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Miracle Man

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Scully believed. It was almost incongruous, Mulder thought. She required proof positive of every phenomenon he'd documented, but she took divinity on faith.

"Miracles are supernatural by nature," he'd said once, as they drove somewhere.

"The proof of a miracle is the miracle," she'd told him. "I can't explain the difference to you, Mulder, but I'm not willing to put the raising of Lazarus or the loaves and the fishes on the same level as the Loch Ness monster."

"I'm sure Nessie would have loved the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, at least that second part," he'd joked, and then they'd talked about the particulars of their assignment and left the larger questions for other days.

She'd picked this case, this boy with his healing hands. Mulder, on one level, was absurdly proud, as if she were his apprentice, taking commissions on her own. On another level, he was perplexed. He couldn't decide if she was taking the case to add a genuine miracle to their cabinets full of half-substantiated rumors, or whether she'd brought them to Tennessee to witness against young Samuel.

He wondered if Scully felt she'd muddied the river of her faith, working with him. She didn't talk about it much, but nearly every day, there was the glint of gold at her throat. They'd gone for a few runs on Sunday mornings, on cases when everything was closed, and he'd never asked her about Mass. Maybe she hadn't wanted to try a new church. Maybe her faith wasn't the kind that needed company.

He and Scully had taken each other on faith. There had been no moment of confession since that night in Oregon. It seemed impossible that two years had passed since then. They knew each other so completely and so little. Inch by inch they would find each other out, he thought, and felt a twinge, anticipating a blank blue gaze. He had shared so much about the X-Files with her, but always talked around the absence of Diana. He could rationalize, saying she wasn't different from Jack or Phoebe, but he knew Scully wouldn't see it that way. She had imagined his quest as a solitary pursuit, and he had let her believe it had always been that way. He had not wanted her to imagine herself as a stopgap, filling a hole; she had made her own place, stood her own ground. It doesn't diminish the work we've shared, he wanted to tell her, but he knew it recontextualized it, like the story that circulated of Jesus' life after the Resurrection. The Apocrypha too were omissions of sin or sins of omission; it didn't make them any more or less true than the rest of the story. What meant more, the tragic miracle or the happy ending? He did not dare speak for her, and so he bit his tongue.

Meanwhile, Samuel saw through him with clear eyes (just like Barnett had - his veneer must be wearing thin). He bore a wound Scully couldn't dress, that touch couldn't heal. Even the miracle worker could do nothing for him.

In the hotel, he pulled the Gideon Bible out of the nightstand and paged through it while Scully argued gently against the probability of miracles, as if an unexplained spontaneous cure was different in any facet but terminology. There might be more on heaven and earth than was dreamt of by her med school, but she insisted on dissecting each example, weighing and measuring the internal workings of his theories. There was some comfort in her consistency. She was equally skeptical of alien invasions and plagues of locusts.

Despite her doubts, her mind had no limits. As infrequently as she agreed with him, he appreciated that she could always follow him through the maze of possibility. He mentioned energy fields and she immediately extended the thought to its logical conclusion. Whatever she believed, she respected him enough to explore his perspective, each of them testing the other's conclusions for flaws that might not hold up under the weight of scrutiny. They protected each other and the work that way, the first line of defense against the frank rejection by their superiors.

You were impossible and you happened, he thought, but did not say; it was an egotistical expression of his awe at the way she showed up every morning, ready to investigate the inexplicable.

He looked out the window of the good reverend's house and there was his sister. Scully didn't see the girl. Maybe just being near Samuel had done something to Mulder's energy, tripped some circuit that made his memories feel real. He had always been following his sister. "Imagine a miracle and you're halfway there," she told him, and he was so close he could almost take Samantha by the hand.

The well of faith was deep, but the water was poisoned.

The sheriff let the boy die. They solved the case, but their suspect passed judgement on himself; they had no jurisdiction in the afterlife, if there was one. Vance's death didn't bring back the murdered. His vengeance had killed a young man who'd yearned to use his gifts to heal. There was no justice in that. There was no resurrection for the faithful, poisoned by the strength of their belief, but there might have been a second chance for the boy in his innocence. They could prove nothing. They could disprove nothing. The church collapsed like a house of cards. Scully wrote in her report about the improbability of miracles, secure in her faith in science and her faith that God wouldn't touch a small town and leave the rest of the world to bleed. They packed their bags and drove away. Mulder watched miracles fade out of sight in the rearview mirror.