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This information supercedes all other information found in this file.

Offspring *R* 2/5
Deslea R. Judd
Copyright 1996
This piece was written in 1996 by the author for personal 
entertainment.  It is copyright and may not be used or distributed 
(except for the purposes of private entertainment) without my 
written permission.
This book is based on The X Files, a creation of Chris Carter 
owned by him, Twentieth Century Fox, and Ten-Thirteen 
Productions.  Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, Walter Skinner, Bill Mulder, Mrs Mulder, 
Samantha Mulder and her clones, Maggie Scully, Melissa 
Scully, Captain Scully, Sharon Skinner, Kimberly Cooke, the 
Cigarette Smoking (Cancer) Man, the Well Manicured Man and 
his offsider, Frohike, Quiqueg, Gautier, Jean Gautier, Ellen, and 
Alex Krycek remain the intellectual property of those parties.  Dr Karen Koettig, Agent 
Grbevski, Melissa Samantha Scully, Grace Skinner, Clone 1 
(Cynthia), Clone 3 (Carolyn), Clone 4 (Catherine), Dr Sam 
Fieldman, Dr Paul Sturrock, Dr Marion Pieterse, Wendy 
Tomiris, Serena Ingleburn, Amarette, Dr Jillian Maitz, Hallie, 
and Emily Trent are mine and copyright. 
Timeframe/Spoilers:  To Avatar (Season 3).

Rating:  R for low-key sex.

Summary:  When Scully and Skinner fall in love, their troubles 
have only just begun...

Offspring (2/5) 
Deslea R. Judd 
Copyright 1996 


Federal Bureau of Investigation 
Washington, D.C. 
October 29, 1996 
	The phone rang.   
	Mulder picked it up.  "Mulder," he barked peremptorily, 
as was his habit when he was in the middle of something.  He 
listened, jotting down the occasional note.  "We'll be right there." 
	He momentarily replaced the receiver, then picked it up 
again and dialled Scully's extension.  "Scully?  We've got what 
sounds like an X File.  Can you meet me downstairs?  I'll tell you 
about it on the way." 
	Mulder reached his car just moments later, with Scully 
right behind him.  "You seem excited," she observed.  "What's 
the story?" 
	"Spontaneous combustion.  A scientist in a Government 
lab across town." 
	"Do we have a name?" she asked, wincing as they drove 
out of the carpark into the sunlight. 
	Mulder nodded.  "Paul someone...Sturrock," he 
amended, glancing down at his notes. 
	Scully flinched.  "Don't do that when you're driving.  
The name is familiar.  I've got a feeling he's caught up in DNA 
	"DNA and therapeutic radiation," Mulder agreed.  "I 
don't know the specifics." 
	She nodded in memory.  "That's right...the effects of 
radiotherapy, X ray technology, and the like on genetics and 
chromosomes.  He's something of an expert in the field.  He's 
pretty young, I think - I saw him at an occasional address he gave 
at Maryland U once - but he seems to have been around forever.  
He's supposed to be quite brilliant." 
	"Brilliant people are usually a pain in the neck," Mulder 
observed with a mischievous glance at her. 
	"You'd know," she shot back, but she acknowledged the 
backhanded compliment with a goodnatured smile.  She drew a 
chocolate from her purse and opened it.  "Lunch," she said 
briefly between bites. 
	"You?" he asked, aghast. 
	"It's all I can keep down," she said ruefully.  "It's hell." 
	Mulder snorted.  "Sounds like heaven to me.  
Legitimised indulgence." 
	Scully gave him a withering look.  "O coronary 
	He was just about to fire a comeback when he saw a 
large white building to their right.  "I think that's it." 
	"What, you think the eight cop cars outside give it 
away?" she asked, tucking the empty wrapper back into her 
purse.  She opened the door as he turned off the engine and 
suddenly recoiled.  She could feel the candy repeating on her at 
the smell of molten human flesh.  She held the door handle a 
moment before steadying herself and getting out.<br>
	Mulder, for his part, didn't need to be pregnant to lose 
his lunch.  Luckily he hadn't yet had any.  They walked together 
through the police cordon, flashing their badges as they went.  
Over the charred scar of ashes on the pavement was the familiar 
white painted body outline, but it was different, somehow.  He 
couldn't put his finger on it. 
	"It's too small," Scully said.  Her glance caught some 
movement at her right.  "And there's why." 
	The paramedics wheeled the gurney past them, the body 
bag half open.  The body inside was charred beyond recognition, 
its humanity discernible only by its vague shape.  Now Mulder 
gripped her arm, fighting the impulse to dry retch. 
	Scully smiled indulgently.  Having coped with the 
smell, her scientific self had returned.  "Count backwards.  It will 
	Mulder obliged, and she was right:  it //did//   pass.  
They heard a commotion behind them, and they turned to see a 
woman in her early forties arguing with a police officer at the 
cordon.  She was crying.  By unspoken agreement, they 
approached the two of them.  But suddenly, she turned away and 
sat down on the grass, weeping bitterly. 
	"Agent Dana Scully, and this is my partner, Agent 
Mulder," Scully said briefly.  "FBI.  Who is that?" 
    	The cop nodded at them.  "Superintendent Colin 
Chetton.  Her name's Marion Pieterse.  She worked with 
	"Girlfriend?" Mulder asked. 
	Chetton shook his head.  "Just colleagues...friends.  
They go back decades, though."  At Scully's surprised look, he 
added by way of explanation, "I did some moonlighting on 
security staff here a few years back.  I don't know that many 
people here, but Pieterse and Sturrock are a bit of an institution.  
They're the longest-serving staff here.  They couldn't have been 
here more than twenty years, I suppose - they're only in their 
forties at a guess - but they're almost part of the furniture.  I'd 
	Chetton never did say whatever it was that he'd say, 
because quite suddenly, Marion Pieterse exploded in flames.  
Scully reached her first and tore off her coat, throwing it and 
herself over the woman, trying to smother the flames.  She could 
feel a horrible, choking sensation as the smoke invaded her, and 
then she felt Mulder's hands on her shoulders, trying to drag her 
off.  Someone came with a hose and drenched the two women 
with it, and it was over as quickly as it had begun. 
	Scully removed the remains of her coat from the 
steaming woman, careful not to take any skin with it.  She 
gasped involuntarily. 
	Pitiful, understanding eyes peered out from the ruined 
face.  Marion Pieterse's hair was nothing but charcoal, her body a 
blackened lump.  But mercifully, she was alive, and mercilessly, 
conscious.  She didn't cry out, but she whimpered in agonising 
     "Get those paramedics back," she told Chetton.  "We've got 
third degree burns here.  This woman has to be sedated and taken 
to hospital." 
	They waited for a few moments, and Scully realised the 
woman was trying to take her hand.  "Don't," she said, incredibly 
gently.  "You'll disturb the skin...make the burns worse."  But the 
woman persisted, and against her better judgement, she 
tentatively took her hand.  It was like holding a crumbling leaf. 
	The paramedics arrived and took control of the woman, 
and Scully started to rise.  One of them frowned at her.  "No, you 
don't," a man in his early twenties said sternly.  "You're burnt, 
	   Scully looked down at herself for the first time then, 
and realised the front of her suit was badly charred.  Mulder 
looked at her in horror, but she shook her head.  "Don't fret, 
Mulder.  It looks worse than it is.  It doesn't even hurt, not really.  
It's probably first degree." 
	   The paramedic was gently pulling away the charred 
fabric around her midsection.  The skin was slightly pink, but 
that was all.  "You're right," he said grudgingly, "it is first degree 
- at least there.  Go over to the ambulance and have them take a 
closer look, okay?" 
	Scully complied.  After much examination and 
bandaging, Mulder poked his head around the door.  "How're you 
	Scully looked down ruefully at the remains of her suit.  
"Not so well as my dressmaker, I'm afraid.  Do you think I might 
swing a clothes allowance at my next salary review?"  Mulder 
took off his jacket and gave it to her.  She put it on and buttoned 
it around her, rendering her at least halfway decent.  "I'm fine.  
First degree, like I said.  It's a big area, but it will heal within 
days.  Until then, I've just got to avoid bumping into anything.  
That's about the only time it hurts." 
	Mulder's look was concerned.  "It could have been a lot 
worse, Scully.  That woman had third degree burns all over her, 
and there was only the coat between you.  You were lucky - 
damned lucky." 
    	"Yes, it could.  But it wasn't.  Don't get protective on 
me, Mulder.  It doesn't suit you." 
     "I'm not.  I'm just saying, be careful."  He paused.  "I spoke to 
the witnesses.  It was the same with Sturrock as with Pieterse.  
No-one was within six feet of him, and he sure as hell didn't set 
fire to himself - at least not in the conventional sense.  It can 
only be spontaneous human combustion." 
	Scully was dubious.  "Mulder, doesn't it strike you as 
odd that two best friends who have lived in one another's pockets 
since graduation - if not the first grade, for all we know - should 
spontaneously combust within an hour of each other?  I mean, 
we're not talking the flu here.  It isn't contagious, and it isn't 
common.  Something is wrong here." 
	"Could it be related to their work?" 
	She frowned.  "We need more information to know that.  
I can tell you one thing, though," she added.  "It wasn't 
spontaneous human combustion in its typical manifestations - 
not with the woman, at least.  Normally, you can't put out a 
victim with water or by smothering.  They just keep on burning 
until there's nothing left.  But although Marion Pieterse was 
badly burnt, we did put her out." 
	"What about Sturrock?  Can we find out?" 
	Scully nodded.  "I'll do the autopsy.  If it's SHC, his 
internal organs will be burned to a crisp.  If it's just his skin and 
the tissues near the surface, it's got to be something else." 
	Mulder gave her a sudden grin.  "It's not like you to be a 
believer, Scully." 
	She shrugged noncommitally.  "SHC is well 
documented, however rare.  Most of the cases are related to an 
external fire source - cigarettes, or heat in a poorly ventilated 
area.  There are a few cases like these, though, which occurred in 
open areas.  We do have electrical impulses in our body.  I'm 
perfectly prepared to accept that a person can overload just like a 
powerpoint."  She paused.  "But that doesn't mean I'm prepared 
to write off the fact that these two people who were so close 
went up in flames together, as well.  That's too much of a 
coincidence for my liking." 
	"And mine," Mulder agreed.  "Come on, Scully.  You've 
got an autopsy to do." 
	Scully pulled a face.  "And clothes to ceremonially 
	"Why bother?" he asked.  "They're already cremated." 
	She groaned goodnaturedly, and they left together. 

Federal Bureau of Investigation 
Washington, D.C. 
October 29, 1996 

	Scully took off her mask.  "No internal burning.  Some 
changes due to the overall rise in body temperature, but Sturrock 
wasn't set alight from within."  She sat down.  "That having been 
said, however, the source of his burns, whatever it was, was 
pretty powerful.  Human flesh doesn't burn that quickly or that 
thoroughly on its own.  It's almost as if he'd been doused in some 
sort of flammable liquid." 
	Mulder raised an eyebrow.  "And was he?" 
	She shook her head.  "Absolutely not."  She paused.  
"Did you come up with anything?  Any other links between 
	He shrugged, suddenly noncommittal.  "It's hard to 
know.  Those two have been other half to one another for 
decades.  Naturally they have shared acquaintances, at times 
shared homes, shared contacts...I don't know." 
	Scully frowned.  "Are you sure they weren't involved?  
Not even in the past?" 
	"Quite sure.  Pieterse's a lesbian." 
	Scully considered.  "That still doesn't rule the 
possibility out.  My cousin's gay, and he had quite a few 
heterosexual relationships - trying to conform, mostly.  Given 
that these two have known each other since at least their early 
twenties, that seems quite likely." 
	"But would they still be best friends?  I mean, it's tough 
breaking up with someone, but it's a lot tougher to be dumped for 
the other camp." 
	"No pun intended," she said with a sudden grin.  "Well, 
what else?  It looks like it's down to their work." 
	Mulder negatived this.  "No go.  They haven't been 
working on anything sinister.  Their work seems completely 
benign and above board.  They both could conceivably have been 
exposed to the same substance or toxin which provided the 
conditions for the combustion, but frankly, I'm starting to doubt 
even that." 
	"Even further back in the past?" Scully asked. 
	"I went back twenty years.  Not a hint of anything 
untoward."  He paused.  "There were only two things which are a 
little strange."  She looked at him, questioningly. 
	"The first is that both of their personnel files list their 
dates of birth as unknown.  It's true that they could be wartime 
babies, when a lot of records were lost, which would make them 
both a little older than we thought - but wearing your age well 
isn't a crime, is it?  Just the same, it seems a little too 
coincidental that that's the case for them both.  The other thing is 
that they seem to share more than friends and a car pool." 
	"What, they're distant relatives or something?" 
	"Or something.  There was a pretty young lab technician 
who worked closely with them both a year ago.  Wendy Tomiris.  
She seems to have been burning the candle at both ends.  She's 
been involved with them both."  Mulder grinned.  "The family 
that plays together, stays together." 
	"Did they fall out over her?" Scully asked. 
	"Aparrently not.  They seem to have reached some kind 
of understanding concerning Tomiris.  According to the office 
grapevine, both Sturrock and Pieterse have been seeing her ever 
since, with each other's full knowledge and consent.  It all seems 
very civilised." 
	"Or pathological," Scully observed dryly.  "Is Tomiris 
still there?" 
    	Mulder shook his head.  "She now works at the 
Kuringai Power Plant on the west end of town.  She's on the 
nuclear side of things...first nuclear medicine, then nuclear 
	"Shall we go and meet Ms Tomiris?" Scully asked, 
untying her scrubs and hanging them up. 
	"Sounds like a plan." 
    	They were halfway out of the building when Mulder's 
cellular telephone rang.  He flipped it open.  "Mulder...of 
course."  He tapped Scully's shoulder and stopped.  "I see...yes, 
we'll be there...thanks." 
	She looked at him.  "Yes?" 
	"That was Kim Cooke.  Skinner wants to see us." 
	Scully nodded and turned back towards his office.  
"Any idea why?" 
	Mulder shook his head.  "Not a clue.  I don't think I've 
done anything wrong this week."  His record had a reprimand for 
every accolade. 
	"You haven't been uncovering government conspiracies 
again, have you?" she asked, mock-stern. 
	"No, Ma, I promise." 
	Skinner met them at the door and showed them in.  
"Agents Mulder and Scully, thank you for stopping in." 
	"Of course, Sir.  What can we do for you?" 
	Skinner threw a folder down on his desk in disgust.  
"You can start by telling me how Agent Scully came to have 
burns to thirty percent of her body, Agent Mulder." 
	"Bad news travels fast," he observed.  "A material 
witness exploded in flames.  Scully was the first one there.  She 
saved the woman's life.  I might add that Scully's injuries may be 
extensive, but they are also minor.  First degree burns, Sir - no 
different to scalding your hand doing the washing up." 
	"Doing the washing up rarely involves burns to thirty 
percent of one's body," Skinner retorted.  "And it's only sheer 
luck that they were minor - the victim had third degree burns, I 
	Mulder's brow creased with confusion.  "Sir, am I to 
understand that I'm being reprimanded because Agent Scully 
sustained minor injuries in the course of doing her job according 
to appropriate protocols?" 
	Skinner relented.  "No, Agent Mulder.  But I did want 
to call you both in here to tell you that as of now, Agent Scully 
is removed from active duty."  He turned to Scully, whose jaw 
had dropped.  "You will remain assigned to the X Files and you 
may assist Agent Mulder in your medical capacity, and in any 
non-conflict questionings.  I make those concessions to preserve 
the integrity of the X Files.  But interrogations, work at crime 
scenes, and the like are to be done with backup from one of the 
free-floaters downstairs.  There are to be no repeats of this kind 
of incident." 
	Mulder's look was one of outrage, but Scully's was 
sheer astonishment.  "Sir, may I ask why?"  Her voice was even, 
but she was simmering with rage. 
	Skinner shot Mulder a look, then said, "Agent Scully, 
you are pregnant.  I'm not having a pregnant woman getting burnt 
and shot and God knows what else.  It's dangerous and 
unnecessary, especially when we have relief personnel who can 
cover in these situations.  And that's quite aside from the liability 
issue should you lose your child as a result of your duties." 
	Scully got to her feet.  "Sir, with respect, I really don't 
think you've given this adequate consideration." 
	Skinner got to his.  "Agent Scully, I really don't think 
you're in a position to argue." 
	She lost her temper then.  "Damn it, Walter," she 
snapped furiously, "this isn't because I'm pregnant; it's because 
I'm pregnant to you."  He glanced at Mulder, who turned and 
stared at her, aghast.  She didn't notice.  "How dare you use your 
position against me!" 
	"You're speaking to a superior officer," he warned 
without conviction. 
	"You stopped being my superior when you pulled rank 
over a personal agenda," she threw back in disgust.  She turned 
on her heel and paced for a second.  "I could appeal the 
decision," she pointed out. 
	Skinner nodded.  "You could," he agreed, "but you 
won't.  You would probably be reassigned - either that, or 
responsibility for the X Files would be reassigned on the 
grounds of conflict of interest, probably back to the Violent 
Crimes Unit.  Either way, parties with interests other than our 
own would have an opening to strategically place people less 
sympathetic to your work than you or I.  You go above my head 
on this, Dana, and you'll cut your own throat." 
	"You're threatening me?" she demanded. 
    	"Call it a word to the wise."  He paused.  "I'm not 
backing down on this, Dana.  It's too important."  She turned 
away in disgust and made for the door.  Mulder followed.  
"Dana?" he called after her.  She turned. 
	"I'm sorry," he said gently. 
	"So am I, Walter," she spat.  "So am I." 

Federal Bureau of Investigation 
Washington, D.C. 
October 29, 1996 

	Mulder and Scully returned to Mulder's office in 
silence.  He motioned her to enter first, followed her, then 
deliberately closed the door behind them.  Scully waited for the 
inevitable storm. 
	"Why didn't you tell me it was Skinner?"  Mulder's 
voice wasn't just angry, it was furious. 
	"It was none of your business," she said, evenly. 
	"The hell it wasn't!  We work together under 
him...pardon the pun."  Scully winced, and not just at his 
bitterness.  The comment cheapened what she had felt for Walter 
that night, what she still felt...it robbed what they had had of its 
beauty.  Her concern for Mulder was suddenly overshadowed by 
bitterness.  She could never be with Walter.  That beauty, that 
memory was all she had left.  And Mulder, damn him, couldn't 
even let her keep that. 
	But the qualification wasn't a leveller.  If anything, it 
made Mulder angrier.  Scully and Skinner...his best friend and 
one of their closest allies.  He suddenly pictured the two of them 
together.  He felt excluded.  "This affects me, too.  This case 
alone is proof of that."  His volume was rising. 
	Something in his voice warned Scully that he was close 
to the edge.  Never especially stable, Mulder felt things deeply.  
She endeavoured to diffuse the situation.  "I do believe you're 
jealous," she teased. 
	Mulder was not appeased.  It was true, albeit not as she 
meant it.  And because she had hit a nerve, he hit one back.  
"Damn it, Scully, you've exposed the X Files to danger," he 
snapped crossly. 
	Her own temper flared.  "Damn you to hell, Mulder!"  
She paused, for maximum effect.  "And damn the X Files, too."  
Mulder winced. 
	She turned on her heel and stormed out. 

Assistant Director's Office 
Federal Bureau of Investigation 
Washington, D.C. 
October 29, 1996 

	Kimberly Cooke knocked, then poked her head around 
the door.  "Sir, Agent Mulder would like to see you." 
	Skinner raised his head from his work.  "Send him in," 
he said, wearily.  He got to his feet. 
	"Thank you for seeing me, Sir." 
	Skinner waved the courteous greeting aside.  Coming 
from Mulder, it only served to make him nervous.  "Take a seat, 
Agent Mulder," he said, and did so himself. 
	Mulder sat, and shifted uncomfortably.  "Sir," he began 
awkwardly, "I wanted to speak with you about what happened 
this morning." 
	Skinner raised a hand.  "I'm sorry you had to witness 
that, Agent Mulder.  I was out of line, and so was Agent Scully.  
I should have spoken with her privately on the matter." 
	Mulder shook his head.  "Sir, that's not what I mean.  I 
wanted to talk to you about your decision to remove Agent 
Scully from active duty." 
	Skinner stiffened.  "I have made my decision, Agent 
	Mulder said evenly (and it was an evenness he didn't 
feel), "With respect, Sir, I don't think you have made your 
decision on strategic grounds - either professionally or 
	"What the hell is that supposed to mean?  If you're 
referring to the fact that my decision is based on my own fears 
for the safety of the baby, off the record I will tell you that you're 
quite right.  I make no apologies for that.  On the record I will 
say only that pregnant personnel on active duty add to the risk 
factors involved.  I have exercised my powers of discretion in 
allowing Agent Scully to remain assigned to the X Files, but I 
will not allow her to participate in situations of conflict or 
	Mulder said gently, "Sir, that's not your decision to 
	He lost his temper then.  "The hell it's not, Mulder!  
This is my child, too!"  Skinner got to his feet and turned away.  
The anger left his voice as quickly as it had arisen, but he 
remained resolute.  "Agent Mulder, I've lost two wives.  I've lost a 
daughter.  I'm not losing anyone else if it can be avoided." 
	"Are you speaking of Agent Scully, or the child she's 
	Skinner turned back to face him.  "I'm speaking of them 
both."  He sat down, finality in his expression. 
	"Sir, when I said that this wasn't a strategic decision, I 
did mean it professionally, but I also meant it personally.  Agent 
Scully doesn't want to be protected," Mulder said cautiously.  
"She wants to be respected.  You used to respect her in her 
judgement and her actions.  Now you have an involvement with 
her, and you're trying to take away her autonomy and her 
freedom.  For God's sake, you're trying to take away the very 
thing you love her for!"  He paused.  "Sir, you have to stop letting 
your feelings for Agent Scully influence your decisions.  If you 
don't, someone will get hurt.  You're getting protective and she's 
getting defensive.  You're working at cross purposes.  And one 
day, it's going to cost one or both of you your lives - either that," 
he added with a wry grin, "or mine." 
	Skinner's brown furrowed.  "So what do you suggest I 
do, Mulder?  Just send her into the line of fire?" 
	"Damn it, yes!  She's not a little kid you can protect; 
you know that!  She's an adult, and an officer in the FBI.  She 
serves her country, as we do, with all its risks.  And that is her 
right."  He paused.  "Just trust her!  Don't you trust her to do 
what's right for her?  And your child?  Don't you think she would 
die to allow that child to live?" 
	"Yes, I do," Skinner conceded.  "And that's exactly what 
I'm afraid of."  He paused.  "How do you do it, Mulder?  Watch 
her just saunter into danger?  You love her - how do you do it?" 
	Mulder said in a low voice, "It does frighten me when I 
see her in danger - I admit that.  I do it because I respect her.  I 
respect that she knows what is right for her better than I do.  I 
respect her the way you //used//   to." 
	Skinner was silent for a long time.  Finally, he turned in 
his chair to face the window.  "That will be all, Agent Mulder." 
	Mulder rose.  "Sir-" 
	"I said, that will be all."  Skinner waited until the door 
opened.  "Mulder?" 
	Mulder stopped in his tracks.  "Yes, Sir?" 
	"Thank you." 

Assistant Director's Office 
Federal Bureau of Investigation 
Washington, D.C. 
October 29, 1996 

	"You wanted to see me, Sir?" 
	Scully's voice was wooden.  Still bristling with fury, it 
was only with great self-restraint that she maintained any 
semblance of calm. 
	Skinner heard the distance, the barely-shrouded 
hostility in her voice, and winced.  Still, he thought, annoyed, if 
she wanted to play boss-subordinate, he'd play.  "Come in, Agent 
Scully.  Take a seat." 
	Scully did as she was bidden.  She waited. 
	With deliberate nonchalance, Skinner leaned back in 
his seat.  His look was magnaminous.  "Agent Scully, I have 
reconsidered the decision to remove you from active duty.  The 
extent of your involvement in active duty remains at your 
discretion."  He sounded as though he had just granted her the 
greatest favour of her life. 
	Scully looked closely at him.  His turnaround was 
unexpected, to say the least, and his demeanour puzzling.  
"Thank you, Sir," she said cautiously, uncertain of her ground. 
	He came to himself then.  Dammit, he was in the wrong 
here!  What the hell was he doing, playing mind games with her?  
Suddenly ashamed, he rose from his seat and looked away.  His 
voice became regretful.  "Don't thank me, Scully.  Thank Mulder.  
He came to see me - and gave me a talking-to I thoroughly 
deserved."  He came around his desk and sat on the corner.  He 
met her gaze, and the professional mask dropped.  His expression 
was contrite, and a little sad.  "Dana, I'm sorry.  I should have 
trusted you with this decision.  I shouldn't have tried to take 
matters out of your hands.  I was out of line, and I'm sorry." 
	Scully nodded in acceptance of this.  "I'm sorry too, 
Walter.  I shouldn't have raised our private life in front of 
Mulder."  She smiled faintly.  "I was angry." 
	He dropped his gaze.  "I know."  He looked at her once 
more, then went to her chair.  He crouched in front of her and 
took her hands.  "I just worry, Dana.  I love you and this child 
you're carrying, and sometimes I get scared." 
	She leaned forward and kissed him tenderly.  "It's going 
to be okay, Walter.  Please don't be worried." 
	He looked at her dubiously, but he nodded.  "I'll try." 
	"Promise?" she asked. 
	"I promise." 

3170 West 53 Rd, #35 
Annapolis, Maryland 
October 29, 1996 

	There was a knock at the door.  "Coming!" Scully 
called, cautiously removing first her files, then Quiqueg, her dog 
from her lap and depositing them both on the floor.  Then, 
reconsidering, she put the files on the coffee table. 
	She checked through the peephole.  It was Mulder.  
//What now?//   she wondered, opening the door.  "Hello, 
	"Scully?  Can I come in?" 
	Mutely, she stood aside.  He walked past her.  She 
closed the door and followed him into the lounge room.  He sat 
down, uninvited.  She sat opposite him.   
	They were silent a moment, before Scully said, "Skinner 
called me back in to see him.  He said he'd reconsidered his 
decision and that I could stay on active duty until I chose 
otherwise."  She paused.  "He said you'd talked to him."  Mulder 
nodded, but didn't elaborate.  He sat uncomfortably for a few 
moments.  Finally, Scully decided to leave him to whatever he 
was battling with and made them both coffee.  When she came 
back to the living room, he rose.  She handed him his cup. 
	He was silent another moment, then blurted, "Scully, 
I'm sorry.  I guess I was upset that you hadn't trusted me."  
Scully's features clouded with indulgent compassion.  He went 
on, "We're friends - aren't we?" 
	Scully favoured him with a gentle smile.  Normally 
expressive only in the most crucial of moments, she felt an 
uncharacteristic urge to hug him.  "Of course we're friends, 
Mulder; you know that," she said incredulously.  "It has nothing 
to do with trust.  I just - well, I wasn't sure how I felt about all 
this.  To tell you the truth," she added with a rueful smile, "I'm 
still not." 
	Mulder said hesitantly, "Do you want to tell me?" 
	Scully turned away from him and sat down.  She 
gestured for him to do the same.  Suddenly reflective, she said,  
"It was after I was - away.  Skinner stayed with me.  He was 
worried about me.  I asked him why he was so worried, and he 
told me he cared for me.  He said it didn't matter, but I'd asked." 
	She stopped short, suddenly confused.  Scully herself 
didn't really understand what had prompted her to take Skinner 
into her life.  She cared for him, yes; but she had acted with such 
impulsiveness.  It wasn't like her.  She was normally so 
methodical and careful.  She had no regrets, but she didn't 
understand.  Finally, she said carefully, trying to sort through her 
own motives, "He looked so alone.  I felt terribly sorry for him all 
of a sudden, with all that he'd been through lately and the way 
he's had to try and rebuild his life.  And I felt ashamed of the way 
I'd treated him when Sharon was attacked.  All I could see was 
this really good man who was - I don't know, //bereft//  - and I'd 
misjudged him so badly, left him alone when he needed my 
friendship the most.  I did care for him, very much.  And I was 
frightened.  I felt cut off because I'd been through this thing I 
couldn't remember and I didn't understand.  I needed someone.  
He was there," she said simply.  Her tone lost its reflective 
quality then.  "We agreed that it couldn't go on.  The risks were 
too high.  Disciplinary action, maybe - it's a security risk, of 
sorts, you know; an involvement with a subordinate.  And I didn't 
know if I wanted it to go on.  I still hadn't sorted out just what 
any of this meant for me.  But then I was pregnant.  We were 
careful - but obviously not careful enough." 
	"He loves you," Mulder said after a pause. 
	She nodded, her expression grave.  "I know that." 
	His tone was piercing.  "Do you love him?" 
	Scully frowned.  She thought for some minutes, before 
admitting,  "I don't know, Mulder.  It's hard to know when you 
need someone.  You don't know if it's love or just need.  And I 
do need him.  I'm having a child, and I'm alone.  He wants the 
baby.  He's - there."  She paused.  "I do love him.  But am I 
< love?  I just don't know."  Her smile faded.  "I know I 
don't want a lover.  I don't want someone to worship me and 
protect me.  I don't want what Walter was offering this morning.  
I want respect - equality.  I want to be trusted." 
	Mulder grinned.  "That's exactly what I told him." 
	Scully started, then grinned with him.  "Fox Mulder, 
adviser to the lovelorn.  Tell me, if you're so smart, why don't you 
have anyone?" 
	"Because, Scully, you're the only woman I've ever met 
who wants what I want.  And if we were together, we'd //kill//   
each other.  I mean, can you imagine the arguments?  'Mulder, 
you left the seat up again!'  'Scully, I think it was aliens.' "  She 
burst out laughing.  He went on, "Tell you what, though:  if we're 
both still alone when we're seventy, we're getting married.  What 
do you think?" 
	"I think you've got yourself a deal." 

Waste Disposal Facility 
Kuringai Nuclear Power 
Kuringai, Virginia 
November 10, 1996 

	Scully looked at her watch surreptitiously.  Wendy 
Tomiris had spoken interminably of her relationships with each 
of the deceased and the feud that had existed between them over 
Her Affections.  She viewed herself, apparently, as the martyr of 
the case; both victims having been set aflame after their passions 
had been Ignited by Her.  She was one of those people who think 
of things momentous and extraordinary in uppercase letters, and 
who speaks of them as such. 
	Scully stifled a yawn.  She had been there for over an 
hour and had gained precisely nothing.  It was her experience 
that people who spoke briefly and concisely yielded far more 
information than their windy counterparts.  Furthermore, their 
information was more likely to be relevant and specific.  
Articulate herself, Scully found the Tomiris woman to be 
annoying, and superfluous to the investigation. 
	Tomiris was a technician, of sorts, at the Kuringai 
Nuclear Power Plant.  The name was somewhat misleading.  It 
was  a power plant, but it also had a research facility attached.  
This had been the legacy of limited funding and adverse publicity 
to the idea of a separate research facility.  Tomiris, however, was 
a minor worker in the nuclear waste disposal facility within the 
power plant itself.  This was where they sat now, Scully listening 
to the woman's entire life history - not to mention all she had 
ever wanted to know (and most of what she didn't) about nuclear 
power.  Scully, who had flirted with anti-nuclear activism in her 
first year at Berkley, suspected she could tell Tomiris far more 
than the latter could tell her.  Still, she reflected in mounting 
irritation; it was all right.  It wasn't as though she had a life, or a 
job to return to. 
	She had had nothing of substance to add to the 
information on the spontaneous combustion deaths.  Scully was 
starting to believe that the two victims' link via the Tomiris 
woman was coincidence - in fact, if you disregarded Mulder's 
attempts to spook her, she had thought so all along.  In the 
absence of anything of interest, Scully amused herself by 
counting the number of times Tomiris used the word, "really" in 
each sentence.  It was her recurring word, interspersed less often 
by the harder-to-incorporate "bizarre". 
	Tomiris was talking about something really bizarre 
when Scully realised that she hadn't yet asked any of the 
questions she had wanted to.  She had gotten as far as the routine 
paadding, that was all.  She interrupted the woman.  "Ms 
Tomiris," she said, "can you tell me how you met Paul and 
	Tomiris nodded.  "I worked with them, as you know.  
They were the best of friends.  Paul was straight, and Marion was 
	"And you?" 
    	Tomiris shrugged ruefully.  "I was lonely, and I wanted 
to get ahead.  Neither loneliness nor ambition know very much 
about gender.  I suspect they care even less.  I got involved with 
them both." 
	"And they found each other out?" 
	"Not at all.  They told each other.  I hadn't realised they 
would do that.  But they were much more important to one 
another than a woman could ever be.  Boy, was that messy.  But 
in the end, they kind of agreed to share me, if you like.  I didn't 
think it would work, but it has.  They're each other's first priority.  
If I'd ever made either of them choose, I'd be the loser, I can 
promise you." 
	Scully nodded slowly.  "There's been no conflict over 
that decision?" 
	"Not for them.  For me, it's been a little more complex.  
It's not good for the self-esteem." 
	"Being wanted by two brilliant desirable people?" 
Scully asked, dubiously. 
	"The arrangement, if you like to call it that, was reached 
because they didn't want to risk their friendship over me.  I may 
be lover to them, but they're each other's soul mate.  I can't 
compete with that." 
	Scully winced.  She wondered if Skinner ever felt that 
way about her and Mulder.  "You said they were one another's 
first priority.  That seems pretty extraordinary to me.  They go 
back a long way.  Do you know when they met?" 
	Tomiris nodded.  "They met at University.  Mind you, 
to hear Marion talk, you'd think it was the dark ages.  She says 
she was the first woman to graduate medicine from her 
university.  Doesn't sound like the sixties, does it?  But maybe 
she meant in her particular specialty, or something.  I never really 
gave it much thought."  She paused.  "As far as I know, they both 
got work at the lab straight from university.  Again, I never gave 
it much thought." 
    	Scully gave up.  "All right.  We might leave it there, Ms 
Tomiris.  I'll let you know if we find anything.  My partner and I 
are interviewing Marion this afternoon.  She might be in a 
position to help us." 
	Tomiris' response surprised her.  "Those bastards!  
Damn it, they didn't tell me she was conscious!  How long has 
she been awake?" 
	"Since late last night," Scully said, appalled.  "I'm sorry, 
Ms Tomiris.  I'd have told you myself if I'd known the hospital 
wasn't being co-operative." 
    	Tomiris snorted.  "Co-operation and same-sex partners 
don't usually fit into the same sentence, I'm afraid.  Do you 
know, you're the first person on the case that's even 
acknowledged I was her partner?  Most of them just smirk, and 
the ones that know about the arrangement with Paul think I'm a 
slut.  But Marion's the best person you could hope to meet.  Paul 
was nice, but Marion's good, as well, if you know what I mean.  
I'm nothing that hot, you know; I'm a bit of a busybody and a 
gossip and I can be a bit of a gold-digger, too - but I love Marion.  
That deserves respect, at least." 
    	"Yes," Scully agreed softly.  "It does." 

Andrew Wellings Memorial Burns Unit 
Georgetown Medical Centre 
Washington, D.C. 
November 10, 1996 

	Mulder met Scully at the hospital. 
	Marion Pieterse had been moved from intensive care to 
the burns unit.  She was out of danger, but her recovery would be 
a long, slow process.  There would be a lot of surgery in the 
months to come.  She was conscious, more or less alert; but she 
was also physically and emotionally traumatised.  She had spent 
much of the preceding night under sedation after coming to and 
being confronted with the death of her lifelong companion and 
the horror of her own condition.  Quite aside from this was the 
fact that she couldn't bear to be touched, but it was necessary to 
move her from time to time if she was to heal. 
	"Dr Pieterse?" Scully said, her voice gentler than usual.  
She hadn't forgotten that crumbling hand beneath hers. 
	Pieterse's glance went to her.  "You're the woman who 
put me out."  The crackling, partly grafted flesh would not allow 
a smile, but there was gratitude in her voice.  "Thank you." 
	Scully's expression twisted as she moved closer to the 
grotesquely shrivelled woman before her.  "I'm surprised you feel 
that way, to tell the truth," she said softly. 
	The corners of Pieterse's mouth twitched.  "Some 
people are born to survive.  They want it - no matter what.  I'm 
one of them.  So was Paul."  The vague suggestion of a smile 
faded.  Her eyes closed with what Scully presumed to be painful 
memory.  She shot a pained glance at Mulder. 
	The moment passed.  Pieterse opened her eyes once 
more, her voice controlled.  "I'm sorry.  This has been quite a 
shock for me." 
	Mulder nodded sympathetically.  "My partner and I 
realise that, Dr Pieterse.  We don't want to make it worse, but 
you must understand, we have to know what happened to you, 
and why.  We won't take much of your time." 
    	Pieterse grimaced.  "Time, I have.  Lots of it.  I hadn't 
realised how isolated in my work I had become.  Now, I see that 
all I had was Paul and Wendy.  Paul's gone, and Wendy hasn't so 
much as been to see me."  There was bitterness in her voice. 
	Scully spoke up.  "Wendy wasn't allowed to see you 
whilst you were in ICU.  The hospital failed to notify her that 
you were conscious.  She only found out when I told her, an hour 
ago.  I believe she's coming as soon as she can get away from 
work."  She had no affection for Wendy Tomiris herself, but she 
had great empathy for the lonely woman before her.  She cleared 
her throat.  "In any case, Dr Pieterse, we wanted to ask if there 
was any common denominator between you and Paul Sturrock 
which might explain why you both exploded in flames within an 
hour of each other?" 
	Marion Pieterse twitched her head in what might have 
been meant to be a negative shaking.  "None at all, and not for 
wondering.  Spontaneous combustion is a bit out of my field, of 
course; but I know enough to know that this is atypical.  And yet 
-" she broke off, confused, then continued, "and yet, what else 
could it have been?" 
	Mulder spoke up.  "Could it have been toxicological?  
Were you and Dr Sturrock working with anything suspect?  
Could you have been exposed to anything in your experimental 
	Pieterse's gaze moved to him.  "No," she said after 
barely a second's thought.  "Low level ionizing radiation, for 
research, of course; but there was nothing particular about our 
work which would differentiate us from any radiology 
department in the country.  Other than that, it was just DNA." 
	Mulder had seen the quirks of DNA of questionable 
origin too many times to be reassured by this.  "What sort of 
DNA?" he queried.  Scully rolled her eyes.  Even if this 
inoffensive woman had been working on some sort of alien or 
mutant DNA with unusual properties, did he really think she 
would tell them? 
	But Pieterse was puzzled by the question.  "Well, all 
types, really.  The normal sorts of combinations you find in the 
general population.  We don't start with genetic abnormalities, if 
that's what you mean; we expose healthy, typical DNA to low-
level radiation in varying doses to see if it remains healthy." 
	"Only low-level radiation?" Mulder asked.  
"Therapeutic doses?" 
	She inclined her head very slightly.  "Yes.  Higher 
doses are outside of our scope, and the labs aren't equipped to do 
it, anyway."  Mulder glanced at Scully, who nodded slightly to 
indicate that that was indeed the case.  Suddenly wondering if 
Pieterse had noticed the exchange, he looked back at her. 
	But Marion Pieterse didn't seem to have paid them any 
heed.  She was staring at the television set, transfixed.  She didn't 
move, even when Scully called her name.  Mulder, annoyed, 
tapped his foot impatiently.  He knew she had been terribly ill, 
but why had she suddenly faded out on them? he wondered. 
	Scully looked at the television.  It was a news bulletin, 
and there was a picture on the screen of a rather nondescript 
elderly woman to the left of the presenter.  Scully wondered if 
the picture reminded Pieterse of her mother or another relative, 
causing her sudden blackout.  "...local news, the name of the 
country's oldest mental patient, who escaped from a State facility 
in Virginia last month, has been released.  Serena Ingleburn, who 
is a hundred and twenty one years old, has been institutionalised 
since 1889, when she was just fourteen.  It's understood that staff 
were distracted by a small fire.  Ingleburn is not considered 
dangerous, but in view of her age and her inexperience of 
twentieth century life, there are fears for her safety." 
	Scully raised her eyebrows.  "One hundred and twenty 
one?" she asked aloud, dubious.  "She didn't look a day above 
seventy.  Surely it's a typographic error on her records." 
	Pieterse seemed to come to herself.  "No, it's true," she 
said firmly.  Suddenly aware of the two agents' scrutiny, she 
addded, "I read about her about ten years ago in one of the 
journals.  She just seemed to suddenly stop ageing.  No 
explanation was found, so far as I know."  She paused.  "I'm 
sorry.  I was interested in the case when it hit the journals, and I 
became preoccupied.  What were you saying?" 
	Mulder glanced at Scully and shrugged.  "Common 
denominators between you and Paul," he prompted.  "Ones 
which might have caused you both to be set on fire." 
	A frightened look seemed to cross Pieterse's ruined 
face, but it was gone before he could be sure.  Her voice seemed 
to stiffen.  "I really can't tell you anything, Agent Mulder."  She 
paused.  "I'm very tired.  Would you mind-" 
	Scully nodded.  "Of course.  You'll have someone call 
us if you think of anything?" 
	Marion Pieterse nodded.  "Absolutely." 


5th Floor 
Federal Bureau of Investigation 
Washington, D.C. 
November 22, 1996 

	"Mulder, take a look at this," Scully called. 
	He went to her.  "What is it?" he asked. 
	Scully was holding a sheaf of flimsy thermal paper.  
"It's from the American Scientific Database.  Everything that's 
been published in the major scientific journals since 1898.  I 
asked them for lists on everything ever written by Paul Sturrock 
and Marion Pieterse.  I wanted to see if they'd ever done any 
work that Pieterse herself had forgotten which might have been 
relevant.  They faxed me these.  Prolific writers, the pair of 
	"Hardly a fiery pastime," Mulder observed. 
	Scully shook her head.  "No, I think this is right up 
your alley, Mulder.  We figured them for their forties, right?  
Which would put them through university in the sixties."  He 
nodded.  "There are articles by an M. Pieterse dating back to 
	"Her father?" he quizzed. 
	Scully shook her head.  "That was what I thought, too; 
until I noticed that Sturrock's articles began at about the same 
time.  And the first Pieterse-Sturrock joint effort appeared in 
Scientific American in 1934.  So I got a copy of the first one.  
The bio describes Dr Marion Pieterse as 'Oregon's first female 
graduate of a higher degree, graduating in 1931.'  Same story for 
Sturrock - he's described as having graduated in 1932." 
	Mulder's brow puckered.  "But that would make them 
about ninety!  No way on earth is Pieterse ninety!" 
	Scully raised an eyebrow.  "I don't have any solutions 
for you, Mulder.  But this makes a difference.  It's a common and 
isolating factor to the two of them.  We have to know who and 
what we're dealing with." 
	Mulder frowned.  "What about that woman on the news 
when we went to see Pieterse?  She shut up like a clam after she 
saw that.  She looked maybe seventy, but she was a hundred and 
twenty.  Fifty years' difference - about the same difference as that 
between the good doctors' appearances and fact." 
	"So what are you suggesting, Mulder?  That the three of 
them got stuck in a time warp in the late forties or early fifties?  
And where does this woman - Ingleburn - fit in, anyway?  She 
hasn't gone up in flames, so far as we know." 
	He thought for a moment.  "Didn't they say she escaped 
when staff were distracted by a small fire?" 
	"Yes," Scully conceded, "but there's a difference 
between a small fire and two people going up in flames." 
	"True," he agreed.  "But maybe she did it.  Maybe that's 
why she's been locked up all these years." 
	Scully looked at him dubiously.  "Let's say she did, 
though I don't for one second believe it.  That doesn't explain 
how the three of them could have ceased to age, or had their 
ageing process slow down." 
	Mulder shrugged.  "I can't explain that, Scully.  But 
maybe Ingleburn's files can." 
	So saying, he picked up the telephone, and dialled a 
Virginia number. 

Anderson Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centre 
Anderson, Virginia 
November 24, 1996 

	"Would you mind filling us in on Serena Ingleburn's 
history, Dr Maitz?" 
	Dr Jillian Maitz opened the file before her.  "In honesty, 
Agent Scully, there isn't much to tell.  Serena Ingleburn was born 
in 1875.  During childhood there were a number of fires 
associated with her - mostly very small conflagrations.  
Understand, she wasn't an arsonist; it was more like what we 
might now call pyrokinesis.  She seemed capable of controlling it 
except in times of extreme stress.  But that changed at puberty, 
when fires began around her, seemingly quite spontaneously, 
with increasing frequency.  As with anything misunderstood in 
those days, she was admitted by her family to this institution in 
1889, when she was fourteen years old.  Since her family's 
deaths, her place here has been givernment funded." 
	Mulder leaped on this statement.  "How?" he asked.  
"From where?" 
	"It's a discretionary payment.  I believe the rationale was 
her inability to control her talent and her resulting danger to 
	Scully looked at Maitz closely.  "Is she really a danger 
to society?" 
	Maitz considered her for a moment, then said, "In all 
honesty, I think society is more of a danger to her.  She's lived in 
this institution for one hundred and seven years.  She knows 
nothing of twentieth century life - nothing.  It's really a tragedy 
that she's lived so long, and I think on the outside she would 
have suicided long ago." 
	"Do you have any explanation for her longevity, and the 
fact that she doesn't seem to have aged in some decades?" 
	"None at all, Agent Scully." 
	Mulder asked, "Has she been the subject of any 
investigations - either into her ageing or her pyrokinesis?" 
	Maitz gave a dull laugh.  "Serena Ingleburn is a prime 
example of welfare system complacency.  When I came here 
nineteen years ago, I found a woman who was not being treated 
in any sense of the term and who had no condition which we 
would classify as mental illness.  Frankly, the only reason I kept 
her here was that she was so damaged by the system that I felt to 
release her would probably kill her.  In many ways, Serena 
Ingleburn is still a fourteen year old nineteenth century 
schoolgirl.  I believe there was a brief study in the late forties, 
with occasional followup for about five years after; but nothing 
eventuated.  The study was into the pyrokinesis." 
	Scully spoke.  "is there any information available on 
that study?" 
	Maitz nodded.  "We keep our records here until seven 
years after the patients' deaths.  That's quite beyond our statutory 
obligations, of course; but I and the chief of staff who preceded 
me both believe very strongly in the value of a complete medical 
history; particularly as a number of our patients have rare and 
unusual psychiatric illnesses."  She paused.  "We're something of 
a dumping ground for cases no other psychiatric hospital wants 
to touch.  I want them.  I believe I have an obligation to them...an 
obligation to treat."  She looked at the two agents.  Mulder's 
expression was of understanding, Scully's of respect.  She gave a 
little self-deprecating laugh.  "I do get going on my pet subjects - 
all so-called experts do, I guess.  But yes, we have the files.  
They're archived, but I can get them within a couple of days." 
	Scully indicated that they would like that, and asked, 
"Dr Maitz, where do you think Serena Ingleburn is?  Really?" 
	Maitz seemed to consider the two of them.  Finally, she 
admitted, "I think she's dead, or will be soon enough.  
Understand me, Serena Ingleburn is not a depressive personality.  
But she's had a pretty rotten life.  She's been incarcerated for a 
hundred and seven years, lived a hundred and twenty one in a life 
from which the normal release of death has not occurred.  Some 
people want immortality, but those who know Serena know it 
isn't a blessing, but a curse.  She isn't depressed in any clinical 
sense, but she's exhausted.  Mentally, she has been at the end of 
her life for two decades but she has lingered on.  She would like 
it to end.  Some days, I would like to give her the means to end 
it.  But because she lives - lived - in a psychiatric facility, she has 
not had the opportunity to do so.  Now she does.  She may 
wander the city for a few days or weeks out of sheer curiosity, 
but the day is coming when she will seek that release.  
Personally, I hope she isn't found until she can do so." 
	Scully nodded.  "I understand." 
	Dr Jillian Maitz gave her a piercing look.  "But you'll 
still look for her."  Her tone was bitter. 
	"Yes," Scully admitted.  "I'm afraid we have to." 

Federal Bureau of Investigation 
Washington, D.C. 
November 30, 1996 

	"Scully, come and take a look at this." 
	Mulder's tone was excited.  Scully thought that his 
excitement, at eight fifteen in the morning, was quite tiring - if 
not positively indecent.  "As long as it's not a tie," she said, 
approaching his desk.  That she couldn't take without her first 
coffee of the day. 
	"Not even the flouroscent green one?" he queried, and 
she shot an aghast look at his neck to confirm that this was not 
the case.  It wasn't. 
	"Especially not the flourescent green one," she shot 
back.  "What have you got?" 
	Mulder looked at his papers.  "The research lab is a 
typical government department.  They either destroy vital papers 
or keep them in quadruplicate.  Luckily, the lab does the latter."  
He paused.  "I raided their archives.  Pieterse was recruited 
straight out of college in 1932, and Sturrock in 1934.  Their 
employment records show birth years of 1906 and 1908, 
respectively.  Everything progressed quite normally until 1967.  
Then, in the last month of Sturrock's tenure as Chief of Staff, the 
entire personnel section was blitzed.  Everyone was to finish in 
the last week of August.  During the first week of September, a 
temporary was brought in, and the new staff commenced in the 
second week of September." 
	Scully spoke.  "What happened during that first week in 
September, 1967?" 
	"The temp was killed in a car accident in 1969.  
However, she obviously was into archiving, because the files still 
exist - which is something Sturrock may not have wanted."  
Mulder paused.  "Both Sturrock and Pieterse negotiated new 
contracts which conveniently were to commence on September 1.  
Apparently, Sturrock had the temp create new personnel files for 
both and archive or dump the old ones, effectively making it 
appear, at least superficially, as if both had just commenced 
employment there.  They also took that opportunity to change 
both of their birthdates to unknown." 
	Scully said dubiously, "Are you suggesting that they 
stopped ageing before or about that year and then falsified their 
work records so that they could go undetected?" 
	Mulder nodded.  "Basically, yes."  He paused.  
"Besides, there's more." 
	"Do I want to know?" 
	He ignored her.  "Pieterse was due for a tenure as Chief 
of Staff, to commence next month.  She's on the Board, and she 
recently suggested a consultancy review of the operations of the 
personnel unit.  My guess is, she and Sturrock were paving the 
way for another blitz, another set of new employment files, and 
another coverup." 
	Scully groaned.  She wanted coffee.  "And that's not all, 
is it?" 
	"Afraid not," Mulder confirmed.  "Pieterse and Sturrock 
conducted the 1952 study into Serena Ingleburn's pyrokinesis.  
They were relatively junior on the project - the primary study 
wasn't their area of speciality, but they'd been called aboard to 
investigate the question of whether or not the ability was 
hereditary."  Scully hung her head in her hands.  Mulder went 
on, "Do you want to know what I think?" 
	She looked at him, her eyes bleary for lack of sleep.  
After a long moment, she said truthfully, "No, I don't.  I want 
coffee.  Want some?" 
	He shook his head, stunned, and she rose and walked 

	Scully returned an hour later, her expression 
considerably more alert.  "I've had a walk and I've had a coffee 
and I've had a croissant," she announced.  She'd also thrown up 
violently, but saw no reason to say so.  //The joys of pregnancy,//   
she thought drily.  "Now, where were we?" 
	"You'd just refused to hear my speculations on the 
case," he said.  "I'm quite hurt." 
	She gave an impatient little sound and a toss of the 
head.  "Rubbish.  If you were hurt every time anyone refused to 
hear you out you'd be in a constant state of paranoia and 
insecurity-" she stopped short.  "Sorry.  Bad example."  There 
was mischief in her eyes. 
	"Thank you, Oprah," he said crossly.  He wasn't in the 
	She just laughed.  "Stop sulking, Mulder.  What have 
you got?" 
	Her smile was infectious, and he returned it in spite of 
himself.  He motioned for her to sit down.  "All right.  I think 
Sturrock and Pieterse had some sort of anti-ageing project on the 
side at the same time as the pyrokinesis study.  I think they used 
Ingleburn as a guineapig, then used it themselves.  You heard Dr 
Maitz; she hasn't exactly revelled in her immortality.  She's out 
now, and she's well and truly pissed.  She's used the only weapon 
she has against the two of them:  her ability to set things on fire 
by sheer will.  She killed Sturrock, but you got to Pieterse before 
she could finish the job." 
	Scully was skeptical.  "Mulder, even if they were able 
to somehow turn off the ageing process, that doesn't confer 
immortality.  She still should have died of disease by now.  And 
Ingleburn doesn't seem able to control her ability, anyway - that's 
why she was admitted in the first place." 
	Mulder raised an eyebrow.  "She couldn't then.  She's 
had a hundred and seven years to practice," he pointed out.  
Scully made a small gesture of concession on this point, but her 
expression remained dubious.  //Surprise, surprise, my sceptical 
Scully,//   he thought with a wry grin.  "Well, have you any better 
ideas?" he demanded. 
	"No," she admitted.  "But do you remember Pieterse 
talking about reading about Ingleburn in the journals?"  At his 
nod, she continued, "Well, I called Jillian Maitz.  She's quite 
sure no such article ever appeared.  There's no reference on the 
medical journal databases, either.  So it looks as though Pieterse 
got her information somewhere else, in any case." 
	Mulder regarded her.  "I think maybe it's time we had 
another chat with Dr Marion Pieterse." 
	Scully grabbed her coat.  "Let's go." 

Andrew Wellings Memorial Burns Unit 
Georgetown Medical Centre 
Washington, D.C. 
November 30, 1996 

	Marion Pieterse and Wendy Tomiris were talking with 
animation when the two of them arrived. 
	Scully cleared her throat.  "Dr Pieterse...Ms Tomiris," 
she said gently. 
	Wendy leaned forward and very gently kissed her 
partner's ruined lips.  She got to her feet.  "I'll go.  Agent Scully, 
good to see you again," she added as an aside, and quickly left. 
	Pieterse looked from Scully to Mulder and back again.  
Mulder thought her expression was frightened.  "Yes?"  she said 
shortly.  He decided to jump in with both feet. 
	"We're here to talk about Serena Ingleburn." 
	Pieterse shrunk back in her bed.  "I have nothing to 
say," she said firmly, too surprised to lie. 
	Mulder frowned, suddenly impatient.  Damn it, they 
were trying to protect her and the stupid woman was working 
against them!  "Dr Pieterse, what you know could kill you if you 
don't tell us!" he snapped.  "You're so busy covering up what you 
and Paul Sturrock did that you've forgotten that she'll kill you!  Is 
the secret really worth a six foot burial?" 
	That seemed to affect her.  Scully suddenly had a flash 
of memory...Marion Pieterse saying quietly, //"Some people are 
born to survive.  They want it - no matter what.  I'm one of them.  
So was Paul."//    She could suddenly grasp the motivation for 
whatever it was that the two of them had done:  the survival 
instinct gone out of control.  Pieterse was deathly quiet for a few 
moments, but then she spoke. 
	"It was an exciting time, the late forties and early 
fifties," she said.  "Paul and I had always worked in the area of 
hereditary, and then, right at the height of our careers, came this 
incredible discovery:  the identification of DNA.  My God, we 
worked with DNA night and day for six years, trying to assess its 
implications.  I don't think we even scratched the surface of what 
we know now."  She paused.  "In 1951, we identified what we 
believed - what I still believe - was a genetic marker for the 
ageing process.  There were a variety of genes involved, but one 
marker common to all.  By 1952, we'd fashioned an antibody 
which would attach itself only to genes with that marker, and we 
found a way of attaching a toxin to the antibody.  That way, we 
could immobilise those genes while not affecting any others." 
	Scully nodded.  "The same basic idea was used later to 
develop ways of killing cancerous cells while leaving healthy 
ones intact," she commented. 
	Pieterse nodded.  "That's correct.  In 1952 we were also 
called in on the pyrokinesis project.  Ingleburn is probably the 
only properly documented pyrokinetic subject in the western 
world.  The study was an attempt to find out how she could do 
what she could do; whether she could control it; and to a lesser 
extent, whether or not it was hereditary.  It was the last question 
that we were called in on.  I may say as an aside that the study 
turned up absolutely nothing.  You might call her a freak of 
nature."  She stopped a moment, before going on, "But what 
interested Paul and I was that she was old - seventy seven - but in 
very good health.  And she was what you might call a captive 
	Mulder looked at her piercingly.  "You used her as a 
guinea pig?" 
	Pieterse had the good grace to look away for a moment.  
But she looked back again and met his gaze steadily.  "Yes," she 
said defiantly, "we did." 
	Scully added grimly, "And then used it on yourselves." 
	Pieterse nodded.  "We monitored Serena until 1956.  
We were quite satisfied that it had worked, and that there had 
been no ill effects.  Then, as you say, we used it ourselves." 
	"And now she's back," Mulder said.  "And she wants 
	Pieterse looked from one agent to the other, genuinely 
puzzled.  "For having the closest thing there is within science to 
immortality?  She can still die by accident or disease, that's true; 
but otherwise - why, she could live for centuries!" 
	Scully's look was one of disgust.  Dear God, how could 
these people be so blind, so lacking in insight?  "Dr Pieterse, 
you're a scientist with a successful career and a loving partner.  
The years have been kind to you.  Serena Ingleburn is a woman 
with an anomaly which has made her a psychiatric patient, 
despite no evidence of mental illness, for over a century.  She has 
never married, never had children, and never had a career.  She is 
quite incapable of functioning in society, and because of her 
circumstances, quite incapable of suicide, too.  This woman's life 
is a living hell, and you and your psychotic friend went and gave 
her fifty years more of it!  For God's sake, ethics aside, surely 
you didn't expect that she would never come back for her pound 
of flesh!" 
	Mulder stared at her, stunned by her ferocity.  He 
shouldn't have been, of course; he knew how she felt about 
scientists playing with life and death.  Scully had always felt that 
there were certain lines that should never be crossed...certain 
lines which could be crossed by God alone.  Part of that was 
Scully, the scientist...a greater part of it was Scully, the Catholic. 
	Pieterse was staring, too.  Her expression was one of 
disbelief, mingled with vague understanding.  "It never occurred 
to me," she said at last.  "That someone could not want to 
live...no matter how they lived.  Do you really think that's so?" 
she asked, incredulous. 
	Scully nodded.  Her tone became more even, but her 
voice was grim.  "Yes, I do." 
	The three of them were silent for several minutes, while 
Pieterse mulled over this idea.  Quite abruptly, however, she 
looked at Scully.  "She's here." 
	"What?  Why didn't you tell us?" Mulder demanded. 
	Pieterse's voice was frightened.  "I told you.  It never 
occured to me that she might be...angry.  I thought she just 
wanted to talk to us.  I thought Paul was an accident, if it were 
her at all.  She couldn't control it, last I heard."  She paused.  
"She's working as a volunteer, or at least pretending to be one.  
She's stuck her head in a couple of times, but each time, I've had 
someone with me."  She paused.  "Do you really think she killed 
Paul on purpose?" 
	Mulder shrugged.  "Who the hell knows?  Maybe she 
did.  Maybe she just saw him and got so damned angry the power 
just leaped out of her.  Either way, Dr Pieterse, the same could 
very well apply to you.  The danger is very real." 
	Marion Pieterse looked him in the eye.  "All right," she 
said.  "What do we do now?" 
	"//We//   do nothing," Scully retorted.  "Agent Mulder 
and I will have you put under guard until Serena Ingleburn can 
be located.  In the meantime, I suggest you ask your partner to 
keep away.  If Ingleburn is about, she could be in danger, too." 
	"By association?" Pieterse asked, dubiously. 
	"No," Mulder replied.  "By proximity." 
	Recognition dawned in Pieterse's eyes.  "You don't 
think you can stop her, do you?" 
	Mulder shrugged.  "I don't know.  We don't know if she 
has to be close by for her to direct her power - if indeed she has 
any control over it at all.  I may say that the circumstances of her 
escape from her institution suggest that she does have some 
control of it.  As you yourself said, she is the only properly 
documented pyrokinetic case study in the western world.  We 
don't have enough information to know." 
	Pieterse looked from Mulder to Scully, grimly.  "You 
don't think much of me, do you?" 
	Mulder was discreetly silent, but Scully met her eye.  
"No," she said evenly.  "I don't." 
	"And yet you will protect me.  Why?" 
	Scully regarded her steadily for a moment.  "Justice 
takes place in a civilised forum.  People should be held 
accountable for their actions before their peers.  When one 
wronged person takes matters into their own hands, that's not 
justice.  That's revenge." 
	Pieterse nodded.  "Very well.  But tell me, Agent 
Scully:  documentation or not, what jury in the world will 
convict her?" 
	Scully snapped in response, "What jury in the world 
will convict you?" 
	With that, she turned on her heel in disgust, and left. 

Room 6.04 
Georgetown Medical Centre 
Washington, D.C. 
December 16, 1996 

	They found Serena Ingleburn two weeks later. 
	She had been sighted on a number of occasions, and 
fearful for the safety of the other patients in the event of a fire, 
Mulder had had Marion Pieterse moved to a room in a disused 
garden wing of the Center.  This wing had the advantage of being 
accessible to fire crews and containing no oxygen or other 
equipment which might pose an explosion hazard in the event of 
a fire. 
	Unfortunately, of course, it was also more accessible to 
	This time, she was easily apprehended and placed in a 
room at one end of the wing until Mulder and Scully could get 
there to question her. 
	They arrived at midnight and were shown in.  The 
guards, at Mulder's insistence, were armed not only with 
weapons but with fire extinguishers; but neither had been 
needed.  Serena Ingleburn had been a model prisoner. 
	In fact, when the two of them entered, she seemed to 
have little comprehension that that was what she was.  She 
greeted them with a hand and a maidenly smile as though she 
were welcoming them to her home, though she was somewhat 
more tentative with Mulder than with Scully.  //A fourteen year 
old Victorian schoolgirl, indeed,//   Scully thought.  It was 
against protocol, but both took the proffered hand automatically. 
	"Ma'am, are you Serena Ingleburn?" Scully asked, 
	The old woman inclined her head slightly.  "I am." 
	"I'm Special Agent Dana Scully and this is Agent 
Mulder, Ma'am.  We're with the FBI." 
	There was a faint smile across her lips which didn't 
quite reach her old, old eyes.  "I know who you are." 
	Mulder spoke up.  "Do you know why we're here, 
	The elderly woman nodded.  "I do," she said, "but why 
don't you tell me anyway, young man?" 
	"I will warn you that anything you say may be used 
against you," Scully said, wondering whether the woman had 
enough knowledge of the world to know her rights.  "You can 
have a lawyer, if you wish." 
	The smile did reach Ingleburn's eyes then.  "They say 
that on the television when they arrest someone, don't they?" she 
said with a twinkle.  "Am I under arrest, Miss Scully?" 
	Scully shook her head, smiling in spite of herself.  "Not 
at this time."  Her smile faded.  "But you are in some trouble, you 
must know that." 
	Mulder's brow creased.  What the hell was she playing 
at?  They were supposed to be interrogating the woman, not 
babysitting her! 
	He shot Scully an annoyed look, but the expression on 
her face stopped him from butting in.  There was a firmness 
there, as well as respect.  Scully knew how to handle those of 
older generations, he suddenly realised; and she knew what she 
was doing. 
	Ingleburn nodded.  Scully went on, "Ma'am, are you 
here to kill Dr Marion Pieterse?"  The straightforwardness of the 
question stunned Mulder.  Surely she didn't think the woman 
would say yes!   
	But Serena Ingleburn was of another time, another era; 
and she scorned to lie.  She inclined her head faintly.  "That's 
so," she admitted, her voice steady. 
	"Why have you waited?" Mulder asked.  "You've been 
about for weeks.  And its obvious that you don't care if you're 
	"I didn't want to hurt anyone else.  You've served my 
ends rather well by moving her, young man." 
	"Why?" he demanded, suddenly angry.  He felt as 
though he'd been second-guessed by this fluffly little old woman, 
and he didn't like it. 
	"You know why," she replied calmly.  "Or at least the 
young lady does.  She told Marion.  I heard her." 
	"Then you also heard what I said about justice...and the 
difference between justice and revenge," Scully said gently. 
	Serena Ingleburn met her gaze.  "Young lady, can you 
assure me that Marion Pieterse will be brought to justice?" 
	Scully bowed her head.  She was silent for a long 
moment, before she admitted, "You know I can't." 
    	"Then I'm sorry."  There was finality in her voice.  "Very 
	Serena Ingleburn closed her eyes for a long moment, 
and then there were shouts from down the corridor.  Mulder leapt 
to his feet and dragged open the door.  Staring down the hall, he 
saw the guards rip fire extinguishers off the wall and rush into 
Pieterse's room.  He turned back to Ingleburn and shouted, "What 
did you do?" 
	Scully was staring at Ingleburn, who opened her eyes 
once more, winked at her, and closed them again.  Suddenly 
understanding, she cried, "No!" and ran to the extinguisher on 
the wall.  She pulled it down, pointed the hose at Ingleburn, and 
sprayed her with foam; but it was too late.  She had burst into 
flames before their very eyes. 
	Mulder grabbed another canister from the wall in the 
corridor and sprayed the elderly woman; and when that failed, he 
pulled off his coat and threw it over her.  It was no use; the 
flames seemed to be coming from deep within her. 
	Seeing the futility of it, Scully pulled him back then, 
frightened he would be hurt.  "Mulder," she cried.  "Mulder!  
You can't stop it!  And even if you could, do you want to?  Do 
you want her to live?  For God's sake, show some humanity!  Let 
her go!" 
    	Mulder stared at her mutinously for a moment; and then 
he nodded, conceding defeat.  "All right." 
    	Scully simply turned away and left. 
    	He found her some time later in the cafeteria.  She 
motioned for him to sit.  "Well?" 
    	"Pieterse's dead," Mulder replied shortly.  "Ingleburn - 
well, you saw Ingleburn."  He looked at her with interest.  "Did 
you know she would do that?" 
    	She shook her head with an air of exhaustion.  "Not 
until that last second, when she closed her eyes the second time."  
Her voice was regretful.  "I should have known." 
    	His voice was gentle.  "You couldn't have known.  And 
if you had, you couldn't have stopped it.  And if you could have, 
would you?" 
	Damn him for quoting her back to her!  She smiled in 
spite of herself.  "No.  None of them should have lived so long.  
It was right for them to die.  There are some things in life, 
Mulder, over which humans have no right of control." 
	They were words which would return to haunt her later. 

Alexandria, Virginia 
December 17, 1996 

	The phone rang. 
	Mulder opened his eyes, groping for it.  He found it 
and, reluctantly, flipped it open.  "Mulder." 
	"It's me." 
	"Do you know what time it is, Scully?" 
	"Mulder, it's eight in the morning!  You can't still be 
	His voice was chagrined.  "No, not anymore." 
	She ignored him.  "I'm just going over to Kuringai 
Power Plant to tell Wendy Tomiris that Pieterse's dead.  Damn 
that homophobic hospital, they didn't think to call her!  I'll 
probably pass you on the way back.  Do you want me to swing 
by and give you a lift in, if you haven't already left?" 
	"Yes, Scully.  You do that.  Bye." 
	Scully hung up, raising her eyebrow.  He had actually 
consented to travel in a car with her at the wheel!  She'd have to 
remember that next time she needed a favour.  "So, Mulder's a 
soft touch when he's half asleep," she said to herself with a grin.  
It bade well for future successes. 
	It was going to be a good day. 

	The phone rang. 
	Mulder opened his eyes, groping for it.  Muttering 
something about deja vu, he found it and, reluctantly, flipped it 
open.  "Mulder." 
	He glanced at the clock.  "It's Kimberly Cooke from the 
Director's office, Agent Mulder," he registered dimly in the 
background at the same time as the rest of him was mentally 
screaming, //Oh, shit, it's eleven o'clock!// 
	Jumping to his feet, he pulled a shirt around him and 
started buttoning furiously.  "Yes, Kimberly?  Listen, did I forget 
about some meeting or other with him?  I've been working from 
home today," he lied, "and-" 
	Kimberly cut him off as he pulled a pair of trousers 
from a hanger and yanked them on, nearly tripping over in the 
process.  "No, Agent Mulder, it's nothing like that.  A.D. Skinner 
asked me to call you.  We've had some distressing news." 
	Mulder frowned.  //Bad//   news didn't worry him - that 
was usually just a matter of political inexpediency.  But when 
cool, efficient Kim Cooke started using words like //distressing//  
-  "What is it, Kim?" 
	"The A.D. didn't give me any details, but it seems there 
was an accident of some kind.  Agent Scully's critical.  She's in 
ICU at Georgetown Medical-"  Mulder cut her off. 
	"I'll be right there." 

Intensive Care Unit 
Georgetown Medical Centre 
Washington, D.C. 
December 17, 1996 

	Mulder burst through door.  "Sir?  I came as soon as I 
	Skinner was sitting beside Scully's inert form, one hand 
linked in hers and the other over her stomach.  He looked up. 
"Oh," he said, as though he didn't quite remember who the 
younger man was.  "Agent Mulder." 
	Mulder said desperately, //"What happened?"// 
	Skinner was silent for so long that he thought he hadn't 
heard.  But finally, he responded; his voice distant and toneless.  
His voice was raw with pain.  "I got a call.  The paramedics found 
her Bureau I.D.  They wouldn't tell me what was wrong.  I went 
out there and she was in the ambulance.  She was throwing up 
and disorientated.  They flew her here from the local hospital in 
Kuringai.  Sometimes, she recognised me; but towards the end - 
she was asking for her father, and Melissa-"  He broke off, shook 
his head violently as though to clear it.  His voice still raw, but 
steadied; he said in a monotone, "She went into convulsions, and 
then coma set in." 
	The muscles in Mulder's face twitched as he tried to 
make sense of this.  Why, he'd spoken to her that morning!  Even 
agreed to let her drive him somewhere!  "But why?" he 
demanded.  "What the hell happened?" 
	Skinner swallowed and blinked a couple of times, 
trying to call up that part of him that could answer the younger 
man.  Most of him thought it just didn't matter right now.  "They 
found her trapped in Kuringai Nuclear Power Plant with a 
number of employees.  She was in the waste disposal facility.  
They keep the waste in stainless steel canisters, lined with glass.  
Eventually they get buried at a Federal waste repository in 
Nevada, but they keep them for ten years until they've cooled 
enough to be safely buried underground."  He paused.  "They're 
kept in a purpose-built storage facility with appropriate 
shielding.  The full canisters are transported through specially 
shielded tunnels from the reactor itself to the storage facility, but 
the empty storage containers are transported to the reactor 
through the main area of the building - where Dana was."  
Skinner leaned back in his chair.  "The plant has been trialling 
robots to handle the transportation of the canisters, for safety 
reasons.  But there was a brief power outage.  There was a two 
second gap before the generator took up the power.  In those 
seconds, they think, the information going to the robot reached it 
in some kind of scrambled or incomplete form.  It brought back 
two full canisters, unsheilded, through the main building.  
Security realised what was happening and shut down the 
building, trapping it in a staffroom." 
	"And Scully was in there." 
	"Yes.  It was thirteen minutes before they were able to 
evacuate the building, shut down the robot, get people in 
protective gear and shielded transporters, and get Dana and the 
employees out.  To be fair, if you can overlook the monumental 
incompetence that allowed it to happen in the first place, that's a 
pretty good response time."  But Skinner didn't sound as if he 
was in the mood to be fair. 
	The older man met his gaze for the first time.  Mulder 
saw for the first time how broken he was.  He seemed to have 
aged overnight.  "She took over a thousand rem in there.  They 
can't believe she's still alive - the others are all dead.  But they 
say it won't be long.  A few hours, maybe.  Central Nervous 
System Syndrome, they call it.  Plain old acute radiation 
sickness."  He paused.  "Nausea, vomiting, anxiety, 
disorientation.  Then loss of consciousness.  Central nervous 
system damage, fluid on the brain, then death.  At least it will be 
quick.  With lower levels of exposure, it can drag on for weeks."  
He sounded to Mulder as though he was repeating a script that 
had been playing in his head over and over.  In a way, he 
supposed, he was. 
	Skinner went on.  "They wouldn't let me touch her.  
They said she might be radioactive herself.  The way they were 
treating her, it was like she was some kind of leper-" he broke 
off, swallowed.  "Finally they established that she wasn't emiting 
anything, but they still wouldn't let me too close.  It wasn't until 
she came here that they allowed that." 
	Mulder was stunned.  He dragged up a chair and sat at 
Scully's opposite side.  He put his hand over hers.  He could feel 
the cool chill of shock creep over him.  "Oh, my God." 
     //Scully.   Damn it, Scully, after all we've been through, all 
the near scrapes, how could you go and kill yourself in a plain 
old industrial accident?  For God's sake, it's not even a 
conspiracy!  What kind of a sick cosmic joke is that?// 
	His memories of all that they had endured and lost 
together came back to him in waves.  The last few months, they'd 
both been so wrapped up in their work and their own problems 
that they'd lost touch somewhat.  But she was the one constant in 
his life.  She was his mentor, his friend; even his conscience, a 
little.  He loved her.  It was that simple.  He loved her, and she 
was always there. 
	Until now. 
	Skinner looked up at Mulder, accusingly.  "What in the 
name of God was a pregnant woman doing in a nuclear power 
	Mulder said cautiously, "She was notifying the partner 
of a murder victim.  Those spontaneous combustion deaths."  He 
added, "Sir, this couldn't have been foreseen.  Accidents of this 
kind are practically nonexistent.  The danger factor was 
practically nil.  If it wasn't, she wouldn't have gone out there." 
	Skinner nodded slowly.  "Practically nil.  Not 
practically enough."  He breathed out, slowly.  "All right." 
	"Do you want me to order an inquiry?" 
	He shook his head, suddenly defeated.  "No, Agent 
Mulder.  That will happen in due course anyway.  I don't care."  
His body slumped.  "Did I ever tell you that Grace was pregnant 
when she died?" 
	Mulder shook his head.  "No, Sir." 
	"Well, she was.  They were going to induce her in a 
couple more weeks.  They couldn't save Grace, but they wanted 
to save the baby.  She hung on for that - and for a lot longer than 
they said she should have.  But in the end, she was just too weak.  
She let go."  Skinner paused.  "When Dana got pregnant, I 
thought at last, there was some justice.  Another child.  Maybe 
another wife, one day; although I don't really think she would 
ever have married me.  But I was wrong," he finished bitterly.  
"There is no justice." 
	Mulder thought of all that they had lost, all three of 
them.  "No, Sir," he agreed.  "There isn't." 

	Skinner found Mulder an hour later, crouched in the 
nondenominational chapel.  There was nothing religious about 
his choice of location, however; it had simply been the nearest 
deserted place when he had broken down.  He was hugging 
himself, making horrible wounded noises.  He sounded so like 
Skinner felt that it was all he could do to keep from joining him.  
Instead, he crouched at the younger man's side and put a hand on 
his shoulder.  "Mulder," he said gently, reluctant to break the 
intimate moment, but knowing it had to be done.  "There's news." 
	Mulder was silent for several moments while he 
composed himself.  "She's gone?" 
	Skinner shook his head.  "They don't understand it.  But 
it could be good news."  
	Mulder turned to look at him, stunned.  //"What?"//   he 
	Skinner looked into the distance, choosing his words 
carefully.  "I'm a bit fuzzy on how all of this works, but as it was 
explained to me, radioactivity exists when one chemical reaction 
sparks off a whole lot of others.  When the reactions stop, that's 
when whatever it is stops being radioactive.  With something like 
this - gamma radiation - the reactions never stop; at least not in 
time as we can foresee it.  But Dana-" he stopped short. 
	"Go on," Mulder prodded. 
	"Well, they think some sort of reaction took place in 
her body which stopped the process prematurely - interrupted it.  
The degeneration has ceased.  Her body is showing signs of 
	Mulder's voice was alive with hope.  "She's going to 
	Skinner was cautious again.  "I didn't say that.  Her 
body has been through a lot.  The vital organs have all been 
affected.  They don't normally recover.  There's damage to her 
heart, her liver, kidneys - probably the brain, too.  She'll still 
probably go - and in the circumstances, that might be just as 
well."  He paused, reluctantly giving way to the hope in his own 
heart.  "But just the same, it's a little different now.  There's some 
    	"Is she conscious?" 
    	"In and out.  But she's lucid, which is a good sign for 
brain function."  Skinner said gently, "She's asking for you." 
	Mulder nodded.  "All right." 
    	The older man helped him to his feet, and they left 

	Mulder sat at her side. 
	There were no more tears, now; but his face was twisted 
with pain.  Skinner regarded him for a few minutes, then said 
softly, "I'll try to phone her mother again."  He rose, and 
discreetly, he left. 
	Scully was deathly white.  He could see the veins traced 
delicately along the backs of her hands.  She was so still.  It 
seemed impossible to him that this motionless, frozen woman 
could possibly awaken...less likely still that she could recover. 
	And then she opened her eyes. 
	They were a washed-out blue, now; seemingly robbed 
of their emerald brightness by her ordeal.  But they were Scully, 
conscious and alert.  And suddenly, irrationally, he was sure it 
was going to be all right. 
	"Hey," he whispered. 
	"Hey," she replied.  Her voice was tender.  "You look 
like you've been through hell, Mulder." 
	"That's my line," he said softly.  "Scully-" he broke off, 
at a loss to express emotions he didn't understand. 
	She took his hand in hers.  "Mulder, don't.  I'm here, 
and so are you.  The rest of it's just words." 
	He nodded silently, holding her gaze; and when her 
eyes fluttered closed once more, he kissed her forehead, and left 
the room.  He watched as Skinner went back in to her, and 
leaned heavily against the wall. 
	//She's got to be all right.// 

To be continued...