I shut the door of the autopsy room and pressed my back against the wall.
No one should ever murder a child.
I closed my eyes and slid down the wall, into a chair. I leaned forward and lowered my head, elbows resting on my knees.
I have done hundreds of autopsies, many on children. I have learned to professionally distance myself from it. But ever since Emily, I found it difficult when a child was the victim. Whatever monsters I've chased don't compare to the sheer cruelty of murdering a child.
I lifted my head and stared at Mulder's shoes. Damn. I didn't want him to see me like this.
"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, Mulder. Just tired." I looked up at him. Mulder extended his hands and I grasped them. He pulled me up. I wanted to fall into his arms, to feel the security I found there. But, it was my self-imposed ban on tampering with our professional relationship that prevented this. I was still working. I straightened my lab coat and took a deep breath. "I finished the autopsy."
"Elise Matthews, age 15, died of decapitation. Her breasts were removed after death. There were no signs of sexual assault or battery. Preliminary toxicology shows traces of Rohipnol, which was probably used to sedate her. I should get the test results back in the morning." I said, my voice a professional monotone. I leaned back against the door, folded my arms and stared up at him.
There was no one in the hallway, given the late hour. Mulder's fingers brushed a stray lock of hair that escaped from my ponytail out of my eyes. "I know you haven't eaten yet. Want to get a late dinner? I'll update you, you can update me."
His eyes were soft, pleading with me. I knew what he was feeling, I was feeling it too. We hadn't seen each other much in the last three days. And I missed him. I'd flown into Boston this afternoon, just to do the autopsy. Despite Kersh's assignments of mundane and trivial work, occasionally we were put on a real case. Mulder was requested by the Boston PD, not because of any X-File, but because he was an expert profiler.
I reached for Mulder's wrist, looking at his watch. It was well past 8:00 p.m. "Late dinner it is, Mulder. Let me change out of these scrubs and I'll meet you out front in about ten minutes."
"This guy is one sick son of a bitch," Mulder said, as we waited for our food.
He tapped his long fingers against the table. We had found a small, bistro grill not too far from the hotel. We sat across from each other, in the booth back in a dark corner. Our legs and feet were entwined under the table, providing some kind of contact between us. I needed to be connected to him.
"What kind of profile have you drawn?" I asked.
"He's a white male, approximately 18-36 years old, probably from a middle income family. He's intelligent, his victims appear to be chosen for a specific reason. But there doesn't appear to be a set pattern to them. It's ritualistic, and he seems to take great care in placing them in postures or settings where he wants them to be found. He's proud of what he does, he marks them with a single taper candle as a calling card."
"With Elise, she was deliberately unconscious and her body prepared before he beheaded her. The gown she was placed in was pure white, and her breasts were carefully removed after death." I added grimly. She'd been dead for about two weeks before she was found a room of an old, vacant hotel.
"I'd be inclined to think he's reenacting something against women, a misogynist, but his third victim was male," Mulder said thoughtfully. "There's must another pattern, I just don't see it yet."
"Our flight leaves for D.C. at three tomorrow. I'll have some lab reports back in time," I said. I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. "Tomorrow, I want to go with you. I want to see her, talk to her."
"Mrs. Matthews?" Mulder asked.
"Yes," I replied. I folded my hands and pressed them to my lips. Fleeting thoughts of Emily passed in my head. I had been a mother once, all too briefly. And my child was taken from me as well.
I vigorously rubbed a towel against my head, drying my hair when I heard a knock on the door. I tightened the belt of my robe and walked to the door. I peered through the small hole and saw Mulder standing in the hallway.
I opened the door a crack.
"Hey Scully, the Playboy channel isn't working in my room. Can I watch it in here with you?" he asked, eagerly. He had changed from his usual FBI suit to jeans and a flannel shirt.
"Mulder," I said warily. "It's late, you really shouldn't be here."
"Scully," he said quietly. His fingers pried the door open a little farther. "I haven't seen you all week."
My mind played over why he should go. Kersh. Discovery. Rules. Regulations. Separation. Dismissal. All were losing to the one reason for him to stay.
"I know I can't stay long, it's too risky," Mulder whispered, sensing my reservations.
I nodded in understanding, it was too risky. Technically, we were off duty. But we were staying under FBI accommodations. I had learned to take whatever I could from life. It took so much from us already. If we had an hour, then we had that. I opened the door and let him in.
Mulder proceeded to the windows and make sure all the drapes were closed. He searched around for surveillance devices. I had already swept the room earlier, Mulder's habits were starting to rub off on me.
"All clear?" I asked, walking into the bathroom to brush out my hair. I could see his reflection through the mirror.
"Yep," Mulder sat down on the bed, leaning back against the pillows. He picked up the remote and turned the television on. He pulled out a bag of sunflower seeds from his shirt pocket and placed one in his mouth. "You don't get the Playboy channel, either."
I smiled to myself in the mirror. "I thought you gave that up, Mulder."
"Well, a guy gets lonely out in Boston by himself. What did you do in D.C. this week?"
I squeezed a small amount of vanilla cream into my palm, spreading it over my hands. Latex gloves left them so dry. I rubbed the excess across my face. "Oh, usual Kersh projects. Drug testing. Some forensic work."
"I'm glad I'm profiling," he admitted. "Beats paperwork and screw off assignments."
I turned off the bathroom light and sat down on the bed next to him. Mulder liked to sleep on the left side, and I took my spot on the right. I scooted closer to him. He offered me sunflower seeds and I waved them away. We sat quietly for a while, watching the local news.
"They haven't released her name yet, have they?" I asked, looking over at him.
"No, probably tomorrow morning. Hopefully after we talk to the Matthews."
I sighed and settled back against the pillows.
"What do you want to do this weekend?" he asked.
"I was thinking we could drive up to Maryland on Saturday. I have to buy a present for my mom," I said.
"Drive up to Maryland and spend the night?" Mulder asked hopefully.
"Maybe," I said, grinning at the idea of making love in some quiet seaside hotel. Remote and secluded. And far away from work.
Mulder set the seeds on the night stand and shifted so he was facing me. He traced a line from my lips, down my neck, across my clavicle, between my breasts. He made an "X" over my heart. "Promise?"
"Promise," I whispered. I tried to fight the feelings that were rising from deep within me, the ones that drew me to Mulder, that made me surrender underneath his touch.
Mulder raised an inquisitive eyebrow at me, as his hand ventured beneath my robe. His movements were slow, giving me plenty of time to change my mind. I felt my body warming, reacting to him. His hand moved up to caress my breast, his thumb brushing the nipple gently.
And all I could think of was Elise Matthews and I shuddered.
"Scully?" Mulder whispered. "What is it?"
"Elise," I said sadly. "I'm sorry."
Mulder withdrew his hand. He shifted us so I was lying on my back and he was on his side, looking down at me. "Don't be. It's a very disturbing case."
My fingers traced his lower lip, brushed against his five o'clock stubble of his chin. "What bothers me is I think I've seen this before, but I know I haven't."
"Does it have something to do with the Donnie Pfaster case?" Mulder asked carefully. Pfaster was the serial killer who wanted to make me his next victim. I spend hours trapped in his house, bound and gagged. I thought about for a few moments, sorting out my feelings.
"Although this killer shares some traits with Pfaster, that's not it. I do feel strangely connected to Elise, because I understand the fear she might have gone through, if he held her captive for a while," I said, trying to shake the image of her small, broken body.
Mulder's eyes searched mine. They were dark pools of hazel that I could easily lose myself in. His gaze was direct, focused and penetrating. The eyes of a profiler. Trained to see what was there, and what wasn't. "I think Maryland might be good for you, Scully. We've both been traveling, working, coping. You're getting absorbed in this case."
"I've only been on this case for five hours, Mulder," I said firmly. I didn't want him to start psychoanalyzing me.
His brow furrowed slightly. "I know."
"Victim number one, Susanna Keillor died of a knife wound to the throat. Her eyes were plucked out prior to death and found in her hands," Mulder said, as he drove the rental car to the Matthews home. I had the case file open and I was looking at the photographs.
"Number two, Joanne Walsh was burned alive, tied to a stake. She was found in a wildlife preserve, four months after death by hunters."
I pulled out that file. "Her head had been shaved. That seems odd. It says Joanne was only 19 years old. Another teenager."
"He doesn't sexually assault his victims, which does surprise me. The girls weren't violated in any way. He has a need to defile them, to mutilate them which suggests to me he was a victim of abuse."
"To mutilate them suggest he sees them as objects, or that he has a fetish. But, he doesn't take them," I said, peering out the car window as Mulder turned into a residential area. The Boston PD followed our car. Lt. Keith Frasier was driving, he was the one who originally requested Mulder.
"Victim number three is perhaps the most graphic. Jonathan Marcus was flayed with a tanner's knife."
"Tanner's knife?" I asked. "For skinning animals?"
"Yep. He must have some experience in hunting. The wildlife preserve and the knife would be familiar to a hunter. And so is tanning or the dissection of animals."
"I could never understand the appeal of hunting. My father would take my brothers out and show them how to shoot squirrels and rabbits. I shot a snake once, out of pressure from Bill and Charlie. I was so shaken that I had killed it, I cried for hours," I said, putting the folders back in Mulder's leather satchel. "I think it was then I decided to be a doctor, so I could make it all better."
"And you now work primarily in forensics," Mulder commented. He turned and smiled at me. "I think there's some underlying metaphor there."
Mulder pulled up to a small, two story house and we got out of the car. The shades were drawn down over all the windows, the grass was still yellow and brown. Dormant.
We waited for Lt. Frasier and his officer to join us. Mulder knocked on the door softly, and we heard locks being unfastened. A woman with dark black hair opened the door a crack. I could tell she'd been crying.
"I'm Fox Mulder of the FBI, this is my partner, Dana Scully. We spoke on the phone earlier," Mulder said. He flashed his badge and folded it back into his suit pocket.
"Yes, you had news on Elise?" she asked, although her voice was flat and emotionless. She knew what we were going to tell her.
"Can we come in, Mrs. Matthews?" I asked politely.
She opened the door and led us down a dark hallway into the living room. I saw various pictures of Elise on the wall, from infant, to toddler, to child, to a beautiful teenager. My heart tugged at her smiling face, framed by her long, raven hair. It was strange to see her perfect and whole, after doing the autopsy just hours before.
Mrs. Matthews sat on an armchair, Mulder sat close to her on the couch and I took my place next to him. Lt. Frasier and the officer stood vigil in the threshold.
"Mrs. Matthews, the body found in the hotel," Mulder started.
"It was Elise, wasn't it?" she concluded. Her eyes swelled with tears.
"Yes, it was. My partner examined her yesterday. Fingerprints confirm it was your daughter. I am so sorry to have to tell you," he said. Mulder's voice was calm and gentle.
Mrs. Matthews buried her head in her hands and cried. Her sobs echoed through the quiet house. Death had settled there.
"I have to know," she sobbed quietly. She lifted her head and looked at me. "Was she? Did he assault her?"
"No, Mrs. Matthews. She wasn't violated that way," I whispered. One saving grace in this despicable crime.
"Do you know who did this to her?" she asked, her eyes seeking Mulder's.
Mulder lowered his eyes from her and set his jaw. "No, but FBI is involved now and we are doing everything we can to find out."
Lt. Frasier stepped forward, leaning in by Mrs. Matthews. "Fox Mulder is the expert we've brought in to help us catch him. He's from here, grew up in Martha's Vineyard, and knows the Boston area well. We will need your help too, Mrs. Matthews. Any details you can remember of your daughter's whereabouts the last day you'd seen her."
She shook her head sadly and leaned against the armchair. "She was a good girl, my Elise. It was just a normal day. I don't even think I told her I loved her that day, I was in such a hurry to get to work."
"You don't have to do this now," I said. I stood up and kneeled beside her. "When you can."
Mrs. Matthews touched my arm. "At least, now I know. She was my only daughter, Agent Scully. How do you bury your only daughter?"
"You will find the courage within yourself," I said, glancing at Mulder. "For Elise."
We were running late for the airport, my lab report came back later than expected. It confirmed Rohipnol in her system, which was also found in the other victims. Elise's body was released for burial. Mulder spent the remainder of the day interviewing those who saw her on the last day, hoping to find some clue to the killer's identity. There was nothing more we could do at the moment. I felt a sense of relief in leaving Boston. I had grown to associate cities with cases, of what Mulder and I found there.
Mulder buckled up in the seat beside me and nudged my elbow. "Are we off duty?"
"After we check in with Kersh and give him a progress report, I suppose we are," I said, easing back in the small airline seat.
"Good," he whispered softly. "I've made some reservations for tomorrow night."
"You don't waste any time," I flipped through the airline magazine. "Tell me, who are we this time?"
"Mr. and Mrs. Spencer. Of the Newport Spencers," Mulder replied. Making up alias for our weekend activities was something he seemed to enjoy. Another form of escapism.
"Society people, hardly," I grinned at him. "I grew up a navy brat, remember?"
"I'm a stock broker and you're a writer," he mused, stretching his legs out in the aisle.
"A writer," I repeated, raising an eyebrow. I hadn't expected that, but Mulder knew I kept a journal. "What do I write?"
"Mysteries, Stephen King type. Using your vast knowledge of the twisted and paranormal," he said
"It wouldn't be a work of fiction," I said, shaking my head sadly. I studied him for a moment. "Maybe I'll write your memoirs."
"Diary of the Mad Fox does have a nice ring to it," Mulder said, gesturing with his hand as if laying out the words. "A tell-all tale of a brilliant FBI agent. Through the eyes of his beautiful partner."
"Sure. I'll make sure to give Kersh the first copy," I said, with a wry smile.
It was a sunny day, and warm enough for only a light jacket. Maryland was beautiful, especially along the waterfront. There were some shops that specialized in crafts and antiques, I bought my mom a wine rack. It was fairly large, and I was grateful I'd rented a Cherokee for the weekend. Mulder helped me haul it to the car.
"This why you wanted me up here, for my manly prowess," he commented as he eased it in back.
I rolled my eyes at him. "You can save those talents for later."
Mulder slammed the door shut. "I'll take you up on that."
We walked side by side along the pier, there were sailboats docked everywhere. Mulder had worn faded jeans, a turtleneck and a flannel jacket that looked more like a thick shirt. He even had sunglasses on.
My fingers reached for his, lacing them with my own. Mulder turned and smiled at me. Public displays of affection was something I avoided. But today I felt removed from our other selves. We were just two strangers in a strange town. Lost in the crowd of tourists who moved through the area.
"It reminds me of the Vineyard here," Mulder said. "I used to ride my bike everywhere, along the water. After Samantha, I tried to stay out of the house, away from my father."
I tightened my grip on him. "I never realized it, but we both grew up on the water. I guess that's why we feel comfortable near it."
"I wouldn't mind living by the water again," he said, looking at me.
I had a fleeting thought of the two of us, in a small house by the sea. Watching the tide come in at night. I shook it out of my head and concentrated on the present.
We walked farther along, past small restaurants and shops. We sat on the edge of the pier, feet hanging over. Mulder's almost touched the water. I looked out at the boats and docks, sea gulls and sandpipers swirled overhead. There was a sweet smell in the air, something that seemed wrong for the area. Soft and fragrant.
I looked around, expecting to find a vendor or a cart with roses.
"Mulder," I asked, tugging as his arm. "Do you smell something?"
He inhaled deeply and released the breath. "Just water. What is it?"
I breathed again...still, I smelled roses. I must have been imagining it. Perhaps perfume from a passerby. "Nothing."
I heard chirping from Mulder's back pocket. "You're ringing."
"Better not be Frohike. Ask a guy to watch your damn fish," he muttered as he reached back for it. He flipped it open. "Mulder."
I stood up and kissed the top of his head impulsively before walking away, to give him a bit of privacy on the phone. And also to look for the roses. I still couldn't find anything that could have caused such a strong smell. The trees were still bare from winter, no blossoms to scent the air.
Mulder talked for a few more minutes, then closed his phone. He set it down on the dock. I wandered back to him, standing behind him.
"Did he kill your fish?" I asked, my hands on his shoulders.
He shook his head. "Wasn't Frohike."
"Who was it?"
"Oh," I said. I didn't expect him to say that name. I sat back down beside him.
"They've got another lead, possibly another victim. I'm flying out in the morning, 6:00 a.m." he said, looking out at the sailboats. The wind rifled through his hair, sending the spikes in all directions.
I nodded at him, in quiet acceptance.
"I guess we'd better head back," I said, with regret.
Mulder raised his hand to my face, caressing my cheek with his thumb. "I owe you a weekend. Maybe when all this is over."
I watched Mulder repack his suitcases. I was sitting on the edge of his bed, fitting his shoes inside. Kersh didn't approve my return to Boston yet.
"I'll request you as soon as I can, since you've already familiar with the details," he said, setting white shirts into the garment bag. "Hopefully he won't sent you somewhere else."
"He might. I've noticed he likes us apart," I said matter-of-factly.
"Well, I don't," Mulder replied, zipping up the bag and hanging it on the closet hook. "The idea of being paired up with someone else doesn't sit too well with me. You're the only one I trust, Scully."
He looked over at me and our eyes met briefly before I turned away. Things had been harder for Mulder, his reputation with the bureau had made Kersh keep a watchful eye over him. He was trying to break our spirits as well, but neither one of us were prepared to quit.
Mulder laid another stack of clean T-shirts in the suitcase by me and shut it. He carried it beside the other bag, ready to go. Last, but not least he checked his gun and holster, making sure it was ready as well.
"Scully, ever get inside the mind of a killer?" he asked, setting his gun back in it's place.
"No, but I've been inside the mind of a victim."
I saw his shoulders slack as he exhaled. "It's a dark place. I try understand his motives, feel his pain, his pleasure at what he does. Find out what motivates him to kill again and again. What I've learned is most serial killers out there are man made."
"Victim becomes perpetrator," I concluded.
Mulder nodded grimly. "I'm puzzled by what made this one. He's so thorough and precise. As if he's acting something out, but not what was done to him. The methods of death are premeditated and planned carefully. He's showing us something."
I didn't want to think about it anymore, and I didn't want Mulder to think about it. I stood up and walked over to him, taking his hand. I lead him into the kitchen and made us some coffee. Mulder didn't really drink coffee, but he kept it around for me. It's rich aroma filled the room. I glanced at the wall clock, it was almost 10 o'clock already.
"I know, we never seem to have enough time," he said, observing me.
"It's funny, Mulder. It seems like we spend so much time together, at work, on the weekends, on the phone, but I feel like we don't."
Mulder reached out for me, grabbing me by the hips and setting me down in his lap. His arms surrounded me, he rested his chin on my shoulder. "How much of that time is spend just the two of us? Undistracted?"
"Not much. There's always something going on," I said. I sipped my coffee slowly. "Either we're discussing a case, finishing a case, leaving somewhere, coming back."
"I love your professional persona, Scully. It's what I fell in love with initially. It's who I spend the most time with. But I want to know you better. Who you really are, underneath all that. Who you are when you're not my FBI partner, when you're my partner," he said seriously.
It was hard to get to that person, to shed off all the other layers I built up around me. "Honestly, Mulder, it's only recently I've been spending time with that person myself."
"Well, I'd like to spend more time with her, too," Mulder said. His hand reached around to my neck and drew my mouth against his. His lips felt warm and soft. He approached each kiss eagerly.
I broke away from him and stood up, placing my cup in the sink. Mulder had followed me, and his body was pressed up against my back. His hands were on my arms, his mouth on my neck. "She was right there, with me a moment ago."
I felt my heart race at his proximity. He turned me around, catching my mouth in another kiss. I wrapped my arms around his neck, prolonging the moment. His hands worked their way up my back, holding me to him.
"There she is, my other Scully," he whispered against my mouth. "The one who isn't afraid to just let go."
We kissed again, Mulder rotating us so he could flip the lights off in his apartment. It was dark in the room, we felt for the other instinctively. We worked our way back to the bedroom, kissing and touching and holding each other. He had me pressed against the wall in the hallway, his hand reached for my leg and brought it around his waist. I held onto to his neck and brought the other one to around, so I was wrapped completely around him, his body pressed into the "v" my legs made. He laughed under his breath.
Mulder truly enjoyed sex. He made no secret of it. In turn, he made me uninhibited about my feelings, since he was so open with his. I wasn't shy with him, I was comfortable. He was the only one I trusted.
"I love you," he breathed into my ear.
Warmth pulsed through me, down to my core. Anticipation rising within me.
Mulder pulled back and stared at me, a sexy smile across his lips. "Do you want it right here?"
I knew he was strong enough to support me in this position, his hands would hold my hips in place. It was the thrill of something new that appealed to me. I nodded in acceptance before I kissed him soundly.
"Something memorable to take back to Boston," I said.
Mulder eased me down, so I was standing once again. We kissed over and over, as we undressed each other. Mulder had a way of prolonging the experience, as if undressing me was unwrapping a gift. He did it slowly, making me admire his patience because all I wanted to do was get out of my clothes. They were in the way.
He lifted me once again, with my back against the wall and my legs around his hips. He teased me by pressing his hardness against my sex, yet not pushing in. I moaned slightly in frustration.
Mulder smiled and kissed me. He moved his hands underneath my buttocks, so he was free to kiss my neck and my breasts. He had me at a disadvantage, all I could do was respond to his touch. My arms and hands I needed to support myself as I held on to his shoulders.
"Tell me what you want, Scully," he whispered.
"I want you," I whispered back. "Just you."
He wanted my confirmation before proceeding. Or maybe it was just hearing the words out loud that pleased him.
Mulder lifted me slightly and then entered me. We both held our breath until he was completely inside. I bit my lip and closed my eyes, reveling in the feeling.
"Are you ready?" he asked.
I opened my eyes and pulled our faces closer. "Yes."
He eased in and out of me, careful at first, testing the limits of this position. The wall provided a flat surface for me to arch my back off of, so I could meet his thrusts. My mind was void of any thought, except what Mulder was doing to me. I surrendered to the sheer pleasure of it.
I shifted so I could cross my ankles behind his lower back, holding him in place. The sweet friction between us grew as his thrusts became harder and deeper.
"Are you getting close?" he asked between jagged breaths.
"Mmm, almost," I replied, my eyes closed in concentration.
"You're so quiet, it's hard for me to tell," he said. "So reserved."
I felt my body tightening around him, drawing him in. I moaned louder than usual and smiled at him. "Is that better, Mulder?"
"I like the sounds you make, when we make love. I think about them when all I have is your voice on the phone."
I opened my eyes and stared at him. Years of loneliness and isolation stared back at me, something I'd seen before when we were intimate. That yearning and pleading to be understood, accepted, loved.
"There, Mulder," I said, breaking my silence. "Right there."
"Right here?" he pressed harder into that spot. The tension hummed throughout my core.
"Yes," I said quietly. "I'm right on the edge, one more time."
He kissed me, his mouth open enough to let his breath escape into mine. "Tell me when."
I felt he was holding the moment in time, preserving it for the days to come. When we would be apart. The anticipation, the thrill, the ecstasy of it all. And the irony of it, I was the one controlling it.
"Now," I breathed.
He thrust into me once again, sending me into orgasm. It spread through me, pulsing and vibrating a rhythm only Mulder could command. I cried out, signaling my release. My fingers clutched at his shoulders as it rippled over me.
"Oh, Scully," he said quietly. "You're beautiful when you come."
My heart raced as I spiraled back down. He could wait no longer for his own release. He tightened his grip on me and I could feel him harder inside. Mulder thrust sharply a few more times, and then he joined me. Warmth spread inside me as he filled me. He moaned as he shuddered, burying his head in my shoulder.
"Mulder," I whispered, holding him tighter. "I love you."
He raised his head and kissed me with fervor. He slowly lifted my body, separating us. I uncrossed my ankles and shakily stood on my feet. We eased into his bed, tangling ourselves in the sheets. He held me close, his arms surrounding me protectively as we dozed into sleep. Mulder's fingers smoothed my hair.
"Memorable," he said, kissing me softly.
St. Timothy's Catholic Church
Mulder left quietly around 4:30 a.m. for the airport. I wanted to go with him, but he told me to rest. His bed seemed strange, it was the first time I had slept without him there. The bedroom was sparsely furnished, and it was always kept very neat. Mulder mused he only recently bought a bed and the room was previously used for storage, since it was only now he had a need for one.
I slept for a few hours, before getting up and dressing. I didn't want Frohike to find me sleeping naked in Mulder's bed, in case he decided to feed his fish early. I drove back to Georgetown, in time for 10:30 a.m. mass at my church.
I tried not to think about last night's activities during the service. But my thoughts inevitably drifted to Mulder, and I prayed for him, for us. To keep us safe. I prayed for Elise, for her eternal rest.
I stayed after mass, sitting in the pew while the other parishioners left. Church was a quiet refuge for me, to find some peace of mind and make sense of the madness in my life. Even if all I did was sit there.
I closed my eyes. A familiar smell drifted under my nose. At first, I thought perhaps it was incense or candles, but it was something else.
It was roses.
I looked up and saw a girl about ten rows in front of me. She had long raven hair that spilled down her back as she kneeled.
The air felt full of static and electricity. My senses were overloaded. She stood up and I noticed she wore a white gown.
"Wait," I called out carefully, my voice echoed through the church.
She didn't stop, but moved silently to the door at the front to the left of the altar. I got up and followed her to the door, my pace quickening. The smell of roses was even thicker now, as I neared her.
She turned the corner and opened the door to the outside. I caught the door as it swung back. The sharp contrast of the bright morning sun to the darkness of church blinded me for a second, I closed my eyes as they adjusted.
When I opened them, I was standing outside. I rushed forward, looking in all directions. She was nowhere to be seen.
"Father!" I called out to the parish priest. "Did you see a girl just now, dark hair, white dress?"
"Dana," he replied. "What is it?"
"There was girl, she came right through the doors ahead of me."
Father McCue stared at me, a puzzled look on his face. "I didn't see anyone, Dana. Just you."
"Didn't pan out, Scully," Mulder said into the phone.
"The lead?" I asked. I sat down on my couch.
"Yeah. There was a body hanging from the noose underneath an old railroad bridge down in a run down district. It was probably gang related. Young kid, drug dealer," he said with a sigh. "The method was something I could see our perp using."
"So could I," I said. My thoughts turned to something else. "Did you hear anything about Elise today?"
"No, nothing. I think her funeral is Wednesday. Why'd you ask?"
"Just wondering," I replied. I rested back against the pillows. "So, you're staying on in Boston?"
"Looks that way. For a couple more days, at least. I might be headed home Tuesday night if we don't get a break in the case."
"I miss you," I said suddenly, the words just flowed out of my mouth.
Mulder sighed into the phone, I imagined him smiling. "Same here."
"Yes?" I asked, looking up from my computer. I was working on medical reports.
Kersh's secretary was standing in the doorway. "A.D. Kersh wants to see you."
I exhaled sharply and pushed myself out from under the desk. I wondered what he wanted. I had a sinking feeling it couldn't be anything good.
I followed her to Kersh's office, she politely let me in. I sat down where he indicated. Kersh was standing by the window.
"Agent Scully, I want to talk about the case you were working on in Boston."
"What aspect, sir?" I asked.
"There wouldn't be anything 'paranormal' about it, would there?"
"No, sir," I replied. "It's a murder investigation. A suspected serial killer in Boston, five victims."
"Make that six, Agent Scully. I just got a call from Agent Mulder this morning." Kersh sat down at his desk, hands folded as he leaned over a case file.
"There's been another killing?"
"Apparently. He's requesting you to join him. I haven't given him my decision yet," Kersh flipped through the file. "But I have noticed Mulder is proceeding, oh, how do I say this, within FBI protocol on this case."
"I believe his skills are best suited to the case," I said boldly, sitting up straighter. "As you may be aware, Agent Mulder is originally from Massachusetts, it's his home state. He may feel a personal interest as well."
"It's no secret I've had problems with Mulder since you both were reassigned to me. But this tells me he can be kept focused on something else besides his former assignments," Kersh leaned back. "I'm asking that you make sure he stays that way."
"You can be on the 12:35 p.m. flight to Boston, if that's enough time."
Willowdale State Forest
"This is quite a display," Mulder said, hands on his hips.
The body was tied upright, with the arms above his head, so the chest area was exposed. Fifteen arrows pierced the upper torso, in various places.
The smell was overwhelming. I reached into my bag and smeared a compound under my nose, to help block it. I took the excess and did the same to Mulder. It helped a bit. I snapped my rubber gloves on and approached the body.
"He bled to death," I said quietly. The dark red streaks from the wounds were thick. What was disturbing was his face. Instead of being slacked downward, it was upright, gazing at the sky. Deliberately posed.
The area crawled with police officers, preserving the area. Dusting, searching, marking.
"It's like he took target practice," Lt. Frasier said.
"These are hunting arrows," another officer commented. "Used in bow season."
My eyes fell on the taper candle, which was set up at the victim's feet. It was stuck upright in the ground, and had been burned halfway.
"This is the second victim found outside," Mulder said, walking around. "Like Joanne Walsh, it might have been months before anyone found this. Just recently, an environmental group was given permission to work in the area on a ecological project. This was found by one of the scientists."
"He was killed about three days ago," I said, taking some samples and data from the body. "Just a couple weeks after Elise."
"He's accelerating the pace," Mulder said. "The other victims were at least a month, two months apart."
"The good news is, the evidence hasn't had time to sit in the elements," Lt. Frasier said. "That should give us more to go on."
I stood back and looked at the body. Again, I had a sense of something strangely familiar to it all.
"Mulder," I asked, gesturing for him to join me. "He's been stripped naked, except for that sheet wrapped around the pelvic area."
"Window dressing, Scully," he replied. "He takes away their identity, and gives them a new one."
Boston Police Department
I sat across from Mulder in the small lunchroom. He had brought a couple sandwiches for us, but I didn't feel much like eating. I picked at the food with disinterest.
"Scully, they were able to pick up a thumbprint, off one of the arrows. They've only got about 80% of it, but it's enough to run it through some databases," he said. "We don't have anything on the identity of the victim yet."
I had performed the autopsy this morning, providing what I could in the way of identifying marks and dental information. Hopefully, it would give us more to go on.
"I'd like to do more forensic testing on clothing, hair, blood. To see if I can find any other patterns," I said, taking a sip of water. "Maybe ship some back to D.C."
"I think Lt. Frasier can certainly provide you with whatever you need, coordinate you with a local lab facility," he said. "I'll talk to him right away."
I grinned at him. "Thank you. I just feel like I should be doing something more."
"You are," Mulder said quietly. He extended a finger and brushed it down mine.
"What are you going to be doing this afternoon?" I asked, moving my hand away.
"Researching the history of the other victims, possibly interview a couple witnesses. Something to give me a clue as to his identity. Why did he choose these people? Was it random? Premeditated?"
"I think I'll work with the PD here, on identifying the victim," I said, sitting back in my chair.
Mulder studied me for a moment. "That's important to you, isn't it? You always want to give them back their humanity."
I thought for a moment, reaching deep inside that person Mulder wanted to know better. "When I do an autopsy on an unidentified body, you find all sort of clues. Scars, dental records, tattoos, birthmarks. If they've had their appendix out, or have given birth, what medications they were taking. All sorts of details that add up to one's identity. Then I wonder who they are. Who's looking for them. Who will bury them. Who will mourn for them."
"I had no idea all that was going on in your head," Mulder said after a minute. He broke the awkward silence by scooting his chair back and standing up. He walked around the table, leaned in against my ear. "I feel guilty, Scully. All these years, I would think how sexy you looked in your scrubs."
"Talk to Frasier for me," I called after him.
Lt. Frasier came through for me, allowing me to work at Feldsham Laboratories in Lexington. The Boston PD periodically worked with them on more complicated testing. The clothing was puzzling to me, so I concentrated on that. Joanne's was the hardest to work with, since it had been burned and left outside for months. After hours working in the lab, I packaged up some samples and had them shipped out to the FBI lab as well. I cleaned up my area, carefully putting the evidence back in their respective bags. The last one I did was Elise's. I held up the white fabric for a second, transfixed by the bloodstain. Her blood.
I packed the briefcase I had carried with me and left the lab. The sun shone brightly overhead, making it seem deceptively warmer than the 30 degrees it actually was. The lab was located near a local college, small and private. It had originally been a women's college, run by nuns, although it was now coed.
I walked through the courtyard of the university, headed back to where I had parked the rental car. There were students everywhere, reading, walking, studying. I walked faster, feeling overcome with a sense of urgency I couldn't place. I breathed harder, inhaling the cold air. Mingled in it's crispness, was a warm smell. A spring smell. Fresh and floral. I stopped, nearly dropping the briefcase.
I circled, staring at the sea of faces around me. Students moving from class to class.
This isn't right, I told myself. You're imagining this.
I inhaled again, with the intention of clearing my nasal passages, but it only seemed to grow stronger. I gripped the briefcase and proceeded ahead, not paying attention to anyone or anything except getting back to the car.
It was in my peripheral vision, that I saw something white.
I turned my head, just missing her image as it moved behind a column.
I felt compelled to peer behind the column and walked quickly to it. I circled it to find nothing. I sighed loudly, trying to think clearly. Again, I caught a flash of white ahead of me, behind another column.
"Hello?" I called out, ignoring the looks of passerby's. There was no one behind that column either. I looked around, making a full circle. I pressed my eyelids shut and then opened them again.
Ahead of me, slipping behind a building was the girl clad in white, her raven hair moved out in the wind.
I was determined to get to the bottom of this. I tore off down the walkway, weaving in and out of the students. I'd see her ahead, here and there. Just enough to make me think she was real.
"Hey, someone stop her!" I yelled out. "That girl, in the white!"
She stopped finally, I kept my eyes fixed on her. A group of students walked in front of her, and I ran faster, nearly pushing one out of the way.
But she was gone.
Damn it. I dropped my briefcase on the ground with a thud, so I could press my forefinger and thumb against the bridge of my nose, my other hand on my hip.
This makes no sense. It's not really happening.
I reached down to pick up the briefcase, and I realized I was standing on something. In the stones beneath my feet, there was symbol. It repeated itself on every fifth stone. A Fleur de Lis, the lilylike emblem used on coats of arms in France. It was the symbol for Joan of Arc, I remembered from a forgotten history lesson.
Saint Joan of Arc. My mind concluded. Burned at the stake as a heretic.
My heart raced so loudly I could hear it in my ears.
"Excuse me," I said, reaching out to student walking by. "Is there a library anywhere on campus?"
The kid looked at me funny, scrunching his face up. He pointed to the building directly behind me. "Eden Library is right there."
"Thank you," I said, squeezing his arm in gratitude.
Boston Police Department
I searched the room for Mulder, oblivious to others around me. He was standing over a computer, holding a case file. I rushed over to him.
"Scully," he said, surprised to see me. "Got a match on that print."
"Mulder, I know what the pattern is!" I exclaimed, clutching his arms on either side.
"Scully, I think we've identified..." he started, but I barely heard him.
"They're Saints, Mulder. That's the pattern for your killer," I interrupted. My heart was racing inside me.
Mulder titled his head to the side, confused. He did not understand what I meant.
"He's killing them like Saints," I continued. I pulled him over to the counter and set my notes upon it to show him. I had photocopied passages from a book in the library. "See? Elise is Saint Agatha. She had her breasts cut off by a Roman senator, but they were restored miraculously. When other efforts to kill her failed, they cut off her head."
I shuffled my notes. "Jonathan? St. Bartholomew. He was martyred in Armenia, where he was skinned alive by heathens. Suzanne is St. Lucy, who plucked her own eyes out. She was killed by a sword to the throat."
Mulder's fingers brushed over the pages, absorbing the information as I spoke.
"Joanne of course, St. Joan of Arc. Her name was a clue in and of itself. That's why her head was shaved, something they did to heretics in the inquisition. This last victim is St. Sebastian. Tied to a tree and pierced with arrows." The book even showed a painting of Sebastian, posed exactly the same way.
"Scully, wait...when did you figure this out?" Mulder asked, astonishment on his features. "You didn't call in to Lt. Frasier, did you?"
"No, Mulder. What is it?" I asked. His look grew more puzzled and serious.
"Didn't you hear me earlier? We have a match on the print."
I paused for a minute, letting it sink in. "He has a criminal record?"
"No, not a criminal record. The prints were entered as evidence for a sexual molestation case, 13 years ago. Pretty widely publicized in Boston, a religious cult was accused of molesting boys. A self proclaimed priest in The Church of the Penitent, it was denounced by the Catholic community as having views in conflict with the teachings of the Vatican. It was more of a cult, highly controversial." Mulder said, opening the file. I turned so I could read it over his shoulder. "The print matches a victim, Sean Rodgers."
"Do we have an address?" I asked.
"No," Mulder said. He sat at the computer and entered the system. "The last know registration for Sean Rodgers was found on his hunting license, back in '93."
I rested my hand on his shoulder, leaning in. "You were right, Mulder."
"There isn't a record of him after '97. That address on the license is for an apartment building that was torn down. After that, he disappeared."
"What about the perpetrator?" I asked.
"Oh, good old Father Michael? He's in the pen. Serving a 20 year sentence for rape, sodomy and child molestation. Did I mention he thinks he's the Archangel Michael reincarnate?" Mulder swung the chair around and leaned back. "What say we visit him and learn about Sean?"
MA State Prison
"You come here seeking answers." His head was resting on the table, his handcuffed hands spread wide in front of him. "Let us pray together first."
Mulder slammed his hand down on the table, forcing him to look up. "Don't give me your religious crap, Michael. Or shall I say, Lewis Fischer? That's your real name."
"Given to me when I was reborn as a mortal, yes," Fischer narrowed his eyes at Mulder. "Your soul has not been prepared for judgment. I will pray for you."
"Don't do me any favors, okay? We've come here to find out some information about one of your victims."
He was a tall, broad-shouldered man. His hair was long and shaggy, his teeth were unkempt. He looked across at me, I was keeping my distance. "Her soul is worth saving."
Mulder ignored him and continued. "Sean Rodgers. What methods did you save his soul with?"
Fischer sat up and rolled his eyes into his head, as if falling into a trance. "Sean. He was my disciple. Very obedient."
I shivered at the way he said that word. It conjured all sorts of unpleasant connotations.
"He lived with you in your 'church' for 8 years, until you were arrested and your cult disbanded."
"My imprisonment is only temporary. I am allowed to return to earth and experience sin in all forms, so that I might be redeemed again. Without sin and suffering, we cannot take our rightful place in heaven. Sean knew that, perhaps that's why he served me so well," he said, his voice was low and without emotion.
I watched Mulder's jaw set, he got right in Fischer's face. "You disgust me. People like you, who can sit there and justify what you did in the name of God or religion. Want to know what's become of your disciple?"
Fischer sat back, away from Mulder and tilted his head to one side. His eyes shifted over to me. "She can tell me."
I folded my arms and walked closer to him. I pushed my feelings down inside me, adopting a professional manner. "He's wanted under suspicion of murder. Five victims, all who have died in methods that mirror the death of Saints."
"Saints are what mortals should aspire to be," he said, a dark grin on his face. "I taught Sean that."
"Did you teach him to kill?" Mulder asked, mirroring the tilt of Fischer's head.
"No," he said carefully. "But the suffering and humiliation of the Saints is to be revered. Many saints lived lives of sin and excess, enjoying pleasure of all forms, until they were humbled. Some endured torture, pain, persecution before being martyred."
"He's killing innocent people," I said, knowing my words would probably have no affect on him. People with his delusions had no remorse for the suffering of others.
"He's saving them," Fischer replied. "That's not what I preached, I believe one should allow themselves to suffer. But Sean is making them suffer for him."
Mulder pushed his chair out, and rested his elbows on his knees. "Do one decent thing for your soul, Fischer. Help us stop him."
"We can't find him," I said. "Is there any place he'd go?"
Fischer was quiet for a couple minutes.
I thought about the question, and rephrased it. "If Sean is living a Saint's life himself, where would he be"
"Isolation. He'd exile himself, out in the wilderness to live a life of humility. I used to baptize my disciples in a small creek, Erial Creek. It's out in the Hubbardston State Forest."
Mulder stood up, giving Fischer the full benefit of his stature as he looked down. "Thank you."
He looked at me and I followed him out of the room.
"Agent Scully," Fischer called out to me.
Reluctantly, I turned around and paused.
He brought his hands together, as if in prayer and nodded at me, smiling to himself. "Ora pro nobis."
I turned and walked out in silence.
Hubbardston State Forest
Lt. Frasier, working in conjunction with the FBI, had organized a search party for Rodgers. The temperature had dropped considerably. They had a couple search dogs enlisted as well. I was helping Mulder into his bulletproof vest, not because I had do. It gave me an excuse to be near him. We had on FBI standard issue blacks, I wore the baseball cap to keep my head warm.
"Chances are, we'll need to split up. But I'll keep in contact with you," Mulder said, as I fastened the vest.
"We'll need to move fast, it'll be dark in four hours," I commented, buckling the strap. "There you go."
Mulder grabbed my arm and whispered in my ear. "Not as much fun dressing me, is it?"
I grinned at him. "No."
Mulder shrugged into the black, nylon jacket. We shut the van doors closed.
"Be careful," I said softly.
He mouthed "love you" silently. Then moved quickly to join the others. "Okay, we're ready."
"Listen up, everyone. This area we're looking at covers a 15 mile radius out from this point. We're going to concentrate along Erial Creek, which according to your maps run north to north east," Lt. Frasier called out. "We've got four FBI personnel here, lead by Agent Mulder. If you see anything at all, do not hesitate to signal for back-up. Our suspect is possibly armed and considered highly dangerous. Let's a pair up and move out. It'll be sundown soon enough."
I was paired with a search dog and Officer Levy and we set out in a northeast direction. Mulder went out in the opposite direction with another officer. They had a photograph of Rodgers distributed, along with the maps. One helicopter was also dispatched, to help when it was dark.
I cleared my head as we worked our way through the forest preserves. It had rained earlier, the ground was wet and the air was cold and damp. The trees hung lifeless above us, their barren branches made it easier to look out ahead. Twigs and branches snapped under my feet as we moved.
"Does he have anything?" I asked, gesturing to the dog.
"Not yet," Levy replied. "He'll pull in a certain direction and track the smell. So far, he's not focused yet."
Through our walkie talkies, we heard the others as they searched. Every now and then, I'd hear Mulder. For two hours, we concentrated on the area along the creek. My mind wandered back to what I had learned days earlier, about the Saints who were hermits or exiles. Often they suffered from madness or delusions. Years of brainwashing and abuse had desensitized Rodgers. Certainly living life removed from society would contribute to his sense of reality.
We searched for another hour, the dog started to pull Levy out more, away from the creek. He pulled us in wide circles, with no strong trail.
"What is boy?" Levy asked, kneeling down to stroke the shepherd. The dog seemed frustrated to me, he whined as he sniffed the air. "I think he's getting tired. We were out in Vermont yesterday and flew in this morning."
I sighed deeply and looked around. I was tired myself, and maybe frustrated as well.
"Scully," chirped the walkie talkie.
I unhooked it. "Go ahead."
"It's Mulder. We think we've got something. There appears to be a structure, a small shelter perhaps. Looks like maybe it was used by hunters long ago. We're checking it out."
"Maybe we should head out, in their direction," Levy said, standing up.
"Where are you, Mulder?" I asked.
"South of where you are, you won't make it by nightfall," he said. "We'll keep you posted. Mulder out."
"Guess we better just head back," Levy commented. "We can start out first thing in the morning."
The dog began to sniff the air strongly, and he whined again. But he stood still, staring up at Levy.
"C'mon, boy. There's nothing out here," he said, heeling the dog as they walked ahead of me.
I followed, trying to be careful as it darkened. Levy and the dog went on ahead of me. It grew quieter as well, the sounds of the birds were silent. Preparing for night. The wind began to pick up as well, carrying the smells of the forest. Pine, moss, wood....and something fresher. Familiar. Floral.
No, I told myself. I shook the thought out of my head.
But still, it was there. Roses. Thickening the air around me. I walked slower, my eyes searching for something, anything that could be accountable for that smell. But there was nothing.
I proceeded, determined not to get distracted again. Levy was already hard to see. I flipped the flashlight on the figure moving ahead of me. "Wait!" I called out.
The light revealed not Levy, but a smaller figure, clad in white. My blood chilled at seeing her again.
She turned around, I could barely make out her face. Her features were distorted in the darkness, my mind wanted them to be hers, but I couldn't be sure.
"Stop right there!" I called out, running as fast as I could after her. Her image shifted, disappearing between the trees, reappearing. It was very hard to keep my flashlight on her. But I didn't want to lose her this time.
I followed her, through the winding forest darkness until she disappeared for good. I stopped to catch my breath. I had no idea where I was. I reached for my walkie talkie when I heard a voice. Low and quiet off to the right. It was a man's voice. Chanting.
I crouched low to the ground and tried to move quietly in it's direction, my gun drawn and ready. There was a light source ahead. I continued on, my heart beat racing in my ears. The trees parted at a small clearing. The lights were candles. Tall, white tapers, stuck in the ground. Around them, there was drops of blood.
I heard a snap behind me and swung around, gun poised and ready. "Freeze! Federal Agent!"
There was no motion in the brush. I kept the gun up, and used my other hand to reach for the walkie talkie. "This is Agent Scully, I've found something. I believe I'm east of ...."
"Don't move," said a voice behind me, something sharp was piercing the back of my neck. "Put it down."
I threw the walkie talkie aside, and kept my gun.
"The gun," he instructed, pressing the sharpness harder into my skin.
"Scully!" chirped the walkie on the ground. "Where are you, Scully?"
It was Mulder's voice. Followed by others. "This is Levy, I'm backtracking to get you. She's must be north along the creek, Section B on the map. Affirmative. Heading out."
"Put the gun down," he enunciated harshly, I felt the knife prick my skin. My thoughts ran to Jonathan. The tanner's knife.
He knocked me to the ground, kicking the back of my knees so I'd collapse. I turned as fast as I could, and found myself looking up at Rodgers. The gun was just out of my reach.
He was frightening, in the low light of moon. The blood I'd see was his own. He had been flogging himself. Purging the demons.
Something caught his eye, he kneeled down, pressing the knife against my neck. I felt his fingers touch my necklace. My cross.
"I believe in the Saints," I said quietly. Rodgers stared at me, releasing the pressure on my neck. "I know what you were trying to do."
"What would you know of my mission?" he said coldly. "My purpose."
I took a deep breath, trying to stall for time. "The Archangel told me what you believe. St. Agatha, she lead me to you here. You created her from that girl, Elise Matthews, the identity you gave her."
Rodgers froze, eyes bearing down on me. "You saw the Saint?"
I could hear a low hum above us, of the helicopter approaching. But he didn't seem to notice.
"Yes, I did. She lead me here. Your mission is over, Sean," I said carefully, hoping he believed me. My fingers reached out, I could almost touch the gun.
He rolled his eyes back in his head, as if transfixed by something. The noise above us grew louder, closer. He spread his arms wide, dropping the knife. He brought his face to the light. Suddenly the sharp searchlight whirled over us, distracting him enough for me to lunge to the right and grab my gun.
"Police! You are surrounded! Do not move!" screamed the police from the helicopter above, the wind of the propellers swirled the tree tops around us. I scrambled to my feet, holding the gun on him.
I was sitting the back of an ambulance, with a thick blanket wrapped around my shoulders. They had stitched up the cut on my neck, bandaging it.
"You won't even have a scar," the doctor said, moving out of the ambulance. I closed my eyes and rested against the back wall. I felt the van shift as someone else climbed in. I opened my eyes and saw Mulder, he was crouched down looking up at me, worry creases in his forehead.
"Don't scare me like that," he said, his hands clasped mine for a moment. "We've got enough evidence in his shack to nail him. Personal belongings to the victims, the tapers, Rohipnol."
"Good," I said, clasping his hand tighter.
Mulder pressed our hands to his lips. "Scully, how did you end up in the clearing?"
I opened my mouth to tell him, but something held me back.
"The media is here," Lt. Frasier said, flinging the door open. "Want to come out and make a statement with me?"
Mulder looked at me, and I nodded for him to go.
We drove back in silence to the hotel, Mulder's right hand was between both of mine. I had to tell him. I had to trust him enough to tell him. I reached deep inside, past the logical and rational self.
He parked the car in front of the hotel, and unbuckled his seat belt. Mulder unlocked the door and opened his. "Aren't you coming, Scully?"
I sat still in the seat.
"Mulder, you asked me earlier how I ended up in the clearing...." I started, my voice small and unfamiliar.
He shut the door and turned to face me, giving me his undivided attention. "Yes."
"Mulder," I began. I took a deep breath, preparing myself. "I started smelling roses."
"Yes. At the pier in Maryland, in church, on the college campus," I admitted. "Just a strong concentration of roses. Then, I saw her."
Mulder shook his head, confusion across his brow. "Saw who?"
I looked down at the floorboards, unsure of how to say it.
"Who, Scully?" he pressed.
"A girl, with long raven hair and a white dress. Only for a few moments each time," I said. "The air felt charged around her."
"Are you saying you saw Elise Matthews?" Mulder asked.
"I don't know, but it looked like her," I said with increasing difficulty. "When I researched Saints in the library, I found it was not uncommon for certain Saints to be associated with the smell of roses. St. Rita, for example. St. Elizabeth of Hungary."
"You think it has something to do with how you found the pattern to the victims?"
I nodded, then shook my head. Contradicting myself. "Maybe. Telling me where to look."
"Is that what you saw, out in the clearing?"
I nodded my head.
"Why do think you saw her?"
"Maybe she was telling me how to get through to Rodgers. That's what I told him. That he succeeded in turning Elise into a Saint, because I saw her. I don't believe that's what happened, but it was what he wanted to hear," I rested my head on the window. "I do believe in Saints, Mulder."
"Why Scully? Why do you believe this?"
"It's my faith, Mulder," I said, struggling to keep my voice steady.
Mulder turned so he was facing me, his eyes bearing down on mine. He exhaled sharply, his lips pressed tightly. "It's what you were taught to believe. That's the only difference."
"Difference?" I asked, unsure of where he was headed.
"If I was seeing a dead girl you'd tell me I was imagining it. That there was no such things as ghosts or apparitions. They have no basis is scientific fact. But if it has something to do with your faith, then that you accept hands down. That boy with the stigma, those girls with their eyes burned out, if it's acceptable within the parameters of your religion, then it's acceptable to you."
"What are you getting at, Mulder?"
He looked away, his face a mixture of emotions. "That you believe in this aspect of the paranormal, and you don't believe in me."
"That is not true, Mulder. You go off halfcocked on some wild theory about zombies or witchcraft..."
"Why is that any less believable?"
I did not know how to answer that question. For as long as I could remember, Catholicism was a part of my life. Its teachings, its sacraments, its ideology. I believed in a God capable of turning water into wine, rising from the dead, and promising everlasting life.
"To those of us who don't believe in holy miracles, saints and the Virgin Mary, it's just run of the mill paranormal," Mulder said sharply. "And when I investigate these cases, I find nothing paranormal about it. They turn out to be religious fanatics who commit acts in the name of God, but God has nothing to do with it."
"I can't explain it Mulder," I said quietly. I couldn't verbalize a lifetime of beliefs in few minutes to him. "It's a matter of faith. Of knowing what to believe."
Mulder held his hands up, in surrender. "I'm sorry, Scully."
He shook his head and got out of the car, walking away from me. I exhaled, folding my arms around me as I watched him go.
Before I left Boston, there was one thing I needed to do.
"I don't have an explanation for what happened to me," I spoke softly downward. "But my faith teaches me there is a soul that transcends the human body. I hope that yours it at rest, now."
Mulder came up behind me, touching my arm briefly. "We have to go, Scully."
I laid the bouquet of roses on Elise Matthew's grave. I had found a pretty variation, they were white with yellow around the edges. Symbolic of purity and friendship.
I felt Mulder's hand resting on the small of my back as we walked to the yellow taxi cab that was taking us to the airport. He held the door open for me as I crawled in.
Once inside, Mulder started to speak. I knew what he was going to say. I could see it in his eyes. But they weren't necessary. I held my hand against his lips, silencing him. Whatever it was we needed to work through, we would. In time.
"Let's go home, Mulder," I said. "I believe we are off duty now."
Ora Pro Nobis = Pray for us. (Latin)