Beyond The Truth: 03.5 Twinsville
Series: Beyond the Truth story 3.5
Orginally Posted: April 1st, 2004
Spoilers: any episode of the nine seasons is fair game, probably will spoil parts of the first three BtT fics as well.Archive: Anyone may link my fics to their pages (an e-mail to let me know where would be appriciated), but please seek permission before uploading.
Disclaimer: The X-files characters all belong to 1013 who, though they probably don't realize it, have lent them to me. However, Jacey, Quinn, and Landon Doggett belong to me.
Timeline: This story takes place post-season nine, six months after the events in Elegy for Origin
Summary: the agents discover a town where pregnant women don't each have a child, they have a litters.
Doggett tossed in his sleep; he was having that dream again.
Standing in the nursery, he goes to pick up Landon, who needs his diaper changed. But as he reaches for his son, Quinn begins to scream. Since Landon is only whimpering, he turns to Quinn, hoping to reach her before she wakes up her sister. Too late! Jacey adds her voice to the chorus. He begins to call for Reyes and Gibson to give him a hand, but then he remembers: the two of them have gone to orientation, leaving him in charge of the triplets for the night.
As he tries to pick which of the screaming infants to go to first, he realizes that there's far too much noise for just his own trio. Looking down at the floor he sees other infants, some sitting, some crawling towards him, all in tears, all demanding his attention. He has no idea where these children have come from.
A sob rises in his throat as it hits him, they're his too. The details are fuzzy, but he'd been abducted and had his genetic material stolen to use in an alien breeding program. Tears stream down his face when he tries to think of how he and Reyes are ever going to care for these children too, since there seems to be a dozen of them. The house has five bedrooms, but...
"No! This is not happening!"
As the scream ripped from him, he woke up, covered in a film of cold sweat. It must not have been the first sound he made, because Reyes was sitting up in bed, giving him a concerned look.
"It was that dream again." His voice sounded hoarse.
"Lots of babies?" she asked, giving him a sympathetic look.
"And too few hands."
"Poor John. I guess this is your subconscious' way of telling you that you don't want any more kids than the three we've got."
"Four," he objected, thinking of Gibson. Though the boy was nearly grown, he was as much a part of their family as their babies were.
"You're right, four."
"You don't want more, do you?" His face was a little desperate.
"Nope, not me. Dana wants another baby, I'm content with our family just the way it is."
The next morning...
Skinner looked up at them as they filed into his office. To Mulder's surprise, an amused look tugged at the older man's eyes. It was rare to see him in good humor, and a glance at Scully told him she'd noticed and been surprised too.
"An interesting case came across my desk this morning. I'm going to send the four of you to investigate."
"All four of us, sir?" Doggett sounded surprised.
"Yes. I think that Scully's background as a doctor will come in handy here, but it's more of a case that I think you and Reyes can relate to, experience-wise."
Intregued, Mulder asked, "Where?"
Both Doggett and Reyes suddenly looked relieved. A case in Maryland was close enough to take day trips to, so they wouldn't have to find someone to look after the babies while they were gone.
"That's an unusual name for a town. Are twins common there?" Reyes asked.
Scully, who was thumbing through the file Skinner had spread out for them as they sat down looked up with a frown. "This can't be right. The demographic survey of the town claims that there are ten thousand adult residents in Twinville, and thirty-five thousand children. There are never more children in a town than adults except during a war, at least not since the baby boom ended."
Skinner ignored her comment. "Twins used to be common there, but now they're not." He pawed through the pages, and pulled out what looked very much like a class picture over-exposed. "Now triplets and even higher order multiples are far more common there than singleton births."
"But why?" Doggett asked.
Mulder gave him a bright grin. "This is an X-Files, Doggett. That's what we're being sent to find out."
Skinner nodded his agreement. "The population there is exploding, and it's taxing resources. They need to know what is causing all the mothers to give birth to so many children, and they need a reason before their economy collapses under the weight of paying to educate many more children."
"I'm sure that doctors have theories," Scully began, but Skinner shook his head.
Mulder looked gleeful. "Oh, is it a legend about a chair that if sat in makes women pregnant? Fluoride treatments in the water?"
"The water is the main suspect," Skinner acknowledged, "At least as far as scientists are concerned. There are local legends, however-"
"So now we know why I'm going." Mulder's expression was wry.
"I suggest you read the file and prepare to get an early start tomorrow....Oh, and ladies? Maybe you should pack bottled water for the tip. We wouldn't want to have to put an addition on the daycare that's being planned."
Neither Scully nor Reyes looked half as amused as the men did.
It stuck Doggett as sureal when they arrived in Twinsville. While out with the babies, he was used to drawing a lot of attention, since triplets were rare in DC. Here amongst the carriages for several and the gaggles of small children walking with their parents, the Doggett family would just be faces in the crowd.
"I don't think we're in Kansas any more," Mulder depanned, staring out one of the car's windows.
"Don't you think that line is over used?" Scully asked him.
"A cliché even?"
"Don't start with me, Woman," he growled back playfully.
Reyes was looking out the windows too. "Lots of babies."
"Lots and lots of babies," Doggett corrected.
Mulder and Scully just exchanged a smirk.
"Maybe you should have brought Landon, Jacey and Quinn," Mulder said, looking thoughtful.
"Oh, an undercover sting," Scully teased, making Doggett turn oddly pink cheeked.
"Sure, it wouldn't be the first undercover assignment Skinner doled out." Mulder paused. "But I suppose they wouldn't be tempted to make a honeymoon video. Does one already exist?"
"Shut up, Fox," Reyes demanded.
Doggett pulled into the parking lot, noting that their sedan was a sapling in a forest of mini vans.
"Soccer mom central," he muttered as he got out.
"Something like that," Reyes agreed, wondering if he'd start bragging about his "real" van. Again.
Once inside the town hall, a receptionist ushered them into a wood-paneled office and invited them to take seats while she looked for their contact. There were a lot of seats, which stuck them as a little odd given there were only three desks. Each desktop was crowded with framed pictures, but the agents couldn't see what of, because the backings were facing the seats they'd chosen.
After twiddling their thumbs for a short eternity, the door swung open and a tall pregnant woman walked in. She shook there hands and offered a strained smile before sitting in a chair near them. If one of the desks was hers, she didn't seemed inclined to sit at it.
"Thank you so much for coming. I'm mayor Johansen, but please call me Abby."
"Mulder nodded slightly, but he knew he wouldn't be so informal. "Could you tell us about the situation in this town, mayor Johansen?"
She spread her hands in a helpless gesture. "I don't know how much you know about the history of Twinville-"
"Almost nothing." Reyes gave an apologetic smile.
"When the town was formed back at the beginning of the nineteenth century, several of the founding families who journeyed to this land already had sets of twin children. Appreciating the novelty, they decided on the temporary name 'Twinsville'. To their surprise, people liked the name so well that it was retained decades later when the town was incorporated into the state."
Scully nodded, looking more than a little impatient. "And twins continued to appear in town with regularity?"
"Yes, purely through genetics. So many people in town were twins or related to twins that they stayed fairly common. But not anymore.
"Within the last five years, twins have been eclipsed by triplet births-" Doggett and Reyes exchanged a grin. "And more recently, by quads and even quints. There are even two women in town expecting sextuplets."
Scully frowned. "Though twins, if fraternal, are often hereditary, higher multiples aren't thought to be. Even in the rare recorded cases of women having more than one set of triplets or higher, their own children didn't often have high multiples themselves."
"That's what the geneticists we consulted told us, which is why we asked the FBI to investigate. Whatever is upping the birthrate, it's not encoded in the town's folks DNA."
"Do you think this is a malicious act?" Doggett asked. The question struck him as silly, but he thought it was worth asking.
Johansen shrugged. "It's hard on the town's economy, and increases the townfolks' tax burdens and costs of living significantly, but we don't have any of the typical small town rivalries with any other towns, so I can't think of anyone who would gain from this."
"Except the diaper companies," Mulder muttered, suddenly glad that their son was finally potty-trained. "What do the locals think is as fault?"
The mayor grimaced. "Ethel Garner has some folks convinced that sitting in a specific booth at Don's Diner is the culprit, but only the most gullible have fallen for that."
"If the booth was at fault, Don should get a few visits from the health inspectors," Doggett said, watching his wife's reaction. To his disappointment, Reyes remained expressionless.
"I'm sure there are more likely catalysts," Scully remarked.
"Frankly, I'm worried that it's the water supply." Johansen went on to elaborate on what Skinner had told them the day before, "We switched to fluoride treated water about six years ago, which is around when the town's baby boom began."
"We'll have to take samples of the town's water in several different locations, but the lab at Quantico can analyze them for far more contaminants than a water analysis company can," Scully said, business-like.
"And we'll be sure to check out Don's," Reyes added. Mulder beamed, but no one else looked half as pleased by the promise. "What are you having, by the way?" she asked, gesturing at the woman's belly.
"Quads. My seven-year-old twins are thrilled." The mayor herself looked far less thrilled.
"That's one more than we've got," Reyes explained, smacking Doggett until he produced his wallet. "They've just turned six months old."
After the mayor dutifully made comments on the photo of the Doggett triplets, the agents left her in peace for the day.
"Do you really think it could be the water?" Doggett asked as they left the town hall.
"It's remotely possible," Scully told him as corner store for drinks. "You know that they were trying to add something to the water supply to make women have super soldier babies."
"Wait, what?" Mulder asked, his jaw hanging open.
Scully waved her hands. "Oh, that was when you were gone."
"The second time, not the first time," Reyes pointed out.
"It was more like the fifth time, but yeah, when you were Most Recently gone."
"Why didn't anyone think to fill me in on this?" Mulder asked, pouting.
"Do we look like your news service?" Doggett asked with a smirk. "It's not like you couldn't have read the case files when you got back."
"Excuse me, but when I got back I was locked up and undergoing a trial, or did that escape your memory?" Mulder huffed.
"Oh, shut up both of you. Honest to god, it's like listening to children," Scully said, thrusting bottles of soda into their hands. Her eyes then lit up. "Oooh, chocolate milk, I haven't had any in ages." She then turned to Doggett. "I wouldn't be so high and mighty about casefiles, since it was made blindingly obvious in April that you lied about reading all the case files."
"'What glowing killer bugs?'" Mulder sniggered.
"I did read them all! Ok, so maybe I skimmed some of them..."
"What if it's not the water?" Reyes asked, clutching a bottle of grape juice.
"Then we're going to get to know the people of Twinsville real well," Mulder told her, looking glum.
The next day...
They were back for the second day of their investigation, and Doggett was yawning as he drove. The kids had had a particularly restless night, so he and Reyes had as well. She seemed to be holding up better under the lack of sleep though. He wondered what was wrong with her, since that was so inhuman.
"Doggett, stop the car," Mulder demanded from the back seat.
Since there didn't seem to be anything pressing going on outside, Doggett took the time to speak first. "Why?"
"Because we need ice cream," he said, pointing at a giant plastic cow out in front of a building shaped like a cone of ice cream. The sign hanging from the massive udders proclaimed the place to be The Twinsville Dairy.
Doggett expected Scully to be the voice of reason. He was disappointed. "Mulder's right, we need ice cream."
"But none of that tofutti rice dreamsicle crap," Mulder said sternly.
"Nope, real ice cream."
Shrugging, Doggett pulled into the parking lot, and the four of them tumbled out of the car.
After a few minutes' wait, they finally are able to advance to front of the line and place their orders. Doggett asks for a cone of chocolate, Scully orders vanilla and chocolate swirl soft serve, and Mulder gets a double scoop of pistachio, saying that it's not as good as sunflower seeds, but it'll do nicely enough. Reyes, however, orders two freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.
"No ice cream for you?" Mulder asked, giving her a suspicious look. "I guess ice cream is more fattening than a couple of cookies, but you don't look like you had triplets six months ago, so you should indulge yourself."
Doggett gave him a puzzled look, not sure how to react to the observation about his wife's appearance. He finally decided that Mulder was too cluelessly in love with Scully to ever give Reyes anything but an objectively meant look.
"If I indulged in ice cream, I'd get the runs," Reyes told him calmly. "Lactose intolerance is a pain in the ass if you try eating dairy without taking lactate."
"I gotcha. Cookies it is then."
"Monica, I didn't know you couldn't eat dairy," Scully said, looking up from her dripping cone. "It's really too bad, since this is the best ice cream I've ever had."
Doggett and Mulder nodded in agreement, licking their own cones with blissful expressions on their faces.
"That's ok, I don't miss it."
They claimed a picnic table and polished off their treats. As they ate, however, Reyes enjoyed people watching.
"Does it strike you funny that just about everyone here is a woman?" she asked off-handly.
"Are you saying that ice cream is girly?" Mulder looked practically affronted.
"No, just making an observation."
"It makes sense, in a way. It's during the work day still, and all these women have kids with them. Probably the stay-at-home mom crowd," Scully reasoned.
"That must be it," Reyes agreed. But at the back of her mind she wondered if it wasn't something else.
Two hours later...
"Remind me why we're doing this again," Reyes groaned.
"Because the guys are too big for the only pairs of waders they had."
"Right... but why are we doing this?!"
Scully finally figured out what she was asking. "Oh. We need to take a sample of water in the current, not along the shore."
"How much more of this do we have to do?"
"Just seven more locations," Scully replied, attempting to sound cheerful.
From back on shore the guys couldn't really hear Reyes swearing. At least not clearly.
Mulder nudged Doggett with his elbow. "Is it just me, or do they sort of look hot wearing hip waders?"
"It is strangely alluring..." Doggett agreed.
"Maybe we can get them to wear them at home," Mulder suggested. Doggett snorted derisively. "You know, on special occasions."
"What the hell are they doing?" Reyes complained, looking back towards the shore.
"They're supposed to be filling out the labels for the sample jars," Scully told her, squinting to see them in the bright sunshine. "How are those labels coming?" she shouted.
"Shit, they're on to us," Doggett muttered, hastily beginning fill out the labels attached to the clipboard he's holding.
"Just about done!" Mulder shouted back, then dropped his voice so only Doggett could hear him. "Really special occasions."
As was typical for him, Mulder had an air of arrogance about him as they walked into the diner.
A short, pot-belled man in a clean white apron poked his head out. "I'm sorry, we won't really be serving dinner for another hour."
"Are you Don?" Mulder asked, and the man nodded. "We're with the FBI."
"Oh hey, I'm all paid up on my taxes, you can check," the man babbled.
"That'd be the IRS, sir." Doggett said calmly. "We were told you might have some information about our case." He grimaced as he said it.
Don looked wary. "What kind of case?"
Scully spoke up. "We're trying to help determine why there are so many multiple births occurring in the town."
"Let me guess, you want to look at the booth."
"The FBI is nothing if not thorough, sir," Doggett said stoically.
Don chuckled dryly, then led them over to a booth with a cracked vinyl covering. "Here it is, the infamous booth."
Reyes pulled out a digital camera, and began to snap pictures.
"Does every woman who sits here conceive high order multiples?" Mulder asked eagerly.
"No. My wife sat at this booth more times than I can count, and we've only got one kid. There are plenty of other women in town who've sat here and never had anything but single births or twins."
Mulder frowned a little bit. "Scully, do you think you could swab the booth so we can have the results analyzed?"
Her eyes flashed dangerously, so he took a couple of steps back. She did, however, swab the booth.
"I don't know how this legend even started. There is nothing wrong with this booth," Don declared. "At least nothing that isn't wrong with any of the other ones."
"It must be rough to have people in here all the time wanting to sit in the magic booth," Reyes remarked.
Don snorted. "That both is never filled, not even when there's no place else to sit. People up and leave rather than sit there. Damn thing's costing me sales, yet the historical society says I can't rip the booths out and replace them with something more modern."
"Well, sir, we're investigating other more likely causes for the phenomenon. Once our results are back, your booth should go back to be just a booth," Scully told him.
"Oh, thank God. You folks want coffee? Let me get you some coffee."
He asked them how they took it, and Reyes turned down cream when she noticed it was real. "You prefer it black? Lots of women do. You don't expect something like that."
"I'm not too fond of sweet drinks. I was raised in Mexico, and we were more likely to have spicy than sweet."
"Makes sense." Don nodded. "Hey, you folks got a business card? If you really stop the morons from being scared by a booth, I'm gonna send you folks flowers."
Doggett slipped him a card.
"Mulder, now are you satisfied that there's nothing to this booth story?" Scully asked, hands on hips, before they got into the car.
"No, was I supposed to have been convinced by something?"
"Not all of the women who sat there had multiple births!"
"Not all women who sat there were fertile," Mulder pointed out. "Some of them may well have been menopausal or barren."
"What about his wife?" Doggett asked. "He said they only have one kid and she sat there lots of times."
"Maybe her eggs were stolen after they had their kid, who knows?"
"Do you suppose we ought to search her for a chip then?" Scully fumed.
Mulder just shrugged.
Things went better between Mulder and Scully the next day, however, and Mulder ended up talking her into taking advantage of the fact that Maggie was willing to look after the kids for the night. Twinsville seemed like as romantic a get-away they were likely to find at the spur of the moment, so they checked into the local motel.
Doggett and Reyes longed to get away too, but they were too anxious to leave the babies over-night yet, so they left, promising to drop off the samples and order a rush on them.
Doggett insisted on driving again, and Reyes let him so she could admire the scenery. When her foot nudged against something, Reyes looked down. It was the bottle that had held Scully's chocolate milk. Something dawned on her, and she snapped her fingers. "Let's go to the dairy."
"I thought you said you were lactose intolerant," Doggett said, looking puzzled.
"The milk and ice cream, John. There was a news story on 20-20 last night about how girls might be starting puberty earlier because hormones given to cows to increase milk production linger in the milk, and once ingested confuse the girls' bodies. Maybe that's what's happening here."
Doggett nodded thoughtfully. "Have you suggested that to Scully?"
"Yes, but she blew me off. She won't even consider anything but water."
"After Mulder's insistence about the diner, do you blame her?" He grinned at the memory. "Even still, go ahead and buy milk and a dish of ice cream. I'll even fill out the labels for you."
Reyes gave his arm an affectionate squeeze. "Thanks for seeing it my way."
"No problem. It's one of the only few fringe benefits that come from having married a clod like me."
"You're not a clod. But I do wonder if that's the reason Dana and Fox haven't gotten married."
Doggett almost swallowed his tongue when he laughed too hard.
When they were alone, Mulder began to nuzzle Scully's neck. She pulled away after he licked her cheek.
"What?" He asked, giving her his most sexy pout. "I thought you were the one that wanted to have another baby."
"You don't?" There was a hint of ice to her voice.
"Of course I do. I just mean you were the one that brought it up."
"I do, but Mulder... Do you think we should have another baby out of wedlock?"
"Being a bastard doesn't seem to be working out too badly for William."
Scully punched him in the arm. "Don't call him that! And that was different, you weren't around to get hitched after you knocked me up."
"I'm sure brother Bill would have come by my place with his shotgun had I been on the planet." He remarked as his pants went sailing across the room.
"I don't know, Mulder... Maybe we should get married like everyone thinks."
"Since when do you care whatever one thinks?"
"Hello, I was raised Catholic, remember? I'm supposed to believe we're going to roast in hell if we don't repent."
"Well, when you put it that way..." Mulder paused to slowly unbutton her shirt, then toss it over his shoulder. "Maybe we can make a compromise. I knock you up now, and we get married next month. Just for the sake of our eternal souls, mind you."
"That sounds like a good compromise," Scully purred, reaching into his boxers.
"You didn't drink any of that water, right?"
"Nope, just bottled."
The next morning
The ringing phone woke them up. Scully groaned and sleepily pawed at the night stand until she found the phone.
"Were you sleeping?" Reyes asked.
"We got a call from the lab. They have the results."
"It was the water, right?"
"No? Then what was it, the booth?"
"It was the milk and ice cream. Hormones in the milk cause women's systems to go into super-ovulation mode."
"Oh, God." No! This is not happening! Scully thought as she looked over her shoulder at the crumpled sheets.
Eighteen months later...
"No!" Mulder said sternly, grabbing a crawling baby girl and tucking her under his arm.
"Un Uh! Give me that 'fore you break it," Four-year-old William admonished a younger brother as he pulled a toy out of an infant's sticky fist.
Emily read aloud to the other babies, but none of them really seemed to be listening.
Calm amidst the activity around her, Scully used her new laptop to type up the Christmas newsletter she was sending to friends and family. She normally detested such things, but things were so busy lately that bulk letters were the only way she was able to keep in contact with anyone at all.
"...and as you know, we made additions to our family this year. Christopher, Daniel, Miranda, Erin and Hannah were born this past March. They're all crawling now, God help us all. Just kidding..."
The "real" sequel to Elegy to Origin, "Reopened" will begin postage at the X-Files OS boards and at the x-files fan fiction forum soon.