Title: House of Dreams
Author: Humbuggie
Rated R

Summary: Scully becomes obsessed with a house which caused the deaths of previous inhabitants. When Mulder tries to open her eyes and face reality, he threatens to become the next victim.


To the attention of Fox Mulder :

Mulder,

Before I met you, I didn't believe in anything but the facts of science. Your work and beliefs took me on a 5 year long trip through visions of life that I had never seen before. You convinced me that despite the things I believed in, the truth that you wanted to find so badly, was indeed all that mattered in life. That believe has cost you dearly, as it has me. But we continued to look, not for the truth, but for the answers I demanded from you at my sister's deathbed.

Now, for the first time in my life, I feel that indeed I have found something that I need to believe in. It's not a special relationship that brings me to this quiet, dormant little town, but the believe that I am doing something right. I have found a special place for myself, a place that I wish to share some day with someone special. Therefore, for this reason alone, and to forget what the past has done to me, have I decided to resign as your partner within The X-Files, and to transfer from Washington to Boston.

That decision has been based on rational decisions that I alone can make. I hope that you understand the reasons for my decision, as I hope that you will consider the transfer with me, as I have come to trust only your friendship and destination within the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Your partner and friend,
Dana Scully


1. December 14, 1978

Caitlin Jackson always knew that this house had it in for her. She knew it when she went up the stairs that brought her up the gallery looking down at the large hall. The moment Tom brought her here for the first time, she felt chills run down her spine, as if someone or something was actually watching her. She froze. She didn't want to spend the rest of her life here. No matter how much she longed to be with Tom, no matter how much she loved him, she did not feel welcome here. She shivered, realizing she would be spending the night here.

"Do you feel all right, dear?' The civilized British voice from her future husband shook her out of her moment of numbness.

'Sure," she said. "I feel fine." All of a sudden she realized that her American, Boston Area-accent didn't seem to sound well in this mansion. Even though the house was on Cape Cod, all the inhabitants were English, except for her.

When he brought her in the house and the butler closed the front door, she felt as if she was locked in a prison cell forever. No way out, no return.

But who did she have to return to? She was an only child. Her parents were deceased 2 years ago. She would never forget how their car crashed against the large oak tree in the front yard of their house. She had seen it all - and never forgotten. Now she was all alone.

Until Tom came, and practically saved her life by falling in love with her. She would never forget how he had cared for her when she was feeling down. How he had taken her in his arms every time she felt the world fall apart. She had her job, and she had Tom.

Now she had the uninviting house.

He had taken her up the large stairs carved in the late 19th century. The gallery was dominated by a large standing clock, like she had seen on photos of the sunken Titanic.

'Do you see that clock?' he had asked. "It's been made by the same company that worked on the Titanic before it sank on it's maiden trip. Do you like it ?'

She nodded her head, and went past it quickly. The gallery was dark. The several closed doors, entrances to other rooms, made sure no light was allowed here. Several paintings dominated the painted white walls.

'Look," Tom said as he grabbed her hand and made her look over the balcony. "In the old days people used to organize parties here. Supposedly my grandmother was a real party-animal in the '30's. Can you just imagine how those dressed up men and women danced the fox-trot here?'

For a moment it seemed as if the old atmosphere had returned to the room. She closed her eyes as hundreds of long-ago souls dances past her.

'Caitlin?' Again Tom had to touch her to get her out of that trance. "What's wrong with you?'

"Nothing," she smiled faintly. "I feel fine. Honestly."

"I would love you to stay with me in my room," he said. "But I can imagine that you would love a space of your own too. So I arranged for the twin-rooms to be prepared for us."

He opened the door to a large bedroom with separate bathroom. "There we are." The room was tinted in dark red. Dark red curtains, dark red tapestry, dark red blankets on the bed. A man's room. She didn't like it.

'This was my father's room," he said. "Of course when you move in with me, we can change whatever you like." He then opened a second door adjoining his. The same room with dark green colors. She hated it.

"It's nice," she said quietly.

He brought her to the 2nd floor where the servant quarters were. Somehow she felt better here, as if the passion of the past didn't feel her with fear. When they returned downstairs, he showed her the large livingroom. This she liked. She even felt rather comfortable just sitting there. He poured her a martini. "Tell me what's on your mind," he said. "I know some of the rooms are rather old-fashioned, but we can change all that. If you want me to, I'll even move. We can live in my apartment in the city. But I can see that you don't like this."

"You're right," she said. "I don't. But it's your family inheritance, and family is important. I don't care where we live, as long as it is with you."

She thought : Get over it, Caitlin. You're a sane, normal American woman. There are no such things as ghosts or memories from the past.

He took her in his arms, and said :'I love you, Cait. You've made me happy. At the end that's all that matters."

"Yes," she said. "That's all that matters."

In the middle of the night, voices woke her up. There seemed to be hundreds of them, all over her, all in her, all around her. She heard them when she awakened, yet they seemed to be inside her head.

You'll never be his wife, we won't allow you. He's not to be married. He won't have you, you are going to die. Hundreds of them. She screamed. It was not a dream. Reality struck her, and was all over her. Get up. Go to the gallery, go to the clock. Throw yourself of the balcony. Your parents are dead, you have nothing to live for. You are dead already, you just don't know it yet. Do it.

Her body did no longer listen to her. She saw herself in a daze open the door of the green room. She had insisted on spending the night her, without him. To get used to the house, she had told herself. Now she knew why. Instinctively she had known she would die tonight.

She found herself at the balcony. She looked down. It was steep, but she could easily survive. Somehow however she knew she would not. Images appeared before her. Two familiar figures. "Mama?' Her voice seemed to regain the childish tone it had when she was young. "Mama, I'm coming."

Her mother opened her arms. She climbed on top of the edge and stretched her arms. Then she lost her grip. Her body seemed to fall forever. As she lost ground, she awakened. She screamed. Then the screams ended in her own ears, as her body fell hard to the marble floor. She felt her neck and back snap. Her head hurt for just a moment, then it turned aside. Her dying eyes looked up and saw Tom. He screamed. Or did he?

Her broken body lay on the floor.


2. June 15, 1998

The sign said :"House for Sale". The address and phone number on it were old and yellow, as if it had been standing there for years.

'Stop the car!'

Agent Fox Mulder instinctively pushed the breaks. Abruptly the car stopped near the old Victorian House in Cape Cod, near Quononchontaug. 'What's wrong with you?' Mulder wanted to shout, but before he could do so, his partner had already opened her car door and had walked over to the house.

"It's beautiful, don't you think?' she said, merely to herself. "I've always wanted to live in a house like this."

Mulder actually did spend his youth in a Cape Cod-house. Maybe that's why he hardly paid notice to the excitement his partner felt as she tried to open the front door. It was locked.

"What's so beautiful about it?' he said impatiently. "It's a old, weary house, and it probably costs a fortune too. 2 stories and servant's quarters under the roof. Besides, you don't want to live here. Not in a house where people kill themselves all the time."

"What?' She turned towards him. "What do you mean?'

"This is a haunted house, Scully," Mulder said with a grave voice. "That's what the rumors say anyhow."

"But you don't believe them?'

"Not in this case. You see, ghosts only work well when they are not discovered to be a hoax. The owner of this house, Thomas Wilcox the 3rd killed his fiancée by pushing her over the balcony of the first floor of his house. He was caught doing so, but claimed he was innocent. Said that the ghosts of his ancestors did it, that he saw them do it, and tried to stop them. Needless to say he was admitted to the psychiatric ward of the local hospital, despite his wealth and influence in Quononchontaug."

"Why are you being so skeptic about it, Mulder? That's not like you. You should be relishing the fact you might get to see some ghosts."

"This happened in '78, long before I opened the X-Files, Scully. And the evidence was there to convict him."

"Do you mean he's still imprisoned?'

"Oh yes, for years. He'll probably stay there until his death. He's seriously ill, it seems."

Scully looked at the house. "You said there were other murders."

"Suicides. Yes. The Wilcox family seems to be infested with them. I recall at least 3 suicides in the family, each of them seem to have had a love for that balcony."

Scully frowned. "I know that suicides are usually caused by a psychological factor which can be passed on from relative to relative. Maybe that is what happened here."

Scully looked through the dirty windows of the house. Somehow Mulder could see a change in her eyes as she glanced through the dirt, trying to find something. 'I want to see the insides of this house," she said. "What's the number on that sign?' She didn't wait for hem to answer her, but returned to the sign "House for Sale", and dialed the number on her cell phone. A few moments later he heard her talk to someone. Then she hung up, and looked at him. "We weren't planning anything specific this afternoon, were we?'

He stared at her glistering eyes. "Actually," he said. "I would have loved to solve that mystery of the horny beast."

Now it was her turn to stare at him. "Mulder, this is important for me. I need to see this house, okay?'

"Why?' he said.

"I've never had a house for myself. Sure I got a nice apartment, but I've never felt like it was mine. I need to have a place of my own, somewhere to settle. Can you understand that?'

"Why this house?'

"I don't know. It draws me somehow. I need to see it. I can't explain it."

Mulder didn't want to stay here. He didn't like this place. It had something sinister, something that would eventually lead to .. to what? He shivered.

A car pulled up to the house. A woman in her sixties got out and came towards them. "Miss Scully?' she said. "My name is Nathalie Kinnaer," she said.

'Pleased to meet you," Scully said impatiently. "Can I take a look at the house ?'

"Of course." The eyes of Mrs. Kinnaer could not conceal her interest in Scully's sudden passion for the house. Mulder somehow knew she had expected this. She did arrive here a bit too sudden. As soon as the older woman opened the door, a wind of dust blew through the main hall. White sheets covered all the still present furniture. Leafs lay on the floor. Somehow they had found a way through a few broken windows. Scully looked up and saw the large stairs leading to the balcony. "This is amazing," she said. "Incredible."

Mulder had to admit it was grand. But it made the atmosphere even more dark. There was something sinister about the way the leafs covered the biggest part of the stairs and the upper gallery. Some of the doors up there were closed, some of them had somehow not survived the test of time.

"The house has been empty since '79," said Mrs. Kinnaer. "Ever since the trial that submitted Thomas Wilcox III to the psychiatric ward. There have been some interested candidates back then, but you know what it's like in a small town like this. Everybody knows everything about everybody." She looked briefly at Mulder. "Even of those who only came here for the Summer."

"Agent Scully knows about the ghost stories," Mulder said. "You don't have to hide them from her. Nor the real reason why this house was never sold."

Again she looked dismayed at Mulder. "I was going to tell her," Mrs. Kinnaer said. "But thank you for doing my job for me, Mr. Mulder."

Scully had gone up the stairs. She didn't seem to care much for the ground level of the large house, but Mulder did. In the other rooms the same strange atmosphere he seemed so sensitive to, re-appeared. "A chilling place, isn't it, Mr. Mulder?' Mrs. Kinnaer looked at him with cold eyes.

'How exactly do you know my name?' he asked.

"Everybody knows everybody here, I told you that. I remember you when you were just a little boy. You used to come here with your sister during the Summer. Then she vanished and you didn't return. Your mother sometimes does. I remember when she spoke to me about selling the house in Quononchontaug. She didn't go through with it, but I spent some time talking to her about it. She had pictures of you."

"I see," Mulder said.

"If I were you, Mr. Mulder, I'd advice your friend not to take this house. I know it's against my own shop to say this, but I like her, and you are after all a local resident. Don't buy this place."

"If you feel about it like this, then why did you put up the sign?'

"We all have to make a living, don't we?'

Mulder walked passed her up the stairs to find Scully. He found her on the balcony looking down. Behind her a big massive clock seemed to be the only thing not affected by the 2O years the house had been empty.

'I'm going to buy this place, Mulder," she said. "I want to live here."

"Scully, think about it. You'll hardly be here. You don't want to live here." 'Boston is close enough to Washington to spend time here. And besides, who says I'm going to stay in Washington?'

"You're not serious."

"I'm very serious."

He looked at her stunned. "You work hard for the money you have. Putting it in this house is a big mistake. Don't do it."

Angry she replied :"Who are you to decide this for me? I am old enough to make my own mistakes."

"You are indeed. And you're old enough to think for yourself too. So think about it."

She ignored him and walked down the stairs. "How much?'

Mulder didn't hear the reply of Mrs. Kinnaer. Instead he listened to the voices on the gallery whispering to him. Sounds seemed to be all around him, surrounding his body and mind. He heard music, laughter. As he closed his eyes and opened them again, hundreds of visible entities seemed to be crossing the gallery and the large hall below. This was as it must have been before. Their clothes were from the '30's, so was their music.

The whispering voices spoke his name. "Let her be, Fox," they seemed to say. 'She belongs here, and she will bring you with her. Let her buy the house." He shook his head. As he opened his eyes, he saw Scully look at him from the ground level of the house. "Mulder, are you okay?'

"I'm fine," he responded as he walked down the stairs. The feeling of numbness that had taken over vanished. She looked at him. "I'm buying this house, Mulder."

He nodded and said nothing.

As they left, he looked over his shoulder. Did he dream? He must have. After all, as Scully would say, ghosts were always explained in a scientific way.

James Milton walked through life without a care. The only real scare he ever had was when he closed up the Wilcox house in '79. Then he really thought he was going to die. The voices in the house, the visions he thought he had, the coldness of their touch when they scared him away.

He remembered coming home that day and telling his story to his wife. She actually laughed in his face, and then got serious when she said :'You're not going to tell this to anyone, are you, Jimmy? Remember what they did with Thomas Wilcox."

"I'm not crazy, Annie," he responded. "I know what I saw. What if Wilcox was right? He might not have murdered that young lady. Why in the world would he have ever done that? He was good to people." 'The court proved him guilty, so don't you go and pretend you know best. That is not up to you!'

"Maybe it is.."

"James!' Her loud voice stopped him from saying anything else. But during the years after that day he closed up the house and gave the key to the real estate agent, Mrs. Kinnaer, he regretted his decision. What if Thomas Wilcox was innocent? After all, with these stories of ghosts and aliens and stuff, who said there weren't ghosts in that cursed house?

The call he received today however was one he had never expected as long as he lived. The first few years he feared and dreaded the day the house would ever be sold, but it didn't happen. The candidates didn't seem to care about it, nor had an interested in living in a ghost house. But now there was someone foolish enough to buy it.

He hadn't heard Mrs. Kinnaer's voice in 20 years. Now she contacted him and said :'Milton, the house has been sold. The lady wants to hire you to restore it. Are you interested?'

He wanted to say no, but the truth is his business went down the drain after that accident with the young Jackson woman. People actually said he might not have taken care of the house properly, that somehow the balcony cracked and let her fall, even though there was no trace of evidence to prove that. People always looked for a sane explanation instead of accepting the ghost stories just like that. They were blaming him.

He needed money, he knew that, and by taking on the job he might have enough to retire pretty soon. He knew the house would have been sold cheap, but the restorations would cost. If he made a good offer, he'd have the job. And he wanted the job.

"James!' Mrs. Kinnaer shouted in his ear.

'Yeah, sure, I'll take the job," he responded. "Thanks, Mrs. Kinnaer."

"Tomorrow morning at my office at nine," she said. "Be on time, and be sober."

With regret Jimmy thought of the bottle which would have to wait now.

Scully didn't have trouble getting time off. She'd hardly taken any since she worked with the Bureau. Now she could take a month at once. 2 days after she purchased the house, she left for the Cape. Her good-byes to Mulder were freezing cold despite their mutual effort to be kind to each other.

"Look," Mulder had said that night when they drove back. "You know what you're doing, I'm sure of that. I just think you're doing things rather hastily. Be careful with what you buy. That house might be a money pit, you know."

"I don't care," she said. "I like it, and that's all there is to it."

He had given up changing her mind. It would take a while before all the papers were in order, maybe she'd change her mind by then. He knew she wouldn't.

By taking off a month, she proved she was determined to through with it.

'Come look me up in the weekend, Mulder," she said. "I'm sure by then everything will be in order. I'll make sure you'll have a guest room."

"I'll do that," he said, ignoring the nagging feeling that told him not to let her go.

As she left, he was determined to concentrate on a case, but his mind twirled, as if it didn't want him to be at rest. He kept on remembering that moment on the balcony, the dancing people, the music, the laughter. They invited him to come back and stay with them.

At the end of the day he knew concentrating on another job was useless. Instead he decided to leave a message with Skinner and drive up to Boston to find out about the house there. He went to the apartment, packed up some clothes, and left. While driving up to Boston he knew he was going to try and find Thomas Wilcox. The previous owner of the house had to know what was wrong with it, and why it drove him crazy.

Mulder booked into a hotel room in the city. The next morning he drove down to the local FBI-headquarters and introduced himself to Agent Lipany. Mulder didn't tell him his partner was about to buy the house (or had already bought it perhaps), but that the case of the death of Caitlin Jackson interested him.

"A 20-year old case?' Lipany asked surprised. "Whatever for?'

"It's a long story," Mulder said. "I won't bore you with it."

It wasn't so difficult to find the old files on the case through the central system. A few minutes later Mulder knew that Wilcox was admitted in the Simonville Psychiatric Institution in Boston. Twenty minutes later he was on his way to see him.

James Milton didn't want to hire any new people to fix the place, but he had to get at least one. The lady who bought it, Dana Scully, wanted it to be ready as soon as possible. She wanted the place pretty much as it was, with a new coat of paint, a few new pieces of furniture, but nothing specific. Of course heating had to be okay, the house had to be modernized, but other than that, she wanted nothing changed.

He knew she had bought the place for only 1/5th of what it was worth, and probably had some money to spare to get it in order. She seemed to come from a wealthy family. Money no option.

She showed up on the 2nd day after he re-opened the house. He had already worked on the ground level then. He had fixed the heating, cleaned out the kitchen, removed the sheets and re-established the furniture. It gave a whole new feel to the house. He wondered if she would hire people to take care of the place. Mrs. Kinnaer had told him she was an FBI-agent. He heard his hired help whistle when she appeared. He liked her. She was sharp, to the point. She looked as if she had been through a lot. Her eyes looked old.

She complimented him on the house. He said he loved doing these kinds of jobs, and thanked her for hiring him. In truth he hated every second he was here, but as long as he was working hard, he didn't have time for his anxious thoughts.

He watched her as she went up the stairs and looked around. She stood in front of the clock and looked at it. Her finger touched the wood. Then she turned and said :'I want you to clean the top floors first. I want to sleep here tonight."

He looked at her. "You want to sleep here tonight .."

"Yes. I bought this house, now I want to benefit from my purchase."

"All right miss," he said. "As you wish."

She didn't notice that his eyes looked frightened at the balcony which seemed to have caused a lot of lives. She didn't notice that indeed he was scared. All she cared about, was this house. And he didn't understand her impatience. How could anyone live here?

"As you wish," he repeated as he walked down the few steps he had dared to climb. He would have Peter do the top floor. He didn't dare to do it himself. Not on his life, oh no. He feared that floor, as he had feared the house and the ghosts that haunted it.

Thomas Wilcox III was the last of his line. There would be no others of his family with traces of royal blood, nor would there be anyone to pick up the last bits and pieces of the fame the family once had. He had nothing but his small room in the psychiatric hospital, no friends left, no one who cared for him.

Slowly but surely his mind seemed to be rotting away in this place. Where he used to care before, he did no longer do so. He didn't care for his appearance, nor for the woman that had brought him here by dying. He once had loved that woman so dearly that he had ignored all the signs pointing to her coming death. He didn't want to believe the voices that told him she was going to die if he didn't let her go. Instead he had pretended to be happy with her, and to look at her as if she was happy. She was not.

And she died. He might as well have killed her - he might as well have been the one who pushed her over the balcony. Instead he watched as the ghosts did it.

The small door that lead to his prison cell opened. "You've got company," a voice said. "Do you want to see him?'

"Who ..?' His voice sounded shallow, just like the interior of this room.

He turned his head away from the book he was pretending to read, and saw a man in his thirties standing in front of him. He wore a long coat, an expensive suit. He obviously took care of himself. When he spoke, his nasal voice sounded pleasant in opposite the nurses and doctors he usually saw. "Mr. Wilcox," the man said. "My name is Agent Fox Mulder, I'm with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I would like to ask you a few questions about the house you have or had for sale in Quononchontaug." 'I sold that house," Wilcox said dismayed. "20 years ago I sold it to a real estate agent. You should talk to her."

"It's not Mrs. Kinnaer I want to speak to, sir. It's you, and it concerns the reason why you are admitted here. You always denied having killed Caitlin Jackson. Is that so?'

Wilcox smiled. "You actually came here to ask me whether or not I killed my fiancée? Where have you been the past 20 years?' Wilcox then frowned. 'Mulder, you said? I know you .."

"My father used to have a house up in Quononchontaug," Mulder said.

'Used to have?'

"He passed away."

"Oh .. So what do you want from me?'

"I want to know what really happened in that house."

"My god ..." Wilcox suddenly seemed to realize the truth. "The house actually did get sold, didn't it? I never really knew why Kinnaer took the risk of buying it but now she finally did it. She sold it. Who did she sell it to? Don't tell me you bought it."

"No. But someone I care about a lot bought it. I fear for her. I ..." Mulder hesitated.

Wilcox stood up and came closer. "You saw it too, didn't you? Admit to me that you saw it!'

Mulder turned around. "I don't know what I saw."

"Music. Laughter. Dancing." Wilcox sat down again. "You, as a Federal Agent, should be able to find what really happened in that house in the '30's."

"I don' t know. What happened?'

"My dear departed family." The sarcastic smile of Wilcox made him look frantic.

"I never really believed it when they told me my family was insane. I never wanted to believe that I was a part of them, but maybe I was. They held a lot of parties in that house back then. They used drugs, I suppose. They didn't care for anything except themselves. At the end that's what got them killed. They pushed people to kill themselves. Somehow they got each other to jump down that balcony. I don't know ... I never wanted to know really."

"Are you saying it's those ghosts that are responsible for Caitlin's death?' Mulder said with disbelief.

'You don't believe me."

"I am a believer in the paranormal, Mr. Wilcox, but somehow every paranormal event has to have its evidence. I don't know what I saw, but I won't say it was a paranormal event until I have found out what really happened in that house."

"And when you do, are you going to get me out of here?'

"If you turn out to be innocent, yes."

"I need to go back to that house and find out what happened, Agent Mulder. That's the only way I can ever find peace with myself and my fate."

Mulder knocked slowly on the door, waiting for a guard to open it for him. 'Like I said, I'll see what I can do."

As he left, Mulder couldn't help but realize that Wilcox could have been right - maybe the insanity did run in the family.

"Is there anything else I can do for you, miss?' Jimmy Milton asked around 9 p.m. on that first night.

"You are really determined to spend the night here? The kitchen is still not functional, in fact, the only thing you will have tonight is the red bedroom."

"I'll be fine, Jimmy," Scully said. "I'll see you tomorrow morning?'

Jimmy nodded his head. Nothing specifically happened this first night. Maybe he had indeed dreamt it all. Instinctively though he knew he hadn't.

'Come on, Rob," he said to his aide. "Let's get a drink somewhere."

The younger man Jimmy had hired for this job gladly left everything as it was and left with Jimmy. In the car he said :'You have to be stark raving mad to want to live in this house."

"I don't think that lady is mad," Jimmy replied. "She's just lonely."

"Then she should get herself a husband, now shouldn't she? She is good looking enough to find one."

"I think there might be a guy in the picture," Jimmy said mysteriously. There was a call this afternoon from someone on her cell phone. She had an argument with him, it seems, and she hung up. I'm pretty sure she's taken for."

"Too bad," Rob replied. "I wouldn't have mind having someone like that in my bed."

"Don't be rude, Rob." Jimmy stopped at Herald's and got out of the car. "Just be glad she's paying us to fix the place up. Maybe this will help us get my business back where it should be. I mean, if she lets her take care of her house, there are bound to be others who'd do the same."

Mulder called Scully on his cell phone after he left the psychiatric hospital, and told her he was on his way over.

"No, Mulder," Scully said firmly. "First of all I find it appalling that you are actually in the area, and secondly I am a grown up woman you know. I can take care of myself. You have no right to look into my affairs."

"Who says I'm looking into your affairs? You yourself accused me of not being more interested in the Caitlin Jackson murder. Now I am and I'm investigating it. I found her ex-fiancé, the guy who previously owned your place, and I'm going to find anyone who can tell me more about her. Are you interested in helping me out here?'

"No," Scully said angry. "You know, Mulder, why - for once in your life - can't you be happy for me? I've never had a personal life ever since I came on the X-Files. I need this place, can't you understand that? It's a good thing you called though, because I've decided to move in here for good. I'm applying for a transfer to the Boston area tomorrow."

"You're kidding me. What about me? What about The X-Files?'

"I'm sure you'll survive perfectly without me. As for The X-Files, if you are so eager to keep me on them, then transfer with me."

"How dare you put this on me?' Mulder said furious. "Who are you to decided where I should go to next?'

"And who are you?' she responded. "You've been against my decision from the first day on. Well, I have news for you, Mulder. I'm staying." She hung up before he could say anything. Mulder stared dazed at his cell phone for a few moments, suddenly realizing he was in the middle of a Boston traffic jam.

If Scully decided to transfer to Boston, he would lose her, he was sure of it. He was angry with himself for pushing her this far, yet at the same time his inner instincts told him she was being pushed by someone, or something else. Her reaction was not normal, neither was her eager determination to stay in the house. There had to be something else.

Mulder knew he had to find out what really happened to Caitlin Jackson. The same could happen to Scully. Or to him ... Thomas Wilcox had told him Caitlin didn't want to live in the house, and had asked him several times that night to move to Boston. Tom had been saddened by her decision, but had agreed for her sake. Her death that night was not a coincidence. If she had lived, she would have been able to get Tom out of the house, away from it's influence on him.

Tom however didn't seem too affected by whatever was in the house. He had lived there all of his life, without the occasional stay in England, or in Boston. His parents had lived there before him. They had died not so long before he had met Caitlin. Perhaps the influence in that house wasn't on its top because he had never even thought of moving out. Only when he met Caitlin, had he considered living somewhere else, and at the end that had become fatal for Caitlin and himself.

Mulder knew that - should he persist on getting Scully away from it, no matter what - whatever happened to Caitlin Jackson, could become his fate. But he knew he had to do something. He couldn't just watch and do nothing.

As he drove around in Boston, he decided to go back to the Bureau and find out all he could on Caitlin Jackson. It was the only way he could find the truth.

Scully didn't experience any anxiety, staying in the house that night. It was around 10 p.m. when she crawled into bed, after having a sober dinner which she got in town. She knew by the looks from the people in the diner that they knew who she was, and what she had bought.

Mulder had told her once that in a place like Quononchontaug you couldn't keep any secrets from anyone. The small-town American way of life, he had called it.

He was eager to escape it as a kid, and he had done so by moving to Washington permanently.

Now Scully chose that small-town American way of life over the busy city area. She knew however that - if she were to keep her work as an FBI-agent, she would have to get a small place in Boston as well for the weekdays. Or maybe she could drive the part every time. Or maybe .. she could quit her job.

'Everything is open for discussion," she said out loud to herself while digesting her dinner in the small salon.

She looked around, still taking in the sights of her newborn place, still not believing she had actually bought this place.

Just before she went to bed, her phone rang again. "Scully," she said, instinctively knowing it was her partner.

"Scully, it's me," the familiar voice said. Despite their earlier argument, she was happy to hear his voice. 'Listen, I'm sorry if I upset you. Can we get together and talk?'

"Tomorrow, Mulder," she said. "If that's okay with you. I need time to think, and decisions to make."

"What decisions?'

"We'll talk about it tomorrow, okay?'

"Okay."

As he hung up, she knew she was hoping on him relocating with her. If not, she had indeed a very big decision to make. As she fell asleep, she dreamt of spending a life time in this house.

In the morning, when she woke up however, she didn't feel that well. Her dreams had been haunted with the thought of children, but reality bites. She would never have kids, and she knew it. The tests on her system had prevented that. She would always be alone in this house - perhaps with someone who loved her - perhaps not. But who would care for her, knowing she would never have children?

Around 8 she had fixed herself a sandwich and ate it in the kitchen. Around 8.30 Jimmy was back to work on the house.

"We're getting a big storm tonight, miss Scully," he said. "We'd better make sure all the windows are fixed, or you might be cleaning up leafs again in the morning."

"Then let's get to work," Scully said.

Around 10 someone knocked on the door. Thinking it was Mulder, Scully opened, but it was not him. A young woman in her early twenties looked at her. "Yes?' Scully said. "Can I help you?'

"My name is Lily Marsh, miss," the girl said. "I live nearby. My dad sent me to see if you need any help."

"That's very kind of your dad," Scully said, 'but I'm afraid I can't offer you a job."

"Oh, but that's not why I'm here. We're practically neighbors, we should help each other, right?'

"In that case," Scully said as she stepped aside. "Come on in. I could use all the help I can get."

Lily Marsh for a few moments stood in the hall watching the house. She didn't say anything as her face seemed to freeze in a sort of respect for her new surroundings. As she turned towards Scully, she said :'Now where would you like me to begin?'

Mulder had had difficulty finding out more about Caitlin Jackson. The little information he had on her, he had gathered through the database of the Bureau, and a link with the local police force. Early that afternoon he found out that Caitlin, age 25, had lived in the Boston area since the day she was born with her parents. Her parents died near their home as their car crashed under mysterious circumstances. Their deaths had been listed accidental, after examination of the car showed a malfunction in the breaks.

After that, Caitlin had put up the house for sale, and moved into a small apartment in Boston, where she - according to Thomas Wilcox' statement - had met her future fiancé at a party. Their relationship grew during the months after their first date, until Tom brought her to his house. That first night she killed herself. Since there was no doubt what had killed her (the fall off the balcony), her death was listed murder in the first degree. Despite Tom Wilcox' denial, he was convicted for the murder after sworn statements from his live-in housekeeper, Denise Graham, and her daughter Eleanor Graham, that they had seen him leaning over the balcony seconds after Caitlin's fall.

Despite the defense's efforts to debunk this theory, Wilcox himself undermined his own statement by claiming that ghosts were responsible for Caitlin's death.

Caitlin Jackson's further file showed she had no living relatives, and practically no friends who were to be notified of her death. She had lived a rather lonely life. The apartment and its contents were inherited by Caitlin's previous college-roommate, Sophie Whithers, who at the time lived in Boston.

Mulder easily found out that Ms. Whithers had married a certain Elijah Rogers, and had relocated to the outskirts of Boston.

Mulder soon after dialed the number he found in the database, and as a woman picked up the phone, he introduced himself to her. He easily set up a meeting for that same afternoon, and left the Bureau to find the woman who probably was the only one who could actually tell him something more about the mysterious Caitlin Jackson.

The woman, age probably near 50 by now, offered the FBI-agent a cup of coffee and a seat before she went to the kitchen and got what she had offered him. As she returned to the living room, she sat down in the other seat and said :'It's been a long time since I heard Caitlin's name speak out loud. It seems that during the investigation and the trial afterwards, she seemed to be ignored. More important was Tom Wilcox' behavior, and why he had done it. His - let's say - strange behavior convicted him, and I am glad for that. Caitlin didn't have much of a life after her parent's death, and he took whatever was left of it and killed it."

"Why did she leave everything she had to you?' Mulder asked. "Didn't she have any family left or other friends? Why didn't she leave it to Wilcox? Her last will was date 1 month before she died. She must have had a serious relationship with him by then, if she was going to move in with him."

"Family? No. Friends? She was a loner. People called her stupid for grieving so much over her parent's death. They said enough was enough, and didn't understand her reaction. The little friends she had got tired of her and dumped her. As for Wilcox, I guess she figured he had enough of his own to do without the little she had. Even though that little was still quite substantial. The apartment was sold according to her wishes, as were her personal items, after I received the few things I wanted to have from her as a memento. All and all the amount was more than I had expected."

"Were you close with her?'

"Yes, I was. She became my roommate as soon as I came to Boston for my studies.

We got along quite well from the first day we met. She didn't talk much about herself at first - her parents were still alive then - but as soon as she started trusting me, I knew a lot about her. After her parent's death, and our graduation, and when she got to know Tom, we grew apart a bit. He didn't like me very much, you see."

"Why is that?'

"I don't know. I got the impression he didn't want her to have friends. He was one of those guys who are very possessive about someone. He wanted her all to himself, so he made sure we didn't see each other much. You can imagine my surprise when I learnt of her death, and the will she had made."

"Was she depressed during those last weeks?'

"I don't think so. In fact, she was quite happy with him. She did call me that last day, somewhere in the afternoon, saying that she didn't like the house. She said it had eyes."

"Eyes?' Mulder repeated surprised. "What did she mean by that?'

"She said it was hard for her to explain it to someone who didn't know the house. She said that everywhere she seemed to go, someone was watching her. If I had listened better to her, I might have gone there and get her away from there, but I didn't. Cait was always very sensitive to impressions - images of what she thought she saw, and I didn't believe her. I told her to give it some time, and perhaps persuade Tom not to live there. At the trial I found out they had talked about it, even argued, that last night, and that he had agreed not to make that house their home base, so to speak. Maybe, if she hadn't listened to me, she might have been alive. As for Wilcox, his story of ghosts murdering her, was absurd. I don't think I've ever heard such a lie."

A moment of silence followed before she said :'Can I ask you, agent Mulder, why you are so interested in Cait's death? It's been 20 years you see, and during that time her killer has not been free. What more can you do?'

"Perhaps I can give everything some peace," Mulder said carefully as he stood up. "Thank you for your time, Mrs. Rogers."

"You're welcome," she replied.

As she walked him to the door, she said :'The killer ís in jail, is he not, Mr. Mulder?' He didn't answer that question.

The storm that reached the area became a real-life threat to the people who lived there. In the late afternoon everyone was warned to keep inside, for the storm would reach it's highest level that night. Around 5 p.m. every window of the house was checked and secured, as were the doors. 'You'll be fine, tonight, miss Scully," Jimmy said before he left around 6. 'The phones will probably not work, but other than that, this house will stand the test. It has been here for more than 100 years already."

Scully thanked him and watched him leave. Lily Marsh was working in the kitchen. She had been there all day, except when she left for the store.

'Let me fix you a proper meal tonight, miss Scully," she had said. "The dining room is cleaned out, so you can use it. I'll take care of everything."

Despite Scully's protest, Lily did indeed make sure everything was there for a proper dinner. As she cleaned up in the upstairs bathroom Scully remembered Mulder's promise to stop by and talk. He hadn't shown up. A sense of unrest told her something might be wrong.

At that same time, she heard a knock on the door, and watched from the gallery as Lily let her partner in.

Lily seemed to have expected a visitor, seeing she had brought enough food to feed an army. After a short introduction, Scully brought her partner to the livingroom where they sat in a couch. After a brief moment of silence, Mulder said :'Look, Scully, I know how important this place is to you, but first you have to hear me out. Things have happened here, that you don't know of."

"Things that you have investigated, no doubt," Scully replied.

'Yes."

"I'm not sure if I want to hear what you have to say, Mulder. First of all, because you went against my wishes, and secondly because I'm staying, no matter what the cost."

"What if I told you this house could provide us with the ultimate proof that ghosts do exist? That there are forces amongst us that were dormant in this house for years, and woke up to kill Caitlin Jackson?'

"Despite my passion for this house, Mulder, I am still a scientist. You may think that I got carried away when I bought this place, but the truth is I've never considered a decision this much before I made it. I didn't regret it, nor will I ever do. Can't you respect that decision?'

"Normally I would, Scully, but I saw something. That first day when we were standing in that hallway, I saw something that I cannot explain but despite everything believe in firmly. I know you never did, but can you open your mind and listen to what I have to say?'

"I can - if you can respect the fact that I need to be here and build up a life here."

"At what cost, Scully? What are you willing to give up for this? Will it take a human life for you to realize there is something wrong with this house? Do you need to see it first, before you can open your eyes and see what I'm talking about?'

Scully got up. "I only know that I have made a decision, Mulder. I've decided to request a transfer from the Washington Bureau to Boston. I want to make a new life here, away from everything that's been happening in Washington."

"Including me?'

"No." She sighed slightly. "I want you to be here with me."

Mulder got up. "We've discussed this earlier over the phone. I cannot come with you. My life is in Washington, my work. That what we've been seeking is hidden there."

"What is there left in Washington, Mulder? The office burnt down, the X-Files were closed and re-opened. It's always the same. We are fighting against forces that are too strong for us. You can start all over again here. Why do you have to be there?'

"I can't come with you," Mulder repeated as he sat down. "If the transfer is what you want, then I cannot stop you. I told you before that I need you, please don't do this."

"I have to," she said. "I'm so tired of running and fighting and battling whatever it is we are running for, fighting and battling over. I need to find some peace with myself, and with the life I'm leading."

"And you think you will find it here? In a house where over 30 people killed themselves?' She hesitated, shocked, and he knew she didn't know. "That's right, Scully," he continued. "Mrs. Kinnaer did not tell you everything. A group of people committed mass suicide here. This house causes problems for those who live in it. Is that what you want?'

"You lie," she said firmly.

"The files are in my car, Scully," he said. "Believe it."

"It doesn't matter," she answered. "Whatever has happened here, does not interest me. I've bought this house, the papers are in order, everything has already begun. I'm staying."

'I see," Mulder said. "Then there is nothing I can do, is there?' He reached for his coat. "I beg you to reconsider, Scully. Please listen to what I have said."

"I've listened, and this is my final answer," she answered. "But we are and always will be friends, Mulder. I promise you that."

Lily Marsh interrupted their talk. As she saw Mulder standing there with his coat, she said :'You are not leaving yet, are you? I have just prepared dinner."

"I have to go," Mulder said.

"No, stay." Scully put her hand on his arm. "I would like you to stay."

He hesitated for a moment, and put his coat back over the chair. Lily picked it up and put it away. "I need to freshen up for a moment," Mulder said. "Where can I ..?'

"Upstairs on your right is the guest bathroom, sir," Lily said before she retreated in the kitchen again. Mulder went up the stairs, and locked himself in the bathroom. As he looked at his heated face, he realized he had screwed up. He was going to loose Scully.

As he threw cold water in his face, voices seemed to enter his mind. "Go home," they whispered. "Leave her alone, and go home." He looked up shocked and stared at his own image in the mirror. There was no one else in the room.

The dinner passed quietly. Lily served an excellent meal and watched them from the kitchen as they ate in silence. Around 9.30 p.m. Lily served coffee.

"Is there anything else I can do for you?' Lily asked. "If not, I'd like to go now before the storm hits it's breaking point. My father will be getting worried about me."

"No, thank you," Scully smiled. "You've been very helpful, Lily. I'll see you tomorrow. Goodnight." The young woman grabbed her coat and departed hastily.

'Alone at last," Mulder said as he grabbed his coffee and walked with his partner to the livingroom. As they sat down on the couch again, he said :'You know, it's funny, Scully, but we never really sit together like this, do we?'

"I guess we don't," she said as she tasted her coffee. "Do you regret being having stayed with me?

"No." He put down the cup. "I still want you to come back with me to Washington."

"I know," she said. "Let's not talk about that again. But tell me, would you miss me that much?'

He sighed. "In all of the world, there's only one person I really trust, and that is you, Scully. I've put my life in your hands so many times I cannot even remember all of those times. Without you, what's the point of me continuing my work?'

"Then transfer with me to Boston," she said firmly.

'Why does it all have to go so fast?' He said.

'Because it's what I want to do. I need to get a life."

"Even in this house?'

"There is nothing wrong with this house."

"There is. Why can't you feel it?'

She sighed. "Listen to me, Mulder. I know how much you want to believe, but by putting all of this on me, you are not helping me. I need to do this!'

"At least look at the files I brought with me, Scully. Take a look at them and then decide."

"I won't. Stop forcing me!'

"This house is dangerous, Scully. Please, I beg of you, come back with me."

"No," she said firmly. "If you don't stop this you might as well leave. Did our relationship do so little for you that you feel you have to force me now? Do you have that little respect for me?'

"No, on the contrary. I'm trying to prevent you from making a mistake."

"Then let me make this choice! Respect it, or leave."

"Then I'll leave," Mulder said. "I'm sorry, Scully."

"So am I," she said sadly.

"Why can't you believe me, Scully? For once, just once, trust me on this!'

"I've always trusted you, Mulder. And look where it got me. Look at me! I have no life. I have nothing to look at. I was seriously ill not so long ago. I thought I was going to die. I had a daughter which I lost, I had a sister who is dead. Everything has changed my perspective on things. I need to have this place on my own, can't you see that?'

"Scully .. there are other ways to go about this. Take your time, use whatever you need. I'll leave you alone if that is what you want, but look around you. You do not belong here. You're locking yourself up, to what? What is the purpose of this all? What are you going to do in Boston? What work do you want to do?'

She sighed. "I don't know, Mulder. I'll have to find it out. On my own."

He turned away from her, as if he was hurt. "I have to go," he said.

'No." She waved to the window. "The storm is too dangerous. They warned people to stay in tonight. I want you to stay the night. There are 2 bedrooms available. You can leave in the morning."

"Thanks. To be honest, I don't feel too well either. My stomach's working up."

Scully looked at him carefully. "Let me take a look."

"No, it's nothing," he said. "But thanks for your concern. I'll be fine."

Mulder walked the short distance to his parked car and got out his overnight bag and the files he had taken with him.

As they walked up the stairs, he watched as Scully went in the bathroom. Without hesitation he put the files on her night table and closed the door again. He knew he wouldn't be able to sleep, and as he prepared for the night, he heard her close her door. Read the files, Scully, he begged. Read them, and understand. He really felt lousy. What in the world had Lily put in his food? Dressed in a jeans and shirt he fell asleep on top of the bed.

Scully hesitated long and hard before she picked up the first file and started reading. The uneasiness grew as she went through the information regarding Caitlin's death. She had died after she had convinced her fiancé to leave the house. Mulder had tried to convince her to leave. What would happen to him?

She remembered Mulder's words :'30 people have died here. You're in danger if you stay here." She didn't feel welcome anymore. Mulder, she thought before she fell asleep, you're in danger. I shouldn't have let you stay the night here.

A door slammed. Mulder opened his eyes. The dreams he had were shattered. He looked up. There was someone in the room!

'Who's there?' He reached for his gun on the dresser. A sense of pain shot through his stomach and body. He cramped up.

A whispering sound of voices surrounded him. They seemed to be everywhere - inside of him, dragging him to the edge of sanity. He dropped the gun to the floor. He didn't understand what was happening. It was as if something had taken control over him. He couldn't move, yet his feet moved.

Go to the balcony, the voices said. You are a menace to her. She needs to stay here, but you're stopping her. Go off the balcony. Your father is dead, he wants you to die too.

"No," Mulder said out loud. "I won't!'

You have to ... You have no choice. You are not a happy man. Jump, and you'll be free. You will know what has happened to your sister. Jump and you'll know it all.

Samantha ... he thought. How did they know? But he understood. They knew everything.

Mulder felt himself get on his feet and walk slowly out of the room. Was this how it was for Caitlin? Did she feel the same force drag her to this balcony?

Did she see her parents before she died?

Mulder realized he didn't fear death. He wouldn't even mind dying like this. Everything to stop the pain that had now infested his entire system. He felt like he was going to die.

"No!' The word was pushed out of his throat. He struggled with himself yet he couldn't prevent himself from being drawn to the balcony. He climbed on top of it, looking down at the marble floor.

So this is how I'm going to die, he thought. Now it's finally come to this end.

She heard him stumble through the room and fought the sense of sleep that had taken over. She felt like she was drugged, as she opened the door and saw her partner climb up the balcony.

"Mulder!' He heard his partner's voice behind him. "Mulder, listen to me. You don't want to do this. Mulder, get down from there."

He seemed to awaken his strange dream, yet at the same time the voices continued to shout to him. As he tried to pull himself back, something hard pushed him in the side. He lost his grip. "Scully!' She seemed to shout his name at the same time. Somehow her hands grabbed his right wrist. He felt the pain as all the might in her grip clamped on to him. 'Hang on, Mulder," she said, but her body and strength could not hold him.

"I can't hold on .." Her voice sounded desperate as she lost grip. Somehow Mulder was able to grab hold of the wood, and pulled himself up. Scully's hands helped him up. Then, as his feet reached steady ground, the voices became louder and harder. They shouted at him now.

He pushed his hands against his ears. "Leave me alone!' he shouted just as loud as they had shouted. 'Mulder ..!' Scully's face was in front of him but he didn't see her. He pushed her away as he tried to get control over himself.

'Leave me alone!' Now his hands were on her shoulders.

'Mulder .." she repeated. "Mulder, it's me. It's Scully." As she touched his face, she realized something was terribly wrong. He had a fever. His eyes were unnaturally large. There were bruises on his arms.

Somehow she got him to relax. His body now seemed to calm down but ready to collapse, as if tired of the struggle against himself. His chest had relaxed, his hands didn't move anymore. His eyes were closed.

'Mulder," Scully said. "Do you hear me? It's me, Mulder."

He opened his unnaturally large eyes, unable to focus. She felt his pulse. His heart raced like crazy. 'Mulder, listen to me. Concentrate on my voice." He looked at her and nodded his head. "What's going on?' he asked. His throat seemed to close up, he coughed as Scully saw the blood in his mouth.

"My god," she said in disbelief. Her scientific brain seemed to search the answer for his symptoms. Then she suddenly realized it : he had been given poison.

His eyelids closed again. Scully got up and ran to the bedroom to grab her cell phone. As she dialed 911, she couldn't get through. The storm was at its highest.

As she came back on the gallery, Mulder opened his eyes again and looked at her feverishly. "Scully, what's happening to me?'

Calmly she stroked the hair out of his face. "You're going to be fine, Mulder. There's something wrong, You're very sick. We need to get you to a hospital, but you're going to be fine."

"The faces -'

"What faces?'

"Can't you see them, Scully? They're everywhere! Behind you, they're looking at you. Can't you hear the music they are playing?'

"No, Mulder. Be calm, relax. It's a dream. The fever. You're going to be fine, I promise."

"No .. no. I'm not dreaming, Scully. They're in me, you have to stop them. Stop them from talking to me! I can't stand the noise."

His hands again firmly tried to push her away, but she stopped him by holding them against her body. "Mulder, you have to listen to me. You have to calm down. Try not to move, whatever is in your system will spread faster if you move. I think you're poisoned, Mulder."

More bruises on his throat, and arms. He was bleeding from the inside.

"Where's the pain, Mulder?'

"My stomach," he said. "I can't -'

He closed his eyes. "Mulder!' she said, softly slapping his face. "You have to stay awake."

He looked at her and repeated :'I can't."

A soft voice besides Scully. "Miss Scully?'

'Lily?' Scully startled by the sudden appearance of the young woman who had somehow managed to get in the house, and up the stairs without the FBI-agent to notice. "Lily, what are you doing here? How did you get in?'

"I couldn't make it home," she said. "The storm was too forceful. I barely managed to get back here. I found the door open, and I came back ... I came back to see .. him. He tried to kill himself, didn't he?'

"No. I think he's poisoned. I need to call an ambulance. We have to get him to a hospital."

"You won't get through in this storm. Let me help you get him on the bed."

"No, he needs to be in a hospital. He won't make it otherwise. There's nothing I can do for him."

"No, miss Scully." Lily's hand was on her shoulder as her fierce eyes seemed to pierce Scully's. "You need to stay here, don't you? You cannot bring him to a hospital, because he's already dead. Bring him to the bed."

Scully got up and said hesitant :'I think you're right. Let's get him to the bed."

"Yes." Lily's strength seemed to work for the both of them. "Let's get him into the bed."

As the two of them helped Mulder on his feet and helped him into the bedroom, Lily's eyes rested on Scully's face. "You cannot help him now," she said. "We all have to make sacrifices, and he is one of them. You know what's more important for you, don't you?'

Lily's monotone voice worked as a trance on Scully. "What is most important for me?'

"This place. You need to stay here to be happy. If you don't stay here you will never be happy. He is the only thing that stops you from being happy here."

"He doesn't like this house."

"He doesn't understand the meaning of it. If he dies - whén he dies - you'll be happy." Scully looked down on Mulder's restless body.

"He's seeing those who were here before," Lily said. "The ones who chose to sacrifice their lives to be with you now. He is standing in the way, just like Caitlin was."

"What happened to Caitlin?'

"They pushed her. She had to go. She was given the same he has been given. He should have jumped off the balcony too. But you stopped him. Now he will die a slow death."

"He needs to get to a hospital," Scully repeated. "I cannot do anything for him here."

'No, he doesn't."

"The coffee," Scully said. "The dinner. What did you put in it?'

"It doesn't matter."

"No, it doés matter! He's my partner - my friend. I can't let him die."

Lily grabbed Scully's arm. "He's already dead."

"No!' Scully freed herself from Lily's touch. "What did you give him?'

"Poison. Rat poison actually. I bought it in the store. Said I needed it to kill the rats in the stables. But he was the rat, and now he's dead. Those bruises - the blood in his mouth - he's bleeding to death from the inside, and there's nothing you can do about it."

"No. No." Scully grabbed Mulder's arm. "He's not dead yet. He still has a chance, but you have to help me." Lily shook her head. 'If he dies, I will néver come back here, I swear. That's what you want, isn't it? That I stay here. If he dies, I'm leaving for good. If he lives, I'm coming back. If he dies, I will go to jail, just like Tom Wilcox went to the psychiatric ward. They will accuse me of killing him, and lock me up. The same thing happening all over again. Caitlin died, Tom got locked up. If Mulder dies, I'm going to go to jail. Is that what you want, Lily?'

Lily seemed to be hesitant for a few moments before she said :'I don't want you to go to jail. You need to stay here."

"Then help me! We have to get him out of here." Lily stood there for a few moments, as if she had to weigh the pro's and contra's of her actions. Scully saw her slow movements. The daze that had surrounded Scully seemed to fade slowly. Her passion for the house faded as she watched her partner lie on the bed.

"All right," Lily said. "I'll help you."

"Okay .." Scully sighed. "Lily, I need your help to get him to my car. We need to get him to the hospital immediately, okay? Will you do that, Lily?'

"Yes .." the woman said.

Scully bend over her partner. "Mulder," she said, softly slapping his face. 'Mulder, wake up." Mulder opened his eyes.

'Mulder, we need to get you to the hospital. You have to get up, Mulder."

"I can't .."

"You have to!'

Firmly she grabbed him under his arm, and pulled him up. Lily grabbed his other arm. Somehow they managed to get him up.

"Now slowly walk down the stairs with us, Mulder," Scully said. "Step by step, okay?' Slowly they walked downstairs, taking all the time they needed. She saw her partner's eyes close regularly, but every time managed to get him awake again. As in a trance Lily was holding his right arm. Wind blew next to her. Suddenly the front door opened with a bang. Scully startled as the strong storm seemed to pull her legs from under her. Mulder fell forward.

'Mulder!' She grabbed him again, pulling him up again. As they got him to the door, Scully realized her car was parked in the garage behind the house. "Damn it," she said out loud. "I have to get the car first. His car .. where are the keys. Mulder, where did you leave the keys?' He wasn't able to respond.

Carefully Scully sat her partner down, and put her hand underneath his chin. 'Mulder," she said. "I have to get the car. Stay awake, you hear?'

He nodded his head as the voices started speaking to him again. He closed his eyes for a moment, somehow recapturing the first images he had seen not so long ago, when he had first entered this house. The dancing couples. The soft music that began cheerfully but then turned into something dangerous. The clock chimed. He opened his eyes again to his partner's voice. "I'm fine," he said. 'Go get the car."

Scully lifted herself up. "Lily, you stay here with him. And try to reach 911 again. Here's my cell phone. Dial the number and push that button." Lily nodded and watched her leave the house. Then Lily's hand dropped the cell phone to the ground, and Lily's face turned towards the sick FBI-agent watching her. As she bent over him, she said :'Whatever she does, it's too late for you. You're going to die, Fox Mulder, because you couldn't leave things as they were.

You shouldn't have tried to get her away from here." Mulder stared back at her. "What did you put in my food, Lily?' Mulder asked.

"Did you poison it all? Did you poison her too?'

Lily said nothing.

The cold wind seemed to hold Scully back as she made her way to the garage. She knew time was running out for her partner. She didn't know what Lily had put in her partner's coffee. She just knew it was responsible for everything that had happened her. She wished she had never seen this damned house!

It seemed to take forever before she reached the garage. As she tried to open the gate, it didn't cooperate. "Damn it!' she shouted again. The gate opened.

She got in her car and tried to start the engine. It failed on her. This can't be happening, Scully thought. This is a freaking nightmare. The car finally started. Careless Scully left the garage and drove to the front door. As she got there, she saw something in Lily's hand, as she bent over her partner's motionless body.

'Mulder!' Scully's scream echoed through the darkness.

Mulder knew it was not a poisoned dream when he saw the images around him.

'Who are you?' he said. Whispering voices spoke amongst each other. He even recognized some of them from the pictures in the old newspaper. "Why me?' he said, as he looked at Lily. "She wouldn't come with me, you shouldn't have killed me."

"It's been a long time since anyone lived here," Lily said. "Now that the house has a new owner, we need her and those who come after her to stay here for good.

They said it was a mistake to kill Caitlin. Tom never should have left his room that night. Everybody blamed him but he didn't do it. We, all of us, got punished for what we did. It's time to reclaim this house as ours."

"You all killed yourselves," Mulder sighed. "You gave up every right you had to this house when you did so."

"You don't understand," Lily replied. "We did it - all of us - to stay here forever. That's what we were told."

"All of us?' answered Mulder.

Lily looked down on him. "You must die. That's the only way she will stay. You must die."

The whispering voices became louder. They surrounded him. Mulder felt his feverish body go limp as he was pulled on the floor. Lily's right hand went to her left pocket as she got out a syringe filled with a white substance. "Don't be afraid, Fox Mulder," she said as she prepared to give him the injection.

'You'll be one of us soon, and then you will be with her forever."

The voices seemed to chant. He tried to fight her off, but the invisible hands held him. "Scully ..." Her name was the last thing he said before he lost the battle against darkness.

"No!' Scully's hand hit the syringe out of Lily's fingers. It fell on the floor and broke. The fluid spilled all over the marble floor. "What did you do to him?!' Scully's experienced hands touched her partner's throat. He was still breathing.

Lily sat numb on the floor. Scully picked up her cell phone. The battery lay somewhere else. Impatiently she clicked it in again and dialed the emergency number. Again she could not get through. The motor of the car was still running. "For goodness sake," Scully shouted towards Lily. "You don't want to be a murderer! Help me!'

Lily stood up and looked at Scully. "We're losing you," she said softly. 'Aren't we?'

"I don't know what you're talking about. Help me, Lily." Lily turned around and walked up the stairs. The clock chimed as she reached the balcony. There she stood numb.

Scully knew she couldn't get Mulder in the car by herself. She tried to awaken him. At long last he opened his eyes again.

'No .." His hands still fought the invisible forces that had held him.

'Mulder, it's me. You're save. But you have to help me, Mulder. I can't get you out of this on my own." 'We won't make it," he said. "They'll kill you too. You've got to get me out of this house. They'll get back at you too."

"Mulder, listen to me. You've been poisoned. Whatever you are experiencing or seeing was caused by the poison you were given. It's all a dream, Mulder. A nightmare. You have to work with me here."

Mulder let himself be pulled up by his partner. His legs shook as he grabbed the car door. "I'm not feeling too good here, Scully," he sighed. "I guess you might have been right this time. I should have minded my own business."

Scully had left the car door open, but the wind closed it. As she opened it again, Mulder looked over his shoulder. Scully had shut the front door tight, but through the windows he could see Lily on the balcony. She smiled at him faintly. There was something in her smile. It's as if she knew something they didn't. Scully opened the backdoor and helped her partner in. "Come on, Mulder," she said. "You have to lie down in the back and stay still. You mustn't move. The more you move, the more the poison will find its way through your body. We don't have much time. I don't know how much she gave you."

"Scully..." He silenced her by putting his hand on her face. "Just save my life, will you." Despite everything she smiled nervously. As she closed the backdoor Mulder closed his eyes and slipped away again. Caitlin, he thought before he passed out. Now I know what you went through.

The road was completely dark. None of the lights were working. Of all the things that already went wrong, Scully thought. How the hell am I going to find the hospital? Over and over she tried her cell phone. It simply didn't work. She drove fast, regularly taking a look in the back. All of a sudden she stopped. He wasn't breathing! 'Damn it, Mulder!' She got out, opened the backdoor and checked his pulse. He was breathing. She sighed with relief. Again she got in, driving even faster now. Something hit the front of the car. The steering wheel slipped out of Scully's hands. Impatiently she tried to get control of the car again. She drove over something. She didn't have the time to stop and see it. In the car lights faces seemed to appear. They went through the window. Scully screamed, then held her breath, and laughed nervously. "Jesus," she said. 'This night is getting to me."

Then flashlights came towards. A car seemed to swirl off the road, towards her.

Suddenly Scully realized she was the one driving on the wrong side of the road.

At the last moment she turned the steering wheel fast. The car lost its balance on the road and landed in a ditch. Scully felt the airbag open and save her from hitting her head. The car stopped abruptly.

The other car stopped too. Then Scully saw it - the flashlights on top of it, out of order due to the shock of the crash. Scully turned towards Mulder. He had fallen off the seat. He was unconscious.

'What the hell were you doing, lady?' A man in a police uniform appeared and opened her car door. Scully grabbed her badge and held it up to him. "I'm Agent Scully with the Bureau," she shouted against the noise of the storm. "My partner has been poisoned. We need to get him to the hospital right away. " 'Poisoned?' The cop said with disbelief, as if he couldn't believe that in his town something like this could happen.

"It's a long story," Scully said. "We don't have much time. Mulder's dying!'

Over the radio the cop whose car she almost hit called the local authorities and hospital in Quononchontaug and informed them they were bringing Mulder in. The transfer of Mulder's body to the police car didn't take too long. Scully sat next to him in the back of the car as the cop drove fast to the hospital. In the meantime she told the entire story.

"Lily Marsh?' The cop said. "That is impossible."

"Believe me, it was her," Scully said firmly. "As soon as I know Mulder is all right, I'm going after her. She's probably long gone by now."

"Somehow I doubt that," Quinn Brown, the cop said.

Scully wanted to ask him what he meant with that remark, but the car stopped at the emergency exit of the hospital. Within a few moments Mulder was transferred to a stretcher and brought inside. Scully stayed in the room as they examined him, and started the treatment for poisoning, to empty his stomach. She knew the chances he would make it were extremely slim. Within a few hours of digesting, he had already suffered internal bleedings.

'Prepare the OR," someone said. "We're losing him."

Scully followed them as they brought her partner into the operating theater but was stopped at the door. Through the glass she watched as they continued saving his life.

A couple of hours later Scully had fallen asleep in a couch outside the small ER-area of the Quononchontaug-hospital. She had called Skinner and had told him the whole story. He promised to get the first plane in the morning, and would arrange for transfer of Mulder to a Washington-hospital. Then she called Mrs. Mulder, who promised to come as soon as she could. After that, all she could do was wait.

Then the OR-doctor woke her up, and told her Mulder was in luck. Except for a bleeding stomach, he would be fine. The digestion of the rat poison had not been complete; he would be a very sick man for a couple of days to come, but everything looked positive.

Scully followed the doctor to the ICU and looked down at her partner who had just been transferred from the recovery-room. She was shocked to see how pale he looked. Only now the shock and realization of his near-death seemed to affect her, and as she sat down on a chair near the bed, touching his hand, she felt tears roll down her face.

Her dream had been shattered. She knew now she would never live here in peace.

As she fell asleep, she dreamt.

She was back in the house, standing on the balcony. She turned towards the clock. The woodwork had just been polished. Downstairs people in uniforms looked up at her. "The guests have arrived, milady," the butler said as he opened the large front door. As he opened the door, the music started to play. She looked at herself in the mirror. She was dressed in a long, silk dress. Her hair was longer. Her face was not hers.

People came up the stairs. A man grabbed her hand and kissed it. She smiled at him. "Ready to party, David?' she heard herself say.

'As always, my beloved Sophia." As they walked down the stairs, and into the pantry covered with plants, the music became louder. There were several people now. The music was cheerful, the crowd's laughter filled the house.

Then the music changed. It became more moody. The people, 30, maybe 40 of them, turned towards David who had taken place on the steps. "It is time to cherish the moments of our lives," he said. "And to thank the one who made it possible for us. Let's hail him, for this is our last day on this Earth, to take place in his kingdom."

The voices became monotone as they said hail to the one they admired. David looked at the bottles of wine. "This is our final drink," he said, as he poured himself another glass.

He grabbed her hand and pulled her up the stairs. She didn't know if she wanted to go with him like that. She was afraid.

He turned towards her, and kissed her on the mouth. "I know you are," he said as if he had read her mind. "But we shall go, as we have promised him when he gave us this house. And the sacrifice of our lives is what we are deemed to give, is it not?'

He helped her up the balcony. The world seemed so small below her, even though it wasn't even that high. The wine made her dizzy. "No, no .." she said as she wanted to crawl back to safety.

"Yes!' He didn't give her the choice of hesitation as his hand pulled her over the edge. She screamed. Her scream died before she hit the marble floor. Her blood spilled all over that marble floor. She had sacrificed her life for her religion.

A hand touched her shoulder. "No!' She woke up from her own scream.

Scully tried to pull herself away from it, until she realized it was Quinn, holding a file in his other hand. "God, you startled me," she said.

"So it seems," he responded. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to do that."

Her eyes immediately sought out Mulder. He was breathing steadily.

"Your partner is going to be okay," Quinn Brown said. "The doctor said he's strong."

" I know he is," Scully smiled faintly. "Tell me, did you find Lily Marsh?'

Quinn took another chair. "That's what I wanted to talk to you about. The person who poisoned agent Mulder used a fake name. Lily Marsh, the real Lily Marsh, died in 1934 during a mass suicide in your house. She threw herself from the balcony, along with a couple of others after taking a massive amount of poison. This person, whoever she was, probably got the idea for the poison from that old story."

"But who was she then?' Scully said with disbelief. "I didn't check her credentials. I was glad just to find someone who would take on the care for the house."

Quinn opened his file and took out an old picture of a young woman in her late '20's. "This was Lily Marsh."

Scully held her breath as she stared at the picture of the woman who had been in her house.

"That's also the woman who claimed she was Lily Marsh," she responded. "What kind of a sick joke is this?'

"Are you saying this is the woman that was in your house?' Quinn asked.

"Yes. They have to be related somehow. It might explain a lot of course. This is the one you have to find."

"We'll find her." Quinn Brown left her questioning.

Mrs. Mulder arrived at approximately the same time as AD Skinner did. Both of them were shocked to see Mulder in this state, and as Mrs. Mulder sat down, she said furiously :'Who did this?'

'We have a suspect, ma'am," Brown said. "We will find her."

Skinner took Scully's arm and pulled her aside. "What has been going on, Scully ?' he said. "I received a memo this morning that you requested a transfer. You left a message last night, they said. Why?'

"It's a long story, sir," she said. "But I have changed my mind. Now I have to go back to the house, and find out what happened."

"I'm coming with you," he said. "I want to get to the bottom of this."

Skinner drove Scully back to place where she had abandoned the car that night. The abandoned Ford was still on the side of the road where she had left it the previous night. It was only now that she saw what damage the storm had caused. The things she had hit during the night were probably parts of trees. They were all over the road.

Scully had tried to convince Skinner not to join her. Somehow she wanted to do this on her own. She knew however he wouldn't listen to her and go come along anyhow. Somehow it comforted her knowing she wouldn't have to go back there on her own. Last night's experiences did leave her in shock. The real shock however came as she drove up the house. It was on fire!

'Jesus Christ," she heard Skinner say as he made the call on his cell phone for help.

Scully realized it was too late to try and save anything. The house was burning down fast. Somehow she knew it could not be saved.

She was right. By the time the fire department arrived, the entire top floors had burnt down. When they gained control over the flames, everything had been burnt down ... except for the staircase and a few pillars who actually still carried parts of the balcony. The clock stood there like a beacon of bad news. Quinn Brown arrived with the fire department, and helped to save what could be saved. "I'm sorry," he said. "I hope you had a good insurance on the place."

Scully didn't say anything. For the first time in her life, for a while, she had the feeling she belonged somewhere. Now she knew it had been false hopes. This house would never had been hers. It had kept too many secrets from her.

As she drove back to the hospital with Skinner behind her, she suddenly realized the fake Lily Marsh might have died in the flames.

Mulder opened his eyes in the late afternoon.

'Welcome back, sleeping beauty," Scully smiled as she got out of her chair.

"How long have I been out?'

'A while." She took his pulse. "But you're okay now. Skinner is here, and so is your mom. They're both outside, your mother was quite upset."

"What happened?'

"I don't know." She sat down again and paused. "The house is gone, Mulder. It burnt down early this morning."

He kept silent for a while. Then he said :'I'm sorry. But I'm glad too. I know what I saw and experienced. I know that woman tried to kill me, but it wasn't the poison she had given me. I saw things, Scully."

Scully looked at him firmly. "So did I. I cannot explain it, nor do I have the wish to do so. But the house is gone. The police think it's foul play, but they're still investigating. The insurance company will pay me back, I won't lose anything. But ..." Her voice stopped. "It was my house."

Mulder touched her hand. "Come back to Washington with me, Scully. Please."

She didn't say anything.

As they left him alone to fetch something to eat, the dreams returned. The voices gathered in the room. Mulder opened his eyes. "No," he said out loud. 'You're not real, so stop bothering me."

A face attached to a slim body seemed to step out of the shadows of the room and came forward. It was Lily.

'Leave me alone," he said. "Haven't I suffered enough?'

"You know we're real," her voice said. "The house is gone now, but there will be another one, and we will return to it. Take her with you. She doesn't belong here now."

"Why did you want her in the first place? She didn't belong there."

"We loved her."

"You just wanted someone to be in that house, is that it?' Mulder said. "Did you get lonely?' No answer came as the bodies faded and left him alone.

When she returned that night, he told her what he had seen.

'It wasn't a dream, Scully," Mulder said firmly. "There wàs something in that house, I'm sure of it. We have to go back there. We have to find out what happened with it."

"Mulder, the house burnt down?' Scully said patiently. "It's completely gone."

"But the spot is still there. She said they would be coming back when a new house was being build. We have to get experts in on it, Scully. We have to find out what is out there."

"Mulder, listen to me!' Scully grabbed his hand firmly. "It's over. There's nothing more we can do about it. I want to forget about it."

"Scully, please."

"You didn't leave me to make my own decisions, and you were right. There was something wrong with the house, but it wasn't the place, it was what happened in the house. If Lily had murdered you, I wouldn't have had another day in my life with complete peace because I dragged you there, Mulder. But it was my mistake to make, and I made it. Now I want to forget. So let's go home. I want to forget this place, and forget I ever had the dream of a family. That is not going to happen now. I just want to go home. I'm going to destroy what remains of that house, and sell the ground. I don't want to be here anymore. You were right, Mulder. It was killing us."

He grabbed her hand and kissed it. She got out of her chair, and bent over as she kissed his forehead. Her lips were soft and smooth. Her eyes were close to his, as she said :'I want to go home."

Mulder looked into her eyes and knew she had to go. Giving in, he said :'Let's go home then."

As they prepared to transfer him to the Washington hospital, she sat next to him in the ambulance. He looked at her. They had been silent for quite some time. 'You know it wasn't a dream, don't you?' He said softly. "That first time in the house - when I saw the people and heard the voices. I wasn't poisoned then.

Nor was I when I saw Lily in the hospital. It wasn't a dream."

She looked at him. "I think we both must be going crazy, Mulder. How else could I have spoken to and touched a woman who has been dead for 60 years? How else could I have dreamt what I saw of that mass suicide? And how else could I have been taken in so easily by the influence of this place? My mind - my scientific mind - tells me there must be an explanation for all of this, but my heart tells me I need to believe what I saw."

He knew that feeling of wanting to believe. He had sacrificed everything else for it, except for her. "It takes time, Scully," he said. "But you'll get there."

With him, Scully thought. With him ...


Epilogue

"Stop the car!'

"What?' Henry pushed the breaks in an impulse as his girlfriend opened the car door and ran out, not even waiting for the car to stop. "What the hell is the matter with you, Lois?' he shouted as he went after her.

"This place - this is just what we need!' she yelled. "We have to buy this piece of land, Henry!'

Henry looked at the deserted site where there was nothing now, except for a spot, just perfect enough to build a new house.

"I need to have this place," Lois said. "I can just picture a house here ..."

The End

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