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JULY 27 - 11:37 PM

Ensconced within the annals of human history are a host of individuals so extraordinary that time, and indeed, reality itself, seem to bend and warp to accommodate them. This pantheon of remarkable men and women—da Vinci; Galileo; Cleopatra; Beethoven; Curie; Sun Tzu; Titian; Hypatia of Alexandria—are as alive as they ever were, nourished and sustained by the imagination of the masses. 

Still yet, there are those whose names and stories might eventually fade into obscurity, but who can still touch the diaphanous hem of immortality; individuals who are elevated beyond the sleepwalking mundanity of a regular life—Tibetan monks who meditate for years without sustenance, mothers effortlessly lifting the bodies of cars to rescue their squalling babes underneath, men who dare to walk upon the surface of the moon. 

Moreover, others are forced into remarkable roles; men and women who, by circumstance alone, have had the burden of salience thrust upon them. 

One cannot help but wonder at the internal lives of these individuals, their fortunes and fates, their realities so firmly divergent from the commonplace human experience. If, indeed, as my partner attests, there is some higher power, some looming deity that plots our lives as if on a chessboard, surely, this celestial being has set these individuals apart for some greater, wider purpose than their own small yearnings and desires. The worldly luxuries of comfort, of fealty, even of love, must fall to the wayside, only to be picked up when, or if, their earthly tasks have been accomplished. 

If one such soul might find another and become bound by a union of purpose, though their spirits may converge and cling together in a deep and primal kinship, their focus must never shift, never falter, lest they, and perhaps the world in turn, suffer untold consequences.

The death of Rhiannon Bishop marks the passing of one such remarkable soul. It was, regrettably, an unpreventable yet wholly unpredictable death, one committed by her own hands and witnessed by both Agent Scully and Deputy Three Calf. 

Hugh Daly, as witnessed by Sherriff Gladstone, Deputy Three Calf, Agent Scully, and myself, perished at nature’s hand, having been struck down in one of the most severe lightning storms that Horizon, Montana has ever witnessed. Finally, the primary victim, Anna Daly, previously known as both Anna Stoesz and Anna Bishop, was killed by forces as yet unknown and unknowable. 

It is my recommendation that this case be dismissed; Agent Scully and I have adequate reason to believe that Horizon’s troubles have passed. 

Three sharp, precise knocks rang through the dim haze of the apartment. Mulder half-rose from his seat as he typed out a few final words, finishing his thought, and then turned to go answer the door. “Coming,” he called, already knowing who it was from the cadence of the sound, the way his skin prickled with her proximity. 

Halfway there, he thought better of his appearance. He pried his glasses off, tossing them behind him and onto his yellowing keyboard, and ran a hand through his hair, trying to tame it. He knew it was a little ridiculous. At this point, she’d seen him at every iteration of filth both originating from his person and acquired in the line of duty, and she still seemed to like him well enough. His mind flashed on a fragment of memory, on her panting and writhing in his arms. Yeah. She definitely still liked him. 

He opened the door, and there she was. Squared shoulders, big, sheepish eyes, those gorgeous lips swollen and red and recently bitten. His Scully. A vision in a white linen work shirt and old jeans. His whole body warmed. 

“Hey,” she said flatly, as though it was an apology. “Thought you said you wanted to be alone for a few days,” he replied, deliberately soft, so that she knew he was happy to have her there. He swung the door wider in invitation, and she stalked in, ducking under his arm. 

“I’m sorry I didn’t call first,” she offered as he closed the door behind them and let his eyes readjust to the darkness of the room. “Couldn’t sleep.”

“C’mon Scully, mi casa, su casa. You want some tea or something? Shiner?” 

“Um, tea’s good,” she said, avoiding his eyes. He reached over and squeezed her arm. 

“Tea it is. Go say hi to the fish. They missed you.” 

He slipped into the kitchen, filled the kettle at the sink, fiddled with a burner until a flame whooshed to life. Her voice floated through the hall. 

“Whatcha working on?” 

He rummaged in an otherwise bare cupboard that had become home to his Scully-stash: dark chocolate, candied ginger, an overpriced box of Earl Grey. 

“Just my report,” he called back, digging out two teabags and trying to keep his voice as casual as possible. “You can read it, but uh, keep in mind that it’s a first draft.”  

He found her preferred mug, grabbed one for himself, looped tea strings around the handles with clumsy fingers. Surely she would understand him. He chewed his lip and waited for the kettle to whistle, listening closely for any sound from the living room. 

When he returned, bearing tea, she was already on the couch, her little stockinged feet crossed on his coffee table, her hands knit together and resting over her belly. She reached up to receive her cup with a weary smile. 

“What did the fish have to say?” Mulder tried, easing down beside her, his hip brushing hers. He lifted his feet to the table, and she poked at his calf with a nylon-encased toe. 

“Well, they weren’t very talkative,” she said. “Believe it or not.” 

“Weird,” Mulder replied. “They talk to me about you all the time.” This earned a smirk, and for a moment, he thought he was off the hook. 

But Scully, his Scully, never let him get away with anything, and tonight was no different. 

“Mulder,” she said, lifting her mug to exhale across the brim, “do you… really believe all that? Everything you said in that report?” She side-eyed him.  

He shifted uncomfortably. “I mean… yeah. Rhiannon… was an exceptional person, with exceptional responsibilities. So was Anna. Love… while personally satisfying, took away their ability to be exceptional. How much more could Rhiannon have done if she hadn’t spent those two years with Theo? How much more could Anna have been if she hadn’t given it all up for Hugh? How might they have changed the world for the better?” 

Scully sipped at the rim of her mug, letting the questions hang silent between them for a moment. “Mulder… I was with Rhiannon when she died. I held her in her last moments. And what I witnessed, what I experienced… I can’t help but come to the conclusion that her capacity for love is what made her an exceptional person.” 

Her hand crept over to his where it lay between them. Her skin was hot from cradling her tea, her voice quiet as a secret. “Love did not destroy her, or prevent her from achieving some greater purpose. Love elevated her. Love created her. Love… made her into the person she was always supposed to be.”

Mulder turned his hand to thread his fingers through hers, brought it up to his lips, pressed a kiss into her knuckles without daring to look at her face. “Dana,” he began, swallowing the lump in his throat, trying to quench the burn in the pit of his belly. “I’ve been trying to figure out how to say this.” 

He could feel her gaze like a physical touch, but he forged on. “Right now, I have a purpose. Finding a cure for your cancer. You and I both know that the answers are out there, that this is no natural illness. And I’m, I’m, I’m scared, damn it, I’m scared that letting myself… love you… in the way I want to… would be tantamount to giving up.” 

He braved a glance up at her face, was struck heartsick by the wet, shining blue of her eyes. “I don’t want to love you like this,” he confessed, rubbing his thumb along hers. “Doing this… with you, while you’re dying, isn’t good enough for me. I want… I want your whole life, your long life, and this… whatever we feel for each other… I just don’t see how it can coexist with the thing I want most in the world. With what I feel is my, my purpose. I want you well. I want you healthy. And the only way for that to happen is to find the truth. I’m certain of it.” 

She blinked several times, let her gaze fall to their clasped hands. “Mulder…,” she began, and he fought the sudden urge to take it all back, to tell her he was stupid, was wrong, was delusional. “The things I saw in that tower, the things I experienced… I can’t even begin to search for a satisfying explanation for any of it. I only know what I felt. And… as strange as it is, it’s given me hope. Hope that this thing I’m battling, this illness, might resolve itself. Or that, somehow, in our work, you and I might find the answers we are looking for. All of them.” 

“So you agree,” he said softly, and to his surprise, she let loose a small, quiet laugh. 

“I suppose I do,” she said, reaching over to the coffee table to deposit her cup of tea. “Though I must admit the thought of abstinence is rather abhorrent now that I know what I’m missing out on.” 

“I’m just that good, huh?” He smiled, then jerked and yelped and swelled with affection when she reached over to poke him hard under the ribs. Relief flooded through his body as they laughed together. 

“Before I forget, I, um, got an email from Marion today,” Scully said once they’d calmed, leaning her shoulder into his. “She’s gonna move into Kicking Horse. And the baby’s another girl.” 

“You think the Bishop magic is gone now that Rhiannon is?” 

“No,” Scully said, shaking her head. “No, not the kind of magic that I witnessed up there. There’s no killing love.” She chuffed, bringing a hand to her cheek. “Jesus, listen to me, I sound like Missy.” 

He couldn’t help it. 

He brought his own hand up to cover hers, and turned her face towards him. “You’re right,” he breathed, and then dipped down to press his lips against hers. She responded generously, soft and yielding and sweet. 

“When this thing’s over,” he said against her mouth, “When this is all over…” 

“I know,” she whispered. “And I’m holding you to that.” 

She opened to him, her hot, wet tongue darting into his mouth, her fingers tugging at the collar of his shirt. His blood began to beat in that primal, ancient rhythm. 

“One for the road?” he suggested, already panting, unable to keep his hands off of her, her tiny waist, the subtle swell of her hips. 

“Yes,” she said, climbing over him, lithe and little and the only thing on earth that really, truly mattered. “God, yes.”