Title: Dragons of The Tower
Summary: St. George is offered a new job and takes her friends along to check it out...
Well, here we are... the 50th Dragon story... thanks to everyone who's still reading them - and from what I've seen, that's still a lot of you hanging in there... sorry for this one taking so long - that Real Life thing intruding again...
Special thanks to the Dragon Posse and the Companions... and I still have too much time on my hands... ;-)
The man watched carefully as the last dab of paint was added to the front door; the workman quickly packing up his tools and leaving. Looking up at the stone walls, the owner smiled.
"Feels just like home." He looked down at the crumpled piece of paper in his hand. "Well, it will be as soon as the help gets here."
Fox Mulder leaned back in his chair and carefully calculated the distance between his desk and Dana Scully's. At this angle, he could bounce the paper ball off her head and into the wastepaper basket beside her desk; if she kept her head down...
Scully looked up just in time to intercept the incoming missile with one hand; batting it to the side. "Mulder..."
"That's all right, Scully." He waved a hand at her. "I'll forgive you this time..." Looking up as the door swung open from the hallway, he smiled. "But I think forgiveness is a bit away for me this time..."
Jackie St. George scowled at him as she leaned on the doorframe. "You bastard."
"I love you too, Jackie."
"Do you know what he did?" This was directed at Scully, who was trying not to smile.
"Remember I had to go in to have these two front teeth fixed?" She tapped the offending items with a finger.
"Yes. Nice work, by the way..."
"Well, thanks for the reference. And the tranquillisers. And I need a root canal in a few weeks."
Scully frowned. "Okay. I'm with you so far..."
"And this..." St. George wagged a finger in Mulder's direction. "This substitution for a human being sent me a file."
Scully looked over at her partner, who had his hands up in front of his face in mock defence. "You didn't..."
"Well..." He protested. "I thought that she'd need to consider the worst case scenario..." His voice trailed off as he noticed that neither one of them was buying it. "Come on, it is kinda funny..."
"So's giving you a reason to join me in the dentist's chair." St. George growled, advancing on his desk. Slouching down further, he grimaced. "But instead I'll drag you out to the boonies on this new job offer I've got..."
"A..." Mulder started to speak, but Scully cut him off.
"Job offer?" The petite agent tilted her head to one side. "Jackie, I thought you had no intentions of leaving the Service..."
"I don't. Well, not really." Now she had her hands up in confusion. Walking over to the single chair, she turned it around and sat down; crossing her arms on the back of the chair in front of her.
"I got an offer for a special bodyguard assignment. More of an estate guard. And I checked the guy out through Senator Hargreaves and he's clean. He's actually cleaner than we are, if you can imagine. it." Realising that she was rambling, the Canadian slowed her speech down. "I'd leave the Service with an honourable discharge and full benefits - and Montague's willing to build a house on the estate for me - and Marty, of course. And then I can do whatever I want without having to go through so many hoops..." She stopped and looked at the pair. "Am I making any sense here?"
"Not much." Scully admitted. "But you want us to go somewhere?"
"This guy, Andrew Montague - he's a big CEO - he owns a large estate in the 'burbs. Built around his old family castle that he brought over the pond; but most of it's new. He's looking for a security specialist to monitor it full time; and my name cropped up. I told him that I wanted to come and see the place before I made any decision." Taking a deep breath, she continued. "And he offered me a full weekend to stay and check it out. And to bring anyone I wanted for a mini-vacation. And that's where you two come in."
"Tell me it's haunted, and I'm packed."
"It's haunted, Mulder." She said with a smile. "And I need you two to come along and make sure I'm not getting into something over my head." A smile crossed her face. "Well, more than usual."
The stone wall surrounding the estate was thick and menacing and brand new. Rolling to a stop in front of the wrought-iron gates, Mulder let out a low whistle.
"Subtle like bulldozer." He looked beside him at St. George, who was busy refolding a map. "And he just finished building all this?"
"This must be worth a few millions." Scully muttered from the back seat. St. George nodded.
"A lot of few millions. But the gate's the only way in; and I've already recommended motion detectors and sensors on the walls..." Getting out of the car, she put her hands on her hips and peered through the gate. "Hell, I'm impressed."
Standing beside her, Scully nodded as she looked down the long lane to the manor house. "I assume Montague isn't working for any nonprofit company."
Jackie chuckled. "I think not." Pushing the intercom button, she waited for the hiss.
"St. George. And two friends."
"Look up at the camera, please." Switching their gaze upwards, the two women stared at the small camera set atop the gate.
"Wonder if he's got a zoom function." Mulder whispered; loud enough to bring a smile to Scully's face.
"Enter. He'll be waiting for you at the front." The huge gates swung slowly inward.
"I think I saw this in an Agatha Christie movie." Mulder joked as he turned into the lane. "Maybe he's out to kill us all..."
"Don't even joke about it." Scully warned, throwing him a look. "Don't..."
Stepping out of the car at the top of the drive, Mulder looked up; shielding his eyes with a hand. The single tower jutted into the sky; the rest of the house/castle sprawling out from it like a medieval nightmare - stone parapets here and there, but nothing like any real castle he had ever seen.
"Jackie!" A blond man came around the corner, grinning madly. Taking her hand, he shook it eagerly.
Mulder appraised him automatically - late thirties; single due to the lack of a wedding band; a wisp of a moustache under his lip that made him look preadolescent... and by the way Scully was staring at him; probably a favourite with the ladies.
This was going to be a rotten weekend.
Stretching his hand out, he waited for the obligatory introductions.
"... And I brought along two friends - ah, Dana Scully; Fox Mulder." St. George smiled. "They needed to get out of the city for a weekend anyway."
Andrew Montague smiled back as he shook Mulder's hand; a firm grip that left his fingers aching. Then he gently took Scully's hand and raised it to his lips; kissing it lightly as St. George let out a low groan.
"And are you also in the Service?" He murmured softly, ignoring the other two people.
"Actually, the FBI." Scully showed her badge with obvious glee. "And Agent Mulder is my partner."
Mulder raised a hand again and waggled the fingers at him. "And we all carry big guns."
"Oh. I see." A quirky smile on his lips, he turned and led them towards the large main door. "Good, really - if the ghost intends to visit..."
Mulder stopped short of the door, looking up the stone front. "Are those gargoyles?"
Montague grinned. "Yes - I'm putting up an entire set of them - right now we've only got a few here and there; they're so hard to get done right." He pointed to the left. "There's a griffin... and I'm working on getting a unicorn for the far corner..."
Taking advantage of the distraction, Mulder leaned in close to his partner. "I've got a big gun." He chuckled.
"At least his name isn't Bambi." She shot back, following their host into the castle.
"... So I'm glad you've decided to accept my offer..." As they caught up with the pair ahead of them, the two agents exchanged glances.
"Well, we'll see." St. George chuckled. "I told you I'd need the weekend to think it over - you're asking me to make a big decision."
"Excuse me, but why would you want a security consultant on the premises all the time?" Mulder asked, ignoring the look from Scully.
"Quite honestly, I don't. But when I get this place up to snuff; I'll be having a lot of parties and meetings with various people who require tight security. And that's something I don't scrimp on." Pointing up as they walked down the enormous main hallway, he gestured at a security camera. "They're not all hooked up yet; but I've got them in almost every room of the house. I need to be able to assure my guests that they are totally safe and guarantee their privacy."
"I heard that this castle was built from parts of the original?" Scully offered; noting the stern glances being shot at Mulder from St. George.
"Not much of it - only a few flagstones here and there. The original castle was destroyed over the years and eventually neglect." He waved a hand around the beautifully decorated walls. "There wasn't enough to even reconstruct the main hall; so I had new blueprints drawn up. The bit about the old stones is a nice touch, I think..." Stopping and pointing to their left, he gestured at a large kitchen. "I haven't had time yet to hire the staff; and of course check them out thoroughly." He smiled at St. George. "Thought that'd be one of your first jobs. But there's plenty of food in the kitchen so help yourself to whatever you want."
"So who is here, besides us?" St. George asked.
"But who answered the intercom?" Mulder asked.
"I did. I didn't want to let everyone know that I'm here alone, of course. And hopefully I'll have a full set of staff in a week or so - sorry I can't offer you wonderfully extravagant dinners and dancing; but I'm still making arrangements for the grand opening in a month - large party and all."
Leading them up a wide staircase, he droned off the information like a bored tour guide. "Three floors; main ballroom on the ground floor along with the kitchen, dining room, and a few other bits and pieces. A nice garden out in the courtyard. Second floor is for the library, viewing room and whatnot..."
He stopped at the top of the stairs. "Third floor is the bedrooms and entrance to the upper viewing areas."
"You can go out there?" Scully said.
He nodded. "Just like in the old days. You can sit on the edges of the turrets branching off the main tower and watch. And a wonderful view of the garden." He chuckled. "Sorry, my gargoyles don't come to life at night."
"You'd be surprised." Mulder muttered under his breath.
"Anyway, here's your room, Dana. Jackie; yours is across the hall. Fox..."
Mulder's eyebrows rose at this. "You're down at the end of the hallway. I'm sure you're all tired from the drive, so I'll leave you to your own devices. I've got work to do, so don't be surprised if you hear noises in the night."
He turned towards the Canadian. "My office is on the ground floor; right by the courtyard. If you want to talk about the job offer, I'll be there."
"About the ghost..." St. George started.
"Oh, that." Montague chuckled. "Thought you'd like that one. Seems that supposedly an ancestor died wooing a young woman - fell off the tower while romancing her; so he's been around ever since. Don't worry - I hear he's only interested in single women." His eyes landed on Scully. "Though I must admit, he's got good taste." Nodding to the trio, he disappeared down the hall.
St. George stifled a chuckle at Mulder's face as she turned towards the pair. "Well, I'm not quite ready to call it a night - anyone for raiding the kitchen?"
"Not before I drop this off." Scully gestured at the small suitcase she was lugging. "I'll be with you in a few minutes."
"You need any help with that?" Mulder offered. The two women stared at him in surprise. Scully shook her head.
"Thanks for the offer, though - I'll meet you down in the kitchen." They watched the lone man wander down the hall towards his room. She turned to St. George.
"That wasn't what I thought it was, right?"
"Mulder offering to be helpful?" The Canadian scratched her chin. "Well, the house could be haunted, after all..."
Closing the door, Mulder tossed his own overnight bag on the bed and sighed. The room was tastefully decorated in a combination of browns and blues; reminding him of a bed and breakfast he had once stayed in in England. And at least he was close enough that if the women needed any help...
<like they would call you, Drop-The-Gun Mulder...>
He chuckled, flipping the bag open to hang up his shirts.
St. George looked around her room with a smile. A large window. And a short leap away; the small path leading up and around the turrets. Almost perfect. Except for that quitting the Service. With a sigh, she closed the door and headed down the stairs.
Finding Montague's office wasn't hard - with them being the only ones in the building, it was easy to pick up the familiar tap-tap of a keyboard. He smiled as he looked up at the woman.
"No, no... everything's perfect, thank you..." She settled into a chair in front of him; tugging on her combat jacket. "I was wondering where the security room was - where all the cameras lead into..." She gestured at the small camera discreetly tucked into the far corner of the room.
"It's actually in the basement and still under construction - that's the final phase I wanted you to look over before the staff arrived."
"Cameras in all the rooms? Including the bedrooms?"
"Most of them..." He put up a hand quickly. "The guest bedrooms - and not activated when people are in them. I see it more along the lines of making sure that they're not used when no one's supposed to be in there." Standing up, the blond man walked to the window. "I was thinking that your place would be nice over there..." He pointed. "We can start that when you move in; and have it ready as soon as possible."
"That would be nice." Getting to her feet; St. George smiled. "I'm going to prowl around a bit, if you don't mind."
"Certainly. It is going to be your responsibility, after all." Montague nodded. "Just be careful - the workmen just left today and I'm not sure that they picked up all the extra wood and such."
"Right. See you in the morning." Jackie walked out, heading for the kitchen.
And her head was throbbing something awful.
Scully turned at the gentle rap on the doorframe, not surprised to see Mulder standing there. Hesitantly he entered the room; looking ever so much like a teenage boy about to be caught by an angry father for invading sacred ground. "I... I thought I'd see if you wanted to go find some dinner with me."
"Sure. Just a second." Scully closed the closet door. "I must admit, I'm pretty hungry."
"So what do you think?"
"About the house, Montague, or Jackie?"
"All of the above." He perched himself on the side of the bed, not daring to move further inward.
"I like this place. A nice touch with the castle exterior and all; just needs a moat. Montague - not a bad fellow. A bit too rich for my taste..." She stopped at the grin Mulder was flashing her. "And what's on your mind?"
"I think he's up to something. No one needs someone like St. George here full time." Hopping off the bed warily as she approached, he opened the door for her. "I mean, she's going to be wasted here..."
"Versus a few hours drive away in Washington?" Scully retorted as they headed down the hall. "Sounds like you're just jealous that no one's offering you a house in the country."
"Well, it would be nice..." He smirked. "I just don't think it's the right thing for her."
"You tell her that then." Scully led him down the staircase. "After all, she did bring us up here to get an opinion."
The kitchen was large, and well supplied. Turning from the cupboard, the petite redhead chuckled at seeing Mulder balance various packages of cooked meats as he manoeuvred them towards the table. Once there, he proceeded to make a sandwich that defied gravity.
Her mouth slightly ajar, Scully watched as he somehow managed to get it into his mouth and began a slow and steady destruction of the structure; pickles on the side. Shaking her head, she waited patiently for her soup to heat up on the stove; stirring it intermittently.
"I alto donna lik tose." She looked towards the camera lens where Mulder was pointing to. "Dath not fair."
With a flick of her wrist she turned the heat off and poured the hot soup into a deep bowl. "It's security, Mulder. You know how many there are in the FBI offices."
"But this is a home, Scully." He swallowed deeply. "How can you go on day after day knowing that everything is on tape?"
"We do." She smiled at him. "Besides, Montague doesn't strike me as a voyeur.
And Jackie's going to be in charge of that, and I'm sure she's going to respect everyone's privacy." Reaching out with a slender finger, she stroked the edge of Mulder's chin. "Mustard." Holding it up for him to see the yellow dab.
Leaning forward with a mischievous grin, he licked it off her finger. "Gee, thanks."
Pulling her hand back, Scully shook her head. "Of course, you do strike me as a bit of an exhibitionist, Mulder..."
Perching herself on the edge of the stone wall, St. George looked out over the dark fields. In another time, another place she would be looking for enemies camping just out of sight; maybe readying for a siege to take the castle. And as usual, she would be in the middle of it.
The garden was newly planted, but already the plants were thriving; small ferns stretching out over the cobblestone paths and the rose bushes trying to decide whether to bloom or not. Scully strolled along in the dark; her hands tucked inside the trench coat. She didn't have to turn to notice Mulder close behind.
"Lovely, isn't it?"
"Hmm." Mulder nodded, forgetting that she was ahead of him. "Be nicer in the morning. But it's nice now." He reached out and touched one of the larger trees situated by the path. "How much do you think he spent on this place?"
"A helluva lot more than you or I will ever see." She chuckled. "Look."
Mulder followed her outstretched hand upwards to see the shadowy figure sitting on the edge of the parapet. "On guard already."
"Well, I'm not surprised." She smiled at him. "At least she's reliable."
"And I'm not?"
"As reliable as a pinball machine."
"Wanna tilt my flippers, Scully?"
With a soft laugh she turned away from him. "Why don't you go see how she's doing? I'm going to enjoy this for a bit and then go to bed."
"And look out for the ghost."
"Mulder..." Her voice took on that no-nonsense tone that he enjoyed to hear.
"There is no ghost. Montague made that up probably to tease you."
"And why would he want to do that?" Leaning against the wall, he crossed his hands in front of him and grinned at her.
"Because... he likes to." Turning away again, she felt the first tinges of red touch her cheeks. "I'll see you later, Mulder."
Mulder found her crouching on the cold stones; looking out over the darkened grounds. In her mouth sat a thick cigar, unlit.
"Don't tell me you've taken up smoking..." He joked, seeing that he had finally managed to catch her off guard by the way she jerked around at the sound of his voice.
With a chuckle she took the offending item out of her mouth and looked at it. "One of the gang at the Embassy gave it to me when they heard I was leaving. I'm not sure if they're happy or not."
"Are you thinking of leaving? Taking this job?"
St. George looked down at the chewed cigar. "Maybe. It'll just be a good way to distance myself from the politics of it all - play it my way for a change."
He nodded. "But are you sure you'll still have the freedom?"
She laughed. "Hell, yes - probably more if I can get it." St. George pointed to the right. "What do you think about a little house over there?"
"Hmm..." Mulder stared at the wide fields, and the thick wall in the distance closing them in. "I'll visit when you get the satellite dish in."
"Who said you were going to be invited?" She said with a laugh.
"What's Marty have to say about all this?"
"He'll leave it up to me. Whatever I decide." The Canadian sighed.
The tall agent chuckled. "You miss him, I guess."
"Anything I can do to help?" He realised the mistake as the words left his mouth.
One eyebrow rose as she put the cigar back in her mouth; rolling it back and forth along her lips as she raked him slowly with her eyes. He could feel his face reddening under the close scrutiny.
Finally she shook her head. "Nah. I'd kill you."
Mulder grinned. "But what a way to go."
"In your dreams, Mulder."
"Psychotic drug-induced nightmares, maybe..."
They both started to laugh. Looking down, St. George waved at Scully, who had stopped her stroll and was now staring at them; a wide smile on her face.
"I'm calling it a night, Mulder. You go walk in the moonlight with your partner." Before he could object, she was gone.
"I hate when she does that." He muttered under his breath as he began to descend the pathway towards the inner courtyard and the garden.
The camera lens brought him into sharp focus as it followed his path; a partner already focused on Scully.
And it watched.
Mulder paused as he watched Scully wander through the garden in the dim
moonlight; enjoying this quiet time when he could just stand and watch her.
The light caught the redness in her hair just right at times like this;
making his mind wander down paths better unspoken.
Busted. He smiled as his partner approached. "Hi again."
"How long have you been watching me?" Her eyes twinkled with silent laughter.
"Not long enough." He chuckled.
"And you're accusing Montague of being a voyeur." She shook her head. "I'm going to bed. All this fresh air is hurting my lungs."
Falling into step beside her, Mulder cut back the length of his strides to let her leisurely lead. "I spoke to St. George..."
"She might take this job."
"Well, she's overdue for a little comfort." Scully opened the door; then led the way down the hall towards her bedroom. "I'm sure she's checked Montague out thoroughly. And if the Senator recommended him..."
"Her own Deep Throat." Mulder murmured. She nodded in reply. Stepping into the room, the redhead turned to look at him. "'Night Mulder."
"Be careful," he warned.
Scully laughed. "Mulder, I think you've been reading too many ghost stories. Montague probably only made that up to irritate you. And it worked."
He gestured at the walls. "Hidden cameras... I found the one in my room right away."
"Then it wasn't too well hidden, was it?" She retorted.
"It's now taking intimate pictures of my best pair of boxers."
"I'll be careful, Mulder. See you in the morning." Closing the door on his forlorn face, Dana shook her head again with a soft laugh.
But she did check her room for cameras thoroughly before tucking her pistol under her pillow and turning off the lights.
She was asleep; and knew she was asleep, which made it all more surreal.
Walking down the garden in a long dress she had last worn to a party at the Bureau, Scully saw the man approaching her and wondered if she was going to have one of those type of dreams that sent her running for the shower upon awakening.
But it wasn't Mulder. He was shorter, and even though she couldn't make out his face, she knew it wasn't her partner. A flash of disappointment went through her mind at the realisation.
Dressed in a medieval-type robe with a sword by his side, he smiled. "Hello."
He bowed low before her. "I see you like my garden."
He looked so much like David Montague... "Let me guess - you're the famous ghost I was warned about."
The dark-haired man chuckled. "Well, I used to be called worse... but ghost is good enough these days." Offering her his arm, he gestured down the path.
"Shall we walk for a bit?"
Taking his arm, Scully wondered how long this dream could go on. As they proceeded down the path, her mind mentally traced the route; noticing subtle changes in the plants and the trail they followed.
"Yes, it's different." He spoke as if he could read her mind. "After all, David built it from an old manuscript - not as good as the original."
"So you're inferring that this is the original garden? And this..." She paused to wave a hand at the stone walls surrounding them. "This is the original castle?"
He chuckled, reminding her of Mulder. "In a way. As much as what he lives in now is what remains of this." Pointing her hand up, he gestured at the guard walking along the edges of the castle. "Here, all time is relative."
"Right." Scully's voice was tinged with skepticism. "So what are you doing in my dream? And I know it is a dream, therefore you are probably a result of Montague's joking, Mulder's obscene dinner, and Jackie's worries."
He frowned. "I like to think of myself as much more than indigestion, if you don't mind." Taking her arm again, they went down the path. "I can't say much - my loyalties are compromised by my position. But you are a woman of knowledge and of science; and unfortunately the only one open to me right now. The other one... well, she wouldn't take to me willingly."
"You mean Jackie?"
Montague smiled. "Well, if that's what she's calling herself now. In another time, another place she's been here." He looked at the tower now, situated in the centre of the garden. "And she's lost and she's won. And now it all happens again."
Scully frowned. "You're not making any sense."
He laughed. "My dear lady - I can't. As you said, I'm probably only a case of heartburn in the night." The plants and trees began to grow transparent around them, the man letting go of her arm and taking a few steps away. "I'll be back if I can - just don't take things for granted. Especially this garden."
Turning around, Scully watched as the castle walls faded in front of her eyes to slowly reform as the solid dark rose coloured walls of her bedroom.
Sitting up quickly, she reached for her pistol and the light at the same time; scanning the room intensely.
She was going to kill them both for this. Maybe Montague as well.
On the other hand, Fox Mulder thought he'd stepped into someone's nightmare - shockingly, not his own.
The garden was dark, but the sun was still low in the sky. The darkness came from the dead and dying plants and trees; the scent of roses replaced by the moist rotting smell of decay. He stood in the centre of the garden and wondered if that sandwich had been responsible for this.
"Hello." He turned, hoping that maybe it would be Scully and at least redeem part of this dream. But it wasn't.
A neatly-dressed man, in a suit not unlike his own, walked towards the agent. Nodding as he shook Mulder's hand, his face shimmered like ripples in a pond; not setting on a single feature.
"Glad you could make it. We need to talk."
"Sure." Mulder was willing to play along, as long as he didn't turn into a vampire or alien bounty hunter. Though he would have preferred another dream...
"You're here to help, I assume." They strolled down the path between dark brown and black patches of mouldy vegetation.
"As much as I can. If St. George takes the job, it's her choice. She just invited us up for advice."
"I see. And you want her to take the position?"
"It's her choice. Though I'd want to check this guy out further - I don't believe it's necessary to have her here all the time."
"You don't trust anyone, do you?" The man smiled.
"Within reason." Mulder stopped. "So exactly what function are you fulfilling in this dream? Helping me argue out what I want to tell her about the job; whether to take it or not?"
With a hoarse chuckle the man stopped ahead of him, turning back to gesture at the dying garden. "Agent Mulder - you are a stubborn man. I've met many of your type - knights all questing for a single goal and it's that stubbornness that carries them through to the end." Looking up at the sunset, he grinned.
"I just want to warn you that David Montague is eying your partner in a most unchivalrous way."
Mulder shrugged; not wanting to show his discomfort. "I knew that. You can see it in everything he does - but it's her life. Besides, Scully's too smart to fall for some sweet talking chump like that."
"He doesn't have to have her permission to capture her soul." Frowning, the man waved a hand angrily. "I can't understand it exactly; but he will take her soul if you don't watch her."
The garden began to spin around Mulder; twisting him to the ground with vertigo. With a groan he shot up out of the bed, reaching for the light instinctively.
The room was empty.
And his stomach was still twisting with nausea from the ride.
St. George, on the other hand, slept soundly through the night.
Rubbing her eyes wearily, Scully made her way into the kitchen and headed for the bread box; tossing two slices into the huge toaster.
"You look pretty wiped." St. George snickered from the other end of the table, deep in her bowl of oatmeal. "Been visiting in the night?"
"Cut it out, Jackie." Finding the peanut butter, she waited patiently for the toast to finish. "I didn't leave my room all night."
The two women looked up as Mulder staggered into the room; opening the refrigerator and pulling out the milk. St. George raised an eyebrow at his dishevelled appearance - no tie, and the long sleeved shirt hanging free of the well worn jeans. Wagging a finger at Scully silently, she dove back into her bowl to avoid the death stare.
"Mulder... are you all right?" Scully found her voice while slathering the peanut butter on her toast, finding that if she didn't look at him, she could stay sane.
He yawned. "Yah, fine. Just didn't sleep well last night."
"Nightmares?" St. George frowned.
He shook his head. "Nah. Just... strange dreams. Must be this place." Pulling down a cereal box, he proceeded to create the largest pile of corn flakes either woman had ever seen. "How did the rest of you sleep?"
"I passed out once I hit the pillow." Jackie grinned. "But Dana looks like she might have been wandering the halls all night..." She withered under the patented Scully look.
"I don't sleep well in strange beds." Dana said quietly and patiently. "And that's all there is to it." Bringing her toast to the table, she sat opposite Mulder and next to St. George. "So what's on the schedule for today?"
"Well, Montague's away from the estate for a few hours - told me that he had to go collect applications for the staff and then do a little shopping in town. So we're the only ones here, and the place is ours." St. George smirked. "He made it sound like that would be happening quite often."
"So have you decided? About taking the job, I mean?" Scully chewed thoughtfully on a piece of toast.
She shrugged. "I'm still undecided. I mean, he's a nice guy and all that; but I'm still a city gal at best - I don't know if I'll be able to handle all this peace and quiet at night. No more prowling."
"The streets will survive without you." Mulder stared down at the mountain of cereal. "And how much do you trust Montague?"
"What do you mean?" St. George frowned. "Look, the Senator passed him my name. If I can't trust him to some degree, then I'm in real trouble. Maybe they want me out here; away from the city."
"Does he know about..." Mulder cut off the statement, suddenly aware that they might be on camera. The two women picked up on it immediately.
"He doesn't know everything, Mulder. There are degrees of secrecy in every department, and I doubt that the Senator would have handed him a full file."
She chuckled. "Hell, I don't know what's in it myself." Gesturing at the pile of cereal threatening to slosh over the edge of the bowl, she looked at Mulder. "Let me guess - you used to collect those decoder rings, right?"
He proudly smiled. "One hundred and fifty two. At last count."
"And people think you're odd." She sighed. "They have no idea..."
"What would you like to do?" Scully munched on the second piece of toast, trying to not dwell on the night's events.
"I think I'll check out the rooms." St. George started. "I know some are still under construction, but it's a good way to prowl without David peering over my shoulder. Draw up some plans if I decide to stay. You?" This was directed back at Scully.
"I think I'll just wander around for a bit - see the sights from the turrets and enjoy the garden."
"I think I'll join Scully." He winked at St. George. "I don't want to get in your way when you get eager about this place."
"Right." Pushing the empty bowl away from her, she stood up from the table and headed for the sink. "I'm outta here. You've got my pager number if you really, really need to get ahold of me before lunch." She shot a sly glance at Scully. "Or dinner..." She scampered out of the large kitchen before the redhead had a chance to reply.
"She's really happy today." Mulder studied the bottom of his bowl. "But I can't help thinking that Montague isn't what he seems..."
"Then why not check him out yourself?" Scully smiled. "I do believe that you have your own contacts..." Rising from the table, she squeezed Mulder's shoulder on her way out. "Can't hurt to cover all the bases - and I'll see you later on."
He smiled at the retreating form. But he still had no way to approach either woman about what he had seen last night. And while St. George had enough open mindedness to at least listen to him; Scully was a whole different matter.
Staring after the petite woman, he grinned. Quite different. And he liked it that way.
Leisurely making her way along the spacious corridors, Scully wondered what held her back from mentioning the strange dream.
Because it was a dream.
And although she would have shared most every aspect of her life with Mulder; in fact almost had up to this point, mentioning strange dreams with men escorting her through mystery gardens somehow didn't seem right. Because she already knew what he would do.
He would raise that left eyebrow; in that particularly annoying way and then smile that mischievous smile that meant that once again he was right in some way and she was wrong in some way. And she hated that.
And then he would surely start to give examples of lucid dreams, hooking them all back into the topic of the garden and the ghost.
Except that she didn't believe in ghosts. Clairvoyance, maybe... Her mother had almost convinced her along that path, but Mulder didn't need to know that.
And for the strangest feeling of all, she suspected that he would be jealous.
But for the life of her she couldn't explain why.
With a repressed sigh she headed for the front door. Maybe a walk along the lane outside the house would clear her mind.
Mulder walked into the library; suddenly flashing back to his time at Oxford.
It was laid out in much the same way as many of the large ones in England; books stretching in every way and up to the ceiling, ladders provided for the eager and athletically inclined.
But reading would have to wait for a bit. Sitting down behind the large desk, he picked up the phone and carefully attached the scrambler he always kept in his suitcase. A small black box; it guaranteed that the call couldn't be traced or taped. Well, almost guaranteed.
"Hello..." Byers's voice was calm and detached, ready to hang up at the slightest indication of danger.
"It's Mulder." He could hear the other man relax. "I need a name run through the databases."
Byers chuckled. "You're lucky, my friend. Frohike was just running a search for some new subscribers to the Lone Gunmen. The name?"
"David Montague." He paused. "I know he's rich - we're out here on his estate in the country right now and I want to see if he's got any ghosts in his closet."
A click on the line, and he could hear Frohike's low rumble. "Mulder - is the lovely Agent Scully with you?"
"With her lovely pistol."
Frohike sighed. "Mulder, Mulder, Mulder... why you get all the women is beyond me. Especially when they see the way you dress..."
"Hey, who gave you Scully's email address?"
"I found it in the directory."
"Who gave you Scully's cell phone number?"
"I found that through a tap on your phone."
"Who gave you Scully's shoe size?"
"I haven't asked for it yet."
"Right. Well, when you do, I'll give it to you. Now spill on Montague."
"Let's see..." The telltale tapping in the background. "Thirty five, divorced for about seven years - paying a hunk in alimony... made his money the old fashioned way..."
"He stole it?"
"Almost the same. He inherited it. And he's got nothing except a few speeding tickets and the occasional DUI on record. Although..." Tap, tap, tap. "He is a bit of a flirt with the ladies. I'd be paying attention to Scully for the next little while..."
"Thanks for the update." Mulder said dryly. "Anything else?"
"Nothing that would present him as a danger to you or to St. George."
Mulder paused. "How did you know she was with us? Or us with her, to be exact."
The chuckle echoed down the lines. "Company secret, Mulder. I'll be in touch for the shoe size." The line went dead.
Putting the phone back down, Mulder sat back in the chair; deep in thought. Montague checked out just fine. And if he passed the LG scrutiny then he couldn't be that dangerous. Just a dirty old man joking with Scully and wanting to wave an ex-CSIS agent around for show when people came to visit.
And if he believed that was all, then he would give Scully's shoe size to Frohike.
St. George stood on the edge of the tower and took a deep breath of the fresh air. Her lungs ached with the purity compared to the city smog she had grown accustomed to; but it still felt good.
Aside from the headache, she was fine.
And that terrified her more than anything else. Usually something would go off in her mind; some subconscious alarm ringing that this was wrong and that trouble was on the horizon.
As it was, she could put the headache down to the fresh air and excitement.
She could. But she wouldn't. But nothing had come up yet to prove or disprove her worries. And if Mulder and Scully gave their blessing to this new job... St. George pursed her lips and looked to the right. A nice little spot for a house. And a family.
The small hedges lining the driveway were newly planted, and still bore a few tags from the nursery. Reading one quickly, Scully pulled it off and put it in her pocket to avoid littering as she strolled down and around the front of the house.
From an architect's dream, this must have been a nightmare. Combining a house and a castle. Turning to stare at it from the front, she could see the single tower in the centre dominating the smaller walls; giving it an ancient look.
But the windows were modern; as were the doors. Montague might be rich, but he had no sense of design.
But then, if you were poor, you were crazy. Rich, and you'd be eccentric.
Walking across the short-cropped grass, she looked over to where St. George had said her house would be, if she took the job.
Be a nice place to visit her. Maybe bring her mother for a change of scenery and a bit of a rest.
The remaining empty rooms were filled with sawdust and the remains of the wood and nails that had put them together. St. George closed the last door behind her and sighed.
Nothing odd here. Nothing at all. So why did her head still ache?
Turning quickly, she almost smashed into Mulder. He stepped back, grinning again at managing to catch her off guard twice in a week.
"Mulder!" She swore under her breath. "I could have shot you." Opening her jacket, she showed the .38 safe in the shoulder holster.
"Or me you." He swung his own jacket open to show his own weapon. Closing the leather coat, he chuckled. "So what do you say?"
"I say it's probably likely that I'll take the job." She dug at the carpet with her toe. "But I have a sore noggin..."
"Don't suppose you can consult the others to see if there's any unfinished business with Montague?" He was referring to her clairvoyant dreams, which had more questions than answers. She shook her head.
"Mulder, it's not like consulting a library. But I can tell you that if there's any danger; it's here and now - and I'm not exactly getting the full fledged screaming I've had in the past. If there is a danger, it's not clear to me." She went to the next door, opposite Mulder. "Besides, it's not like we can't handle..." Her voice trailed off as she pushed on the door. "It's locked." St. George's voice held the tone of an upset child denied a favourite toy.
"So open it." Mulder shrugged. "What, you don't have keys for this place yet? Montague seemed pretty willing to give everything else to you."
She frowned. "This is the first locked door I've encountered in this place."
Putting her shoulder to it, she tested the door's strength with a light shove. "And I hate surprises."
"Isn't that kinda illegal? Even if he is going to hire you?" Mulder leaned on the wall next to the door, watching her.
"I won't tell if you won't." Taking a deep breath, she shoved the door open.
"Oops. Don't you hate when that happens..." The joking tone died as they scanned the inside of the room.
Hundreds of monitors hooked up to hundreds of cameras.
Tape machines whirring merrily in the background.
And on at least twenty screens, Dana Scully from different angles as she walked along the laneway back towards the front door of the castle.
"Oh, God..." St. George whispered. "He had them all working..."
"Of course." A soft voice said behind them. "Why have all this equipment and not use it to watch something as lovely as Agent Scully?"
They both whirled to see Montague, shotgun in hand, a few feet from them with a smile on his face. "The weapons, please. And don't be stupid."
Slowly withdrawing their pistols, the two put them down on the ground. Mulder looked back up as Scully entered the main hall. "What are you doing?"
"Call it fulfilling an old family pledge." He shrugged. "You know, those things that get passed down through the generations. Oh, and the cell phone and the pager as well."
"And let me guess - I'm in here somewhere." Jackie rubbed her head slowly, as to not startle the gunman. "You know, I would like to think that I would have been warned by now..."
"I don't know why." Montague gestured them out of the room with the barrel of the weapon. "After all, you didn't do anything."
"Anything?" St. George echoed him.
"You didn't do anything but talk. And that's why I set this up." Scooping up the pistols, he pocketed them as he pointed down the hall.
"I'm a bit out of the loop here." Mulder tried to smile. "Can you fill me in?"
"Certainly." Montague pushed none to gently the two agents with the barrel as they walked down the hall. "Towards the basement, please."
"One of my ancestors was a famous knight. Had his own castle, much like this one." The voice bounced around the walls as they walked along. "But he fancied a woman and wanted to take her as his wife."
"Sounds like a plan." St. George mumbled.
"Open the door, please. Thank you. Now down the stairs. See, the problem was that she was already married to a young lord; who didn't take kindly to another man wanting his woman. So Montague waited in the woods one day with his followers and captured her as she rode with her ladies. Taking her back to the castle, he declared that he would marry her and ignore the previous lord's claim."
"Good capitalist." Mulder said calmly, feeling the dampness of the basement collecting around them.
"Actually, it was. And when the young man rode up and demanded that he return his wife to him, Montague laughed. He knew full well that the lord didn't have enough money or men to mount a siege on the castle, and just ignored him. But that didn't set to well with some of the knights in the castle; especially one who was visiting."
"I guess this is where I come in." St. George grumbled. "Man, I hate these long stories..."
"Against the wall. Mulder, do be a nice fellow and put the manacles around her ankles. No, not the hands - I'm not afraid of her burrowing her way out. Now your own. Wonderful." Cradling the shotgun, he continued. "Yes, there was a St. George there, resting from some adventure or other. And he spoke up against the theft, and the fact that Montague wouldn't even give the young lord the challenge he asked for in place of a siege - man to man combat. It was a disgrace to the Montague name that he wouldn't fight for this woman, but chose to steal her away in the night and then hide in the castle.
Long-winded bastard, that St. George."
"Well, he had a point." Mulder tried to smile, shuffling his feet.
"St. George managed to turn most of the knights against Montague, and they left him in the night. All of them, in fact; along with St. George. When the morning sun rose; he had nothing but the castle and the woman - and when he went to find his bride-to-be; he discovered that she had fled in the night; aided by his own knights." Waving the shotgun angrily, Montague snarled. "At the end, there was nothing left for him to do except die alone and forgotten in his castle. No friends, no woman... no reputation. And that, my friend, is why you are here." He looked at Mulder. "My family hasn't forgotten that outrage, and we vowed to one day avenge ourselves on her family. It's taken all my money and my connections to get the last St. George here, in this replica of the castle her ancestor helped destroy." Stepping back, he walked up the stairs; waiting at the top before swinging the door shut. "Even included a dungeon in the plans. And you'll stay here until you suffer the same fate as the man you betrayed so many decades ago."
Jackie spoke up, reaching for the door. "Montague, this is stupid. You can't live your life avenging and apologising for your ancestors!" Her breath caught in her throat as a half-smile hit her face. "Believe me, I know..."
The footsteps faded away. "Montague? Montague!"
"What about Scully?" Mulder asked quietly. St. George shook her head.
"I don't know. But I'm afraid Montague intends to keep his stolen bride this time."
Mulder looked at St. George, tugging at the thick iron rings around his ankles. "Don't expect you have a lock pick set on you?"
"What, do I look like McGyver?"
"Well, I was hoping..."
"Move a little closer here, Mulder - I want to see if these chains are real steel..."
Scully poked her head into the vacant bedroom, noting the small teddy bear set tastefully atop the covers. No St. George. And no Mulder, either. She had already visited his room.
But that didn't mean anything, really. Except that she was beginning to get nervous. Leave those two alone long enough, and god knows what sort of trouble they could get into.
"Dana..." The ghostly voice made her start, and she turned to look at the transparent figure in the far corner of the room.
With a smile, the ghost Montague tilted his head to one side. "I know you're not exactly comfortable with this..."
"You cannot be real. You're probably some hologram set up by Montague to scare off the visitors; or to entertain them." The reassuring weight of her pistol at the small of her back gave her strength. "I think it's quite nice, but I'm not impressed..."
"Your friends are in trouble, Dana."
"And this is something new..." She grumbled. "Look, tell David that I'm not interested in playing some game..."
"It's no game."
Crossing her arms, she stared at the figure. "Right. I'm supposed to believe that you're a ghost of a Montague ancestor who is trying to help me."
"Because..." He frowned, as if hearing a distant voice. "Because I died trying to help a woman."
"You died courting a woman - fell off the wall, as I recall."
"My falling is true." He admitted. "But the part of the tale that you do not know is that the woman was another man's wife - and that I was trying to help her escape her captor."
"A man who had stolen her from her rightful house and home. I was trying to help her leave in the night and return to her husband."
"So how did you die?"
"I fell." He stated coldly. "But that's not important right now. What is important is that you come with me to find your partner and your friend."
Scully whirled around as the door slammed shut behind her; letting out her breath slowly as David Montague smiled at her.
"Are you alright?" he asked quietly, staring at the woman. She stared at him intently, taking in the sweat on his forehead and the slight trembling in his hands as they lay at his sides.
"I'm fine." She lied. "I was just looking for Jackie."
"Actually, so was I." He opened the door again, letting in a cool breeze from the hall. "I got back a few minutes ago with the potential staff resumes and need to find her. Do you think she's with Mulder?"
Scully looked back at the vacant corner of the room; looking intently for clues as to the image's appearance and disappearance. "I think that's a likely possibility."
"You can do this, right?"
"If you keep bothering me Mulder, I'll hook this to your neck when I get it undone."
"Didn't know you were that kinky, St. George."
"Action talks, BS walks... now shut the hell up and let me work on this. And I won't ask why you had a pocketful of paperclips."
"Well, Scully claims that I steal hers all the time..."
"When you steal her panty hose, then I start to worry. Now be quiet..."
Scully followed Montague down to the library, cautiously watching him. Aside from being a bit nervous, he didn't seem to be upset at all at walking in on her talking to the walls. Maybe she was becoming too much like Mulder in the paranoia department.
Seating himself behind the desk, the blond man looked around the book-filled shelves. "I wish I knew where they were. I want to get Jackie's final answer to my offer."
Sitting down opposite him, Scully nodded. "I do believe that she was seriously considering it." She paused. "But I still don't understand why you chose her out of all the other people qualified for this position."
Entwining his fingers on the desktop, he smiled. "Senator Hargreaves is a business friend, and I asked him for a list of top security specialists for the assignment of setting up the security system here on the estate. Her name was on it. And then I wondered; why just have it set up and then have her leave? Why not have her here fulltime to deal with the problems that are going to crop up here and there - it's only logical."
"Oh." Scully felt a bead of sweat trail down her back, stopping where her blouse was pressed against her skin by her weapon. Reaching back behind her, she scratched under her blazer. "Well, I'll go look for them. And I'll send Jackie to you ASAP if I find her." Getting to her feet, she headed for the door.
"Dana..." He purred, in a voice not unlike the apparition she had so recently met. "Are you afraid of me?"
She stopped, suddenly afraid to turn around. "No - I just want to go find my friends."
"Certainly. I'll see you later on."
"You know, I bet I could chew through these chains faster."
"You know, I bet I could chew through your leg faster - but then I'd die of indigestion. Shut up, Mulder - it's not like I've got Scully's pickgun."
"That would be helpful."
"So would a bazooka. Stop moving."
Scully wandered around the main corridor on the main floor, watching the cameras that seemed to be at every corner. Even though she had been told that they were inactive, she still tensed at the idea of being continually on guard.
Her eyes fell onto one door; crudely barred and hammered shut with a few planks of wood and crooked nails. With a frown she ran her hand along the rough boards; wondering why she had missed this obvious distraction from the elegant beauty of the house before. Giving the topmost board a light tug, she noted that the nails were deep into the door - not a chance of pulling them away by herself. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a figure - David Montague. So the man was following her. Wonderful. Either he was desperate to find the missing two agents or he was watching her.
She wasn't sure which one upset her more.
"And you complain that I can't pick locks..."
"Shut up, Mulder..."
"Now let me see if I can lock it around your mouth this time..."
Scully paused again at the barricaded door. It just seemed too out of place for this elegant hall; and strange that she missed it the first time she came this way. If it had been that way. Maybe it had something to do with Mulder and St. George...
A hand touched her shoulder, and she jumped. Turning quickly, her hand instinctively went to the base of her spine; grasping the handle of her pistol. Too late she realised that Montague was smiling as he stood in front of her; his hand atop hers as he expertly relieved her of the weapon; his own pistol lightly touching her stomach as they faced each other.
"Tut, tut Agent Scully - you know there are some places where you just shouldn't go." Putting the pistol in the pocket of his jacket, he motioned for her to turn around and head for the far door. "I think we should spend a little time in the garden - you know, get to know each other a bit better."
She recognised the pistol he held; had caught enough of a glance before twisting away.
And her heart skipped a beat.
"Right." Tossing the last of the leg irons to one side, St. George looked up at the single light bulb burning brightly in the basement. "Now we have to get to Montague and to Scully."
Leading the way up the steps, Mulder put his shoulder to the thick door; finding it locked. With a sigh the Canadian leaned against it as well, wagging a finger in his face.
"Not yet. I don't want to do it yet." He knew she was referring to letting her skill loose; the Rage as she called it. And it wasn't something St. George liked to use lightly, if only because of the tremendous physical and mental drain on her. With a deep breath the tall man nodded at her and they both charged the door simultaneously.
The wood splintered apart under their combined attack; letting them sprawl onto the floor in the hall in a loud crash.
Getting to her feet wearily, St. George looked around the halls. With a grin she reached for a pair of swords on the wall; pulling them down and handing one to Mulder.
"It's something until we get our guns back." She smiled. "Tell me you took fencing at Oxford."
"I took fencing at Oxford." She stared at him in disbelief. "No, really. Not the best, but in a pinch..." Raising the thick blade in a salute, he shrugged. "Always wanted to play the dashing knight saving the lady in distress..."
"Right. And how many times has Dana saved your butt?" St. George shot back as they ran down the hall.
Skidding to a stop in front of the barred door, Mulder put out a hand. "Why spend a lot of time running around when we can just look for her with the cameras?"
Putting the thick iron blade under one piece of wood, he inhaled slowly as he applied pressure; seeing the nails bend and give way under the makeshift crowbar.
Grabbing the board next to that one, St. George wedged her sword under the plank as well. "Hope Scully's at least carrying..." She grunted.
"She always is." Mulder grumbled back, wrenching the board loose.
The garden was beginning to bloom fully; the transplanted trees and shrubs adapting well to their new environment. One hand securely on her shoulder; the other holding the pistol to her spine; Montague guided Scully down the stone path.
"I was really hoping that you'd play along. After all, it wasn't my idea to have you come here. I was thinking that Jackie might bring one friend, not two. And definitely not Mulder." A sudden movement to their left caught his eye, and he swore under his breath.
Wrapping his arm around her neck, he put the pistol out in front of him and fired rapidly where he had seen the man. Two shots ricocheted off the walls.
Taking a deep breath under the pressure on her airpipe, Scully pondered her options. Where were Mulder and St. George? She knew from the glimpse she had gotten of Montague's intended target that it was too short to be Mulder; and didn't look like...
Montague twisted her around sharply, his back to the tower that rose from the centre of the garden. Hissing through his teeth, he let off a series of shots at the surrounding bushes.
She knew that she might be able to kick him in the instep and sprint away, but it would be a measured risk against him being able to shoot her in the back. And she really didn't want to play those odds in a wide open garden.
Exchanging hands, Montague held the pistol awkwardly in his left while he grabbed another weapon from his belt. Tossing the weapon away, he dragged Scully back towards the tower.
She mentally counted the shots. He had had only one bullet left in Mulder's gun; and now a full clip in hers. Well, the odds were getting better... He levelled another series of shots at a small tree; the branches waving threatening in the breeze. The sweat poured off his face and stuck to her skin as he wheezed in her ear.
"I'll kill you, Mulder... I'll kill you and then both of them!"
Mulder stared at the camera. "Okay, tell me what he's shooting at." He tapped the monitor. "And he's just emptied my clip."
St. George shook her head. "I don't know and I don't care. We've got to get her away from him." Her hand tightened on the sword. "And he's still got my revolver, if you're counting."
"I am." Standing up from the console, Mulder stared around blankly at the blinking screens and controls. "Does this thing have a self-destruct button?"
He looked at her. "I want all those tapes of Scully destroyed."
She smiled, raising the pommel of her weapon. "Does now."
"Hold on." Stepping to the rack of VCRs, Mulder pushed the eject button on every one, whipping the tapes out and tossing them on the ground. Taking the last one, he pulled out the black tape manually; scrolling it around the small pile. "I assume this would provide a distraction as well."
"Who cares?" Lifting the chair, she tossed it into the console; jumping back as the sparks flew. "I'll meet you there as soon as I make sure this is burning."
"All the tapes." Mulder yelled as he ran through the door.
"All the tapes." St. George repeated as she fed the small fire quickly. "And then we deny everything..."
Montague leaned against the cold stone wall of the tower, breathing heavily as he tightened his grip on Scully. Too many times he had shot at this mysterious figure threatening his plans; and he knew he only had a few shots left and then he'd be forced to use the revolver. His plan wasn't going anything like it was supposed to be.
"Let me go," Scully said in a low commanding voice. "Montague, just let me go and we'll talk. We can arrange something..." Her words cut off as he tightened the grip on her throat.
"Shut up. I won't be deprived of my revenge. I've waited too long for this, and my family demands blood." He hissed. His head whipped up as Mulder skidded around one corner of the tower.
For his part, Mulder didn't exactly have a plan. Or a weapon, other than the antique sword in his hand. But as he ducked back behind the relative safety of the wall; he knew that he had to somehow get Scully away from Montague.
Opening the door behind them quickly, Montague pushed the redhead ahead of him roughly; letting her free as he turned to lock the thick iron door.
Spinning around; Scully raked his face with her nails as she scrabbled to find the revolver in his jacket pocket, or in his belt. With a hoarse cry he fired into the ceiling of the small room, bringing dust down on the two of them.
Mulder heard the shot go off; sending his heart leaping into his throat. As
if on cue, St. George dashed around the other side of the tower, putting her hands up before Mulder could strike.
"Done." She pointed to the smoke billowing out of the far door. "Though I think I might have overdone it."
"He's got her in there." He pointed at the tower above them. "I've got to get inside there."
"No problem." St. George looked at the steel door. "Well, just a little one." Her head rose to see the small window over their heads; conveniently open. "Right... put your foot here..."
Awkwardly sliding the blade through one loop of his jeans, Mulder dutifully put his right foot on the outstretched hands; looking up at the space.
"Gonna be a tight squeeze."
"I told you to lay off the cream cheese..." St. George grunted as she hoisted him up.
Wrenching herself free of the angry man, Scully sprinted up the steps towards the top of the tower. It was unlikely that he could shoot around the spiralling corners of the staircase; and maybe she could get to something from the top. Below her she could hear Montague's angry yell; and the sound of his feet pounding on the steps.
Mulder landed in a tangled heap on the stairs; the sword jammed between his legs so hard that he had to make sure he hadn't just made himself a eunuch.
Getting to his feet in a rush, he listened intently for a second; hearing the noise ahead of him, up the steps.
Dropping the sword to the ground St. George put her shoulder to the door, testing it gingerly. "Three doors in the same bloody day." She grumbled.
"Last time I take those two on vacation with me..." Standing back, she rapped on the door experimentally with her knuckles. Good, strong steel. Wonderful. Standing back, she looked up the five story tower. Putting her hands in the pockets of her jacket, she felt the familiar leather gloves; tempting her.
With a sigh, St. George slowly pulled them on, feeling the carpet tacks lightly press against the left palm.
"I'm too old for this." She said to no one in particular. Putting her palms to the cold stone wall, she took a deep breath and pushed hard.
Scully scampered up the stairs, bursting through the door to the top of the turret; a wide open area with no escape. Rushing to the edge, she looked down past the stone figures perched here and there on the way to the ground and shuddered. No escape there.
Suddenly Montague appeared in the doorway, clutching a thick wooden stick in one hand; a familiar revolver in the other.
"Nowhere to run, Agent Scully." He grinned; sending a low rumble of anger through her soul. "I don't really want to kill you; but you're becoming too much trouble to me alive..."
His words were cut off as Mulder smashed into him from behind, sending them both sprawling across the floor; dangerously close to the edge despite the raised barriers.
Scrambling to his feet first, Montague swung the bat at Mulder, who managed to parry it with the old sword at the last second as he managed to stand. The revolver skidded free of both men, sliding over to the far corner.
"I won't have you spoil my plans!" He rasped at the FBI agent, pushing backwards angrily. "I own this castle and I own my revenge!"
Thrusting back against him, Mulder pushed the man away from him. "Give it up, Montague. There's no way out now, and your castle is on fire." He pointed at the trail of black smoke making its way up into the sky to their left. "The tapes are destroyed along with your plan."
"Not yet." He snarled, swinging the bat at him. "Not until I kill you all - no one will believe you over me; not with my money and power..."
Scully grabbed the revolver; flicking the cylinder open to see that there were still four bullets left. But as she raised it to aim at the madman, she found that there was no clear target.
"Mulder, get clear!" She yelled. But he was unwilling or unable to comply; bringing up the sword once again to deflect the blows.
Slashing back quickly, Mulder felt a sense of glee at seeing the red spot open up on Montague's left arm; the blood flowing freely. But he didn't have time to enjoy his victory as the wooden bar smashed into his right leg; just above the knee. Dropping to the ground, he rolled away from the downswing just in time.
"Enough!" Scully crouched by Mulder, the revolver steady in her hand as she pointed it at Montague. "Drop it now..."
Raising the bat over his head, he stared at the pair on the ground in front of him. Backing away, he leaned against the stone fortifications. "Not until I get..."
A hand tapped him on the back.
Montague turned and found himself face to face with a very angry, very tired, and very irritated Dragon.
Grabbing him by the lapels of his jacket, St. George lifted him off the ground, her eyes blazing. Her cut and bloody fingers smeared redness over the light brown fabric. A small graze on her left cheek showed how the climb had marked her.
"You want to have revenge? Hell, I'll give it to you now." Snarling into his face, she grinned. "Go for it..."
Dropping to the ground, he swung at her eagerly. With a laugh she caught the wooden bat and ripped it from his grasp, tossing it over her shoulder and down to the garden below. "Try again..."
Roaring, he let go with a punch; not connecting with anything except the concrete behind her as she effortlessly slipped away. Grabbing him again, she pulled him to his feet.
"I would like..." Thump. "To decline your generous job offer." Thump. "And the next time you're looking for help..." Thump. "Check the Yellow Pages."
Dropping him in a heap on the ground, St. George wearily made her way to the pair. "I think I'll be going home with you..." She sighed, the Rage exhausted.
"Hey, I was doing fine until you got here." Mulder protested, getting to his feet. Scully shook her head with a chuckle, handing the revolver to St. George.
"I believe this is yours..."
"Thanks." She barely got the weapon into her shoulder holster before her hands sagged to her sides. "I'm tired... and that fire really needs to be put out..."
Scully's eyes widened as they focused past her. Before she could say anything, Montague's arms wrapped themselves around St. George's waist.
"I'll go to hell before I let you disgrace me again - but I'll take you with me!" With a roar he threw himself to one side, over the edge of the turret - taking Jackie with him.
There is a rumour that when you are about to die that your life flashes in front of you. Of course, this has been hard to prove or disprove due to lack of evidence. As Jackie St. George fell, she absentminded thought which life she would see.
Suddenly a painful yank came on her left side; wrenching her arm out against the wind whipping past her. Slamming into something hard, she felt the muscles in her left arm and shoulder scream in protest; the shoulder contemplating separation in protest. But as she wrapped her right arm around the solid block, she knew that this wasn't going to prove or disprove anything this time.
Looking down, she saw the sodden body of Montague in a crumpled heap in the centre of the garden; the thick black smoke curling around it as the fire made its way through the house. With the last of her strength she hoisted her body atop the platform and put her forehead to the cool stone.
Scully looked down, feeling a mixture of nausea and relief as she saw the body curled up atop the parapet beneath them. Out of the corner of her eyes in the garden below she thought she saw a white figure waving at her, but given the tension she had been under it was understandable that she would be seeing things.
Because the alternative was too illogical.
"Where is she?" Mulder gasped, limping his way to the edge. Scully pointed down.
"Actually, where she should be." A smile came to her face. "Count over - there's the unicorn figurine, the griffin..."
"And that dammed Dragon." Mulder sighed. Putting an arm around her waist, he chuckled. "Well, I did try to save a damsel in distress..."
Putting her hand atop his, Scully looked at him thoughtfully. "It's the thought that counts, Mulder." They both turned towards the fire engines racing in the front gates in the distance. "Besides, this is the nineties.
Knights and damsels in distress are in the same category as Dragons..."
He raised an eyebrow. "Exactly." They watched as St. George began to snore fitfully, ignorant of her precarious position. "Exactly."
St. George yawned as she curled up in the back of the car; blissfully ignoring the fire engines as they put out the last of the fires. The house had been mostly destroyed by the flames; the dark tower standing alone in the centre of the desolation and the dead garden. Mulder and Scully stood to one side, talking to the police officer.
"I don't think there'll be much of a problem." The detective flipped his notebook closed. "The fire was due to a wiring flaw left by the electricians; it seems. Started in a television room of some sort; maybe a home theatre."
He scratched his head. "And Montague - well, they might want to call some sort of inquest to him attacking you all like that and then falling to his death - but with your statements I don't see too much of a problem." He gestured to the sleeping woman. "I'll get hers from the Embassy on Monday."
Staring at the stone tower, he shook his head. "All that money wasted..."
Walking away, he shrugged as he tucked the notebook into his pocket.
"Now what?" Scully looked at Mulder. He smiled.
"We go home." He jerked a thumb at the car. "And I'll drive."
St. George woke up as they pulled up to Scully's apartment building. Yawning deeply; she staggered behind the two agents and made it to the couch before starting to snore again. Stifling a chuckle, Scully dumped her bags in the bedroom and headed for the kitchen to make some tea. Mulder picked up her phone.
"Mind if I get my messages?"
"Nope. Frozen pizza okay?"
"As long as the beer isn't." He tapped on the phone pad, listening intently to the voices on his machine. With a grin he hung up; walking into the kitchen to lean on the counter opposite the redhead.
"Got a message from Frohike."
"Seems that Montague didn't tell us all of the legend."
"Seems that the famous ghost was a Montague - and he was there at the time of the supposed theft of the woman."
Stretching out a hand, Mulder hefted a thick apple in his hand before taking a bite. "Seems that he did die with a woman - he was brother to the Montague who ruled the castle. He helped her escape; but at the last minute fell to his death, pushed by his brother in revenge."
"Oh." Scully didn't look at him as she put the pizza in the oven. "And what does that have to do with us?"
"I had this dream..."
She put her hands on her hips, staring at him intently. "Mulder..."
"And I was wondering..."
Putting up her hand quickly, she sighed. "Don't get into this with me, Mulder - I'm in too good a mood."
"But what if..."
Jackie opened her eyes groggily; the fresh smell of pizza filling her nose.
Over the clanking and clinking of plates and glasses she could hear the familiar voices arguing and counter arguing; each trying to dominate the other. With a yawn she closed her eyes again and fell back into a light sleep.
It was good to be home.
"If you will practice being fictional for a while, you will understand that fictional characters are sometimes more real than people with bodies and heartbeats."
Richard Bach -- "Illusions"