Title: Home by the Sea
Carhart Residence San Diego, California
Tony had been eyeing this house for a very long time, and now that he was here, working his way inside, he felt the excitement rise inside him. Once upon a time, as a small child, houses like this one had inspired awe and even a little fear in him. They were symbols of everything Tony didn't have: wealth, privilege, power. But now, he thought with a grin as he carefully climbed up the rocky seaside incline toward the property, houses like this were challenges that often times brought about his own kind of success. He wasn't quite as rich as the people who owned this house, but if he could continue on in this new, thriving career, he might have a house of his own like this someday.
The owners of the house were away from it for the first time in months. Tony knew this thanks to the contact he had at the maid service that cleaned the place on a weekly basis. Shar had been more than accommodating on more than one occasion, in more than one way. Having walked the beach many times in the months prior to this night, and getting dear, sexy little Shar to talk about the inside of the house, Tony felt he was ready to handle whatever security system this house might throw at him.
Quietly, he stepped over the last rock and reached the ten- foot wall that surrounded the one-acre property. A well- practiced throw allowed him to hook the end of his rope to the ornate iron railing along the top of the wall. Well- toned muscles allowed him to climb over the wall with ease. Knowing there were no cameras or sensors in the yard, Tony confidently walked across the dark lawn to a small, low window. Thanks to Shar, he knew this window led into the basement, and though it was very small, he knew he could fit his wiry body thought it. He jimmied the window open, breaking the lock in the process, but he didn't mind. Once the deed was done, it didn't matter how he got in, although it would probably get the owners to get a better security system. Carefully he squeezed in, gently lowering himself to the concrete floor of the basement. He picked up the broken lock and set it aside, learning from experience that little things like that could get in the way if he found in necessary to make a quick getaway.
Cautiously, he looked about the room, and then headed for the stairs. The master bedroom was his destination; it was where the mistress of the house kept her jewels. Once he reached the top of the stairs he paused, a shiver running up his back. 'What the hell?' he thought. 'There can't be anyone here.' Tony could not hear any noises to indicate he wasn't alone, but he still sensed a presence. Or two. Or more. Slowly, he made his way toward the living room. His eyes searched the darkness intently, the shiver along his spine growing almost unbearable. "Hello?"
His voice sounded like a whip crack in the dark and he jumped. 'Stupid!' he thought. 'Even if there was someone else here, do you really need to announce your presence?' Tony began to back out of the room, only to hear what sounded like a whisper. Squinting his eyes, he searched the dark again. Then he heard it, louder and clearer than before.
'Okay,' Tony thought. 'I'm outta here!'
He stopped cold, having already turned his back on the room with the intention of heading for the closest door.
He turned slowly, his eyes wide, his heart racing.
"Welcome, Tony. Welcome to the home by the sea."
If anyone should enter the J. Edgar Hoover building and walk into the large room on the 4th floor called the bullpen, they would immediately think they had entered an office building. With several desks lined up in rows and people sitting at them either talking on the phone or typing away at their computers, nobody would guess that they were watching members of the legendary FBI in action. Of course, though most of the people in the room had indeed graduated from the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, very few of them had done so with the hope of riding a desk. It was a sure bet that most of the agents doing background checks on potential agents of the future, checking up on federal programs, and keeping track of federally restricted drugs and property, did not want to be there. Some were new, green agents, not ready for the field. Some were agents that were nearing retirement or had been injured at some point in their careers that they could no longer work in the field. A handful actually liked the job and were simply content to carry the title of Special Agent. And some had been sent to the 4th floor as punishment.
One of those particular agents sat at his desk typing up what he hoped would be his last report of the week. And God, what a week. Not since his first year at Oxford, when he had to sit through Professor McClain's English Literature class, had he been so bored. Of course, back then, it had been the professor that had been boring, not the subject matter. Here, at least, the company of the one person he worked closest with was miles above the demeaning job both of them had been assigned to do.
Mulder typed his last sentence and turned to the desk behind him, where that person was busy typing up her own report, her glasses reflecting the white screen of her monitor back at him. She glanced up as she typed, sensing his eyes on her, then looked back at the screen, her only reaction a slight upward tilt of the corners of her mouth. He continued watching her, casually wondering when the activity had become one of favorite pastimes, until she finished her own report. She sat back and met his gaze, her eyebrows raised.
"Done?" he asked unnecessarily.
Scully looked at her watch as she answered. "Yep." She frowned. "But I still have to type up my notes on the Jedrokaowski case."
Mulder matched her frown. "How long is that gonna take?"
"Not long," the redhead replied as she printed out the report she had just finished and reached for her briefcase. "It wasn't that big a deal."
He nodded. "I'll wait."
Scully tilted her head as she looked at him. "Why?"
"It's Friday, Scully," Mulder said matter of factly.
"So I thought we could go out and have a drink or something. You know, let our hair down so to speak." He watched her carefully, both amused and saddened by the myriad of emotions that crossed her face. 'Yep,' he thought to her in his head. 'I'm actually asking you out.'
"I don't know, Mulder," Scully started, but she drew the words out slowly which told him she was tempted.
He turned his chair around so he could face her completely and leaned toward her desk so he could talk softly and avoid all the ears he knew were listening in on this conversation. He didn't care if everyone knew he had just asked her out, he just didn't want the fact that they knew to make Scully nervous and refuse him. "Come on, Scully. When was the last time you went out on a Friday night and had some laughs with a friend?"
As he knew it would, stating it that way made her relax a bit. She gave him a small smile, nodding her head, and was just opening her mouth to say yes when a familiar voice saying his name interrupted her from the front of Mulder's desk. Though he knew who it was immediately, the sudden narrowing of Scully's eyes as she looked up and past Mulder confirmed it. Mulder restrained a sigh of frustration as he turned from the woman in his present to the woman from his past.
"Diana." He slouched in his chair, unwilling to let the tall brunette see how much her presence could unnerve him. "What brings you up from the basement?"
Without changing her calm, cool expression, she replied, "I was hoping to speak with you in private before you leave for the day." She paused, and Mulder saw her glance behind him at Scully. "It's about a case."
A case? An x-file? How could he refuse? He nodded, and without looking at Scully, rose from his chair. Scully would be thinking the same thing he was, so she would understand. He hoped.
He kept his back stiff, letting his body language tell both women he wasn't happy about this, but he followed Diana out the door and into the hallway. She stopped and turned to face him, her heels making her gaze almost level with his own. "Well?"
Without a word, she handed him a file he hadn't realized she was holding. He recognized it, knew what was in it, but opened it anyway to scan the contents one more time. There had been an addition since he had spent part of several hours putting together the burned remains of his x-files. Another disappearance. "How can this woman be sure he was in the house when he disappeared?" Mulder asked without looking up from the file.
"He never told her outright, but she knew he was out to rob the place." Diana shrugged. "The owners were out of town, it was a new moon, he had been acting oddly all day the day before... and she knows the history of the house."
"Did she think to tell him it was haunted before he decided the break in?" Mulder looked back up at her.
Diana shook her head, a smirk appearing on her face.
Mulder studied the woman for a while, his mind running through every reason her could think of for her telling him of this. "Why did you bring this to me? You know I've been banned from the x-files."
"Jeffrey is out of town," Diana told him. "And I happen to know you are due for a week's vacation. I just thought you might like to take that vacation in San Diego."
A tingle of excitement rushed up his backbone. Oh, how he'd love to visit this house, one he had been studying from afar for many years. But not without Scully. He closed the file and handed it back to Diana. "I'll think about it." He turned back to the bullpen.
"Don't think too long, Mulder," she said to his back. "I'm leaving in the morning."
He paused briefly, and then continued on to his partner.
Scully didn't drink. She had never been good at handling alcohol, and the few times in her life she had gotten drunk left bitter memories in her head. But sometimes, even those memories weren't enough to sway her from drinking more than was average. Like tonight.
She sat across a small table from her former partner and still best friend, trying to drink slow but finding herself on her third beer in no time. He wasn't drinking at all; he was trying his best to convince her to follow him to San Diego to investigate a haunted house... at Diana Fowley's request. Just thinking the woman's name caused Scully to take another large sip of her beer.
"Come on, Scully," he was telling her, his head close to hers over the top of the small table. "It'll be fun. Have you even been to a haunted house? I mean, a real haunted house."
Mulder had arrived back at his desk after talking to Fowley this afternoon with a serious expression on his face but a suspicious light in his eyes. She had managed to finish her last report while he had been gone and he had waited with some impatience for her to shut down her computer and gather her belongings, then had taken her by the elbow and murmured, "Let's go get that drink," not giving her a chance to argue. He had presented her with the whole case file as he remembered it over their two beers, then talked about the new addition that Fowley had shown him that afternoon.
If Mulder had asked her to do this without Fowley's having been involved, she would have grumbled and complained, but she would have gone without question. But the fact remained that it was Fowley's case, not Mulder's, and Scully didn't want to have anything to do with the woman. The only thing that kept her from saying no immediately was the idea of Mulder and Fowley alone together in San Diego.
With her mind already slightly fogged from her overindulgence of alcohol, Scully realized Mulder had asked her a question. "I have never desired, nor do I plan, to visit a haunted house, real or otherwise." There, that came out okay, without any slurring. She didn't know how much longer she could sound sober, however.
Mulder's downcast expression was hard to miss, even in her state. "Mulder, why do you want to do this?" She paused at the fire that flashed in his eyes. "Stupid question. I mean, why should you? If you get caught helping out Agent Fowley, while on vacation or not, you'll..." She stopped and looked down at her bottle.
"What, Scully?" Mulder asked, sarcasm heavy in his voice. "Get demoted? Have my life's work taken from me?" He paused for effect. "What can they do to me other than fire me, which they seem to be afraid to do?"
Scully looked up from her drink, suddenly realizing there were mere inches between her face and his. A part of her wanted to tell him to back off, but the other part, the part that had long ago gotten used to his invading her personal space, kept quiet, maybe even enjoyed his proximity. Lord, he smelled good. "Maybe they'll transfer you," she said softly. That was her greatest fear, being separated from him. Though she would dearly love to have the x-files back, as long as she was working with Mulder, she was happy.
She saw understanding cross his face and he backed off a bit, looking down at his own untouched beer. He took a deep breath, and then met her eyes with his own once more. "I have been wanting to visit this house for years, Scully. This is the first opportunity I've ever had to do so. The owners are horribly secretive about the place, but because an investigation has been opened, they have to allow us in." He stopped, his expression hardening. "I have to do this."
Scully nodded, pretending to understand when in reality she was hurt by his decision. She tipped the bottle in her hand up to her mouth, downing the last of her beer, then rose from the table. "Well, I hope you find what you're looking for." She grabbed her coat and turned as she put it on. "Have a good vacation, Mulder."
"Scully," she heard as she felt him grab her arm. She turned and glared at him. He didn't let go. "I have to do this, but I really want you there with me."
With as much finesse as she could find, she shrugged off his hand. "You don't need me, Mulder. You'll have Diana. I'm sure it will be much easier to look for ghosts with a person who actually believes in them." With that, she turned and left the bar.
It wasn't until she reached the brisk autumn air outside that she remembered Mulder had driven her here. No problem, she decided as she lifted her arm for a cab. She had done fine for years without Mulder in her life. There was no reason why she needed him now. But as she sat in the cab on her way home, she still felt an almost paralyzing fear coarse through her: Mulder and Fowley. Alone together. In a haunted house.
Why did she suddenly have a very bad feeling about this?
Carhart Residence San Diego, California
Trying desperately to relax, Mulder took a deep breath and kept his eyes on the curving road ahead of him. Though the road they were on was well maintained and comfortably wide, the steep, rocky embankment to their left that dropped down to the ocean was enough to make the bravest person take notice. And Mulder noticed... but only because he wasn't driving.
It was a rare day indeed when Mulder didn't drive; he hated giving up that control. It had taken several months of working with Scully before he let her take over the wheel on their cases together, and in the following years he had become more and more comfortable with her in charge. In fact, he actually enjoyed it when she drove now. But Scully wasn't driving either.
He glanced over at the woman behind the wheel and felt a little more sweat break out on his brow. Diana wasn't a bad driver, but she took the turns on this curvy road a little too fast for his liking. Maybe he'd take them just as fast had he been driving, but... He took another deep breath and faced forward once more.
"Are you okay, Fox?"
Diana had always called him by his first name, despite the fact that she knew he didn't like it. He cringed inwardly as he heard it, but didn't react in any other way. "I'm fine. Why?"
"You just seem...uncomfortable," she responded.
That's an understatement, Mulder thought. "I'm just excited."
Diana smiled. "I'll bet. You were talking about this house back when we were partners."
Partners. Friends. Lovers. "Yeah." He thought about his current partner, even though they hadn't officially been partners since the x-files had shut down last year. Mentally, he began comparing Scully to Diana, and it was amazing how the woman beside him came up short on all counts. Partner? Diana had been a good partner, someone who thought like him and trusted his instincts. Yet, she had rarely ever argued with him about anything, and he had learned with Scully how much disagreements had often helped to clarify things and solve a case. Friends? Yes, Diana had been a good friend. She knew about Samantha and sympathized with Mulder without pitying him. He had enjoyed spending time with her both in and out of the office. But despite their deep discussions of the past, nothing could compare to the comfort he felt with Scully. He and Scully had had very few deep, emotional talks in their time as friends, but they really hadn't needed them. Just sitting quietly together made him feel like he was open to her, and if she asked he would tell her anything. He trusted her with more than his life, or even his heart. He trusted her with his soul.
Lovers? No. He and Scully hadn't crossed that line, though they had been teetering on the edge for years. Why? Well, he wasn't too sure what excuse Scully used, but his excuse was the woman right next to him now, the woman he had regrettably never told Scully about. Becoming lovers had been the worst mistake he and Diana had ever made as partners. His possessiveness had caused her to pull back, and that distance had established itself in their working life as well as their personal until, finally, she went away. Having been left by more than a few people in his life, Diana's abandonment hadn't surprised him, but it had still hurt. Scully, however, hadn't left. Despite everything, including a possessiveness that Mulder felt was every bit as strong as his feelings toward Diana when they were lovers, Scully hadn't been frightened away.
Until Diana came back.
The thought shocked him. Was Scully jealous? Was that why she hadn't come to San Diego with him? Or was he just being the egotistical jerk that Diana had called him before she left him several years ago? He glanced at Diana again as they rounded another corner, and he saw her eyes widen. "There it is."
Mulder looked ahead and saw the house he had been itching to visit for so many years. The three story dwelling sat on the edge of the cliff overlooking the ocean, both its size and its age impressive. Its whitewashed wood siding gleamed in the faint sunlight, and its several windows invited one to settle in and enjoy the view. However, its cheery demeanor couldn't hide the fact that the house looked like something from a horror movie. Mulder briefly thought of the Amityville Horror. "Now all we need is a full moon, some eerie howling, and some scary music."
Diana laughed as she drove up to the house, parking next to a brand new Mercedes. Mulder whistled when he saw it. "The Carharts must have plenty of income to be able to afford that AND the upkeep on this house." As old as it was, built back in 1850, the house must need constant care.
The two agents exited the car and walked side by side up the flower-lined walk to the covered, wrap-around porch. Mulder glanced off to his left, admiring the view of the ocean, and then faced the front as Diana knocked on the door. It was several seconds before a petite blonde of indeterminate age answered. She frowned at them. "Can I help you?"
"We're here to speak to Hank or Joyce Carhart?" Diana told the woman as she pulled out her badge. "I'm Agent Fowley of the FBI," she said, and then nodded at Mulder. "And this is Agent Mulder."
The woman's ice blue eyes darted between Diana and Mulder. "I'm Joyce. What do you want?" Before Diana could say a word, the woman continued. "The police have already been here. They've searched the place and didn't find a sign of that missing man Shar says disappeared here." She was defensive, but Mulder sensed her fear as well.
Diana opened her mouth, but Mulder spoke first. "Actually, we're here about the house, Mrs. Carhart." He paused, meeting the woman's eyes as they widened.
"What about the house?" she asked, her voice tense, her grip on the door tight.
"We'd like to know if the rumors are true."
For a moment, any fear in Joyce Carhart was overruled by bravado. "Rumors? You mean the ones that say this house is haunted? Do you really think I could live in a haunted house?" Her grin was almost convincing.
"Maybe you don't have a choice," Mulder responded softly.
The grin disappeared and the fear returned to her eyes. Ignoring Diana, the woman whispered, "Just leave. Now. While you can." She stepped back and closed the door. Mulder heard the bolt slide home, but he knew without a doubt that Joyce had not moved away from the door.
He looked at Diana, who was giving him a glare remarkably similar to the ones Scully gave him. "What?"
"That was just great, Mulder." Oh-oh. She called him Mulder. She was pissed. "How are we supposed to get in there now?"
Mulder grinned at her as he turned away from the house. "Oh, don't worry. We'll get in." He stepped off the porch and down to the walk, Diana close behind him. "In fact, I have a feeling we'll be invited very soon."
Joyce paced relentlessly, her arms folded in front of her. Her husband sat on the sofa and watched her with a frown. "I don't know what you're so worried about. They don't know anything," Hank told her.
Joyce stopped and glared down at him, her fear almost palpable. "He does!" she insisted vehemently. "I could tell by the tone of his voice and the look in his eye. He knows what goes on here."
Hank shrugged. "And what is he going to do about it?" He stood and stepped across the plush carpet of their sitting room. "Joyce," he said softly, grasping her shoulders lightly. "Nobody is going to believe him."
"The woman with him will," she responded with a shiver.
"Then we'll just have to take care of them before they try and convince others." He turned away from her and headed for the phone.
"What are you doing?" Joyce asked.
"Mulder, did you say?" Hank asked as he picked up the receiver. "That name seems familiar. I'm sure the local field office will let me know how to reach him."
"And then I'm going to invite him and his partner over for dinner."
Scully was typing away on her computer with complete efficiency, by all appearances working hard in Mulder's absence. But appearances are often deceiving. Scully had no idea what she was typing, as her mind ran over and over all the scenarios that could possibly be coming to life in San Diego with Mulder and Fowley. Most of them were not pleasant, and if one watched her closely, they would see the grimaces that touched her face from time to time. At one point, she stopped, glared intently at the screen in front of her, then grabbed the mouse to highlight and delete all the gibberish she had just typed before someone else saw it. Of course, no one else was here to see it, on account of it being Saturday.
Scully sighed heavily and leaned back in her chair. "The hell with it," she mumbled, and then reached out to shut down her computer.
"Problems, Agent Scully?"
Scully jumped and spun around in her chair, taking note of the tall, African-American man who had apparently just entered the room without her knowledge.
"No," she told him, gathering herself quickly. "No, I just realized how hard it is to work on a weekend when you really don't have to." She turned back around and continued shutting down her computer. "I can't concentrate."
"If you don't have to, then why are you here?" Agent Robert Sanders had been working in the Hoover building for as long as Scully had, but she had never really had a chance to work with him. She only remembered his name now because he was one of the few agents who had never seemed to look down on either her or Mulder. And because he was cute.
She turned back to face him as he walked up the aisle to her desk. "Boredom."
He stopped and leaned back against the desk across from hers, glancing at Mulder's empty desk as he did so. "Usually it's Mulder who's working on a Saturday, but I hear he's on vacation."
It wasn't a question, but Scully recognized it as such. "Yes, he is," she told him. "And you're right, that's why I'm here, bored out of my mind."
"Why didn't you go with him?"
Scully had been asking herself that since she woke with a horrendous headache this morning. She shrugged. "It's not like we're married, or anything," she explained. "We're close but not that close."
Robert cocked his head. "But I thought you two..."
"No!" Scully said before he even finished the question. "Don't believe all the rumors you hear, Agent Sanders." She looked up into the dark brown eyes watching her with open curiosity.
A small smile appeared on his lips. "In that case, would you be interested in having dinner with me tonight?"
Whoa! Where the hell had that come from? Though she hadn't spoken the thought aloud, her eyes must have given away her shock at his question. He laughed, and oh, my, did he have a nice smile.
"I know that came completely out of left field from your point of view, but the fact is I've been wanting to ask you out for a while now." He shrugged. "I guess I just had a hard time with those rumors." He grinned. "And the fact that you turned down a friend of mine when he asked you out last year."
Scully couldn't help it, she laughed. Only it sounded strangely like a giggle. "I turned down Garrison Martin because I have absolutely no interest in him."
She looked at him as his expression went serious. "I haven't turned you down...yet." Oh, my God. Was she flirting?
A glint appeared in those chocolate eyes. "Well, then. Can I pick you up at seven?"
"Yes," she said before she could think. "I think you can."
Mulder walked the floor of his motel room with his cell phone to one ear and his hand pressed up against the other to block out the noises coming from outside his open door. The air conditioning in this particular unit had expired shortly after his arrival this afternoon, and instead of complaining about it, Mulder had just opened things up to let the air move. It wasn't like he would be spending that much time here anyway.
Not ten minutes ago, he had gotten a call from Hank Carhart himself, who had managed to track him down by calling the San Diego FBI field office. He had apologized for his wife's behavior, blaming it on the incredible and unseasonable heat, then had proceeded to invite him and Diana to dinner tomorrow night. Not only would he happily give Mulder and his partner a tour of the old house and regale him with stories of its infamous past, but he and his wife would answer any questions the FBI Agents might have. Mulder had politely and enthusiastically agreed to the invitation, and told Mr. Carhart that he and Diana would be there by six Sunday night. In reality, Mulder was not going to wait until tomorrow to get inside that house.
But before he left his 'partner' and slipped into the Carhart residence without invitation, Mulder needed to talk to Scully. He wasn't sure why, except that he needed her to know where he was going in case something happened. Why didn't he just leave a note for Diana? Good question.
Scully's cell phone went unanswered until it automatically transferred to her home phone, which also rang and rang. Mulder looked at his watch. It was seven o'clock here, which meant it was ten there. Scully should be home from any kind of Saturday activity by now. Where the hell was she? Her answering machine finally picked up.
'Hi, you've reached 555-1368. I can't come to the phone right now, but you're welcome to leave a message and I'll get back to you.' BEEP
"Hey, Scully, it's me." He glared out the door, wondering when the college boys partying across the courtyard would do something to cause another guest to call the cops. "I'm here in San Diego and was just getting ready to visit the Carhart house. It's an uninvited visit, so if you get a call from the local PD, you'll know why." He paused, then turned serious for a moment. "And if I don't call you in the morning to tell you all about my incredible experiences in a haunted house, you better call Diana and let her know where I went. Talk to you tomorrow." With a sigh, he hung up. Time to get rolling. He and Diana had already agreed to eat out together tonight and discuss what to do next. He would wait until after dinner, and then sneak out to watch the house and wait for its residences to settle in for the night. Then it would be show time.
Dana Scully's Residence Georgetown
Scully unlocked her apartment door and stepped inside, taking a deep breath of relief as she did so. She was not used to staying out so long or so late in the evenings. Except for when she was on a case, she rarely stayed up past ten. She had long ago made it a habit to go to bed as early as possible because she never knew when she would get a very early wake up call from Mulder... usually 2 or 3 am early. Not only was she tired and glad to be home, she was simply glad her date was over. Scully had never liked dating, and the fact that she hadn't gone out with anyone, male or female, for years hadn't made her outing tonight easy. Neither had the fact that her date, though handsome, sexy, funny and charming, still hadn't been able to make her forget about Mulder and Fowley.
No doubt about it, Robert had been a wonderful date, and was most likely a wonderful man, but he had been more than aware of her distraction. Twice he had asked her about it, and for most of the evening he had done his best to keep her mind occupied elsewhere, but by 9 they both knew he wouldn't succeed. They had kept up the pretense of having fun for another hour or so, then he had driven her home. He had not asked if he could see her again, and for that she was glad.
She flipped the bolt on her door, and then wandered into her living room without turning on any lights. She threw her purse and keys down on the table by the sofa, noticing immediately the blinking light on her answering machine. She knew whom the message was from, and she felt a surge of anger toward him. It was all his fault she hadn't been able to have fun tonight. It was his fault she hadn't been able to think of anything but him. It was all his fault, and she wasn't going to listen to the message until after she had a shower and...
With a groan, she pressed the play button.
'Hey, Scully, it's me.'
'I'm here in San Diego and was just getting ready to visit the Carhart house. It's an uninvited visit, so if you get a call from the local PD, you'll know why.'
"Great," she mumbled. Just what she needed.
'And if I don't call you in the morning to tell you all about my incredible experiences in a haunted house, you better call Diana and let her know where I went. Talk to you tomorrow.'
What? Let Diana know where he went? He wasn't taking Diana with him? A part of her felt happy that he was ditching his current 'partner,' that he was letting her know what he was doing, but not Diana. The other part of her feared for him. With no one to watch his back...
Her mind ran over what Mulder had told her about the house, about how many people had not only claimed to see ghosts in and about the old building, but how several people had gone missing after visiting the place. Missing people who had never been found. She wondered how true those stories were, and how serious the family and friends of these missing people had been in their search for them.
With a sudden spurt of energy, Scully flipped on a light and jogged over to her desk. Opening a drawer, she quickly found her address book, turned it to the back, and pulled out several business cards. She searched though them until she found the one she was looking for. She left the others and walked back to the phone, picking it up and dialing the number on the card. It rang. And rang. She glanced at her watch, her mind quickly calculating the time difference. Though it was earlier in San Diego than here, it was probably still too late for him to be at work. If he even worked weekends. She was about to hang up when a familiar voice from her past slipped into her ear.
"Hi, it's Dana Scully."
There was a pause, and then he continued, a smile in his voice. "Scully, FBI. What can I do for you this fine, Saturday evening?"
"Detective, I need to know everything you know about a house owned by Hank and Joyce Carhart."
There was another pause. "Your partner's investigating it, isn't he?"
"Yes," she told him, seeing no reason to lie to this man who had helped her so much two years ago with Emily.
"That's not good, Scully," he told her, his voice deadly serious.
"Because people go to that house and don't ever come back... and we can never figure out why."
Would you just leave?
Mulder didn't voice his irritated thought out loud, but he was getting closer and closer to uttering it. He glanced at his watch, hoping the woman talking to him from the other side of the room would notice the obvious. However, Diana didn't seem to see it, or she was just ignoring it. He took a deep breath and looking longingly at the phone, wondering if he should check his messages to see if Scully had returned his call.
He and Diana had gone out to eat at the little cafe across the street from their motel, then they had walked with each other back to their rooms. Mulder had even said goodnight to Diana, but she hadn't seemed to hear him, walking past him into his room and making herself comfortable on the end of his bed. She wanted to discuss the house and its inhabitants a little more, she told him, but he knew better. She was after something completely different, something that had been almost a tradition between them years ago when they worked on the x-files together. He was trying desperately to find a way to tell her it wasn't going to happen this time.
He rose from his chair by the desk and reached for the phone. If he were able to reach Scully, maybe Diana would get bored and leave. She watched him with her eyebrows raised in question. "I need to check my messages," he explained. She was leaning back on one elbow on the bed, her posture relaxed but the look in her eye excited. Mulder punched in the number to check his cell phone messages, disappointment flooding him when he found that there were none. He hung up and quickly dialed Scully's home number. It would be after midnight in D.C.; she had to be home. But once again, it rang and rang. When the answering machine picked up, he hung up, disappointment turning to anger. He looked at Diana, who was watching him with an amused smile on her face.
"She's probably out," he muttered, trying to control his temper.
"Maybe," Diana said agreeably. "Or she's avoiding you." She sat upright. "Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I don't think she likes me very much."
Mulder couldn't help the snort of laughter that escaped him at her comment. "What makes you think that, Diana?"
"Women's intuition," she said with a grin. "And the look in her eye when I'm around. The look that says, 'Back off, bitch. He's mine.'"
Mulder looked at her with surprise. "I'm almost positive you're imagining that," he told her. "She may not like you, but it has nothing to do with..."
"With what?" Diana encouraged him when he paused. "Wanting you? And knowing that I've had you?"
Nervous about where this conversation was going, Mulder rose from his chair and began pacing the room. "You're wrong. Scully doesn't want me. Not that way."
"Oh, Fox, you are so blind," Diana told him, rising to stand in his way and stop his pacing. "She wants you, but she'll never let it happen." She looked into his eyes. "Even though you want her, too."
Mulder didn't deny her observation. He simply met her gaze, daring her to continue, begging her not to.
"You have always wanted things you can't have, Fox. When will you ever learn?"
"Learn what?" Mulder asked, proud when his voice came out clear and steady.
"To take what's offered to you instead of pining away for the impossible." She moved in, bringing her lips to his.
He stood still, allowing her the kiss, but not returning it. But as her scent and softness enveloped him, his body betrayed him. He felt the heaviness in his groin and mentally fought it, even as he closed his eyes and opened his mouth, his tongue meeting Diana's in a gentle duel. She was familiar, she was willing, and she was here.
But she wasn't what he wanted.
He backed away, taking her gently by the shoulders to hold her at arms length. "No."
"Fox?" Her voice was breathy, seductive. As enchanting as it was, it wasn't the voice he heard in his dreams. Not anymore.
"I may want the impossible, Diana," he told her, his voice rough. "But proving the impossible is possible is what I'm best at." He let go of her shoulders and turned away. "Goodnight, Diana." Grabbing his shoulder bag off the floor by the bed, he entered the bathroom and closed the door behind him.
Somewhere over Minnesota
Scully had already reached the airport in Baltimore, just in time to catch the last night flight out to San Diego, when she realized she had forgotten her cell phone. She had shrugged off the oversight and had continued on her way, her mind still mulling over her conversation with Detective Kresge, her thoughts still worried about Mulder.
Even the down-to-earth, skeptical Kresge had admitted that there was something terribly wrong with the Carhart house. Haunted? Maybe, but most haunted houses that he had read about had never actually made people disappear. They scared people and chased them out, had even been blamed for deaths on occasion, but simply making people vanish? Scully hadn't liked the worried tone in the Detective's voice and had told him she would be flying out to San Diego ASAP. He hadn't seemed surprised. "Call me when you get in," he told her. "I'll meet you at the house."
"On a Sunday?" Scully had asked.
"Why not?" he had replied. "I have no life to speak of. I'm here working late on a Saturday night, aren't I?"
"I figured you were working on a case."
"I was," he confirmed. "But not because the paperwork needed to get done. Only because I had nothing better to do."
The excuse had sounded eerily like her own earlier in the day, and her heart went out to the man she had befriended not so long ago. He was young and handsome; why was he not out having fun?
"My girlfriend Terri and I just broke up," he had told her, reading her mind.
Though she hadn't broken up with a boyfriend, she had understood exactly what he felt.
Now she sat quiet on the darkened flight, wishing she had remembered her cell phone so she could try Mulder. Maybe he was back from the house by now, safe and sound. Maybe her mad dash across the country was just a fool's errand. She would arrive and be embarrassed in front of both Mulder and Diana when they asked why she had come. She didn't know what she would tell them, and at the moment, she didn't care. As long as Mulder was okay, she would muddle through the rest. And if he was okay, she was going to stay and help him investigate that house, Diana Fowley or no Diana Fowley.
The Carhart House
Mulder waited impatiently for over two hours to ensure Diana had enough time to fall asleep, then he quietly made his way out of the motel, grateful their rental car was parked a short way down from their rooms. That fact, and the fact that the college boys across the way still hadn't quieted much, allowed him to slip away unnoticed... he hoped. He drove the six miles north to the Carhart house, then parked carefully in the brush along side the road leading up to their gate.
Wearing black from neck to toe, he shouldered his bag of 'goodies' and made his way up to the gate. It had been open during their visit earlier today, and the drive up to the house had been uneventful, but Mulder didn't fool himself into believing it would be easy to get onto the property tonight. As alert as he had ever been, he turned and followed the wall surrounding the house toward the sea. Just before he reached the top of the steep incline leading down to the ocean, he found what he was looking for. An old scrub tree sat just close enough to the wall for Mulder to use it as a ladder of sorts. He climbed up the short, stocky tree, grateful he had worn gloves to protect his hands from the rough bark, and then jumped lightly from the tree, throwing his arms over the top of the wall and swinging his right leg over it. From there, it was no problem to drop down on the other side.
It was official now; he was once again breaking the law. Scully was gonna kill him.
He mused over his current B&E, knowing deep inside it was worth the risk of getting caught. All because of stories he had heard about the house that he had never put in the official file. Stories neither Diana nor Scully knew about. Stories that lead him to believe this house might not be haunted in the traditional sense. The couples who owned this house throughout the years had, by some strange coincidence, never had children, never gotten divorced, and had always sold the house to another couple years before they were old enough to retire. And strangely enough, the current owners showed an uncanny resemblance to the couple that had built the house in 1850.
Richard Gould had come from New York to California in 1849, along with thousands of others, in search of gold. Unlike the majority of miners, Richard struck it rich, and invested wisely. A year after his arrival, he sent for his wife, Gloria, who had joined him in San Diego where he decided to settle down. He built the remarkable house overlooking the ocean for his wife, and the two became quite popular among the growing Americanized California. Unfortunately, they could not have children. Whether it was because Gloria was barren or Richard was sterile, no one knew, but as the years passed with no heirs, the couple began to despair. It was then that a man named El Halcon had come into the picture.
El Halcon was an old Mexican, familiar to residents in the area as a beggar. And yet many of the original Mexican landowners feared him, claiming he was a powerful mystic. Even the Spanish priests in the area avoided him, passing by him without acknowledging him with even a nod much less a coin or scrap of food. It was said the man had been cursed by the Devil, and that he practiced witchcraft. Needless to say, when people reported having seen Richard Gould talking with El Halcon, the locals got very nervous.
To this day, nobody knows what exactly the two men had discussed, but it was believed by many that El Halcon, at Gould's request, put a curse on the house. The curse gave the Goulds immortality... as long as they never sold the house or left it in someone else's care for too long. How the house was able to do this was anybody's guess, but with the disappearances throughout the years, many believed the house used the life energies of its victims to keep its master and mistress alive. Every twenty or thirty years, the Carharts "sold" the house to another couple, taking on that couple's identity.
It had taken Mulder several years and many whispered interviews with natives of San Diego to get the full story; it wasn't something just anybody knew. It wasn't something just anybody believed.
Talking to the Carharts themselves would get him nowhere, he knew. They would either manage to deflect any questions he asked, or they would simply find a way to make him another victim of the old house. Mulder had no intention of becoming the next victim, but he knew the only way to get answers safely, to find proof that Joyce and Hank were actually Gloria and Richard Gould, was to search the place and hopefully find its mysteries. He was almost positive that the house, though living in an odd way, wouldn't harm him without the Carharts direct order. Almost positive.
Reaching the basement door, Mulder pulled out his lock-pick set. He had noticed during their brief visit today what kind of security system the Carhart's had by the panel on the wall behind Joyce. It was a simple one, easy to override if one new about such things, and Mulder could only hope there was another control panel at this door. Since it appeared they used this door and the tall wood gate in the wall behind him to get to the beach below, he was sure there would be. When the door creaked open, Mulder pulled out his flashlight, stepped inside quickly, and closed the door shut behind him. He flipped the light on and let its glow shine on the wall to the right. Sure enough, the familiar control panel was there. With his flashlight in his left hand, he quickly moved over to the panel and punched in the sequence he had learned long ago from a trio of computer hackers back in D.C. The red warning light stopped blinking and turned to a steady green. He was in the clear.
Taking a deep breath, he moved into the basement room, noticing the typical washer and dryer, as well as several pieces of weight lifting equipment and a treadmill. Well, he thought wryly, becoming immortal didn't mean you couldn't just let your body go to waste. He began searching the room intently for pictures or any other objects indicative to this house's occupant's true age. He found nothing but typical, modern furniture and art. He moved toward the stairs that led to the main floor, eyeing the only window to the basement and feeling fortunate he hadn't had to get in thought it as small as it was.
Once he reached the top of the stairs, Mulder paused, a dreadful thought running through his head. The last man who had disappeared had supposedly come to this house when its occupants had been on vacation. He had always assumed that the Carharts had given the house permission to 'take' whomever they wanted while they were away, thereby protecting its secret. However, what if the Carharts weren't in charge? What if the house decided on its own whom to take? He shook his head. No turning back now.
He turned toward the living room, heading directly toward the desk at the far end. If he was to find any physical evidence of the nature of this house and its owners, it might be there.
He stopped, a chill the likes of which he'd never felt running up his spine.
He knew without a doubt he was alone in the room. The Carharts hadn't awakened and heard him moving around down here. It wasn't Hank Carhart whispering his name.
It was the house.
"Welcome to the Home by the Sea."
Mulder turned toward the sound, not really sure what he expected to see. Some pale, ghostly image dragging chains, perhaps? Dread filled him when he cast his eye on several dark shadows swirling quietly about the room. A wave of frigid air hit him and he shivered uncontrollably; he didn't bother to wonder whether it was the cold or fear that caused the trembling. The shadows moved about with no real direction, their dark, gauzy appearance vaguely resembling human form. Some seemed to merge together, somehow blending yet recognizably different, then they would separate and move on about the room. Despite his desire to believe his eyes, a part of him, the part that had learned from and treasured his partner's skepticism over the years, tried to tell himself it was a trick of the light. That the Carharts had known he was coming tonight and had set up this display for him.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw movement. Turning his head, he found more shapes coming from the door that lead to the kitchen, then more seemed to seep through the ceiling above him, moving slowly as water would through paper, then forming into some semblance of a human shape once they were through.
"Sit down, Fox."
Mulder turned toward the voice, but somehow knew it wasn't coming from any one shadow.
"Sit and make yourself comfortable," the voice whispered.
"I'd rather stand," he told it. Sitting down would leave him too vulnerable. To what, he knew not.
"But what we have to tell you will take a long time," they said. "It would be best for all of us if you sat down."
"I'm sorry," he said, he voice barely above a whisper. "I can't stay long."
"Oh, Fox," the voice sighed. "You don't understand, do you?"
The shapes seemed to converge on him, and in the midst of the darkness he recognized eyes. Eyes full of melancholy and hopelessness. He felt the despair and desperation fill his heart and he ached with it. "No," he responded harshly. "I don't want to understand!"
"You will. Someday. Long before you accept."
"Accept what?" he demanded, fear coursing though him.
"That this is your home now," the voice told him. "Forever."
Suddenly, everything went black.
San Diego, California
It took Scully 40 agonizingly long minutes to rent a car once she arrived at the airport in San Diego, and another
Once on the road north, following the directions Detective Kresge had given her, she relaxed a bit. More than once, however, she reached into the pocket of her jacket, looking for her cell phone. More than anything, she wanted to call Mulder, to find out if he had indeed broken into the Carhart house last night, and if he had found his way back out. With a little luck, she would meet Kresge and discover that Mulder had been arrested and was unhappily cooling his heels in the local jail. If that was the case, maybe she could sneak back to D.C. without either Mulder or Fowley knowing she had even been here; Kresge wouldn't tell.
As she arrived at the closed gate of the Carhart house, however, she knew that wasn't going to be possible. The Detective was standing next to his car, which was parked along side of the road, looking out into the brush where another car sat. A rental car. Scully pulled up behind Kresge's car and parked. Turing off the engine, she took a deep breath and stepped out. The Detective met her halfway.
He nodded toward the car. "Saw it first thing when I arrived ten minutes ago. It's locked, but it's definitely a rental. I've got a friend that owes me big time calling in to see who it was rented to."
"It's Mulder's," Scully said softly. "Which means he's still in the house."
"Not likely," the Detective said with a grimace.
"What to you mean?" she demanded.
"He would have gotten out long before daylight if all had gone as planned," Kresge told her. "So either he's sitting down to breakfast with the Carharts, or..."
Kresge must have recognized the steel in her voice, but he continued anyway. "Or the house has him."
Scully shook her head. "Give me your phone," she said, reaching toward him. He handed her his cell phone without hesitation. She started dialing. "He probably had to make a quick escape and had to leave by the beach or something." It wasn't an improbable scenario, and she forced herself to believe it... until the sixth ring sounded in her ear and Mulder's message center answered. Frustrated, she pulled the phone away from her ear and reached down to dial again, pausing for a moment to remember the number.
The communications center at the Bureau took their time answering, and Scully was again reminded that it was Sunday. Things were supposed to slow down on Sunday, and usually she didn't mind this at all. But today it annoyed her. "Federal Bureau of Investigation, how may I direct your call?"
"Denise?" Scully replied, grateful it was a familiar voice on the line. "This is Dana Scully. Can I ask a favor of you?"
"That depends," Denise answered with a smirk in her voice. "Is your hunky partner there with you?"
"Unfortunately, that's one of the reason's I'm calling. I need Diana Fowley's cell phone number."
"He's with her?" the operator asked sharply. Scully could hear typing going on in the background, and knew the young woman was searching for the answer to Scully's request even as she talked. "Oh, Dana. You've got to keep a better hold on that man."
Despite her worry, Scully felt a grin fighting to break out. Denise was forever teasing her about her non- relationship with Mulder; she was one of the few people in the Bureau that knew Mulder and Scully were not a couple, but she kept that knowledge to herself and loved to pretend it was otherwise. "Here it is," Denise said, then rattled off Fowley's number. "Go get him back, Dana."
"Oh, I will," Scully promised her, then hung up and quickly dialed the number. She looked over at Kresge, who was frowning at her.
"Who are you calling?"
Scully didn't have time to answer as a familiar and greatly disliked voice came over the line. "Hello?" It was obvious Fowley had been asleep.
"Agent Fowley, it's Agent Scully. Do you happen to know if Mulder is in his room?"
There was a pause and the woman sat up. "Uh, it's possible. He may be out jogging, or he could be in the bathroom." She raised her voice. "Fox?"
Scully knew exactly what Fowley was doing, calling to Mulder as if he was in her bathroom and not in his own room. "I don't hear him," the woman said, her voice a bit smug. "He must be out jogging."
"Mulder doesn't jog," Scully told her through clenched teeth. "He runs. And if you two rented out a silver Taurus yesterday, it's quite possible he ran right out on you last night and ended up at the Carhart house, where I am right now."
"I think you better get up here, Agent Fowley," she nearly snarled, and then quickly hung up the phone. She was now sure Mulder had left Diana as he said he would in order to investigate the Carhart house on his own. What she didn't want to think about was how Mulder had left Diana.
She looked at Kresge, who wore a grin. "Remind me never to get on your bad side."
"It's hard to do," Scully reassured him. "I don't make enemies easily, Detective."
"Please, call me Nick."
Scully was a bit surprised at his request, and was grateful at the same time. It wasn't often she called anybody by their first name anymore; most FBI agents preferred to be called by their last name. This was a refreshing change. "All right, but only if you call me Dana."
"Not 'Scully, FBI'?"
She smiled and handed the phone back to him. Then she turned toward the gate. "Let's buzz the Carharts and see if they're awake, shall we?"
Somewhere inside the Carhart House
Mulder wasn't consciously aware of having physically left the living room in the Carhart house, but he did feel a disconcerting tingling throughout his whole body that caused his breathing to quicken and his heart to pound. The beings that surrounded him had converged, their voices trying to comfort, their presence terrifying. He was inundated with images in his mind, almost as if he was having flashbacks. Only these weren't his own thoughts he was witnessing, but memories belonging to the disembodied souls around him. They were confusing and frightening, and Mulder was unable to distinguish between any of them.
He closed his eyes and tried to pull away, only then realizing that he couldn't feel his own body. His feet refused to move, his hands would not reach, and his eyes and ears would not allow him to escape the sights and sounds that the house was forcing on him.
"Enough!" he shouted, but his voice was barely louder than a whisper. He began to panic as the frequency of the images began to escalate. "No!" he yelled again. "What are you doing? Stop!"
The house wouldn't listen.
'Relax,' he told himself. 'Take a deep breath and figure this out.' Slowly, Mulder began to control the panic, breathing in and out, only then becoming aware that he could not even feel his own lungs working, that the familiar sensation of his chest moving in time with his respirations was non-existent. 'Oh, God,' he thought, wondering if it was too late to start believing in prayer.
As he relaxed, the movies in his head slowed down, and he carefully began picking through them. He saw faces of people he didn't know flash before his new 'vision,' and he began to understand that what he was seeing were memories and thoughts of the beings who had been entrapped with him in this house... memories of real people. The shapes he had encountered weren't ghosts in the true sense of the word, because these people hadn't died. Somehow, the house had captured their... Mulder fought for the right word, but the only one he could come up with was one he had always tended to avoid. Souls. It was their souls that had been trapped in this house, which meant his own soul must be among the shadows he had seen earlier.
But if his soul and the spirits of all these other people were free about this house, where had his body gone? Once more, Mulder felt a wave of panic, but this time it was one of the other souls that came to comfort him. Without words, the entity managed to convey its sympathy, telling Mulder that he wasn't alone. Yet the images from this same shadow indicated that... she?... had been here since the turn of the century. That fact alone made it hard to be comforted. He withdrew as best he could from the shadow, and found that with a little thought he could pull away from all the souls hovering near him, thereby decreasing the amount of emotion and memories that they heaped upon him.
He also became aware of vibrant colors and shapes that lay beyond the shadows surrounding him. Curiosity drew him closer, and he realized he could indeed move this new 'body' of his. The shapes gradually coalesced into furniture, and Mulder realized with some shock that he was still in the living room, only it appeared so very different than he had last seen it. He did still have eyes, just not the eyes of a man. He turned to face his fellow captives, awed for a moment by their own dark beauty as they shimmered and flowed. A bright light suddenly hit him from his left and he turned to face it, blinded by what he could only assume was the sun shining through a window.
He heard voices, and at first he thought that the others had joined him again, but the words sounded different, garbled and unclear. Dark shapes appeared in the sunlight, and Mulder realized with shock that they were people. The Carharts. They were here. Could they see him? He watched as the shapes eased into human form, only to show that there where four of them, not two. Who were the other two people? He inched closer, but stopped suddenly when the sun flashed off a brilliant red head. Mulder didn't stop to think; he simply shouted as loud as he possibly could, even knowing he had no voice with which to yell.
The Carhart House
After Nick informed Scully that he had been to the Carharts before on a missing person case several years earlier, she allowed him to take the lead. They were buzzed in through the gate as soon as he identified himself and made their way up the road and to the front door on foot. The woman who answered the door to Nick's polite knocking gave him a brilliant smile and batted her eyes at him. "Why Detective Kresge. This is a surprise."
Nick seemed dumbfounded for a moment, seemingly surprised by her obvious flirting. "Good morning, Mrs. Carhart." He nodded toward Scully. "This is Agent Scully from the FBI. We were wondering if we might have a word with you and your husband?" Though he spoke politely, there was an edge of steel beneath his words.
Mrs. Carhart's eyes had narrowed as she looked at Scully, and she didn't seem very enthused about letting them in, but her flirty attitude toward Nick didn't diminish one bit. "I hope this isn't about Shar's boyfriend again. I already talked to the police about that, and my husband and I have invited two other FBI agents over for dinner tonight because they are curious about the house."
"Actually," Scully told her, speaking for the first time. "It's one of those agents that we came to talk to you about. It appears Agent Mulder is missing."
The woman frowned. "Missing?"
A tall man with graying hair and eyeglasses walked up behind Mrs. Carhart. "Joyce?" he said, his voice much sharper than his appearance would suggest. "What's going on?"
She turned toward him. "Hank, you remember Detective Kresge, don't you?" The man's glare indicated that he did. "And this is another FBI Agent. They say that one of the two agents that were here yesterday is missing." She sounded sincerely worried, but Scully had met many a good actor in her several years in law enforcement.
"Really?" Hank put his arm around his wife's shoulders. "I just talked to Agent Mulder last night on the phone, inviting him and his partner over for dinner tonight. Is she the one missing?"
"No," Nick told them. "Agent Mulder is." He turned and nodded his head down the road past the now open gate. "His rental car is parked just outside your gates, so we thought he might of come by to visit last night." He looked back at the couple, his eyebrows raised in question.
"No," Hank told him. "We didn't receive any visitors last night." He frowned. "He could have decided to take a walk down on the beach, in which case he may have hurt himself on the rocks. They aren't easy to traverse even in the day."
Nick gave a serious nod. "We may take a look down there, but before we do that, would you mind if we came in for some coffee? I can smell it from here and it's reminding me that I haven't had any breakfast yet this morning." He smiled at Joyce.
Scully had to hold in an amused laugh of her own when Joyce flushed under the Detective's grin. "Of course!" She stepped aside, ignoring her husband's glare. "Please, come in."
Nick brought his arm back and ushered Scully in first, his hand gentle at her back. The act sent a pang of loss through her heart. Mulder used to escort her that way in the first few years of their partnership. She had been in silent awe of his unconscious gentlemanly behavior then; it was hard to find men like that anymore. But his unintentional acts of gallantry had diminished in recent months, and Scully missed them. She often wondered if it was an outside influence, such as Diana, that had caused him to stop touching her as much, or if she was to blame. Maybe he was just getting tired of touching ice.
With a sigh, Scully pushed her self-pitying thoughts to the back of her mind and concentrated on following Joyce Carhart into her living room. As she approached, she admired the tasteful blending of new and old, wondering at the age of some of the antiques. Then she entered the room.
As a child, her brothers used to scare her with ghost stories, convincing her that every time a draft opened or closed a door in their house that is was a ghost. The stories always sent dramatic shivers up and down her spine, shivers not unlike what she was feeling now. She stopped, startled by the feeling, and she barely felt Nick nearly walk right into her from behind.
His voice sounded muffled as she searched the room in front of her, desperately trying to find the source of the chills. "Do you feel that?"
"What?" Nick asked her. She turned to look at him, suddenly embarrassed when she saw the worried look on his face.
She looked at Joyce, who was watching her steadily, warily. Joyce glanced behind them at her husband, then forced a smile. "This way," she said, then turned briskly toward the kitchen.
Nick put his hand on Scully's back again, urging her forward. "Dana?"
Rather than comforting her, his hand seemed to be pushing her somewhere she didn't want to go. She resisted for a moment before her mind took control again and she moved toward the doorway where Joyce had disappeared. Before entering the kitchen, she turned once more and looked about the room, sure she was missing something. But only Hank Carhart and an empty room looked back at her.
Mulder 'watched' as Scully was practically pushed from the room, desperate to follow. She had heard him, or felt him, or something. He had to continue to try and contact her, he had to try and find a way to understand what had happened to him so her brilliant, scientific mind could think of a way out for him. But as he slowly made his way toward the doorway his partner had disappeared through, something forcibly stopped him. He turned, shocked by the strange hold on him, and saw the image of a man with eyes that glowed much like his companions' ghostly orbs. Only this man wasn't one of his fellow 'spirits.'
It was Hank Carhart... or Richard Gould... whoever he thought of himself as, Mulder supposed. The owner of the house stood there looking at him with anger in his eyes, and Mulder realized it was this man that had some kind of psychic control over him, preventing him from following Scully into the next room. The others massed behind Carhart, their motions nervous, frightened. They knew that while the house might control them, this man controlled the house. Without hearing any actual words, Mulder understood that he was to join the others and leave the premises. With a bit of his old humor, Mulder wondered what exactly a disembodied spirit was supposed to do to while away the hours if they weren't allowed to haunt the guests. Grudgingly, he drifted back to the dark mass behind Carhart, wincing internally as the voices of the others became louder.
He allowed himself to be absorbed by the group and soon found himself floating upward, past the second story and even past the attic. Their destination, however, was not the outside of the house, but a deep void that Mulder recognized as more of a jail cell than a rec room. They couldn't leave the house, he knew. They were bound to it for as long as the curse stayed intact.
Mulder drifted, not caring where his celestial self ended up, concentrating instead on the memories of those surrounding him. He found that with a little practice he could separate the images in his head and even find the heart to enjoy what he recognized at the good ones. He found himself thinking of his own past, and in doing so shared those thoughts with his companions. Memories from childhood: his first home run in Little League at age eight, the death of his dog "Lucy" at age ten, Samantha's abduction and the subsequent destruction of his family. Images of Diana as she looked when he first met her competed with images of the earnest young redhead he had been partnered with several years later. Friends, enemies, acquaintances; it seemed as if the face of every person he had ever met flashed through his mind until he became exhausted and closed himself off.
He had no idea how much time had passed when he felt the sudden urge to look for Scully. Was she still here in the house? If she had left, would she come back, or would she give up on him? Where was Diana? Why had Scully come with... what was his name?... Kresge, and not Diana? He felt himself float down, and when the familiar shapes of the house appeared again he was shocked to find it had darkened into night once more. He made his way to the living room, knowing that Scully wasn't in the house anymore, but not content to just 'hang around.' Suddenly, another shape appeared to his left. It was one of his fellow captives, a young man from what Mulder could tell, whose memories went back to a time when horses had still been the mode of transportation around here.
The man seemed to be coaxing Mulder to follow him. Not finding Carhart around anywhere, Mulder decided that it wouldn't hurt to do just that. This time, they headed down, past the basement that Mulder had broken into only moments before this whole nightmare started.
It was a dungeon, or that's how it looked. There were chains hanging from the walls and a table in the middle of the room that also had chains on it, as if they were used to tie people down. A horrible feeling of dread wrapped around Mulder as he slowly spun, observing as much as he could of the room. Two bodies hung from some of the chains, their features only slightly distorted by decomposition. Two other bodies lay on the floor, and as Mulder moved closer he saw that both men were still breathing... barely. The first man was a big, husky brute, and his pale face matched the photo Mulder and Diana had had of the missing Tony Rodriguez. The man lying next to him had his face turned away, and when Mulder inched forward to get a better look, he found himself recoiling in horror.
He had found his own body, alive but soulless.
"Just what are you hoping to find?"
Scully gritted her teeth and took a deep breath, concentrating on answering Fowley's question in a civil manner. "I'm trying to find out what happened to Mulder," she told the older woman. She was proud of the controlled way she spoke, but then couldn't help adding in a much quieter voice, "Which should be obvious even for you."
Fowley heard her, but was smart enough not to say anything in retaliation. After all, she was still a bit miffed that Mulder had left last night without her, but had called to let Scully know what he was doing. Her apparent anger was enough to make Scully quite sure Mulder hadn't spent any extracurricular time with Fowley last night before he left. Scully couldn't help but be incredibly relieved by this thought.
"I know Mulder's notes on this case backwards and forwards, Agent Scully," Diana finally told her. "If there was an answer in there, I would know it."
Scully had to admit to herself that the other agent was probably right, but she continued to search not just the X- File on the Carhart house, but several of Mulder's hand written notes that had been completed during this trip. She, Fowley and Nick were ensconced in Mulder's motel room, having met there after darkness had prevented any more searching along the rough terrain along the shore behind the Carhart house. Nick was on the phone with the local Search and Rescue, who were planning to do their own search in the morning. Scully was sure they wouldn't find anything. Mulder was in that house, but she had no idea where or why she knew this. She was praying that Mulder, through his notes, would be able to tell her.
She slapped her hand down on the desk in frustration. "Damn it! Mulder, where the hell are you?" She looked up and felt her face flush as she realized that not only was Fowley glowering at her, but also that Nick had finished his phone call and was eyeing her with a touch of surprise and amusement. She took a deep breath, then had a flash of a memory from a past case, a case when she and Mulder had still been on the X-Files.
She and Mulder had been packing at the end of a case. Mulder had been caught on the phone with the local DA, so Scully had finished first and had ended up waiting rather impatiently for him to finish in his motel room. He had tried to pack as he talked, and Scully was sure her exaggerated toe tapping and glances at her watch hadn't helped; he had looked on the verge of laughing the whole time. She had noticed with only vague curiosity the small pad of yellow paper he had tucked into a pocket of his suitcase; she had never seen him write on it before. After he had hung up and put on his coat, they had grabbed their stuff and headed out, and Scully forgot about it. Until now.
"Where's his suitcase?" she asked as she jumped up from the desk, not really expecting and answer and not really needing one, either. Mulder always left his suitcase in the motel closet. She opened the folding door and pulled the black case out, throwing it on the bed. She opened it and reached for the zipper holding the top pocket closed. She reached inside and pulled out the notepad with a triumphant "Ha!" Diana's expression changed from annoyed to one of surprise, and Nick raised his eyebrows in curiosity.
"What's that?" he asked.
"Mulder's notes," Scully said as she carried the pad over to the desk. "I think." She perused the writing on the paper in front of her, glad she had long ago gotten used to Mulder's chicken scratches. Granted, he could write beautifully when he tried, but he rarely tried. An amused curl formed on her lips as she sped through what was more or less a journal of sorts. Nothing too private, Scully knew, but his personal views on the people and places Mulder had experienced on cases. Stuff the FBI didn't need to know about. Out of respect for his privacy, Scully tried to avoid her name, but it was present and she couldn't avoid it completely, especially when she came to one particular part: "Scully had no idea how hot she looked in that skirt, but all the men (not to mention some of the women) in the station house noticed... including me. Wonder if she would get suspicious if I suggested she wear that one more often."
Again, she felt her face heat, glancing at her two companions almost guiltily. "What?" Diana asked. "What does he say?"
"Nothing," Scully mumbled. "Its just psychologist Mulder at work, people watching and writing about it." Yet, she continued to flip through the pages, searching for the name Carhart or any mention of San Diego. Halfway through, she found it. "Here's something about the Carhart house." Quickly, she read through it, and then repeated it to the others. It was a legend of some sort, gathered from several people in the area. A legend about a man named Gould and a man called El Halcon. Once finished, Scully looked up at Fowley. "You don't think...?"
"That the house itself is holding him captive somehow?" Diana finished for her. "You said you were sure you felt his presence in the Carhart's living room. Maybe he was there."
For the first time, Scully was glad Diana was a believer in the paranormal. Nick wisely stayed silent.
"If that's true," Scully asked her. "How do we get him out?"
The Next Morning
Mulder had no idea how long he stayed in the dungeon deep below the Carhart house. His guide had long ago left him, and nothing had intruded on his silent vigil since then. He wondered why he stayed, knowing there was nothing he could do to replace his soul back into the body it belonged to. He just couldn't leave. He wondered if the other captives had done the same thing, hovering around their mortal bodies, waiting and watching while they died. The man Tony wasn't here, or at least his soul wasn't, but that could have been because he didn't know about the bodies; he may not have had the curiosity necessary to encourage another to lead him down here. It was probably a good thing, Mulder mused, as mid-way through his vigil Tony's body stopped breathing.
Mulder stayed, watching the steady up and down movement of his own chest, encouraging the body to stay alive. Stay alive long enough for Scully to find it, he pleaded. Then she'll take care of 'us.' He continued to drift, aware of little but the body on the floor beneath him, until a sudden sharp tug on his consciousness demanded he turn his attention elsewhere. He looked about, expecting to find one of the others in the room with him, but he was still alone. The tug continued, and Mulder realized it was something outside the room that was pulling at him. Carhart, he thought, ordering him back to the others. And yet, the pull was very different than what he had felt from Carhart before. This pull was less painful, but just as insistent. He obeyed, drifting upward toward the living room.
He wasn't surprised to find that it was day again, nor was he surprised to find the Carharts in the living room where he had been summoned. He was surprised to see that the Carharts had guests, but even the sight of Scully, Diana and Kresge wasn't enough to coax him out of his deepening depression; they couldn't see or hear him, so why try to make contact?
Suddenly, Scully turned to face him, her face pale and her eyes wide. She searched about, obviously not seeing him, but somehow sensing he was there. Or so he hoped. "Mulder?" she whispered, and he immediately felt the same sharp tug that had drawn him from his stupor down in the dungeon. With shock, he realized that it hadn't been Carhart that had called him, but Scully. He drifted close to her, trying to call out to her, but her eyes still searched about uncertainly.
"This is ridiculous," Hank Carhart said. Scully turned toward him, but her posture indicated that she hadn't forgotten about Mulder. "Your Agent isn't here," Carhart demanded. "This house isn't haunted or cursed, and your claims are both insulting to us and embarrassing to you!" He paced about the room, passing his wife who was standing stiffly with her arms wrapped around herself. He cast a glare at Mulder, and Mulder felt the strength of his hold, which stopped his movement toward Scully. Instead, Mulder let himself drift back, toward Kresge, who was closer to him.
"Mr. Carhart," Diana was arguing. "We would simply like the opportunity to try and contact any spirits that may be in this house. As the owners, you may not even be aware that there are any." Her voice was calm and reasonable, despite her subject matter. "Every house had spirits of some sort living in them, and they are often aware of things that go on around it more than the mortal owners of a house are. They may be able to tell us what happened to Agent Mulder."
Mulder would have laughed if he could have, knowing that Diana was trying to bluff Carhart. He continued to move toward Kresge, deliberately allowing himself to drift into the man, wondering what would happen. He felt the intense heat from the man's body, which was shocking against his own lack of warmth, and the bizarre music of a living body's heartbeat. The feeling only lasted a moment before his was forcefully pushed out, the man's own unconscious defenses shaking him free. Mulder was dismayed to see that Kresge's only conscious response was to shiver as if cold.
Carhart was arguing with Diana about the existence of ghosts, and Mulder used that man's distraction to head toward Scully again, but just as he started moving toward her again, she moved away. Carhart noticed her movement as well. "Where are you going?"
With Carhart's eyes on Scully now, Mulder turned and sped toward Diana. Unlike Kresge, she knew him, understood him. Maybe she would recognize him. With half of his attention on Scully's demand that she be allowed to search the house again, Mulder pushed himself into Diana. He felt her surprise, even thought he felt a brief moment of recognition, and then he was roughly pushed out. Diana looked unsettled, knowing something, or someone, had tried to contact her, but not knowing who or what it was.
Mulder wanted to scream his frustration. Scully. He had to get to Scully. She knew he was here. She was the person closest to him. Though he had never told her, she was the only one who had ever seen inside his soul. This very soul that drifted about, lost and alone. She was leaving. She was finishing her argument with Carhart by leaving. He wasn't going to let her search the house. No! he thought. Don't leave! With silent desperation, her rushed toward her.
Scully was burning with anger, anger directed at the man who owned this house, the man who knew where Mulder was but wouldn't admit to it. Her anger was overwhelming, and in order to prevent any rash action on her part, she had turned from Carhart and had headed for the front door, giving Nick a glance as she did so. He and Diana could handle the Carharts; Scully was going to have a look outside. Maybe there was a way she could sneak in while the Carharts were occupied with the others.
She was reaching for the door handle when the rush of cold air hit her. She turned, expecting to see that someone had opened another door in the house, allowing air to pass through. However, nobody had moved, and even if they had, it was in the mid 90's outside; there was no cold air to be found outside of a freezer. She shivered, and was about to shake off the strange feeling when she felt him.
"Mulder?" she whispered. She looked about the room, but he was nowhere to be seen. Then how come she knew he was here? Since she had entered the Carhart house, she had been searching for him, her mind unconsciously calling for him. Twice she had thought she felt him, though she was hard pressed to explain to herself how she could 'feel' someone's presence. Yet, both times she had 'felt' him, she had turned to find nothing. This feeling was similar to that one, but much more powerful. And it was getting stronger.
"Dana?" Nick was moving toward her, and Scully suddenly didn't want anyone else near her.
Fowley, of all people, recognized this before anyone else did. "Stop," she said, reaching out and grabbing Nick lightly be the arm. "Let her be." She was staring at Scully intently.
Nick opened his mouth to ask why, but stopped himself. He took a step back and watched Scully with a worried look on his face.
Scully was aware of their actions, but she had no interest in what was going on around her. Right now, her mind was focused on what was going on 'inside' of her. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. Immediately, visions rushed through her mind, images that were both familiar and strange. People she recognized and some she didn't. Her breathing quickened and she started to panic, and the images slowed suddenly. The chill in her body eased, and a slow heat began to work its way from her chest outward. The image of the basement office appeared, the way it looked before it had burned, and the strange yet comforting feeling it aroused relaxed her. The heat expanded even more until it felt as if someone was standing next to her. No, not just next to her, but so close every part of her touched every part of him, and his familiar scent seemed to envelop her. This time it was her pulse that quickened.
'Where are you?' Joy surrounded her at her non-verbal question, joy that came from him. Then there was a tug on her body, and Scully opened her eyes to see who was touching her. Only nobody was. The Carharts, Diana and Nick were standing in the living room watching her with a mixture of curiosity, fear and anger. She felt the tug again, as if a pair of hands were holding her waist and pulling her toward something. Licking her suddenly dry lips, Scully followed the pull.
"Where are you going?" Carhart demanded. "You can't just-"
"Yes, she can," Diana told the man forcefully. "Our warrant is still valid."
Scully ignored them all and followed the pull. Down the stairs, through the main room of the basement, and over to the far wall, where a floor length mirror reflecting her image sat next to a large bookcase built against the wall. "Behind the bookcase?" she asked softly, knowing she was looking for some kind of door. There was another sharp, almost painful, tug in response. She winced, and immediately the warmth that felt like hands on her waist spread once more to surround her entire body, almost as if he were apologizing, soothing her. She couldn't help but close her eyes and let herself be soothed. Her breasts began to tingle, and heat of another kind began to pulse between her thighs. "Oh, God," she groaned.
The sound of footsteps on the stairs behind her caused her to open her eyes as she became aware of her physical surroundings once more. She felt the heat inside her diminish, but it didn't go away. "Mulder?" she asked aloud, embarrassed by the breathless sound of it. "The door?"
For a moment, there was no response, then the 'hands' on her waist appeared again, turning her toward the mirror. Scully met her own eyes in the mirror, noticing her flushed face and aroused eyes. She also saw the four people coming up behind her. Taking a deep breath, she reached for the mirror, running her hands along the sides of it, pulling. Her fingers hit what must have been a latch, and the mirror swung away from the wall. A locked door sat behind it. Turning, she glared at Carhart. "Open it."
Both Fowley and Nick had their weapons out now, and they were standing behind the Carharts, watching them carefully. Joyce was shivering uncontrollably, and she looked near tears. Hank just met Scully's glare with one of his own.
"Fine," Scully answered, then pulled her own gun, and in one quick movement turned and shot off the handle on the door. Joyce's startled scream was met with what felt like a triumphant shout from inside Scully. She kicked in the door, and was met with the horrible stench of death. She rushed inside, the light coming from the basement room allowing her to spot a light switch on the left side of the door. She flipped it on, and then began to follow the steep stairs that the dim light illuminated downward. The others followed carefully. The smell got stronger, and the air grew cold. Mulder's presence faded for a moment, almost as if he had either gotten ahead of her or fallen behind. When it returned, it tugged at her hard again. This time, there was no apology. Scully hurried, finally reaching the bottom of the steps and rounding the corner into the Carhart's very own dungeon.
There was more than one body in the room, but Scully was only interested in one. She fell to her knees next to Mulder, relieved to feel his warm skin beneath her fingertips. Her relief was short-lived, however, as she realized he wasn't breathing.
Mulder had been almost giddy with relief when he finally made contact with Scully. The fact that she seemed to know what he was thinking while he 'touched' her wasn't any surprise to Mulder; that she allowed herself to believe in the 'touch,' knowing it was him and trusting in that knowledge was a bit of a shock, but a wonderful one. He had immersed himself in her mind just as he had learned to do with the other captives, but upon sensing her panic, he had pulled back slightly, knowing firsthand how overwhelming these unconscious emotions could be. Instead, he had concentrated on directing her, 'pulling' her in the direction of the basement. She had only hesitated for a moment before following.
Once at the mirror that hid the doorway to Carhart's secret room, Mulder had stopped, not sure how to show her how to get behind the mirror, especially since he himself didn't know how to manually move it. When Scully had asked about the bookcase, confusion and desperation had caused him to try and pull her hard toward the mirror. He had felt her jump in sudden pain and he had pulled back instantly, remorse flooding him. Unable to apologize, he moved into her again, enveloping himself in the warmth of her body. He had reveled in it for a moment, allowing himself the unnecessary pleasures of her softness and scent. He had felt her warmth turn to heat, he heard her heartbeat quicken along with her breathing, and he had felt the unmistakable feeling of arousal. Her scent changed, and Mulder happily drowned in it.
"Oh, God." Scully's voice was dark and rough, and Mulder pushed deeper into her consciousness, ignoring the sound of the others as they came down the stairs. Scully couldn't. He felt her pull back into herself, embarrassment flooding her conscious mind. "Mulder?" she said on a whisper. "The door?"
Mulder didn't want to leave this Heaven he had found, this place full of warmth and light and comfort. His soul could happily live here forever. He could spend the rest of eternity giving Scully this pleasure, and finding his own in return. But Scully would have none of it; she wanted him back in the flesh. He couldn't say this displeased him, but it was still hard to pull away from her, taking a less personal hold on her and directing her toward the door. She found it, as he knew she would, and demanded that Carhart open it. The man refused without saying a word. "Fine," Scully said before pulling her weapon and shooting the handle off without hesitation. A feeling of triumph, pride, and continued arousal swirled around him at her action, and as she opened the door, he swept ahead of her. Finding his lifeless body sent him into a panic once again and he rushed back to her, tugging on her hard. She responded by hurrying, and headed straight for his body once she reached the dungeon room.
He watched as she checked 'his' pulse, saw her frown at the apparent slowness of it, then called back to the others, "Call 911. And arrest those two." As she positioned his body to begin CPR, Kresge pulled out his cell phone and began to make a call while Diana handcuffed Hank Carhart and read him his rights. Joyce was sobbing in the corner.
Mulder floated about the scene, feeling useless and afraid. He watched with a detached horror as Scully lifted the black t-shirt to expose his chest and began to thrust down on it with both hands. Then she would give him two long breaths and start over again. It didn't matter, he thought. Even if she managed to keep his body alive, what use was it with him floating about out here?
"Come on, Mulder," Scully demanded as she pumped on his chest, only she wasn't directing her words toward the body beneath her, but to the air about her. To him. "Get back in here."
Don't you think I've tried, he silently screamed? I can't.
"You can!" she responded, almost as if she heard him. She bent down to breathe into his mouth twice more, then continued on his chest. "Dammit, Mulder. You can!"
Frustrated and angry, he began to rush around the room; unaware of the cold he was creating. Diana and Kresge stared about them in awe as their breath began to freeze in the air. "Mulder!" Scully shouted.
With a cry of his own, he rushed toward Scully, desperate to feel her warmth one last time. She gasped as she felt him, then with a groan she leaned in to breath into his body once more. Mulder felt the connection of mouths, felt the air, cold and crisp, flow from her body to his, and felt his spirit follow.
He started coughing, the sudden, wracking pain in his chest his first indication that something had drastically changed. He shivered, suddenly cold, and felt a warm hand on his brow, brushing back the hair on his forehead. "Mulder?"
He opened his eyes at the whisper; afraid of what he might see but knowing he had to look anyway. Scully was looking down at him, her eyes full of unshed tears. "Mulder?" she whispered again. She was talking to him. And not just his soul, but to all of him.
"Scully?" His voice was hoarse, his throat dry. But it was his voice.
Scully smiled, and a lone tear escaped and slid down her cheek. "Welcome back."
The J. Edgar Hoover Building
Scully sat silently and watched as Mulder typed away on his computer in front of her. She had found herself doing that a lot lately, just watching him. Ever since they had returned from San Diego and life had returned to 'normal.'
The Carharts were awaiting trial, and due to the more than
Mulder had been strangely quiet about the whole incident. In his official report, he had admitted to breaking into the house late at night (for which he had received another reprimand on his file), then remembered nothing until Scully woke him in the basement dungeon more than a day later. Scully knew he was lying and couldn't understand why. However, she wasn't about to verbalize her own theory as to what happened to him because she wasn't sure she believed it herself. Mulder's only request before leaving was to insure that the Carhart house was taken from its owners and sold. The City of San Diego was anxious to get their hands on it, thinking not only of the great historical value of the house, but the money they could make on it thanks to its 'haunted' past. When Mulder heard this, he had said quietly, "It's not haunted anymore. The curse has been broken." Remembering Mulder's personal notes about the house, Scully recalled how the El Halcon's curse would only last if the house stayed in the possession of the original owner.
Mulder's silence on the subject worried Scully. Normally, any encounter with the paranormal was enough to set him off on a full description of the incident, as well as a detailed report. Why he wasn't talking now, Scully didn't know. Unless he truly didn't remember anything.
Scully jumped guiltily as she realized Mulder had stopped typing and had turned to face her, his expression curious. "Fine," she told him, looking down to shuffle some papers on her desk. "Just wondering if you had any plans for tonight." Now where the hell had that come from?
She glanced up in time to see his eyes widen. "Plans?"
"It's Friday, Mulder."
"Do I ever have plans on Friday?" he countered. "Outside of a date with my VCR, of course."
Scully felt her face heat, but she didn't look away from his evil smirk. "Then let's go somewhere," she said. His silence these past two weeks had extended beyond the subject of the Carharts; he had been far too quiet all the time, and Scully missed the hyperactive, workaholic partner she knew. "Somewhere fun."
Mulder cocked his head, looking at her as if she had grown horns. "What is this?" he asked. "A conspiracy?"
"What do you mean?"
"Diana asked me out last night," he told her, his back stiffening as if bracing himself for a physical blow. "All she wanted to do was get me to talk about what happened in San Diego."
Scully controlled the anger that flowed through her at the knowledge that he had gone out with Fowley. "Did you tell her what she wanted to know?"
"I didn't tell her anything," he told her softly. "There's nothing to tell."
Scully looked at him in silence for a while. "So you wouldn't tell me if I asked you?"
He paused. "Like I said, there's nothing to tell."
She took a deep breath and looked away, trying not to let his words hurt. It was obvious from his behavior that he remembered what had happened, but wasn't willing to share... even with her. Nodding sharply, she again rearranged her papers. "So what you're saying is you don't want to go out tonight."
"I didn't say that," Mulder argued. "I just don't want it to turn into an interrogation. I want to have fun."
Scully couldn't stop the little demon on her shoulder from asking, "Did you have fun last night?"
"Are you kidding?" Mulder laughed. He leaned in and whispered, "Diana doesn't know how to have fun."
"And we do?" Scully asked, thinking of their lack of a personal life.
"I think we could figure it out," he said quietly. "We're good at that. Figuring out stuff. Together."
Scully met his intense gaze with her own. "But no questions about San Diego?"
"Why do you need to ask?" he queried. "You already know what happened."
His eyes never left hers, and for a moment, Scully could almost swear she 'felt' him. She shivered, not from cold or fear, but from something far more powerful. She licked her lips and shivered once more as she saw his eyes lower to watch the action. Then they met hers again, this time flashing fire. Clearing her throat, suddenly aware of the dozen or so other curious people in the room, she asked, "You're not bringing Fowley tonight, are you?" She tried to inject a teasing note into her voice, but her throat was too dry.
"As long as you don't bring Kresge," he replied, his voice rough.
He smiled and turned back to his computer. "Then it's a date." He spoke aloud, obviously not caring who heard.
Scully smiled and went back to her own work, her face only a little warm. She didn't care who heard either.
This email was cleaned by emailStripper, available for free from http://www.papercut.biz/emailStripper.htm
Creeping up the blind side, shinning up the wall