Title: Candle On The Water
Author: XScout
Rating: R
Classification: VA
Spoilers: Grotesque, Redux
Keywords: None
Summary: A horrific case opens the floodgates to Mulderís breaking point. Can Scully save him from himself?

Disclaimer: Uh-huh. Like theyíre mine. Yeah right, whoíd believe it? Mulder and Scully are CCís and 10-13ís while Candle On The Water is... I think itís copyrighted by Disney and I know itís sung by Helen Reddy. No infringement intended but of course.

Authorís Note: Please, Iím begging you, Iíll even sacrifice small gifts in your name, PLEASE e-mail me at XScout@hotmail.com

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Candle On The Water

************

Maybe he'd be able to sleep tonight.

Maybe he'd be able to close his eyes and not see the streaks of blood decorating the walls in a grotesque mural.

Maybe he'd forget the look of fear and pain frozen on the child's face as she saw death looming over her.

Maybe he could ignore the persistent sound of screaming, intermingled with maniacal laughter, that echoed on his ears.

And maybe pigs really could fly.

************

Dana Scully sat on the lumpy motel bed, her legs tucked up under her and the glow of a laptop reflecting off her reading glasses. The only sound to be heard in the room was the continuous tapping on the keys, pausing every few minutes as she reviewed her notes.

She and Mulder had been asked to aid in an investigation which had been in progress for over four weeks and had finally reached a dead end. A case that had been grabbed by the press and paraded around on the television for days.

Seven children had been taken from their homes and brought to a remote area where they were then disemboweled by the perpetrator. He would record their screams on a tape recorder as he cut their soft skin and removed their intestines. He laughed. The sick freak laughed as the little boys and girls begged for release until their cries became hoarse and their small bodies granted them the peace that they pleaded for. Then he used the blood of his victims as a medium to express his 'artistic statement'. He smeared the blood thickly on the walls, crimson stains which spoke of fear and agony. The tapes were sent to the local PD, taunting them with his constant ability of eluding the authorities.

It was when victim number five was found that Doctor Scully was called in for her medical advice. The Special Agent in Charge himself had asked. He wanted her to come down to Ingram, Texas, to perform the autopsy, claiming that her expertise was highly valued and would be greatly appreciated. Then he had remarked that if Mulder wanted to come along, he was more than welcome. Scully knew what that meant. They wanted 'Spooky' Mulder to come and profile the killer. God forbid they admit that they needed him. Noooo, they had to use her as an excuse to gain his profiling abilities.

She knew why Mulder had quit Violent Crimes, she got a glimpse of what it was like for her partner - during the John Mostow case. That was the 'Spooky' Mulder she had only heard about. And she never wanted to see it again.

But they couldn't refuse such a high profile case. The X-Files team were still on thin ice after their involvement in the shooting of a D.O.D. employee and their connection in the apparent suicide of Section Chief Blevins. They had to get back in good graces - well, considering they weren't ever really *in* good graces, at least they needed to prove that they were still the formidable agents that they were before.

And so here they were, in the dust bowl town of Ingram, nestled in an isolated area of the Lone Star state. She had obediently done the autopsy of the nine year old boy and then of the two other victims that followed during the two weeks that she and Mulder had been here, gaining valuable information. Her partner had written a profile and in the space of twenty-four hours, brought the regional agents closer to the perp than the previous four weeks of investigation. Did they receive any thanks?

Yeah, right.

They got laughed at. Snide remarks about Spooky and his Missus. The Texas agents had grabbed Mulder's profile and the results of the autopsies and promptly ignored the two responsible for the information.

Now, two weeks later, Mulder had stopped sleeping, was barely eating, and was blaming himself for the deaths of two more children. Scully was woken up every night by his screams as his night terrors consumed him. She had watched as he puked his guts out after finishing the profile, unable to do anything but offer her comfort. And she stood by as he sank deeper and deeper into darkness, trying desperately to help him keep his tenuous hold on sanity.

But she couldn't understand why he was acting like this. Sure, she expected a reaction similar to this but not so... severe. For some reason, everything hit him harder ever since her cancer went into remission. His depression had worsened and his intensity had grown. It was as if he was fighting some unseen enemy and he was losing the battle. But for the life of her, Scully didn't know who or what that enemy was.

She turned off her computer, put away her autopsy notes and crime scene photos, and crawled under the thin covers of the motel bed. A quick glance at the clock told her it was just after midnight and she said a silent prayer for her partner before succumbing to the dark peace of sleep.

**********

"No." It began as a whisper.

"No." This time it came out louder.

"NO." His hoarse voice strained in a throat raw from unshed tears.

"NO!" The last time it was a defiant scream.

Mulder lurched out of the rumpled bed and staggered across the room. His eyes, glazed over with sorrow and rage, searched the room. He needed to hit something, to release his anger and pain, to feel something tangible give way beneath his fingers.

He stumbled into the bathroom and stared into the mirror at the face looking back at him. "Damn you." He slammed his palms against the sink and reveled in the pain that jolted up his arms. "DAMN YOU!" This time he punctuated his words by forcefully striking the mirror with his fists. The reflection shattered and glass tumbled into the sink in an explosion of sound.

*********

Scully jerked out of her dreamless sleep as a loud crash and anguished cry resounded in the next room.

She lept out of bed and raced to the connecting door that they left unlocked in case of emergency. She opened the door with such force that it banged against the wall and she entered to find... nothing.

Mulder wasn't there. The covers were strewn haphazardly across the mattress and the television quietly illuminated the room, it's faint sounds drifting out upon heedless ears. That was when she noticed the light coming from the bathroom. She crept over to the door, almost afraid to look.

He was standing in front of the sink, shards of glass littering the countertop and the cold floor. The mirror, what was left of it, was imprinted with spiderweb cracks, a testament to Mulder's violent contact. He just stood unmoving, his breaths coming in short and labored gasps, his hands hanging by his sides as blood ran down them to drip onto the glass and tile.

"Mulder?"

Nothing. Not a whisper, not a twitch.

"Mulder?" She laid a hand on his arm to bring him out of his reverie.

"NO!" He flung his arm out, removing her hand in the process, and brushed past her into the recently vacated room. She rushed after him only to stop and stare.

He was pacing the length of the room, his hands vacillating between being clenched at his sides and being flung about in fury. "NO! DAMN IT! I CAN'T! I CAN'T DO THIS ANY MORE!" He knocked over one of the chairs in the corner and kicked viciously at it. He paid no notice to the woman standing a few feet away, her hand to her mouth and her eyes wide with fright.

"Mulder?"

He continued his rampage, focusing next on the lamp resting on the entable. His battered hand swung out and knocked the lamp to the floor, breaking it into several large pieces. The sound shook Scully out of her state of shock and she reached out to grab her partner by the arms.

"Mulder! Stop!"

"NO! GOD DAMN IT!" He shook her off and headed towards the dresser, intent on wreaking havoc on the television.

"MULDER! STOP IT! YOU'RE SCARING ME!" Dana Scully rarely ever screamed and certainly never admitted to fear. That was what stopped Mulder in his tracks. He turned to stare at her, his face flushed and his hands trembling.

"Oh God," he murmured, "No more." He sank to his knees and brought his hands up to his face, trying to quell the sobs that wracked his slim body.

Scully walked over and lowered herself to the floor beside him, wary of any further outbursts. But he wasn't angry any more. All the energy had drained out of him and now he just looked worn and broken. She wrapped her arms around him and gently rocked him back and forth until his gut wrenching sobs became soft hiccups of grief.

"Mulder?" Her vocabulary seemed to consist of one word. It was all encompassing.

He sniffed mightily and scrubbed his face, trying to get rid of the evidence of his tears. "I'm sorry." It was the voice of a little boy, begging forgiveness.

"I know. I know you're sorry. What I don't know is why."

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath to steady himself. "I can't do this anymore. I can't."

"Do what?" she asked soothingly.

"*This*. Chasing after monsters. Human or mutant, it doesn't matter. There will always be more, it'll never end. No matter how many evil creatures we put away, there are more out there."

Scully raised her eyebrows. There had to be more, a few setbacks in a case would never stop Fox Mulder. She waited for him to go on.

"After your cancer went into remission and Cancerman was killed, I thought... I don't know, I thought it would all go away. I thought everything would be okay, I could have a normal life. I found my sister, exposed the double agent in the bureau, and learned the truth about extra-terrestrials. I thought that I would be happy, that the guilt and the sorrow would vanish. But they haven't.

"I found my sister but she doesn't want anything to do with me. I spent twenty-four years searching for someone who didn't want to be found, didn't even know she was missing. My belief in aliens has been revealed as a lie - a government conspiracy to cover up genetic testing. I can't trust my own memories, which were most likely falsified in order to make me *believe*. Cancerman is dead, the man who harried our every step and tried to kill us more than once. He had a relationship with my mother and fathered my sister. He is dead and I have no way to contact Samantha. And the 'Consortium' won't leave us alone. We haven't so much as looked at a case relating to 'aliens' and they still torment us.

"I can't spend the rest of my life fighting against faceless enemies and running after impossible dreams. But I don't know how to do anything else. I can't do this, not alone."

Scully wiped the tears rolling down her cheeks. "You're not alone. I'm here."

He smiled at that but it quickly faded. "I spent twenty-four years dwelling on a lie. My life was about finding Samantha and exposing the truth about aliens. Alone. Always alone. Until you. The only one I could trust, the only one who trusted me in return, who didn't laugh at my theories and who didn't treat me like a freak. I almost lost you... twice. It took almost losing you to make me realize how important you were to me. I always considered you my partner and my friend. You are my strength and my hope. But you are something more. You are my heart.

"And I can't risk losing you again. You were abducted and consequentially given cancer because of *me*. Because you joined me on this insane journey into the unexplained. It is safer for everyone if I am alone in my quest. I have to go on by myself.

"But I can't. I can't do this alone."

"Mulder, listen to me." Scully reached up and secured her hand under Mulder's chin, forcing him to look at her. "It is not your fault. I chose the path I'm on, *I* willingly joined you on your journey. It has become *our* quest, not yours or mine.

"We've been through tough times before but we always got through them - together. We prevailed because together we are stronger than we are apart. I look back at the past four years and I know that I would not change a thing. Because I lived a lifetime, because I learned more than I thought possible, and because I found something more important to me than life itself.

"You.

"Within you I saw such strength and passion, a willingness to ask questions when faced with impossible answers. You had such strong beliefs, which you followed with single minded intensity, that you forgot there were limits. You ignored them. And yet you were compassionate and caring to a fault. You took the weight of the world on your shoulders and still managed to function as a human being. It was that strength that first drew me to you.

"When I was lost, you were the light in my darkness. You were there for me when I needed you; comforting when I was sad, gentle when I was in pain, soothing when I was angry, and you were always there when I felt alone."

She reached up to caress away the tears trailing down his face, then took his bruised hands in her own. "Now let me be there for you. Don't be afraid to lean on me for fear of hurting me. Draw your strength from me as I do from you and we'll face this as we were meant to - together."

In the silence that followed, sounds from the forgotten television floated up to fill their ears with the soft melody of a piano and the triumphant voice of a woman's song.

ĎI'll be your candle on the water,
My love for you will always burn.
I know you're lost and drifting,
But the clouds are lifting,
Don't give up, you have somewhere to turn.

I'll be your candle on the water,
Till every wave is warm and bright.
My soul is there beside you,
Let this candle guide you,
Soon you'll see a golden stream of light.

A cold and friendless tide has found you,
Don't let the stormy darkness hold you down.
I'll paint a ray of hope around you,
Circling in the air, lighted by a prayer.

I'll be your candle on the water,
This flame inside of me will grow.
Keep holding on, you'll make it,
Here's my hand so take it,
Look for me, reaching out to show
As sure as rivers flow,
I'll never let you go,
I'll never let you go,
I'll never let you go.í

They looked into each others eyes and found solace. Mulder leaned down and gently brushed his lips against hers, a kiss filled with an unfathomable love and endless hope.

Scully pulled him closer and held him tightly as he rested his head atop her own. She smiled and whispered into his ear, "I'll never let you go."

******
END

Click here to hear the song
"Candle On The Water"