Summary: When Mulder and Scully investigate a series of hauntings surrounding a rock band, Mulder gets more than he bargened for CHALLENGE FIC
I secretly think that every writer has their "haunted rock band" story and here's mine. Honestly, what's better than rock music and ghosts? They go together like peanut butter and jelly. This already has proven to be one of the most interesting things I've written (to myself, I don't know what anyone else will think). It's fun, I hope you enjoy.
I should mention that I don't own Mulder, Scully or SNL. Nor do I own Arturo's. It's an actual pizzeria in the Village. I highly recommend it. I do, however, own SoundOff, Rage for Order, Evie, Joey, Meredith and anyone else you don't happen to recognize.
A couple nota bene: The band's name, "Rage for Order" is taken from a poem by Wallace Stevens, "The Idea of Order at Key West." It's a decent poem; read it if you have time. Also, the ghost writing about midway through this chapter is a bastardization of some My Chemical Romance lyrics. I would have lifted them outright but then would have felt the compulsion to explain why my ghost is familiar with MCR. And I don't have an answer to that one. There are a lot of other little inside jokes/reasoning behind the stuff in this fic. But the aforementioned items are the only ones I figured anyone would care about.
Finally – this story was written for a challenge off of CB15's "Risking it All in a Glance" Mulder/Other site. J
Enjoy! Reviews are always appreciated (hint, hint wink, wink)!
CHAPTER ONE: THE ONLY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MARTYRDOM AND SUICIDE IS PRESS COVERAGE
When Scully entered Mulder's office on Monday morning she was nearly knocked backwards by the intense rock music her partner had playing. He wasn't sitting at his desk, but he had left a CD case there. She picked it up and read the name out loud.
"Rage for Order?"
Mulder popped out of the back room. "Oh, Scully, you're here. A new case came across my desk over the weekend. I'm just finding the slide projector now."
"Mulder, what is this?" She held the CD case up.
He set the slide projector on a table and pulled down the projection screen. "What is what? Oh, that. Well, that's part of our case actually."
"Can we turn it down, maybe? I can barely hear myself think!"
Mulder turned off the CD player and plugged in the slide projector. "Not a modern rock fan, Scully?" he teased.
She rolled his eyes and cleared a spot for herself on his desk. "Not of this rock. I'm pretty sure this is what depressed teenagers listen too before they kill themselves."
"Well, whatever. This band is at the center of our new case. You didn't by any chance happen to catch Saturday Night Live last Saturday, did you?"
Mulder flipped on the projector and clicked to the first slide. It was a press photo of a group of shaggy haired young men that Scully could only guess were Rage for Order. Their dark, mascara-ringed eyes bored into hers, dark and angry. "If you had seen SNL, you would have noticed that the band originally booked wasn't there."
"Let me guess. Rage for Order?"
He flashed Scully a quick smirk. "Very good, Scully. Rage for Order wasn't there because of a very strange accident that occurred earlier in the week, during a practice session." He clicked the projector forward. The next picture was one of the SNL set. It seemed like a fairly normal practice session, except that one of the band members was floating many feet above the stage. "This isn't part of the show," Mulder said before Scully could ask. "This fellow here, one of the guitarists, was lofted ten feet into the air and thrown across the room. He's still in the hospital. And so is this guy." He clicked to the next slide. It showed one of the band members running off stage, arm on fire. "The band's pyrotechnics went out of control, and the drummer ended up in flames, as you can see here."
"I see, Mulder. This poor group is being plagued by gremlins, right?"
He turned to her again. "Wrong. This isn't the first instance of strange things happening to and around the band." He clicked the projector forward again and this time the picture of a large, late 1940s building flashed onto the screen. "The Paramount Hotel in LA, where the band recorded their latest album. The building is well known to locals as one of the most haunted buildings in LA. I believe that the band is being haunted. Something about their stay at the Paramount prompted a ghost to follow them from LA back to New York, where they're from. One very angry ghost is causing all these problems."
Scully shook her head. "Mulder, I'd tell you that you're crazy, but I don't think you'd hear me. I will say this though: what is more stereotypical than a rock group being haunted?"
Mulder shrugged. "Where do you think the stereotype comes from? Here, this is the information that I've gotten so far." He handed her a file.
She paged through it. "It says here that those photos you showed me were taken by a photographer for SoundOff magazine?"
He nodded. "One of the premier music magazines in the country, yes. Apparently, SoundOff has assigned a reporter and a photographer to cover the band. I figure we had better call up the magazine and get their names…"
"Mulder, they've got the names right here," Scully replied, flipping to the last page of the report. "The photographer is Joey Martin and the reporter is Evie Tanner."
"Evie Tanner?" Mulder asked loudly before he could stop himself. He tried to busy himself with the projector and hoped in vain that Scully would overlook his statement. Of course, he was out of luck.
Scully raised an eyebrow and, setting the report aside, crossed her arms over her chest. "You know an Evie Tanner?" she asked, eyeing him intently.
"Um, sure. There was a girl named Evie Tanner who used to come to the Vineyard during the summers when I was a kid. Her parents knew my parents and we used to play together. She was really Samantha's friend, though. I'd take them to the beach and stuff, you know. The kind of things big brothers do."
Scully frowned but didn't force the matter. He knew that Scully didn't really believe his explanation and he didn't blame her. His reaction had been too extreme. He figured Scully already suspected that Evie wasn't just a family friend. But as long as she didn't ask anymore questions and their interview with Evie wasn't too long, maybe he could avoid answering any more uncomfortable questions.
He cleared his throat. "We've better get going, Scully. Our shuttle to JFK leaves in a couple hours." He grinned at her and tried to keep his mind on the case. But try as he might, his thoughts only focused on the last time he had seen Evie.
New York City
Evie ran a hand through her hair and frowned at her editor. "For some reason, I don't think this is a good idea," she said, chewing on a nail.
Meredith shook her lobster-red mane and laughed as if Evie had just told her the greatest joke ever written. "Evie, darling, you realize that this is one of the biggest stories in the music world, right? We've played this one perfectly. They trust you, they'll talk to you and you'll finally get your cover story."
Evie knit her brow. "Exactly. They trust me. This is a touchy situation and I don't know if they want it on the cover of SoundOff…"
"Everyone wants to be on the cover of SoundOff, Evie. I imagine every single young band in the fucking country would give their right nut to be in Rage's situation."
"You mean having members injured for no apparent reason?"
Meredith sighed her trademark loud, frustrated sigh, the one that was a dead ringer for a bull elephant seal's bellow. "Evie! It's free publicity! Do you think their album would have gone platinum if this hasn't happened at SNL last weekend?"
Evie would have liked to think that it would have, but said nothing. Meredith was notoriously difficult to work for under normal conditions, but was even more challenging when she got an idea in her head like this one.
"You know the band, Evie. They'll talk to you. Even you, so 'pure of mind and heart,' has to agree that this is big news. I mean, how many rock bands get investigated by the FBI. Well, how many bands get investigated by the FBI without having done something incredibly stupid?"
"You've got me there, Meredith," Evie admitted. She sighed. "Look, if they want me out, I'm out, okay? I'm not going to compromise my ethics for a cover story, okay?"
Meredith laughed. "Oh yes, your 'journalistic code of ethics.' You writers are so cute sometimes."
Evie shot a dark look and left the office before she could get berated any further. Joey was standing in the hallway waiting for her when she left. Evie quickly filled him in on her conversation with the editor.
He shook his head in shock. "She's worse than that woman in The Devil Wears Prada," he said in sympathy.
"Try 'The Devil Listens to Radiohead,'" Evie replied. They walked down the hall towards the elevator. Evie's small office was on the sixth floor, a far cry from Meredith's top-floor suite.
Joey chuckled. "What if nothing comes of this whole investigation? What then?"
"Well, then, I'm either fucked or I've got my foot in the door for a Rage cover story. Sans all the freaky crap that's been going on lately."
They fell silent for a few minutes, until they had made it to the sixth floor. "You have to admit, Evie, that was fucking weird on Friday."
She unlocked the office door and held it open for him. "Yeah," she muttered. "That was weird. I wish we could explain it… It wasn't an equipment malfunction, Joey." She slumped down in her chair.
Before either of them had a chance to say anything else, Evie's office phone rang. She answered it before the second ring. It was Aiden. "Evie? Are you free?"
She mouthed Aiden's name to Joey. "Define free."
"Free for a late lunch."
"Well, that depends on where you want to go to lunch."
Aiden paused. "How about Arturo's?"
Evie groaned. "Aiden, that's in the Village. I'm all the way up here in Midtown."
"Well, by the time you get here, it'll be after four and then they'll be open."
"What does that make it, then? Linner?"
He laughed. "I prefer dunch."
"Okay. Fine. I'll see you at Arturo's." She hung up and smiled at Joey. "I'm going to dunch at Arturo's with Aiden. Or linner, whichever you prefer."
Joey smirked at her. "Dunch?"
"Yeah, I know. Brunch sounds better. Anyway, I've got to get down to the Village, so I guess I'll see you tomorrow?"
"Sure. Fill me in on all the news."
She shot him a dark look. "Call me if the FBI starts poking around here."
As it neared four o'clock, traffic in Manhattan grew heavy, but it hadn't yet reached the unbearable, bumper-to-bumper, molasses-paced drudgery of the rush hour. Evie stared out the window as they inched down the island. She had a bad feeling about this whole situation, despite everything that had happened to the band. The mess at SNL had only brought the band's trouble into the public eye. Evie had been with the band since two months before their record had been released – it was a project that SoundOff had decided to try. The magazine had sent Evie chronicle the band's entire tour season, rather like the imbedded reporters in Iraq. Evie still didn't understand the point of the exercise, but she had been having the time of her life.
At least until recently. A little over a month ago, members of the band had begun to have excruciating nightmares. They tossed and turned. They screamed as if someone was torturing them. On a couple occasions, they even began muttering things to themselves in foreign languages they couldn't ordinarily speak. After the nightmare came the strange sounds and the weird writing scrawled across mirrors and doorframes. One night, at maybe three or four in the morning, Aiden had called Evie to his suite in a panic.
"I want you to see this," he kept muttering, dragging her through the rooms to his bathroom. "Tell me I'm not crazy."
Evie had stared in shock at the angry words on the wall: YOU THOUGHT YOU COULD KILL ME BUT I'M COMING BACK FOR YOU!!
The large, blocky letters had appeared on the mirror after Aiden had woken from another nightmare. If Evie hadn't seen it with her own eyes, she wouldn't have believed him. She leaned forward and dabbed at the script with a Kleenex. She held it out to Aiden to inspect. "It looks like blood," she whispered.
Aiden stormed from the bathroom. "That's impossible."
"I know it's impossible." She stared at the Kleenex for a few more moments. "Maybe it's oil based paint. It doesn't dry as quickly as other paints and can look like congealed blood."
"But how could anyone get into my room?" he demanded, staring at her with his large, wild eyes.
She glanced at the floor. "I don't know."
After she had left, Aiden told her that he went back into the bathroom only to find that the writing was gone.
The five guys in the band were the only people who seemed to be plagued by whatever this was. Evie wasn't the only person who wasn't having nightmares or seeing strange writing in her room. None of the tech people, or any of the band members' family or friends seemed to be affected. Just the band. Which made everything so much weirder.
SNL had been the final straw. No one was surprised when the lights shut off during Rage's practice session – lights had been flickering and shutting off for a while now. But then Garrett had suddenly found himself suspended in mid-air and flung across the studio and suddenly the pyrotechnic sets were flaring up. Chris's sleeve had caught on fire and the rest of the band could only watch in horror. Evie shivered again at the memory. She had never seen anyone so out of control of their surroundings as the five had been. Things had just been happening to them and no one could stop it.
Now Garrett and Chris were in the hospital and Rage's tour had been put on hold until the pair could get well again. Evie shook her head as the memories flooded through her mind. This was just so weird – if she believed in such things as ghosts, she might have said Rage was being haunted. But how did five guys in their twenties end up being haunted?
Mulder would know. She was surprised by this sudden thought; she rarely thought about Mulder anymore. She considered him just another one of the mistakes that her younger and more naïve self had made. He wasn't even worth the energy it took to remember what he looked like. But now, as her taxi entered the Village, she found her mind wandering back to the kooky kid she knew growing up in Massachusetts.
They had met one summer when Evie's parents brought her the Vineyard. The Tanners had known the Mulders for a while. Now Evie couldn't remember how they had met, but had a feeling Mrs. Tanner and Mrs. Mulder had been in the same lamas class together. Evie and Mulder's sister, Samantha had practically been raised together and they spent most of their summers running around the beach and the quaint town of Chilmark, creating games and imaginary worlds for themselves. Often, during the winters, Mrs. Mulder brought Samantha to Boston for long weekends so the girls could see one another.
Samantha's disappearance had been one of the most traumatic experiences in Evie's young life. Losing your best friend at eight was terrible. Evie had been so shocked by the disappearance she stopped talking. It must have been a coping mechanism, Evie realized, looking back. She must have decided not to talk until Samantha came back.
Only, Samantha didn't come back and Evie remained stoically silent until the following summer when she would wander the beaches alone, trying to call her friend with the almost extrasensory connection the two girls had. That was when she had stumbled onto Mulder, who was also brooding alone on the beach. That summer they had taken refuge in one another, relieved to find the other person who understood what the other was experiencing. Their friendship had bloomed out of tragedy, which made it a strange friendship indeed.
Mulder would have been so intrigued by what was happening to Rage. Even when they were young he had loved the paranormal. He would have loved to see some of the weird things that she had. She smirked at the thought.
The taxi finally rolled to a stop in front of the pizzeria and Evie paid the painfully high fare. Hopefully Aiden and she would talk shop and she could write the trip off as a business expense.
Arturo's was a wonderfully typical Village establishment. It was nestled into a tiny storefront; if one blinked they would miss it. Most of the people who frequented the place knew about it – it wasn't the type of place that tourists stopped at. From the outside it didn't look particularly spectacular. Evie stepped into the restaurant. The doorway was jammed between a few tables and the bar. At the end of the narrow room sat a baby-grand piano, smushed in among several more tables. Another doorway to the right of the end of the bar led to more seating. The walls were crammed with a curious collage of nostalgic New York and celebrity memorabilia.
The pizzeria had only just opened, so the piano was empty and only a few customers eyed her curiously when she entered. Aiden was sitting at the bar and he grinned when he saw her. He led her to the back room where they settled in a secluded booth. Aiden had been coming here since he was old enough to understand what pizza was. Nevertheless, he was still a celebrity and he valued the quiet corners Arturo's afforded him.
"I hope I didn't keep you waiting too long," Evie said as she peeled off her jacket.
Aiden shook his head. "I just got here myself. So your timing is perfect." He spoke with a life-long New Yorker's drawl; Aiden had been raised in Brooklyn.
They ordered immediately, neither of them having eaten all day. Once the waitress had scurried away to place the order, Evie smiled at Aiden. It was times like this that she was shocked by her life. How many people sat with rock stars in Village pizza joints?
"How are you feeling?" she asked. He looked better than the last time she had seen him. That had been on Saturday afternoon, at Mt. Sinai. He looked like he had at least gotten a little sleep but his deep, intense dark eyes were still ringed with dark circles. His skin seemed a little paler than usual, or perhaps a little sallow, from the stress and lack of sleep. His black hair stuck up in odd angles because he also ran his hands through his hair when he was nervous.
Aiden shrugged and tried to return her smile; he only managed a lop-sided grimace. "I'm okay. No, really, I am," he said when he saw her dark look. "Garrett and Chris are going to be fine, so that makes me feel a lot better. In fact, Chris is getting released today. The burns weren't too severe. He's just a little crispy." He tried another smile.
"A couple cracked ribs, but it's nothing he's never dealt with before." He sighed. "This is off the record, Evie."
"I'm just worried about the guys. They're troopers, they really are, but this has been so hard on all of them. They all think they're going crazy. I don't know if we can go through with the tour if this keeps up. We can't take it."
Evie nodded. "This is so fucked up. Joey and I were talking about it before you called. We don't understand. If someone's trying to sabotage you, they're really going out of their way."
Aiden widened his eyes. "This goes beyond sabotage, Evie. Garrett said something grabbed him and carried him into the air. It wasn't wires or anything like that. It was like someone actually picked him up. I just don't know… I mean, it would be okay if it was just me, but it's not. It's all five of us. I just wish I could explain it."
"Well, the FBI—"
"The FBI won't be able to do a damn thing. The only reason they're coming in is because Lorne Michaels wants to assure his cast that everything's safe. It has nothing to do with us. They don't give a shit about us."
"Everyone thinks we're fucking nuts! No one believes us when we talk about the nightmares and the voices—"
Evie shook her head. "But I saw it too, Aiden. It's not just you. I saw what was written on the bathroom mirror."
"Evie, it's not enough." He buried his head in his hands. "Why us, Evie? Why us?"
She gently pat him on the top of the head. "I wish I could tell you this is going to be okay." She sighed. "There's one person who's overjoyed about all this. My editor, Meredith. She wants me to do a story about the FBI investigation."
Aiden looked up again. "It might as well be you. You're the only person on this planet who believes us. Even my own parents keep telling me to go see someone."
"Aiden, I'm so sorry…"
He shook his head. "Hopefully we'll be able to squeeze an album or two out of this."
She frowned but said nothing else; the pizza had finally arrived.
Evie took the subway home. Paying for a taxi out to her Queens apartment seemed like a terrible idea, even thought she was drowsy from overeating. One of her greatest fears in life was falling asleep in a subway and waking up halfway across the world. She had no doubt that it could happen, even in the modern world.
Darkness had fallen when she was walking the few blocks to her apartment. Lights flickered on in houses, greeting her as she made her way. She was nearing her building when her cell phone rang. She didn't recognize the number and out of curiosity she answered. She nearly dropped the phone when she heard the voice on the other end.
"Evie? It's me. Fox Mulder."
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