Title: Payback
Author: NotHappening
Category: Halloween challengefic

Summary: The year after bullies play a mean Halloween prank on the Mulder children, he pays them back. (story by a guest writer set in the The Family G-Man universe)

October 31st, 2005

It was a classic Halloween night; perfect for both Trick or Treaters and mischief makers. The full moon's eerie glow fueled over-active imaginations and provided the ideal backdrop for the occasional cloud that drifted by. It was cold enough to create an atmosphere conducive to the holiday but not so cold that heavy coats were needed.

Most of the children had returned home by now, having gathered goodies before the moon rose fully. However, three boys sat huddled in a clump of bushes...they were on a stake-out of sorts, and the newest member of the group was growing impatient.

"Come on, guys. We musta watched a million kids knock on that door! And they all walked away with a butt-load of candy. What's the problem?" He restlessly adjusted his Dracula costume and stood up.

His companions – one dressed as a pretty gruesome mad scientist and the other a good rendition of Frankenstein's monster – grabbed his hand and pulled him down.

"Shut up, Dennis!" The hitch in the monster's voice eroded his ability to intimidate. His fear was tangible. "We already told you. The Mulder house is haunted by evil demons and stuff. Me and Gene almost got kilt last year and we barely got away from it."

"Yeah." Gene's head bobbed in agreement. "And it's put a curse on us! We ain't going back!" He couldn't suppress a shiver. "That place is creepy...and weird!"

Dennis shook off his friends words and stood again, stepping away from them. "It's Halloween, duffus! Everything is supposed to be creepy and weird." He stepped out of the bushes. "I'm going over there and you 'girls' can hide in the bushes if you're so scared."

He crossed the street and started up the walkway to the old Victorian house with more confidence that he felt. But he was cold and tired of hiding and he wanted to go home and enjoy the loot they had gathered earlier. It did look creepy though. Pumpkins ringed the expansive porch and all manner of ghoulish faces had been carved into each one. The flicker of candle light from within each of them created undulating shadows on the porch.

When Dennis eased onto the first step he was startled by a rustling in the shrubbery and a dense fog suddenly crept along his path. Was it his imagination or was it pulling at his legs as it swirled around him. He turned to look at the place where his two friends still huddled out of sight and wondered if he had made a foolish mistake.

The two boys in hiding gasped at the look on Dennis' face and unconsciously settled deeper into brush.

"That fog stuff never happened earlier, Danny," Gene was whispering. "We shoulda stopped him. We shoulda told him the whole story about what we did. That's what woke up this demon thing. The curse might be on him just from hanging around us!"

Danny was losing his tenuous hold on his own fear and Gene's obvious terror was making an impression. But he was the leader of this somewhat ragged gang and he wasn't ready to admit defeat. He tried one last, feeble attempt to calm his friend as well as himself. "And maybe there is no curse and we just imagined it. Let's see what happens to Dennis. If he disappears, we're getting outta here and we're never telling anyone!"

Inside the house Fox Mulder watched the young boy creeping carefully toward their door. He pressed the remote control activating another burst of fog and the automated rustling in the shrubs. He grinned.

"Mulder, you are enjoying this way too much! You're scaring that boy to death. You know he's been hanging around the others and they've no doubt filled his head with gruesome tales of what happened to them last Halloween." Dana Scully's voice was mildly chastising.

Mulder's grin only widened as he waited to see if the boy would finally knock on the door or run away. He tried for his most innocent look. "I didn't have anything to do with what happened to those boys last year, Scully. You know that was some hideous, avenging monster that chased those two little juvenile delinquents. It almost had them too."

There was a tentative knock on the door and Mulder glanced at Scully and nodded toward the big bowl of candy nearby. Her raised eyebrow clearly communicated that this was his evil plan and she was not participating. Mulder scooped up the bowl and opened the door. He greeted the trembling boy on his doorstep with his most welcoming smile.

"Nice outfit, Dude! For a second there I thought Dracula himself had come for a visit." He deposited a generous portion of candy into the boy's bag. "Be careful now. It's getting a little late to be out alone."

Visible relief washed over Dennis. "Thanks, Mr. Mulder, sir," he stammered. "I'm headed home right now."

Mulder nodded and watched him scamper down the walk holding his bag of candy like a trophy. He closed the door and met Scully's accusing stare. "Well, aren't you the nicest monster on the block? What's with the Mr. Rogers routine? I thought the point was to scare the pants off him."

"Not him, Scully." He nodded toward the door. "Them! He was just a little bonus bait to set the trap."

"Them, Mulder? What makes you so sure that 'they' are out there watching your little charade?"

He looked truly offended. "Oh, they're out there, Scully. They are watching every kid in the neighborhood rake in the candy. They're getting their nerve up."

Off her doubtful look he continued. "Hey, I know these things. I'm a highly trained, skillful and intuitive federal agent, and I know they are sitting out there getting ready to make their move."

"Former federal agent, Mulder! Listen to yourself. You aren't tracking down a serial killer or putting the fear of God into some genetic mutant. These are little boys. Little boys, Mulder. Not much older than Sammy or Page. How would you react if some one did this to one of our kids? I'm just glad they were all worn out from Trick or Treating and fell asleep early. I'm not sure they should see their father in his 'avenging angel' mode."

"If one of our kids did what those two did, I'd consider putting a little 'fear of the devil' into them myself." He was pacing now, remembering the frustration of the previous year. "Those two delinquents sneaked over here last year and busted every one of the jack-o-lanterns our kids carved for Halloween. And then they had the gall to egg the porch. Have your forgotten the looks on the kids' faces when they saw their pumpkins had been violated? Well, I haven't. And what's wrong with them knowing their father would stick up for them?"

"They know that already, Mulder! They don't need a demonstration. I know you saw those boys running away last year when you drove up." She held up her hand when he started to interrupt. "And I know you told their parents and neither of them believed their little angels would do such a thing. It's frustrating but we can hardly demand that they accept your word over that of their own kids. And we have no proof to back up your account. It's frustrating! It's infuriating and it's wrong on so many levels. But it happens, Mulder. It happens."

"Not to my kids, Scully. Nobody does something like that to my kids and just goes scott free!"

She had seen that determined look on his face many times and she sighed. Mulder hated injustice and lying more than anything and he was fiercely protective of their children. She certainly couldn't fault him for that!

"So, what? You're going to scare them to death every Halloween until they're old enough to catch on to your stunts?"

His evil grin was back. "Yeah, that! Or until they do the right thing and admit their guilt and apologize to the kids!"

Scully couldn't hold back the laughter and she reached up to kiss her partner lightly on the lips. "That's one of the things I love about you, Mulder. Your sense of justice and belief in right over wrong... not matter how unrealistic it is."

Mulder pulled her in for a more effective kiss and whispered near her ear. "Care to discuss some of those other lovable things about me, Scully?"

"Maybe when you're finished terrorizing the neighborhood kids!"

Outside Danny and Gene watched in disbelief as Dennis walked confidently away from Mulder's house. He raised his bag of candy just to taunt them and laughed as he walked right past their hiding place. He didn't look in their direction but they clearly heard his parting jab. "Wusses!"

Anger rolled through the two boys huddled out of sight. They were used to bullying others into doing their bidding and it didn't sit well to be bested. No doubt everyone at school would hear about their cowardice and just the thought of the humiliation spurred them to action.

"Come on. We're not going to give him the satisfaction." Danny tugged on Gene's sleeve. "If he can do this, so can we. And don't even think of not going with me. Come on."

Gene followed closely behind Danny as they left their refuge and walked toward the Mulder home. A slight wind sent a chill through them and they crept closer and closer to the house. About halfway up the walkway a low moan could be heard and the fog which had dissipated after Dennis left seemed to roll across the lawn toward them. Gene grabbed Danny's arm. "What is that? It sounds like somebody's dying in there."

"It's just the same thing that happened when Dennis was over here. We probably just couldn't hear the moaning. See, it's the same fog we saw when he was here. Come on! It's too late to turn back now."

He was practically dragging his friend by this point and they reached the bottom of the doorsteps together. The fog was thickening around them and the eyes of the jack-o-lanterns seemed to follow their every move.

First step.

"Man, I'm scared!"

"Shut up!"

Second step.

"And I gotta pee."

"You pee your pants and I'm telling. Come on!"

Third and final step.

The two boys hesitated for a brief moment before stepping tentatively onto the porch and moving toward the door.

Suddenly the wind grew fierce and the fog turned an ugly green and swirled like an evil tornado around their legs. The moaning from before became louder and closer and was joined by a terrible shrieking that pierced their ears. They were frozen... literally too scared to move. The front door suddenly looked miles away and in the blink of an eye everything went black and they found themselves in a disorienting, impenetrable darkness. Neither one could say later who screamed first but they both fell to the floor and huddled together.

The icy cold voice of death seemed to come from every direction and penetrated their minds and chilled their hearts.

I have seen your evil deeds.
You cannot escape punishment.
Only the form is at choice.
Remember this – your final warning!

Evil devours evil
It is irrefutable
Confess your guilt
Make restitution to your victims
Cleanse your souls this night
Or forever be cursed!

As suddenly as it began, it ended. The fog slipped away and the silence was deafening. The boys were crying and shivering when the lights came back on and the front door opened.

Mulder took one look at the frightened children and experienced a momentary pang of guilt. Maybe he had gone a little overboard. He knelt beside the boys and touched Danny's shoulder.

"Are you boys OK? I heard screaming." Despite the guilt, he wasn't about to let them off the hook at this point.

They both jumped as if the devil himself had touched them, and they stared up at Mulder with unfocused eyes. Their relief was palpable when they realized it was a real live human being standing over them and not Satan himself.

"It was the devil! He shut off all the lights and tried to smother us with his poisonous fog. He tried to kill us!" Danny regained his voice, if not his composure, but tears streamed down his face and he looked nervously around. "Did you see him?"

Mulder tried for his most serious expression. "No, guys. I didn't see anything like that. And the porch light has been on all night, although we were about to turn it off since it's getting late. I think we've had the last of the Trick or Treaters. Is that what brought you guys here tonight?"

Gene looked at Danny and they reached instant understanding and shook their heads as both tried to speak at the same time.

"We were coming over to apologize."

"We did it, Mr. Mulder. We did it and the devil is gonna curse us forever and we're sorry. We were just..."

"Yeah, we're sorry. We didn't mean it. We didn't."

"It was just a prank. Everybody does pranks on Halloween. We don't want to die."

Both boys were crying in earnest now and Mulder kneeled beside them and put his arms around their shoulders. He was aware of Scully standing in the doorway but did not turn to see the worried expression he knew was on her face.

"Listen to me, guys. Look at me and listen to what I'm telling you. Pranks are dangerous and sometimes go wrong. People get hurt even if you don't mean for it to happen. And a guilty conscious can be one of the most painful things to live with. I'm assuming we're talking about what happened last Halloween?"

Both heads nodded vigorously.

"I thought so. You boys did a very malicious thing destroying something others were proud of, and you lied. You thought you got away with it, but when you do something you know is wrong, you are never free of it even if you don't get caught. It will eat at you and cause more pain than you can imagine. Guilt is heavy and sometimes feels like a curse! That's not Satan's doing, it's your own guilty conscious trying to make things right. I'm glad to see that you both have a sense of right and wrong and that you want to make amends."

"How do we do that?"

"Let's get you into the house first and Scully will make us some hot chocolate to warm you up. Then you're going to call your parents and ask them to come pick you up. And when they get here, I think it would be in your best interest if you told them the complete truth about what happened last year. Of course, you might want to tell them about your experience tonight too!"

The boys exchanged a quick glance before Danny spoke for both of them. "Uh, Mr. Mulder, would it be OK if we didn't tell our parents about the stuff that happened on the porch tonight? I mean, they might not believe us and, if they did, it might scare them to know we almost didn't make it."

Mulder smiled and valiantly tried not to look too smug when he passed Scully in the doorway. "I think that would be fine, guys. No need to worry your parents now that the danger is over."

A half hour later two very embarrassed and apologetic fathers stood in Mulder's living room with a firm grip on their respective sons. Danny's father extended his hand to Mulder. "I'm very sorry for the actions of my son, Mr. Mulder. And I'm also sorry that I didn't believe you last year when you told us about the incident."

Mulder shook the man's hand and nodded. "It's just Mulder... you can leave off the 'Mr'. We all want to believe the best of our children. Your son showed a lot of courage in admitting his guilt tonight. I hope that's what you both remember about this incident."

"Thank you, Mulder. Danny and Gene will be over first thing in the morning to apologize to your kids and get started with the chores they'll be doing as a small restitution."

Mulder grinned. "Well, I'm sure my kids will be more than happy to forgive and forget, especially when they find out they won't be spending the day raking leaves."

Before closing the door, Mulder watched the fathers and sons walk away and hoped the evening had a lasting impact on the boys. He turned to find Scully watching him intently from across the room.

"Mulder, you amaze me. Just when I think I've got you all figured out, you go and surprise me again." She moved to stand before him her hands resting casually on his chest.

"So you thought I'd rip all four of them a new one, Scully?" His hands found their way into her hair and he tilted her face up so he could look directly into her clear blue eyes.

Scully smiled. "It had occurred to me that a little gloating on your part might be on the agenda. This could have been dealt with a long time ago if those men had listened to you a year ago."

Mulder nodded. "Yeah, well, I will admit that a 'little victory dance' was definitely considered when I was formulating this little plan. But, something you said earlier tonight might have tempered my reaction a bit."

His fingers were gently massaging Scully's scalp, causing no small distraction, and she slipped her hands underneath his shirt, eliciting a shiver from her partner when her flesh met his. Her voice was soft and playful. "Pray tell what I said that you actually listened to, Mulder. I might want to make a note for future discussions."

Mulder pulled her closer so their faces were almost touching. "You asked me how I would feel if it were our kids in trouble. It occurred to me that even good kids sometime make bad decisions." His lips were only a breath away from hers. "And they do have an abundance of Mulder genes and even with the balancing sanity of your Scully DNA; we might find ourselves having to pull their butts out of trouble in the future. 'Do unto others... and all that stuff'. You're rubbing off on me, Scully."

It was Scully who closed the minute distance between them, claiming his lips in a heated kiss as her hands circled his body and any 'rubbing' was definitely not metaphorical.

"How about a little adult 'trick or treating', Scully. I think I'm finished terrorizing little kids and I seem to remember you promising to expound on more of my lovable traits later. It's much later, Scully. Much, much later." He was whispering against her neck in between gently kissing places he knew were erogenous zones for her and guaranteed to jump start the rest of their evening.

Scully demonstrated her knowledge of his body as she reached up to run her tongue around the outside of his ear before gently nipping his earlobe. "What's your preference, Mulder? Trick? Or Treat?" she whispered directly into his ear and smiled at the erotic groan he wasn't even aware he'd made.

She gasped as he swept her into his arms and made record time getting to the sanctuary of their bedroom. "Surprise me, Scully!"

And she did!


Written for the Halloween Trick Challenge

Happy Halloween 2009
NotHappening @

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