I'll Take What's Behind Door Number Two

by Ellie and Tiriel (tiriel2@usa.net)

Fandom: X-Files, but contains multiple "guest appearances" from other fandoms

Rated R for adult humor

Archiving: unless Ellie voices an objection, sure, why not?

One day, Ellie and Tiriel set to pondering how exactly it is that Scully found Mulder at the end of the episode "The Sixth Extinction II." I mean, she got the keycard, but how did she know where the room the key fit was? These are the results. Most of the characters mentioned or depicted herein aren't ours, we just borrowed them for a little while in the name of good fun.

The only sound in the corridor of the second sub-basement of the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building was the click of Special Agent Dana Scully's heeled shoes as she walked determinedly towards the first door.

The silence was not broken by her internal monologue, which came in the form of a voiceover, a narrative technique used quite frequently by not only Don Bellisario, but also Chris Carter. "Why can't mysterious informants leave a little more information? There must be at least a dozen doors that take this kind of keycard."

She stood in front of the first door, took a deep breath, and slid the keycard. To her surprise, the light turned green. "First try," she whispered, "what a surprise." Her hand shook a little as she grasped the handle and pulled the door open.

Scully wasn't entirely certain what she'd expected, perhaps some sort of Geiger-inspired monstrosity staring back at her from a tank of green goo...or maybe a kick line of clones. Considering the past six years of her life neither one of these options seemed totally beyond the realm of possibility. Still, she'd be willing to admit, at least within the confines of her own mind, that the sight she'd been greeted with actually managed to bring her up short.

Jeffrey Spender, one time top agent of the X-Files department and ne'er do well son of the Cigarette Smoking Man was resting on a counter in the middle of a well-lit laboratory. Well, what was left of him anyway. Actually just his head. But Scully was a forensic pathologist, and not just your garden variety one either. She'd actually been elbow deep in mutants, monsters, and muck more times than any sane person should be able to contemplate. So a head in an oversized petri dish shouldn't have freaked her out. And normally it wouldn't, but this one was staring at her...and frowning.

"Why don't you take a picture? It'll last longer." growled the now digitized voice of the man her partner had less than affectionately dubbed 'The Weasel'.


"What? You've never seen a talking decapitated head before?"


He rolled his eyes dramatically. "You're quite the conversationalist, Agent Scully. Nice to know that expensive education didn't go to waste."

"Hey, there's no need to be rude."

"Oh really? Excuse me if I'm in a kind of pissy mood, but in case you hadn't noticed I'm a freakin' head on a counter!"

"Yeah well if you don't want to be a head on the floor I'd watch that mouth." Scully moved closer as the shock was melted away by a good old-fashioned Irish temper. Studying the equipment used to keep the former Agent Spender in some approximation of life she muttered, "So how'd you end up like this anyway?"

Somehow Jeffrey managed to emit a world-weary sigh without benefit of lungs. "Well after I told Kersh he should give you guys back the X-Files my dad plugged me..."

"He did?"

Spender's brow furrowed. "Yeah, right there in the basement office...Wait, are you seriously trying to tell me you didn't even notice?!"

Scully pursed her lips and muttered, "Well it's not like he left your body there and we've been using it as a doorstop for the past few months." At least she didn't think so. Of course there had been that funky smell that maintenance kept insisting was a dead mouse in the wall....

"So I get a bullet to the chest in your office, bleed like a stuck pig, and nobody notices? Man, it's the story of my life."

"Look, I'm sorry, ok? We've really been busy lately. As a matter of fact I just got back from Africa and..."

"So, didja find the spaceship?"

She blinked with surprise, "Uh, yeah actually I did."

"Pretty cool, huh?"

"I suppose. You know I'd love to stay and chat but I really have to find Mulder."

"Oh sure, I understand. No time for Jeff. It's ok, really, I mean it's not like my parents didn't treat me exactly the same way. Dad's off planning total world domination, mom getting abducted by aliens every other week..."

"I've really gotta..." Scully gestured weakly towards the door and began slowly backing up.

"And then of course there's Diana, oh don't even get me started on that bitch! She's only supposed to be my partner, but does she even bother to drop by and say hello?"

Scully pulled the door open and ducked outside as Spender whined, "And it's always Mulder this and Mulder that. Well what am I, chopped liver?"

"Maybe," she said, "who knows where your body wound up?" Scully rolled her eyes as she pulled the door shut behind her, cutting off Spender's scream of outrage. She took a deep, cleansing breath, and walked towards the next door.

She slid the keycard, and raised her eyebrows when the light went green. "Does this open all the doors down here?" She muttered to herself, then pulled the handle.

If the sight of Special Agent Jeffrey Spender's severed head had startled her, the scene before her now left her stunned. "Agent Rosenfield, excuse me, I had no idea--"

"Obviously you didn't, Agent Scully, now if you'll pick up your jaw and leave us alone--"

But Scully had just gotten a look at the man--for it was indeed a man, despite what she'd first thought--that Albert Rosenfield, fellow FBI pathologist, was embracing. "Mulder?"

The man smiled and spoke in a soft, feminine voice. "Oh, no, although if I were to be mistaken for a man, there are far worse specimens to resemble. Agent Mulder is, well, a fox. Denise Bryson, DEA. Now, if you'll excuse us--"

"I'm sorry. I was just looking for my partner."

"Oh, yeah, Spooky." Rosenfield's tone was, as always, sarcastic. "I think I saw him being wheeled by on a table, looked like he'd been prepped for surgery or something, but who am I to question things like that. I just work here, they don't tell me anything. The door's still behind you, it hasn't moved."

"I don't suppose you saw--oh, never mind." Scully stepped back out of the room and closed the door behind herself.

For a man who'd once assured her in the most sincere and earnest manner that he had a deep love for all of mankind, Rosenfield could sure be a prick. Blowing a few stray hairs out of her eyes she gazed down the corridor and did a mental calculation of the number of doors still left to try. Her grasp of statistics had never been altogether firm, but it looked as though she was much likelier to run into yet another disturbing little scene when next she opened one than to find her partner. She silently cursed whoever had slid this passkey under her door without so much as a post-it note telling her where to go.

"Buck up, Starbuck." she muttered under her breath. "If Mulder can find a buried spaceship on a glacier in Antarctica you can damn well open a few doors in the Hoover building for him." She slipped the key through the magnetic reader and whispered a silent prayer to a god she wasn't entirely sure was on speaking terms with her at the moment. With an ominous click it opened in her hand.

"Daddy, you're home!"

There was something so dreadfully wrong in hearing those words spoken in a booming tenor attempting to approximate a girlish squeal of delight that for a moment Scully just couldn't force her eyes up from the floor. Her mind kept repeating the same mantra, "I don't want to know, I don't want to know." Maybe she could just back out with a quick apology and pretend she hadn't already caught sight of a pair of men's size twelve patent leather pumps. The voice wasn't her partner's, thankfully, so this wasn't the right room...so she could leave. For some reason, though, her body refused to obey that perfectly rational and reasonable conclusion. Instead, of it's own volition, her head rose and she found herself face to face with a red-faced Walter Skinner.

"Oh fuck!" he bellowed, wildly searching the room for an escape route. Unfortunately the only one appeared to be currently occupied by his favorite rogue agent.

"Sir?" she squeaked, "What is...? What are...? What the...?"

"God hates me," he moaned in reply, "it's the only explanation."

Cerulean blue eyes took in the sight of the AD, every manly, well-muscled inch of him straining the seams of a red and white checked gingham dress he was currently stuffed into. A blonde wig neatly divided into two braids sat atop his head, and little white ankle socks were tucked primly about his calves. The ex-marine shifted uncomfortably under her scrutiny, before folding his hands behind his back in a weird 'at ease' stance. Scully's mouth worked silently for several long seconds before she managed to croak. "Sir, why are you wearing a dress?"

"I don't suppose you'd believe this was actually just a hallucination dreamed up by your subconscious as the after effects of exposure to that giant mushroom, could you?"

"As much as I'd like to Sir, I don't think I can swallow that one."

"I didn't really think so." He growled, ripping the wig from his head and tossing it onto a nearby lab table. "Look, Scully, you know how I told you before I'd been 'compromised'?"

She nodded. "I assumed you were referring to the nanocytes you'd been infected with a few months ago."

He laughed rather bitterly. "I wish! I mean if that was all there was to it I'd have told you and Mulder a long time ago. Death seems pretty tame compared to the embarrassment I'd have to face is this ever got out."

"But sir you've always been so...butch!" Scully couldn't help feeling a little betrayed. Six years of office daydreams were currently spiraling down the drain.

"It's a misconception that only effeminate males cross dress. Hell, at the monthly Association for Transsexual and Transgendered Persons dance I met no less than three football players, two senators, and a four star general. Often the need to switch gender roles is related directly to the level of authority and perceived 'manliness' a person has."

"So," she began, trying to get this all straight in her mind, "exactly why are you dressed like a farmer's daughter, lurking around here in a secret lab in the basement of the J. Edgar Hoover building?"

"I'm not lurking, I'm waiting."

Both heads snapped up as the door swung open and an all too familiar voice boomed, "Honey, I'm home!"

Krycek paused just inside the door, his face frozen in an expression of awkward surprise. He slid off his ratty trench coat and doffed both the street person wig and beard. "Now you know I like surprises as much as the next guy, Walter, but you could've at least warned me you were inviting her along."

"But I..."

"Fine, she can stay, but the only costume I've got that's going to fit her is the SS prison matron one..."

Dana Katherine Scully, on again/off again Catholic and redheaded scion of truth, justice and the American way was as open minded as the next gal, but she definitely drew the line at SS uniforms. "Sorry, didn't mean to interrupt, I'll just be...um...going...now."

"You sure?" Alex asked, pulling on a faux prison uniform with practiced ease. "'Horny Fugitive' is a lot more fun with an authoritarian figure. And you'd look devastating in a pair of shiny black knee boots."

"Thanks, but no."

"Oh, well, don't say I never offered you anything. Now, Mulder, on the other hand--"

"I really must be finding him, speaking of, so I'd better go." Scully cut off Krycek in mid-sentence and hastily exited the room. There were some pieces of information that she just didn't want. It would be hard enough to look Skinner in the eye at meetings from now on. Although, there were some interesting possibilities for this information.

Making a mental note to add massage therapy and some really great shoes to her next expense report, she walked on to the next door. At this point she didn't even want to guess what would be behind it, but she had a sinking feeling that it wouldn't be Mulder. Monty Hall, maybe, or Elvis, but not Mulder. She was beginning to wonder if perhaps the mysterious informant had sent her this key for the sole purpose of watching this process--maybe Alan Funt would be behind the next door. Of course, he was dead, but that hadn't stopped Spender, now had it?

She slid the keycard and groaned when the light turned green. "Cosmic joke," she muttered, "these last six years...if I believed in karma and past lives, I'd say that I must've been in the SS in my last life to deserve all this. Is nothing sacred?"

With a heavy sigh, she pulled the door open. The room was dark. She was reluctant to turn on the light, but knew that she had to, just in case Mulder actually was here. Maybe Mulder was the one who'd sent the key, and he was hiding somewhere laughing at her, alive and well. If so, he wouldn't be for long when she found him. She reached out for a light switch, but couldn't find one. She produced a flashlight from wherever it is that she kept it, and clicked it on. For those of you who have wondered where she keeps all those things she always seems to have somewhere in that well-tailored suit of hers, well, if we told you, it would create a reverse causality paradox and the universe would implode. So it's better not to ask. She clicked on the flashlight and looked around the room. In front of her was a giant tank of dark, murky water.

She walked closer to investigate, then realized that she didn't really need to know what was inside. Unless Mulder had become amphibious, he didn't seem likely to be in the tank, so she turned to leave. Then she heard a thump behind her and whirled around. Against the glass was a large whitish shape with a round mouth filled with teeth. It looked oddly like the "flukeman" that Mulder had described after one of their early cases. She shuddered and turned away again. Then she heard another thump. And another and another and still another. She looked back over her shoulder and saw an uncountable mass of these creatures, whatever they were, thumping frantically against the glass. Scully hurried out the door, shutting it behind her and leaning against it to catch her breath.

"What in the world is an army of flukemen doing here? Good thing Mulder didn't see that, he'd have hatched some theory by now about how aliens are going to use them as carriers of some genetic plague or something. Oh, well, I don't think I'd recognize my own life if it didn't have a monster of the week."

Stepping back into the middle of the corridor she paused to contemplate the remaining doors. Logically speaking, if this all wasn't some kind of bizarre practical joke Mulder should be behind one of them. However her desire to locate him was dwindling rapidly in light of the other little discoveries she'd made along the way. So she was just going to have to choose more carefully this time.

With a fatalistic sigh she began to chant, "Eenie, meenie, miney, moe." pointing at each door in turn until she came to the last phrase, "My mother told me to choose...you." Her finger ended up pointing at the very farthest door. "Ok, I've left it up to Fate. Hear that, Fate? It's all in your hands."

A renewed sense of hope and purpose put a little flourish into her card swipe maneuver. She yanked the door open and strode inside, a little part of her dying with each step. This wasn't the right door, not by a long shot. At a wobbly, makeshift card table four figures sat deep in a rather intense game of poker. Each eyed their cards closely until Scully cleared her throat and they looked up with a start.

"I don't think you're supposed to be down here, young lady." Deep Throat intoned sternly, and tossed a microchip into the center of the table. It clicked and rolled off the pile, coming to rest right in front of Marita, who glared at it with colorless eyes.

"Y-you're dead." Scully gasped.

"Dead is relative, Agent Scully." X replied while upping the ante an extra chip.

"Of course what isn't in this world?" the Well Manicured Man waxed poetically.

"Mulder said you were burned alive in your limo." she countered weakly.

"Ah yes but did he bother to check the crime scene afterwards? Of course not, he was on a plane winging his way merrily down to the South Pole to rescue you, my dear. Just as I'd planned."

"But, you," she pointed at X, "your body was found on Mulder's floor, you'd written him a message in your own blood!"

"Oh yeah," Marita groused, folding. "I've been meaning to thank you so much for sending him my way."

"He needed an informant, and I did think I was dying at the time. How was I supposed to know you were already doing that little rat Krycek on the side?"

"I thought you knew everything." Deep Throat interrupted with an almost paternal smile.

Well Manicured Man frowned and folded as well. "Let's not get catty, shall we? We are, after all, in this together."

Scully pinched the bridge of her nose between her fingers and took a long calming breath. "So you're all alive, that's just great. Really...wonderful. Can I just ask, am I going to find my sister Melissa down here somewhere? What about Samantha, is she down here too?"

Deep Throat shrugged loosely, then tossed another chip on the pile.

"Sorry, Agent Scully, but we're a bit out of the loop these days."

"Whatever." she returned, disgusted with the entire lot of useless, formerly murdered, experimented on, or just plain missing ex-informants. "I've gotta go find Mulder."

Well Manicured Man waved merrily. "Of course you do, well cheerio, best of luck and all that."

"Yes, thank you. Enjoy your game," she said sarcastically, and pulled the door firmly shut behind her. Not quite a slam, but close enough that they'd know how annoying it was for dead people to keep popping up.

"Now I know how the kid in that movie felt--'I see dead people' indeed." Scully growled, yes, actually growled, and stalked toward the next door. "So help me, if I don't find him soon, they'll be locking me up in the psych ward."

When the next door opened just as easily as all the others, she stepped inside, certain that she was prepared for whatever would happen next. Once again, she was wrong. The scene appeared fairly mundane at first, two men looking through filing cabinets and a third standing off to the side, holding some kind of book and packing a towel away into a duffel bag. One of the men by the filing cabinets looked up, startled, and greeted her in a British accent. "Hello, there, don't suppose you've seen the plans for the Vogon freeway construction, have you? We went past the 'beware of leopard' sign, through some really long tunnels, anyway, it's been quite the hunt. We were told that they were properly filed, but you know how the Vogons are...or maybe you don't."

"Vogons? I don't, but I think I have the wrong room anyway, so I'll just be going." Just then, the second man looked up from the filing cabinets and she stopped dead in her tracks. He had two heads.

"Well, hello, sweetheart, don't be in such a hurry to run off. We haven't been properly introduced yet," said one of the heads. The other nodded enthusiastically in agreement. "Two heads are better than one," it said, and winked. He proceeded to make expressive gestures. With all three arms.

"Um," Scully said weakly, in a voice far squeakier than she would ever admit, "um, goodbye."

As she hurried towards the door, she heard the first man say, "we'll never find them. Maybe we've got the wrong Earth again. Or they're in the same place where my lost suitcase from that trip to Greece is, and all those socks you lose in the dryer."

Once outside, she thought of a snappy comeback and almost went back in to deliver it, but thought better of it.

"No," she mumbled under her breath. "I'm going to spend the remainder of my life doing my very best to ignore I just had that experience. Or any of the others down here. It never happened." Scully repeated that mantra several times and was pleased to note that she almost believed it. Of course there were still several doors left to try and daylight was burning. This time she wasn't leaving it up to fate, obviously fate was sitting back for a good long chuckle at her expense. Fine, she didn't need any stinking theological entities.

When the light turned green on the next door down she swung it open and marched inside. The room was well lit and almost painfully white. Along one wall were several small cubicles separated from the main room by a glass door on each. Behind the closest a rather feral looking man slumped against a wall and stared out at her like a forlorn puppy at the pet shop. "Oy!" he called out, straightening up to a full, rather impressive height. "This isn't a bloody petting zoo, either let me out of here or dust me."

"Beg pardon?" Scully noted her voice had an almost girly quality to it, not so much unlike the tone she'd used with a certain sheriff down in Chaney, Texas. Well, truth be told the man glaring back at her from behind that glass pane was devastatingly handsome, in a sort of wolfish way. He was tall and lanky, with fine bones and the facial structure any Guess model would sell their soul for. And it had been six years since her last substantial relationship...or insubstantial relationship. Six...long…years.

He stalked closer to the glass and gave her a once over that made every individual hair on the back of her neck stand up. "You're a lovely little bird, not like the rest of those wankers 'round here. What say you open the door and let Spike out, huh? I promise I won't hurt you...much..."

It was a tempting offer, it really was, and the current level of hormones shooting through her system was making any other choice seem downright impossible. Still, she'd come down here for a reason...a reason other than making hot, sweaty, monkey love to this tall Billy Idol wannabe. Yeah, she was sure there was something else she'd come down here for...of course a quick roll in the hay wouldn't take that much time, now would it? Of course with her luck the guy would turn out to be a serial killer, or mutant, or vampire. Or alien, she couldn't forget that option. Leaning a little closer to him she asked, "You're not a clone, are you?"

He blinked with surprise, "Uh, no."

"Liver-eating mutant?"

He scrunched up his face in disgust, "Of course not!"

"Alien bounty hunter?"

He just stared at her dumbfounded.

She'd take that as a 'no'. "Vampire?"


"Dammit! I knew it. Why, oh why is it that any man I find even vaguely appealing turns out to be some sort of goddamn homicidal freak?!"


She didn't have time for his hurt feelings, instead turned around and stormed back to the main door. "That's it, I give up! I'm becoming a lesbian."

Spike watched the door clang shut and shook his head with disgust. "Women!"

She was just about to try the next door when it suddenly opened in front of her. A handsome, shirtless man was exiting, but stopped short when he saw her. He said, "Gotta go, Eddie," and hung up his cellular phone without waiting for a response. Scully tore her eyes away from his well-defined chest long enough to look over his shoulder. There was some kind of mass on the floor that bubbled and disappeared.

"Agent Scully? I've been looking for you and your partner. Come with me, there isn't much time. They'll be here soon." He grabbed her by the arm and pulled her into the room.

She looked him up and down. Maybe it was leftover vampire charm, but if she were going to be dragged into a room by a strange man, there were worse ones out there to do the dragging. And he reminded her of someone. Deputy Barney whatsisname--not Fife, something else--the one who'd been beheaded. She sighed. At least he didn't appear to have any tattoos, but he was too perfectly built. "Let me guess, you're a vampire, too, right? Or maybe a gender-switching killer? Your friend's next door. Just go away."

"Vampire? No. My name is Cade Foster. My friend, Crazy Eddie, runs a website called The Paranoid Times. He's a friend of the Lone Gunmen. They suggested I come talk to you and Agent Mulder. Where is Agent Mulder, by the way?"

"That's a very good question. Foster? That sounds familiar." Suddenly Scully remembered and she drew her gun. "You're on the most wanted list."

"I was framed. The aliens killed my wife and framed me for her murder. I've been hunting them ever since, with the help of Crazy Eddie and a book of Nostradamus prophecies, trying to expose their experiments, trying to find some proof. I came here looking for you and your partner--I know I was taking a terrible risk coming to this building, but I had to. While I was looking for you, I stumbled on to an alien experiment, going on right here. It was in this room. I left to find you and by the time I came back, it was gone--there was only one alien left, and I killed him. And you are just as remarkable as the Gunmen told Eddie you are. You share my quest, to prove that they're here."

Scully lowered the gun. "So where's the body?"

"They dissolve when they die. That's part of the problem with proof."

"Of course they do." Well, this one was cute, but crazy and homicidal. She could never win. "Lesbian. Definitely," she muttered.


"Nothing. Just a vow I'm making." She paused. "Vow...now there's an idea. Maybe a convent."

"I can't stay. They'll be here soon. You should leave, too. But before I go," he said, grabbed her by both arms, and kissed her deeply and thoroughly.

Scully stood and watched him go, the muscles of his torso working as he turned back to say, "Tell your partner that I'll be in touch. I think you two may be the ones who can help me."

"If I can ever find him I will," she said, but he was already gone. Perhaps the convent could wait. But she still had to find Mulder, and she was running out of doors.

She stared forlornly at the spot his shirtless, rippling body had last occupied and sighed, "Mulder, you owe me big time for this." Closing her eyes she brought up a mental image of her partner in the altogether, it did wonders for her morale. "Right, next door."

This time after the card slipped through she turned the handle, and flung it open with as much momentum as her 5'2" body could produce. "Ahhh!" screamed the man standing closest to this diminutive whirlwind of sexually frustrated energy. His hands flew in every direction like agitated hummingbirds, and the test tube he'd been holding made a spectacular mess on the floor. Turning to face her she noted he was wearing a white lab coat with a name tag reading "Kurt 3"...and underneath a white t-shirt with black lettering that said "Clones do it genetically." "What the hell do you think you're doing? Jesus, are you trying to give me a heart attack or something?"

"Yes," she spat, noting glumly that the green liquid in the former test tube was currently eating through her favorite pumps. "That's exactly what I'm doing, opening random doors and trying to give the inhabitants of each room heart failure."

"Oh...well...ok then."

Scully took a moment to look around the room that turned out to be chock full of clone growing tanks. At any other time she might have been awe-struck, or at least a little overwhelmed, now she was so relieved there weren't any deviant sexual practices going on she could almost cry. "That was meant to be sarcastic."

"Honey," he returned, grabbing a dustpan and broom, "with some of the shit I've seen down here I'd believe anything."

An exact duplicate of Kurt 3 came around one of the tanks. His nametag read "Kurt 1" and the t-shirt he wore had "Kiss me I'm a clone" imprinted on it. When he caught sight of the disgruntled special agent he gasped, "Agent Scully!"

Kurt 3 looked up sharply and added, "Well spank my ass and call me Shirley, the Dana Katherine Scully in the flesh. If that ain't a kick in the pants I don't know what is."

Of course they knew her, everybody in this godforsaken place seemed to. "Look, I don't have a lot of time here and I..." Her voice trailed off as one of the clones in the tank swished closer to her side and she suddenly, horrifyingly, recognized it. "Holy fuck, is that...?"

Kurt 3 grinned and nodded, "Yes indeedy, Ms. Scully meet Ricky Martin 27."

She took a closer look and her jaw dropped. It was Latin singing sensation Ricky Martin all right. "But...but...wait, are you telling me that Ricky Martin is a clone?!"

"Of course," Kurt 1 replied, dumping what appeared to be fish food flakes into the top of the tank. Ricky Martin 27 swam to the top and sucked them down with delight. "Our little fella's been quite a money maker. I've gotta tell you when they first proposed the idea I thought the Consortium was losing it. I mean 'La Vida Loca'? Gimme a break. But damned if they weren't right. We're still working on the dancing thing with him, we're going to try mixing in a little of James Brown's DNA on the next batch."

Scully moved from tank to tank, coming face to face with goo covered boy bands and girl bands in each. By the time she found the Britney Spears series she'd had more than enough. "Well at least now I understand how this super secret conspiracy's been funding itself all along."

"Tell me about it," Kurt 3 sighed, "I mean have you ever seen the paperwork for an alien colonization grant? It's a nightmare!"

Considering her own bureaucratic red tape that didn't seem too farfetched. "I'm assuming your bosses have inserted some sort of subliminal message in the music as well."

"Well duh." Kurt 3 dumped the former test tube in the trash and turned to face her again.

"You know, this is fascinating, really, but I've got a partner to find, so..." she paused, then asked, "Say, you two wouldn't happen to know where he is, would you?"

Kurt 1 shifted uncomfortably. "Um....no."

Scully pulled out her Sig Sauer and gave the clone a corpse's eye view of the business end. "All right, deadly green blood or no I'm fucking blowing your brains out in three seconds unless you tell me where my partner is. No more bullshit, got it?"

"But I can't..."


"But they'll..."


"Oh I can't stand it!" Kurt 3 sobbed. "He's two doors down, he's two doors down!"

Scully straightened and slipped the gun back in its holster. "That's more like it. You realize, of course if he isn't where you told me I'm comin' back here and I'm gonna' keep you two alive long enough to see a floor full of teen sensations, do I make myself clear?"

"He's there, I swear!" Kurt 3 was bawling in earnest now. "He's all splayed out on this lighted table doohickey wearing nothing but this tiny little white towel."

"Really?" the day was finally starting to look up.

"Really," he sniffled.

"Well, then I guess you get to live to see tomorrow. I've been looking for him for quite some time now, and I've seen things that even he wouldn't believe, and, quite frankly, I've been wondering whether or not it's worth it. So just keep in mind that if you're lying to me, you'd better be gone when I come back for you."

"Yes, ma'am," they said in unison, clinging to one another and cowering.

"Now that's more like it," she said, and strode out the door.

The only sound in the corridor of the second sub-basement of the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building was the click of Special Agent Dana Scully's heeled shoes as she walked determinedly towards the second door down. She firmly wiped all thoughts of bubblegum pop singer clones, delusional shirtless men, vampires, interstellar hitchhikers, dead men's poker games, flukemen, cross-dressing ADs, cross-dressing Mulder lookalikes, and severed talking heads from her mind. Although, now that she thought about it, all that cross-dressing was oddly appropriate for the Hoover building, and the clone thing would certainly explain the Spice Girls phenomenon…but no matter. Clearly she'd been the victim of some twisted practical joke. Either that or she'd eaten some bad fish back on that beach in Africa. Regardless, none of it could possibly have been real. It all had to have a scientific explanation. And because Mulder didn't know about any of it, she would never have to come up with what that scientific explanation might be. Two doors down, and it would all be over. But two doors down in which direction?

She whirled around. Suddenly, they all looked alike, and she couldn't even tell which one she'd just come out of, or she would have gone back in to threaten the Kurts until they led her to it personally. She had a sinking feeling that whatever door she picked would be terribly, terribly wrong. She dropped her head to her chest and sighed.

"I swear, if he's behind the next door I pick, I'll be a better person. I won't spend any more time thinking of ingenious ways in which Diana Fowley could die, accidentally, of course. I won't blackmail Skinner with what I saw down here. I won't even peek under Mulder's towel if he's unconscious. Just please, I want this all to end!"

She resisted the urge to fall to her knees and add an "Amen" to that little outburst. There were limits, after all. She had to preserve some dignity. She gripped the keycard in her somewhat shaky, somewhat sweaty hand, and tried the nearest door. Just like it had opened all the other locks, the keycard worked on this one as well. She pulled open the door and nearly fell down in relief.

In the center of the room was a large table, and on that large table was Mulder, unconscious, and clad only in a towel-like garment. His head was bandaged, and he was spread out in a position that reminded her disturbingly of a crucifixion.

"No," he said, "that's not true!"

She shook off the feeling that she'd heard that line somewhere before and approached the table. "Mulder? Mulder, can you hear me?"

He opened his eyes and looked up at her. "Scully? Is that really you? I had the strangest dream. And you were there. And you, and you, and you, too, Tin Woodsman." He lapsed back into unconsciousness.

Scully examined his bandage. And his towel. After all, God hadn't heard her prayers earlier, so the fact that she'd found the right room now had to be coincidence. Besides, the promises she'd made, they just weren't realistic. Her next expense report would be padded, Diana had to die, and she had to peek under Mulder's towel. She knew he couldn't hear her, so she decided to express her true feelings.

"Well, Mulder, the only yellow brick road you'll be taking is the one to the hospital. As much time as you spend there, they should give you some kind of frequent patient discount. Brain surgery. Is that all you had to go through? I'd rather have had brain surgery without anesthesia than have gone through the nonsense I went through to find you. Oh, well. Rescue my gullible, trouble-magnet partner, and try to survive the unexplained while keeping my sanity intact. Just another day on the X-Files."

The End.