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_______________________
"An angel throng, bewinged, bedight/ In veils, and drowned in tears/
Sits in a theatre, to see/ A play of hopes and fears,/ While the orchestra breathes
fitfully/ the music of the spheres"
    -Edgar Allen Poe, segment from Ligeia's death poem, "Ligeia"
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Chapter 4

Do you know what a night with no stars and no moon looks like?
It is like living inside a broken, empty heart, a broken, empty spirit.
Cliff was talking to a small dark frog with eyes large, so large, copper and unblinking.
When it didn't answer him, he reached down, picked it up, ignored its insane struggle, and
bit the head off in one crunching snap. The darkness became very, very silent. He chewed
slowly, the wet-warm sliminess of the thing coursing down his throat, speckles of its blood
splattering the shirt he wore. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he heard the frog's scream, too
late, too delayed, but he grinned anyway. It was a disconcerting grin, that of a cocky young
man certain of the control he clutched over his destiny and
abilities rather than the shadow painted grin of a demon. He tossed the rest of the withered
soggy frog-body back into the creek, having no more need of it- he had already heard the
scream. He stood up, straightened to his full height, stretched his arms up above his head
like an opened clamshell, green eyes wide, so wide, seeing things that they didn't. He pulled
a new, shining knife out of his pocket, watching his reflection in it. A heavenly reverie
danced about in tiny faerie feet around his retreating figure as he walked away from the
creek, squishing sqooshing falling through the rain soaked ground.

   

   

When Dana had been 6 she had once thought she saw an angel. Those were the days when she'd
been a child before a scientist. Walking stolidly, smiling
for no reason in a way that only a 6 year old can, and clutching the security of her mother's
hand, she had seen an old homeless woman sitting on the side of the street. She had not been
begging for money or staring into the distance towards an all too certain fate,
but rather sitting, contemplative, watching as people went by. It had been her eyes;
two luminous black orbs that sang with something sweeter, something higher than the 6
year old Dana Scully had ever known. It was something she'd never known, even sitting
quietly in church under the preacher's magical words, and it made her want to break
down in the middle of the crowded street and
cry weep or laugh, though she knew that no one would care if she did. She had that
same feeling now, staring at the bedraggled Cinderella-girl in front of her. So fragile
in the rain, her grip on her arm was too tight, and the spun glass in her
violet eyes rang with maddened intensity.
The haunted madness in those heliotrope eyes began to fade a little when the girl began
to see Scully in clarity, realizing what she was doing, though her accusation towards the
sleeping man still rang. Serena realized for the first time that Dana would not consciously
know who she was, as she saw the look that scribbled its way across the woman's face.
Her grip relaxed a little. Breathing ragged from having run, limped, and dragged her way
from the hospital to this fractured doorstep, she finally found her voice in gasps and cries,
strength regained a little from being so near to Dana.
"Dana Scully," she gasped, "We need to talk."

   
   


Clifford stopped in front of the Sunrise Suites, looking upward towards the only window
which housed a light. He had followed her scent here, the dangle of honeysuckle waltzing a
stick of cinnamon, and even as he looked up at the window, as he could hear Serena trying to
warn The Ariadne Thread, he had no qualms, no nervous spasms that his quest
would not be completed due to this incessant threshold guardian. (Let her warn her,)
he whistled noiselessly to the blinking flourescent sign which cheerfully declared the name of
the motel, (it won't do either of them any good anyway.)

   

The oversized sweater was warm and extra pair of sweat pants that hung loose on her
tiny frame were slightly itchy. The short shower she'd taken in the extra room Scully and
Mulder weren't using had been wonderfully, sinfully hot, burning away at the wounds she'd
refused to let Scully see. The fatigue, and maybe the weakness, was melting rapidly due to her
closeness to Scully.
She is a faerie child, Scully thought, memorizing the girl's thin reedy bones, pale face, and
large eyes, then knew not why she had thought so. No,
the hollow glass figure seated in front of her was no faerie, no being of
hollow luminescence.
Serena Dove was something else.
"You are The Ariadne Thread," Serena finally said, as she watched Dana seated across from
her, hands folded, eyes wide.
"The Ariadne Thread? What do you mean?"
"I can't explain it to you now, you'll have to find that out yourself. It isn't my
place."
"Then what is your place? You said you were Serena Dove. You were orphaned.
You went to college. You met Clifford Ramsey and became engaged to him. Then you fell into a
coma. What does this have to do with me and Mulder?"
Serena shook her head sadly, the sparks in her eyes flashing in the corners of the room.
"It has everything to do with you and Mulder. I am Serena, but I am not Serena Dove.
Serena Dove never existed, or she did, I suppose I'll never know. Clifford Ramsey is nothing.
He may have existed before, but I never knew him. I know Cliff. He's the real threat,
and he isn't."
Despite Scully's scientist mind, her need for logic, reasoning, and maybe a bar
graph or two, she didn't question the girl. It was something in her eyes, something that smoothed
the questions away that she couldn't quite place her finger on, despite the fact that
she had almost no idea what the girl was jabbering on about. So she tried to change the subject.
"Why did you tell me that I can't trust Mulder?"
A paper thin sigh that should have ripped and torn, as Serena leaned her head against the
wall, looking too unfathomably far away.
"It isn't that it's his fault, directly. Mulder's inner world is much darker than most
normal men's. Most people believe in personal demons theoretically, but Mulder believes in
them in reality- a tangible form. I'm not sure how I can explain this to you. You may not
understand now, but eventually the pieces will fall into place. You are The Ariadne Thread,
after all. Sometimes, in rare cases, in men like Mulder, when the inner demons sense a threat,
something will... materialize, something to get rid of the threat. It happened a lot in the
middle ages, when they believed in real demons, as Mulder does. Call it psychic self-defense.
That something that materialized is Cliff. You are the threat, and its his mission to get rid
of that threat."
"What?!"
"He's going to kill you. And I don't know if I can stop him."
"Serena, who are you?" Scully finally demanded, something ripping with a dry crack
inside of her, the burst of an irate dam flooding her senses.
Then came a cool breeze, though there was no open window, accompanied by a flutter
of butterfly and larger wings, and the scent of honeysuckle and cinnamon. Something
flickered behind the gossamer faerie face, haunted snatches of something bright,
something that was never to be, but in an instant was gone again.
The girl smiled wanly, pulling at a ball of fuzz on the comforter.
"I think you know that."
And she did.
"Are you an angel?" the words blurted out so strangely it took her a moment to
realize that they had just come from her own skeptic's mouth.
"What?" Serena asked, though she didn't answer the question, so Dana aimed for another.
"Have you ever met an angel?" another series of words, spoken in her voice, though
strangely and not so strangely her own.
"Have you?" Serena said, looking her in the eye. Something whispered behind those
amaranthine pools.
"Yes," Dana whispered. She had met more than one.
"Then I guess that answers your question, doesn't it?" The girl pulled the comforter
to her chin, then closed her eyes. Dana walked to the door, closing the light, watching as
the last photon fled in dread, and then sat in a chair in her own room, still tingling with
predisposed awareness, watching Mulder sleep, her heart and her mind bursting away into
oblivion. She wasn't quite sure which went first.


The rain had long stopped, but the thunder and lightning remained, at least, behind
her gossamer eyes, violet flames that flickered here and there. Closing those windows to
the soul, as they had long ago been called, one cold tear shimmered down the facade of her
translucent cheek. Serena pulled the scratchy wool blanket closer to no avail. She remembered
that tears were supposed to be warm-wet; why did hers feel like cold ice? She threw the
blanket away from her now, rose regal as a faerie queen, and the tears crackled and shivered
into tiny shards of frost.
"Hello, Cliff," she said. She was no longer the fearful child, but the avenging angel.
He stepped out of the shadows of the room, smiled his cat grin, but in the flash of her
eyes, the taste of her renewed crystal essence, the demon faltered. The grin slipped
and fell clumsily into a sad smile that reflected hers like the clear calm surface
of a lake, about to erupt.
No words were exchanged between the two as his smile faltered, and he became what he
had once been, a fallen angel, like she. Then he reached for her, and before she realized
what had happened, she was in his arms, tightly, tightly, sweet, so sweet. It was not that
they had fit together so perfectly that everything had been 'right' in the world, but rather
that in his fleeting embrace she could see an exquisitely tender part of him that had once
existed, and that she could pretend still did. It was more about the way they had once
felt about one another than the cosmic romance that seemed to run rampant in the physical
world around them. And it was this that made the short, shared warmth between them more
beautiful than anything else in eternity combined. That
was what made this more painful than what was to come. Then she broke the silence in the room
like a sharp thread snapping, as they were nestled tightly in their embrace.
"Why can't you let me save you?" she asked.
Clifford's eyes glowed somewhere in the dark, through his pain.
"Because you can't," he whispered back. He let her go, to gasp involuntarily at the loss
of his fleeting warmth against her.
His eyes glimmered, undulating with the dying light.
"I'm sorry," he whispered, coarse and raw.
"I'm sorry that I loved you too much."



   

Through the curtains of the window the earliest beams of sunlight
tickled their way in, landing in warm patterns on her face. Scully woke almost with a start;
with a sudden realization; (I don't remember falling asleep in bed with Mulder again). In response,
the man beside her merely tightened his warm sleeping hold on her. Scully felt strangely relaxed,
normal, the way she usually did when she awoke in the morning in Mulder's tangled embrace.
Suddenly, the strange girl and stagnant, murmurful conversation seemed like nothing more than
nightmare. It was only a nightmare, she thought, almost laughing, as she squirmed lightly in
Mulder's arms, just enough to wake him when he moaned softly in protest. She thought,
how could I believe it was real? I would never act like that under those circumstances,
I would have questioned her, I would have done this and this and this, but
it wasn't real! It was only a strange nightmare... That's what happens when I
get on weird cases like this- everything starts playing tricks with
my dreams. Maybe it's just an after effect of breathing in all the pollution in the Atlanta
air.
Why would she have had a dream like that anyway?
Mulder would never hurt her.
Would he?

She had to be sure. She curled up against him, drowning herself in the reassurance of the warmth of his skin.

"Good morning," she whispered into Mulder's ear as he still tried to catch one
last ember of sleep, kissing him with soft sloppy kisses until he gave up. They were not
romanticized movie kisses or even stolid romance novel kisses, but kisses that were more
delicately rare than the two combined. She fully intended to explore this new tenderness
between them, this beauty that went beyond love and faith and trust and romance.
For that moment there could be only him in the world, only him. Faerie angel girls dripping
in rain were nothing compared to the man beneath her fingertips. Mulder would never hurt her.
She needed to prove that to herself through his touch. He awoke suddenly at her touch,
to kiss her back equally eager, trying to discern the
cause of her good mood, then decided it was too early in the morning to turn on the psychologist
portion of his brain. Bliss, yes, a funny looking
word, but that was all that came closest to describing the way she touched him, held him.
The kisses weren't nearly as frantic, as hurried as they'd been in the beginning,
but longer, and sweeter, sweeter, made him think he could always keep her safe, and
made her believe him. It was almost too saccharine for her to bear,
so she could only lose herself in his warmth, his safe security, to love and be loved,
to blur the line between salvation and damnation until she could no longer tell the difference
between the two. It didn't matter anyway, not in this moment, not in this sweet madness,
not in Mulder..
In the extra room, the sheets wore no evidence of being slept in, and
the clothes the girl had borrowed were neatly folded and packed as they had been the day
before, untouched.
She never saw the torn hospital gown at the bottom of the trashcan, hidden by the
dry but crusted blood.



   

Medici took a gulp of her coffee, then tried not to shriek, gasp, or spit it out in
surprise, for someone to say to her, "Yes, Ava- coffee TENDS to be exceedingly hot! Which
is why the word 'sip' is usually accompanied with it!" with the patience of a
pre-school teacher. She was not in a good mood (which was actually around the norm), though
on the plus side, the surveillance tape of Ramsey's escape had been patched together enough
so that it was at least watchable, and she and her team were waiting as everything was
(rather slowly) plugged together. The 2 FBI agents came pushing
into the room, slightly flushed. The detective gave them a sternly reproachful look for being
late, though she didn't say anything.
Suddenly the black fuzz on the TV screen sputtered, then coughed up
images like steel nails- a wall, then a wall crumbling as if hit by a demolishing crane,
though there was nothing there. An image of Ramsey, pooled in a dark puddle of what must have
been his own blood, a quadrant of the guards, a flash of brilliance, then nothing but fuzz
again. Medici stared, slightly surprised. She'd expected this to be the magic piece of
the puzzle to make everything slip together. Once more frustrated (she hoped she wouldn't
make a habit of this) she glanced at the FBI agents, and was astonished
to see a lack of surprise on their faces.
They had seen this coming, she thought angrily, making it her purpose to stalk towards
them and demand an explanation, but was cut off by the ring of the telephone. She answered
it with a definitive click, listened, and the former wrathful look on her face wiped away,
leaving only a blank tethered slate. Medici mumbled a furtive
thank you, replacing the phone back onto the receiver. She walked up to the FBI agents
now, her face somber and restrained.
"That man you talked to yesterday, Dr. Evan Few, is dead. His car went off the
side of the road last night, and the impact killed him. And Ramsey's fiancee is dead, too.
They found the remains of her body outside the hotel you're staying at, literally
cut to pieces."

Go to Chapter 5