Title: Dragons on The Mark
The dim figure on the television screen flickered as he watched the videotape; frowning as the shape disappeared. Punching the stop and eject buttons, he pulled out the tape and walked towards the phone, shaking his head in confusion. The distant wail of the ambulance met his ears as it headed away from the theatre...
"A play?" Dana Scully looked over her desk at Fox Mulder. He smiled.
"Free tickets. Be good to get Jackie a change of scenery..." He defended himself from her stare. "Hey, you said she's still a bit weak..."
"She is. But your idea of a change of scenery is usually changing the tape in your VCR." She nodded. "But there's more, right?"
"A play?" Jackie St. George looked over her desk at the two agents. "You're serious?" Her pale face looked almost ghostly in the daylight streaming in through her curtains.
"Free tickets tonight; about a three hour drive from here... if you've got nothing else planned."
"Mulder, you know Marty's out of town for the week..." She laughed. "But there's more to this, right?" Dana grinned. They both knew him all too well...
"Jon Landsdowne. I went to university with him." Mulder drove as he spoke; keeping his eyes on the road and away from Scully's grinning face. "He's in charge of a small theatre company - they just purchased an old stage house for their productions..."
"And?" St. George prompted, looking at Scully.
"He thinks it might be haunted..." The two women sighed in unison. Mulder winced, waiting for it...
"Follow your spirit; and upon this charge cry, 'God for Harry, England, and St. George!'" The battle of Harfleur erupted on the stage before them. Fox looked beside him at Jackie, who slouched down in the seat, obviously uncomfortable at this part of the play. Grinning, he turned his eyes to Dana, who was enjoying it immensely. Her eyes sparkled at the scenes unfolding as they watched.
"So, how'd you like it?" Dana asked Jackie. "Nice part of your past..."
"Oh, I love having hundreds of men screaming out my name," she joked.
"Well, I can think of at least one man who does." Fox smirked. Stopping dead in her tracks, she turned and looked at him, a malicious grin on her face.
"Payback's a bitch, Mulder... and I do it with interest." She smiled at the tall handsome man walking up to them.
"Mulder!" He took his hand, shaking it tightly. Dana looked him over; the usual theatre type - good looking, the dark brown hair falling back over his shoulders in a short ponytail; deep blue eyes... and she had ended up taking medical school over this? Sighing, she rejoined the conversation.
"... so these are your women?" Jackie looked at Dana, mouthing the words - you first - to which she nodded. The expression on Mulder's face went from boyish guilt to deep fear as they watched him.
"Ah... this is Dana Scully, my partner... and this is Jackie St. George, another agent..." Saved by the bell. Landsdowne smiled at them.
"Sorry... it's just that at Oxford there were so many women pining for this fellow that we wondered if he had a harem stashed away somewhere." Jackie rolled her eyes while Dana choked on a laugh. "Anyway, do you think you can help us?" His tone turned serious.
"Let's see the tapes."
"We just started the latest production of Henry V a month ago; the grand opening of the theatre." He loaded the tape into the VCR. "The opening night the actor playing the Archbishop fell off the stage, breaking his leg." He grinned. "Don't say it. We all just thought it was a strange coincidence... until we lost the actress playing Quickly to one of the lights falling on her head, knocking her out."
"Sabotage?" Dana asked.
"Not likely... we're just actors - there's no reason to come after us for anything... other than unpaid bills." He thumbed the switch. "We always tape our practises; then we can watch them back and improve on our performances. Look at this one; it was just taped two days ago."
The actor read off his lines alone on the stage; broadcasting to the back of the house perfectly... suddenly a white mist shot across the wooden floor, knocking him to the ground... It hovered over him for a second, then disappeared as a heavy sandbag thudded down from the ceiling; landing on the man's chest. Landsdowne stopped the tape.
"He's alright... just a few broken ribs. But tonight's going to be our last show if we don't figure this one out. We sold our last tickets for the season a few days ago, and if we don't produce the plays we'll go under - but I can't risk my people to a ghost." He looked at Mulder. "I didn't know who else to call."
"Let's look at the stage."
Jackie knelt down on the wooden planks while Fox wandered around, tugging at the ropes. Dana looked out onto the empty seats.
"We had the place checked again yesterday." Jon shrugged. "It's perfectly safe structurally."
"This is blood." Jackie held her palm down on the spot. "Whose is it?"
"Well, we use lots of stage blood, especially in the Agincourt scene..." Jon started.
"No." Her firm tone echoed around the stage. "This is real. This is real human blood." Dana strode over, looking down.
"I can't see anything." She frowned.
"I can feel it..." Jackie whispered, pressing her palm into the wood.
"Someone bled here... someone died here..." She winced. "And I just got a headache."
"Do you have the past owners on file?" Mulder asked as Scully offered two aspirins to St. George.
"We have a sort of history at the local library - we just got the government to clear us for the physical part of ownership." Jon protested.
"You may have bought more than just the theatre for your money," Mulder said softly. "I'll drive."
The stacks of old books overwhelmed them as they stared around the archives.
Pulling off his jacket, Mulder smiled as he looked at Scully and St. George.
"So, who's going for the coffee?"
Staggering back into the room under the weight of a half-dozen coffees and donuts, Mulder noticed that St. George was rubbing her temples hard, leaning against the desk.
"You alright?" He whispered. Scully looked up suddenly from the other desk.
"Yah." She sighed. "It's just... man, it hurts..." She reached for a coffee with a smile. "I hope you didn't forget the sugar..."
"Got something." They walked over to Dana. She pointed at the screen.
"Husband-wife team used to run plays in that theatre fifty years ago... he died on stage of a burst brain vessel; right in the middle of the act... she passed away a few days later; supposedly of a broken heart." Dana flipped the page, frowning. "The play... was Henry V." Fox nodded knowingly.
"A poltergeist?" Jon laughed. "No offence, but now that we know who she is, how do we get rid of her?" They gathered around the small room in the balcony; looking down on the stage. The video camera lay under his arm.
"If that's what this is." Dana objected. "It's very possible that someone's taking advantage of this story to force your company to close..." Her voice trailed off as Jackie and Fox stared at her. "Don't look at me like that..."
"She never got to finish the scene." Jackie mumbled. "That's the clue."
"What?" Jon shook his head. "What scene?"
"Her scene with her husband." Fox took over the thread. "She never got to finish the scene when he died, and perhaps she just wants to get the last lines in..."
"Let me get down there with Mary." Jon said. "We'll finish it now."
Jackie looked through the viewfinder at the stage, watching the two actors go through the scene. Below her, Dana sat in the audience while Fox stood to one side of the stage, watching intently.
Suddenly a burst of cold wind swept across the stage, tearing at their faces. Jon and Mary fell to the ground, wincing as the icy blast ripped the pages of the script from their hands; sending the torn paper around them in vicious circles.
Fox looked up as the lighting rack began to shift menacing... lunging forward, he pulled the pair free as it smashed down onto the stage, shattering. The broken glass exploded into the audience area, covering Dana with shards.
The wind suddenly stopped. Dana slowly pulled her hand down from her face, noticing with relief no cuts on her at all. Lying on the wooden floor, Fox looked at Jon, who was still panting heavily.
"I don't think it worked."
"You alright?" Jackie yelled down from the balcony.
"Yah." Getting to his feet, Fox waved.
"Send Jon up here... I want to talk to him..." Jon nodded, sending the startled actress off to one side.
Jackie looked at the tape over and over, watching the ghost attack them. Jon glanced at her face, noting the look of amusement.
"What? What do you see?"
"Not what I see... what I feel..." She smiled. "And I need your help."
"Us?" Fox stared at the pair.
"Us?" Dana stared at Jon and Jackie, looking at Fox in reply. "I'm not an actor..."
"Look, just try it." Jon said. "I can't risk anyone else, but you two know what you're doing... no one's here - I sent them all home."
"Why not Jackie?" Dana asked.
"I'll be here in the audience." She sighed. "Dana, it's too close to me - I can only get into this so much..."
Taking the proffered scripts in hand, the two agents walked up onto the stage. Jon went to the balcony, waving down at them.
"This is ridiculous." Dana whispered to him.
"Hey, I'm not afraid." He looked over the pages.
"I never said I was afraid." She retorted. "I just never wanted to be on this side of the stage..."
"Liar." He chuckled. "I saw the way you were looking at the play. You love this..." The deep heat in her face showed his truth had hit home.
"Right." Jackie sat back, propping her feet up on the seat. "Jon?" She chirped into the walkie-talkie. "You got me?"
"Yep." Jon turned the camera on. "Let's roll."
"Alright you two..." St. George grinned. "Give it a shot."
Taking a deep breath, Mulder started to read the script, trying to remember all the acting classes he had seen at Oxford...
"I' faith, my wooing is fit for thy understanding. I know no ways to mince it in love but directly to say, 'I love you'" than it you urge me any further to say, 'Do you in faith?' I wear out my suit. Give me your answer; i'faith,do: and so clap hands and a bargain. How say you, lady?"
The walkie-talkie sputtered at Jackie's ear. "Nothing so far..."
"If thou can'st love a fellow of this temper, Kate, that never looks in his glass for love of anything he sees there, let thine eye be thy cook. I speak to thee plain soldier: if thou can'st love me for this, take me; if not, to say to thee that I shall die is try; but for thy love, by the lord, no: Yet I love thee too. If thou would have such a one, take me; and take me, take a soldier; take a soldier, take a king. And what sayest thou then to my love?
Speak, my fair, and fairly, I pray thee."
Dana began to laugh, stuttering through the French lines. Jackie nodded, listening to the radio and watching the stage.
"By mine honour, in true English, I swear I love thee: by which honour I dare not swear thou lovest me. Yet my blood begins to flatter me that thou dost, notwithstanding the poor and untempering effect of my visage. Now beshrew my father's ambition. He was thinking of civil wars when he got me: therefore was I created with a stubborn outside, with an aspect of iron, that when I come to woo ladies, I fright them."
Dana looked up, seeing the depth of his hazel eyes. Taking a deep breath, she worked through the lines, suddenly finding them simplier and simplier to say...
"Den it sall also content me," she murmured, the French accent in her voice familiar and yet unfamiliar... Taking a step towards her, Fox took her hand.
"Upon that I kiss your hand, and I call you my queen..."
Jackie, transfixed, suddenly heard the burst of white noise hit the room, rolling over the three of them. Knocking them to the ground, Fox protectively wrapped his arm around Dana, looking up to the ceiling for any danger.
Suddenly it was over; the wind dying down to a gentle breeze that lightly caressed them before disappearing.
"It's over..." Fox whispered. Jackie nodded, rising to her feet.
"She got to hear her husband finish his line... at least, the one that meant the most to her..."
Dana groggily shook her head. "I don't even want to think about this..."
"So, the next time you can tell us the truth instead of offering me a free trip." Scully admonished Mulder as she stood in her kitchen, slicing up the cucumber and tomatoes for some sandwiches.
"Hey, I didn't know what it was." He protested. "When's Jackie due back with the movies?"
"In a few minutes." She slapped his hand away from a piece of bread. "Wait until we all sit down before you eat."
"What's this?" Fox noticed a tape sticking out of Jackie's purse. "She left her purse here..."
"Mulder, that's personal... don't you..." Her words were cut off as she watched him pull the tape free.
"It's only a movie." He grinned. "Maybe it's one of mine."
"I don't think so." Dana said sternly. "Put it back."
Fox slipped it into the VCR, laughing. "I will... I just need to see what's on..." Tapping the play button, he reached for the unopened can of pop.
"I' faith, my wooing is fit for thy understanding. I know no ways to mince it in love but directly to say, 'I love you'" His face went scarlet as he looked at the screen.
"What the..." Dana picked up her own drink as she watched the Shakespearean scene unravel on the set. "She got the tape..."
"And I sent copies out already." Jackie laughed, closing the door behind her.
"To who?" Fox's strangled tone as he got to his feet made her laugh harder.
"Oh, let's see... Margaret, Frohike..." He advanced on her, shaking the can furiously in one hand. "Maybe a few others..."
"Names..." He shook the can more. Dana picked up her own unopened drink, coming around to catch her on the other side.
"Jackie..." Dana said. "My mother?"
"Well, it was so good... don't do that..." Fox grinned, putting his finger on the pull tab as Dana did the same.
"Don't do that... Aaarrrrggghhh... Mulder! Scully!"
"If you will practice being fictional for a while, you will understand that fictional characters are sometimes more real than people with bodies and heartbeats."
Richard Bach -- "Illusions"