Disclaimer: All Characters copyright of TenThirteen Productions and Chris Carter. No infringement intended on any part... go ahead, take me to court... I'm using the insanity defence... heh, heh, heh... Jackie St. George belongs to me as much as she wants to...
Summary: On Halloween, anything can happen...
"...we have taken up our guns. For the ashes of our fathers and the children of our sons... For the ashes of our fathers and the children of our sons..."
The Road to Agadir
"Mulder, my mother specified that we had to be there by six. No later." Scully looked out the window at the setting sun. "If she's stuck shelling out to the entire neighbourhood, we'll never hear the end of it..."
St. George chuckled from the back seat. "And we'll miss first attack on the chocolate cookies..." Leaning forward, she tapped Mulder on the shoulder. "And you know I really, really love those cookies..."
"Only because they don't come out of a box." The driver retorted. "Look, it's just a bit out of our way, and besides - it's Halloween. We're supposed to go find haunted houses."
Letting out something between a grumble and a sigh, Scully shook her head.
"Come on, Scully... it's the time of year when the veils between this world and the others are thin..." Turning the wheel, he slowed down as he spotted his target. "And besides, if we get there too early your mother will have me washing dishes..."
"You come to look at the house?" The voice startled the trio as they exited the car, looking up the driveway at the source.
The wizened old lady sitting on the porch of the house adjacent to their target nodded again towards them; never changing the clack-clack of her knitting needles as she rocked back and forth. "You come to look at the house?" she repeated.
Mulder pulled the newspaper out of his jacket pocket. "You know anything about this place?"
"Just that it's been empty for years. The bank can't unload it and even the drug dealers won't take it." She let out a soft laugh. "Says it's haunted, they do."
"Is it?" Mulder smiled his best P.R. smile.
"Tell me what you think when you come out..." Patting back a few grey strands from her face, the woman returned his grin. "Just don't go expecting the normal. From what the kids tell me, there ain't nothing normal about this place..."
"That's okay..." Jackie whispered loudly to Dana as they walked up the steps. "Nothing normal about us, either..."
The two-story house was barren of all furniture, but strangely with all windows and doors intact. As they entered through the unlocked front door, Mulder turned on his ever-present flashlight; sweeping the front room back and forth despite the faint sunlight still filtering in from outside.
"Ten minutes," Scully announced. "Ten minutes and then we're back in the car and heading towards my mother's."
Bobbing his head up and down, the tall man walked past the two women towards the kitchen. "Right... ten minutes... more or less..."
"Isn't this breaking and entering?" the Canadian joked as they headed towards the staircase.
"Technically, no... just trespassing..." Scully sighed as she took the first step; hearing the old boards creak. "Although if we're late, I'll be pleading temporary insanity..." She waved off the woman. "You stay down here and keep an eye on Mulder - eight minutes and I'll be back to drag him out the front door, with or without his ghosts..."
"Ooohhh... do we get to use the cuffs?"
"Maybe..." Trying not to smile, the petite woman ascended the staircase.
The top floor consisted of three bedrooms and a bathroom, all very empty and very boring. Walking through the smallest bedroom, Scully paused to look out the window towards the sunset; enjoying the play of colours over the horizon.
"Bill..." The familiar-but-not-familiar voice had her spinning around, her hand scrabbling at the small of her back for her weapon.
The room had changed; had filled.
A crib, a small dresser... pictures on the wall and a rocking chair set in one corner.
Occupied by a woman holding a baby. Who was talking to a man standing in the doorway she had just recently walked through.
"Bill... can you hold her for a second?" Getting to her feet, Maggie Scully walked across and placed the fussing infant into his arms. "I need to get her bottle..."
"Sure, Maggie..." Hefting the baby over his head, the elder Scully laughed as the child began to laugh; lifting and dropping her towards his face again and again as he burbled at her.
"Don't you go making her sick..." Maggie reappeared, bottle in hand. Admonishing her husband, she handed him the bottle. "If you've got that much energy, you can feed her - I've still got the others to get into bed and get settled..."
"Sure..." Settling down in the rocking chair, he nudged the nipple towards the baby's eager mouth. "Not like I'm that inexperienced..."
"Do you..." Drying her hands on the apron tied around her waist, the woman approached the chair slowly. "I was just thinking as I watched you two there... do you wish I had had another boy?" The words came out in an almost apologetic whisper.
"Maggie..." Looking up from the child, Bill shook his head. "It wasn't exactly something we could choose, you know..."
"I know..." Kneeling down by the chair, she stroked the red fuzz covering the baby's head. "I mean, we have Bill Jr. and Missy; but I just wanted to know..." She paused. "No, it's silly. I mean..."
Reaching out with his free hand, he took ahold of her hand and squeezed it. "I'll never be upset with any of our children, Mags..." He smiled.
"I know..." She repeated herself. "It's just one of these things that a woman thinks every once in a while..."
"I will be happy with whatever she decides to do. What any of them decide to do." Leaning back in the rocking chair, he grinned down at the baby as she sucked greedily at the bottle. "Especially this one - my little Dana... there's never going to be anything about her that I won't love..."
"Don't say that, William Scully..." She warned. "They'll all have their own minds and make their own decisions - and you and I won't agree with all of them." She smiled. "Like our parents and us."
He chuckled, tilting the bottle. "Well, we'll survive. As they did. Besides, she'll always know I love her, no matter what she does. Always..."
Scully had stood stock-still during the entire exchange, her weapon down at her side. Closing her eyes, she shook her head from side to side and then opened them slowly.
To an empty room.
But her eyes were still filled with tears.
"People will tell you you're miles from your home..." St. George hummed aloud to herself as she wandered the ground floor, ignoring Mulder who had disappeared into the living room. Stepping into the kitchen, she glanced back towards the hallway.
"Michael St. George, you're the stubbornest man I ever met!" The near-curse brought Jackie's head whipping around with an almost audible crack.
Standing by the wooden kitchen table was a young woman, her dark red hair pulled back sharply into a bun as she stared at her husband who sat opposite her; nursing a bottle of beer.
"Leave me alone, woman..." He snarled, staring down at the dark bottle.
"You owe it to her to give her all the knowledge that you have - you can't let her wander out there without it..." Elspeth shook her head angrily.
Slamming his fist down on the table hard, the policeman refused to meet her gaze. "I will not put that on her."
"Put what on her?" Crossing her arms, she stood in front of him.
"Put a thousand years of fear and debts and traditions on her. It's bad enough that she's a woman, but to lay it on her shoulders all at once..." He lifted the bottle to his lips and took a long drink before continuing.
"You're making the decision for her. And that's even worse..."
"What would you have me do?" He swished the beer around in the bottle.
"Do you hate her that much?" Elspeth whispered sadly.
"No..." He looked up and across the room, suddenly locking eyes with his adult daughter. "I love her that much..."
Jackie's vision blurred for a second, her hands rushing up to rub her eyes.
An empty kitchen. No table, no chairs.
Sliding down the wall behind her, St. George sat on the floor with her face in her hands as she sobbed.
Swinging his flashlight around the now dark living room, Mulder sighed in defeat as he stepped towards the hallway to call up the stairs for Scully.
"I can't believe you chose her..." The soft cry behind him drifted across the room. "I can't believe you let them..."
Spinning around, Mulder walked back into the living room; recognising it instantly from his childhood.
"Teena..." Bill Mulder sat on the couch, the cigarette hanging unlit from his fingers as he awkwardly fumbled with the freshly-opened pack. "It wasn't my choice..."
"Yes, it was." Sitting as far away from him as she could, the young woman twisted the wet Kleenex in her hands. "You could have said no..."
"And then what?" His voice dropped low, an angry whisper in the dark room.
"I know I never agreed to it." She sniffled. "You might be their father, but I'm still their mother. Still her mother."
"And what would you have me do?" He frowned. "Call up and tell them to take him instead? To trade them?" Looking past the adult Mulder, he shook his head. "If I hadn't chosen they would have picked for me. At least I got that much. The others didn't."
"I couldn't choose..." Teena moaned. "How could you?"
Sitting back, Bill reached for the pack of matches sitting on the table.
"Will he? He doesn't even know what happened!" She moaned again, the tears flowing down her face. "You won't tell him..."
"And you won't." The quiet words slapped her across the face. "Because if he finds out too soon they'll kill him. Don't believe that they won't for a minute if they suspect that he knows." He stared at her. "Patience is our best and only weapon right now. Time is all we can give him."
"In time he'll find out. He'll build the bridges; follow the clues. He'll be the one to fight a battle you and I can't fight right now." He blew the burning match out; lighting a second one. "They'll both survive no matter what happens..."
"You think..." She snarled at him, tearing the Kleenex into small pieces; falling to cover the floor in jagged patches. "You think..." Burying her face in her hands, she sobbed. "You bastard... I'll never forgive you... never..."
"Go ahead - be angry with me. It's all I have now..." Lighting the cigarette, he put it to his lips and drew deeply; exhaling the thin white smoke. "I have faith in him..." His voice faltered. "I have to..."
The smoke rose from the couch, expanding and covering Mulder's line of sight. Blinking wildly, he waved a hand in front of his face; attempting to clear the air.
And saw only an empty room.
The tapping of heels on wood brought him around to face the hallway where Scully had just appeared from upstairs. She stared at him, her face a stoic mask.
"Ten minutes, Mulder. Let's go."
"Right..." He mumbled. "St. George..."
"Yah... here..." Shuffling out from the kitchen area, she stared at the ground as she passed the two agents. "I need a drink..."
"Yah, well..." Mulder held the door open for the two women as they headed out and down the steps. "I think I need a good dose of your mother's chocolate cookies, myself..."
"So..." The crackly old voice drifted out over the lawn as they headed for the car. "Did you get what you hoped for?"
Leaning on the driver's door, Mulder stared at the old woman where she sat on the porch; still knitting. "What did you think we'd find?"
"Just your inheritance..." She chuckled, watching them quietly get into the car; heading back down into the street. "Happy Halloween..."
note: bonus points to whoever can name the artist who wrote the song at the beginning of this story... heck, I can't remember myself and I'm desperate for a copy...