Title: Three times Mulder went trick or treating and one time he didn't
Summary: This was written for the 2011 spookyhalloween.
Author's Notes: Take everything relating to Oxford with a pinch of salt - I'm writing this far too late at night to do any proper research.
Holding Samantha's hand makes him feel like a sissy but it's what all big brothers do, or so his mom said as she watched them walk onto the sidewalk.
"Take care of her, Fox. She's the only sister you've got," she called.
"The only sister I'm stuck with," he muttered, half under his breath and half loud enough for Samantha to hear. She scowled up at him beneath her cat earsand he squeezed her hand to let her know he didn't mean it.
She chattered away as they walked through the neighbourhood. What they'd done in class and the ghost stories they'd told each other at break and the mouse skeleton Billy had brought into class that made most of the girls scream (though not her) and that the teacher had to throw away. When they knocked on doors she fell silent, letting him call out 'trick or treat' or 'happy halloween' and he let her pick the best candy from the bowls the neighbours offered them.
They have strict orders to be home by seven and they walk back hand in hand. He tells her the story of the little girl who went missing from their house a hundred years ago, and whose ghost can still be seen every Halloween leaving the house in her fancy dress costume. Samantha pulls a face at him and tells him she's not scared and anyway they didn't have Halloween in the old days, but he notices the way she glances behind them as they close the front door and he wonders the best way to scare her tonight.
No one has made him a costume this Halloween so he pulls last year's skeleton from the cupboard and pulls it on. He's grow five inches and the tibias painted onto the black cotton stop halfway down his shins; the wrist bones cutting off before his hands. He feels like a grotesque puppet all loose-limbed and lacking control, but he pulls on his boots and gloves all the same.
His parents are sitting in the living room when he finally gets downstairs. The candle in the one pumpkin he forced them to buy is guttering, casting long demon-toothed shadows on the wall.
"Come on, mom," he says, impatient. She doesn't look at him.
"We have to go out now." He barely stops himself from stamping his feet. "You promised. You promised we'd go again this year."
He doesn't let her finish - runs out of the room, down the hall, through the front door and into the wild October night. He ignores the ghouls and vampires tramping the pavements, parents in tow. Bag in hand he bangs on doors, yells 'trick or treat' until his throat is sore, digs deep into the bowls of candy offered to him and takes the best for himself.
When he gets home he eats it all, even after he starts to feel sick, because if Samantha were there that's what they'd do.
Halloween in Oxford is a stately affair. Unlike home the streets aren't overrun with ghouls and vampires, haunted houses are filled with real ghosts not white sheets, and there's no toilet paper in sight. He thinks he should miss it but there's something nice about the lack of gaudiness, the sense of ritual in the game of apple bobbing taking place in the middle of the common room. He slides further back in his chair, clutching a mug filled with mulled wine and whisky, and watches his fellow students immerse their faces in the cool water.
He is thinking of nothing in particular when Phoebe perches on the arm of his chair and offers him an apple. "If you peel it in one go and throw the skin over your left shoulder it'll spell out the initial of the person you love," she mutters in his ear.
He looks at her doubtfully.
"Of course, love is perhaps a little too... over-rated in this day and age." She smiles at him as she takes a bite and licks her lips. "Did you know that apples are associated with sex? The Three Mothers of the world were said to be connected with apple tress, while the apple tree was sacred to the Goddess in Romanian folklore. And of course, we all know what happened to Eve." She takes another bite.
Suddenly the common room is too small, too suffocating. He isn't sure if it's the heat, the heady scent of mulled cider or the flickering candles in the gaping jaws of the pumpkins that adorn the room but he needs some air.
"Come on." He takes her hand. "We're going out."
They race down the stairs, hand in hand, and burst into the cool street. Pumpkins blaze in windows and the sounds of horror films float across the courtyard. He pulls her across the cobbled road and down an alley that leads to a small churchyard. The gates are open and they squeeze through (no rusty whinge of hinges, he thinks to himself). He collapses on the ground near a smooth marble tomb and she crouches over him, her legs straddling his. He is aware of the sheer fabric of her skirt, the rise and fall of her chest as she breathes in the cool night air.
"Trick or treat?" he whispers as her mouth closes on his.
The basement office is empty, the paper mache skeleton he'd propped up next to the filing cabinet in honour of the season drooping listlessly. He scowls at it.
"Like you've got anything to worry about," he mutters. "No glands, no chemicals. Unlike some of us."
He hurls himself into his chair and stares into space. If he'd thought she hadn't really left, if he'd thought she'd be anywhere, she'd be here. They built this place together file by file, case by case, and now? Now she's on a plane some 42,000 feet above the Atlantic probably sipping a glass of white wine at the Bureau's expense without a care in the world. And on Halloween nonetheless.
In some parts of the world they avoid churchyards because the souls of the people who'll die in the coming year walk the grounds. If he's got any sense he thinks he'll take himself to the nearest cemetery, preferably with a bottle of whisky in each hand, and make sure he's one of them. If nothing else it would prove the existence of ghosts. He imagines himself haunting Diana, an ethereal figure in regulation FBI-wear, ghostly gun at his hip, trailling her every move in East Berlin. Not that she'd notice him, of course. He sighs. Damn Berlin and damn Diana and damn Halloween as well, while we're at it. Of all the holidays to desert him she had to choose this one. Christmas would have been too cliche, of course, but Halloween? The one night of the year when 'spooky Mulder' isn't quite as spooky? She knows how to hit him where it hurts.
He glances at the clock, black paper bat sellotaped to the casing above the '12' and sighs again. He's not going to get any more work done today, doesn't really know what he's doing in the office anyway, so gets to his feet, closing the open file on the desk. He bats at the skeleton as he leaves, paper bones crumbling to the floor, and switches off the light. The bat flutters, caught in the draught of the closing door.