Title: One Belief Away
Author: Laura Blaurosen
Distribution Statement: whatever
Rating: NC-17
Category: XR
Keywords: Mulder/other (really brief) MSR
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, just wanted to write about them.

Summary: Mulder and Scully are called out on an investigation involving a supposedly haunted house with a murderous ghost.They also find out a few other things (unrelated to the case) while they are there.

Notes: Thanks to Rachel.

I worked really hard on this one, so I hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday 9:15 pm

"Hey Scully! Come on, hurry up, open the door! Scully?" Mulder's tone was insistent, but not desperate.

Scully had been on her way to take a shower and just go to bed, she'd even had the water going when she heard the pounding at her door. Her heart beat quickened a little until she heard his voice.

"Alright already, I'm coming! Quit your pounding!"

She opened the door and he pushed his way past her. He was bouncing up and down on his feet and pacing in a little area in front of her door.

"What brings you here, Mulder?" As though he even needed a reason to come over. She'd let him in at 3:30 in the morning just to eat a piece of cheese if he asked her to.

"Guess what, Scully? Guess what, guess what, GUESS...WHAT?!!" He said to her as he held her by the shoulders at arm's length.

Mulder's overt euphoria was contagious and she couldn't help but chuckle at him a little. "WHAT, Mulder?"

He let go of her and spun around. "Tonight, Scully, tonight, Genevieve and I went to dinner..."

Genevieve. Oh. The empathetic elation Scully had felt for Mulder suddenly dissipated.

"...and then after dinner, we took a walk around downtown Annapolis..."

For God's sake, cut to the chase!

"...and we went down by the boat docks and watched the people and the water and the sun was starting to set and - God, it was beautiful..." he drifted off into his own world.

"And then?" Jeez, Mulder, I didn't need you to come over here and tell me what a wonderful time you had with your girlfriend. To rub in the fact that you've found a wonderful woman who makes you happy. To remind me that I'm home in bed, alone, every night we're not on a case by 10:00. Scully wondered idly if she'd get a play by play of how they'd made love, too.

Mulder was still lost, but answered her anyway. "And then," he turned and looked her in the face again. "And then I asked her to marry me, Scully."

Whoa. 'I asked her to marry me. Marry me. Marry me, Scully.' It echoed in her head a few times. She said nothing to him, just watched his mouth flap as he continued to tell her about what she figured had been Genevieve's reaction, but she didn't hear the sounds. He was absolutely beside himself, bouncing off the walls and ceiling in her apartment.

"Scully?" Mulder stepped out of his self-absorption long enough to realize Scully wasn't reacting at all to his news. "Scully? Aren't you going to say anything? Aren't you happy for me?"

"Oh, Mulder, yes, yes, of course I'm happy. Very happy. I'm really very happy for you." Trying to convince Mulder or someone else, Dana? "It's just that it's so soon. What has it been, three months?"

"Three months, two weeks, to be exact."

"Are you sure about this? I mean, it just so - *soon*, Mulder."

"Well, when it's love, why wait, right?" It was a far from subtle reference that Mulder couldn't resist using. She still had no reaction. "Scully, what? What is it? I thought you'd be happy for me."

Mulder's excitement was visibly lessened and Scully immediately felt guilty for not reacting the way he had hoped she would. "Mulder, I *am* happy for you. I'm just a little taken aback, I guess. That's all," she said the words but she had a sinking suspicion that her facial expressions betrayed her still.

Mulder had met Genevieve Covey-Smith while he and Scully had been on a case that went to trial. It was actually through Scully that they had met, for it was Scully who tracked Genevieve down as an expert witness. She was a leading astrochemist in the country who taught and did major research at the University of Maryland. She was often called away at a moment's notice (which is probably why their evening tonight had been cut short), usually to Chicago where she was on staff at the Adler Planetarium. So it really didn't bother her when Mulder himself would often need to run off suddenly.

Genevieve, of course, was a beautiful woman. She was tall and had long thick dark hair which she most often kept tied back, conservatively elegant. She was three years Mulder's senior, but didn't look a day older than Scully. She had a sense of humor that was Mulder's match and was extremely genuine and unassuming. Just a really nice person. Scully liked her a lot, actually. Mulder's association to Scully didn't bother her, either. Genevieve had enough self-assuredness for three people and that's probably what, Scully ventured, most attracted Mulder to her.

And Mulder's feet hadn't touched ground for the past three months. He was getting regular sleep and just generally looked better than Scully had ever seen him. Happy.

Then why was she having such a hard time feeling excited for him?

"Mulder, I am happy because I know she makes you happy. And if marrying her will make you even happier, then, please, marry her!" She walked closer to him and caught his gaze. The extreme bliss that had been bursting through his being was still evident in his eyes. This elicited a true, sincere smile from Scully. "Congratulations, Mulder."

He let out a breath he'd been holding and returned her smile. He took her into his arms and hugged her tightly. Scully brought her arms around his waist and held on as though she thought she'd never see him again. She could feel his cheek rubbing back and forth on the top of her head. Then the muscles around her mouth began to twitch downwards and she swallowed a lump that threatened to creep up into her eyes. She stayed in his embrace until she was certain she wouldn't burst out in front of him.

"Scully, I just wanted to know that you thought this was okay, that you didn't think I was making a huge mistake."

She shook her head and drew back. "No, she's a wonderful woman. If you believe she's the one, who am I to sway you?"

Mulder smiled big. Mother's approval.

"So, when's the big day?"

"Uh, Saturday, actually."

Saturday? Saturday? "Wow, you guys aren't wasting any time, are you?" Saturday?

"Well, there really isn't any reason to wait. It's not like there's any big plans to be made. She's already had a big wedding once and neither of us can take time off for any kind of a honeymoon, so we figured, let's just do it this weekend."

Once again Scully was dumbstruck. Let's just do it this weekend.

"Oh, and Scully, if you can make it, I'd really like you to be there as my witness."

Of course. "Wouldn't miss it, Mulder. "

Mulder smiled yet one more time. He looked into her eyes for a long while. "I'm gettin' married, Scully," he said quietly.

"Yep, you sure are, Mulder."

He smiled bigger and shook his head. His attention was on himself again, as he seemed to be getting used to the idea of being married. He looked at Scully and drew her close again. Scully craned her neck a little and smiled up at him.

Kiss him, kiss him now, you'll never have another opportunity. Just do it this once and you'll finally know.

Scully looked into his eyes and then at his lips. Just the sight of his full bottom lip coupled with the contemplation of kissing it caused a wave of heat to pass through her chest. The space between their faces decreased little by little and finally Scully brought herself to his mouth, catching that bottom lip briefly between her two lips, then pulled away quickly, testing his reaction.

Mulder laughed a little in his throat and air from his nose spilled over Scully's face. It was warm and smiled like him and made her feel like he was kissing her entire face at once. Then he leaned down and kissed her briefly, just as she had done. She did it back. Then he did. She drew back and buried her head in his chest again, putting an end to the inappropriate exchange and resolving to act as though she had been mistaken about the feelings it had brought on.

They stood there in front of the door holding each other for several moments. Scully's memory flashed back to when he'd held her after saving her from Pfaster. When he held her in the hospital. When she held him in the woods. The two of them. Agents Mulder and Scully.

Mulder and Scully. Mulder and Genevieve.

It was too much. She couldn't process it, couldn't figure out how she really felt about it. So she just let him hold her until he finally said, "Well, I'd better let you go to bed, Scully."

Scully nodded and let Mulder out of her apartment.

With the door shut and locked once again, Scully looked around her apartment. She felt weak, sick to her stomach. She wobbled over to the kitchen table and sat down, trying to figure out whether or not she was going to vomit. She stared into space for a while, feeling very much outside of herself.

She let her mind drift a little and she saw Mulder everywhere in her home. Mulder at her kitchen table, Mulder with his head stuck in her fridge, Mulder in her bed.

In my bed. He'll never be in my bed. He's in Genevieve's bed. Not mine. Not mine.

She shook her head and tried to put the jumble of thoughts far from her mind. She put the newspaper into her recycle bin. She put four diet cokes in the refrigerator. She set up the coffee maker for the morning. She washed the three dishes she'd dirtied for dinner. She changed the garbage bag. She loaded her laser printer with paper.

9:49 p.m. If she got into the shower now, she'd be in bed right around ten.

Damn him. Damn him for finding somebody. Damn her for making him fall in love with her. Damn me for being so undesirable. Why her?

She turned the water on in the shower and stood directly underneath the stream, letting it soak her hair. She squeezed her eyes shut when her makeup began running into her eyes, causing a severe sting. When she brought her hands up to rub her eyes, an uncontrollable whimper escaped from low in her belly. Then another. Then another. Soon she was sobbing in a regular rhythmic pattern. Like a child. Like an infant who has started herself crying and then can do nothing to stop.

One more best friend getting married on me. It's always somebody else but me. Not that I really want to be married, but Mulder wasn't supposed to get married, either.

Scully leaned into the shower wall and drew her arms around herself, then sunk to the floor and hugged her knees to her chest. She stayed there until the shower ran cold. And couldn't stop crying.

Mulder's getting married. Yet another thing in her life she hadn't realized she wanted so much until she couldn't have it anymore.

I wanted him for mine. I never knew.

By dawn, Scully did a little math and figured out that she'd slept of total of three hours throughout the course of the night. She checked the clock for the 140th time since she'd gone to bed.

4:50 am.

Fuck. Might as well get up.

She lay there for a few more moments and replayed Mulder's visit in her mind. She hadn't dreamt it.

Once in the bathroom, she peered at her reflection. "Well, I look like shit," she said to herself as she turned on the faucet. She felt sick. She contemplated not going in today, but figured Mulder'd end up at her place, anyway. He'd be worried about her for sure, especially since he'd just seen her last night. She may as well face him at the office, where she would be less prone to breaking up.

He'd be worried. But would he still come over? Would that change once he was married? Or would he forget to worry about her? No, he'd be at home, with his wife. Holding her in their bed. Holding her, thinking only about her and she'd be here in her apartment. Alone.

She started to cry again for the 26th time since Mulder had left her. Mulder's leaving me. She leaned her forearms on the sink and held her head in her hands.

Then it occurred to her just how ridiculous she was being. This isn't about you. It's about Mulder. Mulder's life, his happiness. Not yours. Be happy for Mulder.

After squeezing an entire bottle of Visine into her eyeballs, she decided to wear her glasses today, hoping it would hide her puffy eyes. She took three sinus pills and planned on telling everyone that her allergies were bothering her this morning.

She took a deep breath before turning the knob on the door to Mulder's office. I am not going to let this get to me anymore. She walked through the door only to find Mulder with his feet up on his desk, on the phone with Genevieve.

He acknowledged Scully and said into the phone, "Okay, babe, I just wanted to make sure you got in there alright. Gotta go."

Babe. Scully turned her back to him and pretended to fish through her attache. In reality she was concentrating on forcing away the gnawing in her stomach.

"Morning, sunshine!"

Did he call Genevieve that, too? "Morning, Mulder." She didn't look at him.

"Uh, Skinner wanted to see us as soon as you got here. Says he's got something he wants us to look into."

She looked at him. He was glowing, still. Damn him. "Well, let's go, then."

"Morning, Agents," Skinner said as he let them in the room.

"Morning, Sir," Mulder responded. Scully said nothing.

Skinner examined her for a few moments. "Feeling alright, Agent Scully?"

Her heart was racing. No, sir, I feel like shit because I've been crying all night because Mulder's getting married. "Uh, yeah, yeah, I'm fine. My sinuses are just bothering me today. The pollen and mold counts are sky-high."

He studied her for one more brief moment, then nodded. "Listen, a case has come to my attention that I'd like the two of you to look into. It actually involves the daughter of an old marine buddy of mine."

He went on to tell them that his friend's daughter and her husband had purchased and restored an old home in central Illinois. Soon after the restoration was complete, the girl's husband came down with several illnesses, from a simple cold to a broken leg to severe pneumonia, all in a matter of one month. He developed a condition whereby his mouth and throat swelled severely, making eating, breathing and speech incredibly difficult. Eventually and inexplicably it simply went away.

Scully shifted in her chair and looked over at Mulder. He was staring out the window behind Skinner and seemed to almost not be listening. Thinking her voice might wake him from his reverie, she said, "I'm sorry, sir, but I don't see why a set of coincidences warrants an FBI investigation."

He gestured that there was more. He handed her the case file. "Two months ago, a neighbor found Sarah in her bedroom, on the floor. Her husband was in the bed; he'd been dead for at least a day, apparently suffocated to death."

"Wasn't there any kind of investigation at the time? What was her statement?" Guess Mulder was listening after all.

"Problem is they couldn't get a statement from Sarah. She hasn't spoken a word since she was found. She's in some sort of extreme shock." He paused. "Anybody who knows Sarah Ross knows she's not capable of smashing a spider, but she's the only suspect the local PD has right now."

"So you want us to go down there to prove she didn't do it?"

"In part, yes." He hesitated a moment. "There's not going to be any kind of a trial as long as Sarah cannot speak for herself, but she'll go on record in some manner or another as the only possible suspect. The situation is this: my friend and his wife are certain that Sarah did not kill her husband, despite what the police believe. What they believe is that what happened to Sarah's husband was... paranormal ...in some way."

"Paranormal how?" Mulder asked.

"They believe there was a ghost in the house. And they're convinced that it was this ghost who actually did it."

"Really?" Scully's eyebrows were raised

"Well, paranormal activity or no, her parents are good friends of mine, they're going through a lot of grief right now and I hate to see them fall prey to this nonsense."

Ghostbusters. I spent 10 years in school to enter into a vocation created by Hollywood, Scully thought to herself. Then it occurred to her. If we have to go there today, perhaps we'll have to stay through Saturday and then he'd have to call off the wedding. Well, postpone it, anyway. Okay, I'll be a ghost hunter. Sure, sounds like fun.

"Sir, I'd like to request that Agent Scully and I are allowed to stay in the home while we conduct our investigation." Mulder had plans already; Scully could see the spark in his eye.

"I'll see that it is arranged." He looked at the two of them before dismissing them. "And Agents, I'd consider this somewhat of a personal favor if you are able to prove Sarah's innocence."

They nodded in unison and headed to Illinois.

They drove up to a 3-story, turn of the century Queen Anne-style home with a wide wrap around porch. It was in excellent condition and the landscaping was beautiful. Very inviting.

"Doesn't look haunted to me, Mulder," Scully said as she exited the rental car.

Mulder walked around to the trunk. "Ghosts don't always reside just in broken down and dilapidated old buildings. They can be anywhere." He pulled their things out one by one as Scully searched around for the key. "In fact," he said as they walked up to the house, "it's been said that there are so many spirits floatin' around in this world that if we could see them all, the skies would be darkened."

"Uh-huh," she responded in a way which always told him she was listening, but wasn't truly interested. She unlocked the door and Mulder followed her inside.

The home's interior was just as impressive as the outside. The Rosses clearly were a very well-off couple. The house was filled with a tasteful mixture of antiques and elegant new furniture. "Sorry, Mulder, still doesn't look haunted to me." She glanced into the living room, which was to the left of the foyer, and saw Mulder waving his hand out in front of him. He looked like a mime, tracing the outsides of an invisible object.

He turned to see her questioning stare and said almost in a whisper, "It's a cold spot, Scully." He felt one area, then moved his hand away and then back again. "You've gotta feel this. It's wild."

"You sure it's not coming from the vent on the floor?" she asked as she walked toward him.

He shook his head. "It's like a -," He ran his hand around the space again, "It's like a sphere, almost. Right here, see?" He took her wrist and moved it to the space in question, then away, then back again.

Nothing. "Feels like air."

He shook his head in frustration. "It's gone now."

"What's so important about a cold spot?"

He looked at her as though he was disappointed that she didn't know. "Reportings of haunted places often make mention of cold spots in otherwise balmy conditions."

"So what you're telling me is that you were just feeling up a ghost?"

Very funny, he said with his expression. "I think there's something here in this house. You can just feel it. Already."

"Speak for yourself, Mulder. All I can feel is that I need to find the thermostat in this house before I melt," was Scully's reply as she headed for the stairs. She grabbed her suitcases and began ascending the stairs. "Besides," she stopped a third of the way up, "Even if there was a ghost in this house - which there isn't - you'd need a little more proof than just your 'feelings'."

She started up the stairs again when her suitcase popped open, spilling the contents onto the stairs and down into the foyer.


"Maybe later, Scully, I'm wanna take a shower now," Mulder said as headed toward the stairs and stepped around Scully and her mess. "You better watch what you say about them," he called from upstairs. "They can hear you."

'Maybe later Scully'. She was stuck on the phrase and wondering how long it would be before he stopped teasing her like that.

Since Mulder had already seemed to have claimed the master bedroom at the north end of the hallway, Scully took the room directly next to it. As she was unpacking, she heard the shrill ring of Mulder's phone and proceeded to his bedroom to answer it for him.

"Agent Mulder's phone, this is Agent Scully."

"Oh, Dana, hi there. This is Genevieve."

Genevieve. Oh. "Oh, hello. Uh, Mulder's in the shower."

"Oh. Okay."

Uncomfortable pause.

"Well, I guess I should extend my congratulations." Not that I would mean them.

"Oh, yeah, thank you, thank you very much. That's actually the reason I'm calling."

To call it off? Scully's heart pounded in her ears.

"Do you think you guys are going to be done down there by Saturday? Mulder said he wasn't sure and I was just wondering, because I may just be stuck up here through the weekend."

Praise Jesus. Heart rate increase.

"It's too soon to tell, Gen. I'll uh, I'll tell Mulder. I'll have him give you a call." Tomorrow, maybe.

"Thanks so much, Dana. Bye."

She stood in the room for a few moments, contemplating whether or not she could get away with not giving him the message. As she decided it would be extremely childish not to tell him, Mulder appeared in the room. He rubbed a towel over his wet head and jumped a little to see Scully in his room.

"Jesus, what are you doing?" He demanded of her through a sigh of relief. "Trying to give me a coronary?"

"Seeing ghosts? Mulder, you've got to relax or you're gonna *make* yourself see one."

He shook his head. "What are you doing in here, anyway?"

"I uh, just, your phone rang. You need to call Genevieve." She was proud that she'd managed to tell him the truth. She then noticed Mulder was only wearing a towel. She looked quickly down at his bed and hoped he didn't notice her flush. I'm flushing? She cursed herself for the reaction.

He didn't let on to have noticed because he went over to the other side of the bed where he had his suitcase. "Okay, thanks. I'll call her in a minute."

Why don't you wait a little longer? Why don't you never call her ever again and let's have everything back to the way it was before you were going to get married. Okay?

She didn't know what else she'd wanted him to say about it, but she found herself wanting to know more. He didn't talk about Genevieve at any great lengths with her and she didn't prod him to expound, either. She didn't want to know and something told her that he could tell and that's why he never offered any information. But another part of her did want to know. Know things she knew would never have the nerve to ask him about.

Why her, Mulder?

She was still staring at the phone on his bed when she noticed a collection of various 'gadgets' strewn across the bed. "What's all this stuff for?" She turned to look at him because he'd moved behind her, only to see a glimpse of Mulder's naked ass. He was dressing with her in the room! What the hell? Did he really feel that comfortable with her? It wasn't that she felt uncomfortable around him, but she was suddenly very embarrassed.

She looked quickly back to the bed and took one of the strange devices in her hand. It was shaped like a remote control and had a place for a 4-digit LCD display at the top. In the middle was simply an on/off switch and beneath that it read 'EM Field Detector'. Also on the bed were a simple 35mm camera and his microcassette recorder and another device that looked like some sci-fi movie prop. It was shaped in the fashion of a handgun with a shorter barrel and longer handle. Scully picked up the item and shot it at the wall. A straight red laser light shot through the room.

"This your phaser gun, Mulder?"

"Ha, Ha," he said as he approached her, this time in his boxers.

Oh, Mulder, yes, that's much less uncomfortable than you just naked in front of me. Sure.

"This stuff is really cool, isn't it? And we get to play with it, courtesy of The Lone Gunmen." He took the laser-shooting item from her and pointed it, starting at the door and bringing it around to finally rest on Scully's chest.

"Nope, you're not a ghost, Scully."

"So, this is equipment to catch a ghost with, then?" Eyes up, Dana, she had to remind herself, trying desperately to pretend he was wearing clothes.

"Not catch, no. We're not here as 'ghostbusters', rather ghost 'hunters'. You were saying we needed more proof than just a hunch? This stuff will help us gather evidence of ghostly entities which might dwell in the house."

"Uh-huh. Evidence of something that can't be seen."

"Scully, as I always say, don't be so quick to dismiss the possibility. And as far as being able to be seen, we may just get a photograph or two and," he picked up the recorder, "soundtrack."

Scully sighed as was her fashion and as usual, Mulder was unaffected. "Mulder, don't you think we need to do some actual investigating, not just gather media to sell to 'Sightings'. Now I don't know what you had planned, but I'd like to go and see Sarah Ross and I had hoped you would join me. I could use your psychological expertise and since you are my partner..." she held her hand out.

"Alright, let me get dressed, will ya?" He shooed her out. "I'll go with you if you'll stake out ghosts with me tonight." He waited for her affirmative reaction.

She sighed again. Of course. Like she'd have said no.

Tallis Medical Center Mental Health Ward

Mulder and Scully spoke briefly with Sarah Ross' father before going to see her in her room. He thanked the two agents profusely for coming and directed them to where they could find Sarah.

A woman of about thirty sat in a chair in the corner of the room they entered. Her hands were in her lap and her head fell limply to the one side. Scully and Mulder observed her from the door.

"You may go in if you wish. The stimuli of other voices and movement can only help her," the doctor said to them.

Scully came as close to the woman as she thought was appropriate. Her breathing appeared normal. "Sarah?" No response. Scully looked at Dr. Moore. "How long has she been like this?"

He thought for a second. "Tomorrow it will be eight weeks. If a person is going to come out of a state like hers, it's usually in four weeks or less."

"Post-traumatic stress disorder?" Scully ventured an educated guess at the diagnoses.

"No, acute stress disorder," Mulder leaned down to look into Sarah's eyes. Then turned back to Dr. Moore, "Am I right?"

"Yes, that's it exactly. She's in a state which is known as numbing or psychic numbing. She is completely unaware of her surroundings and responds to no external or internal stimuli. Except for changes in temperature, however, which is why I have a nurse check her body temp every so often to make sure she's not chilled."

Mulder nodded. "What kind of treatment are you offering?"

"Well," he sighed, "Admittedly, I'm about tapped out. I've been doing a lot of consulting and she's had a few of the top psychiatrists in the country in here to see her. They're stumped, really. It's like she's a vegetable, but doesn't need a life support system. We've tried all kinds of stimulation, medication..." He lowered his voice. "Don't tell her father just yet, but pretty soon there are some decisions which will have to be made about Sarah's permanent care."

Scully looked at Sarah again. She was a very small, petite woman. Very pretty with shoulder length red-blond hair that was a little curly, and noted that Sarah reminded her very much of Melissa. Sarah appeared very pale, pasty. Scully sat on the edge of the bed and took Sarah's hand. Ice cold. "Dr. Moore, she's freezing."

He nodded and bent down to switch on a space heater on the table directly next to Sarah's chair. Then he went to get the nurse to stay with Sarah for a while. Scully wrapped Sarah in a blanket and rubbed her hands over Sarah's to help warm her up. She's *so* cold, Scully thought. It reminded her of the way a corpse felt.

It was dusk when they returned to the house. Scully peered into the window as they pulled into the driveway. The lights were all on in the living room. "Huh. They must have those lights on a timer," she said to Mulder as they mounted the front steps.

"Yeah. Same as the one up the attic, too," Mulder said.

"What do you mean?" He motioned her back out on to the front lawn. She followed him out there and craned her neck skyward. Yep, there was a light on in the attic. "Maybe it was on the whole time and we just didn't notice it in the daylight."

Mulder shrugged and started into the house. "Maybe."

Once inside, Mulder searched the outlets looking for timers for the lights. Not one of them held such a device. "No timers, Scully," he called out to her.

"Maybe there's some kind of control panel or something. A power surge might have caused them to turn on."

She was in the kitchen before she could receive his cynical glance at her. There was a note on the counter.

'Thought you two could use some dinner'

Sarah's parents (she assumed) had left them sandwiches and fresh fruit in the refrigerator.

"Provisions!" Mulder exclaimed as he pulled out the tray.

"Provisions for what, Mulder?"

He stuffed half of a sandwich in his mouth. "Scully, you promised!"

Scully had a hard time not breaking out in a laughing fit. The moments were rare, but every once in a while, Mulder would do or say something that just warmed her. Melted her. This was one of those moments. He sounded like a disappointed ten-year-old, talking with his mouth full like that. That's right, she remembered, ghost hunting. "Sorry, almost forgot."

"Can't believe you could actually forget an opportunity to do something like this!" He carried the tray toward the stairs. "I went with a group of ghost hunters to a cemetery once..." he began and told Scully a tale which she guessed made him think he was somehow fully qualified to conduct this sort of investigation. If you could call it that.

Mulder decided they should start their 'surveillance' in the master bedroom. He started the tape recorder and made sure they had plenty of tapes waiting. Scully's job was to shoot pictures when Mulder told her to, one right after the other in the area he directed. He picked up the remote control thing, as Scully called it.

"Scully, it's an Electromagnetic Field Detector," he corrected her. Anything it might pick up between a 3 to a 7 milligaus reading can pretty much tell you if there's an entity in the room with us." He walked around the room with the device in hand and the phaser gun' in the other.

Milligauss? "So an electromagnetic field reading will prove there's a ghost here?"

"Sort of. What it actually does is point out and measure energy anomalies. At least it grounds the possibility of ghostly activity in some sort of science. You were a physics major, Scully, you ought to appreciate this stuff." He walked the circumference of the room again.

Scully sat at the head of the bed and watched Mulder in silence. He was in his element and completely involved in capturing a ghost tonight. His fervor, no matter how ridiculous it seemed, was enough to convince her (as it usually did) of a necessity for this investigation. Scully often wondered if it was the utter passion he exuded when he was in this state that she was attracted to. Her passions were so introverted; she envied Mulder's displays sometimes. If there was one quality she fed off of him, it was that passion.

After a while, Mulder sat on the bed and helped himself to another sandwich. "Mulder, I realize I'm far from the expert in this situation, but shouldn't we be doing this in all the rooms?"

"I wanted to start here, where the murder occurred to see if we would get stronger readings," He leaned back on his elbows and looked down on the tray. He grabbed a sprig of grapes off of it. He lifted it up to his mouth and took three of them into his mouth at once and pulled them off their stems. "Ghostly activity seems to focus in places where extreme situations have taken place..."

He went on but Scully was suddenly drawn to watching the way he was eating those grapes. She was struck at just how erotic it was to watch him do this. Eating. That's all he's doing, Dana, just eating. You've seen him do it a hundred times. But never eating fruit in a bed with me in it. Eating...Against her will and better judgment, she started envisioning scenes of him eating strategically placed grapes off of areas on her body...

"Want some, Scully?" He looked up at her.

What? Oh, grapes. "Yeah," she said weakly. She cleared her throat and extended her hand to him. He pushed her hand down onto the mattress and leaned over the tray, to get closer to Scully. He dangled the fruit over her head.

"Here you go," he said.

Yep, Mulder, that's right. Here I go. She reached up and grabbed one grape into her mouth, giggling a little as she did. 'Mmmm...these are wonderful," she said, in maybe a little too sultry of a voice.

Mulder chuckled a little, too, as he helped her to a few more. She swallowed them down and opened her eyes only to see Mulder a few slight inches from her face. She felt that wave of warmth pass through her chest again to see the look in his eyes and so she looked down.

"Mulder, look," she said suddenly, pointing at the EMF meter. It was fluctuating between 4.45 and 4.89.

"Start shooting, Scully," he commanded and started aiming the thermal scanner slowly around the room. "Over there," he pointed at the closet. "Just keep hittin' the shutter."

She had shot almost the entire roll before he told her she could stop. She watched him circle the room and then stand in the doorway.

"So, now what?"

He was writing things down on a legal pad on the dresser. "Now we get the film developed and see if there's anything on it."

"Such as...?"

"Ectoplasmic configurations. Balls of light. Misty apparitions, the standard stuff."

"Standard stuff. Sure. Smile, Mulder," she said as she snapped the last picture on the roll of film. She unloaded the camera and rose from the bed to hand Mulder the can.

He took it from her and said facetiously, "Scully, you know that's not my best side."

She smiled and watched him continue to write. "Uh, I'm tired, I'm gonna go to bed now, if that's alright. I think, Mulder" she cleared her throat, "I think we should go down to the police station tomorrow and review their reports on the murder. Then maybe we ought to talk to a few of Sarah's friends..."

He raised his hand to her face and smiled at her. "Okay," he said and leaned in quickly to peck her on the forehead.

Scully now knew she needed to get out of Mulder's room that very moment. She attributed the shaky legs that carried her to her room to lack of circulation. Mulder had kissed her again.

She was amazed at how distracted by him she was. Usually when Mulder was following through on a theory in some unorthodox manner, she was busy coming up with reason why he was wasting their time and taxpayer dollars. But all she had really been able to do was concentrate on him and the way he was moving, the way he smelled, the way he breathed. As though she had never been aware of any of these things until tonight. And then for him to kiss her - again - it was more than she was able to handle.

Why was he doing this to her? Or maybe he'd always acted this way and she'd only now opened herself up to realizing its effect on her. She tossed around on her bed as she toyed with scenario after scenario, searching into her past with him, for something that would tell her that he might love her. Love her more than a woman named Genevieve.

Shortly before drifting off to sleep, she came to the awareness that there were a million reasons to believe he was in love with her. A million more to believe than to not. But it is easier to prove something does exist than it is to prove it doesn't. He'd taught her that.

The only thing she was certain of was that it had been a possibility she'd refused to let enter her conscious mind before. And if she'd realized that too late, it was her own damn fault. She could never tell him now.


Ma's Country Inn Thursday 9:45 am

"Mulder, you never told me what you thought of Sarah Ross' condition," Scully said before taking a fork to her broccoli omelet.

"Not much to say, really. Many people slip into that state and never come out of it. I remember reading case studies about people who did after 40 years. Sometimes people never do."

40 years? Poor Sarah, Scully thought as she watched Mulder fish through the photos he'd gotten back from the one-hour developing place. "Do you think that maybe she did kill her husband and was so shocked that it caused her to close up like that?"

He shrugged his shoulders. "It could certainly explain it, but according to Skinner, she wasn't capable of smashing a bug, so it doesn't seem that likely."

"And a ghostly murderer seems more likely?"

"Ok, I know, but-" His eyes widened at one of the photos. "Would you look at that..." he handed the photograph to Scully.

"What am I looking at?" All she saw was the closet in Mulder's room.

"There, right there, see the little balls of light? Those spheres often show up on photographs taken in haunted places."

"Sure it's not a spot on the lens?"

"No, because the spots would show up in the same place on every shot. See, in this one the spheres are in the center." He handed her another picture.

She studied them and shook her head. "Maybe it's a reflection from the headlights of a passing vehicle."

"Maybe." He came to the last one she'd shot. "Ooh, look at me, Scully. You *cannot* tell me that isn't that the epitome of sexy."

"You really want me to answer that, Mulder?" she said as she studied the photograph. She had taken a pretty good shot of him, even if it was a little dark. "You look good, Mulder. You should give this one to Genevieve."

"Nah, you keep it Scully. A souvenir of your first ghost hunt."

"You are so good to me." She had brought up Genevieve's name on purpose, hoping to incite conversation about her, but as per usual, he brushed it aside.

"What the hell? This can't be..." he said, looking at the picture again. "Scully, what do you think this is, in the corner by the dresser?"

She squinted her eyes. "I don't know, shadows, cast by the light of the moon last night?"

"It looks like a figure," he said as he studied it again. "Like a person, kind of huddled in the corner, like they used to make us do in school for tornado drills."

"What?" she asked in disbelief as the waitress came to refill their coffee.

"You two are those FBI people arentcha? You're pretty brave to stay at the Tallis house."

Scully thanked her for the refill and looked up at the woman. "Why's that?" she asked her.

"Cause! There's something evil in that house. Old lady Tallis was into all kinds of witchcraft and stuff like that, people say she put a hex on that house when her husband kicked her out. That's why everybody says Sarah Ross didn't kill her husband. It was old lady Tallis' ghost."

"Who is old lady Tallis?" Mulder asked.

"Prudence Tallis. She was the woman who lived in that house. Her and her husband built it. He kicked her out of the house after he divorced her to marry his mistress. Somehow, though, Mrs. Tallis fell down the stairs and died, probably pushed by her Mr. Tallis. Then they say Mrs. Tallis' ghost terrorized the new Mrs. Tallis until finally driving them out of the home. Nonody's lived in that house as long as the Rosses did."

"Did you know the Rosses?" Scully asked the woman in hopes of distracting her from the ridiculous story.

"I went to school with Jimmy's parents. And Jim came in here bout every other morning on his way to work. Think he worked in Springfield."

"Do you know if they seem were a happy couple to you?"

"You think she killed him, don't you, like police are saying. If you ask me there ain't no way Sarah Ross was the one who killed her husband. There's something in that house. Something evil. Always has been. Folks told em they shouldn't mess with buying that house. Then they started remodeling and fixing it up and stuff - that's when it all started happening, Jim getting sick and all."

She waved a hand in the air. "I don't like even talkin' about it. Gives me the creeps." With that, she was motioned away from their table by another customer.

Scully looked back at Mulder. "The creeps. Isn't that the same phenomenon that sold you on there being a ghost in that house?" He was still studying the photo. "Mulder, you don't really think you see an actual person in that picture, do you?"

He nodded slowly. "I'm gonna find somewhere I can overnight this to the bureau so we can get it enhanced. Tonight I want to run a video camera in my room, see if we pick anything up on it."

Scully had to inhibit herself from shaking her head at him. "Well, I think we ought to do some research on the house and this old lady Tallis' to see if there's any truth behind it at all."

It was 7:30 by the time they'd gotten back to the house. A trip to the local police station that afternoon only served to further excite Mulder's insistence that there was a ghost in the Tallis house. He sat in rapt fascination to hear all of the officers' personal experiences with the 'ghost' in regard to that home.

Concerning the investigation itself, the crime scene report stated basically that Jim had been suffocated with a pillow and that Sarah was their only possible suspect at this point. There had been no signs of a break in, Jim had no known enemies, and no one had seen anyone enter the house or leave it at the time of the murder.

A pleasant aroma from the kitchen drew the agents to that room first. On the stove there was simmering a pot of barbecued pork.

"Let's you and I move in here, Scully. There's always food waiting in this house whenever we get back," Mulder said as he grabbed the jug of iced tea from the fridge.

"Mulder, if we lived together, we'd probably murder one another." She pulled plates out of the cupboard.

"Nah, Scully, we'd do great. We know each other so well. We know exactly what pisses each other off and when we should leave each other the hell alone. I've always been told that's the way to a successful marriage."

They looked at each other, mutually realizing the cosmic irony behind his off-handed remark. Then Mulder's phone rang and he excused himself from the table.

Scully watched his lanky form wander into the living room in search of his cell phone. She took a bite of her sandwich and waited to see who it was.

"Oh hey!" He said enthusiastically, then lowered his voice, "Hey babe..."

That was all Scully needed to hear and she grabbed her plate and glass and headed the back way to the stairs. She wanted to stay and see if they were going to decide to postpone their plans, but couldn't bring herself to eavesdrop that way. Not for that reason.

Scully watched the television in her room for almost an hour when she heard a knock at her door. "S'open, Mulder."

But Mulder never came in. "Mulder?" she said cautiously as she scanned the room for her gun. Retrieving it, she moved toward the door cautiously and listened. It was so quiet, she noted. "Mulder?" she whispered again.

She swung the door open and aimed her gun out into the hall. There was something in front of her door. Light, or smoke...a face?

She blinked and looked again. Nothing. She couldn't help but notice how cold it was in the hallway. Cold like a refrigerator.

She had just been watching the 10:00 news. The weatherman had said overnight temperature would be 70 degrees tonight.

She shivered and looked around to see if Mulder had in fact been near her door. She saw nothing, but did notice the light on in Mulder's room. She made her way to the room and knocked lightly on the door. "Mulder, you awake?"

She heard the bed creak and thought he was getting up to open it, but again he never came. "Mulder?" she called again and peeked around the corner. "Mulder did you just-"

But she opened the door to find a soundly sleeping Mulder. He had set up a camcorder on the nightstand facing the general direction of that mystery spot he'd found on the photograph earlier that day.

She smiled softly to see him like this. She loved to watch him sleep. She usually was only graced with a few fleeting minutes on an airplane or in their car, though. And oftentimes she would wonder what it would be like to see him asleep comfortably in a bed, perhaps with his arms around her.

She shut out the light and he stirred again. She left the room, scurrying away guiltily to her room. She shut her door again and leaned her head into the jamb.

God, I want him. I always did. How could I have been so ignorant?

Friday morning

Mulder was up and out of the house by 6:00 to run and Scully was just sitting down on the front porch with her coffee at about 7:30 when he returned. He was in tow with Sarah's father, whom he had obviously crossed paths with while they were both out running.

"Mr. Renner, good morning," Scully said. "Would you like some coffee?"

"I'd love some," he smiled and followed the agents inside.

"I'm sorry I haven't been available much since you two got here, but when I'm not spending time with Sarah, I'm with my wife, making sure she's okay."

"Your wife is taking this very hard?" Mulder asked.

"In a word, yes. She, uh, she doesn't talk much anymore. She goes in spurts, where she'll have a lot to say, and then she'll close up again. I have to be real careful what I say and when we're out, I have to make sure I don't drive past this house, otherwise I lose her again."

"Assistant Director Skinner was telling us that you're convinced it was a *ghost* that killed your son-in-law?" Mulder prodded.

"As sure as your eyes are blue," he said to Scully. Like a scene in out of an old movie, there came a thumping from upstairs. "See? That kind of stuff always happened in this house, ever since I started coming here. Sarah and Jim refused to believe that their dream house had a ghost at first, but..." he trailed off.

"I'm sure it's just an animal in the attic," Scully suggested.

But Troy Renner was shaking his head. "No, that's the same noise I hear almost every time I'm here. Have you heard her sing yet?"

Scully's eyebrows raised. "Sing?"

"Yeah, ol' Prudy'll sing hymns to you if she likes you. Jim never heard the hymns, but both Sarah and my wife have been serenaded on several occasions. She sang once when I was in here, but abruptly stopped. I had come to feed the cat while Jim and Sarah were away and I think Mrs. Tallis thought I was Sarah."

Scully was taken aback at how nonchalantly this otherwise apparently intelligent man was speaking about this 'ghost'. As though it were a perfectly natural assumption that a ghost resided in his daughter's home.

Mulder's interest was peaked; Scully could see the fire in his eyes, that familiar look that both excited and worried her. He asked Mr. Renner, "Do you believe that it was Prudence Tallis' ghost that killed your son-in-law?'

"Oh, I'm practically certain of it. Jim went through a lot of hell when they bought this house. It's funny how Prudy works. She started out with simple, harmless things. She'd hide his most important papers and things. She'd poke him in the kidneys and pull at his hair. Sarah said she woke up one night and he was holding his hand to his chest, trying to catch his breath. He said later it felt like someone was pushing down on his chest, constricting his lungs."

"Did he suffer from sleep apnea?" was Scully's question.

"Not before he moved in here." Troy said simply. "Nope, I think Prudy had it in for him from the start. She just took her time about it."

The lights flickered over the stove and sink. Troy looked at the lights and then back at the agents. "She's telling me she knows I'm here. I think I'd better go pretty soon before she starts poking me in the eyes." He rose from the table.

"I want to thank you two again for doing this investigation. I know I could never get anyone else to do this." He paused and drew a deep breath. "I realize I might still lose Sarah, I'm starting now to come to terms with that eventuality. I just don't want my daughter going to her grave with this on her record."

"Thanks for the coffee," he said and headed toward the front door. On the way there, he tripped a little on the rug. "I goin' now, Prudy, you old witch," he said, apparently believing it was her who'd tripped him.

They waved him good bye and Scully said, "That poor man. Imagine losing your daughter and your wife mentally like that. To see both of them go through that much pain - I might even start to believe something otherworldly was going on.

Mulder gave Scully a strange look as she sipped her coffee.


He shook his head. "I've got something to play for you," he said and pulled his microcassette recorder out of his pocket. "I had this recording last night, just before I fell asleep."

He had it cued already to a particular spot on the tape. He turned it up as high as it would go and pressed play. Scully listened to a few seconds of nothing.

"There, can you hear it?"

She shook her head slowly and Mulder rewound the tape, playing the same few seconds again. "I

don't hear anything, Mulder."

Mulder was getting frustrated with her, she could see it in his face. "What am I supposed to be hearing?"

"Mr. Renner said that Prudence liked to sing. I swear I can hear singing on this tape."

Scully wanted to hear it, if only to make Mulder happy. "Play it again." she requested.

She might have heard something this time, she couldn't be sure. Now that he told her what to be hearing, she wasn't sure if she was making herself hear it. "Mulder, I did fall asleep last night with the TV on, do you think it just picked up that?"


"I'm going to visit Sarah's neighbor today. Her name is Faye Peters. She seems to have been Sarah's closest acquaintance recently. Are you coming with me?"

"Nah, I'm gonna drive into Springfield to the regional headquarters so I can get that photograph back from being analyzed and I want to go down to the library and research this property and the Tallis family," he said.

Not that it was that unusual they did separate work on investigations, but Scully was beginning to feel like they were starting out on two different paths on this investigation. Genevieve. Her mind flashed suddenly to her for some unknown reason. Scully wondered if she was starting to let Genevieve ruin the connection that she felt with Mulder. She didn't think Mulder would ever sever that invisible tie, but she was afraid that she might unconsciously do it herself. Start to distance herself from him on purpose because that was the only way she would be able to deal with the thought of Mulder of having that kind of link with another. Another woman. His wife.

Is this jealousy or lunacy? She wasn't sure.

Scully raised her hand to the door of Faye Peters' home.

"Hi, come on in," the woman said to Scully as she tugged on the collar of her tall, greyhound-looking dog.

Faye motioned Scully to sit on the couch in her living room. She took her seat in the high back chair directly next to it. "Regina, down," she commanded the dog and the dog took her place gracefully on the floor next to Faye. "She's a beautiful dog," Scully complimented. "Is she an Afghan hound?"

"Thank you. No, she's a Saluki, actually. They come from Egypt where they were raised to hunt gazelles."

"I see." Faye petted the dog. "She keeps me company in this big old house." "So you are single?" She sighed. "Yes," she said, still watching her dog. "My husband and I divorced two years ago. I got this house. Then I got a dog. My ex-husband is afraid of dogs and I'm afraid of him, so-" Scully felt suddenly uncomfortable. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to-" Faye shook her head. "Don't worry about it - it's been a long time - at least it seems like it to me and I'm much stronger for having lived through it. Besides, he hasn't bothered me for a good ten months now." "Did you know Sarah long?" "Um, yeah, Jack and I moved in here about five years ago. I knew her then, but I didn't get to really know her until she and Jimmy bought the house next door." "Do you think she and her husband were happy?" Faye looked as though she were forming her thought carefully. "From what I know about them, yes, I would say they were happy together. I sometimes thought that Sarah regretted having married so young, but that is merely my own conjecture, I don't know if she really felt that way. She confided very little in me, actually. She would tell me only bits of things about her life. I do know she felt that they really couldn't afford that house and all of the renovations, but she kept quiet because buying it and fixing it up had been Jim's childhood dream. But I do believe that resentment was starting to get the best of her lately." At that moment, Regina began to bark and growl a little under her breath and got up to look out the front window. Scully looked out and noticed a bottled water delivery truck across the street. "Oh, there's Jack. He's the water man. He delivered to the medical group offices in town here where I work when we met, actually. Little did I know he was going to turn out to be such a nutcase." She told Regina to come away from the window. "She knows he's a threat. I still get a little nervous when I see him come around and I think she can feel it in me. It's why I buy water at the grocery store." "Pardon my asking, but was he very abusive to you?" She sighed deeply. "Yeah, unfortunately. I've had a restraining order against him ever since the divorce, but like I said before, he hasn't bothered me for quite a while now. He's not a threat to anyone else, I don't think, he just made a lousy husband." Scully watched the man let himself into the house across the street. She turned back to Faye and said, "Do you think Sarah was capable of killing her husband?" She chuckled a little. "Have you seen Sarah? She's so small, I worry sometimes that Regina will knock her over. No, she had no reason to. Not that I'm aware of, anyway." Scully nodded in understanding. She asked the next question for Mulder's sake. "Do you think," she stopped, almost taking back the words. No, I've got to explore all possibilities, she told herself. "Do you believe that there is a ghost in that house?" She laughed and looked over in the general direction of the Tallis house. She shrugged and said, "I'm not sure how I feel about that. I think there are plenty of things in this world we are unable to explain, to understand. I never saw or heard the things Sarah said she did. As far as I could tell, 'Prudence' was just a pain in the ass to Jim, and not out to murder him. I wonder if maybe she was just an imaginary friend of sorts, a very real fabrication of Sarah's mind, created to keep her company, or comfort her, or help her make dinner, or whatever. And Jim was just victim of odd circumstances." "Do you know about this condition Jim developed, where he couldn't eat or breathe?" "Yes, and it is my opinion as his doctor's former R.N., that Jim had been stung by a wasp or something. I told Sarah they should get a second opinion, but they didn't think it was necessary. They knew it was Prudence. And it went away almost immedidately. It probably wasn't as bad as Sarah had made it seem." "And the suffocation?" she prompted. She shook her head. "I really have no idea. He had no enemies, but like I said, Sarah didn't offer too much personal information. I'm sorry I can't offer more help than that." Scully stood, satisfied with the answers Faye had provided her. "No, thank you. You've been extremely helpful." Scully shook her hand and Faye saw her to the door. **

Conversations with a few other people in the town revealed to Scully that no one really knew Sarah very well. They either knew her only as a passing acquaintance or only recently from the newspapers. She obviously was a person who kept very much to herself. She had worked part-time at the grade school, as a special education teacher. But she only came in 3 days a week to work with the children, so she had limited contact with the staff there. Those who knew her even a little said that she was a very sweet, caring woman and was able to work miracles with the children. It was late afternoon when she returned to the house. Mulder was looking at the video he'd shot last night as he slept. Scully looked at the TV and all she saw was snow, then a blue screen. "The camera brake?" she asked as she moved toward the living room. "No, I don't think so. It taped about two minutes, and then it goes blank. It had been running all night, though, because the tape was rewound when I took it out. I don't know what happened. I'm not surprised, though. It's not unusual for equipment to fail when trying to capture ghosts on film." "Or when the video tape is bad already," she muttered under her breath. "Are you hungry? You want me to make dinner?" That sounded weird, she thought. 'You want dinner, dear?' "Oh, I think the Renners left food for us again. There's a big chicken salad in the fridge. And a bottle of wine, too." She shook her head. "They really didn't have to do that," she said as she headed for the kitchen. As they ate, Mulder told her he'd found out that James Tallis, ironically sharing the same first name as Sarah's husband, was one of the founding members of the town. He had a lot of influence and was even mayor for a few years in the late nineteenth century. A wealthy man, he and his wife Prudence, did build the Tallis house in 1877. As for the divorce and Prudence Tallis' death, records showed that the divorce of the Tallises and Mrs. Tallis' accidental death did occur suspiciously closely together, but no criminal charges had ever been pressed. James Tallis and his new wife lived in the home another 5 years until moving to New England. The house was not sold and remained empty for many years after they left. It seemed to be inabited in short time periods by two different owners, but had been empty for a good thirty years before the Rosses purchased it. "Well, Mulder, I really had no luck getting any substantial leads either today. And the history behind this house and the Tallises doesn't really help us to solve this case, you know." "Well, it might explain the basis of there being a ghost in here," he said, still holding fast to his belief. "But I have come across something that might shed a different light on everything." As he spoke those last words, Scully noticed a car pull up to the front of the house. "Is that the Renners?" she asked. "Oh, yeah, I was going to tell you," he said, wiping his mouth and getting up with from the table. "I think I've made a major breakthrough on this case, Scully. I had them come over because I need to show them something and ask a few more questions." Mr. & Mrs. Renner had begun to let themselves into the house as Mulder and Scully reached the living room. "Evening," Mr. Renner greeted them. "This is my wife, Linda. Linda, these are Walter's top two agents, Mulder and Scully." Scully reached out and shook Linda Renner's tiny hand. "I think you're husband flatters us too much, especially agent Mulder," Scully joked. "No, those are your Assistant Director's words. You have yet to prove that to me. Now what is it that you two have found out?" Scully felt a little embarrassed by Mr. Renner's comment, especially since she didn't have the slightest idea what Mulder had called them over for. She looked at Mulder questioningly. Mulder motioned everyone sit down. He took a deep breath and asked them, "Sarah hasn't spoken to anyone since she was found? Absolutely no recognition of you whatsoever?" "No, not a word. Why? Did she speak to you?" Mr. Renner looked hopeful. Mulder shook his head. "No. I'm sorry, that's not it." Scully watched as Mulder seemed to be trying to word his next thoughts carefully. "I do, however, have reason to believe that this entity that you say killed your son-in-law may also be in some way responsible for your daughter's condition." Scully's heart rate increased from worry at where Mulder was taking this. She watched Mrs. Renner's expression change slightly and Scully worried that whatever Mulder was going to say might have a negative effect on her already delicate mental state. "But Prudence liked Sarah," Linda Renner spoke for the first time since they'd gotten there. Her voice was very small and thin. "She was always making sure the house was locked, she cleaned things for Sarah and sang for her when she was sad...It was Jimmy she didn't like." Scully cleared her throat in hopes of gaining Mulder's attention. She hoped to remove him from the room and knock some sense into him before he got Sarah's parents too upset. Except Mulder didn't notice. "Mrs. Renner, I've done some unconventional investigating in the house, employing methods used by ghost hunters, gathering specific data which could imply that there is a ghostly entity in the house as you had said." He grabbed an envelope from the coffee table." I, well actually, Agent Scully took this photograph the other night in the master bedroom-" Great Mulder, Scully thought, get me involved in this when I don't have the slightest idea where you're going with it. "I had the photo enhanced from this original one," he showed them the picture Scully had seen the other day in the restaurant. "If you'll look in the corner by the dresser, there seems to be some kind of figure, huddled between the wall and the dresser." He handed them a series of photos one by one. "These are the enhanced photos. As you can see, the figure becomes clearer, beginning to take the shape of a person." He handed them the final photo. "This is the highest resolution; I want you to look closely at that same spot." The couple studied the picture for a moment and Mrs. Renner's eyes suddenly grew very large. "Dear God, Troy," she said, "It's...it's *Sarah*." "No, it can't be," Mr. Renner responded in disbelief. "What *is* this," he asked, looking at Mulder and Scully. "What are you trying to tell us, that my daughter is a ghost in this house?" Scully now had the photo in her hand. She had to admit there was definitely a person in that photograph. A person who looked exactly like the Sarah Ross she'd seen in the hospital and in pictures all throughout the home. "Mulder?" Scully said, requesting an explanation. Mulder took a deep breath. "It is my belief that Sarah is in this house. At least, her soul or her consciousness is residing here."

The room was silent.

"I think whatever Sarah saw the day her husband was murdered was so traumatic that she, either willingly or unwilling was forced out of her body. Then when you removed her from the house, she was unable to return to her body, or perhaps felt it too painful to do so."

"Troy..." Linda Renner exchanged a knowing glance with her husband.

Mr. Renner grimaced and sighed. "Linda you don't really think - "

"It's like what I said before, Troy. You know that Sarah -"

He put his hand out to silence her. He walked over to the window and looked out.

"What, Mrs. Renner?" Mulder pried. "What did you say?"

She took a deep breath and looked at Mulder and Scully. "You see, Sarah, she used to practice, um, OBE's."

"OBE's?" Scully asked.

"Out of Body Experiences," Mulder expounded. "Really?"

"Yes, but not since she was a teenager, at least I didn't think she still did it. In high school, Sarah became very interested in what I guess you call 'new age' ideas."

"Witchcraft," Mr. Renner interjected. "It's just modern-day witchcraft disguised with peace symbols." He turned away again.

"Whatever you call it, Sarah learned how to remove herself from her body." She looked at her husband and then went on. "Sarah had leukemia, which has been in remission for almost 10 years now. When she was in High School, though, she underwent some painful treatments and so she learned how to leave herself - her body - during the treatments."

Scully looked toward Mr. Renner. "You don't believe this, do you Mr. Renner?"

He laughed a little. "No, no that's not it at all. What Linda's saying is the truth. Sarah went from a young girl we had to take into the hospital kicking and screaming to one who felt no pain from her treatments. She *could* do that. Leave herself like that." He moved to stand by his wife again.

Mulder had more to say. "I think if we were to bring her back to the room and encourage her to return to her body, she'll be able to tell us what happened the night her husband was killed."

The couple was quiet and so Scully decided to offer a suggestion. "Perhaps the two of you should go home and discuss this together. Agent Mulder has just suggested something very extraordinary. Take some time and figure out exactly how you feel about this before you make a decision."

They agreed and then showed themselves out the door. As he watched their car pull away, Mulder said, "We shouldn't wait, Scully. It might become too late for Sarah if we wait too long."

Scully sighed heavily. "Mulder, I really wish you would have told me ahead of time what it was you planned on suggesting to them."

"Why, so you could have told me ahead of time that I was being ridiculous?"

Where had that come from? "So that's a good enough reason to not consult with me anymore on matters concerning our cases?"

He shrugged and picked up the photos again, saying nothing.

Scully went on. "You *know* what kind of effect your suggestion could have on them. Mulder, they're still grieving and soon they're going to have to be making decisions about their daughter's permanent care."

"Not if we can bring her back. Scully, look at these photos. *What* is this? Why the hell would her figure show up in the picture if she really wasn't there?"

"I don't know, Mulder. But how," she searched for the words. "What if we bring her here and she doesn't snap out of it. What then? What is that going to do to her parents?"

"I think it's going to work, Scully. I don't know how, but it will."

Scully sighed yet one more time. "Alright," she conceded, "Say this does work and you're able to reunite her to her body; what if she can't tell us anything? We still won't have an answer to the murder investigation and she still could end up in jail."

He stared at her a few moments and finally said, "Sometimes, Scully, sometimes I wonder why I ever involve you in anything I do. After everything we've seen, everything we've been through together, how can you still refuse to see it?" He watched her a moment and then said quietly, "It's *there,* Scully."

The tone of Mulder's voice speaking those last thoughts made Scully wonder at exactly what it was he was referring to. She was suddenly very uncomfortable for a totally inexplicable reason. It was as though at some point they'd ceased to be talking about the case and were actually discussing something entirely different.

"Mulder, I -"

The phone rang at that moment. They stood looking at one another for a few rings until Mulder finally went to the phone. Scully listened to Mulder's end of the conversation long enough to figure out it was Genevieve, apparently returning his call. As she started up the stairs, she could hear him try to make her wait for him, but she pretended that she hadn't heard him.

She took a long, cool shower, taking extra care and time with her normal routine, mostly to give Mulder as much time as he needed with Genevieve. And she felt so worn out; this whole situation was really taking its toll on her. She was perfectly aware that it wasn't Mulder's crazy ideas at all. It wasn't the fact that he wasn't consulting with her on things. This case wasn't any different than any other they'd been on. These were disagreements they'd had a million times. None of it was his fault. It was hers, entirely, and she hated herself for being so ridiculous.

As she came out of the bathroom, Mulder called her into his room to tell her that the Renners had just called and said they'd decided to go through with it after all. Scully was still very wary about the whole thing.

"Mulder are you sure this is a good idea?"

"I don't see any other options for Sarah at the moment."

Scully sighed and nodded slowly.

"What?" he asked. Scully shrugged and said nothing. "If you feel that opposed to it, you don't have to be there."

He had just proposed the very thing she'd been afraid of. Further separation. "Mulder, it's not that I'm opposed to it exactly. I just feel like you and I aren't in sync with one another on this one. It's like we're not...I don't know," she couldn't express herself the way she wanted to. "This whole'ghost hunt'- it's ridiculous!" Her voice began to raise a little, trying to get her point across. She moved closer to him. "Mulder, you really have absolutely nothing to prove that a ghost could murder a man and frame his wife for it, then take her soul hostage in this house. Mulder, the whole thing is, - it's just - preposterous!"

He stood there with his mouth halfway open. Scully could see that he was trying hard to keep his temper in check. "Well, if you feel that way, maybe you just oughtta go back home now." He wasn't even attempting to defend his theory with her.

Scully felt the breath leave her lungs to see the look in his eyes. He was angry with her; she could feel it more than she could see it. "So, you want me to say that you dismissed me from this case so that you could finish this ridiculous vein of investigation?"

"I don't give a fuck what you write. Tell them this was the case when I finally lost it. You can tell them Spooky Mulder's finally lost it good this time. You're gonna write it so that you come off looking like the star agent baby-sitting the Bureau's token nutcase anyway, so what the hell do I care what you write in your GODDAM FUCKING REPORT!"

"You know that's not true." Her voice was small and shaky.

"Really?" he asked, his voice and facial expression dripping with hurtful sarcasm.

Scully wanted to stay and fight, but chewing on the inside of her cheek did nothing to inhibit a tear from streaking down her face. She couldn't speak and didn't want to look at him looking at her that way so she left the room.

The sound of his door slamming behind her felt like a smack in the face and so she started to cry, barely making it into her room before she sobbed out loud, just a little. She shut the door and sunk to the floor in front of it.

What is going on? She asked herself as she tried to restore her composure. She felt so unlike herself, so out of control with her emotions. They felt unmanageable, indomitable. She realized that she was not just afraid, but terrified of how Mulder's marriage to Genevieve would affect them. And it was happening already, all by her own doing.

She sat for over an hour in that same place before crossing the room to the bed. She lay on top of the covers, hot and upset and knew she would not sleep tonight. She hadn't meant to hurt him, just bring him back to earth. She had, however, chosen the wrong route in trying to do so. Unfortunately, knowing each other as well as they did, they also knew exactly how to hurt one another.

She couldn't stand it after long and decided to try and apologize to Mulder. She crept down the hall and opened his door slowly. "Mulder?" she called softly. "You still awake?" He had his hands behind his head and was looking toward the ceiling. After a few moments he sighed a, "Yep."

Scully stayed by the door and willed herself not to cry again. "Mulder, I...I'll go tomorrow if you want me to."

He sat up quickly and looked at her. "No, Scully. I don't want you to go. Not at all." He extended his arm toward her. "Come here. Please."

She proceeded slowly across the room. When she reached the side of the bed, he grabbed her around the waist and pulled her, seated, gently next to him. Holding her to him, he whispered, "I'm sorry, Scully. I said too much."

"I did too."

"You are an amazing woman, Scully," he said quietly and Scully thought it was the most beautiful thing anyone had ever said to her. She couldn't keep from closing her eyes because Mulder's voice seemed to travel through her ear canal and straight down her spine.

She pulled back so she could look into his eyes. He was smiling a little, from what she could make out in the moonlight and she felt a wave of relief pass through her. Mulder put his hand on the side of her head, bringing his thumb to rest on her ear. He stroked a lock of her hair, his eyes never moving from hers.

For the first time in a long time, Scully was having a difficult time reading his look. Not because she couldn't, but because she was afraid of what she thought she saw. The same look she'd seen the other night when he'd fed her grapes. The same look she swore she'd seen even that night at her apartment when he told her he was getting married.

He didn't stop stroking her hair and ear and Scully was beginning to find it difficult to breathe. She felt a little drunk, and shut her eyes again. Soon she felt another kind of sensation on her face. His lips. At hers. He pressed them there gently and then pulled back. She felt him do it again, this time the pressure increased. Then again, this time with Scully's full response, her tongue already asking to meet with his.

Immediately he pulled it into his mouth and sucked on it, making Scully whimper. She felt herself fill with warm moisture. Already.

I want him, she thought, I need to have him. "I need you, Mulder," she whispered into his mouth. **

Mulder took her by the shoulders and pushed her down onto her back. He kissed her almost ferociously and Scully thought it was the most incredible sensation she'd ever felt. She was thrilled to feel his body straining toward her and so she ground her hips into him, over and over, needing to show him how much she wanted him and what she wanted to give to him. Mulder moaned into her mouth.

Suddenly Scully wondered to herself how good Genevieve was to him in bed. The thought made Scully yearn to show Mulder exactly what he would be missing by marrying her. Everything she could and would do to him that Genevieve couldn't possibly do or do as well as she could. She knew she'd have to work carefully. She'd have to quickly find all the things that Mulder liked so he wouldn't be able to think straight and become aware of the ramifications of what he was doing.

Meanwhile, Mulder had moved to her neck again and was alternately sucking and biting her there. Scully moaned involuntarily and then felt Mulder grinding into her this time, his erection noticeably augmented.

Sure, Mulder, I can do that for you. Scully wasn't normally very vocal in bed, but she could make the adjustment. And it actually wasn't very difficult for the way he was making her feel. Absolutely incredible. Her voice resonating deep in her chest she said, 'Oh, Mmmmulllderr, how did you know-ah!"

She arched her back because he'd snaked his way up her T-shirt to find a breast. He looked her squarely in the eye as he rubbed his thumb back and forth across the nipple. His eyes were dark and his face was already covering with perspiration.

Scully thought she saw a bit of hesitancy in his look so she groaned again for him. "Mulder," she gasped, "Take it off, my sh-" Oh, jeez, this is going to be harder than I thought. She wanted to be in control, cool and seductive, but he was melting her insides just at the thought of how he might make her feel. She knew also, though, that she wanted that. Needed it. Needed to know what it felt like to lose control with him. She knew she'd never be able to with anyone else but him. And this would be her only chance to know that passion. His passion. For her. Not anyone else.

He obliged her request and took the liberty of divesting her of her underwear as well. She lay naked underneath him, trying to assemble enough brainpower to make her next move. She lifted her head to him and kissed him, groaning incessantly into his mouth. She let her hand trail down his torso and slip under the waistband of his boxers to find the evidence of his desire, his need. Her need. Wrapping her hand gently around the length of him, his arms went weak. Scully took the opportunity to push him down onto his back so she could have better access to him. And ultimately, more control.

"Scully..." he groaned as she moved his boxers down off of him. "Scully, I- oh-(grunt)-jeez!"

She had to work fast. She knew he was probably about to try and stop what was happening, so she cupped him in one hand and brought her mouth down over him in one swift movement. She massaged his testicles as she brought him in and out of her mouth rhythmically, letting her tongue drag up the sides of him as she went up, sucking hard as she moved down. He trembled with her every movement. She had him right where she needed him. Well, for this moment, anyway.

"Oh ScullyScullyScully," he hissed out and then gasped in another breath.

As she continued her ministrations, she thought: Does she do this for you, Mulder? Can she do it exactly this way, the ways you like it? See, Mulder I *know* you. Better than anyone. Mulder began to shudder and she knew she'd better quit or she wasn't going to get anything out of this herself. And she wanted plenty out of it.

She took her mouth from him and his eyes flew open. She bent down to his mouth and kissed him, hard, like he had done before. 'Can she kiss like this, Mulder? Like the way I can?'

"Doesn't it feel good?" she asked that one aloud.

"Oh...yeeaahh," He said and kissed her again. His hand found its way down to her center and he proceeded to probe a finger inside, delving deeply within her. "Oh, jeezzusscully... you're so wet. So warm." His voice was thin. He sounded almost surprised.

"I know, Mulder. For you. Just for you," she whispered, then leaned her head back, just enjoying the tremors his hand's movements were sending through her body. Moan, Dana, don't forget-"Ohh-" Except she didn't really have to affect any vocalizations. "Mulder, Mulder, Mulder," she chanted over and over, circling and pushing herself into his hand. Over and over, faster and faster. He knew where to touch, what to do. "Hoah god, Mulder, I'm gonna...you're making me...ohhh...."

Bursting. That's what she felt like. 'My insides are going to push out through my skin, starting with my heart and then my brain.'

Spent, she fell forward. Mulder whispered into her ear, "Scully, that was beautiful. I've never seen you look more beautiful."

His words refueled her desire for him and she couldn't help thinking, 'Am I more beautiful than Genevieve is when she comes?' She looked down at him wickedly and said, "Would you like to see it again?"

"Oh yeah."

"Ask me first."

"What?" He was panting.

"Ask me. Beg me for it, Mulder." She reached around behind her and took him into her grasp again. He seemed harder now than when she'd had him in her mouth.

"Scully, please..." He could barely talk anymore.

She positioned herself directly above him and waited. "Now, Mulder?"

He brought his hands around her waist and attempted to push her down. "Uh-uh, Mulder. You gotta say it. Tell me you want me."

"Sssscully...godplease...no...can't..." He was holding his breath, making it difficult to speak.

But she wanted to hear him say the words. Say he wanted her more than anyone right at this moment. "No, Mulder, say it. Say it, dammit, and then I'll do it. Then I'll fuck you like you want me to!"

"I...want you-Ssscully-god...please now... pleasepleasenow... fuck me now." His face was contorted, and he looked like he was in pain. So Scully slowly lowered herself down over him. Too slowly because Mulder used his hands to push her down the rest of the way.

It took Scully by surprise and she let out a long, low "Ohhh..." as she accustomed herself to the sensation of being wrapped around him completely. When the mental awareness came over her, (Mulder's inside of me, god, finally), she moaned long again. Then for a second she began to panic. This was a really bad idea.

It was Mulder who finally began the rhythm and she immediately forgot her reservations. So good. It was so good. He felt so good inside of her. 'I'm making love with Mulder. I can't fucking believe it.' "Ohh, Mulder, this feels...."

"I know Scully, I know. Scully you're so hot, so ti - tight..."

Scully sped up the rhythm, squeezing her gluteals and her thighs together on every up movement. Mulder apparently liked this and Scully smiled to see him thrash his head back and forth on the bed. Squeeze up. 'She can't possibly feel this good, Mulder.' Relax down. 'She can't possibly make you feel this good.' Up. 'Not the way I can.' Down.

He was meeting her with every thrust and soon she needed more. She placed her palms flat on either side of him so she could speed up better. In doing so, she found just the right angle, that one spot that made her quiver all over. Mulder must have realized this too, for he began pumping his hips toward that spot.

"Is that it there, Scully? Is that where you like it?"

"God. Yes. Omigod, there, please."

He took her arms and flipped the both of them ver. Scully was grateful because he managed to better reach that place with this added leverage.

"Muldermuldermulder," she couldn't see him anymore.

"Give it to me, love. Come for me, Scully," he implored her.

God, she never knew sex could feel like it did with Mulder. He knew her. Knew exactly what to do. Why had she waited so long to do this? He had brought her so close, she was so close. "Harder, Mulder, I need to-"

"Come on, Scully," Thrust. "Come on." Thrust. "Come on!" One more forceful thrust and she was there, floating above herself, her soul trying to mingle with his.

He met her after her fall, exploding hard into her then collapsing, breathless on top of her.

Then everything was quiet.

My god, she thought, what have I just done?

With regained breath, Mulder brought himself up and looked at her. Long. Scully saw the guilt creep over his face, drowning out the desire she'd seen only moments ago. "Mulder," she whispered and touched his face. "Oh god, Mulder, I'm so sorry. I didn't, I mean, I - "

It was futile, though. Mulder removed himself from her and proceeded to the bathroom. Once Scully heard the water running, she began to cry. 'What a whore. What the fuck did I just do?'

When she heard the water shut off again, she quick grabbed her robe and fled from the room. She curled up on the couch and prayed Mulder wouldn't follow her down. Then she prayed he would forgive her. Then she prayed he would not hate her.

Scully had thought she'd fallen asleep when she felt a hand running through her hair, soothingly. She figured it must be Mulder, but then heard a woman's voice, airy and displaced, singing...

...Brother, art thou worn and weary Tempted, tried, and sore oppressed?

She opened her eyes and saw nothing. A dream. She must be longing for that comfort in her sleep.

...Listen to the word of Jesus 'Come unto me and rest...'

Then, "Dana..." It was a woman's voice.

She rubbed her hand across her face and tried to focus. She wished she had her glasses nearby, but couldn't recall where she'd left them. "Who's there?" she whispered.

"Dana, did you enjoy it?"

What? She shot up out of the couch and switched the light on, except that it didn't go on. Her gun, where was it? Upstairs. "Where are you? Show yourself." She spoke loudly, hoping Mulder would hear her and come down.

"Dana, he will not hear you."

"Who are you?" Scully shivered. It was very cold in the room suddenly. She moved around the room on shaky legs, trying every light in the room. Not one of them would turn on. "I want to help you, Dana. You are so troubled. I want to help you."

Scully headed toward the stairs. Her knees gave and she dropped to the floor. She couldn't move. Then she saw her. A woman standing above her. She was very bright and looked to be a very stout looking, older woman. She was having a hard time focusing on the woman, couldn't make out any really fine details. Scully felt paralyzed.

'Dreaming. I've got to be dreaming. Why can't I just wake up?' "What are you doing here? How do you know my name?"

"Don't feel badly, dear. It wasn't all your fault. I did help a little. I know how deep your feelings are for him."

Scully was overtaken by an overwhelming, intense guilt, remembering the detestable thing she had done only hours ago. "How do you know anything? You're just an apparition, a manifestation of my conscience." She spoke the words, hoping more to convince herself of their truth.

"I do know, Dana. I know. I know also that his feelings are strong, too. For you only. I didn't have to encourage him that much. Most of it he did of his own accord."

Scully had a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach. "Did what? What did he do? You're not making sense! You don't know what you're talking about!"

The apparition did not respond, but looked toward the staircase. Scully watched as the apparition disappeared. She sat, unmoving, for several moments.

"No!" She said and found herself on the couch again, the throw still wrapped around her from when she thought she'd fallen asleep. Except that all the lights were on in the living room. Sleepwalking. She was obviously was feeling extremely remorseful for what she'd made Mulder do. That could be the only reason for such a lucid dream. She rubbed her eyes and looked out the window. The sun was out. It was morning. Saturday morning. Mulder's wedding day. Mulder's wedding day.

What a fucking night. Well, she certainly fulfilled her duties as his best man. One last night as a bachelor.

Had it all been a dream? No, she had really done what she had done. She could still feel it, almost still feel him inside her. She felt suddenly warm. God, it had felt incredible. 'I love him so much. And now I'm sure he doesn't even want me in his life anymore. Way to go.'

Mulder spoke very little to her that morning, barely even looking her in the face. She had tried to hand him a cup of coffee, but he wouldn't take it, wouldn't pick it up off the counter until she left to take a shower. While in the shower, she decided that she would just follow Mulder's lead and just not talk about it. She could play the silence game, too.

When she reappeared on the porch where Mulder was sitting, she said to him timidly, "It's real humid today, isn't it?"

He looked at her briefly and nodded. Then they were silent. Finally, just as Scully was turning to go back into the house, Mulder asked her, "So, are you coming with me this morning to pick up Sarah Ross?"

"You're really going to go through with this? I mean, you were supposed to get -," she stopped herself, suddenly very embarrassed at the implications of the statement she was about to make.

He looked at her at shook his head slowly. His face was solemn and his eyes empty. "We postponed it," he said simply. "She's gotta stay in Chicago through Tuesday."

They were both silent for a few more minutes. Scully furiously wracked her brain to come up with something else to say about last night, but said instead, "Well, let's go, Mulder. I'm ready."

He grabbed the keys off of the table next to the chair he was sitting in. Scully couldn't help but wonder at that; Had been ready to leave without her this morning, but at the last second decided to wait for her? She could only hope that were true. That way she knew he didn't completely hate her.

After a heated argument between Sarah's doctor and Mr. Renner, Dr. Moore finally gave in and let them take Sarah from the hospital.

Sarah was completely limp so they had to take her to the car in a wheelchair and it took the three of them to get her into the vehicle. Scully and Sarah's mother sat in the back on either side of her. Scully watched as Mrs. Renner took her daughter's arm and hugged it to her. "You're gonna be fine, baby," she heard her whisper. "This is going to help you get better."

Scully knew Mrs. Renner had said the words to comfort herself as much as Sarah. If Sarah was really with us. In this car. A body with no soul? She couldn't fathom it. She certainly believed in the existence of a soul. There was even some scientific evidence to suggest the existence, though it still could not completely be proven. But could a person live without their soul? Sarah, by all means and in Scully's vast experience with corpses, seemed like a living corpse. She felt like one, and even looked like one, yet she could still breathe and had a functioning body.

It made her think about babies who are born with only the stem of a brain. They could sustain life for over even 12 months, but the child would never be able to do more than digest it's food. Did those babies have a soul, even if they were unable to ever be conscious of it or anything else?

Other than the conversation necessary to bring Sarah into the house, no one spoke much. It seemed very quiet and still in the house. Mrs. Renner turned to Scully as they climbed the stairs and asked her if she thought this was going to work.

Such an innocent question asked of the enitrely wrong person. "We can only pray it will, Mrs. Renner," was the only thing she could think of to say to her.

Once in the bedroom, they propped Sarah up in a chair. The task completed, everyone sort of looked at one another. Mrs. Renner knelt on the floor next to the chair and held Sarah's arm. She closed her eyes and Scully assumed she must be praying.

Scully looked at Mulder, who appeared to be a little ill at ease. She wondered if he finally was realizing right at this moment that he had gotten into something he really knew very little about.

"Talk to her," Mulder said, breaking the extreme silence. "She needs to hear familiar voices to help her realize that her physical body is here with us."

Scully watched the Renners talk to Sarah for a few moments. She felt very uncomfortable about this still and started for the door. Mulder's hand on her shoulder startled her a bit. She turned and looked at him. "Don't go," he said quietly. "I need you here."

Of course, she would not refuse him. Mulder was afraid of what was going to or not going to happen next, she could see it in his face. He still needs me, she thought hopefully.

"Mulder, maybe I should run next door and get Faye Peters. It's one more familiar voice, maybe she'll react to her," she offered and Mulder smiled his thanks.

Scully ran quickly and hoped that Faye was home. Thankfully she was and when Scully explained what they were doing, Faye did not hesitate to come over. "Just a minute. I'm going to bring Regina, Sarah had - has - a fondness for her and Regina for Sarah."

When they reached the bedroom, Mrs. Renner thanked Faye for coming. The dog sat in front of Sarah as directed and Faye took Sarah's other hand. "Sarah, it's Faye." Faye looked up at everyone. "She's so cold," she said with a worried look.

She was indeed very cold and Scully noticed that Sarah seemed paler than when then they'd taken her from the hospital. She started to get a little more concerned.

Mr. Renner grabbed a down blanket from the top shelf of the closet and handed it the two women. As they wrapped Sarah in the blanket, Faye's dog began to whimper.

"Regina, quiet," Faye implored the animal, but it only incited her to barking louder.

"Regina, please," she commanded again, but the dog was barking and growling ferociously now, her vocalizations aimed in the direction of the closet. Faye begged the dog to stop, but to no avail.

"Regina, stop barking, please."

The room fell silent. It was Sarah who had spoken.

Sarah looked around. "Mom, why is it so cold in here?" she asked and her parents embraced her.

They encouraged her to stand. Naturally, she was very shaky and disoriented. After a few moments, Mr. and Mrs. Renner said they were going to take Sarah back home with them so she could recuperate.

"Uh, I think that the police are going to want to talk to her as soon as possible." Scully reminded them.

Sarah looked as though she just remembered something. "I didn't kill Jimmy. It wasn't me," she said and looked toward Faye. "It was Jack, Faye."

It didn't take the police long to track down Jack Peters. They found and arrested him in his apartment and he confessed immediately. It turned out that Jack had come that day to deliver their water and Sarah had let him into the house. She left him to go about his business and he went and found Jim Ross asleep in his room, where he proceeded to pin him down and suffocate him to death with a pillow.

It was jealousy that had prompted Jack to kill Jim Ross. Not because he thought Faye and Jim were having an affair, but because Jim and Sarah were Faye's friends and he couldn't stand to see her happy and satisfied with her life without him.

Scully's stomach churned when she'd heard that part of his confession. It hit a little too close to home.

Scully caught Sarah Ross just as she was leaving the police station. "Sarah, I need to ask you something," she said, "There's one thing I don't get. If you were in the room when Jack killed your husband, why didn't he go after you, too?"

"He started to. He grabbed me when he realized I had seen what he'd done. I was so confused and frightened that I think out of a learned instinct, I separated myself from my body. I did not want to return because I knew that Jimmy had left me. I wanted to go to him. But I couldn't, - I was still alive - and Prudence was there, telling me I had to stay, that it wasn't my time yet."

"Yes, but Sarah, you still haven't answered my question. Why didn't Jack hurt you?"

"He got spooked. Just before I separated, I heard a dog barking. That's when he let go of me. And I believe it was Regina, too. Regina's consciousness, that it is." She paused and offered further explanation. "Animals are extremely psychic, more so than a human can ever be. I think she knew I was in trouble and came to help."

Scully nodded her thanks for the explanation even though she couldn't bring herself to believe much of it. Before turning to go, Scully said, "Oh, please tell your mother thanks for us. She left us food every night we stayed in your house. It was very thoughtful."

Sarah Ross looked at her strangely. "Oh, Ms. Scully, it couldn't have been my mother who left you food. Not anything very tasty, anyway. My mother's a great person, but she's an awful cook." She laughed a little. "It was probably Prudy who cooked for you."

Scully simply smiled and kept herself from disputing Sarah's words. She started to leave again when Sarah said to her, "It isn't my business, Ms. Scully, but you need to tell him how you feel."

Scully felt the heat rising in her cheeks when she thought about the implications of Sarah's statement. If Sarah's consciousness had been in that room, her bedroom, with them on Friday night, would she have seen what they had done? It was impossible, Scully knew, but she had an eerie feeling right at that moment that Sarah had been reading her thoughts. Scully said nothing and left to find Mulder. **</p>

<p> The ride to the airport in Springfield was only about 20 minutes long, but it felt like an eternity to Scully. Mulder hadn't said a word to her since they'd left the police station. She spent half the ride trying to come up with a halfway decent apology for what had happened last night.

'Sorry, Mulder. Sorry I made you sleep with me. Sorry I started your marriage off with a bang, so to speak. Sorry I love you so goddam much that I wanted to see what it felt like to make love to you before you left me alone.'

She knew she had to say something. Anything. She couldn't keep hiding herself from him. He deserved to know exactly how she was feeling. She had to put her silly cowardice away. That part of her that had kept her from showing Mulder exactly how she felt. That same part that kept herself from being conscious of it. That part that cost her Mulder's complete, undivided devotion to her and not another woman.

It was a devotion she had never even craved from her father. The thought of a man being that devoted to her scared her to death, which was probably why she'd ignored the desire of wanting it from Mulder. What if I did tell him and he gave me that affinity and then proceeded to swallow me whole? Until all that was there was my association to him, and no 'me' anymore. She didn't know if she could handle it.

So now Mulder was marrying another. Now she would never know.

"Mulder, I-"

He held his hand out to stop her. "Don't. Don't say anything. Let's just, let's just forget about it. Okay?"

She chewed on the inside of her cheek. No, it's not okay. "Okay."

She wished he'd yell at her instead of being so indifferent about it. Wished he'd slap her or call her a whore. That's how she felt. She wanted so desparately to at least be able to apologize.

There was another long silence and Scully could tell he was trying to say something to her. "Scully, um, I'm...I'm gonna go up to Chicago before I go back home. I'll probably stay there through Tuesday."

"Yeah, I kind of figured you might." And that was all she could say to him after that, otherwise she knew she would break into a crying fit. They separated at the ticket counter.

When she looked up at the monitor, she saw the next flight to D.C. was scheduled to leave only 3 minutes after the next flight to O'Hare field. She shook her head at the ironic coincidence. Three minutes too late.

Tuesday next 9:38 p.m.

Scully finished up the report on the Ross murder in between wondering when Mulder would call her and whether or not she should try to contact him. The report won out, even though it took her two hours longer than it really should have. She sent the document to the printer as a knock sounded at her door.

She looked out the window and spotted Mulder's car. Deja vu.

"Hey there," she said as she let him in.



"Uh, come in, I'll uh, I'll make coffee."

"You know, I'd really like a beer if you have any."

Of course she did. She didn't drink it much herself, but somewhere along the line she had started making sure she had things in her house that Mulder liked. Everything, she realized as she pulled the bottle from the refrigerator, everything she did at this point involved him in some fashion or another. She almost couldn't help herself anymore. She'd never even noticed it happen. The one thing she had been terrified of happened without her ever being conscious of it. And it wasn't painful. Not at all.

He looked great, she thought as she handed him the bottle. Tired, but he looked like the Mulder she knew. The Mulder she loved.

She motioned him to sit at her table. "How was Chicago?" she asked leadingly.

He swallowed a sip of the beer. "Fine. It was fine. Rainy."

She hadn't wanted a weather report, she wanted to know about Genevieve.

She nodded. "Yeah, it rained here, too."

"Yeah, I saw that on the news."

"Uh, I finished our report tonight." She looked over her shoulder toward the computer. "I was going to e-mail it to you, but I forgot." She got up and practically ran to the living room. "Let me go get it for you. You can have this-"

"I'm not going to marry her, Scully," he interjected as she babbled on.

"-copy." She stood still in front of the printer.

"I thought I wanted to. I thought that I loved her. Man did I ever think I did." He walked over and stood behind her.

Scully was paralyzed. She felt so guilty, still for having seduced him the way she had. For playing into his innocent flirtations, for feeling such negativity (jealousy) toward Genevieve and Mulder's marriage.

"Scully," he said softly and laid his large hand on her shoulder. "Do you know why I can't marry her?"

Tears were flowing again and Scully was angry with herself for it. She nodded and sobbed, "Yes, I know. It's all my fault. It wasn't fair, what I made you do. I had no right. I am so, so, sorry, Mulder. I didn't mean to ruin everything for you."

"Scully," he looked surprised to see her so upset. "What are you talking about? What you *made* me do?" He wiped a tear from her face.

She pulled her head away from him. "Mulder, I think you should go."

"Go? Scully, do you honestly think that I made love with you that night because you'd seduced me beyond all rational thought?" He laughed a little. "Because if that's what you're thinking, I can assure you, I knew exactly what I was doing. I knew exactly what I wanted."

Scully blushed and continued to avert her eyes from him. "But, Mulder, why did you even ask her to marry you if you didn't really want to?"

"Because I knew I couldn't ever have what I really wanted. At least that's what I had thought." He paused. "Scully, as soon as I got here last week to tell you, I knew I was probably making a mistake." He forced her gaze. "When you kissed me that night, everything changed suddenly. I really had thought that you didn't want me that way. Then at that moment, I wasn't so sure anymore. And then, Friday night, when you said you wanted me - needed me - and you made me feel things I've never felt in my entire life; I knew for certain I couldn't marry her."

She blushed again. He brought his fingers under her chin and made her look at him because she had looked away again. "Scully, I love you. Love *you*," he whispered.

Scully saw tears welling in his eyes now. He was blurred to her through her own tears as he brought his mouth to hers and gently pressed them there. She inhaled quickly and leaned into him, enjoying the now very familiar feel of his lips.

They were hers now. He was giving them to her. And she could do nothing else but give him hers and anything else he asked of her. She surrendered her independence and was surprised to feel no different than she always had with him. It was just another step that they had been destined to take. But like all the other steps in their relationship, this one had been just as difficult to realize.

"No ghosts, Scully," Mulder whispered directly into her ear canal and Scully's knees went weak. He held her tightly and kissed the skin just below her ear for what seemed to Scully like a half an hour. It was driving her nuts and Mulder knew it. She felt him swell and push into her body as he held her. He broke her from her hypnotic state when he spoke into her ear again, "Let me take you into your room."

"Yes," she whispered, but was unable to move. Her heart pounded in her ears and all she was aware of was him. She couldn't see the rest of her apartment. All of her senses were focused and used up on him.

Eventually she felt him coax her toward her bedroom. A walk that could take her as little as two seconds felt like an eternity tonight. Once inside the room, Mulder fumbled around for a light.

He reached for a lamp on her dresser, but she stopped him. "No, not that one," she said. She managed to cross to the corner of the room where she had a tiny lamp sitting on a table that had belonged to Melissa. She felt it a ceremonious moment as she turned it on and then twisted the blinds shut. She had always imagined that if she and Mulder were to ever make love in her room, that light would be on, casting its amber-colored light throughout her room and on Mulder.

She looked back at Mulder, who had taken his tennis shoes off and pushed them aside. He was really staying, she became consciously aware of it now and so she took a labored breath. We're really going to do this again.

She moved to the bed and sat at the edge so she could take off her own shoes and socks. Mulder came over to her and knelt on the floor, taking her hands in his after she'd finished her task. She leaned down and kissed him. Mulder let his tongue graze back and forth across her lips and continued to do so even after she'd opened her mouth before finally entering. It was a slow and lingering kiss, not frantic like their kisses had been the other night.

The warmth she felt emanated through her chest and she felt her nipples harden. The kiss was wonderful, but she wanted to feel his skin. Wanted to touch it, smell it, taste it. She grabbed at his T-shirt, pulling at it desperately.

"Mmscully," he took her hands and looked up at her. "Slow down, we have all night. I'm not going anywhere."

That he wanted to take this carefully aroused her all the more. But she didn't know if she'd be able to handle going so slowly. "Mulder," she begged, "I need to touch you."

He smiled and took his shirt off for her. She brought her mouth to his neck, kissing him all along his collarbone and making her way to the tendons around his neck. "Scully," he said again. "Scully, hang on. I've gotta get these jeans off."

She laughed deep in her chest and scooted herself back on the bed toward the headboard. Mulder crawled after her, clad now only in his boxers. Her face was burning. He was so beautiful and he wanted to be hers. She could hardly believe it. Except that it was plainly evident to her, even with his boxers still on.

"Mulder, we don't have to, I mean, I don't need to," she didn't know how to word it. "I'm ready now, too."

"Uh-uh," he said. "No way." He took her around the waist and pulled her T-shirt up over her head. He gently pushed her back onto the bed and put his mouth to her neck. He laved there with his tongue and Scully was soon aware that it was she, not Mulder, who couldn't stop groaning.

She pulled him closer to her so that she had one of his legs between her two. She knew already that it was there, but feeling his erection pushing into her thigh made her even warmer, wetter. "Please, Mulder," she didn't care about any of the other stuff, she needed him now. "Please, I just want you now."

But he had a plan and would not be diverted. "Nope," he whispered and moved away from her so he could pull down her leggings. Slowly he peeled them down her smooth legs. He looked back at her, lying there in only her underwear. The look was so reverent and it made Scully feel beautiful.

She pulled her legs up so that her knees were bent and reached over to take Mulder's hand. She placed it on her chest and Mulder took the cue. He leaned down and settled his nose between her breasts, kissing her there. She ran her fingers through the hair on his neck and then down and around his shoulders.

Soon Scully couldn't stand it. She reached behind her back and unclasped the bra herself. She pulled it away from her body and threw it aside. Just as she was about to beg him to do so, he moved his mouth to one of her breasts. He brushed his lips along the underside of it, back and forth until finally moving to the nipple and running his tongue over it. Again and again, one then the other, until once more, Scully realized she had been moaning.

His hand trailed down her torso and back up again. "Oh, Mulder, please. Please just do it. I can't wait anymore."

She closed her eyes and waited. He took her panties off and then she felt nothing for a few moments. Scully opened her legs wider to him, hoping he would get the idea. Then he was there, his mouth at her center and Scully thought she would explode. No, maybe implode. No, combust. Mulder would appreciate that one. Yes, you're honor, my partner spontaneously combusted while I brought her to orgasm.

She would have laughed at her thought, but she could manage nothing else but whimpers. All sensation was focused on the feel of Mulder's tongue circling and rubbing and licking at her, in a perfect rhythm until she was feeling the warmth radiating down her legs to her feet. She pushed herself into his face, trying to heighten her sensations

"Ho-hogod, Mulder," she cried, "I'm-0hhh." She then followed with a noise that was somewhere between a grunt and a wail.

He took his face away and replaced it with two fingers, picking up on her rhythm and rubbing them in a circle around her clitoris.

She squeezed her eyes shut. "Mulder, fas, fas-ter"

He obeyed. She opened her eyes again to notice that he had his hand in his shorts, pleasuring himself as he did it to her. "Mulder, come here, let me," she reached for him. He took her flailing hand and showed her where he was. He felt so big, massive, thick. She squeezed him and rubbed him as best she could as he brought her closer and closer to the edge.

He was moaning, and she thought she was hearing him tell her what she was doing felt really good. But soon she was unable to continue for him, craving her own release now. She pumped her hips madly into his hand.

She heard his voice encouraging her, but she hadn't needed it. Just a couple more and she burst, her legs squeezing together and clamping down on his hand.

She lay there breathing heavily with her eyes closed for a few moments until she felt his lips touch hers. Scully grabbed his head and plunged her tongue into his mouth, caressing and tasting him.

Finally pulling away she said in a breathy voice, "Alright Mulder, now. I'm not waiting any longer."

He laughed and moved over her, putting himself in position. It suddenly occurred to Scully in that moment that she had never told him. He had said it, but she hadn't. Not out loud. "Mulder, wait," she said.

He looked at her funny and breathed out, "What?"

"Mulder, I never told you. I haven't said it yet."

"Doesn't matter."

She shook her head. It did matter. "Mulder, I love you, love you so much." A tear began to fall and he wiped it away from her face with his lips, just at the moment she felt him fill her.

It wasn't long into the movements he'd started that he found that place he'd found the other night. She quivered and shuddered, over and over and felt the tension begin to build in her belly again. She reached her hands back and grabbed onto her headboard, giving her the leverage she needed to raise her pelvis as high as she could.

She rocked and he pumped and Scully hoped in the back of her head that the one slightly short slat she had under her box spring wouldn't pick this moment to fall through. Mulder was thrusting into her with such force she wondered if he might manage to pull the whole bed apart.

But the building could have been on fire and she wouldn't have cared until she felt that release again. She extended one leg toward the ceiling, just as he pulled out and pushed back in again, giving her that release and she unfurled, breathing quickly and thanking Mulder out loud.

He followed her and somewhere in her consciousness she felt him shooting into her, filling her with the seed she'd never be able to utilize, but that made her feel very alive nonetheless.

They lay awake for several minutes in silence, Scully's back pressed up against Mulder's chest, his arms wrapped around her waist. Scully felt Mulder's nose rubbing up and down at the base of her neck. He kissed her there, perhaps in silent apology.

There were a million things Scully wanted to say to him, but she began to drift off instead. She yawned and Mulder quietly encouraged her to fall asleep if she wanted to.

What she really wanted was to luxuriate in the feel of him holding her as long as possible, but she knew she was too tired to do so for long tonight. But he was here tonight, which meant he'd be there in the morning, too.

She snuggled into his back and Mulder squeezed her even more tightly to him. Happy. She felt so happy. She hadn't known it had been so long since she'd felt such elation.

And it had been such a small exchange, such a tiny sacrifice. Just one simple realization. One simple belief.


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