The Oxford Files: Going Home (2/2)

The Oxford Files: Going Home 08
by Susan Proto (
and Vickie Moseley (

Scully was pulling on her robe and waiting for him to tell him what was happening. "Mulder?" she asked, when he'd sat there, staring into space for a good three minutes.

Mulder pushed past her and into the bathroom, not bothering to close the door. She didn't follow him, but stood by the bed.

"Caroline's dead," he said after a few moments of running water.

"Ohmigod," Scully said, coming quickly to the doorway and putting her hand to her mouth. "But Mulder, it sounded like . . ."

"They found his handkerchief in her mouth, Scully. His fucking handkerchief. Anybody could have taken it, killed her and planted the evidence. But, that's not how Phoebe will see it. She never liked the old man. Hated him because I used to tell her I had to study for my class instead of come over to her place and . . ." He stopped in mid sentence and Scully could detect a faint blush that colored his cheeks in the dull light of the bathroom. He grabbed a towel and dried his face, coming back through to the main room. "I gotta get over there. Before she breaks out the rubber hoses."

She watched him pull on jeans and a turtleneck, trying to sort it all out in her head. He looked up at her. "Scully? Are you coming?"

"It's not our case, Mulder. And if you make Phoebe angry, it might make it worse for Mr. Laing." She hated the look of betrayal on his face, and quickly worked to erase it. "Mulder, I'll come with you, but we have to remember. Drew will most likely be at the station, too. And he needs your support now, just as much as Mr. Laing."

She hadn't meant it to sound like a rebuke, but it had the same effect. Mulder jerked as if slapped and sat down heavily on the bed. "My God, when did I get so callous?" he whispered. He looked up at her, dazed. "I hadn't thought past the murder. I didn't even give a thought . . ."

She shook her head to stop his words and reached up to cup his cheek. "No, Mulder, you haven't become callous. It's too much to sort through, all at once. We're used to . . . violence, but when it touches so close to home, it's hard to deal with. You were simply dealing with the part you could understand. That's not callous, it's human. And I'm sure that as soon as you saw Drew, you'd help him."

For a moment he sat there, just letting her touch bring some warmth to his soul. He finally smiled, faintly. "Hey, who's the psychologist here?"

She laughed a little at his taunt. "You are. And if you'll give me five minutes, I'll be dressed and we can go over there together."

Mulder hung up with Mrs. MacFarley having promised her he and Scully would meet them over at Scotland Yard as soon as possible. However, Mulder felt it was important to first touch base with Drew to not only find out the details of what happened, but to offer his sympathies to the man over the loss of his wife.

Mulder rang up the operator who then connected him with Drew's residence. A police officer answered the phone, so Mulder asked to speak with Drew. The agent was refused at first, as the officer stated that Drew was unavailable at that moment, since he was giving a statement to the police.

"Scully, Drew is still at the house. We've got to go. Now," Mulder said urgently to his partner after he'd hung up the phone.

"Is that Andrew?" she asked.

"No, police officer," he confirmed. "He says Drew's giving a statement to the police. We have to get over there before Drew says something that might be incriminating to Mr. Laing."

"Incriminating?" Scully echoed in disbelief. "Mulder, do you suspect Mr. Laing of any wrongdoing?"

"No!" he replied quickly, "no, I don't suspect Mr. Laing of anything. However, Drew just lost his wife. He might say something that can be misconstrued by anyone who wants to hear it as evidence against Mr. Laing."

"You're talking about Phoebe, aren't you," Scully said softly.

"I hope not," whispered Mulder in reply.


"Drew, I'm so sorry," Mulder said earnestly at first sight of his friend.

"Mulder, I don't understand what happened," he gasped. "I don't understand how she can be dead.''

"Drew, please, tell us what you know," Mulder pleaded.

The Brit looked totally lost at this point. His American friend asked him to make sense of something that was beyond comprehension. His wife was dead; his wife with whom he'd just argued like cats and dogs not six hours ago was dead. And he couldn't explain why.

"I don't know what happened. We had an argument over what she'd said at the Eel, you see?" he began. "I'd asked her how she could have said what she did in front of Inspector Bitch__. Oh, God, Mulder, I'm sorry. I didn't __."

"__Drew, it's okay. It's as good a description of Phoebe as any I'd ever thought," Mulder consoled. "Please, tell us what happened."

The bereaved man took a deep breath, opened his mouth to speak, but then simply broke down crying. It took him several minutes to gather his wits about him and regain control of his emotions. He looked up finally and saw the sympathetic eyes of Mulder and Scully looking at him. He worked up the courage to continue his narrative.

"I was so angry with her; it was so vindictive of her," he began. When he noted the confused expression on his friends' faces, he explained, "Caroline and I had been having some problems. I mean it wasn't anything that we couldn't work out; we knew if we just gave it the time__. Oh God," he cried out as he broke down again.

After several moments passed, Scully spoke up and gently asked, "Drew, what kind of problems were you having?"

"Caroline is__, I mean was__, unhappy with her lot in life. She'd become somewhat disenchanted with my position. Marriage to an academic apparently isn't all that it was cracked up to be, Mulder old boy. If you were seriously considering taking Laing up on his offer, I would give it a good, hard think." He sat there shaking his head sadly, while Scully gave Mulder and Drew questioning looks.

She couldn't help but wonder, 'what offer?'

"What was she so unhappy about?" Mulder asked.

"Our thrifty lifestyle for one," he admitted. "On my salary, we can barely afford this place. And Caroline wanted to start a family, but her parents kept telling her we'd never be able to afford a child on my salary, and if she wanted to become a mum, then she shouldn't work as it wouldn't do right by the baby.

"Mulder, she blamed Mr. Laing. Can you imagine? She cursed the man's name to my face; she claimed the bloke besotted me, and that I would do anything for him, even at the expense of my own family. That's crazy, isn't it, Mate?" Drew asked in despair.

At this point the grieving man didn't know what to believe. All he knew for certain was that his wife was dead.

"She was so angry with me at that point, and I was so angry with her, she headed off to the guest room and locked the door. I heard her slam the door and then the snick of the lock." He paused for a moment before he said, "The door was locked from the inside this morning. I wanted to try and talk things out with her, so I went to the bedroom.

"It was still locked, so I called to her. When I didn't receive an answer, I started banging on the door. The damn door is solid oak and hard as a rock. I became frightened when I couldn't get a response, and I called the police. They took it off its hinges, and we found her.

"I don't understand how she can be dead. She was angry with me, but she wasn't sick. She shouldn't be dead, Mulder! She shouldn't be dead!" Drew cried out with frustration. He began sobbing again in grief.

When his cries eased, Scully asked gently, "Drew, has anyone determined the cause of death yet?"

"No, the medical examiner was here, but he said he needs to do an autopsy. There apparently wasn't anything conclusive."

"I'd like to do the autopsy, Drew," said Scully.

"You?" At Scully's nod, Drew shrugged his shoulders. "If you think you can find out what killed my wife, than yes, please. I want you to do it." He hesitated, then touched her sleeve. "Just don't be surprised if our little Phoebe decides to stand in your way."


While Scully went off to do battle with Phoebe regarding the autopsy, Mulder headed over to the Custody Suite to see Mr. Laing. Mulder was perplexed, as he didn't have a clue as to why or how his former mentor's monogrammed hankie ended up stuffed inside the mouth of the deceased.

He couldn't imagine Mr. Laing having any kind of motivation for wanting to kill Caroline; he found it difficult to picture the elderly man demonstrating any kind of violent tendencies. However, the fact of the matter was, Caroline Holbrook was the victim of some kind of physical violence though no obvious markings had been noted by the coroner on the scene.

By the time he'd arrived, Mulder observed a very agitated Mrs. MacFarley pacing up and down the small waiting area. He was quite sure he heard some choice phrases come out of the elderly housekeeper's mouth, but Mulder wasn't about to mention it. He understood how upset she was feeling; he knew a few choice phrases he could spout at that moment, himself.

"Oh, Fox, I'm so relieved you're here, lad!" she cried out upon sighting him. She rushed over to embrace him in a bear hug.

"I'm so sorry I wasn't able to get here any faster, Mrs. Mac, but I needed to see Drew to find out as much information as possible," he apologized.

"Oh, I understand, Fox, don't you fret now. It's just that I'm a wee bit worried about Mr. Laing,'' she explained. "I fear this isn't going to be good for his blood pressure. I'm afraid he may not have taken his medication," she worried as she fingered the small pill bottle in her hand.

"We'll check with him about that as soon as they let us see him, Mrs. Mac, I promise," he comforted. "Where is Mr. Laing right now? Do you know?"

"I'm not sure; all I know is they said he was going to be processed. Oh, Fox, it seems as though that was ages ago!"

"I know, I know," he comforted. "But it takes time to photograph and fingerprint people."

"Fingerprinted!?" she exclaimed in horror. "Oh my poor Mr. Laing!"

"He'll be okay, Mrs. Mac, I promise," he responded quickly, and then hesitated for a moment before he said, "I wish I didn't have to bother you about this now, but I'm afraid I have to ask you some questions."

"If it will help our Mr. Laing, the dear man, you can ask me anything you want," she replied determinedly.

He nodded and gave her a small smile of understanding. Mrs. Mac was getting on in years. Mulder had to wonder if this terrible scenario wasn't doing her blood pressure any good as well. He took a deep breath and began his questioning.

"Mrs. Mac, do you have any idea as to how Mr. Laing's
handkerchief got into Caroline's room? Was he careless about loaning them out?"

"But Fox, that's just the thing of it all," began Mrs. Mac, "Our Mr. Laing is positively fanatical about his hankies! He always wants them folded just so; the monogram must be showing properly. I'm the only one who can fold it just so," she added with a small smile.

"I'm sure you are, ma'am. But, what I really, really need you to think about is, well, how do you think the hankie got out of Mr. Laing's possession and into that of Caroline Holbrook's?" Mulder asked as gently as possible.

"Well, Fox, me boy, I do have a theory, but I don't guess you'd believe me," she stammered slightly.

"Now, Mrs. Mac, why wouldn't I believe you?"

"Because my ideas are a wee bit o' the outlandish, Fox. That's why."

Mulder couldn't help but chuckle out loud at that point. When Mrs. MacFarley's expression took on a defensive look, he quickly spoke up in order to explain the irony of her claim.

"Mrs. Mac, you're looking at the 'poster boy' for extreme possibilities," he said with a smile. "If anyone would want to believe your ideas, it would be me."

Mrs. MacFarley looked notably relieved and nodded. "Very well, Fox, my boy, very well. But I think I need to be sittin' down for this little confession, as these old bones of mine need to get a wee rest."

The two of them sat quietly down on the chairs near the table. Mulder sat quietly and allowed the elderly woman sitting before him take the lead in her storytelling. He waited patiently, and finally, she took a deep breath and pressed on with her thoughts.

"Do you know this Saturday would have been my fortieth wedding anniversary had Mr. MacFarley lived?" she asked, seemingly out of the blue.

"No, ma'am, I didn't know that. How long ago had Mr. MacFarley passed away?" Mulder asked gently.

"Ah, well, let me think; he died soon after my thirty-fourth birthday. He was going to be fifty-one, so that would make his passing twenty-three years ago," she replied.

"Forty years? Mrs. Mac, that would have only made you __."

"__Seventeen years old when I'd gotten married. Yes, Fox me lad, I'd only been a wee lass when I married my Scotsman, my Gavin. He was over sixteen years my senior, but he was a good, upstanding man, and he loved me with all of his heart.

"He'd been in love with me for a very long time, but since I was so young, he was made to wait till my seventeenth birthday. One week after I'd celebrated it, we were married. Oh, 'twas a joyful celebration, our wedlock. Truly joyous!" Mrs. Mac recalled with a tender smile.

"I'm sure it was a wedding to remember, Mrs. Mac, but __."

"__But you're wondering what this old lady's ramblings have to do with our Mr. Laing's problems at the moment," she asked rhetorically. "I'll be getting to that me lad; just give me a moment." She paused for a moment or two, as if she needed the time to find the words to best explain. Mrs. Mac knew she needed to be as clear as possible in order to convince the young FBI agent she wasn't just a dotty old woman.

"I believe," she began slowly, "Gavin is behind all of this."

"Gavin? Your husband, Gavin?" Mulder echoed, and then finally added, "Your dead husband, Gavin?"

"Yes," she said firmly. "Yes, my dead husband, Gavin."

"Mrs. Mac, I'm afraid I don't quite understand," Mulder admitted.

"Fox, Mr. MacFarley was a very devoted husband when he was alive. He'd become every bit as devoted after he'd died," she said cryptically.

"After he'd died?" echoed Mulder.

"Yes, dear. I know this is going to sound like words coming from a crazy woman, but it is very important for you to believe me. You see, after me beloved Gavin died, he apparently wasn't ready to go with God. Instead, he chose to stay nearby me and protect me."

"Mrs. Mac, is it that you simply feel his presence, or do you actually see him?" asked Mulder seriously.

The older woman paused a moment, as she was actually surprised that Mulder was taking her at her word. Then she said, "No, I've never actually seen the dear man, but I've seen the results of his presence in my life."

Mulder tried to process all that the elderly housekeeper was saying. He couldn't believe it, but it was if he was hearing Scully's voice in his head. It kept asking him to question the housekeeper about what proof she had to support her claims.

"Mrs. Mac?" he said gently. "It seems like it's going to be pretty difficult, if downright impossible, to go to the police with the story that your dead husband's ghost is responsible for these murders."

"I know," she whispered in reply, "but it's the only explanation I have."

Mulder lowered his head into his hands. He had to come up with more concrete evidence to prove Mr. Laing's innocence, but he wasn't sure as to where to even begin. His shoulders slumped in defeat.

"Oh, Fox, my boy, you're exhausted!" she exclaimed. Here you were supposed to be celebrating a job well done, and we've got you waiting around Scotland Yard. I'm so sorry, me lad. So, so sorry."

"Oh, Mrs. Mac, you know I wouldn't want to be any other place," he replied as he straightened up in his chair. Mulder knew the only way he'd get the necessary proof was to think like Scully would and ask the questions she would ask. "I do have some more questions for you though, that is if you're feeling up to it?"

"If it'll help our Mr. Laing, then of course," she replied.

Mulder proceeded to methodically question her about the comings and goings of the late Mr. MacFarley, and to elaborate on how he shows himself to her. Scully would be proud of him as he sought proof that would back up Mrs. Mac's truths.

After several minutes passed, Mulder learned that the ghostly MacFarley often confiscated personal items of Mr. Laing and hid them. It usually occurred after Mr. Laing made a demand of Mrs. Mac because he was upset over some such thing. Mrs. Mac never disagreed with her employer, though she might have been unduly stressed as well as upset by it. Having seemingly misplaced yet another personal item completely exasperated Mr. Laing, but Mrs. Mac kept quiet, as she was concerned her boss would think she was daft and possibly let her go from his employ.

Mrs. Mac explained to Mulder that she'd noticed a pattern. Every year, around the time of their wedding anniversary, Mr. MacFarley would make his presence known to his widow. Mrs. Mac always knew when her late husband was about, since items of hers were always moved about where she knew she had never left them.

Mr. Laing's personal items would invariably end up misplaced and sometimes even missing. Mrs. Mac looked forward to remembering her wedding anniversary with great trepidation, since she was never sure what her husband's apparition would do next.

The current dilemma had Mrs. Mac in a great quandary. She had no way of knowing for sure if it was her late husband who was causing the murders and feared if she suggested it, the police would not hesitate to throw her into jail as well.

Her words convinced him, and Mulder believed her; he had no doubt she was speaking the truth. He was, in fact, quite sure the ghostly apparition of the late Mr. MacFarley had a hand in the deaths of both victims.

He figured that MacFarley felt both Freddie and Caroline were going to place Mrs. Mac in some kind of danger, though how was still a question. The motive remained unclear to him, but the deed was very much a reality in Mulder's mind. The problem facing the agent now was how to get the others to believe in this newly formed theory.

He knew it would be a hard sell, and he fully expected his own partner to be the most difficult to convince. He sighed deeply at the prospect.

"Mrs. Mac?" Mulder looked at the older woman with tenderness, "It's going to be okay. We'll find a way to help Mr. Laing."

"But how, Fox?"

Mulder couldn't help but wonder the very same thing.

end of part 08

Due to popular demand (read that 'angry mob' ;), I am posting the rest of the story tonight. Don't kill me, I'm only the co-author <G>

Oh, and someone asked for a summary. Here it is. Mulder and Scully go to England.
There ya go.

The Oxford Files: Going Home 09
by Vickie Moseley (
and Susan Proto (

Scully had a nice long cab ride to work up her anger at Phoebe. She had a
full head of steam as she stormed her way into the lobby of Scotland Yard.
More than one officer turned and gave her a curious look, so she stamped down
her anger and pulled up that professional calm she'd made legendary in the
Bureau. She was completely composed when she approached the information desk.

"I need directions to your morgue," she said in a sharp, clipped tone.

"Our morgue?" echoed the uniformed officer.

"Yes, your morgue. I need to speak with the medical examiner about a victim
that was recently brought in," Scully said firmly. She was determined to get
as much information as she possibly could, and examining Caroline was the
best way she could do so.

The young woman in uniform manning the desk looked up at her with a
startled expression. "Ma'am, I'm afraid you're in the wrong place."

Scully wondered if someone (that someone being Phoebe, of course) was pulling
a fast one on her for a moment and then said quickly, "My name is Dr. Scully,
and I'm here on behalf of a patient. Now, will you kindly direct me to the

"But Dr. Scully, the morgue isn't located here. It's at the Coroner's Office
is a few kilometers away," the young woman said politely. When she noted the
confused expression on Scully's face, she nodded her head and smiled.
"American, aren't you?" Scully nodded. "You Yanks are all alike; you have
this rather odd idea that Scotland Yard is this huge complex of buildings and
departments that takes up whole London city blocks! Well, sorry to
disappoint you, but this is pretty much it, Ma'am. We're just your basic police
operations that happened to be made famous by some bloke named Sherlock. Now, if you want the morgue, you'll need to find your way to the Coroner's Office. Do you
need directions or will you be fetching yourself a taxi?"

Scully felt the color rise from her toes all the way to the top of her head.
She knew some found her coloring endearing, while she merely found it irritating.

"I'll be taking a cab. Thank you for your time," she said in an attempt to
maintain some professional decorum.

Scully was able to hail a cab and take the short trip over to the Coroner's
Office. When she arrived, she found herself at a receptionist's desk. The young
woman behind it asked, "May I help you?"

"Yes, I need directions to your morgue, please," Scully said with a
determined tone.

"And your business there is?" replied the receptionist in kind.

Scully thought of the response she'd tried earlier at the Yard. "I am a
doctor, and I am here on behalf of a patient. Now, if you would kindly spare me the
third degree and point me in the direction of the morgue, I can attend to my business."

"Basement. It's clearly marked," the young receptionist added with a weak
smile. "Shall I ring ahead and let them know who you're, uh, visiting, Doctor?"

Finally, Scully allowed a tiny smile to form on her lips. "No, that won't
be necessary. I want it to be a surprise."

It felt good to be doing something, even if it was making her way down to
the basement, to another morgue. She wondered about Mulder, on his way to
see Mr. Laing.

Poor Mr. Laing.

For some reason, Scully couldn't picture the old man as a killer. He'd
seemed kind and gracious. Doddering, in some ways. Oh, he'd exhibited a
mind as sharp as a tack, but his physical movements had been tremulous,
slow and apparently painful. She doubted sincerely that he would have the
strength to make it all the way to Drew and Caroline's house unaided, much
less murder a healthy young woman.

Unaided. Scully sucked in a shocked breath as her mind starting making
connections she hadn't seen. What if Mr. Laing was working with someone?
Who would do that? Who would help him commit murder?

Mrs. Mac?

Scully shook her head in frustration. Now, she was getting ridiculous.
Why in the world would Mrs. Mac and Mr. Laing team up together and murder
two of Mulder's old classmates? That was ludicrous!

No, she needed to do the autopsy. Not until she said the words to Drew had
she even realized that she keenly needed to get to the bottom of this.
Just moments before she'd reminded Mulder that this wasn't their case, that
he had to be careful around Phoebe. They were guests in the country, and if they interfered with an ongoing murder investigation, they ran the risk of finding themselves on the next supersonic flight home. Or worse.

Yet, just as much as he couldn't stop himself from wanting to protect his
old teacher, she couldn't stop herself from wanting the answers to this
particular puzzle. Something in the back of her mind was warning her. It
was like a little siren, a little flashing red light. And, as always in
their seven years together, she couldn't help but think the warning was
directed squarely at her partner.

While her mind was occupied, her feet had accomplished their mission. She
took the elevator to the basement and was met once again by a similar
dressed young woman behind a desk.

"May I assist you?" said the dark haired woman with a compassionate smile.
She was obviously accustomed to dealing with grieving families.

Scully pulled out her medical card and flashed it for the young woman. "My
name is Dr. Dana Scully. I'm here at the request of Andrew Holbrook to
view the body of his wife, Caroline."

The woman nodded in understanding and consulted a computer terminal. "I
believe Mrs. Holbrook's body has arrived. Dr. Manning is scheduled to do
the autopsy at half past ten. If you'll wait a moment, I'll ring back and
let him know you're here."

Scully looked up when a handsome young man in green scrubs and white lab
coat came through the steel double doors behind the desk. He glanced to
the young woman and she nodded toward Scully. Then he came around the desk
with a welcoming smile.

"Dr. Scully. I'm Peter Manning. I'm the resident slicer here. I
understand you're here to view a body?"

Scully was a little taken back by his causal manner but smiled openly.
"Yes, Caroline Holbrook. I have her husband's permission," she added
hastily and fingered the note Drew had scribbled on a sheet of her notepad
paper before she hurried off to find a cab. It wasn't much and she doubted
if it would stand up in court, but she was hopeful she could 'charm' her
way into the examining room.

Dr. Manning was regarding her with the hint of a smile. "My, my, that
accent is appealing. Did you study in the states?"

"Umm, yes. I'm from America," Scully said feeling her composure crack at
the edges. For some irrational reason, she sported a secret desire to
strangle her partner at that moment. Even though he wasn't exactly at
fault for putting her in an embarrassing situation, he usually was, so it
was force of habit.

"I holidayed in New York two years ago. Fascinating city. Incredible
medical facilities," Manning chatted amiably. He raised an eyebrow as
Scully flinched at his comments.

"Sorry. I've just had occasion to utilize those facilities not too long
ago. But you are correct. They are incredible."

"So, a tad unusual, an English couple keeping an American doctor," Manning
said with a sly smile.

Scully chewed on her lip. "My, uh, my friend is an old classmate of
theirs. We were visiting and when this happened . . . Drew asked that I .
. ." She pulled the note out of her pocket and handed it to Manning.

He looked at it, reading each word carefully, then looked up at her. "And
what exactly is your specialty, back in America, Dr. Scully?"

She hated it when her coloring got the better of her. There was no
stopping the blush on her cheeks. "I'm a forensic pathologist," she said
through gritted teeth. "For the Federal Bureau of Investigation."

Manning's smile turned to a beaming grin of triumph. "Well, then, let me
afford you every hospitality. As one colleague to another," he said,
putting his arm around her shoulder and escorting her back to the examining

"But, before we get started, would you do me one favor? I know it's silly,
but ever since I was a lad I've wanted to see a real FBI badge. Elliott
Ness, the Untouchables. All that, you know."

For a moment, Scully thought he had to be teasing her. But the look of
utter sincerity, mixed with boyish curiosity spreading across his face
changed her mind. She reached down into her purse and found her ID wallet.
"The badge is, well, it's not like the one on the television show," she
offered apologetically. "We don't 'wear' them any more. They just sort of
. . ." her voice trailed off as she handed him the wallet, open for his

Manning spent several seconds eyeing first the badge, then the accompanying
ID. He looked from the picture, to the original standing before him.
"Phoebe really does need to retract those claws more often. You don't look
anything like an 'Irish troll'."

Scully's stomach hit the floor with a resounding thud. "Phoebe? How did
she know?" she asked timidly. She sighed heavily at his Cheshire cat grin
and shrug.

"She is an inspector," Manning reminded her playfully.

Scully nodded, biting down hard on both lips. She suddenly realized
she'd been 'made,' most likely by the young receptionist at Scotland Yard.
She probably informed Inspector Greene of Scully's intent to go to the
morgue. Damn, she thought angrily to herself, and then through gritted teeth said,
"I won't be taking up any more of your time." Scully had just turned to leave when Manning grabbed her sleeve.

"On the contrary, Doctor, or should I call you 'Agent' Scully? While our
beloved Inspector Greene may think she can still solve the Lindy kidnapping
single-handedly before her retirement, I know when to call for
reinforcements. Lend-lease and all that rot. I would love to have you
give your opinion on this case."

Again, Scully was convinced he had to be toying with her. But he swept his
hand away from his body and pointed dramatically toward a door marked
'dressing'. "Unless you intend to assist me wearing your street clothing,
Agent Scully?"

It took just a moment to pull herself back together, but Scully managed.
"No, of course not, Dr. Manning. Thank you," she said graciously and
pushed open the door leading to the locker rooms. Still, she couldn't
resist listening closely for footsteps behind her. And she couldn't help
thinking she'd just stepped into a trap.

Caroline's body was laid out before her, but it wasn't the lively young
woman she'd swapped drinks and stories with at the Electric Eel. Scully
knew that woman was gone from this vessel, hopefully to a better place.
But what remained was filled with secrets, answers to her questions.

She gladly let Manning take the lead, especially since she knew that he
could easily order her from the room. As they worked, she learned to
admire the young doctor. He was conscientious and thorough, asking her
input frequently, making note of what she contributed. It took a little
over an hour and a half to finish the internal exam.

"I ordered a set of X rays before we started. They should be developed by
now," Manning told her as they jointly stripped off gloves and head
coverings. "I'm almost afraid of what we'll be seeing."

"There was no external trauma," Scully nodded in agreement. "And the
internal exam was . . . confusing."

"Confusing? More like 'impossible'! Agent Scully, my dear woman," Manning
exclaimed. "It's obvious that the woman died of strangulation, but how?
Certainly not from that hankie. That was applied post-mortem. From the
looks of it . . . it was almost as if," he held his hands up in surrender,
not daring to voice his thoughts.

"Like she was deprived of air. Like she was forced into a vacuum or the
breath was literally stolen from her body," Scully finished his thought for
him. "But without any trauma that I could note."

"Either of us could note," Manning corrected her. "Oh, my, the Terror is
not going to like this one," he muttered under his breath. He looked up
sheepishly. "Sorry, old joke."

Scully couldn't help the amused grin on her face. "You mean to tell me she
really _is_ called the Terror of Scotland Yard?"

Manning started to explain when the door to the outer hallway opened and
the subject of conversation herself walked into the room. Judging from her
expression, her title was justly earned.

"Agent Scully. I'm placing you under arrest," Phoebe said sternly as she
marched across the room. Scully immediately took a combative stance, and
Manning fearlessly stepped in front of her.

"Calm down, Phoebs, old girl. I _asked_ Dr. Scully for assistance. It's
my understanding the family requested her presence here, as well. Let's
not go charging Trafalgar again."

"I want her _out_ of this morgue!" Phoebe shouted. "She has no business
here!" she fumed at Manning. She then turned her tirade at Scully. "You
and Mulder make quite a pair! Just because you've discovered the 'joys' of
his bed is no reason to become his lap dog and . . ."


Scully looked almost as startled as Phoebe. She stared down at her
reddened palm and then back up to Phoebe's reddening cheek in horror. Only
Manning, if either woman had dared to look at him, seemed to know what had
happened. And for his part, he couldn't have looked more pleased.

Phoebe shot a glare over to Manning at his chuckle. He held up his hands
protectively. "Don't look at me. I didn't see a thing," he said with

"Inspector Greene," Scully fumed, struggling to contain her emotions.
"What my partner and I . . ."

"Save it, Agent Scully," Phoebe said haughtily. "I couldn't care less who,
or _what_ Fox Mulder is taking to bed these days. But the fact remains,
you are not allowed to have free reign over facilities not under FBI
jurisdiction. I would ask that you remove yourself immediately."

Scully was ready to continue the battle, but Manning was still standing
there, obviously enjoying the show far too much. With fire in her eyes,
she marched into the dressing room to change. When she returned, Phoebe
was still standing there, lips pursed like a headmaster waiting to escort an
expelled student from the premises. Scully glared at the woman, silently
allowing defeat for the engagement, but not the war.

As she reached the elevator, she heard Phoebe's voice behind her, issuing
an order that she be barred from the facilities. She shook her head
angrily and punched the elevator button again. It was a surprise when she
heard a voice very near her ear.

"Tell him to restrain himself to holding the old man's hand and stay the
hell away from my investigation," Phoebe hissed angrily. "Or I'll see you both deported before the sun sets."

It was only when she tried to pull out her cell phone that Scully realized
exactly how far away from home she was. She remembered laughing at Mulder
when he'd told her mournfully that he'd decided to leave his at his
apartment. She hadn't given a second thought to bringing it. They were on
vacation. They would be together most of the time. Why would they need
their cell phones?

Why, indeed, she wondered as she stood out of the sidewalk, glancing back
at the building behind her. Here she was, in London, knowing that her
partner was somewhere in the city, more than likely at Scotland Yard, the
same building Phoebe would probably ban her from next. Should she risk Phoebe's
wrath and venture back to the holding facilities to find Mulder and Mr.

Trespassing on the facilities might not get her arrested, but
slugging a policewoman might. Her stinging hand served as a gentle
reminder: punch, instead of slap, next time around. She really didn't want
to lose to 'the Terror' again. At least not until she found herself a good
defense solicitor.

As she was scratching her head and coming to the conclusion she should hail
a cab and direct it to the nearest car rental agency, regardless of her
partner's warnings, she heard her name being called from what was apparently
a rental car.

"When did you go and rent a car?" she asked.

"Oh, I figured with all of the running around we'd been doing in the last few
hours, it just made more sense to have easy access to wheels. I'm actually finally
getting the hang of this driving on the wrong side of the road business," he
said with a smile, however he was quick to add, "but feel free to take over
the driving anytime you want."

Scully smiled and told him to move over. "What's the latest word on Mr.

Mulder ran up to her, his face animated and joyful. "Scully, great news.
They're releasing Mr. Laing. Insufficient evidence to link him to the
crime. We got a nice judge," he said taking her into a hug.

"Mulder, I was allowed to assist in the autopsy. We need to find a place
where we can talk, alone."

"Sure, Scully," he said absently, ignoring her concerned scowl. "We just
need to get the old man and Mrs. Mac back to the house. Then we can go to
the hotel and talk. So what did you find?"

"Let's just say there's some disparities. I think I'd rather talk about it
when we get back to the hotel, after we deliver your friends back to their home."

Mulder finally noticed the rather chagrined expression on Scully's face and
simply nodded. He then gave her directions back to the Yard.

Once settled into the rental car, Mr. Laing promptly fell asleep. Mulder
couldn't help but notice that Mrs. Mac wasn't long in following him.

"Well, it's not exactly alone, but I don't think a small nuclear device
would wake either of them right now, so what did you find?" Mulder asked.

"I thought we were going to wait till we got back to the hotel?"

"C'mon, Scully, obviously you found something, or you wouldn't want to
wait till we got to the hotel. Problem is, I can't wait any longer! Please?"
he asked with is patented puppy-dog eyes.

Scully considered the road before her, her fingers gripping more tightly at
the wheel. "Mulder, that's the problem. There was nothing to find."

"What, no prints? That's to be expected. Whoever they are, they're trying
to pin this on Mr. Laing. They would take every precaution . . ."

"No, Mulder. There was no _trauma_. She was just, somehow, she was . . .
deprived of air."

"Smothered?" he asked, confused.

"No, there would have been fibers in her throat or mouth. And when a
person is smothered, they fight. Caroline wasn't a frail woman, she would
have fought like a wild cat. No, she wasn't smothered."

"Drugged?" Mulder prodded hesitantly. At her glare he shrugged. "Sorry.
You would have mentioned that." He stared out at the English countryside
that had so calmed him just a few short days before. "No physical
evidence," he said, almost in a whisper. "Scully, Mrs. Mac told me
something. And I want you to listen to the whole story with an open mind."

Scully's knuckles turned white on the wheel. "If you're going to tell me a
story with Bloody Mary in it, Mulder, I suggest you prepare to leave the
car. And I don't intend to slow down."

He chuckled at her. "Now, Scully. Would I do that? No, no. No Bloody
Mary. A bloody Gavin, maybe, but no Bloody Mary."

"Who is Gavin?" Scully asked with a deep sigh.

"Mr. Mac. Gavin MacFarley," Mulder said proudly.

Scully's eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "But I thought Mrs. Mac was a

"She is," Mulder said enthusiastically. "Close to twenty years now."

"And so what you're telling me is that Mr. Mac, Gavin, who is dead, has
been dead for going on twenty years, has come back suddenly after all this
time and is committing these murders?" she asked with a dour expression.

"Gee Scully, how come when you say it, it sounds so outlandish?" Mulder

"Because it _is_ outlandish, Mulder! That is just . . . it's just plain
_cruel_! Accusing a dead person, someone who can't even defend himself.
And besides, isn't stuff like that supposed to happen in castles and be
part of big inheritance schemes?"

"Been watching 'Scooby Doo' again on Cartoon Network, haven't you, Scully,"
Mulder said with a wicked grin. She turned the grin into a wince when she
reached out with her left hand and punched him in the shoulder. "Ouch!
Getting violent won't solve this thing," he chided.

"Maybe not, but I discovered this morning that it sure makes me feel
better," Scully replied cryptically.

"What happened?" he demanded.

She bit her lip. It was bound to come out sooner or later. She'd been
hoping for later. Much later. Like when they were on the plane back home.
"I slapped Phoebe."

"You _what_?"

"I slapped her. She said something that I didn't like . . ."

"Scully! That is no excuse! I can't believe you! Weren't you the one
this morning telling me to be nice to Phoebe, or she'd take it out on Mr.
Laing? What the hell were you thinking?" he shouted.

"Mulder, lower your voice," she hissed through gritted teeth. "It was a
set up. Phoebe had warned the medical examiner that I might be coming.
Unfortunately for Phoebe, the guy watches reruns of the Untouchables and
has a soft spot for he Bureau. And I think he was actually interested in
getting some help. He let me assist."

"So when did you hit her?" Mulder asked, still fuming.

"When she stormed in at the end of the autopsy and implied that I was doing
your dirty work because I'd 'found the joys of your bed'," Scully growled
in kind.

Mulder clamped his mouth shut and stared at her wide-eyed. After several
moments of impenetrable silence, he whispered. "Guess we're lucky you
didn't have your gun, huh?"

She refused to give him the satisfaction of seeing her smile, so she ducked
her head and her hair fell down to cover her face. When she thought she
could risk looking up, he was still sitting there, chewing his lip.

"I suppose I should apologize," he said quietly.

"For what? The fact that as a young, impressionable college student you
slept with a total bitch? Please, Mulder. Let's not go there. Some of my
choices when I was younger make yours pale by comparison."

"The fact that I put you in that situation. Scully, I know how you. . .
feel about your privacy. I should have thought about that. Phoebe
probably checked the hotel register and knows we're sharing a room. That
puts you in a horrible position."

Now he was starting to get her angry again, and she couldn't understand
why. "Unless _you're_ embarrassed that she found out, Mulder," she seethed.

He couldn't have looked more shocked. "Me? Why would that bother me? I
mean, shit, Scully, I'd scream it from the steps of the Jefferson Memorial,
if I thought you wouldn't shoot me for it." He grabbed her hand off the
steering wheel and brought it to his lips. "Besides, you were accused of
something you never did," he whispered between kisses.

She strained against his hold for a moment, then when he started to nibble
the little hairs on the backs of her fingers, she started to melt right
there in the seat. "My Grandmother had a saying, Mulder."

"The Grandmother who knew St. Brendan?" he asked wryly.

"The same," she nodded.

"And what would be that saying?" he asked, turning her hand over and
nibbling lightly at her wrist.

"It's better to die as a sheep, than as a lamb," she moaned.

"Which means, do the deed before the punishment comes," came a voice from
behind them. "But why not wait till you can commit the crime in the
comfort of a nice warm bed?" added a smiling Mrs. Mac.

"Very good advice," Mulder agreed with a fierce blush, and turned his
attention back to the road. Scully couldn't stop giggling for miles.

end of part 9
This is the part that borders on R, just so you know :)

The Oxford Files: Going Home 10
By Susan Proto (
and Vickie Moseley (

Mulder helped Mr. Laing into the house and accepted another hug from Mrs. Mac. She assured him that she was going to 'tuck the poor man in, if I hafta use a frying pan'. Mulder was certain, just by the set of the old man's shoulders, it wasn't going to take too much persuading to get him to take a nap.

The two agents were silent all the way back to the hotel. Mulder really didn't want to break the mood by bringing up the ghost theory again. He would be patient and wait for evidence before trying to convince Scully. He snorted to himself, thinking that in days gone by he wouldn't have given a thought to pushing his theory, practically shoving it down her throat in an effort to make her admit the obvious. How times change, he pondered.

Scully was lost in her own thoughts. Caroline's body in the morgue was like a puzzle to her, a 'rubics cube', begging for her to solve it. Silently, she chided herself. Caroline had been Drew's wife, they'd been sweethearts all through college. How would she feel if she ever lost Mulder and then later found some Medical Examiner calling his body 'a puzzle'? The thought made her stomach churn.

Better to die as a sheep than as a lamb. Lambs are led off to slaughter, but at least sheep had a few more years. Not that sheep were ever allowed to settle down, marry, build that perfect little house with the white picket fence. She shook her head. Her thoughts were jumbled more than she could ever remember. And all the time, she kept skirting around the obvious. She was ready to become a sheep. She was tired of being a lamb. But could she convince Mulder to become a sheep with her?

They arrived back at the room and Mulder suddenly seemed intent on examining the carpet. "Uh, I'm going to take a shower," he said hastily.

"Sure," Scully replied, and cursed the crack in her voice. Geez, has it been that long, Starbuck, she railed internally. She remembered vaguely that she'd been the one to put the moves on Jack Willis, something no one at Quantico would have ever suspected.

It was time. Hell, it was past time, she reminded herself. They weren't on a case, they were in a lovely room in an old English hotel with a bed that she had to admit was more comfortable than her own back at home. And the way he'd been nibbling the back of her hand in the car had almost caused her to drive right into a ditch. That was a clue, wasn't it?

But she knew Mulder as well as she knew herself. And running off to the bathroom was just an excuse. She was certain that if she stepped in there now, she wouldn't be greeted by a cloud of hot steam. Cold showers don't produce clouds of hot steam.

If she didn't do something, they would be in this rut forever. Sure, it had only been a couple of nights that they'd slept in the same bed. She could take it as slow as the next person. But, as she'd already realized, she knew Mulder too well. He could content himself to just holding her while they slept . . . forever. Look how long he'd been happy just to touch her hand or brush a lock of hair or even slide his fingers down the small of her back. The man was a rock of restraint. She didn't really want that kind of rock anymore.

She would have to make the first move. And it would have to be in bold capital letters, underlined and in 24-point type. She smiled almost greedily as she determined her plan of attack.

Mulder was rubbing his head vigorously with a towel, dressed in just his jeans, with no shirt when he reentered the room. He was a little surprised to find Scully huddled under the covers on the bed.

"You cold?" he asked, curiosity warring with concern on his face.

"We got up so early, and we've been going crazy since we got here. I'm not cold, I just wanted to take a nap."

He nodded in understanding and relief. "OK, I'll be quiet then."

This was not going as planned! Mulder was pulling on a clean shirt and settling down at the desk, searching the drawers for writing paper. She felt a pang in her chest. He was going to write a profile of the killer. But it wasn't their case. And she had other things on her mind. She had to do something.

"Mulder, what are you doing?"

His head shot up at the sharp tone to her voice. His startled expression served to warn her to curb her exasperation. "I'm looking for something to write on. Scully, did you bring any paper?"

She sighed, deeply. Maybe 24-point type wasn't big enough. Maybe a billboard. On top of the Tower of London. With laser lights and flags and fireworks over head. She was going to have to be firm with the boy. He couldn't help it if he was dense, could he?

"Mulder, get over in this bed. Now."

That got his attention. The startled look was replaced with a smirking leer.

"Are you coming on to me, Agent Scully?" he asked, the devil dancing in his eyes.

She threw back the covers, revealing more creamy white skin than Mulder had viewed since their side excursion to the South Pole.

"Yes, Agent Mulder. Now, are you gonna do something about it?"

For a moment, she thought she'd given him a coronary. His face turned a frightening shade of pale, his chest didn't raise for a full half a minute. But other parts of his anatomy seemed to be very much alive and thoroughly enjoying the show.

"Mulder, I asked you a question. Are you going to stand there and choke on your tongue, or are you going to come over here and do something about my offer?"

Mulder looked just like he was in a trance. He stared at her as he obediently stumbled over to stand next to the bed. "Sc-sc-scully," he stammered. "Are you, um . . . I mean do you really . . .?"

"I'm naked. I'm on a bed. If this ever gets back to the FBI, somebody is gonna be examining your powers of deductive reasoning. Now, get undressed and get under the covers. There's a draft in here," she ordered in mock gruffness.

That seemed to light a fire under him. Mulder stripped off the jeans, leaving on a pair of navy silk boxers. With one swift hop, he was next to her and the covers were over them both. It seemed he needed no further encouragement. Much to her delight he pulled her into his arms and kissed her completely.

His hands were moving all over her body and she squirmed and pressed into his touch. "So, Mulder, is this how it is in those movies you don't own?" she teased playfully just before dipping her tongue into the ridges of his ear.

"Those are not good examples at all, my love," he purred. "Even the really well done ones don't concentrate on technique. Besides, those actresses are paid to moan like that," he said, stopping his kisses only long enough to give her an explanation that she considered far to long for her liking.

He kissed her all over and she loved it. The feel of his tongue on her skin was like fire and ice, red hot from his touch and then freezing cold when he moved on. But he knew what he was doing, following a road map known only to him.

Road map, hell, this man had a friggin' GPS system in his tongue!

Hours, days or centuries later, they lay tangled in each other's arms, drawing breath into oxygen-starved lungs and holding each other so they didn't spin off the planet.

"So, do I pass the class, teach?" he asked impishly.

"Anatomy 101, Fox Mulder, A plus," she panted.

"You . . . graduated . . . top of class . . . Right?" he panted in a weak whisper as he popped open first his left eye, then his right.

"Yeah, well, you ran cross country, didn't you?" she shot back, lightly kissing his eyelids and cheeks.

"Three years. Varsity letter two years," he answered, pulling her body down to where she was snuggled on his shoulder, his arms wrapped around her in a loose, but firm embrace.

"I could tell. You have endurance," she said, hugging him tightly.

They lay there, locked in each other's arms. Scully felt the warm haze of sleep start to cover her.

"What took us so long?" came a hoarse whisper, and the sensation of lips kissing the crown of her head.

"We were scared. Scared of what would happen. Fear of the unknown," she reasoned and snuggled in closer, hoping to erase any fear that might still be lurking in the shadows.

"I've known you so long, Scully. And you've known me. I don't feel like this was a 'first time'. It's not the beginning of our relationship. It's a confirmation of what we already knew."

She smiled, knowing he couldn't see it. "Well, let's do another confirmation a little later. Like after dinner."

He answered her with a hug. "This would be nice, wouldn't it? Just to lie here, order room service, make love, eat, make love again. I could do this an eon or two, no questions asked." He sighed contentedly.

A tiny stirring of doubt blossomed in her stomach. "Mulder? Have you given much thought to Mr. Laing's comments the other day?"

"Hmm, which ones? Mr. Laing says a lot of things," he muttered, obviously about to drift off to sleep himself.

"About accepting a position with the faculty. About staying here, teaching psychology?"

"Oh, that," he replied with a yawn. "No, not really. Other stuff got in the way." He shifted slightly, leaned more toward her and she could tell by his breathing he was sound asleep already.

"Once again, male hormones win out," she said ruefully. It was a topic she knew should be talked out, but maybe he wasn't going to consult her on it. She mentally cuffed her ears for that thought. Especially after what had just transpired, she knew to the depths of her soul that she would at least be involved in his decision.

The problem was, she wasn't sure which path was the best one, for either of them. Finally, fatigue and sexual satisfaction won out over her mind's frantic dialectic, and she too, feel asleep.

end of part 10

The Oxford Files: Going Home 11
By Vickie Moseley (
& Susan Proto (

She stretched ever so slowly as she savored the warmth of his body next to hers. If she hadn't known any better, Scully would have sworn it was all a dream, but the satisfying ache she felt all over her very bare body was all the reminder she needed that it was indeed, not a dream.

But now, as she was just about to snuggle in with her love and enjoy the quiet solitude of the early evening, she heard the ringing of the hotel phone. She looked at Mulder, who was in fact closer to the phone, to see if he would reach for it. He continued to snore in blissful ignorance.

Typical man, Scully thought, but then she remembered their afternoon activities. Maybe not very typical at all, she contemplated with a very satisfied smile on her face.

She reached over the slumbering body of her partner and picked up the phone. "Hello?"

"Hello? Hello?" responded the anxious voice.

"Yes? Who is this, please?" asked Scully. When all she heard what was an apparent gasp for air, she realized immediately whom it was.
"Mr. Laing? Is that you?"

"Oh, Miss Scully, I'm sorry to disturb you, but I dinnah know who else to call!" the elderly man cried out.

"It's all right, Mr. Laing, but please, tell me what's wrong?" she replied in a tone that woke up her partner.

Mulder wiped his face with his hand as if to try and wash away the sleepiness. His mind wandered a bit back to their lovemaking session that afternoon caused a sudden, impish grin to appear on Mulder's face. He was about to make some leering remark to that effect when he'd finally noticed Scully's expression was definitely not offering any kind of invitation for double entendres or suggestive remarks.

"What's up?" he asked aloud.

"Mr. Laing," replied Scully, her hand covering the mouthpiece. "Sounds really upset. Don't' know why yet," she said as she offered him the phone.

"Is he okay?" Mulder mouthed so as not to cut totally into the conversation.

"I'm not sure," she answered while once again covering the mouthpiece, "not without examining him first, Mulder. You should speak with him. He may feel more comfortable speaking with you and calm down."

Mulder nodded and took the proffered phone. "Mr. Laing," he began, "It's Fox Mulder. Please, start from the beginning. What happened?"

"He called about fifteen minutes ago," Mr. Laing began.

"He being?" probed Mulder.

"Oh, didn't I say?" When he heard that in fact he hadn't, he replied, "Thomas. Thomas Evans. He called to ask me where Ann was. Can you imagine? I couldn't imagine where Ann Hilton would be," Laing said quickly. "But then, I thought perhaps she'd gone out for some cream. That's what Mrs. Mac is doing even as we speak. We'd discovered we'd run out of cream for our tea, and God bless the woman, she put on her coat and immediately went out to buy some. Can you imagine being without cream for your tea?" he asked earnestly.

"I see, so Mrs. Mac is not there now?" Mulder asked to confirm.

"No, Fox, she's gone out for some cream," he repeated. Suddenly, there was a rather loud bang from Mr. Laing's end.

"Are you all right, Sir? What was that?" asked a surprised Mulder.

"Oh, damned renovations. This house is almost a century and a half old, Fox. They started in one room, eight months ago. They're still renovating! Can drive a man bloody crazy!"

"Mr. Laing, why would Thomas call you about Ann Hilton?" Mulder asked in an attempt to bring the wandering conversation back into focus.

"That's exactly what I was wonderin' 'bout. I dinnah understan' why he'd think I'd know where the lass is," answered Mr. Laing.

"But he did think that, Mr. Laing, so why?" he asked his former mentor, deadly serious. Mulder decided the best tact was to not beat around the bush, but to focus the elderly gent on the facts at hand. "Sir?" he repeated, albeit gently, "Why does Thomas think you would know where Ann is?"

"The card. He found the bloody card," he gasped in frustration.

"Card? What card, Sir?" prodded Mulder.

"Those bloody business cards the University had made up for me eons ago. I never used the blasted things! Too damned self-serving for my taste. Someone wanted to contact me, they could bloody well remember my name and just ring me up. Those dratted cards have been collecting dust in the bottom drawer of my old roll top for years now," Laing explained. "Bloody waste of money," he muttered to himself.

"Mr. Laing, what did Thomas say about the business card? What exactly did he say to you when he'd called?" Mulder asked so that
Scully could follow the conversation more easily. At that question, Mulder did a fair imitation of his partner in the raised eyebrow department, as he tried to focus her on the question in hand. Scully nodded in understanding.

"He said he'd gone to pick up Ann. She's been using Thomas' car to get to her office at the bank, while Thomas continues his research at the University. She drops him off and then goes on to the bank, you see," Laing explained in great detail.

Mulder, however, was beginning to lose patience and very nearly handed the phone over to his partner, when Laing resumed a more direct course of conversation. "When he'd gotten to the bank, she wasn't there. They said she went home at midday. He figured the poor lass was exhausted from all of the sad events that have taken place recently. So he went to her flat, but there was no answer," he said with a slight pause, "so he used his flat key to enter.

"He called out to her and searched the entire flat. He was going to call the police when he saw the card by the telephone," Laing concluded.

"And that's when he called you," Mulder assumed.

"Tom told me Ann has been working at the bank for the last four and a half years with not a blemish on her record. She had only one absence, as a result of a hundred-three fever. So, it was definitely not the norm for Ann Hilton to leave in the middle of the day," the older man rattled on.

"What did you say to Tom, Mr. Laing?"

"I told him the truth; I hadn't the foggiest notion as to where in the bloody blazes Ann was, and I was a wee bit upset that he'd assume
I was the only one who would know," Laing said with great emotion.

"What did Thomas say to that?" asked Mulder.

It was at that moment the agent became worried. He heard the man suddenly gasp for air. There was no way of knowing when Mrs. Mac was going to return to help the man calm down, so he realized someone was going to have to talk him down, so to speak, and get him to calm himself. Mulder pictured the frail old gentleman in his mind and knew he was not the most qualified for the job.

"Mr. Laing, are you okay? I'm going to give the phone back to Scully. Talk to her, Mr. Laing. Please," Mulder pleaded. He practically pushed the receiver into Scully's hand. While his partner attempted to assess the long time teacher's health, Mulder quickly began to search for some clothes to put on.

"Mr. Laing, listen to me, please," began Scully. "I need you to stop talking for a moment and concentrate on taking deep cleansing breaths." She waited for some sign from him that he was gaining more control of himself, but all she heard was another deep gasp or two.

"Are you in pain, Sir? Do you feel pain in your chest?" she asked hurriedly.

"Yes," he moaned.

"Mr. Laing, are you standing up?" When he gasped out 'yes,' she asked him to lie down on the couch. Thankfully, Laing didn't show a total disdain for modern conveniences and actually had a cordless phone. A few minutes passed and Laing informed Scully he was laying down. Finally, Scully asked him if the pain eased at all.

Thankfully, the older man said it had. He felt the pressure in his chest ease up considerably. Scully continued guiding his breathing for several more minutes, and soon Mr. Laing was able to resume his tale. "What happened next, Sir?" she asked, as she looked at Mulder. He waved at her to indicate she should continue questioning Laing.

The elderly man took a deep, deep breath and continued with the part that caused him the deepest concern. "Thomas said he was going to call the Yard, since he knew Ann would never stand him up, not when she knew his experiments depended upon him being there on time for trial runs and such.

"I begged him to wait before he called the police. I begged him to hold off until we could both have a chance to speak with you and Fox. I'm quite frankly petrified they'll come and charge me whatever reason they come up, for Ann's disappearance.

"Mr. Laing, we'll be right over. Don't go anywhere. Don't answer the door if you can avoid it."

"Please, Miss Scully, would you join me as quickly as possible, please?" the elderly man pleaded.

"Of course, Mr. Laing, we'll be there as soon as we possibly can."

End of part 11

The Oxford Files: Going Home 12
Susan Proto (
& Vickie Moseley (

By the time Mulder and Scully had arrived at the Laing residence, Mrs. MacFarley had returned from her dairy run. She was upset with how Mr. Laing appeared upon her return, and she was extremely relieved to see Mulder and Scully at the door.

"He's in the sitting room. He looks terrible, aye, he looks simply terrible," she worried aloud, and then looked Mulder straight in the eye and said sternly, even angrily, "Fox, I don't think he can take much more of this."

But then, as if her words suddenly had the ring of truth she was trying so hard to avoid, she began to cry and her voice quavered, "I'm so frightened he won't be able to take this." Mrs. Mac dropped her head to her chest and began to weep quietly.

Mulder moved quickly to gather the slight woman up into his arms. He did his best to try to comfort her quickly, so they could all go into the other room to see Mr. Laing.

"Mrs. Mac, we're going to do everything we can to see Mr. Laing _does_ get through this," he said with as much confidence as he could manage, "and we're going to help _you_ get through this, too. Scully and I aren't going anywhere," he comforted, though at this last statement he looked quickly at Scully, knowing he was probably being presumptuous again.

Scully, to her credit, nodded and softly added, "Of course we'll be here to help."

Mulder looked at his partner and smiled at the gift she just gave him.

They walked into the small sitting room, and Scully quickly walked over to the elderly man sitting in the oversized chair. He looked completely wiped out, and Scully immediately grasped his wrist to take his pulse.

Mr. Laing managed to smile wanly at her and remarked, "'Tis be a miracle if you actually found a pulse, lass. I feel like as if I've died a thousand deaths these last couple of days."

Scully smiled gently back and said warmly, "Your pulse is good and strong, Mr. Laing. I'm sure we'll see an end to this soon."

"Have you heard from Thomas again, Sir?" asked Mulder.

"He called a few minutes before you arrived," he replied. "He said he was coming over here."

"Did he call the police?" Mulder then inquired with some trepidation.

"I don't know," replied Laing wearily. "I didn't have the strength to deal with his answer."

As if on cue, the doorbell rang and Mrs. Mac left to answer it. Some moments later, she returned, with Thomas Evans right behind her.

"Thomas, any word?" asked Mulder hopefully, but knowing in his heart the answer. When Thomas shook his head mutely, Mulder said, "Have you called in the Yard, yet?"

Mr. Laing looked up at this question. When Thomas shook his head no, the teacher let out a breath he wasn't even aware he'd been holding. Three other sighs of relief were heard in the room as well.

"I didn't want to call yet; not until I was absolutely sure something was amiss," Thomas explained stoically. "In fact, I brought this to show it to you." Thomas removed a small plastic baggy from his jacket pocket. Turning to Mulder he said, "You'd be proud of me, Mulder. I used tweezers to pick it up and put it in the bag. I swear, I didn't touch it, so if there are any fingerprints on it I haven't compromised them."

"Smart thinking, Thomas," Mulder agreed softly, as he examined the small business card while it remained inside the bag. "You did well."

Thomas then turned to Mr. Laing and said, "I don't want to believe, Sir, that you've had anything to do with the tragic incidents that have befallen us, but I desperately need to find Annie. So, Mr. Laing, if there is anything you can tell me about her disappearance, anything at all."

It was at this point that Thomas broke down. Mr. Laing wanted to move toward his distraught, former student, but instead he remained seated and stunned at this latest turn of events.

Scully was the one to move and assist Thomas; she wanted to get him sitting down before he collapsed. The doctor in her suspected he had a good chance of going into shock, and she wanted to make sure he was seated in a safe position in case he did start showing symptoms.

"Scully, can you handle things in here? I want to go check out Mr. Laing's office. The one where he kept the business cards; I'd like to compare them to see if they're the same card," he further explained. When she nodded yes, he turned to Mrs. Mac and asked, "Would you show me where the room is, please?"

Mulder's reasons for asking Mrs. MacFarley to lead him to the little used room were twofold. The first was the most obvious; he simply didn't know the layout of the entire house, as he'd never been privy to a complete tour prior to this day. Second, he felt it was important to find out if Mrs. Mac had any further notions regarding her late husband, Gavin.

"Here we go, Fox, lad. Best button up, as it's a tad chilly out."

"Mrs. Mac, where are we going?" asked a rather confused Mulder as he followed the housekeeper to the outside.

"Why, to the carriage house, Fox. Didn't you realize the office was in the carriage house out back? They've been pounding and making enough noise to wake up the dead, that's for sure. Mr. Laing decided to convert the carriage house into apartments for students who needed but couldn't afford housing on campus. It's been months since they'd started the construction; heaven knows when they're going to finish it!" she declared with frustration.

He followed her up the path toward the large building that was surrounded by various trucks and construction paraphernalia. He was amazed to see how large the structure was and asked, "How many apartments are being created?"

"Four. They'll be rather small, of course, but they'll be suited to a student's lifestyle, that's for sure. They've practically finished the upstairs ones, but they've been dallying with completing the downstairs units for the longest time. I swear, they're charging Mr. Laing by the day!"

They arrived at the building and Mulder noticed there were no workmen about. It was late in the evening, so it didn't surprise him that the workers would have gone home by now.

"Where was the office, Mrs. Laing?" asked Mulder.

"Well, it was in the far corner at one point, but when they'd completed the first upstairs room, we had them move the few pieces of furniture worth saving up there. They're all covered from what I remember. I don't see how or why anyone would want to fiddle around with Mr. Laing's business cards. I don't think anyone besides Mr. Laing or me even knew they were there."

"If that's the case, then someone went to an awful lot of trouble," Mulder muttered to himself.

They went inside and Mulder felt almost claustrophobic amid the multitude of two by fours and sheet rock and buckets of building material that lay about. He noticed there was some work being done on the steps and wondered aloud how they'd managed to haul the office furniture up them.

Mrs. Mac answered, "Oh, they used the crane. It was the fastest and easiest way to get the furniture out of everyone's way. Mr. Laing didn't want it brought back into the main house, since he knew it was only going to be moved back here, so he promised the boys a couple of ales if they'd do him that small favor and they did."

Mulder nodded and asked which room it was. The housekeeper pointed to the right, but then said, "I'll be happy to show you, Fox."

"No, Mrs. Mac, these steps don't appear all that sturdy yet. I'd feel a lot better if you would wait here, please?"

When Mrs. Mac finally nodded her assent, Mulder began to climb the stairs carefully. Mulder wondered just how much Mr. Laing was paying this construction crew and decided it was probably too much, given the poor condition of the steps.

Suddenly, before he'd gone halfway, there was a loud, but deep moan emanating from the upstairs. Mrs. MacFarley heard it too, for she cried up, "Fox! What is that?"

"I don't know, but I'm going to go check it out. Please, go back to the house and get Scully."

Mrs. Mac was about to protest, but Mulder turned and kept going before she could utter a sound. However, she did hear more of the moans coming from above, and realized the best thing she could do was to go back and get Miss Scully for him.


He walked into the room on the right, as that was the one Mrs. Mac had indicated was the first to be completed and housed his mentor's office furniture. He realized it was rather dark and there was of course no electricity. He pulled out a small key chain flashlight he'd been in the habit of carrying. Mulder surveyed the area as best he could when he came upon a hand.

"Ohmigod," he gasped as he stepped closer. When he finally was close enough to make out the fact that there was a body lying on the floor, he moved the flashlight up to the face.

It was Ann.

And she was alive.

"OOMMPH!" Mulder gasped in surprised pain as he felt a heavy punch to his gut. Next, his entire body was being pushed up and away from the spot where Ann lay. He couldn't see anything, as it was rather dark, but he felt the strength of his attacker all too clearly.

"Who's there?" Mulder managed to gasp out. "Please? Who's there?" When the only response Mulder received was another blow to his gut, Mulder's mind made one of his usual leaps of faith and gasped, "Gavin? Gavin MacFarley?"

The next thing Mulder felt was a heavy blow to his head as he was knocked, literally, out of the room and into the small hallway. The agent was now dazed, but he tried to get up off the floor. He heard the painful moan come from the bedroom again.

Mulder searched the darkness futilely and pleaded, "Gavin, please, don't hurt her anymore. She hasn't done anything to you or to Mrs. MacFarley. Please, don't hurt Ann."

Within seconds Mulder received a reply to his plea. As the blow to his midsection registered in his brain, the pain he felt threatened to cause him to black out. Yet, no sooner had Mulder felt himself wishing he could indeed surrender to unconsciousness, he found himself the recipient of one more devastating blow to his lower back which forced his body to follow the laws of gravity.

Mulder's body suffered even more bruising with each step he bounced off as he rolled over and over down the stairwell. When he landed he tried to remain conscious. He knew he had to let them all know Ann was alive and that the time frame simply precluded Mr. Laing from having anything to do with this abduction.

He knew he had to let Phoebe know. Mulder knew he had to be the one to convince Phoebe that it was impossible for Laing to have been involved in Ann's disappearance, and therefore it was highly unlikely that he had anything to do with Freddie's or Caroline's murders. He had to be the one to tell her. He knew he was the only one who could get her to see reason.


Mulder heard the buzzers and blips and bleeps before he actually saw anything. Unfortunately, those sounds were all too familiar to him and decided it would be nice to avoid reality for another second or two. However, it had also suddenly occurred to him why he was here, and realized he needed to let everyone know what had happened.

Ann was still alive. He had to rescue her. He had to let them know. It was Gavin, not Mr. Laing. It was Gavin's ghost. He had to tell them. He had to tell Phoebe before she arrested Mr. Laing again. He couldn't allow Phoebe to arrest the old man again. He couldn't let him down. He couldn't let Phoebe's disdain for him and the old man allow her to make a huge mistake in judgment. He had to talk Phoebe out of it. He had to talk to Phoebe.

"Phoe-be," he rasped.

Scully stood there and couldn't believe what she'd heard. Surely she heard him wrong. Surely, after sitting vigil for the past six hours the first words out of his mouth would not be that bitch's name.

"Phoebe." His voice remained hoarse, but the word was as clear as day.

"Sorry, Mulder, but Phoebe isn't available at the moment. She's busy placing Mr. Laing under arrest for the murder of Ann Hilton."

"No," Mulder replied. "Ann's alive."

"Alive?" Scully's voice softened at this and said gently, "No, Mulder. Ann Hilton is, unfortunately, deceased. I did the autopsy, Mulder. We found the same characteristics on Ann, as we'd found on Caroline and Freddie. No obvious marks were found on the outside of the body. No obvious bruising that could be identified as the cause of death either.

"I'm sorry, Mulder," Scully said sympathetically.

"Phoebe," Mulder responded in a hoarse whisper. "I have to talk with Phoebe."

Scully looked at her partner and wondered what the hell was going on. She'd just explained to Mulder that she'd completed an autopsy that laid the groundwork for connecting Ann Hilton's death with the murders of Freddie Blumford and Caroline Holbrook. An autopsy performed in her sleep after hours of worrying over her partner, she thought, silently offended. But the one person who seemed to be connected to all three was his former mentor, Mr. Laing.

And all he could think of was Phoebe? Whatever happened to talking things out with his partner? Whatever happened to talking things out with her, first?

"I'll see if she's available," Scully responded tersely and then turned on her heels and walked briskly out the door.

Mulder didn't have a clue just how annoyed and frustrated his partner felt towards him. All he knew was he had to convince Phoebe Mr. Laing hadn't killed Ann Hilton. He had to help her see beyond her old feelings of vindictiveness toward him and the old man. Mulder had the black and blue marks to prove it.

He groaned in pain as he tried to find a comfortable spot in the hospital bed. His entire body and being was in pain at that moment; what was supposed to be a weekend of celebration had turned into anything but that. However, if he could vindicate his former teacher; if he could prove to everyone what really happened, then it would have been worth all the pummeling his body just took.

Now if he could only get Phoebe to really see the truth. For that matter, he wondered just how difficult it was going to be to get his own partner to see the truth, too.

Where were the good drugs when he really needed them?

End of part 12

The Oxford Files: Going Home 13
By Vickie Moseley (
& Susan Proto (

The clicking heels came to him in stereo, which meant only one thing to the still hazy Mulder. Scully and Phoebe found one another and were on their way to his bedside.

Mulder wasn't sure if he had the strength to go through with this meeting with Phoebe and Scully. It was tough enough trying to convince one skeptic; convincing two was a challenge he wasn't sure he was up to dealing with.

"Mulder, wake up. Phoebe's here."

That was odd, Mulder thought to himself. Scully sounded pissed off, and he wasn't sure as to why. He couldn't help but wonder if Phoebe had done something to irritate his partner yet again.

"Mulder, Agent Scully says you wanted to see me."

Mulder tried his best to focus his eyes on his former lover and his current one, but he felt a wave of dizziness come over him every time he tried to shift his head to look at them both. Neither woman seemed terribly sympathetic to his plight. Finally he closed his eyes while he spoke.

"I saw Ann."

"Yes, Mulder. Ann is dead. I am sorry," Phoebe said in an uncharacteristic display of compassion.

"No, not dead," he responded.

"Mulder," Scully interjected, "I told you, I'd already performed the autopsy. The woman died from unknown causes."

"No!" he said a bit more forcefully, which only caused him to wince in pain. Both women moved slightly toward him, but he continued speaking before they could actually do anything.

"What I mean is, Ann wasn't dead when I saw her. She was alive; it was just barely, but she was moaning. I heard her. Mrs. MacFarley heard her, too. That's when I told her to run and get you, Scully."

Scully remembered back the several hours when the spry Mrs. Mac came rushing through the door, insisting that Scully get over to the carriage house as quickly as possible. She ordered Thomas to go with her, while she remained with Mr. Laing. Scully recalled the anxiety in the old woman's voice scared the hell out of her.

When they'd arrived at the carriage house, it was rather dark. Scully was grateful for Mrs. Mac's foresight in telling them to take the emergency flashlights. When they'd entered, they hadn't seen anything unusual, but they did hear several mournful cries throughout the house.

Scully had called out into the darkness for her partner. It took but a few minutes before Thomas and Scully had found Mulder's body lying in a heap at the bottom of the stairs. Both of them had gasped at the amount of blood that had escaped from Mulder's head wound.

So now, while she still felt a bit annoyed with her partner, she was now also worried. Perhaps Ann had still been alive when Mulder and Mrs. Mac were in the carriage house, but that didn't explain who ultimately killed Ann or how her partner had sustained so many bumps and bruises.

"Mulder, did you see Ann Hilton's body?" asked Phoebe in her best investigative voice.

"Yes," he moaned. He was really hurting again and was about ready to ask for pain meds when he realized he had to give his statement as clear-headed as possible.

"Mulder, are you all right? Do you want something for the pain?" asked his very clairvoyant partner.

"That would be wonderful, but let me finish with Phoebe first," he said. When he saw the slightest of winces displayed on her face, Mulder realized things were not all that great in Oz. "Scully," he explained, "I can't think clearly when I'm on the pain killers. I need to tell Phoebe, _and you, G-Woman_, what I saw.

"You're both going to have enough trouble buying into what I'm about to say; if I'm on the drugs, you'll have the perfect excuse to ignore my statement. Please. Hang in there with me, okay, Scully?" he pleaded gently.

Scully nodded. She quickly realized that there was a reason he'd called for Phoebe first; he'd wanted to give the Scotland Yard inspector his statement as quickly as possible in order to help his former teacher. Mulder wasn't insulting Scully, he was desperately trying to aid Mr. Laing.

"Go ahead, Mulder. We're _both_ listening," she said with a kind smile.

He felt as if he was able to breathe again. Scully apparently was no longer angry; he realized it had been with him that she was peeved, but that didn't matter now. All he knew was she was willing to hear his story with an open mind. Now, if only Phoebe could be expected to do the same.


He felt totally spent. He couldn't believe how much it physically took out of him to tell his story, however brief it was, to the satisfaction of both officers of the law.

Both women asked him question after question; they needed clarification on every detail. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to give them the one detail they all needed, a positive ID on the attacker. Mulder felt quite reticent about having to admit there was no figure in the room with him other than Annie that was identifiable. His attacker was seemingly air, yet packed a wallop that was evidenced by those bruises incurred from other than the fall.

"Mulder, you do realize how this will go down at the yard, don't you?" asked Phoebe. She wasn't being her usual irritating, know-it-all self; she was merely being pragmatic.

"I suppose so, but Phoebe, is it enough to get Mr. Laing out of jail? The old man couldn't have been the one to kidnap Ann. You know that. Her disappearance just doesn't fit in with the time line of Mr. Laing's release from jail. Please. Give me this one," he begged.

Phoebe looked from one agent to the other. "I can't make you any promises, Fox, but I shall run it by my superiors and see what they suggest." She heard her former lover sigh, not of relief but of resignation. "I'll push for his release, Fox. I can see the old codger doesn't have it in him, either," she said with a small smile. "No promises, though," she added as a means of covering her still very shapely ass.

"Thank you, Phoebe. That's all I can ask for." He watched Phoebe nod her good-byes to both him and Scully and leave. He next turned to his partner and said, "Okay, she's gone. I want you to be honest with me. Do you believe one word of what I'd just described?"

Scully looked pensive and obviously was struggling a bit for the right words. Finally, as if a cloud was lifted she said what was in her heart, "Mulder, after all I've seen, and all I've been through, how can I not believe your words. You weren't on drugs when you encountered this entity. You were in your right mind, as you are in your right mind now."

"Hey, can I quote you on that, Scully?" he retorted with a smile.

"You do, and I'll deny everything," she responded in kind. "But Mulder, if you want me to say that yes, I believe in ghosts, well, I guess I won't be able to do that. Not right now, at least. However, I do believe that something attacked you, and I do believe you gave credence to Mr. Laing's alibi and innocence. And that's what counts, doesn't it?"

Mulder smiled at that, and motioned to her to bend down low. He placed a soft, sweet kiss on her lips and then said with great seriousness, "Um, now that I've told my tale of woe, do you think I can get something to help with the pain. God, Scully, for a friggin' apparition, that sonofabitch really packed a wallop."

Scully couldn't help but chuckle and told her partner she would make sure he'd have some relief soon. Within minutes, Mulder's IV was drug enhanced, and he fell off into a blissful sleep.

Scully waited until the pain meds took effect and smiled tenderly as her lover lost his fight to stay awake. Then she squared her shoulders and left the room, determined not to lose her own battles.

The enemy was waiting at the nurses' desk.

"I suppose you're firmly convinced that Mulder has gone 'round the bend' this time," Phoebe said with a smug expression.

Scully crossed her arms in front of her, at least in part to keep from reaching out and grabbing the illustrious Inspector Greene by her scrawny little neck.

"I think Mulder was attacked. By what, I don't know. But if he says that Ann was alive, when we know . . . and have _witnesses_ that Mr. Laing was somewhere else, I believe him."

Phoebe dropped her eyes and stared intently at a wilting arrangement of leftover flowers on the desktop. "I'd have to agree," she said in a voice barely loud enough to be heard. Then, she looked up sharply. "But as I said to Mulder, I'm just the messenger. My superiors are going to see things in a different light." She looked at Scully and shrugged. "I need proof."

"But you don't have proof that Laing did it!" Scully exclaimed. "And Mulder's story should prove him innocent of this murder, at the very least."

"Agent Scully, you've admitted to me that you were in the carriage house, downstairs, at the approximate time of death. You and Thomas were helping Mulder. It is possible . . ."

Scully's anger, coupled with mental and physical exhaustion, bubbled over. "He is an _old man_! Are you saying he climbed those stairs, the same stairs Mulder crashed through, then strangled a perfectly healthy young woman, leaving _no_ external marks, and then climbed back downstairs? How? By clambering down the drainpipe? Phoebe, the logistics alone make it impossible for Mr. Laing have been anywhere near Ann at the time of her death!"

Phoebe had stood silently through Scully's tirade, but now her eyes flashed with equal fire. She leaned in close, using her extra three inches of height to their fullest advantage. "See here, Agent Scully. I know in the FBI you get to use resources and appropriations far beyond their reasonableness in the investigation of your cases. But here, we're just like any metropolitan police force. You say we have no proof. Well, Agent Scully, fingerprints can be wiped or avoided by the use of gloves. Men have been convicted, _hanged_ on less than we have accumulated against that old man! I can't go to my superiors and ask them to release a suspect on the basis of a. . . of a _ghost tale_! Not for Mulder, not for anyone!" She spun on her heel and started toward the elevators, but stopped and turned back. For a moment, Scully almost expected to have a finger poking her in the chest.

"You want to save the old man? You want to prove Mulder right? Bring me some evidence, Agent Scully. Hard, fast, scientific evidence. Then, I will do everything in my power to convince my superiors to let the old man go."

At Scully's defiant glare, Phoebe softened slightly, giving her a faint, but admiring smile. "If you're half as good as Mulder has always gone on about you, I'm sure you'll have all the evidence you need before sunrise."

Without another word, Phoebe caught the next elevator and left Scully to fume alone in the hall.

The agent stared at the elevator doors for a long time. Then, she glanced back to the door just down the hall, where her partner lay sleeping. She chewed on her lip. Ordinarily, she'd have no problem going off to investigate the case once she knew her partner was out of danger.

Hell, she reminded herself, a good quarter of their cases were solved while one or the other of them had been incapacitated in some way or another. But this time, she was in a foreign country, without proper jurisdictions.

Sure, Phoebe had thrown down the gauntlet, but Phoebe would also gleefully lock up the American agent on anything from breaking and entering to obstruction of justice or the English equivalent, if Scully ran afoul with the local law. But it was obvious that Phoebe was torn. Torn between protecting her own ass, and making sure an innocent man was convicted of crimes he never committed.

"Mulder, why do you always seem to miss out on all the fun?" Scully asked with an impatient puff of air directed at the hair falling over her forehead. Not one to drag out the inevitable, she motioned to the closest nurse.

"I'm going to be gone for a while. If there's any change in his condition, or if he wakes up and asks for me, Scully, call this number at the hotel and leave a message, please?"

The pretty, young nurse took the scrap of paper with the number and tucked it in the jacket of Mulder's chart. Reassured, at least somewhat, Scully took the stairs to the ground floor and headed off to find her proof.

She made it as far as the lobby when she found Mrs. Mac, clutching a handkerchief and talking frantically to the woman at the reception desk.

"I've been to the emergency room, they say they took 'im up stairs. But I canna find out where!" the old woman wailed in misery.

"I can't seem to place him in the computer, madam. I'm sure he'll turn up soon. Why don't you have a seat and I'll ring the floors, see if we can locate him that way," the woman behind the desk said with a sympathetic smile.

"Mrs. Mac?" Scully asked quietly as she came up behind the older woman. "Mrs. Mac, what's wrong?"

The woman spun and hung onto Scully as if her very life depended on it. "His heart. It's been too much. I knew it, I knew it was too much. And the police keep hounding him! How could they every think . . ." She was quickly reduced to sobs.

Scully enfolded the distressed woman in her arms and led her to the nearby set of padded chairs. "Mrs. Mac, here, sit down." It was the right thing to do, for the older woman soon regained her composure.

"Oh, Dana, I'm so frightened for him. I dinna know what to do! He was so pale, like a wraith. And he was in so much pain." Tears streamed down her face, but she wiped at them angrily and fought to keep her wits about her. "I rang the surgery. They brought a lorry to take him away." Again, she dissolved into tears. "They said there wasn't room for me, that I had to follow. I called a taxi and came quick as I could."

"Mrs. Mac, I'm so very sorry . . ."

Before Scully could complete her sentence, Mrs. Mac startled and then grabbed her hand. "Dear Heavens, where's my head? How is Fox? Is he awake? Is he all right? That's part of what was weighing so heavy on himself today. He was so worried about Fox."

"Mulder, er, Fox, is doing better Mrs. Mac. He regained consciousness just a little while ago. Inspector Greene was there and we were able to get his statement, but it tired him out and he's asleep again. I'm sorry I didn't call, I was headed back to Mr. Laing's when I saw you down here."

"Inspector Greene," Mrs. Mac said with more than a hint of disdain. "And where is the 'dear' Inspector Greene? Trumping up charges against another innocent, I suspect," she harumphed.

"She's back at the Yard. Mrs. Mac, let's see if they've found Mr. Laing. I'll stay with your while you talk to the doctors. Then, I have some things I need to check on."

"Thank you, dear," Mrs. Mac said, cupping Scully's cheek. "Fox got himself a prize in you," she said with a gentle smile.

Scully felt her cheeks redden, but didn't object. It didn't bother her that others could see their relationship. She wondered if she'd feel the same when they finally got home to DC.

Mr. Laing was found and had been settled in a room in the cardiac unit. His doctor was hesitant to speak with Scully, but upon finding her a doctor, and an American, he found it in his heart to give her the details of the tutor's condition.

"Stable angina, I suspect," the doctor assured Scully. "We're starting him on a low dose of nitroglycerin and want to keep him a few days for observation. At his age, it's best to error in the conservative, I feel."

Scully nodded her agreement. "He's been under a great deal of stress in the last few days," she added. "Hospitalization is probably the best thing for him right now."

Mrs. Mac was unconvinced that the danger had passed. "I don't understand. He was in so much pain."

"Stable angina is the best diagnosis we could hope for in this case, Mrs. Mac, believe me. He was reacting to the stress, there was no permanent damage to the heart muscle. And if he responds favorable to the medication, a couple of days in bed and he'll be good as new."

Mrs. Mac still looked worried, so Scully leaned in and whispered in her ear. "Besides, as long as he's here, he can't be a suspect in any further deaths, can he?"

Finally, a smile broke through the worry. "You are the cleaver one, aren't ya?" she said with a quiet chuckle. "Well, I best go see how he's doin'. He hates being fussed over. If I dinna take him to task, he'll be making the nurses crazy in no time."

Scully bit her lip to keep from voicing a similar trait in her partner. "Mrs. Mac, I really need to go look into some evidence. I hate to leave you . . ."

"No, dearie, I'm gonna be fine. I'll just sit with him a bit, make sure he's mindin' his manners. You run a long." She patted Scully's cheek again. "Just take care, Dana. Fox would never survive without you."

Scully heart twisted at that statement, but instead of acknowledging it, she just said goodbye and left.

end of part 13

The Oxford Files: Going Home 14
By Susan Proto ( &
Vickie Moseley (

Scully found herself feeling an air of trepidation as she approached the carriage house, but she didn't know why. She believed that Mulder really did see Annie alive. She believed in Mr. Laing's innocence. What she found herself questioning over and over again was Mulder's theory of how Annie met her demise.

There were no outward abrasions on her neck, just as there were none on the other victims. Scully was positive though that the coroner would find the cause of death was choking, based upon the bruising found within the neck area, under the skin.

So as she lifted the barrier tape to the site, which was now void of all law enforcement due to the history of the case. The members of the Scotland Yard task force were, if nothing else, overly self-confident in their presumption that Mr. Laing was automatically guilty.

Mulder's eyewitness account was the proof to Mr. Laing's innocence. Now all she needed to do was prove Mulder's eyewitness accounting of the event.

It was with little wonder that Scully found herself entering the building with caution and uneasiness. There was an atmosphere of unrest in the carriage house; the agent couldn't for the life of her place her finger on what it was exactly that had her so disturbed, but Scully knew that as soon as she entered through the door, she was no longer safe.


Mrs. Mac sat quietly by the old man's bedside and wondered how things had gotten so far. She knew who was behind their sorry predicament; she simply had no way of proving it. Nor did she have an explanation as to why. Why was her late, beloved Gavin doing this to her and to Mr. Laing.

Not only that, there were dear, young innocents whose lives were being directly affected as well. Mrs. Mac couldn't help but wonder why Gavin would go so far as murdering people whom had nothing to do with him. It was too much. It was simply too much.

"Gavin?" she whispered tremulously. "Gavin, we have to speak. You have to tell me what's wrong so we can make all of this suffering stop," she pleaded.

She felt Mr. Laing stir as he lay nearby in his bed. She didn't want to awaken him, but nor did she want to avoid a confrontation with her late husband's apparition. She continued seeking out her long, dead husband.

"Gavin, you must come to me now. You must tell me why you are doing this to Mr. Laing and to me. For God's sake, Gavin me love, you've caused so much heartache already!"

"And what about me, Effie? When does the heartache stop for me?" responded a low, plaintive voice.

"Gavin, I don't understand, love. What are you talking about?" she responded with genuine confusion.

"Do you think it's been easy for me to watch over you all of these years? To be sure you were safe? To be sure you were happy? Did you think I'd be able to go on and meet our maker until I was sure you were taken care of? Oh, Effie, I've been waiting all of these years to go on to the next world, but I couldn't. I couldn't leave you."

"Gavin, I'm safe. And with the exception of a few aches and pains from the rheumatoid, I'm healthy. What are you waiting for?" she asked.

"I'm waiting for you to discover your happiness, me love. It hurts so much to see you not happy," he explained.

"But I have a full life, Gavin. I have a household to take care of and a lovely man to care for. I'm not sad, my sweet."

"But, you're not happy either, Effie. When are you going to find someone who will care for you; who will make you happy?" he sighed. "I can't take it anymore. Can ya understan' that my love? I canna watch over you anymore; I'm tired. I'm so, so tired, and I need to go on to meet our maker. I canna sacrifice my afterlife for your life on earth, but I feel so guilty about not being able to do so, that I__, I had to get your attention somehow.

"I dinna know it would go so far. Oh God in heaven, help me, but I canna stop myself any longer. I have to go! Effie, you have to help me! I have to go back there, and I'm afraid of what may happen when I do. Help me, my darling. Help me stop!"

And in the next split second, his presence vanished. Mrs. Mac sat but for a moment longer when she realized what Gavin had said to her. "Ohmegod!," she cried out. She jumped out of her chair and quickly found her way to Mulder's hospital room.

When she saw him lying in the bed, she didn't know if she should tell him what Gavin had told her. But then she realized how devastated the young man would be if anything ever happened to his Miss Scully. He would be even more traumatized if he came to find out he might have been able to save her.

"Fox," she whispered urgently, as she gently shook his shoulder. "Fox, you have to wake up, me boy. I think she's in trouble."

"Trouble?" mumbled Mulder with his eyes half shut. "Who's in trouble?"

"Miss Scully. I think Dana is in trouble," she replied.

At that, Mulder lifted himself up to a sitting position, though his body practically screamed in protest from the pain. "I don't understand, Mrs. Mac. Why do you think she's in trouble?"

"He told me he couldn't control himself anymore, Fox. He told me to help him."

"Who told you, Mrs. Mac?" asked Mulder desperately.

"Gavin," she whispered in anguish. "My Gavin told me he had to go back there. He needs our help, Fox. Please, he needs help. Your Dana needs help," she cried out.

Within moments, Mulder swung his legs over the side of the bed and opened the small closet door. Thankful the British weren't nearly as scissors happy as Americans were when it came to the removal of clothing in an emergency room, Mulder grabbed his clothes and began to dress.

He was still weak from both his injuries and the pain medication, so he elected to remain in the room to dress and not go into the bathroom. He figured the elderly Mrs. Mac could be trusted not to jump him upon seeing his naked body, and he certainly could use her help in keeping him upright until he found his equilibrium again.

Just as he was trying to make sense of his belt buckle with a little help from the now very anxious Mrs. Mac, a nurse entered the room ready to check on Mulder's condition.

"Mr. Mulder? Now just what do you think you're doing, sir?" she asked in a most flustered tone.

"Signing myself out, Nurse ___," he paused for a moment to read the name tag on her lapel, but he felt a little disconcerted when he realized his vision was a little too blurry to read the small print. "___AMA, I guess."

"AMA?" echoed Mrs. Mac in a questioning tone.

"Against Medical Advice," responded Mulder.

"But you're injured, Mr. Mulder. You can't leave!" cried out the nurse.

"Yes, I can leave, and I am leaving, so if you want me to sign the form absolving you of any and all fault should I find myself in a more dire predicament as a result of my current condition, I'll be happy to sign it. But you have to bring it to me within the next thirty seconds, because I will be gone after that."

The nurse left immediately to get the form.


Scully moved about the first floor until she found the collapsed stairway. She wondered if there was enough of it left for her to climb to investigate the upstairs. She stepped up on the first stair and pushed hard on it. Well, that one seemed sturdy enough. She picked up her other foot and placed it on the next step.

With her flashlight out in front of her, she was able to see the condition of the rest of the stairs and realized it was probably not the safest or smartest thing for her to continue on to the second floor.

Of course she continued onward and upward.

When she'd managed to bypass the large gaping holes in the numerous stairs ahead of her and negotiate the final three steps, if one could even call them steps there was so much of them missing, she was able to step onto the second floor.

She took a moment to catch her breath, for she realized upon looking down from whence she came, that she had certainly taken a helluva risk in coming up here. Finally, she held her flashlight in front of her and proceeded to walk to her right.

Seconds later, as her flashlight shone brightly ahead of her, Scully screamed!

And she heard a scream of equal timber in return.

"Agent Scully! What the hell are you trying to do? Give me a bloody heart attack?!!"

"Inspector Greene, I could ask the same of you," replied a breathless Scully in reply.

"I'm doing my job, Agent Scully," stated Phoebe.

"And I'm doing what you practically ordered me to do, Inspector. I'm searching for the proof you so emphatically stated you needed in order to corroborate my partner's story and exonerate Mr. Laing," retorted Scully.

"This is a crime site, Agent Scully. You shouldn't even be here," Phoebe stated, albeit rather halfheartedly.

"So it is; what better place to find evidence than at the crime scene?" replied Scully wryly.

"Touché," answered the inspector. "Well, as long as you're here, we might as well get on with it. Let's go Agent Scully, and see what we can see."

And in the corner, waiting ever so quietly, was the apparition of a man who fervently prayed he could be stopped in time.

end of 14

The Oxford Files: Going Home 15
By Vickie Moseley ( &
Susan Proto (

"Dear God," muttered Phoebe aloud as the two women entered the room in which Ann Hilton was found. "It looks like a cyclone hit it."

The furniture, or what was left of it, was turned on its side and whatever papers that had once occupied the desk were now strewn all about the room, including the business cards.

"Mr. Laing's business cards; these are the ones he'd told us were collecting dust in his desk drawer up here," elaborated Scully. "What the hell happened in here?" she asked incredulously.

"I'm not sure, but I bloody well intend to find out," answered the British counterpart.

"Inspector, you can't possibly think Mr. Laing caused all of this damage, can you?" Scully paused a moment to get a better look around the room and then continued, "For crying out loud, Phoebe, all you have to do is look at the condition of this room to realize Mr. Laing simply is not physically capable of causing this kind of damage."

"I know, I know," Phoebe muttered in reply, and then added in a stronger voice, "but we've got to find out who did in order to clear him of any wrong doing."


The women felt the sudden rush of air fill the room, and the women ducked feverishly to get out of the way of flying glass. The windows were now in large shards with equal amount of small glass splinters all about the floor.

"What the hell?" asked Scully out loud.

"Do you see anything?" yelled out the inspector.

"No! No, I don't see anything. I can hear something, though. Can you hear someone else breathing?" asked Scully quickly.

Both women remained silent for a moment or two to listen. Finally, Phoebe nodded her head vigorously, and then she pointed in the direction of the corner window. She began to step towards the window when suddenly there was another loud crash from the opposite end of the room.

Scully, who was closer, reacted immediately and ran toward the sound. When she got to the corner of the room, she saw an end table that had been sitting on its side when they'd first entered the devastation but was now totally splintered and useful only as firewood.

"Who's there? Show yourself, now!" commanded Scully. She waited a few moments before she called out again, "Who is there?"

Phoebe watched the American react fearlessly to the situation. The Brit was actually quite impressed by her former lover's partner. Phoebe almost regretted the disdain she automatically felt for the woman by virtue of Scully's rather obvious close association with Mulder.

So Phoebe wondered if it was for that particular reason she didn't move seemingly fast enough to assist the agent when she started clutching at air and gasping for breath. But move she did, and in the next instant Inspector Greene rushed to Scully's side in an attempt to remove whatever it was that was hampering her breathing.

There was nothing there. There was nothing for Phoebe to grasp, to clutch, to throw off of the petite woman in front of her who was now gasping for air.

"Dana! Dana!" Phoebe screamed helplessly as she watched Scully's lips slowly turning blue.

Suddenly, without either woman realizing it, another presence entered the room. At his arrival, Scully suddenly fell to the ground.

"Scully!" screamed Mulder. "Scully!" He ran to her and checked her respiration and her pulse, neither of which was strong. "Damn you, Gavin MacFarley! Enough is enough!"

Phoebe looked at her former lover and first wondered what the hell he was doing out of the hospital, and then second, how quickly she could get him back into one, preferably in a straight jacket.

"Fox, who the hell are you talking to?" she demanded.

"The murderer, Phoebe. I'm talking with the murderer. Jeezes, Phoebe, use your damned cellular and call for an ambulance. Scully's in trouble here," he pleaded.

Phoebe quickly brought out her cell phone and placed the call. While they waited for an ambulance, Mulder continued his one-sided conversation.

"Gavin, you have to let it go. You can't do this to Mrs. Mac any longer; she can't take much more of this. And you're going to kill Mr. Laing if you keep this up," Mulder implored, "and you don't really want to do that, do you Gavin? You can't want to do that, because having Mr. Laing around for Mrs. Mac is your salvation, isn't it?"

An eerie silence followed Mulder's pleas. He waited for Gavin to reply all the while holding on to Scully, willing her to breathe more life back into her listless body. He could see her chest rise and fall with each shallow breath, but Mulder was scared help would be too little, too late.

"NO!" screamed the voice of the damned. "NO!" And within the next instance, Mulder felt himself being lifted up, away from Scully thankfully, and being manhandled roughly to the other side of the room. "What do you know of anything, you young sonofabitch!" he asked rhetorically. But Mulder needed to answer him. He had to make him understand.

"Gavin, you think you're the only being that doesn't know peace of mind? You don't have to be dead to not know peace. Damn," he sighed heavily, "being alive is no guarantee for peace, old man. In fact, the unrest some of us face on earth has your unrest beat by a mile."

Mulder sensed someone's vision penetrating right through him. And then in the tick of a second, the ghostly entity's began to pummel Mulder's chest and stomach mercilessly out of anger, frustration, and desperation.

Meanwhile, Phoebe had immediately bent down in a vain attempt to protect Scully as well as herself from whatever the hell was wreaking havoc in the room. She watched with her mouth agape as Mulder's body sustained blow after blow from an invisible force. She was sure though no bruising would be seen from the outside, Mulder was definitely going to experience the trauma of internal bleeding.

She was at a loss as to what to do. Phoebe feared that calling out to Mulder would be nothing more than a futile attempt to assist the agent while at the same time calling attention to herself and the injured Dana Scully. Yet, she felt it absurd that she, an inspector with one of the most highly regarded police forces in the world, was rendered useless by an unknown and unseen force.

Inspector Greene finally made the decision that she could no longer hang back and allow Mulder to bear the brunt of that trauma. She rose and purposefully distanced herself from a still unconscious Scully to try and divert the entity's attention from a now beaten and disoriented Fox Mulder.

"Mulder! Mulder, what is it? Who is it, Mulder? Help me out here!" Phoebe called out forcefully. She had to rouse Mulder out of his stupor if he was to be of any help to himself and Scully, not to mention the inspector herself.

"Argghh," he groaned in reply. "Scu-lee," he managed to grit out between his teeth.

"Mulder, she's fine," lied Phoebe, but she had to get him to pay attention to her. "Who is it, Mulder? Who is in here with us?"

"Gavin,'' gasped a punch drunk Mulder. "Gavin MacFarley."

"MacFarley?" she echoed. "I don't understand, Fox. The only MacFarley I know is Mr. Laing's housekeeper." Phoebe's face wore an expression of total confusion.

"Yes," he muttered in acknowledgment.

"Yes? Fox, what are you saying? Mrs. Mac is the bloody killer?" she reacted in frustrated anger. "What the hell is going on here?"

"Not Mrs. Mac. Gavin__, her husband," he managed to rasp. Whatever injuries Mulder had sustained earlier in his fall down the flight of stairs now caused him even more discomfort, what with the beating he received from the apparition and the fact that Mulder's pain medication was wearing off quickly. It made it difficult for him to speak with any kind of coherence.

"Her husband? Mulder, I thought Mrs. Mac was a widow," responded Phoebe hesitantly. She feared what Mulder was going to say next, because she knew her ex-lover only too well.

"It's his ghost."

"Ohmygawd," replied a breathless Phoebe. "Where? Where is he, Mulder? Damn it, Fox, how do I arrest a bloody ghost?" she shrilled.

"Don't know," was all he could manage for the next few seconds. Then, he called out to his foe. "Gavin? Gavin, you have to help me help her," he said while looking toward his partner who remained lying on the floor with little movement.

Moments passed before his voice was heard. Even Phoebe was able to hear him now.

"What do you want me to do? I can't help her. I can't help her," he moaned.

"Who can't you help, Gavin? Agent Scully? Or are you talking about Mrs. Mac?" asked a now mesmerized Inspector Greene.

"Oh, my poor Effie. My poor, poor Effie," he lamented.

"What is wrong with Effie?" asked Phoebe softly. She didn't want to frighten the presence back into hiding from her. She only wished she could see his form, rather than just hear him.

"She's alone. My poor Effie is all alone," he cried, "and I can't leave her."

"Alone?" croaked out Mulder. "Gavin, Effie's not alone. She's got Mr. Laing."

"Hah! She's got nothing! She's in his bloody servitude! His bloody indentured servant! That's not the life for my girl! Not for my Effie!" his voice boomed in anger.

"Servant? No, Gavin, no. Mrs. Mac's not anywhere she doesn't want to be," Mulder replied in a hoarse whisper.

"But she's his bloody housekeeper!" he cried out in horror.

"And didn't she keep house for you when you were alive?" was Mulder's reply. "It's what she does, Gavin. It's how she shows she cares."

"But I didn't pay her to do it. I loved her, for God's sake. I LOVED her!"

"And you don't believe Mr. Laing cares for her?" asked Mulder.

"Not like I do," he replied quickly.


"What?" asked MacFarley in confusion.

"Did. Not like you _did_ love her, Gavin. You're dead now, so it's not the same. Mr. Laing cares for her now. In his own way; he cares for her in his own, very much alive, way," pressed Mulder.

"But what about Effie?" asked a now stunned Gavin. "She still loves me, doesn't she?"

"She does, Gavin, but only because you refuse to let her go. She feels disloyal to you if she allows herself to knowingly love another man. Let her go, Gavin. Let her love again, so Mr. Laing can willingly love her back."

"But how do I let go of the one true love of my life?" he asked sadly.

"Willingly, because you did love her once, so much," Mulder replied gently. "She'll return to you someday, Gavin. True loves, soul mates, always find one another again."

Mulder winced now in obvious pain and then uttered, "Scully," as he attempted to crawl back toward her. Mulder felt a pressure on his shoulder and cringed in fear. He was sure Gavin was going to begin the pummeling again.

Instead, Mulder felt himself gently lifted up and placed by Scully's side. Then, Mulder heard Gavin ask, "You think me 'n Effie will truly find our way back to one another someday?"

"Yes, I do," replied Mulder as he tenderly pushed the red tendrils out of Scully's now opened eyes. He bent down and kissed her gently on the lips to let her know he was there, and that she was going to be fine.

"How do you know, lad? How can you be sure?" asked Gavin anxiously.

"Because I have had my own soul mate at my side for the last seven years, and I know no one, not anything of this world or beyond, will ever willingly part us. We were meant to be together forever, Gavin; even if one of us dies before the other, we are soul mates forever."

"Forever," whispered the slightly ragged voice of Dana Scully.

Mulder smiled contentedly for the first time in hours.

end of part 15

The Oxford Files: Going Home 16
By Susan Proto ( &
Vickie Moseley (

"Gavin, love, what 'ere ya doin'?"

Mulder lifted his head and saw Mrs. Mac stepping gingerly over the destruction that was the remains of the room.


Mulder wondered if he was the only one to see the specter. Phoebe's eyes were roving the room, jerking when Gavin spoke, but never resting there. Scully, now that air was moving into her lungs, seemed to have her eyes glued to their locked hands and occasionally, his own face, but nowhere else. But Mrs. Mac seemed to stare straight at the ghost of her late husband.

"Ah, Gavin, love," she sighed and a trembling sadness came to her voice. "Why, Gavin? You'd never hurt a living soul, love. Never in your life. Why now? Why those poor young ones, with their lives ahead of 'em."

To Mulder's amazement, the old woman's words seem to have a strong impact on the see-through image of the man before him. Shoulders stooped, a head bowed in contrition.

"I dinna want to hurt them, Effie. I just . . . it hurts so much, Effie. I've been hurtin' so much for so long. I couldna stand the pain any longer. I had to get your attention somehow."

Mrs. Mac jerked back as if slapped. "My attention? Gavin, why on earth did you need to go through all that to get _my_ attention?"

"I tried the easy things, Effie. I stole your hairbrush, I moved his 'lordship's hankies'," Gavin said the last with a bitter sneer. "But it was all for naught, love. You just didna see what you've been doin' to me. Why couldna ya let me go?"

Tears were streaming down her face now and she put her hand up to her mouth to hold back a sob. "I loved you so, Gavin."

"Aye, as I loved you," he answered.

"I dinna want to lose you, not so young," Mrs. Mac said shaking her head sadly.

"Effie, I want my rest. Please, let me have my rest. But I canna leave until I know you're cared for. Till I know you're safe . . . and loved."

"Ah Gavin," she whispered. "I am loved. He's gruff and he doesn't know how to show it, but believe me, lad. I am loved."

Mulder held his breath, waiting for the specter to decide the truth of her statement. The ghost took his own sweet time. Finally, a filmy cloud formed out of nowhere and engulfed the ghost.

"Till next time, love. When we'll be together forever." The specter raised his hand and blew her a kiss.

Mrs. Mac returned the gesture. "Till next time, love. Till next time."

A freezing wind howled through the room and blew the papers up into a vortex. Mulder rolled over and covered Scully as best as he could, but in the end, only paper and small business cards rained down on them, and not the sharp glass and debris he'd expected. Before he could move again, Phoebe and Mrs. Mac were kneeling beside them, checking them for injuries.

Mulder waved them off, but of course, Scully's stern glare made them ignore his protests.

"Looks like you'll be sharing an ambulance," Phoebe grinned. As Mrs. Mac clucked over the two injured agents, the Inspector sat back on her haunches and surveyed the room.

"Thinking of how the hell you're going to turn this into a report?" Mulder asked, and wiggled his eyebrows wickedly.

"How do you do it, Mulder? All your cases are like this? How in the world . . ."

"Easy," he replied, and had to wait while emergency personnel shouted up the stairs and managed their way up the rickety steps. The question was lost for a while, during which the agents were strapped onto stretchers and readied for transport.

As they were being carried toward the stairs and the descent down to the waiting ambulance, Phoebe touched his arm. "You were saying it's easy?"

"Sure," he said, craning his head up to catch a glimpse of his partner, already arguing with the medical attendant. "I just let Scully do the reports. She writes great fiction."

Phoebe screwed up her face, but refused to honor him with a laugh. Instead, she ruffled his hair gently. "Promise me one thing, Mulder."

"Anything for an old friend," he replied easily.

She leaned in close to his ear and whispered her request. "When you're both well enough to travel, . . . you'll go home straight away!"

It hurt to laugh.

Heathrow Airport
three days later

"You really didn't need to come all this way, Mrs. Mac," Scully insisted again, for the fifth or sixth time.

"I'd never hear the end of it from Mr. Laing if I hadn't," the old woman said with twinkling eyes. "And I think I'm better off here than sitting with him at the hospital. He's been pretty grumpy the last few days."

"Like someone else we could mention," Scully grinned and cast a glance toward her partner as he checked in at the airlines desk in the passenger lounge.

"Oh, I'm certain we could say it of all of them, dearie," Mrs. Mac laughed in reply. "But it can get awful lonesome without 'em," she added with a sad smile.

"Are you all right?" Scully asked, but before the woman could answer, Mulder had returned, boarding passes in hand.

"I'm interrupting, I hope," he said lightly as he handed his partner her pass.

"Not every conversation is about you, Mulder," Scully replied with a raised eyebrow.

"Just the good ones," he answered and leaned down to lightly kiss her lips. She surprised him by reaching up and pulling him down so that she could kiss him back soundly.

When he recovered, he smiled. "I'm gonna walk over there so I can come back and get that same welcome, OK?"

She grabbed his hand. "Oh, you can stay here. That way I can keep an eye on you."

"Afraid I'll wander off?" he asked, the teasing tone of his voice belying the deeper discussion.

"Afraid you'll get yourself in more trouble, more'n likely," chuckled Mrs. Mac. "Well, I really should be off. I don't want to think what he's doing to the poor nurses while I'm away."

"It was great seeing you again, Mrs. Mac," Mulder said, taking the older woman into a bear hug that brought her off her toes.

"Oh, my! You always were a sly one, Fox," she giggled. "Now, don't make yourselves strangers. Come back. Soon." With that, she kissed him soundly on the cheek and did the same to Dana before hurrying off into the crowd, wiping away a few stray tears.

"You were talking to Mr. Laing when I was making the change in reservations this morning," Scully said as they waved to Mrs. Mac. "What did you finally decide?"

He chuckled lightly and pulled her to him. "Ever the investigator," he said and kissed the crown of her head. Without moving, he spoke into her hair. "I told him I have a job, one I love. I have no intention to leave it."

She was glad he couldn't see the relief on her face as she closed her eyes and hugged him tightly. "I'm sure he was disappointed."

"Oh, he's not giving up. He says that eventually the FBI will try to chain me to a desk. The job will still be open, he'll make sure of it."

Her face grew serious and she nodded, which he always knew meant she was thinking too hard about something.

"Of course, we'd have to find a medical school somewhere nearby. I'm pretty sure they have one, but I tried to stay away from it when I was here. They weren't always real particular where they got their cadavers. Find yourself pissed in the alleyway and you might be the next anatomy lesson," he teased, then drew her close. "But you'd change that. That is, if you don't have any other plans for retirement."

"I suppose I could do worse," she said dryly, with a wicked gleam in her eye. "It does sound more appealing than the 'Old Agents Home' in South Florida.

"Death sounds more appealing than the 'Old Agents Home' in South Florida," he chuckled. "But I'd take the Old Agents Home in a heartbeat . . . if you were there with me."

"When you put it that way, I have no other plans." She kept her arms around her, but turned her head so she was looking out at the runway and their waiting plane. "Will things change when we get back home?" she asked wistfully.

"Yeah," he sighed.

She tensed in his arms and tucked her head in his shoulder. She should have realized this was just a vacation. A vacation from their everyday lives of chasing mutants and government conspiracies. He would want to go back to his normal existence, which included keeping her at arms length. And she would do the same, because that was what was expected of them, what they expected of each other. Before she knew it, hot tears were streaming down her cheeks.

"For one thing, I have to get a new bed. Since the great flood of '99, I've been sleeping on that damned couch. I don't think we'll both fit."

She had been so deep in her own misery, she almost missed what he'd said.

"A new bed?"

"The waterbed was a king sized, but I don't want one that big. I'd keep losing you in it. Maybe a queen sized. Or maybe you'll just let me sleep with you at your place."

"When you said things would change . . ." she said and he looked down and noticed her tears.

"I meant change from the way they were, Scully," he whispered softly as he leaned down and kissed her. "I don't want to go back home if it means going back to the way things were going. One step forward, two steps back, it was driving me crazy! I mean, the only reason I wanted us both to go on this stupid vacation . . ." He stopped abruptly, realizing his unconscious confession. "What I meant to say," he sputtered.

Her eyes narrowed as she pulled back to look him square in the face. "You mean you weren't coming here because you were seriously considering a career change," she challenged, her voice low and dangerous.

He swallowed audibly. "Well, I did want to prove to myself that I could still make it in academic circles. I mean, Scully, some of the stuff we turn in to Skinner makes great sci-fi, but as for true scholarly works . . ."

"_I_ try to make our reports credible enough to be considered scholarly," she retorted indignantly. "But besides that, exactly what did you expect to accomplish by this little sojourn across the Atlantic?"

Her arms were crossed and her brow was furrowed. For an instant, he got the image of her as a cartoon bull, complete with steam coming out of her ears. He shook his head wildly. Wrong image, definitely wrong image.

When all else fails, tell the truth.

"I wanted us to have some time when we weren't on a case, when we weren't in danger, when we could be just ourselves," he rambled out in one breath.

"Well, so much for _that_ plan," she replied dryly.

"Really, Scully," he groaned. "I had no idea this was going to turn out to be such a . . . a . . ."

"Fiasco?" she provided.

"Fiasco," he sighed, hanging his head in defeat.

She couldn't keep it up, the strain was just too much. "Mulder, get over the guilt trip. I knew what you were trying to do before we even touched 'the ole sod'," she said, smirking and pulling him in for a hug.

"You did?" he croaked.

"Mulder, you kissed me on the plane," she reminded him as she reached up to do a replay of that momentous event. "And I wasn't being transferred, and you weren't half drowned. I knew something was up." She kissed him again. "Just please don't tell me you flew all the way over here just to impress me with your scholarly ways'."

He blushed. "Not even a little?" he asked timidly.

She laughed at him. "I was already impressed with your brain, Mulder. I always have been. But if this also proved something to you about yourself, then, who am I to object?"

"Who are you? My heart. My soul. My partner," he said, leaning down to kiss her more soundly this time.

"British Airways Flight 609 direct flight to Dulles International Airport, is now boarding at Gate 45. All passengers are requested to have their boarding passes ready for the attendant at the gate. Thank you for flying British Airways."

They both pulled away at the same moment, slightly breathless. "When are we due back at the office?" he asked in a whisper.

"I got us three extra days. Skinner thinks your 'injuries' are a little more serious and will require some rest."

"Your bed or mine?" he leered down at her.

"Mine. I don't want to waste time shopping for a new bed," she leered in return.

"A woman of expediency. My dream has come true," he chuckled as she pulled him along. It was time to get started on their new life.

the end