Summary: A woman who appears to be suffering from a poltergeist infestations asks for Mulder and Scully's help. Two men's obsessions collide as the partners face down an old enemy aswell as a new one.
607 E. Taylor Ave. Baltimore, MD
Sarah Whitcomb ran over and grabbed her eight year-old son. "Jeremy, stop teasing your sister!"
"But Mom!" he protested, giving her an endearingly innocent look. But his mother was not fazed in the least.
"That's enough, I said. Besides, its past your bedtime." She put him on his feet and prodded him towards the bathroom, "go brush your teeth." He opened his mouth to protest, but gave up quickly when he caught the determination in his mother's green eyes. He sighed and grumbled, "Okay." He pulled himself back to his feet and padded on down the hall, but not before making a gruesome face at his six-year-old sister, whoimmediately started to cry. Sarah scooped-up her youngest child and rocked her soothingly. "Its okay Sammy, its okay, Mommy's here." After a few minutes of being wrapped in her mother's loving arms, Samanthastopped crying. Sarah brushed strands of dark hair out of the little girl's face. "Its bedtime for you too, honey," she said, hefting her daughter up and carrying her down the hall. But before she got to the bathroom door, she heard a loud crash and then the sound ofJem screaming. Still holding tight to Samantha, the young mother raced to the door, but found it stuck tight. She yanked at the doorknob with all her strength, shouting her son's name over and over,but the door wouldn't open. More loud crashes sounded from the other side of the door, along with a tinkling sound and more shrieks from the terrified boy trapped inside. Sarah cried out in frustration and threw herself at the door a couple of times, hopelessly. Then just as she was about to go in search of something she could use to break the door in, it suddenly gave way in response to a final frantic tug. In fact, she had been yanking on itso hard that when it opened she went flying backwards, crashing down on the hallway rug, her daughter cradled tightly against her, her eyes wide with shock. "Oh God, please no!" she cried, struggling to her feet, tightly clutching a struggling, shrieking child. Her other child came crawling out of the bathroom covered with a mix of white powder, blood, and a white goo she finally recognized as toothpaste. The room behind him was a wreck, both the shower stall and the mirror had shattered, every surface was covered in amix of toothpaste, shampoo, baby powder and streaks of blood. She dropped to her knees and gathered Jeremy to her. The three of them, mother and children, huddled in the hallway, shaking, clinging to each other, sobbing.
Basement - Golden Wok Restaurant Washington, DC
Kick, right, left, turn, one, two, three, four, kick, turn, right, left, turn, "Damn," muttered Special Agent Dana Scully as her left foot slid out from under her and she fell unceremoniously to the mat.
"Scully, are you all right!" exclaimed her partner.
"Yeah, I'm okay," she responded, using his hand to help lever herself back to her feet. Sighing, she stretched and swept some loose bangs off her forehead. How had she ever let Muldertalk her into this. Well, actually she'd been easy to convince. Getting martial arts training had seemed like a good way to augment the Bureau's self-defense training and get regular exersizeat the same time. But Fox Mulder could never do anything in a normal fashion. Instead of going to a FBI- sponsored class or an ordinary gym, he had dragged her down into Washington D.C.'s inner city to work with an old Chinese man named Lee Xiao Wu in a tiny studio hidden in the basement of a decrepit Chinese restaurant. She still hadn't managed to get Mulder to tell herhow he had met the old eccentric, but then Mulder was an expert at collecting oddities of all kinds.
Lee Xiao had to be in his seventies, a small bald man with bright onyx eyes who balanced himself with an ornately- carved cane and had a disturbing sense of humor. He loved to playact as the mysterious Chinese sage, but she'd found that he was addicted to cable TV and could discuss the happenings on the popular soaps in detail. Further, he was incredibly spry for hisage. After, he'd managed to dump her to the mat several times, to Mulder's great amusement, she had learned to take him very seriously. But she still wasn't sure of what he was teaching them.He seemed far more occupied with making them move in total synchrony rather than in teaching them anything useful. And this stuff about 'feeling' each other's heartbeat was silly. Still, it was good exercise and she had to admit, for all its rundown appearance of Lee Xiao's family's restaurant, they made the best Szechuan chicken she'd ever had. It was worth it, if only for the food.
She shook her head slightly and looked back up at Mulder, indicating she was ready to try again. But he just smiled down at her, then looked over at the watching Lee Xiao, "Well, this is probably a good time to stop for now. We've got to get to the office."
"You need more practice," Lee Xiao grumbled, "much more practice, but I suppose we can continue tomorrow." He pointed his cane at Dana. "Remember to stretch." He turned and walked nimblyup the stairs.
"Sure, sure," Dana grimaced. Mulder just laughed, then moved smoothly to join her in the muscle-extension excersizes. While attempting to press her head to her right knee, Dana angledher eyes over at him, then nearly groaned as he slid effortlessly into the position she was straining to reach. It just wasn't fair. Even though she knew he'd had the advantage of gymnastics training in college, she still felt annoyed to be out- done so easily. Well, at least she was improving.
After a while, Mulder leaped to his feet smoothly and leaned over to tap her on the top of her head.
"Come on, Scully, better go get cleaned up. We don't want to be late."
"Late for what? We've just got a bunch of paperwork to do," she asked, standing up slowly.
"Didn't I tell you?" he asked, rubbing sweat out of his eyes with a stained old towel.
"No," she replied, walking by him to pick up her favorite bright pink sweatshirt.
"I got a call yesterday from a woman who wants to see us. Apparently she was told by the Baltimore office that we'd be able to help her."
"Baltimore, not...?" she mumbled, while donning the shirt.
"Uhn huh, your old pal Colton," he said, grinning at her as she finally poked her head out from the sweatshirt which clashed markedly with her bright auburn hair.
"You're kidding!" she responded doubtfully, "I can't imagine he'd willingly send us a case, unless its some trick to get at you. He really dislikes you."
"Dislikes? That's the understatement of the year," he said sarcastically. "Not that the feeling isn't mutual. The arrogant fool almost got you killed." Mulder's eyes flashed inremembered anger.
"I know, I know...I can't believe I misjudged him so badly. He was a good friend at the academy," Scully frowned.
"Well, we all make mistakes," he said grinning brightly. "Anyway, let's move. Whatever this is, she sounded really scared over the phone. Something's up, and I want to know what itis."
"If Colton's involved we'd better watch our backs. He'd love to get you into trouble," she warned.
Mulder just grimaced and nodded agreement. He had no illusions regarding the malice that ambitious agent held for him. But then, Mulder wouldn't mind another chance to take Colton down a peg or two. He grabbed his jacket and waved for her to precede him up the rickety wooden stairs to the street and their waiting car.
FBI Headquarters Washington DC
Sarah Whitcomb followed the young FBI file clerk through the busy hallways. Her soft brown hair was bound up in a knot at the back of her neck and she was wearing the same brown dressshe'd worn to visit the Baltimore Bureau. Visiting the big sprawling FBI headquarters in Washington was much more intimidating and she wished yet again that she could afford a new dress. She tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear, and smiled nervously at the file clerk who looked back to see if she was still behind him. He gave her an odd look, then opened the door tothe staircase and held it for her. She thanked him in a quiet voice, and moved into the stairwell. She wondered anxiously about why he'd looked at her so strangely, but reprimanded herself. She'd probably just imagined it. Her nerves were terribly on edge. Besides, he had been nice enough to rescue her from wandering these halls aimlessly. The directions she'd been given at the visitor's desk had seemed so straight forward, but she'd gotten lost almost immediately.
The young man led her down into the bowels of the building. They seemed to go down and down, until they finally entered a dark and dusty hallway. She looked around her anxiously, thiswas not what she had expected. They walked past some closed doors, then paused in front of another. The page gestured quickly, pointing to it. "There you are, Miss." Then he brushed past her and walked quickly down the hallway, leaving her standing there in the gloom alone. She looked up at the small brass plaque on the door, "Special Agent Fox Mulder" it read in smallcarved letters. Sarah took a deep breath and steeled herself for the trial ahead. She knocked loudly on the door.
"Come in," said a warm-toned male voice. Sarah reached for the knob, opened the door and walked into the crowded office. It was covered with piles of books and files, the walls plastered with dozens of photographs and posters.The one that immediately caught her attention showed a grainy picture of a flying saucer with the large bold words "I Want To Believe" on the bottom. Standing in front of it was a striking woman dressed in a dark blue suit. Sarah met the woman's clear blue eyes tentatively and was greeted with a welcoming smile. She then noticed the tall man who was moving around the deskto greet her. He had straight dark hair, oddly- colored gray-hazel eyes that seemed to shift color as he moved relative to the lighting in the room. She liked the look of his face; it was strong without being cold. Right now he was giving her a gentle smile and offering her his hand. "Mrs. Whitcomb?"
"Yes," she said, looking up at him. "I'm Sarah Whitcomb."
"Fox Mulder," he replied, clasping her hand firmly, then glancing at the lovely red-haired woman still perched against a paper-covered bench. "My partner, Special Agent Dana Scully."
"Hi" Sarah said nervously. "Hello," Scully said. "Nice to meet you" Mulder offered Sarah a chair and moved swiftly back to sit on the opposite side of his desk. He leaned back and folded his hands under his chin, studying the woman in front of him. Sarah shifted nervously in her chair, he seemed to be almost looking through her, into her. She had an uncomfortable feeling that this was not someone to be taken lightly, but by the sametoken, this could be someone who could help her.
"I...this isn't easy," she said, "sometimes I don't even believe it myself."
"That's okay," Scully said, "Take your time." Sarah found herself smiling at her, and then suddenly it just all poured out of her. She talked and talked, starting with her failed marriage and the difficulties of raising the children alone. Then she talked at length about the early incidents.
"At first I dismissed most of it as accidents. Things I'd forgotten, or something the kids had gotten into." Mulder nodded at her, his eyes never leaving her face. She looked directlyinto his eyes, hoping to communicate the truth of her words, as she continued with her story. "It just kept getting worse. Objects started flying around on their own. Sometimes my children and I would be physically thrown around. Once my daughter was held hanging upside down from the ceiling. My son was caught in the bathroom while the mirror and shower door shattered. Luckily he escaped with just minor cuts. I've been poked, prodded...fondled." She shivered.
"Sometimes it feels just like human hands, only invisible, and sometimes its a more general force. But the worst is the constant feeling of being watched. I can't really explain it, just this feeling that someone, something, is out there in the dark watching us," she finished, shivering, then turned her head to look first at Scully, then at Mulder.
"I know this sounds crazy, but it's real. I'd do anything to protect my children, they're all I have, I love them so much..." her voice broke, but she recovered it quickly, her eyesblazing with fury, "I'd fight back if I only knew how." She looked at the silent, contemplative Mulder, his face composed and still, not revealing the emotions stirring within. His intuitive sense of the paranormal was setting off bells.There was no doubt in his mind that she was telling the truth. But he also knew, as Scully would probably remind him, that even though she believed what she was saying, it wasn't necessarily real. However, this woman seemed to be in touch with reality. Besides, it couldn't hurt to investigate. If she was delusional, then they could get her the help she needed. If she was telling the truth, it could be an incredible opportunity. Despite his initial misgivings due to Colton's involvement, Mulder was prepared to run with this. He just couldn't pass up the chance, however extreme it might be, that this was for real.
"Agent Colton said you were an expert on this kind of thing. How can this happen? And why to me?" Sarah interrupted his thoughts. He lifted his head to look intently at her. "I don't know," he said with a slight shrug of his shoulders.
"But you have heard of things like this?" Sarah asked worriedly.
"Yes..." Mulder said hesitantly, looking over at Scully who was biting her bottom lip, looking both concerned and doubtful. "But every case is different. There are a number of possibilities." He paused. "Have you seen any physical manifestations. I don't mean objects being moved, but an actual foreign entity."
"No," she said, hope beginning to creep into her heart. He sounded like he was taking her seriously. Until she walked into this office with its surprising decor, she'd felt deep-downthat this was another wild goose chase. Now, she was beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, this unusual pair of federal agents might help her.
"Any strange sounds or smells?" he asked, leaning forward to give her another disconcerting stare. "No," she said, then thought for a moment. "Nothing more than I've already told you," she repeated, shaking her head. "Hmmm," he said, moving lithely to his feet, and prowling the room, deep in thought. "I'm sorry, Mrs.Whitcomb, but I have to ask," Scully said as gently as possible. "Is there any possibility that your husband could be responsible?"
"No, it's not Steve," Sarah replied with certainty, meeting uncertain blue eyes with determined green ones. "That was my first thought, too, when the phone calls started. But he's in the still in the Bahamas with his girlfriend," she said bitterly, "living off of our entire savings. Believe me, I checked."
Scully nodded. "Do you think its possible that he hired someone to harrass you into giving up custody of the children?" she suggested.
"No," Sarah responded. "The children were one of the reasons he left. Steve has a problem with responsibility. Oh, he's very charming and funny. But he hated dealing with babies, and not being able to go out whenever he wanted."
"I'm sorry," Scully said sympathetically. She liked Sarah Whitcomb and she did accept that Sarah believed what she was saying. Still, she couldn't help worrying whether this was somekind of delusion or psychological disorder, initiated by all the stress the woman was under. This story was too much to swallow. No wonder Colton had dumped the case off on Mulder and her.She was sure he was getting a good laugh about it. A perverse part of her couldn't help wanting to take on the case just to spite her ex-friend. Besides she knew her partner well enough to sense his excitement, even though he gave no little outward evidence of it. He was always fascinated by paranormal phenomena, and once his intense curiosity had been triggered, there was little she could do to hold him back. Besides, Sarah did need help and Scully wanted to make sure she received it.
Scully caught Mulder looking at her from behind Sarah, and she shrugged at him. 'It's up to you,' her eyes said.
He gave her a bright grin, then composed his face and moved around to perch himself on the edge of the desk facing Sarah, his long legs stretched out awkwardly into the room besideher.
"We'll need to gather some equipment and do a little research. Then we'll need to spend some time in your house to observe the phenomena firsthand. Perhaps it would be best if your could move the children out, though. Do you have a relative, a grandparent, perhaps, that they could stay with for a while?"
Sarah nearly starting crying with relief. She wiped at her eyes, gave him a warm smile, but then shook her head. "No, my parents are dead and my husband's parents don't like me verymuch. I have no contact with them."
"O.K., we'll just have to do the best we can to keep them safe. Unless..." he looked over at Scully.
"What," she said suspiciously.
"Your mother lives not too far from Baltimore, doesn't she?"
"Mulder..." Scully protested.
"It would just be for a little while. And we certainly can't leave the children in danger." he insisted. "I'm sure Margaret will understand."
"Well," Scully said doubtfully, meeting his glittering hazel eyes, then Sarah's wide, hopeful ones. "I guess it wouldn't hurt to call her."
"Thank you," Sarah said gratefully, "thank you both so much."
"I don't know how much we can really do," Mulder found himself compelled to warn her.
She just continued to smile at him. "It's enough that you're willing to try."
607 E.Taylor Ave. Baltimore, MD 9:30pm February 15
Fox Mulder checked his watch, then wandered into the living room. The last two days had been hectic. First, they'd looked into Sarah Whitcomb's background, attempting to verify as muchof her story as they could. So far, it mostly checked out, although no one else had witnessed the phenomena she described.
Margaret Scully had been delighted to take in the two young children, though Mulder had almost gone into shock when he met Samantha Whitcomb. She reminded him so much of his own sister. They had the same name, the same long dark hair and bright eyes. And the fear in her face - it had hit him like a fist in the stomach. He sat down on the couch and closed his eyes inpain, brushing dark bangs back off his forehead. Thank goodness both children had liked the warm, motherly Mrs. Scully instantly, otherwise the parting from their mother would have been evenmore difficult. Dana had tried to convince Sarah to go too, but she was convinced that she needed to stay. Mulder had to agree, reluctantly, although the look on Samantha's face staring outof the car window as it drove away had hurt him nearly as much as it had Sarah. His own sister's screams had echoed in his ears, and it was suddenly as though he was back in his own room,on that horrible night, watching his sister floating out of the room, crying. Only Dana's hand tightening on his arm in concern had brought him back to the present. He had unclenched hisfists and taken a deep breath, bringing himself under control. There was too much work to do, for there was no way he was going to let anyone or anything hurt this Samantha or her familyagain.
Next, they had hooked up a tape recorder and tracer to the telephone and placed a video camera in the living room. Then they had conducted a thorough search of the house. Mulder had borrowed an electronic bug detector from his Lone Gunman friends, just in case, but the house had been clean as far as they could determine. So they could only settle down to wait.
Sarah's house was small, but despite all the turmoil managed to seem warm and inviting. Sarah had showed them what evidence she could of the disturbances: a broken bathroom mirror,things spilled and disarrayed in the kitchen, splatters on the ceiling. Unfortunately, there was nothing that couldn't be simply explained. Mulder turned and stretched out lengthwise on thesoft comfortable couch, studying the room around him. It was cluttered with furniture. The couch and two easy chairs had homemade covers thrown over them. There were a couple of abandoned children's toys dotted here and there. A large TV dominated one corner while a few books mixed with pictures filled an old oak bookcase. He liked the room; it looked lived in and caredfor. He closed his eyes and yawned.
"Mulder." Scully's voice interrupted his thoughts. He pulled himself up to a partial sitting position and looked up at her. She was wearing jeans and a dark green sweater that alteredthe tint of her eyes to a sea-like aqua. Her bright red hair was pulled back into a tight ponytail, although a few shorter strands had come lose and were curling precariously behind her ear. She sat down on the edge of the couch by his side,
"Where's Sarah?" he asked.
"In the kitchen, working on dinner."
"She doesn't have to do that. We could order a pizza or something." His stomach suddenly growled loudly, reminding him that he hadn't eaten all day. When he got caught up in a case, sometimes he just forgot. They looked at each other and laughed warmly, "I think it helps keep her mind occupied," Scully said. "She's really frightened."
"I don't blame her," Mulder responded frowning. He looked at Scully with determination. "We have to help them."
"I know." Scully shook her head, frowning. "But I'm just afraid that we could make things worse if we end up feeding her delusions."
"What if this is real?" he insisted.
"I'd be more ready to believe that someone is trying to make her think this is real, than to believe that some evil spirit is haunting her."
"Come on, Scully, how could someone cause the kind of phenomena that Sarah reports, without being seen? We found no evidence of tampering in the house. No strings or wires. And don'tforget that Jem was alone in the bathroom when he was attacked. We examined the room, there was no way for anyone to get or out except through the door to the hall. And his story matches his mother's completely. No, there's something happening here. I can feel it."
She just looked at him with frustration.
"Maybe, but perhaps we're missing the point. I know Sarah said that her husband wasn't behind this, but I'm not convinced. What if he is trying to scare her out of the house, or have her declared mentally incompetent-or worse, to spare himself a messy divorce."
He didn't respond, just shrugged his shoulders at her. She leaned forward slightly in emphasis.
"Mulder, what if someone is feeding her a hallucinatory drug, like LSD. That could easily explain Sarah's experiences: she'd think they were real because she doesn't know she's been drugged." "Wouldn't there be some physical effect?" he questioned, "Besides wouldn't she realize when it wore off that the things she thought she'd seen hadn't happened? And how do you explain identical hallucinations?"
"Well maybe someone is coming into the house to cause enough physical damage to throw her off balance. Combined with a continuous low level of a hallucinatory drug, they could easily convince her that what she thinks she's seeing is real. Besides, children that young are very susceptible to suggestion, Sarah could have reinforced her vision of events in his mind, without even knowing she was doing it."
"Possibly," Mulder replied with a slight tinge of doubt. "but there have been no hallucinations or odd behavior while we've been with her. She's nervous and scared, but not more than expected. She doesn't appear to be under the influence."
"I know," Scully said, "but you and I have hardly been inconspicuous. Maybe they're holding off while we're here. I think we should have Sarah and the kids undergo a toxicology screen.See if there's any trace of drugs in their blood."
Mulder nodded acceptance, his brow wrinkling in concern, then he suddenly flashed her a mischievous grin. "Guess we'd better order pizza after all."
Midnight. Dana Scully yawned and walked into the kitchen. Her partner was reclining in a kitchen chair, long legs stretched out to prop his feet on the corner of the kitchen table, head leaned back, staring at the ceiling. He'd abandoned his tie, which was piled on the table by his right hand, his left hand was resting on his knee, holding a glass of soda. Withoutchanging his position he responded to her presence, "Everything quiet?"
"Yes," she said, sitting down in the empty chair to his right. He angled his head to look at her, shadows sharpening the height of his cheekbones and strongly delineating his jaw. She smiled softly and reached out to brush at the short locks of dark hair covering his forehead. He caught her hand and held it briefly, with barely a hint of a smile, but a with a deepwarmth lighting his eyes. She smiled warmly at him, then pulled her hand away, and looked around the room.
"Sarah finally fell asleep."
"Hmmm, that's probably good," he said, fluidly changing position to sit up straight in the chair and turning to face her. "Perhaps you were right, Scully. Maybe whoever or whatever is behind this has stopped because we're here."
"Or maybe there's nothing out there," she suggested, with a teasing lilt in her voice. He grinned at her. "Maybe..." he shrugged, "anyway, I think I'll go take a walk around outside, check things out."
"Want some company?" she offered.
"No, stay here and keep an eye on Sarah. This shouldn't take long." he replied standing up.
"O.K.," she said, leaning back to look up at him. He smiled slightly at her, then reached out to return her earlier gesture, gently fingering a loose red curl. "Be careful."
"You too," she replied lightly, not really believing that there was anything to be worried about.
She sat there for a while after he'd left, then walked back towards the bedroom to check in on Sarah. But as she was walking down the dimly lighted hallway, she heard a sharp cry from Sarah's room. "Sarah, what's wrong?" she yelled, racing into the room to find the young woman pressed back against the wall on her bed, cowering. "It's started again," Sarah cried out, then buried her head in her arms as the bed started to shake. Scully stood frozen for a second in shock, then ran over to grab Sarah by the arm. "Come on," she tried to help the other woman off the bed, only to find herself somehow knocked off her feet. "Dana!" Sarah screamed, crawling over to the edge of the now furiously rocking bed to look down at the stunned agent sprawled on the floor. Scully scrambled to her feet and seizedSarah's outstretched hand. A sudden lurch of the bed and Sarah tumbled forward on top of her. Picking themselves up, still clinging to each other, both women stared in wide-eyed shock. The bedhad risen several inches off the floor and was suspended in mid-air like a flying carpet. A chair across the room had tilted over to stand on one leg, and the contents on the bureau top were spinning around wildly.
"Lets get out of here," Scully suggested, pulling Sarah towards the door, but before she could reach it, it slammed shut. She grabbed at the doorknob, yanking on it with no success.
"Look out!" Sarah warned, tugging on Scully's arm. She spun around and just barely ducked in time to miss being slammed by a bottle of perfume. It hit the door, shattering on impact, spilling its contents onto both women's heads. As though angered by the near miss, several other things started to fly at them: a hairbrush, a book, a pair of shoes. The two women huddled together pressing their heads into each other's shoulders, arms tight around each other, huddling against the stubbornly locked door as they were pelted by a rainstorm ofobjects.
Outside the house, things seemed quiet to Mulder as circled the yard. He drew his coat tightly around him and shivered slightly. Nothing here, and yet his senses were tingling. Something was nagging at the edge of his mind, but he couldn't put his finger on it. 'Well, once more around then I'll go back inside and set up a watch/sleep arrangement with Scully,' he thought. They both needed the sleep, and if his insomnia troubled him, then at least she could get some rest. But his planning was interrupted as a sudden movement to his left caught the edge ofhis vision. He turned swiftly and moved towards it cautiously, calling out "Who's there?"
He slammed into something, falling backwards onto the grass. "What the hell!" He squinted into the darkness, but there didn't seem to be anything there. He leaped to his feet only tohave them literally pulled out from under him. This time, he slowly moved to a tense kneeling position, pulling his gun out of its holster and gripping it tightly in his right hand. He looked around him very carefully, but still couldn't see anything. No wait! There was a figure off to his right standing close to the bedroom window. It was just a shadow, tall, thin and stillin the dark. Mulder moved to a standing crouch, aiming his gun towards it.
Mulder was later to swear that the figure didn't move so much as an inch, but he suddenly found himself lifted a couple of feet into the air, then dropped like a sack of potatoes. He crashed down, struck his head on a sprinkler spout and momentarily blacked out.
In the house, Scully and Sarah were still trapped in the bedroom, desperately trying to protect themselves from miscellaneous flying objects. Finally fed up, Scully jumped up and pulled Sarah away from the door, barely missing being struck in the head by the corner of the still floating bed. Pillows, cushions, clothes, books, and shoes formed a revolving cloud justbelow the ceiling. Scully paused briefly, looked at the door with determination, then motioned to Sarah to wait where she was. The small red-haired agent took a deep breath, then ran towards the door,kicking out at the area just below the doorknob with all her strength. The door shook, but held.
"Damn," Scully muttered, ducking a small framed picture and backing up to try again. She desperately battered the door several times, both with her feet and her shoulder, with growing frustration. Behind her Sarah screamed and spun around batting at the air. "Stop it! Leave me alone!"
Scully grasped hold of Sarah, trying to calm her down, but then yelled herself, as she felt it too: invisible fingers pinching and probing at her. Furious and terrified, she let go ofSarah and took one last running leap, managing to hit the doorjamb with both feet at once. She crashed down on her side, and turned onto her back wincing at the jolt of pain in the arm she had landed on. But the door was finally open, and neither woman was in any mood to stick around. Sarah helped pull Scully to her feet and they went running down the hall, hand in hand, as though the very devil itself was after them. Just as she was rounding the corner into the living room, Sarah ran straight into a tall, dark, solid figure. Falling to the floor, she screamed at the top of her lungs. Scully camearound her fighting, striking out with her fist, only to have her arm caught in an iron grip.
"Scully! Dana! Wait! It's me!" shouted a familiar voice. "Mulder?"
"Yes, it's me. Are you all right? What happened?" he asked urgently, letting go of her wrist to place both arms around her waist as she slumped against him in relief. "The bedroom. I...Mulder," she looked up into his dark eyes, her own eyes wide and deep with shock, "we were attacked, couldn't get out. Everything was flying at us, the bed...I had tokick the door open..." she stammered, then cried out in shock as she noticed the blood trickling down from a gash on the left side of his temple. "You're hurt!"
"Long story," he said grimly, then surprised her by swinging her up into his arms. But she clung to him in open relief as he carried her the rest of the way into the room and depositedher gently on the couch. "Stay put," he told her, moving back to help Sarah. As Mulder settled her into an easy chair, they heard several loud crashes from the direction of the bedroomfollowed by complete silence. "Looks like we're going to have some cleaning up to do," Mulder commented wryly.
"You could say that," Scully rejoined shakily. The two agents looked at each other, then broke into laughter. "Guess we'd better start with ourselves."
FBI Division Office-Baltimore
Special Agent Tom Colton walked briskly through the lobby of the FBI office. He nodded at the two agents chatting in the corner, not intending to stop.
"Hey, Colton, guess who's come for a visit?" One of them called out.
"Don't tell me, Leeds. Let me guess. The Pope?" Colton quipped, looking back over his shoulder, hand on the door to the busy main room. "Not quite," the short, balding Leeds chuckled, exchanging smiles with his taller partner. "Guess again."
"Come on, Leeds, spill it. I don't have the time."
"The 'spookies' are here."
"What! You're kidding." Colton let go of the door. But his heart sank as the other two nodded happily. "They've been here for a couple of hours, mostly in the computer room. Don't know what they're chasing, but they looked pretty serious. Maybe Tooms is ba-ack." They both laughed.
Colton looked at them both annoyed, then shook his head and continued through the door. He had a pretty good idea why Dana and her crazy partner were here. Maybe sending that woman tothem hadn't been such a good idea. But he'd thought that Dana at least would have enough sense to realize Mrs. 'what's-her-name' was a psych case. He'd only sent her to them as a practicaljoke. "Damn," he swore under his breath. He felt like everyone was staring at him. This was too much, he was going to get those two out of here immediately. Mulder was not going to cause himany more embarrassment.
In the computer room, Mulder was searching through the National Crime Index Computer, as he previously had the X- Files, looking for anything that resembled Sarah Whitcomb's case. Heknew it was a longshot, especially since he had so little to go on. But something about that shrouded figure had convinced him that they were dealing with a live person, albeit one with an extraordinary ability. Ironically, it was the usually- skeptical Scully who had held out for the possibility of a poltergeist-type haunting. She'd been busily searching the history of Sarah's house, with little more success than he'd had with the NCIC. Mulder yawned and stabbed at the return key with annoyance. His head still ached and he was worried about Scully. She'd been terribly shaken up by her experience, though she'd tried tohide it. So he'd bitten down on the urge to tease her about it, and tried hard to be supportive. He rubbed his eyes and glanced over at his partner, who was still on the phone to her mother.
"Thanks Mom, please let us know immediately if anything happens, anything at all...I hope so too, Mom...I will...you too, okay, bye, Mom." She hung up the phone and turned to faceMulder, tucking her hair behind her ear. "Mom says to say hello."
He smiled. "How are the kids doing?"
"Fine, they're helping her bake cookies."
"Sounds like fun."
"Yeah, any luck?"
"No, not really. A large number of possibilities, of course, but without more to go on, we're stuck waiting for him to make the next move." He frowned, "What about you?"
"Nothing at all," she sighed. "The place seems particularly devoid of anything resembling violence. The previous owner did die in the house, but that was due to old age, she was ninety-two years old, and had lived there since it was built in nineteen sixty-two." "I'm not surprised," Mulder responded. "I think our culprit is fixated on Sarah for some reason. He's on a power trip, enjoys frightening her."
"It still doesn't make sense to me, Mulder. Why would someone with that kind of...ability...bother with this kind of stuff and for so long, tossing things around, poking at her,terrifying the children, but never causing any real harm or even approaching her."
"I don't know, Scully. Maybe he's trying to isolate her, wear her down. And he's probably unable to handle face-to-face contact. This gives him a feeling of being in control. Besides he probably gets a real kick out of displaying what he can do."
"You'd think he'd use it for more than just tormenting her," Scully replied.
"Maybe he has, though I doubt it gets reported in a manner we'd recognize. Very few people would report getting robbed by a ghost, and I wouldn't be surprised if there were a number of unsolved burglaries around here, with VERY little trace evidence."
"Hmmm, maybe..." her voice trailed off as the door opened and Tom Colton walked in. Mulder and Scully exchanged quick glances, then looked up at him.
"Hello, Tom," she said cautiously.
"Dana, what are you doing here?" he demanded belligerently.
"Working on the case you sent us, don't you remember?" Scully said with a slight lilt in her voice.
"Case? That woman was crazy. I'd have expected this from him," Colton said gesturing towards Mulder, "but not from you. I'd hoped you retained more sense."
Mulder remained still and silent, his face calm and expressionless. He looked relaxed, sprawled in his chair, legs jutted out, head tilted just slightly back, eyes half-closed. ButScully knew better; she could feel the tension radiating from him. "But then why did you send her to us, if you didn't take her seriously, Tom?" Scully questioned, giving Colton her bestinnocent look. "We thought you wanted us to help her."
Mulder couldn't suppress a smile at that, which Colton responded to with an angry glare. "I was busy with more important cases. I figured you'd have the time to get her to a good shrink," he shot back.
"Guess we were just too short of things to do. We decided to come up here and do a little ghost hunting." Scully responded with a bright smile. "If you're not too busy now, how aboutcoming over tonight and sitting stake-out with us. I promise you, it won't be dull." She smiled sweetly.
"Sarah makes great chicken pot-pie," Mulder added, grinning, and leaning forward. "Besides, I think she likes you."
"You're both nuts!" Colton exploded, "I can't believe I used to respect you Dana, wanted to work with you. I guess insanity is contagious."
"Too bad intelligence isn't contagious," Mulder rejoined, rising to his feet to tower over the much-shorter Colton. Scully immediately stood up, her humor draining away. Mulder didn't get angry often, but he was frightening when did. 'Mulder..." she started, but Colton interrupted her, jabbing atMulder, all the festering anger and jealousy of the last year coming out in a rush.
"You think you're so much smarter than everyone else, but you're not! You're an embarrassment to the entire bureau! You may have gotten lucky occasionally, but sooner or later you'regoing to make a fool of yourself one time too many, and they'll finally lock you up where you belong...in a white padded room. I just hope I get to watch."
Mulder smiled, his hazel eyes sparking with apparent amusement, "The only one making a fool of himself is you. Now if you don't mind, we've got work to do." He turned his back on Colton, sat back down and proceed to examine the computer screen intently. Scully looked at both men, one seemingly calm, the other livid with rage, and was grateful she'd made the right choice that long year ago. Mulder was eccentric and often irritating, buthe was the most gifted investigator she'd ever met. He was brilliant. And he had more integrity and decency in him than any man she knew, except maybe for her father. She regretted yetagain that they'd never had a chance to meet. Without a word, she followed her partner's lead. Ignoring the frustrated Colton she pulled her chair over next to Mulder's and sat down beside him. She placed her hand on his shoulder,and leaned in close to him.
"Got anything interesting?" she asked.
Colton watched them for a moment, furious, but uncertain what to do next. He hated being ignored, and as much as he'd thought this wild-goose chase of a case would embarrass Mulder, itwas obvious that the man was incapable of being embarrassed. Finally his anger over took his fears regarding damage to his promotion opportunities. Mulder had already robbed him of his most recent chance for advancement. He reached over and switched off the power feeding into the computer. "That's it, you've wasted enough time and resources on this ridiculous 'case.' You're finished here." He stood back and gestured to the slightly ajar door.
Scully stood up and approached him, her eyes flashing blue fire. "You have no authority to interfere with our investigation, especially when you were the one who initiated ourinvolvement!"
"Investigation? Chasing after the figments of some neurotic woman's imagination. You don't have an investigation, you have hallucinations!" Mulder really couldn't have cared less about the search results he'd just lost. His eidetic memory could recall every word he'd read instantly, and there hadn't been anything usefulthere anyway. But he'd had enough. He rose to his feet, and slid between Scully and Colton. The two men glared at each, Colton obviously not happy to have to look up at Mulder. He opened his mouth to make another angry jab at Mulder, but Mulder silenced him, grasping his upper arm and propelling him deeper into the room. Colton tried to jerk his arm away, but Mulder held him pinned from behind , forcing him down against the bench. "Back off" Mulder said in a deceivingly calm voice. He let go of Colton's arm and stepped backwards, turning around to Scully, who was staring at him wide-eyed. He grimaced at her and tilted his head towards the door. "Let's go," he said.
When Mulder had released him, Colton had stumbled down to his knees, striking his chin against the edge of the table. He swore violently, stabilizing himself, then pulling to his feet. Mulder and Scully had already left the room, donning their coats as they walked. Colton raced after them in blind fury, but before he could jump Mulder from behind, Scully noticed himand tugged at Mulder's arm, warning him.
Mulder moved like lightning, spinning around to his left, balancing on his right foot, kicking out with his left. His foot caught Colton in the groin, knocking him backwards. Colton hitthe floor with a thud, clutching at his stomach, gasping for breath, while the rest of the room watched in shocked silence. Mulder looked down at him for a moment, then turned more slowly to rest his hand on Scully's arm. She looked back at Colton briefly, but seeing that he was not seriously hurt, shedecided that the best course of action was to get them out of there before something else happened. She reached under his arm, placed her hand against his back, and pushed ever so slightly. Hetook the hint immediately and joined her in a quick exit.
Much as he would have liked to really go at it with Colton, or at least have a shot at one good punch, Fox Mulder knew that he was probably already facing a long uncomfortable sessionwith Skinner when they got back to Washington. As long as he could plead simple self-defense, he might get out of it relatively unscathed. However, he couldn't help thinking that punchingthat arrogant ass Colton a few times might just be worth one of the Assistant Director's reprimands.
As though sensing his thought, Scully gave him a daggered look.
"Behave yourself, Mulder," "Who, me?"
607 E. Taylor Ave. Baltimore
Special Agent Dana Scully leaned back in the car seat and juggled the half-empty cup of hot chocolate-it wasn't very hot any more. Sighing, she took a sip anyway. Her partner was seatedby her side, in the car's driver's seat as usual, staring fixedly across the street at Sarah Whitcomb's house. Earlier this evening they had staged an exit, leaving Sarah apparently alone. They had then exchanged cars and driven back to park unobtrusively down the street. And sat. And waited.
The two agents had both been uncertain about using Sarah as bait, but she had determinedly insisted that she'd be fine. "I've coped with this by myself for days. Knowing that you're out there ready to help makes it a thousand times easier. I'll do whatever it takes to help you catch him." So they'd given her Scully's cellular phone, promising her that they'd be there in seconds if she needed them. She'd just smiled and told them to get on with it. Scully checked her watch, ten thirty pm. She hated sitting on a long stakeout, primed for action, but unable to make a move. Mulder was extremely tense too, though there was arecognizable element of excitement in his demeanor also. That insatiable curiosity of his had been aroused. He was convinced that their culprit was a telekinetic of great strength, and Mulder was fascinated by the possibility of studying his talent...of proving that such abilities were real. Scully had to admit some of the same feeling, although she was also very worried. Someone with that kind of ability could be very dangerous. So far he'd appeared to confine himself with parlor tricks and games. Frightening, but not deadly. That could change.
After the confrontation with Colton earlier, they'd gone to check with the local police and poured through piles of unsolved cases. Like any big city police force, the Baltimore PD had hundreds of open burglaries, muggings, robberies, and other crimes. Sure there had been some that could have been the work of their perp, but without more to go on...they were just wasting their time. But at least it had given them a chance to cool off. Scully was glad that Mulder had managed to stay in control. There'd been a moment...well, it was over and nothing too serious had happened. Thank goodness Mulder had such a strong sense of humor, even towards himself. But his humor hadbeen brittle this afternoon, and Scully was worried. She knew the constant teasing and jeering from their colleagues hurt him deeply, even though he'd never admit it. She looked over at him, mentally tracing every line of his familiar features, the strong jaw and generous mouth, the stubborn locks of dark hair that slipped down over his forehead, and though they were turned away from her now, the fierce intensity of his eyes... He'd come to mean so much to her. 'Enough!' she told herself briskly, forcing her attention back to the shadowed street in front of them. They had other things to deal with right now.
"Scully, look!" Mulder's voice interrupted her thoughts. He was pointing at a small red Toyota which had just pulled into Sarah's driveway. Both agents peered intently into the night, straining to identify the figure that left the car and hurried to the front door. They finally got a look at his face, as he stood under the small outside light over the doormat.
"Damn," Mulder swore, "what is he doing here?"
Special Agent Tom Colton pressed the doorbell a second time, impatiently. The last several hours had been a nightmare. His ASAC had raked him over the coals for the incident with Mulder that afternoon. "Behavior unfitting a federal officer," had been the kindest version. He had sat through it all silently, just as he had a year ago following Tooms' arrest for assaulting Scully. Cool on the exterior, internally he'd been boiling over with resentment and jealousy. When he'd first met Mulder, he'd dismissed him as being of no consequence. Most of the Bureau laughed at him. What he hadn't realized then, was that under those jokes, was a great dealof respect, even awe. They called Mulder crazy in one breath and brilliant in the next. But Colton didn't share that assessment. Not since Mulder had managed to turn Colton's big case first into a complete circus, then into an embarrassing failure. Instead of winning the promotion he coveted, he'd been quietly put aside, trapped at his current level. All because ofMulder.
And if that hadn't been enough, Mulder had managed yet again to completely humiliate him, in front of his entire division. Well, now it was his turn. He wouldn't be the one taken by surprise this time. He'd been a football star in college and could hold his own with the likes of Fox Mulder. The thought of punching the smirk off that man's face made him smilehappily.
That smile was the first thing Sarah saw as she cautiously opened the door for him.
"Agent Colton," she said in surprise, "I didn't know you were coming."
"Is Mulder here?" he demanded, grabbing the edge of the door to pull it open, and pushing his way into the door frame.
"Unh...no, I mean he and Dana are around somewhere, oh... They must have sent you to look after me, they're such kind people," she smiled up at him, pleased with her assumption. Shebacked up at let him enter the house, closing the door behind him.
Colton walked quickly into the living room, looking around. "Where is he," he demanded again. Sarah just looked at him with widened eyes, suddenly realizing that something was wrong. Hewas livid with rage. "Mulder!" he yelled, walking up close to her and looking angrily into her eyes. "Where is he!" Sarah gasped as he seized her arm in a painful grip. "I don't know, not exactly. Outside somewhere. He and Dana are keeping watch," she insisted, trying to free herself from his grasp. "Well then, let's go find him," replied Colton, not trusting a word she said. She was a certifiable nut, and in it with Mulder. She was probably trying to protect him. But Colton hadspent the entire afternoon psyching himself up to going after the man he blamed for ruining his career, and was not going to be stopped now. Or so he thought.
Outside in the shadows by the side of the house, the self-named 'Night Stalker' had seen the handsome young blond man drive up in his fancy red car and enter the house. He'd seen the way Sarah, HIS Sarah, had smiled at the fair-haired stranger, welcoming him into her home. The Stalker was furious. Earlier, when he'd seen the other couple leave - the tall dark man and his lovely red-haired companion - he'd been delighted. Finally, he and Sarah would have their night alone together.No screaming kids, no interruptions. He'd indulged in such wonderful fantasies, envisioned the way Sarah's emerald eyes would shine at him, the way she'd...
But that was all ruined now that she'd gone and invited that living Ken doll to be with her, on THEIR night. He was seized by a jolt of pure rage. He'd have to punish her for thisbetrayal. And, as for her pretty boyfriend, well, he was in for the surprise of his life. The Stalker started circling the house. When he reached the back of the house, he edged up to the kitchen window. Looking into the warmly-lit room he could see Sarah and Colton talking vigorously. He closed his eyes and directed his pain and anger straight at them.
Standing by the kitchen table, Tom Colton was badgering Sarah to tell him exactly where Mulder was.
"I don't know!" she insisted. "They said they'd be nearby if I needed them. Why don't you..." she never finished her sentence as a gust of air blew through the room. Furniture started to shake, cabinet and appliance doors flew open and shut, open and shut.
"What the hell!" yelled Colton.
"Look out," Sarah warned him, yanking him aside as a large frying pan lifted itself out of the sink and went flying straight at his head. It missed them both by inches, slamming into the opposing wall. Food went soaring out of the refrigerator and cabinets. Sarah was more prepared than Colton: she ducked and ran into a small corner between the fringe and the door,pulling Scully's cellular phone out of her cardigan sweater's pocket.
Colton just stood in the center of the room in shock, arms shielding his face as he was pelted with a variety of objects. Dialing the phone as rapidly as she could, Sarah watched in amazement as a large jar of spaghetti sauce hovered over the blond agent's head, then rose rapidly to strike the ceiling, shattering and showering him with its contents. As the phonerang, she couldn't help giggling as he tried to wipe the bright red sauce out of his eyes, only to get pelted with a couple of eggs.
Outside in their car, Mulder and Scully had been watching the house tensely, worried that Colton would manage to ruin their stakeout, or worse, put Sarah in danger. Mulder wanted to rush straight in and throw the idiot out, but that would certainly warn their quarry if he was watching, and Mulder was certain that he was. But before he could express those thoughts to his equally concerned partner his phone rang. Scully jerked her head around to look at him as he tersely responded, "Mulder."
It was Sarah. Mulder could hear the banging and crashing in the background as she cried into his ear, "Agent Mulder, it's started, you've got to come quickly. I'm afraid Agent Colton is going to get hurt." "Oh no, Watch out!" she yelled to Colton, as one of the kitchen chairs slid around under his feet. But he still partially blinded by what was now a combination of spaghetti sauce,cooking oil, and powdered hot chocolate mix to be able to respond. The chair knocked him off his feet, and he came down into it just as it began to rise into the air. Up and up they went, Colton and the chair. He was only just barely holding onto it, his feet dangling in mid-air.
"Mulder, you bastard! I'm going to get you for this! I don't know how you're doing this, but I'm going to break you in half, you're not getting away with this! LET ME DOWN!!!!!!!!" he screeched, his voice loud enough that Mulder could clearly hear it over the phone.
"Hang on, Sarah, we're on the way!" Mulder promised as he and Scully rapidly excited the car. He dropped the phone into his coat pocket as they raced across the street. However, even as they ran, Mulder couldn't help thinking that he didn't mind in the least if Colton was getting a good taste of what their psychic foe had to give. But there was no way he was going toleave Sarah at risk.
Scully ran as fast as she could to try to keep up with her athletic-and much longer-legged-partner. But he still outpaced her by a couple of yards to reach the house. So she signaled tohim that she would go around to the back. He nodded and headed for the front door, drawing his gun. She drew hers too, and walked slowly around the right side of the house. Everything seemed quiet as she worked her way around, no light or sound from the bedrooms. Slowly and cautiously, she moved closer and closer to the back of the house.
Mulder opened the front door as silently as possible, using the key Sarah had given them earlier. Sliding it open slowly, he edged into the doorway. Holding his gun in both hands,pointing down, he slid into the living room and then checked the hallway. All was quiet there, but he could here the loud noises coming from the kitchen. Turning in towards the kitchen, he peeked his head around the corner, eyes widening in amazement.
Sarah was crouched in a fetal position, wedged back against the refrigerator. Colton was suspended in mid-air, half-seated, half-hanging from a chair, rotating around one chair leg. Pots and pans and dishes and canisters of food were flying wildly around him. Food was splattered everywhere, making it look like a school cafeteria after a massive food-fight. Mulder took one step into the room, then jerked to attention in response to the sudden <BANG> of a gunshot from the backyard. At the same exact moment, Colton tumbled to the floor screaming, the chair smashing to the chair slightly to his left, and bouncing onto its side, one leg breaking off.
While Mulder had been staring stunned at the events in the kitchen, Scully had walked around to the back of the house. She proceeded slowly and anxiously, weapon grasped tightly in her hand, her memories of the night before vivid in her mind. She was frightened and angry. Rounding the corner, she spotted a tall, thin figure standing by the kitchen window. Silently, she tiptoed closer, waiting until she was in easy firing distance before identifying herself.
"Federal Agent, Don't move! You're under arrest," she stated in a cold, determined voice. The Stalker had been so intent on the events inside the kitchen that he hadn't noticed she was there until she spoke. He spun around in surprise, automatically pushing at her with his mind. Scully was hit with a blast of force, like a gust of cold air. Thrown off her feet, she still managed to pull the trigger as she fell. The gunshot rang out loudly, the bullet slamming into the house barely inches from the stalker's left shoulder. Feeling fear for the first time, he focused his remaining energy on the red- haired woman in front of him, lifting her up into the air, feet first. "No....Put me down," Scully yelled, trying to grab for the gun that had fallen out of her hand when she had hit the ground seconds before, but she was pulled into the air too quickly. Scully hung in the air, three feet of the ground, desperately reaching for some kind of support, terrified. "Put me down!" she yelled again, a small part of her almost laughing at the inanity of the situation. 'I'm getting hysterical,' she thought, 'concentrate, Dana!' There had to be <something> she could do.
Mulder tried to race past Colton towards the back door, leaping nimbly over the fallen chair, only to find that the floor was far too slick with spilled sauces and broken eggs for hisfeet to find purchase. He slipped backwards, unfortunately managing to land right on top of Colton, who had barely managed to pull himself to his knees. Both men swore fiercely as they endedup in a tangle on the floor, both now covered with spaghetti sauce, egg yolks, and chocolate sauce. Mulder pushed at Colton, trying to use him to get to his feet, barely noticing the other man, his mind preoccupied with his worry for Scully.
But Colton was beyond sanity at this point, and he grabbed onto the man he hated obsessively, punching at him. They ended up sprawled on the floor fighting and slipping at once. They struggled violently, each trying to regain the advantage of a standing position, but instead ending up sliding down into the mush on the floor. Finally, enraged that he was beingprevented from going to his partner's aid, Mulder aimed his right fist at Colton's jaw and hit him with every bit of strength he had. Colton went flying backwards, his head jerking back, sliding on the slick floor to crash back into the refrigerator. He twitched, then lay still, unconscious.
Mulder reached out for something to hold onto, struggling to his feet. He spun his head around in surprise as a hand grasped hold of his, helping to pull him up. It was Sarah, he'd completely forgotten she was there. Once he standing, he suddenly realized that somewhere in the melee he'd dropped his gun. 'Damn,' he thought, 'Maybe I ought to tie it to myself." Buthe couldn't see it anywhere and he couldn't take the time to search for it - Scully could be in serious trouble. He heard her yelling frantically from outside. Pushing Sarah behind him, heran out the kitchen door.
Without pausing, Mulder launched himself straight at the back of the dark, raincoat-shrouded figure standing just beyond the kitchen window. The stalker cried out in sudden alarm as hewas struck from behind by the full weight of the tall, athletic agent. As they both tumbled forward, Mulder coming down on top of his quarry, Scully was abruptly released, and she cried outin shock as she, too, hit the ground. "Dana!" Sarah ran over to help Scully, who groaned, clutching her head in agony.
Mulder grabbed the right arm of the man twisting beneath him, yanking it back behind him, pressing his knee into his back, reaching for his handcuffs. But before Mulder could manage toget the cuff closed on the other man's wrist, he found himself forced up and backwards. The determined agent struggled against the invisible force propelling him away. He was able to stumbleto a standing position, as did his opponent. Off to the side, Scully tried to get to her feet to help her partner, but a sudden wave of dizziness struck her, and she collapsed into Sarah's arms.
The two men fought a ferocious mental battle: the increasingly exhausted telekinetic pushing with his all his remaining mental strength against the obstinate federal agent facing him.For several tense moments they held at a standstill, Mulder unable to move forward, but somehow managing to keep from being pushed further away. Until a sudden yell behind him took them bothby surprise.
Mulder spun around, only to find himself staring at a gun barrel. Tom Colton was holding his weapon in shaking hands, something that looked like blood, but could have been spaghettisauce, dribbling down his face. His normally fair blond hair was stained brown and yellow, his suit crumpled and soiled, his eyes wild. "No more tricks Mulder, this is it!" he sputtered, "You're finished!" "NO!!!!!!" Scully screamed, as Colton stretched his arm out further, trying to hold the gun steady as his hand tightened on the trigger. Mulder dived for the ground as the shot rang out.
Having no understanding of what was occurring, the stalker didn't react in time, and he made a groaning cry of pain as the bullet struck him in the center of his chest. He crumpled tothe ground, blood spurting from his chest. Fighting off her dizziness, Scully charged forward to protect Mulder, his safety her only concern. She attacked Colton from the side, kicking at the hand holding the gun, knocking itupward into the air. He cried out in pain, the gun clattering to the ground.
Scully landed hard on her left foot and almost tumbled to the ground, but the weeks of training with Lee Xiao took over, and she pushed into the ground hard with that foot, using it as a springboard to strike out towards Colton again with her right foot, this time connecting hard into the middle ofhis chest. He went down hard, hitting his head on the doorknob to end up in a heap at her feet.
Mulder scrambled for Colton's abandoned gun, gasping slightly in relief as his hand closed upon it. He swung his arm around swiftly, leaping to his feet in the same motion, pointing thegun down at his moaning, barely conscious adversary. Recovering her balance as best she could, Scully knelt down beside Colton, pushed him down onto his stomach and handcuffed him securely. Mulder lowered the gun and held out his left hand to help her back to her feet.
Just as they were starting to reassure each other that they were really okay, a sudden cry from Sarah reminded drew their attention back to the dying man behind them. "My God, it's Henry!" she exclaimed.
Mulder and Scully came over to kneel beside her, Scully automatically beginning to access the seriousness of the wounds, taking off her coat to press down onto the bullet-hole in afutile attempt to slow down the bleeding.
"You know him?" Mulder asked.
"Yes," Sarah replied turning to him, "He's my firm's accountant. I've known him for years. He seemed like such a nice quiet person. Why would he do this to me?" Her voice trembled as tears began to flow down her cheeks. "I...I liked him."
Mulder just shook his head, there was no simple answer to that question. And given Henry's state, he had a feeling they might never know. He met Scully's eyes, and she just slightlyshook her head, confirming his expectation. With the three of them watching, Henry gasped, burbling up blood through his mouth. He reached out a hand towards Sarah who pulled back againstMulder in panic. Then with a whistling cough, Henry dropped his hand and lay still, his eyes still staring up at Scully, senseless.
Scully Home Chevy Chase, Maryland February 18, 1995
"Don't run in the house, Sammy," Sarah scolded lightly, as her daughter raced by, long black braids flying out behind her.
"That's okay," Margaret Scully said, laughing, "this house has already suffered through four children and six grandchildren. I doubt she could do much more damage."
"Thanks a lot, Mom," Dana Scully said with a smile.
Her mother just smiled back, but her partner was more interested. "I think I'd like to hear more about this," Mulder said, grinning at the thought of his neat, perfectly-groomed partner as a pig-tailed, freckled child. "Don't tell me, Scully, that you actually misbehaved!" he teased with pretended shock.
Of course not, I was a model child!" Scully responded indignantly, though she couldn't quite keep the corners of her mouth from curling upward in a hint of a smile.
"Of course you were, dear," her mother replied fondly. "Perhaps you'd like to see some pictures of Dana and her sister and brothers, Fox?"
"Mother..." Dana protested both the use of the name her partner abhorred and the dragging out of the family albums simultaneously, though she knew that both protests were useless. Her mother simply refused to call him by his last name. Mulder seemed to realize that too, so his only response to his despised name was a slight wince - followed by a delighted grin. "I'd love that, Mrs. Scully, thank you."
Scully shot him a look that said clearly that she'd get him for it later, but he just kept giving her that annoying bright smile. The others just laughed.
"Come help me get the photo-albums down from the closet, Fox." Margaret Scully said, standing up.
Mulder rose lazily to his feet and followed her out of the room, though not without throwing Scully a teasing look over his shoulder. She couldn't help sticking her tongue out at hisback, then turned and met Sarah's grin with one of her own.
"Dana," Sarah said after a moment, "Thank you both so much for helping me. I don't even want to think about what might have happened to us without you."
"You're welcome," Scully replied, "I hope everything will work out for you."
"Thank you, I think things will get better. I've just had a good offer on the house. It should give us a chance to start over." Sarah said.
"Write to us when you get settled."
The two women sat in silence for a moment, then Sarah turned wide green eyes on Scully. "I still don't understand why Henry did this to me."
"I'm not sure we'll ever understand completely," Scully replied. "He was certainly fixated on you. His apartment was covered with photographs, he must have been watching for months. Ithink he was terrified of approaching you in a normal manner, but his desire grew until it exploded. I guess we'll never know if his *talent* was rooted in his frustrated obsession, or it just fed into it." Scully grimaced. "It certainly is a new twist on stalking."
"I'm just grateful it's all over," Sarah smiled in relief, then leaned forward in her chair. "What will happen to poor Mr. Colton?" she asked.
Scully frowned slightly, tucking an auburn curl behind her ear, "The Bureau's internal affairs division is conducting an investigation. I'm afraid you may be called to make a statement." Sarah nodded.
"My guess is they'll recommend full psychiatric treatment. He seems to have had a complete nervous breakdown," Scully continued, not wanting to try to explain Tom's obsessive hatred forher partner.
"I can understand that," Sarah responded sadly. "The last several days have made me a little shaky too." Scully nodded, understanding that feeling all too well. Further conversation was interrupted by Mulder and Margaret returning with arms full of albums.
"Oh no..." Scully sighed. This was going to be embarrassing. And the pleased, anticipatory look on Mulder's face told her that she was not going to hear the end of this for a very longtime.