Title: Bloody Mary
Author: Alcott
Feedback: would be really appreciated, since this is a big departure from the other stuff I've written. Thanks! wordgrrrl@gmail
Rating: a strong PG-13 Archiving: I'd be honored, but please let me know first. Category: The automatic Gossamer classification says it's an XRA.
Spoilers: a general knowledge of the show will clue you in.
Disclaimer: The characters belong to Gillian and David and the writers who created them, and Chris Carter holds the keys to the kingdom. No disrespect is intended to the residents of Plum City or to the descendants of the family who died there so many years ago.

Summary: "You've always thought I didn't believe in the supernatural, Mulder," she said. "The truth is, I just. . . deny it."

The Archer Residence
Plum City, Wisconsin
Halloween 1978

The door opened, ripping away cobwebs and causing the inhabitants of the house to scurry away.

The three girls were standing then in the doorway of Hell House, daring to go further than any other child had ever gone.

Melissa Scully coughed on the dust that rose and motioned for her sister to follow her.

Dana Scully, younger and more timid than Melissa, held her windbreaker close to her body and stuck close to her sister. "Missy, I want to go home," she squeaked.

Audrah Martin, a blonde, fearless girl the same age as Melissa, pushed past them, her newly purchased Ouija board under her arm. "We should have left your sister at home," she accused.

Melissa lifted her head, standing a few inches taller than Audrah. "Leave her alone or I'll deck you."

"Missy," Dana reached to take her sister's hand. Melissa squeezed her fingers and whispered, "Don't worry, we'll be fine."

Audrah had dared her cousins to play the Ouija board inside the Hell House, which had been abandoned years ago but was always the subject of whispered ghost stories. In the 1920's, Daniel Archer, a farmer who owned the house and the land surrounding it, had slaughtered his wife and five children while they were sitting at the dinner table. A neighbor, dropping by with a fresh apple pie, had found him in the middle of the parlor, screaming, "Are you happy now?" into the mirror. Then, he raised his bloody hunting knife and cut his own throat.

Everyone knew the stories around Hell House. Dana hadn't given it much thought until her sister, who couldn't bear to be one-upped, agreed to their cousin's dare. Dana had insisted she go along, to keep an eye on her sister. But now she was trembling in terror, while Melissa lit the emergency candles she'd snitched from the kitchen cupboard and Audrah stepped into the gaping, black hole of the parlor entrance. The cobwebs were so thick that it was nearly impossible to breathe without inhaling them. In the middle of a faded, dirty rug, Audrah sank to her knees, setting up her game.

Dana sat down, too, glancing nervously at the dark shadows around them. What was probably a couch behind her looked more like something crouching, waiting for them.

There was a small amount of comfort in the fact that they hadn't closed the front door behind them. Still, there were no streetlights to offer illumination this far away from town.

Dana chanced a glance around her and saw the dark chandelier over her head and the way the candles flickered, giving the illusion that the furniture around them was breathing. She shivered and moved closer to her sister, her hands jammed into the pockets of her jacket. After a moment, she lifted the hood over her auburn hair, just in case something wanted to crawl up her back and get beneath her jacket.

The Ouija board was before them, its number and letters antiquated to give the impression the board was ancient, when in fact Audrah had bought it that afternoon with her allowance.

Audrah sat across from them and instructed them to place their fingertips on the planchette. Melissa did so without hesitation, but Dana's fingers trembled as she placed them against the little wooden triangle.

Audrah closed her eyes and asked in a melodramatic voice, "Is there a spirit here?"

The planchette jerked, and Dana almost lost contact with it as it raced toward the Y, then to the E, then down to the S.

<"Missy," Dana whimpered.>

"Hush!" Audrah commanded. Then in her spirit-summoning voice, she asked,

"What is your name?"


<"Missy, Mom's going to kill us...">


"What do you look like?" Audrah asked.

<"Missy, I want to go home.">

<Shhh, Dana, it's okay. Just humor her and then we'll get the hell out of here.">


Dana cried out and pulled her fingers away. Audrah reached and grabbed her hand. "Dammit, you big baby! You keep your hand on the planchette or

I'm going to tell everyone that you kissed another girl in the broom closet!"

Melissa widened her eyes. "You kissed another girl?"

"I did not!" Dana cried. "You're lying!"

Audrah smiled maliciously, and Dana had no doubt that her high school life could be ruined by one rumor uttered from this older girl. Tears began to stream down her cheeks as she pressed her fingers against the planchette.

Audrah glared at her younger cousin. "I'm not a chicken shit like you are," she said. In a louder voice, she said, "I am here, spirit. Where do you want me to go?"

The planchette began to move.


"She wants us to look in the mirror," Melissa breathed. When her cousin didn't move, Melissa elbowed her. "You do it."

As if in a trance, Audrah rose slowly to her feet. Pulled by an unseen force, she took a step toward the cracked mirror hanging above the cold, dusty fireplace.

Melissa grabbed the candles and scrambled to her feet, her sister right on her heels.

"She wants me to say her name." Audrah's voice had fallen into a monotone. Melissa raised the candles over her head, casting the entire room in dim, dancing light. Shadows seemed to drip down the ancient walls.

"Bloody Mary. . ." the girl intoned.

"All right, you're freaking me out," Melissa said. "Let's go home."

The darkness of the mirror began to swirl with light.

"Audrah, did you hear me? I said, no more!" Melissa stalked to the game board and snatched up the planchette. "We're not playing anymore."

"Bloody Mary. . ." Audrah whispered.

Melissa stalked forward, her arm outstretched to protect her little sister. "Dana, don't look."

Dana clutched her sister's arm and whimpered.

Triumphantly, Audrah shouted, "Bloody Mary!"

The only thing that appeared was a mouse, which ran helter-skelter across the floor. Still, his appearance was enough to make the frightened girls screech and the sisters to clutch each other.

The spell broken, Audrah turned to them and sniffed, "What a couple of cowards you are."

"Well, these cowards are going home," huffed Melissa. "And since this coward drove, I suggest you come with us."

Dana breathed a sigh of relief and headed straight for the front door.

As soon as her fingers touched the doorknob, the heavy oak door slammed, nearly dragging Dana with it.

Dana screamed and jumped backward. Melissa, behind her, took a step back and screamed to Audrah, "Come ON."

But Audrah was transfixed on the mirror. Or rather, of the watery image appearing inside the mirror.

It was a woman, dressed in black, her black hair floating around her head as if she were under water. Her face was so pale it hurt the eyes to look at her; her skin was bloated and decayed. Her throat was slit from ear to ear and her eyes glowed the same color as the ancient blood that dripped from her wound.

The woman's bony fingers clawed for Audrah.

Melissa dove for the doorknob and the door opened easily. The sisters dropped their candles and burst into the chilly Halloween air, stumbling, screaming.

They flew to their mother's car and hopped inside. Waiting for something to reach into the car, Dana rolled up her window as her sister jammed the car into reverse and floored the gas pedal. The car bolted forward, fishtailing and sending up a cloud of dirt in their wake.

"Where's Audrah, where is she?" Melissa gasped.

"She's not behind us," Dana sobbed, craning her neck to look out the rear window. "I don't know where she went!"

"We have to go back," Melissa began, but her words were cut off by her sister's scream.

Reflected in the passenger-side window was the image of the gruesome spirit. Her hair whipped in the air, her eyes burned in flames, and she was reaching, this time for Dana.

Dana scrambled across the seat, getting as close to her sister as she could. The thought of going back abandoned Melissa's brain, and the girl drove like the Devil itself was chasing them.

FBI Headquarters
Washington, DC
Late October, 1999

"Want to hear something spooky?"

It wasn't the question Dana Scully wanted to hear at 8 a.m. She glanced at her partner and headed for the coffee pot. "No, Mulder, not especially."

He was undaunted, as usual. "You remember that Bloody Mary legend, right?"

Scully froze, a packet of cream suspended over her cup. "The one where you say her name three times and she's supposed to appear in a mirror, right?"

"That's one version," Mulder agreed. "Sometimes it's seven times, sometimes thirteen, but it's always in front of a mirror. Then Mary is supposed to appear, and either kill you, scratch your eyes out, or drag you into the mirror with her."

"Sounds lovely." Scully stirred her coffee and forced herself to take deep, slow breaths. "And why are you telling me this?"

"Because Mary is being blamed for the deaths of three teenagers in Wisconsin." Mulder tossed her a manila envelope and sat back in his chair.

Scully sat down at her desk and slid her finger under the adhesive mouth of the envelope. Inside were a handful of black and white crime photos, each displaying a young girl, her body twisted, her face masked forever in horror.

The first girl's head smashed into the windshield of her car moments after the vehicle had hit a tree straight on. "Jody Martenson," Mulder explained. "Age 15. Cause of death: blunt trauma to the brain."

The second photo showed an equally young and pretty girl. At least she had been pretty, before she had smashed her head through her bedroom window, cutting her jugular like a knife slicing through butter on a summer afternoon. "Her name was Amy Ewing," Mulder said. "She was 14. She was late making curfew and her mother was waiting up for her. Amy told her mother that she and her three friends had been playing Bloody Mary in this old abandoned farmhouse on the edge of town. Her mother grounded her and the girl went upstairs to her bedroom. Estimated time of death: 12:15 a.m., October 26th."

The third girl could not be identified by her face, since her entire head had been shoved right through the bathroom mirror. There was nothing left except masses of brain tissue and other gore so mangled even Scully couldn't identify it. "Lara Atkins," said Mulder. "Age 15. . ."

"And the spirit of a queen who died hundreds of years ago is causing all this?" Scully replaced the photos into the envelope with fingers that trembled slightly. "What happened to the fourth girl?"

"Her name is Carrie Spencer. She was visiting from England; she was pen pals with Jody."

"Where is she now?"

"A hospital. She's catatonic. Hasn't spoken a word since that night."

Plum City Community Hospital Psychiatric unit Plum City, Wisconsin


If the girl had heard Scully's words, she didn't react. Instead, too thin and clad only in a hospital gown, she sat in the middle of her bed, rocking back and forth. Her hands, balled into fists, were tight against her eye sockets.

Mulder hung back, uncomfortable with the way the child was rocking.

Scully took a step closer, not bothering to show a badge to a girl who would refuse to look. "Carrie? My name is Dana. I'm with the FBI."

The child whimpered and rocked.

Scully sat gingerly on the edge of the bed. "Can you tell me what it is you're afraid of, Carrie?"

The nurse who had allowed them admittance into the psych ward shook her head and sighed. "You're not going to get her to speak, you know. She hasn't spoken, hasn't done anything. We're going to have to feed her by tube pretty soon if she doesn't pull out of it."

Scully reached up, tentatively, and lay her hand against the girl's long, golden hair.

At the soothing touch, the girl slowed her movements, and Scully instinctively smoothed her hand over Carrie's stringy hair. Once, twice, three times, and the girl had stopped her jerky movements. Still, she kept her fists jammed into her eye sockets.

"Could we be alone?" Scully asked, her voice intentionally monotone and unthreatening.

The nurse turned to leave, but Mulder paused. "What's going on?"

"You, too," she said in the same quiet tone. "Trust me."

Mulder knitted his brows, but turned on the heel of his shoe and walked out of the room.

Scully tugged on the girl's hands. "It's okay, she's not here, Carrie."

Scully leaned closer to Carrie and whispered, "What did you see, Carrie?"

The girl whimpered.

"Was she in the mirror?"

The girl lowered her fists, ever so slightly, so she could peer through bloodshot green eyes and whisper, "I saw her."

Scully nodded. "I know you did." She rubbed her palm over the girl's shoulder. "It's going to be all right, Carrie. I promise."

The Archer residence Plum City

Mulder drew his gun and toed the front door open. Inside, he glanced around the dusty surroundings.

"So this is Hell House," he said, unimpressed. "Yeah. It's terrifying."

It wasn't terrifying; in the afternoon sun, it just looked old and decrepit. The curtains hung in tatters; and all the crumbling fixtures were coated in decades of dust.

"Why the hell is this place still standing?" Mulder muttered. He glanced up the staircase, brushing cobwebs away from his line of sight as he stepped into the shadowy parlor.

His eyes dropped when he felt a different texture fall under his shoe. A piece of cardboard, void of the grime that covered everything else, caught his eye and he kneeled down to touch its place on the floor. "What have we here?" He flipped it over.

It was a Ouija board.

He picked it up, turned it over a few times. "What do you think, Scully?"

When there was no reply, he turned back. "Scully?"

Scully was rooted in the doorway of the house. In the light streaming through broken windows, he could see her face drain of color.

"What's the matter?" he asked.

She parted her lips, but didn't speak.

He stepped closer. "Scully, what's going on?"

"I've been here before," she blurted. "Here, in Hell House. I've been here."

"What? When?"

"I was a teenager. My sister and I came up here with our cousin one night."

"Why didn't you tell me this sooner?"

She turned on her heel. "I have to get some air."

Before he could speak, she was out the door.

As she descended the driveway to their car, she tried to keep her spine straight, fully aware he was right behind her. Her knees were trembling as if they were about to fail her. She opened the passenger door and sat down, fighting to not collapse. A memory from the past flashed before her eyes, and she hurriedly rolled down the window.

Mulder dropped to his knees in front of her open door. "Are you sick?"

She nodded. He stood, closed her door and slid behind the steering wheel. "I'm taking you to the hospital, Scully."

"No!" She closed her eyes and forced herself to take deep breaths. "I just need to calm down a little. I'll be fine." A tiny sob welled in her throat, but she tamped it down. "Please, Mulder. I'm a medical doctor, I know what's best. I just. . . I need to lie down."

He didn't want to chance upsetting her further. He put the car in gear and headed down the dirt driveway.

By the time they had reached their motel, Scully's cheeks had regained a little of their color, but her face was still tight and. . . it seemed like a long shot to him, but. . . she looked frightened. She didn't speak when he held open the door and helped her to stand, or when he unlocked her door and ushered her inside.

She didn't speak, in fact, until he had propped her up in bed, a blanket thrown over her legs, and was perched on the edge of the dressing table.

Looking at her.

"I'm fine," she said in response to his unspoken question. "Really."

He looked at her wordlessly.

"I'm tired," she explained. "And I can't sleep if you're sitting there."

He didn't seem convinced.

"Mulder, please go to your room. I'll just catch a nap before dinner, all right?"

He didn't want to; she could see that. But he didn't want to upset her while she was in what seemed like a delicate state of mind. So he stood up, nodded and left her in peace.

But peace didn't come. She turned off the lamp and stared out the windows at the shadows of early evening.

She closed her eyes and willed her body to relax. Finally, she began to drift as the room eased into total darkness. It seemed like she had only slept a moment, when she felt the presence in the room.

It whispered her name.

"What do you want for dinner?" she mumbled, rubbing her eyes.

There was no response. Again, she heard the whisper.

She yawned and sat up, still rubbing. "I'm up for pizza."

She raised her head.

Peering out of the vanity mirror was Audrah.

Except this Audrah had flaming red eyes and when she parted her cracked lips, her teeth were blackened. Blood spilled from the corner of her mouth and ran down her chin, and she smiled and whispered, "You'll help me, won't you, Dana."

Scully scrambled out of bed, knocking over the lamp in her haste to illuminate the room and frighten away the demon.

By the time the room was lit, Mulder was standing in the doorway, his revolver drawn. "Scully! What is it?"

They were alone in the room.

He dropped the gun onto the bed and clasped her shoulders. "What the hell happened?"

"Nothing," she breathed. "A bad dream."

He looked around the room, expecting to see a third person. "Are you sure that's all it was?"

For a split second, he thought she was going to cry. But then the mask dropped over her and she was back in control. "Yes."

"All right, well. . ." He rubbed her arms a little, and then dropped his hands. "I ordered a pizza with everything on it, and those breadsticks you like so much. Sound good?"

"Yes," she said quickly. Avoiding the mirror, she grabbed her room key and followed him into the night.

Several slices later, they sat on his rumpled bed, watching old reruns on Nick at Night. Mulder chewed thoughtfully on his fourth or fifth piece of pizza, his eyes growing sleepy.

Scully, however, felt that she'd never sleep again as long as she lived. And she was nervous enough to contemplate camping out in Mulder's room for the rest of the night. But how would she explain her actions? Could she just casually mention, "Oh, by the way, Mulder, the scientist in me has taken a leave of absence and I'm afraid of a demon who looks like the cousin we all gave up for dead twenty one years ago"?

He'd have her committed. She and Carrie could share a room.

"What's wrong tonight?"

His inquiry brought her out of her reverie. "I want to come up with a rational explanation for what's happened, and I can't."

He wiped his mouth with a napkin and took a sip of Coke. "Really. Even I can figure this one out, Scully."

She turned blue eyes to stare at him, and he continued. "They're farm girls bored with their lives. They make a suicide pact and kill themselves. The fourth one chickens out of the pact, fakes a breakdown to save her ass. End of story."

"What about the Bloody Mary part?"

He snorted. "Oh, come on, Scully. Everyone plays that stupid game. Didn't you?"

"Yes," she whispered.

"And what happened? Nothing, right?"

She nodded and untangled herself from his bed.

He watched her, still munching on his pizza. He and his sister had played that Bloody Mary game; they'd looked in the bathroom mirror and called the spirit a couple of times and Samantha had gotten scared and screamed and flung open the door. When Sam had told her mom about the game they'd been playing, Fox had been grounded for an entire month.

Inside the bathroom, Scully was leaning over the sink, splashing water on her cheeks in an attempt to calm the jitters inside her. Outside the door, Mulder was calling her name and asking if she had seen anything when she'd played Bloody Mary.

It was then that she first heard the soft murmur. Not wanting to, but feeling compelled to, she lifted her eyes and saw the reflection in the mirror was not her own.

Audrah was weeping now, with bloody tears streaking down her cheeks. "Dana," she keened, "Set me free. . ."

She reached out and Scully backed against the door with a thunk. Mulder asked if she was all right in there, but she couldn't hear him over the rushing in her ears.

Audrah nodded knowingly. "You can see me. You can <help> me." Scully jerkily shook her head.

"Yes," Audrah encouraged, beckoning. "Come closer."

The humming heightened and Scully clapped her hands over her ears.

Mulder was reaching for the last piece of pizza when he heard the strangled sob coming from the bathroom. He muted the television and cocked his head.

There it was again.

He got up and walked to the bathroom. "Scully? Are you sick?"

He turned the knob and peeked his head around the door.

Fiery light filled the bathroom, pouring from the mirror. Flames licked at Scully, almost caressing her skin.

Instinctively, Mulder ducked, expecting a back draft of fire. "Scully! Get out of here!"

She was standing close to the mirror, leaning against the sink. A bloody, cut face appeared where Scully's reflection should have been.

She was staring at the face, as if it were an eclipse she couldn't tear her eyes away from.

Dragging herself from the spell, she picked up Mulder's can of shaving cream from the edge of the sink and slammed it into the mirror. A sharp crackling of glass, and the mirror splintered into a cobweb of cracks, unwilling to break completely.

The light vanished, the face vanished. The only thing that remained was the light from the bathroom fixture above the sink and the faint, acrid scent of smoke.

She was not burned, except for an angry redness on each cheek, but her right hand was crimson with her own blood. Paying no heed to it, she turned away and walked purposefully out the door.

Mulder stepped closer to the mirror, looking for trickery: lights, pyrotechnics, anything that would give him an explanation for what had just happened.

He found nothing but a broken mirror.

He grabbed a clean white towel from the rack and closed the bathroom door behind him as he stepped out. Scully had taken the bedspread from his bed and was tucking it around the edges of the mirror that hung above the television, making sure that whatever had appeared in the bathroom mirror wouldn't be able to make a second appearance. Blood ran down her arm in streaks.

Her eyes wide and staring, she backed away and sank into the edge of the tousled bed.

His hands shook as he sat beside her and took her arm. He inspected her hand and forearm to make sure there was no embedded glass and that the cuts were not near any major veins, and then wrapped the towel around her. "Are you okay?"

Her face was deathly pale and void of expression. Her chest heaved, and then heaved again, and within a second she was hyperventilating.

He dumped the breadsticks from their paper bag and pressed it against her mouth and nose. He held it tightly. "Breathe, Scully. Deep breaths."

She pressed her own freezing hands against his and closed her eyes, breathing with her shoulders.

"Breathe from your diaphragm," he reminded gently.

She mumbled something. He lowered the bag. "What did you say?"

"Garlic," she breathed.

He smiled and set the bag on the floor. The color was returning to her face.

"She's gone now," she whispered.

She sat upright, facing him.

"I have an explanation," she said. "But it's not a scientific one."

The look of tender concern on his face was almost her undoing, and she stood quickly and turned her back on him.

"I was fourteen," she said quietly. "My father was on a six-month tour and my mother was lonely. So we were staying with my mother's sister and

her daughter. My cousin, Audrah, was a hellion. We all went to the same school that semester, and she tormented us. It was hard enough being the new kids, and knowing we wouldn't be there very long, and she knew it."

She rubbed her hands over her eyes. "She brought Melissa and I up to Hell House on Halloween night to play with her new Ouija board. Said she would stop teasing if we went with her."

She faced him, her jaw set in a tight line. "You've always thought I didn't believe in the supernatural, Mulder," she said. "The truth is, I just. . . deny it."

"What did you see?" he asked quietly. There was no trace of the teasing she'd half-expected. Encouraged, she told the story she had never discussed with anyone, not even Melissa. She told him everything; about the nightmares that plagued her still; how Audrah's mother had searched for her until her dying day; and how the event had changed the sisters forever, transforming Melissa into a new-age hippie, intent on protecting herself from the evil she'd witnessed that night. Dana had turned to science, using scientific answers as her backbone against the unknown.

When it was over, it was Mulder who had tears in his eyes, his mind washed in the vision of Scully as a child, keeping the darkest of secrets locked inside her.

He wanted to draw her into his arms and squeeze her body near, but instead, he picked up their car keys and told her to sit at the small round table in the corner of the room.

When he returned, she was sitting at the table, her eyes overflowing with a mixture of sorrow and fear. Carrying her extensive, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink first aid kit, he knelt beside her and carefully unwrapped her hand and arm.

The cuts were not severe. He cleaned them with peroxide, then bandaged the small ones with Band-aids and covered a deeper cut with a butterfly bandage; and then applied a long gauze bandage to her palm, which had taken the brunt of the blow.

"There," he murmured. "All fixed. Is there something I can do for your face?"

She lifted her uninjured hand to touch her face, and she grimaced slightly. "No, that's all right. They're only first-degree burns."

He held her wounded hand in his own for a moment, contemplating. Then he suggested, "I think we should talk to a priest tomorrow."

"A priest?" She managed the tiniest of smiles. "Mulder, you?"

"We need someone who has an inside track with God," he grinned. He scrounged up an old Oxford sweatshirt from his suitcase, and tossed it to her. "Why don't you get ready for bed?"

"I'll be all right in my room."

"Yeah, well, I want you to stay here," he admitted.

She knew he didn't need her to be there. He was used to weird things, believed in them wholeheartedly. After all these years, they didn't seem to faze him too much.

She didn't care. Truthfully, she had no desire to be alone tonight.

She headed for the bathroom to change, then hesitated. She felt that Audrah was gone, but she didn't want to press her luck. Sensing this, Mulder lay down on his bed and pressed a pillow against his face. "I won't look," he said in a muffled voice.

She smiled, and reached for the top button of her blouse. "No peeking," she said sternly.

He held up his hand in a Vulcan salute. "Scout's honor."

She rolled her eyes, shed her blouse and bra and pulled the big, long sweatshirt over her head. It nearly covered to her knees.

"All right, you can stop smothering yourself now."

He lifted the pillow and was awarded with the sight of her lifting the immense sweatshirt to unbutton her slacks, and then shimmy them off her hips. Unfortunately, gravity pulled the sweatshirt down over her sensible cotton underwear, never affording him a peek of anything.

"What about you?" she asked. "Don't tell me you sleep in a tie."

He dove under the blankets, did some strange maneuvering that made him look like he was being devoured by a blanket monster, and then tossed his tie, dress shirt and slacks to the floor. "Ta da," he grinned.

"Are you wearing underwear?" she asked.

"Yes. Are you?" he deadpanned.

Again, she rolled her eyes and climbed into bed beside him. She had slept beside him during many bizarre circumstances, but never before in just her underpants and a sweatshirt. She stayed on her side of the bed, her arms and legs straight.

Mulder grinned at her. "Scully, you need to relax."

"I'm relaxed," she said. "Goodnight."

She closed her eyes, and he pretended to watch television, even though he was watching her from the corner of his eye. During the credits for "The Dick Van Dyke Show", her body visibly sagged into the mattress. Halfway through "I Love Lucy", she fell asleep.

Halfway through "The Mary Tyler Moore Show", she whimpered and moaned.

Mulder had been nearly asleep himself when he heard her. It brought him to full consciousness in a millisecond, and he propped himself up on his elbow. "Hey," he called softly. He reached to touch her.

She flailed her arms for a moment, then threw a punch that landed squarely on his jaw.

"Oww, shit!" he yelped, clapping his hand over his jawline.

She opened her blurry eyes. "Mulder?" she whispered.

"You slugged me!"

"What?" She was fully awake now, sitting up with the blanket clutched to her chest.

He lowered his hand and worked his jaw from side to side. "You were having a nightmare," he explained sourly. "I hope you got the bad guy."

She looked suddenly small and frightened. "I don't remember. I'm sorry, Mulder."

He nodded, feeling guilty for snapping at her after all she'd been through that evening. And really, his jaw was already calming; the fact Scully had struck him, even in sleep, was his real injury, however irrational that injury was.

He softened his voice. "Are you going to be able to sleep?"

She smiled crookedly. "Are you sure you want me to sleep with you? I'm probably a health hazard."

"I like to live dangerously." He slipped his arm under her shoulders and pulled her beside him.

She nodded sleepily, and her eyes closed. He closed his as well, and within a moment, sleep had enveloped them.

The Rectory of St. John's Catholic Church 10:05 a.m.

Father Christopher Tobey set a plate of shortbread cookies in the middle of the table, and then pulled two cans of Pepsi from the refrigerator.

"My kitchen is rarely well-stocked, and I'm a terrible cook," he said with a smile. "Mostly I rely on the kindness of my congregation to feed me something beyond saltines." He offered the sodas, and then sat down. "Amy Ewing's funeral was yesterday, which accounts for the leftover cookies. There's a ladies aid meeting this afternoon, so I suspect I'll have a casserole for supper."

The priest was young and handsome, probably a favorite with the women in his congregation. Mulder estimated his age to fall somewhere between his own and Scully's; in fact, he was considering asking for an older, preferably decrepit priest, when Scully said, "We're here to talk to you about Bloody Mary."

"The sixteenth century queen who slaughtered thousands of Protestants in the name of Catholicism, or the spirit who supposedly appeared up at Hell House?"

"The latter," Mulder replied.

Scully fiddled nervously with her soda can. "Father, I lived in Plum City briefly as a teenager."

"Really?" he said pleasantly. "When?"

"During the fall of 1978." Her voice faltered, and Mulder reached to squeeze her hand. She lifted her chin. "My sister, cousin and I went up to Hell House to play with my cousin's Ouija board on Halloween night."

"Dangerous," the priest commented.

"The game spelled out the name Mary, and then. . . it was as if something was pulling my cousin to the mirror. And then. . ."

"She said the name Bloody Mary three times, correct?"

Scully nodded.

"And then what happened, Agent Scully?"

"A face appeared," Scully whispered. "My sister and I ran away, but no one ever saw my cousin again."

"Your cousin's a legend, if memory serves me correctly," he said solemnly. "Around Halloween, a woman supposedly appears up at Hell House. We have kids going up there every year, looking for her."

Scully's face grew anguished. "How long has this been going on?"

"Since your cousin disappeared, I'm afraid."

The priest reached to touch her hand. Before he could, however, she rose to her feet. "Excuse me, I need to get some fresh air."

Father Tobey rose to follow, but Mulder touched his arm. "She just needs a minute alone. I know her. She'll be all right."

"Should she be alone?" the priest worried.

"Scully is very into guilt," Mulder sighed. "If you'll forgive me, Father, I think it's a side effect to being Catholic."

The priest nodded and sat back down, picking up a cookie and nibbling it absently.

"Father, last night, the spirit appeared in my bathroom mirror," Mulder said. "There was fire. Agent Scully sustained minor burns to her face. She broke the mirror and the fire evaporated. But whatever this thing is, it's coming after her."

The priest paled slightly. "Why did you come here, Agent?"

"We need your help."

Father Tobey nodded. "Can I assume you're not Catholic yourself?"

Mulder smiled wryly. "Yes, Father, you can assume that."

Father Tobey chuckled nervously. "Exorcisms are rather detailed things. I would have to receive permission from many superiors above me before I'd be able to help."

"Does that mean you won't help us at all?"

The priest sighed. "I shall pray about it, Agent Mulder. It's all I can do right now." He stood and offered a wavering smile. "Would you two like to join me for casserole this evening?"

"Six o'clock?"

"Yes, that will give me time to come up with a plan."

Mulder gathered his coat. "Do you believe that Ouija boards have power, Father?"

He muddled the question for a moment. "You're not the first person to ask," he said slowly. "The church believes that evil spirits are near us, just as good spirits are. There is a constant struggle between good and evil."

"What does that mean?" Mulder asked.

"It means, Agent Mulder, that if you invite a demon, it will come."

A chill ran down Mulder's spine, and he nodded. "Thank you for your time, Father. We'll see you this evening?"

The young priest nodded, and rose, but Mulder waved for him to sit. "Thank you, Father, I can see myself out."

Outside, he found her sitting on the cold cement stairs of the church, shivering inside her trench coat. He walked toward her, but she did not raise her chin.

"I'm going to go and talk to Amy's mother. Do you want to come?" he asked.

She raised her eyes. "If you don't mind, Mulder, I think I'll just go back to our rooms."

He nodded, but she didn't wait for approval; she was already on her feet and heading for the motel.

"Let me give you a ride," he began.

She didn't bother to turn her head. "No thanks, I'd rather walk."

The Newberry Motel 4:30 p.m.

"I have news," he said, dropping the car keys atop the television set.

Instinctively, she braced herself. "Did Mrs. Ewing tell you something?"

"Actually, it was something she gave me. Scully, she had Audrah's diary."

Immediately, an image of a small book covered in hearts and locked with a tiny gold lock flashed past her eyes even before Mulder produced it from his overcoat pocket.

The book, shiny and barely used when Scully saw it last, was dirty and tattered now. Scully wiped gingerly at the cover. "How did she find it?"

"Her daughter bought it at a flea market last week. They went up to Hell House with it, and they found the old Ouija board on the floor. They couldn't find the thingy you use with it-"

"The planchette."

"-So they just used the bottom of an old wine glass they found in the house. But that's all Amy told her mom before her mom sent her to her room." Mulder rubbed his eyes wearily. "And believe me, she's feeling a world of guilt right now."

The book opened easily to the last entry, and Mulder watched her expression as she read the passage. He'd read it already, cursing the nasty girl's memory as she wrote about the "stupid Scully girls" and how she would scare them so badly by contacting a spirit at Hell House.

He remembered the girl's words vividly.

"Hopefully they will be so frightened that they will run all the way home to the Navy base.

"Because they aren't wanted here."

She read in silence for long moments. She wasn't in tears, but when she spoke, her nose was congested. "My cousin didn't think much of me or Melissa, did she?"

He gnawed on his lip for a second. "It wasn't your fault, Scully. What happened last week, it wasn't your fault."

"I can't help but feel somewhat responsible, Mulder." She kneaded the back of her neck with a grimace.

"Here, let me." He knelt behind her and grasped the muscles in her shoulders. With his very first squeeze, she emitted a low moan. He let go as if her skin had burned his fingers.

"Did I hurt you?"

"Oh, yes," she moaned. "More."

He smiled to himself and stroked her shoulders, then began to knead the muscles again.

"It's been a long damn day," she sighed.

He mumbled something affirmative, but truthfully he was more concerned at his body's rising reaction to Scully's little moan. He glanced down between their bodies; sure enough, he was. . . protruding.

For God's sake, he reprimanded himself. You're not a schoolboy anymore.

A series of contented little sounds came from deep inside Scully's throat. When the muscles finally gave way between his fingers, she sighed in relief and bowed her head.

But with the relaxation, came a release of emotion, and suddenly, her shoulders shook. His hands froze as his blood ran cold. "Scully?" he whispered.

She raised her head. "No, I'm fine," she whispered impatiently. "I'm fine, really."

He scooted from her, and for a second, she thought he was leaving. Then he was in front of her, kneeling, his eyes crinkling with the gentlest of smiles.

"No," he shook his head sadly. "Not fine."

He pressed her to his chest. She buried her face against his shirt, comforted by the faint scent of his day-old cologne.

Mulder fought back the own emotions that he had been tamping down since stepping into the bathroom and finding it in flames. He squeezed her tightly.

Still, his grip couldn't keep the guilt at bay, and she whispered, "She couldn't have done the ritual by herself, Mulder. If Melissa and I hadn't gone up there with her. . ."

"Shhhh, shhhh. . ."

"If we had just had some guts, if we had just told her no. . . it wouldn't have ha-happened." And then the dam burst, and she began to weep.

He held her tighter as wave after wave of sobs washed over her, peaked, and then died away. Finally, her crying diminished to hiccupy gasps, and she pulled back, her hand over her dripping nose. He understood immediately and brought her a box of tissues from the bed stand.

He rubbed her knees as she blew her nose and weakly wiped her eyes. She sucked at her trembling lip, gaining composure. . . a composure that collapsed as soon as she met his gaze again.

"It's not your fault," he said. "It was never your fault. You were just a kid."

A small whimper, and then the tears flowed again, despite her powerful efforts to make them stop.

He was a trained psychologist. He knew that weeping was a healthy reaction to pain. It was normal. It was nothing to be alarmed about. It should be encouraged as a means for the person to purge the pain within.

Yet he found himself whispering, "Don't cry. . .please don't cry, Scully."

"I'm not, I'm. . . not. . ." she sobbed, and she giggled at her own lie, but then her mouth turned down again and he swore aloud and crushed her to his chest.

This episode of tears was quieter, less desperate, and shorter; and when it was over she lay, spent, in his arms.

"Scully," he murmured, "I think you should lie down."

He cradled her against his shoulder and reached to pull back her bedding and stack her pillows.

"I don't want to sleep," she mumbled.

"You don't have to sleep. But I want you to rest before we have to meet Father Tobey."

With his urging, she lay gingerly down on the sheets, and he pulled the blankets up to her waist. "What are you going to do?" she asked.

"I'm going to lie right here and watch TV." He scooped up her remote control and flopped next to her in the bed.

He watched the headlines of the five o'clock news, then switched to the bottom of the sixth inning of a baseball game. Three minutes of a Bill Cosby sitcom. . . twenty seconds of CNN. . . a glance at "Hollywood Squares". . .

He was on HBO when she turned, about to yank the remote out of his hand, and saw that his eyes were getting sleepy. The remote had slipped from his grasp and she couldn't see it.

She shook him a little. "Hey. Mulder. We have to meet the priest in 45 minutes."


On the television, a young girl was running, screeching at the top of her lungs. Scully glanced at the horror flick, and shook Mulder harder. "Mulder. Wake up."

On the screen, the girl scrambled up the stairs, perching at the top, wrapping herself into a little ball and moaning in terror, paralyzed in horror. The music throbbed, and a cadence of heavy thuds pounded in Scully's ears.

Scully's eyes were forced to the screen, but she continued to rouse her partner. "Mulder, please turn this off."

And then, a close-up of a bare, bloody foot, missing three toes. The foot took a step. . . then another step. . . then another. . .

Each step made a resounding thump that seemed to grow louder in Scully's ears.

The camera traveled up the decaying body, past swaths of rotting bandages and gaping, pus-seeping wounds, to rest on the monster's face. It was a woman, her hair hanging in thick, snarled black ropes.

"Bloody Mary on the first step," hissed the creature. <thump> "Bloody Mary on the second step... <thump> Bloody Mary on the third step. . . <thump> Bloody Mary's coming to getcha. . ." <THUMP.>

The monster's hair transformed into a ring of hissing, black snakes.

Scully screeched and dove for Mulder, clawing for the remote control.

Nearly asleep, Mulder jolted awake when his partner landed on top of him, pressing flush against his body. When he opened his eyes, he found her lying on top of him, her face buried in his shirt.

"Um, hello?"

"Turn. . .it. . .off!"

He fumbled for the remote beneath his hip and aimed it at the television. In his haste to turn it off, he turned the volume to an unbearably loud level, and then muted the sound entirely. A second before the heinous creature was about to jump on the child huddling at the top of the staircase, Mulder finally fumbled upon the right button and the TV fell dark.

Cautiously, she lifted her head. He gazed into her wide eyes, although it was hard to focus at this close proximity without his eyes crossing. "What happened?"

Her lips were parted, as if she could explain her un-Scully behavior. She held fistfuls of his shirt as if she was never going to let go and he could feel the tension coursing through her body.

He could also feel the tension flowing through his own body. He had to get her away from him, before she felt his body's reaction to her closeness.

The fear in her eyes melted away, replaced by a slightly raised eyebrow. She wasn't sure if she really felt him, pressing insistently against her thigh. Ever so slightly, she gyrated her hips to confirm her suspicion.

He moaned.

Well, brilliant. If he had somehow managed to hide his raging hard-on before then, the dying-animal sound creeping from his throat most certainly gave him away. He knew he looked like an idiot, lying there, holding his breath, with his partner atop him, still trembling slightly from her panic.

He tried to be suave. He tried to save himself from looking like a thirteen-year-old.

He reached up, captured her mouth in his own, and lay back, taking her with him.

And then the moans were helpless, growing in desperation. At first he was aware of them roaring in his ears. Then he forgot to listen as his body insisted that he do something to change the current situation. Either he had to push her away, or he had to rip her clothes off and sink inside her.

He pushed her away. Not very far away, but enough so that he could look into her eyes, gauge her reaction.

She was really gasping now, and her cheeks were flaming red.

She liked it.

Score one for the G-Man.

He wanted to do a victory dance.

Instead, he grinned. "I figured, since you were already here. . . I mean, why not, right?"

Scully couldn't think. Suddenly, she felt strange, lying there. Was this her mind's ulterior motive when she'd reacted so strongly to a made-for-cable movie? She felt suddenly ashamed.

"Did I hurt you? I'm sorry." She began to roll away.

Thinking quickly with what little of his brain was functioning at that moment, Mulder grasped her hips, pressing her against him. "No, you don't have to get off."

She offered him a quirky little smile. He returned it, and even blushed a little. "What I meant was. . . I'd like you to stay right where you are."

But he sat her up, so that her legs parted and she was flush against him.

Oh, wow. She felt amazing.

And that was through four layers of clothing.

Assuming they were both wearing underwear.

She <was> wearing underwear, wasn't she?

The possibility that she might not be came, unbidden, into his mind, and instinctively, his fingers strayed to the insides of her thighs.

She arched her back a little; an involuntary response to the contact between their bodies. He began to stroke where his hand had strayed; his fingers inched closer toward the center of her body.

He found the warm, inside seam of her underwear, and traced it with his fingertip.

Her breath escaped her in a tiny, "Oh."

He couldn't help it; he grabbed her hips and crushed her closer, making a small circle with his own hips to bring her into more direct contact.

Scully groaned and closed her eyes. Her arms, still supporting her weight, trembled and threatened to buckle.

The phone rang.

"Don't. . ." he begged breathlessly, his thumbs returning to stroke the seam of her underwear.

"What if it's important. . ." she gasped, although she didn't appear to really care.

"It's not."

"What if. . ." She had to stop speaking in order to moan. Then she breathed, "What if it's Skinner?"

"I don't want to think about him right now."

She was almost ready to melt back into his arms and let the phone ring until the caller gave up, and then she bolted to a sitting position.

"What if it's Father Tobey?"

That did it. Scully, the good and guilty Catholic, rolled away and reached for the phone. Mulder gasped at the coldness her absence left behind.

When his blood began to redistribute itself, he realized that Scully, perched on the edge of the mattress, had slammed down the phone and was headed for the bathroom, straightening her blouse.

"What's the matter?" he asked.

"It's Carrie," she said brusquely. "She's gone."

"Gone?" His brain was still sluggish.

"Mulder, meet with Father Tobey. Get as much information as you can." She was finger-combing her hair with one hand and slipping shoes on with the other.

"What are you going to do?"

She stood up and grabbed her purse and the car keys. "I'm going to find my cousin."

He stood up, head-rushed, and sat back down. "Not alone, you're not."

"It's me she wants, Mulder, not you."

"That doesn't mean you're safe."

She turned to him, her hands on her slim hips. "Mulder." She looked meaningfully at his crotch.

He looked down. "Oh."

He headed for the bathroom. "Look, give me two minutes, all right?"

She didn't respond. He turned back. "Scully. Two minutes."

He walked into the bathroom and closed the door. A moment later, she heard the shower turn on.

She reached for her gun holster; fastened it around her torso. She couldn't wait. Carrie wasn't safe, wherever she was.

And Scully had a pretty clear guess where she'd been taken.

"I'm sorry," she whispered, both to herself and to him, and then opened the door of her room.

Scully caught the reflection of eyes in her headlights as she pulled the rental car up to the Hell House.

When she opened the car door and slammed it behind her, her flashlight beam caught the animal- a deer, probably- scampering off, crunching autumn leaves in its wake.

As the sound faded, it was replaced by a whisper in her ear.

"Dana. . ."

The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end, and she turned. There was no one behind her. The empty branches of the trees waved in the wind.

It was the wind, she chided herself. Taking a deep breath, she walked up to the house that loomed in the dusk of approaching night.

Her flashlight beams were unnecessary inside the house. A red light came like a beacon from the Ouija board lying in the middle of the adjacent parlor, its beams illuminating the foyer as well.

Beside the board, the young girl knelt. In the frigid autumn night, she wore only her hospital gown. Her feet were dirty and bleeding, her skin was turning blue.

Carrie lifted her head, brought blank eyes to stare at Scully. "She's been waiting for you."

Scully gazed around the room, looking for a spirit to address. "All right, I'm here. It's what you wanted, right? I'm here. Let her go."

The mirror in the parlor began to hum and glow. The plaster walls behind

the mirror began to crack and crumble.

The mirror shook, and with a sound akin to the sound of bones breaking, the cracks made so many years ago restored themselves. When the glass was pristine and whole, Audrah appeared there, smiling.

"I knew you'd come."

Scully faced off with the mirror. "Let her go back to the hospital."

"You have the planchette," Audrah said. "Let me out."

"And then what?"

Her cousin smiled. "It will all be over."

Scully reached into her pocket and retrieved the planchette, the same one Melissa had tucked into her pocket so many years before. Scully had found it in a box while cleaning out her sister's apartment, and had tucked it away before her mother could see it.

Now, she held it over her head. "Let Carrie leave the house first." Audrah nodded.

"Carrie." Scully cleared the tremor from her throat. "Carrie, get up and go wait in the car, all right?"

Carrie moaned and crawled toward the door. Grasping the knob of the open door, she pulled herself to stand, and then staggered into the night.

Now Scully was truly alone. She lifted her chin and murmured the first prayer that came into her mind. "Hail Mary, full of grace," she whispered to herself. "The Lord is with thee. . ."

Scully slammed the planchette to the hardwood floor, damning it for the heartache it had caused.

Prisms of light exploded as the glass inside the planchette shattered into a million pieces. The shards glittered in light, then exploded into flames.

Amidst the broken glass and tiny flames, Audrah appeared. She still wore the sweater she'd been wearing the night she disappeared. Her hair was still long.

She was still sixteen.

But her eyes were emitting a red light that nearly blinded Scully. She shielded her own eyes with one hand while aiming her revolver with the other.

"Ahhhh," Audrah sighed in a voice far too deep to belong to a girl her age. "Hello, Dana."

The flames around her began to grow, but she didn't feel their burn. The ripped, moldy curtains hanging from the windows began to smolder.

Scully watched as the flames crawled toward the walls. "We have to get out of here, Audrah."

"Agent Scully?"

Carrie appeared in the foyer, her face pinched. She stumbled forward and grabbed Scully's arm. "Come on!"

"Carrie, get out of here!"

The girl, so meek and frightened, now stood her ground. "I'm not coming without you. You're going to get hurt!"

The fire was licking at the ceiling now. Audrah peered at the girl with fury in those light-filled eyes, and Carrie's feet left the ground.

"Agent Scully!"

Carrie was lifting now toward the ceiling, toward the fire that began to roll across the ceiling. The child was screaming as she propelled slowly toward the flames.

"No!" Scully aimed her weapon at her cousin and pulled the trigger.

Audrah flinched against the wound, but only smiled as the girl drew closer and closer to the fire. Carrie, sucking in air to scream, began to choke instead. Smoke barreled down from the ceiling, enveloping her, hiding her from sight.

Scully pulled the trigger again, and again, and again. It did nothing but caused her cousin to smile. Finally, Scully slammed her weapon to the floor. "What do you want!?"

Audrah laughed, a laugh that resounded with the singing of demons. "She wants you. She has me and she has Melissa. . ."

Tears burned Scully's eyes. "You do not have my sister. She's. . ." She began to choke, her hands clutching her throat.

Carrie screamed. Inches before the fire would touch her, she jerked to a stop, as if she'd reached the end of a bungee rope.

"Dana?" The voice coming from Audrah's mouth was now warm and familiar and long-missed. "Dana, you have to help me. They've got me trapped."

The fire forgotten, her terror forgotten, Scully whimpered, "Missy?"

"Dana, I miss you. Come with me. We'll be together again. . ."

"It's a trick," Scully whispered.

Carrie lurched again toward the fire.

"All right!" Scully screamed. "Let Carrie go. I'll do what you want." She bowed her head. "I'll do what you want."

Carrie dropped to the floor. Scully could almost feel the girl's bones breaking as she struck the ground.

Scully doubled over, gasping for air. Bleeding hands touched her shoulders, forcing her to lift her head. Audrah grasped Scully's face in her hands and hissed, "Say it, Dana."

"No. . ." Scully moaned.

"Say it, or I take the girl."

Tears were streaking Scully's cheeks and she gasped, "B-bloody Mary. . ."


"B-b. . ." Scully bent over, choking. She was yanked back to a standing position.

Her cousin's eyes were hard and burning with fire. "Say it."

"Bloody-" But Scully couldn't do it. Her body was succumbing to the fire. Her knees buckled.

Again, Audrah yanked her back up.

"Bloody Mary," Scully sobbed.

"One more time," Audrah crooned. "One more time, and it changes forever."

Scully drew in her breath, preparing to speak the words and seal the pact.

"In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!"

Audrah dropped her hold on Scully and whirled with a hiss to the intruder.

Father Tobey stood in the doorway, making the sign of the cross with one hand and sprinkling holy water with the other.

Mulder stepped from behind him, gathering Carrie into his arms and bolting from the building.

"Mary, I command you to take leave of this person and be gone from this place!" Father Tobey shouted.

The priest closed his eyes and began to chant in Latin. Audrah shrieked and Scully fell into a heap, nearly overwhelmed by smoke. From the floor, she looked up through the haze in time to see the light pour like molten lava from her cousin's eyes, then swirl above them in a tornado of fire. The fire rose and hurtled until it was indistinguishable from the rest of the flames.

Audrah's body, riddled with bullets from Scully's gun, collapsed to the floor, her life spent.

Scully closed her eyes with resignation and held her breath. There was no room in her lungs for air anymore; her head began to float.

So, she thought, this is how it ends.

She searched her muddled mind for a Scripture verse, and stumbling upon one, she whispered, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. . ."

"Dammit, Scully, you couldn't have just waited two minutes?"

The voice was Mulder's, and she felt herself being lifted in his arms. A moment later, she was in cold, crisp air, but still she couldn't breathe. Then she heard the voices of others, and felt an oxygen mask come down over her face.

"Come on, Scully, take deep breaths. Deeper, deeper. Come on, Scully."

She tried to do what he told her to do, but it was so hard. Then something inside her lungs loosened, and she began to choke and gag.

Mulder thumped her on the back. "Good, Scully, Keep coughing. We've got to get that stuff out of your lungs."

With every earth-shattering cough, her lungs ached more and more, but she felt the air begin to flow inside them. Her vision began to clear, and she saw swirls of red lights from the ambulances and fire engines that surrounded her. Mulder was kneeling on her right side, a paramedic to her left. Father Tobey sat down beside Mulder and began to stroke her forehead, his own face blackened with soot. "It's all right, my child," he murmured.

"Carrie," she rasped.

"She's on her way to the hospital," Mulder replied. "Right now it looks like there's a few broken ribs and maybe a concussion."

"Father Tobey," she rasped. "Are you all right?"

"Physically? Yes," he smiled. "But wait until my superiors get word of this."

"Tell them it was a matter of life or death," Mulder said.

Scully struggled to sit up, to turn and look behind her, and Mulder took

her arm, maneuvering her. Weakened, she leaned against him, and he wrapped her in his arms.

She felt the heat of the fire on her face, and watched, dry-eyed, as the fire licked and consumed what was left of the Hell House.


The next morning 10 a.m.

The last of the firefighters were packing their gear, paying no heed to the smoldering pile of burnt wood and disintegrated curtains behind them.

However, they did steal glances at the woman who stood, dressed in a black coat that hung below her knees, her auburn hair pulled sharply back from her face. Her skin seemed to be pulled taut over her cheekbones, and the dark circles under her eyes were even darker against the paleness of her skin.

The other FBI agent, the one had watched over the woman like a lioness watching over her cubs the night before, approached from behind.

Scully felt his presence but didn't acknowledge it at first. He was the first to speak. "Did the doctor say it was all right for you to leave the hospital, or did you go against medical advisement?"

"How's Father Tobey?" The fact she didn't answer the question did not go unnoticed by either of them.

"He's fine. His parish caught wind of what happened last night and he's already receiving casseroles."

She smiled, but didn't tear her eyes from the remains of the house. Mulder dropped his eyes, scuffing his toe in the dirt. "You should have waited for me last night."

"I don't always need your help, Mulder."

Anger bubbled inside him. "Well, you sure as hell weren't saving the world last night by yourself!"

She was furious. "Look, do you think it was easy for me to be rescued by the Calvary? To know that Carrie nearly died, to know those girls all died because of what we did? To know that I shot and killed my own cousin?"

His voice softened. "She died years ago. . ."

She shook her head vehemently, and crossed her arms, turning her face back to the ruins.

He gnawed on his lower lip for a second, remembering the anger he'd known when he'd realized she hadn't waited for him, and the panic he'd felt when he and Father Tobey had found the house in flames. How he had been nearly immobilized with the fear that perhaps he'd been too late.

And he thought of the scared girl Scully had been, barely older than a child, witnessing an unspeakable horror and then spending the next twenty-one years shoving it out of her mind.

He reached and took her hand in his. When she didn't pull away, he squeezed gently. "It's over, Scully," he said quietly. "Do you believe that?"

Her face was a mask of sadness, but she managed a quirky little smile.

He squeezed her hand again. "Let's go home."

Scully nodded, and finally, turned her back on the past.


Author's notes: A special thanks to Kirky, who beta-read this story for me, and who told me about Hell House and her Ouija board experiences. She was also my source for all things Catholic. Thanks also to Tami and Paige, who stroked my ego as I was writing. For more info on Bloody Mary and other urban legends, check out http://www.snopes.com/ Dedicated to the other fifth-grade girls who did the Bloody Mary thing with me so many years ago and to the teacher who said the words I'll never forget: "If you ask for the devil, he will come." Brrrrrrrr.....

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