TITLE: Faith in Miracles (1/1)
AUTHOR: Shoshana
EMAIL ADDRESS: shoshana1013@excite.com
DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT: Anywhere
SPOILER WARNING: Milagro.
RATING: PG
CONTENT STATEMENT: VA
CLASSIFICATION: VA
KEYWORDS: Mulder/Scully UST
SUMMARY: Post-ep, Scully goes to see the painting at the church
after the events of Milagro.
DISCLAIMER: These characters do not belong to me.

Faith in Miracles
By Shoshana

It's been several weeks since Philip Padgett's body was zipped into
a bodybag and taken from the basement of Mulder's apartment. Several
weeks for me to contemplate my latest appearance in an X-File.

This was not a hallucination, not like the one I may have seen in
Mulder's psychiatric ward. Nor is it a glimpse of Emily, one I may
have seen on a cold, steel gurney in a morgue. This was palpable,
real. I felt pain and I saw my attacker. His dark face, shaded by
monkish hood, showed determination, purpose as he extracted my heart
with his bare hand. If there was a way, I would develop selective
amnesia, so I could just forget the excruciating pain, the shock that
this was actually happening to me, that the story ended in my death.
  
The bullets did no damage as I struggled with the hooded man, but
they did draw Mulder back from the basement, where apparently Padgett
was destroying his manuscript and himself. I have imagined what
Mulder thought when he entered the room. He hasn't told me, I
haven't asked. I must have passed out, for the next sensation I had
was a harsh intake of breath and bright light from above. And
Mulder, above me, with a curious look, one of concern as well as
expectation.

I cried, I let loose all the fear and pain as I cried in his arms.
I wasn't thinking about why I was still alive, I wasn't thinking
about some rational scientific explanation for what had just happened
to me. I just wanted to hold on to Mulder for dear life and cry.
And he held me until the cries became sobs, the sobs became whimpers,
the whimpers subsided into exhaustion.

I have come back to this church today to look at the painting of
Christ holding the Sacred Heart. It reminds me of that conversation,
that day. Padgett knew me so well, it was uncanny. Why had I been
so tolerant of a stalker? Why hadn't I been afraid of him? He made
me uncomfortable and I felt I could deal with that my own way.

I could return the charm to him and he would cease to exist. I
didn't need my partner with me to return a trinket to a lovelorn
writer with too much time on his hands. I even wanted him to feel as
though I didn't fear him, that was the only reason I stayed for
coffee. And maybe some curiosity led me there. But I thought I
could take care of myself and undoubtedly I would have left his
apartment without incident.
 
That's not how things played out. Mulder, to my great shock,
interrupted us and arrested him on the basis of those personal ads.
Another murder occurred while he was in custody and Padgett was
released so we could spy on him. He didn't write for hours, then
typing recommenced. He fled his apartment, Mulder pursued him...I am
back at the beginning, aren't I? Back to what would be an unreliable
narrative if I hadn't experienced it.
  
I am the skeptic, I do not believe in paranormal events with blind
faith. I cannot explain what happened to me that day. Why I
experienced excruciating pain at the hand of a dead man, why I had
blood all over my blouse, yet no entry wounds. My chest was
seamless, yet I had passed out in shock. And Philip Padgett was dead
in the basement, his still beating heart grasped within his hand.

I look at the painting now, studying its use of reds, browns, golds.
I study its painterly technique, brushstrokes, use of light and
shadow. When I look at the face of Jesus, compassionately holding
the Sacred Heart, filled with God's divine love, I suddenly realize
that I do not have to question what happened. I just have to have
faith that I will understand it someday, somehow. Enough faith to
continue believing in the innate goodness of others, of those who
believe in me.
 
The door opens behind me. My partner's head peeks into the church,
obviously seeking me. He must have followed me here. He strides
quickly down the aisle, smiling wanly.

"Stalking me?," I say before my better judgment can prevent me.
Mulder grimaces, shoulders shuddering.

"Sorry, bad choice of words."

"No, actually I did follow you. You seemed so distant at the
office. I've been worried about you."

"I couldn't stop thinking about this painting. You know, he must
have followed me here several times. I still don't know why I didn't
bolt for the door as soon as he appeared."

Mulder sits down in a pew, listening attentively.

"He knew all about me, my job, my schedule, day-to-day habits that I
never give a second thought to. I felt so vulnerable when he
described every aspect of my life in detail. I told him it made me
uncomfortable, it was unwelcome attention. Much of what he told me
rang true, but he could have gathered most of his facts from
following me, observing me. That's the comprehensible part. What I
can't wrap my mind around is how? How is there no scientific
evidence to explain what happened? Our only tangible proof is ashes,
our only suspect has been dead for years."

Mulder frowns and shifts uncomfortably in his seat. This was the
first time I had broached the issue. He had written the report to
Skinner, hoping to spare me the anxiety of rehashing it all. We
hadn't discussed the case when I returned to work last week. We
hadn't discussed Padgett or his cryptic comment, still hanging in the
air between us, 'Agent Scully is already in love.'
  
I knew we had expertly avoided one another and I sensed that Mulder
had felt heavy-handed, intrusive of my privacy. I had already
forgiven him that. I just hadn't told him so.

He finally speaks, in a soft, calm voice. "Scully, I'm not asking
you to draw any scientific conclusions about this case. There's no
need now. I'm just happy you're not pushing up daisies. I just want
you to feel safe. If I had left you alone and there had been any
other outcome... ," he says with a tremor in his voice.

"But there wasn't Mulder. And it's so difficult for me to believe
that what I saw, what I felt wasn't real. It was real, terrifyingly
real. The excruciating pain, the uselessness of my weapon, the blood
that remained, despite no evidence of a wound. Padgett's monster
perished with him. The misguided, lovelorn bastard saved me. But I
still want a better explanation and I know I won't get one."

"I don't know what to tell you, Scully. There's no further evidence
to study. Other than that these murders have finally ceased." He
looks down at the floor, then lifts his eyes back up to mine. I can
see anxiety in those eyes, contradicting his otherwise expressionless
face.

"I just want you to know one thing, Scully. I'm always there for
you. I will always be there to back you up."

"I know, I know that. And you always are, you always will be,
Mulder. I have faith in that."

"Maybe I underestimated the emotional toll this had on you. I keep
questioning why I released him from custody so quickly," he said
angrily.

"Mulder, how could we not release him? We had little concrete
evidence to hold him on. We believed he had an accomplice, a living,
breathing one. There was no other way. And as for me, it's not the
first time one of us has become part of an X-File. Please don't beat
yourself up over this. It's over. I'm fine."

Mulder rises from his seat and walks over to me. He puts both hands
on my shoulders and says, "Scully, please don't ever be afraid to
tell me if someone is following you, if you have the slightest
hesitation about their motives..."

His worried expression tells me that this has been eating away at
him the last few weeks. We had both suffered in silence, unable to
talk it out, too close to vivid, horrifying memories. I was deeply
grateful that he had followed me here today. I was deeply grateful
that he was in my life.

If Padgett suspected that I was in love with Mulder, so be it. I
know that we love and care about one another. I believe he will
always be there for me. I won't predict the future and I won't
speculate where this relationship will take us. But I know I'll
never be adrift if Mulder has anything to say about it.

He is waiting for my response, hands at his side now. I smile and
say with a grin, "Well, this tall, dark-haired guy has been following
me around for six years now. What do you think his motives are?"

He chuckles and takes my hands, squeezing them gently. "Oh,
wouldn't you like to know, Agent Scully? Come on you, I want to buy
you dinner."

I take one last look at the painting of Jesus, its message of faith
and redemption resonating in my own hopeful heart. Mulder escorts me
out with a gentle, guiding touch and I now believe that a miracle has
already touched our lives.

fin

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