We All Die Virgins
by Jaime Lyn
* All disclaimers and summaries, etc, listed in chapter 1.
Early December 28th, 2001.
Lily Harbor's motel room,
Holiday Inn Express,
Lily sat in bed, comforter pulled up tightly against her chin. The walls were scented—raspberries and dust, with mold as an aftertaste. She bit her lip. The room was cold, and dark, and there was a slight tick coming from the outside--branches tapping the walls? Detective Guinness, pattering up and down the hallway, pacing back and forth, scraping his gun against the concrete siding? She didn't know. Nonetheless, the scritching punctured into darkness. Rap. Rap. Scrape. Rap. Lily was sure she’d seen this room before, in a movie with a bunch of pretty girls who were afraid to go to sleep, because if they went to sleep, a monster would get them and kill them, rip them to shreds until their spleens came out their arm-pits. Lily didn’t know much about bodily functions, but she knew it would be a spleen or a pancreas or some other organ the monster could eat after it gouged out the eyes with its claws and dragged the bloody corpses down the hall, the toes blue and pointed and scraping the floor. Rap. Rap. Scritch.
That was it. She was going to die in this room.
Lily closed her eyes, tried to think of happier things: Agent Mulder, for instance. His warm green eyes, his muscular arms, the way he smiled when he tried to reassure her that everything would be alright. Lily had never known any man like Agent Mulder. His smile, the way he spoke, the intelligence that radiated from his eyes and warmed a room.
In contrast, Lily’s father had been a stern, unhappy man; his brown eyes had the fogged confusion of someone who had been left at sea and dragged back up onto an unknown shore. Every afternoon, during the hours between two and four, Frank Harbor paced the upstairs hallways in his beige slacks and brown shirt—always the same beige and brown. He mumbled to himself about God and the second coming, and he fixed drawers and cub-boards that didn’t need fixing. He circled Lily’s mother like a ghost, never kissing her, never hugging her, just pacing as if he knew not what to do with himself.
Lily’s mother was the harsh one, the one who, with an old banister post, rapped tiny fingers if bible prayers were not memorized. And perhaps Frank had been afraid of her--as they all were, for reasons known well in the Harbor household. Lily’s father, he was the echo of propriety. He was strict, but only because he had no mind to be any other way.
“Do not contradict your mother, Lily. Do not run away from us. Do not ever speak to us that way again.”
When the medicine men in suits came at night to cure Lily, her father was the one who let them in. It was always the middle of the night, that time when the sky was darkest and even the crickets had gone to bed. Lily watched, shivering, from the top of the stairs, her sister huddled close to her. Both of them shook with fear, their faces pressed hard to the cherry-wood banister posts. They knew what was coming; they feared it every night when they said their prayers and went to bed. The men of God would come unnaounced, inavding the quiet tranquility of dreams and prayers with their needles and strange instruments.
The suited men touched her father’s shoulder and spoke to him in hushed tones, their voices never loud enough for Lily to understand. Her father, he looked mortified, pained. He hung his head. The only times of sympathy that Lily could remember feeling for her father were sequestered in those moments; Frank Harbor answered the door, but he didn’t want to let the men in the house. Lily sometimes imagined that it was her mother who made Frank let the men in, that he would never have let them in if he'd had a hand in the decision.
The men made Frank Harbor carry their little black bags, they forced him to watch and pray as they did their work. Her mother thought she was doing right, doing God’s work. But her father, he wasn’t so sure. Lily could tell. She had seen a glimpse of his face one time, when the men were holding her down to the bed and cutting into her with the steel instruments. His teeth were chattering, and his tanned cheeks were streaked with moisture. He seemed to glow beneath the balance of shadows and light, of silence and sound. Lily trembled in agony, her world a splinter of pain. She’d focused on the face of her father, shrieked for him: “Daddy, Daddy, help me,” as a dark wave shot up her arms and out her fingers.
He'd only turned away from her, his shoulders hunched.
The furniture rattled then, the lamp skittering down off the night table. Lily gasped for air, squeezing her eyes shut as the porcelain shattered on the floor. Her mother came to stand in front of her father at that moment, arms folded, as if offended by the weakness. Alice Harbor's blue eyes were piercing, harsh. Those eyes were never anything less than piercing.
“Do as they say, Lily, and you will be cured,” Mother said. “God will cure you.”
God will cure you…God will cure you…
Early December 28th, 2001,
Fox Mulder's motel room.
Fox sits at the kitchen table, cerulean crayon clutched in one hand, brick red clutched in the other; he hums to himself and carefully constructs a spaceship on a sheet of looseleaf paper. He licks his lips in concentration. His legs bounce; a half frown crooks his lips as he realizes that, no matter how hard he bounces, he still can’t force his feet to reach the floor. And Fox hates those dangling legs; stubby knees signify being short and getting picked on.
If it’s not “Ugly Fox in a Box,” then it’s “short-shit Fox,” or “little, little man Fox.”
Fox shakes his head, presses harder with the crayon, giving color to his paper sky. He wishes he was a part of that sky; he wants to one day fly away like a graceful, dark crow. To that end, he wants to rename himself Bill Bixby after the guy in ‘The Magician,’ and learn how to be a pilot. Or an astronaut. Or a hot-air balloon coordinator.
"Oh, don't be a sillyheart," says his mother, when Fox moans about his height. "One day you're going to be a tall, handsome man. And I'll be so proud." After saying this, Teena Mulder always kisses his head, then wipes her lipstick off the side of his face with her palm, and pats him on the shoulder. Fox Mulder scrunches his nose and rolls his eyes whenever she does this. Mothers can be so ridiculous sometimes.
Every night, Fox lays out perfectly straight in bed, out as far as he can, legs and arms ramrod, as he closes his eyes and chants to himself: “Make me big, make me big, make me big.” He’s determined to stretch himself to full height. He’d read about self-stretching in an old, gutted book somewhere—the book said that you could make yourself big by lying out straight and casting a spell. While Fox isn’t sure if he believes in spells and magic, he thinks he’s got a good arm for sports, and he wants to play basketball next year for the Rockets; the problem is that Couch Calhoun never looks at the short guys. And the tall guys on the Rec-squad, they always tell him to get lost.
“Foxie Loxie,” they say. “You’re a squirt, a pest, an annoyance. Go make problems somewhere else.”
More than anything, Fox hates being an annoyance. He wants to be big and powerful. He wants to play for the Lakers. He wants be commander of the world someday. And at least magic promises hope, or the possibility of hope. That’s why Fox is going to change his name to Bill Bixby after finishing his drawing. Fox wants to believe with all his might that anything is possible, so long as he can hope for it.
Lily's eyes watered, the tears dripping hot and salty onto her nose. She cried for her skin, pale and weak from lack of light, for her ignorance of the world, for her missing sister. She cried for all the times she'd never been able to play jump-rope, for all the poppy-blessed, green valleys she'd wanted to run across but never could. She cried because she wanted to be Liesel, that fiery, pretty girl from the movie about the singing children, but she didn't even know how to sing. And there wasn't anyone to teach her. She cried and shook, and cried again; the tears were exhausting and Lily hated them. Tears exemplified weakness, made a person look vulnerable and beaten. And Lily couldn’t fathom letting the world beat her. She was supposed to be a starlet, like all those magazines insisted she could be. Madmoiselle, for instance, that magazine said she could do anything she put her mind to. Because Lily was a woman, and in a modern society, women were powerful.
Lily was going to be the next Michelle Pfiefer, the next Meryl Streep. And Meryl Streep certainly never cried.
Lily took slow, even breaths. She tried to ignore the whisper of silence, the scent of dust and mildew. Lily was positive that life had better things in store for her, that misery wasn’t what fate had in mind for the future. Her harsh childhood, the men with the holy needles, it was all merely a prelude for the wealth and beautfy of her life as an adult.
Fate, that was the key to all things promising.
Lily tried to learn about fate from one of those daytime television shows rich in love and life lessons. The one she liked was the one with the dark haired Spanish girl who was in love with that nice blond-haired boy. Two young people managed to find love, but only through the guidance of fate. Fate changed everything. And television, of course, didn’t lie. If fate could make two people fall in love, and fate could stop the men with the needles, and fate could kill her parents, was it not possible that fate could also bring her sister back to her?
Lily clenched her fists around the comforter, gripped the corners as she would grip a shield made of iron.
Lily tried to tell herself that her sister was not dead. Kelsey Elizabeth Harbor was a strong girl, an untouchable girl. Kelsey with her blonde hair and her laugh that tingled like tiny little bells ringing. When they were young, Kelsey had found hiding places for those nights when the men of God came. She always knew where to go to keep safe, to hide from her mother and the punishments. Surely, Kelsey would know where to hide now. She was smart like that. She had her ways. Lily had no doubt that Kelsey would come, that she would resurface when the time was right. It was just...something was keeping Kelsey far away. Maybe the men with the needles had found her. Maybe they had finally cured her. Maybe it was Lily now who was unsafe, who was unclean.
"God will cure you," her mother had said. "God will cure you."
But her parents had died before anyone could cure her. Thus, Lily grew up stained, unclean. She was still unclean.
Lily closed her eyes to drive out the sound of her mother's voice. "You are a bad girl, an unholy girl. God will cure you or else he will strike you down..."
No. Fate wasn't cruel. And fate would never allow Lily to drive her sister away.
Even still, Lily’s teeth chattered. Her shoulders shook. The room, it was so dark and cold and Lily was terrified of being alone. She clasped her hands together and tried to imagine one of those dinner flicks, a good movie where the children prayed to a God who was not evil, a God who could grant salvation and whisk bad people into the wind. The God of such a movie would never let one of his beloved children die. This God was not her mother’s vengeful God, but was instead a benevolent God. If God could, indeed, have such good qualities.
The raps on the walls were louder now, more pronounced. Scritch. Rap. Rap. Scritch. There was a squeak, a creaking noise, as if something was moving furniture. A squeal of protest: the wood groaning against plaster. Then it was the dresser, crying for her. The chair and the armoire creaked, groaning as if answering back, and the walls felt closer. Jesus. Were the walls really closer?
Lily gasped and her back went rigid. Oxygen caught in her throat. She was going to die. She was going to have her insides ripped out and splattered on the ceiling. Fox Mulder would find her arms in bed, her legs in the bathroom, and her spleen in a jar on the counter.
Lily curled closer to the headboard. Her eyes darted, yet she was afraid to look. She gasped, swallowed, asked, “Who’s there?”
“Please,” she whispered, this time with her eyes squeezed shut. Maybe if the monster knew who she was, it wouldn't kill her. “Please tell me who’s there. I won't hurt you. I won't tell anyone.”
Nothing. Silence slit in half by another moan of the dresser. The wood was sobbing for her, the furniture creaking in remorse.
Finally, the air shifted. The coldness of the room circulated as if the fan had begun whirling in the opposite direction. Then a voice, a hiss, the hint of a whisper, so fleeting it was almost musical.
Lily’s breaths came out stunted and harsh. There was no more hope. And she was wrong about fate. There was no fate. The television was wrong.
The room closed in on her.
Lily imagined light—the warm summer sun. The sun didn’t burn her shoulders as her parents promised her it would, peeling off her skin in thin, agonizing strips. Rather, the sun blanketed her, gathered her up in safety. The sun smiled at her. Lily breathed in the smell of fresh vegetables growing and thriving. She crouched low in a cornfield, the wind at her back. She closed her eyes and prayed. This was her dream. She'd seen it somewhere before.
“Dear God," she whispered, "Please make me a bird. So I can fly far. Far far away from here. Dear God, please make me a bird. So I can fly far. Far far away from here.”
The crayons are splayed about the table in secret-coded piles of disarray. Red colors named after flowers here, blue colors with more than one ‘E’ in the color title there, most of the greens teetering dangerously close to the edge, and gathered with the grays, but only because both colors start with the letter ‘G.’ Fox is organized, of course, and enjoys setting up his own systems, but he arranges his systems in ways that only he himself can decipher. Two unlike colors grouped together, but only because of their letter arrangements, or because both colors are named after an animal. Fox likes puzzling the rest of the world.
Fox’s spaceship is round and yet pointy in certain places, yellow and orange, a scribbled blaze of artistic glory with landing legs and antennae and all. The conception of the ship took twenty long minutes of thought and internal struggle. First, Fox thought about using the brown crayon for the lights and the silver one for the outside metal. But if he did that, then his spaceship would look just like every other spaceship ever drawn--ordinary and bland--and Fox wants his ship to be different. This drawing is special, after all. This drawing is for his father.
Fox draws the elongated V of a bird’s outstretched wings, the outline of a cloud, the sun peeking through the cloud as if caught spying on the bird, and he smiles to himself. He writes, in big block letters in the left hand corner, “Fox William Mulder.” This creation—this is his best one yet, and Fox nods, imagining with technicolor glory how his father will pin the drawing up on the refrigerator. “This one, this one’s a masterpiece,” his dad will say, patting his shoulder. “I’m putting it up right next to your Mom’s picture so that everyone can see it.”
Nobody else will ever have a spaceship as great as William Mulder's spaceship. Fox will make sure of that. And besides, nobody else could possibly understand why this picture is so great anyway, why his father will love it so dearly. But Fox understands.
Last night, as he was getting ready for bed, Fox passed by the kitchen and overheard his father whispering in the dark. William Mulder was perched on a vinyl barstool, his back curled into the wall like the letter 'C.' He was hissing to someone on the phone about spaceships and projects and packages. It all sounded very important and strange, and very covert, and Fox felt bigger for having overheard it.
"The project will go on as planned," said his father. "The ship is there. Underground. I'll not backtrack on my word because of this."
Fox didn't understand what was being said, but his not understanding didn't matter. After all, Fox’s father was a brilliant man, a man of his country, a shining example of value and honor. Fox's father was a most important man who did important things, and Fox feels important now, drawing this spaceship with his own two hands, because his drawing somehow makes him a part of his father’s work.
Of this work, Fox Mulder knows only broken pieces: snippets of conversation overheard and slips of random paper picked up out of the garbage. Fox tells his friends that his father works for the government, that he does all kinds of dangerous things for people in high power, but in all honesty, Fox isn't sure how much of this is true. Maybe William Mulder is a spy, or a secret CIA worker, or a superhero. Fox often hears his father leaving late at night, his footsteps creaking on the stairs, and then the engine of the car turning over; Fox is positive that on these evenings, William Mulder has secret, late night rendevous with the president of the United States. Mr. President and Fox's father secretly run the country from a private hide-out in the middle of a secluded forest. Because of the high-profile nature of this job, William Mulder talks about secret projects, about spaceships, about top-secret plans, but he only does so late at night. There is no other man who can do this work like William Mulder can, and Fox Mulder is proud.
So he draws. And draws. First orange, for the landing legs, and then green, for the alien head. Black for the eyes, red for the mouth.
Years ago, Fox Mulder told his father that he wanted to be a great man when he grew up. He sat on his father’s lap, punching keys on a typewriter, and asked his father about being an adult, what it was like. He went on and on. “I want to be like you,” he told his father. "I'm going to be the king. A king like you."
To this, Fox’s father rubbed his hands across his forehead. He looked old for the first time Fox could ever remember, and held Fox tight. He kissed his son's soft, dark head, and then uttered a cryptic, “Don’t aspire, son. You be your own great man, when the time comes,” and Fox never understood what he meant.
Scritch, scritch, scritch—a pawing, a clawing. Not dead. Not yet..
“Who’s calling my name?” Lily finally asked.
She opened her eyes and realized, much to her dismay, that she was no longer crouched in her beloved cornfield. She was back in a hard motel bed with that raspberry-mildew smell. It was never truly her in the cornfield to begin with, but somebody else, she realized. Another girl from another nonreality. Lily's dreams, her hopes, they were never hers to realize, but instead were the dreams of another person. Of a movie or a TV show; fantasies that emerged from pretend places. Lily didn’t know how to make dreams of her own.
"Who's there?" Lily asked again, her voice shaky. She tried to make herself sound like that woman, the red-headed FBI agent with the puffed up ego. Agent Scully. Maybe that was the appeal for Fox Mulder. Power. Lily needed to sound harsh, authorititative. But most of all, she needed to live. She wanted to live.
"Lily," the whispery voice repeated. “Don’t be afraid." The words low, soft, quiet, but slowly getting louder, gaining power. “It’s me, Lily. It’s me.”
A form emerged from the shadows, crept closer into view. Lily pushed back against the headboard, grinding her backside into the wood as if she felt she could disappear. She ran her hands along the beveled edge of the bed, looking for something she could grab, a handle, a loose piece of bedframe, anything.
"Who," she tried, stammering, tripping over her own words, her scampering heartbeat, "Who, who..."
A slender, milky-white hand touched Lily’s arm then, cold and soft. Lily jumped, sucked in a breath, but otherwise couldn’t find the strength to form words. She was going to die. Was as good as dead. This was the end, this was her mother's devil coming to claim her.
"Lily," the voice said again. "Lily, it's alright."
But no.... wait. She knew that hand, knew that voice. She was afraid to speak—could it be true?
A face emerged slowly, more ivory skin awash in shadows, high cheekbones prominent, button nose turned up, long, light blonde hair curled and spilling to her elbows. The hand on Lily's arm suddenly warmed, glowed, came to life. The shadowed figure sparked as if electrocuted, swam in fiery spasms of yellow and white, glittered like the edges of Heaven. She stood at the edge of Lily's bed, still glowing, and smiled weakly.
Lily's mouth dropped open. The glow fairly radiated from the girl, burned like radioactive fire, sparked like magic dust in a fairy tale. When she sat at the edge of Lily's bed, the pale glow surrounding her began to fade. A final spark shot from her hair, spiraled into the air, and bounced to the floor. The glow disappated completely.
She spoke again. “It’s going to be alright, Lily. I promise you. I’m here to help you."
"You..." Lily stammered. "You were...glowing."
The girl ignored this statement. "I’m here to make sure you get everything you deserve, Lily,” she said.
Jesus. Her face. That voice. But it couldn't be. Could it?
Lily bit her lip, her fingers shaking as they drew up to her own chin. She was seeing things. She had to be. It was the only explanation. Lily touched her own skin to make sure she herself was real, and then she touched the other face—the face of the girl who had been glowing. An angel. Or a dream. Her sister.
“Kelsey?” Lily asked, her voice brimming with hope.
Kelsey nodded, grinned. Kelsey was real. God, she was real. Or was she?
"Are you an angel?" Lily asked, her voice shaky. "Are you like that woman from the TV show? Did you..." Lily swallowed, not even wanting to think it. "Did you die? Are you dead?"
Kelsey smiled, shook her head. Lily sighed in relief and smiled back. Kelsey was here. She was really here. Good things were starting to happen. It was fate giving her the life she should have been living all along.
“I’m going to explain,” said Kelsey, clutching Lily's fingers with cold fingers of her own. Lily jumped at the sensation; it was like ice gripping her hand, running down her fingers and out into her arm. Ice cutting into her. Oh...dear. Kelsey was cold, so very cold. Why was she so cold?
“I’m going to explain," Kelsey went on, "And then I’m going to help you.”
“Fox Fox Fox Fox!” The whoosh of a breeze rustles through Fox’s hair and he bangs his palm on the table. Interrupted. God damn it. The plastic tabletop rattles, and the metal fold-legs shake. Fox groans. He had been hoping for some modicum of peace and quiet, some place where he could hide for sanctuary.
But with his sister, Samantha, he can’t ever seem to get away.
Today, she’d found him six times and pestered him each and every time. First at breakfast, she grabbed his toast and ate it. And then at lunch, she stole his cookies and stomped them into the pavement. And then outside when he was tree-climbing and dangling, upside down like a possum, she’d reached up to yank on his hair and he fell. Almost on his head. Right onto an ant hill. The ants swarmed him like a hoarde of bees and he almost died. She almost killed him. And on top of it, she had to bug him with his name, chanting it over and over as if she didn’t know any other word but “Fox.”
“What do you want?” Fox mutters, dropping the red crayon to the table in favor of a black one. He rearranges the piles: Indian black next to Hot pink because ‘I’ comes after ‘H.’
Samantha says nothing, but Fox knows she’s still behind him. “I said, what do you—“
Without warning, the sequined end of a long, overly-beaded, silvery wand thonks down on the top of Fox’s head, rattling his skull. The wand and swirls back and forth, scooping and catching his messy hair in clumps. A few of the strands yank at the back of his scalp and Fox drops the crayon, agitated now, because his father will be home in little less than half an hour and Samantha can’t think of anything to do but pull on his hair. “Damn it, Sammy-stupid,” he says, rubbing his head, scrunching his nose. “Why don’t you go somewhere else?”
“Ooohhh,” says Samantha, her brows furrowed. “You said damn.” Her long, dark brown hair falls in thick braids on either side of her skull, swinging like frizzy pendulums. “You can’t say bad words,” she says, pulling her tattered pink tutu with chubby fingers. “I’ll tell Mommy on you.”
“Why don’t you go and do it, buttmunch?” challenges Fox, and he sighs. He’s small for his age, but bigger than Sam. And at least, if nothing else, he can beat her into going away.
Fox hops down from the high, vinyl chair, his muddy sneakers squealing against linoleum. He folds his arms over his chest and looks down the slope of his nose at Samantha. “I’ll take that stupid doll of yours,” he says. “That stupid cloth thing with the black hair that you’re always sleeping with.”
“You would not,” says Samantha, and she pouts, twists back and forth so the crinoline tutu crunches against her tiny arms. She looks like the plastic ballerina from her jewelery box.
“Then I’ll take your wand,” says Fox, and he grins.
Samantha narrows her eyes. She puts her hands on her hips. She’s about to speak again when suddenly, Fox jumps—catlike, and grabs the wand from his sister’s fist. Samantha squeals, and her sweaty palm brushes against Fox’s fingers.
“Come and get it,” he hisses, and is off before the sentence is even finished.
“You were gone,” whispered Lily, almost afraid to ask Kelsey where she'd come from. Missing sisters didn't just appear out of nowhere, especially when the door was locked, and an armed guard stood outside, ready to pounce on the frst thing he saw. Lily glanced at the closed door, examined the lock as if considering this particular obstacle as a reason for lunacy. Then she remembered Kelsey's door-unlocking tricks, and how good both girls had been at sneaking into houses undetected. Kelsey was good at skulking. Kelsey was a magic skulker.
“I was,” agreed Kelsey, nodding. “But I’m back now.”
“Back?” asked Lily. “How?”
The scratching sounds at the wall seemed to abate as Kelsey spoke. The scritching receded into the background until almost imperceptible. The walls and ceiling weren't nearly as close. Even the darkness wasn’t as dark now. There wasn’t anything left but the two Harbor girls: Kelsey and Lily against the world.
“I had to go,” said Kelsey, her eyes foggy and far away, as if even she didn’t know.
The glassy cover over Kelsey's light blue eyes made her look hollow, like a stranger. Lily shivered; she had the feeling that something terrible had happened to her sister. Something even Kelsey was afraid to speak of. Or perhaps it wasn't something known, but rather something Kelsey couldn’t remember. She just had amnesia, like the blonde woman in that movie about the car accident and the ghost hiding in the wall.
When Kelsey blinked and brought her attention back into focus, she smiled at Lily. “It’s okay,” Kelsey said. “Because I’m back now. It doesn't matter where I've been. I’m going to make you see.”
Lily swallowed and ran her palm over the apple of Kelsey’s cheek, luxuriating in her sister’s presence. Her cheek was cold and a little wet, but cold didn't matter. Nothing mattered. Kelsey was back, and safe, and unharmed, and nobody was going to die now.
Fate had made this so.
Lily’s mother must have been wrong, so wrong all those years when she spoke of God as a terrible force. God was good and benevolent, and God had saved her sister. Maybe it really didn’t matter where Kelsey had been. Lily would help her. Together, Kelsey and Lily would do as they had originally planned and go to California to live on the beach. Maybe Kelsey could even convince Fox Mulder to go with them. Maybe if Kelsey was good, and Lily smiled at him just right, or if she begged him, he would want to go. FBI Agents needed vacations, didn’t they?
“I have to go and tell Fox Mulder,” said Lily suddenly. Her heart raced at the idea of she and Kelsey and Fox Mulder, sitting on a beach in Los Angeles. She moved to sit up. “He’s going to want to know—“
“No,” said Kelsey. She touched Lily’s shoulder and pushed her gently back down.
“No?” asked Lily. She frowned. “What do you mean, no? I have to tell him. He’s here with his partner and they were going to—“
“You can't tell him. He can't know," said Kelsey.
Lily frowned. None of this made sense to her.
"You’re in love with him,” Kelsey added, her tone thoughtful. She smiled and ran her hand down Lily’s jaw, down to her shoulder. God, the cold. Kelsey was so cold. Lily shook her head in denial, not quite sure how Kelsey could possibly know how she felt, or even who Fox Mulder was. But Kelsey always seemed to know everything. Kelsey was quiet, but she was smart. Kelsey was the one who always had the answers. Kelsey knew things nobody else knew.
Lily blushed and stared down at her hands. She pictured Fox Mulder’s face, his square-set jaw and hazel eyes. He had a smile she’d seen in a hundred broken dreams over the years. He had the arms of a man who could pick her up and carry her far from New York, far from the dreariness of winter and the slate gray slush. He was tall and dashing. He was everything she’d ever imagined a hero could be.
“You could have him,” said Kelsey. She clasped her sister’s hand. “You know how.”
Lily shook her head, confused. “You don’t understand,” she said, trying to figure out how to explain the last eight hours to her sister. “I want him but I don’t think…that is…He's an FBI agent…he was kissing that red headed partner of his. He would never—“
“You could have him,” repeated Kelsey. She lowered her voice as if the furniture could listen in. “You have the power to do it.” Kelsey shrugged and grinned, as if Lily should have known this all along. “You just needed me to leave for a little while to figure it out.”
Lily’s face crumpled. Jesus. She was unclean. Her mother was right. “You left because of me?” she asked, her voice shaky.
“Oh.” Kelsey squeezed her sister’s fingers, and ice-cold drips of unease trickled down Lily's spine. “Oh, no, sweetie. I left because…” Kelsey paused, and her eyes went cloudy again. “I left because I had to go.” A second passed, and the smile returned to her face. “But I’m back because I had to tell you the truth.”
“What truth?” breathed Lily. There was a funny tingling in the pit of her stomach, a rumbling. She wasn’t hungry, but instead felt as if something was aligning. Pieces were coming together. She felt nauseous suddenly.
“You already know,” said Kelsey. “You know what you can do.”
“I don’t know,” said Lily. She felt like crying. She felt like screaming. Something was wrong with her sister after all. Kelsey never used to talk like this. Maybe Kelsey was crazy. Maybe Fox Mulder would know what to do with her. “Please tell me what you mean, Kels. I don't understand—“
“You know,” said Kelsey again, her hand resting on Lily’s abdomen. She patted Lily’s stomach and dropped her hand, the same icy tendrils reaching out and seizing Lily. Next Kelsey touched Lily’s forehead, ran her palm along the top of Lily’s skull. “You know what you can do. You have it here. Just close your eyes. Picture him, picture what he knows, and use what you learn inside his head to get what you want.”
Lily’s brows furrowed. The intense rumbling in the pit of her stomach grew stronger.
“Use what you learn,” Kelsey repeated. “And then use what you know…”
CONTINUED IN CHAPTER 12