Title: Haunted Spirit
Summary: Mulder and Scully find they're not the only residents in their shared townhouse.
Author's Notes: This story follows the events of the VS universe which picks up after Je Souhaite. It is six years later. Mulder and Scully now share a townhouse in Georgetown. They still work for the F.B.I. You'll also find some spoilers from the series floating about. Hope you enjoy this spooky work of fiction wrapped around a little bit of historical fun. Have a HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!! Thanks to my "Ebuddie" Chris and Vickie for the beta.
It wasn't the first time she'd felt the chill in the hallway; attributing it in the past to the age of their classic townhouse. Waking up at a little past three to find she still occupied an empty bed she'd gone in search of her partner. His nomadic nighttime excursions had increased of late and though he constantly reassured her he wasn't plagued by nightmares anymore, she suspected otherwise often finding him sacked out on the leather couch in the den on many mornings.
Tonight the chill seemed even colder than in the past, centralizing itself near the top of the stairs as she passed by them on her way to the den. Mulder would call it a cold spot if he knew. Georgetown, like Alexandria was a city with deep historical background. Founded in the 1700's it had gone from a fashionable quarter of Washington to one of the most horrific slums in the country during the First World War and then back to being the current hip enclave of the affluent and politically inclined. What they hell was Mulder doing here?
She suspected that even though he claimed he had purchased the townhouse because of its close proximity to Georgetown University's athletic complex the history of the area was also what drew him here.
Georgetown had its darker side. Mount Zion Cemetery and Oak Hill Cemetery with its gothic chapel and gates could be found along Q and R streets; the latter being the burial place of Abraham Lincoln's son Will. The town which became part of Washington D.C. in 1871 had been the home of Francis Scott Key, F.D.R and John F. Kennedy. More recently Georgetown gained theatrical fame as the setting for the film The Exorcist. The staircase connecting Prospect and M streets had been rechristened "The Exorcist Stairs"; a favorite challenge of Mulder's on some of his longer runs.
The glow of the television seeped around the den's door, she pushed it open gently finding Mulder just where she figured he'd be, sacked out on the couch with the television tuned to the all night Halloween Monster Mash Marathon on AMC. Despite their shared living arrangements, some thing's she had come to realize, would never change.
She was about to step into the den to turn off the television when something behind her made her freeze. She paused to listen more closely, it sounded like someone weeping. Closing the door on Mulder again she turned back into the hallway. As she made her way back down the hall from the direction she'd come the sound grew louder the closer she came to the stairway. 'I am not hearing this,' she said to herself, shivering when the chill came back as she crossed the hall above the stairs. The weeping was louder here, it sounded like a woman. "Damnit, I am not hearing this!" she shouted at the sound. Mulder was the one who would find something like this fascinating. She on the other hand wasn't quite ready to accept disembodied voices, especially in her own home.
She turned and headed down the stairs. Once in the living room she stopped there to listen, it was quiet here, save for the ticking of the mantle clock. Making a quick round of the downstairs of their townhouse she returned to the stairwell again where the soft sound of weeping continued in the hallway above her.
Frustrated, she headed back up the stairs. When she reached the top the source of the sound became frighteningly obvious. Gasping at the eerie site before her, she grabbed the newel post for support. In the dim light of the upper hall she could make out the haunting figure of a woman crouched against the far wall with her arms wrapped around herself. She wept openly. Torn between believing she was actually seeing the woman or trying to convince herself that it was all a dream, she gave in, "Who are you?" she demanded.
When no response from the figure was forthcoming, Scully approached her, wrapping herself more tightly in her robe against the chill emanating from her surroundings. "Please tell me who you are, how did you get in here?"
Again, there was no response. The woman only continued to sob. Against her better judgment, Scully attempted to reach out, an action meant to comfort but the woman appeared to shrink away from her. The look on her dark face was heartbreaking. Scully stooped down, hoping that getting on the same level as the distraught woman would reassure her, "Please, let me help you..."
The woman turned to look at her, "Please, please," she finally begged, her face scrunching into despair. "Please Missus don't let the Masta take her," she pleaded reaching a bony hand towards Scully.
'Masta?' Scully thought to herself. Puzzled, she reached to grab the woman's hand. When her own hand passed right the woman's extended hand as if it was nothing but thin air, she screamed. The woman's dark eyes grew wide just before her image disappeared from the hallway.
"Scully!" Mulder barreled through the door of the den behind her. He slept on the edge of consciousness; her scream waking him with a start. She didn't answer him, listening as his bare feet slapped across the wooden floor until he was standing right behind her. "Scully?"
He turned her around searching her face for comprehension. "What's wrong?"
"I thought I -- I thought someone was here..."
"You saw her didn't you?"
"Mulder?" she searched his face.
He could see the denial, afraid of the ramification of what she thought she had seen. When their eyes met the realization hit her, he could see the bewilderment grow in her eyes, Mulder had seen her too. "Mulder -- no, I..." she stammered with a shake of her head.
"The young black woman, she's crying isn't she?"
"Mulder don't," she pleaded, pressing her hand against his arm to leverage herself away from him. "I didn't see..."
"Scully, don't," he replied, turning her own words back against her. "Don't play this game with me anymore. She's sitting in this corner over here," he continued as he stepped past her and motioned to where she had seen the figure. "She's dressed like a servant, and she's crying. I think she's a slave, Scully."
"This is 2006 Mulder, what makes you think she's a slave?" Her brow furrowed as she looked up at him.
"I've been doing some research. Come on, how about some hot chocolate?" He reached out and pulled her against him. His body felt warm and she allowed him to lead her down the stairs into the kitchen.
Sitting at the kitchen table she watched him grab the milk from the fridge and the cocoa and mugs from the cupboard. "Mulder? How many times have you seen her?" she asked a little concerned.
"Twice -- the past couple nights... Look," he stated turning to face her. "I know what you're thinking Scully, but it's not like that. You saw her too, remember?"
"I don't really know what I saw..."
Before she could finish the thought, he slammed the container of cocoa on the counter and turned around. "Dammit Scully, after all this time, why can't you believe your own eyes?" He'd seen her jump with his outburst and sighed. "I heard you talking to her. Don't tell me you don't know..."
"I suppose you're going to tell me she's a ghost aren't you?" she relented wrapping herself more tightly in her robe while she watched him fill two mugs with milk and cocoa and pop them into the microwave.
"This is Halloween Scully, what better time for a ghost story?" His lip curled into a soft smile now that they were finally in agreement.
"Actually it's All Saint's Day," she told him glancing up at the clock to see that it was indeed the wee hours of November first. "And just because it's Halloween doesn't mean that ghosts are flying about..."
The timer went off on the microwave. This time they both jumped. Mulder chuckled at himself and turned to pull the two steaming mugs from inside and place one on the placemat in front of her. She wrapped her hands around the warm mug as he sat himself in the chair across from her and took a hesitant sip from his own cup.
"You should know all about Halloween Scully," he told her, his eyes now dancing with mirth. "The history of the holiday goes right back to your Irish ancestors."
"Mulder it's four A.M., I don't need a history lesson."
"Yeah, you do," he smirked rocking the chair back on two legs. "The origin of the holiday dates back to the Celtic festival of Samhain which lasted from October thirty first to November second. Those Celtic relatives of yours were celebrating the beginning of the new year, which began on November first. It was the end of summer, the time of harvest and the beginning of the cold dark winter. The Celts believed that on the eve of the new year the boundary between the world of the living and the world of the dead became blurred. So on the night of October thirty first they began their celebration of Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. What?" He watched as she but both elbows on the table and propped her head on both hands, gazing at him with mock captivation.
"You're about to weave me a tale of dark, dark despair, aren't you?"
"You wound me, Scully," he mocked back, his chair thunking back on the floor. "Should I go on?"
"Yes, please continue," she replied, waving at him with one hand. He took another sip of cocoa.
"Samhain and the days that followed were a very magical time. The Druids knew these three days had a special quality about them. It was a time when the dead walked among the living and the veil between this world and the World of the Ancestors was drawn aside. For those who were prepared, journeys could be made in safety to the 'other side' and back again. You see, rather than a source of malevolence and dread, these spirits were seen as a source of inspiration and future guidance to the Celtic priests. The dead were honored not as the dead, but as the living spirits of loved ones and the guardians of wisdom.
Your early Celtic society was a very structured society, but during the days of Samhain all that order and structure was abolished and chaos would reign. People did crazy things like pulling pranks on their neighbors and children would knock on doors in search of food and treats. Sort of an early version of Trick-or-Treat.
Even the game of bobbing for apples can be traced back to those early beliefs of divining the future. Did you know?" he asked reaching to grab an apple from the basket of fruit at the center of the table. "That there's a star, a.k.a. pentagram, in the center of every apple?"
He turned and snagged the paring knife from the counter behind him and cut the apple across the middle and held a half of it up for her to see.
"Amazing ," she acknowledged with a soft smile.
"The Roman's introduced apple trees when they conquered Britain. To them the apple was a symbol of the goddess Pomona who was known for her great beauty and fertility. Over time the Romans adopted some of the Celtic customs and vice versa. The apple became a part of the harvest festival that would become Halloween. Now because Pomona was a fertility goddess," he waved the apple at her.
"The Celts believed that the pentagram was also a sign of fertility it was natural that the Celts would believe that the apple could be used to determine marriages at this magical time of the year. So they gathered up all the young unmarried folk and the custom of bobbing for apples began. The first person to bite a floating apple would be the next person to marry." He wagged his eyebrows and offered her the half of the apple.
"The holiday didn't become known as 'Halloween' until after the Christian Church, unable to get people to stop celebrating it sprinkled a little holy water on the three day festival and gave it different names as they did with a lot of other Pagan holidays and customs."
"All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day." "Valentine's Day, Easter, Christmas. So you see, when your local Fundamentalists come to the school board meetings and try to get the celebration of Halloween removed from the public schools because they say it's a 'Pagan holiday', they're absolutely right. Next thing you know they'll be asking the public schools to remove all the holidays that have Pagan aspects in them and then the kids won't have anything left to enjoy." "All right," surprised by his sudden turn to political correctness she tried to steer the conversation back to their ghost story. "So you're saying that this woman has crossed over from the 'other side' as you put it?" She got up and headed for the refrigerator herself, pulling out a half empty bag of raisin bread and a container of butter. "Why? Why now?"
"Why? You just said so yourself, Scully," he told her pointedly. "The doorway between the worlds is open but as to why now?" He turned around to watch her make the toast. "I think maybe you might have something to do with that, why she spoke to you and not me. Two."
"What?" she said turning around in confusion. "Two what?"
"I'll have two pieces of toast, if you're asking," he nodded at the bag of bread she still clutched in her hand.
"You tried to communicate with her?" she asked around a grin, popping four pieces of the raisin toast into the toaster and pressing down the handle.
"I tried, but she kept cowering away from me, like she was terrified. What did she say to you?"
Scully thought back to the slender black woman with the desperate expression, "She called me 'Missus', she said something about not letting the Master take ..."
Thinking back to elementary history, it suddenly became very clear what the woman had been asking. Families of slaves were often torn apart when members were sold off by their masters. The woman had seen Mulder as the master. Something very tragic must have occurred during in this woman's life.
"I think she lost a husband or a child, Scully," his voice was soft, his face turning up to her as he touched her hip. She set the toast in front of him and met his eyes, the meaning of his previous comment now becoming clear. She knew what it was like to lose a child.
"So you think she's looking for this -- child?" She sat back down and began to play with her toast. "Here in Georgetown?"
"You know, it's not a very popular subject among the supposed chic of Georgetown today," he told her around a bite of toast. "But this part of D.C. was once the center of a thriving slave trade, one of the more significant ports of call along the east coast for traffickers in human flesh for the plantations of Virginia and Maryland. We live in one of the oldest areas of Georgetown, Scully. You know that part of the basement you refuse to go into?"
"Don't tell me you've been down there?" she asked with some trepidation. She didn't like going down into the somewhat livable part of the basement alone. The idea that he'd crawled into the crude crawl space below it made her shiver. She took a long sip of the warm cocoa.
"Once you get the rats out it's like an archaeological dig down there," his upper lip curling into a wry smile when he watched her grimace at the information. "There's an old cesspit, some brickwork and ledges, I think that's where the slaves did the cooking."
"There were slaves living in our house?"
"Gee, I thought you'd be more worried about the rats."
She was, but everyone had them and as long as they stayed down in the bowels of the city everyone tried to forget about them.
"It may alarm you to know," he continued. "That in those spaces below all these trendy restored homes where only the rats now live, our fellow human beings cooked for their masters and probably even slept. It's one of the realities of our country's history that most white Americans don't know about or choose to forget. In those days blacks in Georgetown were treated little better than the rats. And we wonder why the animosity still exists today."
"Mulder, there's nothing we can do about that," she reached across the table to take his hand.
"I know that Scully, at least not what happened then, he squeezed her hand gently. "But I think that this woman lost someone very dear to her back in those days and she keeps returning to this world in hopes of finding them. I want to show you something."
Mulder got up from the table and left the room, returning a few moments later with his briefcase. She watched him open it and dig out a folder. "I worked on this yesterday," he explained, placing the folder on the table in front of her and flipping it open to reveal some old county records information.
"I think the woman's name is Jem. She lived in this area from 1840 until she died in June of 1861. Her husband, Benjamin escaped in November of 1860. I can't find any record of him after that. Jem had only one child, a daughter, Sooky. I found a record of a Negro girl owned by a Henry Collins, who by the way, at one time owned this property, being sold to a Thomas Lee of Richmond, Virginia the following March. There is no name given in the records, but I think this was her daughter. March of 1861 Scully, barely a year before Lincoln signed the Emancipation."
"She died three months after her daughter was taken?"
"You've seen her Scully, that child was all she had left."
Scully swallowed hard, "Did you find out what happened to the daughter?"
"Yes, I did," he replied, sounding just a little too pleased with himself. "Sooky on the other hand, lived with the Lee family until after the war. The name turns up again when she marries a Joseph Parker in 1878. Sooky Parker died in 1942 at the age of 92. I know this sounds like a leap, but I believe this is the name of Jem's great grandson," he handed her a slip of paper with an address in Richmond scrawled across it.
"Mulder?" she looked up to meet his eyes. "You did all this for a ghost?"
"I did if for a fellow human being, Scully."
She turned the paper around in her hand, of course he did. "What do you intend to do with this information?" she asked watching him sit back down across from her.
"I don't intend to do anything with it, she won't talk to me, remember?"
She understood the implication immediately. He expected her to talk with Jem's ghost.
Lying awake the following evening Scully began to think of the absurdity of it. She and Mulder were waiting up for a ghost. After making a vain attempt to stay awake through Letterman she'd finally succumbed to the fatigue from the previous evening and dozed off.
At half past three Mulder whispered into her ear,"Scully, hey babe."
"Hmmm," she complained, rolling over against him to look up into his sleepy face. "You're determined to get me out of bed in the middle of the night again aren't you?"
"It's for a good cause, come on," he pulled her gently into a sitting position. "She's been out there for about ten minutes, go out and talk to her."
Scully picked up the note with Lee Parker's address on it while Mulder helped her into her robe. "You really believe this doorway exists don't you? That I can just go out there and hand this note to someone from another time?"
"Scully," he touched her shoulders gently and then reached up to caress the side of her face with one hand. "Believe me when I tell you -- I know it does." The timbre of his voice quaking just a bit as it trailed off.
She studied his face for a moment in the soft light of the muted television; his eyes dark with the unspoken need for her to understand. She kissed the palm of his hand in acceptance and then stepped away.
Mulder followed her as far as the bedroom door where they both paused to look at the eerie image of the sorrowful woman at the other end of the hallway. "You okay?" Mulder asked from behind her, clutching her shoulders.
"You really think this is going to work?" she turned to ask him.
"Yes, I do." He squeezed her shoulders once more for reassurance as she stepped away from him.
As she walked towards the other end of the hallway, a cold chill emanated once again from the corner where Jem wept. Scully wrapped herself more tightly in her robe and glance back over her shoulder at Mulder. He said nothing as he watched her approach the ghostly woman, only nodding to indicate she should continue.
"Jem?" she addressed the woman softly, resting her own hand on the newel post as if trying to anchor herself to the present world. "Jem, my name is Dana."
To her shock the woman looked up. She let out a shaky breath and addressed the woman once again. "Jem, I want to help you..."
She took a few more hesitant steps forward and kneeled before the woman. "I know you've lost someone dear to you. We..." she turned and looked towards Mulder. "We can help you find her."
Following Scully's gaze, the woman's dark eyes flashed with fear. Scully could see her shaking. "This man is my friend. He's found your daughter for you."
She proceeded to tell Jem about her own daughter, Emily and the information Mulder had gathered the previous evening about Jem's family. Jem rubbed at her tear-stained face with the heel of her right hand but said nothing.
"We think the man's name on this paper is your great grandson, Jem, his name is Lee Parker," Scully told her. "This is where you can find him." Scully extended her hand with the note towards the woman. It took several moments before Jem's shaky hand reached out to take the note from her. Scully gasped quietly when their hands touched. Jem studied the note and for a moment Scully wondered it the woman could read, until she saw her clutch the note tightly to her chest and smile softly just before her image disappeared into the darkness of the hallway.
The next thing Scully felt were Mulder's warm hands on her shoulders. He pulled her up and when she turned into him he wrapped her in a welcoming embrace. "Thank you, Scully."
"Do you think she'll find what she's looking for Mulder?" Scully asked the following morning at the breakfast table.
"You're asking about Jem? I think the doorway works both ways. The Druids sought contact with the spirits of the departed as a source of guidance and inspiration. I think that the departed can find solace in the souls of the living for much the same reason. You know for centuries Paganism has been associated with Wicca and devil worship by those who don't really understand it."
"Well, Hollywood can be blamed for that in some sense."
"So can medieval Christians. All that propaganda about black cats and witches and demons came from that time. But you're right about Hollywood; we have the cinema to thank for Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, Dracula, Jason, Freddie... Now what?" Mulder asked when Scully stated to chuckle to herself.
"I was just trying to picture you in a Halloween costume. How many times do you go out as an alien, Mulder?"
"I was Mr. Spock once, but he was only half alien, if you remember," he sounded somewhat annoyed as he got up to pour them both another cup of coffee. "I bet you made one good looking princess, Scully."
"I was never a princess, Mulder."
"Well that's good to know, you'd make a good bride of Frankenstein now. Hey, just kidding," he confided when he turned around and saw her face had grown serious at his comment.
"I just think that like so many other things in this politically correct world, we've lost the true meaning of Halloween." He leaned against the counter and sipped his coffee. "Did you know the word 'Pagan' comes from the Latin word meaning 'civilian'? Most of the non-monotheistic religions of the world are based on the cycles of the seasons, a connection to Nature and the divinity found in -- all things."
"There are more worlds than the one you can hold in your hand."
"Exact --ly," he answered as if asking for an explanation.
"Just something someone from another world told me when I was looking for someone I thought I'd lost," she offered.
"Did you find them?" he asked somewhat seriously.
"Yes, I did," she answered, meeting his eyes."
"Well then, I think there's hope for Jem."