Title: La Llorona (12/12)
Author: phantagrae
Rating: PG (mild language)
Category: Casefile
Spoilers: Not really, but assumes everything through at least Amor Fati.
Summary: Mulder and Scully investigate a series of deaths in Albuquerque, NM.
Feedback: Yes, please. phantagrae@earthlink.net

Archive: Not to Gossamer. I'll submit directly there. Yes to anywhere else. Just let me know, please.

APD Headquarters
Thursday, August 5, 1999

"Her name is Katie Montoya," Scully said, entering the little room she and Mulder had been using at the APD. She dropped a small file on the table.

Mulder slumped forward with his chin resting on his right forearm, his right hand absently massaging his left shoulder. He eyed the file but made no move to open it at first.

"She drowned in the river?" he asked.

"Yes, on Sunday, July 25th. She was playing down by the water, apparently waded in and was swept down the river."

Mulder sat up a little and pulled a newspaper over toward Scully's end of the table.

"The monsoon rains started on the 25th."

Scully looked at him, turned the paper where she could see the short weather report he was indicating, and sat down across from him.

"Are you saying that means something?"

"Scully, the legend of La Llorona says that she went mad during the rainy season and threw her child into the river. She appears during the rainy season and walks the riverbanks looking for her lost child."

"And what does that have to do with the case?"

"It's the loss, Scully, the grief and heartache. Maybe the pain and grief Katie Montoya's parents felt the day she died was part of what summoned La Llorona with the rains. They lost their daughter and La Llorona came to look for her own lost child."

"Even if I believed in this legend, this ghost, Mulder, what does that have to do with our victims?"

"While you were looking up Katie Montoya, I spoke to the families of these victims again. Each of them lost a loved one in some unnatural way and each one was thinking of that loved one in the days before they died. What if their sorrow, their loss, their grief was somehow affected by the presence of La Llorona, or maybe their feelings gave her power or something."

"I don't think I understand, Mulder."

"Scully, I felt it last night. When I saw her, I thought I heard Samantha's voice. Just like

Hurtado thought he heard his dead mother's voice. I could have sworn it was her, Scully, and I wanted to go to her. I thought I could save her, that she was down by the river and I could find her there.

"And I could feel her painóLa Llorona's pain. I could feel her sorrow, her madness, her loss. It was overpowering, heartbreaking, and her energy was all around me. I was convinced, Scully, just like the others must have been. I would have gone to her, thinking she was Samantha. If I had, maybe I would have ended up like Nathaniel Kinsey, or the others."

"So what happened? How did you get away?"

He shook his head, as his eyes blankly searched the tabletop. "The storm...somehow the storm released me...I don't know." He looked up at her, hoping she would understand what he could not explain.

She reached out and took his left hand in hers. She didn't know if she believed anything about this ghost, but she knew that Mulder had had some kind of encounter and that he believed completely in what he had experienced. He needed her support and she was more than willing to give it to him.

The photos of the victims were tacked across the top of the bulletin board side by side. Mulder faced the APD detectives and began his explanation.

"These victims were all killed by the same hand. They are unrelated in any way except for two things: the way in which they died, and...and a loss that each of them suffered before their deaths."

He indicated another row of photos, below the victims. "Each of the victims lost someone, a loved one, at some point in their lives:

"Manny Garcia lost a baby daughter twenty years ago to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

"Laura Mesker lost her husband in the Gulf War.

"Vera Tafoya's grandson died in a car accident last year.

"Nathaniel Kinsey's brother drowned in the Rio Grande three years ago.

"This loss is what drew them to the river in the middle of the night. I believe that...something...or someone...was able to play on the resonance of their emotions and draw them to the river where they died."

"What are you talking about, Agent Mulder?" Detective Sanchez asked. He tried desperately not to scowl at Mulder. "What does that have to do with our killer?"

"It has everything to do with the killer. It has to do with how she draws them to her, how they are made vulnerable. It has to do with why she kills."

He couldn't keep the sharp edge out of his voice. It was the only way he could keep from choking on the lump in his throat. His own experience was too fresh in his memory. He looked down at his feet and cleared his throat, then raised his head to continue.

"I believe these victims were killed by La Llorona."

Scully closed her eyes and prayed that the others would not laugh out loud. It amazed her that Mulder could leave himself so open to certain ridicule, and be proud of it.

After a moment of stunned silence, there was a quietly incredulous murmur in the room.

Mulder waited for the humiliation to begin.

Sanchez stood and walked slowly toward Mulder's board, the room quieting behind him. He sighed, scrubbing a hand over his mouth as he regarded Mulder with his serious dark eyes. He leaned one hand against the board and spoke.

"You believe it's La Llorona? The ghost story that old people tell their kids to scare them away from the river and the ditch banks? How am I supposed to arrest a ghost?"

Mulder took a deep breath and forged ahead.

"You told Agent Scully about a little girl named Katie Montoya who drowned just a few days before the first of these deaths. I believe her death, which occurred just as the rains began, somehow triggered the appearance of La Llorona and that her influence drew these victims to the river. Something about the energy of this spirit was enough to kill these people with a touch."

"Agent Mulder, do you really expect me to put that in my report?"

"Detective Sanchez," Mulder answered, "I can't tell you what to put in your report. All I can tell you is what I believe to be true, based on my experience and the evidence before me."

"And how do I stop this ghost from killing more people?"

"I don't think you need to stop her. I think it's over." Mulder stood still and looked Sanchez in the eye. "La Llorona comes with the monsoon rains. They said on the news last night that the monsoons have stopped. I don't believe she'll appear again."

"Until next year?" Sanchez asked, some part of his heart beginning to believe in spite of himself.

Mulder made the tiniest shrug and a minute shake of his head. "Let's hope it's longer than that."

Paul lifted the last of their luggage into the trunk of the rental car as his mother pressed a warm, foil-wrapped packet into Mulder's hands.

"Just a little something for the two of you," she said with her warm smile. She kissed Mulder on the cheek and gave Scully a quick hug. "Take care of each other," she added, her gaze resting on Mulder.

Mulder nodded and turned to shake hands with his friend.

"Don't be a stranger, Zorro," Paul said warmly. "And you, too, Dana." He shook hands with her, squeezing her shoulder with his left hand. "It was great meeting you."

"Thank you both for everything," Scully responded.

"I hope to see you again soon, Paul, Mrs. C," Mulder said, moving toward the driver's door. "Maybe next time it will just be a vacation and not work."

With one last wave, Mulder and Scully got in the car and pulled out of the driveway.

They drove down Rio Grande Boulevard toward the freeway, Scully taking a last look at the shady older neighborhood.

They passed a small billboard with a picture of a scraggly hag waving a crooked finger. Above her head the caption read, "La Llorona says, 'Ditches are deadly! Stay away!''"

Scully looked over to see if Mulder had seen it.

He glanced at her, his eyes inscrutable behind his sunglasses as he turned back to watch the road.

"They got it wrong, Scully." He shook his head slowly. "She was beautiful."