Title: Push
Author: nimbi
Disclaimers:

I have no money. I'm not being paid. These characters are not mine. Please don't sue me!! All of the characters in this story are either from the TV shows American Gothic or X-Files. American Gothic is owned by CBS and is the creation of Shaun Cassidy. X-Files is owned by MULDER and is the creation of Chris Carter.

Summary: In this American Gothic/X-Files crossover, the death of an FBI agent in Trinity brings Special Agents Mulder and Scully to town. While their investigation focuses on the Sheriff, the mysterious Cigarette Smoking Man pays a visit to various Trinity residents.


Jacob Fisher stared at the knife the Sheriff had placed before him, the man's words echoing in his brain, 'You have a choice. I don't appreciate anyone draggin' up the past in my town. The way I see it you know just a little too much. Now, you can stay here in Trinity and never leave or...' And here the man had placed the carving knife on Jacob's kitchen table. 'You know what you have to do.' Then the Sheriff walked away. Jacob was shocked at the man's arrogance, at his assurance at his--Jacob looked down at the deep wound in his stomach. When did he do that?

"His BP is low!" Dr. Crower said. Agent Fisher awoke in the sterile world of a hospital. Anxiously, Jacob looked around as best as he could. He saw Lucas Buck standing in the door of ER, a look of disgust on his face. Although the sheriff's lips didn't move Jacob could hear the man's voice as if he were standing next to him, 'Why does he always have to be a hero?' Buck's eyes glanced over at Crower. 'Die, Jacob. If not...' Jacob swore he heard the sound of cracking bone, he saw images of himself in the Juniper House, laughing madly. Gathering all the strength he had left he sat up.

"No! No!" He screamed as the doctors tried to pin him back down he managed to point at The Sheriff.

Dr. Crower also pointed to Lucas, "Someone get him outta here!" Buck shrugged and nonchalantly walked out.

The ER staff couldn't keep the distraught Agent down even after Buck had exited.

"Pusher!" Fisher hissed, grabbing hold of Crower's collar. "Tell them I said Buck is a Pusher," he managed, just before his heart stopped.


Assistant Director Skinner walked into his office to find a plain manila folder on his desk. He sighed, 'Probably Mulder trying to get permission to do something,' he thought.

He walked over and sank down. The narrative spoke of a Sheriff Lucas Buck in Fulton County, South Carolina. The more he read the more disturbed he became.


Lucas was reading when the phone rang, he picked it up and waited, he knew who was calling him.

"You weren't supposed to kill him, sheriff. I'm shocked at your behavior. You double crossed me and that isn't a good thing." The voice on the other end was powerful and dangerously low. "Now you're going to have the FBI crawling all over that little town of yours. After what you've done, the deal I made with your father has been called off." Click... Dial tone.

Lucas hung his phone up and stared quietly into space.


"You called for us, Mr. Sir?" Dana Scully asked speaking for them both.

"Yes. Take a seat." Skinner looked up from the files he was reading. "This is interesting, Mulder."

"What is?" Mulder asked genuinely surprised.

"This file you left me about Trinity, South Carolina," Skinner said. He watched as his agent's brow furrowed.

"I didn't leave you a file," Mulder stated, he turned to his partner. "Scully?"

The young woman shook her head.

"Who left it if neither of you did?" Skinner asked. The agents glanced at one another and shrugged. "Well, if the stuff in here is true, it definitely falls under your jurisdiction."


The following morning...

"Think of it, Scully, another Pusher!" Mulder was excited, their work was gaining credibility. Scully nodded warily, she was glad that their work was now credible...at least some of it was, anyway. She also remembered the Modell twins they had met not too long ago, also Pushers.

"That's what Agent Fisher seemed to think before his heart stopped," she said.

They got into the car. Mulder glanced through the file while he let Scully drive, for once.

"So...what's this town like?" She asked, it was a long way to the airport and she didn't want to drive it in silence.

"Remember the Temple boy tragedy? Trinity. There have been enough deaths in the past few years to call the place a disaster area. A reporter for Miami went there to report on how tourists in that town tend to disappear without a trace. He, too, disappeared without a trace until he turned up dead with his tongue missing almost a year ago. Speaking of tourists-- two brothers, Lowell and Barrett Johnson died not long ago due to a car explosion as they were leaving town--they had had run ins with the town's sheriff. A woman by the name of Angela jumped out of a hospital room--also had connections with Buck. Home of the Zirmach Beetle-- "

"The Zirmach Beetle! Mulder those went extinct three-thousand years ago!" Scully interjected.

"Apparently there's nothing unusual about them in Trinity. They're used in the town's museum for cleaning skeletal remains. The town's people call them Flensing Beetles. But that's not the weird part..."

"You mean it gets weirder?" Scully asked.

"Well, I did a little research on my own..." Mulder let his voice trail.

"Uh-huh." Scully nodded. "Go on. What did you find?"

"A man--Lieutenant Drey from the neighboring town of Ascension was eaten alive by some of them at Trinity's museum. Apparently this man also had problems with the Sheriff. In fact many of the people dead in this town seem to have a connection with Sheriff Lucas Buck. There was a plague last year; people were bleeding out of their eyes, ears and mouths and the Johnson River, the town's main water source, turned to blood."

"And allegedly," Mulder paused and glanced covertly at his partner, "there's always a full moon and there's this tree that gets hit by lightning every year at the same time. Oh, and the dead rose from their graves at Halloween last year--apparently to get revenge on the Sheriff. It didn't work. Mr. Buck has been proclaimed clinically dead twice. Once he died because he was shot in the Aorta, that was twenty years ago shortly after he became sheriff. He came back to life on the operating table, pulse, heart rate, blood flow all normal. Simultaneously, when Buck made his recovery a healthy newborn--the Vantage baby--a boy, died suddenly. Lucas Buck was weak for a while but that seems to have been the only side effect. The second time he died-Oh, Scully, this is good! The second time he died, he'd been stabbed in the in the Tisra Til--" He glanced at Scully and added quickly, "the third eye by a Dr. Narrone with a lobotomy knife--"

"Trochar?" Scully asked.

"Yeah." Mulder glanced at her then went on. "Doctors did surgery on him and it seemed he would come out okay, then he went into cardiac arrest and was proclaimed clinically dead again. He was buried. But apparently his doctors found some discrepancies and had reason to believe they'd buried him alive. So Dr. William Peale and Benjamin Healy, Sheriff's Deputy dug him up and sure enough he was okay. Even the wound in his head was completely healed. His doctors aren't sure how." Mulder stared at the files for a moment longer.

"Well, looks like we definitely have an X-File...or something," she said it mostly for the sake of argument. This wasn't one of her partner's goose chases, Skinner had sent them, "But Mulder haven't you ever heard the legend of Phineas Gage--the guy who had a railroad spike stuck in his head. He lived a normal life."

"He also had a bad memory and severe headaches for the rest of his life," Mulder half joked. "This guy apparently suffered no side effects."

Scully sighed. This was going to be a long trip.

**

Mulder and Scully arrived at the boarding house shortly after dinner that night. "Sorry we're so late," Scully said.

"It's all right. I'm Loris Holt. This is one of my permanent boarders, Dr. Matthew Crower." Loris smiled and let them in.

"Dana Scully and this is my partner Fox Mulder." Scully indicated the handsome, lanky man beside her.

"You the people from the FBI?" a young boy appeared next to Dr. Crower.

"Yes." Scully extended her hand. "And you are...?"

"Caleb. Caleb Temple." The boy offered the agents a handshake each.

"I made extra dinner, in case you were hungry," Loris offered.

"Famished," Mulder piped up finally. He seemed deep in thought, his eyes studying the African masks that adorned Loris Holt's walls.

**

The next morning, Scully and Mulder went over to the police station to meet with one Sheriff Lucas Buck.

"Hello." Mulder flashed his badge as did Scully. "FBI. Is Sheriff Buck in?"

"Right here, agents." The sheriff's voice drifted out of his office. "Show them in, Ben." The room was sparsely decorated, a black whole... no shadow escaped it. The Sheriff's dark eyes examined them ominously. "Please take a seat Agents...?"

"Mulder," Mulder stated, "And this is Scully."

"I wasn't expecting you so soon," Lucas said carefully.

"You knew we were coming?" The woman blurted out, she glanced uneasily at her partner.

"Stands to reason. Some government official decides he doesn't want to live anymore...well I kinda figured someone would come out. To make sure his death wasn't a murder." The sheriff said carefully.

"Yes," Mulder said flatly. There was no outward indication of squirming, but Lucas wasn't looking for outward signs. "May we view the body?"

"Sure." Lucas nodded amiably. "I'll take you over to the morgue myself."


v

"Sheriff! Uh, we have a problem," Mr. Brown, the mortician, said as they entered the morgue.

"What kind of problem, Mr. Brown?" Lucas noticed Allen, Mr. Brown's younger son, standing in the background. Good. "Hi, Allen! How is every little thing?" Lucas stressed the last three words slightly and his eyes bored into the teenager's.

"Fine, sheriff, just fine." Allen smiled. With that smile all of the tension in the room was gone. Well, almost all.

"Fine! Allen! How could you say everything's fine?" Mr. Brown fairly shrieked.

"What is it, Mr. Brown?" Lucas said annoyed.

"Someone must have left a window opened last night. Flensing Beetles came in and devoured the body," Mr. Brown said.

"Which body?" Mulder and Scully both asked it at the same time.

"Jacob Fisher's body. He's picked dry," Allen said as he left the room.

"Well," Mulder said looking at his partner. "There goes the autopsy."


Mr. Brown was extremely nervous.

"I'm shocked at you, Mr. Brown. You're always so fastidious about keeping the windows shut in this place." Lucas feigned surprise.

"I do!" Mr. Brown said desperately. "I personally checked all the windows before I left last night."

"I'm sure you did Mr. Brown. No one was here when you left?" Scully asked.

"No. Allen had a school project so I sent him home early," Mr. Brown explained.

"Does anyone else have a key?" Mulder asked.

"No. Just me." The man glance warily at the sheriff as he answered. "Yes. I'm the only one with a key."

Lucas could have cheerfully strangled the man at this point. He was glad he had his back to Mr. Brown and the agents, rolling his eyes, he turned around.

"You forget, Mr. Brown, I also have a key," Lucas said.

"You do?" Reginald Brown scratched his head apparently perplexed. "Oh, yes, sheriff. I forgot."

"Uh-huh," Lucas said folding his arms.

"Do you have the facilities here to do a skeletal autopsy?" Scully asked.

Mr. Brown shook his head, "I'm afraid not, ma'am. There's not much need for them here. If we need to do one we usually ship the remains over to Charleston, it takes about four or five weeks to get the results."

"Oh well that's just--" Mulder began.

Scully grabbed her partner's arm before he could press more. "We'll be outside, sheriff."

Lucas waited patiently until he heard the agents' foot falls exit the place. He pause for a moment and listened to be sure, then suddenly, furiously he grabbed Mr. Brown and pinned him against a wall.

"Reggie. Listen carefully to me. When I need for you to keep your mouth shut for me I'll tell ya." He let go of the man just as suddenly and straightened Reg's clothes. "Have a good day, Reg."


"Very interesting." Mulder stated.

"Yeah," Scully agreed.

"Sorry about that." Lucas somehow was standing next to him. "You leave windows opened near a dead body around here those beetles will eat it up overnight."

"Was anyone able to do an autopsy?" Scully asked.

"I don't think so Agent Scully," Lucas admitted.

"That's quite a coincidence," Mulder commented nastily.

Lucas chose to ignore the agent. "Well nothing here to see. Shall we be going folks?"


Loris was surprised to see how angry the agents were about Jacob's body. 'Maybe he didn't buy them off.' She thought.

"Okay, Mulder, where do we go from here?" Scully asked. "Can't do an autopsy right now."

"We find out what else happened that day," Mulder said.

Scully sighed, "Mulder, it's obvious he committed suicide."

"But he died of a heart attack," Mulder said flatly.

"Mulder, it's not improbable! The man's blood pressure was low...and the extra exertion of trying to sit up could possibly have caused..."

"But we'll never know for sure if it was the strain, will we?" Mulder asked nastily.

Scully sighed, "I'm going to sleep, Mulder. I suggest you do too. We've been going around in circles about this all day."


"So, he wants to play rough?" a man with a well lined face and a powerful voice said in a smoke filled room.


>

"Whatchaya doin'?" Caleb asked Mulder. The agent jumped, 'The boy must have feet like a cat!' he thought.

"Looking through case files," Mulder answered.

"What are they about?" Caleb asked.

"You're the Sheriff's son, aren't you?" Mulder asked gently.

"Yes sir." Caleb looked at him expectantly for a moment, then, "You gonna answer my question or not?"

Mulder sighed, he'd hope that the child would have been deflected or sent off on a tangent by his question. "No, Caleb. It's confidential."

"Oh. Well, see ya, Mr. Mulder. Hi Ms. Scully!" the boy said and left the room.

Scully waved at him kindly and watched him go.

"So...what's our reason for staying now?" Scully asked.

"Scully. That Sheriff is dangerous. I can feel it." Mulder looked up at her.

"So how do you propose we go about proving that?"

"I just don't know where to begin."


"You must be Caleb Temple."

Caleb whirled to see a tall, strong-looking elderly man behind him. He was smoking a cigarette.

"How did you know my name?" Caleb asked.

"I've met your father." The man shrugged.

"He tole you about me?" Caleb was suspicious. Lucas didn't mention him to just anyone. The sheriff also made it a point to be around for the introductions.

"Yes." The man brought the cigarette to his mouth.

"Who are you?" Caleb asked.

The man chuckled lightly, "No one of consequence."

"Who are you?" The boy pressed.

The man seemed surprised, "My name is...Mr. Clemens."

"Mr. Clemens," Caleb said warily.

"Yes. Clemens. Samuel Clemens." The man smiled.

Caleb hesitated. He'd heard that name before, but where? "Nice to meet you, sir."

"Just tell your daddy I said hello," Mr. Clemens said.

"Yes sir." Caleb began to walk away.

"Caleb," Mr. Clemens called.

"Yes?" Caleb asked turning, but Mr. Clemens had gone. Where? Caleb sighed, 'This man probably does knows Lucas, if he can to that.' the boy thought.

Caleb walked over to where Mr. Clemens had been and there on the ground was a large manila envelope, his name on it in block letters.


Caleb ran to his room when he got home and opened the envelope. At first he thought it was empty but then he noticed one solitary piece of paper inside. He took it out and stared at it. It was blank. Caleb sighed. Why did weird thing always have to happen to him? He searched the envelope again. He reached into it. Nothing else. Great.

He went downstairs and found Mulder pounding his head against a wall. "You'll give yourself a headache, sir."

Mulder stopped, keeping his forehead on the wall, he turned to look at the boy. "It helps me think," he stated like a stubborn child. Caleb shrugged and started to leave.

"Mr. Mulder?" The boy turned back to the agent, who had begun pacing.

"Yes, Caleb." Mulder eyed him.

"You're an FBI agent. What would you do if someone handed you an envelope that was address to you but was only filled with one piece of paper that didn't have nothin' on it," Caleb asked.

"Anything, Caleb. Didn't have anything," Mulder corrected, "You and your friends playing a game or something?"

"No sir. Mr. Samuel Clemens gave this to me." Caleb showed him the piece of paper. "He says he knows the sheriff. But I've never heard Lucas mention him before."

"Samuel Clemens?" The agent raised his eyebrows as he took the paper from him. "Well, Caleb, this looks like a classic confidential file."

"Does it?" Caleb asked skeptically. "But there's nothing on it."

"Sure there is." Mulder smiled. "Is there a candle around somewhere?"

"Yes, sir." Caleb went off to fetch one and some matches. "What are we gonna do?"

Mulder lit the candle and began running the paper over the flame. Words began appearing on the page. Caleb grinned. "That's neat!"

Mulder grinned back. He glanced at the words showing up on the page. 'To Fox Mulder'' it said.

Caleb stared. "Maybe this was for you?"

Mulder blinked. "Caleb, who did you say gave this to you?"

"Mr. Samuel Clemens, sir," Caleb answered.

Mulder expression went sour. "Wonderful."


"Hello, Mr. Benjamin Healy," an imposing older man with a well lined face spoke to the senior deputy.

"Yes?" Ben was startled that anyone in Trinity would call him by his full name. "You here to see the sheriff?"

"Actually no, Mr. Healy I'm here to see you and Mr. Floyd Spangler." The man raised a cigarette to his mouth.

"Me?..and uh, Floyd?" Ben waved Floyd over.

"Yes. I have an interesting proposition for you."

"You do?" Floyd had come over to where the two other men were talking.

"Who are you?" Ben asked.

The man gave a tight smile and chuckled. "Just call me Dickens. And I have Great Expectations for the two of you."

Floyd reached out and shook the older man's hand. "Sure is nice to meet you, Mr. Dickens."

Ben rolled his eyes.


Mulder explained to Caleb that Samuel Clemens was Mark Twain's name before he became Mark Twain.

"You mean Mark Twain was his writing name and Samuel Clemens was his Christian name?" Caleb asked.

"Yes, Caleb. A writing name is what is called a Nom de Plum." Mulder smiled gently.

"I knew I'd heard that name before!" The boy's brow furrowed. "I've been tricked haven't I?"

"Yes and no, Caleb. Sometimes people who don't want to leave their names are an FBI agent's best friend." Mulder explained. He looked at the page. "We could be on to something."

"What's it say?" Caleb asked.

"What's what say?" Scully asked as she walked into the room.

"Well..." Mulder looked down at Caleb.

"What?" The boy asked.

"It's confidential."

Caleb's face twisted into disappointment. "But it was given to me!"

Scully looked at the two in confusion. Mulder pulled her aside. "It's about him."

"Caleb?" Scully looked even more confused.

"No, the boy's father."

"If it's about Sheriff Buck I can handle it," Caleb said over hearing the agents' words. They weren't that far away anyway. "I already know he's a monster."


"Did ya hear that, Ben. Great Expectations!" Floyd said.

"Floyd, you are an idiot," Ben muttered. He thought about the imposing 'Mr. Dickens' and the place he was to meet him tonight.

"Yes, Floyd, you are." Lucas' voice cut through Ben's thoughts like a hot knife through butter. "What's with him?"

"Uh, Sheriff, do you know a Mr. Dickens?" Floyd asked.

Lucas blinked, caught off guard. Then an evil glint passed through his eyes. "Oh, you mean old Charlie. Why, yes, Floyd. I know him all too well. Why do you ask?"

"Uh, no reason." Floyd looked away.

"That man and his Great Expectations." Lucas enjoyed watching Floyd squirm for a moment then entered his office.

Ben threw a stack of paperwork on Floyd's desk. "Get to work." He sighed, then went after his boss.

"Lucas."

"Yeah, Ben?" The sheriff nodded for him to close the door and waved him into a chair.

"This fellow who came in today. Somethin' tells me everything ain't okay with him--" Ben hesitated.

"Well, Ben, it's always best to follow your gut feeling."

"Lucas, he wants to meet us somewhere to talk to us..." Ben let his voice trail for a moment. "I can talk Floyd out of it if you want."

"It's up to you, Ben. But I think you should go, see what he has to offer." Lucas' eyes glinted as a wolfish grin spread across his face.

"Uh-huh." Ben grinned back. "Okay, Lucas. Thanks."

"Close the door, deputy," Lucas said. He paced his office chuckling softly. "The game's afoot," he murmured.


"What?" Mulder and Scully turned to face the boy.

"He's a monster." Caleb stated again. "So what's it say?"

Mulder hesitated a moment then scanned the paperwork. "Well, basically it says the case on Judith Temple's death and, uh," Mulder glanced down at Caleb who was watching him with interest. "and rape is still open."

Scully glanced down at Caleb who seemed to be taking all this in very well. "So we can start from there. Maybe find a little more information on the sheriff."

Caleb stared as realization struck him. "You aren't gonna try to put Sheriff Buck in jail, are ya?"

"Umm." The agents looked at each other.

"That's very dangerous." Caleb looked from one to the other. "Lucas Buck doesn't take kindly to people foolin' around in his business." He warned, then turned on his heel and left Mulder and Scully considering that information.


Later that night, Mr. Dickens met Ben at the pool hall.

"Hello, Mr. Healy." The man lifted his cigarette to his mouth.

"Hi. Mr., uh, Dickens." Ben glanced up at the man.

"You seem to be a very bright young man." He blew the smoke out. Ben looked at him.

"And?"

The older man's eyes crinkled in a brief insincere smile. "You don't like small talk, do you?" Ben frowned and shook his head. "How old do you think your boss is?"

Ben opened his mouth to answer but shrugged instead.

"Go on guess." Mr. Dickens flicked ashes into a nearby ashtray.

"I don't know. Forty, forty-five."

Mr. Dickens raised an eyebrow. "He does look very young, doesn't he?" Ben nodded and made his shot.

"So...how old is he?" Ben asked interested in spite of himself.

"Lucas Buck is sixty-four." The man raised his cigarette to his lips again.

Ben missed the ball he had been aiming at. "Sixty? Four? Lucas Buck? I know he's been sheriff for twenty years but...sixty-four? What? Why are you telling me this?"

"Well that is a good retiring age, Mr. Healy, and..." The man let his voice trail off.

"Are you suggesting," Ben asked, studying his next shot, "I suggest Lucas retire? Mr. Dickens?"

There was nothing but a cloud of smoke where the man had been.


The meeting with Floyd didn't go as well. They met on the Johnson River Bridge. Floyd avoided the older man's gaze.

"Hi, Carlson," said the deputy flatly.

"Floyd." Carlson brought his cigarette up to his lips. "Anything new to tell me?"

"Ah. Well," Floyd fumbled for a moment. He looked up into Carlson's eyes. "No, sir. I'm playin' dumber than a chicken and still I can't seem to get any information on who or what Lucas Buck is. I'm going insane in this little town. Can't I get another assignment, sir?"

"Floyd, you are my best man. I need you here, if there's anything to find out about Lucas..."

"Oh, there's plenty of things to find out. I just never get the chance. I think the Sheriff's onto me."

"Ahh..." Carlson dropped the cigarette butt and stepped on it. "Yes, that could be a problem."

The two walked off the bridge together.

Somewhere in the trees above them a crow laughed.


Caleb walked over to Lucas' house early the next morning. He met the man coming out of the gate. "Hey."

"Hey, yourself. You're out early this morning."

"Yes, sir." Caleb hesitated. "Lucas, do you know Samuel Clemens?"

The Sheriff ushered Caleb into his car. "Yeah, Mark Twain." Slight confusion riddled Lucas' voice, "You doing a book report, boy?''

"No. I mean the Samuel Clemens who is in Trinity right now!" Caleb exclaimed.

Lucas nodded understanding. "Yeah, I know him."

"You mentioned me to him?" Caleb asked.

The Sheriff raised his eyebrows to Caleb, "Am I not allowed to mention you're my boy?"

"You usually don't," the boy answered flatly.

"Did he say what he wanted with you?"

"No sir." Caleb looked down suddenly interested in his shoes.

Lucas nodded, "So how are agents Mulder and Scully? What are they up to?"

Caleb looked up defiantly, "Whatever is going on here I don't wanna be a part of it." He sighed. "I can walk the rest of the way from here, Sheriff."

Lucas watched for a moment as the boy walked off to school.


Lucas hadn't done anything to Mr. Dickens/Clemens. Whom he knew as Mr. Carlson. He didn't plan on doing anything to the man. Mr. Carlson was worth more to him alive then dead. Lucas would let the man do as he pleased for the time being. The sheriff was going to go till some soil and pull a few weeds. He decided to call in a few favors...


"Agent Scully, I can attest that nothing was wrong with Agent Fisher's heart." Matt Crower glanced over at the pretty red head.

"Yet Jacob Fisher died of a heart attack."

"Yes."

"Why?"

"His BP was low, he became over excited at the sight of Sheriff Buck. Nothing was wrong with his heart but in his condition it was weak...." Dr. Crower's voice trailed lamely.

Scully nodded. "Could it have been the strain and excitement that killed him?"

"Possibly." Matt shook his head. "But he wouldn't have been strained or excited had Lucas not been there."

"Are people allowed into the ER whenever they feel like it?" Scully asked, pointedly.

"No." Matt sighed. "Lucas has a habit of just showing up when he's not wanted."

Scully raised her eyebrows. "What do you mean?"

"I mean no one even noticed him until Jacob Fisher pointed to him. No one in the hospital even saw him walk by!" Matt grimaced. "Ms. Scully, that's about the best I can do for you on details. Here's Jacob Fisher's chart just ask me if you have any questions."

"Thanks Dr. Crower." Scully accepted the folder.

"Agent Scully?" Matt called after her. "Be careful."

"Do you have reason to believe my partner or I would be in any danger, Doctor?" Scully asked.

"The Sheriff's dangerous," Matt answered carefully.

"Dangerous how?"

"Things just happen to happen around him." Matt sighed, he disliked tiptoeing around issues. "I know you know about my stay in the Juniper."

"Yes. You were mentally unstable for a period, you were deemed coherent and able to work about three months ago." Agent Scully's face was unreadable.

Matt nodded, "I've never given up my position, though, Lucas Buck is evil."

"Enough so to be killed?"

"I was wrong there, Agent." Matt smiled slightly as he thought, 'That kind of evil dies when it's ready.' Aloud he said, "But that doesn't make him any less dangerous."

"And you know this because...?" Scully raised her eyebrows.

"I just do, that's all. Call it a hunch." Matt shrugged. "It's not much to work off of but..." Scully gave him a tight smile, "Usually, Dr. Crower, that's all my partner and I work off of. Thanks."


Fox Mulder went to the Sheriff's Office. "Hi, again. Agent Mulder, is the Sheriff in?"

Ben looked up from his paperwork and nodded to Mulder. "No, sir. He's out on business."

Mulder nodded. "Would it be possible for me to obtain a file?"

"Jacob Fisher doesn't have a file, sir. He died at the hospital," Ben responded.

"Actually I was hoping for another file." Mulder admitted.

"Which one?" Ben asked suspiciously, his stomach beginning to churn.

"Judith Temple's." Mulder watched as Ben tried to hide the apprehension he felt.

"Ju- uh, the Sheriff has to grant that request." Ben went back to his paperwork quickly.

"You know lying to a federal officer and impeding his investigation could land you in prison." It was a statement.

"It sure can." Lucas had walked up on the conversation. "Mr. Mulder what can I do for you?" The man made Mulder's skin crawl. "The report on Judith Temple's death."

Lucas shrugged. "No problem. Mind if I ask why?"

Mulder nodded curtly. "I just want to review the case."

"She committed suicide." Lucas handed the agent a folder.

"Seems to be an epidemic around here." Mulder muttered distractedly examining the folder's contents.

"Why are you concerned with that anyway?" Lucas probed. "Shouldn't you be worried with Jacob Fisher?"

"Well if Mr. Fisher's accusation is true this may not have been a suicide." Mulder looked up into the sheriff's eyes. "Thanks. I'll return this later."

"Agent." Lucas called after Mulder. "What exactly is a 'Pusher'?"

"A pusher is a person who can manipulate another's mind by leading the victim to believe something that's not true or forcing them to commit acts they wouldn't normally commit. Good day, sheriff." Mulder left the station.

"Oh." Lucas watched the man.

Mulder was in his car and up the street when the thought hit him, 'Buck wasn't in ER when Fisher told Crower...How did he know about Pushers?''


"Sheriff." Ben followed Lucas into his office. "You sure that was a good idea?"

"Ben I know what I'm doing."

"I know but..."

"Think I'm getting to old to handle the job, Benji?"

"What?" Ben grinned. "You know about that, huh?"

Lucas nodded, "Of course I do. And I am not ready to retire. 'Mr. Dickens' will have to think of something new."

Ben nodded, "I agree. It was pretty stupid." He started to leave. "Lucas...?"

"Forty-six, Ben, Forty-six," Lucas responded.

"Looks like our Mr. Dickens is slightly dyslexic then." Ben walked out of the office.

~ ~ ~

Somewhere in Trinity, in a smoke filled room, Carlson sighed. "Well, I tried to be nice..."

~ ~ ~

"Look at this, Scully!" Mulder's voice was filled with excitement. "Judith didn't open the window when she jumped. She didn't take her shoes off. She'd have had to have a running start or have been pushed. Guess which one I'm betting on?"

Scully nodded. "I seem to be going in circles with Jacob Fisher. Dr. Crower understood why the man died just about as much as I did. In Judith's case, is there any evidence that the sheriff was there?"

Mulder shook his head. "But Scully, think of it, a pusher who didn't have to be near his victims. He wasn't near Jacob Fisher when he stabbed himself--"

"But he was there when Fisher died," Scully reminded her partner.

"Yes, but that wouldn't have been necessary had the knife wound killed him." Mulder countered. "I think maybe we should re-examine causes of death."

"Whose?" Scully asked dreading the answer.

"Anyone who had anything to do with Lucas Buck," Mulder answered.

Scully sighed, then looked up sharply, "Brain scan? The Modell's both had malignant brain cancer--"

Mulder nodded, "Yeah, I see what you're saying. But we can't force him--"

"I can get his medical records. About the deaths, though, how do we verify them? Most of these people have been dead for a year or more."

"We ask," Mulder stated.

"Ask who, Mulder?" Scully stared at him.

"Everyone. Someone is bound to let something slip." Mulder headed for the door.

"I hate working off of hunches," Scully said as she followed him.

From the staircase where Caleb was listening he sighed. He didn't want to get involved, but he didn't want to see the Agents dead either. He got up and followed...

~ ~ ~

"All right. Give that information to Mr. X he'll know what to do with it." Lucas smiled slightly, as he added, "Thanks Mr. Krycek."

He leaned back in his chair, a self-satisfied smirk on his face. Mr. Lee and his impeccable nails would be arriving on his doorstep soon and put a stop to this foolishness...

~ ~ ~

"Deputy Healy, I need to speak to you." Fox Mulder walked up to the senior deputy.

"About what, sir?" Ben looked worried.

"About your boss, Mr. Healy." Mulder put a friendly arm around the man's shoulders, grinning. "Isn't it lunch time?" He asked.


The agents had split up! Darn. Caleb stood trying to decide which way to go when...

"You look a little confused."

"What are you doin' here?" Caleb furrowed his brow.

Mr. Clemens shrugged. "I'm here to help."

The boy shook his head. "Well, I don't want your help. I don't need help from liars."

Mr. Clemens brought the forever lit cigarette to his mouth and breathed in, he shrugged and walked off. And Caleb decided to follow Mulder.


Lucas was having fun. A large black man in a trench coat stood before him, watching. Mr. X was more than a little uncomfortable with betraying his boss. But Lucas had a way...

"So, is this it?" Lucas asked carefully. The sheriff showed no signs that he'd been enjoying himself. Mr. X became more nervous.

"Yes. Mr. Lee will be here directly." The man kept his eyes on Lucas' hairline, impressing the sheriff.

"He won't be needed. Be sure he knows that."

"He won't?" Mr. X's guard slipped and he looked down into Lucas' eyes.

"No. This is more than enough. You can leave now." The sheriff went back to shuffling his papers and Mr. X let himself out of the back door.

~ ~ ~

Caleb couldn't get close enough to hear what they were saying. Deputy Healy looked nervous.

~ ~ ~

Scully tried not to show here irritation as she interviewed the 'school teacher' Selena Coombs.

"The sheriff helps many people in town," Selena explained. "Why, just the other day he helped Mrs. Johnston get her cat out of a tree..."

"Look. I'm sure the sheriff is very nice. But that wasn't my question, my question was--"

"I understood your question, Agent Scully. I also understand its implications. I won't speak against Lucas."

"So...he's done something for you to speak against?" Scully asked casually.

"I won't fall into your traps. You know where the door is."


Ben stood up, he said something to Agent Mulder and headed away. Caleb wondered what had happened. Mulder sat quietly at the table for a moment, then he paid the bill and left.


Mr. Carlson walked into Lucas' house. "Hello, Sheriff Buck."

"Hello, Carlson. I thought you'd come out of the shadows and visit me." Lucas smiled. "I'm glad to see that that trail of cigarettes helped."

Carlson allowed him a tight smile. "Funny. I've always liked you, Lucas. I'd be willing to give you a second chance."

"Nope. Don't need one," Lucas said confidently.

"Oh? You can keep the FBI off your back? Someone else can be sent here, you know. Someone not investigating X files. How about someone looking into, say, the Temple cases. All of them. Lucas, I can have you under the jail so fast..."

"Oh, shut up, Carlson. You are going to have to make a deal with me not the other way around."

Carlson let out a sharp laugh. "Lucas I created the art of making deals." "Really? Sit down, Carlson and then we'll see who's laughing."


Caleb went over to Mulder. "You're trying to find information on my momma? You're askin' the wrong people."

"Who should I ask, Caleb?" Mulder flinched slightly, the boy had snuck up on him, again. Mulder had just been kicked out of almost every house in Trinity and was now moping on a park bench. He knew Scully probably wasn't having much luck either.

"Well, you could ask Ms. Holt or Dr. Matt, they'd be more than willing to help. They'd like to see Lucas behind bars," Caleb explained.

"Really? Thanks, kid." Mulder got up. Caleb stopped the agent with his next statement.

"They really can't help much though. They don't know anything, about it."

Mulder whirled around. "Well, then why...?"

"You and Ms. Scully should meet me outside the boarding house tonight. There's someone I want you to meet."

~ ~ ~

Scully had been kicked out of the other half of Trinity's residents. She'd come to three conclusions. She was hungry. This was a wild goose chase. And the people of Trinity were quite afraid of their sheriff.

She decided to find Mulder.

~ ~ ~

Meanwhile, Lucas was enjoying watching the Smoking Man turn different shades of purple.

"So," said the Sheriff after his moment of silent relishing. "You invented the art of making deals? Looks like I've perfected it." He leaned back in his chair smugly.

"If that information gets out..." Carlson was horse.

"And it could, Carly. It could. It would be so easy. But, I'm thinkin' we should probably give Mr. Fox Mulder a firsthand look--"

"No!" Carlson half rose in his chair. "I'll call them off."

Lucas smiled, "Good. That, of course is all I wanted."

Carlson held out a hand and Lucas gave the older man the stack of discs, photographs and classified paperwork he'd managed to collect.

"I'd underestimated you, Lucas. You've...really...im...pressed..." The Smoking Man's voice trailed off. "Wait a minute, these aren't the originals."

"Those aren't?" Lucas leaned forward, feigning shock.

"You-?" Carlson choked off the last part of the sentence unable to say it. Lucas nodded slowly, encouraging. "Insurance? What do you want from me? Lucas, I need the originals."

"Okay, I'll keep the copies--" The sheriff went for the folder.

"No." Smoking man licked his dry lips and wiped his sweating head with his hand. "I- you know I need them both."

Lucas frowned. "Now, Carlson. If you invented the art of making deals you should know you always keep a little insurance. Goodbye."

Carlson knew he'd been beat, he got up to leave.

"Oh and Carly?" Lucas stopped the older man not far from the front door. "I, ah, might call on you for a few more favors."

The Smoking Man slammed the door.


The midnight sky was clear and the moon was full when Caleb and the agents snuck out of The Boarding House. Caleb wasn't sure this would work. He had a feeling Agent Mulder might be able to see Merly. He'd decided to take them into the graveyard in the hopes that maybe his sister might be visible to others if she were near her grave.

"Here we are." Caleb stopped short in front of Merlyn Anne Temple's tombstone.

"A grave?" Agent Scully sounded skeptical.

Mulder knelt down.

"Not just any grave, Scully. Your sister's, right?"

"Yes."

"Why?" Mulder asked gently.

"I thought maybe she could talk to you. She ain't afraid of Lucas. She's already dead. I hope you can see her."

"You can talk to your dead sister?" Mulder seemed interested.

"Mulder?" Scully called from a little ways away. He walked over to her leaving Caleb alone.

"I know what you're going to say, Scully. But we should at least try."

"Mulder, he's a grieving little boy! They're no ghosts. I don't want to take advantage of him." Dana Scully frowned slightly.

"We're not taking advantage of him. He brought us here, remember? Scully, you know as well as I do that there can be communication after death..." Mulder began, but his partner held up a hand.

"I know all of your arguments and you know all of mine." Scully sighed. "You're right, though, he did bring us here."

"Sorry, Caleb," Mulder said as they walked back to the boy.

" 'Salright. I know you think I'm crazy--"

"Caleb," Scully said gently. "You are *not* crazy. It's hard for me to believe in ghosts is all. If you think you can speak with your dead sister...well...that's just your way of dealing with circumstances." Scully blinked, realizing what she'd just said. For some reason, though, it seemed like the right answer and Caleb understood anyway.

"Yeah. I guess so. Merly? I've got some folks here who need to talk to you." The boy barely spoke above a whisper.

A shimmering girl in a white dress with glossy black hair appeared. "Hi, Caleb." Her young face lit up as she smiled.

Mulder stepped forward. "Uh. Hi." Scully was planted in her spot on the ground, unable to move. Mulder glanced his partner, "Can you see her, too?"

"And hear her," Scully answered.

"You had questions for me?" Merly's voice echoed in the warm night air.

"What happened to Judith Temple?" Scully asked.

"Lucas Buck raped her. She gave birth to my baby brother, then jumped out of her room window." Merly shrugged slightly.

"Did she jump or was she pushed?" Mulder asked.

Merly gave him a small smile, "Depends on your definition. She jumped on her own, but she was pushed to do it."

"By the Sheriff?" Caleb asked.

Merly looked down at him, her small smile turned into an expression of quiet sadness. "Yes, Caleb."

"Why?" Caleb pressed.

Again the girl shrugged, "Ask him."

"What's goin' on out here? Little moonlit picnic?" Lucas' voice clashed through the night.

Caleb shook his head angrily. "What're you doin' here?"

"I could ask the same thing of you." Answered the sheriff calmly. "We're going back to The Boarding House now."

"I ain't goin' anywhere with you. I hate you!" Caleb bolted off in the other direction. Scully and Mulder watched in mild fascination as Lucas merely nodded and let the boy go. The Sheriff seemed to find a deeper meaning in those words than anyone else present. "You both are under arrest," he said quietly.

"On what charge?" Scully asked incredulously.

"Contributing to the delinquency of a minor," Lucas said carefully.

"How?" Mulder asked angrily.

"Bringing him out here in the middle of the night."

"What?! You just let him run away..." Scully began. Lucas held up a hand.

"And I'll do somethin' about that. Do you think I'd let my boy go and get himself killed?" The conviction in his words kept the Agents silent. "Now, step into the car. Or do I have to cuff you?"


Caleb walked until the anger was gone. Lucas had killed his mother, it figured.

"Caleb," Merly called to him.

"What?" He turned to face his sister.

"It was not against her will."

"What was?"

"Momma had a strong will. Lucas couldn't break it. If she hadn't wanted to die, she wouldn't have."

"Then why did she?"

"I don't know, Caleb." Merly faded in the darkness.


Lucas sent Ben out to find Caleb and bring him home when they got to the station. Then he locked up the Agents and wrote out his reports.

Mulder awoke in his cell, later that morning. Merly was there.

"Merlyn?" Mulder sat up drowsily.

She made a statement, then vanished.


Bail was posted for the agents the next day. Skinner abruptly ordered them to come home and bring the rest of Agent Fisher's body back with them.

"I know what you are." Was Mulder's only statement to Trinity's Sheriff.

Driving back home...

"Mulder, what would we have done with the Temple girl's information?" Scully said trying to break her partners sullen mood. "No one would believe we spoke to a ghost."

"She came back to me, Scully. Merlyn spoke to me in my cell last night." Mulder's voice was tight.

"She did? What did she say?"

"Lucas Buck is the Smoking Man's cousin," Mulder stated flatly.

"Do you think that's why we were sent off the case?"

"Yes. We'll be back here, though. If I have anything to say about it.

THE END


or

is it?

Please feel free to add on to this story/thread anyone who would like to see more happen. This is all I have to write, all I'm able to scribble down on paper. I hope you enjoyed it.




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