DISCLAIMER: X Files belongs to Chris Carter, 1013 Productions, and Fox Entertainment.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to the X-Files Scripts Archive http://www.insidethex.co.uk/#tlg for the transcript to the episodes “Miracle Man”, “Revelations”, “All Souls”, “Millennium” and “All Things”. And to http://www.millennium-thisiswhoweare.net for the transcripts to the Millennium episodes “Lamentation”, “Powers, Principalities, Thrones and Dominions”, “Beware of Dog”, “A Room with no View”, “Antipas” and “Saturn dreaming of Mercury.”
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
CHALLENGE: Written for Epic Proportions 2009.

Redemption: Echoes of the Past
By Celievamp


From the journal of Dana Scully…

Over the last decade or more I have seen things that have no rational explanation, which shook the definitions of the faith I held so dear. Whilst Fox Mulder sought conspiracies of aliens I received counsel from angels.

It hurt me that he dismissed it all. I was expected to believe for him, to suffer for that belief. There were things that we saw that could not be explained, not even by aliens. We encountered evil in its most primal form, housed in the form of a little boy, a substitute teacher, Donnie Pfaster. Simon Gates.

I have encountered demons. I have debated with angels. Of that I am certain. And I have seen things… made promises.

Time moves on. Things change. I have a son of my own now, different priorities. A new partner in every sense of that overused word. Someone who loves me. Someone who believes.

And in a moment it all came tumbling down.

"Agent Scully, I need your help."

Monica found her partner just staring at the phone on her desk as if it had bitten her. "Dana, are you all right? Has something happened? Is William okay?"

"He's fine," Dana said. "That was… someone else. An old case."

Monica drew her chair up to sit beside her, taking hold of her hand, silently encouraging her to continue. "Eight years ago Mulder was tracking a series of apparently religiously motivated murders. All of the victims were so-called stigmatics, all of them fraudulent – according to certain religious lore, at any given time there are twelve stigmatics in the world, representing the twelve apostles – anyway there had been eleven murders, all of the supposed stigmatics except the last one, a young boy called Kevin Kryder."

"I remember reading this case-file," Monica interrupted. "He survived – you protected him."

"There was more to it than was in the file," Dana just managed to suppress a smile at Monica's look of mock horror and disbelief at that statement. "I came to believe through various things that happened that I was destined to protect this boy."

"You believe that he was the real thing, a true stigmatic," Monica said.

"I do," she said. "And now, now it seems he needs my help… my protection again."

"Where does he want us to meet him?" Monica asked. And that was that.

He looked as if he had been living on the streets for some time. He seemed to have been in some kind of fight or maybe an accident as both of his hands were bandaged and he moved stiffly as if his feet hurt. The staff in the coffee shop watched him warily but he just sat in the corner booth and nursed his grande black coffee and didn't bother the other patrons. He had been there an hour or so when two women walked in, both dressed in suits that just screamed government. The tall brunette murmured something to the smaller redhead who was looking around, a frown on her face which cleared when the drifter in the corner stood up.


"Hello again, Agent Scully. Thank you for agreeing to meet me."

"It's good to see you again, Kevin. Can I introduce you to my partner, Special Agent Monica Reyes? Agent Reyes, this is Kevin Kryder." The two nodded at each other, assessing each other silently before the tall brunette sat down. The redhead visibly relaxed and sat down between her and the drifter. "How have you been, Kevin?"

He smiled. "Things have been better, Agent Scully. But then, they've been a whole lot worse as well." She knew, she'd been there right alongside him through most of it.

"How long have you been on the streets, Kevin?" Monica asked gently.

"A little over a year. You know how it is – you turn eighteen, child services don't want to know any more. No one does," he looked down at his scuffed and filthy sneakers. "There's a little money in trust from my mom but I can't touch it 'til I'm twenty one. I get odd jobs when I can… I get by."

"How is your father?" Dana asked.

"Dad died three years ago. Pancreatic cancer," Kevin said sadly. "He got better in himself, you know, was living back in the community in a halfway house, but the cancer was a bad one. Nothing anyone could do. I left Ohio a couple of weeks after he died – nothing to keep me in Loveland anymore. Wandered around a bit, odd jobs here and there to pay my way. Lived in Baltimore for a while and came to Washington about eight weeks back."

"I'm sorry," Dana said softly. "He was a good man."

"All he wanted to do was protect me," Kevin said. "And when he couldn't he sent you to me."

"When you called you said you needed my help," Dana said.

"It's happening again. At first it was only my feet. Then my palms started to itch. The bleeding started again two days ago. And there's a woman who's been watching me, the last couple of weeks, maybe longer. I know I saw her a couple of times in Baltimore before I left. And now here. I get a bad feeling every time I see her. A real bad feeling. And, like a taste in my mouth. Ashes and dust."

"Has she approached you directly, spoken to you at all?" Monica asked. "Made any threats against you?"

Dana glanced at Monica. She was gazing intently at Kevin, there was no sign of any skepticism in her face or her voice. She believed in this man because Dana believed in him.

"No, but it's like I look up – and she's there. She doesn't even seem to care that I know she's watching. I've tried to approach her, ask her what the hell she wants from me but something or someone always gets between us and she's gone. Like, vanished into thin air. Until the next time…"

"Do you have any place to stay?" Monica asked.

"I'm staying over at a hostel over by the Parkway. I've got a place there for a couple more days, then I have to move on," he shrugged. "More stupid rules."

"This woman – where do you see here?"

"On the street… you know how it is. I didn't think anything of it at first, I didn't really notice, I mean you pick up vibes from people all the time. Then I realized I kept seeing her. The same face, the same woman…" He paused. "I get a real bad feeling about her. Like I did with Gates."

And they all knew how well that had turned out.

"Okay, I know a place you can stay. It's an apartment, I… I'm looking after it for a friend." She did not meet Monica's gaze. Monica knew full well who Dana was talking about. Mulder had left enough money in his account to maintain the lease on his apartment. Dana had the keys. "And we can get you to come in to our office, work with some software we use to get a picture of this woman who's watching you."

"I think I can do better than that," Kevin said softly. He pointed past them towards the windows of the coffee shop. "She's out there, right now."

The two women turned towards the window, in time to see a dark haired woman staring in at them. She had vivid blue eyes and extremely pale skin, a roundish face framed by dark, straight shoulder length hair, parted on the left. She looked young, in her early thirties at most, about five foot six inches tall, wearing what appeared to be a black polo neck jumper under a black leather coat. The only jewelry they could see was a silver chain with some sort of symbol hanging from it that dangled between her full breasts.

Monica locked gazes with her, just for a moment, but it was enough. A sense of venomous cold contempt for this existence and everything in it swept over her. The woman's eyes were dark, soulless. The taste of ashes and dust flooded her mouth, just as Kevin had described. Monica had no doubt that this woman, if that was what she truly was, was well acquainted with evil.

It lasted only for a moment. As if satisfied that she had their attention the woman turned and started to walk away up the street. "Stay with him," Dana said. She got up and ran out of the coffee shop.

"Are you okay Agent Reyes?" Kevin asked.

She wasn't. She really wasn't. But before she had chance to answer Dana came back inside the coffee shop. "I lost her – I don't know how. There was no sign of her," she said. "Kevin, let's get you somewhere more secure."

Monica finished rereading the case notes from Kevin's original file. "So do you think this woman is another Gates? Someone else suffering from this 'Jerusalem Syndrome'?"

"Possibly…" Dana said. "What did you make of her?"

"I don't know… there was something about her… something wrong. I don't think for one moment she's just your average stalker." She glanced at her companion. "There's more to this than is in the files, isn't there. Talk to me Dana."

Dana sighed. "I got the same feeling as Kevin did when I saw this woman. Evil. I've felt it before, I've encountered it before. Angels and demons – and everything in between." She shivered.

"I've seen some things myself, Dana. Evil has a power, a presence. Once it touches you, you can never entirely free yourself of it."

"The first time, there was a man Donny Phaster. He was an escalating serial killer. Unfortunately I fitted the profile for his victims. He grabbed me…" She shuddered. "Mulder found me before he had chance to do more than scare me. But… when Pfaster had me, I saw him change. I thought I saw a demon. But I had a concussion and was in shock so I…"

"You never told anyone about it, not even Mulder."

Dana shook her head. "No."

Monica nodded in complete understanding. Mulder was a hard man to understand, harder still to like. A firm belief in aliens a lifetime willingly spent chasing them down, following ever more implausible conspiracies at the expense of his life, his family, his partner. But he could not extend that same belief, that same confidence to his partner's experiences. She had considered the conundrum before: once upon a time people had believed in angels. Now they believed in aliens. Mulder thought he was original, alone in his beliefs, but he was just one of many, following the herd. And Monica had read the files on Pfaster – she had no doubt of the truth of what Dana was saying. Pfaster had been the embodiment of evil. If Dana had not shot him he would never have stopped. He would have kept on torturing and killing innocent women, taking his trophies from their bodies.

"And then there was Owen… Kevin's original protector. He was an angel. I think… I believe. He told me. He told me about the danger that Kevin was in. He told me that it was my duty to protect Kevin that I already knew, already accepted that duty."

"It was your fate," Monica said solemnly, her dark eyes fixed on Dana's.

Dana nodded sadly. "So he believed. And by the end, so did Kevin."

"What about you, Dana? What did you believe?"

"I don't know," Dana whispered. Monica's heart went out to her. She looked so lost, so… fragile. And that was not Dana Scully.

"I think he's got the best protector he could possibly have," Monica said warmly, leaning over to take hold of Dana's hand, holding it between her own hands trying to project every ounce of the faith that she had in Dana and her abilities. Dana stared at her, smiled tremulously.

Monica sat in front of her computer at FBI headquarters. She had an excellent memory for faces and the features of the woman who was stalking Kevin Kryder was firmly ingrained in her memory. Dark hair, pale unlined skin, large blue eyes, solemn even dour expression. If she was in the system Monica would find her.

Hours passed, Monica kept searching, her concentration absolute. Just after twelve, Dana called to tell her that Kevin had moved into Mulder's apartment and everything was okay.

"Any luck?"

"Not so far. But she's in here somewhere… I feel it," Monica said. "I got such a feeling from her, so cold… She's not going to make it easy, but there has to be a clue."

All day Dana had been haunted by thoughts of Michael Kryder, Kevin's father, her memories of their first conversation…

"He's bleeding again isn't he?"

"Yes," Scully said. "How did you know that?"

"Because the faithful know." That phrase resonated in her. The faithful know. She stared at him, he nodded sadly. She had the feeling that some kind of complicit arrangement had been made between them. She had accepted a task, shouldered a responsibility from someone too tired and too compromised to fight anymore.

Mulder missed it. "Mr Kryder, the claims you've made for your son may have put him in danger. Do you know that?"

"The child was in danger long before I ever made the claims. Since the day he was born, they've been watching him… the forces of darkness. They will come in the form of a powerful and respected man."

"These forces… what do they want?" Mulder asked.

"To claim all souls. You must understand, this is the great war between good and evil," he said earnestly.

"Armageddon?" Dana asked.

He looked at her almost pityingly. "God will find someone to stop it. Someone who is strong enough to make the sacrifice."

Mulder thought that Kryder was talking about himself. "He's chosen you?"

"I'm merely a messenger," Michael Kryder said. He stared at Dana again. Mulder had heard enough. He got ready to leave. "You must come full circle to find the truth."

She did not understand, not then. "Full circle to find the truth? I don't know what that means."

He smiled. "You will."

Another three hours of staring at photographs had got Monica Reyes precisely nowhere. She sighed, rubbed her aching eyes. She could picture the woman's face so clearly. Why couldn't she find her in the system? This was so damn frustrating. Monica knew she would be in here – unless her record had been sanitized on the orders of a higher authority. If she was of interest to or even worked for one of the more shadowy branches of the government there was no way Monica would find anything remotely useful, not at her security clearance. It was at times like this she really missed the Lone Gunman and their facility for hacking systems.

There were a few more leads she could try. Some years previously Monica had liaised with a former FBI agent called Frank Black on a case related to alleged satanic abuse. He was ex-FBI but now reported to a highly secretive and very well funded group called the Millennium Group. Black was reputed to have seen things that had literally turned his hair white. If this woman was as 'connected' as Monica thought then he would know of her. Black had had his own share of troubles over the years and had a reputation even more tainted than Fox Mulder's as a result. If such a thing were possible. And another old colleague – Aaron Hotchner. He led the Behavioural Analysis Unit. Maybe his team had come across this woman.

Monica sighed. She needed some fresh air, some caffeine and some food, in that order. It was just after three. The coffee shop across the square that she sometimes went into should be pretty quiet, the lunchtime crowd back at their desks, the early evening crowd not yet started.

It was a warm sunny afternoon, a light breeze freshening the air. Sometimes she forgot that days like this existed.

Then someone was in her face, grabbing her arms, his fingers biting into her skin. "You must listen to me, you must help her. She's in danger not just the boy. You both are. The Guardian, the Protector. It falls to you. Beware her. She has plans within plans. The danger, the evil goes deeper than you know. You must protect her. Protect each other. It falls to you."

Before Monica had time to react the man let go of her, standing back so that she got a clear view of him for a moment. And then he was gone, a slight breeze fluffing her hair as he blinked out of existence. No one else seemed to notice that anything untoward had happened.

But she had seen that face before, in Kevin Kryder's file. Owen Jarvis.

"He's dead, Monica. Owen Jarvis is dead. I performed the autopsy myself." Dana paced the room, hugging herself tightly.

"I know he's dead, Dana. I read your report thoroughly. I also know that not half an hour ago he was as close to me as you are now. And you have to admit he's a little hard to mistake. He spoke to me. He warned me…"

"About Kevin?"

"About you. According to him, you're the one that's in danger here. You're the one who needs protecting. And I am the one who has to protect you."

Dana sat down, stared at her. "Owen Jarvis is dead."

"Well, either he has a twin brother, or his ghost is pretty solid. He left fingermarks." Monica slipped off her jacket to show her the bruises that marked her upper arms where Owen Jarvis had grabbed her. Dana took hold of her arm, gently rubbed her thumb over the bruises, her expression troubled. "I know he's dead, Dana. I also know that not half an hour ago he was as close to me as you are now. And you have to admit he's a little hard to mistake. He spoke to me. He warned me. According to him, you're the one that's in danger here. You're the one who needs protecting. And I am the one who has to protect you. You said it yourself, Dana. Owen Jarvis did not have a normal human physiology." Monica ran her fingers along Dana's jawline gently encouraging her to raise her head and meet her gaze. "His corpse was uncorrupted. You yourself called him one of the sanctified, an angel. I'm willing to believe just about anything at this point. This is a hell of a lot more than a simple protection case. There are things happening here that go far beyond…"

"We can't make this official, Monica. They'll take it away from us. They won't understand. Kevin will be unprotected." Monica had rarely heard Dana sound so panicked over anything not directly related to William's well-being before.

"If it is as you say, if you're truly Kevin's 'guardian angel'" Monica smothered a grin at the rueful expression on Dana's face, "then whatever happens you will be there for him. It can't go any other way."

Owen Jarvis had been told by God to protect Kevin. As Mulder had put it: "That's quite a long distance call." Like Mr Kryder he had targeted her: as if the cross she wore marked her.

"You believe me, don't you? I mean, you must wear that as a reminder."

"Mr Jarvis, my religious convictions are hardly the issue here."

"Whatever He asks of me, I'll do." Owen Jarvis's last words to her. He had died to make his point. He had died, handing the burden of protecting Kevin over to her. How could she fail him? How could she fail either of them? And if anyone could come back from the dead, well, Owen Jarvis was a pretty good candidate. In some ways he had never really been part of this world in the first place.

Signs and Portents. She could not in all faith ignore them. Faith…

Gates had killed Jarvis. Throttled him, his hands burning into Jarvis's skin leaving perfect imprints of his fingerprints burnt into Owen's throat. Gates did not care if they identified him. And with his guardian gone, Kevin had immediately latched onto her. Not Mulder. Her.

"Are you the one who was sent to protect me?"

Did she truly believe that Owen Jarvis had appeared to Monica Reyes to warn her that she was in danger? Yes, she did. She had performed the autopsy on Owen Jarvis's body. He had shown abnormal decomposition. His internal organ and bone structure were equally abnormal. Mulder had questioned her belief.

"I wouldn't let faith overwhelm your judgment here. These people are simply fanatics behaving fanatically using religion as a justification. They give bona fide paranoics like myself a bad name."

The fingerprints burnt into the flesh of Owen Jarvis's throat led them to Simon Gates. A powerful and respected man. And one apparently suffering from Jerusalem Syndrome. Powerful religious delusions. Some saw themselves as the Messiah, Moses, John the Baptist. By all accounts, Simon Gates saw himself as the Devil. Did their mystery woman share the same delusion?

The woman was not in any federal system that Monica could access. Monica tried to track down Frank Black. Whilst she waited for him to make contact she visited the Bureau's facial recognition experts and began to make a video fit of the woman stalking Kevin Kryder from her recollection of her own encounter with the woman.

Whilst she waited for Frank Black to get back to her she contacted an old colleague from her Academy days, now in charge of the Bureau's Behavioural Analysis Unit – Aaron Hotchner.

"Hotch… it's been a while," she smiled.

"Monica, always good to hear your voice," Hotchner said. "How are things on the dark side?"

"Interesting as always," Monica said. "Never two days the same, much like your line of work. Which is why I'm calling…"

Swiftly she filled him in on her current enquiries regarding her mystery woman. "I get the feeling that she's connected to former Agent Frank Black in some way. There's a whole undercurrent to this that…" she paused. "You know the kind of cases I've been involved with in the past even before I joined the X Files."

"Black was before my time, but one of my colleagues, David Rossi was involved in debriefing him when the whole Millennium thing blew up," Hotch remembered. "Black pretty much dropped off the map when he finally left the Bureau."

"It took a while to get it but I do have a contact number for him; I'm just waiting for him to call me back."

"As you know a lot of cases we get look to be satanic in nature but when you get down to it its usually just window dressing by the unsub. Though once or twice… This is one of your hunches isn't it, Reyes?"

"'Fraid so," Monica smiled. Hotch had always got a slightly pained look on his face whenever she went with her instincts, even if they were invariably proven right. "In the mean time I've drawn a blank on this woman in the Federal systems I can access."

"Well it so happens that one of my team Penny Garcia is something of a cyberwitch. She has access to systems and an affinity for data that… well, let's just say I don't want to know how she does what she does but she's rarely let us down. Fax me the photofit and any other information she can use to narrow it down."

"Thanks Hotch, I owe you," Monica said.

"Any time, Monica."

A few seconds after she ended her call with Agent Hotchner, Monica's cell phone buzzed. "Agent Reyes. This is Frank Black. I understand that you want to consult with me about a case you're currently working."

"Yes, I wonder if it would be possible for myself and my partner Agent Scully to come and see you?"

"Scully… Special Agent Dana Scully?"

"Yes, Mr. Black. You consulted on a case she worked in late 1999."

"I remember. You weren't her partner then. It was an… er, Agent Mulder."

"Yes, sir. Agent Mulder has since left the Bureau. I've been Agent Scully's partner for the last two years. I apologise for contacting you at home but I believe your knowledge and experience could be invaluable on a case we're working."

He sighed heavily and for a moment she thought he was going to refuse to meet with her. "I'm available this afternoon until three-thirty. Then I have to go pick up my daughter from school. Or I could see you this evening from about eight."

"This evening then, Mr Black." He confirmed his address with her and then put the phone down. He had not sounded exactly overjoyed about doing this and Monica realised just what kind of bad memories she could be dredging up for the ex-agent. But that was how it was sometimes. Some jobs you just did not retire from. This was one of them.

From the journal of Dana Scully…

Unfortunately we did not track down Simon Gates until after he had killed Kevin's mother. Somehow Kevin had managed to escape. He blamed himself for what had happened to his mother. It was the first time that Kevin truly realized that he was different and that difference put not just him but those around him in danger. At that time he had no idea how he was different, he just was. I don't fully understand it myself. I know what he appears to be but I can't quite bring myself to believe it. There's no scientific basis yet… the part of me that remains true to my faith understands and rejoices.

Mulder just wanted to dump Kevin back at the shelter. I insisted that we keep him with them until Gates was apprehended. I know Mulder thought I was getting personally involved, which was a bit rich coming from someone who had turned their work into a personal crusade. So what if I was more personally invested in this than I was in most cases that crossed our desks - was that necessarily a bad thing? At the very least a child's life was at stake. Gates had already killed at least three people trying to get to Kevin not to mention the eleven other stigmatics he had already murdered in his bloody campaign.

We knew that a man fitting Gates' description rented a car under the name Forau – one of the Devil's disciples.

Kevin's condition continued to escalate. He developed a wound on the right side of his chest. I mentioned it to Mulder but he discounted it, saying it was probably a result of the car accident. But I had watched carefully whilst the EMT's checked the boy over. He had been bruised but not cut.

My instincts were spot on. Despite all the precautions I had taken, Gates still managed to snatch Kevin. I almost failed in my duty to protect him.

Black nodded as Monica introduced herself. "And what exactly is it that you think I can help you with?"

"I wondered if you recognized this woman, Mr Black," Monica took the videofit picture out of her file and passed it across the table. She had checked it with Dana and Kevin Kryder earlier that afternoon and Kevin had confirmed that this was the same woman that had been stalking him for several months.

Black studied the picture for several moments in silence. His face remained impassive, betraying no reaction apart from a slight tightening of the skin around his eyes. He knew her, Monica was certain of it.

"I can tell you who this woman appears to be, Agent Reyes. I can also tell you that she died four years ago in a house fire in Church Falls, Virginia. I was… er, present at her death. When was this sighting made?"

"Four days ago, here in Washington DC," Monica said. "Who is she, Mr Black?"

"When I was… acquainted with her, she called herself Lucy Butler. What her true name was we never discovered. It might have been Annie Martin. At one of her houses we found a newspaper cutting and a photograph dated Oct 18 1911 detailing the disappearance of a woman called Annie Martin. The woman in the picture was known to us as Lucy Butler. We tracked her as far as we could through the records – but there were… inconsistencies."

"We're talking more than an assumed identity here, aren't we?" Dana said softly.

"We traced and positively identified five separate death certificates for her, all matters of record, witnessed events," Black said. "A supposed cult killing in Ravenwood Indiana in 1973, a housefire in Detroit in 1967, a rape-murder in Manhattan in 1958, a suicide in Chicago in 1947, a train crash on the outskirts of Toledo in 1935. There were probably more instances than that that we never found. And I added a sixth. Lucy Butler died four years ago. She burnt to death in another housefire."

"We have three credible eyewitnesses who saw her four days ago in Washington," Monica said. "Mr Black, the case we are currently investigating has strong spiritual and supernatural overtones to it. A young man's life may be in danger. We would welcome your assistance."

"I'm retired, Agent Reyes," he sighed. "The only concerns I have now are my daughter's security and happiness. I lost her mother, almost lost her because of this job. I swore never again." He did not give her the picture back.

"She threatened them, you know, my daughter and my wife. Threatened to kill Jordan, my daughter, to my face. Not because she wanted anything from either them or me but because she would enjoy their suffering and mine."

"Who is she really, Mr Black? What is she?"

His voice was mild, his tone almost gentle, faintly apologetic. "An Avatar of Evil, Agent Scully. Evil, pure and simple. She is Legion."

He had held nothing back from the two women. He gave them copies of all the files he had amassed on Lucy Butler, on her involvement in the death of Ephraim Fabricant, the mass kidnapping and attempted brainwashing of the students, the deaths of John and Una Saxum and the attempted kidnapping of their daughter Divina and finally the deaths of Lucas and Will Sanderson. It brought back so many unpleasant memories and associations.

Jordan came in and curled up on his lap, something she hadn't done for years. She would be fifteen soon, and looked more like her mother every day. "What's happened, papa?" she asked. "Something has you all riled up inside."

"Two former colleagues from the FBI came to ask me about an old case," Frank said. "It just brought back some bad memories is all."

"It's her, isn't it… Lucy Butler. She's back."

Frank considered his answer for a moment. Much as he would love to protect his daughter from all the evil in the world he knew that that was impossible to achieve. He could best protect his daughter by making sure her eyes were open and her mind clear.

"Yes," he said. "It rather looks as if she is."

"You have to help them, papa. Otherwise things are going to get very bad."

He wanted to ask her what she knew but it didn't work like that. It never had.

Lucy Butler and Dr Ephraim Fabricant. A marriage made in hell. Frank Black had profiled Fabricant before and after his arrest for the brutal murder of five nurses. He knew what drove him. Death. As a boy he had eviscerated cats just to see how long they'd live. He'd become a doctor for one purpose only – to gain the knowledge and the opportunity to rend death from life. His appetite for it eventually led him to torture and murder five nurses before he was apprehended. Fabricant was in prison for six years before Lucy Butler helped him to escape only to kill him to satisfy her own particular appetites. They had married the year before, exchanging vows over the Internet. On first meeting her, after Fabricant's escape, before coming to understand what she was, Frank had felt honour bound to warn her about the man she had married.

"Whatever your relationship with Dr. Fabricant… Lucy, whatever you might believe him to be… he is single-minded, unrepentant about what he did and what he is incapable of preventing himself from doing again."

"You don't speak very well of him - and he speaks so highly of you," Lucy responded, regarding him steadily.

"The man you call your husband is alive because we believed an understanding of his pathology would help us to catch other human predators… men who act without conscience on irresistible impulses."

"I know what he did, Mr Black, and I know what he is capable of doing. The soul expresses itself in so many amazing ways, especially when there's a comprehension of extremes. Ephraim said that you and he share that ability."

He realized almost at once that this woman was a force to be reckoned with in her own right. She played them all. The murders of Judge Park, who had presided over Fabricant's original trial and Frank's friend and colleague Detective Frank Bletcher – the latter in the basement of Frank's house - were both crimes that had Fabricant's fingerprints all over them but they had taken planning to accomplish: he had to have been working with an intermediary, an accomplice. Maybe even a follower. There was nothing in his correspondence that hinted at any covert communications. In fact the letters Fabricant wrote to his wife were amongst the most beautiful love letters Frank had ever read. He remembered his colleague's opinion on that one: "They say genius is the ability to hold two contradictory thoughts in your mind at the same time. What do you call a man who holds two contradictory personalities?" Frank had been very clear on that – the Devil.

Catherine Black, his late wife, who had been in the house when Bletcher was killed had reported seeing a tall long-haired man standing at the top of the stairs and moments later, a woman, who may have been Lucy Butler from the description Catherine was able to give, but there was no physical evidence found in the house that Lucy had ever been there.

Lucy Butler was a registered nurse and once upon a time had had a son, who had died of cyanide poisoning. Lucy had been tried but acquitted of his murder. Judge Park had also died of cyanide poisoning.

When Bletcher was killed, Frank and his colleague Peter Watts were at the hospital where Fabricant had been admitted in a serious condition. He had originally escaped post-operative after the removal of a kidney which he was donating to his sister. Now his second kidney had been removed – without an anesthetic. Frank received a phone call from his home. At the beginning, all Frank heard was the sound of heavy breathing. And then somehow he saw what Bletcher saw before his death, the horror that drove him to kill himself. The figure at the top of the stairs morphed from one form to another, one face to another, each more twisted more evil than the last as it drew closer and closer to the detective. Bletcher was found hanging from the rafters. His throat had been slashed almost to the bone.

Before he died, Fabricant asked to speak to Frank. "All your mercy and good intentions have brought you no return."

"You're dying now," Frank observed.

"Yes… but not of old age as I'd hoped," Fabricant whispered.

"Who is she?" Frank asked.

"You had me commuted so you might learn the nature of evil. I can tell you now," Fabricant rallied enough to grab Frank's jacket, pulling him closer. "You think I'm evil, Frank? You don't know what that is. It's greater than we are… you and me."

"Who did this to you?" Frank asked.

"The base sum of all evil… The sleep of reason… The Devil's liege…"

"Who was in my house?" Frank shouted.

"It knows you, Frank. It feeds off your passion."

"Who killed my friend?" Frank's anger had got the better of him.

Peter Watts tried to hold him back. "Let's go, Frank."

"Everything you hold sacred…" Fabricant smiled. Frank managed to pull himself away from Fabricant's grasp and turned away from the bed in disgust.

Forensic evidence from Frank's house showed three sets of fingerprints that they could not identify. The murder weapon had not come from Frank's house and they had not been able to specify exactly what it had been, but from the wounds they believed it was a hunting style knife.

Lucy Butler was arrested – or allowed herself to be arrested – on an outstanding traffic violation.

"You were in my house," Frank confronted her in the interrogation room.

"When was that?" Lucy asked. Her expression was one of studied innocence.

"You think you're going to get away with this but you won't," Frank glared at her.

"Do I fit the description of somebody you're looking for, Frank? Someone that was in your house…"

"We have your fingerprints."

"I think that you're going to be disappointed, Frank," she leant across the table towards him. "I'm not the person you think I am."

"Who are you?" Frank asked.

She moved away from him and stood upright again. "I'm the widow of Dr Ephraim Fabricant."

And so she was. Fabricant had died a few minutes earlier. How Lucy Butler knew of it was a mystery. Of course, the man had been gravely ill. It could have been coincidence. But Frank Black did not think so. Her prints did not match any they found in the house. Once Lucy Butler had paid her traffic fines they had nothing to hold her on. As Lucy Butler well knew.

That had almost meant the end between him and Catherine. Having the violence he lived with every day brought into their home in such a graphic fashion was almost more than she could take. "You can't ask me to pretend or make believe. You can't make what happened in this house just go away." What happened that day coloured the rest of their married life together, robbed Frank, Catherine and of course Jordan of a chance of real happiness. Another reason why Frank Black would never stop looking for Lucy Butler.

From the journal of Dana Scully…

I don't think I'd ever been as angry with him as I was at that moment. "How is it that you're able to go out on a limb whenever you see a light in the sky, but you're unwilling to accept the possibility of a miracle? Even when it's right in front of you."

"I wait for a miracle every day. But what I've seen here has only tested my patience, not my faith," was his reply. God, he was such a prig sometimes!

Mulder's refusal to acknowledge that my beliefs had any validity or bearing on the case almost cost Kevin his life and hurt me deeply. From the clues that Kevin's father had given me, I just knew that Gates had taken Kevin to one of his recycling plants – there was one nearby at a place called Jerusalem. That could not be a coincidence. The logo was exactly as Michael Kryder had described it: arrows that formed a circle. Full circle to find the truth.

And here I am again – another circle completed. Kevin Kryder needs my protection and I give it freely, not because its my job as an FBI agent, but because… of who and what I am.

"He told me that the sun would be turned into darkness and the moon would turn to blood and it would all be my doing, my fault. That I was the one true prophet. It was why I had to die. It was for everyone, for the new age to come. He asked me if I understood, but I didn't, not then." Kevin's brow was furrowed. For a long time he had tried very hard to forget the events of those days.

"And now you do?"

"I think so." He held up his hands, showing her the blood soaked bandages. "There has to be a reason why I'm like this, Agent Scully. Why the people I care for get hurt or die?"

"I don't know, Kevin," Scully said softly. "I wish I did." Her own losses hung heavily on her for a moment – her father, Melissa her sister, Emily her daughter. Mulder.

"I mean we both felt we were being called upon by a higher power to do what we did." He began to pace, rubbing anxiously at his lacerated palms through the thick wad of bandages that protected them.

"Kevin… do you think this woman wants to kill you?" she asked.

Kevin nodded. "I think she wants something from me first though. It's part of something big – bigger than all of us, something world changing. Right now I'm thinking I should let her do what she wants."

"No!" Dana burst out, her reaction, her revulsion at the thought automatic and unstoppable.

"Perhaps that is how it's supposed to be," Kevin said. He indicated the cross hanging from the delicate chain around Dana's throat. "He did the same thing, after all. Walked right up to it, eyes open."

This is different, Scully wanted to tell him, but the words died in her throat. "We've got to get you far away from here. Keep one step ahead of her if we can. And I'm coming with you," she said.

"Of course," Kevin said. "There will need to be a witness."

Dana wanted to tell him to knock it off, not to talk in such fatalistic terms, to quit it with the neo-messianic crap but she knew it was pointless. The veracity of his words, of his course of action rang through her. Monica would have a fit if she knew what Dana was contemplating. Monica was still focused on Lucy Butler, obsessed with Owen's warning, filling in the few gaps in the Millennium Group files on her with help from her contacts at the BAU. She remained convinced that Dana was Lucy's real target, not Kevin.

"I need to sort a few things out but it shouldn't take me more than a day. You start thinking about where we should go. See if you can get any further insights into what she wants."

"I think I should go home first," Kevin said. "I think I need to talk to my father. I dreamt about him last night."

Michael Kryder had been on her mind lately as well. "Okay, first stop Loveland," Dana agreed. She gathered up her things. "Stay here. Don't go out. Don't open the door to anyone."

"Yes, mom," he grinned up at her and suddenly she saw so clearly the ten year old boy she had first met.

Dana wholeheartedly hated the decision she had been forced into. She had to go on with Kevin alone. So Monica would not find out what she was planning. Not until it was too late for her to do anything about it. Dana hated keeping things from her partner – it smacked too much of how Mulder had treated her a time or two too many - but it was the only way to ensure her safety.

As had become her custom with cases that troubled her. Dana went to her local church to pray. She sat in a pew for a few minutes, gathering her thoughts. She could feel it pulling at her again, the need to rationalize, to seek some sort of scientific, logistical explanation for the things she had seen. Something that would take her outside this church and its precepts. Something that would transform this case, give it a validity beyond what it was. A simple question of faith, of belief.

She felt a chill on the back of her neck. Someone else had come into the church. The chill did not dissipate. Someone… something was watching her. She stared resolutely at the altar, trying to centre herself, trying to reacquaint herself with that feeling she had once experienced in the Buddhist Temple in Washington's Chinatown on the day that William was conceived…

She remembered how out of sorts she had been with everything and everyone that day. She had argued with Mulder, she had discovered that her ex-lover and one-time mentor Daniel Waterston was dying and had a less than satisfying encounter with his daughter Maggie, who blamed her for the break-up of her parent's marriage. Then there was her encounter with Colleen Azar and her partner Carol, how she had been so rudely dismissive and judgmental of the woman's beliefs at first. She would like to believe that she was not that person any more. But some days were harder than others. She still didn't understand why she had such a difficulty with the concept, something that came to Monica and Melissa as easily as breathing. Living beings existed beyond the physical dimensions of time and space, they were composed of layers of energy and consciousness. Emotional imbalance could manifest as physical symptoms that might or might not respond to conventional medical therapies. Everything happens for a reason. Every choice had consequences; you just had to have faith that the choices you made in this life were the right one.

Monica didn't have a problem with that. Nor did she have a problem believing in Dana Scully. If Dana said it was so then it was so. And Dana recognised that her partner was a rare combination, a highly rational person who just happened to be able to entertain extreme possibilities. Just because she had not personally witnessed the incidents herself she had faith in Dana. As someone else had once told her: perhaps these things were only meant for her to see. Monica could accept that. Mulder never could.

Dana did not know if that was possible, but there was undeniably a comfort in the thought. She was not just a faceless cog in the machine. Perhaps she had seen these things because she needed to. Perhaps her whole life so far had been preparation for this moment. Perhaps Kevin's messianic mindset was getting to her more than she liked to admit.

These 'spiritual' incidents that she alone was witness to were not mere works of imagination - as Mulder would have preferred to believe. She was so glad some days that he was out of the picture. However she was not so sure how she felt that Monica Reyes seemed to be as intimately caught up in the events as she was. Dana could not deny that what she had seen had rekindled her faith. 'Sometimes we must come full circle to find the truth'. But was anyone listening any more? That was the real mystery.

Monica was also a Roman Catholic, though her personal belief systems were more spiritual and ancient. Perhaps that was why she had no doubts over Dana's profession of faith, of the existence of miracles and mysteries. She had grown up in and around New Orleans and Louisiana. She was an expert in so-called satanic cults. Like Dana, she had come face to face with inimical evil and she had survived.

The feeling of being watched persisted. Dana heard footsteps coming down the nave towards her, a moment's pause and then the sound of someone shuffling to sit in one of the pews a few rows back from her. The footsteps were light, feminine and Dana could detect the scent of roses, pleasant at first but rapidly becoming cloying, as if too long spoiled in the sun. She determined not to look round. Whoever she was, she was entitled to her privacy the same as Dana herself was.

Dana heard a whispered prayer, sibilant with fervour, the words initially unfamiliar until she identified them as Latin and subconsciously began to translate them. With a queer, cold thrill, Dana realized that this prayer was no part of any catechism. It was a blasphemy, an invocation to evil, to the Devil itself. Despite her will, the words began to work on her, sapping her strength, stealing her warmth. Dana's fingers closed around the small silver cross she always wore and nestling beside it the antique silver heart-shaped locket Monica had given her for her birthday, containing delicately etched images of Emily and William. They gave her the strength of will to do what must be done.

The fervent whisper was growing in strength. It was not her imagination that the light around her appeared to be diminishing, a bitter chill in the air; flames from the candles on either side of the altar guttering and burning low.

Dana stood up, turned towards the sound of the voice. "You have no place here," she said. "You…"

The woman raised her head, smiled at Dana. It was Lucy Butler. "Oh, you'd be surprised, Special Agent Dana Katherine Scully, at the places I can call mine," she said, her voice silky with malice.

Without thought for the consequences, Dana drew her gun and aimed at the woman's head. "Lucy Butler, you are under arrest for the murder of Dr Ephraim Fabricant, Detective Frank Bletcher, Howard Gordon and John and Ursula Saxum, of twenty five counts of kidnapping and of making threats against the lives of Frank, Catherine and Jordan Black and Kevin Kryder…" Her voice was drowned out by the sound of Lucy Butler's laughter. The gun in Dana's hand suddenly became too hot to hold, searing the skin of her fingers. Hurriedly, she dropped it onto the pew and took a step back.

The candles set around the church began to snuff out one by one. Lucy smiled at her, her eyes alight with an unholy joy. "You think you're so special, don't you Dana. You always have. What with that seer who told you that you would not die. Getting assignments from aliens and angelic beings… You think you're on a mission for God here, don't you. Well, he won't help you not even here in this place of worship to him. I could end your life, just like that, Dana," Lucy smiled. "Snuff it out with a thought…"

Dana stiffened. It was as if a small, warm hand had taken hers, delicate fingers curled around hers in absolute love and trust, a child's hand. Her daughter's hand. The pain of her burned fingers faded and vanished as if it had never been. She had Emily's love, Emily's protection. Lucy Butler could not touch her. The dank oppressive atmosphere began to lift. "Then why don't you, Lucy? Show me how powerful you really are. The candles are just a cheap parlour trick." She took a step forward, her expression intent. "Snuff me out."

Lucy could obviously sense that something had changed. Now it was her turn to take a step back. "It's not time for that," she sneered. "I want to have a little fun with you first, Agent Scully. This is just a warning shot. Don't involve yourself with Kevin Kryder. He is mine. He has to answer for what he is."

"And what would that be?" Dana asked.

"A mistake. A glorious mistake." Lucy smiled, cocked her head. "But then you know all about those don't you, Agent Scully. Your son… why would you deny anyone else what was granted to you?"

"I won't let you have Kevin Kryder, Lucy. I swore to protect him. And I will. With my life if necessary." She took another step forward. "I'm leaving now." The small unseen hand still in hers, Dana walked past Lucy up the nave of the church towards the doors. As she approached, Father McCue appeared out of a side chapel.

"Dana – I thought I heard your voice. I…" he must have noticed her strained expression. "Is everything okay?"

The painful prickling feeling at the back of her neck had eased, the sensation of a small hand in hers faded after one last caress of her palm. She knew, if she turned around to look, that the church would be empty. "Yes… I'm fine... now. Father, I need your help…"

Dana never expected it to happen. They met under the worst of circumstances after all. Everything about Monica aroused Dana's suspicions back then. Hormones unchecked, raging her emotional control on a knife edge, everything about her aroused Dana's desires. Doggett vouched for her which was something, but not enough. There was a 'twitch' of familiarity about her and when it finally hit Dana who she reminded her of, she wanted to cry. Monica reminded her of Melissa. Another ghost. Another death on her already overburdened conscience.

For far too long in retrospect she dealt with it the only way she knew. Her walls went up even higher, thicker, rimed with ice. Dana knew that she was being barely polite, that the other woman had done nothing to deserve her frosty ire. Monica was nothing but open and friendly even if she talked like a new age therapist on occasion. Dana just took it as another reason not to trust a word she said.

"I just have certain spiritual notions. I believe there are energies in the universe. It might sound kind of cosmic but I think I'm sensitive to them. I get these feelings…"

Deja-vu. It was Missy all over again. For a moment Dana missed her sister so keenly.

Dealing with her pregnancy, with Mulder's disappearance… Dana barely had the resources to maintain even a veneer of civility. Then Monica had told her what she was feeling from Dana herself: fear.

"And fear's not going to help you find him or anyone else. Maybe you can try and stay open too."

For a moment Dana remembered her experience in the Buddhist temple, the sense of peace, of connection with the Universe, its myriad wonders. Stay open. She could do that. She wasn't a bad person. Now all she had to do was prove that to Monica.

Their paths crossed a few more times before and after Dana went on maternity leave, comets in eccentric orbits. And every time the pull towards this beautiful, complex woman grew stronger and Dana found it that much harder to resist until in the most extreme of circumstances, in a daze of pain and terror, Dana heard Monica say that she was beautiful. She had just trusted not only her life to the woman but that of her unborn son. Dana saw the love for her in Monica's eyes, knew it for the truest of emotions. And as Monica's sure, steady hands brought her own sweet William into the world Dana knew that Monica loved him too, that whilst William drew breath Monica would protect him against all danger no matter what the personal cost.

On Doggett's recommendation, Monica was assigned to the X Files in her place whilst she was on maternity leave. Dana felt that Mulder's legacy was in good hands. She knew that she herself could not go back to that basement office. That part of her life was over. She had a higher cause now: the well-being of her son.

Mulder's defection hit Dana hard. But Monica was there to help. She watched William for her, brought groceries that she though Dana might need when she dropped by. And as the X-Files drew her remorselessly into their clutches again Dana thanked god or whoever was listening that Monica Reyes had her back.

And the woman seemed to have infinite patience. She did not push or prompt, she did not take things further or faster than Dana was comfortable with or hint that this wasn't what she wanted. She was never less than polite, gracious and supportive.

Over the next few months they became a couple. Monica spent most of her off-duty time at Dana's house. They talked about her moving in properly but both women were afraid how that might be seen in certain circles. There was also the question of 'consummating' their relationship. They had made out on the couch a few times, had slept in the same bed on the odd occasion but had not yet fully consummated their relationship. They were both holding back from that final step. Then, after their encounter with the so-called 'Shadowman' when they realized that every move they had made during the course of their relationship had already been noted and recorded they made the decision. What did they have to lose any more?

Dana remembered Shadowman's words: "I know your blood type, your resting heart rate, your childhood fear of clowns. I know the name of your College boyfriend, your true hair colour, your ATM pin number, favourite charities, pet peeves. I know you spend too much time alone. And I know ... that on one lonely night you invited Mulder to your bed. I don't know who was more surprised – me or Mulder. But he didn't have your heart. No one did, did they Scully? Not until her. Not until Monica Reyes…" He paused for a moment as if considering his words, his voice little more than a breath. "What you might not know, Scully… is that she feels for you every bit what you feel for her. But she won't act. Not until she's certain it's what you want. The ball's in your court, Agent Scully."

Oh, Monica had her heart all right. And her soul. And the way Monica's mind worked, her metaphysical outlook, her empathy made Dana feel closer to her sister and finally she made peace with herself over Missy's death. Of all the gifts Monica's presence in her life had given her, this was perhaps the greatest. For all their differences, she could talk to Monica about things they didn't agree on without being reduced to sniping or arguing about it – something Dana had never achieved with Melissa. She had the very strong sense that her sister would have approved of Monica and that the two women would have been good friends if the fates had allowed. Dana wished more than anything else that she and Melissa had reached this point in their relationship. It hurt Dana now to think how often she had willfully misrepresented her sister, mistaking compassion, optimism and empathy as 'new age flakiness'.

Dana trusted her life to Monica without question – her life and the life of her son. She understood about Mulder: accepted Dana's complicated emotions regarding the man. Even though Dana had told her more than once that whatever had once been between her and Mulder was now ancient history. He had no part in her future or that of her son. They had made the effort to talk about it – about him – on what constituted their first official date. A clearing of the air. No holds barred, no secrets. Dana realized afresh how lucky she was to have this woman in her life: Monica had seen her at her worst, knew the amount of baggage she carried, the number of ghosts at her back. And still she wanted a relationship.

"You miss him a lot." This was a fact, not a question.

Dana didn't trust herself to speak. She nodded. Monica moved closer, laid a gentle hand on her arm. "He'll be okay… I have faith in that and so should you, all that you've been through together. I know that doesn't make it any easier, but you have me and you have John – and your mother and William of course. And Skinner and the Lone Gunmen have your back. We can't take his place, I know, but we can carry on what he started." The caress of those long fingers on the skin of her forearm was reassuring and arousing at the same time. "And if you ever want to talk about him… I've been told that I'm a good listener. It's hard to lose someone who means so much to you… And I just want you to know that you don't have to go through that alone."

They respected each other. They complemented each other. That was the secret to their relationship. Monica did not mind that Dana was a skeptic and frequently questioned her 'intuitions' because at the same time she knew Dana respected Monica's apparent ability to see patterns where she could not. Dana was a scientist; she didn't deal with things at face value. But if Dana had learnt anything in almost a decade with the X-Files it was that many things in this world did not have a neatly rational explanation. She had learnt to be open to possibilities. She had learnt not to dismiss other people's experiences as baseless. She had seen too many things herself that she could not adequately explain. Whilst she might challenge some of the things Monica said or believed it was out of a desire to understand, to have things make sense rather than of belittling Monica. And Monica understood that.

With Monica, Dana could allow herself to be emotional, even vulnerable knowing that Monica would never take advantage of her. It amazed her how blessed she was by her friendship with this woman, what a gift it was to her.

Dana was not one for unnecessary physical contact with people, but Monica was exempt from that. Monica's arms were the safest place in the world, always had been from the first time the taller woman had spontaneously enveloped her in a hug.

When they did finally get together it just felt… right. Dana reveled in the feel of sleek muscled arms holding her, long slender fingers running through her hair. She tasted of cinnamon and honey and when she came she cried softly, almost a sigh but no one would ever mistake it for a sound of sorrow. Dana lay beneath her as Monica's sure touch brought her to completion, satiation, made her fly. Her dark eyes never left Dana's face. Dana realized that she had found everything she ever wanted in a lover, and that she was most definitely in love. Later, they switched places, Dana straddling her lover's slim waist, Monica's fingers deftly playing with her clit as Dana reached behind her, stroking her fingers through Monica's warm silky wetness, both of them smiling, almost laughing in the simple joy of being together. They didn't waste any time in regrets of how long it had taken them to get here. They were here now, and it was wonderful.

That first night they fell asleep in each other's arms and on waking a few hours later Dana lay and watched Monica sleep until she heard William begin to fuss and then she quietly got up to attend to her son. When she came out of his nursery a little while later, Monica was showered and dressed and standing in the kitchen making pancakes and bacon for breakfast, a pot of coffee warming on the stove. And it felt as if they had done this all their lives rather than it just being for the first time and as Monica turned to smile at Dana, Dana knew that the other woman felt the same way.

This was it. Completion. Just as Monica had told her when she did her numerological profile after the case of the Triple 9 killer.

But now she had to go on alone. There was no choice. If what Owen told Monica was true – and she had no reason to doubt either person, then Lucy Butler was targeting her just as much as she was targeting Kevin. And the encounter in the church had proven to her that Lucy was close – too close. She had threatened all that Dana loved in this world. It was up to her to protect Kevin – and to keep harm from Monica and William. And if she had to go away, to go on alone to do this - then so be it. Father McCue had promised his help, ensuring that there would be no paper trail. He had agreed to provide them with a car, access to money and a list of safe houses around the country. He had also given Scully a token, a double headed medallion with St Christopher on one side and St Brigid on the other.

"Patron saints of travelers and fugitives," he said with a sad smile. "From the little you've been able to tell me you're going to need all the help you can get. Show this and mention my name at any of the places on the list. It should be enough to get you most things you'll need."

"I can't thank you enough for helping me with this."

"I believe you're doing God's work in this world, Dana, just as much as I am. You promised this young man your protection. I should have everything you need in place by tomorrow morning. Meet me at the diner on 4th Street after the morning service."

"I will. And thank you again, Father."

Maggie Scully knew the moment that she saw the size of the bag Dana was carrying that this was to be more than just a simple sleepover for her grandson.

There had been a vague plan that Dana and William would join her at the weekend and accompany her on a visit to her eldest son Bill's house for a week or so. Dana hadn't said yes and she hadn't said no. Noting the lack of any luggage for Dana, Maggie guessed it was a qualified 'yes'.

"I'm really sorry about this, mom, but…" Maggie noticed just how tired and harried her daughter looked and any resentment or argument she might have made went out of her head.

"It'll be good for William to see his cousins again," Maggie said diplomatically. "They'll be disappointed not to see you and Monica, though." Bill Scully was getting along a lot better with his baby sister now that she no longer had Fox Mulder in her life. He was even fairly accepting of her life choices regarding Monica – especially after Maggie had informed him in no uncertain terms that she regarded Dana's partner as another daughter and would take any slight against her very personally.

"It's not just that I'm really busy…" Dana tried to qualify her statement. "Both Monica and I are working on a case… protecting a young man. It's a difficult one… there's a woman and, well, she's made some threats. I'm sure it's nothing but hot air and malice…"

"But you'd prefer William to be somewhere safe with people you trust. Of course." Maggie held out her arms and William eagerly went to them. He loved his nana Maggie with all his young heart though Mama and Moni, as he called Monica, were the centre of his small universe, the sun and moon of his life.

"I might not be able to get in touch for a couple of days," Dana said. "It's a protection detail – not even Monica will know where I am. But I'll keep myself safe. I promise and I'll ring you as soon as I can." She kissed her mother on the cheek and accepted her embrace before pressing her lips to her son's fine blonde hair. "Be good for your nana, little man," she whispered. "Mama and Moni love you very much."

Maggie Scully had no doubt of that. She also shared her daughter's belief that in Monica they had somehow got a little of Missy back as well. When Dana had brought Monica as her 'date' to Maggie's traditional family Thanksgiving dinner the previous year, Maggie didn't think anything of it at first – Dana had brought the family-phobic Mulder as her guest one year and the year before it had been John Doggett who had sat at her table. But as they sat and ate and drank and talked Maggie began to realize that Monica Reyes was more than just a colleague to her daughter. She could also see how nervous Dana was; that her daughter was afraid that her mother would reject the relationship – Maggie Scully was a staunch Catholic after all.

Maggie found her opportunity to lay her daughter's fears to rest later that evening as mother and daughter stood in the kitchen packing away the leftovers and putting them into the fridge. All that Maggie asked was: "Dana, does she make you happy?"

"Yes, mom… Monica makes me happier than I've been for a very long time." Her daughter gazed up at her, letting her see the sincerity of her words. "I love her, mom."

Maggie smiled, laid a gentle hand on her daughter's cheek. "Then that's all that matters."

After they had finished in the kitchen Maggie drew Monica to one side and let the young woman know that she was always welcome in her house and should consider herself part of the family. "It is wonderful to have another daughter again. Melissa would have welcomed you as a sister as well, I'm sure." Monica could not hide just how touched she was by that sentiment and over the course of the evening Maggie learnt a little more about her new daughter's history: how her own birth parents had died when she was very young and she had been adopted, only to lose those good people too in her early teens. Maggie just hoped that she could give the lovely young woman back the sense of family she had been missing for so long.

She held her precious grandson close, feasted her eyes on her daughter. "Just be careful, Dana, you and Monica both. I'll keep William safe for you for as long as you need me. Get in contact when you can. I'll be praying for you both."

From the journal of Dana Scully…

Monica has to go to New York tomorrow to liaise with the Missing Persons Unit there. One of the cases she has been working with John was flagged during their enquiries. With John in Louisiana until the end of the week at least that means she has to go.

This means that Kevin and I can make our 'escape' a lot easier. It means I won't have to lie to her face about what Kevin and I have planned – if you can call it a plan. We don't know where we're going, Kevin's hoping for inspiration to hit along the way I think. I just hope I can keep one step ahead of this woman. The files that Monica got from Frank Black make terrifying reading. I remember some of the cases Mulder and I came up against back in the day – the Calusari, Mrs Paddick, the substitute teacher from hell… - and I have to wonder if our paths have crossed before somewhere along the way.

I wish I could tell Monica. I want to – I hate leaving her in the dark over things, I hate that I know exactly how much this is going to hurt her but Kevin is insistent that as few people as possible know what we are doing. Father McCue had been incredibly helpful. I just wish it didn't remind me of how many times Mulder left me hanging in the breeze on cases when he was off following one of his leads. At least its only a lie by omission, rather than a bare faced lie. And yes I know how small that distinction is. But somehow its an important one to me.

We'll make love tonight and I have to try and not to let her know that I think it might be for the last time. Not because I'm going to die necessarily though Lucy Butler has an impressive list of corpses in her wake and not because Monica will not forgive my betrayal. She will. She is the sweetest most trusting person. It's because I will never forgive myself for what I have to do.

Pleasant though it was to work with another team as close knit and professional as her own Monica Reyes was plagued with the nagging feeling all day that she was missing something. One of her 'quirks' was knowing when her cell phone was about to ring and several times she had retrieved it from her pocket only for it to remain silent, as if whoever it was had it in mind to ring her had thought better of it.

Something had been bothering Dana for several days and Monica got the impression that her lover had been doing her best to avoid her company in all probability just so that she wouldn't have to explain herself. Something about this woman who was stalking Kevin Kryder had got them both on edge. Monica had meant to make time and sit down and talk it through with Dana but the opportunity had just never come up.

And last night when they had made love… Dana had always been a marvelously attentive and responsive lover but the intensity of last night had taken Monica's breath away at the time and brought a flush to her cheeks thinking about it now.

Monica quietly let herself into the apartment. It was late and William would be asleep already. She didn't want to wake him. Dana was curled up on the couch, half a glass of red wine on the coffee table in front of her, a forensics journal open in her lap. Smiling broadly, she got to her feet as Monica entered the room.

Tenderly cupping her cheek, Dana brushed her lips across Monica's. Unable to resist, Monica ran her tongue across the redhead's lips, tasting the sweetness of the wine and a flavor that was all Dana, one she hoped she would never get used to.

"Long day," was all Dana said, but the pure liquid heat in her eyes was enough to make Monica tremble. She had heard Dana characterized often enough as 'cool' even 'cold'. She was actually kind of glad that she was one of the few people who knew the truth. Monica brought her own hand up to touch Dana's cheek, mirroring her gentle, beautiful smile.

"You too," Monica said. Dana nodded, moved closer, resting her head on Monica's chest as Monica's arms slid around her slender body, holding her tenderly, one hand reaching up to smooth the cap of red hair. "How's Kevin?"

"Getting a little cabin fever, I think," Dana said. "There's still no sign of Lucy Butler."

"From what I've read in Agent Black's files, she's not the kind to give up easily," Monica said softly.

"I know," Dana sighed. "Monica… can it just be you and me tonight? It seems so long…"

"I know. I'm sorry. No more shop talk, I promise," Monica smiled. "Let me get cleaned up and say good night to William and then I'm all yours. How does that sound?"

"Wonderful," Dana smiled, "but my mom has William tonight. We're all alone. Have you eaten?"

"Agent Melrose and I had a working dinner," Monica sighed. "The man can eat… and talk…" She pulled a face. "not pretty."

Dana mock-shuddered. Melrose was notorious for his sinus problems. "Oh, that's the worst…"

Monica walked into the bedroom and paused. Candlelight flickered around the room, the air scented with jasmine and beeswax. The bed was turned down, but empty. "Dana?"

"I'm here," Dana appeared behind her, putting her arms around her and pressing herself against Monica's back for a moment before standing back, her gaze unashamedly admiring. The flickering candlelight made Monica's olive skin glow and her dark hair shimmer whilst Dana's fair skin took on an almost ethereal glow and her hair was molten copper.

Dana moved behind Monica again, tracing feather light touches along her collarbone and shoulder blades and down the curve of her spine. Fingers trembling, Monica started to undo the buttons on her blouse, Dana pulling aside the loosened collar to press her lips along where her fingers had traced a moment before.

Clothed only in candlelight, Monica stood before Dana. Shining blue eyes roved over her body with the weight of a physical caress and where the redhead's gaze traveled, goosebumps rose.

Reaching for the smaller woman with the intention of undressing her, Monica paused as Dana caught hold of her hand, turning it to kiss the pulsepoint, palm and fingertips. Heat sizzled through her centre at the gesture and she felt her breath quicken in response. Tracing her way up the skin of Monica's arm, across her shoulder and finally to her lips, Dana murmured. "Let me do this, Monica, let me love you tonight, please."

Completely undone by the tender request, Monica could only breathe "Yes". She reached out to stroke Dana's cheek. "But there is something I need to do first." Long slender fingers slowly worked the buttons of Dana's shirt loose, revealing the pale freckled skin beneath, the soft mounds of her breasts supported by a pretty lace bra in a shade of dusky rose.. Kneeling, she undid the fly on Dana's jeans, pulled the fabric down revealing matching lacy underwear. She pressed her lips to the slight rise of Dana's belly, kissing the sensitive skin just below her navel, smiling against her soft skin as she heard Dana's gasp. Monica took her time, caressing the smooth skin of Dana's thighs, paying particular attention to the sensitive skin of her inner thigh and the back of her knees. Dana's hand came to rest on Monica's shoulders and she sought to keep herself upright as Monica helped her to step out of her jeans. Then she hooked her fingers in the sides of the lacy pants and slowly drew them down, revealing a triangle of dark red curls at the apex of Dana's thighs already glistening with arousal. Monica could feel the complementary heat and wetness building up between her own thighs. She pressed an almost chaste kiss to the curls, feeling Dana's abdominal muscles flutter and then smoothly got to her feet again, looking down at the shorter woman with a smile. She did not bother to try and hide how much her hands were trembling as Dana unclasped her bra and let it drop from her body. Skin to skin they held each other close, both teetering on the edge of losing self-control. Mouths sought each other in open, hot wet kisses. Hands roamed freely, caressing, exploring familiar territory long ago committed to sense-memory.

They almost fell onto the bed, Dana managing to control it so that she was on top, her storm-blue eyes wide and dark. Monica found her hands pinned above her head, leaving her open and vulnerable, a willing sacrifice. She gasped, her back arching reflexively as the silk of Dana's hair whispered across her sensitive skin as Dana bent to take the erect peak of Monica's breast into her mouth, her tongue laving over the acutely sensitized nipple for a few moments before turning her attention to her other breast.

Monica could not hold back the desperately needy-sounding moan that escaped her at that. Her entire sensory nervous system seemed to be focused on those two areas, her sweetly aching breasts and the wet pungent heat that pulsed between her legs. Dana let go of her hands but Monica kept them in place, looking up at her lover, the fine lines of her rib cage, the pert breasts, dark nipples erect, the flush of arousal visible like a sunset across the expanse of creamy lightly freckled skin. Dana settled between Monica's legs, gently stroking her inner thighs as Monica drew them up, parting them to reveal herself. Deliberately teasing Dana began a trail of soft kisses across Monica's lower abdomen again, from her navel down to the dark arrow of hair, the kisses becoming more open mouthed as she drifted lower. Just when she seemed poised above Monica's clit, she turned her head to one side and began the same process of kisses along the inside of Monica's thigh, first the left and then the right.

Monica's entire being focused on Dana's touch as she drew closer to Monica's centre again and again before backing off. Monica tried to push herself closer but Dana's hands settled on her hips, gently but firmly holding her in place again. As she began to place the next series of kisses across Monica's heated flesh, Monica could distinctly feel the shape of her smile against her skin. 'Minx,' she thought dazedly before even that level of thought became impossible to sustain.

When the tip of Dana's tongue touched the hood of her clit, Monica nearly passed out with the sensation of electricity that sizzled through her whole body. But that was nothing to the sensation of Dana humming her pleasure against her skin as she suckled gently on her labia for a moment before swiping her tongue the length of Monica's perineum, her teeth grazing her clit. Monica cried out, her hands clenching the sheets. She received only the tiniest respite before Dana's mouth was on her stomach again kissing her way up her sternum, softly kissing and mouthing her breasts as small fingers curled against her folds, eased their way deep inside her, pressing against sensitized tissues as she felt her muscles tense around the oh-so welcome invader.

"Look at me, Monica," Dana whispered softly, moving to straddle one of Monica's thighs. Monica struggled to comply, to force her will to action against the paralyzing waves of pleasure still rocking through her. Dana's eyes glittered, moisture glistened on her cheeks and chin and Monica quivered as Dana slowly and deliberately licked her lips. Monica bucked, her thigh pressing reflexively against Dana's hot swollen centre as Dana's thumb flicked over her clit before pressing down and circling again. Dana gasped, her moan so deep and filled with want it was almost a growl as the pressure of Monica's thigh eased some of her own need.

Part of her wished she could do more to reciprocate but Monica sensed that for some reason Dana did not want that from her tonight. Sensation built upon sensation, relentless overwhelming releasing. Sensing that she was close Dana sought to drive her over the edge, murmuring Monica's name over and over again telling her that she was beautiful, that she was loved.

Then she was flying, her body bow-taut Dana's name on her lips. Dana stayed with her all the way, her touch gentling, bringing her down safely into the haven of her arms again. Monica could feel her heartbeat hammering in her chest as Dana kissed her throat and down her sternum again before softly planting her lips directly above her heart and then overlaying it with the palm of her hand, her eyes closed. Monica got the distinct impression that Dana was making some sort of silent pact or promise and wanted very much to ask what was going on in her lover's head at that moment but something made her stop. Dana would tell her in her own way in her own time. Monica had to trust to that for all that lay between them.

Monica tried to even out her breathing, gradually coming down from her high. "Goddess," she whispered. "Dana, I…" she shook her head, her heart too full of emotions she wasn't sure that there were words to express. She willed her empathic senses to convey to Dana a little of what she was feeling right now through the bond she was certain existed between them and was rewarded with what sounded suspiciously like a sob from Dana, who lowered her head so that Monica could no longer see her face. Monica reached up, brushed a lock of red hair from her cheek. "You are amazing, you know that, don't you?" She felt Dana sag against her a little and held onto her, rolling them both slightly so they lay along side each other. Dana buried her face in her shoulder, still not speaking. Monica traced the contours of Dana's spine with her fingertips, knowing from previous experience that Dana found the sensation soothing. Dana's skin was like silk under her ghosting touch. She worked her way up Dana's spine until her fingers entangled in her hair at the back of her neck. She could feel the ragged scar where John Doggett had cut the parasite from her body a few years before, saving Dana's life and sanity and a little below that the slightly raised bump that was the alien implant. Dana had never had it removed again even after she was given the all-clear from cancer. She did not want to take the chance that the cancer would recur.

These were part of what made Dana amazing, that she had come through so many travails, so many losses and was still the woman she was. The woman that Monica Reyes had come to love with her whole being, body mind and soul.

Monica took a deep breath and sweet though the memory was resolutely turned her thoughts back to the matter at hand. She had a job to do. Working closely with the Investigating Agent, Vivian Johnson they compared notes, assessing new evidence on the missing person case as it came in. As the day grew on it became obvious that any link between their cases was coincidental at best and then just before midnight the New York team got the best news they could – their missing person turned up alive and if not exactly well, at least with nothing that a few days in bed and a long talk with a counselor wouldn't go a long way towards solving.

Agent Johnson offered her the use of her spare room for the rest of the night and after securing a seat on the nine a.m., flight out to Washington, Monica gratefully took her up on the offer.

Just before she fell asleep she had the feeling that her phone was about to ring again and feeling curiously agitated when it didn't she called home only to get the answering machine.

"Dana… it's me. It's late and you're probably already in bed so I'm just checking in. I'll be on the nine a.m. flight in the morning so I should be able to meet you for lunch. Give William a kiss for me. I love you… Bye…"

Suddenly bereft, she put down the phone and settled herself for sleep, certain that she wouldn't manage to, but all too soon her eyes grew heavy and closed.

Dana stared at the phone, tears in her eyes. She was such a coward. She had considered phoning Monica several times during the day to let her know at least a little of her plans so that she wouldn't worry as much but every time she had chickened out.

She was doing to Monica what Mulder had done to her so often in the past. There was no way around it. Guilt ate into her that even hearing Monica's voice gave her no relief. She didn't pick up, she just sat in the darkness and listened to that beloved voice.

"I'm sorry, Monica," she whispered. "I have to do this alone, for all our sakes."

Their apartment was quiet when Monica let herself in just before midday. Monica knew immediately that something was wrong. The refrigerator had been cleared, the trash dumped and William's favourite toys and blanket were missing as was his suitcase and one of Dana's smaller cases, her toothbrush, toiletries and a selection of clothes.

"You're panicking unnecessarily," Monica told herself. "Dana's taken William and gone to Maggie's. Maggie was talking about them taking a trip down to Bill's a couple of weeks ago."

But the last she had heard from Dana, her partner had been undecided whether to do it or not. And if she had made a decision, she would have talked about it to Monica first, or at least left her a note. The one message on the phone was the one she had left from the previous evening. She telephoned Maggie Scully.

"William's here, with me. He's absolutely fine. Dana dropped him off late afternoon the day before yesterday. She said she was going to be out of town for a few days and you were busy on a case. Monica – is everything all right?"

"It's fine, Maggie. Just a little miscommunication," Monica lied. "I was out of town myself until this morning, I didn't think Dana was leaving until after I got back. Give William a kiss from his Moni – I'll talk to you in a day or two."

She hung up before the far-too-perceptive woman could ask her any more questions for which she had no easy answers. Casting one last troubled glance around the deserted apartment, Monica picked up her car keys and left.

By the time Monica got there, Mulder's place was as deserted as their own apartment had been. There was no sign of Kevin or Dana. There was also no sign that anything untoward had happened. There was just the feeling that had persisted with her since the previous afternoon: that something was very wrong. Monica Reyes frowned, not liking it. Her stomach, always sensitive to such emanations, roiled uncomfortably. Something was very wrong. Where were they? Dana wouldn't just…

Monica began looking around for clues. She could not believe what all her instincts were telling her, that Dana would just bail out on her. There were a few of Kevin's things scattered around the room. Bloodsoaked bandages and soiled dressings were in the rubbish bin along with the packaging from fresh dressings. Dana had obviously rebandaged Kevin's hands and feet before they left. There was a file on the table containing several photographs. Monica recognized a much younger Kevin with his parents. They looked normal, happy. There were pictures of Kevin's hands and feet, clearly showing the bleeding wounds. Some were from the first case, others from the set Dana had taken a couple of days ago showing the matching injuries on the palms and backs of his hands that appeared to go all the way through his flesh. The wounds on the soles of his feet were bleeding freely, the wounds on the top of his feet just beginning to open up. The wound in his side was still just a red scratch across his ribs.

The last photograph was of Kevin's first nemesis, the industrialist Simon Gates. He stared out at her, his eyes seeming pits of darkness. She could not make out the background to the photograph at first, it was blurred as if it had been moving very fast. The illusion was persuasive, it was a moment before she realized that it really was moving and that Gates had turned to look directly at her, twin flames reflected in his eyes. "You can't help her, Agent Reyes," he informed her. "How can you help her when you can't even help yourself? It's you that she wants." Monica dropped the photograph. It fluttered to the floor landing face down. Monica made no move to pick it up again.

Her cellphone rang. "Reyes," she answered, staring at the fallen photograph in horrified fascination. The edge was beginning to curl and blacken in oily splotches as if the photograph was decomposing.

"You have to go now." It was a child's voice, a little girl. "She's coming for you." The line went dead. The fallen photograph was no more than a puddle of black stinking goo on the carpet.

Monica looked around her, shivering. It wasn't her imagination that the air temperature had just fallen several degrees. Mulder's apartment had always struck her as being a particularly cheerless place but suddenly she felt as if she was suffocating, as if an unnamable evil was pressing in on her from all sides. Picking up the file and the remaining photographs she made her way to the door. She reached for the handle and snatched her fingers back as if they had been stung. Frost glimmered dully on the handle, began to spread across the laminated wood surface of the door. Suddenly, Monica could see her breath pluming in the chilled air, her scalp prickled. Whatever was in the hallway was inimical, the darkest evil. And it had come for her.

Steeling herself she flung open the door. There was only darkness and a rank chill that ate into her bones. Then something slammed into her driving her off her feet. She landed hard against the couch. Winded, she tried to get to her feet, one hand pressed to her aching ribs. There was a white blur and she was held up against the wall, a hand clamped around her throat with preternatural strength. Lucy Butler stared up at her, her ageless blue eyes almost black with malice. "You cannot escape me," she whispered. "All your travails will be for nothing. I shall not be denied." Monica could not breathe, could not move. The darkness that claimed her was not her friend.

Father McCue was waiting for them as promised at the diner with the directions and the name of their contact on the next stage of the underground railroad. He shook his head. "It scares me sometimes that I'm still doing this. My predecessors in this parish have run some sort of underground railroad through this church for the past two centuries – escaped slaves, battered women, Vietnam draft dodgers, civil rights workers, women wanting safe abortions, all people seeking escape from persecution of one kind or another without any resource other than their faith. One day I hope it will not be necessary but I can't see that happening any time soon." He laid his hand on Kevin's shoulder. "Good luck, son."

"Thank you, Father," Kevin said.

After a moment's hesitation, Father McCue drew Dana into a fierce embrace. "I will look to your mother and to William, do not fear," he said. "Be safe, Dana."

"You've known him a long time," Kevin said, as he settled into the passenger seat of the car Father McCue had rented for them. He felt the pain flare in his ribs again as he reached for the seatbelt and knew his side would start to bleed soon. His scalp was also itching and burning and he could feel the weals beginning to form on his back and shoulders. Last time it had not got this far. He fumbled the seatbelt, the bandages on his hands making his movement awkward and precision almost impossible but at last he managed to secure it, grateful that Dana did not just take over and do it for him as many people would have done.

"Not that long, really," Dana said, starting the car, and turning to wave to Father McCue who made the sign of the cross over them blessing their journey. "I only really got to know him aft..." she paused, swallowed, "After I lost Emily." They both pretended not to notice how unsteady her voice was. "He is my mother's parish priest. She invited us both to dinner one night and erm… strongly prompted me to talk to him. I was so angry with her at the time for forcing my hand like that, but she was right," she remembered fondly. "I hadn't been a member of the church for quite some time. But, as you know, I never quite stopped believing, either. I turned back to the church for, well, comfort, I suppose. A year or so later he was involved in a series of strange events - it was never officially a case..." As they drove through the pre-dawn streets and out towards the I-495 North to Maryland, Dana told him about Dara Kernoff and her sisters. "Father McCue asked me to visit the Kernoff's. Their adopted daughter had recently died in mysterious circumstances. He thought... with my experiences, I might be able to give them a little comfort."

"And were you?"

Dana was silent for a long moment. "Dara Kernoff was sixteen years old, a profoundly physically and mentally handicapped young woman who was very much loved by her adoptive parents. They were about to have her baptized into the church which was how Father McCue knew about them. And then she died. All they wanted was the truth, an explanation for why such a terrible thing had happened to such an innocent."

"So I guess there were things about her death that made it an X File."

"Actually, I kept it off the books, it was never officially written up as a case file, but yes – if such a thing existed it absolutely fit the profile for an X-file. For the first time in her life Dara Kernoff walked. In the early hours of the morning she somehow got out of her bed, walked down the stairs in her house and out into the street. There she was apparently struck by lightening though no one saw or heard anything. Her father had heard the front door open then close and went downstairs to investigate. He found Dara a few minutes later, kneeling in the street, her body frozen in a posture of adoration. Her eyes had been burnt out."

Kevin pulled a face. "Gross!"

"Yeah," Dana said with some feeling. "Anyway, I promised the Kernoffs that I would see what I could find out about the official investigation into the case. No one was telling them anything. The Kernoff's, Mr Kernoff especially, were in a terrible state..."

"Let me guess, they could not understand how God would let such a terrible thing happen to such an innocent as their daughter," Kevin smiled without any humour. "They have a point."

"I reviewed the autopsy findings with the Coroner. She was standing by her theory of lightning strike only because she could not think of another rational explanation for Dara's death. Science only tells us how not why after all. She had no explanation for why Dara had been found in a position of genuflection or why the only physical damage was the burning to her eyes. There were no other signs of tissue damage, no other physical trauma to her body."

"What was clear was that Dara had an unusual array of physical abnormalities. She was polydactyl, her hands and feet had extra digits though the Kernoff's had had those surgically removed. She had severe developmental problems, no speech and required 24 hour care. She also had a severe degenerative form of scoliosis leading to a malformed spine which meant she was effectively wheelchair bound."

"Poor kid… yet you said she walked to her death," Kevin said softly.

"Yes. On the day that she was baptized and received into the Church, for the first and last time, Dara Kernoff walked. Under any other circumstance it would have been considered a miracle. The Coroner said something I've never forgotten: 'It's as if God Himself struck her down'."

Monica struggled to open her eyes. What little air there was around her was hot and smelt strongly of hydrocarbons. It was dark, her range of movement seemed extremely limited. Her whole back felt like one huge bruise and her head hurt. Her throat was parched and there was something in her mouth, a gag of some kind.

She tried to remember what had happened after Lucy had confronted her but it was all a painful blur. After Lucy had thrown her against the wall the next thing Monica had been aware of was a man standing over her. He was tall, powerfully built despite his somewhat androgynous face, long dark hair and pale staring eyes. Then just before she blacked out she saw his face change, his skin wrinkle, brow thicken, hair stiffen into a crest, ears and chin elongate. He bent over her, his fingers tipped with dark red claws. His breath was charnelhouse foul as he breathed into her face, his teeth jagged carious needles. "You're mine now."

The sense memory of that was so extreme that Monica almost blacked out again just managing to hold it together. She figured she was in the trunk of a car somewhere. She had absolutely no idea how long she had been unconscious. It could have been minutes or hours. By the pained stiffness in her body, she was guessing hours. Everything was quiet and there was no vibration so the car was parked up. By the residual heat, it was in full sunshine. She could feel the moisture being leached from her body and realized she would only survive a few hours in these conditions. Panic rose in her at that, she could feel her body fighting for breath and realized what she would give just to get a lungful of clean, cool air. Her desperation brought her back to her senses and ruthlessly she pushed down her panic. She owed it to herself and everyone she loved to keep it together for as long as possible. Carefully she reviewed her situation. Her hands were taped at the wrists and her ankles were also taped, her legs brought up behind her, wedging her into position in the confined space of the trunk. She had very little free movement at all. From the way her skin pulled when she tried to blink, her eyes were also covered in tape. And then there was the gag in her mouth.

Without warning her whole body jolted, her forehead impacting with something painfully solid bringing the fresh torture of salt tears to her already stinging eyes and she felt the vibration and noise start up around her. Her respite was over. They were on the move again. Within a few minutes the struggle to breathe became too much and she passed out once more.

They couldn't get a flight back to Washington until the morning. Neither of them minded the delay. The case had been a bust anyway – another false trail. Still it had been a good day. No one had shot at them, dumped them in possibly extra-terrestrial goo or held them hostage and there had been minimum running. And it was still relatively early. A beautiful summer evening in fact.

They were eating dinner in the mom and pop diner opposite the motel when Monica spotted the flyer. "Look, there's a dance on tonight. Let's go."

"What?" Dana asked.

"Let's go dancing," Monica smiled wickedly. "I bet you got all kinds of moves Agent Scully."

Scully took a sip of her hot coffee hoping that Monica would think the heat was the cause of the blush in her cheeks and not thoughts of her tall, slender partner (in the purely professional sense of the word however much she wished otherwise) up close and personal. "It's been a while," she admitted. "I don't know… we should…"

"Don't say we should finish up the reports. This was a nothing case, Dana. We can write the report on the plane. Hell, we could write the report in the lift going down to the office. There's nothing else doin'" Monica put on her best 'begging' face, her dark eyes soulful. "Take me dancing, Dana. Show me your moves."

There was more to this conversation than either of them were admitting. Dana could read her partner pretty well and had known for some time that the things she was feeling for the other woman were mutual. But Monica had been letting her make the pace. Now she was stepping it up a gear.

Neither of them had packed for a night out dancing but they made do with what they had and Dana had to admit that the white t-shirt Monica was wearing showed her toned figure and tanned skin to perfection. By the smile on her face and the almost predatory gleam in her eye Monica also liked the look of Dana's wardrobe choice. They soon noticed that they were far from the only same sex couple on the dance floor and both of them grew bolder than they might otherwise have been. At last Monica could resist the temptation no longer and pressed herself possessively against Dana's smaller frame, her hands ghosting up and down the other woman's arms as they drew closer and closer together. But it was Dana who closed in the last few inches and there was nothing tentative about the kiss…

The car pitched and rolled, jolting her awake again. The next few hours were a blur of heat and motion and the overpowering smell of gasoline and road dust. The trunk was barely padded and sometimes she thought they were travelling across country she was shaken around so much. She had no idea how long they had been travelling nor the direction her captor's were taking. Every time she came back to consciousness it seemed to be for a briefer moment and her head never cleared sufficiently for her to make any progress in either freeing herself or scavenging any clues as to her location beyond the metal box she was held in. She had truly fallen through the cracks in the world this time and could only hope in the ingenuity and steadfast love of her friends to find her again.

"So what did you do next?" Kevin asked.

"Tried to find out more about Dara Kernoff's birth family. It took a little doing. I never imagined..." She fell silent as she concentrated on negotiating the early morning traffic coming out of Frederick and heading onto the I-70 West.

Kevin didn't pressure her to continue the story and it was about fifteen minutes later when they were comfortably on the I-70 heading towards Hagerstown that she felt ready to continue. "I wasn't the only person interested in Dara Kernoff, or her sisters. There were four of them – quadruplets. Hard to imagine… but it seemed they had been deliberately separated at birth, sent to different care facilities under different names, I think to protect their true identities. Their records had been sealed but were very patchy anyway. There was no indication of either a mother or father's name and they hadn't been born in the hospital or at least there was no record of any medical staff attending the birth, they had just… appeared there. The sister who was in the state psychiatric facility, Paula Koklos - a man who called himself Father Gregory was trying to adopt her. I suspected him of trying to harm her but he was an innocent. He died for what he believed and Paula - Paula was found in the same condition as Dara had been. She had the same deformities and degenerative condition as Dara though more of a range of movement. She also had developmental and communication problems and appeared to be profoundly autistic. A man who claimed to be from the Social Services Department - Aaron Starkey - was also involved with trying to locate the sisters. I did not understand what he was until it was too late. I didn't understand."

Kevin did not comment. He could see that Dana was working some things out with this story that the rest of it would come in her own time. "I was still partnered with Mulder at the time. I knew this was the kind of case he hated which was another reason I wanted to keep it off the books so to speak. I did ask him to use his contacts to get me Dara's birth records. He didn't want to do it at first. Gave me some excuse about tailing a possible suspect." She laughed. "It was his day off; I knew exactly what kind of 'tail' he was chasing."

"But we were already too late to save Paula. Her body was found in her room the next morning. There was no evidence of forced entry to her room, no one had seen or heard anything out of the ordinary. I got there just after the medical examiner pronounced and I could see that she seemed to have exactly the same injuries as Dara. And that they had been identical twins - or rather, as I discovered a few minutes later, quadruplets."

"Did they all have the same... I mean, were they all… you know, deformed?"

"All four girls were disabled to varying degrees, yes," Dana said, "though Dara's condition was the most extreme. One thing that Mulder lit on immediately when he arrived at the scene was the crucifix on the wall of Paula's room. It was inverted. Hung upside down. That's generally considered a protest, an act of sacrilege against the church."

"Mulder was telling me his theory that the deaths were the work of a religious fanatic when Aaron Starkey showed up. He was very quick – too quick, in hindsight - to point us in the direction of Father Gregory as a possible suspect. He told us how the priest was about to adopt Paula but there were irregularities in the paperwork which had caused a delay in the proceedings. Mulder lapped it up, of course, with all of his inherent prejudices against the church. I… I wasn't sure what to think." She sighed. "So I did the easy thing and just followed Mulder's lead as always. Mulder and I went out to Father Gregory's Church, of St Peter the Sinner..."

"Wait, wait, wait... St Peter was crucified upside down, that explains the crucifix you found... it must have been put there by Father Gregory!"

Dana gifted him with a smile. "Exactly. Father Gregory preached a very particular gospel based more on the Apocrypha and non-liturgical texts than anything regular churchgoers might recognise."

"So this Father Gregory, what was his story?"

"According to his statement, he was just trying to protect the girl, as a favour to her mother whom he claimed to have known. She had died in childbirth. We had no idea who she was, as I said, her name was not listed in the birth records."

"Father Gregory could not help you with that?"

"He claimed it would violate the sacred trust of the confessional if he told me. Apparently, before he left to set up his own church he had been an ordinary priest and had acted as the mother's confessor. Mulder wanted to know what he thought he was protecting Paula from. Father Gregory claimed we would not understand that our 'secular prejudices' would blind us to the truth."

"I bet that went down well."

"Father Gregory said that unless we accepted the truth of God's teachings that there is a constant struggle between good and evil for all souls and that we were losing that struggle we would be nothing more than fools rushing in. And that Paula and Dara were not dead by the hand of man. He called the girls 'Messengers'."

"Messengers from God. His words touched you, didn't they? Instinctively you knew the truth of them." Kevin's voice had that strange timbre to it again, Dana noted.

"Yes. It was strange… at the time I felt as if Father Gregory were speaking directly to me in a language only I could understand."

"And what did Mulder make of this?"

"He thought Father Gregory was a dangerous paranoid, suffering religious delusions that he was acting on God's will. He did not think there were any supernatural elements to the case at all."

"He probably said something along the lines of religion having always masqueraded as the paranormal to justify atrocities."

"That pretty much covers it," Dana smiled. "I told him that I was raised to believe that God has his reasons, however mysterious. Mulder commented that it was a pity 'how often He used psychotics to carry out his job orders'." He suggested I autopsy Paula Koklos, see if we found any more pointers to her death.

"And did you find anything new in Paula's autopsy?"

"X-rays of her body showed the same physical defects to her hands and feet as her sister. During the preliminary examination I also noted defects to both her clavicles - shoulderblades - bony protuberances. And then... just before I started the Y-incision, for a moment I thought I saw my daughter Emily lying on that table. And then it was Paula again." She was unable to hide the deep cold shudder that roiled through her on remembering that.

"Wow, I would have completely freaked," Kevin said quietly.

"It happened again a few moments later. And then Emily called out to me. All she said was "Mommy, mommy please," but I knew what she wanted. Emily didn't want me to desecrate Paula's body by autopsying her."

"More than that. She wanted you to save the remaining sisters."


"But you still autopsied Paula."

"It was my job," Dana said. She knew how defensive she sounded. "We needed answers as to why those two young women had been killed in such a particular way. Nothing about the case made any sense at that point."

"Not from a scientific point of view. But how about spiritually? How else do you explain Emily's appearance?"

"An hallucination brought on by stress and grief," Dana said promptly. "Anyway, Mulder had got a line on another of the sisters, known as Lisette Ford. He and Starkey were canvassing the area where she had last been seen. She appeared to be in better physical condition than the others." Dana knew she was avoiding telling Kevin about her feelings for Emily but with her recent manifestation still so raw she didn't think she could cope right now. "All the sisters were suffering from a progressive degenerative bone disorder. And I couldn't stop thinking about the spurs of bone I had found on the clavicles..."


"Why do I get the feeling you already know this story?" Scully asked. She sighed, too tired and dispirited to be truly irritated with him. "It was a crazy idea."

"That sounds like Agent Mulder talking," Kevin said.

"All that Agent Mulder wanted to do was save the lives of these young women. I don't think you can criticize him for that. Anyway, Mulder had pretty much stopped listening to me by then. He found evidence that Father Gregory was also looking for Lisette. Starkey had tracked her down to some abandoned buildings where she was reportedly living rough, but they were too late. They found her dead, in the same condition as Dara and Paula, but this time with Father Gregory standing over her body."

"But he didn't kill her."

"I didn't believe so, no. Lisette appeared to have died in exactly the same manner as her sisters, frozen in an attitude of prayer with her eyes burnt out. But Mulder still brought him in for questioning."

"You didn't agree with his decision."

"No... Yes. Father Gregory knew a lot more about what had happened to the girls than he was saying. We had to know what he knew if we were to save the last girl. He was praying when we went into the interrogation room. Mulder taunted him..."

"The 'when you talk to God it's prayer, when God talks to you it's schizophrenia' line."

Dana stared at him. "You're doing it again. How do you know what he said? You can't know... Kevin... what's going on?"

"Nothing, I swear," Kevin said defensively. "It was a lucky guess. It just seemed like the kind of smart ass thing Agent Mulder would have said."

Dana decided to let it drop for now. "Mulder asked him if he was praying for mercy or for forgiveness," Dana said. "Father Gregory just said that he was praying for the girl's souls. Then he said something that really got to Mulder. He said that Mulder wasn't really interested in the truth."

"I bet Mulder lost it."

"Just about," she glanced across at the young man. "You really don't like Mulder do you?"

"He's arrogant and self centred and I always thought he treat you badly. I know I was just a kid at the time but I always thought he was a bit of a twat. I don't know how you put up with him for as long as you did."

"He could be arrogant, yes," Dana conceded. "And driven and very blinkered in his views. But he was also loyal and passionate and he would move heaven and earth for what he believed in. He hated cruelty and lies. He was one of the best criminal profilers the Bureau ever had. And for a long time he was my best friend." And he is the father of my child. She kept that last thought to herself. Though Kevin knew about William, he had no idea who his father was. At least she didn't think he did. But given the 'insight' he had just displayed she was not so sure of that anymore.

Kevin shrugged. "Sorry. I spoke out of turn. Maybe I didn't meet him in the best of circumstances."

"Maybe. Anyway Mulder wanted to know what the significance of the upside down crucifix was to the priest. Father Gregory told me to tell him what it meant, but I hesitated."

"You didn't want Mulder to think you were over-invested in the case. Or Father Gregory to believe you were some kind of ally."

"Sometimes it's a useful tactic, but not this time. Father Gregory told us that it was the Devil who was after the girls, the Devil who had murdered them. Before we could question him any further we were called out of the room. Father Gregory stopped me, spoke to me, said I already knew what the girls were and why the last had to be protected at all costs. He said 'the Devil is here and if he finds her, his victory will be complete.' He asked us to let him go or the girl would die."

"He was talking about more than just the physical death of the body wasn't he?"

"I thought so, yes," Dana said. "He was talking about the death or destruction of their immortal souls."

"Did you believe him?"

She did not reply.

There was a diner up ahead, just before the sign advising that the I-79 North was the next exit. To Kevin's surprise, Dana pulled the car into the parking lot and turned off the engine. Belatedly, he realised that she was crying. "I'm sorry," she whispered. "Just give me a moment, will you."

He checked the time, feeling like a complete shit. He didn't exactly understand why they needed to have this conversation, he just knew that they did. They had been on the road about four hours. It was time for a rest break anyway and this was as good a place as anywhere. "Come on, I'll let you buy me a cup of coffee."

They went into the small diner. Dana asked for the rest room key and went to freshen up whilst he ordered the coffees and a toasted cheese sandwich for himself. Dana looked a little better when she came back and they sat in a comfortable silence for a few minutes whilst their order was filled and Dana got herself back under control. "I'm sorry," she said again. "I seem to filtering everything through my emotions at the moment. It came back to me then, so strongly, how… helpless and angry I was feeling at that time." She paused, took a series of deep breaths and then continued to talk, her voice stronger. "Do you think we could talk about something else for a while?"

"Like ordinary people," he smiled ruefully. The trucker at the next table over was reading a copy of 'USA Today' with his meal. He finished and got up to go.

"You finished with the paper, sir?" Kevin asked, some instinct pricking at him. There was something in it he needed to see.

"Sure – here ya go," the trucker slid it across to him. "Nothin' in it but politics I warn you. Same crap goes on whoever you vote for."

"True enough," Kevin replied. He spread the paper flat on the table top. Dana drank her coffee and pinched half of his grilled cheese sandwich. Kevin continued to scan the columns.

The trucker was right… politics, politics and more politics, from intrigue and scandal on Capitol Hill to state and local campaigns. The war in Iraq merited a couple of inches: no Americans had died in the last couple of days though hundreds of innocent Iraqi's had died in the violent civil war that was brewing. A congressman was pushing for an investigation into the funding of various evangelical ministries, particularly those that claimed the ability to faith-heal. A columnist had written a feature article to accompany the piece, reminding the readers of old scandals and scams perpetrated by so called faith-healers including the now defunct Miracle Ministry of Reverend Hartley.

Kevin stared at the newsprint, the impression of a face forming in his mind. Young, a handful of years older than him at most, dark, haunted eyes in a round face, the set of the mouth almost sulky. He could relate. He hadn't asked for this either. And Scully knew him. And with what they were likely facing, a faith healer could come in mighty handy.

He took the paper with him when they left, shoved it into the pocket in the side of the passenger door. There would be time to broach the topic of Samuel Hartley later.

John Doggett stopped just short of slamming the phone down having failed for the third time that afternoon to make contact with either Dana Scully or Monica Reyes. He knew he was coming off an adrenaline high and too little sleep over the last ten days or so but his instinct for trouble was screaming at him about this – and Reyes was the one who worked off feelings and intuition – not him. Both women had been unusually elusive the last couple of days: whatever case they were working was obviously off the books. Doggett himself had been out of town most of the week consulting on a kidnapping case in Louisiana. Whatever they were working on had obviously come up whilst he was away and he was out of the loop as a result, even though he was technically their supervisor. Once upon a time such an apparent abandonment of protocol would have horrified him, but this was the X-Files. Most of what they dealt with on a day-to-day basis was beyond the scope of any protocol. Even so, the two women usually managed to give him some kind of heads-up.

After a moment's deliberation he made his next call. He was one of very few people who had FBI Director Skinner's direct line number.

"Skinner here. What can I do for you, Agent Doggett?"

"Sir, do you happen to know what case Agents Scully and Reyes are currently working?" he asked. "I've been trying to contact them all day. Neither of them are answering their cells."

"Agent Scully informed me that she was going to be out of the office for a couple of days on a personal matter," Skinner said. "She was heading out of town. I know she had dropped her son at her mother's house. And that's as much as I know. I know that Agent Reyes was in New York two days ago following up a lead on the Rodriguez case with the local FBI Missing Persons Unit. She was supposed to fly back yesterday but hasn't reported in as far as I know. If they're working any other case, I don't know about it," he paused. "I'm not their supervisor, Agent Doggett" he said pointedly.

"I know, sir," Doggett accepted the reprimand in his usual stolid fashion.

"Neither of them have logged into the FBI system during the past 24 hours. Neither have requisitioned any vehicle nor made any travel or accommodation arrangements through the Bureau. I've given you access to their email and telephone logs. See if there's anything there. Keep me informed, John." Doggett could clearly hear the concern in the older man's voice.

Dana's call log showed several calls originating from what had been Mulder's apartment over the last couple of days. And Monica's showed several calls between herself and an Agent Johnson in New York regarding the Rodriguez case, and a day or two earlier several calls to a name that caused a cold shiver down Doggett's spine when he placed it. Frank Black. He was one of the few survivors of the infamous Millennium Group. Someone with a reputation even more tainted than Fox Mulder's. She had also sent enquiries to several local law enforcement agencies in Montana, Oregon and Wisconsin regarding a woman called Lucy Butler. All seemed to have drawn a blank or referred her back to Frank Black.

A quick call to Agent Johnson confirmed that Monica had returned to Washington the previous morning. Agent Johnson had driven her to the airport herself. "She did seem… preoccupied… about something," the woman admitted. "Not that she didn't address herself to the case, hell, I was hard-pressed to get her to take a lunch break. I hope everything's okay."

"So do I, Agent Johnson. Thank you for your time," Doggett said. A quick check with the airline confirmed that Agent Reyes, or someone matching her description with her I.D. had boarded the plane in New York and left in Washington D.C.

Maggie Scully confirmed that Dana had left William in her care two days earlier and had not been in contact since and that Monica had rung her the previous day. She was sure that Monica had been at Dana's apartment when she had phoned.

"Should I be worried, John?" she asked.

"No… I don't think so, no more than usual, at any rate," he tried to joke. "If I catch up to them I'll make sure one of them gives you a call."

"And I'll let you know if I hear anything here," Maggie said softly. "Take care, John."

Looking at his other two leads, Doggett decided to take the lesser of two evils for now and go check out Mulder's flat.

Doggett took out the spare key he had taken from the set in Dana's drawer and went to open the door to Mulder's flat but it was already unlocked. Carefully he drew his gun and eased his way inside. Someone had been there recently. There were dirty and bloodstained dressings in the waste bin next to the coffee table and an irregular shaped oily stain on the carpet that smelt as if something had upped and died there. Quickly, he checked the rest of the rooms. Someone had indeed been staying here – a man by the nature of the clutter, a couple of empty crushed beer cans, the sports pages. There were more bloodstains in the bathroom including a bloody partial hand imprint on the shower curtain. He heard a noise in the living room and went through to find a young man sitting on the couch nursing his hands which were heavily bandaged, the gauze already bloodstained across the palms and backs.

"You must be Agent John Doggett," the young man said. "Agent Scully has told me a lot about you. Forgive me if I don't shake hands. My name is Kevin Kryder."

Doggett recognized the name though it took him a moment to place it. He didn't lower his weapon. "You're the old case Agent Scully has been working on," he said. "I remember reading your file. You're the stigmatic."

"And as you can see it's flared up again," Kevin said.

"So, what have you got them into this time?"

"Events are moving, events over which I have no control but which concern me intimately. Agent Scully is safe for now, but Agent Reyes is missing. She's in great danger. You need to ask Frank Black about a woman called Lucy Butler. She has Monica, I'm certain of that much. She wants me."

They had been back on the road an hour and were on the I-70 West when Kevin returned to their previous topic of conversation. "So… Father Gregory. You believed him."

"Yes, I believed him," Dana said softly, "but I did nothing. And he died and the girl died and it was my fault."

"But you were meant to save her."

"I did save her, in a way, but she still died. Father Gregory said that the Devil had claimed the souls of the first three girls and I knew I had to save her from that. I know now that Father Gregory was mistaken. The Devil didn't take their souls, but the threat to those girls was still very real. And Father Gregory gave his life to protect them."

"The lesson for you is that there is more than one path to salvation."

It was there again, the strange timbre to his voice that made her think that this was more than Kevin Kryder.

"Are you sure that the lesson wasn't that some times God lies even to his most faithful servants?" Dana asked.

"I don't have any answers for you on that one, Dana," Kevin whispered. "You just have to trust."

I know, Dana wanted to say. Instead, she took up with her story again. "The fourth girl was called Roberta Dyer. She had also been in the care system for most of her life. Her file did not make pleasant reading, a real indictment of the system. She had been abused by those supposedly caring for her for most of her young life, she was extremely vulnerable. Father Gregory was right. She had no one to protect her."

"Anything I said to Mulder at that point he would have automatically discounted. He thought that Father Gregory was unduly influencing me. Sometimes the most twisted ones are the most persuasive was his argument. And he was right, of course. Absolutely right. But I was certain that Father Gregory knew where Roberta Dyer was. Mulder said that he did not care. As long as Father Gregory was detained, the girl was safe. I wasn't so sure. I thought that we were being misled somehow. I did not like, did not trust the guy from Social Services, Starkey. I didn't have anything definite against him, nothing I could hold up to Mulder and say: This is the real bad guy. He had been more than co-operative after all, asking Mulder's opinion in certain aspects of the case, cultivating him. Mulder's only human – he wasn't that used to people actually wanting to hear his theories. He was flattered. I had nothing he would believe other than my gut reaction to the man. Mulder wanted me to step down from the case, he was genuinely worried about me.

"I've never seen you more vulnerable or susceptible or more easily manipulated and it scares me because I don't know why."

"So I told him about my vision of Emily. He didn't tell me that it was impossible or anything, he just told me that he thought that personal issues were making me lose my objectivity, clouding my judgment. I didn't want to hear it. I told him to go find the girl. I wanted to talk to Father Gregory again. But we were both too late."

"So this Starkey really was a bad guy?"

"The worst. The very worst."

"I don't know how Father Gregory died the way he did. When I found him he was burnt so badly, it almost looked as if someone had used a flamethrower on him. Yet there was no damage to anything else in the room… and no one had heard a thing. He had been alone in the room for a matter of minutes. The agonies he must have gone through..." she shuddered. "The smell, oh god the smell in that room. Burnt flesh and sulphur… I'll never forget it." She sighed, stared straight ahead for a while. The late afternoon sunlight was low in the sky forcing her to lower the visor to cut back the glare. They had about another forty miles to go on the I-70 before the exit for the I-270 to Cincinatti and another hundred miles after that before they reached Loveland. "Look, I could use a break. Do you want a coffee or something? We've still got a long way to go today."

Kevin nodded. "Wouldn't mind stretching my legs for a minute or two." He tried to hide from her the agony that putting any pressure on his lacerated feet caused him. The pain in his side was also getting worse, the long scratch wet to touch if not actually bleeding yet. His shirt had stuck to his back and moving his shoulders caused the material to pull at his skin. At least his scalp hadn't started to noticeably bleed yet, but that could only be a matter of time, a day or two at most, he estimated.

They were coming up to a gas station and another diner and pulled in. Kevin got them a corner table whilst Scully got the coffees, ordered a tuna salad for herself and a ham on rye for Kevin and two thick slices of apple pie that looked home-baked. Her years on the road with Mulder had taught her that some of the best food in the country was served in such little out of the way diners. Unfortunately, so was some of the worst.

They were in luck. The coffee was hot and freshly made, the pie was delicious. A quick visit to the restroom to freshen up and they were on their way again, continuing to head south.

Kevin knew it was painful for her but he had to hear the rest of Dana's story. "So what happened with Roberta Dyer?" he prompted her.

Dana sighed. "Starkey had sent Mulder to the house of Roberta Dyer's foster father. He was a piece of work but he eventually told Mulder that he had more or less 'sold' Roberta to Father Gregory but was still claiming benefit cheques in her name – which was why Social Services still thought she was there. Dyer had kept her like an animal most of the time, locked in a basement."

"I was still shaken up by the Father's death. I was just thinking about heading out to his church, convinced that some of the answers I sought were there when Mulder phoned me. I told him that Father Gregory was dead in mysterious circumstances. He told me that there was no sign of Roberta Dyer at the address Starkey had found, that apparently Father Gregory or someone claiming to be him had taken her some time ago, weeks possibly months before. Dyer hadn't been too specific on how long his little scam had been going on."

"I was in the car park at police headquarters, standing by my car when I finished the call to Mulder. I dropped my car keys and bent down to pick them up when I saw someone standing beside me. I looked up… and up… His face, it kept changing, morphing from one form to another, a man, a lion, an eagle, a bull and it shone, brighter than the sun."

"I didn't understand who or what I had seen at first, it was too overwhelming. I don't remember getting home; I don't remember anything else about that night. The next morning I went to see Father McCue again. I asked him about the larger forces I believed were at work in this case. I told him about seeing Emily, about the man with four faces. He showed me a picture of a man with four animal faces and four children. The man was a Seraphim, an angel with four faces, a man, a lion an eagle and a bull who had descended from heaven and fathered four children with a mortal woman and these were the Nephalim or Fallen Ones. They had the souls of angels, but they weren't meant to be. They were deformed, tormented. God sent the Seraphim to Earth to bring back the souls of the Nephalim to keep the Devil from claiming them as his own."

"That's some story," Kevin said softly.

"They looked on his face and gave up their souls to heaven," Dana said. "The Devil had not killed the first three sisters, the Seraphim had. They had been struck down by an angel acting on the direct word of God. Father McCue told me all of this and yet he still didn't believe me. It was just a story to him."

"That seems a bit harsh considering he set you on this path in the first place," Kevin said. "The Nephalim are not part of church canon but that says more of the narrowmindedness and failure of that church."

Dana felt that thrill of disquiet again, but continued with her story. There wasn't much more to tell. "When I got outside, Starkey was waiting for me. He said that the fourth girl had been tracked down to Father Gregory's church and that Mulder would meet us there. When we got there, there was no sign of anyone. I went inside, Starkey stayed outside. The church was deserted. I turned to tell Starkey that there was no one in there when I saw his shadow. It had fallen over the threshold and I saw... I saw his horns. I saw his true self – the Horned Beast."

"He claimed his presence would spook Roberta which was why he wouldn't come into the church. He wanted me to find the girl and bring her out to him. I found a secret room under the staircase. Roberta was hiding there. She was terrified."

"I promised to help her, to take her someplace safe. I could hear Starkey asking if I had found her yet and to bring her out of the church as soon as I had. Instead we went up to the front of the church. I could still hear Starkey shouting. He knew something was going on. He swore… terrible things that he would do to us if we disobeyed him. Roberta was trembling with fear but I don't know if she knew what she was, understood what was going to happen or whether she was always in that state, her life so far had not shown her any other way to be."

"Then there was this blinding light in front of us and Roberta was pulling me towards it. Starkey was shouting for us to come out. I tried to hold Roberta back. The darkness or the light. I didn't know..." she took in a great shuddering gasp of air. "All I wanted to do was keep her safe."

"And suddenly it was Emily's hand that I was holding. She asked me to let her go… my baby girl begged me… she wanted... needed to go to the light. She called me … mummy. And I did it, I let go of her hand. She walked... she ran into the light. Then... then it faded and my Emily, my baby was gone. Roberta Dyer's body was kneeling at the foot of the altar. She was dead like her sisters, her eyes burnt out. Starkey was gone. It was over. And I felt that I had failed everyone, failed a sacred trust."

"You didn't fail them, Dana. You did not fail yourself either. The souls of the Nephalim were restored to their rightful home. Their torment was done. You do believe that don't you, Dana?"

She actively avoided meeting his gaze but took a deep breath. "Yes," she grudgingly admitted.

"The regret you feel for their physical deaths is understandable. A very human reaction. But this life isn't all that there is, Dana. There is so much more to come."

"How can you know this?" Dana asked in a hushed tone.

Kevin smiled. "I just do." His smile widened. "You gotta have a little faith, Agent Scully."

She made a sound, somewhere between a sob and a laugh.

The End


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