Disclaimer: I love these characters and the actors who portray them but they belong to 1013, Fox and CC. I am just borrowing them for a little while and will return them unharmed. Not a penny will I ever see from them. Anyone else in this story is mine.
Written for Haven's October "Our House" Challenge (thanks for the inspiration!)
"But all the colors mix together - to grey And it breaks her heart
It breaks her heart
--Dave Matthews, "Grey Street"--
I try to keep my eyes open and pay attention to the Wisconsin scenery, but it's difficult. The sky is grey, I am tired and the movement of the car makes me drowsy. I am glad to have this case over with. Mulder drones on about cornfields but I can't concentrate on what he is saying. Maybe we can make it to Milwaukee in time to catch that nonstop flight back to DC, if he would just shut up and drive faster. My eyes close and I lean back against the headrest.
Suddenly, the car stops with a screech and I am jarred awake.
"Mulder, what's happened? Why did you stop?"
When I dozed off, we had just left the cornfields behind for the outskirts of a small Milwaukee suburb. We're now on a street lined with trees and Victorian-style houses. Our car sits in front of one; large and angular, with siding as grey as the sky. There is an impressive bay window in the front, framed in white, yet the house seems shadowy and unremarkable. I have no idea why Mulder has stopped here.
He looks out the window, his hands gripping the steering wheel tightly.
He turns to me, his face ashen.
"My sister. I just saw my sister in that window, Scully." His eyes are wide.
"Samantha? What window? Mulder, what are you talking about?"
"There." He gets out of the car before I can stop him, and gestures up to the house.
"There, in that window. It was her, Scully. I saw her."
He points to a tiny upstairs window. I don't see anything except the darkened pane. Not waiting for my answer, Mulder sails across the front walk and bounds up the porch steps. I follow, my concern mounting. He rings the doorbell once, twice, three times, and then bangs on the door. No one answers. He rings the doorbell again.
"Mulder, it doesn't appear that anyone is home. There are no lights on and I am sure they heard you."
I know he is not listening to me. He wheels around, leaps down the stairs and crosses over to the house next door. In three strides he is there, repeating his doorbell-ringing routine. This time he gets results; the neighbors are home. An older man with a weathered face opens the door, looking slightly puzzled at the intrusion. He is dressed in a flannel shirt. Grey flannel.
"Agent Mulder from the FBI. Can you tell me who lives in that house next door? Is there a young woman living there? Do you know where they are right now?" He flashes his badge, his tone insistent.
"What is this about? Has anything happened to them?"
I speak up before Mulder's impatience gets the better of him.
"Sir, I'm Agent Scully. We apologize for disturbing you. Agent Mulder is investigating the disappearance of a young woman and we thought we saw someone fitting her description in this neighborhood."
"Oh. Well now, the Lees, they're on vacation. But I think they are comin' home tomorrow. And they do have a daughter. Sam's just graduated from college, in fact. Smart girl."
"Sam?" Mulder's voice catches.
"Samantha." the man replies.
The color drains from Mulder's face again and I grip his arm tightly. Somehow I find my own voice.
"Thank you, Mr., uh..."
"Johannes," the man provides, cautiously.
"Mr. Johannes, for your time. We may come back tomorrow to call on the Lees. Perhaps their daughter has seen this young woman around and can help our investigation."
"Sure. Do you have a picture of this missing girl? I haven't seen any strangers in the neighborhood lately but I'd be glad to take a look if it will help."
"No, we don't have one with us at the moment but thank you for your time and your cooperation, sir," I reply hastily.
"Ok then, good night." Mr. Johannes starts to close the door, but not all the way. Mulder has not moved or said anything since the name 'Samantha' was mentioned, so I start down the porch steps, tugging on his arm to make him follow me. If I let go of him, I know he will veer off towards the Lee house, which is a bad idea; I have a hunch that Mr. Johannes is going to keep an eye on us until we get in the car and go.
I manage to maneuver Mulder into the car. He looks over my shoulder at the grey house like he is trying to bore holes through it with his eyes.
"Mulder, let's go. He's watching us. He's not going to move until we leave."
Mulder reluctantly starts the engine and drives away. He has snapped out of his trance and now he cannot contain his excitement.
"The daughter's name is Samantha. It's her, Scully."
"Mulder, first of all, there's nobody home, so I don't think it was a person that you saw. I couldn't see anyone at the window. And the daughter's name is probably just a coincidence. Besides, this girl is college-age; your sister would be older."
"But he didn't say how old the daughter was, only that she just graduated from college. You can graduate from college at any age, Scully. We don't know how many years were lost during her abduction, so its entirely conceivable that my sister would be behind in her schooling."
"But even if that is true, what would she be doing here in Wisconsin with these people? It doesn't make sense, Mulder."
"It makes perfect sense, Scully. I'm sure because of my father's involvement with the project, and his connections to that smoking son-of-a-bitch Spender, they probably couldn't return her to us or to our family. Or even to DC. So why not somewhere like Wisconsin? Somewhere that we'd never think of looking. Somehow they brought her here and gave her to another family to raise. It all fits, Scully."
I stare at the pulsing nerve in his jaw and try to figure out how to counter this. Damn you, Mulder, for making implausible arguments sound plausible.
"Scully, we need to go back to that house tomorrow and meet that family. I need to be sure." The determination in his voice warns me that I have no say in this decision.
"Well, we're going to miss our flight anyway." I sigh and pull out my phone so I can change our plane reservations.
Mulder steers us back to the motel. We've only just left, so the desk clerk is somewhat surprised by our return. We get separate rooms again, though we rarely use them anymore. They are merely a formality to keep the Bureau from finding out that we are violating their cohabitation rule. Two rooms are also handy when one of us needs to be alone--like tonight, apparently; by the time I've unlocked my door, Mulder has already closed his. This does not worry me. I get myself ready for bed, confident that he wants my help and won't shut me out for long.
I have just slipped into my nightgown when I hear a knock at my door. I let Mulder in. He has removed his tie but is still wearing his shirt and suit trousers. He is restless and silently paces around my room while I finish tossing some clothes back into my suitcase.
"Mulder, relax. You can't do anything tonight."
I climb into bed and invite him to do the same. He sits on the bed beside me, still silent. His eyes look strangely grey and sad. I start to unbutton his shirt. He stops me by grabbing both of my wrists.
"Scully, I know what you're going to say: 'Don't get your hopes up.' But I can't help it. I have to check out every possibility. I can't give up." How does he always know what I'm thinking?
"I'm not asking you to give up, Mulder. I just don't want you to get too optimistic about something that doesn't seem like it's going to pan out, just because you thought you saw something in that window. It could have been a shadow from the tree branches or..."
He grips my wrists tighter and looks at me sternly. "I know what I saw, Scully. I saw Samantha." Arguing with him won't solve anything and will just keep both of us from getting any sleep, so I change course.
"We'll go back there in the morning and try to figure out what it was you saw. Right now we need to try and get some rest, ok?"
I plant a light kiss on his hand and he releases my wrists. I try unbuttoning his shirt again and this time he lets me remove it. I caress his chest with soft fingers. He's still got his trousers on. I grasp at his belt and he helps me unbuckle it. His movements are hurried and he stares at me with those odd, greyish eyes as we remove his trousers together. He is hard and ready and I reach for him.
We move in unison, sharp and fast, and there is no sound except for our breathing. He brings me to the edge, white-hot, and follows me over it. We finish with a deep kiss and he envelops me with long arms and legs. I nestle against him and close my eyes, hoping he will be able to sleep. Hoping I will be able to sleep.
I do sleep, but I dream about my own sister. Strange rooms, strange faces, and then I am standing in front of a house much like the Lee's, except in my dream the walls are black, not grey, and when I look up at the window, I see Melissa's anguished face instead of Samantha's. I wake with a start and clutch at Mulder, but he is no longer lying next to me.
"Mulder?" I sit up and peer toward the bathroom, but the door is open and he's not in there. With a sinking feeling, I turn on the bedside lamp. My room is empty. I grab my cell phone to dial Mulder's room. Sometimes sleep eludes him, and when he chooses not to disturb me, he retreats to his own room, where he is free to watch TV or read, or to lie awake at the mercy of his tireless mind. I always prefer it when he stays and I can wake up to find him still in bed, watching me with his dusky emerald eyes.
I let his phone ring ten times before hanging up. I try his cell phone but of course it's turned off. Rising, I move to the window. What a surprise, our rental car is gone. Damn it, Mulder! He's gone back to the Lee house. I should have known better; why did I think he would wait until morning?
Annoyed at Mulder for being impetuous and at myself for overlooking it, I throw on my clothes and yank open the phone book to call a taxi. Then I realize I don't even know the damn address. Thank goodness there is only one listing for Lee in this small town.
I go outside to wait for the taxi. The sky is clear and has turned a charcoal hue. The air has the familiar briskness of an early fall night. It is nearly November. Mulder's sister was abducted in November. Another year gone and he has still not found her. He tortures himself over it yet refuses to give up. His relentlessness would make most people weary, but it is one of the things I love most about him. Sometimes I try and reign him in for his own good, but I would never stop him. I think about Melissa again and why she invaded my dreams tonight. Perhaps it is because my pain intersects with Mulder's; my sister is also lost to me. I search the sky for stars until I hear the honk of the taxi's horn.
The taxi carries me along the street to the Lee house and passes our car, which is parked at the beginning of the block. Damn. So much for my hope that maybe Mulder is not here. I instruct the driver to stop in front of the house. There is no sign of Mulder outside. The dwelling itself is still very grey and very silent. I glance up at the window again, still seeing nothing but an empty, opaque square.
I carefully approach the front door and the porch creaks as I step onto it. I freeze, waiting. Nothing happens and I let out my breath and touch the door. It does not move under my hand. I try the doorknob; still locked. Mulder must have gone around the back. I creep around to the rear of the house. Next to the back door, I discover a small window that is partially open and somehow I manage to squeeze through it. How the hell did Mulder get in this way?
I climb in as quietly as I can and freeze again, listening. No lights are on and I don't hear anything moving around. Where is he? I tiptoe out of the kitchen, letting my flashlight show the way down a long hallway which leads to the staircase. Mulder thinks he saw Samantha in a second-floor window. He must be upstairs.
At the top of the stairs I turn towards the rooms which face the street. My flashlight casts a bright white glow in front of me. I tread slowly across squeaky floorboards, not wanting to alarm Mulder.
I hear a rustling noise in the room to my left and I step towards it. I'm focused on finding the doorway, so I don't notice the small table in front of me. There is a dull thud when I bump into it. The rustling noise stops, and I hear instead the click of a gun safety being released.
"Mulder!" I hiss, waving my light towards the noise.
The beam from his flashlight shines out of the darkness at me.
"Mulder, it's me." I move towards his light and enter the room.
He is sitting on the floor, gun drawn. When he sees me, he lowers the gun quickly and sets the safety back on.
"Scully, what are you doing here?"
"What are YOU doing here, Mulder? Do you realize how reckless this is, breaking into this family's home? Did you stop to think about what would happen if you were caught? This is not an official case. How would you explain yourself?" I whisper harshly.
"Scully, I have to know. The Lees might not come home tomorrow. Those neighbors could have tipped them off. If they have my sister, they could take her away because they know I'm here." His voice implores me to understand.
"Mulder, that's all speculation. What do you hope to find up here? There is nobody in this house. I don't see your sister."
"Anything that will lead me to the truth. I've already checked out the window area, and you were right, it doesn't appear that there was anyone standing there today, going by the layer of undisturbed dust I found. Now I'm trying to find a picture of the daughter."
I look around. The room we are in does look like a young woman's bedroom, with a pink bed ruffle and white furniture. But there are no photographs on the walls or dresser top. Mulder had been searching the contents of a desk drawer when I found him and he continues to rifle through it.
I spy a small bookcase against one wall. I shine my light at it and scan the titles. There is an orange book with "Photo Album" written down the spine and I pull it off the shelf. It is full of all kinds of photos, most of them featuring the same family and the same little girl. Some of the snapshots have captions written underneath, and I am drawn to one in particular: "Sam at Age 2." The smiling toddler looks nothing like anyone who would be related to Mulder. This girl is Asian.
"Mulder," I say, and step over to him, holding the book out for him to see.
He snatches the album from my grasp and looks at the page as I shine my flashlight directly on the photo of little Samantha Lee.
"She's not your sister," I say sadly.
He stares at the photo for a long moment and then lets the book fall out of his hands. It slides to the floor and he pushes it aside and puts his hands over his face.
"But I saw her," he says, dejectedly.
I kneel in front of him, removing his hands from his face so he will look at me.
"Mulder, I don't doubt that you saw something in the window. But it was not a real person. I can't explain why you had a vision of your sister. I know the anniversary of her abduction is coming up. Maybe you saw Samantha because right now you need to see her. I'm sorry. I wish we had found her here, I really do."
His eyes glisten with silver tears as the pain rises raw within him. I put my arms around him and he buries his head against my shoulder. I hold tight and wish I could take his anguish away. My eyes drift to the pink bed ruffle and I remember we do not belong here.
"Mulder, we need to get out of here before someone catches us. Come on."
I lift his head and kiss him lightly. He tries to cling to me but I slide away and stand up.
"Mulder, she's not here. She never was. We have to leave now."
He rises, nodding reluctantly. I return the photo album to its place on the bookshelf while he gathers up the contents of the desk drawer and shoves them back inside. Hoping the room appears undisturbed, we hurry down the stairs. We crawl back out of the kitchen window and Mulder closes it carefully. As we reach the front yard, Mulder stops to take one last look at that upstairs window, which still does not reveal its secrets to me. He glances down at me and without a word strides down the street towards the car.
We drive in silence back to my motel room, where we are content to curl up into a warm cocoon of blankets and each other. Mulder strokes my hair and whispers, "Thank you, Scully, for believing that I saw my sister in that window, instead of just telling me I'm crazy. The only thing that would drive me truly crazy is being without you."
"I never said you weren't crazy, Mulder," I tease. He tries to bite my nose in playful response. I dodge his attempt and we both laugh. Then I turn serious.
"But I don't want you to give up. You will find her. We will find her."
He looks at me with glistening eyes once again emerald, and leans in for a kiss. As I bring my lips up to his, I say a silent prayer that someday, all of the grey will disappear.
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