Brevity II Challenge Response to Piper's Elements: a Milagro charm, confetti,
oleander, St. Christopher, good vs. evil

This is dedicated to my dearest friend Fibbie and sweet Sallie.

*Faith is love taking the form of aspiration*
William Ellery Channing

Her apartment was gloomy and dark with the exception of the soft afternoon light filtering through the window blinds. She eased herself down into the comfort and safe haven of her couch, stretched her legs out across the cushions and sighed. She hadn't felt like doing much of anything, much less smile.

She suspected Mulder was worried about her. The obvious antics in the office were engineered and designed especially with her in mind. Some barely noticeable and others downright obvious. But no matter what Mulder did, even he couldn't pull a hint of a smile from her lips.

She withdrew the Milagro charm from her jacket pocket, turned it over in her hand and rubbed the cool metal between her fingers. It'd been almost a week since they had wrapped up the Padgett case. She had tried to put it behind her, bury it deep in the back of her mind, but failed miserably.

Bewildered, she wondered how the small trinket could represent beauty, goodness, light and yet, provoke such ugliness, evil and darkness within ones being. A contradiction that vexed her soul. How could such conflicting emotions survive for so long in one human being without destroying themselves and those they come in contact with from day to day?

The shrill ring of the phone caused her to jerk, breaking her from the disturbing reverie. She leaned over and picked up the receiver with a trembling hand.

"Scully."

"Hey, it's me."

"Hey me. Mulder, where are you?"

"I'm at the park down the street from your place. Why don't you change and join me?"

"Mulder, what's going on? I'm not in the mood..."

"Come on, Scully. It's a beautiful day. Ask your mom if you can come out to play."

"Mulder.."

"Please."

"I'll be there in about 15 minutes."

"Scully?"

"Yeah?"

"Thanks."

"You're welcome, Mulder."

She stepped out into the bright sunlight, a slight breeze ruffled her hair as she started slowly walking down the sidewalk. It *was* a beautiful warm day to take a walk in the park. Along the way she heard the birds sing, children playing tag in their backyard and voices of joyful reunions. She saw bees buzzing around rose bushes, the wind dance around the oleander, scattering the white blossoms like confetti across the sidewalk, and the squirrels running up and down an old oak tree, gathering their winter harvest.

When she entered the park she heard the gleeful sound of children playing kickball. As she drew closer, she saw Mulder laughing amongst the little ones who were trying to wrestle him to the ground. All of a sudden the dam of grief, sadness and heartache broke and she started laughing. Tears fell down her face as she sank to the ground beneath a maple tree and continued to laugh.

She saw him look up at the sound of her laughter. He whispered to the children, started toward her with a smile that lit up his face. He settled on the ground next to her and ran a finger down her damp cheek as she looked into his eyes.

"It looks good on you."

She leaned her face into his palm and gave him a questioning look.

"That smile and the laughter. It's good to see and hear again. I miss it. Miss you." He leaned down and gently brushed her lips with his own.

"I'm sorry. I know I haven't been a very pleasant person to be around lately. I've missed you too ... and me."

"What's been going on Scully? Please, talk to me."

"I guess I kind of lost my way for a little while. But, I think I'm back. Because of you. Always because of you I can find my way back."

She reached in her pocket, pulled out the Milagro charm and rolled it between her fingers.

Mulder gently took the small medallion from her grasp and tossed it away. He slid his hand into his pocket, withdrew a small metal disk and placed it in the palm of her hand. He looked into her eyes and smiled.

"Mulder, a Saint Christopher medallion? Why? I don't understand?"

He glanced down at the charm in her hand, folded her fingers over her palm, lifted it to his lips and gazed into her eyes.

"I know you've been under a lot of stress from our last case. I could see you trying to distance yourself and bury it, but I felt as though you were burying me too. "

He ran his thumb across her lips to silence her objection and shook his head.

"I know you feel as though you have to deal with it all by yourself. Otherwise, you think you'll seem weak and needy, but Scully, I see you as anything but frail and insecure. You're one of the strongest people I know and so damned independent it makes me crazy. Scully, everybody needs someone at some time in their life to talk to. Someone they're not afraid to share their feelings and emotions with. I should know because you've been my rock and my strength for as long as I can remember." He paused for a moment and opened her hand.

"That is why I'm giving you this medallion. Anytime you feel you need someone to talk to, a shoulder to cry on or just scream at, just take this out and think of me. I want to be the one you call on, to lean on, to cry to no matter when or where. I've always needed you. I've always had the faith of your beliefs. Now, I want you to need me. I want to be that rock you cling to and the light that draws you back when you feel alone and lost. To have faith in me, because ... I love you Scully." Mulder closed his eyes, took a deep breath and released it slowly afraid to open his eyes.

She reached up and cradled his face with strong hands and placed feathery kisses across his face. She gave him a big smile when he finally opened his eyes.

"Thank you," she whispers. "I love you, Mulder. Love you ..." she said as she kissed him. "... so much."

He gathered her up into his arms and deepened the kiss.

They settled under the old maple tree, listened to the birds sing and the laughter of children playing. Listened as two hearts began to beat ... as one.

~finis~