Disclaimer: The characters of Skinner, Mulder and Scully are owned by Chris Carter and Ten Thirteen productions and are used without permission. Tirorvan, Blaise, Mžorunach, and other minor characters are out of my wicked imagination. This story is not about David Duchovny or Gillian Anderson, (I imagine both DD and GA espouse the Cure song which says, "Please stop loving me/I am none of these things,") but about some fictional characters whose fictional lives I am mucking around in.
I distinctly remember having finished Joyce Carol Oates' Because It Is Bitter and Because It Is My Heart right before I wrote this, so some of her mannerisms have crept in here.
Comments and constructive criticism are welcome and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. In fact, I'd really love to know what you think. Seriously. Flames will be ignored, though. Poetry credits and apologies to those who live in Wolcott are at the end.
One: At the Ragged Edge
At the ragged edge of the silence In the calm that only comes with the violent Sleep Inside the heart and the hope of redemption -October Project
It crouches outside the hotel room, sniffing delicately the air of pollution, exhaust, human habitation. Fingers like skinny wires, curled. Silver, savage eyes. It hates being among the things of humans, but it cannot disobey its orders.
It has been told explicitly what to do. Scare them, and if that didn't work, take them. They must not be allowed to interfere with the celebration. And of course the hunt. The hunt. The creature crouched on the window ledge moans an inarticulate sound of longing and bloodlust. A mouth that is not in the right place rasps polluted air. Sores ooze, broken bones grate, the air of nightmare clings to the thin form. Wiry hands clench and unclench. It is past time.
It slips into the room, to where the woman is sleeping, where one slender leg pokes out of the cheap bedspread. It touches her forehead with fingers like cords, and she moans painfully. It strokes her forehead like a lover. The fingers should leave brands, but don't. There is no mark where the tracks of the fingers caress, but her moaning grows louder. It slides out of the room, through the window. It leaves no sign of its passing, but the woman in the bed thrashes, throwing off the covers.
It is a particularly terrible dream.
Smoke fills the room and she is tied again to the silver rack and this time it is her poor dead sister, dear Melissa, who applies the small drill to her abdomen this time it is her poor dead father who leans over her with a needle and a light.
Open up, Scully. Open up. And her mother, holding her hand, breaking the fingers one by one. Dana. Dana. Everything will be fine, you'll see girl won't it girl won't it? She tries to speak but her mouth is filled with the needle, slipping down her throat like a particularly vile sort of snake and she cannot move her hands and they crowd around her while her fingers are broken one by one.
Everything will be fine won't it girl won't it? You'll see.
Fox Mulder is woken out of a sound sleep at 5:24 in the morning by his partner's screams. He grabs his gun and takes a moment to pull on his t-shirt. No sense in scaring her more, he thinks wryly. The connecting door to her room has been left unlocked, for these kinds of emergencies. He would never think of using it for anything else. Well, maybe he would, but that thought would never resolve itself. I'm not stupid enough to jeopardize my friendship. Really. He traipses over to the connector, wondering what in the world could make a normally calm Scully howl like a trapped wolf. He is a little apprehensive, because a screaming Scully is a Scully without control, and Scully without control is a terrifying thought.
Scully is still screaming, her voice getting scratchy but still audible. He shoves the door open and does the jump inside that he can't help but think of as the "Good-cop Jump." One step, gun forward, elbows locked but loose, sweep the room. His partner is the only one in the room. She thrashes in the midddle of the bed, jerking her arms against her chest and throwing them out again, trying to push away a terrible dream. He notices her plaid pyjamas with a grin and then goes over to her. He puts the gun on the bedside table, and sits on the edge of the bed.
"Hey, girl. Hey, Dana. Hey, wake up, Scully."
She does not and he gets alarmed. He touches her face, hesitantly. Her skin is flushed but smooth and soft. He becomes bolder, stroking her cheek and then shaking her shoulder, gently.
"Hey, Scully! Wake up!"
And she does, so suddenly that it takes him aback. Wild, terrified blue eyes flash open instantly. The eyes of a cornered badger, he thinks before she uncoils gracefully and with one movement knocks him to the floor, her thumbs unerringly finding his windpipe.
He is stunned. His head has hit the floor hard, and he sees stars, while his air supply is dwindling astonishingly. He tries to move his arms but he can't even think of how to make them move. Just as he is sliding into blackout territory, he feels her let up her thumbs and he can breathe again. She is staring at him, wide-eyed and panting, and he chokes, gasping for breath. When he can finally speak again, he does so in a croak.
"Hey, Scully. Hell of a . . . way to say . . . good morning."
He makes an abortive movement to get up, and she finally notices that she is sitting on his chest. She rolls her weight off, and sits up shakily. Looking at her hands.
"Mulder . . . it was the worst nightmare. I was back in the abduction room, back on the framework that they held me on for testing. . . ."her voice trails off and she looks confused. "Now I can't remember. It had to do with my family, and my sister, but I can't think of the rest of it."
He smiles tentatively. "If I get up, you won't try to kill me again?"
She says, "I am so sorry, Mulder, I don't even know what got into me." He sees the barrier slam back over her eyes, and knows she won't talk about this ever again, unless prompted unless pushed. He sighs, inwardly, and stumbles back to his room. It will not do to be too close to her with only his underwear on. It wouldn't be proper, and one thing Fox Mulder tries very hard to be is proper. With a name like Fox, who could really be proper? But he does try.
The only place he cannot succeed is in his dreams.
Dana cannot understand why she would have had such a horrible reaction, knocking poor Mulder down on the ground when he was only trying to save her life or some other such heroic aim. Why is it always Mulder who gets the brunt of my attacks? In fact, she knows why -- he is the only person close to her on such a day-to-day basis. She wonders what it was that she dreamed . . . it seems very important but all she can remember is the face of her sister. And a shadow hanging over her face, as she was levered backwards on the silver frame and the. . . .
Suddenly she remembers it all again and it makes her cringe. She hates thinking about the abduction, those lost months in her life, hates it. She hates her subconscious, too, for pairing Melissa up with the abduction, the thing she loves most with the thing she hates the most. She carefully slams the drawer on her dream and locks it with several keys. Things that disorder her life are usually locked up in there. She is never going to tell Mulder what she dreamed, and never going to think about it. It is a defense mechanism. To have something missing like the abduction time, to have something like that dream running around in her neat and carefully slotted life is to have a time bomb ticking inside of her.
And sometime, it will go off.
Their current assignment takes place in the unlikely place of Wolcott, Connecticut, and they are there because demons have invaded the town. "Buying up real estate?" Fox had asked with wry humor when he was given the assignment. It had been four days before Hallowe'en, and he had been sure that it was some sort of prank concocted by the local high school, who, like most other high school kids, always seemed to have too much on their collective hands.
"No," Skinner had responded, shooting the Gimme some R-E-S-P-E-C-T look. "They claim that there are real demons running around. Four fingers, slanty eyes, some with horns, some without. There have been fifteen varied sightings around the area."
Scully, characteristically, had looked very calm and very skeptical. But her demeanor could not sway Skinner, and they had gotten on a plane one day later. Routine, routine. Routine. Mulder had sifted quickly through the composites given him in the file. "Check this out, Scully. It's Mephistopheles!" Scully had not looked amused. She had not known what to make of it, though. Mulder had asked her specifically if the pictures reminded her of something. She had answered with a shrug, "White Wolf player's guide covers?"
They had certainly reminded Mulder of something . . . but he just couldn't remember. Now, in the car, he stares at them again. What? Something more like Tolkein than White Wolf, that was for sure. Mark Rhein*Hagen uses lean, elegant characters. Tolkein and some of his more recent fantasy contemporaries prefer the extremes: either beautiful or ugly. Except for the hobbits; they are the mediocrity that bind the two together. In fact. . . .
"We're here," says Scully. "Snap out of it." "Here" is the Wolcott Police Department, and a very small one it is, at that. The town of Wolcott can barely be called a town. The biggest collection of buildings is the town square, and houses surrounded with beautiful lawns lead away down the winding roads until the township stretches out for miles and miles with very few actual inhabitants. Very New England, reflects Mulder. And so is the police chief. Big man, big handshake. His name is Bill Tate, and he has the same ideas as Mulder.
"I bet it's the high school kids. It's so close to Hallowe'en that they are getting restless. But usually it isn't bad. The principal's car gets egged or something. Nothing this organized, and nothing this big. I just don't understand it."
"Could we have an address for one of the bigwigs at school? Maybe I could put the fear of God into him." Mulder's grin is feral, and for a minute Bill Tate's hand clenches into a fist. Damned FBI. I hate having to ask for help from a spook. Mulder sees the fist and his face tightens.
Scully watches him closely. Hoping that he won't say something stupid.
"I don't want him harmed. These kids are just kids."
"Don't worry," says Mulder, and he has the gall to look innocent. He is given the address, of course. That is what the badge is for, at any rate.
It doesn't work. The tall, dark haired, somewhat good looking boy, Brian, is sullen but cooperative. No, they have not been scaring the townspeople with demon impressions. No, he does not recognize any of the sketches. His parents vouch for him, giving iron alibis for many of the sightings. No. No, no, no.
It seems that Brian already has the fear of God, and it is healthy and thriving. Mulder is weary and frustrated. His pet theory has come to naught, and they must stay in this place, this town where he gets lost on the roads. He lets Scully drive, and she navigates like she was born here. He has told the police chief to call his cellphone if there are any more sightings. Now all he wants is time to think. He really doesn't understand this -- there are no killings and nothing really malevolent, only sightings. So, time to think about the future would be welcome. He expects Scully to pull into the hotel parking lot, but instead she makes a noncommittal noise in her throat and pulls into a tiny Chinese place. Mulder stares at her.
"How in the world did you know this was here?"
"The policeman told me about it while you were stalking around muttering," she responds with a smile. They go inside, wooden doors swinging slowly closed behind them. Trapped in a warm room twined with dragons and other Chinese symbols. Live lobsters crawl happily around in a glass tank. Scully obtains a table and seats herself, smiling sweetly and patting the table. Come on, Mulder. Sit down. She glances at her hands and a slight frown crosses her face. Her dream is vague but present.
They eat all kinds of things. Mulder is not picky and lets Scully order. Scully likes variety and soon sweet and sour pork, beef, egg foo young, fried rice, roasted duck, and some unidentified fish cover the table. Scully digs in and Mulder has only time to wonder where she puts it all before she is asking him if he is going to finish that. The fortune cookies come, and Mulder breaks his open to find the piece of paper. Scully's is sticking out and she pulls it out, intending to eat the cookie whole. As she pops it in her mouth and begins to chew, an almost comical look of surprise comes over her face. She opens her mouth, holding her fingers out towards Mulder, and blood gushes from between her lips. He is over to her in a moment, prying open her mouth.
A piece of glass has embedded itself in the roof of her mouth. He pries it out, cutting his own fingers in the process. He thanks the FBI silently for the rigorous blood tests that reassure them both that no one will get AIDS. He almost tells Scully, but decides that this is not the time to be flip. Her breath bubbles now, sobbing in and out as she tries to breathe and swallow blood at the same time. He grabs a napkin and applies pressure, putting her hand to the rapidly soaking napkin.
"Hold that there."
And he slinks off in search of the kitchen. Gun at hip. But he wouldn't think of using it oh no even though he would love to hit the bastard that made Scully bleed hit till he made the bastard bleed from every pore how do you like that how do you like that huh?
They know nothing, of course. The cook is almost in tears at the disaster that he caused. "I did not put glass in her fortune cookie!" he says, stubbornly. Mulder can get nowhere, and soon gives up, even though he is very suspicious and very angry. He goes back out to Scully, who has regained her doctor's composure.
"My, hhat wah a wot a bwood, wahnt it?" Her voice is muffled by the fingers she has in her mouth. Mulder smiles at her, making light of something like almost swallowing glass. "That was a lot of blood, Scully. Do you need to go to the hospital?"
"No, I don whink wo. I would wike some sweep hhough."
Sleep. She wants sleep. Get her sleep, then -- whatever she wants, as long as I don't have to watch her bleed again.
Mulder drives back to the hotel, with her giving muffled directions. At her door, he insists on seeing the roof of her mouth and she obliges as best she can, submitting like a daughter to her father's preserving instinct, even producing a small flashlight when he mutters about lack of light.
His fingers brush her soft-rough lower lip as he pries her mouth open. Something takes hold of him that he stamps down with feet of iron. Her mouth looks reasonably okay, the cut closing up nicely, and he cautions her not to eat anything rough for awhile. She smiles dutifully at him and retreats.
He stomps into his own room and strips back down to his boxers. It is a very warm October or the manager has left the heat up on high. His flushed skin has nothing to do with that velvet underlip. Nothing. From his coat pocket, he retrieves a medium-sized something and turns it in his fingers. He looks at the piece of glass that has so recently been covered in Scully's blood. It should be -- should be -- yes, it is right here. He can dimly see the rune carved into the glass. No one can resist leaving their calling card, he muses, and resolves to send the glass down to Frohike and the boys tomorrow. If they couldn't find out what the rune meant, no one could. Odd that it should be a rune, though, he muses, crawling under the covers. It doesn't look Oriental -- their pictograms are fluid and beautiful - this one is ugly and odd, looking like it was scratched in with a rusty nail or some other clumsy implement. He tries to think of what gangs or organizations use runes, and he is nine-tenths asleep when he feels a brush on his forehead. Light, cold fingers caressing his face. He smiles, his eyes already racing back and forth under their lids. It will be a good dream, he thinks.
But he is wrong.
She leans over him, smiling. Her hand has taken his. She wears plaid pyjamas and her feet are bare. Her eyes bore into his as she bends over to capture his lips with hers. Her silver eyes. As he feels her mouth touch his, he also hears a snap in the vicinity of his hand. He looks around, surprised, to see her pulling off his fingers. One by one by one. There is no pain, only a deep revulsion. She stands up with his fingers grasped in her hand like bloody pieces of chalk, and sticks one in her mouth like a cigar. She takes a gold lighter from her pyjama tops and lights up the finger. Like such things happen in dreams, it blazes nicely. He can smell burning flesh.
"You like that, boy?" Scully says with a laugh. She reaches for his other hand. "Have we reached the limits of your imagination? Guess where I'm going when I'm done with your fingers?" She leans back into him and smiles around her finger-cigar.
"It'll burn really fine, Mulder. How will you like being a girl, I wonder?" She dances around the room, crudely, bumping and grinding to a tuneless song that she growls around her cigar. Mulder sits up, trying to find his gun, to shoot Scully to shoot her down cold and dead, and she bursts into flame and he lifts up his hand to reach out to her. But he has no hands, and she touches his forehead with her four fingers and the smell of flesh is closer. Much closer.
He panics when he awakens, simply because he is coughing out smoke. The room is on fire. He is on fire -- his shirt is burning. Frightened, terrified of fire, knowing what fire can do, he rolls off the bed and grovels in the carpet. After putting out the fire, he crawls under the smoke towards his things. Toward his gun. There is safety in weaponry. The gun is warm to the touch, and he grabs his badge, gun, and the piece of glass which he has wrapped in toilet paper and pulls open the window, crawling out, coughing. The grass is cold beneath his feet, and no crickets singing.
Once again he meets Scully at night in his underwear, but this time it is outside, on the lawn. The hotel flames beautifully, and when the roof collapses, he wonders what in the world he is going to wear. Scully seems much more prepared, wearing some old jeans and a revolting yellow sweatshirt that says "SPAM" in large navy-blue letters on the front. She is even wearing shoes. The disgusted Mulder looks daggers at her and she shrugs half apologetically.
"I was going to take a walk. I couldn't sleep. I'm sorry . . . ." and she trails off into half-giggles. "You look very silly. Did you singe off your chest hair?"
He will never be proper, it seems. "Ha, ha, very funny -- I don't have that much to singe off. I'm going to sleep in the car. I refuse to be seen like this . . . . you can settle with the manager." He is not a prude, but the thought of facing the emaciated hotel manager in his boxers, not to mention any of his motel neighbors, makes him shudder inwardly. Scully has nabbed her purse, and she gives him the keys and wanders off, giggling still.
The night gets cold and colder still. Scully climbs into the car with him, takes pity on his poor shivering form, and gives him her sweatshirt. She is wearing a pyjama shirt underneath. Plaid. He is stuck with "SPAM," and manages to fall asleep for minutes at a time. He dares not leave the heater on while he is asleep and he can't sleep when he is this cold, so he ends up staying awake with the heater on, and bugging Scully.
"Did you remember anything more about your dream?"
The barrier is in her voice. Nothing personal, but . . . . "Not really. Why?"
He tells her about his dream, leaving out nothing at all.
"I was kissing you? Really?" Her voice is muffled.
"And pulling off my fingers, don't forget." A small attempt at levity. The dream has started to fade, and he feels satisfied that he has told Scully everything he remembers.
"When Bugs Bunny dresses up like a girl, do you find him attractive?"
She laughs. "Mulder, you have seen too many movies. Try to get some sleep, won't you? I don't think I can keep my eyes open much longer. "
She looks over at him. His hair is pulled up into funny twists, and he is all over goosebumps. She resolves to get him some clothes as soon as possible. It is five in the morning now, and she can see the delicate shadows under his eyes.
I kissed you? Really?
She closes her eyes.
They are awakened by Scully's phone. Insistent ringing. There are prints from the seat upholstery on her cheek. She answers groggily. It is 8:32 and they have slept almost three hours.
"Scully. . . . what? Do you have him in cus -- it? What do you mean, "it"? Well, who sent in the alert?" She laughs suddenly. "All right. Give me the address and we'll be over in, what do you say around here? Two shakes of a lamb's tail? Well, maybe two and a half."
She says her goodbyes. Mulder waits, frenziedly impatient.
"What did he say?"
She laughs again. "It seems that the Neighborhood Watch is more alert than the FBI. They have caught one of their demons and have it imprisoned in Ken Farnsworth's tool shed. They say it's screeching like a hyena in heat. We have to get over there," her gaze sharpens, "we have to get you some clothes. And your chest is blistering. Good thing you didn't sleep on your stomach. We'll get something for that as well. Then it's onward to Ken Farnsworth's tool shed, where we will soon be forced to humiliate ourselves and admit that the FBI was less alert than the Neighborhood Watch."
Mulder groans tiredly. "This is worse than a five-night stakeout."
She grins. "Indeed. Now haul over and let me drive."
At the drugstore she buys a clean t-shirt and a tube of antiseptic cream. She insists on smearing it liberally on him, wearing her "Doctor Scully" look while she does it. His chest is indeed raising in welts and the cream hurts him, even though she tries to be gentle. She then makes him put the t-shirt on and they visit the nearest available clothing store. She comes out with some jeans and a plaid shirt, green and black plaid, and some tube socks and running shoes. Mulder grimaces. He doesn't like plaid very much (except on Scully, shut up, shut up) -- his style is more the pinstripe. He wriggles into the jeans while an amused Scully leans against the hood of the car, ostentatiously looking the other way. It hurts to put on the shirt, but he manages with a little trouble and then slumps back down into his seat. Scully casts a worried look at him. "Are you sure you don't want to go back to bed? I can investigate whatever is going down over there."
He looks at her, and she shrugs and gets back into the car.
Ken Farnsworth lives in a little house with a big yard, off of a side street called Blansfield Lane. The toolshed is in the corner, and Scully and Mulder stare at each other in disbelief, amazed at the volume of the howls that are coming from the small structure. A man attired very similarly to Mulder walks over to them and extends his hand.
"Hello, ma'am, I'm Ken Farnsworth." Scully shakes his hand as he stares narrowly at Mulder. "Who're you?"
"Special Agent Mulder of the FBI," answers Mulder wearily. Scully nods at Farnsworth, who leads them over to the shed, muttering about how some FBI agents can't quite pull off a plaid look. Then he looks over at Scully. "We tied it up. It was running through Bill Pullman's yard, just a-wailing like the hounds of hell were after it, excuse me, ma'am. And it hasn't stopped since we stuck it in there. We'd appreciate it kindly if you'd take it away from here."
"We'll do what needs to be done," says Scully. All business. She shoulders Farnsworth aside and ducks into the shed. Immediately her voice filters back.
"Mulder. Come look at this."
It walks beside them, staring at them, mutely appealing. It had stopped wailing the moment Scully entered the shed, and now that they have it quiet, it seems even more non-threatening, just a child. It is certainly small like a child, and its face is unlined.
But it cannot be a child. It is not human.
Scully stares, mesmerized. It could, almost could be human, but something is wrong with it. Besides the four fingers and the small goat's horns poking up from its forehead. The too-white skin. Those things were perceptible, could be seen. Something else prevents it from being human, and she cannot make it out. The doctor in her is saying coldly, I wish we could kill it so we could cut it up. They had hustled it out, past Farnsworth's self-promoting comments, and had begun walking down Blansfield Lane, past the school at the end of the road. Now it stares at them, and they didn't know where to start.
It --he-- speaks, suddenly, in a husky voice completely unlike the screeching one it had used to wake all the people up and down Blansfield Lane. And he says, "You must let me go."
The accent is all wrong, like this thing had learned English by reading and had never spoken it to anyone. "You must let me go, for I must warn my fellows."
Mulder leans closer, intent. Hands absently rubbing chest, where blisters are oozing even now. "What fellows."
He looks up at them, blond spiky hair, guileless as a child. Old, wise eyes. Perfectly guileless, yet Scully does not believe in perfect guilelessness.
"My fellows? Why, the Sidhe. The Seelie Sidhe."
Mulder gives a big fat grin and stops walking. They are standing in a park, with a baseball field to one side, surrounded by trees. Late morning sunshine illuminates the river that flows crazily around the field.
Scully gives him a look. "Did you miss out on your fairy tales as a child? The Sidhe. The little people. The fairies." He cannot tell if she is serious or not.
"Oh, those Sidhe. Of course. The American strain. Aren't you supposed to have an Irish accent or something?" He is droll, but suddenly serious. He leans forward again. "Why do you have to warn your fellows."
The so-called Sidhe looks at him. "Why should we have an Irish accent? This is Connecticut." It pauses, looking confused, like that isn't really what it meant to say. "The Unseelie Court is planning to hunt my fellows down this year at Samhain. We are considered," and it ponders, searching for a word, "traitors, yes, to the Unseelie Court. Please let me go, or they will all die most horribly."
"Samhain," Scully forestalls her partner, "is the ancient Celtic holiday eventually transmutated into All Hallows Eve, which in turn developed into Hallowe'en."
"Thank you, Scully. Now," he addresses it directly, "what is your name and who are you really. None of this bull about fairies. I know what fairies are, and the American kind mostly hang out on Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco. What do you want? What. Do. You. Want?" His voice is tight with anger. Scully knows he thinks he is being put on. But Tirorvan answers with perfect equanamity.
"My name is Tirorvan, and I am of the Seelie Sidhe. My clan name is unimportant, but I am kin to many. The lady's name is Dana, a lovely green growing name. Your name is Fox. A good name." Mulder growls, angrier by the second. Don't, he had warned Scully, call me Fox. Tirorvan continues. "We are not fairies, in the sense that you think of fairies. And we are not, not," he searches again, "ah! Gay. In that sense. But I tell you, the danger to my folk is real. In past times we have rebelled against the Court of the Unseelie, and now we will be made to pay unless I can get my fellows out of harm's way. The Unseelie King is very angry, and he will release the bogans and wights and the Wild Hunt will ride. We need to stop the King from influencing Herne to ride against us. We need to give him another direction. We only have until tomorrow's moonrise. Please. Please let me go." Tirorvan's unlined face is pleading.
"I doubt it most sincerely. We can't let you go until we have questioned you properly and all things considered, and DNA sampling -- if you'll agree -- and pictures, oh, lots of pictures and then we'll figure out whether you're playing at Masquerade or not." Mulder is looking tense and excited at the same time. Scully can read his face: he is thinking, What if this is for real? He is poised on the balls of his feet, leaning forward in his excitement. Scully almost thinks he is angry, and steps forward to stop him from whatever he may be thinking of doing.
And they are in the park and out of the river rises something large and terrifying. Fog rolls from its body, and it makes an inarticulate growling noise. Tirorvan keens, in terror, and Scully steps forward to put her hand on his arm. "Don't worry, we'll take care of you." She is having a lot of trouble believing in this Faerie stuff, but something is definitely rising from the river, threatening her and Mulder and . . . whatever they are protecting. This new threat is not a geek, or an alligator, or a leech-mutant, or, Heaven forbid, even Jaws. She does not understand, but can't look away from the emerging thing, this new thing she's never seen before either.
"You are out of your jurisdiction, FBI agents," comes the gravelly reply, not from Tirorvan, but from the thing rising out of the river. It pronounces the word as "yurisdeection." It is a tall thing, with long exaggerated fingers. Silver eyes, cold, cold eyes. "Oh, Lady," gasps Tirorvan, and he is not speaking to Scully, "have mercy."
Its laugh is sort of cold and bubbly, like old lettuce. "There is no mercy for you, Tirorvan. You have been out of your hole for too long, rabbit, and there will be no escape. You see, I grow already, for Samhain approaches quickly, and I grow ready for blood. Your blood."
Scully pulls out her gun and points it towards the still - advancing creature. No use in passive resistance. "Why don't you just stop right there?" she asks politely. Unmoved, it points its long, slender, wire-like fingers at her, and she drops the gun, gasping, staring at her hands. "Momma? Melissa --" She falls to the ground holding her head. Screaming. She is back with her sister and her father, and they are coming towards her with drills, now, big ones.
"By our King," comes the gravelly, amused voice, "you humans do grovel nicely!" It turns to Tirorvan. "See what happens when you consort with humans, Seelie? You grow weak and soft like them, and your dreams can be manipulated as easily as breathing."
Mulder tries to run to Scully, how can she scream like that and not have her head split open, but he cannot move, and it seems as if his head is full of rocks. His hands are suddenly on fire, and he whistles a breathy scream. Scully seems to fade to minimal importance, like a noise from another world. Then something knocks him over. He falls to his hands, panting. Tirorvan is staring at him, perplexedly -- but it is not Tirorvan, it is someone who looks like him. He sees that Tirorvan is over by the monster, shouting at it in words Mulder understands only vaguely. Heavily accented English, now. No pretense.
"You are not strong enough yet to face us! Go cower home to your master! Leave us alone! Get! You! Gone! Flee from the skin of this world!" As Tirorvan throws his hand up in a complicated gesture, the thing seems to shrink, and howls. It growls, "I was sent to kill them, and kill them I will. One way or another." It stoops and grabs a limp figure, and reaches for Mulder, but cannot reach him, for Tirorvan has thrown his arm out again in a commanding yet strangely despairing gesture.
"Get you off the skin of this world! Flee and tell the Unseelie Bastard King that his people are no match for the powers of the light! Go!"
A flash of auburn hair, a glint of silver eye, and the thing is gone.
Mulder remains. He is now the only human in a clearing that has seemingly stuffed itself, gorged itself with Tirorvans of all shapes and sizes. He thinks despairingly of a red-haired woman he used to know, and stumbles a step, losing consciousness in a moment. As he falls, he hears Tirorvan, ". . . bargain with Herne . . . ." and he is gone.
She awakens on the stone-covered ground. Her head is splitting. What is her name? She can't remember if she's ever had a name. She is in a hall of some sort, with quatripartite vaulting, she can't help but notice with the back of her mind that it is some sort of twisted Late Gothic. It's a reflex, comes from noticing little things, she has to notice little things cause she's a --
Well, what is she, anyway? She can't remember, doesn't even want to. She sits up and there, reclining on a large chair in front of her, is the most beautiful thing she has ever seen. He is not human, and his inhumanity gives him an alien beauty. He is tall, and slender, and his eyes are amber with brown flecks. His mouth is finely shaped, and has a cruel twist, a beautiful cruel evil twist. He is wearing old-style clothing, a doublet and hose with slashed sleeves and a long, green cloak. A belt of teeth encircles his waist and a human head grins from a pole on the side of the chair. Words suddenly seem unimportant and she cannot, cannot and will not stop looking at this divine creature that has her mouth dry and her mind wishing that he would say something to her, command her, for she is his, of course his, all his to command.
Something in her mind says warningly, Da-- but is cut off, because she has no name now. She is only an extension of him.
And now he rises. Her spellbound eyes watch the white fall of his hair, the graceful way his knees bend, his wrists. He beckons to her and she stands, stumbles, staggers to him. Adoring. There is nothing she won't do for him. He says, in a gentle and melodic voice, "Hello. What a pretty little plaything you are, then. My name is Mžorunach." He pronounces the name as "Meerunach," with the "ch" sounding like Bach. "Now, dear, tell me your name, what you are doing here and who you have told about what you know."
And suddenly, words are the most important thing in the world.
Mulder is shaken awake by an anguished Tirorvan. "I cannot leave him!" he is saying to a group of other things clustered around him. "It is my fault that he is hurt and his woman is taken. Can you understand me, Mulder? Wake up, Mulder!"
"I understand," he says. His head feels like those huge stone heads on Easter Island, a mile wide and fifty tons. "I'm getting up, just stop shaking me."
Taken his woman? Who is his woman? And his mind jumps straight to Scully, limp in the arms of something large and very ugly. He grabs Tirorvan.
"What happened to Scully! Where's Scully! What was that thing! I have to go and find it and bring Scully back!"
"Hush," says the Sidhe. "I don't know if your woman is alive. If she is, you can be sure that something even less pleasant is happening to her. The bogan probably carried her straight to Mžorunach--"
"Who?" interrupts Mulder. Whoever this Meerunach guy is, he isn't going to last long against a very angry, almost hung-over Fox Mulder.
"Mžorunach. The King of the Unseelie Sidhe. The one who wants to murder all of us."
"Now can I finish? She is probably being brought to him as we speak, and he will either give her to Herne, or use her to trap you. Out of those alternatives," and he shudders, "I would pick death for her, myself. But obviously, you don't. Fox, you will have to come to Samhain with us to make a stand against the Unseelie Court. Sometimes, humans are very beneficial to us, and the Court hasn't realized that. We have to change with the times, and humans are part of the change. We will make a bargain. If you will stand with us against the Court, and assuming we get out of that alive, we will help you get your woman back. Is that a bargain,then?"
"She's not my woman."
"Yes." His voice roughens. "I will stand with you against the Unseelie Court --" it sounded so stupid, saying that, but how could he disbelieve anymore? " and you will help me rescue Scully."
"It must be sealed in blood," says one of the Sidhe standing nearby. "Or we will have no bargain with the humans. It stinks of bogan dreams, and I do not trust it."
"Yes, yes," replies Tirorvan, and produces a knife. Mulder stares, disbelieving for some reason.
"Steel? I thought you couldn't stand iron."
"Those of us who have interacted in the human world can stand steel or any other alloy, but not straight iron. The Unseelie, now, there's another story. They will run if they can from anything even remotely iron-related. That's one of our advantages. But bogans can be taught to work around it." He makes a quick cut on the palm of his hand, not deep, but bleeding well. Mulder has no choice but to hold out his hand.
The cut doesn't really hurt and the two are clasping hands before he can even grunt in reaction. Tirorvan intones, "The blood is mingled, the bargain is struck. Let the two heal each other." He lets go of Mulder's hand and gestures. "Look."
A thin scar runs across Mulder's palm. "The sign of our bargain," says the other Sidhe. "Break it on pain of your destruction."
No worries, thinks Mulder. Nothing could make him try to get out of this one. Later, he shows Tirorvan the piece of glass he has been hoarding. Tirorvan will not touch it, saying that it stinks of bogans. But he studiesthe rune closely, and then tells Mulder that it is the King's seal.
"He wants you two dead. That was a warning of sorts. So were the dreams."
"Ah," says Mulder in dawning comprehension. "The bogan triggered the dream it had planted in Scully to make her fall down like that."
"And yours, you know. It paralyzed you with your own psyche. It is the bogan's way. It works with dreams-- it is very dangerous. We will probably have to face them, too, in this fight. But we can do nothing until Samhain, when the Unseelie Court gathers to meet Herne. Would you like to go back to your own room or come and spend the next day with us in Faerie?"
Mulder looks at himself, and remembers that his own room is probably being hosed down by the fire department.
"I'll go with you."
"Then watch. And do not cry out, for you may surprise something that is best left undisturbed. The borders of Faerie are a dangerous place. Please make no noise."
Mulder smiles and mimes 'zipping' across his mouth. Tirorvan smiles back.
And the world flips on its side.
There is grass on the ground, but he cannot see the sky. This quiet, fog-covered world, then, is the border to Faerie. Mulder had never really thought about it, but he supposed he was thinking more along the lines of border crossings he had seen; stone-faced guards checking passports, or something. But it is not so much a border as a misty plain. The fog leads off as far as he can see, and the Sidhe tiptoe quietly through the mist. Tirorvan has Mulder by the wrist, and is leading him as quietly as the human can go. Mulder is amazed at how quietly the Sidhe can move -- they are wraith-like, and Mulder wonders if Tirorvan would ever have been caught by Ken Farnsworth if he had not been howling at the top of his lungs.
From ahead, another Sidhe makes a sharp gesture, and Tirorvan tugs on Mulder's wrist to stop him. The Sidhe are conversing together, using hand gestures. Tirorvan nods, and pulls Mulder's ear to his mouth. "When I slap you on the back of your hand, you run like the Fiend of the Fells was after you. But run after me! And don't deviate from my path, for if you get lost in the borders of Faerie, you will be lost forever."
At least until something unpleasant happens to me, thinks Mulder. He can imagine some pretty gruesome things happening here, in the impenetrable fog. This place must be where the X-files come from.
They slide silently between fogbanks, and Tirorvan jerks Mulder's wrist. Mulder looks down at him, and then stares ahead. Something impossibly huge is rising out of the fog, something that seems to have no end in sight. Mulder is grateful for his running shoes, because the huge creature is also moving. Fast.
Tirorvan slaps Mulder on the back of his hand. The sting wakes up his adrenaline, and he sees the Sidhe almost disappearing into the mist. He takes off running after the fleeing Faerie, thanking his lucky stars for all the exercising he did. _If Scully could see me now,_ but she couldn't. The huge mass is behind him, now, but he can imagine it, slipping up behind him, reaching out, and tearing his head from his poor mortal body. It isn't hard to keep running. He follows the Sidhe closely, twisting when they twist, and finally they burst from the fog and into the most beautiful place he has ever, ever seen.
They have arrived in Faerie.
| Go to Chapter 2 | If |