SUMMARY: Halloween. Snickers. Ghost stories. Dead Man's Curve.
TIMELINE: You could put it anywhere, but before TGTSC, for sure.
NOTES: I started this around Halloween last year, but didn't finish it in time. I am pleased to present it on-time this year. Also, my sister said I'd better put a candy warning on this. You might want to have some handy.
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"What are you up to?"
"The same thing most of America is, Mulder. Jumping up every 30 seconds to contribute to the sugar highs and dentistry bills of America's youth."
He thought about this for a moment.
"Aren't you, Mulder?"
"Oh, yeah" he said. "Of course. Are you almost done?"
"Well..." he could hear her shaking the bowl around. "I'm getting down there."
"Good" he said.
"Mulder..." her voice was full of warning, but, of course, he was not going to listen.
"I have something I think we should check out." He could hear her closing her eyes in exasperation. Mulder, no, he thought. He was not discouraged.
She sighed, and it was enough.
"Come on, Scully. It won't take very long. You're not doing anything else, right?"
"Isn't there a monster movie marathon on to distract you?"
There were several, but they would not be enough distraction tonight. Come play, Scully.
"We could make our own movie marathon, Scully."
As usual, she did not answer. He wondered what she thinks of these innuendos. Do they ever affect her at all? She used to zing back. Before.
"I have chocolate. And it's all yours."
"Where are we going?"
Her phone rang.
"Your carriage awaits" he purred in her ear, much too low and silky and sexy for ordinary conversation. This will be a long night, she thought.
She ran downstairs, experienced a brief moment of end-of-October chill, and flung herself into his car, the heater already warm.
"Pumpkin seeds?" he offered, showing her the pile in his hand.
"Chocolate" she said. Do not get between her and her Halloween candy.
Mulder figured it out. "Your candy or your life," and wisely handed over an unopened bag of Snickers miniatures.
He was dressed in jeans and his leather jacket, and that's all she could see at the moment. His hair was all mussed up in that way that looked good on him.
It was going to be a very long night. She tore into the Snickers bag. Now that she was committed to this adventure, she was much more affable about it. "I take it this isn't official Bureau business" she said after her first bite of candy.
He looked startled. "What makes you say that?"
"No suit and tie."
He laughed in a rather enjoyable way. "It's Halloween. I'm going as someone who doesn't work for the government. Besides, I won't wear a tie if I don't have to. And it's not like you're wearing a suit."
Scully took some offense, because she was wearing old jeans and a long sleeved T-shirt under her jacket, and she changed several times before deciding to just leave on what she was wearing in the first place. She did her best not to show it, however. "A tie," she observed, "is the male version of pantyhose."
"That is profound. Ly disturbing" he said. "Do you have some weird fetish I'm about to hear about? Because if you do-- tell me everything. Don't leave anything out. I can take it. Feel free to demonstrate, if necessary."
She ate chocolate and looked out the window.
What on earth was *she* complaining about clothes for? He wasn't the one sitting there in the low-cut shirt and tight jeans... All right, maybe his jeans were a little tight, but he definitely didn't have a low-cut shirt on. And he sure as hell wouldn't look like *that* if he did.
He didn't know Scully owned clothes like that.
"So where are we going?" she asked.
He tried to make his voice appropriately spooky. "It's All Hallows Eve, Scully, where else would we be going?"
He frowned. "No. Where *else*?"
He could tell she was trying not to laugh, her mouth full of candy. "A haunted house."
"Ding ding ding! Give the lady a prize." He concentrated for a moment on turning the wheel, guiding them around a large right curve.
She sighed. "Mulder..."
He never heard her objection, because at that moment the car spluttered and died.
"Whoa" Mulder said, guiding them to the side of the road.
"Did we run out of gas?" Scully asked.
"No way" Mulder insisted. "I filled it up just before I picked you up." He looked around, outside the window. "Scully" he breathed, awe in her name. "This is Deadman's Curve!"
"Mulder" she said flatly. "There is no Deadman's Curve here."
His only answer was to unbuckle his seat belt and open the door. She gaped after him.
"Mulder! What are you doing? Where are you going?" Keeping a tight hold on her bag of candy, Scully followed him into the night.
The moon was half full, and the sky partly cloudy. It was graveyard cold. Mulder hardly noticed, except for his breath puffing in front of him. He heard Scully calling for him, but he stood in the Halloween night, trying to feel any charges in the air, unusual drafts (which even he could admit was unlikely outside), vague blurs half-glimpsed in the distance.
He heard Scully get out of the car. He spun around quickly shouting: "Scully, don't--" but it was too late. She slammed the door shut, and they both heard the little thud of locking doors.
"Oh" she whispered.
Shoulders slumped, Mulder turned around. "I'm sorry, Mulder" she said.
"That's all right" he sighed. "I have my cell phone in my pocket."
Mulder could feel a tingling on his back, creeping closer. But that was just his Scully-sense, probably. He turned around to make sure.
Scully stared at him, looking normal. That is, she was cross. "Mulder, what are you doing? It's freezing. Call for help."
"Did you see anything, Scully?" he asked, ever hopeful. "I mean here we are, on Halloween, on Dead Man's Curve, and our car dies!" Mulder had a sudden thought, and turned to stare at the car. "Does it look like it's moving to you, Scully?" Maybe there were small ghostly hands pushing it.
"Mulder. No. What did you want me to see? I didn't see anything different than now, which is hardly surprising, because usually you don't see car trouble coming, which is why it's so expensive and inconvenient. The car is not moving, Mulder. That is in fact the problem, why we are standing in the middle of the road on a cold, dark night."
Mulder sighed, his breath blobbing against the dark background of naked oaks. The car wasn't moving; she was right about that. "Fine" he said, and pulled out his cellphone.
The reception was crappy but there was reception. Thank God for small miracles. Their lives weren't completely a horror movie. Mulder called AAA. They would come, but it might be awhile.
Mulder hung up and wandered back to Scully's side. She was sitting on the hood of the car, and had resumed eating. Mulder put the phone in his pocket and stared. Scully was eating the top half first, the peanuts and caramel. Then the nougat. It involved a lot of surgical nibbling and tongue-flashing, which Mulder felt was somewhat indecent.
Scully noticed him staring. "Do you want one?" she asked, somewhat graciousless.
"Yes" he answered without thinking. He was glad it was dark, because he was afraid he might be a tad flushed.
She gave him one--just one. He hopped up on the car next to her
to eat it.
He stuffed it all in his mouth at once.
"Charming, Mulder" she said dryly, and went back to autopsying Snickers.
Mulder was abruptly assailed by a warm and fuzzy feeling, and almost fell over. He was absurdly pleased to be sitting next to Scully on a car on Halloween.
"So," said Scully. "What was so fascinating about this haunted house that we had to drop everything and rush out there."
Mulder considered telling her that he had planned this two months ago, but decided it was knowledge she could pass the rest of her days without. He told her his story instead.
"Fifty years ago, in this particular house in the Maryland countryside, there lived a perfect 1950s, Norman Rockwell family. Father, mother, one boy, one girl, dog. They had recently bought the house-- their first home. They had only moved in exactly one week before the 31st of October.
"After the children had returned from trick-or-treating, the parents were expected at a party one of their new neighbors had invited them to. They never showed up. In fact, no one could remember seeing the kids trick-or treating, either. No one answered the phone. The police were sent around the next morning. Know what they found?"
Scully had stopped eating and was leaning toward him, her mouth slightly open. Her eyes were wide. Scully would never admit it, but she loved stories. "What?" she whispered. Mulder dropped his voice even lower, whispering now and then.
"Nothing. The entire family, including Rover, had vanished. All their possessions, some still in boxes, were left. Nothing was missing, not as far as anyone could tell. No signs of a struggle. They were simply gone."
"And you suspect--what?" Scully whispered. "Alien abduction?"
Mulder grinned at her. She knew him so well. "Well, I would" he admitted. "Except that our missing family has since been seen. On Halloween night. Back to inhabit their home. Only glimpses of them have been had, to date, but the theory goes that if anyone can catch them when they first appear, and stay there, and follow through, that person or persons will be able to see this family's last night. You'll be able to see everything that happened-- and the mystery of their disappearance will at last be solved. And the family's ghosts can at last be laid to rest, knowing that the world will know the truth about their fate."
Scully sighed with satisfaction and leaned back. She looked down, and it struck Mulder as being a shy gesture. "That wasn't bad, Mulder. I admit, now I'm intrigued. I wouldn't mind your haunted house jaunt."
Mulder sighed. Of course. "Well, it's too late now" he said ruefully. "We have definitely missed it."
"Maybe next year" Scully said. Mulder looked over at her, at the fall of hair hiding her face. Scully's skin glowed in moonlight. He wanted to cradle her head in his hands, wrap her hair around his fingers. She would taste like chocolate, he thought. And peanuts.
Scully smiled to herself. Mulder and his ghost stories.
She vaguely remembered it was supposed to be cold out.
"Mulder? Why do you claim this is Dead Man's Curve?"
"What would you do if someone tried to kiss you?"
Where the hell was he going with this? "Well, that would depend."
"On a lot of things."
"If it was a stranger, say, you'd punch his lights out?"
"Again, it depends on the situation. But yes, probably."
He nodded solemnly. "What if it was a friend?"
"A friend? Like..."
"Like someone who was just a friend, and then one night, out of the blue, tried to kiss you."
Like someone you worked with, Mulder? Was he going to try to kiss her? She'd eaten too much candy. It was reacting badly with the butterflies in her stomach. "Obviously, if I was interested, it wouldn't be a problem."
"Of course. Assuming you weren't interested."
"Then I'd do what anyone would do. Put a stop to it, tell him I liked him as a friend, but I wasn't interested in anything else. Why, Mulder?" She felt him suck in a breath. "What would you do?"
He flashed a grin that reminded her of relief. "I dunno. It's never been an issue." He gave her a leer, so that she could roll her eyes and the mood could be broken.
"Mulder" she reminded him. "You didn't answer my question."
She thought he squeaked, but it was probably some small woodland creature in the surrounding vicinity. "About this being Dead Man's Curve."
"Ah." She could almost hear him mentally changing tracks.
"These sort of areas are found all over the place, Scully. Places where the laws of physics seem to be suspended, either because of some unusual natural geology or some more mysterious, supernatural event."
"Like cars rolling uphill?"
"Exactly." He warming up. Scully opened her mouth to explain that cars rolling uphill were just a trick of perception, but remembered her philosophy for the previous story: it's a holiday.
"In this particular case, Scully, it seems to be a bit of both. This particular bit of road has been known to act up anytime, but especially at certain times of the year: Midsummer, Midwinter, and, of course, Samhain."
"Of course" she echoed.
"The most frequent reports are the type of experience we had tonight-- the vehicle dies, inexplicably. But in 1982, this very stretch of lonely highway earned its named."
Scully shivered. It must be getting colder.
"On this very night, two teenagers went out driving."
"It's always teenagers" she observed.
"Hopefully, that's good news for us" Mulder said. "As their car rounded this curve, that we are currently sitting in the middle of, their car died-- just like ours. It was 1982, Scully, and they didn't have cellphones or carphones. So the boyfriend selflessly volunteered to walk back to the nearest gas station, which we passed about 25 minutes before our car died. He left his girlfriend sitting in the car."
Scully thought she knew where this was going. Their location made it a bit creepier, even if she didn't believe it was real.
"The girl waited all night. Finally, the sky was lighting, and she was near panic. A car drove by slowly, at last, coming from that direction--" he pointed up the road "--and she reached over and blared the horn. The car stopped and a man, on his way to work in DC, stopped and got out. She told him what had happened. The man promised to drive to the gas station and get someone to help her. They turned to look down the road, however, and the girl screamed. Lying just there--" they both turned to look at the way they had come, "right there, at the beginning of the curve, by the side of the road, was her boyfriend's body. All night, his corpse had lain 50 feet away, while she waited in the car for him to return. He'd been killed as he walked by, his throat slit, and she hadn't heard a thing."
Scully shuddered again (just kept getting colder!) and scootched a little closer to Mulder, for warmth.
They were silent for a moment, then Scully made a show of bravado. "A likely story. Sounds like something a boy would make up just so he would have an excuse to park with a girl. Pretend the car runs out of gas. Good excuse not to go for any."
She expected some further suggestive and/or satirical remark from Mulder. What she got was him leaning very close to her, their foggy breathes merging. "Is that what you think, Scully?" His voice was very low. She didn't hear it so much as feel it, bouncing around her heart, her rib cage, down past her stomach, thrumming through her body. "You think I made it up?"
She was trapped. Say no and she implied she believed the story. Say yes and imply she thought he'd done this to get her alone in a parked, dark car. Or on one, whatever. "No" was safer.
"No" she whispered.
He leaned even closer. She had to tilt her head up to look at him. "What if I did make it up?" His breath curled across her cheeks.
She was trembling; it must be cold. Funny, though, she didn't feel cold. Actually, she felt rather warm.
"That would be..." she trailed off. She didn't know what it would be, actually.
Scully could feel his eyes burning into her. She could feel all of him burning into her, but the eyes were the worst, and she closed her eyes to try and block them out.
She could feel him moving closer, and her mind shut down in panic or excitement. She felt...something on the tip of her nose. Mulder's nose. He was rubbing the tip back and forth. She jumped, just slightly, and forgot about the bag of Snickers.
He kept doing it. Wildly, she wished he would just hurry up and kiss her, so this terrible tension would be over. If he wasn't going to, dammit, she was. She tilted her face up, looking for his mouth.
From behind them, something roared. There was a girly scream and they both jumped apart. Scully's foot slid off the bumper and she almost tumbled off, but Mulder caught her arm.
He somehow managed to catch her while looking over his shoulder. "It's the tow truck" he said, sounding immensely relieved. "It's the tow truck. Are you all right?"
She nodded, and slid slowly off the car. She bent down and grabbed the bag of candy, which had fallen off her lap during her near tumble. Mulder stood up next to her, and they waved their arms.
The tank was indeed replete with petrol. The garage easily jimmied the door open, and it started with the first turn of the key. The Check Oil light didn't come on; the Check Engine light didn't come on.
"It's an X-File" he said with a weak smile at Scully. It was clear that the garage guy and the tow truck guy thought they'd gotten out of the car for a Halloween treat on the side of the road and locked the keys in the car. Mulder didn't mention that to Scully, though.
On the drive back, Scully put the bag of candy on the console between them.
Mulder felt it was good sign. At least she didn't hate him. Hell, even when it seemed like she liked him she rarely shared candy.
Outside her apartment, Mulder put the car in neutral, and turned to face her with that apologetic smile he did so well. "Sorry, Scully, that I pulled you away from your trick-or-treaters for a cold night sitting on a car. I really don't like stealing your free time for worthless reasons."
"I wouldn't say it was worthless, Mulder. In fact...I had a good time."
"Would you like to come up?" she asked, her tongue suddenly feeling heavy and awkward in her mouth. "For coffee" she added quickly. "I mean, it was cold...you could probably use some caffeine. Although if you didn't want to, I mean it's late..."
Her tongue felt huge, but her mouth felt bigger. And empty. Her brain flashed on what it would be like to have his tongue in her mouth. She quickly pushed the thought away, her body already flushed and running hot and cold. It wasn't fair, what the mere suggestion of being kissed by this man could do to her...
"Sure" he grinned at her. "Coffee sounds good, Scully."
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