Story two in The Resurrection series
Summary: We'd be lying if we said we had no idea what lead up to the events on Halloween night.
Category: Kidfic; Post-series.
Spoilers: Emily; All Souls, William, Release, Empedocles
Disclaimer: Scully, Reyes, William, Mulder and Doggett are only being borrowed. But Tabby and unborn baby Doggett are mine. All mine!
Author's note: Please read Small Hauntings before you read this one. Although 3/4ths this story covers a period of time that is chronologically just before Small Hauntings, it's more in the nature of a flashback than a true beginning to the series.
October 23rd, 2004
It all started as a game. We were bored, and my broken ankle meant I was destined to be a caged Fox rather than a dancing fool. Even though the Halloween Ball was no longer in the cards, Reyes and Doggett still came over with their daughter. They claimed that it wouldn't have been the same without us, but I think I detected a note of relief in their voices. Not wanting a late night when you're owned by a toddler isn't hard to understand.
Tabby was sleepy, so Scully put her to bed in William's old playpen, which had been set up in his room. From her account he didn't wake up, and the baby fell asleep instantly.
Downstairs, Reyes revealed that she'd brought a ouija board. I looked at it with interest, since I'd never used one before. Once, long ago, I'd asked my Dad to buy one for Sam and I. Predictably he'd said he wasn't going to spend good money on worthless crap.
This in mind, as she rejoined us I tried to telepathically plead with Scully not to dismiss the idea as stupid.
"Oh! Missy and I used to scare each other with one of these when we were little girls!" Scully exclaimed gleefully.
Apparently my telepathy isn't too bad.
"The directions say that it's best for a man and a woman to do it, with their knees touching." Scully looked down at my ankle. "Want to give it a shot?"
My mind was still caught on her wording - do it, heh - and it took until I noticed she was staring at me to bring me back to Earth. I shrugged noncommittally. "If you think you can contort that way, fine."
She got a mischievous look in her eyes. "Spread you legs apart more," she commanded.
Doing as she asked, I moved the leg that wasn't elevated apart from the other. I hadn't figured out what she was up to until she'd already pulled her chair forward until she was seated with her knees between my legs. The uninjured one she pulled back towards her until our knees did indeed touch. That distracted me, making me wonder if she had any other creative manipulations in mind for after our guests went home... at least until she put the board on our knees. "I know it's not what they had in mind, but it technically fulfills the instructions."
"Yeah...What next?" I still couldn't believe that Scully was well versed in an element of the occult that I was clueless about.
She looked at the box. "Next we put our fingers lightly on the pointer, and ask a question."
"Is Micah Hoffman in the house? Paging the ghost of Micah Hoffman." I smiled at Scully. "I guess he decided not to haunt us after all."
"Funny." She looked around, then addressed the empty air. "Is there a spirit with us tonight?"
To my shock, the pointer jumped under our fingers, making a beeline for YES.
Watching, Reyes gasped then giggled. Doggett just smirked.
"Who do you have a message for, spirit?" Scully asked gravely.
The pointer flew from letter to letter, spelling out A-l-l.
"What do you have to tell us?" I asked, playing along.
I could feel the tug of the pointer under my fingers. A glance at the way Scully's fingers were slack seemed to suggest that she wasn't controlling it either. But if I wasn't controlling it, she had to be. Didn't she?
I-w-a-n-t-t-o. Then the pointer abruptly went still.
"You want to what?" Reyes asked aloud. Even without looking up I knew she wasn't talking to me or Scully. Scully gave her a disapproving glance; I remembered from the instructions that only the people touching the pointer were supposed to ask questions.
We all stared at the board while the pointer flew from one letter to another. t-o-c-o-m-e-h-o-m-e.
"Where's home?" An amused note in Doggett's voice suggested that he for one wasn't taking it seriously at all.
"Do you mean right here?" Scully asked. Her voice was a bit shaky, like she'd forgotten that it was a game.
The pointer dragged itself to YES before it went to letters again.
"We?" I asked. "There's more than one of you?" Another YES. "How many?"
A silence met my question.
I'd thought the game was over, but then Doggett laughed. "Sure, come home. I'm sure being haunted will do wonders for Dana's resale value."
The pointer came to life once more.
"That's not funny," Doggett complained.
Agreeing with Doggett, I let the pointer go. It surprised me that Scully would go for that nerve for the sake of a joke. "Well, that was fun." I put everything back in the box and handed it to Reyes.
They went home not long after, and I went to bed, surprised to find myself drained of energy. I guess a little excitement will do that to you if you're not at your best, and with a bum ankle, I wasn't at mine.
Everything was quiet that night, but two afternoons later things began to go south. It wasn't until days later that I learned that my experience wasn't as unique as their silence first let me think it was.
I'd had a doctor's appointment, and had requested the afternoon off, so I'd taken a cab home. Scully was still at work, and I was too tired to consider getting William out of daycare, so I had the house to myself. My greatest desire was a nap, and I was already yawning by the time I unlocked the door.
I'd crutched about halfway through the living room when I saw it - Stratego. That stopped me dead in my tracks. What that doing in our house?! The first coherent action I'd performed after they took Samantha was to gather up the game and condemn it to the basement. If my folks had wondered why, they hadn't asked, nor had either of them ever moved it. Yet, impossibly, it was in my living room.
I was afraid to go near it, suddenly sure that if I did the walls of time would dissolve around me, thrusting me more than three decades backwards into the past. The fear made me feel ridiculous and weak, but it clung like spider webs even as I berated myself for being foolish.
It was far more likely that someone who had it in for me had decided that psychological warfare was the best way to get to me. What better way to subtly drive me mad than to break into my mother's house, and steal the one object there that'd bring me the most anguish? Then bring it here, to the place that was supposed to be sanctuary to my wife and child? It was a clever gambit by an evil person.
But it could be aliens come to drag me into the past.
Gathering my courage, I forced my squeaking way forward. The unsteady sounds of my metal crutches annoyed me, but it was a welcomed emotion. Anything to lessen the grip of senseless panic.
Once I was only a couple of feet away, I realized my error. The pieces were shiny, new, not the set from my boyhood.
My pulse was beginning to calm when I realized something - the pieces were setup in a layout that had forever been burned into my memory. Even now it looked ready for my sister to make her next move.
When I recoiled in mingled surprise and horror, I got the crutches tangled between my feet and nearly fell. After scrambling to regain my balance I got out of the room quicker than anyone, including myself, would ever give me credit for.
The walls shook with the force of the bedroom door slamming. That made me wince a little; Scully would kill me if I cracked the walls. We'd spent a lot time and money making this handyman's dream livable, so undoing that work would be stupid. A cursorily look suggested that my enthusiasm hadn't done any damage.
Sighing in relief, I stripped off my clothes and climbed into bed wearing just my underwear. It was so quiet, and the bed so warm and comfortable that I began to drift off within minutes.
Sleep was so close I could reach out and brush it with my fingertips when a noise began to intrude on my peace. Groaning softly, I burrowed my head deeper into the pillow, but the respite this offered was brief. Eventually the disturbance gained such volume that I rolled over to locate the source.
The moment I solved the mystery, I fell out of bed with a mewl of terror. Tangled in the bedclothes I'd dragged down with me, I breathed only in harsh gasps and groped blindly for my crutches.
For all my shocked anguish, my eyes were transfixed on the object producing the noise. It was a small color TV we kept in the bedroom, so we could watch the occasional primetime offerings we could agree on, and the news.
Not the Magician. It couldn't be. Horrified as I was, I couldn't tear my eyes away from the screen, so I reached blindly for the remote control on my nightstand. Jabbing repeatedly at the power button did nothing but make me wonder if the batteries were dead.
After a few moments of disoriented bewilderment, I struggled to my feet and inched closer to the TV. For once I was glad for my crutches; I steadied myself on one and used the other to batter the plug out of the wall.
The image on the TV went out, leaving a ghostly imprint on the screen for two heartbeats, then a dark blankness. Surprised by this, I gave the TV a mistrustful look. Any second, I was sure, it would jolt back to life, and the shock and horror of it would knock me on my ass.
Two long minutes passed, and I decided not to allow myself to be further terrorized by a twelve inch screen. I gathered up a quilt and what was left of my dignity, and made for what Scully referred to as 'the library.'
Although I knew from personal experience that libraries were not always benign sanctuaries, at least this one didn't have my corpse below the floor boards. And more importantly there was no TV.
The chair was comfortable, and the quilt warm, but my mind wouldn't shut off the steady stream of nervous, rambling thoughts, so I didn't sleep or even doze.
Eventually I picked up a book about bigfoot that I'd been meaning to read. It was comforting to concentrate on the unknown in the book, rather than on the unknown in my house.
I was still reading when Scully and William got home. So engrossed in the book, I startled when my son threw himself at my legs. Not nearly as calm as I wanted to believe, my first thought upon feeling the solid weight on me was that I was being attacked. Before recoiling in terror, I looked down and saw a familiar thatch of red hair.
William didn't seem to notice that I'd been alarmed. "Hi Daddy."
To my credit - and amazement - my voice didn't shake. "How was school, Big Guy?"
"Good. We painted pumpkins." As he climbed onto my lap I noticed that there was still orange paint under his nails.
"Go put away your backpack in your room, William," Scully said as she joined us.
William made a long face and got up from my chair reluctantly. "Okay, Mommy."
Once he left the room, Scully gave me a quizzical look. "I was surprised to see that you'd set up that game."
I nearly protested that I'd done no such thing, but before I did something occurred to me: she was only surprised to see that it was set up, not that it existed at all. "Uh, Scully, where did the game come from?"
She gave a sheepish shrug. "Mom. I don't know what she's been reading, but lately she keeps talking about power failures over the winter. She bought a new set of hurricane lanterns - much nicer than the old ones that she's had practically forever - then she began worrying about the grandkids. If there was no power they might get bored. So she bought us all several board games - even though I protested that William is too young to play them. Most of them are too old for Matt too, but if it makes her happy..."
I nodded along as she spoke. There was no way that she'd been the one to set up the game. She wasn't that good at playing innocent. "Yeah, it's okay."
"Really?" Scully asked. "I was hoping you wouldn't find that particular game…"
"Can we go shopping?" I asked, mostly to change the subject. "We need candy for trick o' treaters still, and we promised William we'd get his costume tonight."
"Oh, sure. You're sure you're up to it?"
"Hey, I'm getting good at using these crutches. Bet I could beat you in a race, given you've still got those tiny little legs."
"Ha." She smirked at me, and it seemed that the game was forgotten. Except by me.
Two Days Later
Reyes grabbed her stuff while the rest of us watched idly. None of us were particularly interested in what was beginning to seem a lot like a dead-end case.
Twisting in his seat, Doggett craned his neck and spoke to his wife. "You're sure you don't want me to go with you?"
"'Put your feet in stirrups and scooch down' is an indignantly that doesn't need a witness," Reyes sighed. "It's going to be a long five months."
Scully nodded sympathetically.
"John, you're going to pick up Tabby after work, right?"
"Yeah. You can go home and take it easy after your appointment."
"Or go shopping." She kissed him on the cheek. "See you in a few hours."
Doggett smiled, but as soon as Reyes left, it dissolved. He turned to look at his partners. "I didn't want to ask until Monica left, but has anything strange happened to you this week?"
I said yes. Scully said no. She wouldn't meet our eyes when she said it though.
"So it's not just me then." His voice sounded almost relived. "I've been worrying for days that I'm losing my mind."
"Why?" Scully demanded to know. Instead of answering, Doggett stared down at his hands. I was curious too, but half sure that I knew what he was going to say.
"It's crazy, but if I didn't know better, I'd think I was being haunted." When he looked up his eyes were grief-stricken. "I think I'm being haunted by my son."
"Why?" I asked softly, afraid that a loud question would shut him down.
He shrugged his shoulders helplessly. "It sounds stupid even when I think it, so I can't imagine how it out loud... Teeth and bicycles."
"Teeth and bicycles?" Scully repeated, sounding confused. I wasn't much less in the dark than she was.
He nodded. "Over the past two days I've seen a bike everywhere I go. And I mean the same bike. Blue, with a chip of paint taken out of the frame near the pedals, a card in the spokes of the back wheel. Ace of hearts. It's a bike I would know anywhere. Luke's bike."
Scully made a soft sound that was like "oh" but somehow wasn't.
"I've seen it six times this week. Abandoned on lawns, propped up against walls, in a bike rack in front of an elementary school once."
To Scully's credit she didn't immediately suggest that it was a coincidence like I was afraid she was going to. Instead she just said, "That does sound upsetting."
"There's more," he said, and I remembered: teeth. "and it's even weirder. For the past few days I've been finding baby teeth."
"Strange," I agreed.
"Getting up to pee one morning, I found a little tooth on the hall carpet. My first thought was that Tabby had somehow lost one of hers, which upset me. Babies aren't supposed lose their teeth, so I was expecting a crying daughter, probably a bloody mouth...But when I caught up with her - my god is she quick on those little feet! - she was fine. A little mad that Daddy pried her mouth open to check on her, but her teeth were all fine." He shook his head. "Figured that it must have been something that just looked like a tooth."
"But it wasn't," I said needlessly.
"No. Over the next couple of days I found three more. Then I began to wonder, what if the teeth and the bicycles were connected? Luke's bike, Luke's teeth. It seemed like a pretty cruel joke. I got so convinced that someone had stolen Luke's teeth to hurt me, that I called up Barb and asked her if she still had his teeth, sure that someone had broken into her place for them. God, she probably thought that I was insane. But she thought they were all there still. Thought, which meant she didn't know for sure. I made up some excuse for calling, I don't even remember what, and got off the phone as soon as I could." He looked up at us and said, "Sounds crazy, huh?"
I shook my head slowly, and said. "Actually, it doesn't." Then I told them everything about the game and the TV.
It surprised me a little, but I could tell from his expression that Doggett was totally with me by the time I finished my story. But then, he'd clearly been shaken up by his own personal haunting.
I turned to Scully, but her face was closed. It was impossible to read what she was thinking. Prodding was definitely in order. "What about you?" I asked her.
"What about me, what?" Now there was something on her face, a guarded expression.
I spoke slowly, hoping it would sink in. "Doggett and I are being haunted. Are you?"
"Mulder, that's ridiculous. There are no such thing as ghosts!" Oddly, Doggett looked like he couldn't believe that she'd said it, either. Before I could puzzle out why, Scully asked, "Even if there were, why would you think I was being bothered by a ghost too?"
"You've known a lot of people who've died too," I reminded her. Then I thought about them. Her dad. Melissa. Hell, she'd even met both my parents...
"No!" Her eyes lost a little of their wild look. "No. I haven't noticed anything strange."
"Okay," I agreed. I wondered if Doggett knew that she was lying too. "Hopefully you won't."
The subject dropped right then and there. I don't know if it came up again between Doggett and Reyes, but it didn't between him and I, and especially between Scully and I.
October 31st, 2004
When Doggett pulled up in front of my house, the living room lights were on.
"Looks like they came home early," I remarked as I struggled to get my crutches out of the truck.
Doggett came around and yanked them out for me. I would have said thanks, but I knew he'd done it for expediency rather than to be nice. "I wouldn't be surprised if they came back because Tabby got cranky."
"Just like her dad, huh?"'
He grimaced at the quip. "You know how toddlers are."
"Yeah, and just think you've got both the terrible twos and sibling rivalry both to look forward to."
"Thanks for reminding me." Doggett smirked.
"Actually, I half envy you," I told him.
"You want a repeat of the terrible twos?"
"Nah. I just wish Will wasn't going to be any only child."
"Sorry. Doctors are no help, then?" he asked, surprising me a little until I realized that Scully may have spoken to Reyes about our failed attempts to have a second child.
"The kid's a one-shot miracle."
By that point we'd gotten to the door. I patted my pockets for my keys, then I remembered that I'd been leaving them home lately because I couldn't drive. Luckily, the door wasn't locked.
We walked in, and I thought back to the movie we'd seen. There'd been a scene with someone walking into horror too.
But what we encountered in the living room wasn't horror, exactly. It was just hard to understand what was going on.
William and Tabby looked upset, and were sharing what was left of Reyes' lap. She looked upset, and the kids looked scared. Scully, on the other hand...
She was standing in front of three little kids. Her face was white as a sheet and tears were running down her cheeks. And speaking of sheets, there was a pile of them on the floor.
Eventually she realized we were there and turned in our direction. "My necklace."
"What?" I peered behind her, trying to get a better look at the kids, but they were standing in the shadows.
"I lied. My necklace kept showing up in weird places."
At first I couldn't figure out why she'd chosen right then to confess that she'd been haunted too. It seemed like a non-sequitur... until she stepped aside.
"Oh my god." Unexpectedly, I found myself sitting on the floor. I guess my surprise made me lose my precarious balance. Emily and Samantha looked at me. I turned away.
"Luke! Come here!" Doggett's face was all smiles, which I found odd. Wasn't seeing his dead son in my living room a shock to him?
The little boy ran into his outspread arms. I looked at him in wonder as he wrapped the child in an embrace. "It's a miracle," Doggett said happily. I was beginning to worry that he'd snapped, and the look on his wife's face made me think I wasn't alone there.
He claimed it was a miracle. It was something, anyway.
"Mulder!" He looked over the boy's blond head. "You got your wish."
I gave him a blank look. "What wish?"
"For William not to be an only child."
Oh, that wish. I turned my head, first looking at my son, then at Emily. If this wasn't me having a stroke, it did seem like he had a sibling. A younger sibling. If Emily was the same age she'd been when she'd died, she was six months younger than William. That wouldn't be easy to explain, I thought before deciding it was crazy.
How hard could it be to explain having kids six months apart be compared to explaining how three children seemed to have come back to life?
It hurt to look at Samantha. I'd wanted her back all my life, but I never excepted her to be eight still. Or maybe I did, if I was honest with myself. I don't think I ever pictured her as an adult until I met the women masquerading as her.
Samantha was alive. Emily and Luke were alive. What the hell were we supposed to do with them? It's easy to say "love them" but it's never that simple. Nothing is.
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