The child was a blur hitting him slightly above knee height as he walked in the door. "Hurry, Daddy! We'll be late."
"Late?" Mulder glanced over at Scully with the question.
Before she could answer, Lexi did. "The Halloween party. We're gonna bob for apples and carve jacklanners. What's a jacklanner?"
Mulder knew she picked it up as soon as he thought it, but he answered aloud anyway. "Jack O'Lantern. You carve a pumpkin into a face and put a candle inside so it's kind of a lantern. Will there be costumes?" He shot a leer in Scully's direction, but she cut her eyes toward him.
"Sorry, your cape's at the cleaners."
He chuckled. "When was all this planned?"
"This afternoon. Three guesses which of your trio came up with it."
"Ahh, Frohike. So I need to get cleaned up?" That last was directed back at Lexi.
He took a quick shower. Harvest meant dirt no matter where you were involved. He took Scully's hand as they watched the kids race on ahead of them. "Is it October 31?"
"According to Frohike, and Brittany is backing him up, so I'm not going to argue. Be prepared for pumpkin flavored everything for a few days. We scooped out one for each of the kids."
He nodded and they followed the kids into the clinic. Frohike or someone had been busy, cut-outs of black cats and witch's hats were strung up as well as a couple of ghosts that looked suspiciously like sheets to Mulder. The cheese factor didn't matter, the kids were enthralled.
Mulder could already catch the scent of pumpkin pie or bread baking in the kitchen. They ate and watched the kids spluttering from bobbing for the apples and under careful supervision, carve lopsided faces into pumpkins, laughing the whole time.
Of course it was Frohike who dimmed the lights. "Time for a story."
"You're going to tell the children a ghost story?" Maggie asked as everyone gathered at the assembled couches.
"Nope, an X-File."
Scully turned to stare at Mulder. He held his hands up protesting his innocence. "I didn't even know about the party."
She harrumphed, but took a seat on the couch and he joined her, letting his arm rest around her shoulders.
Once everyone was assembled, Frohike cleared his throat. "This is the story of the 'Talking Doll'."
Scully leaned into Mulder's ear. "I never filed a report on this one."
"Oh, really?" but he grinned.
"Scully, was up in Maine taking a few days vacation - "
"Where was Mulder?" MJ asked.
"Well, in those days Mulder was often . . . frustrated and Scully needed to get away."
Mulder turned his head slowly to stare at Frohike as Byers chuckled and Langly guffawed. Scully caught his hand before he could complete the gesture. Frohike only grinned.
"Anyway, she's up in Maine alone and she pulls into a parking lot. She was nearly hit by a woman who was racing away, with a little girl in her car. Scully manages to park safely, then spots a man staggering out of the grocery store, bleeding from scratches around his eyes. 'I believe we need a doctor,' was all he said. Scully runs inside and finds all of the customers crying and bleeding from where they had scratched themselves around their eyes.
She meets the sheriff and is pulled into the investigation even though she's supposed to be on vacation. She calls Mulder for some advice after looking at the security tapes at the store. The people had all hurt themselves for no reason. Mulder wasn't really any help, because Scully already knew what he was going to say - "
"Hey!" Mulder interrupted, but Frohike ignored him.
"It had to be some kind of witchcraft that would cause the people to harm themselves."
Scully noted that he left out the butcher with the knife stuck into his eye and gave him an approving nod.
"Looking at the tapes, Scully notices one woman who wasn't affected by whatever had happened to the others and asks about her. Turns out it was the woman who had nearly hit her in the parking lot. After the mayhem had begun, she had run from the store with her daughter and rushed away. Scully thinks her part of the investigation should be over then, but the sheriff asks for her help because she obviously knows about things weird. She tries to get out of it, but the sheriff explains to her that she had put her finger right on the problem - Melissa Turner. That was the name of the woman who had run and everyone in town was convinced she was a witch. The sheriff didn't think so, he thought that just because she was beautiful and single, people were jealous, but in any case he wants Scully's help in checking some things out.
"What the sheriff doesn't know is that one of his deputies is sweet on Melissa and called her to warn her that she's been seen on the surveillance tape, not hurting herself, and that the sheriff is on his way to question her.
"When Scully and the sheriff arrive at Melissa's house, they find the back door open and the laundry hanging outside, still wet, but no one home. They look around and Scully discovers that the windows in the daughter's room are nailed shut. The sheriff explains that Melissa was born and raised in the town, lived there all her life. She'd married a fisherman from the town and they'd had Polly, but the father had been killed in an accident the year before and Polly was, well a little strange. Things sometimes happened around her. One time she'd thrown a fit at her daycare and the daycare owner couldn't get her to calm down, so she had slapped her to shock her, but instead the woman found herself on the ground, where this little girl had somehow knocked her silly. That was the woman's story anyway. There was no way that little girl could have knocked her over with everything she had, but it was a big stink in town and the woman lost her license to have a daycare. Then there was the rumor that Melissa was carrying on with the butcher in town, who was a married man. So there were lots of rumors about things.
"What Scully and the sheriff didn't know was that the deputy was the one who had gotten Melissa and Polly out of the house. He was sweet on Melissa, like the butcher, and wanted to protect them. He took them to an ice cream parlor to keep Polly occupied while they talked. He tries to convince Melissa to leave town, offering her money that he had saved. But she refuses. Polly was sitting there with her favorite doll, eating her ice cream, but she decides she wants some more cherries, so she goes back up to the counter and asks for some. The waitress explains that she needs some more money to pay for them and to go ask her mother. Polly gets upset and demands more cherries, getting all upset. Then suddenly the waitress's long hair gets caught up in some machinery behind the counter and she starts screaming. The deputy runs to help her and Melissa and Polly run away.
"In the meantime, the sheriff takes Scully to meet the daycare owner. She insists that Melissa's a witch and should be taken care of.
"Melissa finally decided to take the deputy's advice and go up to his cabin in the woods to get away until things calm down. She drives up and the guard at the gate stops her to make sure she really wants to go up because it's full winter up where the cabins are and the power might not even be on. Polly gets upset and starts demanding to go home and then her doll, that's been in every place that something has happened, opens its eyes and says 'Let's have fun'. The park ranger figures he just imagined that and walks around the car to get the license plate number. Then Melissa thinks she sees a woman in the backseat - it's the day care owner - which is impossible. But it spooks her and she suddenly hits the accelerator, nearly hitting the ranger and starts racing back to town.
"The next morning, the sheriff is back at Scully's hotel asking for more help. Turns out the day care owner has been murdered. While she's trying to explain that she's on vacation, Mulder calls. He's trying to be Scully and offers a scientific explanation for what is happening, maybe St. Vitus's Dance, but Scully knows better - Mulder's never good on the science side, right? She hangs up on him and tells the sheriff they might need to look at 'extreme possibilities'."
The kids laughed out loud at that and Scully glared at Frohike.
"Melissa has taken Polly home and the little girl is taking her nap, so Melissa goes in the room and starts to pick up the doll out of Polly's arms. But before she can touch it, the doll's eyes open and it says 'Let's have fun'. That scares Melissa and she doesn't touch the doll, just leaves the room. Before she can even get out, the record player starts all by itself and the song 'Hokey Pokey' starts to play. She runs out of the room.
"Scully goes out to dinner with the sheriff - he's probably better looking than Mulder and not as 'Spooky'."
Scully laughed at that one along with several others and Mulder just narrowed his eyes, as Frohike continued with the story.
"She asks the sheriff about how Melissa's husband died and if she could have been involved. It had happened out at sea, so that wasn't possible, but after dinner they go visit the man's partner on his boat. It's the old man that had come out of the grocery store and said they needed a doctor. Scully asks him about the accident that killed Melissa's husband and reluctantly he tells it. It was Polly's birthday and they were pulling in their catch when he finds a doll inside of one of his lobster traps. He laughs that Davy Jones has sent his little Polly a present for her birthday and lays her aside to dry out. Three days later he was dead. He was out on deck alone and the older man in the cabin. The older man hears that doll's voice say 'Let's have fun', which of course was impossible, but when he goes out to see what's keeping the younger man, he finds him, dead on the deck."
Scully shot Frohike a grateful glance for leaving out the gruesome details. They were just kids regardless of what else they could do.
"Scully asks the old man about what happened in the grocery store. He tells her, as soon as he saw that doll in Polly's arms, he knew there was going to be trouble. When they leave the old man, Mulder calls Scully again. He's bored without her and she asks him if he knows anything about talking dolls and being his normal helpful self he asks her if the doll in question has a plastic ring on a cord on her back. Justifiably Scully hangs up on him."
Scully wasn't quite quick enough to stop the gesture that time, but she joined in the laughter around the room.
"In the meantime, the deputy has gone back out to Melissa's house to bring her in because something bad is going on. Polly is in a mood, demanding popcorn, which isn't coming fast enough. What she doesn't know is that the deputy has done what the people in the grocery store did and hit himself with his night stick. He's lying unconscious on the floor of the kitchen, while Melissa frantically makes popcorn to try to calm Polly down.
"Once Melissa gets Polly to bed, she makes the decision that nothing can leave the house - she's realized that the doll is the evil that's causing all the problems. It was with them at the grocery and the ice cream parlor and now here. She's heard it talk without anyone pulling any strings. She grabs up a hammer and some nails and begins nailing all of the doors and windows shut to keep the evil inside and protect the rest of the town.
"Scully and the sheriff arrive and see the deputy's car parked there as well. They go to the door and knock, but no one answers. He tries the door and they realize it's nailed shut. Scully looks through the window and spots the deputy on the floor and sees Melissa trying to strike a match. Polly comes downstairs with her doll and sees what her mother is trying to do. Melissa finally gets a match lit but the doll's eyes open and it goes out. The doll says 'Don't Play With Matches'. The sheriff and Scully are trying to batter the door down to get inside and stop her. Melissa orders Polly back upstairs and quits trying to strike any more matches, none will light anyway. She pulls open a drawer and the doll says 'Don't Play With Knifes' and the drawer snaps shut.
"The another drawer opens on its own and the doll says 'Let's Play With The Hammer'. Melissa picks it up against her will and the sheriff and Scully finally burst inside. Then the doll says 'I Don't Like You Any More' and makes Melissa hit herself in the face with the hammer.
"Scully runs to Polly and asks for the doll, which keeps says 'I Want To Play' over and over. Polly resists, but Scully finally grabs the doll from her and runs to the microwave oven and shoves the doll inside. She turns it on and she and the sheriff watch the doll burn. Scully saved the day."
Everyone clapped as Scully leaned into Mulder. "That's not exactly how I remember it," she whispered to him.
He placed a quick kiss on her forehead. "My best memory of the case is it's the first time I asked you to marry me." He grinned and all the kids piled on to share in the love.