Title: All Hallowtide
Summary: "Promise me, we'll never go to another haunted house. It never turns out well for us."
"Scully, do you know what tomorrow is?" Mulder's voice was a whisper.
"That too," he agreed. "But it's also Halloween."
Scully nodded and stifled a yawn behind her hand, distractedly thinking about the upcoming weekend. They had no pending cases and she was looking forward to a couple of days of blessed normalcy.
Mulder waited a beat but quickly realized that the nod was to be her only reply. He tried another tact.
"So, Scully. I was thinking, if you don't have plans for Halloween already..."
Her whole body went on instant alert. He was planning something. She could see her long, lazy weekend plans evaporating.
"Plans?" she asked warily, as she rolled over in bed to peer up at him in the darkened room. She could just make out the quick grin that flashed across his face in the streetlight filtering through the blinds.
He propped himself up on one elbow and toyed with the buttons of her pajama top with the other hand. "Well, there's this haunted house," he began to explain.
"*Haunted* haunted? Or haunted, as in 'hand-over-your-hard- earned-dollars-to-be-scared-haunted'?"
"Actually, it's a little bit of both."
"Just like that? No?"
"Yes, you'll go? Or yes, you meant no?"
He fought back another smile.
"It'll be fun," he wheedled.
"Haunted houses are not fun," she stated emphatically.
"Don't you like to be scared?"
"No, I don't."
"Boy, are you in the wrong line of work," he muttered. Her eyes glinted dangerously in the dimly lit room.
"Before you say no, let me-,"
"I've already said no."
"You always hear me out first, Scully. Remember?"
She shifted onto her side and punched the pillow into shape with a little more force than was necessary. Undeterred, Mulder followed and curled his body behind hers.
"Langly told me about this farm out in the Virginia countryside." He pressed his lips against her temple.
"Langly!" she snorted.
His hand drifted over her hip soothingly. Despite her turned back, he knew she was listening.
"To make ends meet, the family that owns the farm has several side businesses. You know, petting zoo, pumpkin picking, hayrides..."
"Haunted house," she muttered.
"But the most interesting part," he whispered as his lips trailed a path around the shell of her ear, "is the fact that the family thinks the house really is haunted."
"And how does Langly come into all of this?"
"He has a connection to the family. Cousin's husband's sister's farm." He shook his head. "Something like that."
"Why don't the Three Musketeers want to go ghost busting?" she asked snidely.
Mulder stifled a laugh against her shoulder. "They already have plans."
"What kind of plans?"
He leaned over so that he could peer into her face.
"It's Halloween, Scully. Do you really want to know what they have on tap for the evening?"
She rolled her eyes. "No, I don't," she agreed. She closed her eyes and frantically tried to think of a way out of this.
"So, Scully," he said in a conversational voice. "Do you have plans for tomorrow evening? You know - Halloween? Samhain? All Hallowtide? The night when the veil between this world and the next is torn away and anything can happen?"
She rolled onto her back. "What if I told you that I did... and that those plans included you and me... a French Maid's costume and all the fixings to make caramel-coated apples - except the apples?" she asked.
He sucked in a quick breath as visions of a caramel-coated Scully danced in his head. He opened his mouth to say the hell with his plans and then his eyes narrowed.
"Do you actually have a French Maid's costume?" he asked suspiciously. "And more importantly, which one of us would be wearing it?"
He saw her lips quirk in a quick grin. "No," she admitted. "I don't have the costume. But I could probably still find one." She paused. "As for your second question, I figured I would be the one wearing it, but I can be flexible on that point."
He drummed his fingers on her flat stomach. If he played his cards right, he could work things out so they could still investigate the haunted house and then have the rest of the weekend for fun and games with caramel.
"Come with me tomorrow night to Virginia, and I promise that we'll spend the rest of the weekend in the most luxurious hotel we can find."
"Luxurious?" she scoffed. "In the middle of Nowheresville, Virginia?" Her tone was incredulous.
"Four stars," he vowed. He unbuttoned her pajama top and cupped one of her breasts in his warm palm.
"Room service," he whispered persuasively as his fingers gently drifted over her silky skin.
"Whirlpool bath." His lips tugged at the velvet tip of her breast, his tongue curled around the hardening nipple.
"We won't tell anyone where we are. We'll turn off our cell phones." He dipped his fingers beneath the drawstring waist of her pajama bottoms and traced a swirling path over her quivering stomach muscles.
Her breath escaped in a trembling sigh as she arched her hips to encourage further exploration. He obliged and pulled her pajamas down her legs, tossing them onto the floor. His boxers quickly followed and he nudged her legs apart to settle into the cradle of her hips.
"It'll be fun," he repeated. "We'll take the tour of the house. Then we'll wait out in the fields for the crowds to leave and go back into the house to see if we can find any real ghosts."
Scully moaned as he pressed that first inch into her body. "Mulder, it's the weekend," she argued. "Why should we spend our valuable free time investigating the same things we do at work? We should leave all of that behind and spend our time doing this." She arched her back and he slid a little deeper inside of her.
"It'll be romantic. We'll bring hot chocolate and snuggle under a blanket while we wait," he breathed on a long, languid thrust of his body into hers. He stared down into her face; her eyes were unfocused as she met him lazy stroke for lazy stroke.
"No cornfields," she warned breathlessly.
"No cornfields," he agreed. "Come sit in the pumpkin patch with me," he crooned. His lips glanced over hers in fleeting kiss.
"Oh, Linus." Amusement and frustration warred for supremacy in her expression as she curled a hand over the nape of his neck.
"Is that a yes?"
"Yes," she groaned and wrapped her legs around his hips.
"I love you, Sally Brown."
She laughed and he felt the vibrations of her laughter throughout her body. With an answering smile, he buried his face in the tangle of her hair and his body in hers.
In hindsight, perhaps haunted houses just weren't their thing, Mulder thought. They stood in line for nearly forty minutes, surrounded by the excited chatter of families and couples of all ages. He admired how young and pretty Scully looked in her worn jeans and oatmeal-colored Irish-knit sweater. Her feet were encased in a pair of low-heeled boots, leaving her standing only chest high beside him. She shivered in the cool, late October air and he tugged the corduroy collar of her denim jacket up around her neck. She leaned against him in an effort to steal his body heat and tucked her hands into the pockets of his leather jacket.
They inched their way closer to the front door, and Mulder was gratified to see that they would make it into the house with the next group of people. He chafed his hands over Scully's arms and back to help warm her. Suddenly the door to the house was flung open and they were ushered into the gloomy interior. It was blessedly warm inside and Mulder unzipped his jacket. He clasped Scully's hand loosely in his own and felt her jump as the door closed behind them. Nervous laughter erupted from the group as they waited in the otherwise silent room.
His eyes were alight with anticipation as he looked down at her. He was surprised to see tiny lines of tension bracketing her mouth. He lowered his mouth to her ear.
She gave him a scathing look but inched closer to him as another door slowly creaked open. Ahead of them an eerie green glow emanated from the next room and they shuffled forward with the rest of the group. As the last person crossed the threshold, the doors swung shut and the sound of locks being thrown was loud. The floor vibrated beneath their feet and the lights flickered on weakly to illuminate the walls as they began to close in around them. Several people shrieked and others laughed. The contracting walls grew uncomfortably close and forced them to stand in single file. After a moment of deafening silence, one of the walls began to shift away and a panel slid back to reveal an illuminated staircase.
The first person in the group tentatively stepped into the doorway and the others followed her up the long, wooden staircase. The hallway branched in two directions. A light flickered faintly at one end of the hall, and a cold rush of air whipped from behind them toward the light.
"Come," cackled a low hissing voice. The leader of the group again began a hesitant march toward the voice. Scully heard the sound of a child crying behind them. She stopped in her tracks, fixing a hard stare in the other direction. Mulder looked over his shoulder toward the inky blackness that had captured her attention. With a shrug, he set off after the group, tugging Scully along behind him by the hand. She dismissed the crying as a trick and followed.
They moved from room to room accompanied by the sound of heavy footsteps, rapping on the walls and a funeral dirge being played on an organ. Beneath the other sounds was an ever-present hiss of whispering voices. Hands reached out from darkened corners to grasp and grab at the unsuspecting visitors. Scully pushed aside the gossamer fibers of a cobweb and shrugged away from a heavy hand that landed on her shoulder. Again and again, she turned to peer into the darkness behind them. Her stomach was churning with an unnamed tension that had little to do with the antics of the actors that sought to frighten them. She stumbled and looked down to see a tiny, black kitten winding its way between her legs before it scampered off toward the other end of the hall.
Ahead of her, Mulder had let go of her hand to good-naturedly fend off the advances of a busty, leather-clad vampire. Scully was startled when a little blonde-haired boy raced past her and disappeared into the dark. She was torn between her belief that the child was part of the show and worry that he had somehow become separated from his parents. She could hear the happy giggle of the child calling for the kitten, and she wondered why anyone would bring such a small child to a house of horror like this one if, indeed, he was not part of the show. She turned to see the rest of her group disappearing into the next room. Undecided, she ran a frustrated hand through her hair. Her hesitation ended when she heard the high-pitched shriek of a child's voice and then the sound of a small body thudding down the steps.
"Mulder!" She called for him even as she sprinted down the long hallway toward the place she had last seen the little boy.
Mulder's head snapped up at the sound of her cry. He had followed the group as they began their descent of another staircase toward the exit.
"Scully!" He looked around and didn't see her anywhere nearby. He stepped out of the room and back into the hallway. He could hear the distant sound of booted feet racing in the other direction.
"Scully!" he shouted. He chased the faint sound of her voice into the darkness.
Scully held onto the banister with one hand as she scrambled down the staircase, instinctively reaching beneath her jacket for her gun. She closed her fingers around the grip and hesitated. There were too many innocents in the building and too many things leaping out at her, sending her pulse racing. She decided to err on the side of caution and left the gun tucked into its holster.
She thought she was heading down the same staircase that she and the others had climbed to reach the second floor, and was surprised that she had not yet encountered the next group. In the darkness, it was difficult to be sure where she was. She reached a landing and paused. Her eyes frantically swept the area for some sign of the boy she had heard tumbling down the steps, but saw nothing. She noticed a door to her left and from behind it, the sound of a child's weeping. She ran halfway back up the steps and called out to Mulder again. She paused for a moment but could no longer hear him. The child's cries were growing louder and she ran back down the steps. She wrapped her fingers around the doorknob and cautiously pushed it open. She peered into the gloom and wished for one of the flashlights that were currently sitting in Mulder's backpack in the car.
Her eyes slowly adjusted and in the corner of the room, near a window, she saw the boy crouched on the floor, the kitten mewling in his embrace. The beam of moonlight piercing the grimy glass illuminated them. Fat tear tracks lined his freckled cheeks. He couldn't have been more than six years old.
"Hi," Scully stepped further into the room. "Did you follow the kitten and get lost?" she asked.
He nodded and scrubbed his wet cheeks in the kitten's fur. Scully eased a little closer to him.
"I'm Dana," she told him. "What's your name?"
"Not supposed to talk to stwangers," he lisped.
"That's smart," she agreed. "But I'm a policewoman." She dropped to her knees and tugged the slim wallet from her pocket. She opened it to show him her badge. She didn't think he would understand 'federal agent' but she hoped the shiny, gold badge would be enough to gain his trust.
"What's your name?" she asked again.
"Hi, Nicky." She held out her hand. "Do you want to come with me and we'll go find your mommy?" He eyed her outstretched fingers and stood. She climbed to her feet and held the door open for him. He edged past her and onto the landing.
"Mommy's dead," he said sadly. Tears pooled in his eyes and he scampered down the steps.
"Nicky! Wait!" She tore after him, wildly chasing him down the stairs. Halfway down, she tripped over something and tumbled the rest of the way, rapping her head on the newel post at the bottom. Blinding pain exploded behind her eyes and all the air was pushed out of her lungs with a whoosh. Stunned, she lay at the base of the stairs and tried to regulate her breathing. She opened heavy-lidded eyes to see Nicky sitting about ten steps above her. He watched her with a satisfied smile.
"Now you can be my mommy forever."
Mulder had put his badge to good use as well. He had tracked down one of the workers in the house and shoved it in his face, demanding that he be taken to the person in charge. Within thirty minutes, the deputies who had been out on the main road directing traffic had been summoned and every light in the house was blazing. Guests and workers alike were being detained and questioned while Mulder, the sheriff and two more deputies combed the house for his missing partner.
Mulder fought down a rising panic as more and more time passed with no sign of Scully. It had been nearly two hours since he had last seen her. He could hear the other officers calling her name repeatedly but there was no answer.
Where could she be?
He retraced his steps to the last place he had seen her, down the long hallway, again checking every room along the way. He started down the stairs and paused at the landing to look into the room on the left, found it empty and stepped back out. He continued down the steps. When he reached the bottom, he sank down onto the last step and buried his face against his knees.
Tears stung his eyes and he furiously dashed his forearm over his face. He turned his head to one side and rubbed his fingers against the pounding in his temples. He pushed himself to his feet and paused when something caught his gaze. Crouching, he reached out to touch the base of the newel post, and when he brought his fingers away, they were coated with blood.
He bounded halfway up the stairs. "Sheriff! Down here!" Without waiting for a reply he leapt back down. This time he noticed that the dust on the floor had been disturbed, as if something had been dragged across it. He followed the trail through the dust along a short corridor where it simply stopped.
Cursing the dim lighting afforded by the bare bulb hanging from the ceiling, he played his flashlight over the walls. He heard the pounding feet of the other officers as they raced down the steps. He pointed out the blood and the tracks through the dust to the sheriff.
"Could there be a hidden passage?" he demanded. The sheriff took off his cap and ran his fingers through his thinning hair.
"Could be," he said helplessly. "This farmhouse dates back to before the Revolutionary War." He and his officers joined Mulder, training their own flashlights on the walls around them, looking for a seam in the plaster to indicate a hidden doorway.
One of the deputies took a couple of steps backwards to study the wall from a different perspective. His eyes widened as he felt the floorboards sag beneath his feet.
"Here!" he cried out. "I think I found something."
Mulder spun around and followed the other man's gaze to the floor.
"Cold cellar," the sheriff speculated.
They all trained their flashlights on the floor where the deputy had felt it give way. Mulder dropped to his knees and poked his fingers into what appeared to be a knothole in the wood. He gave an experimental tug and the floor moved. The others stepped clear. He pulled harder and the hidden panel lifted with a loud groan. Frigid air wafted up and each man immediately stepped to the opening and trained their flashlights into the darkness below.
Mulder let out a low cry as their lights danced over Scully lying deathly still on the dirt floor of the cold cellar.
Scully stretched and surveyed her kingdom from the middle of the king-sized bed. Mulder had made good on his promise and they were ensconced in a suite in the most luxurious hotel he could find.
He had pulled her out of the cold cellar and lifted her into the waiting arms of the men above. An ambulance had been immediately dispatched to the farm to whisk her and Mulder to the closest hospital. She had awakened in a hospital room to find Mulder hovering over her. A wide smile broke over his face when he saw her eyes flutter open and he pressed his lips against her aching head. She had a slight concussion, he told her. She had shivered as the cold from the cellar had seemingly penetrated her bones and had spent the rest of the night burrowed into his welcoming embrace.
Saturday morning had dawned with a changing in the nursing shift and a new face had poked at her and checked her pupils. The doctor had arrived and pronounced her fit to leave and while the discharge papers were being drawn up, the sheriff had arrived.
"Do you remember how you wound up in the cold cellar?" he asked. She nodded and smoothed her fingers over the cotton weave of the blanket spread across her lap.
"We were on the second floor of the house when I almost tripped over a black kitten. Less than a minute later, I saw a little boy run past me and disappear into the dark end of the hallway."
The sheriff's gaze sharpened and he sat up in his chair. "Then what?"
"I wasn't sure if the boy was part of the act, or if he was really lost. Then I heard him cry out and what sounded like his body falling down the steps." She shrugged. "I called out for Mulder and raced after the boy."
"And did you see him again?"
"Yes." Scully rubbed her fingers over her forehead. "I found him in a room near the landing and asked him if he was lost. I showed him my I.D. and told him that I would take him to find his mother. But instead of going up the stairs to where we had left the group, he ran downstairs." She sucked in a deep breath. "I lost him in the dark but followed him. Then I tripped over something and fell to the bottom of the steps." She traced her fingers over the bandage on her left temple. "I hit my head on something and had the wind knocked out of me. When I opened my eyes, he was sitting on the steps above me." She bit her lip and glanced up at Mulder who tightened his arm around her shoulders.
"Go on, Agent Scully," the sheriff prompted.
"This is going to sound crazy," she demurred. "When I looked up at him, he had this strange smile on his face and he said, 'now you can be my mommy forever'." She shuddered at the memory.
"I must have blacked out," she continued, "because the next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital."
The sheriff pursed his lips and tipped his chair back on its hind legs. "Did he tell you his name?"
Scully looked up, startled, unable to believe she had forgotten that detail. "Yes. Yes, he said his name was Nicky."
The sheriff nodded sharply and climbed to his feet. "Agent Scully, I know you want to get out of here, but would you mind waiting around for a little while?"
Mulder's brows drew together in a frown. "For what, Sheriff?"
The other man looked over at him. "I want to get our sketch artist out here so Agent Scully can give her a detailed description of this boy." He switched his gaze to Scully's. "Do you think you're up to doing that?"
She nodded. "Of course, Sheriff. Can I ask you... do you think you know who this boy is?"
He pursed his lips again. "Could be," he murmured. "Could be."
The sketch artist had been summoned, and while they awaited her arrival, Scully had opted to get changed. The sheriff had stepped out into the hallway while Mulder helped her out of the hospital gown and into clean clothes he had fetched from their car after one of the deputies had dropped it off at the hospital. He had helped her back to the bed to wait for the sketch artist and bullied her into eating some of the breakfast on the tray an orderly had dropped off almost an hour earlier. She sipped the now cool tea and nibbled on a piece of toast. When the sketch artist arrived, she and Scully worked together for about forty minutes. The artist's pencil flew over the pad of paper and slowly the image of a small boy appeared. The artist made adjustments here and there at Scully's prompting until finally Scully deemed it complete.
The sheriff reached out with one hand for the pad of paper.
"That him all right," he agreed.
Now, leaning back against a mountain of silk-covered pillows, she still couldn't believe it.
"That's who?" Mulder had demanded.
"Nicolas Emerson," the sheriff had replied. He handed the sketch to Mulder. "He lived in that house about forty years ago with his mama and daddy."
"Forty years...!" Scully looked up in disbelief. "That's not possible."
"I know," the sheriff agreed. "But that's his face, nonetheless. I went to school with him and I remember when he died."
Scully gasped and Mulder looked up, sharp interest evident in his eyes. "Died?" he repeated. "How?"
"His daddy was a mean sonufabitch," the sheriff recalled. "Rumor was that he killed his wife when Nicky was just five years old. No one could ever prove it though." He crossed his arms over his chest and smiled sympathetically at Scully.
"Anyway, one of the barn cats had kittens and Nicky snuck one of them into the house. The story goes that when his father found out, he tried to take the kitten away from him. Threatened to kill it. The kitten ran off down the hall and Nicky chased after it. He lost his balance at the top of those stairs and fell all the way down. Broke his neck."
Mulder stared at Scully. "That has to have been him," he whispered.
"His father couldn't make a living around here after that. Couldn't sell his crop to anyone nearby and couldn't afford to ship it outside of the area. He sold the farm and moved away. No one ever heard from him again."
He took the picture back and stared sadly down into the face of the child he had once known.
"Ever since then there have been stories of people who have heard a child's voice calling out for his mother... or the sound of little feet running up and down the hallway. No one has ever seen him though."
Scully was startled out of her reverie by the sound of a door opening. She looked up to find Mulder's concerned face peering in at her.
"You're awake." He crossed the room and settled onto the mattress beside her.
"How do you feel?"
She stroked her hand over his stubbled jaw and took note of the shadows beneath his eyes. She sat up and moved into his embrace.
"Much better." She scraped her cheek over his whiskered jaw and nestled her face against his throat.
He shifted her onto his lap and tightened his arms around her. "What, Scully?"
"Do you really think I saw Nicky Emerson's ghost?"
His chest rose and fell beneath her cheek in a heavy sigh. "I think you know what my answer to that is."
"I saw it and I still couldn't believe it."
He chuckled weakly and cupped her face between his palms. He drew back and pressed a kiss against the tip of her nose.
"My little skeptic," he said with fond exasperation.
"Promise me, we'll never go to another haunted house. It never turns out well for us."
She took his grunt as a yes.
"You promised me a whirlpool tub," she reminded him.
"Ah, so I did." He stood and lifted her into his arms. "Your bath awaits." He carried her into the bathroom and soon the tub was filling with hot, frothy water.
"Just to be safe, I should probably join you," he said.
A look of mock-seriousness crossed her face and she waited for him to step into the tub first. She settled between his legs and leaned her head back against his chest. His arms wrapped around her in a loose embrace and they both sighed with pleasure as the hot water bubbled around them and relaxed tired muscles. Scully felt truly warm for the first time since they had stood in line outside the haunted house.
"Mulder," she mumbled drowsily.
"You also promised room service."
He stretched out a dripping hand and reached for the phone mounted on the wall above the tub. He dialed the front desk and asked for room service.
"Yes, this is Fox Mulder in Suite 1224." He placed an order for dinner for two, foregoing the wine in deference to her head injury. "Oh, and I also need dessert. What can you recommend?" He listened for a moment. The fondue... listen, can I substitute caramel for the chocolate sauce? Sounds good." He nodded in satisfaction and hung up the phone.
"They'll be here in about an hour," he announced.
Scully tilted her head back and pressed a kiss to the pulse throbbing in his throat.
"An hour sounds just about right."
Wow! This is the first solo fic that I've managed to write in well over a year (it's actually probably closer to two years). It felt great to have an idea and to actually carry it through to completion. I hope you enjoyed it!
You can read this and my other stories (both solo and in collaboration with Char Chaffin) at my website: www.tessfiles.com
Note: Samhain or All Hallowtide was the feast of the dead in Pagan and Christian times, signalizing the close of harvest and the initiation of the winter season - The Irish English dictionary published by the Irish Texts Society