Subject: Submission: Life Cycles XVI: Holidays (1/3)
Date: Wed, 30 Dec 1998

Summary: Another in the Life Cycles series. This one deals with
the Mulder's attempts to have a normal Hanukkah, but, as always,
serial killers have a way of disrupting the best laid plans. This story
follows 'Coming of Age' in the series

Category: S A MT MSR-Married

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: If we owned 'em . . . Hmmmmm, oh, sorry. Got lost
in fantasy there. We don't own 'em, Christ Carter does. But we
play really nice and we always wash our hands before eating and
Susan probably even makes her bed in the morning (I plead the
Fifth) so we don't want to do anything that would get us sued.
Like take money or infringe on copyrights.

Archive: MTA, of course and wherever Life Cycles is archived

Comments (Vickie): Me first, me first, because I get stuck editing
and I hate that <VEG> Well, we did it again. Amid Latke parties,
grading papers, parent-teachers conferences, Hanukkah and yes,
even Christmas, we did it. And as last time, it was wonderful. I
want to thank Susan for letting me play in her Garden again. I
enjoy these little playdates so much! <G> And for all of you who
haven't read the whole Life Cycles series, well you can whet your
appetite on this one, but do yourself a favor and read the rest. You
will love them as much as I do.

Comments Part deux: (Susan) So, the woman was crazy enough to
go for another roller coaster ride with me, and we came up with LC:
Holidays. There never seemed to be a descent...we just kept going
up, and up, and up! Whenever one of us ran into a roadblock, the
other managed to free us up. Vickie can come play in my universe
anytime! Of course, the next time we try a co-write, if we're smart,
it'll be during a nice, dull, uneventful maybe April... during
Easter, Passover, and my son, Daniel's, Bar Mitzvah!! (The crazy thing
is, nothing would surprise me! <VBEG>)

And now onto the story!

Life Cycles XVI: Holidays
by Susan Proto and Vickie Moseley and

Part 1/14

Dana Scully-Mulder stomped on the brake in the bumper to bumper
traffic, causing her mother to fall forward against her seat belt.

"Sweetheart, uh, I think a little patience is in order here," Maggie
Skinner said with a compassionate smile. "Just relax. We'll have
plenty of time at the mall."

"But if we don't get to FAO Swartz by the time they open, I'll have
no hope of finding that 'C Watch', Mom! Not to mention the crib
mobile I saw in the ad. And that's just the beginning. I have to see
if that Duplo set is still available, Adam was laughing at the Blue's
Clues CD-Rom in Best Buys the other day, I have to find a
'Glo-Worm' for the baby . . . Mom, there is not enough time left in
the _year_, much less today!"

Maggie shook her head in exasperation. "Dana, what has gotten
into you this year? It's like you're becoming some crazed shopper
I've never met before. Does Fox know . . ."

"Fox is on his own, Mom. I mean, we agreed when we first
decided to celebrate both holidays that he would handle the
Hanukkah gifts and I would handle Christmas. Mom, how can I
possibly compete when I only get one day and he gets eight? It's
just not fair."

"I wasn't aware it was a contest," Maggie said quietly.

Dana chewed on that a moment. "You're right, Mom. It's not a
contest. I never wanted it to be a contest. But Mulder is so excited
this year and he went out and bought this gold menorah . . ."

"To go with your carved oak Advent Wreath and your imported
carved wood Nativity set," Maggie said pointedly.

"I know, I know. I've been hogging the winter holidays. Mulder
was always so timid about Hanukkah and I had all the hype on TV
pushing Christmas even when I wasn't doing it myself. And face it,
Mom, Christmas is my favorite holiday.

"I love the way the house smells and the tree and the lights. And
Adam has always been fascinated by the Nativity scene, the animals
and the Baby Jesus. I guess I'm feeling a little territorial right now.
Mulder is really taking charge and I feel that if I don't make this a
'bang up' Christmas, Adam will . . . well, he'll . . ."

"Like his father's holiday more than yours," Maggie said with a
blank expression.

"My God, that sounds so shallow," Dana breathed out. "Oh, Mom,
that's not how I wanted my kids to think of the holidays. I wanted
them to cherish both their religions. And look at me. I'm such a

Maggie laughed affectionately at her daughter. "But you're a
lovable shrew," she told her. "Dana, you are under a lot of stress.
Now, a great deal of it is self-imposed, but it's stress, none the less.

"You have a new baby in the house, a very active five year old who
seems to take after his father in the mischief department, a husband
who needs your love and attention, and you miss your job but still
have a while before you go back to work. I think you're focusing
all your negative energy on the holidays. It's quite common, you

"Is that Psych 201, talking, Mom?" Dana deadpanned. She'd been
teasing her mother ruthlessly since the older woman had enrolled in
the local Community College to finish her bachelors degree in
psychology that she'd started over thirty years before.

"If you must know, it was Cosmo, but that's entirely beside the
point, Dana. You need to just settle down, step back, and take a
good look at what the holidays really mean. I would hope I raised
you to understand that it's not the number of presents under the
tree, it's the feeling in your heart that counts."

"Oh, and does Walter know you read Cosmo, Mom?" Dana asked
to divert the attention from her own possible shallowness.

"Walter was the one who bought me the subscription, dear
daughter," Maggie replied with a slight leer in her voice. "And
don't you dare try to change the subject from you to me.

Maggie heard an audible sigh come from Dana. "Dana, slow down,
all right? Your child's life does not depend upon you buying a
certain number of toys in order to prove to Adam that your holiday
is more important than his father's holiday.

"Besides," she continued, "I thought you were supposed to
celebrate the holidays together, as a family."

''We're supposed to," Scully began with a definite edge to her voice,
"if Mulder can get out of an out of town case he was just assigned
to this morning. He's planning on pleading hardship, what with us
just having a relative newborn and all. I'll be really upset if they
don't let him out of it, Mom. He's been working so many hours for
VCU lately, I've hardly had a chance to say more than two words to

"Well, let's park and get this over with. I'm not sure how long
Gam-pa will be able to hold down the fort with Adam and Dawn to
look after," Maggie said.

Mulder was kicking the trash can again, for the fourth, no make
that fifth time. He'd gone to the SAC and made a very reasonable,
rational case for his removal from this particular assignment.

He'd worked on three VCU cases for two months in a row. His
profiling skills were integral in making an arrest in all three cases.
He was tired. He hadn't been home on time in over a month and a
half, and he had a beautiful, but very colicky, infant at home that
he'd really like to get to know. He also had a rambunctious five
year old that was beginning to make his very tired mother even
more tired, and Mulder reasonably thought he was due some
down time. Especially during the holidays.

Especially this year. It had finally come to mean something to him.
He really, really wanted to share this holiday season with his family.
He came away from his Bar Mitzvah with a sense of renewal; a
rebirth of understanding what it was all about to be a part of a

And he could read the prayers in Hebrew and chant them and teach
his son, and someday his daughter, what all Jews said on the same
nights all around the world.

And he wanted to share the joy he'd felt as a little boy, when he
received a present from his Nana for each of the eight nights of
Hanukkah. He wanted to go shopping, and feel some of the
excitement and joy that went along with the holiday season.

But instead, he was standing in his office, kicking the God damned
garbage can for about the fifteenth time in total and complete
frustration. He wasn't going shopping. He wasn't off the case. He
was going to be on a God damned flight to Illinois in about four

"Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!" he shouted at the top of his lungs in
total frustration. He didn't want to leave. He didn't want to work
the profile on this case. He didn't want anything to do with it.

He didn't have a choice.

He'd read the file.

And after he managed to gain control of his breathing and kept the
bile down out of his throat, he looked at Tom Drake, the VCU
Section Chief, and simply nodded his head. He told Mulder his
flight left in five hours.

That was an hour ago, and Mulder continued to make the garbage
can a work of modern art. He was procrastinating and he knew it.
He had to go home and tell Scully he was leaving, and he didn't
know when he'd be back. He didn't want to miss the first night of
Hanukkah, but he didn't think he'd have a choice, as it came out the
second week of December this year.

God bless lunar calendars. It was hard enough to keep track of
important dates on a solar calendar. It was next to impossible to
keep track of those significant dates on one governed by the light of
the silvery moon.

"Adam, what in the world are you doing?" Dana demanded as she
walked into the dining room, baby Dawn on her shoulder. Her
oldest child was teetering on one of the dining room chairs shoved
up against the breakfront. He'd been doing some rearranging, as
the three purple and one pink advent candles were now lopsidedly
shoved in the smaller holders of the menorah.

"It was lonely, Mommy," Adam stated plaintively. "Why can't we
put the candles in the yellow one for a while?"

Dana sighed. Where was her newly 'born again' Jewish husband
when she needed him?

"Adam, Mommy and Daddy explained this. The wooden 'Advent
Wreath' is used right after Thanksgiving and goes till Christmas,
you remember, with the tree and Santa? And the gold
candle holder, the Menorah? We'll use it in a couple of days. We
light those candles one each night for a week. You'll get a present
each night and Daddy will read and sing like he did this summer.

"Sweetheart, you remember the day Dawn was born at Grandma's
and Grandpa's, don't you?" Just by looking at his face, she could
tell she'd lost him somewhere around the mention of Santa. At that
exact moment, Dawn let out a loud burp and a howl, curling up
around her little tummy as the gas fought its way through her

"Shhh, Shhh, sweet baby girl, I know your tummy hurts. Mommy
is so sorry," Dana cooed as she jostled the baby on her shoulder and
started pacing her normal circuit through both the living room and
the dining room. Dawn's cries only became louder and more high

Dana looked up to find her husband standing sheepishly in the

"You're home early for a change!" she said happily, and jostled the
baby over to hand her off to her father. "Here, we need the magic

Mulder accepted the squalling infant and the perennial spit up cloth,
placing the cloth over his suit jacket shoulder and positioning Dawn
on top of it. Then he started a similar path as he wife.

"Uh, I'm not exactly home," he said, all the time stroking the baby's
back and sides. The cries were growing softer and the shrillness
had left the baby's voice.

Dana stopped her route to the kitchen to look back at him. "Don't
tell me this is some weird experiment in dopplegangers, Mulder,
because I'm really not in the mood. Unless I get to have one, too,"
she said, arms crossed in front of her.

"What's a 'topplegagger'," Adam asked, tugging at his father's pants

"Not right now, big guy," Mulder deflected his son. "I mean, I'm
only here to . . ."

Dana closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath. When she opened
them, she was pulling in all the 'calm resources' she had. "They
didn't let you out of the case out of town," she said with no

"Dane. I tried. God in heaven, I tried. I screamed, I yelled. In
fact I need you to order us a new wastebasket when you get back
next month . . ." He was the picture of a tortured soul. His eyes
pleaded with her for understanding.



"How long? No, don't answer that. I won't like the answer, and it
will be conjecture at best." She drew in more air and let it out
slowly. "I got your shirts from the cleaners, but you only have four
pair of suit pants clean."

He looked at her. He knew that she was waging a war inside
herself. She knew the job, she knew he had to go. But she was
also a very tired new mother who needed a break.

"I'm gonna call Mom and Dad, see if they can come over and give
you a hand while I'm gone," he told her. It sounded lame, even to
his own ears.

She bit her lip and walked with slumped shoulders into the kitchen.

Dawn had fallen asleep on what Dana called 'Daddy's magic
shoulder', so he tiptoed into the newly decorated nursery and
tucked her into the crib. Taking all necessary precautions, he
turned on the CD player with ocean sounds and left the little Winnie
the Pooh lamp on night light level before he left. When he finally
found his wife, she was chopping onions with tears streaming down
her cheeks.

He took the knife out of her hand and spun her around. "Hey, you
don't have to hide your tears in onions," he told her, pulling her
close. "I'm sorry. I hate this. I'll quit. Right now, I'll call Walter
and give him my resignation. And this time, damn it, I'll make him
accept it." He murmured into her hair.

She smiled into his lapel. "You can't quit. Slaves have to be sold,"
she teased him through tears.

"No, I mean it. This is shit. I can't leave you now, that would be . .
. damn it, it would be too much like something _my_ father would
do! I won't do that to you, I won't," he said angrily.

She pushed away from him just enough to look up into his face.
"What's the case?" she asked, wiping her eyes with the back of her

"Teen aged boys. Kids, really. First two were assumed to be
runaways until they found the bodies stuffed in the bottom of a corn
crib. I saw those faces, Scully, and I kept seeing, . . . God help me,
I saw Adam." He shook his head sadly.

"How many have been killed?"

"Five that we know of. More are possible, they're going through
the Missing Children's database now."

"And you're seriously thinking you can walk away from that?" she
asked, taking a deep, shuddering breath and fixing him with a
deadly stare.

He bit his lip. "Scully," he moaned. "What do I do? What
_should_ I do?"

She tugged on his lapels and brought his mouth down to hers.
When she released him, she patted the cloth down and smoothed it,
then took his hands in hers.

"It's not just a job with us, G-Man. I knew that long before I
married you. It's our souls. And I won't make you choose." She
took another deep breath. "Not that I'm overjoyed about this," she
added with a rueful smile, "but I do remember something I said
once about 'for better or worse'. I guess I'll have to let you slide on
this one."

He leaned down and kissed her soundly. "I'll call every chance I
get. And I'll make it up to you. Hell, I told them as much. I am
_off duty_ from the moment this case is over until New Years. I'll
go in and do paperwork, but I'm out of there in under eight hours,
or I go postal on them."

She knew he would never be able to keep such a promise, but she
loved him anyway.

"So, what's for dinner?" he asked, looking at the counter top, which
was now covered in neatly diced onions.

"Onion quiche?" she offered breaking a sly smile as she said the

His eyes narrowed. "Real G-Men don't eat quiche," he recited and
reached around her for the phone book. "I'm ordering pizza, and I
don't want any arguments."

She gave him a smile that almost completely hid her pain.

Her heart was still breaking, two hours later, as his cab arrived to
take him to the airport. He didn't want to wake the baby, and he
didn't want her to drive the interstate that late with both children.

She kissed him, just like her mother had kissed her own father as he
went off to sea, and she hid her tears until the door was closed, so
she could cry without his knowing about it.

"Uh-huh. Well, wasn't there anyone else who could have been sent
on this one? I mean, for God's sakes, the man has already had three
cases in two months. You know he's only going to be there a short
time, I think the work load is a little excessive, don't you?"

Walter Skinner shifted the phone to his other ear and glared at his
desktop. "No, I don't think I'm being overly protective and the fact
that Agent Mulder is my son-in-law has _nothing_ to do with it.
I've seen the caseloads of the other agents in the section and I still
think . . ."

The set of his jaw showed just how hard Walter Skinner was
working at keeping his voice calm.

"Yes, I am aware of that." From across the desk, Maggie could
hear her husband's teeth grind and she winced and bit her lip, trying
to give him an encouraging look. Walter shook his head and
narrowed his eyes, staring at his desk blotter.

"Well, I think I might have to take this up with the Director." Now
Maggie could hear the raised voice of the VCS Section Chief even
over the distance.

"Same to you, Tom!" SLAM! The receiver bounced in it's cradle
before coming to rest in the silence of the office.

"Well, so much for keeping 'calm, cool and collected," Maggie said
quietly with a half-smile at her husband.

"The man is an unreasonable prick, Maggie! There is no 'calm, cool
and collected' in his vocabulary." Walter slumped into his chair and
put his glasses back on lost somewhere after the greeting of the
conversation that had lasted almost fifteen minutes.

"He isn't going to assign another agent to the case," Maggie said
with a sigh. She had been somewhat surprised to find her husband
on the phone when she'd come to take him to lunch, but it hadn't
taken her long to figure out the subject matter.

She'd figured Walter would try something like that. He'd been
beside himself when he'd come home the night before and
announced that 'the bastards in VCS' were 'using Fox like a slave'
and had sent their son-in-law off to Illinois with only five hours
notice. And in all likelihood, he would be gone at least over the
first days of Hanukkah.

Maggie had called Dana immediately upon hearing the news, but
her daughter had assured her everything was fine. "We're fine,
Mom." Maggie remembered how many times Dana had used that
phrase with her, and she wasn't convinced this time, either. Dana's
words were plain enough, but from the phone line, Maggie had
heard the catch in her voice that betrayed the tears.

Her first impulse was to drop everything and run right over to Fox
and Dana's house and not leave until Fox came home. She was
getting her purse when her 'reasonable' husband stopped her.

"Is that what Dana wants?" he'd asked. It was enough to make
Maggie stop and remember just how independent her children were.
As much as she wanted to go over and take control, that was
exactly how much Dana did _not_ want her there.

Dana had always considered herself strong enough to face anything,
and this was just another hurtle to her. She had never taken kindly
to anyone's interference in her life, something her husband had
experienced a couple of times before their marriage.

So Maggie had taken off her coat and spent the rest of the evening
trying to get her mind off her daughter's problems. She'd thought
that was what Walter had been doing, too, but she found out he
was busy devising other plans.

"You aren't really going to the Director on this, are you, Walter? I
mean, that would upset _both_ of them, Fox and Dana," Maggie
pointed out. By the look on his face, her husband had already
figured that out, too.

"I know. I can't. Besides, the prick, er , the 'chief' actually had a
good reason to send Mulder on this. They had another agent doing
the profile and they found him in his hotel room, tossing up blood.
He's been admitted to the hospital, bleeding ulcer. He's out for
several weeks. The chief didn't have a choice. Mulder is the only
one capable of walking in and being brought up to speed on such
short notice."

"Fox is good. Maybe it won't be that long," Maggie said hopefully,
but Walter shook his head.

"If the killer were escalating, and I know that sounds so cruel to
hope for, but if that were the case, there would be more leads,
more evidence for Mulder to follow. But as it is, he might be there
a week, maybe more. The best possible solution would be for the
killer to be caught in the act, before he actually murders another
boy . . ."

Maggie's eyes grew wide. "Boy? How old?"

Walter really didn't want to go into this with his wife. He knew
how much she took these things to heart. "Teenagers, Maggie.
Fifteen, sixteen, thirteen years old. Not little boys."

"Adam in the future," Maggie whispered and Walter could see her
trying not to dwell on that thought. She looked up at him. "Why
couldn't he work in Bank Fraud while Dana is on maternity leave?"

Walter laughed and shook his head. "You don't think I didn't try
that one? Mulder couldn't stop laughing! He pointed out that Dana
keeps the checkbook for a reason. He still doesn't have any idea
what his net worth is. He's horrible with numbers. And as a
'coup de grace' he reminded me that it wouldn't do the family _or_
the Bureau any good to have him convicted of embezzling just
because he screwed up some paperwork. Besides, Maggie, profiling
is what he knows. This is what he's trained for and this is what
he's good at. I don't think he'd allow me to have him moved to
'white collar crime'."

"So, we can't let Dana think we're helping her, and we can't bring
Fox home. We're between the proverbial 'rock and a hard place',"
Maggie said with another sigh.

Walter came around the desk and pulled his wife up from her chair
into his arms. "We'll think of something. But for now, I'm starved.
Staying all 'cool and calm' really worked up an appetite."


He'd gotten to the hotel the night before around ten thirty, called
the local Chicago office to check in, and was told he was expected
eight o'clock the following morning. Mulder was most grateful for
that, for last night's flight was one of the most uncomfortable ones
he'd been through in a while.

He hadn't realized it when he'd left, but the scratchy throat he'd
been harboring for the last day or so had developed into a full
blown chest cold. He'd felt his ears popping during the entire flight
last night, and now, this morning, he found it difficult to take a deep
breath without feeling some discomfort.

"Damn it!" he cursed aloud in anger, frustration, and just a little bit
of pain, "I can't believe I have to be brilliant when I feel like dreck!"
All of a sudden, Mulder found himself smiling.

The first time he'd ever uttered that particular word aloud was
when he was just a little boy, a little younger than Adam was now.
He remembered this because Nana was still alive. In fact, it was to
his Nana he'd uttered the word.

*Oh, Nana, you're such a 'stick dreck',* the young Fox squealed out
in delight.

*Foxila, where did you learn such words?* asked his Nana kindly.

*Which words, Nana?* the small boy asked innocently.

*'Shtick dreck, shayner boychikel,'* she replied.

*'Oh, Mr. Mac, our gym teacher at Nursery School says it to us
when we go to the gym room,* Fox replied.

*Mr. Mac?*

*Yeah, Nana, Mr. Mac. His real name is Mr. Macciarola, but
nobody could ever say it as good as me, so we just call him Mr.

*Foxila, did Mr. Mac ever tell you what 'shtick dreck' means?*
asked Nana with a smile on her face.

*No, Nana. I didn't know it meant anything,* Fox replied honestly.

At this point, the old woman began shaking with giggles. *Oy,
sweetheart, it means 'big sh__,'* Nana hesitated for a moment when
she realized it would be inappropriate to state the vulgar terminology
to her four and half year old grandson.

*It means 'big poop!* she explained in between peels of laughter.

The two of them laughed in companionship of a secret now shared
by them. Mulder never did find out why Mr. Mac stopped using
the phrase after that day, but he suspected his very diplomatic nana
had something to do with it.

And now, he really did feel like a 'big poop'. His chest felt like a
twenty pound weight was pressed against it, and his head felt as
though it had swelled overnight to twice its normal size. The last
thing he wanted to do was try and get into the head of a serial killer
that got off on killing adolescents.

The last thing he felt he was capable of doing at the moment was
getting inside the head of a lunatic. Unfortunately, he wasn't given
a choice in the manner. He checked his tie, wished Scully were
there to check it for him, and headed to the office.


"Damn it, I'm coming! Please don't wake her up, please don't wake
her up," Dana muttered as she ran to catch the phone before it rang
a third time. "Hello," she said somewhat more tersely than she'd

"Hey, Dana, it's Leslie. Did I catch you at a bad time?" asked one
of Dana's best friends, Leslie Goldfarb.

"No, Leslie. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to sound so, so__."

"__bitchy?" asked Leslie with a chuckle. As one of Dana's best
friends, she had a liberty few others could take.

"Exactly. Dawn just went down for her nap about fifteen minutes
ago," she explained.

"I hear you," Leslie replied. "I was so grateful Jason wasn't
colicky. I'm still amazed that, after Rachael, we actually chose to
go forth and have him,'' she laughed.

"Every time I feel like screaming and jumping out the window over
Dawn's colic, I just keep thinking of how wonderfully Rachael
turned out. There really is hope, right Leslie?" Dana asked seeking
moral support.

"Yes, it does get better, I swear, Dana. In fact, I'd say she should
turn into the darling little angel you'd prayed for in the next few
weeks. Really," Leslie responded with encouragement.

"God, I hope you're right, Les. I don't know how much longer I'll
be able to keep my sanity, especially without Daddy's magic
shoulder around," lamented Dana.

"Mulder's not there again?"

"Nope. They dragged him off kicking and screaming to Chicago,"
answered Dana.

"He'll be back in time for Hanukkah, won't he?" asked Leslie

"We don't know. He hopes to be, but it's a nasty case, and unless
they catch a break, I won't bet on it." A thought then occurred to
Dana. "Les, how about you, Richard, and the kids join us over here
for a Hanukkah party?"

"Oh sweetie, I wish we could. That's one of the reasons I was
calling; I wanted to let you know we were going to be out of town
for the holidays.

"You know my kooky sister?" Leslie continued to explain, "You
know, the one who adopts a different religion every six months?"

"Of course, I do."

"Well, she's given up on the Muslim religion, or was it Buddhist? I
don't know, except believe it or not, she's decided to try out
Judaism. Can you believe it? For the next six months, or so, we'll
at least be on the same page!

"Anyway, I wanted to let you know we were going to be by my
sister's for Hanukkah, and then we were going to go straight to my
Mom and Dad's for Christmas," explained Leslie.


"Dana, I'm so sorry. If you want, we can cancel __," Leslie began.

" __ Oh Les, don't be silly. You're not going to cancel anything.
You're going to go be with your family and have a wonderful time!
I'll be fine, sweetie, really," replied an adamant Dana.

"Hey, where's 'Grandma Bette' in all this? Isn't she going to come
down and spend Hanukkah with her favorite grandson and

Dana sighed. Another sore subject. "She called on Thanksgiving.
She's going to Europe for the month of December. She said she'd
catch up with us after the New Year."

"Wow. Great timing," Les said dryly.

"My thoughts exactly," Dana replied in kind. "Don't sweat it, Les.
We'll be fine. And we'll see you when you get back."

"Well, if you're sure."

"Never surer. Have a wonderful Hanukkah and a Merry Christmas,
Leslie. Give the kids a kiss for me, okay?"

"Okay, and Dana, save New Year's Day for us, please?" asked a
slightly contrite Leslie.

"New Year's Day is yours," responded Dana, and then the two
friends said their good byes. Dana replaced the receiver, said a
rather well articulated swear word, and then sighed loudly as she
heard the squalling screams of her now very awake, and obviously
still very colicky, infant daughter.


end of part 1

Life Cycles XVI: Holidays
by Vickie Moseley and Susan Proto

Disclaimers in part 1

Part 2/14

Mulder arrived at the Chicago bureau office somewhat bleary
eyed and congested. He refused to allow his physical condition get
in the way of doing his job, so he stocked up on the usual over
the counter medications Dana had prescribed in the past.

When he first arrived, he was pleasantly surprised to see a familiar
face. Riichi Obayashi stood up with his hand extended and
immediately greeted Mulder.

"Mulder, it's good to see you."

"Riichi, what the hell are you doing here, and it's great to see you."

"I got a call last night to take the red eye out here for this case.
I think we've been paired up, Mulder."


"That's my best guess," Riichi agreed.

"I think he tried to get me out of this case," Mulder said quietly to
his friend.

"No doubt about it. Rumors were flying that the telephone
conversation between AD Skinner and the Section Chief could be
heard from here to Washington and all points in between. I suspect
Walter called and demanded I be partnered with you as a
concession," Riichi confirmed.

"Well, I guess nepotism has its advantages," Mulder muttered.

"Mulder, AD Skinner would have insisted on this whether you were
his son-in- law or not. He's always watched out for you and Dana.
You know that," insisted Riichi.

"Yeah, you're right, and to tell you the truth, it doesn't matter.
I don't care why you were sent here; I'm just grateful you were.

"Me too, my friend, and from the looks of it, not a moment too
soon. Mulder, ol' boy, you look like shit."

"I feel like dreck too," he whispered in reply.


The meeting had gone on for approximately two hours in order to
bring Mulder, Obayashi, and two other agents newly brought into
the case, up to speed. Mulder had requested to take some of the
files back with him to the motel, but the SAC insisted all files
remain in the central office which was set up as the team's meeting
place. SAC James Albright insisted every agent have access to all
files on an as needed basis.

Mulder was annoyed, because this meant he'd never see the inside
of his motel room tonight. He really wanted the privacy to call and
speak with Scully, but Mulder realized he'd have to forego the
privacy and just call her later.

He and Obayashi split the files between them and began organizing
them to Mulder's specifications. The other two new agents, Dale
Jensen and Kelly Watson, were assigned to research and were at
Mulder's disposal only if absolutely necessary.

The SAC had been somewhat ambivalent about Fox Mulder joining
the team. He'd never had the opportunity to work with him before,
but he knew of his reputation. The man could solve just about
anything, which was a great asset. However, the SAC also knew,
for whatever reason, trouble usually accompanied this particular
agent whenever he was profiling a case.

SAC Albright wasn't sure if it was because Mulder threw himself so
totally into a case he became totally unaware of the dangers that
were posed to him, or if the man simply became sloppy and was

Since he'd been married, he seemed to get into less trouble.
Apparently marrying his partner settled him down somewhat, but
Albright still wasn't entirely confident since the wife wasn't with
him. Which is another reason he didn't object to Headquarters
demand that Agent Obayashi be assigned to Mulder.

Apparently the two had worked together in the past, and Obayashi
actually liked working with the 'spookster.' Though he had never
experienced the ''spooky'' persona personally, Albright had heard
of the nickname which was apparently tagged on Mulder where ever
he went.

The SAC had heard some of the other agents talking in the pen, so
he knew Mulder's reputation had preceded him with some of the
men. Albright was determined, however, to give Mulder a fair
shake. If he was as good as they say he was, he didn't care if
Mulder was Casper the Friendly Ghost.

So Albright wasn't about to 'look a gift horse in the mouth', as the
saying goes, and he welcomed both Agents Mulder and
Obayashi with open arms. Besides, it got the DC head
honchos off of his back.


"Any progress?'' asked Albright when he poked his head into the
small conference room where Riichi and Mulder sat sifting through
towers of files.

Mulder looked up helplessly, ready to assume the defensive stance
he was so used to having to take when he didn't produce immediate
results. Riichi took note of Mulder's expression and immediately
stepped in the role of his protector.

"We're working as fast as we can, Sir. It's just that we have a
great deal of data to go through, so Mulder hasn't enough
information to make even a preliminary profile," explained Riichi.

Albright looked at Riichi somewhat confused. As much as he knew
Mulder was supposed to be the Golden Boy of Profiling, he really
wasn't expecting him to have had a profile ready at this point.

His entire team was having trouble getting a handle on this killer;
why the hell would either of the men sitting before him think he
would expect a miracle at this point.

And that's what it would have to be; a miracle. It was the opinion
of the group the killer was beginning to escalate. Another body
was found earlier that morning, and none of the agents were
confident they would catch the sonofabitch before he killed again.

So Albright looked at the two agents and simply said, "I understand
that, Agent Obayashi. I don't expect you to be doing anything

And with that he left the room.

"Fox Mulder's phone," answered Riichi absently as he continued
sorting through old interviews, looking for the one Mulder had

"He's got you answering his _cell phone_ now, Riichi? Aren't you
taking this 'support' thing a bit far," Dana teased lightly.

Riichi chuckled. "Hey, just be thankful he hasn't asked me to take
up more of your 'partnerly duties'," he teased in return. "He
stepped into the little agent's room and left his jacket. He knows
how you and Walter worry when you get a 'no answer' on his cell
phone, so he asked me to grab it if it rang."

"Well, we have had cause in the past for that worry," Dana
reminded their friend.

"Don't I remember. Hey, the object of your affection just walked
in. Here he is." Riichi handed the cell phone to Mulder and got up,
feigning a long stretch. "I'm getting coffee. Be back in a few."
With a wink he was out the door.

"What was that all about?" Dana asked, hearing every word.

"Oh, you know Riichi. Didn't want to witness the phone sex,"
Mulder replied and then promptly sneezed.

"Did you . . ."

"I have expectorant that I'm taking every four hours, a 12 hour
decongestant that makes me have to drink 20 cups of coffee to
keep awake, and I got the 'good' tissues that don't make my nose
raw. Riichi threatened to rub vaporub on me, but I drew my gun
and he backed off. I'm fine," Mulder said, punctuating with a sniff
and a blow.

"That's _my_ line, G-man. Don't go stealing my line," Dana said in
a mock threatening tone.

"How are you? Really?" Mulder didn't even bother to hide the
loneliness and worry behind the words. "My baby girl getting any

"Dawn made it through a two hour nap this morning," Dana said

"Actually, I meant my 'other' baby girl. I'm glad Dawn napped.
Now, did you?"

"I, ah, well, the laundry . . ."

"You're mumbling, Dane. Either you took a nap or you didn't.
Which is it?"

"Don't interrogate me over the phone, Mulder," she sighed, slightly
irritated. "I don't want to argue. I'm . . ."

"Let's start over," Mulder interrupted. They were both a little on
edge. It had been three days since he'd said goodbye. He was
feeling rotten and knew she was exhausted, and he'd already been
informed through the grapevine that she was refusing any offers
of help.

Mulder loved the strong, passionate, independent woman he
married, but at that moment, he wanted her to just bend a little and
let someone give her a hand. If not him, then their family at least.
But Dana would hear nothing of it. She was fine.

"OK, starting over. I love you," Dana said into the phone.

"Oh, good. The phone sex part," Mulder replied, and it warmed his
heart to hear her answering laughter.

"You wish," she giggled. "No, I really had a question, otherwise I
would have waited for your call this evening."

"I don't know nothing about no stinkin' dishwasher repair, lady.
Call a plumber."

"I fixed that yesterday. No, it's about tonight."

"Tonight?" Mulder stared at the desktop, trying to figure out what
was so special about that night.

"It's the first candle night. You know, sundown starts Hanukkah.
We have this nice, expensive, beautiful menorah sitting on the
breakfront, and I haven't a clue how to use it."

Mulder smacked his head and winced. Hanukkah. He hadn't
looked at a calendar in a couple of days except to notice what day
of the week it was, not bothering with the date.

"Hanukkah," he said sadly.

"Yep. I got a recipe for potato pancakes in my lap, five pounds of
potatoes on the counter, and a five year old boy who is _not_ going
to take 'no' for an answer. He's been promised Hanukkah and by
jimminy, he's gonna get it!"

"Exact words, or are you paraphrasing him," Mulder smiled tiredly
into the phone.

"Exact words. I think he was watching Pinocchio on Disney last
night. Anyway, the pancakes aren't that hard, but the candle part
has me stumped. I don't think I can substitute my Advent readings
for the prayers, Fox. I suspect that would be a bad thing."

" I don't think it would be the end of the world, but it could send
some people spinning in their graves, " Mulder responded as he
shook his head. "All right, I'd bought a book at Temple Emmanuel's
religious boutique. It's a nice, easy to read, book, Dane. Very
shiksa friendly," he explained with a chuckle.

"Oh, thanks a lot, Mulder!" she responded equally giddy.

Since Mulder had found more strength in his religious beliefs, the
two of them found they were better able to tease one another about
their faiths. It helped relax the tension which sometimes built up as
they both struggled to find a way of accommodating their dual

"Where is this magical book?" she asked, and then listened to
Mulder's description of where he'd hidden it for safe keeping.
When she'd managed to find it among the stacks of files,
knickknacks, and assorted UFO literature, she said, "Okay G-Man,
got it. Now what?"

"Well, there's a whole bunch of songs in it, but I guess you don't
really know the melodies. Heck, I don't know if I remember the
melodies, but you might just want to read the words with Adam.
There's some little activities in it, if you want to have him do one
tonight, and then save another for each of the eight nights. I don't
remember how many activities are in the book __," he rambled.

"__ But what about the prayers, Mulder?" Dana interrupted.

"I'm coming to that, damn it!" he replied angrily. When Mulder
heard his wife gasp in response, he quickly caught himself and
began to apologize profusely.

"Dane? Dane, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean that. It's just that __,
well, it's just that this year, I wanted to be there with Adam so badly
__, and with you, and Dawn, and now I'm stuck here, and I can't
even help you celebrate my fuckin' holiday __."

It was at that moment the frustration of not making any progress on
the case, feeling like shit, and of being far too many miles away
from his family finally hit Fox Mulder. And he expressed that
frustration by making a fist and taking it out on the heavy, metal
desk he sat at.

"Damn!" he cried out, as he tried to rub away the pain of his now
very bruised and somewhat bloodied knuckles.

"Mulder? It's okay. Really. I know you didn't mean it," she replied
in attempt to soothe him.

"God, Scully, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry."

"I know, Mulder, and I said it's okay. Now, really, I need to know
what I should say tonight when I light the candles," repeated Dana.
She could hear him take a deep breath, and so she waited patiently.

"Okay,'' he began, "there's a page which says Candle Blessings, I
think." He waited as he heard her rifle through the pages of the
small paperback book.

"I found it!"

"Good, well, the first night you have to say a little extra. It tells
you which one, Scully, right?" he explained. He waited for her
confirmation. "Good, oh and Scully? The candle you light goes on
the right side of the menorah, not the left. It's kind of like
reading Hebrew, okay?"

"Sure, Mulder. Listen, is it okay if I read the English. I don't know
if I can handle reading the transliteration," she confessed.

"I guess so," he said with disappointment, but then he excitedly
said, "Wait! Dane? What if I called home and said the prayers with
you guys over the phone? Couldn't we do that, Dane?

"I mean, I can call around seven o'clock your time, okay? That
would be okay, wouldn't it?" he asked hopefully.

"Of course it would be," Dana replied. "I don't know why I didn't
think of that."

"Okay, good. I'm gonna see if I can track down a prayer book on
this end. Worse comes to worse I can get it off the internet, but I
think I'd really like to try and find a copy of the same book you
have. This way we can all do one of the activities together,"
Mulder proposed, decidedly more happy than he was minutes ago.

"Sounds like a plan, G-Man. We'll be awaiting your call at seven. I
love you, Fox," Dana said lovingly.

"Oh, Dane. I love you so much. I really, really miss you all," he
replied tenderly.

"I know. Okay, I've got to get started on these pancakes,'' she


"What?" asked Dana.

"Not pancakes. Latkes," answered Mulder.

"Right. Latkes. Gotta get started on these latkes," she repeated.
"I'll speak to you later __."

"__Don't forget to __." Mulder realized she'd already hung up
before he could remind her to put the grated potatoes through a
sieve to drain of all the excess water. Otherwise, the potato latkes
are potato mush.


Albright had returned to his office somewhat disconcerted by the
reactions of his two agents. He knew of Fox Mulder's reputation
for being a profiler who got quick results, but he found it difficult
to believe anyone would have expected him to figure out the killer's
profile so soon.

The SAC had heard some rumors about Mulder's propensity for
taking undue risks in his efforts to solve a case. Albright admired
the Mulder's tenacity but was a bit puzzled by the man's apparent

SAC Albright also found it unusual for another agent, who wasn't
even the permanent partner, to so quickly take a line of defense for
his colleague. It's almost as though Obayashi felt the need to
protect Mulder from Albright, and that in and of itself disconcerted
the SAC.

He'd always considered himself a fair manager. Sure, Albright had
high expectations for those agents under his charge, but he never
expected anything more of his underlings than he expected of
himself. Albright had been a SAC for just over eighteen months, so
he hadn't any opportunities to work with the people from DC while
in a managerial position prior to this case.

He had a bad feeling about this one. He didn't know what it was
that niggled at him, but Albright felt as though there was something
he was missing. Albright wasn't that much older than Mulder or
Obayashi, so he was at a slight disadvantage regarding age and
experience in dealing with this situation.

But even though the SAC was relatively new on the job, Albright
was good at what he did, and he had enough confidence in himself
to know it. However, the fact that Albright had already lost one
profiler to illness presented the SAC with a good enough reason to
play it cautiously.

Albright buzzed his secretary and asked, "Margie, who is Agent
Mulder's direct supervisor in DC?"

"One minute, Agent Albright, I'll check the file," she responded as
she brought up Mulder's file on the hard drive to check his current
status. "Assistant Director Walter Skinner, Sir."

"Walter Skinner?" he echoed. "Shit," he mumbled, and then added,
"Oh, sorry 'bout that, Margie."

"No problem, Sir. You should hear me when I stub my toe. I can
make a truck driver blush."

"I bet you could," Albright chuckled. "Ummm, Margie, do me a
favor and try to connect me with AD Skinner. I need to speak with

Albright had only briefly met the AD at a conference some months
back, but he had heard of Walter Skinner's reputation as being one
tough as nails, by the book, sonofabitch Assistant Director. He
wasn't sure if he was ready to deal with this man regarding his
concerns about the agents he purposely sent to help solve this case.

Albright didn't want to antagonize the man by insinuating that
perhaps he'd made an error in judgment in sending Mulder. The
SAC had learned pretty quickly Mulder had just come off a case in
another part of the country, and of course now the poor guy was
fighting a nasty cold.

All Albright was hoping for now was a sympathetic ear and some
information to help him deal with these two agents in a manner that
would bring out the best in them. It upset Albright to think of the
possibility that Mulder appeared almost frightened of him. It was
strange, to say the least, and something he'd never encountered
before. He knew he had to find out more about this so called
profiling genius.

Several minutes later, Margie buzzed Albright to inform him AD
Skinner was on line one. He thanked his ever efficient secretary
and picked up the phone.

"AD Skinner, James Albright here, Sir."

"What happened?" Skinner asked.

"Sir?" Albright gasped in surprise. That question was the last one
he'd have expected to come out of AD Skinner's mouth.

"Has anything happened?" Skinner repeated in a tone that
threatened to betray the professionalism he was trying desperately
to maintain.

"No, Sir, we're still at a standstill on the case. We still haven't got a
positive handle on our UNSUB, but the team is putting in an
extraordinary effort. In fact, the reason I called was I hoped to learn
a little more about a couple of members of the team, so I might help
them work even more efficiently," Albright stated.

"I would assume you're talking about Mulder and Riichi Obayashi,"
Skinner predicted.

"Yes, Sir, as a matter of fact it is. I was hoping you could provide
me with some background on them," Albright proposed.

"Background? I'm not sure I understand," replied Walter in a
tenser tone of voice.

James Albright picked up on the change in Skinner's voice
immediately, and he worried if he'd breached some code of ethics
without realizing it. He certainly did not want to clash with the
Assistant Director, but Albright also felt it was absolutely necessary
to take that risk in order to best help his members work more as a
team; with each other and with him.

"Yes, Sir," Albright began tentatively. "Some background that
might help me understand a rather unusual reaction I received from
them a bit earlier."

"A reaction to what? How did they react? C'mon, Albright, you're
going to have to give me some more information here."

"I'm sorry, Sir, I'm just not sure how to explain it. It's possible I
was even imagining it; my own reaction might be totally off base."
When Albright heard a sigh of apparent consternation from the other
end, he continued.

"I'd gone in to the command center Agents Mulder and Obayashi
had set up. I asked them if there was any progress. Just like that,
Sir. The tone with which I presented that question was no more
dramatic than that.

"Well, Agent Mulder's reaction seemed a bit out of whack with the
question presented, and it concerned me," Albright put forth.

"How did he react, Agent?" Skinner now asked in something akin to
a whisper, knowing full well what Albright's answer would be.

"Well, first it almost looked as though he shuddered to me. Then
he just looked at me and stared at me. Sir, if I didn't know any
better, I'd swear the man was frightened of what I was going to say

"Then,'' Albright continued, "what made it all the more strange, was
Agent Obayashi's reaction to Mulder. I mean the man seemed to
take on the role of Mulder's defender. He immediately stated there
was no possible way Mulder could come up with a conclusive
profile in three short days when there was so much data to sift

"Well, Obayashi's correct, Albright," Walter replied in a tone
reminiscent that of a protector himself.

"But, Sir, that's just it. I couldn't agree with you more, and I'd
never given any indication that I'd expected Mulder to have come
up with a profile. All I asked was if there was any progress. A
relatively simple, but appropriate question for me as their SAC to
ask, Sir," Albright responded in a defensive tone.

Walter heard the tone and immediately felt contrite. He realized
SAC Albright was merely doing his job, and Mulder wasn't just
responding; he was anticipating.

And Obayashi, in his infinite wisdom and experience in working
with Mulder in the past, anticipated a conflict in the making and
jumped into the fray to defend his colleague from any of the insults
and intolerance that had always followed Fox in the past.

Apparently James Albright wasn't aware of all the Spooky
innuendoes, nor the lack of tolerance many of Mulder's peers had
for him. Riichi Obayashi was an unusual exception to the norm,
and Walter thanked the powers that be for whatever had brought
them together.

Albright was okay. Walter realized he needed to come clean with
him so he'd understand the situation better. It was for all of their

"James, there's a good reason for the way both men reacted. First,
Agent Mulder is very good at what he does. He does not,
however, usually spend his time on profiling. Normally, he works
in areas other than profiling," Skinner asked.

"Oh. So why isn't he working on them now?" Albright asked

"Mulder 's usual partner is on maternity leave, and though he
doesn't profile full-time any longer, he's been loaned out to VCS
even though he's got a pile of work of his own sitting unattended,"
explained the AD.

"So while his partner's on maternity leave, he gets to do profiles?"

"You make it sound like it's something he _wants_ to do. No, he
most certainly would rather not be profiling, especially without his
partner," clarified Skinner.

"Why? I mean if he's as good at the profiling as you say he is,"
questioned the SAC.

"Because she keeps him sane."

James Albright paused a moment before he continued his own
personal search for the truth.

"But I still don't understand his reaction, Sir. Why would he think
I'd expect him to produce a complete profile in such a short time

"Because most AIC's would have, Albright. And most others have
let it be known they didn't appreciate it when Mulder's services
were offered, because they knew Mulder invariably succeeded
where they'd already failed, countless times, over and over again.
Jealousy was often the reason for other's antagonistic attitudes
toward Mulder. And all because he's a genius at what he does.

"Agent Albright; James, Mulder will get you the profile, and I
suspect it will be soon. He says he doesn't have it done yet; it may
not be a finished product on paper, but it's done. He's got it
finished in his head, and he's probably got written notes scattered all
over the desk and on his laptop.

"He'll present it to you when he's sure it will catch this madman,
because there's nothing more that Mulder wants to do. He wants to
catch the madman before he gets inside the lunatic's head too much,
and then go home to his wife, son, and new daughter," Skinner
explained with a hint of a smile.

"New daughter, Sir?"

"Dawn Marie Mulder, eleven weeks old, and colicky as all get out,"
Skinner elaborated.

"Sir?" Albright responded in a very confused voice.

"Albright, Dawn is my granddaughter. Mulder is married to my
stepdaughter," Skinner explained.


"James, aside from the fact that Mulder is totally exhausted from
working three other cases back to back, he hasn't seen the inside of
his home for one week straight for the last three months, and he's
worried shitless this is the one time he won't be able to figure out
this sonofabitch's profile. Mulder also suffers from a complete lack
of self-esteem. He doesn't realize how good he is and takes it
personally when things don't go perfectly.

"So, as much as I respect his abilities, and his professional attitude
in terms of wanting to catch the bad guy, he also needs to be
treated with kid gloves. That's one of the reasons I insisted Riichi
Obayashi accompany him to Chicago. Riichi will watch out for
him. He'll make sure he stays safe."

"I see. Very well, Sir. I will do my best to assist and support
Agent Mulder in any way I can. Oh, and Sir?" Albright began.

"Yes, SAC Albright?"

"Thanks for your candor, Sir. It does shed a great deal of light on
the situation. I really will try my best to make Agent Mulder as
comfortable as possible."

"You're welcome, Albright, and thank you for taking the time out
to find out the facts instead of relying on possible misinformation. I
appreciate that very much, and it does reflect highly on your ability
to carry out your duties as SAC."

"Well, Sir, I'd better get back to __." Albright stopped abruptly.

"Anything wrong, Albright?"

"No, Sir, I just happened to look out the window. Typical Chicago
winter. It's starting to snow like a Mother __. Umm, I mean
rather hard, Sir."

Walter laughed at this and informed Albright he was well aware of
what kind of snows Chicago was capable of producing. "Keep me
apprised, Albright," Skinner concluded and hung up the phone.

Albright replaced his receiver and looked out the window again. He
thought to himself that Mother Nature was playing one helluva a
cruel trick on them. The last thing in the world they needed was a
Chicago snowstorm in December.

End of Part 2/14

LC XVI: Holidays
by Vickie Moseley & Susan Proto

Disclaimers in Part 1

Part 3/14

Mulder had been staring at the yellow legal pad for so long that he
was starting to hallucinate the little blue lines as tiny highway
markings. He rubbed his eyes and stretched, popping several
vertebra back into alignment. A quick glance at his watch
confirmed his suspicion. It was almost three o'clock in the
afternoon, and he was no further along than he had been at eight
that morning.

Three o'clock. Back home it was four. Four. "Shit!" he yelped.
He shot a look around the empty room. That was right, Riichi had
gone off to get more files. He'd been alone for a half an hour.

He had three hours to find a bookstore that would carry the same
little Hanukkah book he'd purchased at the boutique back home.
Not that difficult, Chicago had several temples and there was one
not that far from the Bureau office, he'd noticed that during the
cab ride from the airport.

Trouble was, he really didn't want to let everyone at the office
know that he was going out to by a pre-schooler's guide to a
religious ceremony. Not that he thought either Riichi or SAC
Albright would think less of him, but he remembered all too well his
days in VCS, when any reference to having a real life beyond the
job was met with derision. He just didn't want to put up with
that kind of bullshit anymore.

Riichi entered the room, carrying two cups of coffee. "Java break.
How's it going?"

Mulder shook his head and gratefully accepted the Styrofoam cup.
"Thanks," he muttered and stared back down at the legal pad. "It's
somewhere, Riichi. I have all the makings of a profile here," he
said, tapping his forehead. "But none of it has made it here," he
glumly tapped the paper.

"You look beat. Maybe you should go back to the hotel; catch
some z's?" Riichi suggested.

Mulder smiled to himself. He might not be ready to profile the
killer, but he had his friend's number, there was no doubt about it.
Riichi's offer was exactly what Mulder had been fishing for. "You
know, man, that's not a bad idea. I think I'll take a nap, then I'll be
back here by eight for the evening meeting. Maybe I'll even have
something useful to contribute."

"I'll get one of the agents to give you a ride," Riichi said, a little
shocked that Mulder had so readily agreed. This was not the
reaction he'd been expecting. He was tempted to take Mulder's
temperature. Or check his ID. In the end, he decided not to look
a gift horse in the mouth.

"I'm taking my notes with me. I won't take the files, but I've got
most of the info I need." Mulder stuffed the legal pad into his

"Just remember, you're going back for a nap," Riichi said pointedly.

"Yes, mother," Mulder grinned. "See you at eight. This time, don't
let 'em get taco pizza for dinner. We should be arresting the owner
of that pizza parlor for attempted murder of Federal Agents."

"It wasn't my idea, Mulder. Believe me!" Riichi objected with eyes
twinkling. "I voted for Thai."

"That would have at least cleared my sinuses," Mulder shot over his
shoulder and was out the door.

Try as he might, Fox Mulder couldn't help himself. Once back at
the hotel, he took out his notes and started to scribble. Some of the
ideas rushing around his head had started to congeal on the short
cab ride to the hotel. There were things about the crime scene that
he hadn't noticed in any of the reports. Items he saw in the pictures
that hadn't seemed relevant to the other officers at the scene. He
took a few minutes to write up some notes.

His eyes glanced down to his watch and then to the bed he was
sitting on. He really was exhausted. Even the hard, lonely bed of
the hotel room looked inviting after the hours he'd spent hunched over
the various reports and photos from the crime scenes. He thought
seriously about laying down, just for a few minutes, but he really
didn't have the time. Mulder was a man on a mission, and he knew
just how to go about it.

Reaching into the drawer of the night stand, Mulder found what he
needed. A nice, four inch thick phone directory. With a half smile,
he thumbed to the yellow pages and looked under the 'R's. There,
in block letters was the category 'Religious Goods' and the names
of at least fifty different retail outlets of various religious

Sure enough, the Temple B'nai Zion, on the corner of Pratt and
Ashland Avenues, had a boutique similar to the one his own Temple
Emanuel had. Using the city guide also in the phone book, he
figured it to be either a five dollar cab ride or a nice 10 block walk
from his hotel.

"Dane, you're wearing off on me," he said aloud as he dialed the
number of the boutique. In his bachelor days, Mulder would have
just gone over to the store, not bothering to call ahead to see if
they even carried the item he wanted. But years of parenthood had
taught him well, and hanging around an organized wife hadn't hurt
his education either.

The nice woman at the boutique assured him that they did carry the
children's book in question, but he should hurry, because the store
was closing in an hour and a half. She even offered to keep a copy
aside for him, since they were now down to their last two in stock.
"It _is_ the first night of Hanukkah, tonight. And this book is one
of our biggest sellers this time of year," she chided him kindly.

Mulder had no trouble hailing a cab outside his hotel and arrived at
his destination with plenty of time to spare. He quickly paid for his
purchase, declined the paper bag, and slipped it into his overcoat
pocket. Outside, the snow that had been falling steadily since
mid-morning began to pile up on the streets. Mulder wished the
sales clerk a Happy Hanukkah and a good evening and walked out
onto the sidewalk.

As always in a Chicago snowstorm, there wasn't a taxi in sight
when Mulder reached the curb. He stood for a full five minutes,
watching the cars slip and slide on the snow and ice covered streets,
twice almost becoming drenched in slush from passing tires too
close to the curb. In disgust, and because he really didn't want to
mess with the thought of a bus transfer, he started walking back to
the hotel.

The air was cold and crisp, the snow falling just hard enough to
give the world a pristine whiteness that brought everything into
sharp relief. Though his chest and nose remained congested from
his cold, his mind cleared up enough and immediately started
unraveling the case he was working.

Young boys. Young men. All of them could easily be considered
'pretty'. Mulder had long since come to his first conclusion. The
sexual preference of the perpetrator was definitely homosexual.
There was an equal amount of evidence for pedophilia. That was
the easy part.

Each boy had gone willingly with the killer. There was no sign of
struggle, no evidence that the boys had fought their attacker.
Mulder had made note of that fact early on in the morning. Now it
was becoming clear to him, as he walked in the snow. An
authority figure.

A teacher, perhaps? A coach? But the boys were from different
areas, the killer had started in a town almost 40 miles away.
Chicago was a big city, it would be difficult for a teacher to come
into contact with boys from various parts of town. It had to be
someone else in authority.

He was about a block from his hotel when a passing car flipped a
mental switch. He did a double take and followed the car to the
corner. A Chicago police car, white, with blue checker side
detailing. The boys wouldn't have been afraid of a police officer.
They would have gone with a uniformed officer willingly, or at
least, without much of a struggle.

Mulder almost slipped as he ran toward the door of the hotel.
He had to get upstairs and put it all down on paper. It was so clear
now, he had the entire profile in his head. A cop. It was a cop.
And he had to call Albright, because Mulder was willing to bet his
last dollar that the perpetrator, the killer, was very likely one of the
members of the team assigned to catch him.

The alley was the only thing between Mulder and the door. He'd
passed the alley a dozen times in the last three days and thought
absolutely nothing of it. His mind was completely occupied with
getting all the pieces of the puzzle in sequence, writing the profile
as he hurried along the slippery sidewalk.

The last thing he saw was the bumper of the car that hit him.


"Adam, I think we've got a mess on our hands," Dana finally
admitted. The younger Mulder male looked at her with an
expression so like his father's she almost burst out laughing.

"Maybe we should call Gam-ma," Adam nodded solemnly. "Or
God," he suggested.

"Sweetheart, I think God has enough on His plate right now," Dana
replied,struggling to keep a similar serious face. She looked down
at the skillet and winced. "I didn't think it would be this . . ."

"Goopy?" Adam supplied quickly.

"I was going to say 'thin', but I think you're right, sprout. This is

"What did you do wrong, Mommy? Didn't you read all the words?"
Adam picked up the cook book and studied the page intently.
"These are easy words, Mommy. I can read this," he added.

"Yes, well, sweetheart, I obviously missed something in the
translation," Dana said with a shake of her head. She also marveled
at the thought her five year old would think the words in the Jewish
Mother's Cookbook would be easy. Definitely was going to be
some teacher's challenge one day. She smiled, but then with a deep
sigh, Dana picked up the skillet and dumped the contents into the
garbage disposal.

"Aren't we gonna have latkes?" Adam asked plaintively. His little
face held the exact look she'd come to know in his father. The look
that had managed to get her from a geologic research station in the
Arctic Circle to a frozen ice field in Antarctica and back again. She
breathed deeply and squared her shoulders.

"Yes, Adam, we are going to have latkes. They'll just be 'Irish'
latkes," she said with determination.

Adam gave her a curious look and went off to play with his legos.
Dana started peeling another two pounds of potatoes. The phone
interrupted her, but just for a moment. Juggling the receiver to the
crook of her neck, she answered.

"Happy Hanukkah, Dana," Walter Skinner's voice brought a smile
to her face.

"Not if you see my version of 'latkes'," Dana laughed into the
phone. "You wouldn't have any idea of how to go about making
these things, would you?"

"My mother made a point of throwing us out of the kitchen at every
opportunity, Dana. Sorry," he replied. "Hey, your Mom makes
some mean potato pancakes. Why don't you just ask her for the

"She cheats, Walter. Mom uses day old mashed potatoes. The
cookbook calls for fresh, _grated_ potatoes."

"Dana, it's a little under an hour to sundown."

"Are you giving me permission to 'cheat', Sir," she smiled into the

"Duly granted, Agent Scully," he teased back.

"I get the feeling that's not the real reason you decided to call.
What's up?" Dana asked, shifting the phone so she could cut the
potatoes into smaller chunks and add them to the pot of water on
the stove.

"Oh, I was just . . . I mean, I was thinking about . . . and then . . ."

"You're mumbling _and_ rambling, Walter. What happened?
Spill the beans."

"I got a phone call from James Albright," Skinner admitted.

Dana closed her eyes. "He's pissed the SAC off already?" she

"No, nothing of the sort," Skinner jumped to assure her. "As a
matter of fact, Albright called because, well, he sounded

That got her attention. "Riichi and I have been on the phone at
least twice a day, sir," she said, reverting to her old
professionalism in the face of what she thought was an accusation
of neglect. "And I just talked to Fox himself about three hours ago.
He's a little on edge, he's got a damned cold, and he's exhausted,
but . . ."

"Scully, settle down," Skinner himself slipped into their 'old speak'.
"No one's saying anything different. Albright was concerned
because he asked Mulder for a progress report and I guess Mulder .
. ."

"Saw it as a demand instead of a request," Dana said, filling in the
blanks. "Usually when he's called in, they expect results in the first
24 hours. Forty-eight at the outside. It's been three days already."

"Albright knows how difficult this case is, Dana. He's not
expecting miracles."

"He doesn't have to, Sir. We both know Mulder is expecting them,
of himself."

"I know. Anyway, I just, well, I just wanted to let you know that
as far as I could gather from our conversation today, Albright is on
our side on this one. He's going to make sure Mulder understands
that there are limits to anyone's ability and no one is expecting him
to go beyond _his_ limits."

Dana felt like a weight had just been lifted. She smiled broadly.
"Well, gee, that's sort of a miracle in itself, Walter."

Skinner allowed himself to chuckle. "I guess I didn't see it at first,
but you might be right about that."

"I gotta go. Your granddaughter just woke up and I have to nurse
her before the potatoes boil down too far."

"Give her a kiss for Gam-pa. And Adam, too. And Dana, if you
need anything . . ."

"Thanks, Walter, but we're fine. I'll talk to you later. Give Mom a
kiss for me."

Riichi decided he deserved to catch a couple of zzz's himself before
the 8:00 evening meeting. Besides, he knew it was never wise to
leave Mulder unattended, on his own, for more than a couple of
hours. At least, not when Mulder was supposed to be napping in a
half assed attempt to take care and rid himself of his cold.

First, Riichi stopped off in his own room to drop off his briefcase.
After removing his tie and jacket, Riichi checked the knob to the
adjoining door. Adjoining rooms were the rule of thumb whenever
he'd dealt with Mulder on a case, as he was the only other person,
besides Scully and Skinner, Mulder would trust with the knowledge
of his rather erratic sleeping patterns.

So when the knob turned easily, Riichi breathed a slight sigh of
relief as he anticipated seeing Mulder curled up in the bed sawing
logs. He heard no noise coming from the room; no shower
running, no radio, no television.

No television, which of course should have been Riichi's first clue
that something was amiss. But he didn't put two and two together
immediately, and he entered the room expecting to find his friend.

Which was why Riichi Obayashi's reaction to what he _did_ see
was quite understandable.

"SHIT! Shit, shit, shit, shit!! Mulder, you sonofabitch, you God
damned better not have ditched me! SHIT!" he shouted as he
moved from corner to corner in the hotel room. He saw files
spread out all over the bed, desk, and even the floor. There were
post-it notes tacked onto Mulder's laptop, as well as the edge of the
night table.

As Riichi looked at every scrap of paper which crossed his path, he
tried to piece together what the hell his lunatic colleague and friend
did. He came across an opened phone directory. Riichi took note
of the businesses and services offered on the pages, and came to
Religious Goods.

He wondered if Mulder thought their UNSUB was some kind of a
religious zealot. It would figure Mulder would make some kind of
incredible leap and seek out the means to prove his theory. "Damn
it, Mulder, all you had to do was talk to me. Damn."

He wasn't sure what to do next. Riichi realized he had to inform
people about Mulder being AWOL, and he dreaded it. Riichi was
an excellent agent, and he was well aware of the strengths he
brought to his job. However, he was also wise enough to realize
the main reason he was tapped for this assignment was to baby sit
Fox Mulder, and to make sure Mulder came out of this case in one

And he screwed up.

Riichi Obayashi was beside himself. He felt mortified he was unable
to keep track of one person. A person who was not only suffering
from a miserable cold, but from exhaustion due to lack of sleep and
adequate food intake.

Riichi knew he had to call SAC Albright and inform him of his
screw up. AD Skinner also needed to be informed.

And Dana. Riichi dreaded the idea of calling Dana Scully-Mulder
with the news her husband was out of his sight.

Riichi then reconsidered the notion Mulder was missing. Perhaps
he'd just gone for a walk in the snow? Though Mulder had a
horrendous cold, Riichi wouldn't have put it passed Mulder to go
make snow angels if he'd thought it would help clear his head and
profile the UNSUB.

Riichi decided that before he alarmed anyone needlessly, he was
going to take a walk and look for his foolish friend. Riichi tried to
smile as he worked to persuade himself Mulder was simply outside,
in Chicago during a snowstorm, being a total ass.

And Obayashi almost had himself convinced as he stalked back into
his room to retrieve his trench coat. He cursed aloud as he
shrugged back into it. "Damn, damn, damn!" he cursed aloud to no
one but the shadows on the walls. Riichi slammed the door behind him.


Riichi started out walking slowly as he searched every inch of the
three or four blocks north, south, east, and west of the hotel. He
figured if Mulder was going to grab some fresh air, he wouldn't feel
the need to travel too far.

As he retraced his steps again, for the third time, something shiny
caught his eye laying along the wall of the alley near the west side
of the hotel. The last remnants of the setting sun had caught a
piece of the metallic object, and Riichi had a gut feeling it was

He walked over to the object, knelt and brushed some snow away
from the bulk of the object. Riichi gasped slightly as he revealed
what the object was. A gun. A Smith and Wesson, to be exact,
which was the type of gun Mulder usually carried. Riichi continued
to dig in the snow rapidly falling and drifting snow, and was
mortified to discover Mulder's leather ID badge.

Riichi knew Mulder wouldn't just drop these two items here on the
ground on purpose. Something was wrong. Very, very wrong.
And he had to let the people who were important to Mulder know
what was going on.

And under the fresh layer of snow was a layer spotted with blood.
Riichi had no doubt whose blood it was. He knew he'd have to get
a sample of it and reached into his pocket for one of the surgical
gloves he habitually carried around to handle evidence. He scooped
some of the stained snow into the palm of the glove and then
knotted it closed.

He picked up the other items with his clean handkerchief in case
they needed to be sent in for trace evidence. In actuality, Riichi
hoped no one else had touched them, because if they had, there was
a good chance Mulder's days were numbered.

Bad guys don't usually like to leave Feds alive and well for their
partners to find.

Albright picked up the phone on the third ring. He was feeling a bit
tense as he only had another hour before the eight o'clock
debriefing with the team, and he really wanted some time to


"Sir, this is Agent Obayashi," he said tentatively.

"Obayashi. Is there anything breaking on our UNSUB?" he asked
hopefully. Albright couldn't help but think if they caught a break,
everyone could get home a little earlier that night.

"Not yet, Sir. Umm, I'm not calling regarding the case itself__," he

"What are you calling about then, Agent Obayashi?" Albright asked
more tersely than he'd planned. He was tired, like all the team was

"SAC Albright? It appears Agent Mulder is missing," Riichi finally

"Missing?" he echoed.

"Yes, Sir. Missing." Riichi felt numb, and at this point hadn't felt
capable of speaking in more than single word phrases.

"Obayashi, what the hell are you talking about. What the hell do
you mean he's missing?" Albright practically shouted. All that ran
through his mind at the moment was the idea he couldn't keep hold
of his profilers. First an ulcer and now Mulder lived up to his
reputation and ditched his partner. Ditched his team. Damn.

"Damn! Do you have any clues as to the reason he ditched us?
Was he onto something good at least?" Albright said abruptly.

"Sir, I don't think Agent Mulder intentionally ditched us."

Albright waited to let what Obayashi had just said sink in. If
Mulder hadn't intentionally ditched the team, then __. "You think
he was kidnapped?" Albright gasped.

"Yes, Sir. I do."

"On what evidence?" Albright asked quickly.

"I found his gun and ID in the snow, Sir. I think Agent Mulder had
stepped out for some fresh air, and I believe he was taken against
his will."

"Well, is it possible Mulder could have dropped those items in the
snow?" Albright asked in desperation, though he knew the proposal
was lame even to his own ears.

"No, Sir. Mulder may lose a cell phone now and then, and he's
even been known to lose a weapon. However, he's never lost both
his gun and his ID at the same time that I know of. Oh and Sir?
There's another reason I don't believe it was mere carelessness."

"And what is that, Agent?" Albright asked wearily.

"The snow in the area I found the gun and ID was stained with

"Oh shit. Did you take a sample, Riichi?"

"Yes, Sir," was the whispered response. ''Sir? Will you call AD

"Only if you call his wife," Albright responded in kind.

end of part 3 of 14


Life Cycles: Holidays
By Susan Proto and Vickie Moseley

Part 4/14


Dana hurried to the phone, picked it up, and breathlessly cried into
the phone, "Mulder, it's a good thing I love you, or I swear! I
would be _so_ angry with you now!"

"Dana," came the familiar, but certainly not expected, voice.


"Dana _," he choked out.

"What happened? Did the cold turn to pneumonia? You know
how susceptible he is to pneumonia, Riichi," she rambled.

"Dana, no. It's not pneumonia."

"Oh God, was he shot?"

"No! Dana, stop. Please, let me explain," Riichi pleaded. It was
hard enough for him to have taken on this task, and he wished she
would make it a little easier for him by just allowing him to speak.

"I'm sorry, Riichi. I'm sorry," she murmured. Suddenly she heard
Dawn Marie screeching again, and she quickly picked her up. The
baby was inconsolable and Dana murmured "I'm sorry" several
times to the little girl who missed her Daddy's magic shoulder.

"Dana, he's missing. I think he was jumped and abducted by
someone. I don't know if it was our UNSUB or not, but I wouldn't
be surprised. He was getting so close, Dana. So damned close.
He had it in his head, he just couldn't get it out in a cohesive written

"What makes you think he was abducted, Riichi? I mean, if Mulder
was close, you know he has this tendency to go off on his own,"
Dana rationalized.

"I found his gun in the snow."

"Oh Riichi, he's always losing his gun," Dana retorted in

"I found his ID badge."

"Oh. Well, it's possible he went jogging, and he just dropped them
in the snow." When she heard nothing but silence, she asked softly,
anxiously, "What else did you find, Riichi?"

'I found blood stains, Dana. I'm so sorry. He said he was going
back to the hotel to rest. He swore to me he was going back to nap
before tonight's meeting. I was only a couple of hours behind him.
I swear. I figured he'd be sound asleep. He was feeling like shit,
Dana. You know how he is when he gets a cold. The poor guy
takes his medicine, and it knocks him for a loop. Never seen anyone
who was so easily affected by medication as your husband," Riichi

"Riichi, did he leave any notes about the UNSUB? Did he start the
profile?" she asked, all the while trying to calm the squalling infant
in her arms.

"Nothing formal, Dana, but he had his notes in his briefcase, and he
had post-it notes all over the files and his laptop in the hotel room.
You know, there was one other thing. The phone book was
opened to the 'R' section. Retail stores were listed for those selling
religious items. I wonder if Mulder thought our UNSUB was a
religious zealot."

Dana paused for a moment, and then remembered what was
niggling at her. "No, Riichi, that's not why he had the book
opened. He was looking for a store that sold this holiday activity
book Adam has here at home. He wanted to buy another copy so
he could call and do one of the games over the phone with us.
It's the first night of Hanukkah, Riichi."

"God, Dana, I'm so sorry. I am so damned sorry. I feel so bad. I
feel like I failed him. I failed you and the kids!" Obayashi lamented.

"No, Riichi. It's not your fault. He went out to buy the book, as
any adult should feel free to do, and some bad guy took him__.
Oh, God, Riichi. Some bad guy took him," Scully repeated in a
trembling voice.

"We'll find him, Dana. I promise you, I'll find him."

"Please, let me help somehow, okay? I mean, even if you can fax
me his notes, or something __!" pleaded Scully.

"Dana, you have the kids to take care of right now. Let me and the
team worry about Mulder," he comforted.

"Riichi, Mulder may be able to get into an UNSUB's head, but I'm
one of the few people who can get into Mulder's head. Fax me
whatever notes he left and let me help. Please. I need to feel a part
of this or I will lose it. Totally and completely,'' Dana responded

"I'll see what I can do," Riichi responded in kind. "But we'll find

"I know, Riichi. I trust you. I know you'll find my husband."


"Hello?" asked Maggie Skinner when she picked up the phone.

"Good evening, Ma'am. I was wondering if Assistant Director
Skinner was available?" asked the unfamiliar male voice.

"Who may I ask is calling?" she asked cautiously.

"Ma'am, my name is James Albright. I'd spoken with the AD earlier
today. I'm the SAC, the Special Agent in Charge, of a case in

"Oh, yes, those poor young boys. Fox, Fox Mulder is working with
you, isn't he?" Maggie asked in confirmation.

"Ma'am, if the AD is available, I _really_ need to speak with him,"
repeated James Albright a bit more desperately.

"Something's wrong." Maggie didn't need to ask. She knew.

Albright hesitated for only a second. He knew the AD would have
to tell the woman soon enough, and it seemed extra cruel to keep
the news from her any longer than necessary. Especially since he
was sure she'd already sensed something was wrong anyway.

"Yes, Ma'am. Something is wrong."

"Is he sick or hurt?"

"He may be Ma'am." Albright correctly assumed he was speaking
with the AD's wife and continued, "Your son in law is currently
missing, Mrs. Skinner."

"Ohmigod," she gasped and then uttered, "Dana!"

"Agent Obayashi is contacting Mrs. Mulder even as we speak, Mrs.
Skinner. Please, Ma'am, it's very important I speak with the AD."

"Of course, James. I'll get Walter immediately. Please hold on."
Maggie hurriedly placed the receiver down on the table and moved
quickly toward Walter's office. He'd taken a few files home with
him so he'd have the opportunity to be home by sundown to light
the candles, but still get some needed work completed.

"Walter." When he looked up and both heard and then saw the
sullen expression on his wife's face, he knew something was wrong.
He also knew it had to have something to do with his son-in-law.

"Oh God, what happened to him?"

"He's missing. Walter, he's missing," she repeated more anxiously.

"Who's on the phone? Albright?" Maggie nodded, and Walter
pushed the second button on his desk phone to gain access to
Albright's call. "Skinner. Speak."

"Yes, Sir. I'm sorry to inform you Agent Mulder is missing."
Albright went on to relate exactly what Riichi Obayashi had told
him, including the fact there was blood found in the vicinity of
Mulder's gun and ID badge.

"Damn it!" he cursed loudly. "How the hell could he be safely
working in the middle of the God damned Chicago office of the FBI
one minute, and kidnapped the next?! I don't understand it. Where
the hell was Obayashi? Why wasn't he with him?" Skinner asked

"Sir, Agent Obayashi was finishing up some research and reports he
felt needed to be completed before he joined Agent Mulder back at
the hotel. Agent Mulder informed Agent Obayashi he was going
straight back to the hotel for a nap," Albright said in defense of his
newly acquired agent.

"And he believed him?" Skinner yelled out in disbelief. "That's the
reason I sent him out there in the first place, God damn it! He
wasn't supposed to believe him! Shit! Shit, shit, shit! All right, I'll
be on the next plane out," he concluded resignedly.

"Sir, I don't know if you'll be able to accomplish that feat. We've
got a helluva snowstorm going here."

"I'll get there. Take my cell number in case I'm held up. I will be
kept informed, Agent Albright."

"Yes, Sir."

After the AD had given Albright all of the necessary numbers and
information regarding needs for hotel accommodations, he hung up
the phone with enough force that Maggie startled.

"Walter _,'' she tried to comfort, but he reacted angrily.

" _NO! I'd sent the man to work with him to avoid just this sort of
thing from happening. DAMN IT! DAMN IT!," he cried out
clenching and unclenching his fist over and over again.

"Walter, calm down, or you'll be of no use to anyone," Maggie

"Calm down?! How the hell can I calm down. Not only do I still
have a serial murder case that needs to be solved, but I have a
missing profiler who just happens to be married to my

"Oh God, Dana! We've got to call__," Walter began, but Maggie
cut him off.

"Agent Albright said Riichi was calling Dana. And Walter,"
Maggie began hesitantly, "before you get hell bent on blaming
Riichi for Fox being missing __."

This time it was Walter's turn to cut his wife off. " __ I know, I
know. It's not Riichi's fault. I'm sure Mulder got himself into this
mess all by himself. Riichi had told Albright Mulder might have
thought the killer was a religious fanatic, since he'd found the
telephone book opened to entries regarding religious items.

"Damn fool probably had one of his damned hunches and went out
to stake the bastard out," Skinner muttered.

"I'm going to call Dana," Maggie announced. "You make your
airline reservations."

As soon as Maggie left the room, Skinner punched the button
which gave him access to his business line and speed dialed the
airport. He asked for American Airlines and relayed the necessary

"I'm sorry, Mr. Skinner, but all flights to Chicago are being
rerouted due to inclement weather," replied the airline operator.

"No! That's not acceptable. I have to get to Chicago," Skinner
argued unreasonably.

"Sir, I'm sorry, but the weather is simply making flights directly into
Chicago O'hare or Midway impossible."

"It's an emergency!" Skinner pleaded.

"Sir, the flights are being rerouted to Lambert in St. Louis or
Indianapolis Airport."

"That's about five to six hours by car to Chicago, either way, but
Indy is a shorter hop," Skinner commented.

"Yes, Sir."

"I can be at the airport within the hour. Book me a seat on the next
available flight into Indy after that."

"Yes, Sir. Now, I just need some credit card information."

Skinner relayed all of the necessary information, then hung up the
phone, and rushed into the bedroom to throw together a suitcase.
He didn't know how long he'd be needed in Chicago; he prayed it
wouldn't be long at all.

He was shoving items in haphazardly, which was as strong of an
indication as to how upset the normally punctilious AD truly was
over the kidnapping of Mulder. While he attempted to ram six
dress shirts into the too small overnight case, Maggie entered the

"I spoke with Dana. She wanted me to tell you something," she
spoke with tears in her eyes.


"She said don't be angry with Riichi, and don't be angry with
Mulder. He didn't ditch anyone. He wasn't off trying to catch the
bad guys all by himself. All he wanted to do was buy duplicate
copy of the "Hanukkah Songs & Games Activity Book" Adam has
in order to do one of the games together over the phone. It was
totally innocent. Totally."

Maggie couldn't help herself. She broke down and began to cry,
but she continued to relay to Walter the conversation she'd had with
Dana. "She told me Riichi felt so horrible. He blamed himself, but
Dana told him it wasn't his fault. Dana told me to warn you not to
lay any guilt on Riichi. He's doing enough of that himself.

"Also, she told Riichi to fax her any and all of Mulder's notes. She
wants to be able to help them find him, and she figures the best way
to do that is to get to work. She can't go to Chicago with you, as
much as she'd like to, but she's still nursing Dawn. So, she'll work
from the house," Maggie informed.

"How will she be able to manage that with the kids?" Skinner asked

"She wouldn't be able to, if I weren't going over there to babysit.
Walter, if you think I'm sitting here by myself while you go off and
save the day in Chicago, and my baby girl is worrying herself to
death while reviewing horrible facts on some gruesome murders,
you're crazy!" Maggie proclaimed.

"No, you're right of course. You should go stay with her. There's
a bad storm in Chicago. I don't know how quickly I'll even be able
to get to the field office.

"Oh God, Maggie. I feel so damned helpless."

At this point, Walter didn't move. He was so afraid that at any
given moment he wouldn't be able to hold it together himself, and
he had to remain strong if he were going to find Mulder. He had to
find him for Dana and the children. He had to find him for Maggie.

Hell, he had to find Mulder for himself.


The pain was getting worse, and he wasn't even sure why. He felt a
dull pain in his head, and a sharp, radiating pain up his leg and spine.
If he tried to move even slightly, it caused his breathing to hitch.

He tried to gain a better sense as to where he was, but the dim light
and bare surroundings did nothing to make it easier for him. He
finally closed his eyes in an attempt to find some relief from the

"Shayner boychik?" the soft voice called out. "Fox, can you hear

"Nana?" he whispered in both disbelief and in awe. Somehow
his late Nana had the ability to find him when he was feeling his lowest,
emotionally. "Nana," he repeated, "I think I need help."

"Oy, Fox, tell me when is it that you don't need some kind of help?"
she chuckled lightly.

Mulder couldn't help but smile slightly at his grandmother's remark.
She was right, of course, particularly those times he'd seen her in
her shimmering state of being. It was always in the middle of some
emotional and/or physical crisis. *Here we go again,* he thought
wryly to himself.

"Yes," she replied to his unspoken words, "here we go again."

"Does Dane know?" he asked suddenly. Mulder had been so
worried about Scully and the kids; he didn't want her to have to
worry, but he knew she wouldn't react any other way.

"Yes, she knows. Your Maggie is there with her." Upon seeing
Mulder smile at that, Nana commented, "She's a good person your
shviger, your mother-in-law. Even if she does think you're
supposed to blow out the Chanukah candles!"

"Blow out the what?" Mulder asked. "Oh God, it's Hanukkah! I'd
promised to call. Oh God, I promised. Adam must be so
disappointed," he said dejectedly.

"He was, but he's a good boy, Fox. He's a brave boy. Just like you
were at his age. Do you remember the Chanukah when you were
five years old, mine sweet aynekel?" she asked gently.

Mulder thought for a moment and then looked at his Nana's image
with saddened eyes. He nodded slightly and when she'd urged him
to remember it aloud, he said, "You had died the previous August.
Right before I went into school. I was only four when I started
kindergarten and I was so scared.

"But then you appeared to me, just like now, and you held my hand
as we walked into that huge scary building and you told me soon I
would be five years old and I would be as big as the other boys and
girls. You told me to be brave.

"I you told me you needed to rest for a while, but you would see
me again soon. It seemed like a long time to me back then, Nana,
but you did return to me. At Hanukkah. You came to Sam and me
at Hanukkah, though Sammy was still too little to really appreciate
it all.

"I remember Mom wanted to light the menorah, but Dad was being
his usual drunken bastard self and wouldn't let her. She started
yelling at him, and he yelled at her back, then she slammed her
bedroom door and locked herself in. Dad went and slammed the
door to his study, and I just sat there with Sammy and wondered
when we were going to have Hanukkah.

"Oh God, Nana. I remember! I decided to make Hanukkah myself
if Mom wasn't going to, so I found the candles and the matches.
I couldn't remember all of the prayer, but I remembered some of it,
and I struck the match, once, twice, five times. I remembering
jumping out of my skin when I'd finally lit it, and then I tried to light
the shamas candle.

"I lit the candle, but the match burned down to my fingers and I
dropped it on the floor. I was so afraid Daddy would yell at me for
making burn marks on the floor, but then I didn't care. I was
making Hanukkah for me and Sammy, even if my mom and dad
didn't care.

Mulder paused for a moment or two to catch his breath. He'd
shifted his position slightly which caused the pain to radiate and
spread up his leg and throughout his spine. He gasped slightly,
took a deep breath and continued his reminiscing.

"The shamas looked so pretty, and I remember picking it up to light
the first night's candle. Just then Dad came in. I remember
looking up at him and wondering if I'd ever seen him so angry
before. Daddy's face was all screwed up like a prune, and he began
screaming at me.

"I can't even remember what exactly it was he was screaming, but I
know it had something to do with the candle. I don't remember
what ___." Suddenly Mulder's eyes glazed over, and though he
didn't think he remembered what it was that had happened that
night, he did. In all of its technicolor horror.

"Daddy slapped my hand. Hard. And the candle knocked against
me and my shirt caught on fire. I wasn't wearing one of those kid's
fireproof pajamas; I was wearing an old tee shirt of Daddy's as my
pajamas. It lit up like a Roman Candle. I remember screaming, and
rolling around on the floor.

"He'd managed to get the shirt off of me pretty quick, and the
flames were snuffed out even quicker, but it scared the shit out of
me. I was so, so, scared, Nana. I think even Daddy was scared
about that one. He even took me to the hospital to make sure I
didn't have scars.

"I still have a couple though, under my left arm, remember Nana? I
was trying to pull at the shirt with my right hand, but my left arm kind
got stuck to the material, and that's why I got the scar there."

Mulder remembered the time and relived it over through a
five year old's eyes. There was a combination of fear and curiosity
in his gaze. "Nana, that's why I'm so afraid of fire…. It was Daddy
burning me at Hanukkah, not my friend Danny's house burning
down. Damn."

The youthful eyes became old again as the pain of his current
condition seeped through the memories. "Oh, shit, this hurts."

"I know sweetheart, I know. But everyone is praying for you;
your veib, your Dana, and your beauty-ful zun, Adam. They're
going to find you sweet Foxila, but you have to be strong. You
have to be brave."

But the pain became just too much at this point, and though Mulder
was of the mind to be brave and fight, his body had to give in
immediately. He passed out.

End of part 4