Title: Family Business Series: 02. Appearances
Authors: Laurie D. Haynes and Bear
Category: X, A, MSR, MT
Rating: PG-13
Archiving: Xemplary, Jeopardy, MTA, Ephemeral, Gossamer and Tex-Files are fine. All others, just ask.

Summary: This is the second in the "Family Business" series. The first story was "Looking Glass Wars." While it may help to read that one first, it's not essential. Mulder and Scully no longer work for the FBI, which does not have an X-Files division, but run their own paranormal investigations agency. Their son, Will, is 7 years old at this time. A murder from long ago cries out for justice. Authors' note: Special thanks to Vickie Moseley for a fine job of beta reading.


Somewhere near Annapolis, Maryland
August 28, 1858

The only sounds he was fully aware of at that very moment were the pounding of his own heart in his ears and the panting of every breath. Despite his weariness, the only emotion he knew was fear that each breath could possibly be his last should he give in to his exhaustion and rest, even for a brief second.

For he could hear them coming with their torches, the barking of their dogs competing with their angry cries of hatred. So he continued into the night, as deep into the forest as his long legs could carry him. After what seemed like an eternity, the parade of his pursuers seemed to lessen as he desperately took advantage of his superior knowledge of the forest and took a turn into some brush in the forest that would no doubt hide him, at least for *just* enough time. But then he made the fatal mistake of looking behind him, as though his hearing wasn't enough of a confirmation of his progress, thus missing the log in his path that left him sprawling there, the pain in his ankle informing him that he could no longer continue his life- saving sprint.

He tried to crawl into the brush, but was resigned to his fate, knowing he would never reach the stream that could hide his scent from the dogs. He cursed the injustice. He had willingly accepted his lack of freedom years ago, and never questioned it, but now he knew that his life would end because of lies. He longed to prove once and for all that he was innocent of the murder of which he had been accused. But it would never happen.

At least not in *this* lifetime, in *this* mortal body. This body with the skin color that practically handed him a verdict he couldn't seem to disprove, at least at this point of time.

Even as the angry mob caught up to him, as he felt the fists, the saliva running down his face, the whips on his back, even as the very end came and he was weakly mounted on the horse as they tightened the rope around his neck, he vowed that he would somehow find a way to come back. And somehow, even if it took a thousand years to figure out exactly how to go about it, Samuel LeRoy would ultimately clear his name. It would take more than a mere log and a lynching mob to prove that he did not rape and kill Nancy MacGregor.


Mulder Residence
Annapolis, Maryland
September 5, 2008

Young Will Mulder dug through one packing box after another in the attic trying to find his basketball. His dad had set up the portable goal in the driveway and promised to teach him some moves. His pets, the gray Persian cat Reticula and the Border collie Ghostrider, hovered about, idly investigating the area. The other cat, the calico Fluky, had opted for a snooze downstairs on a sunny window sill.

Reticula was the curious one and had to jump in each box her 7-year-old human friend opened. Despite the heat of the attic, Will felt a sudden chill in the air. Reticula stuck her head up over the edge of the box, looked at a point beyond Will and hissed. Ghostrider, too, was uneasy. The hair on the back of his neck was on end and he growled menacingly. Will looked around nervously, but saw nothing.

"What's with you two? There's nothing here but us."

Then he heard a man clearing his voice from over in the corner of the attic.

"I'm afraid I've got them a bit upset," said the man, stepping from the shadows. He was dark-skinned with ill- fitting clothes. "I'm Sam -- Samuel, actually."

The dog began barking furiously.

"What are you doing in our attic? How did you get up here?" Will stood and started backing away toward the stairs. The cat yowled and hissed again, jumping out of the box, then cautiously crept behind another one.

"I've been here a long time," replied Sam, sitting down in the same spot he had been standing. "I mean you no harm."

But Will wasn't so sure. He'd read some of the old newspaper clippings of cases his father worked on in his days in the FBI's Violent Crimes Unit.

"Dad!" he yelled and headed for the attic door.

Mulder had just come inside to get a drink of water while waiting for Will to find his basketball. He heard his son's cry of alarm and bounded up the stairs. He was almost to the top of the third flight leading to the attic when Ghostrider came tearing down the stairs. Mulder managed to avoid the dog, but the cat was right behind him and ran smack into Mulder's legs. The cat leapt away agilely down the stairs, but Mulder lost his balance and fell backwards, head over heels. He landed in a groaning pile at the foot of the stairs.

"Dad!" Will had lingered behind a bit, but had quickly followed his pets out the attic door. He rushed down the stairs to his father.

"Damned son of a..." Mulder sputtered, grasping his knee.

"Dad? You OK?"

"...gun," Mulder finished, hearing his son. "Oh, mother-- Get your mother, Will."

"It's OK, Dad, you can cuss, but I'll go get Mom. You lie still."

Will pounded down the stairs, hollering for his mother as his father hovered between pain and wondering just how many times his son had unintentionally heard his cursings in the past when he had convinced himself he had covered up relatively well... at least for him, anyway. Scully emerged from the den at Will's call.

"Come quick, Dad fell down the stairs!"

Scully took a moment to grab her medical bag, then she and Will ran up the steps to Mulder.

Sam peeked around the edge of the attic door, grumbling to himself, "I certainly handled THAT well." He sighed. He'd watched this family ever since they moved in two months ago and was sure they were receptive enough to his kind. And especially considering the predicament the father was now in after his unfortunate accident, he could certainly sympathize. He felt a slight twinge of jealousy, considering that not only was the man not in any mortal danger as Samuel had been so long ago, but he also had the luxury of people who obviously loved him very much and could tend to him. As Scully and Will reached Mulder, Samuel faded away among the boxes piled in the attic and vanished.

"What hurts, Mulder?" Scully asked worriedly as her husband writhed in pain, still holding his leg.

"It's my knee. Twisted it when I went down."

"I'll call 911," said Will.

"No, no, it's just a sprain. Give me a minute or two."

"Mulder, you should go to the ER and get it X-rayed. You may have broken something."

"No, I know what that feels like. I just pulled some muscles. Help me get to the bedroom and I'll put some ice on it."

After a few minutes, with Scully and Will's help, Mulder was able to stagger to his feet. He limped badly to the master bedroom and sank gratefully onto the bed. Scully propped some pillows behind his head.

"Will, grab the ice packs out of the freezer, wrap them in a towel and bring them up here."

"OK, Mom," the boy agreed readily and dashed off down the stairs.

"And DON'T RUN DOWN THE STAIRS!" she called after him.

"Yes, ma'am!" Will shouted back, already at the bottom.

"What the hell happened, Mulder?" she asked her husband who was gritting his teeth and had his arm over his eyes.

"Beats me. Will called for me, sounded scared. I ran up the stairs and the dog and cat were running down. I tripped over Reticula and the next thing I knew I was taking a dive."

"Not exactly a swan dive at that," Scully mused with a smirk and a chuckle. "Sounds like it would only get a five at the highest!"

"Shut up, Scully," hissed Mulder with a dirty look in his eye, although he was fighting a bit of a chuckle. Of course, the pain certainly helped in *that* area, no doubt about that...

...to say nothing of the fact that Will had just bounded anxiously back into the room with the ice packs wrapped in a towel. As Scully applied them to the offending area, Mulder couldn't help but see the all-too-familiar look in his eyes: good old-fashioned Mulder-guilt. Somehow, despite the fact that it was Mulder's luck that seemed to bring about these situations, Will seemed to blame himself for his father's latest predicament, since Mulder was answering his call of distress at the time. To Mulder, such a burden didn't really seem that fair for a 7-year- old. After all, *he* certainly hadn't lost any little sisters or anything of the like. All he had done was called for him to come see...well, something. Mulder was just a bit resentful that his damn...well, *darn* klutziness had prevented him to see what had distressed Will -- and obviously the "herd," as Mulder would call their pets from time to time -- to such an extent.

But at least all involved were relatively fine, for the duration. If the worst injury sustained was a...*darn* sprained knee, and *he* was the unfortunate recipient, then considering the alternatives, it could have been a hel...well, *heck* of a lot worse, all things considered.

"Hey, buddy." Mulder mussed Will's light brown hair affectionately, ignoring the pain in his own leg. "Just another sign that the old man won't be getting into the ballet any time soon, that's all! It would have happened anyway!"

"Besides, can you see your dad in a tutu and pink tights?" added his mother, picking up her husband's cue and flashing a tiny grin that at least garnered a slight chuckle from Will over the imagery. That grin, however, soon faded as Will watched his mother wrap the Ace bandage around his dad's knee and his thoughts drifted back to the strange behavior of Reticula and Ghostrider in the attic. And that poor man with the sad look in his eyes, and the name so similar to that of the aunt that he would never meet.

His father had told him a lot about her, of course. How she had such long, beautiful hair, and how one day, she'd mysteriously been taken, right under his father's nose. And how now, in the words of his father, she was in "another place." Whatever that meant. He wondered if it was the same as this mysterious man in the attic, in the same sense, remembering the chill, the unnatural kind of cold that seemed to surround him.

The signs of a ghost.

His thoughts were interrupted by his father, who had been eyeing him curiously. "So, Will, what did you guys see up there? Anything we need to be concerned about?"

Will wasn't sure why he blurted out what he did, knowing what he did about his aunt, but in the natural tradition of such moments he only thought about it after the fact. "He said his name was Sam -- I think he was a ghost."

His father went quite pale, and for a moment it was difficult to tell whether it was over the pain in his leg or the ghost who bore the coincidental name. He quickly managed to recover himself before saying, "The guy's got a great knack for names, eh, Scully? Scully?"

Will turned in the direction of his mother and saw to his surprise that she had blanched as well. Considering that the subject matter was ghosts, he was a bit surprised that his mother wasn't rolling her eyes the way she usually seemed to do whenever such subjects came up. Little did he know that she had her *own* history of experiences with ghosts, beginning with his Grandpa Scully. Two months ago when the realtor had informed them of previous owners reporting strange occurrences in the household and rumors that the house might be haunted, she had balked, only to finally give in when Mulder talked her into it. Will had been there, of course, but had paid them little mind, instead eagerly searching the house for his room.

Finally recovering with a deep breath, she muttered to herself in an almost-whisper, "So the house *is* haunted after all. This is great, this is perfect." And then, her face suddenly turning nearly purple, she whirled so that she was facing Mulder the best she could as he lay on the bed. Anticipating her wrath, however, Mulder quietly said, "Scully, I'm sure it will be fine -- as long as the ghost isn't threatening Will in any way, I don't see why there should be any problems." He then turned to Will and quietly added, "He *didn't* threaten you, did he, Will?"

"No," Will said slowly as his mind drifted back to the conversation with the man. "He seemed so...sad, really. He said he didn't mean anyone any harm. Maybe he was a runaway slave -- maybe he was on the Underground Railroad!" he added with a grin.

Mulder's and Scully's fear and tension was replaced by parental pride as they beamed at one another. Will was currently studying the Civil War era, and as a matter of fact had just finished reading about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.

"Well, if he's still hanging around here, there must be a reason -- something that kept him tied to this place," said Mulder. "But this house was built in 1920, so if it's something that happened here, it must have taken place since then, not around the time of the Civil War. Maybe he worked for a family who lived here."

"I'll go ask him!" volunteered Will.

"Not so fast," replied his mother. Mulder nodded in agreement. "You're not to go up to that attic without one of us present. Ghosts can be unpredictable. Hopefully, he'll stay in the attic and not start roaming the rest of the house."

"I don't think he does," said Mulder. "The realtor said the reports all centered around strange noises and lights coming from the attic."

"OK, then when can we go?" asked Will eagerly.

"Tomorrow," Scully told him. "It's almost dinner time and your father needs to rest his leg." She shook out a couple of Napracin for Mulder, then sent Will for a glass of water from the bathroom. She grabbed some more pillows from the closet and propped them under her husband's sore knee. "I'll bring your dinner up here. Just relax." Scully bent over and kissed him softly.

"Mmmm. Just bring yourself back and we can forget about food," Mulder quipped with a lecherous look in his eye that caused Scully to blush.

"Are you two gonna get all mushy again?" asked Will, standing there holding the glass of water for his father.

Scully chuckled and took the water from him. "You'll understand one day. We're going to have to beat the girls off with a stick as it is."

"Girls are OK, but I'm not gonna go around kissing them," Will insisted.

Mulder laughed. "If you're lucky, they'll LET you."

"OK, enough," Scully said, and rose from her seat on the edge of the bed. "If your leg doesn't start feeling better, tell me and we'll go to the ER."

"It'll be fine. Look, the Redskins have a preseason game tonight. Set me up with the TV and the remote and I'll be fine."

Scully did as he requested, then she and Will headed downstairs for dinner.

An hour or so later, Scully returned with a tray of food and found Mulder sound asleep with the television blaring. Reticula was curled up on his chest and Fluky had chosen to share Mulder's pillow. Ghostrider, stretched out on the floor at the foot of the bed, raised his head from his paws as she entered.

Scully grinned at the sight and decided not to wake her husband, but to bring him food later if he woke on his own. It did occur to her, however, that it was a shame that her hands were so full at the time -- the sight would have made a classic picture, no question about it, and would have made for a very effective blackmail tactic someday, if nothing else.


Mulder home September 6 2:35 a.m.

Unsure exactly what had awoken him, Will sat up and turned on the lamp beside the bed. Ghostrider was standing beside the bed, growling softly at something unseen.

The boy suspected what the dog saw. "Sam? Is that you?"

Although he was half expecting it, still, the sight of the ghost materializing in front of him was very unnerving and he couldn't help jumping. Ghostrider gave a little bark, but calmed down when Will assured him, "It's OK, boy."

He addressed the somewhat solid figure. "What is it that you want?"

"I need your help. You are the first ones who have lived here that seemed like they could or would help me," replied Sam.

"Did you used to live in this house? Did you die here?"

"I died in this place, but this house was not here, then. But the wood from the tree where they hanged me was used in the buildin' of this home."

Will rubbed the sleep from his blue eyes. "Wow!" Then he stopped to think. "That must have been pretty awful."

"They hunted me down like an animal, then murdered me. I was a slave. I really didn't have many rights, but I didn't belong to them."

"My mom and dad taught me it's wrong to own human beings. And it's against the law. He paused, and added, "I know they did that a lot back then -- it sounds pretty bad. I'm sorry you guys had to go through that."

Sam nodded in acknowledgment of the young man's kind words. "Slavery was very widespread among the rich folks in my day. They bought and sold my people like livestock."

"Why did they kill you?" asked Will.

"One of them claimed I attacked a white woman and killed her. But that was a lie. She was my friend and I would never have hurt her. She was teaching me to read and write."

Will yawned hugely at this point, and apologized. "Look, I'll do what I can to help you and I'm sure my mom and dad will, too, but could you please not wake us up in the middle of the night? It's kinda... spooky. And Mom doesn't like me to be up after 9 at night."

"Sorry... I don't think about those things. Day and night are the same for me."

"Look, I'll talk to my parents and we'll get with you tomorrow, OK?"

"OK...and tell your daddy I hope he feels better soon. I know how bad his leg must be hurtin'." Samuel dematerialized and drifted back to the attic. Will lay back down, but left the light on. He was still a bit unnerved by Sam, although he seemed friendly enough, and it surprised him that Sam should care so much about people he didn't know from Adam after what he had apparently been through.


September 6 9:25 a.m.

Mulder opened his eyes to see a pair of slanted green ones staring at him. Groggily worrying at first that he had somehow once again been abducted by aliens, he blinked and realized it was Reticula, who had apparently decided his chest made a good bed. The cat stood up and stretched, before nonchalantly hopping down.

Mulder sat up and carefully swung his legs over the edge of the bed. Scully had apparently already gotten up, because her side of the bed was empty. She'd also apparently been out "gathering for the clan" while she was at it, because he noticed a cane leaning against the bedside table. Standing up gingerly, he avoided putting weight on his bad leg, but grabbed the cane and slowly made his way to the bathroom. The knee was stiff and sore, but the pain was nothing like when he had first fallen. Big nothing, just as he had insisted. He'd no doubt bounce back in record time from this one, he mused to himself.

After performing his morning ablutions, Mulder headed downstairs --slowly and favoring his sore leg. He limped into the kitchen and found Will devouring a bowl of cereal while the cats waited hopefully for leftover milk. Scully was scrambling eggs and microwaving bacon.

"How's the knee this morning?" she asked without turning around.

Once again, Mulder marveled how she knew he was there, when to his mind, he hadn't made a sound.

"It's fine," he answered, taking a seat at the kitchen table. He was clad in sweat pants and a T-shirt, not feeling up to wrestling his swollen knee into a pair of jeans. His wife's apparent telepathy worked much in the manner of a two-way radio, as he knew she was mimicking his choice of words without having to see her face.

"Cool!" said Will. "Then we can go up to the attic after breakfast and talk to Sam. "He came in my room last night and told me a little of his background. He was hanged for a murder he didn't commit."

Scully turned to Mulder worriedly. "I thought you said this ghost stayed in the attic. I don't like the idea of him going in Will's room when he's asleep."

Mulder sighed, but Will reassured them. "I asked him not to do that anymore, that we'd come up and talk to him. He wants our help to clear his name, I think."

"OK, well, this is the sort of thing we do, Scully. If we can't deal with a ghost in our own home, how can we expect people to count on us for solving paranormal problems in their homes and businesses?"

Scully sighed in acknowledgment that he had a point.

 

After they ate, the three of them trudged back up the stairs, Mulder bringing up the rear, since he had to move more slowly. They opened the attic door and turned on the lights, looking around.

Will called out softly, "Sam? It's me. You can come out now. Mom and Dad are here and they want to talk to you. They can help you. They're the best detectives there are."

As they watched, fighting a blush over the excessive praise of their offspring, Samuel gradually formed before them. "Hello, sir, ma'am." Then he turned towards Mulder, sympathy and regret visible in his deep brown eyes. "Is the leg any better, sir?"

As Scully fought briefly for her composure over this supernatural encounter, Mulder cleared his throat, only slightly awed at the sight of the ghost, and clearly touched by his obvious concern. "Just call me Mulder. This is my wife, Dana and my son, Will. He tells me you were unjustly hanged -- on this property, I assume. In this house?"

"No, sir -- I mean, Mulder. This house wasn't here then. I reckon the year was 1858 -- a few years before the North and South went to war. There was a whole heckuva lot of dyin' durin' that war. Lotta ghosts still around. I have seen and talked to them out on the grounds."

Mulder recalled the ghostly couple years ago in Galveston who had lost their lives in the Civil War. The two had been separated at death, but reunited after they saved Mulder's and Scully's lives.

"Yes, we've come across that before," he told Samuel.

"I had a friend, a white woman -- Nancy MacGregor. We was just friends, though, wasn't nothin' between us otherwise. She was a young widow and my master would send me over to help her out, sometimes. I think he was sweet on her, himself. She taught me some schoolin' -- though that wasn't really allowed, then."

"I just don't understand why black people weren't allowed to learn to read and write," said Will. "That doesn't make any sense."

"With knowledge, comes power," Scully explained. "The whites then could keep the blacks enslaved more easily if they couldn't read and find out things themselves about the world -- or communicate with each other through the written word. It was a terrible time in the history of mankind."

"I gather your friend was killed and you were accused of her murder? Where was your master during all this?" Mulder asked.

"He was on a trip for his family. They were cotton farmers. Anyways, there was another man, a bad seed, Peter Meacham, who took a shine to Nancy. But she wouldn't have anything to do with him. One evening, he went to her. She tried to fight him off, but he was too strong. He raped her and then he beat her almost to death. She was dyin' when I found her the next mornin'. But she told me what he did. I was gonna go get the sheriff, but Meacham showed up with a bunch of his friends. I took off runnin' and later they came after me. They hunted me down in the woods with dogs. I woulda got away, but I tripped and busted my ankle. They caught me, whipped me and then strung me up.

"They buried me at the foot of the hangin' tree and my wife use to visit my grave and talk to me, tellin' me what was goin' on with our family. My master knew I couldn't have done anything like that, but he couldn't prove anything. All he could do was make them pay $1,000 -- my value as a slave. And he always made sure my wife and son were provided for."

"Damn!" muttered Mulder under his breath. "Sam, how can we clear you after all this time? Anyone from that time is long dead."

"I had been teachin' my wife everything Miz MacGregor taught me. I know that my wife kept a journal. I managed to get to my home and see them one last time and I told her the truth. I told her never to forget, but not to cross Meacham. She promised she would write it down, word-for- word and give it to our son. He married and had kids and that journal has been handed down since my time, though I doubt the ones now really know what's in it, if they even know exactly where it is."

"Meacham... Scully, isn't that the name of one of the Maryland state reps?"

"Actually, I think he's just a candidate for the Legislature. As I recall, his father was in the Legislature," she replied. No doubt he wouldn't exactly take too kindly to word of *this* type of a scandal getting out," she replied with a shake of her head. "And of course the journal would be the key -- Sam, I'm assuming that you were apparently pursued coming out of the house where your family lived, meaning that it would be fairly close?"

"Yes, ma'am -- she lived on the plantation Maryland Oaks, owned by Micah Jennings. The place was torn down a long time ago, I'm afraid, as ya'll probably know," added Sam, lowering his eyes to his hands.

Mulder sighed, musing "Well, looks like our first order of business is to start tracking your descendants down through the Historical Society, unless Meacham the younger has somehow found a way to put a lid on..." before being interrupted by a large "AHEM!" from his wife.

"And just *what* do you mean by 'we,' Mister?" she admonished him. "*You're* not going *anywhere* with that bum knee! I don't care if it *is* 'feeling fine' -- until the swelling is down enough so that you're comfortable wearing something other than those ugly sweats and no longer hobbling around the house looking like a little old man with that cane." Then she turned to Will. "William, do you think you can keep your father out of trouble while I pay a visit to the Historical Society?"

"Sure, Mom -- we can try starting a search on the Web. Right, Dad?" he added in an attempt to appease his father, who was now assuming the role that seemed to come naturally at such moments: the role of the pouter.

Finally, after a long time, Mulder spoke up. "Okay, buddy, I guess it's worth a shot. But Scully, if *anything* happens..."

"Don't worry, Mulder, you're the first I'll call in a pinch," Scully replied with a wink, adding with a point of the finger, "But *only* if you promise not to overexert that leg of yours!"

"Scout's honor," Mulder replied as he gave her the three- finger salute.

The ghost of Sam, meanwhile, looked very tearfully at them. "I am most 'preciative of this, really I am." Then he drifted back among the boxes, fading from their sight.


At the Annapolis library, Scully pored through the journals of the Maryland Historical Society, looking for information on the disposition of the furnishings of Maryland Oaks. Because Maryland had been part of the Union during the Civil War, there hadn't been the same degree of problem with Union soldiers looting and burning the stately mansions. The house had stood until 1946, when the termite- infested building had finally had to be razed. An estate sale was held in 1945 to sell off any furnishings that the owners did not want.

Although Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, the proclamation only applied to the Southern states that were in rebellion and did not apply to slaves in the Union. Lincoln needed the loyalty of slave owners in the Union and at the same time hoped to incite slaves in the South to rebel against their owners and deny the Confederacy a source of manpower.

So in Maryland, a slave-owning state, slavery in name did not end until the state itself outlawed the institution in 1864. However, the state adopted an apprenticeship system which forced about 10,000 Negro youths into forced labor. It was not until 1867 that the system was banned. Four years after the Emancipation Proclamation, slavery in America finally came to an end.

According to the old records, Samuel's wife and child were still owned by the Jennings family in 1864, then became employees. Samuel's son, John Moses Jennings (like many freed slaves, he took the family name of his former masters) worked his entire life as the family butler. He married a former slave from another plantation and they had seven children, three of which survived to adulthood and had children of their own. After those entries, however, there was no further information on Samuel's descendants in the Historical Society records.

But there was plenty on the Meacham family. The attendant on duty in the genealogical section was helpful.

"You'll find the Meacham records in with the other Maryland political families," said the librarian. "They're quite prominent in the state's history. May I ask why you're researching them? Are you writing a book?"

"I'm just getting some information on something that happened long ago -- before the Civil War -- and I was interested in finding out about descendants of people involved in this particular event," Scully answered.

"What event would that be?" asked the librarian.

Scully didn't answer, but excused herself and walked over to the section the woman had indicated.

Once Scully was out of sight, the woman picked up the phone. "Is this the Meacham campaign headquarters? Yes, well, could I speak to Mr. Meacham please? This is Dorothy Gilbert, an old friend of his mother. I have some information he may be interested in."

After a minute or two, she heard another man pick up the phone and speak. "This is Tom Meacham. Can I help you, Mrs. Gilbert?"

"Yes, you know my husband and I are big supporters of yours. We voted for your father every time he ran for state rep. He was a fine gentleman, God rest his soul."

"I appreciate that, Mrs. Gilbert. What did you need to talk to me about?"

"There's a lady here who's looking up information about your family around the time of the Civil War. Now, most everyone knows those were horrible times, then, but you never know how other people will spin things that happened a long time ago. I just thought you should know."

"What's her name?"

"I don't know, but I'll ask her and get back with you."

"Yes, please do."

Meacham hung up the phone.

"Tom, what's wrong? You look upset," Meacham's campaign manager noted.

"Someone is digging in my family's background, Bob. I'm not quite sure what to think about that."

"You don't have some tar in the ol' family woodpile, do you?" Bob asked jokingly.

"That's not funny, Bob. My blood is pure and you know it," Meacham retorted angrily.

"Just kidding. Hey, was your great-great-granddaddy in the Klan? Is that what you're worried about? Hell, no one can hold that against you."

"Yeah, they can. My opponent would love to find out something like that to use against me."

"What are you going to do about it?" asked Bob.

"I've got to make sure all records of my family are in my possession."

"Isn't it a little late if they've already researched the Historical Society records? And genealogy records are widespread," Bob pointed out.

"I don't know, but I'm going to find out who these people are and what they want."


The records Scully found on Peter Meacham were indeed rather thorough. He had served on the Union side in the 2nd Maryland Infantry, after being promised by the federal government that he would not have to give up his slaves. He was wounded in the Second Manassas when the Confederate Army flanked the Union forces. And though Meacham recovered completely from that, there was no record of any outstanding service. It seemed he mostly served as a general's aide. After the war, he ran for the State Legislature and thanks to his father's reputation in the state, won easily and served eight terms. Peter Meacham died at home Dec. 23, 1903. His son Paul ran for the vacant seat and won on the first try. Except for a few periods totaling 34 years, the Meachams had held the Legislative seat from their district the rest of the time since the Civil War ended. Thomas Meacham III now hoped to follow in the grand tradition set by his forefathers.

Scully called Mulder and Will with what she had discovered and they picked up the online trail of Samuel's family. They researched the state and county probate records and relayed to Scully what they found. Finally, Scully discovered that there were 21 direct descendants of Samuel that still lived in Maryland, and about 30 others scattered around the U.S.


Mulder home September 6 11:32 p.m.

Finally, long after she had put both Mulder and Will to bed (the first sign of a problem is when the 47-year-old man turns out to be a bigger baby about bedtime than the 7- year-old boy, she mused tiredly), she flipped through the printouts. The only way she'd managed to get Mulder into bed at an "early" 9:30 was to promise him a massage and as much cuddling as his leg would allow. Though he continued to insist it was much better and the swelling had gone down just a little, it hadn't improved nearly enough to satisfy her. Scully had promised that she would only spend an hour at most on the material before turning in and picking it up in the morning. After all, as Mulder himself had insisted, it was a good idea to set a good example for the child. She rolled her eyes at the thought and cracked the kinks out of her neck in the process.

It was now 11:30, a good hour *past* the time she was *supposed* to be in bed, but to her credit he had been sound asleep, so she decided he wouldn't be any the wiser if she perused the printouts for one more clue. Just for a little while longer. But her efforts as of yet had been in vain. Suddenly, despite the fact that she had every single door and window shut in the house, as she cast a thoughtful glance upstairs, a great wind blew the stacks of paper in every direction. The strange rustling noise brought her attention back to the table, and she was astonished to find only one single sheet of paper facing her. Then, almost by itself, her pen rolled forwards and abruptly stopped at one single name and address, second from the top:

Amanda Jennings Holden 1865 N. Fairfax Street Alexandria, Virginia 22304

Scully stared at the name in utter shock and amazement at the possibility that the very descendant of Samuel who could possibly have the journal could live so close to the location of her husband's former "bachelor pad," but could not be in any way prepared for the utter shock that awaited her the moment she finally dared to look up. For there, materializing into her view, was an attractive young girl in an old-fashioned nightgown with long, blonde hair hanging loosely almost to her hips, splotches of dirt on her nightgown and face, and piercing blue eyes that overflowed in sadness and pain, not necessarily mortal.

As Scully opened her mouth to speak, the girl put her hand to her lips, saying "Shhhhhh." As it turned out, the order was rather unnecessary, as Scully's mouth hung open in utter shock. At an earlier time, she would have sneered at the possibility of a ghost were it not for the chill in the air -- the very same chill she felt the first time she saw her father in her living room that fateful night.

But it was just her now -- she couldn't rely on her ever open-minded husband or innocent young child to do the thing she was so afraid to do -- to actually address the very spirits that haunted her as though they were living human beings who could respond to her. So she took a deep breath and asked, "Who are you?"

"Naaaancy MacGregor," the spirit replied. "Samuel called me here."

Scully held the sheet out to her and pointed to the name. "Do you know if this woman has the journal that proves that Peter Meacham raped and murdered you?" It sounded all too eerily familiar to her, as though she were in fact interrogating a living suspect, except for the fact that she had just used the phrase "murdered you." Like this was actually a normal conversation.

Just as Scully was positive her lack of sleep was beginning to get to her, the girl nodded again. Then she spoke for the second time since her appearance, in a small, soft Southern drawl. "You must go to her and get it. You must help Sam."

The realization of what she was suggesting suddenly hit Scully full force. "You realize that even with this evidence, the descendants of that horrible man who did this to you may stop at nothing to conceal the truth?"

For the first time since her arrival, the timidity of this new ghost was gone, replaced by a flash of anger, rage and determination. "It has been hidden long enough. It is time for the truth to be known and for the lies to be revealed once and for all. I have watched these bastards rise to glory without paying for what they did to me, and I had to watch a good friend die on my account, accused of something he would never have done! I won't allow him to suffer for my sake any more -- I cannot rest until this is resolved. And I will do whatever I must to see to it that the truth is known."

She then took a step towards Scully, reaching out, and Scully suddenly found herself backing away in an irrational moment of fear as her breathing began to quicken. Then suddenly, Nancy reached for her shoulder and grasped it, looking her straight in the eye. "Thank you for helping us." Then she backed away and vanished, leaving Scully to gape and gasp in horror.

It was that moment that Will picked to pound down the steps on a mission. "Mom, Dad wants to know if you're gonna come up to bed like you promised or if you found something more interesting. Sounds like he's in one of his mushy...Mom?"

Scully took one look at him and found herself drawing him to her in a monstrous bear hug that took his breath away, and in the tradition of his father, Will knew something had happened to his mother, and returned the hug as best he could. Then when she finally broke the hug and had calmed a bit, Will quietly said, "What happened, Mom? Did Sam come down here?"

"No, it wasn't him," Scully replied gently. "Just go back and tell your father I'll be there in a minute, and that we may be one step closer to helping Sam."


Mulder's eyes shone as he watched Scully undress then slip into her silk pajamas.

"You needn't get all dressed up on my account," he quipped.

Scully gave a little laugh and lay down beside him.

"I don't know if now is the time to mention it, Mulder, but I had a visitor a little while ago -- Nancy MacGregor's ghost."

Mulder propped his head up on his elbow.

"Really! Don't tell me we've got two ghosts haunting our house."

"No, I don't get that impression," Scully replied. "She said that Samuel asked her to come. She told me where the journal is -- with one of Sam's descendants in Alexandria."

Mulder glanced at his watch. "Too late at night to be calling her. Maybe we can reach her in the morning. Now, c'mere," he said, opening his arms to his wife.

She readily snuggled into his embrace and eagerly returned his kisses. Her hand snaked into his pajama bottoms and he groaned in pleasure and pushed up her top to put his mouth to work.

"What about your knee?" she murmured.

"What knee?" he replied with an evil flash in his eye and redirected his attention to her breasts as she grinned in delight.


Holden Residence 1865 N. Fairfax Street
Alexandria,Virginia 22304
September 7 3:10 p.m.

As Mrs. Amanda Holden emerged from the stairs, Will, seated between either parent and idly fingering his father's cane, couldn't help but marvel over the tidy appearance of someone who was obviously home for the day -- well, of course there was his own mother, but she was something of an exception to the rule. Amanda was a slightly plump woman in her late forties, dressed in white linen slacks and a light-blue silk blouse that flattered her dark skin. Her short, dark, hair was perfectly in place, and it was absolutely marvelous to Will how far Samuel's family had obviously come since the tragedy. This did not mean that this false legacy had not left its scars on her, however, as Will found upon watching her clutch the worn, brown volume against her chest like a valuable piece of gold. Gazing at her large, brown eyes, the telltale smudges of mascara betrayed the notion that their asking for the journal had not been an unemotional experience for her.

Finally, as the three of them eyed her sympathetically, Scully cleared her throat, saying, "Thank you very much, Mrs. Holden -- I know what an emotional request this must be for you."

"No, no," Amanda replied in a slightly choked voice as she attempted a smile, slowly handing over the brown journal with the words "Sam's Story -- 1858" scrawled on the front. "For some time now, this legacy has been passed on, and our family has tried in vain to clear the name of Samuel McCoy, but you can't *imagine* the series of legal walls we've run up against! It seems that everywhere I've gone to prove his innocence, there's been at least one officer or politician who's informed me that there is no judge in the state of Maryland who would believe such a story! Some of the local residents would even think it would be fun to redecorate my car, if you know what I mean!" she added with a bitter edge to your voice.

"You mean they painted it with graffiti?" asked Will in a cautious, sympathetic voice.

Amanda smiled, mostly for Will's benefit, though her bitterness was all too apparent. "Well, 'paint' is something of an understatement, I'm afraid -- if anything, the paint was *scratched off* to form less than kind words, the only one worth repeating in your company being 'killer.' It was certainly nice to feel welcome, and of course the repairs weren't exactly cheap, needless to say!"

"I'm very sorry you had to go through all that, Mrs. Holden," Mulder said gently. "Racism is a very ugly thing no matter how you paint it, pun intended."

Actually chuckling a bit, Amanda swallowed a forming sob as she asked, "May I ask how you found that I had the journal, and what it spoke of, just out of curiosity?"

Scully and Mulder exchanged a slight grin as Scully, in all seriousness, informed her, "Well, let's just say we have our sources."

Much to their relief and surprise, rather than the usual skeptical glare that normally met such cryptic responses, Amanda actually beamed. "Well, it appears the Lord God just answered our prayers -- that the truth would surface eventually despite everything, and he's brought you right here to carry out this purpose. I can't thank you enough for this."

Will smiled to himself. While he wasn't exactly sure his father would agree that it was "the Lord God" who answered their prayers, it certainly did appear that there were other deities beyond this earthly realm making sure the truth would indeed surface, and would set at least one deserving soul free.

As they were to learn hours later upon their return home, however, there was at least *one* presence on *this* planet who was determined that his own legacy and means would be preserved by concealing of the truth. Will ran eagerly up to the answering machine which blinked with the promise of a message, only to be rewarded with blank static as he hit the rewind button. Then his eyes flew to the caller ID his parents had installed, flashing a number alongside the name "T. Meacham."

He went quite still and heard the tell-tale thud of his father's cane behind him, feeling his father's large hand protectively curling around his slim shoulder as the name also registered with him. "Scully, lock all the doors and windows," he declared in an authoritative voice.

Scully was a bit sidetracked by an eager Ghostrider licking her makeup off at the moment, but was instantly alerted by the urgency in her husband's tone. "Mulder, what's..."

"Just do it," Mulder said quietly but firmly, this time pointing to the caller ID. Scully's eyes widened in realization. "Oh, my God...the Historical Society...they must have called Meacham..."

"...and Meacham must have done his *own* research to preserve his *own* family legacy as well as save his own sorry a...uh, scrawny little neck come election time," Mulder quickly amended, realizing that Will was standing right next to them, eyeing them both with worry. "Somehow the news that your ancestor was a rapist and murderer who conveniently pinned the crime on a poor defenseless slave doesn't make for a very persuasive campaign, you know."

"As though we'd planned to vote for him in the first place," Scully added with a chuckle bordering on hysteria kept barely in check for Will's benefit. Then quieting herself with a deep breath, she added, "You don't suppose he would limit it to *legal* action, do you? Sue us for the property of the journal?"

"Well Amanda willingly handed it over -- he won't have a case and he knows it," Mulder replied. "I think he'll try to come personally to destroy the evidence."

As Will's eyes widened in fear and horror, Scully quietly marched up the stairs, displaying a brave front for her family. Mulder followed at a considerably reasonable rate, the cane serving as nothing more than an extra boost now. Will trailed behind.

Moving aside several shoe boxes, Scully exposed the normally-concealed safe, opened it and placed the journal inside. She closed the door and spun the combination, then carefully maneuvered the boxes in front of the safe. She jumped a bit, startled by the presence of her husband and son as she turned around.

"I'm sorry," she laughed when she realized her mistake. "I thought you were Meacham or some of our 'spiritual friends.'"

"You know, Scully," Mulder informed her with a twinkle in his eye, "there's something a bit wrong when the only people you can seem to trust are the ones who are dead and haunting your house as ghosts."

Scully could only chuckle in agreement, and Will found a bit of amusement and truth in that statement as well.

Determined to stay relaxed, yet as cautious as possible, the three settled in for the evening to watch a pay per view movie on TV. Mulder microwaved some popcorn while Will retrieved sodas from the fridge. They laughed all the way through the sci-fi comedy, Will slipping some of his popcorn to Ghostrider from time to time.

Before retiring for the night, Mulder and Scully both took their Sigs from the gun safe, loaded them and put them in each bedside table.

An hour later, both of them sated from rolling around amongst the covers, they were sound asleep.


Mulder Residence
September 8 4:15 a.m.

Mulder awoke to hear Ghostrider whining at his bedside. "Whatsamatter, boy, need to go out?" He yawned and threw back the covers. Grabbing his cane, he followed the dog down the stairs and to the front door. Mulder unlocked the door and Ghostrider ran out into the night, barking.

"Ghostrider, quiet! You're going to wake the neighbors!" He stepped out the door to scold the dog and suddenly felt cold metal pressed against his neck.

"That will be quite enough, Mr. Mulder. Now let's go inside. Leave the dog outside."

Mulder cursed himself for letting his guard down. Appraising the situation, he knew he couldn't be sure the man wouldn't shoot him on the spot. But reaching out for the doorknob, Mulder pushed the lock and slammed it behind him, locking both himself and his attacker outside -- and his family inside.

"You fool!" growled the man and slammed the barrel of his gun across Mulder's head.

Mulder dropped to his knees, shaking his head groggily, blood streaming from a deep cut on his temple.

"That was a very stupid thing to do, Mr. Mulder. I could easily shoot you right now and be gone before the police arrive."

"I take it you're... Thomas Meacham?" Mulder said, gritting his teeth against both the pain in his head and in his bad knee, which was now throbbing after having fallen on it.

"Yes, and you have something I need. That black bitch doesn't have it anymore."

When Mulder chanced a look at Meacham, there was a wild look in his eyes he could hardly associate with the pristine images of the politician's campaign posters. He half-wondered which Meacham dwelled behind them at that very moment.

"What did you do to her, you bastard?" Mulder growled.

"Nothing. She wasn't home. I broke in and turned that place upside down. I know you talked to her. I saw your number on her caller ID. She gave you the journal, didn't she?" Meacham asked.

"Don't know what you're talking about," Mulder bluffed badly.

Meacham kicked him hard in the ribs. "Stop lying and open that door."

Mulder was curled up on the ground now, but managed to gasp out an answer. "Can't. Don't have my key."

Meacham pulled out his cell phone, consulted a piece of paper, then dialed Mulder's number.

Scully answered sleepily, noting that her husband was not beside her in the bed.

"Mrs. Mulder, if you value your husband's life, open the front door now. Don't even think about calling the police or I'll shoot him at the first sign of the cops."

"Don't do it, Scully! I'm OK, call for help!"

That outburst earned Mulder another kick in the ribs. This time, he was sure he felt something give. He tried not to cry out, though, not wanting to influence Scully into opening the door.

Surprisingly, however, the front door swung open, but there was no one there.

Meacham hauled Mulder to his feet and forced him inside at gunpoint. The lights suddenly came on and Mulder saw Scully standing at the top of the stairs, training her gun sights on Meacham. But Mulder was in front.

"Drop it, lady, or I'll kill him."

Will picked this time to poke his head out of his room. "Mom?"

"Get back in your room, Will, and lock the door," his mother ordered.

The boy did as he was told. He had no phone in his room, but he did have his Palm Pilot. He could only hope that one of his instant messaging contacts was online.

Out on the staircase, there was a standoff with Meacham holding the gun on a bleeding Mulder, and Scully pointing her gun at Meacham.

She heard a rustling noise beside her and then someone whispered in her ear. "Let him come up, ma'am. I'll take care of him."

"Mulder..." she reminded Samuel.

"I know," he breathed.

"What do you want, Meacham?"

"The journal. I know you have it. Give it to me and not only will I let your husband live, I'll make it worth your while. Name your price."

"What journal?"

He put the gun to Mulder's head. "The one that slave spawn gave you. It's full of lies."

"Scully, if you give it to him, he'll kill us all anyway."

"Trust me," the invisible Sam murmured again to Scully.

"OK, it's up here. Let my husband go and I'll show you."

Meacham prodded Mulder with the gun and they moved up the stairs. As soon as they were a few steps from the staircase, Samuel materialized into Meacham's view.

Meacham gasped and immediately turned the gun on Sam. Mulder took advantage of the distraction to grab Meacham's gun arm. The two began wrestling for the weapon. Scully stood by anxiously, unable to fire with the two of them in each other's grasp. But Mulder was already hurt and when Meacham slammed a fist into Mulder's now obviously broken ribs, he cried out and fell away, breaking through the balcony railing. He managed to grab hold of the stair bannister, though and swung himself onto the stairs. But his momentum sent him rolling down the steps. He lay unmoving at the bottom.

In the meantime, Meacham had problems of his own, with Samuel's icy hands closed around his throat.

"Samuel, no! Don't do it!" cried a female Southern voice.

*Nancy,* thought Scully.

Slowly Meacham was released and ruefully rubbed his sore neck in an attempt to catch his breath, giving enough time for an awed Scully to reach for his gun. But Meacham had recovered and brought the gun up, pointing it at her. Seeing this, Samuel picked him up and threw him over the balcony to the floor below.

As Scully watched, Samuel then turned to Nancy, standing just behind him. "I'm sorry, Nancy," Samuel whispered sadly, "but there was no other way. Another crime would have been committed otherwise; the chain would go on and on, and we'd never be free."

Nancy caressed his jaw, wiping away a tear that had formed. "It's all right, Samuel, I understand. But we're both free now, and I have all of you to thank for it." She nodded towards Mulder. "He should be fine in no time --much better than that Meacham. It's over now." With that, Nancy took Samuel's hand and they faded away into the night.

After recovering from her ghostly experience, Scully ran first to Mulder, calling for Will as she ran down the stairs.

As she reached Mulder and confirmed he was alive, someone pounded on the door.

"Scully! Mulder! Open the door!" The voice belonged to Skinner but she had no idea what he was doing here or how he had received word to come.

Will scrambled out of his room and down the stairs to open the door. When he saw Skinner, the boy threw himself into the man's arms.

Two police officers followed Skinner, holding Will, into the house.

Seeing the two injured men, they radioed for two ambulances.

Meacham was still alive, but unconscious, with blood running from his mouth and ears.

Skinner set Will down and knelt beside Scully. Mulder was starting to come around.

She held two fingers up in front of Mulder's eyes. "How many, Mulder?"

"Uhhh, give me a hint," he groaned.

Mulder tried to sit up, but Scully wouldn't let him. "You just be still." She turned to Skinner. "How did you know?"

"I couldn't sleep, so I was up surfing the Net. Will got online and told me what was going on. I called the police and arrived at the same time they did," Skinner replied, ruffling Will's hair.

"I guess it was just a matter of...*cough*...spooky timing," Mulder gasped, debating whether to grab his ribs or leg first. "Which...reminds me..."

"They left, Mulder," Scully replied gently. "They left shortly after Meacham's accident. I'm afraid we won't be seeing much more of them, but they were extremely grateful for all that we've done."

"Hey, anytime," wheezed Mulder as the paramedics strapped him to the gurney, carefully as they could, minding the broken ribs.

"So that means Sam's free now?" Will asked with a look of delight and relief in his eyes.

"Yes, honey, he's free now," Scully smiled at Will, a tear trickling down her cheek. "They both are."

As Mulder was loaded into the ambulance and Scully and Will crawled in the back for the ride to the hospital, Skinner stole a quick moment by his side. "I don't suppose you'd have a clue what the hell they're talking about, would you, Mulder?" His voice dipped a bit deliberately on the word "hell."

"Long...story..." Mulder whispered before his eyes slipped shut, sending him into blissful unconsciousness.


Anne Arundel Medical Center
Annapolis, Maryland
September 13 5:15 p.m.

"Are you sure you got absolutely *everything* in there, pal?" Mulder called to Will in the bathroom from his perch atop the bed as he managed to pull the now one-legged pair of pants over the stiff metal and elastic brace on his leg.

At *long* last, Scully was in the process of springing him from this cell of a hospital room, as he now thought of it. He had recovered from the concussion, but still had to wear an elastic rib brace to support his healing ribs. Unfortunately, that *darn* leg of his had needed rather extensive surgery. The fall while it was already injured certainly hadn't helped matters, as there was some rather extensive tendon and ligament damage to mend. All things considered, the doctors and Scully had agreed it would be a good idea to keep him for a good four to five days, just to be on the safe side.

As if the bit with the leg wasn't humiliating enough, a rather mischievous Scully had informed him that Will apparently had a tape recorder on during his few moments of wakefulness in the recovery room, recording whatever the...heck he had said under the influence of the anesthesia. Mulder had his suspicions, of course, that it was Scully's idea as something of a blackmail scheme to remind him of the next time he tried to cover up an injury. She was conveniently allowing Will to take the fall, but in his grand tradition, Mulder couldn't prove it, of course.

Besides, if he tried, she just *might* carry out her threat to leave him there forever and raise Will as a single mother.

Will, meanwhile, to give his father a chance to rest his leg, had been in the bathroom, packing up the essentials for Mulder's latest hospital stay. Fortunately, there wasn't much, just pretty much his toothpaste, toothbrush and shaving kit. Just to be safe, however, he would look around to make sure he hadn't missed anything. Satisfied, he bounded out to his father with the duffle bag. "Yup -- don't see a straggler among the bunch in there!" he beamed to his father!

"That's my boy," Mulder beamed in return, giving as much of a hug around the shoulders as he could manage without hurting his sore ribs. With her unique sense of timing, Scully picked that time to appear at his door to happily announce that he'd been given the "all-clear." Mulder grinned in relief and gratitude and hoisted himself onto his crutches to follow Will out the door.

"By the way," Scully said to them in the car, "I told Skinner about your earlier incident, and he volunteered to - - and I quote -- nail you to the bed if yoou ever try that macho stunt of avoiding medical treatment the next time that happens!" Her response, naturally, was an eye-roll from her husband accompanied by a "Yes, dear," in his most browbeaten voice, to which Will chuckled.

"Hey," Will suddenly cried out thoughtfully. "Do you think Sam will come back to say goodbye?"

"Oh, I don't think so, honey," Scully replied. "I think they pretty much said their goodbyes that night. Now that Thomas Meacham has paid his dues, he doesn't have a reason to stay any more."

"That was really sad about him, though," Will mused, thinking back about what Skinner had informed them the day Mulder was moved to his private room. He had pulled his mother out into the hall, and Will knew he hadn't been meant to hear, but he had still overheard Skinner telling her that Thomas Meacham had been paralyzed from the neck down, most likely for the rest of his life. He was currently still in the hospital, under guard, until he could stand trial on the charges of attempted murder and home invasion. Even if he managed to win parole from prison, he would always be a prisoner of his own body and the wheelchair. After 140 years, at long last, Thomas Meacham was paying for the sins of his forefathers and had lost his freedom, to say nothing of his reputation.

"Yes, it is sad," Mulder piped up. "But somebody had to pay for that crime, and no one had. And worse yet, Mr. Meacham was about to commit more crimes in order to cover up the crime his forefather had committed, rather than coming out and admitting the truth."

"Look!" Will suddenly cried, pointing out the window. Mulder and Scully suddenly looked out the window (poor Scully had to park the car before she had to swerve and miss oncoming traffic in the process) and saw the most beautiful, brilliant rainbow they had ever seen in their lives.

Which was truly remarkable and scientifically unexplainable to Scully, seeing as there wasn't a cloud in the sky.

As they looked deeper into the rainbow, they made out the faint images of Nancy MacGregor and Samuel holding hands, waving at them. Waving back, they watched as they smiled brightly and faded away, out of sight.

Into the ultimate freedom.

THE END

 

 


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