Bedtime for Fox
Rating: R for increasingly slashy and adult humor
Back by popular demand...
Okay, fine, mostly by the demand of Our First Fan, Russianrat, (who has now,
perhaps, learned to be careful what he wishes for... oh, and thanks from both
of us, dear!) it's the return of the Amazon Goddesses, Ellie and Tiriel. We
decided that we didn't need to wait for the new season to start. We can spoof
it sight unseen. Tiriel sends a public apology to Aithine, who will never be
able to watch a certain film with a straight face again. Again, there're a
couple of extra jokes for those who've read our previous two efforts. And as
always, as if we needed to say it, they aren't ours, and this is all in the
spirit of good, clean fun. Okay, maybe not clean...
Oh, yeah, and they aren't ours, it's humor, so don't go getting all offended
or anything 'cause we'll just laugh at you, and we blame any continuity
errors/liberties taken with reality on Chris Carter. That's our story and
we're stickin' to it.
Bedtime for Fox
....In which Tiriel exorcises all of her Mulder pet peeves, indulges in some
self-referential humor, and takes a poke or two (again) at her co-author, and
Ellie has entirely too much fun writing about naked people. I bet you can
guess which of us writes these introductions, huh?
"Yeah Scully...I'm your wonder pony...oh yeah..." Fox Mulder moaned in his
sleep, happily ensconced in his favorite dream. Just before his delicious
partner was transformed from her usual three-piece business-suited self into
an incredibly kinky urban cowgirl, he awoke with a start. "Wha--? Huh?" His
mind was still fuzzy, but his senses were beginning to give him a few familiar
cues. Industrial cleaning fluid, coarse, starchy sheets, cracked beige
ceiling, air conditioner wheezing like an asthmatic...had to be a hotel room.
It hit him a few seconds later that he must still be in Oregon working on the
disappearance of those abductees. And galloping fast on the heels of that was
the realization that he was currently in bed...with a man. But not just any
man. His boss, Walter Skinner.
Now Mulder wasn't the type to panic, but there was a little gibbering voice in
the back of his mind that was reminding him that ex-Marines didn't tend to be
the cuddling type. Particularly not with other men. Of course there had been
rumors about the AD and a certain restaurant chain's restrooms, but he'd
chalked most of that up to jealousy and a rather libelous campaign put forth
by the Consortium to undermine his authority. They were both lovely
rationalizations, and under any other circumstances he would've been happy to
parade them through his conscious mind complete with ticker tape. However, the
only thing going through his mind at the moment was a rather dark funerary
procession--his own--if he couldn't figure out a way to get up and scamper off
to his own room before the boss actually woke up.
In his terrified state it is at least partially understandable that he hadn't
yet noticed that he was still fully clothed. Indeed, he didn't stumble over
this fact until he'd managed to work one shoe-clad foot onto the hideous olive
and orange carpeting. That stopped him dead for a long moment. Okay, so he was
in bed with Skinner...dressed, right down to his shoes and tie. Reaching down
tentatively, he noticed that he also had his gun snugly secured in his side
holster. So, to reiterate, he was fully dressed and armed...and sleeping with
"Ooo-kay" he whispered, and attempted to access his eidetic memory. As per
usual whenever he woke up under odd circumstances, it was completely useless.
Perhaps he'd just had one too many holes drilled in his skull, or sharp blows
to the head. Regardless, the game plan remained the same, get the hell out of
Dodge before he ended up a greasy paste adding one or two more incongruous
hues to the flooring.
Calling forth every iota of stealth his body possessed, the agent managed to
slide his other foot out from under Skinner's rather heavy thigh. By the time
he'd managed it he was gasping like a marathon runner coming up on the finish
line. Silently he prayed to every obscure god he could remember to just let
him make it to the door. He figured he'd sent pleas to all the better-known
ones on a hundred occasions before and they must be getting a bit tired of
interceding on his behalf all the time. Maybe a deity like Wotan, someone with
a little more time on their hands this century, would appreciate the
Apparently not, because he'd no sooner managed to get to his feet than he
heard the telltale signs of his boss awakening. He somehow managed to keep his
scream silent and double-timed his tiptoeing to the door. Alas the Fates were
apparently doubled over laughing at him yet again as Walter Skinner's dark
eyes blinked open and landed right on him.
The agent froze in his tracks, his fear-addled brain assuring him that if he
just stood still enough long enough Skinner wouldn't see him. For a few
seconds it actually seemed like it might be working, but then the AD sat up,
his face downright stormy. At that point Mulder did what he did best in these
kinds of situations, he babbled. "Sir, um, you're awake, that's
great...really...I just, uh, I just came, I mean I just got
here...from...from my own room... Away from here. My room way down the hall.
Yes. And the uh...the door wasn't locked so I, well naturally I got
worried...and I just opened the door. I closed it just...not one second ago,
literally and I was about to come over and check you out...er...I mean make
sure you were okay and..."
Before his rambling train of thought could make its way to some form of
destination, he was startled to see Skinner bury his face in his hands and
begin to sob brokenly. Mulder was quite literally flummoxed. "-- the hell?"
Then it hit him. "Oh, um, look, I have absolutely no idea what happened last
night but I'm sure if I had been completely in control of my faculties that I
would've really enjoyed it and...and I want you to know that I do still
respect you, sir. But...well, I'm just not a cuddler per-se..."
Skinner appeared to be too lost in his grief to notice anything the other man
was saying. Instead he threw the covers off the bed and staggered to his feet.
Mulder was both astonished and horrified to note that the man slept in the
nude...completely in the nude. But what was truly horrifying was that the man
had a body that would've made a grown bodybuilder weep. For a brief instant
the agent couldn't help thinking that he'd really hit the jackpot the night
before. Then the rational part of his brain gut-punched that voice and told
him to get back on the straight side of the fence. He quickly summoned up an
image of Scully in a thong and a smile. It really didn't help as much as he'd
"Um, sir, I realize that this was probably something that really shouldn't
have happened and I think I can safely say that, well, we've both been under a
lot of stress lately. And while I don't remember actually going to a bar and
getting drunk last night I think it's pretty clear that we were both blitzed.
So if we can just move past this I'm sure we can continue to have a long and
fulfilling professional relationship. And, well, you know, the occasional
quickie in the office isn't totally out of the question..."
Skinner continued to ignore him. Instead he began to wail and sob even more
"Oh damn. Look, sir, I had no idea you felt like this. I'm flattered, I
promise...but, well let's face it, we just don't have that much chemistry. I
mean me and Scully, definitely, me and Krycek?well sure, I can see it, but me
and you? I just don't see us in terms of some sort of committed relationship.
A mild S&M relationship where you're my Daddy and I'm your best Boy is a
"Mulder!" the other man moaned, and continued to weep.
"Right here, sir." He paused then added, "Would a hug help? Because I have
absolutely nothing against a degree of intimacy, particularly in light of last
"Mulder where are you?"
The agent blinked then asked, "Um, sir, I'm here...right here by the door."
"Scully's going to kill me," the large, buff, naked, inconsolable assistant
"You know I really don't think we need to tell her about all this, I mean not
that I'm embarrassed, because I'm not. I just don't think she really wants to
know. She's open-minded, I don't want you to think she isn't...it's just that
I don't think..."
"What have I done?" Skinner threw back his head and cried out.
Mulder looked around the room carefully and hastened to say, "Look, sir,
unless you want the entire state to know what we did last night, I really
think you should keep it down just a little."
"I'm useless! Useless! I can't believe I let this happen."
"I think you're being way too hard on yourself, sir. And like I said we've
both been under a lot of stress so..."
"He's gone, he's gone and it's all my fault."
"I'm sorry, Skinner I'm just not following you here."
"Mulder's gone...he's gone..."
"But I'm right..." he paused and took a hesitant step towards his boss. Then,
waving a hand in the big man's face, he was astonished to receive no reaction
whatsoever. "Sir, what would you think if I told you I thought all Marines
were a bunch of limp-wristed fairies with militaristic fetishes?" When there
was no reaction to that either he straightened with a start. "What the hell
happened last night?"
Try as he might, he couldn't think of anything that would explain the current
situation. He had a vague impression of someone shouting, "Don't go into the
light, Mulder! Don't go into the light!" at him, but other than that,
everything after his return to Oregon was a blank. Then an idea struck.
"Okay, everybody, very funny. You can come out now. I know you're pissed at me
for making you stay behind, Scully, but this isn't funny." He looked around.
Under the bed?
No. In the closet? No. There was nobody in the room except for his naked
superior. And the list of ways in which Skinner was his superior had just
gotten a bit...larger. "Guys? Anybody?" After checking behind the curtains,
under the chair, and even underneath the nightstand, he sat down on the edge
of the bed in disgust. All he'd found was a Gideon's Bible, which someone had
apparently shoved underneath the corner of the table to keep it from wobbling,
and some dustbunnies. And he hadn't even caught a hint that Skinner had
noticed him as he searched. That kind of blew the "sick, twisted joke" theory.
So, he had to face facts. He was invisible.
Or dead. As an aficionado of all things paranormal, he had to face that
possibility as well. He might be a ghost. And wouldn't Scully flip when she
heard that? She'd have to give up that skepticism of hers entirely when she
learned that her very own partner was now wandering the earth as a ghost. Oh,
dear. He ran a hand over his face.
The sound of the shower turning on in the bathroom brought him out of his
moment of self-pity. He resisted the impulse to follow the AD into the shower,
just to test the limits of this invisibility/ghost thing, of course. Ghosts
don't get wet, right? He had been lying on the bed when he woke up, and
Skinner's leg had felt very...real against his. So he could touch solid
objects. Could he move them? He walked back over to the table and tried to
shove Skinner's suitcase off. No luck. He sighed heavily. If he was dead, this
was going to be a very long afterlife.
Skinner continued to bawl in the shower as Mulder prowled the hotel room like
a penned wolf. "Okay, okay, now wait a minute I've been dead...or... at least
mostly dead before.
Now think, was it like this?" He paused and seriously considered that time
he'd nearly been burned alive in a buried tanker car in the middle of the
desert. Hip-deep in alien bodies, or at the very least humans mutated with
alien DNA, he'd burrowed away from the flames and was pretty much vulture bait
when the Native Americans had discovered him. "I remember lots of stars. And
Deep Throat was there... yeah I remember that. Dad too. So theoretically if I
were dead I'd have at least talked to them again, right? I mean surely someone
would have been there waiting for me." That made sense, perfect sense. Add to
that the fact that the last time it had happened he'd awakened to find himself
bare-assed under a heap of shrubbery. Not, and he couldn't emphasize this
enough, dressed and in bed with his superior.
"But, if it's not the afterlife, then where?" Usually Mulder would've had at
least thirty equally implausible but highly probable theories worked out to
explain his current situation. However, his mental faculties weren't quite up
to par this morning, and, to be honest, it wasn't as much fun to come up with
them without Scully around. Just watching her lips get thinner and thinner
with each pronouncement had become something of a hobby for the agent.
"Yeah well if you ever want to see Scully again you'd better start thinkin',
Spooky," he muttered dejectedly. Before he could spiral further into
depression Skinner slumped out of the bathroom with the occasional sniffle and
half-choked sob. "Oh get over it already."
The AD reached into his suitcase and grabbed a pair of briefs. Mulder was a
little astonished to note that they were a sort of pastel blue color. Not
exactly what he would've imagined his boss would have chosen. After the big
man slid into them, his agent noticed they seemed to have something on the
back. Moving closer, he read, in flowing embroidery, "Property of Alex
Suddenly, the "sick, twisted joke" theory looked more attractive once again.
He closed his eyes and clicked his heels together. "There's no place like
home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home." That old
standby failing him, he began to search for hidden cameras, an exercise that
proved futile, as he was unable to look properly in the usual places--smoke
alarm, shower head, light fixtures--without the ability to manipulate objects.
And of course, the great big hole that let all the air out of that theory was
that even if Scully and Skinner and goodness only knows, probably the Lone
Gunmen as well, even if all of them were in cahoots to pull this elaborate
prank, there was no conceivable way in which they'd be able to affect his
ability to move solid objects. So invisible it was, although invisible with
some kind of twist that kept him from affecting his environment. Time to face
facts. He was invisible, and his boss was Alex Krycek's bitch. Better and
Skinner had finished dressing by now, and Mulder followed him as he checked
out of the motel. The obligatory attempts to get the desk clerk to notice him
were of course also a failure, although that in and of itself wasn't
conclusive proof of his invisibility.
As Skinner paused before getting into his rental car, standing there with the
door open, staring around him bleakly as if Mulder would suddenly appear from
thin air, Mulder took the opportunity to quickly get into the back seat of the
sedan. With a final sigh, Skinner got into the car and drove to the airport.
On the way, Mulder attempted another classic solution to his dilemma. "I am
visible. I am visible. I will be seen." He squeezed his eyes shut,
focusing all of his willpower on visibility. He opened one eye just enough to
peek. "Sir? Can you see me now?" No reaction. He settled back into his seat,
watching the evergreens pass by as they approached the airport.
Mulder would have happily leapt out of the window had it been rolled down, but
unfortunately for him it wasn't. He'd never been so happy to see an airport in
his entire life. Of course the fact that Skinner had insisted on not only
listening to Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On", but also performing his own
heartbroken rendition along with her wasn't helping. While on one level it was
kind of touching that his boss was so devastated at his "loss," this was going
a bit far.
Skinner wiped his nose roughly and clambered out of the car. His invisible,
insubstantial agent was forced to practically leap out on his heels. That, or
wait until some rental agency guy came along to clean it, and frankly he
didn't like his chances of making it back across the country without so much
as a visible thumb to stick in the air.
He watched his boss slog through the tiny airport like the weight of the world
was riding on his shoulders. Well, truth be told, if he'd been in his place he
might well have headed down to Argentina and started life with a new identity
rather than face Scully. But not
Skinner, nope, he was too upstanding, too honorable to do anything like that.
Not to mention, apparently too subservient to a certain rat-like double
The big man clambered onto the tiny aircraft and stuffed himself into a window
seat with some difficulty. The other seats were filling up quickly, and he had
to jump out of the seat beside his boss when a lovely young woman settled
neatly into it. Standing forlornly in the middle of the aisle, he contemplated
his choices. Either he could stand here and suffer the indignities of having
the stewardesses pass through him as they moved back and forth, or... He
heaved a very heartfelt sigh and gave in to the inevitable.
Surprisingly Mulder found that his boss' lap was downright comfortable. And
the view of the blonde in the next seat wasn't too bad either. She, of course,
stared right through him, but seemed at least marginally interested in
Skinner. The AD was slumping, the very picture of angst, and occasionally
emitting a rather forlorn whimper.
Leaning closer the woman asked softly, "Are you okay?"
That was apparently all it took to start the waterworks again, and Mulder
rolled his eyes with disgust. He would never have pegged the man for the weepy
type. Maybe he could chalk it up to those nanocytes.
"N-no," the man blubbered, accepting the tissue his neighbor passed him.
"Did you lose someone recently?"
"Y-yes, I lost him...I lost him...Oh god..."
She patted his shoulder in a comforting manner and managed to settle into the
seat in such a manner as to put her rather impressive cleavage in plain view.
"You poor thing, was he a friend of yours?"
"He...he was my e-employee!"
The woman's head tilted slightly to the side and she blinked wide eyes at him.
"Oh. Um, you two were close then?"
He sniffed and nodded. "Y-yes. He was the only one I could t-trust."
She nodded and made soothing noises. "Aww, if you don't mind me asking, what
"We...we were in the w-woods investigating a case." He paused to blow his nose
rather loudly before continuing, "And then he j-just disappeared...and then I
saw this spaceship fly off and..."
Mulder smacked his insubstantial forehead and suddenly understood in startling
clarity why the man had remained single for so long. "Spaceship. I'm sure he
was abducted by it. Last time they took his partner, now h-him...and...and I
have to t-tell Scully. And she's going to be s-so pissed!"
"Uh-huh." Mulder watched the ample cleavage disappear as she rearranged
herself as far away from Skinner as the seats would allow.
Just then the stewardess came by and chirped, "We'll be taking off
momentarily, but I'm taking advance orders for beverages. Would you care for a
"Vodka...straight." the blonde muttered in utter disgust.
The stewardess glanced over at Skinner and asked, "And you sir?"
"I don't deserve a drink," he moaned, "I don't deserve to live!"
"I'll just bring you some peanuts then."
"Okay," Skinner sniffled. Thankfully, it was a short flight to Portland
International, and Mulder was pleased to note that the airport construction
that had been going on practically since his first visit to Oregon related to
this particular X-File was finally starting to wrap up. They boarded another
flight, this one to O'Hare. During that leg of the trip, Skinner seemed to
resign himself to his fate. Meanwhile, Mulder was enjoying the benefits of
being free to heckle the terminally perky flight attendants without fear of
receiving filthy looks or drinks contaminated by who-knows-what.
Eventually, the joys of dancing in the aisles and saying things like, "Yeah,
buckle this low and tight across your lap, you ex-cheerleader!" wore off,
and Mulder settled back into Skinner's lap, only making the occasional comment
as an attendant passed.
"Yeah, that's right, you. Stop drooling over my boss and go back to beauty
school. But if that dye job is any indication, you weren't cut out for that,
either. Yeah, thank you and buh-bye."
Even the exceptional number of baseball fields visible from the air on their
approach to O'Hare did little to cheer him up. "Invisibility sucks." He
continued to pout as they made their way to their next flight, and all the way
from Chicago to Washington. "Could this get any worse?"
To be honest, it could've gotten much worse, in fact this was one of the
smoothest trips he'd ever had through O'Hare. Indeed he knew from experience
just how uncomfortable those divided seats could be to sleep on. And while
most nights he preferred to leave the TV on as he dozed, a continual half-hour
loop on CNN being broadcast from every TV in every waiting area could really
start to grate on the nerves around three a.m..
But, miracle of miracles, their flight actually left on time, no delays, it
was almost enough to make him believe in a higher power. Almost. After all, he
was still in some weird kind of limbo, and nobody on any plane of existence
was currently offering him answers, guidance, or even a heartfelt pat on his
His mood remained pretty grim throughout the flight, despite the fact that he
spent a good deal of it perched on the sink of the women's restroom. It was
entertaining the first hour or so, mildly informative for a few minutes more,
then just depressing. On the other hand it was nice to know that not even
women fit comfortably into those tiny, cabinet sized bathrooms. However,
watching them try desperately to rearrange their nylons and skirts without
dislocating a shoulder or hip got old surprisingly fast.
Mulder sighed again as the wheels touched down, and he was finally able to
slink out of the tiny space when a stewardess decided to take a much-needed
pit stop. He had no trouble finding his moping boss, who was shuffling slowly
down the center aisle. By this point a certain sense of urgency was beginning
to take over. He had to get to Scully. If anyone in this entire world would be
able to sense him it was her. Sure she hadn't exactly had a stellar record
where that sort of thing was concerned, but there was always a first time. And
even if she didn't just feel he was there, as soon as Skinner blurted out the
whole story she'd fly into action, deploy search parties, gather evidence,
work tirelessly to find him.
That thought almost put a smile back on his face. Yes, Scully would save the
Except, apparently, they weren't going to see Scully right away. Skinner got
into a cab, and Mulder followed, again thankful for the slow pace his boss was
"Where to?" At least that was what Mulder thought the cabbie said. It was hard
to be sure, considering the man's accent, which was unlike any he'd ever heard
in all of his international travels.
"Hell," whimpered Skinner. Then he looked around, straightened up, and barked
out orders in his usual tone of voice. They were going to Skinner's
"I know you're not exactly looking forward to this, but we might as well get
it over with. Go see Scully. Damn it, sir, I know you're afraid she'll kill
you with a glance for this one, but she's the only chance I've got!"
Apparently Skinner had the same thought. "Driver, I've changed my mind." The
closer the cab drew to downtown DC, the more like himself Skinner seemed to
become. He ordered the cabbie to take him to the hospital where Scully was
awaiting the results of her latest medical tests. Mulder had forgotten about
that, too, if he'd known in the first place, and sent up a silent prayer to
whatever saint watches over beautiful, red-haired, mostly Catholic FBI agents
that it wasn't the cancer coming back.
With a glance at the driver to make sure that he wasn't listening, Skinner
pulled out his cell phone and hit a speed dial number.
"Dr. Nichol, please. Walter Skinner, and it's important. Yes, I'll hold."
Mulder leaned close, but couldn't hear anything from the earpiece of the
phone, which was pressed tight against Skinner's ear. Was this Nichol one of
"Yes, Dr. Nichol, thank you for taking the time to speak with me. Something
terrible has happened, and I'm afraid I'm not coping with it very well. Yes,
it has to do with that subordinate of mine we've discussed."
There was a pause as Skinner looked down and fiddled with a button on his
"Yes, I know we've talked about that. But he was abducted by aliens. I saw it
myself. And now I have to tell his partner about it."
Another pause, this one fairly lengthy.
"No, not that kind of partner. She's a woman, and he's straight, and they're
not doing it, I don't think. No, I am not obsessed with him. I have thought
about it. There are aliens, he's been abducted by them, and I don't think
medication would change that. Yes, I'm still being controlled by the man with
the handheld computer. He's really not--so what do I do about telling his
partner he's gone? No, I can't talk to you about it during our regular
Wednesday appointment, I'm on my way there now! Yes, yes, I'm sorry. Your next
client has arrived. Of course. I understand completely. I'll see you on
Wednesday, Dr. Nichol." Skinner clicked the phone shut with a heavy sigh. "I
don't know why I bother."
So Skinner had a therapist. Mulder filed that information away for later use,
although after all he'd seen, he wondered if his conscience would allow him to
They pulled up in front of the hospital, and Mulder hurried to follow Skinner,
who after hanging up the phone had settled into his usual mask of AD-ness.
Finally, they'd get to Scully.
Mulder sang quietly along with "Girl From Ipanema" as the elevator steadily
rose to the fourth floor. He tried to mentally prepare himself for the scene
he was about to witness. Poor Scully, she'd undoubtedly be reduced to an
emotional trainwreck of epic proportions. It'd put Skinner's display to
absolute shame, no doubt about it. She wouldn't eat, wouldn't sleep, in fact,
she'd probably grab her clothing and dash from the hospital (regardless of her
physical condition) to run back to Oregon to look for him. He'd be moved, he'd
be touched, hell, he'd be highly entertained.
However, before they could enter Room 405, they found the Gunmen lined up just
outside the door as if waiting to be pointed out by a witness...or offered a
blindfold and their last rites. When they saw the AD each shifted a half step
closer to the others until they were so close it was difficult to tell where
one started and the next ended. "It wasn't us!" Langly cried out, clinging to
Frohike and twitching violently.
Byers clutched at his tie as if it were a noose. "We had absolutely nothing to
do with it, we just brought her here."
"Yeah," Frohike added, eyes nervously scanning the corridor behind Skinner.
"You just remember to tell Mulder that it wasn't us, got it? It wasn't us!"
Skinner wilted slightly. "You've heard, then?"
All three nodded vigorously. "We had nothing to do with it, absolutely
"Of course you didn't." Skinner moaned dramatically. "It was my fault, mine
and no one else's."
"No way." Langly's jaw dropped and he chanced a quick sideways glance at
Frohike, who looked positively apoplectic.
"You?" the little man barked, righteous indignation momentarily overwhelming
his self-preservation instincts. "But...but...what about Mulder?"
Mulder perked up at the mention of his name, "Yeah, precisely, what about
"I know! Don't you think I know?" Skinner's carefully reconstructed
professional mask was beginning to crack like the San Andreas Fault. "What am
I going to do?"
"I dunno, man, you might want to consider moving to Bolivia or something."
Langly offered helpfully. "We could offer you a new identity or two."
"Yeah, and a sex change." Frohike grumbled.
The AD looked a bit puzzled at that suggestion. "I suppose I'd deserve
that...Hell, I don't deserve to live..."
"Frohike!" Byers reprimanded him with one of his sternest looks. "This is not
the time or the place for this. Mr. Skinner and Agent Scully need us now, we
have to be supportive."
"Speaking of which," Langly interjected, "Don't you think you'd better go talk
Skinner paled instantly and looked like he might bolt. Meanwhile, Mulder was
trying to use some latent telekinetic abilities to get into the room. "Will
somebody just open the door, please?"
"I...I...maybe I should talk to her later. I mean there's no rush, right?"
Byers frowned and took him by the arm. "Now, Assistant Director, there's
nothing to be afraid of, just go in there and do the right thing."
"Yeah, man, take responsibility," Frohike added, with a gentle push towards
"And don't forget to invite us to the wedding!" Langly added with a little
wave as the man was propelled through the door.
"Wedding?" Skinner and Mulder chorused curiously.
Mulder squeezed through the door as Skinner, looking marginally composed,
began to speak. "Agent Scully."
"Scully! Scully, can you see me? Hellooo?" Mulder waved his arms frantically
at the foot of her bed.
Scully didn't seem to notice him. Her attention was focused on Skinner. And
she looked upset. "Hi."
"Screw the pleasantries, what's wrong with you, Scully? And please see me, I'm
Skinner closed the door behind himself. "Hi. How you feeling?"
"I'm feeling fine. They're just running some tests on me."
"Tests, Scully? What kind of tests? Are you okay? And why the hell can't you
see me? I'm RIGHT HERE!" Mulder jumped up and down for good measure. No
reaction. He tried making funny faces, no reaction. Clucking like a chicken
didn't work, either. Meanwhile, his boss was tearing up. Again.
"Well, um..." Skinner trailed off, fighting back the tears.
"I already heard."
"Oh, they look so sad. They're worried about me. I'm touched, really, guys,
but I'm here. You don't have to worry, you just have to see me!" Mulder was
beginning to feel desperate. He ran his fingers through his hair and paced at
the foot of Scully's bed.
The despondent AD continued his narrative.
"I lost him. I don't know what else I can say. I lost him. I'll be asked what
I saw. And what I saw, I can't deny. I won't."
"Well, it's about damn time," Mulder said. "I've been sending you reports on
this stuff for years, and what does a man have to do to get some believers?
"We will find him. I have to." Scully's voice held the quiet determination
Mulder had expected.
"Now that's more like it. You can start now. I'm here." Skinner turned to
leave. "What, that's it? She says you'll find me and you're leaving?" Then
Scully spoke up, getting the attention of both men.
"Sir, um. There's something else I need to tell you. Something that I need for
you to keep to yourself. I'm having a hard time explaining it or believing it.
But, um, I'm pregnant." A smile spread across her face.
Mulder half-expected that his jaw would drop to the floor like a cartoon
character's, his tongue following with it. There'd been enough other
impossible things about this day that it didn't seem too far outside the realm
of possibility. But it didn't. He stood there, silent, simultaneously relieved
to know that it wasn't the cancer coming back and shocked to realize that
something they hadn't believed possible had actually happened. "Look out
world, here come the uber-Scullys," he said in quiet awe.
"So that's what the Freaky Trio meant." Skinner blushed bright red, the shock
apparently clearing up the tears for the moment. "How--I mean, if you don't
mind my asking..."
"Yeah, what he said," Mulder said somewhat indignantly. "You're supposed to be
infertile. Not that I'm not happy that you were misinformed...but, oh, what
the hell, you can't even hear me. Just answer him."
"I think it's too early to answer that question, sir."
"What the hell kind of answer is that, Scully?" Mulder stood up from the chair
he'd just settled into.
"What the hell kind of answer is that, Scully?" Skinner's eyebrows squeezed
"An honest one. Now, tell me what you saw in Oregon. We'll need to have all
the facts if we're going to find Mulder."
"I'm not really sure what I can tell you, Scully, one minute he was there
crouching in the ferns with me, then he wandered off and...well..."
Scully perked up momentarily, "He wandered off? That's it? Oh sir I was
actually worried for a minute there, why didn't you just say so? He's
undoubtedly injured but otherwise intact at the bottom of a hole being menaced
by a prehistoric wild woman or a pair of camouflaged, immortal former Spanish
Skinner frowned and shook his head. "Wrong state and coast, remember that
Oregon is the alien abduction capital of the US."
His agent paused to do a mental review of the latest statistics from the
National Enquirer. "I suppose you're right, sir, but I still don't see how you
can leap to the conclusion that..."
"There was absolutely no leaping, Scully." he intoned, "Not even a hop. I...I
saw this bright light fly away from the spot Mulder disappeared. Actually...it
was kind of cool...I mean that was my first experience with aliens." He sighed
and looked a bit wistful. "I mean, it's not like I could just take off for
Africa and find a big buried spaceship in the ocean. Oh no, not AD Skinner,
no, he's got to stay behind and fill out the paperwork, fetch Diana's dry
cleaning, and play man-bitch to Krycek...Life is so unfair."
Scully appeared lost in thought as Mulder settled onto the edge of her bed.
Any minute now she was going to come up with some brilliant plan to get him
back. Something so stunningly logical and at the same time so elegantly
creative that the sheer genius of it would stun both men silent. Yep, any
Skinner seemed content to wait for her next proclamation, and in the meantime
he checked his pager. It wouldn't do to have Krycek's WebVan delivery kept
waiting. The double agent became absolutely impossible to live with if he came
home to discover he was out of strawberry Pop-Tarts.
When Scully did open her mouth to speak, there was an almost palpable sense of
breathless expectancy in the air. Mulder's heart did a little fluttery skip
and his hands clenched reflexively. "Sir," the paragon of feminine rationality
began, "do you think it's too early to start planning the nursery?"
"Huh?" both men chorused.
"I know I just found out and I don't even know the sex yet, but I was thinking
I could go with a neutral color. You know, a green or yellow maybe, even beige
could work I suppose..."
"But...but..." the AD began weakly.
"...what about me?!" Mulder finished, his voice rising right along with his
impending sense of doom.
"Blankets and clothes are no problem, of course, I'll just buy all of that in
white for the time being. Furniture...oh god, I didn't even think about that,
babies need all kinds of things like cribs and changing tables. Sir," her eyes
had widened slightly and she was beginning to look a little panicked, "where
am I going to fit a crib and changing table in my apartment? I've got a
one-year lease and it's impossible to find housing in Georgetown right now.
What am I going to do?"
"Um...Scully...what about Mulder? Don't you think we should..."
"Oh, right, Mulder. See, the thing is, if he was abducted by aliens there's
really not that much I can do about it. I mean, in all probability he'll be
returned, half dead, in about three months anyway, right? And I know Mulder
would want me to go on with my life."
"No he wouldn't!" their invisible companion growled indignantly. "I can't
believe I'm hearing this. Scully gets abducted and I drive myself bug-nuts
trying to find her. I don't eat, I don't sleep, I have sex with a friggin'
vampire, I went through hell for her!"
"So when do I get a new partner? And don't even joke about giving me Krycek.
You know how well that worked for Mulder. I want someone sensible. Someone
grounded. Someone tall." Scully looked up at Skinner.
"New partner?" Skinner now looked like his jaw would drop to the floor.
"New PARTNER!" Mulder shouted. "Okay, that is absolutely the last straw. I
demand that you listen to me. Now. You are not getting a new partner. You
can't. I am not that easily replaced."
"Temporary replacement partner, of course, just until Mulder comes back, but
I've got to have someone to watch my back. I've got the baby to consider
"Well," Skinner said, "I suppose I could have someone lined up within a couple
"Make it tomorrow. I've got a hot tip on a Sasquatch sighting in Washington
State. I'd like to leave day after tomorrow at the latest."
"Sasquatch? Scully, are you sure you're fit to leave the hospital?" Skinner's
expression of abject misery seemed to have been replaced by one of nonstop
"Absolutely. I've seen too much. I'm a believer now." With that, Scully hopped
out of the hospital bed, pulled on a bathrobe, and walked out of the room.
Skinner followed, shaking his head.
Mulder, too stunned to do anything other than gape after them, tears of
frustration, rage, self-pity, and sadness filling his eyes, was left behind in
the hospital room, with a Monkees song stuck in his head. "I really am dead,
because this has to be hell," he whispered.
It took him several long seconds to realize that his trembling lower lip and
puppy-dog eyes were completely useless without an audience. And a few seconds
later it hit him that he was stuck in the hospital room. Mere milliseconds
after that the depression train left the station, taking him on a one-way trip
He considered just ending it all, maybe eating his gun after an hour-long
tirade to the powers that be. The question was, if he was dead already, would
it make the slightest difference? On the other hand, if he weren't dead, would
an invisible gun actually work, or would the bullet zip harmlessly through his
now insubstantial skull? This was getting way too complicated. All he wanted
was a bottle of Scotch, the latest issue of Penthouse, and a copy of
"Automatic for the People"...or maybe "O.K. Computer."
Finally Scully bustled back into the room looking chipper and perky enough to
make her former partner nauseated. She carried her paperwork, apparently
finding it much easier to check herself out of a hospital than Mulder ever
did. Skinner followed obediently, deep in discussion with someone on his cell.
"Yes, I know you're on a schedule, but I'm in the middle of something. No, I
don't want to be responsible for a truck full of decomposing swordfish steaks
and melted Haagen-Dazs, but...Don't give me that, your vehicles are
refrigerated, I've heard the radio ads. Well, according to the customer
service rep there's a three hour delivery window and I...Look, I'll be there
as soon as I can, I promise." He snapped the phone shut and couldn't help
thinking that he'd preferred being Cancer Man's toady. At least he was
prominent enough in the Consortium to have his own personal assistant.
Scully was humming softly to herself as she grabbed her clothes and headed for
the bathroom. Now, even under the most dire of circumstances Mulder had never
been known to pass up the opportunity to see Scully in the altogether, so he
trotted after her. He supposed, on some level, he should really feel a little
guilty about this deviant voyeuristic groove he'd gotten into since his little
"accident" in Oregon. For some reason he just couldn't seem to work up a
decent amount of the emotion, particularly where Scully was concerned. She
owed him at least this much, and he was beginning to think he'd used up his
lifetime's worth of guilt about three years before.
In retrospect he wasn't quite sure whether following her into the bathroom was
a good idea. At first it certainly seemed like one, particularly when that
hideous hospital gown hit the floor and he got a nice long look at the object
of his affection in the buff. However, when she shimmied into a pair of black
lace panties (a thong, no less) and a matching push-up bra, he began to think
that maybe he'd crossed the border into "too much information" land. Not that
he hadn't pictured her in similar attire in his mind's eye at least twenty to
thirty times a day since they'd met. Well, what hot-blooded American male
No, what really started to twist the figurative knife in his gut was the
notion that she wasn't wearing either of Victoria's best secrets for him. In
fact, every time he'd gotten to glimpse her...assets, they'd been
well-concealed behind cotton and elastic. So what was up with this Mustang
Ranch version of Dana Katherine Scully, MD? Did she have...a sex life?
Mulder whimpered softly and tried to shake off the notion. No, no, she was a
broken, wounded loner like himself now. The Consortium, her abduction, and all
they'd been through together had cut her off from normal society. The only
guys who would even give her the time of day for at least the past five years
were generally more interested in her internal organs or keeping various body
parts in their freezers as momentos.
He polished that particular rationalization until it sparkled and then
cherished it with all the conviction of the truly desperate. That is, until
Scully turned this way and that, eyeing herself speculatively in the mirror
and giving her breasts a bit of an adjustment. "Oh yeah, Dana, you've still
got it." She fluffed her hair until it fell seductively around her lovely face
like an auburn frame. Pausing, she called out to Skinner, "How're you doing on
that partner thing?"
His voice returned, a bit muffled, "I think I have someone lined up, he's a
pretty down to earth agent. Bit of a ladder climber but real serious and..."
Skinner cleared his throat. "Uh, yeah, he's tall."
"Good looking?" Scully asked, practicing a smolderingly sexy pout in the
"Good, I've got a reputation to maintain...and I'm not getting any younger."
She leaned forward to make sure her breasts would fall quite fetchingly and
continued under her breath, "And a baby needs a father."
"Scully!" Mulder exclaimed, horrified beyond the point of rational thought.
"Okay this time I make sure we get adjoining rooms and run into his
'conveniently forgetting' that I'm undressed. Then offer to show him a mark on
my back that I'm just convinced was left on me by the Sasquatch we're
tracking. 'Oh I'm so glad you're here, I was so scared,'" she cooed
breathlessly, making sure she jiggled in a decidedly distracting manner. "And
if he gives me a platonic hug, I swear to God I'm becoming a lesbian."
Mulder stammered as the misconception he'd apparently been working under for
the last seven years came crashing down, right on top of his head. "You-you
mean, you wanted me to make a move on you? But I thought the whole point of
our relationship was-was the whole unresolved sexual tension thing. Sparks but
no fire. Like Remington Steele or Moonlighting. You know how things turned out
there when the detectives finally got it on! And speaking of, you are not
going to make a pass at this new guy, whoever he is." His voice rose into a
plaintive wail as his tirade drew to a close. "How can you be planning this
when you haven't even met him yet?"
Scully's failure to respond was by now not a surprise to him. Having covered
the lingerie with some of her usual stylish office wear, she no longer looked
like every fourteen-year-old boy's favorite fantasy. She looked surprisingly
normal. No dark circles of worry under her eyes, no disheveled appearance, no
hint of uncried tears in her eyes. Not a single sign that her partner, the man
she'd shared seven years of aliens and conspiracies with, was missing,
As she gave herself one last once-over in the mirror, Mulder snapped. Again.
By now, his mental rubber band must be so full of those little knots, the ones
you make to repair a rubber band when you don't have another one handy, that,
if visible to, well, anyone, it would look like a macrame' plant hanger. "I
could be dead! I could be halfway to Reticulum by now! They could be
performing perverse experiments on me! What kind of partner are you? For all
you know, right now, I could be on the receiving end of an alien anal probe,
and all you can think about is seducing some man you've never even met?"
Mulder began to sniffle. Apparently Skinner's misery was contagious. "'Is he
What kind of qualification for a partner is that, anyway?"
He followed Scully dejectedly. Skinner was just hanging up his phone in the
"Your new partner is quite the eager beaver, Scully. Seems he's already
waiting for us downstairs. Which is good, because I've got to stop off at home
very soon or Krycek will be furious. When he's furious, there's only one way
to make him feel better. And I don't feel up to playing Horny Fugitive
tonight." Skinner shook his head. "Those shoes are murder."
"Sir?" Scully looked up into the face of her supervisor. "Sir, perhaps we
should go downstairs and meet my new partner."
"Yes, yes of course. Dog-something. He's downstairs. Let's go."
Mulder followed Skinner and Scully into the hallway. He attempted to cheer
himself up by picturing them naked. He did, after all, have a fairly recent
memory of each of their asses to refer to. When he found himself staring at
Skinner's more than Scully's, however, he found himself even more depressed.
He began to sing, but unfortunately, it wasn't loud enough to drown out the
Lone Gunmen, who were still standing vigil in the hallway.
"Everybody hurts..." Mulder sang.
"Here's the happy couple now," Byers said. "Agent Scully, let me be the first
to congratulate you." Frohike was frowning in the background, and Langly was
writing furiously on a notepad.
"Happy couple?" Scully asked.
"Sometimes. Everybody cries..." Mulder kept singing.
Byers straightened his tie. "Well, Assistant Director Skinner did say he was
responsible, so we thought..."
"Responsible for Mulder's disappearance, is what I meant," Skinner growled.
"Oh," said Frohike, his face brightening considerably.
"Oh," said Byers, looking chastened. "Excuse the error."
"What?" said Langly, "I was just working on a great idea I just had for an
article--The Ugly Truth About Denny's. Did I miss something?"
Mulder decided that maybe he'd picked the wrong R.E.M. song. "It's the end of
the world as we know it," he sang.
"So you thought Skinner was the father of my baby?" Scully chuckled, then
turned to size up the man standing next to her. "Well, he is tall, and he'd be
a good provider, and you know what they say about bald men, but I really don't
think Krycek would approve." With that, she strode purposefully toward the
elevators, her heels clicking loudly on the institutional hallway floor. The
men behind her were too embarrassed (Skinner), shocked (The Lone Gunmen), and
depressed (Mulder) to notice when the floor wiggled a little and then sort of
slithered under the door into the stairwell as she entered the elevator. "Sir?
We shouldn't keep him waiting."
Scully held the elevator door long enough for Skinner, blushing furiously
under the stares of the Lone Gunmen, to follow. Mulder also followed, having
given up on singing as a way of counteracting depression and moved on to
speculation as to what a game called "Horny Fugitive" might entail. He found
the visual that had formed in his mind of Krycek ordering Skinner around oddly
appealing. He had just begun to ponder what it would be like to have Krycek
order him around, or Skinner order him around, or maybe Krycek and Skinner
order him around, when the elevator stopped at the lobby with a small lurch.
The two visible members of the FBI exited, followed by the invisible one.
"So, where is he?" Scully said, smoothing the line of her jacket.
"Yeah where are you, you partner-stealing son of a bitch!" Mulder muttered,
hands clenched into fists. Not that he'd be able to actually hit the guy, but
he could at least swing in the jerk's general direction. Something caught his
eye and he swung around to notice a strange shimmering liquid-like substance
oozing out from under the emergency staircase door. His jaw literally dropped
when it began to grown into a pillar of silver.
His former partner gazed around the hospital lobby like a kid in a candy
store, her bright eyes sweeping over every well-dressed man over six feet in
height. As each one passed or left the building she sighed wistfully. "Are you
sure he said he'd meet us down here?"
"That's what he said," Skinner muttered, glancing at his watch for about the
hundredth time in the past ten minutes.
"Scully!" Mulder squeaked and pointed at the mysterious organism as it began
to take on an almost human appearance. The metallic figure's gleaming body
underwent a dramatic change as his skin, hair, and Armani suit filled in like
a paint-by-numbers. Soon he looked like everyone else milling around the area.
"Oh my god, oh my god, Scully it's an alien!" Mulder bolted in front of her
and gesticulated wildly toward the 'alien' in a vain attempt to communicate.
"Scully, there is a shapeshifting alien standing right behind you!" And the
ghost/astral projection of your partner standing right in front of you, he
added silently. Not that he really expected her to see either. She never had
The creature turned its head in a rather mechanical manner and stared right at
Mulder. The ghostly FBI agent nearly jumped out of his skin. "Can...can you
When its lips stretched into a grim smile Mulder could only whimper, "Oh
Scully glanced at her watch and frowned. "He's late. I don't like tardiness,
I've had that for the past seven years."
"I'm sure he'll be here soon." Skinner added in a conciliatory manner.
"He'd better be. Oh, and I'm now technically senior agent in the X-Files
division, right?" At her superior's nod she continued, "Good. First thing I'm
doing is putting my name on the door. And the desk is mine, this Dog-guy can
have that little card table I've been using. Those damn pencils are coming
down from the ceiling too." She paused to check her makeup in her compact.
"I'd like a secretary too, preferably 18-25, male, snappy dresser and please
be sure he knows how to make a decent pot of coffee."
"Sure, sure." Skinner's thoughts were currently centered on how many traffic
tickets he was going to have to incur to make it to Krycek's place before the
WebVan delivery people left. Maybe he could convince DC's finest that he was
on official business. Of course, he was going to have all of about thirty
seconds to change into his French maid's costume before his one-armed love god
breezed through the door.
"Agent Scully? Special Agent John Doggett." The whatever-he-was behind Scully
was apparently capable of speech. Mulder sank to his knees. His worst
nightmare was coming true. He'd been replaced, and his partner--his
ex-partner's new partner was some kind of alien freak. Even if Scully hadn't
already planned to seduce him, that fact alone would have made her fall in
love with him on sight, something that was confirmed in fairly short order.
Scully jumped a little. "Rule number one on the X-Files, Agent Dogboy, is
don't sneak up on people. That's the kind of thing that can get a man," she
turned around then, and sized up the all-too-handsomely formed body in front
of her, "...shot." She extended a hand limply in greeting. Scully's handshake
was never limp or feminine. At least Mulder had never seen it that way.
As Mulder wailed on the floor, Doggett gave a faint smile that was just a
little too practiced. "Shall we get down to work, Agent Scully? I've got a
mission to accomplish."
Skinner stepped forward to introduce himself. "Assistant Director Walter
Skinner. Thank you for getting here so soon. There is one thing I need to let
you two know before you leave for Washington." Just then, his phone rang.
"Excuse me for a second. Why don't you two get acquainted while I take this
call? It should only take a minute."
Doggett seemed vaguely disinterested in Scully, but Scully was far too
interested in him for Mulder's liking. Then Mulder heard something that
distracted him from his jealous and paranoid musings for a few minutes.
"You're breaking up with me?" Skinner cried. "But why?"
Mulder moved closer to listen in. The voice on the other end of the line was
that of Alex Krycek. Ignoring the lust--er, bloodlust, that the Russian double
agent always brought to the front of Mulder's...skull, he leaned even closer
to hear all of the conversation.
"That's right, Walter. You've been unreliable lately. You missed my delivery
and there's too much starch in my shoulder holster again. You've screwed up
for the last time."
"You don't mean--" Skinner shifted from despondent to terrified in about half
a second flat.
"No, you sniveling wretch, I'm not going to activate the nanocytes. I might
get bored with my new toy and want you back later."
"New toy? You don't mean--" Terrified to jealous in about a quarter of a
"That's right. You've been replaced."
"But-- Who?" Jealous to puzzled in about an eighth of a second flat.
"Who better to replace you than your replacement, Walter? AD Kersh, of course.
Not much to look at, I know, but he does have certain charms. Why don't you
have a little fun with Mulder in the meantime, maybe train him for me, if you
can find him, that is, and I'll be in touch. Now say it for me one more time,
"I can't," Skinner hissed. "There are people here. Scully and her new
"You know what could happen if you don't..." Krycek's voice held dry amusement
and the taunt of a man who held another man's life in the palm of his hand, or
the palmtop computer of his hand, as the case may be.
"All right, all right," Skinner said, then, turning away from the oblivious
Scully (too interested in her new partner) and creepy Doggett, he spoke
quietly into the phone. "I hear and obey my master, the most dangerous, hunky,
and well-endowed man I know."
"That's my boy," Krycek cooed. "Later." As Skinner moved the phone away from
his ear, Mulder could hear a wail in the background that could only be that of
AD Kersh. It took him a full minute to shake those images out of his head, and
when he did, he noticed that Scully, Doggett, and Skinner were headed for the
front doors of the hospital.
"'John,' huh?" Scully pondered aloud, "That's so...normal."
Doggett smiled insincerely and replied, "Yes I suppose it is." Under his
breath he muttered darkly, "Note to self, on next assignment request the
identity 'Ezekiel Doggett.'"
"I like normal," his new partner purred and allowed one hand to brush
'accidentally' against his thigh. As she'd suspected, he was all muscle. She
shivered with delight and anticipation. Getting up at seven to make it to the
office on time every day suddenly seemed like less of a chore.
"Kersh?" Skinner whined. "What's he got that I haven't got?"
"You know what? I hope this guy is the brain-sucking variety of Reticulan."
Mulder growled, keeping close to Skinner as the burly AD walked through the
"Dana Katherine Doggett..." Scully murmured with a gleeful smile on her face.
"I'm sorry, what did you say?" her new partner asked curiously.
"Nothing. Listen, there are certain things I've become accustomed to over the
past seven years in the X-Files department. First, my partner will be required
to place his hand in the small of my back to guide me through doors and such."
She stopped and gazed up at her new partner adoringly. "Why don't you give it
Doggett shrugged amiably and slid his hand down her back, letting it settle
comfortably just above her hips. "Like this?"
"Oh yeah, just like that. Um, next we exchange spare keys."
"That's my trademark move!" Mulder squawked indignantly. "I invented the hand
on the back thing, it's mine, mine, mine!"
"Sure Kersh has hair," Skinner grumbled, "but he's at least thirty pounds
overweight and short too. And if Krycek thinks that jerk is going to fit into
my SS matron costume he is sadly mistaken."
Scully smiled and nodded, offering him her apartment key... on the NASA
keychain Mulder had given her years before. "Yes, you see X-Files cases don't
always occur during normal business hours. Often you'll find that the mutants,
psychos, and aliens will follow you home. Or, at least, they follow me home.
We found it was much easier to just exchange keys than to kick each other's
doors open every other week. It'll also be useful should either of us be
abducted by government conspiracy groups or extraterrestrials. And of course
there are the mandatory 10-20 hospital stays per year, so someone will always
be fetching a change of clothes for whomever's laid up."
"I guess that makes sense," he returned. "Though I doubt I'm going to be in
the hospital any time soon. I'm very...healthy."
"Well, that's an excellent quality to have in a...partner," Scully cooed.
"Since you were so prompt, why don't we see if we can catch a late flight to
Washington? I'll just need to stop off at home and pack. Why don't you come
with me? That way you can see the layout for future reference. From there we
can make a quick stop at the office and then head to the airport. And, sir?"
She turned to Skinner, who was standing on the sidewalk looking lost. "Don't
you have something to take care of at home?"
"No," he said dejectedly. "There's nothing there for me except a big empty
Mulder felt like he was watching a fast and furious tennis match. On one side
of him, he had his partner throwing herself at an alien, a sight as painful as
it was fascinating, and on the other he had his superior, who was muttering
under his breath a long and rather interesting list of things he'd miss about
Alex Krycek. At this rate, he'd have whiplash to add to the list of
indignities he'd suffered in the last 24 hours.
Scully was just looking around for a cab when the Lone Gunmen exited the
hospital. "You need a ride, Agent Scully?"
"Yes, actually, we do. Thank you, Byers. John and I are going to my place so I
can pick up some things, and AD Skinner is going home."
"No, Agent Scully, I'm not. I was going to tell you something about your trip?
Well, this is it. I'm coming along with you. I've already lost one agent, and
I'm not going to lose any more. We all know that the Pacific Northwest is a
hotbed of unexplained phenomena. You're not going in alone." Skinner showed
another momentary flash of his usual commanding self.
Scully, looking extremely frustrated at that pronouncement, climbed into the
white van that Langly had just pulled to a stop in front of the agents with a
screech. She took a deep breath, wiped the frown from her face, and sat down,
saying sweetly, "Why don't you sit here next to me, John?"
The alien slid into the spot with an almost supernatural grace that made
Mulder fume in impotent silence. He was forced to practically dive into the
vehicle just before Skinner slammed the door shut. Without a word the AD
assumed the "shotgun" position, with a glare at Frohike and Byers, neither of
whom felt particularly motivated to fight him for it. Mulder moved up front to
take his usual position on his superior's lap. There was something downright
comforting about the man's presence. "At least you still care about me," he
When Byers and Frohike had found enough room to squat in the rear amongst
piles of computer equipment, Langly peeled out of the hospital parking lot
like Mario Andretti on speed. Scully, never one to pass up an opportunity when
it leapt up in front of her singing, "Opportunities are here again!" allowed
herself to fall into her new partner. He immediately moved to right her and
she batted her eyes coquettishly at him. "Thank you so much."
"I'm going to be sick," Mulder and Frohike moaned simultaneously.
Meanwhile, Skinner had removed a postcard mailer from one of his pockets and
was staring at it intently. Mulder was relieved for the distraction from
Scully's shameless performance in the backseat and glanced down to read it. It
was for a Soloflex machine and featured a well-muscled man grinning and
glistening as he leaned insolently against the exercise device. Skinner chewed
his bottom lip for a minute longer, then reached decisively for his cell
phone. After punching in the number he stared out the window and clutched the
postcard to his chest. "Yes, hello. I'd like to order one of your
machines...I...I need to make my body a work of art. Yes. Uh-huh. Oh really?
Yes that does sound like a good deal. Three easy payments, huh?"
Mulder shook his head sadly and said quite sincerely, "It's not going to work,
sir, Krycek is a slut, always has been. Look, you don't need to change
yourself for him. Just go have lunch with Marita, get sauced on margaritas and
bitch about the little rat and you'll feel much better, I promise. He never
appreciated you anyway, I mean, if I had a guy like you in my life I'd..." The
agent paused. Where in the name of god had that come from?
"Uh yes I do have a credit card with me, just a sec." He reached into his
wallet and withdrew a "Species Survival" Discover card in festive greens and
blues with pictures of wild animals all over it. He looked around warily and
growled, "I'm about to make a credit card purchase. If my next statement
includes any odd charges, particularly to online porn sites, I'm going to
personally hunt each one of you unwashed geeks down and emasculate you with my
Leatherman. Am I making myself quite clear?"
Langly cringed away from him and nearly drove off the road, while Byers and
Frohike nodded vigorously. Satisfied, he proceeded to repeat the card number
over the phone, along with his name and address.
Meanwhile Scully stretched her arms above her head as if working a kink out of
her back then allowed one to drape along the back of the seat. And of course
when gravity naturally drew it down onto Doggett's shoulders she watched for a
reaction. The other agent just smiled amiably back at her. "First base, yes!"
"I'm sorry, Agent Scully, what did you say?"
"I...I said, um, our first case, yes! I'm very excited to be working with you
John...may I call you John?"
The mere notion of referring to her partner by his first name was enough to
make her positively giddy. "Well, John, it's been a very long time since I've
been able to...interact...with another agent. A long, long time."
"Uh-huh. Um, well I'm very excited to be working with you as well. I'm sure
we'll have a very productive relationship."
"My thoughts exactly," she purred seductively. "Tell me, how do you feel about
a little trip to the woods?"
"I've always liked the woods, you know, hiking, camping, that sort of thing."
"Perfect. Do you have any camping equipment?"
"Not at the moment..."
She hurriedly interrupted him, "That's quite all right, I have everything
we'll need. Have you ever heard the best way to stay warm in a sleeping bag?"
"I...don't think so."
"Well then I'll be happy to demonstrate for you when we arrive at our
destination. I think this case is going to be rather time intensive, you don't
have any family or...or girlfriends...do you? I mean it's very hard in a
division like the X-Files to maintain healthy outside relationships. We work a
lot of long hours in...close proximity."
Doggett cleared his throat and replied, "No, no family or girlfriend, just me.
And I'm not afraid of hard work, Agent Scully, and I always give 110% to any
"That's just what I wanted to hear, John." She leaned in a bit closer and
asked, "Don't you think it's a little warm in here?"
He shook his head slowly. "I'm...I'm comfortable."
Unbuttoning her blouse enough to put her cleavage to the best possible
advantage she murmured, "Really? I'm positively stifling."
"Must be the hormones. I hear that pregnant women have all kinds of problems
with hormones. You did know she was pregnant, didn't you, John?" Mulder
growled, hoping that the whatever-he-was could hear him as well as see him.
Langly's NASCAR-ready driving style blended neatly in with that of the other
drivers on the road as they sped toward Scully's place. Meanwhile, Mulder and
Frohike glowered, Scully leaned ever closer to Doggett, Byers frowned in prim
disapproval, and Skinner ran a wistful finger over the chiseled torso of the
man in the Soloflex ad, covering up one of the man's arms with his thumb. He
was dragged from a pleasant memory of the TV commercial with the shirtless guy
playing football in front of some Ivy-League-ish buildings, an ad that had
actually been filmed at a small private liberal arts school in Oregon, now
that he thought of it, when the van screeched to a halt in front of Scully's
"Sir? Why don't you wait here. I'll just be a minute. John, you'd better come
in. And, please, if I haven't mentioned it, call me Dana."
Skinner and the Lone Gunmen remained in their seats as Scully and her new
partner practically slithered out of the van. Mulder found himself oddly torn
between following them and staying put on his boss' lap. He decided just in
time to hop out the door of the van and trail along.
"Did you see that?" Byers said disapprovingly, "Mulder hasn't even been gone a
day! It's disgraceful!"
"You can say that again," Frohike said mournfully.
"At least somebody notices," Mulder said, and followed Scully and Doggett
through the door. "Oh, Scully and Doggett. And I'm a baseball fan. I get it.
Ha ha very funny." His voice indicated the extreme sarcasm of the remark.
"Whoever's done this to me has a really warped sense of humor."
Fox Mulder had made the trip up to his partner's posh Georgetown apartment
more times than he cared to think about. Indeed if he were forced to find his
way blindfolded he could've done so quite easily, with one hand tied behind
his back even. However, in all the years he had either run, limped, or
sauntered up to her place, he'd never been as filled with dread as he was on
"Don't do this, Scully...please. Think of your self-respect. Think of the
baby. Think of me!"
The object of his angst and affection breezed along the hallway completely
oblivious to his plea. "Thank you so much for coming up, I really do want you
to be familiar...with my apartment." She smiled with every iota of seductive
charm she could muster on fairly short notice.
"It's a pleasure, Agent Scully."
"Oh the pleasure is all mine," she sighed, then with a move so blatantly
obvious that Mulder groaned and covered his face with his hands, she dropped
her keys in front of her door. "Oops!"
"Allow me." Doggett offered, bending over to pick them up.
She leered openly at his exposed rear and cooed, "Nice ass."
"I said...nice bass."
"Or how about 'low class?'" Mulder spat.
"There are some really nice...bass...in the northwest...I hear."
Doggett gave her an openly puzzled look before shrugging and turning to unlock
her door. He opened it with a flourish and said, "After you."
"A gentleman too..." her voice had such a girlishly dreamy sound that Mulder
could barely keep himself from retching.
Doggett paused to smirk at Mulder, who scowled in return, before following her
inside. He attempted to slam the door right in the invisible agent's face, but
Mulder had spent a lifetime getting into places he wasn't supposed to and
managed to slither inside.
Scully gestured to the sofa. "Please have a seat, it'll only take me a minute.
I've got packing down to a science." Under her breath she added, "Not that
I've had much choice."
"Yeah well remind me to throw you one wing-ding of a pity party. Oh wait, you
can't remind me because you haven't heard a word I've said!" Mulder ranted,
trailing behind his former partner.
Hustling into her bedroom, she kicked off the ugly, practical shoes she'd been
wearing at the hospital and grabbed the overnight bag she usually used on
their trips. Without hesitation she dumped the contents, mostly black blazers,
white silk blouses, sensible underwear and a pair of thermals; onto the floor.
"Won't be needing you guys anymore!" she giggled, and then started rummaging
through her drawers. Soon a pile of frilly lingerie was starting to teeter
dangerously on the top of her Martha Stewart brand comforter.
Mulder watched this with open-mouthed horror. "Wha--? You, you mean to tell me
you've got..." he scrutinized the pile with some care, "...Wonderbras, thongs,
garter belts, fishnet stockings and a freaking corset? This...this can't be
happening, it just can't be happening." He looked skyward, though whether to
communicate his frustration and disappointment with some metaphysical being or
EBEs was debatable. "Why have you forsaken me?"
Scully was humming "I Enjoy Being a Girl" entirely off key as she practically
skipped over to her closet. She brushed hanger upon hanger of Bureau-approved
two-piece suits aside with relish. Hidden in the recesses of her walk-in
closet were a row of dresses that would've made the entire cast of
"Striptease" blush. Pulling out a gold lame' number that could barely be
considered a halter top, let alone a dress, she held it up in front of herself
experimentally. "Okay, if this doesn't say 'Come fuck me,' nothing does," she
murmured. "Better wear these while I can, it'll be muumuus and sweats in a few
There she was, the love of his life, the center of his universe, the winner of
the Fox William Mulder award for best performance in a series of sexual
fantasies, six years running; gleefully chucking aside their entire
relationship for some gooey alien with a nice ass. But that wasn't the worst
part, no, not by a long shot. The thing that really made him want to commit
seppuku right in the middle of her bedroom was that it could've been him all
along. She had the tools, and apparently the talent, but not the incentive to
She paused in her preparations and looked up at the ceiling. "Uh, Mulder, if
you can hear me I just want to let you know that I will continue your work,
and of course I'll search for you...when I can. I mean nights and weekends
definitely. Well...some nights...and maybe not both days on the weekend, but
I'll definitely do it one of the two days." She contemplated her reflection
for a moment before continuing. "You know it's too bad you didn't really go
Mulder stopped beating his insubstantial skull against the doorframe
long enough to blurt out, "Huh?"
"...because you really would've been my first choice. But it's not
like I haven't given you enough opportunities to make a move on me,
hell I practically rolled out a red carpet on at least ten different
"What ten?" he howled desperately, "What ten?"
"And all that porno stuff was so over the top. I mean we're talking
major repression here. Not to mention the way you used to ogle Skinner
every time we walked into his office."
"She thinks I'm gay...oh god..."
"As soon as you come back we'll be partners again, and now that
Skinner's free we can double date! Me and John, you and Walter, it'll
be so sweet!"
"Hey, just because we went to Oregon together--oh, never mind." Giving
in for the moment, knowing that he wouldn't be heard anyway, Mulder
fell onto Scully's bed in a heap. At least that was the plan. What
actually happened was that he fell through her bed and landed on the
floor in a heap. Apparently the rules of this invisibility thing
weren't all that fixed. "I wish I'd never gone back to Oregon. I wish
I'd never gone there in the first place. I wish I'd never heard of
aliens. OUCH!" The last was the sound of Mulder's screech as Scully
stepped on his ankle, which was sticking out from under the edge of
the bed, in shoes with a heel that was probably not approved by Dr.
Scholl, and he hit his head on the bottom of her bedframe as he tried
to sit up in pain and shock.
As Mulder cursed and slid gingerly out from under the bed, not sure
whether to cradle his ankle or put his hands to his aching forehead,
Scully walked briskly out of the room, now packed and ready to leave.
He followed, hobbling and thanking his lucky stars that she hadn't
closed her bedroom door behind herself.
"So, John, you ready to go? I'd offer you some coffee or...something,
but the Gunmen are waiting downstairs. They're a little odd, but they
"Yes, they are odd. I have to say, Agent Scully--"
"--Dana, that I really don't believe in this X-Files thing. I find it
particularly hard to believe that your partner was abducted by aliens.
Has it occurred to you that he might have faked the whole thing? Or
that what AD Skinner saw was a weather balloon? Mulder might be
wandering in the woods somewhere, or maybe he was attacked by a wild
"You don't know Mulder. Trust me. In seven or so years, that
skepticism of yours will go the way of the dodo. Now let's go. We've
got a Sasquatch to find, and a few other things to accomplish. Could
you get my bag?"
Mulder watched in sullen silence. But the second Scully's back was
turned, Doggett's hand wriggled and reformed more comfortably around
the handle of her bag. "Scully! Did you see that? Scully, turn around!
Come on!" Mulder shouted frantically. She remained oblivious.
He trailed along silently and re-entered the Lone Gunmen's van.
Settling in on Skinner's lap, he did his best to ignore the two new
partners and focus on the surroundings. Again he was convinced that he
had to be in hell. He was invisible, stuck in traffic in a van with
broken AC with Langly leaning on the horn, in officewear in summer DC
weather--and hadn't he been dressed in something more casual when he
vanished?--which felt like the air had turned into water, and he was
sitting on his boss' lap. That last one actually wasn't so bad, once
he'd gotten used to it. And the heat brought out a lovely sheen of
sweat on Walter's forehead. But he was beginning to be very tired. He
had no idea what time it was, but knew that they must have left Oregon
entirely too early to be civilized, since they'd had time to fly
cross-country and make it to the hospital before the close of visiting
hours all in one day. It was beginning to take its toll. He drifted
off to sleep and woke up as they screeched to a halt in front of the
Langly was leaning as far back in his seat as possible, and had
grabbed a pair of dark sunglasses from the dash and traded them for
his usual spectacles. Skinner looked at him oddly, and the other man
replied, "Surveillance cameras all over the place...I can't be too
The AD didn't have the heart to tell him that he and his cronies were
not exactly at the top of anyone's Most Wanted list. "Sure. Um, okay,
people, I need to collect a few things from my office, and Scully, you
may want to check your office for mysterious unlabeled packages,
envelopes containing magnetic key cards, strange post-it notes,
whatever. It's about time for one of the Consortium to turn stoolie
and start helping us out with information regarding Agent Mulder's
Scully blinked wordlessly for a moment, then replied, "Oh, yeah,
Mulder, right. I'll get on that, sir."
Meanwhile Mulder had awakened from his pleasant nap stretched his arms
up, not even noticing that they passed easily through the roof of the
vehicle. After a second or two of reorientation he noticed they'd
arrived at the Hoover building. Home sweet home. Only it didn't feel
like his home anymore.
Doggett and Scully climbed out of the van and proceeded to head for
the X-Files department while Skinner made his way up to his office.
Mulder decided, in a moment of clarity, that following Scully just now
would probably be a "bad" thing so he tagged along with his boss. The
man fidgeted uncomfortably in the elevator, his thoughts clearly
elsewhere. When he bolted into his office he startled Kim, who'd been
busily filing her newly manicured nails. "Oh, you're back, sir, I
didn't expect you for another day or so."
"It um...it didn't go well. I," he paused to take a deep breath. "I
lost Agent Mulder."
Kim didn't even blink. "That's too bad, but I'm sure he'll turn up, he
Mulder glowered at her and mentally checked the secretary off of his
Christmas card list.
"I suppose," her superior sighed sadly. "But, um...did I...I mean did
I have any messages while I was out?"
"Not a one, sir."
"Are you sure? I mean I didn't have one in, say, the last ten minutes
"So no one called for me?"
"No one, sir."
"No notes under my door?"
"And my office...?"
"Just like you left it, sir."
"So nobody ransacked it while I was gone? Nothing moved? No
incriminating evidence left in it?"
He sniffled miserably. "It's true, he really doesn't love me
"Little spat with Mr. Krycek, sir?"
Skinner stiffened immediately. "What? I mean, what are you talking
about? Are you implying that Alex and...I mean Mr. Krycek and I
"Sir," Kim replied, totally deadpan, "I'd have to be deaf, dumb and
blind not to have realized that. And I hate to tell you this, but your
office isn't soundproofed." She went back to filing her nails without
the slightest hint of concern. "Hell, half the department could hear
you two going at it like weasels. The VCU's bullpen takes weekly bets
on how long it'll take you to get off. Kersh won the last two in a row
as a matter of fact."
"Don't," he growled menacingly, "ever mention that man's name around
me again, got it?"
"Sure, sure." She held up both hands in a conciliatory manner. "I
understand completely. Breakups can be so messy."
"You know about that too?" Skinner was mortified beyond words.
"I'm a secretary, sir, I know all, see all...Particularly when it
comes to good gossip material."
"So, anybody who happens to get involved with Skinner should keep it
out of the office," Mulder muttered thoughtfully. "Good to know. Not
that I would...of course. I think I'd better check on Scully and the
"Well, since there are no messages," Skinner said, trying to salvage
some shred of dignity, "I'd better go get Scully and Doggett and head
for the airport. I'm going with them to Washington."
"Ah, yes," she said, "a little trip always makes me feel better after
a breakup. Enjoy, sir, and if there are any...important messages, I'll
direct that caller to your cell number."
"Thank you," Skinner squeaked, and bolted for the elevator. Mulder
followed. Once they reached the familiar basement hallway that led to
the X-Files office, Mulder breathed a sigh of relief. He almost felt
normal here. Then he heard his partner's voice.
"No, that corner needs to be a little higher. That's almost perfect.
Now put the vase of flowers over there..."
Mulder stopped dead in his tracks, just outside the office door.
Scully was...redecorating. His--okay, fine, their office. With
flowers. He was just about to brave the horror and take a look at his
home away from home (more often just plain home) when he heard the
worst thing yet.
"Agent Scully, what in the world have you done to this office? Where
are all of Agent Mulder's things?" Skinner seemed to have forgotten
his Krycek-induced depression in his shock. "Is that a Monet print?"
"Oh, we'll unpack his things from storage if--I mean, when he returns.
In the meantime, it couldn't hurt to brighten the place up a bit.
Maybe a nice coat of pastel pink paint."
Mulder hesitated, but decided that there were some truths that were
just too horrible to bear, and from the sound of things, his office in
its current state was a truth that was better off remaining unexposed.
He waited patiently in the hallway until Scully, Doggett, and Skinner
"I'll lock up," Doggett volunteered, and Mulder looked on in horror as
Doggett's index finger morphed into a key, which he used to smoothly
lock the door as Skinner stared down obliviously at his cellular phone
and Scully stared up obliviously into Doggett's eyes.
"Damn it, Scully, the man's a cyborg or an alien or something. You
can't possibly trust him. You can't possibly want him to be the father
of your baby. He just got here." Mulder's protests were beginning to
sound routine. This invisibility stuff really wasn't all it was
cracked up to be. Not like the stuff of some childhood fantasy where
it was all watching cute girls undress and getting away with pranks.
Mulder followed the trio of visible FBI personnel outside, where they
sidestepped several tourists, who clearly watched too much television,
having their pictures taken in front of the Hoover Building. "Come on,
people," Mulder muttered. "It's not even that nice of a building. Kind
of drab. And much dirtier than it looks on TV. You want to take your
picture in front of something, at least pick something attractive."
But even random tirades against total strangers had lost their appeal,
and he filed quietly into the van for the trip to Ronald Reagan
International. He didn't even have the heart to launch into his usual
rant about the airport's namesake. Something had to happen soon, or he
was going to lose it. There was a more technical term for that, he
knew, but he couldn't recall it. Eidetic memory aside, he'd forgotten
basically everything he'd learned while achieving his psychology
degree. But Scully knew it all anyway, so that was okay.
Three FBI agents and a rather depressed and ghostly former agent made
their way to the check-in counter and from there onboard a rather
empty 747. With plenty of available seats Mulder decided to forego
sitting on Skinner's lap for this trip. It was much easier to mope
properly without his boss' beefy body to lean on. Of course the fact
that the man was currently in a rather intense discussion with Marita
Covarrubias might have affected his decision a bit.
"Alex called me up to tell me he was seeing somebody else. What? No.
No, not him either. No. No, Mulder's disappeared...spaceship...uh-huh.
Well I don't really know if he's being 'probed', but...Huh? Oh no, not
her either. You're not going to believe who. Kersh. Yeah, I know, it
totally blew me away too." He leaned back and settled more comfortably
into his window seat and loosened his tie. "I know, he's totally
gross. All flab."
Across the aisle Scully was showing her new partner several grainy
photographs of a black blur that might, or might not, resemble some
sort of bipedal creature. "Okay, now if you look at these in the right
light and from the correct angle you'll see..."
"A black blob?"
"Well." Scully stopped to look at the images again. "Hmm, see right
here? This could be an arm..."
"Or a shadow."
"Yes, it could be a shadow, but in all probability it's actually the
arm of a creature unknown to modern science, remaining hidden for
centuries despite the encroachment of human society, our only evidence
of its existence a few grainy photos and footprint casts."
"Or it could be a blob on improperly developed film." Doggett replied,
clearly unimpressed. "I mean, what the hell kind of a camera was this
person using anyway? Even one of those little one-time-use-only things
you can pick up at Walgreens could do a better job than this. And can
you explain to me why it always seems that people who manage to catch
these 'fantastic' and 'unknown' creatures on film always take such
crappy photos? I mean do the creatures make sure only to pass within
sight of people using substandard photographic equipment?"
Scully paused abruptly then sighed and smiled. "Sorry, John, I'm not
used to being on this side of the debate, it may take me a little
while to get used to being a 'Believer'." Then, waving the photos
under his nose, she exclaimed, "How can you not see a Sasquatch here?
It's so obvious! And while I respect and value your skeptical nature
and your opinions, you're wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong."
Doggett stared at her for a moment longer and then said, "I'm just
going to look out the window for a while, okay?"
Scully slumped and nodded weakly. "Sure, fine, whatever."
"No way!" Skinner exclaimed as the stewardess offered him a double
Scotch. He was giggling like a schoolgirl as Marita apparently filled
him in on some undoubtedly private and humiliating aspect of her
relationship with Krycek. "He does? With a rubber ducky? Is that even
physically possible? Wow."
After observing these exchanges, Mulder walked away from the part of
the plane holding his former boss and former partner and seated
himself next to a screaming infant. The pain of enduring the child's
tireless cries had to be less than that of hearing any more of either
conversation. If not less painful, then at least it was a dead heat as
to which was worse. He wallowed in self-pity as the baby screamed in
his ear like an air raid siren all the way to their connecting flight.
Mercifully, he slept through most of the flight into Sea-Tac. Who knew
that invisibility made a guy so tired? However, on the tiny plane that
was taking them to a small town in southwest Washington, it was
impossible to avoid his
Skinner, looking much cheerier, was smiling to himself and
occasionally muttering Mulder's name. There was also a shopping list
in his hand of items that Mulder was pretty sure weren't sold in the
kind of small town they were going to. Items that were probably
illegal in several states. Items that Mulder hadn't experienced the
use of personally (yet) but had seen in videos.
Scully was pretending to sleep, slumped against Doggett's shoulder,
which shifted shape to fit the contours of her head. "Shh," Doggett
mouthed at Mulder, holding a finger to his lips and smiling wickedly.
"Shh, my ass. You're the only one who can hear me, you sadistic
shapeshifting cyborg alien freak! And if I'm ever substantial again,
I'll kick your metallic ass up and down the Hoover. Hell, up and down
the whole District of Columbia. You won't be able to hide from me."
Doggett raised an eyebrow at that, looked around quickly to make sure
no one was looking, and grinned. Then with a shimmer and a wriggle,
his face morphed from his own into one that was far more familiar.
Wearing Mulder's face, Doggett whispered, "I think I'll be able to
hide just fine, Spooky." Then his face reshaped into its usual
Mulder shook his head in disbelief. "No. Noooooooo!" He spent the rest
of the flight cowering on Skinner's lap. He didn't leave his boss'
side as they made their way from the airstrip to the motel. While
Skinner didn't know that Doggett was a shapeshifting alien, somehow
the man's presence made Mulder feel safe. He followed Skinner into his
room and sat down on the bed. "I don't know why this is happening.
What have I done to rack up enough bad karma to deserve this? My
partner is in the clutches of a bad bad man and nobody cares that I'm
gone. This has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day." He
was settling in on the bed when Scully burst into the room wearing the
lingerie Mulder had drooled over in the hospital.
She ran over to Skinner, who was unpacking, and threw herself into his
The AD took one look at her and sputtered. "Scully? What are you doing
in my room? Wearing...that?"
"Agent Doggett lied. He does have a girlfriend." Scully sighed. "I
was all ready to do my 'would you please look at this strange thing on
my back' routine and I overheard him on the phone. Couldn't catch
much, but it was something about a woman named Sarah Connor. He
sounded really anxious to find her."
"Well," Skinner said, stepping back and extricating himself from
Scully's embrace, "you can't be sure she's his girlfriend. She could
be his sister."
"No, no, I'm sure. I mean, what are the odds of drawing a second
sibling-obsessed partner? And he hung up so quickly and looked so
guilty when I came into his room. It's hopeless. I'm doomed to raise
this child alone. What will my mother say?"
"Nonsense," Skinner said, "I'm sure you can find someone."
"If you're that desperate, Scully, there's always Frohike. He adores
you." Mulder lay down on the bed and waved an arm in the air above
him. "Unless you think he's gay, too."
"Well," Scully said, "Krycek is out, for obvious reasons, as is
Mulder, and you, too, sir, no offense. Byers is kind of cute, but I'm
not sure if the Gunmen are involved in a polyamorous thing where it's
all three of them, or if it's just two of them who are doing it. I'll
have to find out. Maybe if Byers is available...ooh, and he could feed
me tips on the
latest conspiracies that I should be investigating fruitlessly. That's
not a bad idea."
"Yes, of course, you should consider that. In your own room." Skinner
grasped desperately at the opening she'd given him to get her out of
his room. "Now, we'd all better get some sleep. We're crossing over
into Washington tomorrow to investigate that lead...it's a pity that
the town where the sighting took place was too small to have a motel,
we wouldn't have to be up as early, but that can't be helped. We all
need some sleep." He guided her toward the door and shut it firmly
"Crossing over into Washington? I thought we were already there."
Mulder sat up and searched for something that would tell him where he
was. Ah, there. One of those cheesy motel maps of local attractions.
And someone had left it out on the table where he could see it. The
invisible agent walked over to scrutinize it carefully. What he saw
made his spirits fall. He wasn't in Washington at all. He was in a
small town in Oregon, very close to the border.
"I'm back in Oregon? But that's not fair! I was just here. I hate
His eyes were filled with a blinding light and a booming female voice
sounded in his ears. "STOP!"
"What?" He looked around. Skinner was frozen in place, folding a pair
of those "Property of Alex Krycek" briefs. Time had apparently
stopped, or something. The source of the voice was not visible.
"Stop saying that. You hate Oregon, Agent Mulder? Well, Oregon hates
"What? How can an entire state hate me? That's ridiculous."
"No more ridiculous than invisible FBI men, shapechanging cyborgs, or
your boss' love life," the voice responded.
"Well, I guess that's true, but who the hell are you?" Mulder spun
around, looking for a hidden speaker system.
"I am the guardian spirit of the state. And you are being punished for
"What kind of crimes? I haven't done anything wrong," Mulder whined,
"certainly nothing bad enough to deserve this."
"Not true. How many times have you been to Oregon?"
"Several. I'd have to check the files to be certain."
"And how many times have you been to Washington or Idaho?"
"Well, the Pacific Northwest as a whole is rife with unexplained
phenomena, so I'd have to say--"
"Enough times to know better," the voice boomed.
"Better than what? Look, I have no idea what's going on here, but this
isn't funny." Mulder stood defiantly, wishing he knew where the voice
was so he could face it.
"Special Agent Fox Mulder, for the crime of grossly mispronouncing the
name of this state, when you've been here far too many times not to
know better, I am here to pronounce your sentence."
"Wait, mispronouncing? What's wrong with the way I say Oregon?"
The voice shrieked in apparent pain. "That's what's wrong. Listen to
me, Mulder. Oregon. Oregon. Oregon. Not 'or-ee-gone' -- it's more like
'gun' at the end. How could you not notice that everyone around you
says it differently from you? After all this time? You arrogant
visitors and immigrants who are too self-important to notice or care
that you're saying it wrong keep me busy 24/7. Do you have any idea
how many visits I have left to make tonight? So let's wrap this up.
Try it again."
"No, no, that's still wrong. You're one of those incurable cases. I
guess you'll have to have the maximum sentence. This day of
invisibility was part of it. The rest is that you really were
abducted, and because of that you'll only be in 11 episodes this
season. But don't worry, Fox. Scully and Doggett will be looking for
you." The voice turned mocking on that last sentence.
"No. Please? Anything but that." Mulder staggered backwards. "Please.
No. I'll be better, I promise. Nooooooooooooooo!" With that wail, the
light got brighter and he fell onto the bed and into darkness.
Mulder woke up to the familiar sounds and sensations of a motel room.
Bad sheets, worse mattress, etc. He was fully dressed, and alone in
the bed. "Oh, thank goodness, it was all just a terrible dream. Got to
lay off of the midnight snacks. I'd better get Skinner and get back to
work on those abductions." He sat up in bed and looked around. This
didn't look like the hotel room in Bellefleur. The color scheme, while
equally awful, was
distinctly different. It looked like the hotel room he'd been in at
the end of that dream. He stood, looking around in horror. Then
Skinner, naked and sniffling, emerged from the bathroom.
"Being back in Oregon is so hard. It's all my fault that Mulder is
gone," the red-eyed AD said softly.
Mulder's scream, had he been visible and therefore audible, would have
been heard throughout the state of Oregon.