SUMMARY: Some old habits die harder than others.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Ok, I had to do a part two, it was 'suggested' and what can I say I am a mindless drone. So I am officially dedicating this one to NeoX who had the idea in the first place.
When I was a kid, we had this dog. Beautiful pure white Lab named Pepper. Yeah we were so inventive. Anyway, I came home one day after school and Pepper didn't come out to greet me wagging her tail. I searched all over the yard and was prepared to go looking around the neighborhood to find her. That is until my mother, starched white apron and all, appeared in front of me as I was mounting my bike. "She's gone," she'd offered simply.
"Where?" I asked in my mind a dog just doesn't 'go'. They are loyal needy beasts that cling to you from the moment you reach into the box to pick one out of the litter. Dogs were supposed to be forever.
But then again, so are little sisters.
My mother went on to explain to me that she had grown too big for the house and that my Dad had found her a really great farm to live on. She had plenty of room to run and play with other dogs and I had to be a big boy and help her get Sam out of her favorite rose bushes.
It was this one incident that affected my life in so many ways. I look back to it as first a precursor to what eventually happened to Sam. See as I got older I realized that the Doggy Farm is a fantasy, right up there with Santa and the Easter Bunny. The reality of it was that the Doggy Farm wasn't real, and what was? Seems Pepper, who had always had a penitent for chasing cars, had finally caught one.
I was starting to feel like that, like the elusive puppy farm. We already had three identical girls and Will, we had assumed that that was the end of it, there were no more out there, well, no more alive anyway. What can I say? When I'm wrong, I'm wrong.
"Don't do that." If there was a motto in this house, that HAD to be it. That and there was this little gremlin who lived here named I Didn't, cause any time anything goes wrong, gets lost, drawn on, torn up, buried in the back yard, hit, scratched, fed to the dog, and yes even blown up, it's a safe bet that his name gets brought up.
They don't teach life skills at Quantico, and a six year degree in psychology is no match for a seven-year-old hell bent on destruction. But they're mine, gotta love 'em.
Currently, Emily is in the process of feeding her spinach to the mutt that lives under our table. The joke is on her; even that beast won't go near what my wife has deemed as appropriate and edible eating requirements.
"I didn't do it." Emily pouted as she surveyed the green mess that had formed a pile on her plate, a pile that had slowly begun its trek off to the side of the table.
"Uh Huh." The one thing I have learned in my two year stint as Captain Dad, well aside from never let Will have pickles on his burger if planning to take a long car trip: the other thing is to pick your battles. I could argue with my seven-year old-daughter as she oh so covertly sneaks her green tinged fork over the side of the table, but why?
"Dad, can I have a-" Evie pops in.
"No," I answer abruptly. That is the other thing that I have learned, When a kid asked for something, it is always better to no first, and ask questions later. Evie has been on this kick lately; she is seven and has decided she needs a perm. Hah, as if I would go for that one again.
"You didn't even hear her out Dad." It was Ellie who threw that one, not that she likes her sister or anything, but any chance to argue, count Ellie in. Scully and I have already surmised that it would be wise to start saving for Law School.
"She wants a perm Ellie, and as I told her a hundred times the answer is no, she and all of you are too young," I countered, hoping my closing argument would be the end of it.
"I don't want one." Ellie shot back. "But I think if Evie wants a perm, she should have one."
Emie, not to be out done in a battle slammed her fist on the table and offered a heartfelt YEAH.
Evie had a habit of allowing Ellie to do the talking, well to be honest, the three of them had taken a silent vote and had elected Ellie as official spokesperson. I wasn't there for it, but from what I heard it involved incantations and a blood oath.
"No, and that is the final word on it." Don't make me get out the big guns, girls…
"Let's take a family vote on it. My friend Brittnee's family always votes on things and then they all decide together what the outcome should be." Ellie's face read so serious I almost caved—almost.
I smile at this, they made me do it. I had sworn two years ago when Scully and I struck up this bargain that I would not be this kind of parent, but lo the kids drove me to it.
"Ok," I smile, gun cocked and loaded. "As long as your mom gets in on the vote."
The table fell to a hush at the mention of mom; even Will stopped drooling into his spinach pile long enough to stare at me in awe. While Scully seemed to be the silent partner in this family, she was also the one that wielded the most mettle. Needless to say, the conversation took a turn to my favor in a matter of mere seconds.
They all have chores that are done after our meals. Even Will, has to put the plates into the sink. Now before anyone out there decides to consult their local Child Services, we have maintained a plastic home--and environmentalists be damned. Anyone who has had to watch three girls and one boy fight over the last piece of fried chicken would agree with me in a heartbeat.
My girls are each so different, and don't think that was something we had to work on, far from it. Scully and I had assumed that the need for individuality amongst the girls would have to be fostered. Nuh Uh.
As I have said before, Ellie is our own little public defender. We have even caught her trying to negotiate deals with the neighborhood bully. She is a tom boy all the way, no doubt about it. From Little League baseball to soccer to yes, even Mighty Mites football. She loves all sports.
Well, all sports save for one.
I tried not to take it personally that she had developed a certain loathing for basketball. We had a hoop out front of our modest home, nothing fancy or regulation, just a board with a net. She took one look at it and pronounced it a dumb game with no point.
Evie is the princess, her nails are always painted, her ears are always bejeweled, and her socks and shirt HAVE to match or else, I don't know, the fashion police will come and haul her away.
Evie has a tendency to dwell on things, and has a real proficiency with numbers. Ok I admit it, she does math in her head. We try to keep it low key; don't want too many people to know about it. My favorite game is to take her shopping with me and have her figure up the bill, with tax before we get to the check out. I stop, write a check for the amount before the food's all rung up. Hey, it's fun and it freaks out the clerks.
She is never off, not by even a penny.
Emmie is for all intents and purposes our librarian. She can rattle off things she reads once and loves to correct her teachers.
Emmie isn't really a nerd; well she has been known to spend way too much time with the three stooges. I try not to discourage her love of knowledge on a whole; I think she should get out more, see the world and not just visit the website for it. Her room is called the Cave, and she is the only one with a computer in her room.
They are each so different my girls, we were so afraid that they would not be individuals, now the only thing that they are similar in is their looks, and their love of their little brother.
I admit that Will may be a little spoiled, but that really isn't my fault. See how normal you turn out with three sisters who will give you whatever you want. The only problem with the whole thing about having three sisters, periodically, it never fails, the rain will fall, school will be cancelled, or there is nothing good on TV, and Will becomes Willa.
The first time was funny, and I snapped a dozen pictures and immediately emailed them to Scully at work, who promptly passed it around to all her family. Poor kid will never live it down. We even posted one of the pics to our family website, with the caption below it that read: Lumberjack Days. We all had a good laugh at it. Now it has gotten outta hand, and I pray that he learns to fight back soon.
The girls are now upstairs fighting over who gets to read Will his story, I could go break it up, but again I have learned to pick my battles. Survival of the fittest and the strong one will win in the end. I just hope Scully isn't too much later, I could really use some help.
"Mulder, I can't," she whined.
"Yes you can."
Her pout had gone full-fledged and I knew she wasn't gonna fight any longer, but I had a patient that needed to be seen immediately. "Scully, I know this is really gonna interfere with your thing you got going on with Doggett, but I gotta go."
It's a safe point to mention that I did not like her new partner, not in the least.
"That was a low blow Mulder," she breathed. "I will go to the recital, but you owe me big time."
"I didn't know we were keeping score," I muttered.
I had started to feel a little like those housewives from the fifties. She was always working, not that she didn't love the kids, and they all feared and adored her beyond measure. My concern was that she was getting too wrapped up into this. That she was hell bent for revenge and me and the kids were the only things that stood in the way.
"That is not what I meant and you know it." I could tell she was trying to placate my already tender emotions, I may have chosen the path my life now leads down, but that doesn't mean I am going to greet her at the door in heels and pearls.
I sigh, grab my wife around the waist and murmur something in her ear akin to what I plan to do with her when we are alone later. Works every time.
Forget the fact that I lied to her about where I was really going. A patient my right eye. The patients I get in my part time practice are quasi neurotics, bored yuppies, and people with over indulgent health insurance. They all need love too though I guess, and their money spends the same, god knows this family needs that. No, I had to lie to my wife today, as we sat in the kitchen watching four children plow through two boxes of cereal at a rapid rate.
I got a lead, or should I say I got THE lead.
The note said for me to come alone, and to leave Annie Oakley at home. This was it, and from the looks the Gunmen passed between them, it was real. The informant was the same guy who led me to Emily, and the Gunman reassured me that they had dealt with him when locating the other two. The consensus was that he was ready to spill and had the key t stop colonization dead in its tracks. Now, before you waggle the fickle finger of fate at me and tell me that I should have known, let us all remember that not only do I have a thick head and a high tolerance for pain inflicted by strangers, but I also have a driving need to get myself into trouble. If for nothing more than to have that cute little redhead come storming in, kicking ass, rescuing me, and kissing my boo-boos.
Hey Lucy I'm hoooo-ooome.
So I sent the kids off to school. Made sure that each girl had their lunch box and homework, dropped Will off at Maggie's, and donned my Action Mulder togs.
It was just like the old days, for about the first ten minutes. I had ditched my partner again, and found myself at the airport long term parking lot awaiting a shadowy figure who offered answers. More than likely I was going to get shot, and as I waited for my guest to arrive, I mentally pondered which part of my body would be most likely to suffer the damage this time.
"Agent Mulder?" he asked from the shadows. Oh man not too cliché huh?
"It's not agent anymore, and I would rather get this done and over with so say what you have to say, give me the evidence and try not to get shot by the mysterious bullets on your way out."
The man, short and stocky made himself visible as he stepped closer to the pylon in the parking garage. He coughed once before speaking. "What do you know about End Game?"
I was tired, cranky and feeling a little frustrated, so I did what I normally do in times like these, I whipped out the smart ass comment. "Should I state my answer in the form of a question? I thought you were here to give ME information?"
He seemed more tolerant of my wit. "The date has been set, Mr. Mulder, the question is, what are you going to do about it?"
"Me?" Here we go again, I always have to go and get my big Spooky ass into things that I know are going to get me into trouble. "You must have me confused with someone else. I now leave saving the world to the professionals."
"Like your wife?" he asked menacingly.
I hadn't realized I had grabbed the man around the throat until I heard a tiny squeak coming from somewhere under my hand. "YOU LEAVE HER OUT OF THIS!" I barked shoving him back into the concrete wall.
He shook off the assault, straightened his coat and went on. "Do you treat all your informants this way? No wonder they all have a tendency to die off. End Game Mr. Mulder, have your little friends check into it." He pressed something into my hands before turning and walking away.
I didn't even look at it until I was safely back into my car, surrounded by toys, car seats, and the half-eaten remnants of a hundred happy meals. A key card. No address, no note, no freaking clue. Just another bunch of cryptic conversation and a key card.
For this I lied to my wife? I am so dead.
"Mulder what the hell did you do to us?" Langly dangled from the back of his chair. I had called them from my car three days ago requesting their help on this. Frohike was busy installing more locks on the front door while Byers paced back and forth between computer monitors. If I had not known any better I would swear something big was a-popping at the LGM headquarters—was it sport's illustrated swimsuit time again already?
"What?" I was perplexed at their frantic movements, their phone call had been more cryptic than usual, asking me if I had seen their lost dog and asking me to come over and help look for it.
"Man, what kinda shit are you into this time, Mulder? The red flags went up all over that project you gave us," Frohike accused over the sound of his hand drill.
"End Game?" At the mention of that phrase, the three shushed me in unison and began to act more paranoid, if that at all was possible. Byers directed me into the back of the office again, and for a second I was afraid I would be bringing home a new family member.
"Just to talk," he reassured me as if reading my thoughts.
"So I take it you guys didn't find anything?" I asked after Byers had shut the door and closed all the curtains.
"Quite the contrary Mulder, we found Everything," he whispered.
"What do you mean everything?" I was starting to get that old shadowy informant figure feeling that I didn't like.
"Colonization Mulder, it's going down and there is a date for it." He nervously twitched, something I had never seen him do before.
"This is big Mulder."
"Big? What is it?"
"We have the date, and we think others know we have the date."
"I think I need to get my wife in on this one." It was time to admit the lie, face the truth, and get the professional involved; after all, I am just a suburban psychologist.
Ok, I knew she was gonna be pissed, I knew I had it coming. Baby did a bad, bad thing. To say she was disappointed would be like saying…oh to hell with the cute analogies, she was pissed.
"Mulder, I am not going to even try to go over how many things are wrong with this scenario." She fumed, as a matter of fact little puffs of red smoke were coming out of her ears.
"You are no longer a Federal agent Mulder, how could you be so irresponsible?" There was a memory in there for me, she was yelling at me in the exact same tone she had yelled at me when I foolishly allowed the girls to watch The Wizard of Oz right before bed time. How was I to know they would all have nightmares starring the flying monkeys?
"It seemed like a good idea at the time," I defended myself, which was surprisingly similar to what I said after the flying monkey incident. "You could have gotten hurt, killed, held hostage. This isn't like before you can't go ditching me to go chase after lights in the sky Mulder; we have responsibilities to think about." she paused before going on. "And you no longer have the resources of the Bureau to back you up and cover your ass."
"I am thinking about them, Scully, that's why I wanted to find out."
We had been sitting in our car in front of the Offices of the Lone Gunman, I broke the news to her right before we were to get out of the car.
"Let's just find out what is going on so we can fix this." She huffed. Y
eah Scully, you and me against the world. I like those odds.
By the time Byers and Frohike had finished their explanations on the date and the particulars, I had no doubt in my mind—I wanted in and I wanted in big. Action Mulder was back and there was gonna be hell to pay.
"A vaccine? How the hell do you suggest we find a vaccine?" she spat. She still didn't believe. See the thing about Scully was that she was not too keen on the abstract ideas, if she couldn't shoot or, arrest it, or carve it, then it didn't exist.
"We know there is a vaccine, Agent Scully; you are a walking testament to that," Byers placated.
"But how do we go about getting enough made to distribute to everyone?" I asked the question for her, see our communication was fine.
"December 22, 2012." That's a long time off. And there are those to get a hold of for help. Its not like we are asking you guys to single handedly save the world…"
Did I just hear a cape rustle?
"…as a matter of fact there is little you two can do from your end, well you Mulder," Byers said it almost apologetically, as if to say 'we'll talk more when the little woman isn't around.'
"Regardless of what happens, we need to get a bead on all of this guys." Scully, seeing my mood shift into defiantly antagonistic. No one puts Action Mulder in the corner, no one.
"With your Bureau resources Scully, we could really start the ball rolling on this. I have a few people in Canada and Germany that are interested in helping and with a little networking…"
I was still seething, and nothing was gonna belay my eventual snap. I realize that I had initially said I wanted to bow out and become a nobody, but I have always known a good fight when I got hit with one, and this was the Holy Grail.
"I still have my own contacts, you know." Now, I realized I sounded a lot like Will when he is told he can't ride his bike with the girls because he is too young, but so what? I was being left out, and it left a bad taste in my mouth, much like my wife's cooking.
"Of course you do, Mulder." God bless Scully, she always knew how to defuse Mulder Bombs.
We agreed to get started, even though she didn't believe she was all for any means to her end. Revenge.
"Uh, there is one more thing guys," Byers spoke again, doing that nervous twitch thing that made me want to ask him about his childhood. "We need to keep a certain level of propriety here…"
"We have to fly under the radar," Langly infused.
"Yeah, they were on us like stink on shit the last few inquiries we made, " Frohike spoke. "We can handle anonymity from here, but could you guys keep this as strictly pillow talk till we have a better handle on things?"
"Oh come off it guys, we're Federal agents, I think we are pretty well versed at keeping a low profile." Scully swore, not realizing her error.
"Well," Langly smiled. "Just don't go proclaiming the second coming on Cops and it's all good." Were we EVER gonna live that one down?
Three lunchboxes lined up on the counter, Bratzz, Jimmy Neutron, and New York Yankees respectively. I yet again ran them off to school and found my schedule of upper class freak shows was clear for the day. Will and I found ourselves at the Gunman's before the oatmeal from breakfast had even begun to congeal.
"Mulder?" Langly asked from his usual seat.
"Nope," I offer plucking Will down in front of the demon that is Barney and strewing his toys around him. "Just wanted to do my fair share." I try to offer him a smile that spoke of my confidence in my position, he returned a more than annoyed glare and turned back to what he was doing.
I swept around the room, not sure where to start. "So, what are we doing, and where are the other two geniuses?"
"I," he stated as if to reassure his solo status. "Am trying to find a location suitable for the lab thing we had talked about. Frohike had a meet and greet, and Byers needed some personal time."
"Personal time? What, is the Star Trek Convention on this weekend?" Smug, I know. Langly turned around, offering me another in a long series of exhausted glares. "Man, what are you doing here? Don't you have like a PTA meeting to bake cookies for or something like that? "
Ok, I may have had that one coming. "I just want to help, Langly."
"It's not that we don't appreciate it, Mulder, it's just that, right now in this stage we don't need your brand of Mojo dude." He gives a little look of near pity, not quite all out sympathy, but close.
I look over to the computer running a file in the corner. I wasn't sure what it was, but there were what seemed to be fractals running at an exponential rate. Fascinated I sat and placed my hand on the mouse.
"DON'T TOUCH THAT!!" Langly's voice had rarely reached a fever point; he was the consummate mellow fellow.
Frustrated, I turn to see what Will has gotten into. "Will…" I begin.
"No man, YOU," he huffed as he walked over to where I sat and flicked off the monitor. "Seriously dude, go home."
"Don't call us, we'll call you?" I spat.
"Yeah, something like that."
I tried not to cringe at the sound of that word, it was the last thing I needed to hear today. After being summarily dismissed from my favorite hangout, I had come home to find a message from my wife informing me that yet again she was going out of town.
"Huh?" I feigned interest as I angrily chopped vegetables at the counter. Evie shrugged her shoulders at my disinterest, but decided to plough ahead anyway. "I need fifty dollars."
Now I don't know how many of you out there are parents, but if you have ever had a seven-year-old tell you that they need fifty dollars, I am sure you can all relate.
"For what?" I asked still chopping away, somewhere in the distance I could hear the sound of two kids fighting and chose to ignore it. She huffed loudly, blowing her bangs this way and that. "For the TRIP," she whined. "We talked about this last night, you signed the permission slip…" She waved said document in front of my face in a very Scully like manner.
"Yeah, I'll write you a check," I muttered still madly chopping that damn onion.
"That's what you said YESTERDAY!" she whined.
"I'll get to it Evie!" I shouted, didn't mean to scare her, but the one raw frayed nerve that I had left this morning was no now the breaking point. She cringed and shirked away as the fight waging in the family room seemed to be getting louder and working up to a fearful crescendo. Will had found the remote for the television and began to steadily raise the volume, and yet I just kept right on chopping.
I don't remember hurling the knife, I really don't, last thing I remembered was all the noises reminded me of that old Batman show where when they were fighting, giant color graphitic of onomatopoeia would flash across the screen. At some point I lost it. There was no other way to describe it. It scared me that the knife actually went flying, but I was glad that I had the presence of mind to fling it in the opposite direction of the kids.
I stood in front of the sink, hands gripping the porcelain until my knuckles went white. My mind raced at three hundred miles an hour and I just sat staring at the knife embedded into the plaster in front of me.
"Dad?" A small voice broke my reverie; I turned to see all four staring at me with blank eyes a little too afraid to speak.
"I'm fine," I lied. Hey, I learned from the best. "Should I call Grandma?" one of the girls asked. I was sure it was Emmie, I could tell by the unruly hair, and her habit of pushing her glasses back onto her face as she spoke.
"Yeah." I nodded vigilantly. "Right after I call the pizza guy."
"I knew I would find you here," she said from her seat next to me. "You always came here after the really bad cases."
I had heard her come in, who couldn't; the place was in an uproar as the men watched the petite woman saunter in. I had chosen to pretend that I had not noticed, she had slid into the bar stool next to me and ordered her favorite get shit-faced drink. "Do I know you?" I asked not even looking her way.
"C'mon Mulder, drink with me," she implored as if we had not a care in the world.
"I'm sorry, much as I'd like to I graduated from the George Thorogood School of Drinking."
She slammed back her shot of gin and asked for another. "The kids are at my mother's tonight and possibly for a couple of days." She looked down at her new drink. "They told me what happened…"
"What? I think I could have a career in the circus as the Great Muldini, knife thrower extraordinaire." There was little to no humor in my voice, and drunk had been a street crossed about an hour ago, I was now standing on the corner of drunk and off my ass with completely wasted just around the corner.
"Mulder, it's ok to get a little overwhelmed, honestly I don't know how you do it…"
"That's just it, Sculeee," I slurred. "YOU don't know how I do it, cuz while I am wiping noses and chasing away closet monsters, you are out there fighting the good fight."
She winced a little, clutching her drink tightly as she spoke. "This was your choice, Mulder…"
"Oh are we gonna have THIS fight again?" I asked, loud enough to cause patrons around us to turn and look.
"Maybe we should take this somewhere quieter, Mulder." She was speaking in that soothing yet edgy voice she usually reserved for naughty kids and horny agents who could not take 'I'm married' for an answer.
"No," I rammed.
"C'mon Mulder, let's go home." She rubbed my arm and softened her voice a little.
"No," I whined petulantly. "I haven't finished my drink yet." I sipped slowly at what may have been either my fourth beer, or my sixth shot of gin. Or both, I wasn't sure anymore.
She waits patiently as I finish my drink. Now I could be a kid about it and order another one, or I can be the grown up and go home with her. Sometimes I think life is one of those Choose Your Own Adventure books I used to read as a kid. Turn to page 35 if you want to remain in the bar and really piss off your wife. Turn to page 62 if you want to go home and maybe get a pity screw. Turn to page 123 if you just don't give a fuck. In the end page 62 was the best choice, and hey, who can turn down drunk sex? The only time when you don't have to apologize for anything you forget to do.
We didn't talk on the cab ride home, I just sat on my side of the back seat trying to keep my head from lolling from side to side, as the half crazed cabbie slammed us through DC.
She tried to start a conversation, but the only thing going through my head all the way home was the logic behind offering the Driving written exam in 12 different languages.
By the time we got home, I knew sex was off the table, guess I should have gone with page 35, because I was starting to sober up a little and the kitchen wall still bore the mark where the knife had implanted.
"Mulder, what do you want to do?" she had asked it in the cab, but my brain was sloshing around too much to recognize her words.
"I don't know Scully; I just feel really helpless right now." She came and sat down next to me on the couch, running her fingers over my cheek.
"I know you do Mulder, and I really wish there was more you could do. It's not that we don't think you can do it, but the girls need protection right now. The deeper we all get into this, the more at risk they become."
Now to be honest I had not thought about that at all. See I was so busy feeling sorry for myself and feeling so freaking underappreciated that I had left my kids out in the breeze. "I'm sorry," I choked into her hand. "You're right." And hey waddaya know? Half drunk sex is just as good.
I ended up with a two day vacation. It would have been more, but the kids missed me and I think Maggie could only take so much of being asked the same question in trifonic stereo. It is a little freaky when they do that. I hope they didn't pull the switch on her too, that one had gotten me in trouble with Scully, the school, and a few neighborhood parents, but that is a story for another time. "DADDEEEEEE!" Will screamed as he ran and threw his chubby arms around my leg.
The girls still eyed me with suspicion, not sure if they should hug me, to make sure there were no knives in the house.
"Gramma says we should apologize for being hard on you," Ellie spoke as the other two nodded their agreement.
"Hey," I grabbed all three of them around me and squeezed. "If there is anyone that should apologize it's me. I should not have gone on like that, but you girls know that I will never hurt you, right?"
They all nodded, even Will who looked up at me with all the awe a two and a half year old could muster. I felt awful. Over the two days that I had to get my shit back together, and after the hangover, I began to wallow in a sort of self torture that I had not indulged in for quite some time. I knew I had to make it up to them. And not having had the best childhood myself, I did what any normal forty-two-year old father would have done in my shoes. McDonald's and Toys R Us.
The days somehow managed to pass along, and Scully managed to try to be home at least on the weekends, though there were plenty that did not see her home. The kids were beginning to trust me again, but they had taken off the severe edge around their attitudes. That first week actually passed without one single solitary fight, at least not in my presence, whatever they did at school was on them, and their teachers knew the job was dangerous when they took it. We left the knife mark in the wall, Scully's idea. I wanted to cover it and forget the whole thing, but she thought it was a good lesson, not just for me or the kids, but for her too.
"It is a double reminder for me Mulder," she admitted one night she had actually got home in time for dinner with the family.
"For one it reminds me to be home more, that the repercussions of my actions can be far reaching. That I need to be home more." She smiled. Scully had bought a frame and had even decorated around the mark, as if proclaiming it some milestone that this family as a whole had reached, and passed maybe not with flying colors, but at least in blacks and white.
"And the second thing?" I grinned as I washed and she dried.
"That we all go a little mad sometimes." I should have put a knife through that wall a long time ago.
We had a vaccine, well actually the German scientists that the Gunmen had been working with had the vaccine, but after five months and a lot of stop and go's, it was finally, tested and ready for administering it to the public.
"The thing is guys we still have the element of surprise on our hands. If we sit on this too long someone is gonna get wind of it and they may develop a mutation of the strain."
"Mulder's right guys, how are we going to get this to every man woman and child in the known world?" Scully scanned the room for answers, when none came she sighed.
"Uh, excuse me but I have an idea." It was Doggett, he had been brought in on this, much to my chagrin. I didn't trust him, but I had no choice due to the fact that he had my wife's back through enough shit to earn the right to be sitting at the Gunmans' table.
"John?" she asked in an almost surprised manner.
He cleared his throat before he spoke, and I could tell he was choosing his words very carefully. His thick Bronx accent broke through the silence finally. "My ex-wife works for a pharmaceutical company, and we used to have a lot of late night pillow talk. You know the kind, she would ask me about my job and then we started asking each other questions, you know scenarios."
"So, anyway, "He continues mindless of the get to the point glares that even Scully is starting to show. "We had this game of What If. Like the perfect murder, the most lethal dose of, you know pillow talk." Man, makes the stuff Scully and I talk about seem so, well normal.
He finally notices the glares and gets to the heart of the matter. "So I ask her one day, if someone wanted to you know, dose the whole population, how would they do it? She goes on about airborne or water depending on the type of drug."
"Doggett? Are you saying that your ex-wife may be able to help us out here?" I asked not sure of the situation. I knew they had lost a child, a little boy who had died in a way that made me thankful for what happened to Sam.
"Yeah, I think she's the one that could." He smirked.
"Make sure your alimony is all paid up and current and give her a call."
It wasn't difficult to get the information out of her, she wanted to help us more that she wanted to help John, but hey it's all good. Barb was a beautiful blonde with a perky personality and a real gift for tearing things down into their most base ideas.
I liked her.
Watching her and John working side by side made me wonder how much tragedy can two people stand before it ruptures the bond they have between them? They lost a child, and in their grief did they grow further apart, what is the difference between them and us? It was enough to make my head spin. Could this ever be Scully and I? Would this ever be us? Seeing the two of them together, one could see that there was so much still there, and yet the sadness held over them like a storm cloud that never rains, just makes everything dark and gloomy.
I could relate.
We had a game plan, well it was something that neither one of us had to actually do ourselves. The fact that this was done in small groups all over the world was the best plan that any of us could have come up with, and it was done completely accidentally. All that was left now was to leave the rest of the installation of the plan in the hands of others, well trusted people who lived the lines of that song Life During Wartime. I don't envy them, those nameless faceless others who like us will never go down in any history books, or have statues erected to them. We will never meet with the president or sleep in the Lincoln bedroom.
But damn the benefits were worth it.
Once the shit hit the fan, the little castles those freaks had been toying with all along were tumbling faster than internet stocks. I would get a perverse sense of pleasure every time I read the paper and found another one of their front corporations taking a header and their CEOs being brought up on charges.
"Had enough justice yet, Scully?" I asked her one lazy morning over coffee.
"I'm just getting started, Mulder." She grinned.
It was the smile that I loved, the one that meant she was in, and woe to those that were on her shit list.
It was three weeks after the last card came tumbling down that we got the surprise of our lives, ironically, the very same day I watched Special Agent Doctor Dana Scully-Mulder on CNN, she was all business and her eyes never met the camera. She had her game face on as she led a familiar form out of a Manhattan building and into a waiting squad car.
I cheered as Assistant Director Walter Skinner dragged a smirking Alex Krycek into the back of an unmarked squad. As I watched Skinner give him the courtesy head push into the vehicle, I could not help but wonder how much of the ride my old partner would be able to recall later.
Nanite that Krycek old pal.
It was over, finally.
So when I got the phone call five seconds after the coverage on CNN changed to that of World News, I was a little surprised to hear the voice of an old acquaintance.
"Mr. Mulder, I see you took my advice to heart." The familiar voice seemed to smile.
"Yeah, you might say that." What the hell, I figured this would be my last clandestine phone call, what's a few quips between strangers?
"I have something you may want to come and get... And before you speak, I promise it is the last."
My heart began to race. "The last what?" I wasn't ready for this; I had hoped that my family was done. We were already fighting a losing battle with the space we had, one more and I feared I'd never see the inside of my bathroom again.
The voices chuckled on the other end before going on. "Don't worry Mr. Mulder, this isn't about you. You and your wife have the last of the batch, I promise. But there is someone near and dear to you who might benefit from this information."
Oh man, every time I get out, they pull me back in.
"Listen," I griped, "I appreciate the fact that this is probably the last time the two of us will speak now that the monsters are all gone, and I would love nothing more than to have one more clandestine meeting for old times' sake. But you think, maybe just this one time we could cut to the chase and get this done and over with?"
"Count on it, Mr. Mulder."
I didn't recognize the little blonde boy sitting on the bench shivering, I approached cautiously, not sure what to say or do. He saw me and offered a timid little smile before rising.
"Sir," he said in his best grown up voice.
"What's your name kiddo?" I asked wondering if this was another Emily or…
"Luke, My name is Lucas Doggett."
"You are feeling pretty darn smug for yourself huh?" Scully grinned as we lay next to each other in bed that night. To say the reunion between John and his son was a happy one would be the understatement of the century.
"It's all in a day's work, Ma'am." I smiled into her profile.
"So what now, Mulder?"
"I don't know about you, but I got twelve really screwed up yuppies still on the rolls, and lets not forget the kids…"
"Oh, right, the kids. Is Evie still gunning for that perm?"
"Nah," I sighed. "She has moved onto bigger and better issues. Now she NEEDS a cell phone."
"Oh geez….What should we do?" She asks like I have all the answers.
"Well she has consulted her counsel, and she has advised her to push for the phone, that way they all get one."
Scully looked up at me with all the love in the world. "Tell me you have a solution for this one." She begs.
"We-ell, I figure we give in for the perm, and that way she feels that she won something. Give her a little victory without too big a fight. And we tell her she can have the phone if she agrees to wait til she's fifteen for the phone."
"Buy us some time, hmmm. I knew I married you for a reason. You are brilliant." Kisses follow her accolades like a treat for a good dog.
"Yeah, I love you too, Scully."
Life is good, and I think, I think that I can deal with the Mini Van now.
Written in response to TNF and Erin Blair's Emily's Alive challenge http://mulderscreek.com/tnf/challenge17.html
Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most......