Title: The Devil House
Author: Angharad
Spoilers: Minor ones for Pilot and a few others I don't know the names of
Written: 2001
Rating: PG
Classification: X File, Case File
Keywords: MS Friendship/UST (Depending on how you want to look at it)
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters from the X Files; they are the property of Chris Carter and 1013 Productions. The other characters, however, belong to me!

Summary: Mulder and Scully travel to Kansas to investigate reports of satanic rituals at the 'Devil House' but the House holds an unexpected surprise.

Authors Notes: Thanks to Mori and Kate for your wonderful work in editing my story :)

The boarded up stone house was sitting starkly against the night sky as if it were beckoning someone to dare come closer. From the junction of 93rd Street and Paulen Road, the house caught Amy's eye.

Shall I go in? I know I've been told all my life that I'm not allowed to go in there, but it's not like there's anything in there.

Having convinced herself, Amy turned so that she was parked at the side of the house. She then quickly jumped out of the car and tried to shut the car door as quietly as she could but winced when it was a little too loud for her liking.

I hope I didn't wake any of the neighbours; after all, it is a little late.

She then turned to look at the house before hurriedly walking up the stone path set between the brown grass. She could just make out where she was going from the glare of the streetlights behind her, which were casting shadows.

When she reached the door, she expected it to be locked but to her surprise, it was open. Amy entered the forbidden territory and carefully closed the door behind her, glancing around in amazement, surprised that it wasn't as dark as she expected. It occurred to her that the light inside the house was coming from the third floor and appeared to be flickering. She then decided she had to reach that floor so she began searching for the stairs. When she found the stairs, tucked away in a dark corner, she ascended slowly as most of the steps were badly worn away.

Amy was lost in her thoughts, trying to figure out the source of the lights. She couldn't hear voices or any indication that anyone was in the house with her, but she missed the black shadow moving across the landing like a gust of wind.

She finally looked up in excitement, having realized that the flickering lights were coming from the floor above. The stairs reaching that floor appeared to be even more derelict than the ones she had just climbed. Her excitement gradually ebbed away, to be replaced with confusion as she searched for another way up.

This time when the shadow moved behind Amy, she sensed something was there. She spun around quickly, calling out loudly, "Who's there?" She frantically searched around and called out again, with fear in her voice. "Come on, it's not funny. Where are you?"

At that moment, pieces of rubble from the crumbling house began moving around. Amy froze in place watching the moving objects. Suddenly a gust of wind filled the landing, creating a frenzied movement of the rubble and whipping her shoulder-length brown hair around her face. Her paralysis was broken when several pieces of crumbling bricks came flying toward her.

Amy ducked and wove her way out of the whirling wind, fighting to descend the stairs, becoming more frightened and gasping for breath. She managed to reach the bottom floor and ran out of the house, not caring if the noise of the door slamming woke the neighbours. She only had one thought, 'GetoutGetoutGetout,' which kept repeating itself into a mantra.

By the time Amy reached the car she was shaking like a leaf. She fumbled the key into the ignition, but to her horror the car wouldn't start. "No, no, come on, please!" she moaned. She was crying now, and when she looked out the window, she swore that she could see a black shadow coming toward her. This made her all the more frantic and chilled her to the bones with fear. Suddenly the car started. "Oh Thank God!" Amy breathed out tearfully, and sped away to the police station.

Amy pulled into a parking space in front of the police station, hoping she wouldn't get a ticket for parking on double yellow lines. She quickly jumped out of the car and ran up the steps to the police station, nearly crashing into several people passing her.

Once inside the building, Amy ran toward the desk and into the arms of a man that, due to her state of shock, she only vaguely recognized.

"Watch where you're going! Amy! What're you doing here?" Deputy Gibson took a closer look at her tear-stained face. "Hey, what's wrong? You look like you've seen a ghost!" he joked. When Amy started shaking again, he wrapped his arms around her tightly. "What happened?" he asked quietly. "Did someone hurt you?" he asked more sternly.

"Can we find Dad?" Amy whispered.

"Sure. I think he's in his office," Gibson muttered in confusion, while he steered Amy toward Sheriff Davison's office.

When Sheriff Davison looked up from his desk, having heard his office door open, he saw his daughter being half supported by Gibson.

"Amy! What happened!?" he exclaimed, as he rose from his chair and moved toward her. He led her to a comfortable, plush chair and she sank into it. Davison then kneeled down in front of her and held her icy cold hands, trying to rub some warmth back into them. He forced her to look into his eyes. "I thought you were at Mary's house," Davison stated.

"I was," Amy stammered. "I was going home early."

Davison glanced at the clock behind Amy; it was 1:00 a.m.

"What happened?" he asked gently.

"Um, I stopped at the house," Amy replied quietly.

"Which house?" he questioned, confused.

"You know."

Realization dawned on Davison's face. "You didn't go in, did you?"

Amy's response was to shake even more.

"Oh, Amy," Davison replied quietly.

"I know I'm not allowed to go in there, but I didn't think there'd be anything there!" Amy replied quickly, on the verge of hysteria.

"Shh, it's okay. There was something there?" Davison asked.

"There was a light, on the third floor I think. Objects were moving around. A wind or something was making them move faster and I swear I saw a black shadow," Amy recounted, staring at the wall behind her father, her brown eyes wide. Then she cried out loudly, "It was following me, trying to hurt me!"

Davison noted she was becoming hysterical. His response was to hold her tightly, trying to soothe her.

Davison knew that Gibson was behind him, in the corner of his office. He said to him, in a quiet but authoritative voice, "Go to the house, see if anyone's there." Gibson acknowledged his orders and left quickly.

I hope to God that it was just a prank, Davison prayed to himself. It can't be happening again.

"Morning, Mulder," Scully said, as she walked into the basement office.

"Morning," Mulder replied, sounding somewhat distracted. Scully looked over to find him absorbed in a case file.

He looked up. "Hey, come and have a look at this." He got up and switched on the overhead projector, revealing a slide of a house.

"A house, Mulder?" Scully asked, sounding incredulous.

Excitedly, Mulder turned to face her. "But not just any house, Scully, the Devil House."

"The Devil House," Scully repeated, unimpressed, "and why is it called that?" she questioned, her arms folded across her chest.

"There have been reports for years of satanic activity taking place in that house, and some of the locals believe that black masses are still being held there."

"How is this an X-File, Mulder?"

"Well, I received an e-mail from Frohike saying that he managed to grab hold of a report written by a" -- he looked at the folder in his hand -- "Sheriff Davison who reported that satanic activity may have taken place at this house on the 13th of July. His daughter was frightened by a dark, moving shadow of some force. He believes this apparition was created by members of the satanic cult."

"When did she go in the house?"

"Around 11.30 at night."

"Anyone can be frightened by going into a dark house at night on Friday the 13th, as Friday the 13th holds so many superstitions."

"What are you saying Scully?"

"I'm saying that her fright was a result of an overactive imagination, brought about by the atmosphere. There is no X-File here, Mulder."

"How about if I told you that his daughter, Amy Davison, suffered from trauma for over 2 weeks after going into that house?"

"How is that possible?" Scully asked, questions written on her face.

"I don't know, but it suggests to me that whatever she saw was something more than just the result of an overactive imagination, and I'd like to find out what it was." Mulder handed the case file notes to Scully and grabbed his coat off the stand by the office door. He turned at the door and said, "I've booked 2 tickets to Kansas." He searched Scully's face, trying to judge her reaction.

Still standing by the overhead projector, she followed his every word, but made no reply. "I'll pick you up," Mulder finished, before walking out the door. Scully scowled at the file in her hand, grabbed her keys and coat and left the office.

"Are you sure we're going the right way?" Scully asked. She studied the map for the hundredth time, trying to place the route they were travelling. "We're a long way from Kansas City, Mulder."

He turned slightly to look at her. "I didn't say it was in the city." He turned his attention back to the road and said, "It's in a small town."

"What's the name of this small town?"

"I'm not sure. I didn't catch it. I'll recognize the name when I see it." Scully rolled her eyes and looked out the window at the scenery rolling past.

"At least the scenery is better than most," Scully responded dryly.

"You've just gotta love the wilderness," Mulder grinned. They rode in silence for the rest of the journey.

Visibly, Mulder perked up, "Guess we're in the right place." A crowd was milling around the general area where the house was situated. Mulder parked the car on the outskirts of the crowd. They both got out and stretched their legs.

I wonder what all the activity's about, Scully mused. Mulder looked at her over the top of the car and said, "Guess we'd better find out what's going on."

They walked toward the general direction of the crowd, aware of the excited chattering of the local people. Mulder was distracted by his excitement, but Scully caught snatches of the conversations as they went past.

"Who would have thought it?"

"Well, I knew there was something strange about that house right from the start."

"Turns out it's not just a legend after all."

Mulder strolled through the crowd with Scully following close behind.

"Hey! You can't go in there!" shouted a local police officer, holding a hand out to stop them.

Mulder took out his badge and flipped it open, looking bored at being stopped by the young police officer. "FBI, son," Mulder stated.

"FBI? Who the heck called in the feds?" the young police officer muttered to himself, but allowed Mulder and Scully to pass.

Mulder spotted a blond man dressed in a local 'Sheriff's Department' uniform, and walked up to him. "Sheriff?"

"Deputy Gibson. Who's asking?"

"Agent Fox Mulder," he replied and motioning to Scully at his side, "Agent Dana Scully. May we speak to the Sheriff?"

"He's a little busy at the moment. How may I help you?" Gibson asked, eyeing the two agents warily.

"We're here to investigate reports of satanic cult practices in that house," Mulder replied, indicating the house behind Gibson.

"Sorry, but you can't go in there," Gibson said, sounding not the least bit sorry about restricting access.

"May I ask why?" Scully spoke up.

"The building's derelict -- not too safe, and the owner won't be too pleased if you go snooping around."

"Thanks for your help, Sir," Scully said tersely, as Gibson headed back to his men after Mulder failed to respond.

"Mulder?" Scully questioned, turning to face him. Mulder turned to walk back to the car, considering Scully's unspoken question.

"He's hiding something, Scully."

They reached the car and Mulder stated, "We'll go back tonight, Scully." Scully stared at him over the top of the car. Mulder got in so Scully did the same. "Hope you packed some sturdy clothes," Mulder grinned and headed the car toward the Summer Inn.

The sky was dark. Thick clouds covered the moon and stars like a blanket, giving a sense of foreboding. Two dark figures, one with long legs and one with red hair that glistened under the glare of the street lights, walked quickly to the front door of the house.

Once inside, they simultaneously switched on their flashlights. They swept the room carefully, with keen eyes, their investigative instincts kicking in. The floor was covered in debris and crumbling plaster. The beams of the flashlights caught the particles of slowly falling dust.

Discovering the staircase hidden in a dark corner, they began to climb slowly, as the stairs were extremely decayed.

Upon reaching the second floor, Scully asked sarcastically, "Are we supposed to sprout wings and fly up to the third floor, Mulder?"

Mulder waggled his eyebrows at her. Ohhh, Scully, I'd love to see you do that!

Mulder moved round the decaying room slowly. Scully watched him for a moment and repeated the process with a frown of concentration on her face.

After several long minutes, Mulder discovered the hidden staircase. "Scully, come here," he said with quiet urgency. Scully glanced at Mulder with interest and walked over to the corner where Mulder was; the corner was very dark, but on closer inspection it was hiding the crumbling staircase to the third floor.

Mulder examined the crumbling stairwell carefully. "We'll have to go up very slowly and carefully, Scully," he said. "These stairs seem to be worse than the ones we just climbed."

"Oh, joy," Scully muttered dryly.

Grinning at her, he added, "It's a good thing you're not in your suit and those high heels you insist on wearing." Scully glared at him before moving in front of him, gingerly climbing the stairs. Mulder waited until Scully was two steps ahead before falling in step behind her.

They finally reached the third floor, and Mulder stepped up to the landing beside Scully.

The dust falling on Scully's black jeans and shirt caused her to sneeze, and trying to brush it off didn't help the situation.

"Tell me, Mulder, how is it that black masses are taking place in this house, when it is obviously over 100 years old and these stairs are the only way to reach this floor?"

"There's probably another way up here," Mulder answered. "Anyway, I doubt they would let some crumbling steps stop them. Let's take a look around." They walked into a room at the head of the stairs, and in the middle was a large black pentagram inside a chalk circle. There were bowls, inverted crucifixes, black candles, some showing signs of use, with dried wax around the base. There was an altar directly across the room, draped with a dark red velvet cloth. Burnt carcasses were scattered around the room. A paraphernalia of Satan worship.

Mulder examined the pentagram, and looked around the room carefully. Scully moved to one of the cupboards and scraped at the wax on one of the burnt candles.

"The candles weren't used recently, Mulder," Scully said.

With a look of excitement, Mulder said, "All the evidence is here, Scully. The owner's protective of this house so he must know what's in this room, if he doesn't take part in it himself."

"It's not out of the question Mulder, but we have no evidence to substantiate that theory," Scully replied with a sigh.

Suddenly the room grew freezing cold. "Scully, do you feel that?" Mulder asked warily, searching the room with his hazel eyes.

"If I didn't know better, I'd say it feels almost--evil," Scully replied, glancing at Mulder.

He met her blue eyes and said warily, "There's someone in the room with us."

"Are you suggesting that there are spirits or ghosts here in the room with us?" an unbelieving Scully asked, crossing her arms over her chest.

"I don't know but I have a bad feeling," Mulder answered quietly.

Scully stayed silent, not doubting his gut instinct.

She turned sharply, a frown etched on her face.

"What's wrong?" Mulder asked.

"I thought I heard something."

Mulder searched the room again and noticed the shattered pieces of a black ceramic bowl on the floor, near one of the low cupboards. He walked over and picked up one of the pieces, turning it over in his hand. Scully joined him. "Mulder, we didn't knock that off. We were nowhere near it."

"Here's your proof, Scully."

She caught his meaning and immediately replied, "There's no evidence of anyone else being in the room with us. The bowl smashing could have been the wind."

"What wind?" Mulder asked, with a hint of an amused smile on his face. Scully ignored the touch of humour in his voice.

"The cold draft we felt earlier, or it could have been put back on the cupboard carelessly so it fell off."

"While we're in the room? That's convenient," Mulder said sardonically. Then with a teasing smile on his face, he said, "You're scaring me here, Scully, let's switch back into our usual roles." Scully tried to hide a smile, but Mulder saw one tugging at the corners of her mouth.

They both abruptly spun around, scanning the room with their flashlights, after hearing another bowl smash to the floor. The beams from their flashlights caught more bowls smashing to the floor in quick succession. "Get back, Scully!" Mulder shouted, pushing her back against the wall.

"What's causing this?" Scully shouted, over the continuous din of smashing objects hitting the wooden floor.

"I guess that spirit we were talking about earlier has decided to show itself," Mulder replied dryly.

"Mulder, look. Is that a boy?" Scully asked, staring at a figure in the corner of the room. With only the warm beams of their flashlights to light the dark room, the figure seemed brighter than anything else, but Scully was oblivious to this.

She started to move forward, only to stop suddenly when Mulder shouted, "No, Scully! Get back! He's not real!" Scully turned to face him and moved closer, but was still too far away for Mulder to pull her to safety.

"What do you mean?" Scully asked him warily.

"He's not alive - he's the one causing all this, Scully," Mulder said sympathetically. He knew she would reach out to any child she thought needed her.

"Mulder, come on, it's just a boy," Scully rebuffed him.

"Then why isn't he being affected by this attack? Tell me that, Scully," Mulder challenged her.

Scully paused and finally took in her surroundings carefully and realized that the small boy in front of her appeared to be brighter than his surroundings -- almost transparent. Her keen eyes noticed the type of clothes he wore; they appeared to be 60's style. He was wearing an old pair of trousers and a jogging style jacket with an old pair of tennis shoes.

The boy appeared to be surrounded by a force field of some kind, unaffected by the moving debris. Scully's eyes widened as the implication of what she was looking at sank in. As she continued to stare at the boy, the shape of the so-called force field became more defined. It appeared to be a white shimmering force encasing the boy, as if protecting him or cocooning him, thus trapping him.

As Scully was searching for the boy who had suddenly vanished, a gust of cold wind blew through the room, causing the objects to fly around wildly. Mulder lunged toward Scully to pull her out of harm's way. Caught off guard at having seen evidence that she refused to believe, her eyes met Mulder's with fear in their blue depths.

As Mulder crossed the short distance between them, he was struck by one of the flying objects.

"Mulder!" Scully shouted in alarm. Avoiding the debris, she crossed quickly to his side.

When she reached him, he had fallen to the floor, holding his head in his hands, groaning in pain. "Mulder, are you okay?" Scully asked in concern as she examined him. Her 'Doctor Mode' kicked in, pushing her feelings of fright and worry aside. A trickle of blood ran down one side of his face, matting his thick brown hair. "Mulder we have to get out of here. Can you hear me?"

"Sure, Scully," Mulder groaned.

"You may have a concussion, Mulder."

"Another one to add to my list," Mulder muttered dryly.

Scully had a feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach, and she wanted to get Mulder out as quickly as possible. The flying debris seemed to be moving as if it were angry. She wouldn't tell Mulder that though. She helped him up, aware that the debris now seemed to be directed especially at them, instead of the random pattern in which it had moved earlier.

Scully managed to half-support Mulder, but found that he could walk without too much help, and they headed towards the stairs.

They paused at the top, quickly contemplating the crumbling stairs. "I'll go first. You can catch me if I fall," Mulder joked weakly.

Scully didn't need to say 'be careful'; their eyes met and said it all.

Scully went down after him, ready to catch him if he stumbled. One eye was watching his broad back; the other was on the wind-tossed debris around them, which still seemed intent on hurting them. After what seemed like an hour, but was only a few long minutes, they finally reached the second floor. The whirlwind of litter and debris flew around them as they descended the next flight of stairs. They didn't calm down until they burst out the front door. Mulder collapsed on the grass, breathing heavily, and Scully bent over to catch her breath.

She looked back through the open door of the house to see that the debris had settled, and the wind had stopped, leaving the house eerily silent once more. Not knowing what to make of it, she turned her back to the house and joined Mulder on the grass.

They took several minutes to recover their breath and get their pulses almost back to normal. "I think we should sit in the car," Mulder said quietly, indicating their rental Sedan across the street, "and stake the place out for a couple of hours."

"I don't think anything else is going to happen in there, Mulder -- at least not tonight," Scully said.

Mulder attempted to push himself up. "We'd better get off this grass before we get arrested for trespassing."

Scully got up and smiled. "Since when has a little thing like trespassing stopped you?" Still smiling, she bent and helped Mulder to his feet.

"What are we doing here, Scully?" Mulder asked, bored after sitting in the car for several hours with no activity in the house across the street.

"Staking out that house over there?" Scully questioned, with a hint of humour in her voice.

Mulder looked at her, munching on his ever-present Sunflower Seeds. "Nothing else is gonna happen in there tonight, Scully." He looked at his watch. "Its 3 a. m. What do you say to catching up on some sleep?" he asked with a grin.

"That head's still hurting, huh?"

"Well, when the rental company doesn't supply any aspirin, what can you expect?" Mulder joked. Scully smiled slightly and, with an unspoken agreement, she started the car and drove back to the Summer Inn.

When they arrived at the Inn, they said goodnight and headed to their respective rooms, leaving the connecting door open.

Mulder tried to piece the puzzles of the case together, making intuitive leaps and bounds with his active mind. He paced back and forth, the TV on mute, channel surfing as he walked.

Scully pondered what she had seen, fighting her logic, making her sleep fitful. She tossed and turned, plumping up her pillows every few minutes.

They were both aware that the other was awake, but neither would make the move to go to the other, each fighting their own battle alone.

It was a beautiful, warm morning with blue skies and the sun was shining brightly.

A contrast to the night before.

Mulder, already dressed in a conservative suit and tie, knocked on Scully's door. "Are you ready yet?" he asked, with a smile on his face, as he poked his head around her door.

"Just a sec," Scully replied, as she moved around the room. She checked the clip in her gun, put the gun in her holster and picked up her suit jacket that matched her knee-length skirt and cream blouse.

They drove through town - Mulder at the wheel as usual - searching for the local library.

Scully spotted it a few seconds after Mulder. It was a small building, beautifully built, with an ornate design on its brown stones. Several steps led up to the main entrance. Mulder parked the car in front of the library and jumped out, excitement showing in his eyes. He waited for Scully to get out and they walked up the steps.

As they entered the library through wooden doors, Mulder spotted a friendly-looking, middle-aged woman who was stacking books on the shelves.

The librarian greeted them with a smile. "How may I help you? I assume you're not looking for books," she added, with humour in her voice.

Mulder smiled and took out his badge before replying, "Agent Fox Mulder and Agent Dana Scully," motioning toward Scully, who had also taken out her badge. Mulder continued in a quiet voice. "We were wondering if you could give us any information about the Devil House a few streets..."

"Oh, I know where it is. Who doesn't?" The librarian cut in. "By the way, I'm Sarah Jenkins. You may call me Mrs. Jenkins." Mulder smiled at her answer. He decided that he liked this woman. Scully was following the conversation with an amused smile, enjoying the friendliness of the librarian.

Mrs. Jenkins motioned for Mulder and Scully to follow her to a private seating area. When they were seated, Mrs. Jenkins told them the history of the house. "In the 60's, it was suspected that there was a satanic cult in town and that they held black masses at the Devil House. The name came about from the local kids, by the way."

"Used to?" Mulder questioned.

"Oh, I don't think they're taking place now, though some people believe they are."

"The local sheriff believes that they are taking place again. His daughter, Amy, went into the house and suffered trauma, caused by what she saw."

"We've always told our children not to go into that house for fear of it being cursed. Amy has a pretty overactive imagination."

"I still believe that she saw something unusual, otherwise why would she suffer from trauma if it was only the result of her overactive imagination?" Mulder questioned.

"Well, I suppose it could have been Alex."

"Alex?" Scully spoke up, her curiosity piqued.

Mrs. Jenkins launched into the tale of Alex James, a local boy who went missing in the 60's. "It was believed he was in one of the alleged satanic rituals. Anyway, no evidence was found, but he was never seen again. He was only 6 years old. A sweet little boy," she finished sadly.

As the agents were about to leave, Mrs. Jenkins suddenly remembered something. "A townsman, who was believed to be one of the leaders of the satanic cult, although it could not be proven -- was injured the night Alex disappeared. If I recall rightly, he died about 3 months later. Hope that'll help you," she finished with a smile.

"Thank you for your help, Mrs. Jenkins," Mulder said, and both agents shook her hand. Suddenly Mulder turned and asked Mrs. Jenkins, "Is there a herbal or 'spell' shop in town?"

"Sure, there's a herbal shop a few streets away, I believe."

"Thanks again," Mulder said, before turning and heading out of the library with Scully.

As they walked out of the library, Mulder's excitement was evident while Scully pondered over what they had just been told.

As they walked down the steps toward the car, Mulder said, "We have to go back in that house, Scully." She stopped in her tracks, glaring at him.

"Mulder, look at you! You nearly had a concussion. You could get seriously injured, or worse," Scully finished, exasperated. She followed with a sigh, as Mulder continued to walk toward the car. When they reached the car, Mulder answered, "It'll be okay, Scully. Besides I've got you for backup. Just don't shoot me again," he grinned as he got in the car.

Scully sighed again and got in the car. "So where are we going now, Mulder?" she asked.

"Herbal shop, of course," Mulder replied with a grin. Scully's face revealed her questions as she waited for him to continue.

"Guess you wanna hear my theory now, huh?" he asked, and proceeded to tell her, "Well, I believe the boy we saw in that house last night was Alex James."

"He's dead, Mulder," Scully refuted.

"Well, think of it this way, he went missing the night the satanic cult leader got injured, right? That tells me that Alex was abducted and used as a sacrifice, but something went wrong. Whatever led to the injury of the leader caused Alex to be, somehow, trapped in the house."

Scully's face showed her disbelief, but she answered anyway. "How do you know it was Alex, Mulder?"

"You saw him Scully. He was about Alex's age when he disappeared; he was wearing 60's style clothing."

"I'm considering your theory, Mulder," Scully admitted reluctantly. "But why do we need to go to a herbal shop?" Her voice was stronger; she was safer in her role of challenger, listening to her own logic.

"To set him free."

"Mulder?" Scully asked with eyebrows raised, showing her skepticism.

"Well, if I remember correctly," Mulder replied, "there are various Pagan rituals where Wicca's summon up spirits, but always in a circle. I assume it's the same for freeing captive spirits, but the principle's the opposite -- there's no circle to keep the spirits in."

Scully stared at him with disbelief, but couldn't dismiss the theory out of hand as she didn't know much about Pagan rituals, except for what she'd read in fiction novels or seen on TV. That's Mulder's forte, she thought.

Mulder started the car to go and search for the herbal shop, knowing that Scully wouldn't leave him, even though she couldn't accept what he'd just told her.

They had been driving for ten minutes when Mulder suddenly said, "Found it."

Scully looked out the window to see what Mulder was looking at. She saw a sign with 'Crystal's' written on it in elaborate writing.

They got out of the car and crossed the street to the shop. A bell tinkled over the shop door as they entered.

A woman in her twenties with long, wavy blond hair appeared from behind the counter to greet them. "How may I help you?" she asked with a smile. Mulder and Scully went through the process of identifying themselves, and Mulder asked her if she knew anything about rituals, especially those that involved setting a trapped spirit free.

The woman took a book off a nearby shelf and showed Mulder a chapter on Pagan rituals. "Why would two FBI agents like yourselves want to know about that?" She queried.

The agents glanced at each other before Mulder continued, "Miss...?" Mulder trailed off.

"Just Crystal," she answered.

"Have you heard any legends about the Devil House?"

"Oh sure, who hasn't? You grow up in this town hearing about it."

"What about the story of the boy who went missing, presumably sacrificed...?"

"In the Devil House. Yeah, I know that one." Understanding dawned on her features. "Oh, you think the spirit of Alex is in that house?"

"Do you think that's possible?" Mulder asked excitedly. Scully followed the conversation with skepticism.

"Well, I suppose it could happen. He's trapped because of the negative energy of the circle. If he was scarified in a circle--" Crystal added hastily, "--surrounding a pentagram, but that circle would still have to exist to set him free," she finished, frowning.

"I assure you, it does exist," Scully spoke up. Mulder looked at her with surprise, thankful that she was at least willing to support his theory, although some of his theories were 'out there', he thought wryly. Scully glanced at him briefly, acknowledging his gratitude.

"Wow!" Crystal exclaimed.

"Thanks for your help," Mulder finished. The agents shook hands with her and walked back to their car across the street.

Looking at Mulder over the top of the car, Scully asked, "So what are we doing now, Mulder?"

"Well, I think we should head back to the house tonight," he answered.

"Why tonight, Mulder?"

"No one seems to know about Alex's spirit in that house. That suggests that he acts up," making commas with his fingers, "only at night."

"So what do we do now?"

"Find a diner," he said, "I'm starving."

"Okay, but you're buying, and none of that junk that you call 'food'."

"Aw, Scully, you wound me," Mulder replied with a grin, his hands over his heart. Scully's lips crinkled with amusement as they got in the car.

They arrived at a nice diner. Scully was thankful it wasn't one of those greasy-spoons. She ordered a Chicken Club sandwich. Mulder ordered a hamburger with fries and, surprisingly, a salad. Scully looked at him and smiled, knowing that he normally wouldn't eat anything remotely healthy.

"What?" he asked.

"Nothing," she answered quickly, "Anyway, why are we going back to the house tonight, Mulder?"

"To set him free," he answered, as if it were obvious.

"Right," Scully replied, unconvinced.

As they ate and drank their coffee, they teasingly bantered about the case, Scully's logic fighting Mulder's leaps and bounds. Serious undercurrents emerged as Mulder explained the significance, and the process, of setting the spirit free.

When they finished, Mulder told Scully he was heading back to the library to see if he could dig up more information about the house's history. "Gonna join me?" he asked her.

"You don't need me there. Anyway, I'd better start typing up that report," Scully answered.

"Sure" Mulder replied, "I'll drop you off on the way."

Mulder browsed through old newspaper articles to try to determine whether Alex's spirit had made previous appearances.

Mulder returned to the motel and changed into black jeans and a black t-shirt. At 9 p.m., he knocked on Scully's door.

"Who is it?" Scully shouted.

"E.T.," Mulder replied. With amusement, Scully opened the door and was greeted by a smiling Mulder. Scully had also changed into black jeans and t-shirt.

'Two great minds', Mulder thought, acknowledging their closeness and great trust for each other. Without a word, they both headed toward the rental car.

When they entered the house, they were apprehensive, but not as much as on their first visit. The house was eerily silent -- for the moment. They climbed the stairs to the second floor, painfully alert, watching for any signs of Alex reappearing and causing mayhem.

When they reached the landing, they suddenly heard a creaking noise on the stairs behind them. They spun around with their guns at the ready. "Don't shoot," a voice said anxiously. "It's me, Crystal." The figure climbed the final steps to the landing. The agents holstered their guns.

With a touch of anger in his voice, Mulder asked, "What are you doing here? It's not safe. Go home."

A few steps ahead of Mulder, Scully watched the exchange. Crystal didn't seem frightened by Mulder's angry tone. "I forgot to tell you. You have to close the circle after Alex is free so the evil doesn't escape. You need my help."

"She's right, Mulder," Scully spoke up, moving closer to them. "Look, I'm not saying I believe all this, but we can't take any chances."

Mulder read in Scully's blue eyes that she felt Crystal should join them. Nodding, Mulder turned to Crystal and said, "Let's go, but be careful." They climbed the stairs carefully, their flashlights lighting the way. After climbing for what seemed like forever, they reached the third floor. The stairs were even more dangerous, having deteriorated since the night before.

At that moment, the wind began to howl, and the objects and debris started to blow around violently. "Get to the circle!" Mulder shouted to Crystal, after they all ducked by a wall. He and Scully would cover each other's backs as they cleared the circle.

As Mulder cleared the circle, rubbing out the chalk outline with a cloth that Crystal had brought, he became aware that Crystal was chanting an old rhyme under her breath, concentration etched on her face. Mulder nearly stopped in surprise. She's a Wicca herself! he thought. He continued his task and noticed that her chanting had become louder as the circle was cleared. He watched as she redrew the circle with what appeared to be special chalk.

If only Scully could hear this, he thought, but knew she couldn't because of her distance and the noise of the smashing objects and the howling wind, which blocked out all the sounds.

When Crystal had finished closing the circle and chanting, the flying objects and debris had stopped whipping around the room and slowly settled down. Scully looked around in surprise.

Mulder was grinning, and Crystal had a smile on her face, but looked tired.

Mulder got up slowly, with shaking knees, and headed toward Scully, whose face was a mixture of disbelief and awe.

"Let's get out of here, huh?" Mulder said, with a smile still on his face. Scully nodded, and Mulder took her gently by the elbow and steered her toward the stairs.

"Well, that went well," Crystal said, with relief.

"Thanks for your help," Mulder answered, respect showing on his face. "I suggest you go home now."

"Oh, don't worry, I plan on doing just that," Crystal replied with a tired smile.

They descended the two flights of rickety stairs and walked outside, happy to be out in the cool night air with the fresh breeze caressing their faces.

Crystal headed off in her own direction, while Scully looked up in contentment at the dark night sky, full of glittering stars.

Mulder let the fresh breeze soothe his soul. Noticing Scully's lovely, upturned face, he asked, "What are you looking at?"

"Oh, the stars," Scully replied quietly, her voice reflecting her happiness.

Even though he knew he might be pushing her, he asked, "What do you think about tonight?" Scully turned to look at him and without answering, looked back at the stars.

Mulder tried a different approach, and asked, "Do you think his spirit is at rest now?"

Scully paused for a moment before quietly replying, "No, but his soul is." Mulder wondered if he had heard her right, but realized her comment had to do with her Catholic upbringing, although she wouldn't admit that to him.

"Well, what do you say to getting some well-earned rest before our flight back to DC which leaves in... five hours?" he asked, looking at his watch.

Scully smiled and turned to face him, meeting his hazel eyes. "That's the best offer I've heard all night." Mulder smiled back and draped his left arm around her small shoulders as they headed toward the rental car, unaware that a bright star was shimmering over them.


Go to http://www.hauntedkansas.com if you want to know the true story about the Devil House :)

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