again, even though he’d told her time and again he’d heard it and he liked it anyway. But here she was, humming like they were coming back from a picnic. She smiled at him briefly and went on humming.

“Scully?” he said. “What do you remember?”

The humming stopped abruptly. “I remember . . .” She paused, frowning. “I’m not sure now. Memories—of course I remember memories— but I don’t remember what happened, precisely. I was aware I was someplace else . . . but all I saw, all I heard, were memories. Happy times, mostly, with my family, with my friends.” She glanced at Mulder. “With you.”

“That’s all I remember too,” Mulder said. “Good times. Things I didn’t even know I remember.”

“Exactly,” Scully said, her voice soft with wonder. “Things that happened when I was just a baby. Things I’d forgotten about.”

Cristina said from the back seat, “Wouldn’t you rather stay there than go anywhere else? Don’t you see why I want to go back?”

“But, Cristina,” Scully said gently, “what about the rest of you life? What about your family, your studies, your ambitions? What about Justin?”

“What do you know about my ambitions?” Cristina said, not disguising her hostility.

“I—” Scully glanced at Mulder. “I read your diary. We were looking for clues about what happened to you, Cristina. We wanted to be sure you weren’t planning to kill

Cristina sniffled. “Suicide is a mortal sin, Agent Scully.” She added after a moment, “Snooping should be.”

Scully chose to ignore that. “Your family was afraid you’d been murdered.”

“Is that why you guys were called in?”

“Your uncle called us. Yes.”

“Tio Carl . . .” Cristina sighed. “It’s bad enough having one father. It’s like I’ve got three.”

“What do you mean?” Scully tilted the mirror to look at Cristina’s face.

“Well, Papi, of course, Tio Carl, not only is he my uncle but he’s also police. Two authority figures in one. Justin’s the worst of all. He’s *so* protective.”

“Men can be like that.” She glanced at Mulder and he raised his eyebrows to protest his innocence.

“Latin men are worse. Men who didn’t have fathers are worst of all.” She snuffled quietly for a few minutes, then burst out, “I love Justin. But why wasn’t he taken too? What am I supposed to think about that? Is that a message? Is there something about him that I didn’t know? I love him but I’m not sure anymore that he’s the right person for me.”

“Just because he didn’t share this experience with you?”

“Yeah . . . I mean . . . Rey was taken, I was taken, you were taken, even Agent Mulder . . . but Justin wasn’t.”

“Sometimes,” Scully said slowly, “the people who want proof the most have to wait the longest.”

“Sometimes,” Mulder said, “it’s really about faith.”

Cristina wiped her face again. “I don’t know what I believe right now, Agent Mulder.”

“I don’t think any of us really know, day to day.”

“Some help you are,” she mumbled.

Scully said, “If you think that was heaven or something like it, the best way to live your life is to live it like you know you’re going back.”

“Now you sound like my grandmother.”

“Does that make me wrong?” She glanced back at Cristina in the rear view mirror.

Cristina sniffled again and said, “Do you have a tissue, Agent Scully?”


At the visitors center, they asked the park rangers to contact Cristina’s parents and tell them she was on her way home. The rangers were astounded: “We looked everywhere for you! We’ve searched up and down the canyon!” But Cristina only shrugged and asked if there was a place she could wash her face.

They’d lost a few hours up at the pueblo. It had been early afternoon when the storm hit, and now the clouds were clearing away to reveal a dark and star-filled night, complete with a full moon. Scully continued humming softly as she drove.

When they reached Cristina’s neighborhood her house was ablaze with lights: paper bags with candles set in sand lined the front walk, and small white Christmas lights hung from the front porch. Her parents, Carl, Rey, Justin and many others waited on the front lawn, and there was even a large yellow ribbon tied to the palm tree by the garage.

“Look at all the people,” Cristina whispered. She and Mulder had changed seats during the drive, and now she leaned forward to watch their approach through the windshield.

“They’ve missed you,” Scully said gently. “They’ve been afraid for you.”

Cristina blinked her eyes rapidly, still watching the approaching house. “Justin,” she breathed and threw open the door as soon as Scully brought the car to a stop.

The boy was the first to reach the car, and he wrapped Cristina up his arms. He lifted her up and spun her around. “Crissy.” He held her face in his hands. “Crissy.” She smiled up at him and didn’t say anything, burying her head in his chest.

Mulder and Scully were slower to get out of the car, stiff from their strange day. They watched as Jim and Salma satisfied themselves that Cristina was really there, and then the girl’s mother came around the car and hugged them both, despite Scully’s protests of their muddy state.

“Won’t you come inside? We have dinner—the rest of the family is here, Jim’s mother and our other children and their families—”

“Thank you,” Scully said sincerely, “but we need baths and sleep.”

“Then do come by before you leave Albuquerque. We want to thank you somehow.”

“It’s just our job,” Mulder said, smiling.

Salma said hesitantly, “Agents—where was she? The ranger who called us said she was all right, but do we need to take her to a hospital?”

“A doctor’s examination couldn’t hurt,” Scully said, “but it can wait until tomorrow. As you can see—” They all looked to where Cristina was being hugged by brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews. “She’s strong.”

“She looks like she did before she was diagnosed,” Salma said, clasping her hands together. “But where was she? What happened? The ranger couldn’t tell us.”

Scully eyes met Mulder’s. She started to speak then stopped. Mulder said, “She was safe.”

Salma considered that, then smiled. “All right,” she said, hugged them both again, and went back to her daughter.

Mulder and Scully were quiet as they got back into the car and started to drive away. Mulder said eventually, “We can probably get a flight back tonight if we call as soon as we get back to the motel.”

“They’ll charge us for the rooms tonight anyway, Mulder. We may as well stay one more night.”

“All right.”

She stopped at a red light. The car rumbled reassuringly. Scully said, “Where were we?”

“Pueblo Bonito, Scully.”

“Don’t be a smartass. I’m serious. We were elsewhere. Weren’t we?”

“Maybe. There are those who believe that the spirit world surrounds the material world, that is just exists on a different plane.”

“A spirit plane.”


“With Anasazi thunder gods.”

“Would you have an easier time believing this if it were the fountain at Lourdes or some other place purported to perform miracles?”

“No, I would not,” Scully said, as the light finally changed and she stepped on the gas. “If we were investigating Lourdes, I’d still want to check the facts. Someone throwing aside their crutches and saying ‘I can walk’ does not a miracle make.”

“But a girl so weakened by cancer that she had to walk with help, now being able to walk on her own, doesn’t that tell you something?”

“You’re arguing *for* miracles now?” There was a faint smile around her eyes.

“I’m just trying to figure out what happened, same as you. The facts are simple, really. She was sick. Now she’s not.”

“I’d wait until she gets a checkup before I’d make that assumption.”

“Okay,” Mulder said patiently, “she was sick, now she feels better.”

“I can live with that.” They drove in silence for several blocks, then Scully said, “I feel better too.”

“How so?”

She shrugged, keeping her eyes on the road. “Just better. Better in general. Better than I’ve felt for weeks. Months.”

“Oh,” Mulder said softly. “That’s . . . that’s really good.”

“Don’t you feel that way? Just peaceful?”

“Serene could accurately describe my state of mind, but I put that more to finding the girl than anything else.”

“There is that, of course, but I . . .” She sighed. “I don’t know how to describe it. I want to do things. I want to climb on furniture. I want to sing.” She glanced at him, still smiling faintly. “I won’t, of course.”

“You know I love to hear you sing.”

“Right.” She watched the road, and said in a soft voice that Mulder imagined she used in confession, “I want to take a bubble bath and drink champagne. I want to eat apples until the juice drips down my chin. I want to run until I lose my breath. I want to turn cartwheels until I’m dizzy. I want to dance until my feet leave the ground. I want to jump for joy.” She paused and glanced at him, then said in the same soft tone , “I want to fuck. Yes. Most definitely. I want to fuck.”

Mulder opened his mouth and found that he had lost his voice. Scully smiled at him, a tiny half-smile, and returned her attention to the road. Mulder licked his lips, gulped and cleared his throat. He said, “Okay. What do you want to do first?”

~Truly Madly Deeply: Lights in the Sky 8~

memory: June 2000~

They chose a restaurant nearer to the suburbs than downtown. It was bright and busy, with a noisy, crowded bar. It advertised itself as South American, with items on its menu grouped by country: Chile, Mexico, Ecuador, Guatemala, and so on. The decor was simple, utilitarian even: the cement floor was bare as were most of the walls, except one that was stacked with boxes of Corona beer. More of these boxes also divided the dining area from the bar, four or five boxes high. Pinatas of various shapes and sizes hung from the exposed beams in the roof. The chairs were well-padded and comfortable, the staff was friendly and the food was perfect: fresh salsa, zucchini and avocado salad; tomato, lime and tortilla soup.

Mulder wondered if any of the other patrons in the restaurant thought he was a hustler taking advantage of a runaway. With no makeup and her hair tucked demurely behind her ears, Scully looked even younger than usual and she ate as if she’d been starving for a week. His own dinner finished, Mulder leaned back in the booth and watched in bemusement as Scully ordered another helping of stuffed tomatoes and a refill of her lime soda.

“You know, there’s always breakfast,” he said eventually.

Scully shrugged. “I’m hungry.”

“I can tell.”

On the surface it was just another dinner with Scully, one of thousands they’d eaten together. But beneath that surface ran an implicit promise that had never been there before. After countless half-and-half pizzas, boxes of take-out Thai, barbecued ribs, yogurt cups with bee pollen and bagels with light cream cheese—after eight years together—after cancer and Antarctica and too many brushes with death, it was finally going to happen.

Mulder smiled to himself. It, like he was a kid again who didn’t even dare think the word. Sex, he thought with precision. Better than just sex. Sex with Scully. He pressed his glass of iced tea to the side of his face and closed his eyes, exhaling slowly. There were some questions he wanted answered before the evening led to that particular conclusion.

“Do you want to share some dessert?” Scully said.

Mulder opened his eyes. “No, thanks.”

“These look good: empanadas de peras.”

“Which means?”

“Pear pastries.”

“No, thanks, though,” Mulder said. “Go ahead and get one if you want one.”

“I guess it can wait. I don’t want to overdo.”

Mulder refrained from smiling. No, honey, he thought, three helpings of stuffed tomatoes was not overdoing, not at all.

“Hey, Mulder.”


“I just realized what’s different about you tonight.”


“The bruise on your forehead.” She traced a circle on her own forehead. “It’s gone.”

“Huh. Must’ve healed.”

“It was there this morning. It looked to me you had another day or two to go before it faded completely. But now it’s gone.”

“Whaddya know,” Mulder said and sipped his tea.

The restaurant’s piped-in music centered on pop music with a Latin flavor, but when a new song began Scully’s eyes grew wide and she scooted out of the booth. “Patsy Cline! Dance with me, Mulder.”

“I thought you didn’t like country.”

“Patsy Cline transcends country. Dance with me,” she commanded, holding out her hand. Mulder took it and slid out of his seat. Scully wrapped her arms around him and pressed her cheek to his chest. He held her loosely and bent his head over hers. They swayed beside their table, not quite in time to the music, and Patsy sang mournfully that she was crazy for tryin’, crazy for cryin’, crazy for loving you.

Mulder put his hands on her waist. She was wearing a white cotton t- shirt and jeans, and she smelled of a light soap. She was beautiful tonight, in a way he rarely got to see: the unadorned, unguarded Scully, sweet as an empanada de peras, lovely as a summer’s day, his for the asking.

If only he could get up the nerve to ask.

Scully gave a happy sigh and rubbed her cheek against his chest. “Why have we never danced together before?”

“It never came up, I guess. We’re getting looked at.”

“So?” She slid her hands down his sides to cup his ass, and smiled at the patrons at the next table who were openly gawking at them. “You’d think they’ve never seen young love before.”

“Or relatively young love.” He bent her back into a dip, which made her laugh.

“New love,” she said when he brought her up straight again.

“Reclaimed love,” he said softly, and she smiled as wide as he had ever seen her smile.

“Let’s go.” Her fingers slid into one of his belt loops and tugged. “I’m ready to go.”


As they passed through the quiet suburban streets on the way back to the motel, Scully nearly jumped out of the car in excitement. The cause was an elementary school, lit by street lamps that illuminated the playground and surrounding combination soccer-baseball field. “Let’s go on the swings, Mulder!”

He parked the car in the school’s lot, next to the playground. Scully threw open her door and pulled off her shoes, abandoning them in the back seat before she ran, laughing like a sprite, across the grass. As Mulder watched she smoothly turned a few cartwheels. “Mulder,” she called to him softly when she was upright again. “Mulder, come on.”

He locked up the car and joined her at a much slower pace. The toys on the playground were made primarily of tough molded plastic, in a form meant to stand in for a fort or a ship or a treehouse. There was a net to climb on made of nylon rope, a pole to slide down, and a ladder that led to the highest level of the fort, where one slid down on a spiral slide. There was a swingset, a tall straight slide, and a roundabout in the center of the playground.

By the time he joined her Scully was already on one of the swings, leaning back as her toes pointed to the sky, swinging high above the ground. “Take your shoes off, Mulder! Feel the grass beneath your feet.”

“What is it about going barefoot that is automatically a symbol of liberation?” Mulder wondered out loud.

“Going barefoot harkens back to the carefree days of childhood,” Scully said as if it was something he should know.

“I always had to wear shoes.” He leaned against the pole that supported the swingset.

“All the more reason for you to go barefoot.” She slowed her swing, then stopped and stood holding onto the swing’s chains. “Why are you so glum, Mulder? You’re practically pouting.”

“I feel a little ridiculous. But you go ahead and enjoy yourself, don’t mind me.”

“Oh, don’t be like that. I can’t enjoy myself if you’re not. Don’t you feel like celebrating?”

“What are we celebrating?”

“Everything, Mulder,” Scully said with wide, astonished eyes. “Successful closure to a case with no loss of life or limb. The two of us being here, alone and unscathed, with plenty to look forward to as the evening progresses. The sheer joy of being a whale. Ahoooo,” she finished, in what he guessed was supposed to be an imitation of whale song.

“You’re going to attract coyotes, caterwauling like that.”

Scully started giggling and clapped her hands over her mouth. “Mulder,” she gasped after a few minutes, “Mulder, what are we arguing about? Take your shoes off, play with me. I bet I can swing higher than you can.”

“I really don’t feel like playing around.”

“Why not? It’s fun. You can be playful, I’ve seen it. I love it, too, you know.” She sighed and took his hands. “All right, if you don’t want to play, let’s talk.”

“I don’t especially want to talk, either.”

“Now you’re just being stubborn. Come on.” She led him to the roundabout in the center of the playground. “I’ve always loved these. Lie down, let’s look at the stars.”

He sighed but followed her, and they lay down on the roundabout, their heads pointed towards the center. Mulder’s feet turned them slowly, and eventually Scully took his hand again.

“What did they show you, up on the pueblo? Do you remember?”

“I told you already. Memories.”

“Tell me in detail.”

“Scully . . .” He sighed. “There were a few things from my childhood. Before Samantha disappeared, mainly. There was a striking absence of memories of Phoebe or Diana.  It wasn’t too bad, as hallucinations go. We’ve had worse.” Beside him Scully sighed, and he lightly squeezed her hand.  “Most of my happy moments were—are with you.”

“Me too.” She turned her head to smile at him. “That’s the kinds of things they showed me, too.”

“It’s interesting, though, isn’t it, that the four of us had different reactions to the same experience. You’re ecstatic, Rey was empowered, Cristina didn’t want to return—”

“And you’re melancholy. I think it’s simple, for us at least. I don’t know enough about the children to make a guess.”

“Rey saw what other people had been doing for him all his life and learned that he has strength of his own now.”

“And Cristina?”

Mulder foot dragged slowly through the blue-gray pebbles and pushed them into another lazy spin. “She didn’t want to leave the safety of— of wherever we were. Maybe she was afraid of going back to the pain she’d been living with. Maybe her memories of Justin weren’t as happy as she thought they ought to be and she’s worried about their future together. Or maybe they were more so. Knowing you’ve found your one true love . . . that’s not something to take lightly.”

“Especially at that age,” Scully murmured.

“At any age,” Mulder said. “What’s your theory about us?”

“Well, like I said, it’s simple. Happy memories fill me with joy and you with regret. That’s why I feel rejuvenated and blissful, and you’re feeling quiet and introspective. I can understand it, really. You’ve lost almost everything that’s ever made you happy.”

“Yes,” Mulder whispered. “Almost.”

Scully turned onto her side and propped her head on her elbow, studying him. “I think I know what this is about.”

“Oh, you do.”

“You’re upset about the whole sex thing.”

“No,” Mulder protested, and she gave him an impatient look. “Okay. Yes. I was thinking all during dinner that afterwards we’d go back to the hotel and we’d—um—”

“Fuck like bunnies?”

“Basically.” He licked his lips and plunged onward, “And I keep asking myself if it’s a good idea, you see. I’m not sure that it is.”

“You’re not?” she said, visibly startled. “Why?”

“Because you’re—it’s like you’re on something. You’re bouncy and giddy and you’re just not the Scully I’m used to.”

“That’s because you’re used to depressed and in-turmoil Scully and I don’t feel depressed or in turmoil. I feel peaceful and joyful and quite filled with love, especially towards you, my favorite person in the whole wide world. I’d really like to show you that without you getting hung up on it.” She lay back down and folded her hands just beneath her breasts. “I know what you’re afraid of, Mulder.”

“Is that so.”

“Yes. You’re afraid that tomorrow I’m going to tell you our making love is a mistake. Am I right?”

He sighed and pushed them into another slow spin.

“Mulder . . .” She turned onto her stomach and kissed his forehead. “I know you’ve been hurt by people you loved dearly. I know you don’t want to be hurt again. I don’t ever want to be the one to hurt you.”

“It’s not just that.”

“What else is it, then?”

“What if you’re right, Scully, that this is the real you? What if this is the Scully you always should have been, instead of depressed and in-turmoil Scully?” She started to answer and he laid his fingers over her lips. “What if we make love and then we go home and it all comes back to you: the worry and the pain and the never-ending battles. How will I live with myself, knowing you’re unhappy and it’s because you stayed with me?” His throat felt tight, and he whispered, “How can I love you the way you deserve, knowing all it brings you is pain?”

Her eyes searched his. “Do you want me to leave you?”

“No.” He wrapped his arm around her and buried his face in her neck. “No, never.”

“Do you want to leave?”


She inhaled and released it slowly. “I’ve made my choice, Mulder: I want you and I want the work. I refuse to be afraid.” She stood up from the roundabout and faced him. “Do you want a life filled with longing and regret, or do you want a safe haven?” She opened up her arms and whispered, “I will be safe, Mulder, I will always be safe.”

There was nothing inherently dangerous about this choice, he knew: loving Scully would be sweet and tender and safe, as she said. It was the outside factors that he feared: manipulation, threats, separation, their relationship used against them for control or worse.

But, he thought, how can I live without her any longer?

He took her hands and pulled her to him. She came willingly and he pressed his cheek to her belly. She kissed his hair. “Don’t be sad, Mulder,” she cajoled him gently. “I want you to be happy too.”

“I am happy,” he said, and it was mostly true.


In the corner of the playground, farthest from both the school and the street, grew a grouping of oak trees. Scully took Mulder there, leading him by the hand and then kneeling on the grass. She seemed like a creature not of this world, made of cotton candy and stardust. She was magic, she was sweet, she was sparkling and delicate, and so beautiful that the purity of her face blinded him like staring into the sun. He couldn’t stop touching her for fear she would disappear like a faerie woman in a tale.

She kissed him under the moonlight and tree branches. Her mouth tasted like limes. She touched him like she was afraid to bruise him: the backs of her fingers against his cheekbones, her palm down his chest, her fingertips teasing his stomach. Her hair spread like a silky banner against the grass.

Her fingers combed through the hair at the back of his neck as they kissed. She gently pushed him away with a hand to his cheek. He watched, his eyes wide, as she stood and removed her t-shirt and jeans, her plain white bra and her tiny cotton panties. She smiled at him. “Say something, Mulder.”

“You’re beautiful.” He crawled to her on his knees and held her by the waist. She had a true hourglass figure, he thought, lush breasts and hips with a tiny waist he could nearly span with his hands. She smiled at him still and stroked his hair as he kissed her from her knees to the undercurves of her breasts. He sucked on the curves of her hips and tickled her navel with his tongue. Scully’s skin, he thought, trailing his fingertips over her, Scully’s muscles, Scully’s bones.

She got down onto her knees and kissed him again, holding his face in her hands. She pulled his t-shirt from his jeans and slid her hands up his body, taking the shirt with them. She kissed his shoulders and chest, his neck, his lips. She lay back, silvery in the moonlight, and pulled him to her. “I want to feel you on top of me.”

“I’ll crush you.”

“Then crush me.” Her clever fingers worked open the top button of his jeans and his hips gave a sharp shallow thrust against her belly. Her smile deepened around her eyes and she unbuttoned him quickly. She pushed his clothes down to his knees and he kicked them off the rest of the way.

Her fingers were cool on the hot skin of his cock. She arched up towards him, guiding him to her warm moist vulva, and Mulder held himself over her with his arms straight. “Don’t you want to wait?”

“For what?” Her fingers slid downward and caressed his balls. “I’m ready. I’d say you are.”

“But—but—” He had some vague notion of extended foreplay, of making her come again and again, of making love to her until the sun came up.

“Babe, in case you haven’t noticed, we are somewhat pressed for time.” As if to illustrate her point she arched again, driving her hips against his thighs. “I don’t want my memories of Albuquerque to include arrest for public nudity.”

“Then maybe we should go.” He thought, though, that he’d sooner die than leave the warm soft cradle of her thighs.

I want to stay.”

“You little exhibitionist, you.”

She laughed softly and then sighed as he slid into her. She was slick and tight, as welcoming as a good morning kiss. Her fingertips swirled over his back.

He kissed her mouth and touched her face. She opened her lips and took his finger into her mouth, and began to suck on it in time to his thrusts. Mulder groaned. He pulled his finger from her mouth and traced the damp tip over her mouth, her eyes and her chin. He kissed her again and again.

Her eyes locked onto his. Even in the dark he could see the flush blooming in her cheeks, how her pupils had all but swallowed the irises. A smile danced over her lips. She closed her eyes and leaned back her head. “Ah,” she breathed, and again, “ah. Ah.”

One hand left his back and her fingers dug into the grass. The fingers of the other gripped his neck. The slap of their bellies became faster, louder. He grunted into her ear.

Scully pulled his mouth to hers. “Kiss me.” Her tongue darted over his face.

He had a thousand questions: are you going to come? Do you want me to do something else, something more? Are you comfortable? Are you cold? Do you love me? He only kissed her.

He touched her more firmly, letting his fingertips linger where she seemed to like it most. He tasted her breasts, licked them into firm peaks. She quivered beneath his hands. Her entire body hummed like a plucked guitar string. He thought if he stroked her enough she just might sing.

He chased that elusive moan, tried to catch up to it. He wanted it. He wanted to hold it in his hand.

He whispered, “Tell me,” stroking deeply within her, and that seemed to unleash something in her mind or in her womb or somewhere between. She grabbed his face. The flesh surrounding his cock clenched and pulsed. Her lips moved, then opened and her voice poured out.

“Ahh. Yesss. Ahhh.”

Mulder closed his eyes in gratitude and felt his orgasm move through him like a hand down his spine. He shuddered through every second of it as he poured himself into her.

“Yes,” he agreed, and let his head fall against her neck. She stroked his hair and kissed his forehead. The wind blew softly through the tree branches above them, where the moon was round and full.

~Truly Madly Deeply: Lights in the Sky 9~

December 21, 2000

When Mulder woke up, it was dark outside. His face was sticky with tear trails, and he scrubbed his face with his sleeve. The Eeyore doll was still tucked in the crook of his arm, and he felt his expression mirror the toy’s dejection. “You and me both, buddy,” he said, and set the toy on his pillows to guard the room with all its floppy-eared dignity.

Okay, he thought. Time to stop pitying yourself and get back to work. Time to find Scully.

He took a shower first, letting the water pound him while he considered the avenues still open. First, the obvious: a pregnant woman would need a doctor. Assuming she was unharmed—and he had to believe that she was, he had to cling to that hope—some doctor somewhere would attend to her, perform tests on her: ultrasounds, maybe an amniocentesis, he didn’t know what else. There would be regular doctor’s visits, prescriptions, eventually a birth certificate. It was just a question of finding the records.

Scully had told him of the Smoking Man’s offer of a private hospital and a personal doctor. Their records might be harder to find, but surely they could be hacked into as well.

He sighed heavily, soaping up his washcloth. This method of searching would take months, even with the Lone Gunmen’s hacking genius. They didn’t have months.

First order of business, he decided: call Frohike, to start searching medical records for any traces of Scully. Any pregnant woman fitting Scully’s description could be her. He wished that he knew more about her condition; if there had been anything unusual going on with the pregnancy that they could also look for—but if there had been, she would not have been working as hard as she did. There could be any number of small, red-headed women with normal pregnancies in the country right now.

He didn’t think an official missing persons report would be any use, but he would file one anyway. She was still a federal officer: it couldn’t hurt to have the field offices aware of her description.

And, he thought, I’ve got to find Krycek. That bastard’s mixed up in this. He’s got to know something. He grimaced, scrubbing shampoo into his scalp almost violently. He hated the thought of Krycek spying on them, observing their lives, listening to them talk, maybe even watching them make love.

The mere thought made him gag, and he rinsed his mouth with water from the shower head and spat it out. Please, he thought, don’t let it have gone that far. Allow us some privacy.

He was certain, however, that Krycek had at least some of the answers he sought. If not where Scully was, he might know what the Smoking Man planned. Maybe Krycek knew at least that Scully was safe.

Mulder got out of the shower and dried off. He wrapped the towel around his waist and padded back to his bedroom. He did not want to turn to his enemy for help. He didn’t want to know what Krycek would ask for in return.

Boxer shorts and t-shirt in hand, Mulder sat down despondently on his bed. What kind of a world is this, to bring a child into? he thought. This dark life, full of deception and danger. No place for an innocent and helpless child.

Nonetheless, a child was coming and somehow he had to find a place where she would be safe and loved, and bring her there. Our child, he thought, and then, fiercely, my child. *My* child.

Again that strange overwhelming feeling arose in his chest, bringing tears to his eyes and strengthening his resolve. He dressed quickly. He would grab some fast food while he drove to the Lone Gunmen’s lair. He would sleep when the wheels were in motion. He would rest, truly rest, only when Scully was safe in his arms, when he could feel the heat of their child beneath his hand.

My child, he thought again, and felt ten feet tall and stronger than John Henry and Paul Bunyan combined. This must be what fatherhood feels like, he thought. He liked the feeling.


“How could you lose her?” Frohike said in disbelief. “She’s not an umbrella you leave in a taxi.”

“Don’t start with me, Melvin,” Mulder said, and Frohike scowled at the ‘Melvin.’ “Every second we spend bickering is one second more we don’t find her.”

“You should have called us when she first went missing,” Byers said gently.

“Well, I’m here now, heart in my hand. I need your help.” He exhaled. “There’s more. There’s . . . a new development.”

All three of his friends looked askance at each other, then back at him. At moments like this they reminded him of Macbeth’s witches stewing around their cauldron, even in their pajamas. He almost expected them to tell him no man born of woman could help him.

He said, “She’s pregnant,” and all three of them visibly started.

“Is she all right?” said Byers.

“How?” Langly said.

“You?” said Frohike.

“Yes, the usual way, yes,” Mulder said. “It’s why she went into hiding in the first place. The threat is to all three of us, but especially to the baby. I’ll tell you the whole story, I promise, but can we start work first? I was thinking medical records. The Cancerman said something about a private doctor.”

“When did you talk to him?” said Byers, dismayed.

“He talked to Scully. He made threats. The usual vague threats.  He told her he wanted to take her away to where he could take care of her.”

“Do you believe him?” Frohike growled.

“I don’t know. He’s made gestures like this before, you know. He’s told me he likes her. I don’t trust him at all but I have to believe he doesn’t intend to harm her.”

“That’s assuming,” Byers said, hesitating, “that’s assuming that it was the Smoking Man who took her.”

Mulder closed his eyes. “Don’t. Oh,
God. Please don’t.”

“We’ll focus on him,” Byers said. He patted Mulder’s shoulder awkwardly, then the three of them moved away, talking in low voices. Mulder heard things like “fetal tissue” and “genetic therapy” and wanted to plug his ears.

He knew Byers was right, though. Anyone could have her. It might already be too late.

By dawn the search for Scully through the Lone Gunmen’s underground connections had begun. Mulder had faith in them: if there was anything to find, they would find it. He, too, had spent the early morning hours making phone calls and describing her over and over, until the words started to run together and lose their shape. Small. Red-haired. Blue-green eyes. A beauty spot over her mouth. A tattoo on her back. Pregnant.

It seemed strange to him that he knew every scar on her body, that he could list off their exact locations. Like the gunshot wound to her belly that had made him weep, the first time he got a good look at it. And she had quietly soothed his tears, placed his hand over her heart. I’m here, she’d said.

Byers brought him a cup of coffee, which Mulder gratefully took. Byers said, clutching his own cup, “How far along is she? Do you know?”

“Four months. The baby’s due in May.” Mulder sipped his coffee. It was black, bitter, and it burned his tongue. He welcomed the pain, minor as it was.

Byers said, “If anyone was interested in harvesting the embryo, it’s too late.”

“That’s very comforting,” Mulder said dryly.

“Was the ovum provided by a donor?”

“No.” Mulder sighed. “We weren’t doing any fertility treatments. She wasn’t on any medication. We weren’t trying to get pregnant, we both just thought she couldn’t. We didn’t take any precautions.”

“I see.” They both sipped their coffee. “So, you don’t know where the ovum came from.”

“I assume from Scully. Which I know we all thought was impossible. When we were last in New Mexico, in June, something happened to us . . .”

Byers nodded. “You lost a few hours in Chaco Canyon. Scully told us.”

“She did?”

“Yes . . .” He suddenly looked like he wished he’s stayed silent, and drank more of his coffee in a gulp. “Remember when she was in that fenderbender in August? She came to us afterwards and said there was something she only trusted us with. She—the chip’s gone, Mulder.”

Mulder’s hands clenched around the cup and coffee sloshed over his fingers. “No.”

“She wasn’t worried,” Byers protested, ignoring the splash of coffee on his slippers. “She wasn’t surprised. She said she was glad. She said she never felt really safe with it there, especially with what happened with Cassandra Spender—”

“This just gets worse and worse,” Mulder said. “So did she ask you to monitor her for cancer symptoms?”

Byers gave a tiny nod. “But she said she had a feeling it was just a precaution, that nothing would come of it. She just didn’t want to worry you.”


“She said she’d felt free of it since New Mexico and the x-ray to her neck after the accident confirmed it. Maybe even at that point she’d begun to suspect her body was returning to normal. Did she say anything, do anything, that struck you as strange? You know, about—” He broke off, blushing.

“Menstruation? It seemed normal to me. She didn’t tell me that it wasn’t. Of course, with Scully, it’s the things she doesn’t say that you have to worry about. I should have known anyway. Even when nothing’s going on with her you should suspect something is.”

“Anyway,” Byers said, looking like the last thing he wanted to discuss was his friend’s menstrual cycle with the man currently having sex with her, “she told us your theory about the spirit plane and the healing place. She told us she thought we should watch you both for anything unusual. So we took some blood. We ran some screens. She was perfectly healthy. She wasn’t pregnant yet,” he added. “We didn’t know until you told us.”

“And what did you watch me for?” Mulder said quietly.

“Headaches. Hypersensitivity to sound. All your symptoms from last year. We couldn’t see anything wrong with either of you.”

“There hasn’t been anything,” Mulder said, though it hadn’t truly occurred to him before that moment. He hadn’t had so much as a runny nose for months. He’d been sleeping soundly, which he’d put to Scully’s company. He hadn’t had a nightmare until the day Scully disappeared.

Body and soul, he thought. Both of us. We’ve still got the scars but the wounds are healed.

He said, “The smoking man knows about the baby. He has almost from the first. I assumed he found Scully because the chip led him there, but obviously he found out some other way. What I need to find out is how he knew in the first place and how he found her again.”

“I don’t know if we can do that.”

“Try. Please. It may give us a clue about what he intends. Try Scully’s gynecologist, see if he has some connection to any front organization we know about, Rousch, Prangen, any of them. I’ll get you the name of her doctor in Leslie, too.”

“Scully wouldn’t choose a doctor with shady connections.”

“She may not have known about any shady connections. The doctors themselves may not have been involved, but any of their staff, even their bookkeepers, could have been. Somewhere, there’s a paper trail.”

“Right. Okay,” Byers said. He drained his coffee cup. “I’ll get right on it.”

“I’ve got to go. I’ll get in touch with you boys later.” He got up from the couch and started to leave, then paused at the door. “Thanks for the coffee.”

“Anytime,” Byers said, and let Mulder out.


Mulder didn’t know what shamed him more: his not knowing they were being watched or his not noticing that she was pregnant. I should have seen it, he thought over and over again. But they’d let their usual caution drop and he had been willing to believe her when she said her fatigue and vomiting was due to flu.

He saw it now for what it was, though. He saw as well that Scully— his Scully who feared nothing, who had a spine of steel, who had kept her head in the face of a madman enough to speak to him in the only language he would listen to, who had delivered a child in a hurricane —had been afraid to tell him she was going to have a baby.

That bothered him more than any of the rest. Maybe in some earlier relationships she and her lover had planned their future together to the point of naming their children, but he and Scully had never had a conversation like that. In fact, they had never really talked about the future at all. Their relationship had been one endless ‘now.’

No wonder she’d been so hesitant to accept his ring in Alabama. She wasn’t a mind reader: there was no way she could have known he fantasized about their future together as often as he did about the taste of her skin.

All that would change, he vowed. As soon as he found her he would tell her everything: all his hopes and dreams about their family-to- be. And he would find a safe place for her, where they could live those dreams out in peace. At that moment, he could imagine nothing more beautiful than himself and Scully as grandparents, still arguing between kisses.

At that moment, really, he could imagine nothing more beautiful than one kiss from Scully and her gentle hand in his hair.

Meantime, he had driven home. He dreaded returning to his apartment: right now it was so gray and desolate, teeming with memories. The elevator where she had once jumped into his arms and kissed him until they reached his floor; the hall where once she had almost kissed him and instead collapsed, stung by that bee; the door he had once leaned her against and kissed her until her knees went weak; the entryway where more than once they had fallen and had quick, fierce sex because it was too far to the couch—and on and on.

His apartment had once been filled with love and though nothing physical had changed, now it was empty.

Jittery with coffee and lack of sleep, he wondered if it was wise to go into w
ork. He could make the same calls from home, and he didn’t want to face Skinner yet. Telling Skinner he had found Scully and lost her again would be second only to telling her mother.

Mulder opened the door to his bedroom, and whipping his gun from its holster, pointed it at Alex Krycek, who stood looking at the CDs stacked next to the TV.

“Oh,” Krycek said. “You’re finally back.”

“What the fuck do you want? Don’t touch that,” he barked as Krycek moved towards the bed.

Krycek picked up the Eeyore anyway. “When did you start collecting stuffed animals? No, don’t tell me: this is Scully’s.”

“It’s for the baby. I hope you’re here to tell me what I need to know.”

“What do you need to know?” Krycek said, smirking at him.

“Don’t fuck with me, Alex.” He advanced on Krycek, his gun following the other man’s every move.

“Relax, *Fox.*” He grinned at Mulder, sitting down on the bed and leaning back on his elbows. “This is a lot nicer than that other piece of shit you used to have. I bet Scully likes this bed a lot.”

Mulder stepped closer, pressing the point of the gun against Krycek’s forehead. “Quit fucking around and tell me where Scully is.”

“Ever notice that you mix sex and violence a lot? It’s a wonder Scully isn’t a mass of bruises when you’re finished with her.”

“Stop it,” Mulder whispered. “Stop it or I swear to God I will pull this trigger and I don’t care what you know.”

“She’s safe,” Krycek said calmly. “She knows that I know, and she knows I’ve come to tell you. We have a plan. Want to hear it? And put that thing away before you hurt somebody.”

Mulder hesitated, then holstered his gun. “Talk,” he said.

end part II

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