Trustno1: Dazzle you? OK, you asked for it
Trustno1: It was a time of dark, dark despair.
Queequeg0925: Lyda and Maurice *again*?
Trustno1: Sorry. Wrong story. How's this -
Trustno1: It was a dark and stormy night.
MSR, Halloween fic
Written in response to the Haven's October
"Our House" challenge; story must revolve
around this picture:

http://xf-extensions.com/hhouse3.jpg


Rated: NC-17
Spoilers: HTGSC, Milagro
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Email: mish_rose@yahoo.com
Distribution: Just let me know where.

Summary: Diamonds shine the brightest in this
house of riches.
Teach Maoine
by Mish
"Just stop it right there, Scully. I said no and I mean no."

"No lumberjack clothes?"

"No way. Think of something else."

"Well, we don't have to do this, you know."

That brought a huff of displeasure. "Like hell we don't."

She knew it. Mulder could whine his way to the 31st - and probably
would - but he got off on their little Halloween role-playing as
much as she did. If last year was any indication, she was in for a
treat better than peanut butter kisses. She just had to counter his
feet-dragging with a bit of strategy.

Cradling the telephone between her shoulder and ear, she reached for
the eight by ten glossy sticking out from the pile on her desk.
"How do you feel about dressing up?"

"Please tell me you're thinking tuxedos, not togas."

"Hmmm... tell you what..." The photo really was romantic, in a
spooky sort of way. Not that Mulder looked at it like that, she was
certain. "Why don't you throw out a few suggestions?"

"Me? Scully, this is your baby. I'm just along for the ride."

"Then I want a lumberjack."

"And I'm using my veto power."

"Veto power? What ever happened to 'Scully, this is your baby'?"

"I get veto power when it endangers my well-being."

"Don't tell me flannel makes you itch. I've seen your winter pajama
bottoms. The same goes for your cold weather underwear."

She waited, sighing into the receiver. Here he goes, she thought.
One diversional tactic coming right up.

"Did you receive the photograph yet?" He panted out the question
like an eager puppy.

"I did, and stop trying to change the subject."

"Whaddya think?"

"I think you're trying to kill two birds with one stone, that's what
I think."

"Scully." He sounded truly offended.

"Look Mulder, you're not depriving me of my annual fantasy and
that's final."

"You haven't read the article yet, have you?"

"Mulder, we just got back from a week in Idaho. Can I have at least
one day free from spooks and goblins?"

"But you haven't heard the story behind -"

"Goodnight, Mulder."

"Scully!"

"You don't want lumberjack? Fine. Then dazzle me, mister. And I
don't mean with a night spent dodging spiders in some musty old
house, waiting for the Great Pumpkin to show up. Goodnight."

In the time it took her to grab a bowl of triple chocolate ice cream
from the kitchen, the IM screen popped up.
She grinned around the edges of her spoon before temporarily
abandoning the ice cream. Before she reached for the phone again,
she replied, knowing Mulder had something up his sleeve.
"A dark and stormy night?"

"Gripping, isn't it?"

"Hmph. Something tells me this story doesn't improve."

"It never will if you don't let me get back to it."

With a huff, she hung up her phone. Mulder's tale continued almost
immediately.
Trustno1: Lightning crackled through the night
air, making her heart thud in her chest as if
rivaling the thunder for top billing in
nature's symphony to come. Her body under the
cape moved swiftly but silently toward what
she knew awaited her inside the house.
Forbidden it was, her quest on this last
stolen hour of All Hallow's Eve. But she
didn't care; tomorrow was a distant, cloudy
horizon, filled with an endless stretch of
loneliness and empty days. This night had to
be the last.
"We did the vampire bit last year, remember?"

"I can't finish if you keep calling me."

"Sure, fine, whatever."
Trustno1: She should have come in her
carriage, but the stable hands couldn't be
trusted not to tell Mr. Donovan. Using the
new-fangled contraption he loved to survey the
fields in was distasteful, not to mention the
fact its sputtering engine could be heard for
miles. The walk from the plantation wasn't
overly long, but her dress heels weren't meant
for traversing the stone-filled road between
the Catalpa Plantation and its neighboring
estate, the Shadows. She'd not wanted to
waste a moment once she'd begged for leave
from her husband's soiree. Pleading a
headache had been easy enough, though she'd
had to go through the usual ritual of
summoning chamomile tea and cold compresses to
make it believable. Pausing to change her
shoes meant an extra delay with the
possibility of discovery. As soon as she'd
dismissed her maid, instructing her to douse
the lamps, she'd escaped in darkness down the
back stairs.
"Am I going to have to wear a corset, Mulder?"

"They still make 'em?" He was almost breathless with the
possibility. At her silence, he chuckled. "Hold on. I'm putting
you on speaker, since you seem determined to interrupt me."

She did the same, not wanting to admit he had her intrigued. After
a few moments, she heard the tapping of his fingers on his keyboard.
Trustno1: She stopped at the end of the short
lane, grabbing the sagging fence post to
steady herself as she raised eyes almost
blinded by the beginning rain. How was she to
explain her muddy clothes and shoes to Yvette?
No matter; the girl knew of her trysts with
the handsome Mr. Ashland. Her maid wouldn't
raise a brow, personally disposing of the now
ruined gown and shoes. But Laura knew she'd
have censorious looks thrown her way for days,
Yvette not hesitating to show her displeasure
at the missus' foolhardy trip without at least
taking Joseph along for protection.

Laura didn't want the bulky manservant along
this time. Though as trustworthy as Yvette,
she didn't want Joseph or anyone hovering in
the edges of her awareness other than the man
she'd come to love with an ache so piercing
she'd often considered the unthinkable. This
time, they would truly be alone and she
refused to let doubt and responsibility color
their time together.
"Mr. Ashland?" she asked over his constant typing. "Mulder, I'm not
doing Scarlett O'Hara. That's my veto, period."

"This is 1900, Scully. I think hoop skirts are long out of
fashion."

"Good."

"But corsets aren't."
Trustno1: No, she wouldn't let rational
thought enter into it at this stage. Not with
the faint glow of light beckoning from the
behind the broken windows ahead. Slowly, she
began the last few steps to temporary
happiness, remembering the first time they'd
met.

On this same road between heaven and hell, the
rundown house straddling the two properties an
obstacle to true friendship. She'd stopped to
rest Beede, the way she'd raced the perimeter
of the disputed property on the spirited
gelding in the early summer morning fatiguing
her and the horse. The bone of contention
stood upright in the fog-hazed dawn light.
With the grimace of a woman who scorned the
overdone machinations of men, she'd sighed and
wondered what all the fuss was about. She
weighed the green grass in her gloved hand as
if it were gold instead of horse feed. Beede
nudged her elbow and she turned to him with a
smile, voicing her opinion at the folly of
such greed.

"It's such a forlorn place, isn't it Beede?"
she'd said. "Hardly worth all the trouble."

A muted 'hurrah madam!' reached her ears. The
rock sailed over her head, flying across the
overgrown lawn with precise accuracy,
shattering the pane of glass just above the
sill. Startled, she ducked under Beede's
graceful neck, her eyes wide at the intruder.
"Hang on, Scully. Pizza's here."

"Mulder!"

Her whimper of impatience was lost in his shove away from his desk.
A thump, then 'shit!' made her grin. She heard him greet the
delivery man, leave an awful tip and slam his door.

"Just getting a beer, Scully! Be right back!"

He deliberately left her to stew. But why should he be the only one
to call the tune?
Queequeg0925: The voice fit the man, all lean
and laced with mischief. Outlined in the mist
swirling about his form, his handsome face
took her breath in a swift blow. Clad from
head to toe in black, only the stark whiteness
of his linen shirt peeking from under his
cravat - and even that wasn't up to
fashionable standards, loosely hanging with a
devil-may-care attitude that matched the
wicked gleam of interest in his eye. He
doffed his wide-brimmed country hat, bowing
slightly as he held the reins of his chestnut
stallion.

"You're right" he'd offered by way of
greeting. "The house is weeping."
"Hey!"

"You snooze, you lose, Mulder."

She sat through his silent perusal of her addition to the tale,
waiting for an opinion. Which wasn't long in coming, naturally.

"'Lean and laced with mischief'? Not fashionable? I'm hurt,
Scully."

"You know, in those days men wore corsets as well. I wonder if Mr.
Ashland wears a corset, too?"

Mulder let out a beer belch. "He does not."

"Shall I continue so we can find out?"

"Please do. At least until I finish my pizza." He paused for a
moment; his next words came out muffled by a mouth full of food.
"And Scully?"

"Yeah?" she answered, already attacking her keyboard with glee.

"He wears a corset, and you can kiss your fantasy goodbye."

"We can always fall back on the lumberjack."
Queequeg0925: Still using her mount as
protection, she chanced an inquisitive tilt of
her head, gaining some semblance of control of
the situation as she laid a hand on the
derringer hidden in the folds of her spencer.
From under the edge of her straw hat, she
peered with suspicious eyes. He didn't move
an inch, though his gaze slid in the general
direction of her waist as if he knew her
purpose. Hands at his sides, he awaited her
answer, drawing calm from her with his honest,
loose-limbed stance.

"How so?" she'd answered, the impropriety of
their conversation pricking at her conscience.
She really should get away while she could.
But something about the man's gentle regard
made her stay.
"Hold it right there. My turn."

"Okay. I'm going for more yogurt anyway."

"Yogurt?" He snorted, his chair creaking as it rolled closer to his
desk. "Scully, I can smell the chocolate from here."

"Just for that, you'd better make it good."
Trustno1: He looked at the house with the same
tenderness he bestowed upon her, inclining his
chin at the drops of heavy dew dripping from
once-gilded eaves.
Though English was
woefully inadequate, he bowed to the language
of the land so there could be no
misunderstanding. After so many years, after
countless dreams unfulfilled and wishes
denied, his tongue spoke what his heart felt,
despite the rationality thrust upon him by
fate and circumstance. "It offers diamonds to
true beauty.
"
"Scully? You there?"

She couldn't seem to form a reply past the sudden tightening of her
throat. But she did, with a scratchy voice. "Nice."

"I can do romantic, you know." He didn't say it with sarcasm or
arrogance, not even humor.

"I know." Mulder, while not the hearts and flowers type, romanced
her with theory and unstoppable courage. He knew what she craved
and gave it to her every day - with a poetry based on respect and
touches steeped in love and desire.

She heard him shift in his chair. Her sudden softness had
transmitted itself to him over the line and he spoke before
embarrassment got the better of him. "Your turn."

But she wasn't letting the moment go that easily. "I doubt I could
top that."

"Well, you'll have to try, because I gotta pee."

She smiled as she heard him walk away; sometimes, he was such a guy.
Queequeg0925: His words echoed in her head and
she could still see his face become solemn on
that long-ago morning. The men in these parts
were well versed in suave repartee; she'd
heard accolades to her looks delivered as
easily and smoothly as playing cards dealt
around a table. But this was different.
Grave of voice, he stood unblinking in the
green-gray southern countryside, his manner
open and appraising. However, unlike the men
of her circle, there was no sly innuendo or
vacuous flattery behind the words. Only
truth. Once again, he'd managed to rob her of
air. Shocked at his boldness, she'd mounted
Beede and sped away home, only to return again
and again in the weeks since.

She couldn't stay away. In tune with this man
since the very moment they'd met, she'd found
him at the house many times. Slowly, they'd
come to know one another. He realized her
unhappiness from the start; she listened to
his proud, anguished tale knowing it could
only end in tragedy for them both. Still, she
came. Still, he waited. Every day, he told
her not long ago. He'd known with one meeting
who she was and why it was meant to be.

Tonight she'd have to make him go. He would
protest, offer all manner of solutions and lay
his world at her feet. But she wouldn't
listen, she vowed. Once Mr. Donovan found out
- and now he most assuredly would - Mr.
Ashland's life would be forfeit. He wouldn't
be safe in the county; not even in the state.
Mr. Donovan had held his temper this long,
acquiescing to his team of attorneys without
yet resorting to violence.

Just the thought quickened her step. The
rickety hand rail offered little support as
she dodged the weak spots in the porch steps.
When she reached the more safe top step, she
was brought to a halt by the sudden opening of
the door.

He smiled, the corners of his hazel eyes
crinkling as they swept over her slight form.
"My, but we've been a busy bee, haven't we?"

"Like I said before, Mulder -"

"Yeah yeah, I know. You snooze, you lose." He was quiet for a few
moments as he read her message. "Hazel eyes, Scully? Getting a bit
personal, aren't you?"

"I thought that was the idea. Besides, I can't let you turn this
into some porn version of 'Gone with the Wind', now can I?"

"Hmm... 'Come with the Wind'. I like it."

"You would." She picked up her half-melted bowl of ice cream.
"Your turn. And try to keep it from turning into a sexfest, okay?"

"I thought that was the idea, Scully."

She laughed, sputtering drops of chocolate on her chin.
Trustno1: With a humorous yet lightly worried
quip, he chastised her for standing out in the
rain. He'd waited for an hour or more and had
almost given up hope she'd arrive as planned.
There were any number of obstacles she could
have stumbled upon - the most dangerous being
caught leaving Catalpa. But she was finally
standing before him, the Titian hair that
peeked from under her hood escaping her
coiffure to curl about her cheeks. Pale as
she was from the chilly dampness, she still
looked upon him with a happy, yet reserved
blue gaze. He sensed a need in her to speak,
and with that would come the goodbye he knew
she wanted. Joy warred with guilt in her
face. And he couldn't let her give in to
duty, not yet. In the next instant, she was in
his arms as he carried her inside, his boot
slamming the door shut against the night.
Against the pull of reason and responsibility.
"Oh, come on. Who says 'Titian' anymore?"

"Philip Padgett."

"Don't start, Mulder."

"Okay then. Mr. Ashland does," he stated firmly. "Who, by the way,
likes to be called 'Ashland', before you get any wild ideas about
naming him 'Brock' or 'Brick' or 'Brandon'."

"All right... Ashland."

"I hate that tone of voice, Scully."

"What tone of voice?"

"The one that says you're about to unman me."

"Unman? That I like."
Queequeg0925: She had tried to say her piece
and go, she really had. Tears gathered in her
eyes when she saw the way he'd cleaned the
dust from what was once a modest parlor. A
small fire glowed in the fireplace and velvet
pillows graced the floor in place of the
tapestry sofa that had seen better days. In
fact, all the ancient furniture had been
shoved to the concealing darkness of the four
walls. A bottle of champagne and two glasses
sat next to a single candle on the floor.

He'd set the scene for seduction. It was
impossible to deny; she looked from the
tableau before her to his silent, questioning
face. He shifted, lowering her to her feet.
One moment passed, then two, as he waited, not
touching her anymore. Though she'd decided to
end the relationship that grew more dangerous
every day, in a heartbeat she clutched this
shining hour to her breast - giving them both
a memory that would have to last forever.

One calloused hand cupped her cheek, brushing
away the moisture gathered there. "You unman
me with your tears," he whispered. "Don't
cry."

Smiling slightly, she covered his hand with
her own. "Those aren't tears," she whispered.
"As this house once gave diamonds to me, so I
give them to you."
"Well?" Seemed she'd rendered Mulder speechless; at least a half
minute had gone by without even a snort or chuckle from his end.
"What? You don't like?"

"No, it's not that." Husky-voiced, he paused to clear his throat.
"Not that at all."

"If I'm embarrassing you, Mulder, just -" She hadn't meant to get so
serious.

"Embarrass me? Impossible." At last, a smile in his voice.
"Besides, I'm not the one channeling Nora Roberts, Scully."

She was relieved at the lighter tone, and made a mental note to
remember this was supposed to be playful. "And just how do you know
about Nora Roberts, Mulder?"

"Uh..." Papers shuffled. A dull thud followed, then a small hiss of
annoyance after what sounded suspiciously like a lamp hitting the
floor.

"What was that?"

"Just practicing my hook shot."

Nearly choking with laughter, she leaned back in her chair. "You're
cheating!"

"I am not."

"What is it - 'Jewels of the Sun'? Or 'Irish Rose'?"

"And just how is it you know the titles, Scully?"

He had her there, and he knew it. "I believe in maintaining a well-
rounded grasp of modern literature."

"Bullshit. I've seen the bottom drawer of your night stand, Scully.
You have a thing for romance novels, admit it."

"I used to, yes. Until I acquired a thing for you."

Again, his voice dipped to low, raw feeling. "Good answer."

"Now stop cheating and show me what you've got, mister."
Trustno1: He released a ragged sigh when she
let her cape fall to the floor. Giving him a
tremulous smile, she reached up and framed his
clean-shaven face with her hands. Her mouth
tilted up as his moved down; it wasn't the
first kiss he'd ever bestowed upon her.
However, it paled in comparison to the
innocent press of his mouth on the back of her
gloved hand.
Softly, he drew apart her closed
lips with his own as his arms came around her.
It took only a second for his kiss to become
urgent, probing deep. Eyes drifting shut, she
gave in to his demand.

One hand wrapped around her nape, he moved her
head as he would a child's ragdoll, turning
her this way and that so he could plunder at
will. He sensed triumph in her pliancy and
took the field with nothing less than total
surrender.
"Nice. And you did it without cheating. I'm proud of you, Mulder."

"I never cheated to begin with, but thank you. Ball's in your
court, Scully."
Queequeg0925: She'd certainly been kissed
before. By gentle suitors, by Mr. Donovan
himself. But nothing like the soul-destroying
capture of her mouth employed by the man in
her embrace. From the first, she knew of the
passionate nature underlying the
sophistication. It was in his almost perfect
mode of dress, the rich clothes always seeming
to suffer from one crease too many. It hid in
the stubborn waves of his dark hair, in the
smoldering looks he gave her and the rough
edge of tone he used when emotion got the
better of him.

To all who knew him, he was a gentleman of
means and education. A newfound darling of
county society, with maidens swooning at his
feet and mamas conspiring for nothing less
than marriage. The men who'd looked askance
at him on his arrival soon flocked to his side
for financial advice, hearing of his level
head for business and knack for cutting
competitors cold without breaking a sweat.

The thought made her break away - was she just
another pawn in the game? Another strategic
move in the battle now some decades old? He'd
told her she was the reason he'd braved the
fight, not the house or the land. Seeing her
hesitation, her slight accusation, he took a
step back.

If you believe that of me, this ends now, his
wounded look cried.
"Have you heard of this house before, Scully?"

"No, why?"

"Just asking. You take an another whack at it - I need another
beer."
Queequeg0925: "No, never," she breathed, the
simple denial going further than any
affirmative in acceptance of his attentions.
This time he advanced, with a joyous face and
a renewed assault on her senses.
She paused, waiting for Mulder's return as she pondered his question
of moments before. The house *had* moved her when she first saw it,
and the feeling had grown with every viewing of the photograph.
Something within her moved; her hands rested on the keys as if
poised for a concerto of words. But Mulder's message temporarily
delayed what she felt rumbling low and insistent in the pit of her
stomach.
Trustno1: Hurry, her hands told him, tugging
at his clothes. With a muttered oath at the
complexity of women's clothing, he swiftly
turned her around, his fingers going for the
row of tiny pearl buttons snaking down her
spine. When the gown gave way enough, she
shrugged off his touch, pulling the confining
satin down until it pooled on the floor. Her
corset followed, not as quickly as she would
have liked; the laces, tightened to the point
of constriction as was the fashion of the day,
took some time. Her muttered imprecation at
the delay made him chuckle.
"Scully?"

"Back so soon?" Lost in her thoughts, she hadn't realized he was
waiting for her reply. "And you just had to sneak in the corset,
didn't you?"

"Corset? What corset?"

"Nice try, but I think I should point out that the closest I'll get
to a corset these days is a push-up bra."

"I'll take what I can get, Scully."
Queequeg0925: But his humor at her impatience
was short-lived, as she turned and took
control. Spreading his coat wide, she made
short work of his vest and flung them both
away as he arched a surprised eyebrow. Her
kiss was explosive, propelling him into a
staggering fall against the pillows.
Laughing
openly now, he settled her between his spread
legs and let her slip the onyx studs of his
shirt free.
"I think I should remind you, Scully - Mr. Ashland's manly physique
has no need of a corset."

"Manly physique?"

"Just getting into character, that's all."

Into character. Getting into character. A burst of inspiration
made her continue and she furiously typed out her continuation.

"Hey - it's my turn," Mulder protested.

"Just give me a minute. Go get another beer."

"I just got one," he replied, a bit miffed in tone.

She ignored him and kept typing.
Queequeg0925: When her mouth began to trace a
path over the exposed skin of his chest, his
laughter died a quick death. His fingers dug
into her hips, branding her through the linen
of her chemise.

She'd never had this with Mr. Donovan, never.
Like the dutiful wife she was, she submitted
but could summon no enthusiasm for her
marriage bed. Her father, bound by
circumstance, had little choice but to give
his daughter to his affluent neighbor. A
payment of sorts, for aid given. It wasn't
that she bristled at the contract - she knew
her place in the world and abided by its
restrictions.

Her husband left her cold, period. But this
man... this man had everything she ever wanted
in a mate. For the first and last time, she
thumbed her nose at her papa's and husband's
domination. *He* would let her do what she
wanted. With him, to him, for him. She
didn't hesitate. She had the rest of her life
to do regrets and timidity.

He hissed when her tongue brushed the scar on
his chest; with her eyes closed, she
remembered the day he'd told her of Cuba.
Even then, she'd wanted to soothe the pain
lingering in his eyes. Now, she wordlessly
gave him succor from the haunting memory.
"Scully? Hey, Scully -"
Queequeg0925: Much as she wanted to tarry, to
acquaint herself with the hard muscles she'd
only dreamed of, she didn't. Instead, she
followed her instincts. Drawing in a deep
breath at her boldness, she squirmed down his
body. His protest was feeble at best,
something she paid no mind as she looked up
into his glazed eyes with a devious smile.

The buttons of his trousers gave her no
trouble at all. In seconds, she'd released
his straining flesh into her waiting hands.
He breathed her name... "Laura" ... the moment
she lowered her mouth.
"Scully, wait a minute."

"You like me to go down on you Mulder, I know you do," she muttered,
still typing.

"That's not it." Frustration edged his voice, as if he wished miles
of D.C. traffic didn't stand between them. "Just listen to me -"

But she couldn't. One hand slapped at the telephone, disconnecting
her from his interference. She had to finish. Almost immediately,
the phone began to ring. This time, she yanked the line from the
back of the phone, severing all attempts at interruption.
Queequeg0925: With hands made rough by
excitement, his long fingers wove into her
hair, scattering pins to the floor. Head held
in a tender vise, she allowed him to set the
rhythm of her assault, moaning beneath her as
his hips lifted slowly up and down. This
place, this unfamiliar part of his body,

Trustno1: What the hell are you doing?

Queequeg0925: held a particular fascination
for her. The earthy scent of his skin was
multiplied threefold, making her senses come
alive with the need to bring him to
satisfaction. He was her mate and she purred
above him, matching his movements with the
innate claim of the human animal. Silent and
confident, she would not relent until she had
dominion, something she'd never had before and
would never have again.

"Laura, stop..." Mr. Ashland gave warning, but
she gave no quarter.

Trustno1: Scully. Stop now. Stop it.

Queequeg0925: Suddenly, she found herself on
her back against the pillows, a heaving, wild-
eyed lover holding her still as he sought her
mouth with his. The hands that moments ago
guided her to take charge now shoved up her
chemise; she groaned under his kiss at the
fullness that stretched her small body.
Breaking away from his lips, she gasped for
breath and bit her lip. Above her, he
murmured things she didn't understand, but she
knew were meant to soothe her.

No, no, she wanted to scream, but it wouldn't
take hold in her throat. This was the first
and last time they'd ever have like this, and
she wanted to prolong the hour. A trilling
desperation rose up in her breast to match the
growing approach of completion. Her arms and
legs strained to hold him close as he pumped
in and out of her body, but her mind refused
to relax. His whispered litany of love, his
hopeful words of escape for them both, how
they'd leave and never return... all this she
heard but didn't process. Instead, a more
alert part of her listened to the thunder roll
above his labored breathing.
The insistent ring of her cell phone clamored across the room. She
worked on, her face damp with perspiration, her heart beating double
time.
Queequeg0925: To let go would be disastrous,
she knew. Still, it came... with a crescendo
of pulsing fire deep in her belly. Lifting
her arms from their slick exploration of his
back, she curled them over her head as she
arched her back. A low cry burst from her
open mouth; her eyes squeezed shut then flew
wide to see him watching her. He said her
name over and over, his hips pinning her to
the cushions as he planted a hand beside her
head. She welcomed it even as her body fought
to get away from his consuming passion. Hips
squirming and circling, she felt the knife of
orgasm slice neat and clean, releasing a
starburst of feeling. He held her to him with
a hand low on her back, riding out her
pleasure as he stiffened as well. Hot,
furious seed filled her body and she
succumbed, finally letting go of the unwanted
tension that colored their coupling.

For long moments she let him lie upon her
body. His lips moved against her throat as
she calmed him with gentle touches, his
whisper foreign to her ears but somehow
understood. A small smile graced her mouth;
she was so foolish. Though they'd reached the
pinnacle together, she'd held a part of her
distant for fear of the outside world. Next
time. Next time, they'd be free to explore.
To draw out the feeling, to linger and savor
and -

The house shook with the force of thunder.
The fire had burned low, the candle barely
sputtering with life. She wondered if
Eyes closed, she sat at her desk in a sleepy fog. It wasn't until a
hand settled on her shoulder that she started from her stillness;
she found herself face to face with a frantic Mulder. He jerked as
if to gather her close, then thought better of it, as his jaw
relaxed.

"You okay?" Like she was liable to disappear should he let go, his
hands touched her face, her shoulders, her arms.

He had tomato sauce on his chin, bringing the pale sharpness of his
features to the forefront. She reached up to wipe the smudge away
with a confused smile. "Mulder, what are you doing here?"

"What am I doing here?" Incredulity made his eyebrows shoot up.
"Why'd you hang up on me? And why the hell didn't you answer your
cell phone?"

"Mulder, I didn't hang up on you. I couldn't have, because we
haven't spoken since we left the office this afternoon." She
sniffed at his t-shirt with a grimace. "You've been drinking. Are
you sure you're okay?"

With a purse of his lips, he sidestepped her and reached for the
computer. Arms crossed, she glared at his back. "Don't you dare
screw up that report on the Givens case. I've been working on that
all night."

He sighed, dropping into her chair. "No, you haven't," he insisted
as he moved her mouse impatiently. "Where is it?"

Fatigue dogged her steps to his side. "Where's what?"

"The story. The one we made together. The one you took over - or
should I say, the one that took over you."

"Mulder, how much have you had to drink?"

"Damn it, Scully, I'm not drunk! You and I were chatting about...
plans for Halloween, and then suddenly, you were gone. You hung up
on me and I couldn't get you to respond!" He stood up, towering
over her with frustration. "I called you at least six times on the
way over here but you never answered."

Rolling her eyes at his fury, she picked up her receiver. Holding
it to his ear, she said, "See? Still works."

He grabbed it out of her hand and held it to her ear. "No, it
doesn't." Slamming it down, he reached for the line. "And here's
why. You disconnected it." He held up the line as iffy proof.

But she wasn't convinced. "I've been meaning to call the phone
company about that - it's loose. Anyway, you know you can ping me
on my computer's phone line, just as you can call my cell. I would
never disconnect my phone line, Mulder. Never cut myself off from
you like that."

"Look." He shoved her cell phone into her face.

Six missed calls. A quick review revealed they were all from
Mulder, the first coming in about an hour ago. Still, she remained
adamant about her suppositions.

"So I fell asleep at the computer. So did you, apparently.
Exhaustion can manifest itself in many ways, including vivid dreams.
The alcohol made it worse, don't you see? We got back from Idaho at
four this morning, then spent the whole day scrambling to have this
report ready for Skinner by tomorrow. You're just tired, Mulder.
Very, very tired."

"But it was so real."

Scully brushed the shadows under his eyes with a gentle thumb. "The
only thing real about this is the fact we're both operating on about
three hours sleep in the last two days."

Mulder deflated before her very eyes, passing a weary hand over his
face. "Maybe you're right. But it still doesn't make sense. I
know what we were doing this evening, albeit in a silicon medium.
How much fun we were having. Hell, I left my apartment with a -"

"With a what?"

He grinned sheepishly, letting his hands fall on her hips. As his
mouth brushed her forehead, he murmured, "Let's just say one part of
me was wide awake, even if all the rest was just a dream."

"See? A normal physiological response to the REM sleep of a grown
man who spends way too much time on the Internet. A cyber-wet
dream, if you will." She snorted with mirth, letting her head fall
against his chest. "Stay. You shouldn't be driving this late,
especially if you had a couple of beers. Besides, you're already
dressed for bed." Her bare feet tickled his beneath the hem of his
flannel pajama pants. "No shoes?"

"I was in kind of a hurry."

"They're freezing. Go get under the covers." With a little pinch
at his waist, she shushed his protest. "I'll wake you up at six so
you can go home and change for work. Go on and get in bed. I need
to work a bit more then I'll join you."

"If you're expecting me to get in bed with you and do nothing but
fall asleep, Scully..." He yawned, squeezing her as his hand rubbed
the ache in her back. "You're absolutely right."

Laughter rumbled between them. She was too tired to reach higher
than his chin with her kiss. "You'll make it up to me next week on
Halloween, won't you?"

"Damned right I will." He was mumbling now, asleep on his feet.
"I'll even do lumberjack. And I won't make you do corset, 'k?"

With one last kiss to her hair, he shuffled off to her bedroom. She
shook her head at his incoherence, then chalked it up to his obvious
sleep-deprived delirium. As were *all* his ramblings since he'd
arrived.

She sighed at the mess that was her desk and decided not to tackle
anything more; she'd get up early with Mulder and finish the report
over coffee before heading out for the office. In moments, she'd
powered down the computer. The lamp over her desk had shifted
farther away from her reaching fingers amidst all the files she'd
taken home, and she leaned over to switch it off.

The corner of a photograph peeked out with a tempting, glittery
shine; she paused, grasping it between the fingers of one hand to
bring it out from under the stack of expense receipts. No matter
what Mulder said, she wasn't spending her Halloween in that old
place. She turned it over to toss it in the wastebasket, stopping
when a faded newspaper article clipped to the back caught her eye.
Gently removing the faded yellow square from its place, she unfolded
it and read the headline.
The Jackson Courier
November 5, 1900

Mysterious Disappearance Explained

Local police have closed the missing person case
of Mr. Tate Ashland. Mr. Ashland, a decorated hero
of the Roosevelt campaign in Cuba, was discovered
missing from the Shadows the morning of November 1 by
his valet. Though not reported to the police until
the following morning, Mr. Ashland's gentleman told
the investigating officer that his employer failed to
make an appearance at a scheduled meeting with his
attorney, thus triggering an extensive search of his
property and the surrounding county.
In a revelation that took authorities by surprise
yesterday, police were informed by Mr. Rufus Donovan,
the esteemed state senator from Jackson County, that
he'd received a telegram from Mr. Ashland, which
stated his intent to relinquish all claims to the
disputed property between his estate and Mr.
Donovan's, known as Teach Maoine. It also agreed to
terms on the selling of his plantation, the Shadows,
to Senator Donovan. This missive was verified as
accurate by the New York attorney Mr. Marsh Webster.
Mr. John Jacoby, the local attorney who has
represented Mr. Ashland since his move to the county
earlier this year, voiced his protest to have the
case remain open to the investigating officer,
Inspector Macklin. But the documents presented by
Mr. Webster to support this unusual turn of events
were proven authentic when Mr. Ashland's valet stated
the signature was in fact his employer's. Mr.
Ashland, according to Mr. Webster, left the country
soon after selling his plantation, expressing a
desire to visit his late mother's homeland.
Senator Donovan was unavailable for comment as of
the printing of this story, despite the efforts of
this reporter to obtain a personal statement.
On a related note, Mrs. Rufus Donovan, the former
Laura Sheridan, was admitted to Pinecrest Sanitarium
late yesterday afternoon with, according to the staff
at Catalpa Plantation, a very sudden, serious
illness. Senator and Mrs. Donovan were married late
last year in a lavish ceremony attended by the
Governor and numerous other dignitaries, many the
creme of southern society. It is rumored that Mr.
Donovan refuses to leave his bride's bedside, as it
is expected she will not recover.
Scully closed her eyes and swayed, the whisper in her mind faint and
haunting.

Tairgeann sé diamaint chuichi áilleacha fhíor.

"Scully, come to bed."

She shook off her sudden chill, chuckling derisively at her musings.
Her misfiring, exhausted brain couldn't even think logically -
Mulder was right. Time for bed. Carefully replacing the photograph
and clipping atop the pile on her desk, she killed the lamp and
crept in the dark to Mulder's waiting embrace.


End
Author's Notes:

A big "thank you" to Musea for beta and encouragement, as always. Most especially Diana Battis and
mountainphile, for tackling this monster (no pun intended, even if it is Halloween <g>). Also, many
thanks to Sybil for continuing to challenge me in many ways; you've made me think, honey. Love ya, babe!

This story contains a nod to Diana Battis, Jintian, and Annie Sewell-Jennings; I couldn't resist, just as
y'all still make me pee my pants with that story, no matter how many times I read it. :D

My apologies to Nora Roberts, wherever you are. I mean no disrespect; actually, I love your novels and I
sit in awe of your amazing talent. <Mishy chants, "I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy...">

And lest I forget, thanks to the folks over at IrishGaelicTranslator.com and the Irish Language Forums of
Daltaí na Gaeilge, for help with the lingo. Fabulous places, both.

I had a great time writing this and hope you enjoyed it as well. Thanks for reading.

Mishy
Click here for a text version of this story.