Title: The Lost Boy
Summary: Scully plans a solitary weekend. She uncovers a ghost and learns that some mysteries can't be resolved alone.
A Friday afternoon of case clean up has strewn its debris across Scully's desk, onto her chair and balances precariously on the waste basket, which is where she'd like to tip it. At 3:00 pm, she begins to reassemble the paperwork into something that can be tagged and filed without damaging her meticulous reputation.
"Packing it in already, Scully?" Mulder's side of the cramped office reveals nothing meticulous about him. Never has.
"Yes, Mulder. I'm going up to the country this weekend. It's a three hour drive and I want to get a jump on the traffic." She tidies faster, as he processes this information. <Here it comes...>
"So, who's the lucky guy, Scully? Ryan, that new technician in the lab? I know," he says, rising from his chair, finger pointed at her. Mulder makes a mental note of his posture and reels himself back in. He rests his ass against his desk and crosses his arms. "It's that agent we worked with last week, the college linebacker. I saw you undressing him with your eyes. What was his name?"
"You can stop now, Mulder. I'm going alone." <No Mulder, please don't invite yourself along. I need some space now. You're getting way too close.>
"Really? I have no plans for this weekend. Maybe I could join you?"
"Mulder, this weekend is the height of fall colour. You'd never get a room." <There.>
"Okay. So where are you going?"
"Lake Pointe Inn on Deep Creek Lake. There's a hardwood forest that goes up onto the Appalachian ridge. It's a spectacular view. I'm really looking forward to it."
"That's great, Scully. Have a good time." His tone is chipper, but his shoulders sag.
Satisfied that she has successfully assumed an air of cheerful determination, Scully finishes tidying her desk. She moves to put on her coat. He reaches it first, always does, even though the rack is on her side of the room. As he holds her coat open for her, he leans in and murmurs intimately, "Will you be alright?" His warm breath tickles her earlobe, setting off tremors along her skin. He stifles the urge to pull her hair out from under her collar. That would be going too far. It's a thin line and he has mastered the art of walking this tightrope. He captures a whiff of her scent.
"I've got my cel phone, Mulder." She turns around, prepared to shoot him a 'back off' look, but looking into his face, she remembers how long a weekend can feel. She softens her expression, flashing her blue eyes at him, and says, "Call me." Then she grabs her laptop and is gone.
After battling traffic, Scully arrives at the Inn near dusk. She has dinner, then settles herself in her room and, thinking to get an early start, goes to bed.
In the still, dark night, someone enters the room. He notices a petite figure lying curled in the bed. The warmth rising from her is filled with a scent that reminds him of homemade strawberry jam. He drifts silently towards her. Hovering over her sleeping face, he hears her soft breathing. Her skin, smooth like the satin of a bed quilt, opaline, is dusted with freckles barely darker than blush. He is *so* alone. Mama. He craves her warmth. Drawing near, he silently descends to a spot beside her on the bed. He spoons into her nest.
After the rushing tumble into sleep, the dream begins. Scully hears voices arguing. "This isn't done right, again! You're not paying attention! You don't care about how I want things done around here. You're too busy babying that kid. It's always Harry, Harry, Harry. Look at him. Skinny as a rail post. Can't hardly drag his boots around. How's he ever gonna be any help to me? Better to get rid of him and start over."
"He helps me."
"Hunh. Canning, when he oughta be baling hay." The man wheels around and spies Harry standing on a chair, stirring a spoon in a large, simmering pot. One--two strides and he is across the room, backhanding the boy onto the floor.
"Useless. Stupid pig. Not even as good as a pig." He kicks at the prone figure.
The woman goes to the boy and tries to cover his body with hers. The man grabs her arm roughly and yanks her away, tossing her against the counter.
The boy closes his eyes.
Suddenly, a loud noise, like the roar of a horrible beast, startles Scully from her sleep. Is there a lion in the room? Its mouth is wide; a roar, a flash of white fire. Her eyes are open. There, at the foot of the bed; a fading white light.
"Hello?" she calls out, into the dark. She reaches for her gun. "Who's there?" She hears footsteps tiptoe like a child sleepwalking in the night. <Is this a waking dream?>
She turns on the light. There is no sign of anyone. She picks up her phone and dials.
"Miss me already?" He sounds wide awake. <Does he ever sleep?>
"Mulder, someone was in my room," she whispers nervously.
"Scully, are you okay? Is he still there?"
She scans the room trying to remember what she saw, what she is looking for. "I'm alone."
"What happened, Scully?"
"I'm not sure." Her voice is hesitant, shaky. She's fully awake now and, realizing that she has called Mulder, wonders why.
"*Was* someone there?" Scully turns off the bedside light, cel phone pressed to her ear.
"I'm fine now, Mulder and I'm all alone." Her words become slow and throaty as she settles back against her pillow. <Talk to me, Mulder.>
He recognizes the change in her voice and knows what she's asking for now. She wants one of their midnight telephone teases, where he acts the seducer and she, the forbidden fruit. <Does this make her happy? Is this all we can have? I can't keep doing this, I'll go crazy.>
He begins. "So, you're alone now. Scully, how much did you have to drink tonight? I've warned you about picking up businessmen in bars." She hears his rich, very masculine, teasing inflection. "Did he just get up and leave you, not even spend the night? Do you want me to come up there and beat him up?"
"Mulder. There was no man. I think it was a boy." <The dream!> It all comes back to her. She sits up in the bed.
Scully has thrown him a curve. "A boy? Oooh, Scully. Now we're talking state laws. You aren't planning to take this kid across any borders are you? That could make it a federal offense." His supposed concern is betrayed by an escaping snicker.
"Not tonight, Mulder. I had a bad dream. I'm going back to sleep now."
At the mention of a 'bad dream', his voice fills with true concern. "A dream, Scully? You gonna be okay? Want me to come up and meet you for breakfast?" <Concerned, but not begging.>
She accepts her defeat graciously. "Sure, Mulder. Come for breakfast."
"Okay, Scully. Try to get some sleep." <Thanks.>
"There *was* someone walking through my room, Mulder. I'll see you at breakfast."
She hangs up the phone and drifts into restless sleep.
A few hours later, there is a knock on her door. She reaches for her gun. "Who is it?"
"It's me." She is unlocking the door as he speaks. Mulder enters the room, taking in the gun.
"Glad to see you're unwinding. So, where's your young friend this morning?"
"Don't start, Mulder. There was no one. I was having a dream and I heard a noise, that's all. It could have been a mouse or a squirrel in the walls."
"You sounded convinced that there was someone here." He studies her face. "Do you want to tell me about the dream?"
"There's nothing to tell really. No known monsters. Just a lot of yelling, a lion roared and then a flash of light. That's it."
"Sounds like a regular three ring circus. You didn't happen to be wearing one of those skimpy, sequined costumes in this dream, did you? Maybe hanging by your teeth under the big top?" The corners of his mouth turn up. <Please, don't let me go too far today.>
<It really is an infectious smile.> "Mulder!" A laugh escapes her lips. She shakes her head, red curls dancing.
"I brought my hiking boots, Scully. Any chance I could join you in the woods?"
<Complete defeat. Why am I so relieved?>
After breakfast, they head down towards Deep Creek Lake. People stroll leisurely along a path that circumnavigates the lake. Mulder and Scully choose a trail that will take them away from everyone and up into the hills.
The air is crisp, not yet dagger-across-the-windpipe fresh, but biting. There is thick dew on the grass. A slight breeze blows.
They follow a rocky path where the summer's well-trod mud has turned to stone.
"I'm sorry if I've intruded on your weekend, Scully. This is nice, though. Just the two of us, up here together. Why haven't we done anything like this before?"
<Because you've never asked me, Mulder. Because this is what lovers do.>
The question hanging in the air, they stop briefly to exchange glances. Their eyes have always been the means of their most intimate communication.
As they approach the ridge, the path narrows and steepens. Scully takes the lead and sets the pace until they come to a wall of rock and tree roots. She nods for him to go ahead. Turning, he offers his hand up and she takes its while he levers her to the top.
They walk among the tarnished maples and oaks.
"Look at this." Mulder trots off the path into the dense forest.
"How old do you think this one is?" he asks, his hands are on the broad trunk of an old oak.
"Come here." He stretches his long, sweatered arms around the tree. "Let's see if we can touch."
She moves to hug the other side of the majestic, old growth. One hand reaches his finger tips, the other lays flat against the gnarled bark. He peers around the tree, a mischievous grin on his face. Anticipating him, she takes off. He chases. She runs. He catches up and passes her, then runs on, hiding behind a tree.
She catches a movement and sneaks around to surprise him. "Gotcha!"
Her hands come out, fingers spread, to tickle his ribs. He laughs and grabs her wrists, pinning her. Again their eyes reach for unsaid words. His hand comes up to caress her cheek. Lowering her lids, she leans into his warmth for a moment, then, turning, pulls them back to the path.
They come to a point along the ridge where they can look down at the lake and across at all the autumn trees. There is an old log bench. They sit.
The edge of the ridge is unprotected. There are a few boulders big enough for a person to sit on and some small logs. The sun is high in the sky, offering its diminished warmth in this late season.
"Look, there on the rock." Scully points towards the edge. A small green snake suns itself in a quiet warm spot.
"It reminds me of something." She hesitates.
"When I was growing up, sometimes in the summer, we would visit my mother's great aunt who had a farm. She was very old and after lunch she made us wait two hours before going swimming. To pass that time I would take an old bike from the barn and ride up and down the country back roads.
"There was a certain field I would pass every day at the same time." She stops, unable to take back the words, not knowing whether to continue. <If I give him this, what then?>
"What happened, Scully?" He is looking hard at her now, flattered, pleased by this rare glimpse of Scully's childhood. She stares out over the ridge.
"Well, there was this field and in it was a fox. A red fox. Everyday I'd pass the same spot and everyday, there he was. I would stop riding and stand, straddling my bike, afraid to make any noise. He was so ..." She stops, tilting her head away from him slightly, and peers at his face through a red curtain of hair.
Her mouth is dry; her heart is pounding somewhere between her chest and her throat. "So magnificent. A completely wild thing, feral, territorial. Yet there he lay, sunning himself in the grass like some house cat.
"Anyway," she shakes her head, "I was just a kid. It was my first really wild animal. It wasn't a deer or a rabbit, it was..." She turns to face him. "Do you think I'll ever be able to call you by your name?"
He puts his arm around her and she moves in a little closer, head leaning back against his shoulder, her eyes directed at the view.
"Yes, I think there could be a time for that." He says this softly into her hair. His heart is swelling. <She loves me.>
They sit quietly enjoying the view. Finally, she reaches into her pocket and pulls out an apple. Withdrawing his arm, he reaches into his own pocket for his seeds. They eat in silence.
Soon they make their way back down the trail, shoulder to shoulder, their own intimate communion.
Back in her room, he sits on a chair and switches on the tv. "Uh, Scully. It's game three of the World Series. Do you mind if I watch a bit?"
"Go ahead, Mulder. I didn't sleep very well. I'm going to take a nap."
"Oh, Christ! Will you look at that?" Mulder shouts. "He was safe. How could they call him out? These umps are stacked against us." Mulder waves his arms at the tv screen. Scully draws a pillow over her ears. "Oh my god! He's going to bunt!"
The boy enters the room. There is a lot of noise. Roaring noise. A man is yelling at the noise. The boy hears the yelling. Mama is curled up on the bed. He hovers. The man--father--is yelling. Mama is cowering on the bed. He floats over her, settling into her safe warmth.
The dream begins. Dim arguing. It's coming from the kitchen.
"Where's my dinner?" Scully's interior eyes are open. She sees what the boy sees. She is the boy. Through an open door, a woman rushes across the room. A plate is laid upon the table. The father's fist pounds the table, causing the plate to bounce. A glass hits the floor, shattering. The boy backs away. He trips over his boots which have been left on the mat. He falls backwards against the wall. The man rushes forward, pulling his belt from its loops, and strikes. Blows rain across his face, shoulders, arms.
Scully screams in pain. Mulder rushes to her.
"Scully, I'm here. Wake up. Come on, open your eyes." He holds her.
"He hit me. He wouldn't stop. It hurt so much." Her hands cover her face, head. She is trying not to cry. Mulder's arms are around her, rocking, soothing. "Mulder, I saw what he saw. I was in him, the little boy."
Tapping begins within the wall. It trails off, fading from the room.
They rise from the bed and go out into the hall. The next room is a storage room. They enter. Following the sound, they push past supplies to the far corner. There is an old sewing machine on a table, its case intact. They remove the lid, revealing the faded yellow image of a gryphon, wings spread, mouth spewing white flame.
The tapping resumes. Scully pats the wall behind the sewing machine. She moves her hand high and low, not knowing what she's looking for. Suddenly, a piece of wall disappears under her hand.
Scully pulls back instantly, but she has felt it and Mulder has seen. "It's a hot spot, Scully; a portal."
There must be a clue, an explanation. Scully tips the sewing machine back on its stand, revealing a storage drawer for thread, needles and bobbins. Inside is a yellowed, newspaper clipping. Boy Dies in Squirrel Gun Accident.
"Mulder, this is the boy in my dream. I know what happened to him. There was no accident. It was suicide." Her hand is cold and she is shivering.
They take the newspaper clipping back to their room. Once inside Scully locks the door.
"How do you feel, Scully?"
"I'm fine, Mulder."
"Do you want to lie down?" She looks at the bed and the dream floods her memory.
"No, I'm fine. Let's go down to dinner."
They are seated at a table for two beside the terrace doors which are closed and double shuttered on this chilly, fall night. Scully sips her wine and looks out at the shadows of trees. A small breeze nudges the leaves clinging to the dark branches.
Mulder is watching her with a clinical detachment. He is waiting for her to begin.
"Well, explain it to me, Mulder."
"The noise, the wall. All of it." The pitch of her voice is rising.
"What did it feel like?" Mulder is calm, deliberate.
"It was weird. Not soft. Not empty. Just cold." Gazing beyond the room, she tries to will a leaf to fall. "Like putting your hand in a freezer." Her hand has risen to mime the experience, palm towards the night.
He watches her, using a great deal of his professional reserve not to grasp her hand, and offer her his warmth and protection.
"Was there tension?"
"I don't think so." Lowering her hand, she looks at him finally, expectantly.
"I think it was a portal into the other side." His voice is as calm as if he were talking about the weather.
"The other side of what?" She challenges him, derisively.
"If the boy you saw in your room last night was a ghost, then how did he get here? Possibly through some kind of gap, a portal." He tries to make this sound reasonable, knowing that he is about to get shot down--and by his best witness no less.
"Mulder, there was no ghost. Last night was a dream. I sat up and opened my eyes, but I was still dreaming."
Her certainty comforts him. Maybe she is not hurting. "And the noise?" The question comes gently from his lips.
"You want me to say poltergeist, don't you? Well I can't. Maybe it was the plumbing. Or like I said, an animal in the wall. It was a coincidence." She is unwavering. His scientific Scully. "Scully, tell me about the second dream."
She stares into her wine glass, twirling it, making the red liquid eddy from the rim downwards. The wind outside has increased. A blown bit of branch and leaf raps sharply against the window. Her focus shifts to the tree, whose leaves now struggle to hold their ground against the building blast.
"The dream." Scully looks at Mulder, now. His face is passive. "Was that a dream, Mulder? It felt like more. He was inside my head." Her voice starts to press, not louder, but more insistent. "I was that boy. His father was beating me with his belt and screaming."
She pauses, the painful memory creasing her brow. Her shoulders twitch. Her eyes return to the swirling wine. Slowly shaking her head, she continues. "I know how lost he felt. He had no hope left in his heart. His heart was almost as dead as his father's. Why would someone do that to a child?"
She speaks in a measured voice. "I understand why he killed himself. It was the only way to stop the pain. He knew it would never end. He would never be as strong as his father. Never beat him in a fight. It was the only way to defend himself."
Mulder's face is ashen. He has long since turned away from her to bear witness to the rising wind's assault on the momentary beauty of an autumn tree. He hears the words as Scully describes the pain, the betrayal of childhood; the father who should be the protector, but instead metes out cruel injustice to a small boy. <It was torture.> The words leap out, even as his mind's eye sees another small boy, his arm in a cast, contemplating a gun.
Scully's words pour out. Her eyes shift from the glass to Mulder. She speaks, but doesn't see the changes in his face.
"He was just a child. He didn't know that he wasn't ready to leave his mother yet. He needs to be near her, to be near *me* in that room. He just wants to feel her love again." Scully's voice trails off.
Mulder's eyes are clouded. The only visible tension is in his lips, which are tightly pursed as though to keep back a flood.
"Mulder, is that what it feels like?" She continues, the memory strong and present; the words unstoppable. "I held the gun to my head. The beast roared and then the pain disappeared."
Her face is knotted. Her eyes stare at some distant evil.
He turns to her, weary sadness in his words. "Scully, I never wanted this for you; to get inside someone's head. I know you're strong. But maybe not strong enough to be at the place where hope is lost. His was a lost childhood. He saved himself. We're not all that lucky."
<We, Mulder?> She has heard and finally looks and sees the bruised child in his eyes.
His flat voice intones, "Survivors of that kind of hell shelter their pain all their lives. Whether they grow up good or bad, they were all scared children once."
He stares out the window. The wind begins to dies down. It will soon be a still night, in which withering leaves cling to life in the shelter of a tree.
She understands whose ghosts these are. "Mulder, I'm here." She needs to find a way to reach him. She clinks her glass to his, the sound reviving him. He looks at her and at the glasses and tosses back his drink, bitter grapes a harsh nostrum, bringing him back to the present; to Scully.
His Scully. A brave child; a happy child. He looks at her and sees her concern for him, always for him.
"Talk to me, Mulder."
Her voice is soft, transmitting the pressure of tongue to lips and teeth as a caress to him.
"What else is there to say? You know what I know. You've been the beaten son, too."
They both stare past the window into the night. The last of the night's chill breeze sweeps away the clouds. The moon makes an appearance, an almost garish light in their shadow-ridden eyes.
His hand still holds the glass. She reaches across and strokes the back of his hand with the back of her own fingers.
<Don't.> This contact scares him. He looks at her, questioning.
"What do you want, Scully?"
"I'm scared of the ghosts, Mulder."
"Me too, Scully. I don't know how we can protect ourselves against them."
"We have each other, Mulder." She removes the glass from his palm and replaces it with her small hand.
He gazes intently at her. "You don't want this."
She looks into his pained eyes. "Yes, I do. This is exactly what I want."
Her tone is so sure, her voice so warm. He squeezes her hand and, holding it firm, leads her upstairs.
The moon draws a path across the room. Entering, they follow it to the window. Hand in hand, they face each other. The sombre light transforms them into ghostly figures.
"Scully, we can't do this." He is mesmerised by the way her fierce blue eyes have deepened to inky black.
"We can, Mulder." Her gaze holds him, while her hand smooths along his strong jaw.
"We shouldn't." He dips his head closer. Her scent is in his pores, heady and erotic; like a bowl of ripe fruit lying on the forest floor.
"We should." Her lips press his, drawing him into a kiss.
The boy hovers. He hears his mama softly humming. Father holds her close. They both laugh softly.
<Mama is happy. Father is happy.>
The boy drifts closer, kisses mama on the cheek, and vanishes.
Scully lifts her head up on one elbow. "He's gone."
Mulder fingers a wisp of hair fallen across her glowing cheek. He puts his hand on the base of her spine, pulling her still-joined body closer to his, and says, "Don't worry, he'll be back. Just give me a minute."
A wicked grin slips across her face. "Not that. The boy, he's gone."
No other words are spoken, except those that belong in the private country of lovers.
Thanks to Dr. Alyssa, my literary medic, whose daily rounds include checking Mulder for both pulse and brain wave activity in my Scullyworld.
Also, kudos to Amperage and Livengoo for writing "Oklahoma", a thoughtful, disturbing, necessary piece.
** Scully, when will you believe? Mulder, when will you shut up and give me a keychain? IMHO ** COG3 - SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT ARMY WOMEN WHO RUN WITH The CLONES
** Scully, when will you believe? Mulder, when will you shut up and give me a keychain? IMHO ** COG3 - SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT ARMY WOMEN WHO RUN WITH The CLONES