From: antrim <>
Subject: NEW STORY: Double Vision
Date: Sun, 20 Aug 95

Double Vision : An X-File by Brenda S. Antrim. Copyright on the
X-Files, Agents Mulder and Scully, Director Skinner et al belong
to Chris Carter and 10/13 Productions but the story credit/blame
is mine. c 1995 No sex or romance, just an odd little personal
piece. Comments are appreciated and flames cheerfully ignored.


Here, in the bright sunlight, it was nearly impossible to
remember the nightmares. His spirit was almost imperceptibly
lightened, not restless, for a change. No pressing cases to nibble
at his subconscious, a solid four hours of sleep the previous
night. Early Spring in bloom all around him. He could even hear

It couldn't last.


Sounds were muffled in the cramped basement office. Papers
lay scattered across the desktop, piles leaning haphazardly around
one another. An incipient avalanche. Special Agent Fox Mulder let
his eyes drift over the regulated chaos, mentally tying up the
loose ends of three cases, storing notes in his head for the next
morning's attack of dreaded paperwork. The soft sigh of air from
the doorway redirected his gaze, and he smirked at the petite woman
leaning against the frame, staring at him thoughtfully.

"Hey, Scully. What's the matter, don't you have a life?" His
gentle teasing brought a glimmer of smile to her full lips, and the
corner of his own mouth quirked up in response.

"Yeah, I do. And I spend it watching you." She shrugged
herself upright, fatigue evident in her stance. "Aren't you ever
going home, Mulder?" She raked her glance over his lean length,
pausing at the shoulders slumped forward from too many hours of
reading casefiles, the rumpled suit jacket tossed carelessly over
the back of his chair, his sleeves rolled up and his collar undone.
He'd been at the office for fourteen hours, with a brief break from
lunch, and he was beginning to look like it. "You're starting to
resemble a mole."

He squinted goofily up at her for a moment, and she nearly
laughed, before shooting him a stern look. He responded with a
half chuckle, hazel eyes narrowing in an unexpected yawn.

"Well, no arguing with the Doctor, I s'pose." He threw his
hands up in a gesture of mock surrender, and pushed himself up from
the chair. "On my way, just like a good little boy." She muttered
something that sounded suspiciously like "that'll be the day" and
turned to head down the corridor. He reached behind him and
quickly shrugged into the jacket, stuffing his discarded tie in the
pocket, and paused on his way out the door. Everything was in
order. Looked like a hurricane had hit it. He shut the door
firmly and followed his partner out into the night.


He didn't know what drove him out of the apartment, but some
nights he just couldn't stay indoors. Had to get out, run, chase
away the demons, go until his heart pounded in his head loudly
enough to drown out all the voices demanding his attention. As
usual, he didn't have his gun on him, and for once, he needed it.

The sudden wrenching scream jolted him out of his rhythm,
caused his feet to stumble momentarily before instinct kicked in
and he swerved into the shadows along the alley wall. Another
shadow, long and narrow from the oblique light, disappeared around
the far end as he threw himself forward, and he pounded to the end
of the building before realizing it was too late. Giving up on the
chase, he returned to the victim and knelt beside him. Cursing to
himself, Mulder vowed to get a fannypack even if they did look
ridiculous and carry his bloody cellphone and gun with him even on
a ten minute jog. Pressing his hand gently to the side of the
victim's throat, feeling the pulse fade, examining the ragged slit
running perpendicular to the windpipe and knowing there was no
hope, he gently pressed his other hand along the man's temple. One
last human touch, gentle contact to see him into the night.
Helplessly he watched the light fade from soft grey eyes, his own
sad hazel eyes meshed with the stranger's ... it must be from the
lack of oxygen, must be the adrenaline, why would he feel so
breathless, his fingertips so warm, must be ... those eyes ...

It must have been only moments before he regained
consciousness, because the dead man's blood was still warm and the
skin under his fingers was still soft. Mulder gulped, wondering
wildly for a moment just what the hell had happened, then shakily
pulled himself away from the corpse. Gently, he reached down and
closed the dulled grey eyes, feeling an unaccountable sadness at
the finality of the gesture. He steadied himself against the wall
briefly, then left the alley to cross the dimly lit street in
search of a telephone booth. At least he remembered his quarter
this time.


She couldn't believe it. Not quite eight in the morning and
he beat her in *again*. And from the look of him, her instructions
to get some rest had gone unheeded. As usual.

"What am I going to have to do to you? Tie you down so you
will get some rest?"

He gave her his best wicked smile, not as bright as it usually
was. "Sounds interesting, Scully. Your place or mine?"

She successfully stifled a giggle and glared at him. "Did you
get *any* sleep last night, Mulder?"

He sighed and shifted restlessly. "Well, I made the mistake
of going out jogging-"

"Don't tell me. You got lost and spent the rest of the night
walking the streets of Washington DC trying to find your way home."

He ignored her interruption and continued lazily, "-and
stumbled, literally, into a murderer in the process of finishing up
his work. I wasn't able to catch him, and I wasn't able to help
the victim." His eyes were somber, his expression carefully blank.
"He died before I could call for assistance."

She settled into her chair and regarded him with concern.
"Are you alright?"

He cocked a brow at her. "I wasn't the one who got his throat
slit, Scully. Other than nearly passing out from lack of oxygen
due to the final sprint into the alley, I was fine. I did,
however, spend the next three hours in the local law enforcement
headquarters trying to explain to them that I wasn't a crazed
killer who sharpened the sole of his running shoe to a razor's edge
in order to slaughter a man and then call the police to bring it to
their attention. And I am going to start carrying my official
identification, my gun, my cellular phone and a copy of my birth
certificate everywhere with me -- even into the restroom!"

She was silent for a moment. "Didn't like the local cops, I
take it."

His look was answer enough, she didn't need to hear his
growled, "No!"

The ringing phone effectively terminated the conversation, and
his short "Mulder!" four "yes,sir"'s and one "of course, sir" were
enough to have her gathering herself for the inevitable trip to
Director Skinner's office. She didn't even have to ask.


The corpse was the third in a series, definitely the work of
a serial killer, and one with a strange collection pattern. The
first corpse had been found minus his left hand, killed by a
crushing blow to the windpipe, stripped and dumped into a field of
grass along a back road in rural Virginia. The second, another man
in his mid-thirties, was missing his right hand. The fresh corpse
currently staked out in a different field, less than ten miles from
the original crime scene, had had his left leg severed at the
kneecap. Whoever had done it had known what they were doing. It
was surprisingly difficult to saw through human bone.

Mulder watched his partner carefully examining the wounds on
the corpse, and shuddered slightly. Perhaps it was the lack of
sleep, although lack of sleep was the norm for him, but the breeze
seemed unusually cold today. He carefully stepped around what had
once been a living being, scanning the area for clues to tell him
who could have done this. Trying to see a pattern, some hint of
why, that could stop it from happening again. As his eyes drifted
over the indentations in the grass his mind ranged freely. *Looks
like the body was definitely dumped, not nearly enough blood to
have hacked it off here, looks like drag marks where he was half
carried to the* Light replaced by darkness. Vivid impressions,
not an actual image, more like a strobe light flickering off and on
in his head. Soft cool something creeping over the edges of his
vision, almost like a mist...

Caught. From behind. Pain, searing through his throat,
catching his breath in his chest. Arms heavy as lead, can't get it
off me, can't *breathe*. World going grey around him as the pain
bit deep, hard into the side of his knee, god it hurt so much, how
could he when he was still alive and not even care and he was
laughing and oh god it hurt--as his surroundings went grey, the
life he saw and the life he was living blending into soft mist as
his mind gave in to the grey.

A startled shout from one of the troopers guarding the site
brought Scully's head up, in time to see her partner crumple into
a heap ten feet away. She didn't remember moving, but she was
there, her hand in the collar of his shirt, finding the pulse. His
heart was racing, his skin clammy and unnaturally pale. As she
opened her mouth to call for the EMTs, his eyes swam open. Pupils
dilated, unfocused. A mixture of confusion and terror in the hazel
depths. He stared at her for a long moment, and she felt his heart
settle into a steadier rhythm under her hand.

"Mulder? Are you alright? What happened?"

His voice was a little huskier than normal, but surprisingly
calm. "I don't know, Scully. Why do you have your hand down my
shirt? Not that I'm not enjoying it, but-"

"You fainted, Mulder." Now was not the time for his sense of
humor. She was worried about him.

"I'm fine, Scully." She didn't look convinced, so he tried a
little harder. "Really. I'm fine." He pushed himself into a
sitting position, any embarrassment he might have felt at
unceremoniously passing out wiped away by the thought of the
bizarre impressions he had received before he lost consciousness.
"Scully, when you do the autopsy, try and determine if the leg was
amputated before he died."

She looked at him as if he'd lost his mind. "Why?"

One side of his mouth twisted into a half smile. "Just a


"How did you know?"

He looked up from the reports he was studying to see his
partner staring at him from the other side of his desk. "Was I

"Yes. So, how did you know?"

He grimaced. "You don't want to know."

"If I didn't want to know, I wouldn't have asked." She wasn't
letting him off the hook. There was no way a cursory examination
of the body could have told him that -- if she hadn't been looking,
she might have missed the tissue evidence herself.

He set his jaw and sighed. "I saw it."

"How?" No way. "You didn't examine the body closely enough

"No, Scully," he interrupted impatiently, "I *saw* it. Kind
of like a vision, or a flashback, superimposed on my field of view.
I saw the attacker come at ... him," he wasn't quite ready to tell
her all the details. He wasn't quite ready to admit all the
details of what he had experienced even to himself. "And I saw
that the victim was knocked over, stunned, took a blow directly to
the throat-" *can't breathe* Of it's own volition his hand rose
to his throat, softly massaging the tender skin over the trachea.
"He wasn't dead yet when the murderer began to ... cut off his
leg." His voice had dropped and slowed as he continued, until the
final words were nearly whispered. Scully stared at him,
mesmerized by the pain in his eyes, until the silence caused a
chill to chase up her back. She shuddered once, hard, and blinked.
Damn Mulder, freaking her out with these ghost stories.

"It's a pattern, right? Physical evidence from the previous
two cases indicated that the hands had been severed before the
death of the victims and you were making an educated guess." She
paused, waiting for his triumphant grin, but he merely stared at
her silently. Her voice took on an edge. "Right?"

"No, Scully." His eyes were hooded as he stared back at her,
then he nodded and returned to his files. Apparently Scully wasn't
ready to hear it either. So he lightened it up a bit. "Just a ...

She didn't like the forced tone. Mulder was hiding something,
or trying to. Funny how she always knew. Just as she knew that
eventually he would tell her.

He always did.


The clues were there, and the killer wasn't nearly as clever
as he'd wanted to believe. Traces of skin under the fingernails,
a hair, some fabric torn from his shirt. Scully found the physical
evidence to sew the case up tight, and Mulder drew a portrait of a
sick mind that eventually led them to the killer. But this time
there was a difference.

Early morning, and the dream had awakened him with a scream
tearing at the back of his throat, his fingers clutching at his
right knee, keening in agony. Scrambling for his cellular, not
pausing to decipher the odd images still burned into his retinas.
Throwing on a jacket, eyes squinting through the darkness of
predawn Virginia, he cursed unsteadily to himself as he looked for
landmarks he would recognize, even though he had never seen them.
Later, he would allow himself to feel the terror chewing at his
stomach. Now there was no time to think, only react.

"C'mon, Scully, answer ... pick it up ... damnit, Scully-
Scully! I'm in the car, don't have time to explain, have a lead,
meet me-"

She noted the directions automatically, pulling on jeans and
a sweatshirt around the telephone crimped to her ear, aware even in
her half-asleep state of the urgency in her partner's voice. When
she arrived, his car was already pulled into the side of a field,
angled headlights throwing strange shadows over the long grass and
the tall form struggling with a shorter figure in the near
distance. Pulling her gun from the holster on the seat beside her,
she was out of the car almost before it rolled to a stop, racing
over the uneven ground to come to Mulder's aid.

"Federal Agent! Stop or I'll shoot!" The shorter man
screamed something then, she couldn't distinguish the words, only
the rage behind the howl. He threw Mulder off with a final
convulsive jerk, and Dana had a clear shot. As he turned toward
her, she saw the glint of metal in his hand and fired on instinct,
a clean shot through the upper torso. The man dropped, clutching
at the blood flowing across his chest, and tried to stand again,
tried to run. Mulder caught him easily, cuffed him securely, and
stood back as Scully efficiently wadded the man's shirt into a
makeshift bandage. She looked up at him coolly, waiting for an
explanation. He avoided her eyes and flipped his cellular up,
calling for EMTs to tend to the wounded suspect. Her gaze shot
from her partner, studiously ignoring her, to the corpse lying
still in the dirt behind him. Another young man, this time missing
his lower right leg. Completing the set for the monster she was

Mulder was going to have to talk to her. This one had been a
little too bizarre, even for him.


"How did you know?" Softly. Inviting confidence. He wasn't
taken in at all.

"I don't know." Warily. Unsure of her reaction. Knowing
that he would trust her with the truth if he knew it, but not
certain she would believe him if he did. She looked at him,
seriously, seeming to look into his soul with clear cerulean eyes.
He fought the urge to squirm and looked back at her just as openly,
just as deeply. She sighed. Maybe he would talk if she played it
his way. Maybe. Mulder was an obstinate clam when he wanted to

"What can you tell me?" She settled herself into her chair.

He eyed her guardedly for another moment, then relaxed. At
least she looked ready to listen. Belief was probably too much to
ask. "I had a dream."

"Another nightmare?"

"No, not my usual." He smiled briefly at her, but his eyes
remained solemn. "This one was sort of like the vision that I had
at the field when we investigated the third crime scene. There was
a kind of mist, grey, started out filmy and gradually became
opaque. Then it was as if I became two people. There was a jolt,
as if I had been attacked from behind, then this searing pain in my
right leg-"

She sat bolt upright.

"-and at that point it was as if the perspective shifted.
There was almost a feeling of exhultation, power flowing through
me, and I was driving somewhere, with the blood singing in my
veins. I could see signs, and landmarks ... the abandoned garage,
the split rail fence that bordered the field ... and I was lifting
the body out of the trunk of the car and laying it in the field.
There was no sense of urgency, no rush to leave, there was all the
time I needed..." His voice trailed off. The sensations were so
vivid. It was almost as if he were reliving the dream.

Scully watched her partner in morbid fascination, vaguely
aware of the shivers raising gooseflesh along her arms and the back
of her neck. His voice had lowered until she had a difficult time
hearing the end of his recital, and his eyes looked very far away
and strangely bemused. She shook her head, hard, trying to dispel
the eerie feeling and draw him back from wherever he had gone.

"Mulder!" His eyes snapped open and he finally looked at her
directly, holding her gaze as if it was a lifeline. She drew a
deep breath and continued. "You just finished the psychological
profile on this guy earlier in the day, right?"

He nodded slowly.

"So it could have been in your subconscious when you went to
bed. And you haven't been sleeping very well lately, have you."
It was more a statement than a question. He nodded again.

"You drew the lines in the pattern, Mulder. You knew what was
coming because you'd gotten inside the guy's head. That's all
there was to it."

He looked at her in silence, then rested his chin on is
clenched fist. "That doesn't explain the original impressions,
Scully. When the dream began, I wasn't in the murderer's head, I
was in the *victim*'s head. And what about the landmarks?"

She stared at him for a moment. "I don't know, Mulder." The
words were hard to get out. "What do you suggest? That you're
some kind of psychic? And you're picking up some sort of clues
from these people?"

He chuckled drily. "Heaven forbid. As messed up as *my*
subconscious is, I'd hate to have to rely on it for anything. But,
there is something." He hesitated. He hadn't wanted to bring this
up, but he didn't see any way around it. "The guy in the alley.
The murder victim I stumbled on the other night." She nodded
recognition. "That was the first time it happened."

She wrinkled her brow at him, not understanding what he was
saying. "The first time what happened, Mulder?"

"When he died. The ... grey mist or whatever the hell it is
came up around my field of vision, and I blacked out for a few
seconds. Not very long. Enough to disorient me. And ever since
then, I've been getting these dreams, visions, whatever you want to
call them."

She regarded him calmly for a long moment. "So, what are you
going to do about them?"

"Change my nickname from Spooky to Shaman?" he quipped.

She didn't laugh. "I'd suggest seeing a professional,

He sighed. "Been there. Done that. Cribbed the tests."

She shook her head at him and hid her smile. Whatever was
causing these new rounds of nightmares, he would deal with them in
his own fashion. He always did.


Kent, Washington. A nice little town nestled in a valley
along the Puget Sound. Trees, water, green grass, peace, quiet,
dead teenagers. The last was the reason for the FBI presence in
what was normally a sleepy little town.

Mulder looked out across the sparkling wavelets breaking along
the sound and sighed. He still wasn't sleeping, and it had been
two months since he'd started seeing the Mist, as he'd labelled it
in his mind. Scully wasn't asking, since the last time he'd
snapped at her for not believing him. He hadn't missed the split
second of hurt that had crossed her face before the cool
professional mask had slipped back into place, and he'd tried to
make it up to her in other ways. Brought her lattes, gave her
plenty of space, tried to hold back on the humor and let her work.
She wasn't buying it. She kept trying to explain away his dreams,
but she couldn't explain the fact that they had caught five killers
in eight weeks on the strength of his nightmares. Not that he
could even call them that. He'd freaked out the sheriff pretty
badly in El Paso three weeks earlier. His mind drifted away and
the scene replayed before his eyes.

They'd been standing in the kitchen of a single family home,
site of a suspected kidnapping. The Mist had started to creep into
his peripheral vision, and he had slipped into it, unable to fight
it. The feelings had been so strong, he could almost taste the
fear. He'd leaned against the counter, not even hearing Scully
questioning the husband, a high official in the DEA and a close
friend of a US Senator from Texas ... funny how in cases like that
the local police just weren't quite enough. The counter quickly
became the only solid spot in his universe, as his vision shifted,
and another scene painted itself over the quiet sunlight in the
room. Two men, both in lightweight suits, backing a clearly
frightened woman against the table. One with a sharp knife to her
stomach, the other asking questions, making demands, becoming
angry, impatient. She was starting to cry now, beginning to panic.
Tried to run. The knife swept up, cut off her escape. The men
closed in, and the scene shifted.

Without conscious thought, he followed the Mist into the back
yard, through the neat garden into an open patch of ground leading
to the street beyond. Some part of his mind was aware that Scully
had broken off her questioning and had followed him, but he was too
caught up in the events unfolding before him to pay much attention.

A four door car, light blue, New Mexico plates. His mind's
eye took in the details even as his body reacted to the events
inside the car, the sudden struggle to escape, the slip of the
knife into her/his diaphragm, the constriction of blood that made
it impossible to breathe. As the Mist obscured his vision and he
felt himself slip into unconsciousness, he saw the face of her/his

Scully barely caught him in time, leaning him against the
block wall and holding him there until his vision cleared and he
stood shakily on his own. Staring up into his bloodless face and
wide, haunted eyes, she lost her temper completely.

"Enough is enough, Mulder! I can't keep running after you
when you go haring off like this, and I want to know why you keep
nearly passing out every time we go out in the field! What the
*hell* is going on?!"

The unexpected obscenity from his usually unflappable partner
broke through the haze surrounding Mulder and he focused on her
with difficulty. This was *not* going to be easy.

"I saw it, Scully."

She glared at him, but he pressed on. He had to believe that
he wasn't losing his mind.

"Two men, light blue four door sedan, license plate PLD 402,
they put her in the back of the car. And they knifed her, Scully."
He spoke softly but with an urgent undertone in his voice, and she
decided to play along with him, see how far he would go.

"Okay, Mulder. What now?"

"Sketch artist." Her disbelieving look was wasted on his back
as he hurried to their rental car.

The sketch had been a detailed one. He'd fudged a little when
they asked him where he'd gotten the description, although an
'anonymous tip' wasn't really that far off. The plate had checked
out, too. Within hours, a local drug lord had lost two of his
trusted lieutenants, and the body of the DEA official's wife had
been recovered from the warehouse where the thugs had stashed it.
Local officials were awed. Mulder was really tired. And Scully
didn't know *what* to think.

The sound of tires along the gravel broke into his thoughts,
and he wearily pulled himself back into the present. In the past
few days, the bodies of missing teenagers from Salem, Oregon and
Vancouver, British Columbia had been found in the dense undergrowth
along the outskirts of Kent. Local law enforcement was unable to
come up with anything solid, and markings on the bodies indicated
possible cult rituals had been performed on the two boys and the
Canadian girl. Scully had turned up little new evidence in the
autopsies. Mulder had worked up a psychological profile, but he
didn't have the nerve to tell her where some of his most concrete
ideas on the killers had come from. He just knew that they had to
catch the killers quickly, because the visions were shifting almost
faster than he could follow now, waking and sleeping. Sometimes he
felt the terror of the victims, in a kind of emotional echo. Other
times he felt the needs of the killers, and that was stronger,
almost overpowering. And the needs had been growing. With those
needs came a sense of urgency that was keeping him up at night.
They would kill again. Here. Soon.

He turned to see his partner stepping from their rental car,
accompanied by a tall, brunette woman he didn't recognize. As they
crossed the gravel toward him, the Mist suddenly came up over the
edges of his vision, and he felt himself sway.

She hadn't known what to expect. Her friend Melissa had
called her the morning before, feeling very unsettled but unable to
pin down the reason. Just that it was something around her sister
Dana, probably centered on her partner Fox Mulder. Walker had
smiled at the name, but not the emotions coming from her friend.
She'd agreed to meet Dana the next day under the pretext of taking
her and her partner out to lunch. Seeing the tall, attractive man
turning to greet them, she understood Melissa's concern. Something
was definitely out of phase.

As the thought completed itself in her mind, she saw him go
white and seem to fold up on himself. Dana sprinted to his side
and Walker followed, catching him up and helping the shorter woman
steady him until he regained his balance. When Walker touched his
skin, she nearly screamed. In an instant, she saw his vision, felt
the Mist, and knew.

Mulder forced himself to ignore the Mist, trying desperately
to stay in the present, unwilling to give in to whatever was trying
to take over his mind. As Scully and the stranger led him to a
wooden bench along the edge of the rocks bordering the beach, he
gulped in air and concentrated on his surroundings, willing himself
to stay conscious.

Scully was shocked to see Walker kneel in front of Mulder,
reaching out to place her hands on either side of his face, keeping
herself at eye level with him. The other woman stared hard into
Mulder's eyes, gradually becoming pale at whatever it was she saw
in there. Mulder finally shook off whatever had been making him
feel faint, and realized that the woman was nearly nose to nose
with him.

Walker concentrated fiercely on Mulder, trying to clarify the
impressions that she had been receiving from him in waves ever
since she had stepped from the car. He seemed to have fought the
vision successfully, because the intensity of his fear and
disorientation had lessened dramatically. He stared back at her,
hazel eyes tired and quizzical. Dana cleared her throat.

"I hate to intrude," she began in a puzzled tone, "but what's
going on here?"

"Who are you?" Mulder didn't answer, couldn't answer, Scully.
In truth he didn't have the faintest idea what was going on.

"Constance Wind Walker. Friends call me Walker." She slowly
drew her hands from his cheeks, and he shivered at the sudden loss
of warmth. He hadn't realized that he was cold until she'd removed
her touch.

"She's a friend of Melissa's. I thought we'd take a break and
get some lunch. Mulder, are you alright?"

"I'm fine, Scully," he returned automatically. Walker stared
at him a moment longer, fingering a small brass pendant on a
knotted chain around her neck. Cocking her head to one side, she
swung her gaze from one agent to another, then suddenly smiled.

"I know a great little seafood place not far from here,
Salty's on Redondo. How do you feel about shellfish?" The
question was addressed to both at once, but only Dana responded.

"Love it." Mulder nodded slightly, and the three turned
toward the car.

"So. You're a friend of Melissa's." Scully's look plainly
told him to drop it, but Mulder ignored it. There was something
about this woman ...

"Um hm. They do wonderful things with shrimp at Salty's. I
love to take visitors there. All the fish is fresh, and the chef
is just incredible-"

She kept the conversation on neutral ground until after the
waiter had brought their plates, then slowly stirred freshly ground
pepper into her creamy clam chowder. Time for the truth.

"So tell me, Mulder."

He looked up from his crab, innocently inquiring. Dana looked
on impassively, not quite sure what to expect. For one of
Melissa's friends, Walker was suspiciously normal.

"How long have you been having the visions?"

Until now. Scully sighed. Mulder choked slightly on the
shellfish, then glared at his partner. She shrugged helplessly,
disclaiming all prior knowledge.

"Dana didn't say anything. She didn't have to."

"Then how did you know?" His accusatory tone didn't upset
her, but it did make her soften her voice. Obviously, this was
bothering him more than he wanted to admit.

"I saw the mist." Both her companions started, and she
continues smoothly. "I take it from the way you're reacting that
you haven't had much experience with empathic episodes." She
waited politely for a reply, but Mulder just stared at her. Scully
chewed thoughtfully on her dinner roll, wondering just where this
would lead.

"Let me give you a little background." She was silent for a
moment, gathering her thoughts. Her initial impressions of the
other two had been very well defined, so she knew that they would
at least listen to her. Belief, on the other hand, would be much
harder. At least for Dana. Mulder might be easier, but he was
fighting his own demons at the moment, and that was clouding his

"I am a precognitive empath. I've been receiving emotional
impressions since I was a small child. I also see visions of
events that haven't yet taken place. Through meditation and
discipline I've learned to control these visions, to the extent
that they no longer interfere with everyday life." She paused,
staring at each in turn. Dana looked skeptical, and Mulder looked
reserved. She sighed. "The visions are signalled by the presence
of a grey mist. Sound familiar?"

Mulder pushed away his unfinished plate. Staring at the
remains of his crabcakes, he sighed softly and forced his eyes up
to meet hers. "Actually, yes."

"And they're interfering with your life."

This time it was Dana who answered. "You could say that. He
keeps 'seeing' people in their death throes, then passing out."

Mulder was staring down at the tablecloth now. Put like that,
it all seemed so farfetched.

"Well, consider yourself lucky. At least it's not

Mulder and Scully looked at her incredulously. She grinned
back at them. Then she sobered, and reached out for Mulder's hand.

"May I?" He nodded hesitantly, and she took his hand in hers.
Her other hand crept up to touch the pendant around her neck
lightly, fingertips caressing the surface almost unconsciously.
Her eyes drifted shut, and she let her mind range freely over the
man sitting opposite from her.

Breath coming harshly in his lungs. Damp night air chilling
the sweat on his body. Feet pounding in a rhythm, at ease with the
darkness around him. Noise, foreign, hard, out of place. Looking
around, wanting to help, too late. Skin on skin, extending
comfort, connection at the moment of death. Power in the touch, a
jolt through his body, electricity coursing through paths
previously lightly touched. Mind to mind, unlocking a power latent
in the survivor, uncontrolled and unknown.

Her eyes popped open, and she looked at him with
consternation. "Sheesh! No wonder you're having nightmares."

He tried to draw his hand away from hers, gently, and she held
him for a moment before letting him go. "What do you know about my
nightmares?" Softly, wanting to hear her explanation.

Her free hand had stopped caressing the pendant and was now
holding on to it, as if to draw strength from the warm metal. "The
grey-eyed man, the one who died in the alley that night." He
tensed his shoulders, and she instinctively patted his hand again.
Scully leaned forward, trying to understand what was happening, and
Walker smiled reassuringly at her. "He was an empath as well, and
a very powerful one. When you touched him, as he was dying, he
gave off a sort of electrical charge. It affected you, through the
contact of your hand on his body."

"Are you saying he gave Mulder some sort of ... jumpstart?"
Scully's skepticism caused Walker to wince slightly. Mulder still
didn't say a word, just stared at her, waiting for her to go on.

"In a way, that's exactly what I'm saying. Most people have
the ability to read emotions, to some extent. Some are more
sensitive than others. And you are a very sensitive person, am I
right, Mulder?"

He shrugged one shoulder, as if not willing to commit to an
answer. Scully answered for him.

"Sometimes." He half-smiled at her, and she quirked a smile
back at him. "Actually, he is, very. And he can ... sense things
about people."

"That's not surprising. He is an empath, after all."

That was too much for Mulder. "I am *not* an empath. Ask
anyone who knows me."

Walker looked at Scully. Scully looked at Mulder. Mulder
looked back and forth between the two of them as if looking for an
ally. "Well, I for one have a difficult time believing
wholeheartedly in the existence of empaths," Scully finally
asserted, ignoring Walker's own disbelieving look. "But Mulder has
been coming up with a lot of information from *somewhere* lately."

He settled back in his chair and stared Walker. "Alright.
Say for argument's sake that I've had my empathic abilities

"Forcibly," Walker interjected.

"-what do I do about it? I certainly can't continue the way
I am now. I haven't slept enough even for me in the last two
months, and if I keep up the way I've been going Scully's not going
to be able to find enough evidence to cover the fact that we're
solving crimes from images I'm picking up out of the ether. And
once word of *that* gets out I won't need to worry about the X-
Files -- I'll *be* one."

She bit her lip, glancing from Mulder to Scully and back.

"How do you feel about a little Ritual?"


"She's a Witch, Mulder."

"Wiccan, Scully."

"That was a pentagram she was fingering at lunch yesterday."

"Pentacle, Scully. They call them pentacles."

"She's setting up candles and crystals and she's burning
*incense*, Mulder."

"I'm seeing visions, Scully, not going blind."

Walker ignored the somewhat incredulous whispers behind her
and continued her preparations. As a solitary, it was not often
that she allowed outsiders into her Circle. This was an exception,
and she was having to concentrate completely in order to block out
their confusion and disbelief. At first she had considered only
bringing Mulder in, since he was the one immediately affected.
Further thought had convinced her to bring in Dana as well. They
had talked about what she needed to do and their part in the
proceedings for hours the previous day. Mulder had been hardest to
convince, which had surprised her, until she realized that he was
also the most threatened by what she was trying to do. The success
or failure of the Ritual would in large part be determined by his
willingness to believe, and right at the moment his belief was
stretched thinly over too many areas. The incident that afternoon
had convinced both partners, however, that *something* needed to be
done if Mulder was to retain any semblance of authority in the
field. One time too many of a senior Special Agent reenacting a
ritual murder from the perspective of the victim and then passing
out could really destroy his credibility. Luckily, Scully had been
able to explain the majority of the scene earlier that day, but her
explanation hadn't really been all that convincing. So here they
were in her den, willing to try her methods, willing to try

She glanced around the room, mentally listing all the tools
she needed, making sure the runes carved into the candles were as
they needed to be, adjusting the altar cloth. With one final pat
to her athame, she turned to her nervous guests.

"Join me."

Mulder exchanged a glance with Scully, and stepped forward.
Dana firmly squelched the feeling that the whole thing was a little
ridiculous, and followed her partner.


Mulder took a deep breath. He could tell from Scully's wide
blue eyes that she had been more impressed by the solemnity and
emotion of the Ritual than she wanted to admit. The ceremonial
aspects were familiar to him from his studies of alternative
religions, but the exact format was unique, one of the more
interesting aspects of Wicca being the individuality of each
person's Ritual calling. What impressed him the most was the
undeniable feeling of power that flowed into and through the Circle
surrounding the three of them. He tuned back into Walker's soft,
firm voice as she finished the beginning of her speech.

"Lady of Vision, Lord Protector,
Watch over us this night.
Gather us into Your keeping.
And guide us with Your sight."

Mulder felt the gooseflesh rise on his arms, felt Scully
shiver, but didn't know where the breeze was coming from. Staring
into Walker's face as she lit first one candle, then the other, he
found himself drawn by the calmness in her expression. Slowly, his
apprehension eased, and he relaxed. This just might work out
alright after all.

Scully felt the tension leave Mulder's body, and edged closer
to him. She hadn't ever had much patience with Melissa's beliefs,
and she wasn't sure about this whole situation, but if Mulder
thought that some sort of exorcism was what he needed, she was
willing to follow him and make sure he didn't get into even more
trouble. Walker's gentle touch on her arm brought her back to the
present with a small start.

"Fed of the Earth,
Cleansed by the Water,
Bouyed by the Air,
Tempered by Fire,
Led by the Spirit.

"You are the Fire and Earth," she turned to Mulder, "to your
Air and Water. Together you complete the Circle."

As they had discussed earlier in the evening, all three turned
to face the candles burning steadily on the altar. Mulder, his
left hand held by his partner and his right by Walker, found
himself mesmerized by the flames. His field of vision began to
narrow, and then it began again. The Mist circled up from either
side of the cloth, flowing around the tools that Walker had used to
cast the Circle, inching toward the three people sitting on the
floor. He started to fight it, and Walker squeezed his hand

"No, Fox. Let it in."

He relaxed, and allowed the visions to form.

This time there was no terror, no pain. Walker's face swam
hazily in the Mist, a serene expression belying the intent look in
her eyes. Funny. When he'd first met her he had been struck by
the deep green of her eyes, almost a forest green. Here in this
vision, they seemed more blue than green, and then again, no, more
of a grey ... the grey of the eyes of the man who had died ... the
man who had bequeathed him the visions, a gift that was destroying
his life. Scully's hand tightened on his now, a lifeline in the
midst of confusion.

The scene changed. He felt the mist begin to dissipate, felt
stronger, more in control over what his mind was trying to tell
him. Walker's hand felt warm in his, warmer than usual, almost as
if an electrical current was running through it. He felt more
alive than he had in months, maybe years, aware of every sound and
color around him, of the dance of the flame from the candles and
the shadows they cast over the walls, the feel of Scully's small
hand in his, solid and real and definite, of the tingle from
Walker's fingers, her shoulder pressed lightly to his. Over and
through all of the other sensations was the feeling that somewhere,
deep in his mind, barriers were being gently constructed, as if a
flooding stream was being firmly redirected, the controlled flow of
energy such a change from all of the stress of the past several
weeks. He drew deep within himself to follow the sensation,
fascinated and relieved by the difference in his mind.

It could have been minutes or hours before he became aware of
the outside world again. The candles had been blown out, and he
and Scully were sitting side by side on the floor, leaning back
against the couch, fingers still firmly entwined. Walker sat
crosslegged opposite of them, staring silently at her own fists,
clenched loosely in her lap. Lines of fatigue stretched along the
sides of her mouth, and her eyes were dull. He breathed a sigh of
relief that they were once again green.

She looked up at the sound of his sigh, and smiled sweetly at
them. Scully was sleeping, her head tilted against his shoulder,
mouth slightly agape. Mulder grinned down at her for a moment,
then settled back to look at Walker.

"Thank you."

She shook her head. "No need. You had to have a hand with
this ... it was out of control. I had the practise with
controlling it. You are a believer. That helped."

He nodded in return. "You've helped more than you know."

She unfolded her legs and stretched out her back. Grinning at
him with a hint of her earlier mischief, she winked, "I know."


Scully didn't want to admit that Melissa may have been right,
but for once she didn't need to. Mulder did, and it was even
harder for him than it would have been for her. He'd called
Melissa and thanked her personally for sending Walker to them.
After Melissa got over the shock, she'd bent Dana's ear for an hour
and a half over what a change there had been in her partner. Dana
listened, made agreeable noises, and hung up. Little did Melissa
know just what sort of change there had been. On second thought,
perhaps she already did. Dana never quite knew with her sister.

Mulder tossed another sunflower seed in his mouth and crunched
down hard. There had been an unexpected side effect to the ordeal
he had undergone. For the first time in twenty years, his
nightmares were under control. They still came, and they still
terrified him. But now, when the feeling was spiralling out of
bounds, he was able to wake up, not get sucked further into the
darkness. And as an added bonus, he had been able to maintain some
distance when fleshing out the psychological profiles that had led
to the arrest of the pair of killers in Washington State. For
once, he hadn't been completely submerged in the minds of the
murderers. He smiled at Scully as she settled in behind her desk.

"I finally figured out what Walker gave me in that Circle,

She lifted a brow at him and waited for the punchline. She
didn't expect what she heard.

"Distance." He ignored the file on his lap and looked
steadily at his partner. "Perspective, and some much needed

"Distance from what?" She didn't understand.

"The demons, Scully. She gave me a firewall to keep the
demons at bay."

He flipped the file open and began to read. She studied his
face for a long moment, reassured by the relaxed set of his mouth
and the lack of dark circles under his eyes. Maybe this time there
was something to all of this hocus pocus. If nothing else, it had
set Mulder's mind at ease. And if he was willing to believe, just
this once, so was she.

Not that she'd ever admit it to him.

********** the end