Summary: An old friend of Mulder's asks for his help in investigating a haunted house.
Authors' Note: We did this in parts, because I wrote a beginning and couldn't think of a plot. So I thought, ok, cool. XFG do this with me. And this is the result. I started it out, then XFG added a part. Like XFG said, for the disclaimer, about Mulder and Scully: Chris Carter created them, GA and DD bring them to life, then kids like me and XFG take them and screw them up. (Isn't the world a screwy place?) Well, here it is.
The huge wooden door flew open with a bang as Annie Swanson kicked it. Dropping her bags in the doorway, she heaved a sigh, then smiled. The old house smelled so familiar, like old pine wood with the faint scent of cinnamon and musty paper. Walking around the huge living room, Annie saw that nothing had changed, not even much dust had accumulated over the years, or else her sister had been in to dust it now and then. Everything was still in its place; pictures of her and her siblings hung above the enormous walk-in fireplace, the wooden and glass bowls her great aunt collected were lined up on the mantel, and the fluffy green armchair was right were it was supposed to be. Annie smiled to herself as she remembered how she and Kevin had argued over that chair, who would sit in it to get warm and dry, squabbling until Aunt Beth had laughingly sent them both back out into the snow.
Annie wandered through the house she had spent so much time in as a child, occasionally brushing a hand over a painting or vase, but mostly just thinking. When she came to the ladder that led up to the attic, she hesitated for a second. Deciding to go up, she climbed the ladder and sat at the top for a moment, looking around.
The quilts that had been there before, still were. Hers, Larie's and Kevin's were neatly folded and stacked in a corner. Chris and Jocelyn's were folded with the rest of the blankets in an old faded trunk where they had been for the past twenty years. Annie stood up and started drifting around the room. "You know something?" she said, seemingly to no one. "It's been over five years since Aunt Beth died. But I guess you know that. I've been avoiding coming here for five years. Thought it would be too hard. But it's kind of a relief in a way. Nice to be back home." There was no answer, as the only other living thing in the house were a few mice that had made their homes in the walls.
Annie was disappointed.
That night, Annie had her traditional cup of hot chocolate before bed, and then switched off the light, pulling the covers up to her chin. This was the first time she had ever been in that bed without needing to be comforted and reassured that the lightning was
Annie heard the rustle of curtains, then of the sheets as something brushed against it. A few seconds later, she felt the bed sink as weight was put on it. Annie smiled, snuggled deeper into the covers and said sleepily, "So you *are* real. I was beginning to wonder if we made you up."
The thing at the end of the bed watched Annie sleep for awhile. It spoke. "It is nearly time."
"Ok, Mulder. Explain this to me again, *clearly*, exactly why you are dragging me out to this tiny, completely unheard of town in, wherever it is, South Dakota?" Dana Scully irritably stuffed her carry on pack under the seat in front of her and sat down.
"North Dakota," Fox Mulder corrected her. "Clancywood, North Dakota. And we're going there because..." he checked his ticket stub. "Uhhh...Scully, that's my seat you're sitting in. I am aisle 21, seat A. You are seat B. I get the window."
Scully had just gotten comfortable, well, as comfortable as possible in an airplane. "You can have the window seat on the way back." Seeing him about to turn on his puppy dog face, she added, "Promise."
"Ok." Mulder tried to get himself settled in his seat, but eventually gave it up as hopeless. As always, his long legs made it difficult to get comfortable. Finally he put his backpack in the overhead compartment and stuck his feet under the seat in front of him. He looked over and smiled at Dana. "So, Scully, I take it you don't believe in ghosts."
"No more than I believe that you and Skinner will become gay lovers," she answered without looking up from the newly opened X-File Mulder had given her to go over. "It doesn't say much here, and you never did tell me what this is about."
Mulder looked over her arm at the folder. "Annie Swanson. I used to know her from Quantico, but she dropped out. She says her house is haunted. I guess the ghost has been around for about 150 years, but has just recently become violent."
Scully snorted. "So we're going out so you can see some old girlfriend with an overactive imagination?"
"She's not my old girlfriend. Just someone I worked with for a time. And I don't think she has an overactive imagination. When she called me she said that she had been doing some research, and that the family that had lived there before also said it was haunted."
Flipping over a page, Scully found something useful. "It says here that the ghost is looking for a companion to live with it forever. And that it has killed other people? Mulder, this just gets weirder and weirder. And if Annie is so worried about this ghost thing, why doesn't she just move out?" The stupidity of some people sometimes amazed Scully.
"I don't know," replied Mulder. "We'll ask her when we get there.
She said we could stay in her house, which is huge. Annie and her brothers and sisters used to live in it, with their Aunt, who died a few years ago, and she says it's kind of lonely."
"Just as long as I don't find out what the two of you do at night. God Mulder, you always manage to get the weirdest ones for friends," grumbled Scully under her breath.
Hearing her, Mulder said, "Then you must be pretty damn weird yourself."
Scully tried to hide a grin.
The plane soon landed without incident. Unfortunately, not the same could be said for getting off and finding their luggage. Scully reached up to open the overstuffed overhead compartment and Mulder's backpack chose that moment to tumble out on top of her. Mulder, of course, found the whole thing very humorous. Scully did not. "I'm going to have a bruise," she grumbled as they got off the plane. Mulder chuckled.
Then, to make things worse, their suitcases never came into the baggage carousel, and after complaining to various people, and being sent off to talk to someone else, they were finally informed that their luggage was most likely being shipped off to Houston, Texas. The airport apologized and said that their luggage would be sent to them as soon as possible. Mulder wasn't too upset, he took the whole thing in stride, but Scully on the other hand was pissed.
By the time they got the luggage problem sorted out and had rented a car, they were very late to meeting with Annie. "It doesn't matter too much," said Mulder as they were driving to Clancywood. "Annie is almost never on time, and she expects everyone else to be late too."
They pulled up in front of a gorgeous house. Almost before they were able to get out of the car, a tall woman with waist-length light brown hair came running out to meet them. "Hi, Fox!" she called.
"You let her call you Fox?" whispered Scully.
"Her real name is Cornelia," Mulder whispered back. "Even I can't beat that. Annie," he said as she came up to them, "I'd like you to meet my partner, Dana Scully. Scully, this is Annie Swanson."
"Nice to meet you Agent Scully," said Annie warmly, reaching her hand out to shake Scully's.
Scully took the hand. "Call me Dana."
Annie invited them inside. Scully was surprised at the living room. There were pictures all over, mostly of five kids, probably Annie with her sisters and brothers, thought Scully. Beautifully carved and painted wooden bowls were lined up above the fireplace, and a fire was burning brightly. They sat down on a couch and Annie brought them some hot chocolate before sitting herself down in the big, green armchair. She took a deep breath. "Ok, I suppose you want me to tell you why I asked you to come out here."
"When I was a child, my parents died in a fire while me and my brothers and sisters were staying here. I always thought, that maybe, if I was at home, I could have saved them. It's one of those things, you know it's not exactly true, but you can't help feeling it anyway." Annie gave a small smile. Mulder nodded his head, knowingly. He knew that from experience too. "So we came to live with our Aunt Beth. She was great. We all loved her a lot. But we were still upset about our parents most of the time. Aunt Beth did the best she could, and mostly she did a great job, but sometimes we would act out, like kids do, and guess she didn't always know what to do with us." She took a sip of her hot chocolate now, and Mulder squirmed impatiently. Annie went on.
"We had this game, that we would play. For a few years, it was all of us. Then the older ones, Chris and Jocelyn went to live with other relatives. We used to all pretend that a man lived with us, and he seemed, oh so real. It was terrifying, he could sometimes even be seen by our friends. At least that's what they said. But I don't know how they could have seen him. We made him up!" Taking a shaky breath now, she continued. "We used to, I don't know, pretend to beat on him. It started at first, when we were upset with our parents, for dying. We would pretend he was the one who set the fire that killed them. It was just a way to feel better, like we were getting revenge or something. I remember once when I had pretended to hit his face, I could feel something warm running down my hand. It was blood. That was when I wanted it to stop. For years I could still see him, at night, moaning about the terrors he went through, and how one night, we would feel the things he felt. He explained that if people try hard enough, and really feel the way we did, it's as easy as anything to summon up spirits. And because our anger was so great, he could feel everything we did to him, as if he was alive." A single tear rolled down her cheek, and she looked like the world was about to end.
"Eventually, he became a comfort to me. I don't think Chris and the others really believed he was really there. They weren't the ones who felt his blood. Last night, I felt him in my bed. It was comforting for him to be there, and that was scary. This...thing, seemed to be protecting, loving even. I don't know what he's doing or what he wants, but I think wants me to trust him. Maybe he will try to kill me or something, for doing those things to him, and putting him through what I felt. I couldn't help it! Why does he hate me so much? Oh god, I'm so scared!"
And with that, Annie burst into tears. Scully set her drink down, and started to comfort the girl. Mulder, on the other hand, was glancing around the room, as if the ghost was going to appear any second. When Annie stopped crying, she excused herself to the bathroom.
"Mulder," Scully whispered," this woman just solved the case for us. She even said that she had made the "ghost" up. If people have such deep emotions like she did, they can see anything they want. Maybe something happened in her life again that triggered this "man" to come back. Why, just entering this house could have caused it Mulder. You're a psychologist, you should realize this."
Mulder shook his head and said, "Nope. I think that she either accidentally or purposely summoned this entity. It all seems real Scully, I don't think that she would have called us if it was all a mind thing."
"Mulder, to her it's not a mind thing, it's real."
Mulder grabbed Scully's shirt sleeve. "This thing isn't just in her mind. Annie has always been mentally stable. She passed the phsyc eval at Quantico with flying colors. Scully, something more's going on here."
"So what?" asked Dana, "Are we the ghostbusters now?"
And as Mulder started to hum the theme song, she realized that in a way, they were. Even if it was in Annie's mind and she was making it all up as a result of some traumatic incident, Mulder obviously wasn't going to leave until it was all over.
Mulder's sarcastic humming was abruptly cut off as Annie came back out of the bathroom. Mulder looked at her carefully. She looked fine....
"Annie, are you all right?" asked Scully.
Annie smiled at her. "I'm fine. You guys want to go get some lunch somewhere? There's a good place in town, if that's what you can call this street, and I have to get out of this house."
Scully didn't exactly want to go anywhere. She wanted to talk to Annie and see if there was anything else that could have triggered this emotional breakdown, but she also knew that Annie would have to tell her when she was ready. Not when Dana wanted her to.
"That's fine," said Mulder quickly. "Is there any place we could get some clothes too? The airport kind of lost our suitcases, and we can't wear our suits the whole time."
"Yeah. There's no big department stores anywhere near here, but there's a couple little outlets that mostly the tourists use. And if I'm going to give you a tour of the woods around here," suddenly Annie grinned broadly, "You'll need something a little more comfortable." She was trying to act like nothing was wrong.
They took Annie's car. She drove with Mulder in the backseat and Scully on the passenger side in the front. It was only a ten minute drive to the one main street and maybe, four side streets that made up the town of Clancywood. Once at the restaurant, they ordered some late lunch/early dinner. Annie seemed much more relaxed now that she was out of the house.
"So, Dana," Annie grinned mischievously. "Give me some dirt on Fox. I want details."
Scully grinned. There's plenty of that. Depends on how embarrassing you're going for."
Annie quickly responded, "VERY embarrassing."
Dana wasn't sure how much she should embarrass her partner, but she decided to go for it. "Hmm...ok. Do you remember that McLellan murder trial a couple years ago?"
Nodding, Annie said, "Yeah, he killed 9 people, didn't he?"
"Yeah, well, Mulder wrote the profile the helped catch him. He was supposed to testify at the trial. So, here he was, up on the stand and the reporters were all going live."
"Scully, I think enough people know about this already," Mulder interrupted. Dana went on anyway.
"When he was finished, he was getting down from the stand, and the whole courtroom could see that his fly was undone." Dana stated giggling. Annie was laughing loudly at Mulder, who was pretending not to notice. "Wait, there's more," said Scully. "There was this reporter, he and Mulder got into a big argument a couple years ago about something or the other. Apparently, the reporter still held a grudge, because as Mulder was walking out of the courtroom, the took the camera and zoomed in on Mulder's open fly." Scully was laughing openly. "It was plastered live, all over the national news!" Scully was laughing so hard she was almost crying. Annie slid down in her chair, roaring with laughter. "I wish I had gotten that on tape," Annie said.
After a minute, Annie stopped and said, "Oh, oh. Listen to this. Once when we were at Quantico, we were having a lecture on evidence that can be obtained by autopsies. I take it you have had to go through autopsies with Mulder before?"
Scully laughed. "Yeah, he's not too bad, but still looks a little queasy now and then."
"You should have seen him back in Quantico, he almost got sick." Annie looked at Fox and grinned at the memory. "Well, we were at this lecture. The lecturer was a senior special agent or something. He asked Mulder to hold the heart and see if he could get anything from it. Fox didn't like it too much. He was turning positively green." Annie was a born storyteller. She accented the words in the right places, and had perfect facial expressions to go with it. "So, there was Fox, staring at this heart in his hand, when the director himself came into the room to talk to the lecturer for some reason. I have no idea why he was there. But I will never forget what Fox did. The director accidentally backed into Fox, and Mulder whipped around and threw the heart right into the director's face. They were both so horrified!" Annie burst out laughing. "It was hilarious," she added, gasping for air.
Scully snorted the water she was drinking. "God, Mulder, remind me never to let you hold a heart," she managed between laughing and coughing on the water.
"I don't believe you hit the director in the face with a heart."
Mulder waited until the laughing subsided and the food was served, then he smiled at Scully from behind his burger. "Ya know, Scully, while you were missing, your mom told me a few 'cute' things that you did as a kid."
Scully looked at him, "You wouldn-...what did she tell you?"
"Oh," Mulder gave a mischievous grin, "nothing much. I seem to recall hearing something about you in a sex ed class, giving a visual aid when you were in fifth grade."
Dana's jaw dropped. "What! What are you talking about?"
Annie was looking back and forth between them, eagerly awaiting the next installment of this story. "Well, go on."
Mulder chuckled. "Scully's mom told me that when she was in fifth grade, they were having a sex education class. Unfortunately, the boys and girls were in the same class. Scully decided to pants one of the boys, giving the whole class a visual demonstration."
Scully rolled her eyes. "Shawn Calkins. He sat next to me, and was always saying something about how the girls should have hands on learning about this stuff. A real little pervert. It was getting really old, and the teacher didn't exactly do anything about it, she had never heard him say it. One day he was in the middle of telling me that for about the millionth time, and I said to him, 'Okay, Shawn. Stand up.' He stood up, and I grabbed his pants and pulled them down. Nearly got suspended for two days." She giggled, thinking of the look on everybody's face, especially Shawn's and the teacher's.
Annie and Mulder roared with laughter. "Oh my god," said Mulder. "I can't seem to get a mental picture of *Scully* doing that."
Eventually they got control of themselves and were able to finish eating.
After paying the bill for the food, Annie took Mulder and Scully to a small store where they could get jeans and shirts.
"People don't use these much. Sometimes the few tourists we get will come in and buy something, but the locals go to the larger department stores usually," Annie told them.
"That would explain the happy look on the clerk's face when we spend a hundred bucks there," observed Mulder.
Annie gave the two agents a quick tour of the rest of the couple main streets that made up Clancywood, which didn't take long. Neither of them found anything worth spending much time looking at, much less buying, so they started back to Annie's. It was about 9:30 when they got back.
Scully, exhausted, yawned loudly. Annie saw and said she'd show them the rooms where they would stay. Leading them down a hall with wood panels smelling of pine, she said, "The bathroom is at the end of the other hall from the living room if you want to take a shower tomorrow, towels are in on the shelves in there. I'm going to be right across the hall from you guys, just yell if you need anything." Opening a door, she showed Mulder his room. It had a wooden bed with a table beside it. There was a lamp on the table, and a there was a rug on the floor. On one of the walls was a small fireplace, that obviously hadn't been used in years. The whole room was done in shades of blue.
"There's extra blankets in the closet over there if you get cold." Annie pointed.
"See you in the morning." She shut the door before rejoining Dana in the hall, leaving Mulder to go over the file again and add in the details that she had told them earlier.
Next, she took Dana a little further down the hall and opened another door. Scully found herself in a paradise of red. The walls of the room were painted light pink, and she had the same wooden bed as Mulder with the table and lamp beside it. A rug was on the floor and a dresser stood in the corner where a pink vase standing on top a doily rested. Like in Mulder's room, a fireplace was in one of the walls. The rug on the floor and the rest of the room was done in various shades of red.
"This is beautiful, Annie."
Annie smiled. "These were always saved as guest rooms. Us kids stayed up in the attic, we liked it better there anyway. This house is old, I don't think anything in these rooms has been changed for decades. I told you where the shower is, um, you're welcome to anything you can find in the kitchen. Extra blankets in the closet over there. Can you think of anything else you need?"
"Yeah, what do I do if I get lost?" This place is a maze."
Annie smiled again. "Just stay in one place and hope somebody stumbles across you within the next year." She laughed softly. "I'm in the room right across the hall. Good night."
"'Night," Scully answered.
Scully undressed and put on the shorts and tee shirt Annie had lent her for pajamas. Thanks to Mulder and his "Let's-get-a-flight- at-an ungodly-early-hour-so-the-plane-isn't-so-full" attitude, she was so tired that she got into bed right away and fell asleep almost instantly.
Pale moonlight streamed in through the window onto the woman sleeping in the bed, casting a pale, ghastly glow on everything. The first though that went through Scully's mind when she woke up was "what time is it?" The next thought was that she was drenched in sweat. She couldn't quite grasp what her nightmare was about.
Realizing she was freezing cold, she got up and went over to the closet to get a blanket. Climbing back in bed, she spread it over her and checked her Indiglo watch. It was 3:30. Dana was just about to burrow back into the blankets to try and get warm when she thought she saw something move. Sitting up, she looked. Nothing there. About to try to sleep once more, she saw the moonlight reflect off something.
She was about to yell, when someone beat her to it. Hearing the scream, she ran out into the hall, nearly crashing into Mulder.
"Scully? Was that you?"
"No, it was Annie," Scully whispered. "She must have been having a nightmare." She was talking to air. Mulder had gone into Annie's room. Scully followed, stubbing her toe on the corner of the dresser. "Ouch!"
"Scully, could you turn the light on? Thanks."
Dana flipped the light on, squinting in the sudden brightness.
Mulder sat on the bed next to Annie, one arm around her comfortingly. Annie's face was streaked with tears and she was trying to stop crying. "What happened?"
"He was here. Usually he's, like, a comfort to me, but this time he wasn't for some reason." Breaking down, she sobbed into Mulder's shoulder. "The nightmares aren't part of it! It's not supposed to go that way when he comes!"
Mulder held her. "Annie, what happened in your nightmares."
Annie stopped crying and sniffed. After a pause she proceeded to tell Scully and Mulder about her dreams. As she talked, Scully thought it sounded familiar. Suddenly realizing, she turned pale and sat down on the bed with a thump.
"Scully, what's wrong?"
In a barely audible whisper, Scully answered. "That's the exact same dream I had."
Mulder looked from Scully to Annie, not sure what to think or believe.
"So....you both dreamed that this..thing..was dancing with you and then turned to stab a knife through your chest? Are you sure?" Scully gave him a I-always-tolerate-you-now-why-would-I-the-rational-one- make-something-like-this-up look. Mulder nodded and said, "Well, let's
Scully shuffled out of Annie's bedroom and started to enter hers when she felt a cold draft. Closing her door, she glanced around the room and noticed the window was indeed closed. Scully thought, That's odd... and lay back down in her bed. But soon the feeling went over her again. And then, a sharp ripping sensation flew over her face. Scully gasped and felt it again. She dashed to the mirror, only to find a large gash across her cheek. It was bleeding heavily, and soon she felt someone pulling her back onto the bed. Scully lashed out her arms and ran to Mulder's room. Pushing the door open, Dana stood there, not knowing what to do.
"Oh my God Scully!" gasped Mulder. " What happened?"
"I don't know...I don't..." And Scully suddenly felt very confused and small. Her old fear of the dark washed over her, and soon she found herself crying hysterically, without really knowing why. Mulder went over to her and hugged her tightly, as if to protect her from whatever she had been harmed by. He slowly brought her to his bed, and proceeded to rock her gently.
"Don't worry Dana. It's really okay. It's gone now, and I'm here anyway. You really need to cry, you're too strong sometimes. Cry it out Dana.."
The red-head never felt so comforted before, and was happy to have Mulder there to understand her. She remembered who made her so strong, her father. He would have told her to stop crying, then and there. She was glad to have someone that told her it was okay to cry, but still, it was hard for her to show her emotions.
Wiping her tears, and pulling away from Mulder's tight grip, she said," I'm okay Mulder. Thanks, thanks for understanding the unknown...thanks for understanding me..."
Mulder smiled an quietly said, "That's what I'm here for...but speaking of the unknown, who did this to you?"
"I don't know Mulder...I felt a cold gush of air, and then something gashed my face...but..."
"What Dana? " Mulder probed.
"Well, the moment my face ripped, it didn't hurt. And come to think of it, I still can't feel it."
Mulder pressed his face close to hers and groped at the mark. "My god," he said," I've never seen a wound heal this quick."
Scully's eyes lit up and she walked quickly to the door. Without asking questions, Mulder followed her.
They soon ended up in Annie's room once again. Scully pressed her finger over her mouth to show Mulder they should be quiet. She glanced at the nightstand, and took something quickly off of it. Then, without a sound, she exited the room and proceeded to walk back to hers.
"Look Mulder," she said once they were back in her room, "one of the children had red hair. I thought I saw this picture, but wasn't sure. The...well, what you call "entity", may have thought that I was one of the children grown up.."
"And when he realized you weren't, he made sure that the wound he inflicted on you didn't cause you pain, " Mulder finished for her.
"So, I guess this means you *do* believe in the ghost!" Mulder proclaimed.
"Who ya gonna call?" asked Scully, hoping the joke would help lighten the atmosphere and her mood. It didn't.
The rest of the night was long and mostly sleepless. Scully was scared to go back to sleep, afraid that if she did, the nightmare, or the ghost would come back. Every time she dozed off, she would jerk herself awake again. At five thirty, she decided it was late enough to get up, take a shower, and start the day. The shower helped refresh her, and shake off the last remnants of last night's terror. Annie came into the kitchen at seven, and found her sitting at the table, sipping coffee with her laptop in front of her and a plate of toast slices on the table.
"Hi," smiled Annie tiredly. She obviously hadn't gotten much sleep the night before either. There were dark circles under her eyes, which were red and puffy, making Scully think that she had been crying all night. Scully was reasonable sure that she didn't look a whole lot better.
"'Morning," Scully answered. She held up the pot of coffee that was on the table. "Coffee?"
Annie went over to the cupboard, and took down a mug. Filling it with coffee and taking a sip, she said, "Did last night really happen? Or was it a dream." She snatched a piece of toast and started munching.
"It really happened."
"Damn." Annie sighed. "I was really hopping it was all a bad dream."
"Me too." Mulder walked out in his jeans and a sweatshirt, drying his hair off with a towel. When he was done, it stuck up in all directions, looking like the quills on a porcupine. He shook it vigorously and it fell back into it's normal place. He, too grabbed a piece of toast. "Annie," he said, turning serious, "are you sure you told us all that you know about this ghost thing?"
Annie hesitated. "I think I told you most of it. I told you about how I always found it comforting before. I was just this time that I have ever been in this house that I had a problem with it. And even at first, it was like it always was before. I guess in a way it would watch over me. I know it sounds corny, like a bad sci-fi movie. But it's true." She took finished off her cup of coffee, then tossed the mug into the sink. "It didn't like my brother's and sister's too much. Okay, it hated them. They were always "pretending" to do worse things to him than I "pretended" to. He tried to strangle Larie once, but stopped before really hurting her." She scrutinized Scully for a moment. "You know something, you look a lot like Larie. She had the same color hair as you."
"We saw the picture on your bedstand, and noticed that." Mulder quickly filled Annie in on what had happened the night before, leaving out the part of Scully breaking down. Annie's eyes grew wide with shock as she listened.
"Oh my God. He did that to you? He didn't hurt you though, did he? I mean, you're okay and all? I didn't even know he could heal anything."
"I'm fine," said Scully. "Just a little nervous about what he's going to do to you. Actually," she admitted, "it kind of freaks me out to actually be believing in this ghost at all. But I do for some reason."
Annie didn't say anything.
Mulder broke the silence. "Annie, how far away is a library that carries old copies of newspapers on microfilm?"
"Oh, probably about an hour away."
"Well, we'd better get going then. Annie, you want to come with?"
Mulder quickly downed the rest of his coffee and stood up.
Annie shrugged. "Sure, you going to see if you can find anything about this house and the people who lived in it?"
"Yes, and if anybody reported anything strange happening. We'll check the police reports too." Scully got up and rinsed her cup out in the sink. Annie, why don't you go take a shower while Mulder and I wash the breakfast dishes."
"You don't have to do that," Annie protested. "I can get them later."
At the same time, Mulder looked at Scully and said, "Hey! Where do you get off volunteering me?"
Eventually Scully beat both of them out and Annie left them to take care of the dishes while she took a shower.
"Scully. So you believe in this thing?" Mulder took a cup and wiped it with a soapy cloth.
Scully took it from him and rinsed and dried it. "Yeah. I find that surprising too. It just seems right for me to believe in this ghost. Like it's natural for me to believe it's real."
Mulder accepted this explanation without question. "I don't think Annie's telling us everything."
"You think she's holding something back?" Scully looked at him, head cocked to the side and eyebrow raised.
Mulder hesitated. "I don't think she's purposely holding anything back. Most likely there's some details that she just thinks are insignificant. I really have no idea what to make of this Scully."
Sighing, Scully said, "I know the feeling."
Four hours later found Mulder and Annie sitting in the library, running microfilm machines like mad. They had started in the early 1920s, and worked their way up through the 1960s, finding nothing. Finally Mulder leaned back in his chair and rubbed his eyes. "Ugh, I hate these things."
Annie looked over at him and gave a small smile. "I already knew about it in the 60s. It couldn't have just appeared then. I don't think we're going to find anything in the twentieth century. We need to go earlier." She smiled again at Mulder's frustrated sigh.
Mulder inquired with the librarian and came back to inform Annie that there weren't very many records before the nineteen hundreds. "The earliest ones are from 1856."
They started searching through the few records they had before
"Maybe Dana will find something from the police reports," suggested Annie, trying to give the situation a little hope. "But I get the feeling that this is before then."
Mulder shook his head. "There probably won't be anything in the police reports, unless he's killed or assaulted anyone. And if he had killed someone, we would have found it in the papers."
"And who would report that a ghost had attacked them," said Annie glumly.
Mulder rubbed his hand along the side of his face and smiled at her. "You'd be surprised."
Scully came into the diner where they had agreed to meet, holding a thin stack of papers clipped together with a paper clip. She slid into the booth next to Annie and dropped the papers in front of Mulder. "I had to do some digging, but I was able to find records all the way back to 1940. Look at this. From 1940 to 1951, when Annie's aunt bought the house, fifteen different families had lived in it. Nobody stayed for more than nine months. All of them reported hearing someone prowling around either inside or outside the house, and things like someone breaking windows, or stealing silverware, just other little things that any living person can do. Only a couple of them reported being attacked by a ghost. Elijah Roberts in 1943, and Marie Amadon and her husband Paul in 1946. Both of them moved out after only six months, right after reporting the assault."
Mulder started flipping through the papers, and Annie smiled broadly. "Now we're getting somewhere."
"Maybe," said Scully. "I also talked to a couple of the older police, the ones that have been on the force, or at least living around here since then, and they all said that there have always been stories about that house flying around. One said that he actually had an experience with the ghost, and the other two said people were just paranoid."
"It never did anything like that to us," commented Annie, interrupting.
"It is an old house," continued Scully. " Been around since the early eighteen hundreds. And there are always stories about old houses."
"But," said Mulder, "Most legends are based around truth."
"Well, I have to get going now. I agreed to meet one of the old residents of my house in about 15 minutes. Good luck guys and thanks for all your help." Now leaving, Annie looked somewhat relieved.
Scully sighed and said, "Well, I am lost. This "thing" obviously wasn't brought by her anger....or maybe it just was called out of the cracks once again because of it. Uuugh, this case doesn't make any sense. Actually, what *are* we looking for Mulder? Why don't we have a priest go through the house and leave it at that. Or, why doesn't she just move?" Scully frowned deeply.
"Because, this house has too many memories for her to just leave. And, anyway, her aunt said in her will that no one was to ever own the home again that wasn't family."
Scully gave Mulder a look and said, " What? That doesn't make any sense! This house only held bad memories, and why did the aunt care so much about this stupid house?! You even said that it has had numerous owners. It's not like it's locked in the family or anything."
"Dana, I'm tired and don't really understand this case myself. I.....I could really go for a burger now...." Mulder frowned and gave Scully a will-you-please-stop-thinking- about-the-case-and-just-eat-look.
Scully sighed again and waved for the waitress' attention. "I'm just going to have a salad and a Diet Coke please, "Scully said.
"I'll have a burger...make it two...with french fries...and some iced tea." Mulder smiled as Scully gave him a disgusted look.
"It's not fair that you can always eat like that and look so good," Scully whined.
"Hmmm, are you coming on to me?" Mulder said grinning.
Scully laughed and was surprised Mulder was too. She had never seen him laugh so hard before. Scully leaned forward and took his hand. "Burgers and a tired man always turn me on..."
Mulder laughed deeply.
"Scully, I was just thinking about what you said earlier and decided it may very well work." Mulder leaned back on Scully's bed as she sat in the oversized chair across from him. They were looking over what Annie had found, which wasn't much, and were trying to decide what to do next.
"What did I say? I say a lot Mulder," Scully replied, grinning.
"Well Dana, you said that a priest should go through the house. But why not have a physic go along with him? He or she may be able to figure out what this ghost *really* wants."
Scully rolled her eyes and sighed. " Mulder, come on. Do you expect me to believe that? I was just joking about the priest anyway."
"Well, joking or not it has been proven to work many times. But, you still haven't told me why you believe in this entity. What aren't you telling me Scully?"
Scully looked uncomfortable and cleared her throat. Then, climbing up on the bed with Mulder, she sat across from him and looked into his eyes. " Promise not to laugh or say anything Mulder?"
Mulder nodded seriously.
"Well," said Scully leaning forward," my grandmother used to be really into the occult and..." But she was cut off my Mulder's choking laughter.
"Sorry, but I can't see anyone related to you into the occult..."
Scully looked annoyed and lightly punched Mulder. "Come on. You said you wouldn't laugh!"
Mulder rubbed his arm in mockery and frowned.
Scully gritted her teeth and went on. "ANYway, my grandmother said that a spirit was caught in a warp that was directly in the center of her home. She said it was summoned by her on accident one night when she was working on her ouiji board. Well, I saw it once or twice and it scared me out of my wits. It was so...morose...and horrible...I have never seen something so gruesome before. She had a special seance one night and after a few hours and it went away. But still, I could never forget that...thing." She sighed and looked at Mulder.
"Scully, I'm surprised. Well, I'm glad you told me anyway. I hope this case isn't bringing back any bad memories.......but I guess it is isn't it? Is that why you were so scared last night?"
Scully nodded her head and slumped down on the bed.
"Well, you better get some sleep." Mulder softly touched her hair and sat up. "Good night, Dana"
" 'Night Mulder."
The next two days were mostly spent visiting. There wasn't much they could do until something happened. Hours had been spent at the library, pouring over old records and newspapers with little result. Annie had met with the person who had lived in the house before, but the lady was ninety years old and wasn't quite all with it. Alzheimer's. The lady, Hazel Vigland had told her that sometimes she had dreams, the same one Annie had described to Scully and Mulder. She mostly talked about how the ice-cream man came and played Bingo every Tuesday. Somehow Annie managed to get out of her that the spirit that used to live in the house in Clancywood had played Bingo too. Annie gave up after an hour and left the nursing home. Nothing much accomplished except that there were other people who knew about it too.
Dana and Annie had hit it off instantly, and the two of them found great enjoyment in ganging up on Mulder. He took it all with good humor, joking back. They had called around and had managed to find a psychic who would come and look at the house. Mulder thought it might work, Scully wasn't sure. She didn't like the idea of putting trust into someone who claimed to had ESP or psychic powers. She still didn't want to open herself up to that very much. Annie didn't seem to care much at all either way. She just wanted it to all be over. Mulder suspected she was still having nightmares, even though she insisted that she wasn't. She always looked tired, and got up looking like she hadn't gotten more than a couple hours sleep.
The woman who claimed to be psychic and said she could help them figure out what was going on arrived about noon. Annie opened the door to find a young woman, probably in her twenties standing there. She had on large rings with colored stones. Red, pink, yellow, there was even a light brown chunk of pumice on one. There were long dangly, beaded earrings that had what looked somewhat like peacock feathers on them, but not quite. There was silver chains and bracelets. She was dressed in a long floral skirt with a tight fitting shiny polyester silver shirt. Mulder gaped at her.
Ignoring Annie, she came in and went right for Mulder, introducing herself as Jordan Jasmine Lorraine Grandowski. But he could call her Jordan. He shook her hand and she hung on to it for as long as she could, inching closer and closer to him. Scully noted that he wasn't objecting. She couldn't help but giggle a little to herself. He was acting like a lovesick puppy, grinning foolishly at her. Hell, she could have sworn he'd almost scuffed his foot when she told him we was "very cute with good vibes."
Once the introductions were made and Jordan had managed to pry herself away from Mulder, she asked them exactly what they wanted.
Annie looked at Scully. "This is going to seem kind of weird, but we think this place might be haunted."
Jordan waved it off. "Of course. I thought I could feel another presence as soon as I was within a mile of this place. But I thought it was just the strong aura of your cute friend here." She gave Mulder a big smile and winked at Dana. "You're lucky to have him."
Scully looked at her, shocked. "Have him?" Then she laughed. "He's not mine. But if you can put up with him, you can keep him."
Jordan smiled. "No", she said slowly. "I think he loves you." She thought for a minute, feeling the air and the feelings of the people around her. "I don't think he can love someone romantically. At least not yet. Something is blocking him. But I know he loves you as much as anything. Just not that way." She sighed. "Too bad. He's really fine."
Mulder broke in. "Hey, hey. You guys, I am here, in the room, and I can here what you are talking about." He realized it was true. He all of a sudden realized that he loved Scully as much as he had, still did, love Samantha. He could never have her as a lover, she didn't mean anything to him that way. It was more like she was a part of him. The thought scared him. He didn't like the idea of being that close to someone. Especially if something happened to her. How would he be able to stand it?
"Sorry." Jordan apologized. "Show me where this spirit's presence is the strongest." Mulder started to say something but was cut off by the psychic. "No, not you. Dana or Annie. They can feel it. You can't."
Annie looked at Scully. " I think in the attic. Or Aunt Beth's bedroom."
Dana agreed. Annie led Jordan to the bedroom with Mulder and Scully close behind. Jordan stood in the middle of the room, eyes closed. She grabbed hold of a tiger's eye stone that was on a silver chain around her neck.
"At least she puts on a good show," Dana whispered to Annie. Annie smiled.
At long last, Jordan opened her eyes and said, "Yes, I can feel it here. It is in pain. And lonely. It wants companionship." She sat on the bed and stared at Annie. "It's closest to you. I can't contact it alone; you have the strongest psychic potential here. I'll need your help. And maybe Dana's. Mulder doesn't have very much psychic ability." She was very sensitive to others who were psychic like herself. Annie jumped out right away, she was broadcasting all over. Dana was a little more held back, like some part of her wouldn't let herself use it. Jordan didn't think she was even conscious of the fact that she had any. Mulder had a little, more than most people, but something in him was blocking it. He was trying too hard.
Annie sounded scared. "I don't want to contact it!"
Jordan looked her in the eye. "Do you want to get rid of it?"
Shrinking back, Annie said in a small voice, "Yes." Jordan could feel her, she really was terrified of this thing. But why? Jordan could have sifted through Annie's mind herself, but Annie might feel it, and it would be better if she told her of her own consent.
"Why are you so scared of it?"
"It's haunting my house. Who wouldn't be scared?" Annie looked at Jordan in disbelief.
Shaking her head the psychic replied, "It's more than that. Look, if you tell me, we can maybe find out more about this thing."
Annie sighed and recounted her experiences with the spirit, Jordan listening intently.
"That'll help. Now, let's go look at the attic."
Jordan was not surprised to find that the attic sent off even more vibes than the bedroom. She suspected this is where they had spent most of the time with the ghost. She could tell that Dana felt something too, and a picture popped into her mind of an old woman trying to summon spirits while a scared little redhead girl, no more than six years old, watched. Jordan lost track of her surroundings while the vision became more vivid. The woman was chanting something, sounded like a tongue that a certain cults used. The room got windy, there was blood on the woman's hands as she raised them skyward. The girl whimpered and tried to make herself as small as possible behind a chair, but she couldn't hide from whatever it was in the room. The room filled with an eerie pale light and a window exploded. The girl screamed and ran toward the door, grabbing the handle and pulling, yanking on it with all her might, but it wouldn't budge. Giving up her efforts the girl turned around, back against the door, watching the older woman. The chanting became louder and more frenzied with each passing second. The girl could feel the power building up in the room, building up in her. She could tell that it had to have somewhere to go, there was nowhere for it to go! There was a loud noise and she could feel the power slowly ebbing away, the old woman lay on the floor, gasping with exhaustion. The girl felt relief until she looked down and saw the blood covering her arms and hands...
Jordan jolted back to reality. She just stared at Dana who looked back at her and asked what was wrong. It was hard to believe that this was the little girl who had experienced that sort of horror. No wonder she would let herself admit she had strong psychic potential. In fact, all three of them had gone through awful things in their lives. But it was only Dana's that she could pick up clearly. She made a note to herself to check the others out as soon as she could.
"No, nothing's wrong," she answered Scully's question, and shaking her head to clear the last remnants of the vision from her mind. "I just got some bad vibes."
"Well?" Mulder asked. "Have you found anything out?"
"This spirit must have had psychic powers itself when it was alive. It feels betrayed, by someone. It won't open itself up to me. I mean, usually I can get in anyway. But this man is blocking me out. It's attached itself to you, Annie. You'll have to be the one to contact it. Dana can support you...Mulder will mostly just get in the way. But he can break the ties if needed." Jordan was searching through her brain, trying to think of the best way to do this. "This is the best place, it's presence is stronger here. We can get started now..." her voice trailed away.
Annie shrugged. "Okay. Whenever. I just want to get this over with. I can't stand the nightmares anymore. There is a man, he's attractive, I think. We're dancing. He tries to stab me. I break away, and this bright light fills the room." She shudders. "It's scary." Her thoughts wandered back to when she was a kid. Her and Chris and Jocelyn were making up a game. They pretended that the man who had set the fire that killed their parents had suddenly appeared in their room, and was begging them for forgiveness. They wouldn't forgive him, instead they started pummeling him with their fists, shouting for Kevin and Larie to join in. It became more than a game, it was a way of venting grief and rage. Soon, the man seemed real. Annie was hitting him again, and he was crying out, like always. When she took her hand away, there was something warm and sticky running down her hand. She huddled in bed for the rest of the night and never joined the game again. Most of those nights had been repressed, pushed way back into a hole in her mind, and she was terrified that they would come back. "Yes, we need to do this now!" she insisted again. Annie met Jordan's gaze, and she instantly knew that Jordan knew what she had just been thinking, even more. She didn't like that too much.
Jordan looked at Scully to see if she was ready and at Scully's nod of confirmation she positioned them with Annie in the middle of the room, Scully and herself facing Annie and Mulder over by the door.
"What does this have to do with the contact?" asked Mulder, confused.
"It just seems to help, to work better. I don't know why. I think it helps spread the energy out more," Jordan answered. She started giving instructions. "Annie, do you remember how you called him before?"
Annie nodded. "I think I can do it again. I don't exactly how I did it. I just did it. But I think I can do it again."
"Okay, good. Dana, you need to see if you can get into a rapport with Annie. What I mean by that is you have to try to get into her mind, sort of. Can you do that?"
Dana didn't think she could, she still didn't believe fully that she could actually do it, but she could try.
"Mulder, you just need to break in and interrupt their concentration, or thoughts if it gets too bad." Jordan sat down and got comfortable in her position, the other three doing the same. "Go for it when your ready Annie."
Annie started thinking about the spirit, and felt it come and join minds with her. It's touch was cold, but in a way sort of friendly.
Scully felt Annie go in and she got images in her mind. She wasn't sure if they were hers, or Annie's or even Jordan's; she could vaguely feel Jordan slide in with her and Annie. There was some of five kids beating a man that wasn't even there, of horrid gaping eye sockets looking down at her while she was poked, she heard someone tell her that her parents were dead; killed in a fire. That was the last thing she knew before she was the whole way in.
She was floating above the room, and she felt Mulder holding her hand alongside of her. She guessed they had automatically attached to each other as they "went in". Below was a group of kids, beating a man to the floor. They were crying, screaming, and some were even laughing. One girl cried," No, no no!" over and over- Scully guessed this was Annie. Soon she felt herself and Mulder whipped into a ballroom, and below Annie was dancing with a good-looking man. He suddenly turned to her crying and screaming. "How could you?!" he yelled. "I have been caught in home for many years, trying to understand myself, my role on earth. Soon, I felt I was ready to go on...until you came and tortured me. I can't go now, I can never go! How could you? How.....how...." The man faded off and soon he started to hit Annie, over and over. Scully cried out and felt Mulder yelling, "Scully! What's wrong? Scully, Scully....Dana come back!" But she blocked him out and proceeded to watch. Annie grabbed the man's fists and kissed him. " You can go now...don't you see it?"
Scully turned to Annie's now pointing finger and saw a shimmering void. The man ran toward it and then Annie disappeared after him. " We belong together!" she heard and was soon wrapped in darkness.
"Oh my god...I though I lost you Dana..."
The red-head looked around the room blurry-eyed. "What happened?"
"She died. Annie did. And you were out cold...it's been two days since it happened. I remember watching you, trying to get you to come back...but you were too stubborn...as always.." Mulder smiled.
"She died? Oh God...." A single tear trailed down Scully's face. "I remember now....Annie went with....him....she said they would always be together. Mulder, I'm scared."
"You'll never have to be Scully. I'm here."
"Maybe that's why Mulder," said Scully with a smile.