Summary: A love affair can often turn into something ugly. When it does, Mulder and Scully are called in to resolve a possible ghostly case file and get caught in the crossfire. Very much so.
Softly, the wind rustled through the trees and tinkled gently against the metal. It sounded like a whisper, so gentle that it was almost unheard by the human ear. This could have been such a peaceful place. Quiet, undisturbed, almost restful even. Not a single voice or sound could be heard, after the wind settled down. Every single bird had ceased its singing; every noise that could disturb the peace had gone.
If you happened to be in the area, and looking at the scene from a walking distance, at first, you would not be able to see what rested between the trees. It would seem like a huge piece of metal, that the reflected the autumn's sun. But then, as you walked closer, you would see what truly lay there, and you would hold your breath and be shocked at first. Your eyes would not believe that what was before you there, could truly be what you thought it would be.
And then, as you would realize what it was, you'd turn around and scream, and cover your eyes with your hands, blocking out the vision of what lay before you. You'd cry out to the gods and pray for this not to be true. You would remember this from television, from a dozen or so news reports on events just like this. And finally the screams for help would die down in a strange sense of acknowledgement, that there was nothing you could do.
If you were to carry a camera, and were able to film from up high, you'd slowly notice that it was a crash site, and that the small aircraft still appeared to be a Cessna business plane, but now with clipped wings. You'd notice that the wheels had broken off, that its belly had gouged into the ground, and that most of the metal holding together the cockpit and its womb, were in tact. Yet you would instantly spot that human bodies had been buried inside its twisted carcass, and that the crash had been too severe to allow any survivors.
You would find it a horrible, terrible sight, and you would forever remember it. It was like that for all the farmers that had gone rushing towards the crash site of the Cessna, which had flown from San Diego to Chicago that fateful night. They all wanted to help, and yet all they could witness in the long run, was the destruction of another ill-fated flight. Four people died that autumn day, and the sun shone brightly as it ever did.
It always did.
Charles Newman had never felt this lonely in his life. He had nothing really to look forward to anymore. Money, wealth and power meant nothing if you didn't have the right woman by your side. He'd had her at one time, and he'd lost her.
In death, she appeared more vivid to him than ever before. He saw her everywhere, of course; helped by the enormous paintings that hung around the house walls. He'd commissioned the best artists in the world to paint her, as they used to portray royalty in the past eras. He was an old-fashioned man who loved to please his wife. She'd been a good wife to him, even though he'd always suspected she'd had affairs.
It didn't start from the beginning of the marriage, he was sure of that. It came later, when he started to spend more and more time at his company and the city. She'd always stayed at home, trapped as she would complain countless times within the family compound that lay isolated outside of San Diego. He had asked her several times to chopper out to the city with him. She could stay in their apartment downtown, while he conducted his business. She could go shopping--anything. In the beginning, she did just that, but then suddenly she'd stopped going with him.
He knew it had to be someone from his own staff whom she was messing around with. Perhaps Carlos, the pool man, or Alan his own butler. Or Stphane, the French teacher who she'd insisted on hiring so often. In every case, he'd known instinctively that she was doing more than sulking at home.
He made an effort, he really did. He tried to be home every night at a decent hour to spend dinner with her. Often he would buy her new jewellery, give her expensive gifts or send her flowers. Sometimes she would look at him strangely and say, "My love cannot be bought with money, you know. I wouldn't care less if you never have a dime. In fact, I think I'd be happier. I'm so sick of this place."
He was sad when she said such things. He couldn't give up his company business and desert all the people working for him. They needed him. He was their mentor, their friend and their employer. His assistant David was good, but not ready to take over the company just yet. He was far too young and inexperienced to take on the task. Plus, lately he'd been talking a lot about merging with another airline company. No, thanks. He wanted to stay independent, and sole market leader in his own specific branch.
But Felicity's problems could not be resolved easily. He loved this property with its splendour, its freedom and its restful ambiance. He didn't force her to stay here. In fact, he would love for her to join him in town. Yet she never did. So what should he do?
Finally he decided to address the subject. If she had an affair, he would find out the why's and how's and deal with them. He loved her too much to have her be unhappy. He would even be able to live with the fact that she was no longer part of his life, as long as she was happy.
That night, he had Alan set up an amazing candlelight dinner. He came home around three, taking the rest of the day off, and found her near the pool with her best friend Karen, who often stayed here. Both women seemed very surprised that he was back. He sent Karen back into town, requesting the night alone with his wife. Karen left reluctantly. He asked his wife to prepare for dinner. In her eyes, he saw a twinkling of hope and expectation.
Around seven, they reunited in the beautifully decorated dining room. Felicity looked stunning. Her raven black hair danced on her shoulders. Her lips were a soft pearlish colour, and her black eyelashes fluttered slowly above her deep green eyes. Her slim figure was adorned in a scarlet red evening gown that she had only worn once, for the ten-year anniversary of his company.
"You look magnificent," he whispered and helped her sit down.
"So do you," she answered approvingly, staring at his tuxedo clad athletic physique. He looked thirty-five instead of forty-five: all the working out he did paid off in spades.
They ate quietly, chatting about everything but the affair. Finally, he knew he had to address the subject. He grasped her fingers and became serious again. She looked up and knew what was coming.
"Is it true?" he asked fearfully.
She knew well he had already suspected and nodded. "It is."
"Who is he?"
"I won't tell you. But you should know that it's been over for some time. I know that it's hard for you to grasp that, but it was just a fling, a means to try something else. I was fed up, bored and I wanted to go into another direction. I soon realized that you're the only one I love."
"I want to know who it is."
"I can't tell you."
"It doesn't matter."
"It does matter when that person is still here, in my staff. I don't want you to turn to him every time we argue, or don't see eye to eye."
She pulled away her hand. "Is that what you think I would do?"
"No!" She shoved her chair backwards, and the magic of the evening was gone. "If you think that way about me, then I wonder how you could love me at all. I admitted that I have gone astray, because you already knew about it. I don't want you to force me into saying things that I don't want to say. Charles, isn't it enough for me to swear it will never happen again? I love you, no one else."
"And that makes everything alright?" Charles lost his calm, knowing that every single word could turn her permanently against him. Yet he had to know. He needed to know who had bedded his wife, so he could close the subject forever and deal with the person who had taken her heart temporarily.
"No, it doesn't. But I'll be damned if you will control my life again. My lover was right, you know: you'll never change. You manipulate me time and time again and I've had it. You didn't even ask me why, did you? You seemed to find it normal that I would have an affair. You don't even fight for me! If this is your way of loving me, then forget it. I'm leaving."
"Feli, wait!" He rushed after her, only to find her slamming the door in his face. No matter how many times he knocked on the door, she wouldn't open it. Eventually he retreated in his study, after telling Alan to stop her, in case she wanted to leave in the middle of the night.
She didn't leave that night. However, she left in the morning, taking his Cessna to do so. He came downstairs to find her suitcases packed. She didn't look at him when she spoke. "I'm going back to my parents in Chicago. I'm sure you don't mind if I use your plane. Don't worry: it will be the last thing I'll ever use of yours. I don't want your money."
"Feli, please don't leave. Angel, stay with me. I'm sorry. I don't want you to go. I love you so much. I cannot bear to go on without you."
Her furious eyes turned towards him. "Do you realize how manipulative you are? I'm suffocating, Charles. I'm choking in this place. This ... palace. It's like a jail to me, don't you see? I'm lonely. I need people around me."
He stepped forward and touched her face. "Remember how we were in the first years, my darling? We vowed to spend the rest of our lives together. We said we would even die together, old, happy and in our bed. What happened to that, Angel?"
She seemed sad that he would broach that subject. "It's over. Goodbye, Charles."
He didn't try to stop her when she left. He knew she needed the time to think about her future. At her parent's house she would be able to do that. If needs be, he would move to the city for her, make the changes that would make her happy again. He suddenly realized that as Alan closed the door, and they stood alone in the enormous hallway. The cold marble floor underneath his bare feet woke him out of his stupor, and he came to hate the sound of the hollow footsteps as she left.
He walked into the garden and sat down. He must have been there for hours because suddenly, as the late summer sun shone on his face, Alan tapped on his shoulder.
He looked up and knew that she was actually gone. He had sensed it, as he had seen her walking on his lawn just a few moments before. For the first time in his life, he cried.
Special Agent Fox Mulder had no problem whatsoever boarding planes. There weren't many things in life that frightened him, and even though the risks had become higher after that fateful September day, he preferred not to think of them. After all, they had a job to do, and unfortunately that job required a lot of travelling.
So on that early November morning, he didn't feel anything out of the ordinary as he grabbed his voucher, his weekend bag and boarded Flight 238 heading to San Diego. In fact, he was looking forward to the trip across the US. The case that waited for them was one of the more fascinating ones, even though Scully, as per usual, didn't totally agree with that. She called it yet another ghost goose chase, but this time there were several eyewitnesses and a valid case file, that had been confirmed by several authorities and filed under "Unexplainable". This could be the real thing, the connection to the other world where the dead could not rest.
Unlike her partner, Dana Scully always felt flying was a required pain in the rear, to get from one place to another. The long-distance flights were the worst. Usually she packed a full pack of Dramamine - especially in autumn and wintertime when flights could get rougher - two packs of chewing gum even though they hurt her teeth and a special pillow to support her neck. That way, she always hoped to sleep through most of the flight. Usually though, Mulder was doing interview preparations, and insisted on going through their information in detail once again. In a case of profiling, he would usually tap away at his laptop, with the heady enthusiasm of a professional author.
She didn't know what it was she felt today, but Dana Scully was not eager to admit she didn't care one bit about this particular flight. It wasn't that the weather was bad for travelling: in fact, it was one of the sunniest days of the year and the forecasts were perfect. It wasn't that she felt out of the ordinary, or that her stomach was acting up. She just didn't want to travel today. She just couldn't put her finger on it
Mulder did notice her quiet reticence when they drove to the airport and parked their car in long-term parking, but didn't comment on it until they had boarded the plane. He stashed her bag and his in the compartment above their heads, and waited for her to take her customary seat near the window.
For the occasion, they had packed up a suitcase filled with evening clothes too, which was safely tucked away in the luggage compartment. The man they were going to help, had more money than the whole of Kentucky together. Evening attire could be required.
"Are you okay?" he asked. "I thought you would be happy to fly to San Diego and get the chance to see your brothers again."
"Yeah sure. It's not that," she replied truthfully. "I'm I don't know. I guess I feel a bit under the weather today."
"Did you take anything this morning?"
"Nah, don't be silly. I only doze off on Dramamine, so I try not to take any unless it's a worst-case scenario, remember?"
'Yep, I know. But if you don't feel fine "
"Nah," she waved away his concern with her hand and laughed nervously. "You'd think that I would have gotten used to flying after all these years, right?"
"It's not like you don't have the experience. You hold the world record of Frequent Flyer Miles all by yourself."
"I guess the free suitcases would come in handy on occasion." She shrugged. "Never mind me, Mulder. I'm fine, really. I'll catch up on my sleep and before I know it, we'll have struggled ourselves through a big budget movie, a throw-up meal and a few glasses of unsparkling sparkling water."
He smiled. "Don't forget the mighty unsalty salty peanuts."
"That too. Can I drool on your sleeve?"
"Sure. You can even have my pillow."
Scully smiled and stared outside, breathing in and out regularly as she tried to regain control over her wits. Don't be silly, Agent Scully, she reprimanded herself. You are acting like a total geek.
With that thought, she closed her eyes and felt her body begin to relax. Even before the plane took off and entered the skies, she was out like a light, slipping to the right and with her head tilted to the side, leaning on her partner's sleeve. Mulder readjusted his glasses and glanced at her, smiling as he realized Scully was drooling on him. He then used only his right hand to finish the report on their previous case, he'd promised Skinner four days ago.
By the time they reached San Diego, Sleeping Beauty woke up and stretched her arms, realizing to her own shock that she had missed the entire flight, including an early lunch and Tarrantino's 'Kill Bill.'
"Lots of gore, Scully," was Mulder's dry comment. "Lots and lots of gore. But hell, did Uma Thurman kick ass!" She gave him the eyebrow and grinned as she mopped at her drool stains with a tissue.
"I know it sounds ridiculous," Charles Newman began, "but I know that my wife is still around. There is no other explanation for it."
The business tycoon laughed nervously. He had aged quite a bit over the past three months. Since his wife's death he had not been himself. In fact, he hadn't been back at the company during all that time. First the disbelief-period had come, and then the reluctant acceptance that she would never come back.
"I never thought I would say something like this in my adult life," Newman continued. "I mean: I'm a business man for goodness sake. I work in the city, I own my own company; I employ four hundred people. I'm a sensible, alert, aware guy, and yet I feel that something is happening with me and I can't explain what it is. It's eerie, really. I always thought that my wife would come back to haunt me in a positive way, you know. We loved each other, despite our last argument."
"So what exactly do you experience, sir?" Scully asked.
Newman looked at Scully. "You don't resemble her at all. Good, I'm happy with that. I wouldn't be able to talk to you if you were like her. Sorry, what was the question? Oh, how I experienced it?"
Newman got up and moved over to the window, touching his lips. "She comes to me at night, in my bedroom, and she kisses me while I'm asleep. Her lips are very soft. Gentle, even. I always thought she was an angel coming to help me through a difficult period of my life. She was my saviour. We used to joke that we would die together. That's why I think she came back: to tell me that I will die too."
The man pointed outside to the huge lawn, which crossed at least an acre behind his house. Peacocks meandered through the grass, flaunting their beauty to their less beautiful spouses.
"I am afraid to go into my own garden, can you believe that? Every time I go towards the chopper, I see her appear in broad daylight. She keeps me prisoner in my own home. She just stands there and stares at me, and I am too terrified to go past her. I was in love with her. I still am. And yet I'm afraid to confront her. She was a woman of contrasts, you know. At night she tells me she loves me, and during the day she haunts me in an odious manner. Perhaps the nightly visits are just a dream."
"Sir," Mulder asked pleasantly. "We need to ask you this: could that entity that you saw be anyone else? Are you certain it was your wife?"
"Oh yeah. I've seen her so many times now. I'm certain it was her."
Mulder's soothing voice seemingly calmed the man down. "I just need to ask you this also. You bought this property about four years ago. Before that, do you know if anyone died here?"
"No." Newman shook his head convincingly. "I have already done a background check on this property, and everything was ok before buying it. Nothing major happened here. The woman owning it before me was a retired actress. She moved to Palm Springs, to her family. She had the place built. Before that, it was a golf course. It has to be Feli."
Newman's eyes filled with tears then. He rubbed them furiously. "I'm sorry," he sighed. "I'm so sorry. I'm just so tired. Feli died three months ago, and I feel as if the world has come to a standstill. Nothing works for me anymore. I miss her so much."
"Sir," Scully spoke gently. "We know that what you saw might be very genuine. There were several people confirming your account. You were not the only one who saw her, or whatever it was. But we have to make sure that no one is pulling a prank here. There are some very strange people out there that can do some pretty awful things."
"What my partner is trying to say is, that we will get to the bottom of this, sir," Mulder interrupted. "Basically, we will try to find out who, or what this is and help you deal with it. If someone is trying to kill you, we will stop him or her."
He looked at them. "My god, you make it sound so ... normal. Should I not feel insane then?"
"No, sir," Mulder smiled gently. "There is no reason to feel insane."
"Good. I don't think my people would love a crazy manager, you know. They all count on me. I need to keep a brave face and help them. These times are bad enough as they are. I don't want anyone to lose a job because we can't keep our head above water. I feel lousy enough for letting them down these past few months as it were. I just couldn't face going back, you know. David has been dealing with everything, and he's done a pretty good job. You'll meet him soon, he's on his way over."
"What kind of business is it that you do, sir?" Scully enquired. "You deal with airlines?"
He smiled. "Yes. And no. My company is divided into two parts: One part sells tickets from several airlines through the Internet, against the best deals. People can log in and compare airfare prices and then purchase the tickets they want, and we earn a small percentage on it. I have about a hundred people working in that department, and it's fairly successful."
He stopped for a second. " In the last ten years, I've started another business that is sort of directly connected to airlines as well. We refurbish older aircrafts and give them a full facelift. As you know, aircraft are supposed have a good longevity factor, but often need a clean up and replacement of certain parts. We salvage usable parts from other crafts and use them for these refurbishing. That business is booming. A lot of airline companies prefer to remodel their older planes, than to purchase a new fleet all the time. We are unique in what we do. I have three hundred people in full time service for this part of the business. But please, let me show you what it's all about. I propose that we go to my company and take a look. Of course you'll be staying here for as long as needs be. Please consider yourselves my guests."
"We don't mind staying at a hotel, sir," Scully said.
"Nonsense. Please, I insist. I have plenty of room as you see. Besides, I have another guest; Karen, who used to be Felicity's best friend, she often stays here. We've become close over the past few months. She turned out to be a very good friend; but nothing more than that, I assure you."
"Thank you, sir."
Newman smiled and nodded politely. "Let me get ready and we'll take the chopper out to the company. I guess there's no time like the present, and I feel comforted with the FBI in the house. The company's about ten miles outside of town, or about sixty miles from here."
Scully suddenly became aware of how isolated the Newman mansion was. It had taken them over an hour to drive here from the airport, and they were seventy miles outside of town in this little secluded paradise. Why would a businessman take such a property when he needed to be close to work on a daily basis?
However, as Alan the butler showed them upstairs to their rooms, she knew why. The house spoke of style and class. Its owner picked every single piece of furniture carefully. Every part of it was beautifully decorated. And when you looked out into the enormous garden with its peacocks, the clear blue swimming pool behind it, and the acres of walking, jogging and golfing space, you felt like you were in paradise. There was even a games room inside the house. And who needed to take the car, when you had a personal helicopter at your disposal?
Yet the loneliness of the property struck her, and her eyes focused on the woman's enormous portrait hanging in the stylish hallway, above the marble staircase.
"She was a beauty, wasn't she?" Mulder commented as he stopped next to his partner.
"Yes, she was. What happened to her, Mulder? Do you know?"
"She died in a plane crash. They were arguing and she left with his private plane. It crashed less than an hour later."
"Yes, I know that part. I mean: why would she flee this place so desperately? Did she want to leave him?"
"They were on the verge of a break apparently. Poor guy."
"Yeah," Scully agreed. "He seems so nice and has it all. Who would want to abandon him?"
"That's not for us to hypothesize, Scully. We're here to find out if his life is in danger."
"And to investigate ghosts."
As they parted and went into their respective own rooms, Scully again was struck by the quietness of the house. She walked over to the window, hoping she'd be able to oversee the gardens, but was disappointed by driveway-based scenery. Mulder's room across the hall would have the garden view, she thought with a sense of jealousy.
A knock startled her. She opened the door to found her partner watching her with a grin. "I'll bet you an Iced Tea, that you're awfully jealous right now."
She flushed deeply. "You know me too well."
"Want to swap rooms?"
"Nah, don't bother."
"I don't mind."
She smiled. "Thanks."
She watched as her partner entered, moved past her and tossed his bag on the bed, before throwing himself onto it. "Ah, the life of luxury," he murmured contentedly, folding his arms behind his back.
Scully walked into the other room and looked outside. This was more like it, she thought with a grateful sigh. In the distance, she spotted a man standing on the grass. There was a woman too, or so it seemed. She had long hair. Scully couldn't see her face. Then the woman turned, and revealed instead a man who looked like an Arnold Schwarzenegger-long-haired version. The agent relaxed visibly.
"No ghosts today, Scully," she reprimanded herself before unpacking her small suitcase. If they were going chic staying here, she might as well act it. Tonight's dinner would no doubt be a fancy occasion. Good job she brought something decent to wear.
In the master bedroom, Charles Newman was at the window and also looking outside, only he wasn't admiring the scenery. He trembled with fear, sensing somehow that today could be the last day of his life. He was afraid. And sad. But somehow not that afraid either. He would see his wife again soon. Perhaps that's what Felicity's ghost came to tell him: that there was no reason to be afraid of death, and that it would come in the best possible times.
He wasn't any longer afraid of it.
"If you came for me, I am ready," he mused while changing into more suitable business attire.
Scully never thought she would see a ghost in any normal circumstance, or in broad daylight even. Yet she was staring at one right now, and yet she couldn't believe that it was true.
There was no other explanation. Not a human soul could explain what she had just seen. And she saw by the faces of her companions they'd seen it too.
Before them, the image of a woman appeared as soon as they started walking the path that ran across the lawn towards the forest behind it, and the landing site right before it. The woman looked at them and smiled, and shook her head and then vanished. She was there, and then she wasn't. She sure as hell seemed real enough. The female agent realized she was lost for words.
"Mulder " She stopped, unable to concentrate on what to say next.
He grasped her hand suddenly in a comforting gesture that she would forever be grateful for, and remember for a long time. "It's okay," he whispered kindly, taking charge instantly. He had been there before many times, and so had she, but she had chosen to disregard the reality of what she had seen. This however could almost not be denied.
"You saw it too, didn't you?" Charles Newton exclaimed excitedly. "She was here! She showed herself! She is warning me. I can't take the chopper out to town. Or perhaps she wants to tell me; I'll die in it. After all, she died in an aircraft too, didn't she?"
"Sir, you have to think about all the times that you saw it," Mulder said, trying to calm Newman down. "What happened and why it happened. For how long and what message if any came across."
"I've seen her six times now," Newman spoke, out of breath and eager to get it out of his system. "My assistant David saw her three times, and the gardeners at least three times as well. As you know, it started about a week ago. I was not feeling well, but had decided to go back to work anyhow. I walked over to take the chopper, and that's when she appeared. I felt faint and returned to the house, thinking I was delirious. But the next day, she appeared again. Every time I try to get in and use the chopper, I see her."
Scully and Mulder shared a glance. "I think it's wise for us not to use the helicopter until it's properly checked out, sir," Mulder proposed. "You might be right about the warning. Let's play it on the safe side."
"Nonsense. There is nothing wrong with the machine. I had it checked out a month ago."
"Even so sir, do us a favour and have it checked out again."
Charles Newman hesitated. "Alright," he said. "I promised to do whatever you said, and I will. I'll have a technician come over straight away."
The three of them headed back to the house, shocked over the apparition that had suddenly appeared before them. She'd had a weary, sad look on her face. She was stunning, Scully realized, just like in the portrait. She wore a long, sleeveless dress. But why would she show herself like this? What was the reason?
Charles shivered as he entered the house, feeling isolated by the event. He suddenly realized that he hadn't been at his company for over a week now, afraid to use the helicopter, and feeling upset by the ghostly appearances. This was not what he wanted, not what he had in mind when he had planned his comeback to the company.
"Will you excuse me," he said, "I'm going to check if David's here yet. He's my only link to the outside world right now, and I feel the need to speak to him."
"Go ahead," Scully said. "If you don't mind, we would like to take a look around the area ourselves."
"Of course. You can go anywhere you like. I hope you'll enjoy the property, ghosts included."
Scully smiled. "I'm sure that will be no problem, sir."
The two agents returned alone to the lawns, strolling past the calm, almost tame peacocks, towards the area where they had seen the apparition.
"So, what do you think?" Scully asked nervously. "Is it the real thing?"
"I don't know," he admitted. "Not yet, anyway. Not till I've done a few baseline tests with my equipment."
She couldn't help but laugh. "Did you bring your Ghostbuster stuff?"
"Nah, just my plain old sense. And perhaps a trick or two."
"Mulder, this must have been a hologram or something. Or a visional trick played upon is. I cannot believe in ghosts for the life of me. Dead is dead."
"Scully, you of all people should know that the dead are still amongst us, remember? I don't care to sum up everything you have seen so far, and all that you have experienced. The list would be too long. But in this case, you are right. I also have the feeling it's a trick."
Scully waited for him to continue.
"It strikes me odd that this woman, or whatever this is, would materialize as soon as he wants to leave his property. It's almost as if it knows that Newman hates to drive a car, and prefers the luxury of a private chopper. So if he doesn't have that, he's bound to remain isolated at home, isn't he?"
"Are you saying this is foul play?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Are you saying, Scully, that you believe it's a real ghost?"
She pulled a face. "I'm not saying anything."
"If it's foul play, then there will be foul evidence around. Let's go and have another look, shall we?"
As they walked across the lawn, they spotted a woman sitting next to the pool. She was a gorgeous beauty with long blonde hair, wearing Jackie Onassis-type sunglasses and apparently trying to catch a bit of the November-sun, which still warmed people this late in the year. She hardly looked up until they were near her.
"Oh," she said, sitting up straight, "you must be the FBI-agents."
"Yes," Scully replied coolly, for some reason, taking an instant dislike to the woman. "And you are Karen?"
She offered her hand. "You came to investigate Felicity's death?"
Scully raised an eyebrow. "Is there any investigation that still needs attention? She died in a plane crash."
"Yes, but I am curious to know, why no one bothered to label her death as murder."
"The authorities investigated fully and deemed it was a tragic accident."
"Well, they should look more closely, shouldn't they? I'm sure that Charles wanted to get rid of her as soon as humanly possible. He got his wish."
"I'm sorry, but how can you accuse this man of foul play when you're a guest staying at his property?" Mulder asked coolly.
"I'm here to find out if he killed her."
"And profiting from his money at the same time?"
She shrugged. "He won't miss a dime, will he? Look around, he's loaded. Not Rockerfeller, but well on the way. Okay, scratch that. He is almost as rich. But anyhow, he's not my type. I don't care about him."
"Are you the one playing tricks on him, Karen?" Scully asked.
"You mean the stupid apparition story?" She laughed heartily. "Come on, that's only a guilty man's fantasy." Mulder and Scully exchanged glances.
"Do you know who Felicity had an affair with?"
"Of course I did, but I'm not telling you."
"So you're protecting a possible killer?"
"Her lover didn't kill her. Charles did."
It was obvious Karen was not the woman to talk to. She was biased and detested Charles Newman more than anything.
"Good actress," Scully mused. "She pretends to like and care for Charles, so she can keep an eye on him. If she wants revenge, she has a pretty good motive, don't you think?"
"It's worth looking into it. I'm counting that assistant, David, in on the scheme as well. If he wants to take over the company, this might be his best shot."
The agents walked past the swimming pool in the direction of the landing pad, where the red-and-yellow painted helicopter stood waiting for its passenger. The pilot was nowhere in sight, nor were the gardeners. It was quiet and peaceful.
"The only way to get to the chopper is to use this path," Mulder said, pointing at a man made path that ran from the swimming pool, to the chopper area. "That is, if you're polite enough not to use the lawn. And didn't Newman say he saw it every time he headed towards the aircraft? Let's do the test."
Mulder went first as they walked over the path towards the landing site, stopping dead in their tracks when out-of-the-blue the same apparition appeared. There it shimmered, like the entity that looked like Felicity Newman and then didn't. It vanished within seconds, as soon as Mulder rushed towards her.
"It's a fake." Mulder returned to where he was and put his foot down. The woman reappeared again. He looked at his feet and knelt, his long fingers feeling the turf. "A triggered, foul fake."
Scully leaned over his shoulder, to find Mulder holding a very thin white wire in his hands. It ran almost invisibly over the lawn to the right, towards a gardener's shed.
"I believe we will find the ghost behind door number one, Monty." Mulder strode quickly towards it, lifting the wire carefully as he went. Opening the door, the agents found a projector standing against the window.
"The oldest trick in the book, Scully. A projection."
"Made by whom?"
"Let's find that out, shall we."
The agents left the projector and wire for what they were for the time being, and returned swiftly towards the house, where Charles Newman was pacing back and forth. Karen was gone from her swimming pool seat. Charles was not alone. A man in his late thirties introduced himself as David Wills. He seemed friendly enough. In contrast to Karen, Scully took a liking to him at once.
"Can we talk in private?" Mulder asked Charles.
"No, I trust David. I'd prefer him to stay."
Mulder explained quickly what it was he saw. "Whoever did this wanted to keep you inside the house, Mr. Newman. They didn't want you to go into town, or to your company. I think you may have to look for the bad guy inside your own company." The agent's eyes rested on David Wills. "Perhaps your right hand."
David flushed, but didn't comment. He didn't make any excuses in his defence either, which made Scully believe that he was innocent. It had to be someone who knew the property quite well and came here often.
"Oh god." Newman rubbed his eyes. "I was so afraid you would say that. Shit. I wanted it to be her ghost so badly. I felt that I deserved it. I " He stopped.
"You knew this could be fake, sir?" Scully asked. "Then why did you alert the FBI?"
"A part of me sensed it, and another part didn't want to believe it. I thought it was David at first." The man shared a glance with his assistant. "I thought he would hate me for losing it after Feli's death. But then David was constantly asking me to come back to the office, so I thought I was dreaming it. But I was ready to come back, you know. I had mourned her death for far too long already, and I just wanted to go back and throw myself into the life I had before she And then that ghost appeared and I thought that it was my punishment for not stopping her."
"It was an accident, sir," Scully reassured gently.
Newman sat down. "Before she died ... you know, before everything got sour between us, we sat at the dinner table one night. She took my hand in hers and declared her love for me. She said, "We are meant to die together, my love. You and I are bound. When I die, I'll come for you. I'll give you a sign. I'll kiss you." Newman smiled wearily. "She kissed so tenderly, you know. Like an angel. She said:" You can expect a kiss on the lips from your Angel." I guess that I believed her."
"She wouldn't want you to do think that way, sir," Scully spoke soothingly. "She would want you to move on."
David Wills placed his hand on Newman's arm. "Charles, we want you back in the office. The sooner, the better. The company needs you. We're facing bad times, and they need to know their manager and owner still has faith in them. Can you do that?"
Newman looked up. "Yes, I think I can. But I want to find out just who is perpetrating this hoax on me and why."
"We have a pretty good idea about that, sir," Mulder said, not referring to Karen. "We'll figure it out in due course. Until that time, it's best that you have someone by your side at all times to protect you. Just a precaution."
Newman took deep breaths. "You know, you're right. I shouldn't. I should get into town and get the hell back in there. That's what I should do." He looked hopefully at the agents. "Would you mind if one of you accompanied me to the company tomorrow morning? Or both of you? I think that I need to feel safe for a few days. You were planning on staying for a couple of days anyhow, right? Until you find out who is haunting me?"
"Why don't I come with you," Mulder proposed. "Agent Scully could stay here and find out who installed those wires."
"That's great. You can trust Alan to show you around."
Charles Newman seemed relieved, in his decision not to allow anyone to keep him away from his office anymore. He was even more satisfied, when the technician double checked the helicopter, and confirmed there was nothing wrong with it. A short test flight that evening proved everything was okay.
During dinner, Charles spoke openly about his wife. Karen sat next to him, and David Wills across from her. Mulder and Scully took the other two seats opposite each other, and listened quietly to the tales about Felicity Newman. Now that the ghost proved to be a hoax, Newman seemed eager to let the bad times be forgotten and muse over only the good memories of his wife.
It didn't escape the agents that Karen was constantly looking at him, with a dark glare in her eyes. She had difficulty in hiding her anger. Finally, she excused herself and left the room. Newman didn't even seem to notice.
After a splendid dinner, coffee followed. When the meal was finished everyone retreated to their rooms. David would spend the night too, and leave by car in the morning.
"Good night," Newman said as he closed the door behind him.
"Don't you find it odd that Newman didn't find out by himself it was a hoax, Mulder?" Scully spoke softly as they walked on the second floor. "He was a bit too eager to accept that for truth, wasn't he?"
"He wants to feel protected, Scully. He thinks that we can solve all the mysteries, and find out who might be trying to warn him off."
"Do you really think his life is in danger?"
"I don't know. It might be."
"Let's hope not."
"The truth is out there, Scully."
"In your dreams."
Early morning breakfast was followed by a preparation to leave for the city. David Wills had already left by the time the chopper was ready to go. Scully didn't want to tell anyone she wasn't eager for Mulder to go into town with Charles Newman without her. In fact, she waved away any possible objections she might have to the back of her mind. They had their jobs to do, and both had their own tasks. Newman needed protection for now. But the nagging feeling persisted and she couldn't help it.
"Be careful out there," Scully tried to sound confident, as she walked her partner and Newman to the chopper.
"I've got my FBI-badge," her partner smiled. "You be careful too. Don't piss off any gardeners, okay?"
"I'll try not to," she replied with a smile that didn't quite reach her eyes.
Alan, the butler stood beside Scully. He was to be trusted beyond anything; at least that's what she hoped. Newman had stated. He would help her make a list of possible suspects.
Scully waited for Mulder to get inside the chopper. He sat in the back, wearing a headset and strapped in with large seatbelts. In the front, the pilot and Charles Newman sat at the controls. Mulder raised his right thumb to her grinning, as Alan closed the door and moved backwards, bowing his head to stay out of the propeller's ways.
Scully watched as the chopper lifted off the ground, hovering a few moments above the landing platform. As the aircraft lifted into the air, preparing to head towards town, Scully couldn't help but feel a heavy uneasiness, down her the pit of her stomach. What was it with her and flying these days? Why did she feel so weird about it?
She sighed, heading back towards the house as the helicopter swirled above and turned. She had work to do.
"You okay back there?" Newman asked Mulder through the microphone attached to the headset.
"Yeah," the agent replied. "I'm okay."
The helicopter hovered above the landing site, and then banked towards the small forest behind the lawns. Before anyone could even say another word, a large pitching sound came up from deep within the bowels of the vehicle. Even in the back, Mulder knew something was terribly wrong, as the aircraft seemed to lurch out of control. And the pitch sounded oddly like a woman's voice. Mulder strained his head to see up front. He blinked his eyelids in shock when he saw Felicity's form, leaning over Newman, kissing him softly on the lips. The pilot didn't even seem to notice it, struggling desperately to keep the chopper under control.
Oh hell, he thought, as he realized what this meant.
Then it began.
During the next seemingly endless seconds, Mulder didn't know top from bottom, and the bottom from top. It seemed to him as if he was forever crashing downward, plummeting down through the air like a floundering bird that suddenly lost his feathers, and did not know how to save itself.
His eyes bulged, terrified and realized that there was nothing he could do. He had to embrace the safety harness he rested in and allow for all the worst to happen, holding his arms tightly around his chest like a brace. He groaned and probably cried out a couple of times, in between numbness and silence and even more numbness.
They dropped. Through the air, in the skies, towards the sun and then down. Up and down it seemed, for eternity. He hardly dared breathe in the back and there was nothing he could do. Nothing. Nothing at all. No stopping it. Too fearful and parylized to react to the inevitable. No struggling against it. Just bracing himself against the impending crash that was about to come up and hit him full force. It felt like the carnival ride from hell: but no joyride he would never take at an amusement park. He hated those parks anyways.
He had his eyes closed tightly all this time, teeth gritted against the terrible pain he knew would be forthcoming, even though he was hardly aware of it. He heard people scream. Was that really his voice too? Was that his heart sounding like it would break out of him? Could he scream out that loud? No, he couldn't. It couldn't be him.
Thank god Scully wasn't here to witness this. Scully....
They say life flashes before your eyes before you die. The moment you reach that ultimate oblivion, and all the mille-seconds before it, you go through the most important parts of your life and experience them like a runaway video. All in those ultimate seconds.
At times you could escape, when you were lucky enough to get that break that you need to survive. He had survived so many times. But he knew he might not be so lucky this time.
And to die such a stupid, meaningless death. Scully would laugh in his face. She would say, "See this? I told you to be careful. Look what you've gotten yourself into now."
He thought: I'm flying. Swirling. Experiencing. It's beautiful. The world, that is. Despite its faults, it's beautiful.
Mulder didn't want to leave it. He couldn't. He mustn't. He felt tears in his eyes. This was not how it was supposed to happen.
The crash came later than he expected. For an interminable few seconds, they seemed to be drifting, floating, and shivering through the air. And it did not come at first, and he almost believed that it wouldn't. Until the metal around him smashed hard into the trees and shattered glass flew all around him, hurting him and piercing him And something came crushing through at him, as the crumpling metal transformed into debris, and this thing sheered off and penetrated the air inside the cockpit, shot straight forward and impaled his torso in barely two heartbeats. And he felt the most excruciating pain he had ever felt in his entire life as it lanced through him, pinning him like a bug to the back of the cockpit.
It seemed to last forever.
The metal particle pierced through him like a knife through butter, like morning sunshine through nightly darkness.
And then it all stopped.
He couldn't move. He knew he was trapped. Dying in agony. Struggling for his next breath, tasting blood on his tongue. He was caught quite literally between a rock and a hard place. And he closed his eyes and let the shock take him into oblivion, away from the most horrific pain he'd ever suffered.
Scully's heart missed several beats, as she witnessed to the crash that sent the red-and-yellow helicopter into the trees, igniting and gouging into the metal before it impacted with the ground. It dangled precariously now a mere five feet above the ground, its nose pointed downwards in a sad metallic caricature.
Alan had already started running towards it, and she followed, racing as quickly as she could, heart in her mouth, gripped by fear.
"Someone call for help!" she screamed towards the house, alarming the staff that something terrible had happened.
Alan was the first at the disaster site, suddenly stopping in his tracks, as he smelled gasoline. Scully nearly cannoned into him. He grabbed her before she could approach the crashed chopper that hung limply in the trees.
"No," he said firmly.
"Mulder's in there!"
"So is Charles. But can't you smell it?"
His strong words calmed her down. She could smell it: the scent of death. Blood, gasoline, and smoking debris all over the place, and in between it, hung the smouldering body of the destroyed chopper. Her partner was somewhere in there. Possibly dead or dying, She had to get him out. From the corner of her eye, she saw flames licking up too: several broken-off parts were ablaze.
The first thing she saw was the body of the pilot. He'd been hurled out of the chopper. To her disgust, she could tell his head was nearly severed from his body. One slip could break it off completely. She couldn't see anyone else. They'd have to crawl into the chopper itself to find the others. Newman and Mulder were both trapped inside the debris that could end up crashing to the ground, or blowing up at any second now. The remains of the chopper and its inhabitants hung in the trees by a thread, almost gently cradled by the branches that were barely strong enough to hold it for long.
"Mulder!" she cried out his name in the hope he would hear her, and let her know he was all right. Alan released her, allowing her to approach the site with more caution. The butler knew they should probably wait until the fire department came to hose down the chopper, but Mulder and Newman could be dead by that time. They couldn't afford to wait that long.
"Stay here," he ordered her, amazingly in charge of the situation.
"Fat chance," she snapped, realizing Mulder was the only one who could ever order her around like that.
To her surprise, Alan didn't argue with her: he allowed her to approach the chopper carefully. Behind them, members of the staff rushed forward to help. She doubted that any of them wanted Newman dead. Perhaps they had even foreseen this would happen.
A gardener rushed up with an enormous garden hose. Attached to the water tap behind the shed, he could reach the site easily. Alan quickly instructed them to stay back, only allowing the gardener to come closer to put out the fire around the chopper. He was a heavy-set man, and would their best bet to help pull anyone out of the chopper's belly.
"Mulder?" Scully stood breathlessly near the crashed door, giving access to the chopper's insides. Her partner did not respond. She had difficulty trying to get the door open. With the chopper tilted on its side, the door handle was too far off for her to reach.
The gardener easily stood 6"2 and took over. Stretching on the tips of his toes, he could reach the handle. He yanked the handle three times before it gave way. The chopper shifted with a screech and almost seemed to tilt over again, this time on its head.
"Careful!" Alan shouted; pulling Scully backwards as she was almost hit by the open door as it swung back suddenly.
"Mulder?" she screamed hoarsely, ignoring the man's strong arms around her. Her attention devoted only to the people still trapped inside.
It took some effort for her to see her partner, and what she saw made her hold her breath. Mulder was pinned at an angle against the metal by a large piece of debris sticking straight through his shoulder. He was unconscious, bleeding profusely and couldn't move. The debris literally nailed him to the back, wedging him upright while he should have been slumped forward. The safety harness that kept him from rolling around inside the chopper during its crash did the rest, had most likely saved his life. But it had also prevented him from avoiding the projectile debris, as they lanced into him.
She did not have to be a doctor to know that it was bad.
"Mulder?" She tried to keep her voice as calm as possible as she looked inside, catching only a glimpse of her bloodied partner. Alan was next to her and saw the same.
They didn't know if Newman was alive. He didn't move or stir, but there were no obvious visible extreme wounds that might have caused his death. Scully hoped he was still in one piece. She had to focus on both of them, until she knew whether Newman was dead or alive.
Again she received no response from her partner, who hung there perfectly still with closed eyes.
"We have to get them out of there," Alan whispered in her ear. "The gasoline scent is becoming stronger. We're running out of time. This thing might blow at any second."
"Where are those damn paramedics?" Scully cried out.
"They're on their way. It's a long drive. We can't wait for them. The chopper could blow at any second. They wouldn't stand a chance. Your partner cannot save himself either."
"He has metal casing through his shoulder, Alan. What do you want me to do?" she hissed. "I can't even go in there. As long as this thing is tilted on its side, it will be impossible to help him."
"And what if we push it back straight?"
"You could risk killing him."
"Do we have a choice?"
She sighed. "I don't know."
"I have a proposition," the gardener said behind them, grabbing their attention. "We could lower you inside the chopper. You could check on Mr. Newman, and you could hold your partner steady while we push and lower the chopper back on its feet. It will be a short, heavy fall but at least the aircraft will be grounded. We'll keep on hosing it down so it won't explode. If you keep him steady, he won't get further injuries."
"That might work," Scully said, glaring at her watch. It would be at least another twenty minutes before anyone came, and the chopper was definitely leaking fuel. They had no choice.
"Okay," she agreed. She just wanted Mulder out of there.
Alan seized her arm. "This thing might blow even now. Don't do it, Miss Scully."
"I won't sit around and wait for that to happen. Let's get a move on," she spoke determinedly.
Scully was a lightweight, and no bother for both men to lift up and slowly propel towards the door. She crawled over the metal lip and allowed herself to slide in smoothly, placing her feet next to Mulder's body. She had a hold onto the other seat and used it to slide in right next to her partner.
She looked inside the front of the cockpit, and was relieved to find Charles Newman awake and very much alive. He stared straight at her and coughed. There was blood on his shirt and coat, but he seemed relatively okay.
"Thank god," she spoke breathlessly. "Mr. Newman, Charles, we need to get you out of here. Can you move?"
He nodded quietly.
"Let me help you. Slide over here, yes, like that. Go past me. Alan is waiting for you outside. He'll catch you."
Newman seemed to be in shock because he shivered and trembled, but didn't utter a word while they helped him outside. The chopper creaked in its tree cradle with every strain of movement.
"Your partner now, quickly Agent Scully!" Alan shouted inside as soon as they had helped Newman free. She saw the tycoon sitting on the ground, helped by one of the maids. Karen was nowhere in sight.
Scully now fully focused on Mulder who still sat motionless, his eyes closed tightly next to her.
"Oh Mulder," she whispered, touching his throat for a pulse. She sucked in a breath gratefully finding it flutter against her fingertips. It seemed as if he was very much out of it, and she was grateful for that too. At least then, they could quickly shove the chopper back into its position. It would make it easier on all of them.
But the second she touched his shoulder, she heard a pitiful groan escaping his lips, and suddenly his eyes shot open, staring directly into hers. Within seconds, the paleness of his skin startled her. Little drops of sweat bathed his chin and forehead. He had been awake yet transfixed, as if allowing his body to escape the horrible pain it must be in.
"Scully," he whispered, smiling bravely at her. "You came."
"Of course I did," she smiled, touching his face. "What have you gotten yourself into?"
"Oh. Thought I'd go for a ride."
She bit her lip against threatened tears at the sight of his pain.
"The others are dead, aren't they?"
"No, Charles is alive. He's fine."
He groaned, closed his eyes and licked his lips. "That's good. Can you get me out? I smell it "
"We are going to try, but "
"- But you need to get the chopper on its feet again. I know." He sighed and grabbed her arm with his uninjured hand. "Be gentle with me."
"Mulder, I can't do this " she stopped as he forced her to look deeply into his eyes. She could tell the urgency.
"You can do it. Quickly. Please."
She didn't know what to say and tears sprung in her eyes, as he ground that out. Here she was, holding a man who was probably suffering the worst hurt of a lifetime; all the while he was imploring her to do anything necessary to save them both.
"Okay." She braced herself and swallowed away the tears of despair. This was the worst thing she probably had to do her entire life, but she was ready for it.
She pushed herself against her partner's body, pressing her hand firmly to his shoulder with the embedded piece of metal in it. He groaned loudly, shuddered and then became very still. She knew he was awake and alert, and wished she could just put him out of his misery with some good drugs. But they needed him to stay awake and brace himself as much as he could.
She could feel the heat underneath the palm of her hand. Her hand slipped slightly in the still oozing blood. The rest of him was being held fast by the seatbelt. His one good hand clung onto hers, gripping her for all he was worth. She thought he would break it.
"Scully?" she heard Alan say from the outside. "Are you ready?"
"Yeah. Do it quickly!"
Mulder never said a word, as Scully kept on pushing her full weight into him, literally pinning him against the metal, knowing that the force upon him would enable him to stay in place. Then she could feel him shudder beneath her, and his entire body trembled in pure agony.
She heard him scream out in pain, a sound that would forever stay with her always, as the chopper moved once, twice, three times, and then suddenly returned to an upright position. Its feet righted themselves the ground with a loud crash, followed by another one. They were only five feet falling but it seemed to be quite a crash. The shock jarred them both, sending Mulder's body straight into a pure rictus of pain. The third cry escaping his throat in a hoarse whimper finally rendered him into oblivion, alarming her.
"Mulder?" She touched his throat and face, but he didn't respond. Rivulets of sweat still poured down his face. His hand had fallen away from hers. She knew he was still alive, yet trapped in a maelstrom of hurt.
She let go, crying hot tears, as Alan and the gardener entered the chopper. Mulder's head was slumped backwards, resting awkwardly against the metal wall that still held him prisoner.
"What now?" Alan asked nervously, noting how the vicious metal shrapnel had torn its way through Mulder's shoulder, and was embedded firmly in the plate behind the Agent's body. A few inches to the left and he had been dead: the metal would have ripped straight through his heart.
"Get something to cut the metal with," Scully ordered briskly. "We can't pull out the debris. We need to move Mulder with the piece of plate. They'll need to remove it at a hospital. It's too risky to do it ourselves. He'd bleed out in seconds."
"Like what?" We don't have anything strong enough to cut this with. Alan pulled at the wall that would not budge. It was strong enough to withstand anyone's pulling.
"Anything! Take a fucking electrical saw, I don't care." Scully frantically tried to get her partner to respond to her, praying that he wasn't seriously hurt enough to die on them. He would not respond to anything. His breathing had become shallow, and the pallor of his skin was worse than before. He was now in shock, a very dangerous window for him. If he convulsed, they were in big shit. She tried to steady him, hoping her voice was enough to wake him out of his stupor.
Alan crawled outside just as the first fire department vehicle sped through the compound and headed directly for the crash site. Two ambulances followed, and then three police vehicles.
"The cavalry's here!" a gardener cried, rushing over to them to guide them to the crash site.
Just in time, Alan thought with relief as he ran towards them, surprised that they were here so quickly. Sometimes miracles did happen.
Within a minute, two men were inside the chopper to cut away the metal with the 'jaws of life', normally used in car crashes. One of them reasoned with Scully to get out of the way, but she would not let go of Mulder. She held onto him as they cut away a large chunk of the metal away from the fragment that was stuck. Mulder was still impaled onto it, but he was free of the chopper bulkhead itself. They lowered him onto a gurney amidst masses of equipment and strapped him tightly to it, ready to move him out of the chopper, that was still being hosed down by the gardeners.
"It's going to blow," the chief fireman said, "we need to get out of here, now."
Mulder opened his eyes just as his body was being moved shrapnel and all outside of the chopper. He groaned loudly, crying out in sheer pain, as they lowered his body out of the chopper. Tears stung his eyes and left them streaming; the shock had worn down. The piece of debris was large enough to hold down an elephant. He couldn't move his left arm or shoulder: both were strapped and taped carefully. The muscle and bone damage he would have sustained, made Scully wince to think about it.
"Scully -!" He called out her name, pinching painfully into her hand as she grabbed onto him.
"Move him quickly this thing's gonna blow!" Several voices alerted them. With gurney secured, all the paramedics and firemen made a move away from the aircraft. The gardeners stopped hosing and cleared the area. Charles Newman was lifted and dragged out and into another waiting ambulance.
Scully ran at a steady pace with the firemen next to Mulder's gurney, towards the peacock lawn and swimming pool. Not even ten seconds later, the chopper blew to kingdom come, hurling shattering debris all over the place. The body of the pilot was burned to a crisp. A fire truck exploded under the heated particles.
Scully suddenly realized that she was still holding onto Mulder's hand that had by now, lost its own grip. When she looked down on him, she saw that he was mercifully out cold again, unresponsive. They lowered him carefully onto the ground. One of the doctors started an IV, put him on a monitor, and checked his ruined shoulder.
She wouldn't move even when the paramedics padded the wound with thick bandages, and applied pressure on the through-and-through injury. An oxygen mask was slipped over his nose and mouth. He had beads of sweat on his forehead betraying the exhaustion and pain he'd experienced. She was happy he was unconscious, and hoped he would stay that way until they reached the hospital. A lengthy operation, maybe several, would no doubt be needed to remove the metal, and repair the unforgiving damage it had caused. She could only hope that it hadn't permanently clipped his wing.
She slipped inside the ambulance and felt her head slump backwards, now that the adrenaline rush escaped her. She was so tired. Exhausted, really. Everyone was. She saw Alan's distraught face as he waved at her.
Scully opened her eyes, to find her partner looking up at her. He was awake again. He struggled to take off the oxygen mask and talk to her in his anxiety. The paramedic had started an IV while reassuring the both of them. "There's a hospital twenty miles from here. He'll be fine."
"What is it?" she whispered quietly. "What's wrong?"
"He was meant to die," Mulder croaked softly. "It was foreseen. Newman was supposed to go."
"Mulder, he isn't dead "
"She was there, Scully. Inside the chopper. I saw her. She came for him. She... kissed him."
"The kiss of an angel," Scully spoke softly. "But he didn't die, Mulder."
"Then how "
"Perhaps she tried to protect him after all." Mulder's voice died away. "Perhaps she tried to stop the takeoff. She was really there."
"It's alright, Mulder. We'll get to the bottom of this. Just rest now. Save your breath for breathing. Let nothing concern you. You'll be fine." She ruffled his sweaty oil soaked, hair, praying that he'd sleep the rest of the way until he could get some relief.
Scully literally felt all tension fall off her, the moment she knew her partner was on his way to the operating room, with the promise from the surgeon and attending doctor that he would be just fine. As by a miracle the piercing debris had damaged skin, cracked the collar bone and nicked muscle and tendons, but the X-Rays and CT-scan showed it had missed anything that could cause permanent damage. There would be at least three surgeries required to repair all the damage but he would regain full control over his arm and shoulder.
"The operation will take several hours, because we want to move cautiously in removing the debris from his shoulder. You did the right thing bringing him here like this. Pulling out the metal might have maimed the shoulder for life, or made him bleed to death."
Scully saw her partner once more before he was wheeled in. He lay naked underneath white sheets, his shoulder still wrapped up, and monitors belying an erratic heartbeat. He looked pale but less in pain, having already received a hefty dosage of the good stuff. He was almost asleep. He smiled at her dopily and with an oxygen canule underneath his nose.
"Hey," she said, clasping his right hand. He was still gazing at her with a goofy grin on his face.
"Hey. Do you mind if I adopt your fear of flying from now on?"
She laughed. "Sounds like a good idea to me."
"Will you be here ... you know; later on."
"Yes, I promise. Go to sleep now." She whispered in his ear reassuringly, still rubbing his wrist.
"Take care of Newman, Scully. The chopper was sabotaged, I'm certain of it."
"Don't worry about that now. We'll kick some ass when you're feeling up to it."
"You already kicked ass," he groaned. "Thanks for saving my butt."
"Any time. It's a nice butt to save."
"Took a sneak peak hey?"
She laughed. "In your dreams, Mulder. Rest now, I'll be here."
"Go kick some elderly woman out of here and take her bed, Scully. You look like shit."
"Thanks for the compliment."
Scully waited until the gurney was wheeled behind the OR-doors, looking around when David Wills showed up.
"Where are they?"
"Mulder's in surgery."
"He's fine. I think he had a guardian angel. He came off with just a few scratches and bruises, that's all."
"What the hell happened? I thought the chopper was checked out?"
Scully examined Wills's expression. "I have to ask. Did you do it?"
"No! I love Charles like my father. I wouldn't hurt him."
"You were at the house."
"So were a dozen other people. What are you implying?"
"There are only a few people who'd benefit from this man's death. You are one of them."
Wills suddenly shook his head. "No, I don't. In fact, I benefit from him more, being alive."
"What do you mean?"
"The Board of Directors has made it clear that once Charles is gone, I will be gone too. You see, a few years ago I mucked up a few things, Agent Scully. I am Charles' protg. If he dies, I'm out of there in a flash."
"But Charles doesn't know that?"
"No, he has no clue about the screwups I made. I was too embarrassed to tell him. But I "
"Wait a minute." Scully turned towards Wills, eyes flashing fire at him. "You set up the scam, didn't you? You made sure Charles never left the house. You made him believe he saw his wife's ghost. You didn't want him back at the company. You wanted him alive, but not back so he wouldn't find out the truth about you."
"Yes, I'll admit to that." Wills flushed in deep embarrassment. "I'm sorry "
"Save it. How did you do it?"
"I used a videotape of her and bribed two gardeners to set it up. I bought sophisticated equipment. I knew Charles believed she was still around and used his fear for the unknown. I never thought he would call in the Feds."
"Did you think you could hold him there forever?" Scully asked coolly, raising an eyebrow.
"You were planning on leaving, weren't you?"
David Wills nodded embarrassed. "I am guilty of embazzlement but nothing else. I swear! I didn't sabotage the chopper. I just wanted to scare him away long enough. I had planned on leaving today. He would not have found me."
"You make me sick, Mr. Wills. Planning on a scam while Newman's wife had just died. What a good friend you were. Did you have an affair with Felicity?" Scully's detestment could clearly be heard in her voice.
"No. I loved her like my sister, but I didn't sleep with her."
"Then who did?"
Wills bit his lip. "I don't know, but I have my suspicions."
"Alan, the butler?"
"Karen, her girlfriend."
Scully knew Mulder would be in surgery for at least another two hours, and headed to Newman's hospital room where he was recovering from the shock of the crash. The man looked different than he did before. He turned his head when she entered and smiled.
"She was there," he said. "She protected me. She tried to tell me I was in trouble. I think she became my guardian angel. How else do you explain this?" He waved with his hands. "Some scratches and that's it, Agent Scully. How can that be?"
"I don't know," Scully replied as she approached the bed. "Charles, David Wills has just told me that Karen was the one having the affair with your wife. Did you suspect that?"
Newman groaned. "Oh god."
"So it must have been Karen who sabotaged the chopper. I have contacted the local police to find and arrest her. We have the motive. If we can link her to the sabotage, we have her."
"I don't care one way or another," Newman smiled. "I know now that Feli is looking out for me. She loves me, wherever she is. And I love her. I always will. That's love, isn't it? To forgive and forget."
Scully nodded. "You will be fine, sir."
"I know I will be. Thank you, Agent Scully. For everything."
"We didn't do much, sir."
"You showed me the path to pursue. I thank you for that. I hope your partner will be alright."
"He is a survivor. He will be."
Newman closed his eyes as a token that the conversation was over, leaving Scully no choice but to leave the room. She knew Karen would be caught and charged with attempted murder, as soon as they found a link between her and the sabotaged helicopter. She wondered about Felicity though. Could a woman have been so desperate as to start a love affair with her best girlfriend out of pure boredom? Then again, hadn't Newman himself said that she wanted other things? Perhaps she had wanted them sexually.
Scully shrugged and returned to the waiting room, drinking four cups of lousy coffee while waiting for news.
Charles Newman looked at the ceiling of his hospital room and smiled. He saw Felicity near his bed. She smiled and leaned forward to kiss his lips.
"I'll move on now," he promised her. "I will."
He fell asleep, reminiscing the past and cherishing the future she had given him.
Scully looked up from her notepad when the man in the bed stirred. As Mulder opened his eyes, she approached the bed and sat on the side as she had done so many times.
"Hey," she said. "How are you?"
"Oh, I'm okay. Was my metal appendix removed?"
"Yep. You're your normal handsome self again."
He tried to move his left arm and shoulder inside the huge cast that kept him immobilized; wincing when the pain crashed into him with the small movement. "Almost, you mean."
"It was Karen," Scully informed him. "She admitted that she had sabotaged the chopper with the help of the technician that came to check it out. She paid him quite generously for it. She had the affair with Felicity, and couldn't forgive Charles for the final fight that sent Felicity to her death. She was deeply in love with her best friend for years, so it seems."
"Women who love are much worse than men, when it comes to doing stupid things."
"Oh, is that so?" Scully smiled. "That's good to know."
"You're eating my grapes," Mulder pointed out accusingly.
"Yep, and you are not getting any for now. Purely green jello for you, and that's not till you're off the liquid diet."
"You have bad bedside manners, Agent Scully."
"If you behave and be a good patient, you'll get your share tomorrow."
Mulder smiled and leaned back comfortably in the pillows. "Thanks for helping me out of there. I know it must have been hard for you."
"If that thing was going to blow, I would have preferred to have blown to kingdom come with it if it meant losing you," she blurted out.
He opened his mouth, unable to voice a retort to that remark; the emotion not lost on him, or her. Then he smiled. "And here I was thinking you just needed a shoulder to drool on."
San Carlier / Humbuggie
Happy is the heart of he who writes;