They were the only mourners. There was no body to inter, no
clergyman to say any comforting words.
There was only the briskness of the March wind, snapping at their
cheeks. Clouds hovered in the sky, occasionally permitting the sun
to cast its brilliance on the new headstone.
Two other plots lay beside the newest grave. One for his father,
grown over with the dormant, faded grass of winter.
The other, carved out of the hardened earth, had been excavated
recently. It had received the body of Teena Mulder, days after her
Remnants of a dozen white roses clung stubbornly to that mound, near
the marble gravestone. They'd been placed there last Sunday, and
would be replenished today, and most likely every Sunday to follow.
The man and woman stood placidly, facing the newest addition to the
cluster of monuments. They each held a sheaf of flowers, and as if
driven by the same inclination, they both leaned over and placed them
on the freshest graves.
They stepped back from the edge of the packed soil, hands now free
of their fragrant burden. Without a word, they knotted their fingers
together securely, continuing their mute vigil.
Neither mourner looked at the other for several minutes, both
staring blankly at the inscription on the newest sculpted stone:
'Samantha Ann Mulder, Beloved Daughter and Sister, Born November 21
1965, Died 1979.'
Imperceptibly at first, the man's shoulders began to shake in
soundless grief. His companion unlaced their hands and turned,
weaving her arms beneath his jacket.
He leaned on her, his face buried in the gabardine cloth of her
coat. Her hands swept up and down his back, in gentle repetitive
motion, seeking to soothe his heartache the only way she knew.
He'd felt a new sense of peace since they'd returned from
California. A hope that he'd be able to live with the answers he'd
But the sight of the newly placed marker, and the contemplation of
the finality of the epitaph upon its face, were too much for his
Words seemed inadequate, so she remained silent. She continued to
hold him in her arms while he cried quietly on her shoulder.
Gradually, his tears subsided, and he grasped at some semblance of
self-possession. He inhaled deeply, calming his ragged breath. He
tried to pull away from her, but she clung to him fiercely, uttering
her first sentence since they walked over to the gravesite.
"Shush, shush, cry all you want," she crooned softly.
He stepped back from her, gently extricating her hands from around
his waist, ignoring her mild protests.
He pulled a white handkerchief from an inside pocket, then drew
close to her again. She accepted it, wiping carefully beneath her
Before he could escape her grasp, she performed the same action on
him, immobilizing him with her steady gaze. A little stunned, a
little bemused, he remained still for her, a wan smile on his face.
"That's better," she said proudly. She then tucked the item from
whence it came, smiling at his reaction as her hand strayed
underneath his coat.
They were still standing within inches of one another and he
extended one hand, then kneaded her shoulder gently.
"Thanks, Scully," he said, his hand dropping to her own.
She shook her head, obviously implying he need not thank her for this.
His smile grew a little stronger, and he tugged at her warm hand,
leading her away from the family plot.
"Wait," she said softly, pulling her hand from his.
She turned around, taking one last look at the three granite stones.
His eyes followed hers, but didn't linger on the headstones.
Instead, he studied her profile as she seemed lost in a moment of
She had led him to this place, this resolution to his long quest for
his sister. Without her, without her dogged determination to seek
out hard evidence in his mother's home, without her insistence on
pursuing every tangible lead, he would have never discovered the
truth about Samantha's disappearance.
She stood beside him at his mother's funeral. She stood beside him
now. And he hoped, he prayed, she stood beside him in the future.
Private devotion over, she glanced beyond her shoulder, catching him in
"Watching me, Mulder?" she teased.
"With interest," he responded.
"I think you have to made good on a promise now," she said, her lips
curling into a smile.
"What's that?" he asked, clueless.
"A couple of parlor games you promised to teach me a few weeks ago,"
she said coyly.
"You've never played them, before, Scully?" he said, genuinely
"Oh, about as much as I never played baseball, partner."
She winked at him, then turned away from his astonished grin, and
walked slowly toward the car.
He shook his head thoughtfully, shrugged back his considerably
lightened shoulders, and followed his future.
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