Title: Generation X
Author: KMS & JEK
The story you are about to read is being posted in two versions. One version (numbered 1 through 9) is PG-13. Three of the parts have (7,8 & 9) have NC-17 alternates (numbered 7A, 8A and 9A) which contain SEX, written in loving detail. If that bothers you, make sure you read the PG-13 version. We went to a great deal of effort to make sure that both versions are equally enjoyable... depending on your taste. :-);-);-)
So, to read just the PG-13 version, read Part 1 through Part 9. To get the NC-17 version, read Part 1 through Part 6, then read Part 7A, 8A and 9A. Each part is also numbered and labled at the head of the file.
Don't flame us if you're silly enough to go ahead and read the NC-17 version after we warned you, and then get offended by it. --kms & jek
This story copyright 1994 by the authors. Permission to distribute freely is given, provided you do not attempt to sell it. The X-Files is a trademark of Fox Television, characters not used by permission.
[cue Twilight Zone theme]
E.B.E. aired in February '94, and Generation X began it's lengthy birth pangs the following day. Kellie and I had been talking about doing an X-Files story and wound up pounding out the basic outline during one of our rare interstate phone calls. After running up an incredibly large phone bill we each went off to our respective computers and began to write. At the time my daughter was almost 3 months old and we were in the process of buying a house. :-) Any of you who've gone through that probably know what's coming. :-) Here's Kellie, writing tirelessly and I'm getting *maybe* a sentence here and a sentence there and not getting to write at *all* for days and days and days. *sigh* Then, one day Sarah mentioned that she was working on a story called Windchimes. Having so little time at *all*, I haven't read more than maybe *2* stories from .creative, but I got a frantic message from Kellie telling me that Sarah's story was eerily similar to ours! Looks like another case of GMTA. Anyway, here's Generation X for your reading pleasure. I apologize that it's been so long in the making and I promise never to start a story when I'm trying to take care of a 2 month old, buy a house and start back to work. :-);-);-);-)
"Scully, somehow I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."
Mulder rotated stiff shoulders trying to ease the cramp that had settled into them. He'd spent hours hunched over the steering wheel straining to see through the curtain of white surrounding their rental car. As soon as they found someplace to pull off, they'd switch places, but at the moment, there was nothing outside the car but blowing snow, fading light and a road that seemed to narrow while he watched.
"If you mean we're lost, I think that was made very apparent a couple of hours ago." Scully tried to keep the irritation out of her voice, but Mulder's jokes were beginning to wear on her already frayed nerves. When their flight out of Buffalo had been delayed for the third time, renting a car and driving down to Philadelphia had seemed like a good idea. At least until this storm hit.
"'A nice relaxing drive through picturesque Pennsylvania.'" Scully tried to keep her tone light, but some of her irritation must have surfaced.
"So now the weather's my fault? You give me too much credit. Trust me, if I had any control over this, it would be clear and 70 degrees! Anyway, I'm just driving. *You're* doing the navigating."
Mulder felt his stomach do flip-flops as the car started to slide again on the icy road. He relaxed a little as the tires gripped the road again, and sighed.
"Sorry, Scully, I didn't mean to snap at you." He glanced over at his partner, "I guess I'm just tired."
For what seemed like the hundredth time since they left Seattle, Scully noticed how drawn and tired Mulder looked. The past few days spent chasing shadows and red herrings had taken a lot out of both of them. Mulder seemed to have taken it especially hard. It was more than just having lost the E.B.E. they'd been tracking. He hadn't said much about what he found in Section 6 but something happened there that affected him deeply and left his boyish innocence a little tarnished.
"It's okay. I didn't like the idea of standing around that airport any more than you did." She paused, trying to think of something to help lighten the mood again. "This is what we get for believing the weather forecasts. I didn't mean to sound like I was blaming you."
Dana looked back down at the map in her lap as an awkward silence fell between them, broken only by the swish-click of the wipers and the crunch of tires on ice.
"The good news is that I think I've figured out where we are."
Mulder glanced over at her with a grin, his irritation seemingly gone. "Pennsylvania?"
Dana gave him The Look. "Don't start, Mulder." Resisting the urge to throw something at her partner, she checked her map one last time before continuing. "I think we took the wrong road out of Lock Haven. I'd be willing to bet that the road on the other side of that 18-wheeler was 150 and we turned on 664."
"Where will that take us?" In a futile effort to keep the windshield from icing up, he switched the climate controls from 'heat' to 'defrost'. Better frozen feet than blindness.
"664 out of Lock Haven should take us to the thriving metropolis of Gallagher."
"Sounds nice, Scully, but what exactly does thriving mean in this case?"
"According to Rand McNally, it means a population of less than 1,000 and the *only* town for miles."
"That's thriving enough for me," Mulder's overly calm voice continued over the sound of the windshield wiper, "Especially if a town of under 1,000 has a gas station." His lopsided grin *just* failed to reach his eyes.
Dana stiffened. "Mulder, tell me you're joking, please! We're not..." she stopped at his nod.
"We are..." as if to punctuate his words, the engine coughed a few times and then died and Mulder's grin widened in spite of himself, "...out of gas." They sat in silence as the car rolled to a stop on the edge of the snowy road and the implications set in.
"Scully, I hope you brought your galoshes."
Snow. Again. Jeanne sighed and let the drapes fall back to cover the window. Aimlessly, she wandered through the house, straightening pictures and lamp shades, feeling oddly restless and just a little anxious. She jumped a little when her grandfather clock bonged the half-hour.
10:30. Not quite lunch time, but close enough to elevenses. She smiled to herself as she went into the kitchen and began to fill the teakettle. Right after her mother died last year, she found that if she didn't pay attention to the time, she'd forget to eat. She'd had to set specific mealtimes and stick with them or else she risked going days eating little more than a banana or two. Some psychology book that she'd read had listed that as one of the warning signs of depression. She didn't need a list of symptoms to know that she was depressed.
Her hand lingered on the kettle. It, like so much in this house, had been her Mother's. Using it, she could almost feel her presence, almost smell her perfume, almost hear her laughter. But just almost. Sighing, she put a tea bag in the third cup. *Third* cup?
"Damn! Not *again*!" Jeanne looked helplessly at the three cups lined up on the drain board and the open tins of tea. She'd taken her cup off the rack without thinking and had apparently taken down two extras and put tea bags in them. Two of the cups had a little sugar in the bottom and one had a cinnamon stick in it. She dug her nails into her hands in an effort to keep them from shaking. She *hated* it when this sort of thing happened.
It was bad enough that when her 'talents' had first started to appear she had isolated herself from the people around her. Weathering her own puberty had been bad enough without having her peers' thoughts and emotions thrust upon her as well. That was when she'd begun to withdraw in an effort to protect her sanity, and started a cycle of withdrawal/rejection that was hastened by the strange abilities that surfaced at the oddest times.
Like now. Ever since yesterday morning, she kept finding herself in the middle of tasks that she had no memory of starting. Like opening up two of the unused rooms and putting clean sheets on the beds. Like thawing a whole chicken for dinner instead of a single piece. Like setting out three cups for tea. As usual, she tried to find some other explanation for it; but, as usual, she knew better. Try as she might to deny it, she knew that she would have two guests in her home that evening.
"Mulder, move over a little, my arm's asleep."
Scully shifted under their combined coats, relieving the pressure on her right arm, rubbing it to restore the circulation. They'd been sitting here for a couple of hours unable to do anything but wait. There were no landmarks, and with the snow drifting over the road, no road to follow either. Even if they hadn't been out of gas, they had no idea which direction to go in the white-out. The only thing they could do was wait for a road crew to come by with a plow, or until dawn and hope the weather cleared so they could try to walk. That is if there *was* a dawn. The clouds and snow had created an eerily white dusk at midday.
"Scully, did I tell you about the really great special I saw a few weeks ago about the Donner party?"
Scully sighed. "No, Mulder, you didn't, but I get the feeling you're about to."
"Whazza matter, Scully? You're not squeamish are you?"
Sighing, Scully leaned her head back against the car seat and closed her eyes. "I'm cold, Mulder. Tired and cold and hungry and *not* in the mood for this. I can barely feel my feet and all I can think of is that horrible hamburger I didn't finish yesterday."
He sighed too. "Didja have to mention food? It's been..." checking his watch in the dim light he continued, "almost 6 hours since breakfast, if you can call pretzels and half a stale sandwich breakfast. My stomach keeps asking why I cut my throat."
"Mulder, have I ever told you how much I *hate* traveling with you sometimes?" She laughed and shook her head, "You're like a magnet for disaster! Just think. Before I met you, I'd never chased UFO's or been stalked by a shape shifting mutant who just wanted me for my liver or..."
"...Or been bugged and harassed by the very government you work for?" Mulder tried to keep the bitterness out of his voice. Right now, they needed to keep their spirits up not get bogged down in emotional issues. Scully didn't know the whole story of what had happened in Section 6 and until he'd had a chance to think it through, he didn't want to tell her. The whole thing was still too close to the surface for him; still too raw. He'd always trusted too easily and even now, when he dealt daily with cover-ups and hoaxes and conspiracies he was still trusting people he shouldn't. Finding out that his source had lied to him had been a terrible shock. He'd obviously thought of the man as more than just a resource, almost as a comrade-in-arms, soldiers in a cause.
Unfortunately, Mulder now had reason to wonder just which side his 'friend' was on. Or maybe the question he should be asking is which *war* they were each fighting. Before the business with the Iraqi E.B.E. he would have sworn it was the same one, but now he didn't have the luxury of being certain of anything. Mulder glanced at the woman seated next to him. Staring out at the blowing snow, she was lost in her own thoughts and they didn't look particularly pleasant. Looking at her he knew that there *was* one thing in his life right now that was a sure thing. Scully.
When he needed her, she was there. She might not always believe in his theories, but she was at least willing to listen to the possibilities. And she *trusted* him. He knew that she'd been assigned to him as a watchdog, but somewhere along the way Scully had gone from spy to partner. That was a relationship which, since he'd taken over the X-Files, he'd never expected to have again.
Jeanne typed even faster when her Macintosh beeped at her and the new mail alert appeared on her screen. She couldn't help but grin when she saw who the message was from. No matter how hard she tried she never could keep up with Angie. She couldn't decide if Angie was just a super-fast typist or if she had somehow managed to plug her modem directly into her brain. Not that she minded the e-mail, on the contrary, she looked forward to it.
Her talents had put her in a strange and difficult position. She *loved* people, she just couldn't bear to be around them for very long. Electronic friendships solved that problem. She could interact with people without being constantly bombarded by their thoughts and emotions. When she discovered the Internet a few years earlier, she'd had no idea how important it would become to her. Sometimes she felt like a junkie needing a fix. She'd log on first thing in the morning and often stay on all day and into the night.
She finished the message she was typing and sent it off before pulling up Angie's latest message. Jeanne started to laugh helplessly as she read what her friend sent her. Angie had the marvelous gift of always sending the most outrageously funny messages just when she needed them most. The latest involved the antics of Angie's 3 year-old son, a large cat and a well-intentioned Rotweiler.
Jeanne replied to the message, still chuckling and wiping her eyes then paused to pick up her tea. As her hand touched the cup, she remembered the incident with the three cups and all traces of merriment fled. Should she tell Angie about that? She'd told her about the dreams she'd been having lately. Jeanne froze, her tea cup halfway to her lips. Those *dreams* had been intensely erotic. Could they be somehow related to all the odd things that had happened to her lately?
/No!/ In a single motion, Jeanne slammed her teacup down next to her keyboard, spilling some on the table and shoved her chair back, knocking it over as she stood. Her stomach knotted as a series of images and feelings rushed over her-- fear/betrayal/a small cubicle bathed in red light/trust/friendship/sorrow/a woman with reddish-gold hair surrounded by white light/concern/anger/fear/betrayal/cubicle bathed in red light
"STOP IT!!!!!!" Jeanne screamed, falling to her knees as she slammed mental barriers down between her and the waves of emotion that threatened to overwhelm her.
"Mulder! Wake up!" Scully shook him awake
"Ummm?" He opened his eyes, looking a little confused. "Whazzup, Scully?" He rubbed his eyes and tried to sit up a little straighter.
"You were having a nightmare. I would have let you finish it, but you were beginning to thrash around and I was afraid you'd hurt yourself." Seeing the look on his face, Scully smiled a little and added, "Or me."
"A nightmare? How long was I asleep?" Mulder rubbed his eyes and ran a hand through his hair. He still looked a little dazed.
"Only 15 minutes or so. I should have known that you'd be one of those people who can sleep anytime, anywhere."
"Anywhere but where I'm supposed to," he said wryly. It wasn't the first time he'd implied that he had trouble sleeping. Dana wondered for a moment if she should suggest he see someone about it, then decided against it. He knew he had a problem, he'd deal with it in time.
"Thanks for waking me up, it was a weird dream."
Scully waited a moment to see if he'd volunteer anything, but he just turned and looked out into the snow. She shrugged and looked out her own window, leaving him to his thoughts. He glanced at her a moment later, and wondered what she'd say if he told her about the dream... about images of a gray-eyed woman he'd never met, and of and being chased by shadows that weren't really there.
Two o'clock. Jeanne heard the grandfather clock ring in the hour and realized she'd been sitting motionless in front of her Macintosh for over 20 minutes, waiting for something. She'd been waiting for *something* all day and it was driving her crazy. One last time she checked to see if she had any new mail to deal with. Not finding any, she reluctantly logged off and proceeded to shut down her computer.
Food, that's what you need, she thought to herself. A good solid lunch. The jingle of car keys in her hand brought her up short.
"Damn! Damn! *Damn*!"
Jeanne leaned against the door, eyes shut, trying to regain her control. It kept happening again and again, she couldn't stop it. But she had to try. She had to keep herself in line.
Seeing her at the side door, Beast jumped down from his perch on the bookcase to wind around her feet, hoping she'd let him outside. Usually, Jeanne scolded him for getting on the shelves. A thirty pound Maine Coon cat could do considerable damage to paper goods even without meaning to; though Beast, unlike his sister, Beauty, was as mild- mannered as could be.
"Rrrooooowrrrr?" His plaintive cry brought a smile to Jeanne's face and gave her a much needed focus for her attention.
"Poor mistreated kitty, come here." Jeanne sat down on the floor next to him and let him climb into her lap.
"Beast, trust me, you *don't* want to go outside. No matter how many times I open the door, it's *still* going to be winter out there."
With one hand, she stroked his long silky coat, gently tugging on his ruff. With her other hand she scratched *just* the right spot under his chin. Beast rumbled and grunted in contentment, his massive front paws kneading the rug next to Jeanne's thigh. Obviously this was almost worth not going outside.
Jeanne looked deep into the cat's bronze eyes and 'reached' out to him. Her cats were the only living creatures she'd ever felt comfortable 'connecting' with. Their emotions were simple, direct and almost restful in their intensity. Feeling Beast's response to her caresses, the mental 'tug' she'd been feeling more and more strongly all day relaxed its hold just a little.
She sighed in relief and for the thousandth time wondered what it would be like to be this relaxed with another human being. Jeanne suspected that her inability to consciously connect with members of her own species was a reflection of her own fears and insecurities. Being far too interested in themselves, the cats couldn't be bothered with a mere human's weaknesses and self-doubts.
Beast managed, somehow, to roll over onto his back 'in' her lap. Jeanne giggled at the comical expression on his furry face as he tried to convince her to keep scratching his ears even though they were now plastered on the floor. He'd never gotten it through his head that he no longer *fit* in her lap, but he did keep trying.
"Get up from there, Beast! Don't you know that cats are supposed to be aloof and dignified?" She giggled again as his tongue sagged out of his mouth in response to having his stomach rubbed.
"Silly thing! I suppose I should feel flattered, except that I think you'd act like this no matter *who's* lap you're in. C'mon, slut-cat, get up, my leg is going numb."
Getting no response from the cat, and not really expecting any, Jeanne eased herself out from underneath 30 pounds of limp cat and leaned back against the door. Rubbing her leg, she looked out at the falling snow and a wave of that same fear and betrayal that she felt earlier in the day hit her again.
He needs me, she thought. He's out there and he needs me. She didn't know who 'he' was, but that didn't seem to matter.
"All right!" She snapped aloud. She wasn't sure who she was talking to, but her mother had always called it her 'guardian angel.' Sometimes she felt 'personal demon' was a more accurate description, though that wasn't wuite fair. It had never placed her in jeopardy, and things had always turned out for the best. It wasn't evil, it just had some *intent* for her life that she couldn't see. Whatever it was, it demanded recognition. "All right," she repeated, "I'll go, but not until *I'm* ready!"
A weight lift seemed to lift from her mind. Whatever was feeding her 'suggestions' always seemed content to wait, once it had won her over. She got up and put her car keys in her pocket as she headed for the kitchen. Beauty, with that uncanny knack cats have to sense the proximity between their humans and food, woke from a sound sleep and raced to the kitchen.
"Settle down, greedy-gut, you've still got food in your dish."
Jeanne put the kettle on high, then rinsed the chicken she'd thawed, plopped it into a roasting pan and rubbed a handful of salt, sage and marjoram over it. That done she surrounded it with quartered potatoes and whole carrots, and put the lid on, taking refuge in the mundane tasks. Turning the oven on just high enough to be safe but low enough that it wouldn't cook too quickly, she set the pan in the oven and looked down at the cat.
"So, what do you think, Beauty? Will our guests appreciate a nice, hearty dinner when they come in from the cold?"
Jeanne continued to talk to the cat while Beauty watched every move, obviously hoping something edible would drop. Jeanne smiled at the absurdity of carrying on a conversation with a cat, then shrugged her shoulders and poured a bit of milk into a small bowl which she put down for Beauty.
"There. That's the least I can do since you put up with my yakking."
Beauty ignored her and began to devour the milk almost before the bowl made it to the floor. Jeanne stroked the cat for a moment then picked up the thermos and rinsed it with hot water from the sink to keep the bottle from breaking as she poured near-boiling tea into it. Next she put some of her homemade 'munchie mix' into a bag and left the cat to mind dinner.
Jeanne muttered under her breath and hoped the Scout's tires were up to the icy road. One of the drawbacks to her talent was that while she knew instinctively 'where' the person or thing she was searching for was, she had no similarly instinctive knowledge of the route she needed to take. She could see the car in her mind and knew the stretch of road it was on, but she had to trust that she could get there. So far, she'd never 'found' something in her mind that she'd been unable to actually get to, and she hoped this wasn't going to the first time as the ancient vehicle struggled against the snow that had drifted across the road.
"Only a little bit further, Monster. You can do it." Jeanne peered through the crazed windshield and the blowing snow looking for some sign of a car.
"Damn it! I'm trusting you!" she said to the force that was guiding her. "You sent me out here in this crap, it's got to be here somewhere! I didn't come out here just to get lost and freeze to death! Come on and help me find it! Wait... what's that?" A snow-shrouded shape loomed in the haze ahead. "*There*! There it is!"
She pulled up a couple of car-lengths behind the mound that was a car, leaving herself enough room to turn around. She debated a moment about turning the Scout off then decided it wasn't worth the risk. It wasn't as if anyone were going to *steal* it! She laughed at the thought and bundled up for the trip to the car.
"At least it's almost stopped snowing." She opened her door with a sigh, "I've *got* to stop talking to myself like this."
Stepping out into the cold, she found herself hip deep in the snow, and half-blind in the swirling whiteness. She reached back into the Scout and picked up the coiled rope she kept behind the driver's seat. Tying one end around her waist she tied the other end to the Scout's grill and started fighting her way to the car. Halfway there she remembered the shovel stowed near the tire tools in the rear of the Scout. Rather than go back, she decided to gamble that she could get the snow cleared from the door with her hands. At least the drift only came about half-way up the side of the car!
Mulder glanced up from the crossword puzzle he was attempting to work in spite of dim light and cold fingers.
"Does it look like the storm's letting up some," he asked. "Or is it just wishful thinking? Why don't we try the phones again?"
Scully pulled their cellular phones out of the glove compartment and handed Mulder's to him, then opened her own and activated it. Instead of a dial tone she got only the same peculiar static she'd gotten each time she'd tried to use her cellular phone since they'd become stranded.
"No good. Just static."
"Mine, too." Mulder snapped his phone shut and handed it back to her. Huddled together under their coats as they were, it was easier to store things like their phones in the glove compartment than in their pockets.
"I wonder what's causing it? They can't *both* be malfunctioning. We must be out of range of a transmitter, though I wouldn't have thought that *any* place in this area would be out of range."
Mulder gave her one of the most malevolent smiles he was capable of and started to hum the theme from The Twilight Zone.
She turned the Scully Stare on him and got the desired effect as he grinned and went back to his crossword puzzle. She was a little relieved to see her partner beginning to joke with her again. He seemed to be coming out of the depression that had settled over him in the past few days. Still, Dana admitted to herself, it *was* eerie to just be sitting in there car with the storm alternately raging and dying around them.
"Are you *still* working on that crossword?" she asked, just to break the silence.
"I'm still working on *a* crossword. I finished *that* one about an hour ago."
"I should hope so. I can't imagine 'TV Trivia' would be very challenging."
"Think so?" Unable to resist the unspoken challenge, Mulder flipped back to an earlier page in the puzzle book he'd picked it up in the Seattle airport in preparation for the long flight back to D.C. It had looked mindless and that's what he'd wanted after what he'd been through.
"Ok, *Doc*-tor Scully, try this. 23 across, 6 letters, 'Ben Cartwright's first profession'."
Scully grinned and tried not to think about how cold she was getting. "He was a sailor. You're going to have to do better than that if you want to trip me up."
"Ahhh, so you liked 'Bonanza', did you?"
"Mulder!" she laughed, "*Everybody* liked 'Bonanza'! I'm not *that* much younger than you are! Anyway, turn on the TV any time of the day or night and it's *still* on one channel or other."
"Ok, ok, you got me there." He glanced back down to the completed puzzle and found one he'd had some trouble with, "How about 15 down, 'He played Alexander Mundy's father'. 7 letters."
"Fred Astaire. C'mon, Mulder, ask me a tough one." Scully reached over and turned the puzzle book in his hands to look at the Title. "Isn't there anything more challenging in here?"
"Ok, Einstein, flip to the back and let's see how...." His voice trailed off as he watched all the color drain from Scully's face as she stared over his shoulder, her eyes going huge. He tensed instantly, and craned around just as a strange thumping sound began behind him.
Something dark and indistinct shadowed the window. He grabbed for his gun, not an easy prospect considering the fact that he had to flail around under layers of coat and clothing to even get near it. By the time he had wrapped his fingers around the butt, he realized he probably didn't need it. The shape resolved itself into a gloved hand, and more snow was brushed from the window. A bright red something bobbed behind the window. What the hell was it? It was where he'd expect a person's head to be... he relaxed and chuckled. Whoever it was had donned a bright red ski mask before venturing out. Of course, criminals had been known to wear ski masks, but any criminal crazy enough to be out in *this* weather could *have* his wallet! He glanced at Scully, who was regaining some of her color, and grinned.
"Looks like the cavalry's arrived."
It's *him*! Jeanne thought, gaping, getting a mouthful of wind-blown snow in the process. She stared, stunned, at the face peering back at her from behind the frost-rimed window. It really was the man she'd dreamed about. Oh, Lord, had she dreamed about him! She could even tell him the number of moles on his back, and what he looked like when he... She managed to shunt that thought aside and brushed more snow from the glass. Was *that* what this was all about? Had the dreams been precognition, not frustration? Had her angel sent her a man this time?
Oddly, now that she'd seen him, she was not particularly surprised. It was as if a part of her had known all along who she'd find out in the storm and couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. She smiled and waved as she began scraping snow away from the door. It was much easier than she expected. It had gotten cold enough that the upper layers were virtually powder, making her wish she'd brought a broom.
The snow had drifted over the right side of the hood, but the car itself had shielded the driver's side. The first few inches were easy, but as Jeanne got down below the powder to a mixture of snow, ice and mud she began to regret leaving the shovel in the Scout. She stopped for a moment to straighten the kinks out of her back and saw the man in the car trying to open the door from the inside. She watched while he used his weight to try and force the door, but the snow and ice were still blocking it.
She waved to get his attention and pointed at the door shaking her head when he looked at her. He nodded and then turned to say something to his companion... his companion. Jeanne bent down to start digging again and wondered who she was. Never, in any of her dreams, had she seen a woman with him. Was she his wife, or his girlfriend? So much for those dreams! Her wishful thinking must have gotten woven in with her precognition. She shook her head and grinned wryly at herself.
She bent back down and started on the last layer of frozen muck, glad of her heavy work-gloves. The exertion had her huffing in no time but she was almost to the bottom of the door. Looking up she saw two face-shapes looking down at her through the fogged-up window. She pulled out her secret weapon and waved it at them before liberally spraying the hinges and edge of the door with de-icing fluid. Finally, she stood back with an 'after you' gesture hoping that the man's weight against the door would finish the job.
He obviously understood because his companion moved over to the far side of the car and he threw himself against the door with an audible thud. He leaned farther away from the door and hit it again. This time it moved a little. Jeanne signaled for him to stop and she hit the hinges and the latch with more of her de-icer then got out of the way in case he succeeded on his next attempt. As he continued to pound against the door, Jeanne noticed that the snow was beginning to thicken again and the light was beginning to fade for good. She shivered despite her heavy coat.
"Come on! It's *cold* out here!" Jeanne hissed fiercely. With a groan the door gave way... and stuck. The opening was just wide enough for her to get her gloved fingers into. She pulled and he pushed and the door creaked open another inch or two.
"Stand back," he said, his voice sounding oddly muffled through the door and the snow. Turning his back to his companion he braced his feet against the door and pushed, hard. His effort widened the opening enough for them to get out.
"Are you okay?" Jeanne took the man's arm as he stumbled a little getting through the tight opening.
Warm hazel eyes looked down into hers and Jeanne felt herself flush in spite of the cold and the wind and the snow. Those *eyes*! An unfamiliar feeling bloomed inside her, making her feel suddenly warm. She looked away quickly as he replied.
"I'm fine. Just a little stiff, not to mention cold!"
The woman had easily squeezed through the open door and was hunching down into her coat. Jeanne was surprised to realize that the woman was as short as she was, not much over five feet.
"Thank you for stopping, Ms...?" The woman let her sentence trail off, obviously waiting for a name.
"Jeanne Fitzcarrol," Jeanne said, sticking her hand out, then pulling it back as she realized her gloves were coated with icy muck. "Sorry, can't shake hands."
"That's all right. I'm Dana Scully, this is Fox Mulder, we're with the FBI, though that's hardly applicable, other than to point out that we're honest, trustworthy, and brave." She grinned at her own words. "And we really do appreciate the help."
"No problem!" Jeanne lied baldly, "I was out anyway and one of my neighbors said he thought he'd seen a car come down here earlier. This road isn't high priority and the locals know to stay off it when the weather gets bad." Much as she hated lying, she wasn't about to confide in strangers. That was a sure way to get carted off to the looney-bin.
"My house isn't far, if you'll get your things and pile into the Monster we can go *home* where it's warm."
"'The Monster'? " The man looked at her again with those incredible eyes as he gently tugged the can of de-icer from her grip and turned to use on the trunk. Feeling a little foolish, Jeanne gestured over her shoulder toward the Scout.
"That's the Monster. " Seeing his blank expression she looked to where she'd parked the Scout and saw only a curtain of falling snow. She looked around and realized the snow was coming down much harder than before, she'd been so busy she just hadn't noticed.
"Well, it was there a minute ago. Here, give me some of your stuff and each of you hang onto my jacket." Jeanne helped them redistribute the bags the man had extracted from the trunk, and then grabbed the rope tied around her waist.
She held up the rope so they could see it. "Much better than bread crumbs, don't you think?" she asked as she began to slog through the snow back toward the Monster.
Mulder watched Scully pull the blanket Jeanne had given her more securely around her shoulders as she leaned back against the seat with a sigh. The inside of 'The Monster' could hardly be called toasty, though it *was* marginally warmer than the car they'd been stuck in. Scully shifted her knees toward the gearshift a little to give Mulder more leg room. The three of them were in the front seat for the simple reason that there *was* no back seat. Sully seemed to be relaxing now, as she accepted the fact that they'd been rescued. Mulder passed her the thermos of hot tea that Jeanne had brought, along with a bag of dried fruit and nuts. The calories and the heat were very welcome.
"So, what *possible* interest could the FBI have in this part of Pennsylvania? Did somebody finally report old Ethan Graustark's still?" Jeanne Fitzcarrol asked suddenly, out of the blue.
Scully nearly choked on her sip of tea, and Mulder saw their host's mouth curve with a grin at the thought. She had a nice smile... a nice mouth. He wondered what the rest of her looked like, but couldn't see much past the mouth outlined with red wool, and a pair of light-colored eyes similarly encircled. The ski mask was no doubt warm, but it was a definite hinderance to his curiosity.
"A *still*?" Mulder grinned himself, enjoying the image as much as Jeanne obviously did, "No, we're just on our way back to Washington."
"Oh, *good*!" Jeanne put the back of one gloved hand against her forehead in exaggerated relief. "I don't think the county could handle it if that still were shut down."
Mulder glanced at Scully, still grinning slightly.
"Why would he be worried about the federal government coming after his still? Prohibition was repealed a number of years ago, if I remember my history."
"Well, *you* know that and *I* know that, but Old Ethan's convinced that Prohibition's still in effect and that the government is just trying to trip him up so they can...", her voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper, "...*catch* him in the act."
Scully shook her head in disbelief.
"Do you mean to tell us that there's a man near here who's been operating and *hiding* a still since the *thirties* because he doesn't believe that Prohibition is really over?"
"You know how it is, Scully, some people see conspiracies everywhere." Mulder somehow managed not to grin as he said it.
Whatever Scully had intended to reply was cut off by a gasp as the Scout lurched sickeningly to the right.
"Sorry about that." Jeanne said apologetically, peering through the cracks in the windshield searching for what passed for the road in the dim headlights.
"I'm impressed you've gotten this far," Mulder commented. "What's your secret?"
"Sonar," she deadpanned. "I'm part dolphin."
Jeanne wiped at the foggy windshield with her right hand, her face hidden behind her arm for a moment. Mulder grinned. Part *dolphin*? Now that was creative. He wondered why she'd lied about being out in the storm. He had felt the air from the heater growing steadily warmer as they'd driven, which made it was obvious that the Scout had been nearly stone-cold when she'd first gotten to them. That meant she hadn't been driving for very long at all. Where had she been headed when she'd stumbled across them? In this weather? It didn't make sense, but it was also none of his business.
"Here we are!" Jeanne said, breathing a sigh of relief as she saw the big chestnut tree that marked the turn-off to the house.
"Where's here?" Scully peered out her window obviously seeing nothing but semi-darkness and snow.
"My house. It's just ahead, around that curve."
Jeanne slowed the Scout to a crawl, hoping they would *not* have to get out and walk the last little bit. She wanted to get the Scout in the shed, because she could sense that the light snow that was falling was only a lull. The worst of the storm had yet to hit them. At least the pine trees had sheltered this road some, and the carport would keep the worst of it away from the shed door.
Jeanne sighed as the Scout slewed around the last curve.
"There it is. Much as I hate mercury vapor lights, at times like this I'm grateful for them. It's certain we're not going to get any moonlight for a while." The falling snow softened the usually harsh light and it lent a surreal touch to the scene before them. Two lights, mounted high in a towering oak illuminated a fairy tale house.
Situated in the middle of a fair sized clearing, the two-story Victorian looked as if it had grown there. Unlike many of its contemporaries, the house was in perfect balance with itself and its setting. The gingerbread that hadn't been completely buried by the snow was relatively simple and the obligatory turret added just the right touch of dignity. The roof almost looked like it was covered with icing rather than snow and the lights made the falling snow look like diamonds dancing on the wind.
"What a beautiful house!" Scully exclaimed. "All it needs is a couple of unicorns in the yard."
Two pair of eyes turned toward her in obvious surprise, and Scully flushed in obvious embarrassment at her momentary flight of fancy.
"In the dark and covered with snow *everything* looks good. The rest of the time you can see the peeling paint and the shingles that need replacing." Jeanne pulled under the relative shelter of the carport and leaving the engine running, she turned to her guests.
"Get your things together and I'll let you in. I need to get The Monster into its lair to keep it from freezing up on me. And I don't want to hear a word about either of you helping me. You're both three- quarters frozen." She smiled in contrast to her stern tone. "I'm only half-frozen, so I draw the duty. Now, come on. Let's get moving before this beast goes belly up."
"Yes, ma'am." Mulder looked as if he might have saluted, had there been room, and leaned over the seat to start gathering their bags. He'd wedged them in between a couple of old crates containing an assortment of tools, two huge bags of cat-litter he assumed were there for traction, and a case of motor oil. In the meantime, Scully had dug their briefcases from under her feet and opened her door. The interior of the Scout felt like an electric blanket compared to the cold that swept in through the open door.
The wind that had seemed so fairy-tale as it blew glittering snowflakes around cut right through blankets and coats to chill them to the bone within moments. Jeanne hurried to the door and threw it open for them, motioning them to go on in as she dashed to the shed and wrestled the doors open. That done, she ran back to the Scout and climbed in. She saw the man... Mulder, watching her from the door as she headed for the shed, then he stepped inside. She wondered what exactly his first name was. She thought the woman had said "Fox" but that couldn't be right. What name sounded like Fox? She tried rhyming a few letters, and came up with Box, Sox, Ox, Locks, Rocks, and Mocks. None of which worked any better than Fox, and all of which made her think of Dr. Seuss. She chuckled as she pulled the Scout into the shed and parked, then fought the shed doors closed and headed for the house.
The house was blessedly warm inside. Mulder set their suitcases down, worrying a bit that the melted snow would damage the hardwood floors. Something smelled wonderful. Chicken? His mouth watered, and he hoped fervently that there was enough of whatever was cooking for all of them. He began to unbutton his coat, and stepped quickly out of the way as the door flew open to admit their savior. She was *short*, he noticed, as short as Scully. She seemed surprised to find them there.
"Well, what're you waiting for? Take off your coats and pretend like you're gonna stay awhile, okay?"
She turned away toward a row of pegs on the wall, and pulled off the ski-cap, spilling a wealth of gold-streaked dark brown hair out across her shoulders and back. The color was unusual, the combination of dark and light tones was not one he saw often, but it looked natural. Not that he'd know if it wasn't. He watched impatiently, wanting her to turn around so he could see her face. Oblivious to his impatience, she took off the massive Navy pea-coat and stretched up to hang it on one of the pegs. As she did, the long sweater she wore it rode up, revealing a pair of heavy cotton leggings beneath it, and along with that one of the nicest chassis it had ever been his privilege to behold.
He admired the view for a moment, not bothering to look away, since she had her back to him and wouldn't notice. A moment later he felt a sharp pain in his ribs and winced, sucking in air as Scully's elbow withdrew. The look in her eyes said plain as day that she'd seen him ogling Jeanne. He flashed her a sheepish smile and turned away to take off his coat.
"Ms. Fitzcarrol, could you point me in the direction of your bathroom?" Scully asked, reminding Mulder of just how long it had been since either of them had had access to one. He hoped she didn't take too long.
"Oh, call me Jeanne, please, and it's right down the hall there, on your left."
"Thanks," Scully murmured, "Mulder, would you mind?" Dana queried, holding out her coat. He shook his head, knowing the feeling, and she hurried off down the hallway while Mulder reached to hang her coat next to Jeanne's. As he did, something pushed against his thigh and nearly knocked him sideways into their host.
"Ngao?" The something rumbled, loudly. He stared down at it in astonishment.
"What the hell is that?" he asked, staring down at the animal whose front paws reached his hip as it stretched upward, still making that peculiar 'rrrgaol' noise. It had claws, he noticed. Thankfully, at the moment it wasn't *using* them, just sort of *flexing* them. It had to weigh at least thirty pounds, maybe more, and he had no idea what it was.
"Oh, that's just Beauty. She likes you. That's quite a compliment, she's not usually very social."
"Uh... good, I think. Um... what exactly *is* Beauty, anyway?"
She looked up at him, surprised, and he found himself making his own definition. Beauty was standing right in front of him. She had fair, creamy skin with golden undertones that complimented the streaks in her hair. Her face was a classic oval, her features even, her mouth full, and dimpled on one side as she smiled quizzically. Her eyes were a clear, steady gray, almond-shaped and long-lashed... oddly familiar. Beneath her sweater there was a hint of roundness, just enough to tantalize. He realized he was staring and shifted his eyes back to the creature on his leg.
"She's a *cat*, Mr. Mulder. Haven't you ever seen a cat before?"
"A cat?" he echoed blankly, "That's a *cat*? What *kind* of cat? Cougar?"
Jeanne laughed, an honest, open sound. "No, a Main Coon."
"What is that, half raccoon?"
She chuckled softly, shaking her head. "I believe they call them that because they were bred to *hunt* raccoons."
"That I can believe!" he said fervently, and tentatively reached down to rub his fingers across the silky, tigerish head. In response Beauty's claws tightened in a classic "knead" and he winced as they went through wool and into flesh.
"Beauty, *no.*" Jeanne said sternly, reaching over to slide her fingers between the flexing claws and his slacks, closing them around the paws and pushing Beauty away. Mulder relaxed, watching the animal sit reluctantly back on its haunches, regarding him with unblinking green-gold eyes. He squatted down and stroked his hand down Beauty's back, earning a head-butt that nearly toppled him. Scully reappeared from the hallway, and took in the scene with a grin.
"Make a friend, Mulder?"
"I hope so!" he said, trying not to think about Jeanne's touch on his thigh. "I certainly wouldn't want to be an enemy."
Scully chuckled. "No, you wouldn't." She looked up at Jeanne. "Main coon, right?"
Jeanne smiled. "Good spotting!" Her glance went to Mulder and he nodded.
"I thought it was a mountain lion."
Scully laughed. "There is a resemblance! An old friend of mine had one, or I probably wouldn't have known either. I bet you don't have a problem with mice."
"And you'd win that bet. Come on, I'll show you where you can put your stuff, then you can call let your office and friends know you're safe."
She led them up the narrow, white-bannistered stairway to the second floor. Mulder had to duck a bit at the top of the stairs, because the ceiling there was low where the staircase turned back on itself and ascended to the cupola. Neither Scully or Jeanne had that problem.
"Ms. Scully, why don't you take this room..." Jeanne opened the door closest to the stairs and gestured her in, then opened the next one and turned to Mulder. "And you can have this one, Mr. Mulder. They're both pretty much the same... small."
She looked a little apologetic, and Mulder shook his head.
"Believe me, this is much better than we could have expected!"
He put his suitcase down and looked around. It was a small room, rather homey, with a beautiful old quilt on the bed and an overstuffed chair in the corner. Next to the chair sat a small table that held a green- shaded banker's lamp. A narrow chest of drawers stood next to a door he assumed led to a closet. Another rag rug graced the pale pine floor next to the bed, just right for insulating one's toes from the chill of the floor in the mornings. He eyed the bed, an old-fashioned queen that was a bit on the short side, and knew he'd have to sleep diagonally to fit. Either that, or curled up, which might be a good idea considering the draft he could feel seeping in around the window frame. A gas heater was built into one wall. It was on, hissing faintly, its ceramic surface radiating warmth that fought to overcome the chill of the draft and won, barely.
"If you'll come out here for a minute..." Jeanne prompted from the hallway.
Mulder turned and joined Scully as Jeanne led them a few paces down the hall to another door, which was open to reveal an old, claw-foot tub with a shower-curtain drawn up at one end. Above it hung a shower- massage unit, incongruous with the tub. The room was unusually large, probably a converted bedroom, and like the bedroom it had a gas heater built into the wall.
"This is the upstairs bathroom, the one with the tub and shower. Downstairs is just a sink and a toilet. Towels are in here--" she opened the door next to the bathroom to reveal a deep linen closet. "--as are extra blankets, if you need them. In weather like this it can get pretty cold, even with the heaters going. Feel free to grab what you want, there's no need to ask permission."
"Have a lot of trouble with your voltage up here?" Scully asked, somewhat out of the blue. Mulder followed her gaze and saw that one shelf held a stack of what looked like electronic components instead of linens. Jeanne looked puzzled for a moment, then saw where Scully was looking and started to blush.
"Ah, yeah. I... I guess we do. We get a lot of power spikes, and I'm always having to replace the powersupply on my Mac. I keep a couple of extra ones on hand just in case."
"Wouldn't it be cheaper just to buy a surge suppressor?"
Jeanne's flush darkened, and she shook her head. "Doesn't work, I've tried."
From her reply Mulder gathered that they were talking about some kind of computer equipment. From her face he would have guessed a vibrator. What could possibly be embarrassing about a computer?
"Guess I'd better not plug in my Powerbook here, then?" Scully said lightly.
"I wouldn't recommend it." Jeanne said, ruefully. "Why don't you two put your stuff away, maybe change clothes if you like, then come on downstairs when you're ready. Dinner should be ready in about half an hour."
"Don't feel like you have to feed us," Scully began. Mulder eyed her narrowly over Jeanne's head, trying to telepathically shut her up. He was *not* letting dinner get away! He could feel his stomach protesting her words. Fortunately Jeanne had other ideas. She laughed.
"Don't be silly! Who knows how long you'll be here, you could *starve* before you got out! I keep a month's worth of supplies on hand just in case I get snowed in, so I've got plenty of food. Don't worry about it. Of course you'll eat here."
"Well, at least let us reimburse you..." Scully tried again.
"Haven't you two ever heard of hospitality?" Jeanne asked with a grin. "You can do dishes, okay?"
"You're on. We'd be happy to."
Mulder refrained from asking Scully what gave her the right to go around volunteering him, and nodded. If the food was as good as it smelled, it would be worth washing a few dishes.###
Jeanne left her guests to settle in, and went downstairs feeling as nervous as a cat, which was a really silly saying. Cats, in her experience, were not generally nervous, but she was. She hadn't spent this much time this close to another human being for months, for a year, actually. Not since her mother died. And to make matters worse she found herself continually remembering those damned dreams. He was going to get suspicious if she didn't stop blushing every time she looked at him.
Determinedly she pushed that thought away and headed for the television, which she tuned to the local news. As she'd expected, it was full of stories about the storm, and she sighed as the forecaster said it was expected to last another six to eight hours. That would mean enough snow to make the road completely impassible until the plow came through, and her road was low on the priority list for snow removal. In all likelihood she'd have company at least another full day, possibly two or three.
A few minutes later, as Jeanne watched a story about the huge number of accidents the storm had caused, footsteps on the stairs drew her attention as Dana Scully came downstairs. She'd changed out of her suit into comfortable-looking jeans and a sweatshirt, and her feet were encased in sheepskin slippers. She glanced around the room, and her gaze fell on the phone next to the computer on the desk by the window. Her face lit up and she moved toward it.
"Do you think I could use your phone? My friend Karen's watering my plants, and she'll be worried when I don't get back on time. I've got my phone card, I'll bill it to myself."
"No problem, go right ahead."
Heavier steps on the stairs heralded Mulder's arrival in the room. He had changed clothes too, into olive chinos and an ivory cable-knit sweater. Jeanne decided that both of them looked disgustingly like L.L. Bean models. Dana looked over at him with the handset in her hand.
"Want me to call the office, let them know we're okay?"
He nodded laconically. "Go right ahead and tell them we're here, but I really don't think anyone will be particularly concerned about *me*."
There was a sudden undercurrent of tension so strong that Jeanne could have felt it even without her unusual sensitivities. She looked at Mulder with more than just her eyes, trying to 'see' where that surge of resentment, anger, and frustration had come from. This was a man who was deeply unhappy in his work, but also somehow inextricably bound to it. Scully's reaction was interesting, an odd combination of long-suffering resignation, sympathy, and a touch of anger. Even more interesting was the fact that she gave no outward reaction to his statement. She just picked up the phone and started to dial. A slightly frustrated expression crossed her face, and she depressed the switchhook and tried again, then shook her head.
"The phone's dead."
"What?" Jeanne was surprised. "But it was working just a little while ago! I was on the modem all afternoon! Let me see..." she took the handset and listened, pushing the switchhook several times with no result. Nothing. Not even static. She shrugged apologetically.
"Sorry, I don't know why it's not working. The phone rarely goes out, not since they buried the cables, anyway. It'll probably be back soon. In the meantime, have a seat and I'll get dinner on."
"Can we help?" Mulder offered.
Jeanne thought about it, and nodded. "Sure, come on."
She led them into the kitchen and handed Scully a stack of plates.
"Here, you set the table, use the dining room table and we'll have a fire in the fireplace while we eat. And you--" she handed Mulder a carving knife and opened the oven, using a towel to shield her hands as she pulled out the roaster and set it on the stove. "--can cut up the chicken."
Mulder looked at the knife, then over at Scully, and grinned.
"Scully, I think you should do this. You're trained at cutting things up, I'm not. But I do set a mean table."
Scully snorted, but handed him the plates and took the knife.
"Somehow when I got my M.D., I didn't realize that my duties would extend to doing pathology on roast chickens."
"You never know what you're going to have to dissect when you work with me, do you?" Mulder asked her with a rather evil grin.
"You're a doctor?" Jeanne asked, feeling a little intimidated, and a bit jealous. Dana Scully was an FBI agent, *and* a doctor? It wasn't fair, not at all.
"I have my M.D.," Dana answered as she started on the bird, carving with surgical precision, "but I joined the Bureau right out of medical school, so I never actually practiced."
"Still, that's something to be really proud of."
Jeanne sighed, and turned to dish the potatoes and carrots into a bowl. She would never be able to anything like that. She was trapped here, in the middle of nowhere, doing nothing. Even if she managed to complete her computer science degree through correspondence courses, what could she *do* with it when she could hardly stand to leave the house?
"Silverware?" Mulder asked, interrupting her train of thought, his gaze steady and concerned as he watched her. She felt a moment of panic. Had she done something? A quick glance around the room told her that everything was in its accustomed spot, and she relaxed slightly, pointing at the drawer the flatware was in.
"There, though it's a far cry from silver."
He opened the drawer and extracted spoons, knives, and forks. He stood looking at them oddly for a moment, then glanced up at her.
"My grandmother had this same pattern in her kitchen. Strange, isn't it?"
Jeanne thought about it, and shook her head. "Maybe not. Those originally belonged to my grandmother. They're probably the same generation, and certain things were popular then. This is probably a very common stainless pattern from the nineteen-forties."
He studied her for a moment, and nodded. "Good deduction, clearly thought out. Ever think of going into law enforcement?"
Jeanne shook her head, not meeting his eyes. "No, I can't leave here."
She could tell he wanted to ask why, but he didn't, instead he just shrugged and pulled paper napkins from their holder on the counter before leaving the room to set the big walnut table in the other room. A moment later he was back, and she anticipated his next question.
"Glasses are in the cupboard next to the refrigerator."
Mulder nodded and got out glasses to complete the table setting. Jeanne skimmed the drippings, and made a roux of flour and milk. Whisking the drippings and roux together in a pan, she stole a quick taste of the resulting gravy and made a face. It needed something... pepper. The pepper shaker was on the spice rack, just out of reach, but if she stopped whisking, the gravy would lump. She sighed, and kept whisking, lowering the flame on the burner.
Seconds later, a quiet 'thunk' caught her attention and she looked up to see the pepper shaker settle onto the counter next to her with a slight wobble. With a gasp she grabbed it and shook it over the pan, hoping neither of them had seen what had happened, but she didn't dare look at either of them to make sure.
She'd been afraid that would happen. Her tension levels were sky- high, in more ways than one, and her psychokinetic abilities always got out of hand whenever she was tense. She thought about the tranquilizers in the medicine cabinet, and decided to wait it out. If this was all the worse it got, she might not need it. If it *did* get worse, she'd need the medication more later. She set the pan off the burner and opened the both the lower and upper cabinets and stepped onto the bottom shelf of the lower one to give herself the four extra inches she needed to reach the serving bowls stacked on the top shelf of the upper one.
"Allow me, I think I have the height advantage here," Mulder said from behind her, reaching for the bowls.
Surprised by his proximity, her foot slipped off the shelf and she fell backward into his solid form. He managed not to drop the bowl he'd picked up, and steadied her with his free hand.
"Sorry, didn't mean to startle you."
Blushing again, Jeanne shook her head and stepped away. "It's okay, I'm just not used to having anyone else here."
Behind her there was a loud crash as one of the aluminum jello-molds that decorated the wall fell off. She flinched as both agents turned, startled by the noise.
"Don't mind that!" Jeanne said brightly. "It happens all the time. The nail pulls out of the hole and it falls off. I should stop being lazy and not put the nail back in the old hole. I guess it's too big for it."
God, did that sound as lame as she thought it did? She prayed silently for the snow to stop so they could leave as soon as possible! If she had to keep making up stupid explanations for the little incidents her talent caused, they were sure to decide she was a moron!
Mulder set the bowl down on the counter, and before she thought to do it herself, had crossed the room and picked up the mold to hang it back up. He stood for a moment, blocking her view, and she froze, waiting for him to turn around and call her a liar to her face. She knew very well that the nail was still firmly in place in the wall. She held her breath, counting the seconds, and was surprised when he turned a moment later with a completely bland expression.
"There, back where it belongs."
Jeanne let her breath out in a rush. Why hadn't he called her on it? Whatever the reason, she felt profoundly grateful. The smile she gave him was genuine.
"Thanks!" She poured the gravy into the serving bowl he'd gotten down for her, dug a ladle out of the utensil drawer, and handed them to him. "Here, put this on the table, please. I think we're set... unless either of you feels a compelling need to have a green vegetable to go with the carrots. I've got peas, broccoli, or spinach in the freezer."
Her guests exchanged a glance and she saw a smile curve Dana Scully's mouth.
"I think I can do without, this once. And I don't think Mulder's eaten a vegetable since he left home to go to college."
"Hey!" Mulder protested, an expression of wide-eyed innocence on his face. "That's not true! I eat vegetables all the time! French fries, instant mashed potatoes, hash browns..."
"That doesn't count, and you know it," Scully said sternly.
"Well... how about the lettuce and tomato on a McDLT?"
Scully chuckled and picked up the platter holding the perfectly carved chicken, moving toward the door to the dining room. "Okay, that counts. Though to be perfectly accurate, a tomato is a fruit, not a vegetable."
"See, I eat healthy! Fruit *and* vegetables!"
Jeanne laughed with them, feeling at ease for the first time since they'd arrived. "Okay, Ms. Scully, Mr. Mulder, have a seat and let's eat."
"Why don't you call me Dana?" Scully said, "I feel silly calling you Jeanne if you're going to call me Ms. Scully."
"You're on." Jeanne smiled, waiting a little expectantly for Mulder to offer his first name. He didn't. Oh well. She followed them out to the table and noticed that Mulder had set the table so that all of them could see the fireplace, leaving the place closest to the hearth unused. He had also taken a moment to take her suggestion and light the fire she had laid earlier in the day. The room seemed cheerier with the blaze crackling away in the hearth. Dana and Mulder deposited their respective burdens on the table and Dana sat down. Mulder stood, uncertainly, as if waiting for Jeanne to sit down. It took her a moment to realize he *was* waiting for her, politely, since no one had ever done that for her before. Flustered, she made a feint at seating herself, then stopped halfway down and moved away.
"I forgot to get drinks..," she said apologetically. "Iced tea? Water? Hot tea? Orange juice?"
"Hot tea would be nice," Dana said with an exaggerated shiver. "I'm *still* cold!"
"You got it, Dana. What about you Mr. Mulder?" She emphasized the 'mister' just a bit, to point up the difference between the way she addressed Dana and the way she addressed him.
"I'd like orange juice, if its already made."
Jeanne stifled a sigh. Fine. She was obviously not meant to learn his first name. "One ojay, one hot tea, coming up."
Mulder bit the inside of his lip to hide a smile at Jeanne's obvious frustration with him over his name. He wasn't being mean, he just had no intention of letting *anyone* use his first name. He watched her walk back into the kitchen, his eyes slightly narrowed as he thought about the two incidents he'd observed in the kitchen. First was that half-seen, half-intuited glimpse of the pepper shaker moving without benefit of human hands; then the jello mold falling off a perfectly stable nail onto the floor. Could she be a poltergeist? The two incidents were a strong indicator, though he'd need more to be sure. The thing that made him unsure was that Jeanne looked to be in her mid-twenties, and usually that sort of paranormal activity went hand-in-hand with the glandular and mental upheavals of puberty, and stopped once things leveled out. It would be pretty unusual to find a woman her age who exhibited poltergeist symptoms.
Something else clicked into place suddenly. He'd wondered why she'd been out in the storm. The heater in the Scout had given the lie to her story of already having been out at a neighbor's house. The closest neighbor had to be two or three miles away, and the vehicle would have been completely warmed up after that distance. Could she possibly have come out for the express purpose of finding them? Had she somehow sensed their situation? It appeared that she lived alone, yet two bedrooms were made up. She'd made enough dinner for three. In fact, there had already been three mugs set out on the counter in the kitchen, one used, two not. Had she intended to drink three separate cups of tea herself? Living alone in the woods might make one a bit eccentric, but that didn't seem too likely. She'd obviously been expecting someone.
Of course, that didn't mean that it was *them* she'd expected. It could just as easily be that she had invited company over and the storm had interfered with the plans. When she'd mentioned that a neighbor had seen their rental car, she'd never specified that she'd been *at* the neighbor's. It could just have been a phone call, since the phone had obviously been functional earlier. He made a wry face as he realized he had automatically been attempting to give a paranormal cause to something that probably had a perfectly ordinary explanation. It was a good thing his ruminations had been silent, otherwise Scully would be all over his case.
He glanced into the kitchen to see if Jeanne needed help, and froze, stunned, as a small dish floated past the doorway and landed with a slight clatter on the counter. He stared at it for a good minute in utter disbelief, then he realized exactly what it was and started laughing, despite his shock. Scully looked at him with lifted eyebrows, and he shook his head.
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," he managed, still chuckling.
Scully made a face. "You always say that! Try me!"
"I just saw a flying saucer. A *real* flying *saucer*."
Scully sighed, shaking her head sadly. "Mulder, come on. No alien jokes tonight, okay?"
He lifted his right hand, three fingers up, thumb and little-finger folded across his palm. "No alien jokes, Scout's Honor."
"Were you a Scout?" Scully asked, surprised.
"Of course! Weren't you?"
"I'm deeply disappointed, Scully! Here I'd been picturing you in your cute little green uniform, going door to door with boxes of cookies."
She shuddered delicately. "Ugh, I *hate* sales jobs."
The kitchen door closed then, shutting off any further sightings. It was just as well. He didn't really want to have to tell Scully they were staying with a telekinetic. Jeanne hadn't robbed a bank, or committed any interstate crime that he was aware of. There was no reason at all to investigate her... though he wouldn't really mind a little closer inspection.
Mulder stared off into the fire and wondered how pissed Scully would be if he flirted with Jeanne. She really got riled whenever he pulled any "sexist bullshit" around her. He personally didn't consider flirting to be sexist, as long as it was in good taste and good humor, but Scully could be a bit touchy on occasion. Probably it had a lot to do with all the crap she'd taken first in med school, then at Quantico. She'd *had* to be no-nonsense to deal with that.
On that thought the kitchen door opened and Jeanne emerged with a pitcher of orange juice in one hand, and a steaming mug in the other. She set the mug down by Scully who sniffed appreciatively.
"Kind of. It's just Constant Comment, with an extra cinnamon stick. It seemed appropriate for a night like this."
"When I was a kid, my mom always fixed spiced tea on cold nights like this. It really takes me back.
Mulder noticed that Jeanne didn't look very surprised by Scully's revelation, and he wasn't surprised by *that*. He was getting some very clear indications that there was more to Jeanne Fitzcarrol than met the eye. A lot more.
"Have you lived here all your life?" Mulder asked Jeanne with studied nonchalance.
She swallowed the bite she was chewing and nodded. "Yep, born and raised right here, near scenic Lost Woman Creek. My family has been here for four generations."
Lost Woman Creek? Mulder wondered, filing the name for future reference. It sounded like there could be an interesting story behind that name.
"You live alone?" Scully asked, picking up her cue.
Jeanne's expression became melancholy. "Since Mama died last year, yes."
"I'm sorry for your loss," Scully said gently. "I didn't mean to bring up sad memories."
"Oh, the memories aren't sad," Jeanne said, smiling. "I don't mind talking about her, so don't worry about it. After all, death is a part of living, isn't it?"
As she spoke, the gravy bowl lifted half an inch off the table. Jeanne grabbed it, but not before Mulder noticed. Scully, looking at Jeanne, missed the action.
"I think I'll just warm this up in the microwave." Jeanne said a little desperately, escaping to the kitchen with the errant dish. Mulder was even more sure now. She was definitely telekinetic, though she appeared to have no control over it. She was possibly empathic or telepathic as well. He almost wished she'd do something illegal so he'd have an excuse to investigate further.
"Do you think I should mention my father?" Scully asked quietly, almost in a whisper.
Mulder looked at her, puzzled. "Maybe, but why are you asking me?"
Scully rolled her eyes and sighed. "Because *you're* the psychologist, dummy!"
"Oh, you wanted a *professional* opinion! I get it! In that case, yes. People usually want to talk about deceased loved ones, and aren't given much of a chance to do so. She seems a bit depressed to me, and living out here in the woods by herself probably aggravates that. She'd probably love to have someone to talk to, especially another woman."
Scully looked at him oddly for a moment, a half-smile curving her mouth. He wondered if he'd dripped gravy down his front and glanced down surreptitiously to check. Nope, clean. He looked back up.
"What do you mean, what?"
"What's the look for?"
"Don't give me that! I know that look! That's your 'I know something he doesn't know' look, and you damn well know it!"
The smile became a full-fledged grin.
"I don't think it's *me* she wants to talk to, Mulder."
He narrowed his eyes at her. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Scully chuckled and she looked like she was about to reply, but Jeanne chose that moment to return with the bowl of gravy. Scully mouthed a silent 'Later' at him, and he was forced to go unenlightened.
"There, nice and hot again. Anyone need anything?" Jeanne asked with that same forced brightness she'd used a few minutes earlier.
Mulder eyed the platter, and nodded. "Yeah, pass the chicken, please."
As she handed it to him, he noticed her hands were shaking. She was really nervous. Why? Was it the stress of trying to hide or control her telekinetic abilities? Was she in some sort of trouble? God... he really needed to get a life! He *had* to stop doing this!
"So, what do you do? For a living, I mean?" he asked, forking chicken onto his plate.
"I...ah, I don't. Mama, and Gramma too, were really good with the stock market. They left me enough to get by for a while, so I've been taking correspondence courses from the university to earn a computer science degree. I guess I'll get a job eventually, since the money won't last forever, and I don't seem to have inherited their... skill."
Another clue? Maybe her talents were inherited? A light touch on his knee startled him into looking down, and he relaxed a bit when he saw Beauty sitting next to him, her paw resting on his leg as if to say "Hey, I'm here!" He picked up a small sliver of chicken and surreptitiously held it down to her. She took it, delicately, and disposed of it in short order.
"That's nice." Mulder responded to Jeanne's explanation. "Computer science is pretty marketable. Where would you go? It seemed from the map that the towns in this area are pretty small."
Jeanne's shoulders seemed to droop a little as she nodded. "Very true. I don't know where I'd go... it would be nice to find a job I could do from here... I mean, with a modem and a computer at home, you can telecommute to a lot of jobs these days."
Telecommute? It took him a good minute to stop trying to assign a paranormal meaning to the word. 'Tele' had come to imply psychic phenomena to him. His mind seized on that... what would her reaction be?
"You know, for a minute there I all could think of was 'telepath' and 'telekinetic'... that sort of thing. Funny, hunh?"
Scully rolled her eyes, but Jeanne stared at him as if she were trying to read his mind, her gaze narrowed and suspicious.
"Why would you think that?" she asked.
"No special reason," he lied. He'd gotten exactly the reaction he'd expected. "I read a lot of science fiction, I guess."
Scully made a rude noise. "I'll say!"
There was another touch on his knee, and without looking down he snuck another bite of chicken to the cat. This time she licked his finger, her tongue felt rough and strange against his skin. Unusual, a cat who begged *quietly*. Within moments her paw returned to his leg. He smiled a little, thinking that Beauty should have been named Greedy. As he reached for another piece, something touched him on the *other* knee and he jumped a bit in surprise, looking down to find himself flanked by *two* cats. Beauty, with her green-gold eyes had moved to his left side. On his right was another cat, even bigger than she was, with bronze- copper eyes. He hesitated for a moment, then gave the other cat the piece he'd intended for Beauty. She'd had two pieces already, and he didn't want to make the new one mad.
"So, how many cats do you have?" he asked, conversationally, trying to identify his new friend.
"Actually, I have three. Beast, Beauty, and their father, Percy. I used to have four, but a couple of years back their mother, Lucretia, got into a fight with something and lost, so it's just the three of them now."
"She lost?" Mulder asked, amazed. "What could get into a fight with one of these and *win*?"
"Probably a bobcat, or maybe a wolf. They say wolves are extinct here, but I sometimes wonder. I've seen pawprints... could be a big dog, but they look like the wolf-prints in the reference books."
"You never know, science is not always right," Mulder said with a sidelong glance at Scully, who pretended not to notice.
"Which one is this?" Dana asked, gesturing to her side.
Jeanne leaned over and looked under the table. Mulder did the same, to see yet another cat sitting patiently next to Scully's chair.
"That's Percy, you can tell by the gray in his fur." Jeanne said, then she noticed Mulder being circled by the Beauty and Beast like sharks, and laughed as she sat back up. "Been feeding them, have you? You'll never get rid of them now. I hope you're prepared to share all your meals from here on out."
Mulder looked at the two cats, then back up at Jeanne, a rueful smile on his face. "Guess I shouldn't've given in to their blandishments, hunh?"
"Nope, but take heart, I'm a soft-touch too, and if you stop feeding them they'll soon give up on you in favor of a known quantity. Here, you two, leave Mr. Mulder alone, okay?" she 'tchked' at them, tearing a couple of pieces of chicken from the decimated carcass and holding them out. Beauty and Beast deserted Mulder in favor of surer game, but Percy didn't move from his place next to Scully.
"Honest, I didn't feed him," Dana said in dismay.
"No, Percy's too dignified to mooch like his offspring. He just wants to check you out, and since his vision's not too good any more, he has to sit close."
Scully's face took on a classic "awww" expression and she reached down and fondled Percy's ears. "Hi fella, nice to meet you."
A low, rumbling sound started, and Mulder tensed. "Is he growling at you?"
Scully and Jeanne both looked at him, obviously amused. "He's *purring*, Mulder." Scully informed him.
"Oh," Mulder felt foolish. "Sorry, I just never heard a cat purr that loudly before."
"Get used to it." Jeanne said. "Either of you want dessert? I can warm up some applesauce cake, or there's ice cream..."
Scully shivered. "No ice cream for me, thanks. Not for awhile, I think! But the cake sounds great. Can I make myself another cup of tea?"
"Of course." Jeanne picked up her plate, the chicken platter, and reached for Dana's plate. Mulder leaned across the table and snagged it away. "I'll get the rest. You said we could wash up, remember?"
Jeanne smiled and nodded. "Yep, but I wasn't sure *you* would."
"Hey, we have to uphold our image. The FBI leaves no dish unwashed."
"I thought that was 'stone unturned'," Jeanne said, grinning.
"Is that what it is?" Mulder asked in mock dismay. "Well shoot! Scully, why didn't you correct me?"
"What, and miss my opportunity to see you wash dishes? No way!"
Dana grinned unrepentantly as she handed him the gravy bowl. He sighed loudly and finished clearing the table.
"Okay, but you dry," he shot back as he disappeared into the kitchen.
Jeanne sat reading in her favorite chair, occasionally getting up to tend the fire. They'd talked for awhile, then played Scrabble. Dana had gone up to bed about an hour earlier, and Mulder had headed up just after that. Jeanne still hadn't been able to calm down enough to feel sleepy. All night long she'd battled her wayward talent, managing (she thought, anyway) to keep them from noticing the various inanimate objects which periodically took on a life of their own. It had been a bizarre evening. In some ways she had actually enjoyed it, Dana was nice, and unless she was *very* much mistaken, Mulder had been flirting with her a little. Of course, he probably did that with all women, but it was flattering, and a bit exhilarating. If only she hadn't had to suffer through occasional bouts of nerve-wracking paranoia whenever her gift manifested itself!
Now she was feeling simultaneously wired, and exhausted. She made a face as she realized she'd just reread the same paragraph for the fourth or fifth time, and put her book down. Maybe some television would put her to sleep. She picked up the remote and turned on the tv, flipping channels, looking for something watchable. There wasn't much on. Just bad movies, inane talk-shows, and syndicated re-runs.
She finally settled for The Tonight Show, and mentally made fun of the guest's stupid comments. Suddenly the lights dimmed, and seconds later the television screen went white. The station had apparently gone off the air. She tried another channel, and got static there too. Not the station, then. The picture tube had just picked a particularly bad time to give up the ghost. Damn. With a sigh over the coming expense of getting it repaired or replaced, she turned it off, banked the fire, turned out the lights and headed upstairs. She might as well read in bed. Maybe she'd fall asleep *there*.
Someone was shaking her awake. Jeanne opened her eyes, and managed to focus on the person above her. In the darkness she could barely see, but even so she knew it was Mulder. He looked strange in the bright bluish light coming in from the window.
"Go to bed, Jeanne," he said, his voice husky with sleep.
Her head felt thick and thinking required intense effort, and his words didn't make any sense.
"I'm *in* bed," she pointed out. He'd woken her up for that?
"No, *your* bed," he rubbed his forehead, eyes squinted closed as if against intense pain. "You're in my room, shouldn't be here."
His room? She shouldn't be there. She sat up, and realized with a shock that she was naked. She covered herself with her hands, and tried to think... how had she gotten there? Thinking made a blaze of pain arc through her skull, so she stopped. Back to her own room. That was it. Go back.
"Woke up somewhere else, knew that wasn't right," Mulder said, eyes still closed, hand still massaging his forehead. "Came back, you were here. Need to go back, okay?"
She nodded and got to her feet, swaying as the pain in her head nearly overwhelmed her. Something smelled like cinnamon and cloves. Strangely, the scent nauseated her. He steadied her, and she was suddenly burningly aware of his touch, of *his* nakedness. Despite her headache and nausea, a flare of desire shot through her. She shook her head to clear it, then moaned as it made the pain worse. Pulling away from his hands, she made her way back to her own room, stopping once to lean against the wall and fight down nausea.
She finally made it back to her room and lay down, breathing deeply, regularly. After some time, she had no idea how long, the pain eased, and the nausea abated, but she felt so weird! Why was she naked? She was sure she hadn't gone to bed that way, not with company in the house. She even remembered putting on an old flannel nightgown, or she thought she had. She felt crampy and wet, all down her inner thighs, as if her period had started, but it wasn't due for two weeks. She also felt sore, *inside*, something she'd never experienced before in her life.
Worried, she sat up. The headache threatened to return, but not as badly. She turned on the light and looked at herself, and knew that the pink-tinged fluid between her thighs was definitely *not* menstrual blood. It wasn't even *hers*! With a sudden resurgence of nausea, she realized what it had to be. It hadn't been there before she went to bed, but it was there now. After she'd woken up in Mulder's bed, with no memory of how she'd gotten there.
The implication was horrible! Could she have misjudged him that badly? Would he have drugged her and raped her? With his *partner* in the house? It didn't make any sense! The man was an FBI agent, for god's sake! And she'd *liked* him, damnit! She didn't like very many people... her sensitivity told her too much about what they were really thinking to make it easy for her to like people. How could her abilities have failed her so utterly in this case?
The first thing she needed to do was to find out if her suspicions were correct... but how? Calling Dr. Adams at three a.m. during a snowstorm to have him drive all the way from Lock Haven and give her a pelvic was certainly not in the cards. She did have a speculum kit she'd gotten at a women's health seminar, but she had no idea what to look for as evidence. She sat on the edge of her bed, rubbing at a sore spot on her thigh and trying to decide what to do when suddenly the answer came to her. Dana Scully was a physician, even if she'd never practiced. She'd have a least an idea of what to look for.
Jeanne pulled her robe tight around herself and quietly walked down the hallway to the second guest room. She glanced at Mulder's door as she passed it, thankfully it was closed and no light showed below it. Shivering, she gathered her courage, then tapped lightly on Dana Scully's door. Several moments passed with no response, and she tapped again. A few seconds later she saw light beneath the door, then the door opened, and the ginger-haired woman looked out, sleepy but alert, and surprised.
"What is it? Is something wrong?"
Jeanne felt heat flood her face as she opened her mouth to reply, and no sound came out. She swallowed hard, and tried again.
"Um... could I talk to you for a moment, professionally?"
"As an agent?"
She shook her head, unable to meet the other woman's curious gaze. "No, as a doctor. I need to... I don't know... I mean, I think maybe I've been raped."
Scully stared at her for a long moment, then opened her door all the way. "Come in."
There was something so puzzled, so lost, about the expression on Jeanne's face that Dana couldn't help but respond to it. Thankfully she'd never been through that particular trauma herself, but she'd had friends, who had. She wondered how long it had been since it had happened, and if she was the first person Jeanne had talked to about it. No doubt those questions would be answered in time. She sat down on the bed and patted a spot beside her.
"Please, sit down. How can I help you?"
Jeanne sat down rather gingerly on the edge of the chair, as if poised for flight at a moment's notice. She fidgeted, studying her hands for a moment, then looked up.
"You're going to think I'm crazy..."
"I won't, I promise. Please, tell me. I'd like to help, if I can."
"But *I* even think I'm crazy! Why shouldn't you?"
"I don't know, but I can't help you unless you talk to me."
Jeanne studied her hands again, and finally sighed and nodded. "I need to know, is it possible to have sex and not know it?"
That wasn't at all what Dana had been expecting. She thought about it carefully before answering.
"I suppose there are situations where that would be possible. Do you have any history of epilepsy?"
Jeanne's pale face went a shade whiter. "Epilepsy? No! Not that I know of... I suppose... I know I sometimes have... well, but that's not... no. No epilepsy."
"You don't sound sure..."
Jeanne shook her head firmly. "No, I'm sure. I may have more than my share of peculiarities, but that isn't one of them."
"Okay, well then, a sleep disorder. There are cases of people who sleep so soundly that they cannot be awakened by strong stimuli, they have to waken on their own."
"I suppose that could be it... I've had a few instances where people said they tried to reach me and couldn't, while I was sleeping, and I don't remember anything about it."
"You could have a sleep study done, it's not difficult, I'm sure there must be a medical school with a sleep research division somewhere in the state. So, you think someone may once have raped you while you slept?"
Jeanne shook her head, her expression anguished. "I don't know! I just don't know of anything else that could explain it. When I went to sleep I was fine, and when I woke up, I hurt... and there was... stuff, inside me, on my legs, and I was bleeding a little."
Scully tried to keep her reactions clinical, but her instinct was to reach out and put her arms around the other woman and hold her. She settled for putting a hand on her shoulder and squeezing it lightly.
"It does sound like it might be a possibility, but it could be something else. A really bad case of candidiasis could cause similar symptoms, though I would think you would have had other, more common symptoms before it got that bad."
"Do you think so?" Jeanne sounded so hopeful.
"It's possible, did you have an examination done at the time?"
To her surprise, the young woman bit her lip and looked away as she answered. "I-- that's why I wanted to see you. I wondered if you could, if you would... I have a kit, but I don't know what to look for, what would be different."
Scully sighed gently, not wanting to let her down. "I'm afraid it would be very difficult for me to tell anything at this point. The examination would have to have been done immediately after you discovered the... symptoms."
Jeanne looked up at her, her expression dismayed. "It's only been an hour or so since I woke up, I didn't think it would make a difference."
Scully felt the sudden urge to sit down as the significance of Jeanne's words hit her. She took a deep breath.
"You mean this happened now? Tonight?"
"I think you'd better fill me in on all the details."
Jeanne looked at her oddly, and bit her lip again. "Maybe I shouldn't worry about it. I can go see my regular doctor tomorrow."
Dana had already assessed the implications involved. She knew what was behind Jeanne's sudden hesitation. She shook her head.
"No, if something happened, I need to know about it. Tell me."
"I'm an officer of the law, above all else." Scully forced her voice to be steady and reassuring, despite the fact that she felt neither of those things.
Jeanne nodded, and sat silent for a moment. Finally she started to speak, without looking up, her voice monotonous as she outlined the events as she remembered them... incomplete and bizarre as they were.
"For some reason I didn't say anything or do anything," she said, after she'd finished. "I just went back to my room and got in bed. I thought for a little while that I was going to throw up, I felt really sick. So I lay there until my stomach settled, but finally the feeling down there started bothering me so much that I got up and turned on the light to look. That's when I really woke up. I knew that stuff wasn't *mine*. And there was blood too, just a little bit, but definitely blood."
All Dana could hear for a moment in the silence was her own inner voice saying "Not Mulder... oh god, not Mulder..." over and over again, in a litany of denial. She shook it off.
"I'm afraid I don't have the instruments I'd need to do a pelvic... but I might be able to tell something from a cursory examination. I have to warn you though, the last time I did this on a living human being was in medical school."
Jeanne swallowed hard, mentally preparing herself. "I understand. I have a plastic speculum I got at a seminar, and a good flashlight. Would that work?"
Dana closed her eyes momentarily, then nodded. "Yes, that should work. Why don't we go in your room? You'll feel more comfortable there."
Jeanne nodded. "The kit's there too."
Dana picked up her briefcase knowing she'd need a pair of the sterile latex gloves she kept there for handling evidence, and possibly a swab and baggie. Jeanne stood up and re-tucked her robe around herself, then she led the way. As if in unspoken agreement, neither of them looked at the door that lay between their two rooms.
Jeanne regretted having involved Dana Scully. She'd regretted it as soon as she'd seen the expression on the other woman's face when she realized that if a rape had happened that night, there was only one person in the house that could have done it. But it was done now, and nothing would undo it. She retrieved the self-examination kit from her bottom dresser drawer and handed it to Dana, who looked it over for a moment, then nodded.
"This should be fine, it's still in its original packaging. Thankfully they've included everything I need, except a light. You said you had a good one?
Wordlessly Jeanne picked up the little halogen flashlight she kept on her bedside table for emergencies, and handed it to her. Scully clicked it on, then off again, nodding in satisfaction.
"I'll try to make this fast, and be as gentle as possible, but from what you've said this won't be very comfortable."
"It's all right, I'll be fine."
She lay down near the end of the bed, doing her best to stay in the relaxed state she usually achieved for her yearly exams. The knees- up-and-apart position was certainly familiar. She jumped as Scully placed a hand on her knee.
"That's just my hand, I didn't want to startle you," Scully's voice was calm, practiced, unthreatening, just like every other doctor's. Jeanne let it lull her as she stared up at the ceiling fixture, letting her eyes unfocus. Though she expected pain, there wasn't really any, just a vague discomfort. The embarrassment was harder to handle. It was also over relatively quickly, for which she was grateful. Scully busied herself with something in her briefcase as Jeanne sat up and fastened her robe.
"Well?" Jeanne asked, finally.
Scully turned, taking a deep breath
"You've certainly had sex, and for the first time, unless I'm very much mistaken."
Jeanne blushed, and shook her head. "You aren't."
"I thought so. That's where the blood came from. Anyway, there is clear evidence of penetration, and ejaculate. Oddly, though I found none of the genital trauma I would have expected to find in a forcible rape, other than the broken hymen. There seems to be a good deal of natural lubricant present."
Jeanne stared at her, frowning. "What does that mean?"
"Well, to put it bluntly, I'd say you were in a state of advanced sexual arousal when penetration occurred."
It took her a moment to absorb the words, but their meaning finally sank in.
"But... how? I don't remember! How could I not remember, if I was?"
"I don't know, I can't really explain it. Do you use drugs or alcohol at all, tonight especially?"
Jeanne almost took offense at the suggestion, but realized Dana was just trying to help, and shook her head. "No, I never drink. Things... happen... when I drink. And I've never had any drugs that the doctor didn't give me, unless you count aspirin."
"Okay, I just had to check. You said you were in his bed, but you don't remember going in there?"
Jeanne shook her head. "No. I was in here, asleep in my bed, in my nightgown. The next thing I remember I was in *there* without it, and feeling awful."
"Do you ever walk in your sleep?"
Dana's question stirred uneasy memories. How many times had she awakened in strange places, unable to remember how she'd gotten there? But that hadn't happened in years! Not since the time she'd woken up in a field two miles down the road when she was sixteen. That was the time that had left her with the scars, the incident that had preceded the onset of her "talent." She'd thought that part of her life behind her. Still, it would be a lie to say no.
"I used to," she admitted. "A long time ago, but it's been almost nine years since the last time."
"Is it possible you could have sleepwalked into Mulder's room?"
Jeanne thought about it for a moment, then nodded. "I can't rule it out."
"I can't believe I'm saying this, but if he thought you were... offering..." Scully said, her voice sounding strained.
Oh god... Jeanne's face went hot at the thought. She *had* thought about it. There was no denying that. She'd wanted him. But she would never *consciously* do anything about it! However... her unconscious was incredibly powerful, more so than most people's, she knew that for a fact. But how could a man make love to a sleeping woman and not *know* she was asleep?
"I don't know," Scully said softly, startling her. Jeanne hadn't realized she'd spoken that last aloud, but she must have.
"Look, let me go talk to him... find out what *he* thinks happened. I know him, and this just isn't like him... not as I know him. He can be a little odd, but this... it's not like him."
She felt suddenly anxious, not wanting to let her go to him without some reassurance. "But you believe me, don't you?"
Scully nodded firmly. "Yes, Jeanne, I believe you. I just want to get to the bottom of this."
"Okay, then. I'll wait."
Scully nodded and left the room.**
Scully closed Jeanne's door and sagged against the opposite wall, her forehead against the cool pebbly surface. That had been one of the hardest things she'd ever done. And now she had to go do a harder one. She couldn't believe he would do a thing like that! Yet he was the only man in the house and there was a blizzard going on outside! What other explanation was there? The girl was honestly troubled and bewildered, not faking; Scully would stake her reputation on it! Yet... how to explain the lack of real trauma if it had been rape? And how could she reconcile the Fox Mulder she thought she knew with one who would do something like that?
She couldn't. One or the other was wrong. She thought about the time she walked in to find him perusing a centerfold in the office, ostensibly for "research" purposes. Perhaps Mulder was weirder than she'd realized! She tried to find a way to rationalize it... maybe he hadn't realized Jeanne was asleep-- no, that was impossible. No one as observant and intelligent as Mulder could possibly mistake a sleeping woman for an awake one. She felt physically ill at the realization. She took a deep breath, walked the four steps that placed her in front of his door, and rapped on it crisply.
"Mulder? I need to talk to you."
There was no response. That was odd, since he was a light sleeper. She tried again.
"Mulder? I've got to talk to you... *now.*"
Still no response. Was he sitting in there in the dark hoping she'd go away? The spark of anger she'd been trying not to nurse became a flame. Teeth clenched, she put her hand on the door and opened it.
The room was surprisingly well-lit by light reflecting off the snow outside She could see that the bed was empty and all the covers were in a heap on the floor. An armchair was turned toward the window, and she could see the silhouette of his head, arm and knee against the light. He was sitting with his arms wrapped around his knees facing the swirling whiteness outside.
"Mulder, you're going to have to talk to me about this whether you want to or not, damnit!"
He didn't respond. He just sat there. Her anger burned deeper, and she advanced on him, fists clenched.
"Damn it, don't just sit there! SAY something! Explain it to me! What the *hell* did you think you were doing?" Grabbing the arm of the chair she yanked it around, forcing him to look at her instead of outside.
The expression on his face stopped her in her tracks. He was staring at her, or rather through her blankly, as if she wasn't there. Startled, she stepped back, then leaned forward.
He stared through her, unblinking. Only the rise and fall of his chest proved he was alive.
"Mulder... come on, what are you doing? If you're trying to scare me, you're succeeding!"
Still nothing, just that awful, distant gaze.
"Mulder, damnit, *stop* *it*!" she grabbed his shoulders and shook him, hard. His skin was like marble, cold and hard beneath her hands. He blinked a couple of times, but didn't focus on her, seeming to look past her, over her shoulder.
"Mom?" he said plaintively, in a twelve-year-old's voice. "You said they wouldn't come back, but they did."
The short hairs on the back of her neck rose. She'd heard that voice before... on a tape. She could still remember every word as Mulder had spoken of the events the night his sister had disappeared. She shook him again, harder.
"Mulder, it's me, Scully! Come back! You're not a boy any more! You're a grown man now, and you have to come back!"
He blinked again, slowly his gaze sharpened, recognition flared in his eyes, and he took a deep, shuddering breath.
"Yes, I'm here... what the hell is wrong with you?"
"I... don't know. I feel kind of strange..."
He looked strange too, she saw his throat work convulsively and grabbed the wastebasket just in time to shove it under his nose as he threw up.
When he'd finished, Dana took the wastebasket down the hall to the bathroom and cleaned it out, thinking ironically that for *this* she'd left medicine? She wet a washcloth with warm water and took it back to him. He took it gratefully, wiping his face and hands. He was white as a sheet, and shaking. Still, she couldn't let his apparent illness distract her from asking the questions she needed to ask. She forced herself to be businesslike. First she turned on the light, then looked at him sternly.
"Mulder, put some clothes on, we have to talk."
He looked down at himself, a puzzled frown wrinkling his forehead.
"I'm naked," he stated.
She sighed. "I know that, that's why I asked you to get dressed."
He looked around the room, seemingly perplexed.
"Where are my sweats?"
"How the hell should I know? I'm not your mother!"
He looked at her and grinned lopsidedly. "Thank god!"
She felt a moment's relief. *That* was a normal Mulder reaction. "Look, I'll go wait outside while you dress, but get to it! I don't want to wait all night."
"Night? What time is it?"
Halfway out the door, she looked at her watch and repressed a sigh. "Two-twenty a.m."
She closed the door, leaving him to dress. **Generation X
by Julia Kosatka and Kellie Matthews-Simmons
Mulder stood up, wishing he could stop shaking, and wondered what Scully was so upset about. She'd really seemed angry, and coming in demanding to talk to him in the middle of the night wasn't really her usual style. He was freezing cold, and felt like hell, though since he'd thrown up he felt marginally better. It was weird, he was *sure* he'd been wearing his sweats when he went to bed. He never slept in the nude unless he was at home, too many midnight emergencies had cured him of that.
He looked at the tangled covers on the floor and leaned over to dig among them, looking for his clothes. Maybe he'd taken them off during the nightmare. Suddenly he stopped, frowning. Something was teasing at the edges of his memory, something about the bed. Long, pale legs, small firm breasts, tangled sable curls... He almost fell over as he realized what it was he was remembering. Jeanne. Here, in his bed. Himself walking into the room and finding her there! Walking in from where? Where had he been? Why had he left the room? He straightened and looked around the room, as if it could tell him the answers.
He went over the memory fragments again, and they seemed to sharpen. He'd shaken her awake, and sent her back to her room. He'd been naked by that point, for whatever reason. He tried again to remember where he'd been before that... the bathroom? No, that wasn't it. He closed his eyes and concentrated, trying to backtrack his own movements. He'd walked down the hall from the left... he remembered opening a closed door, he remembered getting out of bed. Bed? What bed? He didn't recognize the room he was picturing, he'd never seen it before.
The bed had been a twin size, not a queen. The curtains had a floral print, there was a desk with jewelry scattered over its surface; the closet door had open to reveal a mixture of clothing, including dresses. A woman's room. He'd woken up there, realized he wasn't where he belonged, and had instinctively gone back to his own room.
So, how had he gotten there? He tried to remember leaving his own room, and couldn't. He had no memory at all of the time between his going to bed in his room, and waking up in someone else's. Could the whole thing have been a dream? He did find Jeanne quite attractive, his imagination could have conjured up a vision of her in his bed. But where the hell was his sweat-suit? A sharp knock at the door startled him out of his brown study.
"Mulder, come on!" Scully sounded exasperated.
He shook his head, then wished he hadn't. He had a killer headache. Quickly he grabbed clothes out of his suitcase and dressed, wincing as his jeans scraped over a tender spot on his upper thigh as he pulled them on. He must have a bruise there... gotten how, though? He didn't remember that either. Something really strange was going on in this house, besides floating crockery. He slipped a shirt on and opened the door, still buttoning it, grinning sheepishly as he stepped aside to let Scully into the room.
"Sorry, Scully. I was just trying to figure out where my sweats went. I *know* I wore them to bed, but I can't seem to find them now."
"That doesn't matter," she paced for a moment, then turned to face him. "Mulder, I have to know. Did you do it? Did you rape her?"
Her question hit him like a slap in the face. He gaped at her for a full ten seconds before managing to speak. He couldn't believe she was asking him that! She couldn't possibly believe him capable of something like that! What was she talking about?
"Did I... *what*? Who?"
"What!? Hell no! Did she tell you I did?"
"Not exactly. She doesn't really remember what happened, or with who. Maybe I should have phrased that differently. Did you have sex with her?"
"No! I certainly did not!"
She looked him right in the eyes, staring into them for several long seconds. He didn't look away. Finally she broke eye contact, and shook her head, frowning.
"I don't understand... you're the only man in the house, and I can't believe anyone would risk traveling in weather like this just to commit a sexual assault!"
He recoiled from the implied disbelief in her words. "God, Scully! I can't believe you'd think that about me! How... no *why* would you come in here and accuse me of something like that?"
He suddenly flashed on finding Jeanne in his bed, and his eyes narrowed. Was she trying to frame him? He didn't say anything, waiting to hear Scully's explanation. She sighed ran a hand through her hair.
"This is really weird. You seem to be telling me the truth, yet I *examined* her, and she's not lying either!"
Mulder shook his head. "Look, I'm only half awake right now. I'm going to go down and make myself some coffee, then we can discuss this reasonably. You want some?"
"No, thanks. I'll be down in a few," she watched him for a moment, then left the room. He pulled a small bottle of instant coffee out of his travel bag. He never went anywhere without it, never knowing when he'd need the extra boost of a little caffeine. He definitely needed it now. He remembered seeing a microwave in the kitchen, he could heat water there.
He walked downstairs, trying unsuccessfully to keep his mind off of his hurt. He still couldn't believe Scully could actually believe him capable of rape. He *trusted* her, damnit! Why couldn't she trust him, after all they'd been through together? He found a cup in the drainer by the sink, filled it, and put it in the microwave, rattled enough to try three different drawers before remembering where the silverware was. The microwave beeped, and he took the cup out, concentrating on the utter mundanity of measuring out instant coffee granules, stirring them into the water, watching them foam like they always did. It was refreshingly normal.
He picked up the cup to take a sip just as Scully walked into the room with Jeanne trailing behind her, looking pale and shaken. Her eyes lifted, locked with his, and images flooded him. A heavy, rich smell, like cinnamon. A strange, strong, yellow light. Her lips opening to his... the softness of her beneath him, the taste of her on his tongue, the tiny sounds she made, half-protest, half-encouragement, as his body drove into hers... the mind-wrenching pleasure of release... He *had* done it. Oh, god... he *had*.
The cup fell and shattered on the floor, splashing hot coffee over his bare feet. He didn't feel it. He backed away, eyes still locked with hers, feeling a rising surge of nausea about to overwhelm him. Wrenching his gaze away he knew he would never make it to the bathroom, but the door to the backyard was only steps away. He turned and fumbled with the lock, opened the door, and fled outside to vomit in the snow. He felt hands on his shoulders, heard sounds... words. Scully.
"Come back inside, Mulder, you'll freeze out here!"
There was nothing left in him to come up, and he grabbed a handful of snow to scrub across his face as he took a deep breath and turned to face a reality he wished didn't exist, then stopped, stunned.
She turned to see what he was looking at and her mouth opened in surprise. Someone... Jeanne probably, had turned on the outside lights, and in their actinic glare the house seemed hung with glittering silver. From every eave and corner of the house hung huge, fang-like icicles. He'd never seen icicles like that! Strangely, the roof of the house was almost totally bare of snow. All around them the ground was covered with at least a foot of pristine white, yet only a light dusting of snow had begun to sift over the roof as the snow continued to fall. It was impossible. But there it was.
"Weird," she commented, then tugged on his hand. "Come *on* Mulder, I'm barefoot too, damnit! Come inside."
He resisted the black-humored urge to say he already had, and followed her in. Scully sat down in one of the kitchen chairs and began to chafe her feet with her hands. Jeanne was kneeling by the counter, cleaning up spilled coffee and pieces of shattered porcelain. Looking at her sent a knife-edged pang of guilt through him. How could he have done that? What the hell was wrong with him? He knew people thought he was crazy, but he'd never thought so himself before. What else could possibly explain it?
"You got the flu, Mulder?" Scully asked quietly.
He looked back at her and shook his head. "No."
"Feeling a little bulimic then?"
He smiled at that, but shook his head. "No, not that either. I don't know what it is. Well... the first time, anyway. I know damn well why the second time," he looked at Jeanne, then at Scully, then couldn't face either of them. Staring down at the honey-colored wood of the floor, he made himself say it.
"You were right, Scully," his voice caught and he coughed, then went on. "God... I'm sorry. I don't know how, I don't know why... but as soon as I saw Jeanne, I remembered, at least part of it, anyway," he shook his head, unable to express the self-disgust he felt. "I must be out of my mind! How could I do that? There's no reason, no excuse... I have to be insane... Scully, you have to do something!" His voice broke in desperation. "You're a doctor, can you commit me somewhere before it happens again?"
"No, wait..." the voice was Jeanne's. He looked up to find her only a foot away, so close he could smell that deep spicy scent he remembered. Cinnamon, but not, different... how? To his utter horror the scent stirred him, he felt himself becoming aroused, and stumbled back away from her.
"Don't, don't get near me! Something's the matter with me!"
She shook her head, a strange expression on her face. "There's nothing wrong with you, nothing at all. You didn't do it."
"But I *did*! Damnit, I *remember* it!" he wished he didn't, but the memory burned in him like fire.
"Yes, but it wasn't you. You weren't really there, just like I wasn't really there."
"What the hell are you two talking about?" Scully demanded, sounding justifiably annoyed.
They both looked at her, and Jeanne put a hand up and rubbed at her temple. "I don't know. I just know the man standing here didn't rape me. It might have been his body, but his *mind* wasn't involved."
"You're not making any sense!" Scully protested.
Jeanne looked shaken. "I know. I know I don't seem to, but believe me, I would *know* if he had. Sometimes I know things."
Scully jumped to her feet, fists clenched. "God damn it you two! What are you trying to pull on me? Is this some kind of sick practical joke? I believed you, Jeanne! And you too, Mulder! But you can't *both* be right. Now you've switched roles... Mulder's saying he did it and you're saying he didn't? This thing reads like one of our case files!"
As if to punctuate her words, a cup lifted out of the wire drainer next to the sink and flew across the room to smash itself to pieces against the wall.
"Damnit, no!" Jeanne swore as a second one followed the first, then a plate. "Stop it! I don't want to do this! Stop it *now*!"
In mid-flight the plate stopped and fell to the floor, breaking into three oddly even pieces. They all stared at it, then Jeanne turned and ran from the room. They heard her footsteps on the stairs, then the sound of her door slamming. Mulder started to go after her, then stopped and looked at Scully, reading utter astonishment on her face. She hadn't seen the earlier incident with the dishes, so this was a rude shock for her. That, coupled with the fact that she didn't *believe* in the first place.
"Wha-- what was that? What did that?" she stammered, looking from the drainer, to the wall, down to the shattered china, then to him.
"Jeanne did that. She's telekinetic. I would have told you that earlier, but I figured you wouldn't believe me. I wasn't sure I believed it myself, and I wasn't quite sure if *she* knew it."
"I must be dreaming this! I'm going back to bed! If I'm going to have nightmares, I may as well be comfortable doing it!"
He reached out and put his hand on her shoulder. "Sorry, Scully. I wish you were, but you're not dreaming. I'm real, she's real..." he pointed at the plate. "That's real," he sighed. "So is the fact that Jeanne and I shared an experience neither of us seem to be able to fully remember. Almost as if it happened to someone else, but I remember bits and pieces, and you said you examined her, right?"
Scully nodded, still looking angry and baffled. He tried a tease, hoping to relieve some tension.
"Well, we may not always see eye to eye, but I'd trust you to know what you're doing, medically... most of the time."
She lifted an eyebrow at him and he smiled. "That's better. Look, I'm going to check the doors and windows, just in case someone *did* break in here. That wouldn't explain what I remember, but better safe than sorry. Would you go up and make sure she's all right? I'd go, but I don't think that would be a very good idea."
She nodded. "You're probably right, I'll go."
He turned to lock the kitchen door, and her voice stopped him.
He turned. She looked very strange. "Yeah, Scully?"
"Do you remember what you said when I tried to wake you up?"
He looked at her blankly. "No... what?"
"You said: 'Mom, you said they wouldn't come back any more, but they did.'"
He felt a chill run down his spine. "*I* said that?"
She nodded. "I just thought you'd want to know."
He thought about it, then nodded. "I don't know if I wanted to know it, but I needed to. Thanks."
The scene in the kitchen was the proverbial last straw for Jeanne. She'd lost control of her damned telekinesis in front of two federal agents for god's sake! The precise sort of people whose attention she did NOT want to attract! Jeanne thought about it for a moment, and started to giggle hysterically... she couldn't really say they were *total* strangers any more. Apparently one of them had been inside her, and so, in a manner of speaking had the other one!
God... what on earth was happening to her? In one night, her safe, relatively sane world had come crashing down around her ears! There seemed to be only one explanation for what had happened tonight. She'd wanted him, and she'd gotten him... her unconscious mind must have somehow effected it.
She heard steps in the hallway, and a light tap on her door.
"Jeanne? Are you all right?" Scully's voice sounded concerned.
She sat up. "I'm fine... I just needed to get myself under control before I accidently hurt someone."
When her answer was met with a moment's silence, Jeanne almost laughed again, picturing the look on Scully's face. No doubt her training didn't exactly cover what to do when a poltergeist starts flinging plates at you. She got up and opened the door, and found the other woman still there, looking thoughtful.
"You really did that, downstairs, didn't you? With the dishes."
"That was me... one of my many 'talents,'" she said derisively. "I'm sorry if I scared you, sometimes when I get emotional I can't seem to control it very well."
"Then Mulder was right!"
"He said you were telekinetic. I didn't believe him."
"He said that?" she was surprised. He must have seen the incident in the kitchen... she thought she'd shut the door quickly enough they hadn't noticed. She was also surprised he even knew what telekinesis was.
"He said he saw something during dinner... flying saucers, as he so quaintly put it. He must have realized it then, though he didn't mention it to me. Just now he said he wasn't even sure that *you* knew what you were."
Jeanne laughed wryly. "Oh, I know. I've known about it since I was ten. It's been the bane of my existence! Thankfully the telepathy didn't start until later. I guess I was about sixteen when that started."
"The *what*?" Scully looked a bit shaken.
Jeanne sighed. "I think I need to explain this to both of you at the same time. I don't want to go through it twice, and I have to try to make this right somehow. This whole thing is such a mess, I'm so sorry. I should have just let it go, but I wasn't thinking clearly at the time."
"Look, I don't pretend to understand, but just tell me one thing... you really didn't remember the incident, did you?"
"No. I still don't."
"And neither did he, at first?"
"No. Not at first."
Scully shook her head. "This is too weird."
Jeanne laughed. "Tell me about it!"
Mulder heard laughter from upstairs, and stiffened, gritting his teeth. He'd been laughed at enough that he knew how to mask his instinctive reaction, but that didn't make it any easier. Of course, he was just assuming they were laughing about him... what else? He checked the last window. It was locked, no sign of tampering. As he'd expected. He knew he'd done it. The memory of it was there, lurking just below the surface, threatening to steal out and send tendrils of remembered pleasure through him.
He shuddered, trying to block it. He didn't want to remember it, it made his head ache, yet perversely, he *did* want to remember it. Could it possibly have been as explosively good as he seemed to remember? And if so, what did it say about him that he felt that way about an act that for all intents and purposes had been rape.
The voice and the touch on his shoulder shocked him, he opened his eyes to realize he'd been standing there with his fists clenched, and his eyes closed.
"Jeanne wants to talk to us. Come on into the living room."
He steeled himself against the urge to run the other way and followed Scully into the other room. Jeanne was standing at the window looking outside. Scully sat down, and motioned for him to do the same. He did, reluctantly. Still facing away from them, Jeanne began to speak.
"What I'm going to tell you will seem... unbelievable. Sometimes it feels that way to me, too, but I assure you it's true. I'm also going to ask you not to tell anyone else about me... I don't want to be taken away and locked up somewhere to be used as a guinea pig. Will you promise me your silence?"
Scully looked at him with lifted eyebrows. He looked back at her steadily, then shifted his gaze to Jeanne.
After a moment, Scully followed his lead, though she inserted a caveat. "I won't tell anyone without your express permission, provided I have no reason to believe you've used your abilities in the commission of a crime."
Jeanne heard the words with her ears, and heard the sincerity of them deeper within her. They meant it. She sighed and ran a hand through her hair, then started to speak again.
"This isn't easy for me to explain, just keep an open mind. Since my mother's death things have been so quiet I guess I got lulled into a false sense of security, of normality. But it only took a day with the two of you to make me see that my dream of going to school and being a normal person is never going to work out. I'd never be able to survive in a city. Look what I've managed to do! I felt the horror and self-disgust you felt when you realized what had happened... and *I* did that! I made both of you think he was some kind of animal, and I may have hurt your friendship as well. I never meant to... I didn't know I *could* do what I did! In a way, I'm the rapist here!"
She turned finally, and waved aside their almost simultaneous protests.
"I've known for years that I was capable of doing things with my mind that no one else can, but I had no idea I could do something like this! The worst part is, I can't even remember doing it!"
She closed her eyes and rubbed her forehead, trying to think of what to say next. She wondered what had it been like... it wasn't fair! Why couldn't she at least *remember* it? But then, maybe she was better off not remembering, judging from Mulder's reaction.
No, she thought back, and knew that was wrong. For a moment as she'd looked into his eyes, she'd felt him remembering... felt the caught breath, the yielding, the pleasure. It had been wonderful! Then the tearing onslaught of realization, of guilt... all her fault. What he felt disgust at was not the act itself, but rather the idea that he might have taken her unwilling. She hadn't been wrong about him, he was a good person. Now, because of her, both he and his partner thought he'd raped her. How could she possibly explain when she wasn't completely sure what had happened herself? It didn't matter how... she had to. She couldn't let that assumption stand.
She shook her head sadly. "I'm sorry, I can't even begin to say how sorry I am. All I can say in my own defense is that I really didn't know I *could* do what I did. I know I keep saying that, but it's true. I'm telekinetic, you both saw what I can do. I'm also a telempath... I pick up other peoples emotions, general thoughts, sometimes even specific thoughts. That's how I found you in the storm, you know. I could feel you there, feel the danger... I couldn't leave you there. I didn't realize I could also be coercive, but that's the only explanation for what happened."
"Bullshit!" The single word exploded from Mulder like a gunshot. "That's pure and utter crap and you know it! You're blaming yourself for my actions, damn it, and I won't let you!"
"I knew you wouldn't believe me... but I really am telekinetic, and a telempath!"
"I believe you, that's not what's wrong."
Jeanne stared at him for a moment, unable to quite believe what she'd heard. Perhaps she'd misinterpreted him...
"You believe me?" she prompted, asking for clarification.
"I know you're telekinetic, I saw a couple of incidents. I also suspected you must be either telepathic or empathic when you came out in a raging blizzard to find us. No way did you just happen to be driving by, you deliberately set out to find us."
She stared at him, shaken. "How did you know that?"
"Several things. First, the engine wasn't even warm enough to work the defroster properly. Second, the tracks in your driveway were fresh, and led away from the house. When we got here, there were two beds already made up, and three cups set out for tea, and enough dinner for all of us. That was just too many coincidences."
When both women stared at him in obvious amazement, he grinned a bit sheepishly. "Sorry, I just notice stuff. It's a habit."
"You didn't say anything..." Scully began.
"She obviously didn't want us to know, who am I to invade her privacy?"
"But Mulder..." Scully began again.
He cut her off. "She's not an X-file, Scully. I might have been curious as hell, but it was none of my business. It also has nothing to do with what happened here tonight."
"But it *must*," Jeanne insisted. "You say you believe I have paranormal abilities, so you have to believe that I would *know* if you'd been consciously responsible for... what happened. Whatever that was."
He looked as if he were going to disagree again, then suddenly his attention was caught by something behind her. He stared, frowning, and she turned to see what he was looking at. Nothing there but her television and video cassette recorder.
"Scully, didn't you tell me just a little while ago that it was about half past two?" Mulder asked.
"What time does your watch say now?"
She looked at it, then frowned. "That's odd... it's stopped. It still says two thirty-two."
"Look at that clock," he pointed to the vcr. All three of them looked. The little blue numbers were quite clear, it read five twenty-eight.
"So?" Scully asked impatiently. "My watch must need a new battery."
"Does it?" he asked, his voice tight.
Jeanne was picking up some very strange emotions from both of them. Exasperation, and... fear? That was Scully. From Mulder... not just fear, terror; carefully concealed, but there. And oddly, a kind of surging exhilaration.
"I want to check the other clocks upstairs. Come on, I want you both to come with me."
"Wait... why?" Jeanne asked, bewildered.
"Because if I'm right, there may be an explanation for what happened."
Scully gave a rather disgusted sigh. "Mulder, will you get off it? My watch needs a new battery, what's the big deal?"
"Humor me, Scully."
"Fine, I'll humor you. Let's go," she got up and headed for the stairs. "You all coming?"
Mulder was on his feet, moving toward Scully. Jeanne trailed them, still feeling confused.
"What exactly is it you think happened?" she asked as they ascended the stairs.
"Have you ever heard of missing-time events?"
"No, I don't think so."
"It's a common phenomenon in UFO abduction cases."
Halfway up the stairs, Jeanne stopped, staring up at Mulder's back. Her head had just started to ache again, as if someone had turned on a switch. He turned, looking down at her with an oddly expectant expression. She rubbed at her left temple, fingers tracing the tiny indentation of a scar.
"You can't be serious," she said, and felt a sense of relief at saying it. The ache seemed to lessen.
"I am, completely. Ask Scully."
She looked past Mulder to his partner, who nodded. "He's serious. Weird, but serious."
"Scully, I'm hurt!" Mulder said it in such a way that it sounded good-humored, but Jeanne could feel the truth behind the jest. Those words *had* hurt him. There was an aching vulnerability at the core of him that he covered all too well. She forced herself to think about what he'd suggested, trying to make the connection he obviously had. Nothing came, except for an increase in the throbbing behind her eyes.
"I don't understand. What has all this got to do with what happened to me... to us?"
"Possibly a lot. Come on, I want to check my watch. Are there any other clocks up here?"
"There's one in my room."
"Great, that'll make three sources."
She followed them upstairs and into Mulder's room. She glanced at the bed and blushed, then concentrated on watching Mulder digging in his briefcase.
"I know I put it in here.. there it is," he held up a watch, checked at it, then looked triumphantly at Scully. "Two thirty-three."
"That proves nothing, Mulder!"
"You're right, but it does indicate that *something* happened at about half past two. Jeanne, can we check your clock?"
She nodded, and led them down the hall to her room. and opened the door. Behind her, she heard Mulder gasp and she looked around, wondering why. The room looked normal. Her bed was unmade, but that wasn't anything that should cause a reaction.
"Is something wrong?"
"I was here, before. I woke up in *here*. I thought it was a dream, but it wasn't. The single bed, the floral print curtains, the desk with jewelry on it, even the clothes in the closet... it's just like I remembered! I woke up in here, and when I went back to my room, you were *there*..."
"...and you woke me up and sent me back here. I remember that much. I woke up there, you woke up here.. what does it mean?"
He grinned suddenly, disarmingly. "That aliens have bad spatial memories?"
Scully snorted. "Mul-der," she said in the same aggrieved tones children use to reprove their parents for embarrassing them.
He didn't look sorry. Jeanne found herself smiling back. God, she liked him! The uncomfortable ache in her lower body began to change, to soften and liquefy, and a shiver went through her. Suddenly realizing what was happening she tore her gaze from his and looked at her clock, hoping they wouldn't notice the blush spreading across her face. The blue numbers glowed with yet another time. 3:05.
"Look, my clock's off too."
Mulder glanced at it and looked perplexed for a moment, then his expression lightened. "Does your clock reset itself to twelve if the power goes off?" Jeanne nodded, and he looked relieved. "That makes sense then. It's apparently been three hours and five minutes since power was interrupted. If the clock downstairs is correct, there's a space of about two hours and eighteen minutes unaccounted for."
"I don't get it." Jeanne complained. "If there was a power failure, why didn't the vcr clock reset to twelve too? And a power failure wouldn't have affected your watches."
He smiled broadly. "Very good points, all of them. We need to check all the downstairs clocks then, and try to get a correct time."
Mulder was off down the stairs, sounding like about three people as he barrelled down them. Jeanne hesitated a moment, looking at Scully.
"You don't believe him."
The other woman sighed. "I don't know what to believe any more. Mulder has a kind of fixation on the paranormal, and working with him I've seen things... things I would never have believed possible. Things I can't explain. But I can't just go along with every nutty theory he comes up with."
"If he's enamored of the paranormal why is he so afraid of it? It makes you uneasy... it terrifies him."
Scully looked at her, eyes narrowed. "You can sense that?"
Jeanne nodded in response. Scully studied her for a moment, then shook her head. "I can't answer that. If he wants you to know, he'll have to tell you himself. Now come on, I don't want to have to wonder if he's down there resetting all the clocks to quarter of six."
Jeanne stared at her, puzzled. "You don't really believe he'd do that... why even say it?"
To her surprise Scully seemed embarrassed. She looked away for a moment before answering.
"I have to stay objective. It's my job."
There were shadings behind her statement that Jeanne couldn't understand. She let it go and followed Scully back down the stairs.
Mulder met them at the stairs, feeling smug. "The clock in the kitchen says it's five forty-two, as does the one on the mantle above the fireplace. Now do you believe me?"
Scully sighed. "Believe *what*?"
"That we've had a missing time incident."
"We can't prove that. Something affected the clocks upstairs. We don't know what it was. In fact, we don't know that the clocks down here weren't affected somehow. They could be wrong too."
"True... we need to check that. Jeanne, is there a time and temperature line locally?"
"There is," she picked up the phone, listened, and shook her head. "Still no dial tone, we can't call out."
"What else... I know! The radio. Do you get a public radio station?"
Jeanne nodded and turned on the stereo. They had to listen to a few minutes of a story on the almost unprecedented weather-related closure of government offices in Washington, D.C., then the local announcer came on and announced the time. It was five forty-eight a.m. Mulder looked at Scully, eyebrows lifted. She crossed her arms and returned his gaze coolly.
"That doesn't prove anything."
"Scully! Mulder felt more than a little exasperated by her stubborn disbelief. "How can you say that? There are two hours and eighteen minutes unaccounted for!"
Scully rolled her eyes. "There might appear to be, but I'm sure there must be some rational explanation."
"There's an explanation all right, you just don't want to believe it!" He knew he sounded angry, and tried to moderate it. He didn't want Scully to know how much it mattered to him that she believe him. "Of course, that's exactly what you're supposed to do, so what else is new? What *would* you believe?"
"I don't know. Look... let's do this empirically. Jeanne, do you have some paper and pens?"
Jeanne nodded, pulled a stack of tractor-feed paper from a box next to her computer, and fished two pens out of a jelly jar full of them on the same desk. "Here."
Scully divided the paper into two stacks, and handed each of them paper and pen. "I want both of you to write down everything you remember."
Mulder sat down at the table, and began to write. The ability to organize his thoughts was one of his strong suits, and soon he had a clear outline of the events as he remembered them. Studying the pages he saw a couple of omissions, and added them. He didn't, as threatened, include any of the more intimate details he remembered. They were becoming clearer, though, every time he thought about them, but it made his head ache when he did. He couldn't seem to resist it. Now that he wasn't feeling so responsible, those memories were really quite... compelling. He put the pen aside, and handed the pages to Scully.
"Here. If I remember anything else, I'll let you know."
She scanned the pages quickly. Was he imagining the look of relief on her face when she finished reading the last one? Probably not. But why? What had she been expecting? At the desk at the far end of the room, Jeanne sighed loudly.
"Well, it's not much, but it's all I can remember. Here," she stood up and brought her page to Scully, who read it, frowning slightly. After a moment she put all the pages carefully down on the table and looked up.
"Well?" Mulder prompted.
"Interesting... there are a lot of correlations, some we've talked about, like waking up in the wrong rooms. But there are also things that neither of you have mentioned in the other's presence that are the same. Both of you mention feeling nauseated, an odd smell, a bright light, missing clothes, a headache. Mulder seems to recall considerably more than you do, Jeanne."
"I told you I didn't remember much," she said softly, rubbing absently at her upper thigh.
As if on cue, Mulder's own thigh began to sting... as if he'd scraped it on something, or burned it. His hand went to the spot, and his eyes narrowed as he realized that the placement of her hand mirrored his.
"I think there may be something else... Jeanne, does your leg hurt, here?" he touched his own thigh.
"Yes, it does. I must've walked into the corner of a counter or something."
"Or something. Scully would you take a look?"
"It just seems a bit coincidental that we've got matching sore spots."
"That is odd. Jeanne, would you let me check it out?"
Jeanne looked past Scully toward him, then back at Scully.
"Yes, I guess."
Scully looked at him with one eyebrow lifted, and nodded toward the kitchen. It took him a second to realize what she wanted, it hadn't dawned on him that Jeanne probably didn't want 'drop trou' with him standing there. He'd seen her in far less, but the circumstances had been rather different. He glanced at them, saw they weren't looking at him, and surreptitiously picked up the pages off the table. He wanted to see what she'd written.
"I'll... ah... go get a drink," he announced, and walked into the kitchen leaving them alone.
He read over her account and felt almost offended for a moment as he realized she remembered absolutely nothing of being intimate with him. That was a bit of a blow to his ego! Why was it that he could remember parts of that, and she couldn't? Was she deliberately blocking it? Had it been that bad?
He read on, and started to feel sick. No wonder she'd blocked it out! God... he must have really hurt her if she'd been bleeding! He tried to remember what he'd done to her, something more than just those brief erotic images he'd already recalled, and had to steady himself against the counter for a moment. Trying to remember made his head hurt so badly he thought he was going to pass out.
"Your turn, Mulder," Scully said from the doorway.
He looked up, and she frowned as she walked into the room, pulling the door closed behind her.
"You look awful, Mulder!"
"I've got a headache..." He looked at the pages in his hand and felt devastated. "Scully... I would never hurt a woman... not knowingly! God, I can't even *imagine* what I must have done to her... to make her bleed!"
To his surprise, Scully chuckled, shaking her head. "That's what you get for reading things that weren't meant for your eyes! You can stop worrying about that, Mulder. You didn't hurt her, what happened was normal."
"Normal? Since when?"
"Probably since the beginning of humankind. It happens to most women the first time."
It took an interminable amount of time for the meaning of her words to penetrate the haze of pain in his head, but it finally did.
"First... time? Oh, shit," he reached for one of the kitchen stools and sat down heavily. "First time?"
She nodded. "I probably just violated doctor-patient confidentiality, but I didn't want you to think you'd maimed her."
"Oh, shit," he repeated, weakly. "Scully, you got any aspirin?"
"Upstairs, I'll get you some, but I want to look at your leg first, and take a blood sample."
"Hunh? What for? I'm clean!" he protested indignantly.
She laughed, then put a hand over her mouth. "Sorry, didn't mean to laugh, that just hadn't occurred to me. No I wanted it for a DNA match with the swab. That, and to do a toxin screen."
"You don't need to do a DNA match, I know damn well it was me. To be blunt, I remember putting it there."
"I know you *think* you do, but this whole incident is really weird, Mulder. It can't hurt. Besides, I do need to do a toxin screen. I'm going to do hers as well."
The thought of sending his own blood in for a DNA analysis like some damned rapist bothered him a lot, but he didn't want to let on. Besides, he just plain hated having blood drawn, with good reason. He sighed.
"Okay, but be gentle with me. I hate getting stuck."
"You got it. Now, let's see your leg."
He felt awkward as he unzipped his jeans and eased them down. Normally he wouldn't feel any compunction about letting Scully examine him, but the situation this morning was too fraught with sexual overtones for him to ignore. Her no-nonsense demeanor put him mostly at ease in moments, though. She looked at the angry-looking swelling on his outer thigh about three inches below the hip joint, and touched the skin around it gently. He flinched.
"That hurts?" she asked?
He nodded and leaned over, trying to see around her. "What is that, a bite?"
"Could be, it does resemble an insect bite. It also looks a lot like a pressure injection site."
"A pressure injection site. Remember those inoculation guns sometimes used to administer vaccines? They leave a very similar mark. And, by the way, there's a virtually identical mark on Jeanne's thigh, just as you suspected."
She stood up and sneezed suddenly, rubbed her nose, and frowned, sniffing at her fingers. What'd you do, use aftershave as an antiseptic?"
"I don't even *own* any aftershave, Scully!"
"Then why does your skin smell like my father's bay rum?"
He stared at her, puzzled, then grabbed her hand and sniffed her fingers. "That's the smell I remember... spicy, dark... only much stronger. Overpowering, almost, like it was inside my head."
"Hmmm... some kind of chemical residue, maybe? Let me get my evidence kit and I'll see if I can sample it. Don't move, I'll be right back."
She left him sitting on the stool with his jeans around his knees, feeling more than a little silly, hoping Jeanne wouldn't decide there was something in the kitchen she needed. His luck held true to it's recent course. Within seconds of Scully leaving, the door swung open to admit Jeanne. She took one look at him, and blushed.
"Oh, sorry," she stopped just inside the doorway, looking determinedly at the floor. "I didn't realize..."
"It's okay," he lied, feeling his own face growing a little warm. He felt compelled to explain. "Scully went to get her evidence kit. She wants to see if she can get a sample of this stuff on my skin."
"I just wanted to get a glass of water," she explained earnestly as she sidled past him and opened a cupboard to retrieve a glass, then went to the sink to fill it. She drained it without taking a breath, and refilled it, then facing away from him she spoke again.
"You really believe this has something to do with UFO's?"
"It fits the pattern... at least, it seems to. I bet you have at least one odd scar whose presence you can't explain. I'd also be willing to bet that tonight's not the first time you've woken up somewhere other than where you went to sleep. It might have happened to your mother or father as well, and their parents before them..."
She turned around, slowly, her face pale, eyes frightened. "How did you know about the scars? You can't even see them! How did you know about the sleepwalking? How *could* you know that? We never told anyone... Mom and Grandma and I... we were the only ones who knew!"
Mulder felt a flare of excitement. He'd taken a wild guess, and been right! She *was* an abductee! Not only that, but it looked like her family had a history of serial abduction!
"I didn't know, I guessed, because it fits the pattern. You're not the only person this has happened to, Jeanne. It's been happening for a long time, to a lot of people, and it has nothing to do with sleepwalking."
"What has? What are you talking about? Look, if you're trying to imply that my family is crazy..."
"No, not at all. It happened in my family too, it's *real*, damnit! We don't know why it's happening, but we're beginning to know *what* is happening."
"Tell *me* what it is then! What *is* happening?"
He opened his mouth to tell her, and couldn't. The realization hit him with stunning force. God... he couldn't tell her... he didn't want to face it himself, and he'd had years to accustom himself to the idea! How the hell was he supposed to tell her? Thankfully Scully chose that moment to walk back in, and he was given a few moment's reprieve as she put her briefcase down on the counter, opened it, and held up an item in each hand.
"Okay, one swab, one piece of surgical tape. One of them *ought* to pick up something," she announced cheerfully as she walked over to him."
He looked at her in alarm as she leaned over his leg. "Scully, you're not going to... ouch! That *hurt*!" he yelped as she laid the piece of tape over the swelling on his thigh, pressed it into place, and then stripped it off in a quick, efficient motion, leaving a bare strip behind it where it had ripped the hair off his leg.
She lifted an eyebrow at him. "Don't be such a pansy. There are hundreds of women who have this done every month. Besides, it didn't hurt near as much as it would have if I'd done it slowly."
"What do you mean women get this done every month? Are they crazy?"
"It's the same basic procedure as leg-waxing, Mulder. Which, by the way, is done solely for the benefit of the male population."
"Well *I* never asked anyone to do it, so stop glaring at me!"
She chuckled and used the swab, gently. "There, is that better?"
"Yeah. What's the tape for... besides torture?"
"I was afraid there wasn't enough residue for the swab to lift, but there probably was enough for the adhesive to pick up. It will also have lifted a layer of dead skin cells which are probably saturated with whatever chemical it is."
"I think you got a few live ones, too," he complained.
"Tough. Live with it. You can pull up your pants now."
"Thanks, I think." he gingerly eased his jeans up, tucked in his shirt and zipped them. "Anybody ever tell you your bedside manner sucks?"
"Yep. Roll up your sleeve."
He groaned, but complied, glancing over at Jeanne who still stood next to the sink, watching them with a slightly bemused expression on her face. He wondered what she was thinking, and hoped she'd forgotten that he hadn't answered her question yet. He didn't want to answer it, though he knew he'd eventually have to.
Scully tightened a pressure band around his arm, and he felt the chill of alcohol on his arm, and the sting of the needle going in. The pressure band released, he felt the pent-up blood flush through his arm and forced himself not to watch. He knew what would happen if he did, and he'd be damned if he'd humiliate himself again! Eyes fixed on the microwave, he remembered he'd wanted some coffee... a lifetime ago. There was another sting as she withdrew the needle, then she put his right hand on an alcohol-soaked pad over the puncture.
"There, hold that. How'd I do?"
"Fine, you must have practiced a lot with those oranges," he looked over at her to see the effect of his jibe, and saw her standing there holding up a syringe filled with deep red. 'Damn... looked up too soon' he thought, as he felt himself sliding off the stool. Scully's surprised exclamation was the last thing he heard for awhile.
"Mulder!" Scully exclaimed, barely managing to hang onto the vial in her hand as she caught him and eased him to the floor. She checked his eyes and pulse, which were fine. He was simply out cold.
"What's wrong? What happened?" Jeanne was kneeling beside them, looking understandably anxious.
"I have no idea! He just passed out. Help me move him into the couch, would you?"
Jeanne nodded. "I'll get his feet, you get his head."
Together they managed to manhandle him into the other room and onto the couch. Jeanne pulled an afghan out of a trunk near the fireplace and tucked it over him before turning to Scully.
"Is he going to be all right?"
"I'm sure he will, maybe he really does have a stomach virus. He's probably dehydrated and suffering from low blood sugar, since he's thrown up it twice in the last hour or so... but I'm sure he'll be fine. He's tough," she leaned down to check his temperature with the back of her hand against his throat as Jeanne answered her, softly.
"No, he's not, he just wants people to think he is."
Scully turned, surprised. She'd come to that conclusion herself after months of acquaintance, but was startled to hear it from someone who'd known Mulder less than twenty-four hours. "You think so?"
Jeanne nodded, looking down at him with a troubled expression.
"I... see. Interesting."
"He cares about you, a great deal,"
Scully cleared her throat uncomfortably. "We're partners... and I think we're friends."
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you self-conscious, I just wanted you to know that, because sometimes you say things that hurt him... and I don't think you know that you're doing it."
Scully stared at her, dismayed. "I didn't realize... I guess I'll have to watch it."
"No, you can't *try* to change it, it has to just happen. I shouldn't have mentioned it... interfering never works, but I forget that sometimes. Sorry."
Dana shook her head. "No, no, it's okay. I'm glad you said it. Are you ready to get stuck?"
"Sure. In the kitchen?" She glanced briefly at Mulder.
Scully nodded. "That's where all my stuff is. He'll be fine alone for a few. In fact, he'll probably just segue into sleep, which sounds like a great idea to me! I think we could all use some rest."
Jeanne grinned. "Ain't that the truth? Well," she pulled the right sleeve of her shirt up and headed toward the kitchen. "...let's get this over with."
It took only a few moments to complete the procedure, and Scully placed both vials in the refrigerator for storage. Jeanne yawned, and excused herself to go back to bed. Scully filled a glass with water and left it on the end table next to the couch for Mulder, then curled up in a chair behind the couch. Even though she was sure he was fine, the physician in her wouldn't let her take a chance. She watched him for quite awhile before she fell asleep.
Thirst woke him. Thirst, and hunger. His stomach was growling like an irritable cat. Plus he was having a hard time breathing for some reason. Mulder opened his eyes and discovered that there *was* a cat on his stomach, though it didn't look particularly irritable. In fact, it looked quite content, and was issuing a rumbling purr that harmonized with his growling stomach. He felt a moment's disorientation... where was he? He had to still be at Jeanne's because the monster feline on his middle was Beast... no, Beauty. The green eyes were a giveaway.
"Here you, I can't breathe with you sitting on my diaphragm, time to get up."
He gently nudged the cat into jumping down and sat up, pushing a crocheted afghan off himself. He was on Jeanne's living-room couch. He didn't remember getting there, though, had there been another missing- time incident? Already? He remembered sitting in the kitchen while Scully drew a blood sample, then... He sighed, realizing what had happened.
"Way to go, Mulder. Faint, and make the women drag your sorry butt out here to the couch!" he muttered to himself, shaking his head in disgust. "You're lucky they didn't leave you on the kitchen floor!"
He noticed a glass of water on the end table, and grabbed it, downing it thirstily. Scully's work, no doubt. She'd known he'd be dry. He ran a hand across his face and felt stubble. He needed a shave, not to mention a shower, but first something to shut up his stomach. He went into the kitchen, drank another glass of water, and started opening cabinets, looking for something to eat. He found one that held cereal: Cheerio's, Raisin Bran, Cornflakes... apparently Jeanne didn't believe in the good stuff. He'd give a lot for a nice big bowl of Cap'n Crunch. Hell, he'd even settle for Cracklin' Oat Bran, but no. Not a thing worth eating.
Further searching yielded a jar of peanut butter, the natural, no-sugar kind. Well... that could be fixed. He went back to the cabinet he'd seen the brown sugar in and got that out. He found a loaf of bread in the refrigerator. Whole wheat, of course. He made a face, but it was all there was. There was a mason jar of what smelled like peach jelly and looked like chunky applesauce. He stuck a finger in and tried it, decided it was worth using. The bowl of fruit on the counter yielded a banana, and he went to work. First the peanut butter, on both halves. Then the peach stuff on one side, the brown sugar on the other. Then the banana, in half an inch thick slices. Perfect. He put the two halves together on a plate, poured himself a glass of milk and sat down at the kitchen table with them.
As he ate, it hit him that the house was so quiet he could hear himself chew. That bothered him, so he got up, turned on the little portable television, and stood watching a Good Morning America report on the severe winter storm for a moment before getting bored with that. He switched channels and found Sesame Street, which held his attention for a moment, then he changed it again.
"All right! Batman!" he left it there and settled back at the table, sandwich in hand, watching intently as Poison Ivy's carnivorous plants attacked the Caped Crusader. It was one of his favorite episodes.
Scully woke to the sound of voices, several of them. She straightened, rubbing at her stiff neck, wondering if someone had managed to get through the storm. She glanced at the couch, it was empty, Mulder must be up, though she didn't hear his voice. Come to think of it, she didn't hear Jeanne's either. Curious she got up stood by the kitchen door, listening. For a moment what she was hearing made no sense until she heard a product mentioned, and realized she was listening to a television broadcast. Mulder must be watching the news. She opened the door and found him sitting at the table in front of the television. He looked up as she opened the door and waved his sandwich toward the television.
"Hey Scully, look! Batman! Wanna watch?"
She studied the screen for a moment, and found herself smiling. Cartoons. He was watching cartoons! How very... Mulder. Shaking her head she went to stand next to him.
"You're feeling better I see."
"Yeah, thanks. Sorry about passing out on you... I've got this thing about seeing my own blood. Stupid, I know, but what can I say?"
She blinked at him, then started to laugh.
"You *faint* at the sight of blood? Since when? And how did you *ever* get into law enforcement with that idiosyncracy?"
"Oh, it doesn't happen with *any* old blood, just *mine*. I have no idea why."
"Mulder, the longer I know you, the more interesting you get."
He grinned. "Thanks... want a bite?" he held out his sandwich. She watched it ooze a drip of mahogany-colored goo onto the plate, and lifted an eyebrow.
"What is it?"
"Just peanut butter?"
"Well, no. Peanut butter, brown sugar, banana and, um... peach chutney, I think, anyway."
She stared at it, awestruck. "And you're *eating* it?"
"Mulder, you can't mean to tell me that you're eating that after throwing up twice last night!"
He looked puzzled. "I was hungry."
"Please, don't ever invite me over for dinner."
"Is that a slam on my culinary abilities?"
"No, just on your taste. I don't think I can stand to watch you eat that, so I'm going upstairs now. Enjoy."
Still shaking her head, she went upstairs, crawled into bed, and was asleep in moments.
Mulder finished his sandwich, and Batman, then went upstairs and showered and shaved. He made his bed, and searched the room top-to-bottom, looking for his favorite sweats. Maybe they had ended up in Jeanne's room. He made a mental note to ask her about them when she woke up. He sat down and read the three issues of X-Men he'd been carrying around for weeks, then stuck his head out of his room, listening for any sign that either of the women were going to wake up anytime soon. The silence was deafening.
Resigning himself to being alone, he took his briefcase down to the desk in the living room and sat down to create a file, knowing he was being compulsive, but unable *not* to do it. He used the same outline of events he'd given Scully, and then wrote out his theory on what was happening. On paper it looked even starker than it had in his head. It scared him, and it infuriated him. He'd read about it happening to other people with a certain voyeuristic distance, but had never expected it to happen to him. Hadn't loosing Sam been enough?
God... his head was beginning to hurt again. He got up and went to check the medicine cabinet in the bathroom near the front door. Finding a bottle of aspirin, he shook four of them out and downed them with a handful of tap water, and looked at himself in the mirror. Not surprisingly he looked like shit. With a sigh he walked back into the living room and froze, seeing Jeanne standing in front of the desk with a sheaf of papers in her hand. No... please... she hadn't read... she looked up, and he knew she had. Her face was white, her eyes anguished.
"Genetic research?" she asked, her voice strained. "Breeding experiments? Pregnancies that mysteriously disappear? Please tell me this is some bizarre story you're making up!"
He moved to her and took the file, shaking his head, slowly. "No, it's not. It really happens. Why would I make up something like that?"
"This says it happens to 'abductees.' Are you one?"
"There's a history of it in my family. I don't remember ever being taken, but my sister was. I was there when it happened... They never brought her back."
She flinched, biting her lip, and looked away, then back. "What makes you think I'm one?"
"Something you said last night, about your parents."
"Not about my parents, I don't have parents. I talked about Momma, and Gram, but I never knew my father... Momma never would tell me who he was; just like Gramma never told her who *her* father was. She always said men don't stick around Fitzcarrol women, they don't like women who can read their thoughts," she laughed, humorlessly. "Gramma said she and Mom were visited by angels. I knew better once I'd found out about sex, but it was a cute story at the time. For a while when I was little, I thought it was true."
"Maybe it was."
She looked up, curious. "What do you mean?"
"Angels... aliens, what's the difference after all? One is simply a more scientific version of the other."
She looked shaken. "Are you telling me this might have happened to my mother? And my grandmother?"
"It's possible. It tends to occur in sequential generations."
"Gram said she was born after her father died, I looked it up once in the family Bible. He died almost a full year before she was born. Maybe her too?"
He thought about it for a moment, intrigued. "That would be four generations, if you count yourself."
"It seems I'm going to have to," Jeanne said flatly.
"That's one generation farther than I've ever heard it traced. Did your mother and grandmother have the same sort of paranormal abilities you do?"
"We all have... I mean had them, to some degree. Mine seem to be the strongest."
"That makes sense, they're probably trying to fix those traits by breeding each successive generation to males that carry the same..." he broke off, suddenly realizing he was talking about *himself*. "But, wait, I don't have any paranormal abilities."
She looked at him oddly. "Yes you do."
"Of course... I thought you knew, I figured that was why *my* abilities didn't really surprise you."
Mulder tried to think of anything he considered paranormal about himself and failed. Abnormal, maybe, but not paranormal. He almost let it go, but his curiosity got the best of him.
"What ability do you think I have?"
"I think you're precognitive... and you're definitely empathic. I haven't sensed anything else, though."
"But, wait... how... no. I think you must be wrong. I've never had any kind of psychic event that I can recall."
She smiled. "Really?"
The topic was making him very uncomfortable, and he searched for a way to change it. She did it for him.
"Who are 'they.'"
"I don't know. One theory says aliens, another says they're time- travelers, a third says extra-dimensional beings, some even say it's a group of super-human caretakers. Each theory is as full of holes as the next. I don't know *who* they are, but I know they exist. I've seen what they do..." he broke off, not wanting to continue. It was bad enough that he knew, he didn't need to inflict it on her.
She felt it anyway, he saw it in her face. She put her hand on his arm. "I'm scared too..," she said softly. "It's okay."
Instinct told him to reach out to her in return, but remembering what had happened between them made him stop.
"It's alright, I don't blame you," she said, uncannily on-target.
"Don't blame yourself either," he managed, hoping his voice didn't sound as shaky as he felt.
She shook her head. "I won't, not any more. In a way, this is kind of a relief. At least I don't have to be afraid of myself now."
Her words reinforced his impulse to hold her, and he awkwardly drew her to him. Somewhat to his amazement, she let him, her arms slipping around his waist, her head turned to rest against his chest. She was small... smaller than he'd realized, and fit against him comfortably. To his intense relief he didn't feel the out-of-control arousal he had earlier that morning. Whatever had caused that must have worn off. After a moment she sighed, and pulled back, tucking her hair behind her ears in a habitual gesture.
"Thanks, I needed that."
"Me too," he admitted quietly, surprised to find it was true. "I'm sorry you had to see that, I shouldn't have left it lying around."
"No, that's alright, I needed to see it. Now I know why you felt the way you did, this morning. What was your sister's name?"
"That's a beautiful name," she paused for a moment, then continued. "You were close?"
"Very. We were best friends... that doesn't happen very often with siblings, from what I can tell."
"How long has it been?"
"Twenty-one years." his voice was desolate.
"Twent... my god... how awful. You were just a kid! You said you were there when it happened?"
He nodded. "I couldn't remember it consciously for years, but I had these dreams... I couldn't stop them... I just *lay* there, and let it happen!"
"No, don't think that! There wasn't anything you could have done, or you would have."
He turned away from her, unable to face her sympathy. "How do you know that? There must have been something I could have done... something that would have stopped them!"
"Could you stop them last night? Could I? We're adults, Mulder, and we couldn't do *anything* but what they wanted! Oh, hell, what *is* your first name, anyway? I can't keep calling you Mulder, not after..."
"Yes you can."
She flinched, and her eyes fell, a dull flush rising in her face. He suddenly realized she thought he'd said that because he didn't want to be that intimate with her. He reached across and took her hand.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean it that way. I just don't use my first name. I don't like it."
Her gaze lifted, hopeful. "Really?"
"Oh." She looked relieved. "I'd still like to know... what if I promise not to use it?"
He sighed. "Fox."
"My name is Fox."
"I *thought* that's what you said yesterday, but I assumed I'd mis- heard, and was too embarrassed to ask again. Fox? Were your parents hippies?"
He couldn't help it, he laughed.
"Not hardly! It's a family name, on my mother's side, believe it or not. Odd names run in the family. I have an uncle named Snow, and a cousin called Teal."
She lifted an eyebrow. "Fascinating."
The careful inflection she used sent him back decades.
"You're a Trekkie!" he accused.
She grinned. "Guilty. I always wanted to be Spock."
He grinned back. "Well, that would certainly have made last night different."
Her eyes widened as his meaning sank in, and she started giggling, and blushing simultaneously. She hid her face behind her hand until she got control of herself, and looked up, shaking her head.
He looked hurt. "I'm crushed! Didn't you know male egos are fragile? You're supposed to say it was wonderful."
The blush which had begun to fade surged up again. "That's not what I meant... oh, damn. You knew that, and I fell for it, didn't I?"
"Like a rock in a pond," he agreed affably.
"Well, so I'm gullible. I don't get much company."
"Just the occasional stranded travelers."
"Not even that. I've never had anyone get *this* far lost. That took real talent."
"Scully was reading the map..."
"And you should have listened to me when you took the left fork at Lock Haven."
They both turned to see Scully standing at the foot of the stairs, smiling.
"So, Mulder, I'm amazed you're still alive after that sandwich."
"It was good!" he protested. "You should try it! I'll make you one if you want."
"No, thanks. I think I'll stick to old fashioned PBJ's thanks."
Jeanne looked toward the kitchen, then back to them. "Speaking of which, I'm going to fix something for lunch... or dinner, considering what time it is."
Mulder looked at the clock and was surprised to see that it was nearly four. He hadn't realized it was so late. Jeanne disappeared into the kitchen, leaving him alone with Scully.
"You two seem to be getting along," Dana commented quietly.
He wasn't sure how to take that. "Yeah, I guess."
"Good, I don't want to go through last night again."
Her words seemed to echo inside him, and he closed his eyes, swearing softly as he sat down.
"What is it?" Scully prompted.
"What you said... it's going to happen again tonight."
"Because they're *breeding* us, Scully... Jeanne and me. The ultimate goal is offspring. You and I both know, conception rarely occurs after just one mating, not in humans, anyway. They'll be back again tonight."
Scully looked embarrassed; he wondered if perhaps he shouldn't have been quite so blunt. She cleared her throat, and looked at the computer on the desk.
"What makes you think that they're... breeding you?"
"You mean aside from what happened last night?" he asked drily. "Scully, I've studied these cases, there's a pattern! In abductions of men they often report either having sex, or having sperm samples taken. In abductions of women, they often become pregnant, either through sex, or some sort of artificial insemination. Usually the resulting embryo disappears after a couple of months incubation. No miscarriage occurs, the woman simply stops being pregnant. No one knows what becomes of the embryo... though some women claim to have been shown their offspring during later abductions."
Her jaw lifted mulishly. "That's crazy!"
"Is it? The technology to extract embryos and implant them in surrogate wombs exists, it's used all the time on cattle. Hell, it's even been used on humans!"
"People aren't cattle!"
"Aren't we?" he asked, cynically. "Twenty bucks says they come back tonight."
Scully looked appalled. "Mulder, I am not going to bet with you over something like that! Look, if you're so convinced they'll be back, we'll just have to stay up and see, won't we?"
He chuckled, shaking his head. "Scully, you make it sound so easy! Okay, we'll do that. We'll take watches, sleep in shifts. It'll still happen."
Scully sighed. "You're impossible."
She laughed. "You? Realistic? What a thought!"
He shrugged. "You'll see."
Jeanne stood in the kitchen trying not to listen. She wished she'd closed the door, because she didn't really want to hear what Mulder was saying. She set a jar of frozen stock in pan of water on the stove to thaw, and stared into it blankly. He thought it was going to happen again. She thought about being used as breeding stock and felt sick. Something behind her fell with a metallic clatter and she jumped in surprise. Turning, she saw a pie tin on the floor. Normally they were stored in the cabinet above the stove. The cabinet doors were closed. She picked up the tin and put it away. It was starting. She'd better put out the plastic glasses and melamine when she set the table.
As she started chopping vegetables for the soup, she found herself remembering the dreams she'd been having for the past week, and chuckled softly. Looking up at the ceiling she spoke directly to the mysterious beings that were apparently interfering in her life, using the backwoods cadences that she'd worked hard to erase from her day-to-day speech.
"Y'know all y'had to do was get him here... the way I've been feelin' lately, I probably would'a managed the rest on my own. But no... y'all had t' make sure, didn't ya?"
Scully walked in, looking around curiously. "Were you talking to me?"
Jeanne blushed, hoping the other woman hadn't heard what she'd said. "No, myself, mostly. It gets to be a habit when you live alone for awhile. Sometimes I pretend I'm talkin' to the cats, but that's just as silly. Want to chop vegetables while I see to the broth?"
"Sure," Scully moved into place by the chopping block and picked up a knife. "You don't have to cook for us, you know."
"I know, it's just the hospitable thing to do."
Scully grinned. "Besides, considering what I found him eating this morning, you do *not* want Mulder in the kitchen."
"I heard that!" Mulder's voice came indignantly from the living- room.
They looked at each other and laughed.
Hours later, Jeanne lay in the bathtub, soaking blissfully, hoping the hot bath would relax her enough to make her telekinesis stop acting up. It was a good thing she'd decided to use the melamine. By the time dinner was over and the dishes cleaned up almost all of them had been on the floor at least once. It was wearing, not to mention messy. She hated it when she got like this. At least she'd pretty much confined herself to *empty* dishes. Neither Scully or Mulder had commented on the flying crockery, though Scully had watched each piece with ill-concealed amazement. Mulder had somehow managed to act as if nothing unusual were happening. She was grateful to both of them for their forbearance.
The later the evening had progressed, the tenser she got, and the more small objects began to take on a life of their own. Finally she'd fled upstairs to the bathroom and found the bottle of tranquilizers she'd gotten when her mother was dying. She'd gotten the prescription refilled the day of the funeral, and never needed them since. They'd been the only thing that allowed her to visit the hospital on a daily basis. She took one, and decided that a bath might help as well. If it was going to happen, it would happen; no matter how she felt about it, so there was no point in destroying the house worrying about it. She sighed, and ran a touch more hot water, then added a slick of baby oil.
It. She smiled, realizing she was mentally referring to sex as if she were still in junior high school. Silly. That's what came of being socially isolated like she was. It made her a twenty-five year old woman with the social IQ of a fifteen-year old. Sad thought. She sighed, flexing her knee as she smoothed some oil over her calf and massaged her foot. Just because she'd never been with anyone, not consciously anyway, didn't mean she was ignorant, though.
She'd read her share of soft-core romance novels; and the ever-popular "Joy of Sex" that had gotten passed from girl to girl in her seventh- grade health class; without the teacher's knowledge of course. She'd even listened with flaming cheeks to her mother's matter-of-fact instructions on how to relieve the kind of stress that sometimes brought on particularly spectacular bouts of telekinesis. She'd been right. It worked. Under normal circumstances Jeanne could easily keep herself relaxed enough to have virtually no incidents.
These, however, were not normal circumstances. Even before anything had happened, she'd been having lustful thoughts about a certain Agent Mulder, and had felt embarrassed at having sexual fantasies about a man whose first name she didn't even know. Now that something *had* happened, she couldn't stop wondering what it had been like. That, combined with the thought of it happening again without her knowledge, was driving her utterly mad. With a sigh of frustration she put her foot back in the water and tentatively slid her hand up her thigh to rest on her mons. Maybe her usual tension-reliever would help anyway.
Mulder looked down at the case file he had strewn across the kitchen table, then at the sheet of notes he'd made, and sighed. He was tired of working. He could hear the television in the other room... Scully was watching the news. Funny how the television seemed to work just fine now. She was very anxious for the storm to stop. So was he, but watching news reports of stranded travelers and impassible roads didn't help. He sighed and took off his glasses, rubbing the bridge of his nose. He didn't wear them enough for them to feel really comfortable, but working with the reduced print in some of these files made them necessary.
He was getting old... at thirty-four. He grinned... working the X-Files hadn't given him gray hair yet, but they had driven him to wearing glasses. At least they weren't bifocals. He shivered, only then realizing he was chilly. That was something he could fix. He stood up, stretched, and headed for the stairs. Scully looked up as he passed, lifting an eyebrow.
"I'm cold, I'm going up to get a sweater. Want anything?"
"No, thanks. I'm fine."
He nodded and went up. As he neared his room he noticed the bathroom door was closed, and he could hear the soft slosh of water in the tub as its occupant moved. A sudden vision of Jeanne lying naked in the bath stopped him in his tracks for a moment, then he shook his head in self-disgust and went on into his room. He was acting like a teenager! It wasn't as if he were some sex-starved monk, that the thought of a woman bathing should stir him so strongly. However, it had. He thought he could smell a subtle rose scent in the air that had been missing on the lower level. Some kind of bath stuff? Nice, whatever it was. He yawned, and picked up his sweater.
His hand opened, and the sweater fell to the floor. Odd... he leaned over and picked it up again. He yawned, and lay back on the bed... bed? He'd been standing a moment earlier. What..? He could hardly keep his eyes open. In fact, he couldn't keep his eyes open. He let them drift closed, and felt fingers unbuttoning his shirt. Jeanne? Surprised he opened his eyes, and saw no one... his own hand was on the last button. Something was wrong... he began to be afraid as he recognized the leaden, paralytic feeling that was creeping through him.
"Damn... no!" he whispered, and his fear gave him enough energy to roll off the bed, to his knees. He crawled over to the dresser and managed to catch hold of his gun. He almost couldn't get it out of the holster. For a moment he knelt there, holding it, staring at it... what the hell was he doing with a drawn weapon? What was he going to do with it? Why was he on the floor?
Something moved, just at the edge of his vision, he turned, both hands bringing up the Glock, releasing the safety... nothing there. Another shadow scurried past him, he turned again... nothing. Why couldn't he *see* them when he looked right at them? Why did he feel like this?
Put it down? No, he didn't want to put it down. Stop telling me what to do! Leave me alone, get away, get out of here... no, don't touch me... don't touch.... He heard a noise like thunder, and felt a cool, strange touch on his face. He was tired, so tired. He closed his eyes and let sleep take him.
All three cats suddenly sat up, staring at the stairs. Scully turned, expecting to see Mulder, but there was no one there. She shrugged and turned back toward the television, but there was no picture all the sudden, just a screen full of static. One of the cats growled, a low, eerie sound, then the others joined in, the three of them sounding like some bizarre synthesizer. She shuddered.
"What's wrong, guys? Is there a dog outside?"
They were still staring upstairs. She shivered suddenly. There was a loud thump, as if someone had fallen out of bed. She knew she should get up and go look, but it was so warm in the afghan, she didn't want to move.
"Mulder?" What she'd intended to be a clear call that would carry upstairs came out a whisper. She heard more movement upstairs, an odd, dragging sound. She yawned. She was really tired. The cats huddled closer to her, silent now, but their ears flattened against their heads, their fur lifted, making them seem immense. She put her head on her knees and closed her eyes. She hadn't realized she was so sleepy. Good thing Mulder was awake, he could take first watch.
A loud noise echoed in her ears, and suddenly she was wide awake. That sound... what was it? Almost as she asked herself the question, she answered it. That all-too-familiar sound was a gunshot. She threw off the blanket and dashed for the stairs, cursing herself for leaving her own weapon upstairs like an amateur.
"Mulder? What's going on up there?"
Her call was met with silence. "Jeanne? You up there?"
More silence. The cats had come to stand with her at the bottom of the stairs. One of them, the gray-muzzled one, went up three stairs, then stopped, looking back at her. She wished he wouldn't... it might not be safe up there. He advanced another step, then looked at her again, as if to see if she was following, and made a curious little 'mrrp' sound. She laughed.
"Your name ought to be Lassie, not Percy! All right, I'll take your word for it."
Cautiously she edged up the stairs. The only sound she could hear was her own breathing. The door to the room she was using was open, she could see the entire room. It was empty. She slipped in and snatched her Walther from the bureau, thumbed off the safety, and sighed in relief at its reassuring weight in her hands. She didn't feel nearly as vulnerable now. Mulder's door was slightly ajar. She moved beside it, pushed it open and covered the room. Empty. A sweater lay on the floor beside the bed, and the air was tinged with the acrid scent of gunpowder. She swallowed, afraid again. As she was about to leave the room when a dark gleam caught her eye. Mulder's gun, lying unholstered on the floor beside the dresser. But no Mulder.
Percy mrowed from the hallway, scaring her. She swore under her breath and lowered the gun she'd centered on the cat. He was clawing at the bathroom doorknob, looking at her. She slipped across the hall and stood next to the door, listening. She still couldn't hear anything but herself... and now the cat, who was rubbing her ankles and purring. Fully expecting to get blown away, she grabbed the knob, turned, and yanked the door open.
Warm, humid air hit her in the face, but the room was empty. The shower curtains were open, so no one could be hiding there. The tub was full, the water still steaming as the chill air from the hallway hit it. There were no wet footprints on the rug or floor, though, and the towels hung pristine next to the tub. A strand of long, dark hair floated on the water. She noticed a small brown bottle next to the sink and picked it up. It was a year-old prescription for a common sedative. The count on the bottle was 25. Curious, she shook them into her hand and counted. There were twenty four pills. Only one missing. Had she taken it, unknowing? Was that why she'd felt so lethargic? The symptoms weren't right, though. If she'd been drugged, she would *still* be feeling the effects, and she didn't. Besides a single tab wouldn't have done more than relax her.
She sighed. Time to keep looking. She checked Jeanne's room, then the other room on that floor. Jeanne's was empty, so was the last room, and judging by the dust it had been so for a long time. She checked every closet, and cautiously explored the attic. It was empty, save for old furniture and boxes. It felt very warm in there, all the heat from the house must be concentrated in the attic, not very energy-efficient.
Descending, she searched every room on the main level. Empty. She bundled up and went out to check for any sign that they might have gone outside. Nothing marred the pristine foot-and-a-half of snow that layered the yard, other than a set of what looked like deer tracks. She checked the shed. Empty, though the old Scout was there, its engine stone cold. Baffled and more than a little scared, she turned to re-enter the house, and remembered the last time she'd been outside it. The icicles were still there. They looked odd... wet, like they were melting. She backed up a bit until she could see the roof... and her mouth dropped open. It was dry again, steaming as the snow touched it, as if it were hot. She remembered looking out the window of her room earlier that day and seeing it covered six inches deep with snow at mid-day. Now it was dry.
She looked around the lot at the trees. The evergreen's upper branches were bare in the moonlight, yet their lower branches were heavy with snow. The shiver that racked her had nothing to do with cold. She went back inside, locked the door and sat on the couch with her arms wrapped around her knees, noticing that the television was working properly again. She didn't take off her coat, she didn't think she would ever feel warm again. After awhile the cats returned to sit with her, and she was glad of their company.p>
Something was different. Dana sat up, heart pounding, and looked around. She gasped, eyes widening. They were back. Mulder, and Jeanne... on the living room floor, stark naked, and soundly asleep, or unconscious. She looked away, blushing, feeling like an intruder; then forced herself to look back, cataloging it as she would a crime scene. Mulder was on his back, his head tipped back slightly, lips parted. He seemed extremely pale. One of his hands lay loosely at his side, the other rested almost protectively across Jeanne's back, fingers tangled in her hair. Jeanne lay on her stomach, half-over him, her arm across his neck, her head on his chest, one leg drawn up, effectively fig-leafing him. She could see two reddened welts on Jeanne's thigh, where there had only been one earlier.
It made Dana very uncomfortable to watch them as they slept, obviously intimate. She'd never... or at least rarely... thought of Mulder in a sexual way. He was her partner, and you just didn't think that kind of thoughts about your partner if you wanted to have an effective working relationship. He seemed oddly vulnerable now, without his protective wit. It made her wonder about him as a man, instead of as a kind of asexual unit known as a partner. That disturbed her.
She studied them, looking for any sign that might indicate that either of them needed her skills as a physician, and found none. They were both breathing evenly, deeply. Mulder wasn't pale enough for her to worry about since he was naturally very fair-skinned. They might get chilled if they stayed like that for long, though. Should she wake them? Last night waking Mulder had resulted in his getting sick. Maybe whatever was being used on them needed to wear off naturally. Not to mention the fact that they were probably going to want to be alone when they woke up. Having her sitting there watching them could do nothing but traumatize. But she didn't want them to get cold... She debated with herself for some time before she decided to try to cover them.
Cautiously she got up, holding the afghan in both hands. With a gentle flip she managed to get it across both of them. Jeanne moved a little, drawing closer to Mulder. She waited. No more reaction. With a silent sigh of relief she began to move toward the stairs, planning to leave them to wake on their own, without her presence to embarrass them. Three steps across the floor, a board creaked and she froze, biting her lip, hoping they wouldn't wake.
Neither of them moved, and she relaxed a bit, lifting her weight off the board carefully. Four more steps... almost to the stairs. Another board creaked. She froze again. Mulder took a deep, ragged breath, and his eyes opened. For a moment he stared up at the ceiling, then he blinked rapidly. Another breath, his eyes tracked downward to where Jeanne lay across him, and an expression of wrenching anguish transformed his face. She saw his fist clench, heard his broken-whispered "No!" and couldn't stand it any more. Not caring that he would hear her, she dashed up the stairs to her room and closed the door behind her, willing herself not to cry. It didn't work.
Dana heard someone on the stairs. She knew it was Mulder because the footsteps were too heavy to be Jeanne's. She heard him go into his room, then all was quiet for awhile. She stayed in her room, giving him privacy. A few minutes later, she heard a tap at her door.
"Scully?" he spoke softly, his voice hoarse.
"Here, Mulder," she got up and opened the door, stepping aside to let him in. She noticed immediately that she wasn't the only one who'd been crying, but didn't comment on it. He was wearing the sweater she'd found on the floor in his room, and a pair of suit pants. His feet were bare. He must have noticed the direction of her gaze, because he smiled ruefully.
"They got my shoes this time. I think they must be running some kind of alien Goodwill store! If they don't start giving back my clothes when they're done with me, I'm gonna have to start borrowing yours!"
She smiled back at the ridiculous thought of him trying to fit into anything of hers, and gestured toward the chair.
"Want to sit?"
"Yeah, thanks," he collapsed into it, closed his eyes, and let his head fall forward into his hands. He sat there like that for a moment, face hidden, then he lifted his head again, hands wiping the outer corners of his eyes in a movement she wasn't meant to notice. She pretended she hadn't.
"Jeanne wouldn't wake up, so I put her on the couch and covered her with that knitted thing. The cats are down there with her, but I don't want her to wake up alone."
"I understand, I'll sit with her."
"What about you?"
"I know. Mulder... I..." she swallowed hard, wondering how to say it. "I'm sorry, I heard things happening up here, but I just felt so tired, I couldn't seem to move, not until I heard a shot, but by then it was too late. You and Jeanne were gone. I feel responsible!"
He shook his head. "Don't. There was nothing you could have done. I'm just glad they don't seem to be interested in you. I don't think I could handle that."
That possibility somehow hadn't occurred to her. She was momentarily shaken. "Me too, believe me!"
He smiled wanly. "I do," he paused and looked out the window, then back. "Do you believe *me* now?"
She managed not to flinch. "Yes, I do. I should have listened to you before."
He shook his head again. "That's your job, Scully. You're my devil's advocate. I need you to be skeptical, you keep me from getting sloppy."
She nodded, studying her hands. After a moment she looked up. "Do you remember anything this time?"
"Nothing, nada, zip. The last thing I remember was picking up my sweater to put it on."
"Is that good, or bad?"
He shot her a narrowed glance. "Both."
"Is there anything I can do for you?"
He laughed, a single short cough. "Short of a quick 'n' dirty vasectomy? No."
She laughed, then felt awful for having done so. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have laughed."
"Of course you should, humor's the only way you can survive life with your sanity intact. I'm going to sleep now, I can't stay awake any more. Go sit with her, okay?"
"I will, are you sure you'll be alright up here, alone? Why don't you come and sleep downstairs, with us?"
"No, I need to be alone, but thanks for the offer..." he grinned sensually, and a part of her wanted to respond to him, another part was shocked by that response.
"Just my luck, the first time you've ever asked me to sleep with you, and I'm too tired to take advantage! And a threesome, at that! I had no idea you were so adventurous, Scully!"
"Mulder!" Dana managed to gasp in appalled tones, blushing.
He chuckled. "That's better, I thought maybe the aliens had replaced you with a clone or something."
"Go to bed Mulder. Your bed, in your room, by yourself."
"Aye-aye, Doc," he mock-saluted, and pushed himself up out of the chair. As he headed for the door she stopped him.
"Mulder, I was thinking--"
"Did it hurt?"
"Stop that! I'm serious!"
He shot her a rueful smile. "Sorry, humor is my coping mechanism. Go on."
"Well, if your theory is correct, then there may be a way you and Jeanne can avoid being taken again," Scully could hardly believe what she was about to suggest.
"You said they're taking you for breeding purposes. If you engaged in the same behavior voluntarily, wouldn't that obviate the need for them to take you?"
She studied her partner's drawn face for a reaction. She still wasn't sure she believed that *aliens* had taken Mulder and Jeanne for the past two nights. On the other hand, she had no rational explanation of her own to offer. She couldn't debate the point that *something* had taken them. If nothing else, her plan would give them some small feeling of control over their own destinies, not to mention their own bodies. She could tell the moment her suggestion broke through the haze of fatigue, because his eyes widened, and to her surprise, he blushed. Her wise-cracking, innuendo-loving partner actually blushed!
"Scully! I can't do that!"
"Why not? You've *already* done that!"
"But... that's different! She wouldn't want to... you know."
"How do you know unless you ask? If it were me, I'd certainly prefer to have some control over things."
"I can't ask, Scully, I can't." He turned and walked out. She sighed, feeling very helpless. After she heard the door to his room close she went downstairs to sit with Jeanne.
Jeanne yawned, stretched, and opened her eyes to find herself in the living room. Instantly she realized why. It had happened again. She wasn't in pain this time, but she felt... different. She closed her eyes, trying to deal with the conflicting feelings inside her. Damn it! She was almost resigned to it now, but it was still so unfair! Why *her*? She felt tears welling up, and angrily dashed them away. She'd be damned if she'd let them make her cry!
"Jeanne, are you alright?"
She opened her eyes and found Dana kneeling next to the couch regarding her with an expression of concern.
"Yeah, Dana, I'm fine... I guess. It happened again, didn't it?"
Scully nodded. "About ten last night. God... I've been scared plenty of times, but never quite like that! One minute you were here, the next you were both gone... and I couldn't do *anything*! I remember sitting here listening to funny noises from upstairs, and all I could think about was going to sleep! Until Mulder took a shot at something, that is. That seemed to snap me out of it, but by then it was too late."
Jeanne sat up, holding the afghan around herself. "How long have I been back? What time is it?"
Scully resumed her place in a chair she'd pulled next to the couch.
"It's nearly six now. You came back sometime between midnight, which was the last time I looked at the clock before falling asleep, and two, when I woke up and found you on the floor there."
"You put me up on the couch? You must be stronger than you look!"
Scully smiled wryly. "I am. I could have done it, but I didn't. You and Mulder came back... together."
It took a moment for the meaning to sink in, then Jeanne understood, and blushed, thinking about *how* they must have come back. "Oh, I... well. Where is he?"
"Upstairs. He asked me to stay with you."
"Is he okay?"
Scully sighed. "It's hard to tell. He's trying to joke about it, but I think it's really tearing him up."
Jeanne shuddered, suddenly cold. She felt so responsible...
"How are *you* feeling?" Dana asked gently. "It's no easier on you!"
Jeanne thought about it for a minute, frowning thoughtfully. "Y'know, it's strange, but what bothers me the most is that I can't *remember* it!" she shook her head, smiling a little. "I guess I always figured that Sleeping Beauty *remembered* the kiss."
Scully smiled. "Interesting analogy."
Jeanne smiled back. "It was the first one that came to mind," she clenched her fists, suddenly angry again. "It just makes me so *mad*! What gives them the right to mess with us? What about what I might want? What about what he might want? It's so infuriating to have no choice!"
Scully was looking at her as if she wanted to say something but couldn't bring herself to do it. Jeanne stopped and let herself become receptive, trying to ferret out whatever it was. It came. Dana was thinking about it strongly enough for it to be easy. Jeanne's breath caught, her eyes widened.
"Oh! Yes! Of course! Why didn't *I* think of that? Thank you *so* much!" she reached across and took both Scully's hands in hers, squeezing them lightly. "That's the perfect solution."
Scully looked bewildered. "What is? I didn't say anything!"
"You didn't have to, you thought it loud enough for me to hear."
"You heard me *thinking*?" she said incredulously "Damn, Mulder's going to kill me!"
"No he won't, he'll never know."
"But I already suggested it to him, embarrassing him half to death in the process. He'll *know* you got it from me!"
"No, he won't. It's just the most logical answer, that's all! Besides, I'd've probably come up with it on my own before the day was out. You can't imagine how much I've been wanting an excuse to do that anyway!"
Scully was surprised. "After everything that's happened?"
Jeanne looked thoughtful "Oddly enough, even more because of that. I want to know, don't you see? And I want to have some kind of meaning other than brood-mare! I want to be a person, and I want to know him as a person, not as some kind of incubus that comes in the night while I'm sleeping. I want it to be *real*!"
Dana nodded sympathetically "I understand, I think. It's a little hard for me to relate to, not having been in your shoes."
"Thanks, it's nice to know I'm not completely crazy." Jeanne said with a half-smile, then she lowered her voice confidentially. "Besides, Dana, he's adorable."
"Mulder? Adorable?" Dana sounded utterly astonished. "You're out of your mind! But then, you don't have to work with him."
"No, I can see how that might be... difficult," Jeanne conceded.
"Difficult is his middle name," Dana sighed. "How are you feeling, physically?"
Jeanne closed her eyes, assessing. "Reasonable. Much better than I did after the first time. I don't feel sick, and nothing hurts."
"Interesting. I don't think Mulder was sick this time either... at least, I didn't hear anything that would lead me to believe he was."
"That's good," she rubbed her thigh and winced. "I take it back... I do hurt somewhere. That place on my leg."
"It's a new one. You've got two now."
Jeanne lifted the afghan and looked, making a face. "So I do. Lovely," she yawned widely. "Whatever it is they used on us, really leaves me sleepy."
It occurred to her, suddenly, that even though it had been Dana's suggestion that she go to Mulder, it might make things a bit awkward. "Dana, is it going to bother you if I take your suggestion?"
"Bother me? In what way?"
"I know you're close... I don't want to... oh, I don't know, come between you, or make you feel weird about anything. This is hard to say... I'm not doing very well. I guess what I mean is that I don't want you to be embarrassed, or upset in any way."
Scully laughed softly, shaking her head. "I think I understand, and it's okay. We're friends, we're partners, that's all. I tend to think of him as a slightly irritating older brother. Don't worry about it," she chuckled. "But if you get too noisy I reserve the right to pound on the ceiling, and tell you to keep it down, all right?"
Jeanne nodded, grinning. "You've got a deal." She squared her shoulders and stood up. "Well, wish me luck."
"Good luck," Dana said, then she stood as well, holding out her arms. Feeling as if she'd found a sister, Jeanne stepped into her embrace. There were tears in her eyes as she felt the warmth, physical and mental, the other woman was extending. This time she let them stay there.
"Thank you," Jeanne whispered. "I needed to know it was okay."
"I know, and it is. Go on."
Taking a secure hold on the afghan, she headed for the stairs. She had walked up the same stairs more times than she could ever remember, but they had never felt so long before. Every step seemed to creak and groan beneath her weight. What if he didn't want her? What if he sent her away? She realized she was starting to hyperventilate, and deliberately slowed her breathing. What-if's weren't doing her any good; if she wasn't careful things would start flying, and that was the last thing she wanted! She reached the top step at last and hesitated there for a moment, then forced herself to go to the door of his room.
Standing with her hand on the doorknob, she listened for a moment. It was quiet, both to her ears and to her mind. All she could 'hear' was the low clutter of unquiet dreams as he slept. She almost lost her nerve then, and half-turned to go to her own room. You made the decision, now stick with it, she thought to herself. Resolute, she opened the door and stepped inside.
He lay on his side, arms around his pillow, face buried in it. The covers were tangled and about two-thirds off him, revealing skin to the waist, then a pair of quite ordinary blue cotton boxer-shorts. She smiled. If she'd had to guess what sort of underwear he wore, that would have been it. They matched the peculiar air of knowing- innocence he seemed to radiate. She let the afghan go, and walked to the bed, gently untangling the covers enough so that she could slip beneath them, and spoon herself up against his back, one hand curved around his bare shoulder. He made a soft sound, and reached up to touch her fingers with his, but didn't really wake. She yawned, fit herself more comfortably against him, and went back to sleep.
Didn't this happen once already today, Mulder wondered as he opened his eyes to feel the unmistakable presence of a warm and quite naked female body pressed against his back. For just a moment he felt a knot forming in his stomach. Had *They* come back again? In broad daylight this time? As he began to think more clearly he began to relax. He was still wearing his boxers, the afghan he remembered wrapping around Jeanne lay on the floor beside the bed, and he had a dream-like memory of feeling someone slip into bed with him. No, her presence in his bed had nothing to do with aliens.
So, what *did* it have to do with? Why was she there? Had she been too sleepy to notice where she was? No, that was unlikely. Scully had been sitting with her, so she would have steered her to the right room if she'd been that tired. Scully. He suddenly remembered that stupid idea she'd had. Had she mentioned it to Jeanne? Was that why she was here? That didn't seem likely. Scully wouldn't have mentioned it when she knew he would object. Maybe the chemical cocktail they'd been given hadn't quite worn off? Whatever it was, he wasn't going to stick around to embarrass her when she woke up.
Cautiously he eased the blankets aside and started to slide out of bed. Her arm tightened around his waist.
"Hi," she said softly, directly in his ear.
The warmth of her breath against his ear sent a shiver through him, and he went very still. "You're awake?"
"I have been for awhile, I was just waiting for you."
"What for?" he asked, automatically, and then wanted to smack himself for asking. Stupid, Mulder, stupid!
To his surprise she laughed. "Don't tell me you can't figure that one out for yourself. If there's one thing you're not, it's slow!"
He had to see her face. Without being able to see her face, he couldn't tell if she was teasing him or not. He turned over, onto his back, and she moved aside to give him room. She was smiling, but not the kind of smile he'd expected. He started to feel a bit short of breath.
"Jeanne, did Scully put you up to this?"
Her answer was simple and unequivocal, yet somehow he doubted her. "I don't bel..." he never finished the sentence. She sat up, eyes blazing, and poked him in the chest with her finger.
"You listen to me, Fox Mulder, and don't interrupt! I've come to you of my own will, my own desire. I *want* to be here! So don't you try to tell me I'm only doing it because someone else said I should!"
He lay there staring up at her, a bit shocked by her vehemence, and couldn't think of an answer. After a moment some of the indignation left her eyes, and she grinned.
"Speechless? That must be a first!"
"Quite probably," he admitted, smiling wryly.
"Good, I'd like to think I made some sort of impression on you."
"Oh, no fear of that, none at all." His gaze moved down slightly, registering the fact that he hadn't imagined it. She wasn't wearing a thing. Mouth suddenly dry, he looked back up quickly, but not quickly enough. Her lashes shuttered her eyes, hiding her thoughts, and she caught her lower lip in her teeth, some of her poise seeming to fade.
"I know I'm not much to look at..."
"Stop it! Don't you dare say that!"
She looked startled. "Don't say what?"
"What you were going to say, don't even think it."
"I... okay. I won't."
"You're still thinking it."
She lifted her jaw mulishly. "How do you know that? I thought you said you weren't telepathic!"
"I don't have to be, I can see it on your face. Jeanne, don't ever think you're not beautiful. You are."
She blushed, looking away. "I wasn't fishing..."
"I know. Come here," he reached up and ran a finger up the stubborn line of her jaw, then slid his hand behind her neck. She took a quick, shallow breath and let him guide her down until their noses were almost touching.
"Close your eyes," he prompted.
She did, and he closed the distance between them, touching her mouth softly with his.
Ah god! It was even better than he remembered! She flowed against him, making a little sound that in a cat would have been a purr. Her lips were soft and parted; he let his tongue slide between them, tasting her. She moved against him in a kind of shiver, and tilted her head slightly to one side as she touched his tongue with hers. The touch was brief, experimental.
He remembered what Scully had said about it having being her first time, and realized with a shock that save for a minor technicality, Jeanne was still a virgin. She'd had no conscious experience with sex. He drew back, suddenly a lot more in control as he remembered exactly why she was there. How could she possibly be doing this? How could she *want* to be here after what had happened, what he'd done to her? It didn't make any sense to him. He gazed down at her in utter seriousness, and took her hands in his.
"Jeanne, are you *sure* about this?"
She focused on him slowly, coming back from wherever she'd gone.
"Sure?" she asked, with a slight tremor in her voice. "No, I'm not sure at all. But at the same time, I am. Despite what happened, I trust you. I can feel your honesty. No one has ever been this close to me before. Everyone else I was ever even a little bit interested in made me crazy with their lies. You don't lie to me! You never have. I want to know what it's like to be close to someone. I want to have something to remember."
He almost panicked as he saw moisture gathering in her eyes, a man's instinctive response to a woman's tears. Then she shook her head and smiled, licked her lips, and leaned down. Her mouth was warm and open as she kissed him again, this time she was the initiator. He couldn't help but respond to her artless sensuality. His hands found their way to her hips, caressing. In response, her body arched against his, burrowing closer. After a moment she lifted her head.
"I *know* this is right... though you make a damned unlikely angel."
"Angel?" Mulder stared up at her for a moment, puzzled. She waited, and he figured it out. She'd known he would.
"The story your mother told you?"
She nodded, and he grinned.
"Now Jeanne, don't go making rash judgements, we'll see if you still feel that way later."
She shook her head, sadly. "Anybody ever tell you you're a smartass?"
"More people than I care to remember."
"I figured as much. Ah, well, I guess you've got looks, so I can't expect personality too... Hey!" she gasped in surprise as he grabbed her shoulders and pushed her backwards, his body pinning her down. "What...?"
"You want personality?" he whispered, grinning. "Which one?" His question went unanswered as he brought his mouth down to hers.
She laughed into his kiss for a moment, then softened and began to respond, her mouth opening beneath his, making a little sound in her throat. She put her arms around him, and slid her hands beneath the waistband of his shorts so she could touch skin instead of cloth, holding his hips, half-afraid to try anything more intimate, though she wanted to, she very much wanted to!
His lips left hers and she felt momentarily abandoned, until his incredibly luscious mouth grazed her throat, her ear, her shoulder... she shivered, aching for more. She wanted him to touch her intimately, and she wanted to touch him, too. Greatly daring she inched her fingers closer to his stomach, grazing lower, though not quite low enough.
She felt his breath catch as she touched him, and smiled. He liked it. Where their bodies were pressed together she could feel how much he liked it as his hips curled against her, rubbing the hard length of him against her thighs. Yes! She moved her hands higher, found the elastic and tugged down. He went still for a moment, then braced a knee between hers so he could lift his hips and let her free him.There was a slight moment of awkwardness as he completed the task she'd started, then he was bare, and his body tight against hers again. She liked the way he felt against her, the heat and hardness of him curving into her belly, his skin warm and silky against her own. Tentatively she reached up and slid her hand behind his neck, letting her fingers play in the crisp short hair behind his ears for a moment before she tugged him down to her.
"I like this," she whispered, then started to nibble on his jawline. He needed a shave, and his stubble was rough against her lips and tongue, but she did it anyway. The taste and texture of him made her shiver hotly.
"Good thing," he returned, grinning. His hand moved to rest on her leg, just above her knee and she closed her eyes, bending her knee, bringing it up on the outside of his hip. The motion settled him even closer to where she wanted him, and his fingers began to trace a random pattern on her inner thigh that made her shake and clutch at the firm curves of his rear. But why was he so slow? Why didn't he take her? He was there, he was ready, so was she. She wiggled a little, until her thighs were outside his, his body a heavy, hard warmth between them. Still, he didn't move, not there, anyway. Just his mouth against her throat, his hand on her thigh, edging higher, but not high enough.
"Fox..." she breathed.
"Mulder," he corrected softly, his lips against her ear, his tongue tracing the outer edge, making her shiver. "What?"
"I want you."
"I know, I want you too."
"What are you waiting for?"
He chuckled. "The right moment."
"No, not yet. That would be too fast."
"No it wouldn't," she insisted earnestly.
"Fine," she said, disgustedly, squirming against him and wishing he would touch her more centrally. She knew what she needed, she'd done it for herself enough times!
A little frustrated, she grabbed his hand and moved it. He chuckled again, maddeningly, and cupped his hand over her, the heel of his hand against the soft heat between her thighs, his fingers on the plane just above her mons. He squeezed gently, and the body-deep recognition of his touch shook her to the core. His mouth took hers again, and as it did, his arm tightened beneath her back, lifting her closer, so they were touching all along breast and hip and thigh. She instinctively arched toward him, wanting more, wanting it *now*.
He broke the kiss with a gasp and looked down at her, slightly dazed. "Sorry, too fast. I keep forgetting..."
"Not too fast," she corrected fiercely. "I need you, Fox. Please!"
"Ah, damn!" The look on his face was almost pain as he clenched his teeth. "Don't, Jeanne!"
"Why not?" she caught his hand and moved it lower, placing his fingers where he couldn't help but feel her readiness.
"Jeanne, you're not used to this, I want to be careful, this has to be perfect! You can't be ready yet!" he insisted, fingers cupping over her sex, gently teasing, probing. She couldn't believe how good it felt. She pushed herself up into his hand.
"I am! I have been for *days*! It's all I've been thinking about, dreaming about, you inside me... oh!"
Her declaration became an inhalation of startled wonder as one of his fingers eased *inside* her. "Oh that's good... yes!" she bucked and shivered as he explored more deeply inside her, touching the inmost core of her, where she was slick and hot, stimulating her unbearably. She thought she was going to shatter.
He closed his eyes, hand moving rhythmically between her thighs. She whimpered in excitement as a second finger joined the first inside her, and his thumb slicked over her clitoris. She arched into his touch, panting slightly. Close... so close...
"You are ready, aren't you?" he said softly, sounding surprised but pleased, his voice dark with need.
His hand slid from her and she moaned, wanting it back. He shifted position for a moment, then his hands were under her buttocks, lifting her, she felt the coarse satin of his thighs sliding between hers, and she opened her eyes to watch as he moved into position, his erection nudging her open. She reached down and took him in her hand, marveling at the dichotomy of textures... hard, yet soft... rough, yet silky. With her other hand she touched herself. Those textures she was familiar with. She'd always thought she would be the only person who would ever feel the softness there, the heat, the yielding moisture. She opened herself and guided him to her.
"Now..." she breathed softly.
He didn't argue. His penetration was slow, gentle, and complete. She closed her eyes and clutched him to her as her body softened to accommodate him, welcoming him, recognizing him.
"Yes!" she hissed through clenched teeth, straining against him, trying to force him to move. "Please, I need more, give me more."
"Whatever you want, take," he whispered. She opened her eyes and looked up at him. He smiled down at her encouragingly, his eyes hot, his body shaking. What did she want? She wanted control. After having had none before, she wanted it now, and somehow he knew that. She could see it in his face. She pushed gently and he rolled onto his back, placing her above him.
Her eyes widened as she absorbed the new sensation, then she smiled and pushed herself up into a sitting position, straddling his hips. She gasped as the change of angle and weight opened her more fully, allowing him to forge even deeper inside her. He grinned up at her, the creases at the corners of his eyes crinkling in a way she found utterly endearing.
"Better?" he queried, reaching up to tuck her hair behind her ears, out of her face.
"Better," she confirmed.
"Good," he whispered. "I have a lot to make up for."
She moved tentatively, feeling a surge of excitement as his heavy-lidded eyes fluttered closed. The sight of his teeth catching his lower lip made her feel wild, and wanton. She leaned down and licked his mouth there, trying to slide her tongue between his teeth and lip. He let her, opening his mouth to hers as she plundered his mouth. He sucked on her tongue when it drove in, reversing the penetration and suction occurring lower.
Jeanne pulled away to gasp for breath as his hands cupped her breasts. Looking down, she watched him tease her nipples until they were hard, dark-flushed points. Then, slowly, he moved his hands down her rib cage, traced circles over her belly... she tensed, waiting. Finally his thumbs were sliding into the delta of her sex, opening her, touching her where all sensation was most concentrated. She shivered as her body flushed with heat, the built-up tension in her releasing like a coiled spring, sending a whiplash of ecstasy through her. She clutched at his hips, and slumped forward, resting her head against his chest, her breathing gradually slowing.
He didn't move until she finally sighed, and lifted her head, looking down at him with some uncertainty.
"Did you...?" she asked.
He grinned and shook his head. "Not yet."
She smiled back. "Good."
"Still think I'm not angelic?" he asked softly, fingers massaging her hips, gently urging her into a subtle, back-and-forth glide.
"I'm reserving judgement... mmmm, nice."
He didn't answer, his expression becoming intent and focused. She watched him with a growing sense of power as she realized the reason for that focus... he was trying very hard not to lose control with her, working to pleasure her again before he found his own release. She let herself absorb his intensity, closing her eyes, using all her senses.
She could smell the dark, hot fragrance of desire that flowered between them, a combination of her own native scent, and his. She could feel the slippery roughness of the hair on his thighs where she straddled him, the flex of his muscles beneath her, the tickle of her own hair against her spine, the pressure of his hands on her hips, the sound of his breathing, and her own, and the small sounds each of them made as the pleasure grew. The amalgamation of scent, sound, and touch was wildly arousing. Something was missing, some other element, taste! She bent down and tasted him, licking the hollow of his throat, up the side of his neck, behind his ear. Perfect. He shuddered, his hands tightening on her hips as he moaned. She felt the surge of him inside her, and knew she'd found something he liked. Just like in the books. She almost laughed as she repeated her exploration on the other side, this time letting her tongue trace the convoluted ridges of his ear. He gasped, and bucked beneath her like a wild horse.
"Jeanne, stop! I wanted..."
"I know," she whispered in his ear, flicking her tongue into it, feeling deliciously wicked when he made a low sound, almost a growl, and his hands tightened on her hips.
She moved above him, circling her hips, and had a sudden flash of herself beneath him instead. She stilled... had that been her own thought, or his? Did it matter? She thought about it for a moment, not quite sure how to accomplish it. Maybe... she tightened her thighs around his hips, and rolled, taking him with her.
It worked, mostly. There was a momentary hesitation as he adjusted to the new position, then he surged back into her with a muffled groan and stayed that way for a moment. She could feel the tension in him waiting for release, but he was still trying to stay in control. Remembering his response to her earlier caresses, she lifted her head and began to kiss and tongue his throat, and let her hands cup over his rear, urging him on as she moved beneath him.
"Ah, Jeanne, *please*!" he gasped, trying to pull away a little so she couldn't reach him. She followed him, not letting him escape.
"No!" she said fiercely. "No, I want it now!"
He shuddered again, and surrendered. Bracing his hands on either side of her he started to move in an ages-old rhythm. She felt a surging excitement that was as much his as her own, and all that mattered was the primal integrity of their passion. She was open, and filled, and that was perfection. She arched upward with a soft cry and felt him go still, the deep pulse of her own completion echoed by the counterpoint accent of his. **Generation X
by Julia Kosatka and Kellie Matthews-SimmonsIt had been the right decision, Jeanne thought as she held him, surprised to find she was comfortable with his weight against her. Their bodies were still intertwined, breathing slowing, the last aftershocks of fulfilled desire tingling along overloaded nerves. Oh, yes. It had been right. She ruffled his hair and sighed.
"You feel so good, *this* feels so good...! I want to stay this way forever."
He lifted his head, and looked at her, grinning, the corners of his eyes crinkling in a way she found utterly endearing. "Sorry, but I don't think they'd let me come to work this way."
She grinned back. "Spoilsport."
Several minutes passed without either of them speaking. There was no need. Finally he sighed, lifted away from her, and turned onto his back next to her. She snuggled against him, her head on his shoulder, he put his arm around her. After a little while, he stirred.
"Jeanne, I..." he started to speak, then stopped. She sensed the tangled confusion of his thoughts, almost as tangled and confused as her own. Guilt, pleasure, anger, delight, sadness, contentment... all wrapped up together in an inextricable knot. She put her fingers over his mouth to stop him from trying again.
"Shhh.... no. Don't. It's okay. Me too."
The silence became comfortable again, and they just lay there together, touching.
Jeanne started to think about what had happened to her in the past two days. Had this happened to her mother, her grandmother, her great-grandmother? How had they dealt with it? Suddenly she realized something. They'd never taken the children conceived by the Fitzcarrol women, not in three generations. Why would they start now? It didn't make sense! She felt a peculiar lump in her throat as she understood what that meant. That the child she might have just conceived would be hers... would be real, to hold, to love, to raise... it would be a her, of that she was certain. Oh, Mama, she thought. Was this how it was for you?
She hoped this had been the time it had happened, not before, but this time, with both of them knowing, and involved. It surely must make a difference to be a child created in pleasure, not fear. She stirred and looked up at him. He was looking toward the window, and the strong sunlight pouring in from outside turned his eyes to tarnished silver.
"You have the most incredible eyes... light and shadow... I hope she has your eyes," she said, without thinking.
He focused on her, blankly. "Who?"
He still looked puzzled. "Our... oh, God..." he closed his eyes shuttering the pain. "Jeanne, they... damn, how can I say this?"
She knew what he was trying to say. "I heard you telling Dana, what they do, and I read it in your notes, remember? But they won't take her, don't you see?"
"My grandmother, my mother, myself... all of us, *here*. They don't take Fitzcarrol babies."
He shook his head. "How do you know there weren't others that *were* taken?"
"I don't. I just feel it's so. I've read Mama's diaries, they mention only me," she smiled. "I think one child like me is all any mother could reasonably handle."
"I wish I could believe you were right," his voice was bleak.
"I know they took your sister away, but they won't take me, and they won't take our baby. I know it."
He sat up, tension radiating from him. "Don't be naive, Jeanne... they can do anything they damn well please. With you out here, isolated, not a soul for miles... anything!"
She tried to think of a reply as he pawed through the tangled covers, looking for something. After a moment he found what his boxers, and pulled them on. Standing up, he began to pace.
"Look, Jeanne, I know you don't really know me, but I want you to come back with me. My place is small, but you can stay with me, that way if anything happens, or even if it doesn't, either way I'll be there for you."
She stared at him in shock. She'd never expected this! She should have, but she hadn't. Slowly she shook her head.
"Why not?" He smiled winningly. "Okay, so I'm not the best housekeeper, but I shower regularly, brush my teeth, and despite Scully's comments, I *can* cook, if you don't mind spaghetti!"
She smiled sadly, shaking her head. "It's not like I wouldn't *want* to, but I meant what I said, I *can't* leave here. I wouldn't last a month, believe me."
"What do you mean?"
"I can't stand the 'noise' of a city. When Mama was in the hospital, there at the last, I had to take tranquilizers just to be able to stand going in to see her every day! You can't imagine what it's like! Feeling all that pain, and anger, and love, and fear, and pleasure and hate... all the time, from everywhere! It's like having a hundred other people all living inside your skin, never knowing which one you're going to feel next! No, I can't leave here! I just can't!"
His face was white as he knelt next to the bed and took her hands in his. "You *have* to! I can't leave you here alone!"
"I've lived here alone for a year now, I'll be okay."
"You weren't pregnant then!" he said.
"I don't know that I am now," she said, trying to turn his argument another direction.
"If you're not now, you will be before they let me leave. You know that," he said softly, and placed his hand against her belly. "We both know that."
She couldn't meet his eyes, but she nodded, covering his hand with hers. "Okay, so we do. I still can't come live with you."
"Then I'll come *here*! I won't leave you alone for them!"
She reached out to put her hand against his face, eyes full of tears. "Wouldn't that just make it harder? If something *did* happen? Being here, and not being able to help?"
He flinched as if she'd hit him, and stared at her, eyes dark with misery, fists clenched at his side. She could feel the pain as if it were inside her, not him. She'd never imagined herself capable of inflicting hurt like that... it was awful, wrenching. She sat up, trying to brush away tears.
"I'm sorry!" she whispered. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry!"
She had to get away, to put some distance between them, to master the ache before she lost control. She stumbled out of bed and made it halfway to the door before he caught her, his hands on her shoulders, turning her to face him.
"I don't understand!"
"I know. You can't!" She pulled away and ran from his room, to the comfort of her own, closing the door behind her. She felt him standing outside her door for a long time before he went away, and she finally let herself weep.
Dana had a book in one hand, a cup of tea in the other, and was simultaneously reading and watching television. It had been hours since Jeanne had gone upstairs, and she was using the combination of external stimuli to keep herself from wondering what they were doing. It wasn't working very well. The sound of footsteps on the stairs made her look up, and she saw Mulder sitting on the bottom step, putting on his hiking boots, which had been parked by the door with her own snow boots since they'd arrived.
For a moment she figured he was just putting them on because his other shoes were missing, but when he stood up and grabbed his coat, she knew better. She'd gotten a good look at his face. He was furious, and something else, something she couldn't quite place. It fairly radiated off him, from his stiff shoulders, his expressionless, straight-ahead stare, the set of his mouth.
"Mulder?" she asked, tentatively, hoping he just needed a little encouragement to talk. He didn't turn as he opened the front door.
"Just going for a walk, Scully."
The door closed decisively behind him. Not a slam, but it might as well have been. A walk? With the snow drifted four-feet high in places? He was definitely upset. She glanced up toward the bedrooms, and wondered if she ought to go up and check on Jeanne. It was obvious that things had not gone as well as she had hoped. She slid a torn-off corner of newspaper into her book and closed it, put down her tea, and went upstairs to stand outside Jeanne's closed door for a moment, listening.
It was quiet, save for an occasional sniffle. Not good at all. She hesitated, hand half-raised to knock, not sure if Jeanne would rather have a shoulder to cry on, or some privacy. Just as she was about to turn away and sneak back downstairs, the door opened on a red-eyed, red-nosed Jeanne wearing an old flannel shirt and a pair of sweatpants.
"It's okay Dana. I just made a huge mess of things, and I could use some advice."
"I could tell something was wrong when Mulder came downstairs. I've only seen him that disturbed once or twice since I've known him. I should have worked harder at keeping my thoughts to myself... it was a stupid idea! Let me tell him it was my idea, and he'll settle down."
Jeanne stared at her for a moment, looking puzzled, then her expression cleared as she understood.
"Oh, no, that wasn't the problem at all. That went just fine... better than fine. No, it was *after* that I screwed up," she sighed and tucked her hair behind her ears. "I need something to eat before I can get rational, let's go downstairs."
Dana followed her downstairs, feeling as perplexed as Jeanne had looked a moment before. If she'd understood Jeanne, then the two of them had taken her suggestion with mutually satisfactory results, so what could have made Mulder so upset, and Jeanne so miserable?
In the kitchen, Jeanne took an apple out of the fruit bowl, washed it, cored it, cut it into neat slices, and only then started to eat. Scully recognized a control ritual when she saw one, and didn't interrupt, just waited. Jeanne ate two slices, picked up a third, lifted it halfway to her mouth, then suddenly put it down and braced her hands against the counter, eyes closed, breathing ragged. After several moments she managed to control herself, and staring down at the cutting board she began to speak.
"Dana, I hurt him. I didn't mean to, but I couldn't..."
"Wait, Jeanne, stop. Tell me what happened, from the beginning. You went upstairs, then what?"
"He was asleep, so I got in bed with him. When he woke up, we talked a little while, then we..." she blushed, and a tiny smile curved her mouth. "Anyway, that went fine. But after, I got to thinking about the baby, and I said something about it. I shouldn't have. He might not have thought of it himself, if I hadn't said anything."
"Baby?" Scully queried, not quite following.
Jeanne looked at her meaningfully. "Well, that *is* the point of this whole thing, isn't it? To get me pregnant?"
"Oh god, of course!" Dana felt shaken, and started to understand what must have happened. "Believe me, he would have thought of it, sooner or later."
"Later might have been better. I just wasn't prepared for his reaction. I tried to tell him they won't take it. They've never taken babies from the Fitzcarrol women before, for whatever reason. Maybe they can't deal with our talents. He wouldn't believe me. He asked me to come back to DC with him, so he could protect me. I should have realized he would be that way, the urge to protect is so much a part of him... but somehow I never thought that far ahead."
Dana put a hand on her shoulder. "We can't always, Jeanne. None of us. What happened?"
"I had to say no," she bit her lip, and continued. "I had to, and it hurt so bad.... so bad..." she covered her face with her hands. and Dana gave in to the impulse to gather her into her arms and hold her, as she would have held her best friend, or her mother, offering the comfort, stroking her hair as she felt tears soaking through her shirt.
"Shhh, there, it'll be all right, really!"
"No, it won't, it can't..."
"Because I can't leave here, and I can't let him stay. The first would destroy me, and the second would destroy him. I can't do that to either of us."
"There must be a compromise, Jeanne, some way to work things out. There must!"
"It's too late, I already ripped him apart, don't you see? Oh... god... it hurt so bad! There's no way for me to undo the hurt! I never wanted to hurt him, I never thought about what it would do to him to have to leave, knowing. How could I have been so stupid? Why did I have to go and change things? Why couldn't I just leave things as they were?"
Before she could even try to compose an answer, a movement caught Dana's eye and she looked up to see Mulder standing in the doorway to the kitchen, listening. He looked at her, at Jeanne, and closed his eyes for a moment, then he was there with them, his arms around Jeanne, enclosing her between them in a circle of comfort. Jeanne moaned, shaking her head.
"Too much..." she whispered. "Too much..."
She started to sag and Mulder caught her, lifting her onto the kitchen table, standing by anxiously as Dana checked her out. After a moment she stepped back with a sigh of relief.
"She seems to be fine, she'll probably come around in a few minutes. I think the stress just got to her."
Mulder nodded, silent. Dana touched his hand, trying somehow to convey her sympathy. He looked at her hand, then back at her, eyes shadowed.
"She's the one who's at risk and in danger, and all she can think about is me? It doesn't make sense."
"Sometimes we don't, Mulder. You of all people should know that."
"Yeah... I should. Scully, I need to talk to her, alone. When she wakes up, can you give us a few?"
They sat down and waited in silence until Jeanne began to stir, then Dana stood up.
"I'm going to go take a shower. Mulder," she waited until he looked up, then continued. "Good luck."
As Scully closed the door behind her, Jeanne opened her eyes. Mulder leaned over her, putting his hand against her cheek.
She studied him for a long moment, then nodded. "Yes."
"Do you do that often?"
He smiled. "Good, 'cause you about scared the you-know-what out of me."
Jeanne smiled ruefully. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to. It was just too much, all the sudden. You, myself, Dana... too much. I have no way to block it out," she started to sit up, then stopped, and lay back down, one hand to her head. "I think maybe I'd better wait a minute before I do that... still kind of dizzy."
"Should I call Scully back?" he asked, concerned.
"No, I'm sure I'll be fine in a minute, thanks."
"Is that what happens to you in crowds?"
She nodded. "Not quite so easily, because they're all strangers, but yes, it's like that."
"How did you survive school?"
Her eyes grew distant as she remembered. "I don't know," she paused, then sighed. "Well, I do, actually. I didn't develop truly empathic abilities until I was almost sixteen. They came with my first period... I was a late bloomer, so to speak."
"The hormones triggered it?" he was intrigued by her admission, though a little startled by her frankness. He didn't know too many women who would willingly talk about bodily functions.
She shrugged. "Who knows? Anyway, by then I was almost through school, I only had a semester left. Momma and Mrs. Thatcher worked up a home-school regimen for me, and I got my GED."
"You finished high school at fifteen?"
She nodded. "School was always easy for me, I remember everything."
He felt a sudden shiver run through him. "You mean your memory is eidetic?"
"So is mine."
She laughed, but there was no humor in it. "Surprise, surprise. Building a better human being through eugenics."
It sounded like something he would have said, and he shook a finger at her. "Cynicism is *my* prerogative."
She smiled. "I'll remember that," she reached out and caught his hand. "I didn't want to hurt you, I never would have, knowingly."
He put his hands around hers, warming her chilled fingers. "I know, Jeanne. I overreacted. I guess there's a part of me that's very old fashioned. I just can't stomach the thought of playing stud then just leaving. When you talked about a real child, instead of some abstract concept, I couldn't handle it. I'm sorry. I understand that you can't come with me, and you're right, I can't really stay here, but there must be some kind of compromise! This is driving me crazy!"
"Me too..." she pulled his hands to her, and dropped a kiss on his knuckles. "Craziest of all, is how much I still want you."
He knew exactly what she meant. The desire was still there, fresh, intense, urgent. He put his fingertips against her lips.
"Something chemical, maybe?" he said, trying to think clearly as she turned her head back and forth, rubbing her lips across his fingers. He laughed, shakily. "That must be it, why else would I be thinking about making love to you on the kitchen table?"
She smiled, a gentle, sensual smile that sent a shockwave of need through him. "Why? Because *I* was thinking about it. I told you that you're Gifted. You just didn't believe me."
She drew his hands down and put them under the tails of her shirt, placing his fingers on the drawstring that held her sweatpants snug around her waist. He tugged at the loose bow and it opened, she lifted her hips so he could slide them down, then off, his palms stroking the curves of her calves, the silky flare of her thighs. She unbuttoned her shirt, and opened it, baring herself for him.
He leaned down and tasted her, just above the pubic delta, in the hollows of her hipbones, the basin of her navel, moved up to one breast, then the other. She buried her fingers in his hair and held him to her, her breathing ragged, eyes closed. He put a hand between her thighs and found her already hot and slick with passion. She let her knees open, encouraging him, and he shuddered, knowing if he didn't get inside her soon, it would be too late.
He fumbled a moment with his button and zipper, then caught her hips in his hands and pulled her closer to the edge of the table. She lifted herself, making it easy for him. He tongued her nipples again, then moved to her mouth and kissed her as he entered her, swallowing the soft cry she gave, knowing instinctively that it wasn't pain that prompted it. He wouldn't last long, not this time... he slid his hand between their bodies and opened her, smoothing his fingers into the wet heat of her, finding the tiny nerve-center there and pressing on either side. She tightened around him unbearably and shivered inside and out as her release came bare seconds before his own.
Panting a little, Mulder braced his weight on his arms and rested his head against her breasts, feeling the beat of her heart beneath his lips; fast now, but slowing; like his own. She sighed and shifted against the hard wooden surface of the table.
"Scully!" he said suddenly, lifting his head. "She could walk in..."
Jeanne smiled. "She's in the shower, can't you hear the water running?"
He relaxed a little. "Thank god! This is *nuts*!"
"Mmmhmmm, but it was fun."
"You have a gift for understatement."
The sound of the shower stopped, and they both looked up at the ceiling. Jeanne grinned.
"Looks like we ought to get decent."
He nodded. "Looks like it," he made no attempt to withdraw, but leaned forward to kiss her, threading his fingers into her hair. Finally he lifted again, and touched her lips with a finger.
"No more distractions, now. We have to talk without getting upset, and without ending up like this again."
She nodded solemnly, and he pushed himself away, bending down to pick up her pants from where he'd dropped them and hand them to her. She sat up and took them from him, shaking her head and laughing. "I can't believe we just did that!"
He smiled sheepishly, shaking his head. "Neither can I. Get dressed, and we'll see if we can manage to pretend we didn't by the time Scully comes back down."
She buttoned her shirt, then hopped off the table and pulled on her pants as he walked to the sink and ran water. A moment later he turned toward her, hand raised.
She did, barely, narrowly avoiding getting a wet dishrag in the face. She looked at it, puzzled.
"What's this for?"
He nodded toward their erstwhile bed. "The table."
She looked at it, and blushed. "Oh, thanks," she used it, then returned to the sink to rinse it out. "I, ah... guess I'd better launder this before I use it to wash any more dishes."
He lifted an eyebrow, grinning wickedly. "That's entirely up to you."
"Mulder," he corrected her, automatically, a hint of his grin still playing around his mouth.
Jeanne made a show of tossing the rag into the laundry room and getting a new one out of the drawer to replace it. He pulled a chair out, turned it around and sat in it backward, arms braced across its back. She looked at him, frowning as she sat down across the table from him. "Okay, talk."
He ran his fingers through his hair, disarranging it. It took him a minute to organize his thoughts, but finally he spoke. "I won't just walk out of here and leave you to face this alone, Jeanne. I can't."
She swallowed hard, and nodded. "I know you won't, if you have a choice."
His eyes narrowed. "What do you mean by that?"
"They might not give us a choice. After Mama died, I read her diaries. She said that after she had me, she once saw her lover walking down the street in Renovo. He didn't know who she was. This was a man who knew her in the most intimate way a man can know a woman, yet he didn't recognize her when they passed on the street only a year later. He never came by, never wrote. Now that I know more about it, I think they must have done something like what they did with us. I think they made him forget."
He took a deep breath, and she could feel his careful control slip momentarily, then resume.
"I hadn't thought of not being able to remember. But you say she remembered?"
"She did, and she didn't understand why he didn't. It hurt her a lot, she thought it meant he'd never cared for her, that he was only pretending not to know her. But now I think his not knowing might have been real."
He nodded. "Hang on a second, it sounds as if he spent quite some time with her? That doesn't sound like an abduction to me, not a standard one. Why would they take his memory, but not hers? You're sure she remembered?"
Jeanne nodded. "Oh yes, I remember what she wrote..." she closed her eyes, seeing the words in careful script on the page in her mind. "The light came, and he was in it. We were like animals, unashamed, uninhibited. When he took me to him I felt no pain, though I'd never known a man before. I always wondered if that was why he left so suddenly a few days later, without warning. I guess he thought I was easy, and didn't want to be with me."
She opened her eyes to find him staring at her intently.
"That was word-for-word?"
"Do the diaries still exist? Could I see them?"
"I'm sorry, Mama told me to read them, then burn them. The only place they exist anymore is in here," she tapped her forehead.
"Damn!" he clenched his fists. "That could have been an invaluable resource! The light... could that have been what she called an unidentified flying object?"
Jeanne shook her head. "No,'the light' is more of a... a place. The light there is so strong, so strange, it's like being in a different world."
"Yellow light... soft, slick... like butter."
"Yes, exactly. You remember it?"
He nodded. "I remember it from the first night... and I remember mentioning something similar during a hypnotic regression to the night of my sister's disappearance."
"How much do you remember of the first night?"
He shook his head. "Not much, just isolated images, feelings."
"But more than I remember."
"I don't understand why the first time they blocked my memory completely, but not yours, and the second time it was the other way around."
"I don't know, I can't explain it, unless for some reason they find e harder to block than you. No, that makes no sense, since they seem to have done a perfect job on me last night. Hell, maybe they're just plain sloppy."
She laughed at that thought, and reached across the table to put her hand over his.
"For making me laugh. It helps."
"It's a talent," he said, sardonically.
"Yes, it is," she returned with complete seriousness. He looked embarrassed. "Damn it, we've gotten side-tracked again. We have to figure out what to do!"
"The problem is that without knowing what *they* will do, how can we know what *we* should do?"
"Good point. Alright, it seems probable that they will do one of two things: either they'll return after a couple of months and remove the..." he hesitated a moment, then forced himself to go on. "...the embryo; or they will not return and you'll carry to term as your mother did."
He made a face. "I don't much like this solution, but it seems like the only thing to do is for you to keep in touch with me, let me know how things are going. If there's an emergency, I can get someone here in minutes from the local Sheriff's office. If you need me for *anything*, I'm just a few hours away."
Jeanne sighed. "Why can't someone invent the transporter? It would make things so much easier."
He chuckled. "Well, as I'd rather not get my genetic material mixed up with a housefly's, maybe we're better off without it."
"You have a point," she conceded. "But what if I just *want* you here?" Her inflection made her meaning perfectly clear. He grinned.
"Jeanne, unless you want to be on your back on the table again, don't start with that. Do I need to remind you that Scully's out of the shower now?"
Jeanne grinned and shrugged. "Sorry, I can't seem to help it."
"Ye gods! They've created a monster haven't they?"
"They who? This is all *your* fault! Maybe that's why they wouldn't let me remember!"
"That must be it, they knew you'd never let me go once you remembered. You'd hunt me down, drag me back, chain me to your bed..."
"Alright, don't get carried away," she chuckled softly. "God, you're fun!" He rubbed his nose, she thought he was blushing. "Hey, you're not bashful are you?"
"Actually, yes. Beneath this tough exterior beats the heart of an excruciatingly shy geek."
She looked at him for a long moment, and nodded. "Yes, it does, doesn't it?"
He sighed. "Jeanne, you're not supposed to *agree* with me all the time, you keep spoiling my jokes!"
"But you were telling the truth!"
"Sometimes lies are easier to live with."
His voice was bleak, and she felt a sudden, overwhelming sense of betrayal from him. What was he thinking about, to say that? to *feel* that? She was sure that whatever it was, it had anything to do with her, or their situation. She didn't want to pry into an area she had no business asking about, either. Despite what had happened between them, she wasn't even his friend, how could she ask about something so personal?
"If you don't remember, I won't hold it against you, but I will *miss* you."
"I don't plan on forgetting. In fact," he pushed his chair back and stood up. "Where do you keep that paper we used yesterday? I need to write something down."
She followed him out to the living room, waddling slightly to keep the rather damp crotch of her sweats from clinging clammily to her thighs, and handed him a sheaf of paper. He wrote quickly, then handed her two sheets of scrawl-covered paper.
"There. That should do it. I can hardly argue with my *own* handwriting, now can I?"
She read a few lines and looked up, puzzled. "What is this?"
"It's a letter to myself, outlining the events of the past two days."
"What's it for?"
"For you to send me, if I do forget. My address and phone number are on the second page."
She stared at it, and a small smile curved her mouth. "It might just work, provided *my* memory remains intact!"
"There is that, we can't cover every option, but we can try. If you don't hear from me within a week, you'll know they've tampered with my memory. If that happens, mail the letter." He put his hands on her shoulders and looked down at her seriously. "I want you to know that I won't abandon you if it's at all possible."
She looked at him levelly. "You don't have to pretend we're in love. We both know we're not. We don't even *know* each other!"
He shook his head, smiling slightly. "Jeanne, this has nothing to do with love, it has to do with responsibility."
That she could accept. She nodded. "I understand."
As she sat down at the desk to write, Scully came down the stairs, slowly, obviously checking to see if they still needed privacy. Mulder waved her into the room.
"It's okay, Scully, come on down. Have some paper and write me a letter."
"About what?" she asked, accepting paper and pen from him as she sat down on the couch.
"The past two days."
"Just in case I forget."
"Forget the past two days?" she asked incredulously. "You've got to be kidding!"
"No, I'm not. You've seen what they can do to our memories. Consider it like making a backup on your computer. I don't want to lose this file."
He stretched and sighed, looking wistfully toward the kitchen.
"I'm starving, is there anything to eat in this place?"
"There's leftover soup from last night, that's what I had," Scully volunteered.
"Great!" he headed for the kitchen, then shot a mischievous glance over his shoulder. "You want anything, Jeanne? What can I put on the-- table-- for you?"
If Scully wondered why Jeanne hid her face in her hands and started to laugh hysterically, she kept it to herself.
There is was again. A low, throbbing sound. Scully felt slightly apprehensive, even though it was still daylight. "What's that noise?"
"What noise?" Both Mulder and Jeanne looked up from their respective books; the same apprehension written on both their faces. The cats were unconcerned, where they lay on and around Mulder.
"That pulsing sound, can't you hear it?"
They all became very quiet, listening. Jeanne got up, went to the window, and let out an obvious sigh of relief.
"It's John Dougal! He's got the plow through! He's with the forest service, and they always clear my road for me in the winter, in exchange for year-round access through my property to the national forest."
Mulder managed to pry Beauty off his lap and joined her at the window, only then daring to relax. Watching the big plow work, an idea came to him.
"The car... do you think he could help us get it out?"
"Probably. I'll go out and see what he says." She toed off her moccasins and slid her sockless feet into her boots, then grabbed her coat and was out the door.
Scully looked at Mulder and smiled. "You don't suppose she's anxious for us to leave, do you?"
He watched Jeanne out the window for a moment before replying. "I wouldn't blame her if she was. The past couple of days haven't been easy for any of us, but they have to have been hardest on her."
"I thought she was doing quite well with the whole thing. It's *you* I've been worried about."
He swung around to face her, eyebrows lifted. "Me? Why Scully, I didn't know you cared!"
She refused to back down. "Of course I care, Mulder."
"Thanks, Scully," his sarcasm was gone, his voice sincere.
She nodded acknowledgement "You know, even if we can get at the car, we still don't have any gas."
"Jeanne said she has a spare can in the shed. Odds are good that she'll loan us some."
"She has been very generous so far."
"You could say that..." he returned sardonically. It took her a moment to realize exactly how he'd interpreted what she'd said.
"I mean... oh, hell, you know what I meant. Stop that!"
He grinned. "You wouldn't recognize me if I did."
The front door opened and Jeanne leaned in, staying outside to keep the snow from her boots outside.
"John said he'll be glad to help, get your coats and we'll follow him to the car. I'll get the Scout."
"Wait, Jeanne... we were out of gas."
"No problem, I keep some around for emergencies. I'll put it in the back of the Scout."
She took off without closing the door. Scully looked at her watch.
"It's nearly three, the sun will be going down soon. We'd better get a move on."
He nodded and joined her by the door, pulling on coat and gloves as she donned her own gear. By the time they were finished Jeanne had pulled up. She leaned across the seat and opened the door.
"Pile in, John's probably halfway there by now."
Scully pulled herself in and scooted across the bench seat to the middle, knees canted to avoid the gearshift. Mulder followed a moment later, after closing the door to the house behind him.
Driving along behind the plow at about three miles per hour, the silence in the vehicle soon became oppressive, but none of them knew exactly what to say. All of them knew that freeing the rental car meant they could leave, and leaving would be awkward. Finally Jeanne couldn't stand it any longer. She launched into mindless chatter just to break the quiet.
"John loves that plow. I swear he prays for snow like this, just so he can push the snow into big piles in front of people's driveways."
Scully grinned. "I think he must have a twin that drives a plow in front of my apartment building."
"Probably so! It seems to be a universal practice. Maybe they train them to do it."
"I'd believe that! Hey, there's a conspiracy for you, Mulder... a high-level government cover up of why snowplow drivers always put the biggest snowpiles in the worst places."
Jeanne giggled. "Hey, I know... they're *aliens* intent on taking over the world by making sure we can't get out of our houses when they come."
Both of them laughed, and looked at Mulder, who was staring blankly out the side window. After a moment he became aware of their gaze and looked at them.
"What? Did I miss something?"
Scully sighed. "Yes, but never mind."
"Never mind. It wouldn't be funny out of context."
"Oh. Sorry, I was thinking."
It got quiet in the cab again. Jeanne felt herself beginning to tense up as she started feeling some of what was going on in Mulder's head. He thinking about leaving her alone, and being unable to help her if anything happened. She didn't want to feel that, hear that. She reached over and turned on the radio, finding an obnoxious Top-40 station that she could fix her thoughts on and not anyone else's. It didn't help much. Though she wasn't hearing him anymore, she was still thinking about him.
He'd been put in a situation that was worse than agonizing. To think that your own child might suffer the same fate as a lost loved one... to know that you could do nothing to prevent it? It was torture, pure and simple. She also began to realize that no matter how many times she tried to reassure him that it wouldn't happen; he would still go on worrying about it, feeling helpless, because nothing was ever sure. She had the courage of her conviction on the matter, but he had nothing, just past experience, and too many stories. In his case, it would be kinder to forget.
Her hands tightened on the wheel as that thought took root and bloomed in her mind. Let him forget. Oh, god... let him forget. Of course. That was the solution. She managed to swallow down the sob that tried to break loose, and was glad she wasn't going any faster, because she couldn't see through the tears in her eyes. She was going to have to let him forget. To do anything else would put him through a living hell, and she couldn't do that to him... or to herself. She realized that the plow had stopped a few yards ahead. They had reached the car. She braked carefully and plastered on what she hoped was a convincingly cheerful smile.
"Okay, everybody out! Let's get this puppy moved!"
With the four of them working they managed to get the car unstuck and refueled in a matter of minutes and Jeanne led them back to the house in the Scout feeling a peculiar combination of relief and sadness. They would leave now, and in all probability forget all about her before they'd gone ten miles. She shivered, thinking about the fact that some sort of unknown being was watching her every move, interfering with her life in ways she couldn't imagine. As she pulled into the carriage house and turned off the engine, she stared at her hands on the wheel and sighed.
"I don't *want* him to go yet," she admitted, to no one in particular. "Damn it, can't I have just one more night?"
A tap at the window startled her and she turned to see Dana Scully standing next to the vehicle. She forced herself to smile and opened the door.
"Hi, what's up?"
"We were wondering if we could impose on you one more time?"
"Oh, probably, what did you need?"
Scully looked a bit embarrassed. "Mulder and I were talking on the way back, and to be quite honest, though Mr. Dougal said that most roads are marginally passable now, neither of us feel like trying to find our way back to Lock Haven in the dark and it's getting on toward sundown. Would you mind very much if we crashed here one more night, and left in the morning?"
A profound sense of relief filled Jeanne. As a real smile curved her lips, she wondered if aliens answered prayers.
"No, of course not! You're welcome to stay. I don't blame you at all for not wanting to drive the back roads in the dark! Especially not with only a gallon of gas in the tank!"
Dana got a funny look on her face. "You know that's the strangest thing! When we got stranded, the tank was showing empty, but when Mulder started the car it had half a tank left! The fuel line must have been frozen up or something."
"Or something," Jeanne said, thinking it was a bit of a stretch to think that had been a coincidence.
"Anyway, thanks, I know it's an imposition."
"Actually, I was hoping you would stay."
"You were?" Scully seemed surprised for some reason.
"I were," Jeanne confirmed. She accompanied her words with a wink. After a moment Scully put two and two together, and chuckled.
"Should I make myself scarce tonight? Go read in my room, or something?"
"That would be nice," Jeanne said, blushing.
"Then I'll plan on it," Scully said, still smiling. "You know, this reminds me of when I was in college! Having to clear out of the dorm room every Friday night to let my roommate and her boyfriend have some privacy."
Jeanne looked thoughtful "I never thought about that... it's funny. Never having lived with anyone else, it just doesn't occur to you. Did she do the same for you?"
"On occasion..." Scully smiled, reminiscing, as they headed for the house.p>
After dinner, Scully made a great show of yawning and went up to her room, ostensibly to sleep. Jeanne had a hard time not laughing at the obviousness of it, but she was grateful to Dana for her tact. She sat in her favorite chair next to the fireplace, reading, and covertly watching Mulder who had several files spread out and was cross-referencing them. He seemed completely engrossed in his work, but she could sense tension in him, a kind of tension she was rapidly becoming familiar with herself. She didn't act, wanting him to make the first move... if it was going to be made.
Finally, around ten, he put away his files and come to stand behind her chair, staring into the fire. She waited, unspeaking, and after a few moments his fingers slid beneath her hair, lifting it aside, and then she felt the gentle brush of his lips against the nape of her neck. She shivered, her body responding instantly. He nibbled softly along the side of her neck, behind her ear, nipping her earlobe with his teeth, and she couldn't suppress a little moan of pleasure. Her book fell to the floor unnoticed as his hands slid beneath her sweater. She arched back, and turned her head toward him just enough that their lips could meet.
His kiss was soft, questioning. She answered him, tongue stealing out to taste him. After a moment his mouth left hers, and he straightened, but before she could object he had moved in front of the chair, and knelt there, one hand on her thigh.
"Jeanne, is this alright? Do you want...?"
"Do you even have to ask? Yes! I want!" She took his hand and lifted it back to her breast, his thumb began to stroke her nipple.
"Good, because I've been sitting over there thinking of nothing but this for about an hour now. It's starting to hurt."
"Why didn't you say something sooner?"
He smiled self-deprecatingly. "I... wasn't sure how to bring it up. The subject, that is. The rest of me already is," his smile became a grin as he took one of her hands and brought it down between his legs. Her fingers splayed out, curving over the rigid thrust of him, and her breathing grew a bit irregular as hot color washed into her face.
"I'm surprised I couldn't tell!"
"Me too. I must be getting better at hiding my thoughts."
"You must be," she agreed, fingers moving gently. His eyes closed and he drew a ragged breath, his hips moving.
"I know, I feel it. God, do I!" her own body was softening, moistening, readying itself. He moved his hand from her breast down to her waist, then it slid beneath the fabric of her leggings to cup her mons, fingers slipping easily in the damp heat there. She opened her thighs and he leaned forward into the space she created, sealing her mouth with his as he aggressively sought the source of her desire.
She moaned softly as his fingers pushed into her, widening her, making her arch and pant. Her hands tugged his shirt out of his pants and unbuttoned it, then found his zipper, and freed him into her hands. He thrust against her fingers, a groan caught in his throat by their kiss.
His hand abandoned her and she would have protested, but then she felt him tugging at her leggings. She let go of him for a moment and helped him, then peeled her sweater off as he got rid of his things. He arched an eyebrow as he realized she had been wearing nothing beneath her sweater and leggings.
"I was hoping..," she said softly, a bit embarrassed.
"So I see," he grinned, and his fingers were back between her thighs. Her head fell back against the chair as she edged forward, spreading her thighs farther apart, inviting him in. Then he was there, hard, thick, perfect; forging into her yielding softness. She whimpered and he froze instantly.
"Am I hurting you?" he whispered, his teeth clenched against the urge to move.
"No! No... not at all. You just feel so good, I can't stand it!"
"You too, sweetheart," he chuckled softly, shaking his head. "We don't much believe in foreplay, do we?"
"Don't need it..." she gasped as he began to stroke into her, edging a tiny bit deeper each time. She clutched at his hips, following his movements. "...thinking about it all day..." she felt his fingers on her buttocks lifting her into his penetration and moaned. "...does that!"
"Yeah, it does..." he covered her mouth with his again, forestalling any further conversation for awhile.
Their position made it almost impossible for him to gain any real depth, and Jeanne found herself getting frustrated by the shallowness of his entry. She wanted to feel him close against her, as far inside her as she could take him. She braced her feet against the floor and let herself slide lower. He took full advantage of it, cupping her buttocks in his hands and pulling her down until she was off the chair entirely, sitting directly on him. She sighed in pleasure as he began to drop kisses against her throat, her shoulders, her breasts.
Because he was trying to balance both of them, he had virtually no control over their movements. She had to curl her hips forward while leaning her shoulders back to take him because he was trapped beneath her and couldn't move at all. Though it felt wonderful, trying to support her weight and move in such an awkward position was wreaking havoc on her thigh muscles. His arms tightened around her, and his eyes closed, his mouth resting against her breast, sucking softly.She leaned forward to kiss the spot just behind his ear that she'd been eyeing all day, and overbalanced them both. He barely managed to unclasp his arms from around her and catch himself on his hands, wincing as her weight forced him back farther, stressing muscles which were already at full extension.
"Ouch, Jeanne... I can't..." he started, then sighed in relief as she took her weight on her knees, and he was able to lie back and straighten his legs. She followed him down, still impaled on him, not letting him slip out of her. He rubbed one hand over a thigh, still looking a little pained.
"God, are my quads gonna complain about that tomorrow."
"Sorry, I'm not used to this," she admitted, embarrassed.
"That's okay. Practice makes perfect."
She shook her head, smiling, her hand joining his to gently massage his thigh. "Does this help?"
He grinned. "Yeah, it does," he reached up to cup her breasts again and she started to move, finding a rhythm. His smile broadened.
"...and that helps even more," his voice was huskier than normal, very sexy. She leaned down and kissed him, then lifted away, watching his face as she moved on him. His eyes closed again, his lips parted, and he moaned softly, more of a breathy gasp than a true vocalization. For some reason she found it extremely erotic, and gasped in surprise as a startling pulse of pleasure tore through her, making her shudder. When she opened her eyes again, he was looking up at her, smiling again. There was something devastatingly defenseless about that smile. He was giving her everything he had. Her eyes filled with unexpected tears and she leaned down, putting her face against his chest so he couldn't see them. Too late. He slid two fingers under her chin and lifted her face. His eyes were shadowed with concern.
"Jeanne? What's wrong?"
"No, it's not nothing, tell me."
She shook her head, unable to explain. "I can't, I'm not even sure myself."
"If you want to stop..."
"No! I don't! I don't ever want to stop..."
He smiled. "That's what you said last time,"
"I know. It's true."
"Well, as much as I'd like to stay here and be your love-slave, I don't think it'd pay my rent."
"Love-slaves don't pay rent," she pointed out, starting to smile.
"Oh, yeah, that's right. Hang on, didn't we outlaw slavery at some point? I'm sure I remember that from my history classes..."
"Darn! I was hoping you'd forget about that!" she giggled. It made her feel strange... laughing with him inside her made her suddenly aware that when she laughed *internal* muscles moved as well as external ones.
"That's the problem with eidetic memory," he said, moving his hands to her hips, where he began to move her in a slow circle. "...you never forget *anything*."
"Mmmm.... now *that's* a good talent in a love-slave."
She closed her eyes and let him direct her movements, loving the insistent presence of his body within hers. He moved one hand from her hip, still guiding her as his fingers parted the sable curls between her thighs, stroking, teasing.
"So, the love-slave needs instructions. I'm yours to command, anything special you'd like to try?"
It was hard to think with him touching her like that, with him hard and urgent inside her, but she tried. She wanted to try *everything*, but they had only this one night. She felt herself blushing hotly as her memory presented a variety of intriguing scenarios she'd read about. One in particular had always sent her heart racing whenever she read about it, or even thought about it. Even now, as aroused as she was, she felt a response to the idea, and made her decision. Lifting herself off him, sighing a little at the loss, she eased herself down onto the rug on her stomach and hid her face in her arms, hoping he would take the hint.
He slowly sat up, and ran a hand down her back, stopping to smooth his fingers over the curve of her buttocks.
"Oh yeah?" he queried, his voice very sensual.
"Yes," she affirmed, squirming slightly beneath his touch. "Please."
His fingers probed between her legs, opened her, and slid easily into her sex. She moaned and her hips rocked gently as he caressed her. She felt the brush of his lips against her shoulder, her spine, the small of her back, the curve of one buttock. It was maddening, combined with his continued manual stimulation. She started to pant, and her movements became more agitated as she grew more and more aroused. Just when she thought she was going to go over the edge, he drew his fingers out of her, and she nearly cried with disappointment; only to cry out in shock a moment later when his hands gripped her thighs and opened them wide, then his mouth closed over her sex, his tongue sliding deep into her openness.
"Oh, God!" she whispered, her hips arching wildly as he suckled and tongued her into madness. Again, the sweeping flare of heat had almost broken free when his mouth withdrew, leaving her on the edge yet again. She looked back at him, frustrated beyond belief.
"Damnit, Fo... Mulder, stop that! You're making me crazy!"
He laughed softly "How do you think it's making me feel? Come here..." he lifted her up and pulled her onto his lap, facing away from him. One of his hands went between her thighs and spread her as he guided himself into her from behind. She sank down onto him with a sigh and began to rock as his fingers moved forward and back, stroking her, massaging her. She arched, trying to get a deeper penetration, the motion lifting her breasts. His breath tickled the back of her neck, then her ear.
"Use your hands," he whispered.
"Here..." he showed her, fingers teasing her swollen clitoris. She touched herself, feeling incredibly sensual. His fingers left her sex, and his hands moved up to cup her breasts, pulling her back against him, curving her like a drawn bow. She moaned and shivered as their combined movements brought her ever closer to delight. He began to kiss and nip at her neck, the tiny bites causing shocks of pleasure through her, her head fell back against his shoulder as she began to lose herself. His fingers lightly pinched her taut nipples as her own fingers moved between her legs, and the liquid rush of release pulsed through her finally, making her sob aloud as it overwhelmed her.
This time he didn't wait for her to recover. Bending her at the waist, he drew her back until she was on her knees, her head resting against her arms. Slowly he withdrew almost completely, and just as slowly entered her again, his hands on her buttocks, thumbs pressing her open.
"Yes!" she exclaimed softly, "oh, yes!"
This was what she'd wanted, exactly! She lifted herself into his thrusts and allowed the little sounds she'd imagined leave her lips; low and breathy, gasping moans of delight. He withdrew and entered again, with maddening slowness, nearly perfect... repeated over and over until she couldn't stand the lingering pace any more.
"Please!" she pleaded, surprised by the open need in her voice.
He went still for a moment, then kissed her hip, and complied. She had to brace herself with her arms so she could push back against him to deepen his penetration, feeling utterly abandoned and decadent. His hands tightened on her hips, and she could hear the change in his breathing as he began to loose control. Yes! Finally! She loved knowing she could do that to him. The muscles in her belly tightened and released in a wave of delight, and she felt him pull her tight against him, grinding himself deep into the heated core of her. She smiled as she heard his moan of delight, and felt him tremble as his release came.
He held her pinned against him for long minutes as his breathing went from deep sobs to slow normalcy, then finally he released her, and collapsed onto his back with a sigh, lying as bonelessly relaxed as one of the felines he resembled. For a moment she was afraid... remembering what had happened last time, remembering the pain, and guilt that had woven itself through the pleasure, almost spoiling the wonder of it. She sat next to him, watching, waiting for it to happen again, hoping it wouldn't. After several moments he sighed, and smiled a little, eyes still closed.
"I think I just had a out-of-body experience."
He opened one eye to gage her reaction, and she felt a flood of relief cascade through her, almost as powerful as an orgasm. She laughed, stretching out beside him, as she teased him in return.
"So did I. Several, in fact. Maybe we can do some more out-of- body experiments later?"
"Greedy... you still want more?" he asked, feigning surprise.
"Hey, I'm making up for lost time!"
"And how! C'mere..." he patted his chest. She snuggled close, and put her head against him, listening to the steady beat of his heart.
"This is nice," she commented.
"Mmmm. It is," he agreed amiably.
She shifted, throwing one thigh over his, wondering if he would take advantage of the opening. He didn't. Disappointed, she lifted up and looked at him. He was asleep. She studied him for a moment, not quite believing he was real. Then she heard his stomach growl, and smiled. He was real, all right. Very real.
Something cool and moist touched his face. He opened his eyes and half-sat up, heart pounding, then realized he was holding Jeanne. She stirred sleepily.
"Wha'?" she asked, burrowing closer with a shiver.
"I don't know... something touched me, something cold and wet," he thought he saw a shadow move in the corner of the room and stared hard toward it. Nothing. He started to relax as Jeanne opened her eyes, looked around, and smiled, pointing to the cat who was sitting quite close, watching them.
"It was probably Percy, he wants to know why we're sleeping on *his* rug."
"This is *his* rug?" Mulder asked, looking at the braided rag coil, then at the cat, who did have a rather proprietary air.
Jeanne laughed. "He thinks it is. Come to think of it, why *are* we sleeping on the floor? A bed would be much more comfortable."
"Can't rule out stupidity."
"Come on, I'm cold, and I'll have permanent kinks in my neck if we stay here."
He gathered his clothes and followed her up the stairs. Since her room held only a single bed, they ended up in his. As he closed the door, he sent a last glance down the stairs, still wondering if it had been the cat, or something else that had woken him. He could *swear* he'd almost seen... something. Once in bed, snugged up against Jeanne's soft curves, it didn't seem to matter any more. He let himself fall asleep.
Coffee. The scent had insinuated itself into his consciousness, waking him. He stretched, then remembered and reached for Jeanne. She wasn't there. The mattress was still faintly warm where she'd been lying, though. She hadn't been gone long. A moment later his door opened quietly and she slipped into the room, closing the door carefully behind herself, obviously not wanting to wake him. He smiled, shaking his head as he realized she was wearing his shirt.
"Hey, it's bad enough that the damned aliens keep stealing my clothes! Do you have to do it too?"
She gasped and turned, hand over her heart. "Fox Mulder, you scared me out of three day's growth! I thought you were asleep!"
"I was, but I can never sleep through someone making coffee."
"I figured you'd want some. I also put biscuits in the oven."
"I thought we did that last night."
She made a face. "I think you mean *bun*."
He grinned unrepentently. "I know," he held out his hand and she moved close and took it. He tugged her down until she was sitting on the bed and slid his other hand beneath the tails of his shirt, fanning his fingers across her abdomen, a slight, thoughtful frown creasing his forhead.
"This should be interesting. I've never gotten anyone pregnant before."
She seemed to tense, but her answer was flippant. "That you know of, anyway?"
"That I know of. I have to admit, the idea isn't entirely without attraction. It has a certain... primitive sort of male appeal to it."
"Primitive male appeal?" she questioned, incredulous.
He nodded. "Yeah, you know. A kind of 'look what I did' sort of thing."
"Oh, I get it! Like that comedian on tv? Unh-unh-unh." she did her best to imitate the primate-like grunting sound. He laughed.
"Exactly! Though women just can't make that sound properly."
"A crippling handicap, to be sure," she said haughtily, then leaned down and kissed him impulsively.
"I want you to know something," she said softly.
He sensed her change of mood immediately. "What?"
"If for some reason you don't remember, I want you to know that I won't blame you, I won't be angry with you. It's out of our hands."
He sat up, taking her hands in his.
"Jeanne, don't. It will be alright, we'll do this together."
"No maybe. Definitely. Why so down?"
"I don't know, I guess I'm just worried."
He nodded and pulled her close, holding her. "Me too. I don't like not being able to control things... not knowing what they want, what they'll do... Damn it, it's not *fair*!
She shook her head. "No, it's not," she gently disentangled herself from him and stood up. "I have to go check the biscuits. Come downstairs when you're dressed?"
He nodded. "Be right down."
Jeanne left the room and he dressed quickly, not wanting to leave her alone in her current mood. It was almost as if she knew something he didn't. But, what? As he opened his door Scully stepped from her room looking rumpled, and waved sleepily.
"'Morning, Mulder. Is that coffee I smell?"
He nodded. "Sure is. Sleep well?"
"Like a log."
"Do logs sleep?"
"Mulder, it's waaaay too early for that," she yawned and disappeared into the bathroom.
He chuckled and went downstairs. Jeanne had put her leggings and sweater back on, his shirt was draped across the back of a chair. She was setting a pan on the table as he entered the kitchen.
"Perfect timing, the biscuits are ready."
"That's me, Mr. Perfect Timing," he walked up behind her and started to massage her shoulders. As he'd thought, she was very tense. She sighed happily, leaning into his touch.
"After last night, I think I can attest to that."
"Always happy to be of... service."
"Do you always talk like that?"
"Oh, that. As a matter of fact, I do."
"I bet it drives Dana crazy."
He grinned. "As a matter of fact, it does."
"And that's *why* you do it."
"Reprehensible, isn't it?"
"I see the table's already occupied this morning," he said, sounding disappointed.
"We could go upstairs..."
"Sounds good to me," he pulled her close and kissed her. She returned it with fervor, winding her arms around him, pressing herself close against him.
They both jumped, startled, and turned to find Scully standing in the doorway, watching them with a slight smile.
"I could go back to my room if you like..." her sentence trailed off in a yawn.
"Ah, no, that's okay," Jeanne's face was an intriguing shade of berry, and he suspected his own was as well.
"For someone who went to bed at seven-thirty last night, you don't seem very well rested," Mulder commented, hoping to divert her attention.
Scully and Jeanne exchanged a speaking glance, and Jeanne started to laugh. It dawned on him that Scully's early departure last night had been prearranged, and he started to laugh too, a little embarrassed.
Jeanne held out the coffee pot. "Coffee, anyone?"
Mulder looked up at the house as he closed the trunk of the car, having just stowed their luggage. The roof was still dry, though a lot of the icicles had broken off now. He remembered Scully talking about trying to find them, going outside in the middle of the night to find the roof steaming, and the icicles wet with melt-off. A shudder went through him. How could he leave, knowing what he knew?
Even as he thought it, he knew he had no choice. Jeanne had made that clear. She couldn't live in his world, and he couldn't live in hers. He still couldn't believe what had happened in the past two days. When he got back to Washington he was going to go back to Dr. Werber and see what he could glean from hypnotic regression. He needed to remember more.
He closed his mind to that possibility and deliberately went over his mental checklist, making sure he'd packed everything except for those items of clothing which had never turned up. His briefcase was on the floor behind the driver's seat. Jeanne's letter lying securely inside at the top of the stack of folders where he couldn't help but find it, if... his fists clenched. Looking up at the faintly overcast sky, he whispered.
"Don't, please! Don't do that to me again."
He heard the front door open, and turned to see Scully carrying her briefcase. She walked over and opened the passenger door, stowed the case next to the gearshift, then looked at him.
"I think we're set."
He nodded, not trusting his voice.
"Is there anything of yours still in the house?"
"Well then, let's go," she slid into the passenger seat.
"Wait!" he was startled by the apparent suddenness of her action, and looked back at the house. "I wanted to say..."
Scully interrupted him, her voice gentle. "Don't, Mulder. She doesn't want you to. Let's just go."
He looked back at her and read the confirmation in her eyes. He took a deep breath, the air shuddering into his lungs as he controlled himself, then nodded.
Jeanne stood a little way back from the window so they wouldn't be able to see her watching them if they looked at the house. She saw Dana talking to Mulder, saw him look toward her, then away. She flinched, unable to screen out the sudden pain he radiated... but it was better this way, wasn't it? She didn't want to have to say goodbye. It hurt too much.
She watched them get into the car, saw the tail-lights come on, and then the vehicle was moving down the drive. She stepped closer to the window, placing her hands against the glass, trying ineffectually to absorb its cold hardness into herself to replace the burning ache there. She felt tears well up and spill over, and she let them come. No reason to hide it, no one to hide it from.
"Goodbye..." she whispered, forcing the sound from her painfully taut throat. "...goodbye."
She stood there until the car was out of sight, and longer, until the tears stopped. She wiped her eyes, and slid a hand down the front of her body to rest on her belly, trying to sense the life she knew must be taking root within. Staring out into the brilliant, diamond-white glare of the day, she whispered
"Make him forget, make *them* forget. It's the only way."
She stepped away from the window and picked up several sheets of paper. One was the letter from Fox, one the letter from Dana, she'd taken quietly from his briefcase just before he'd left. For a moment she thought about putting them in the fireplace and burning them, but couldn't bring herself to do it. Instead, she took down her favorite old book of greek mythology and tucked them inside; marking the story of Leda. It seemed an appropriate hiding place. Maybe someday....
They drove in silence for several miles before Scully broke the silence.
"Mulder, if you want to talk... I'm here."
"I know, thanks."
His voice sounded suspiciously husky. She studied him for a moment, concerned, but he kept his eyes fixed on the road ahead, not glancing toward her. She sighed and sat back.
"Very scenic," he agreed flatly.
She looked out her window toward the valley they were driving toward, and smiled. "Look, fog in the valley! I love fog, always have, ever since I was a kid. It makes me think of Halloween, and trick-or- treating, and walking to school feeling the moisture on your face... god, it really takes me back."
She'd caught his interest. He glanced over at her.
"So, what was your favorite costume?"
"Oh... I don't know... I had so many!"
"Fairy princess?" he guessed, grinning.
"Nope, not me. One year I went as Agent 99, from "Get Smart," another time I was the "Girl From Uncle."
"I think I see a trend here, no wonder you ended up in the FBI!"
She laughed. "You're right! I'd never thought of that. How about you? What was your favorite costume?"
"Mr. Spock, of course. Mom helped me make the ears out of wax. I remember they didn't want to stay on, so I couldn't move my head much."
She was intrigued. Aside from telling her about Samantha, he'd never spoken much about his childhood.
"Sounds like fun."
"It was. I think that was about the last time I did Halloween. After that... after Sam..." he sighed. "I just never much felt like it."
She wished she could reach out to him, touch him, but somehow she couldn't bring herself to. He slowed the car as they approached the outer boundary of the fog, and turned on the lights.
"Fog may be nostalgic, but it's a pain to drive in," he commented as grey flowed in around the car, swirling, obscuring. Visibility lessened to a few feet. He sat forward, as if that would help him see better. The radio came on, and they both jumped and looked at each other.
"Mulder..." Scully began, just as light flared brilliantly around them.
A loud tapping sound woke Dana. She straightened with a gasp, looking around, trying to orient herself. The car, she was in the car. She must have fallen asleep. The tapping sound startled her again, and she turned to see a man wearing a Pennsylvania State Trooper's uniform peering in the window. He looked concerned, and was holding a flashlight, which he had apparently used to rap on the window. She turned and poked at Mulder who was also asleep.
"Mulder, wake up!"
"Hunh?" he woke up fast, blinking, looking as disoriented as she felt. "What's wrong?"
"I don't know, but there's a state patrolman outside."
He looked instantly at the dash, and shook his head. "Well, I certainly wasn't speeding. The car's not even running."
"That's a damn good thing, since both of us were asleep," she unlocked the door and tried to open it, but it hit knee-deep snow and stopped. She closed it and rolled down the window.
"Is there a problem, officer?"
"I just wanted to check on you folks... do you need help getting your car out?"
"I don't know..." she looked at Mulder. "Are we stuck?"
He shrugged. "I don't know, let me check," he turned the keys and the engine started immediately. Putting the car in reverse, he attempted to back up. The car moved about an inch, then stopped. He tried again, with the same results. "I guess we are."
The trooper nodded. "I thought so. You must've been here awhile, because there aren't any tire tracks going *into* the drift. It's almost like the car just got set down in the middle of it! Odd." he shook his head. "I'll call in a tow truck for you. It should be here soon. Since the plows came through yesterday we thought we'd moved out all of the abandoned vehicles, I was surprised to see a car here... more so when I saw it was occupied."
"Um... where *is* here?" Mulder asked, squinting around questioningly. "I don't have a clue where we are."
"The rest area on I-80 just east of Lock Haven. Got lost, eh?"
"I guess..." he looked around again, trying to remember having driven into the small rest area. He couldn't. Something the trooper had said suddenly infiltrated the fog that had permeated his brain.
"Wait... you said the plows came through *yesterday*?"
"Yep, around two in the afternoon."
Mulder stared at his watch, then looked up. "Is this right? Is it really the twenty-third?"
"Yes, why?" The trooper looked curious.
Mulder looked at Scully, his eyes shadowed. "Scully... the last thing can I remember happened *two* *days* ago!"
She sighed. "Mulder, don't be silly."
"No, Scully, I mean it. I remember we were driving... somewhere, it didn't look like this, the road was narrower, not a highway. I remember you looking at the map, trying to figure out where we were, and then nothing! Not until now!"
Scully shook her head. "You were dreaming Mulder. I don't know why you don't remember, I certainly do."
"You remember us sitting here for two days?"
She thought about it for a moment, and was forced to shake her head. "Well, no, not exactly. But do I remember sitting in the car, feeling cold, waiting for the storm to end. I remember a lot of that."
"It's not uncommon to lose track of time when you're stuck someplace," the trooper put in. "I see it all the time, it happens a lot."
"Not to *me*," Mulder whispered, looking shaken.
Scully sighed irritably. "Mulder, stop trying to make something out of this! For heaven's sake, we've been stuck here in a snowdrift for a couple of days! It seems like I've been cold and uncomfortable forever! We've been under a lot of stress lately, I'm sure that has something to do with it."
"It must..." he shook his head and looked at his watch. "Two days, though. Weird. It just doesn't seem like that long."
"Well, if you folks are okay, I'll be going. That tow truck should be here in about ten minutes."
Scully nodded. "Thank you, officer. We appreciate it."
As the trooper moved away, Mulder's stomach growled audibly. He reached behind the seat and pulled out his briefcase and removed a narrow green box. He opened it and removed a cellophane package of thin dark-brown wafers.
"Breakfast?" he asked offering it to her.
"You carry Girl Scout cookies in your briefcase?" she asked, smiling, as she took a couple of them.
"They're an integral part of an agent's field kit, Scully!"
She lifted an eyebrow at him and he shrugged.
"Okay, you caught me. So, I'm a sucker for Girl Scout cookies. I think I must have a Girl Scout homing device implanted in my head. Every year I must have at least half a dozen of them try to sell me these things, and I can never turn them down."
"I'll keep that in mind. My niece is a Girl Scout."
He looked at her, wounded. "E tu, Scully?"
She laughed around her cookie as the tow-truck drove up. Mulder managed to get his door open so he could go talk to the driver. It suddenly dawned on her that at some point during the past two days Mulder had told her he had those cookies, but that they were in the trunk. Odd. He must have been pretty out of it to forget they were available, since they'd both been hungry. She pulled her own briefcase out and started looking for the map she'd put there. Her fingers touched something small, cool and slick. Pushing the papers aside she pulled out a small vial full of dark red liquid. A blood sample? From what? From when? How strange. She searched further for the map, and found a second vial. Like the first, it appeared to be a blood sample.
She couldn't for the life of her figure out how they'd gotten into her briefcase. She'd taken no samples during their last case... in fact, it had been a long time since she had done it at all, months even, and these were not months-old. Why did she have them? Where had they come from? Mulder returned to the car and she quickly shut her case, hiding them. For some reason she didn't want him to see them. She'd have them tested when she got back to D.C., and figure out what the hell they were.
FBI Headquarters, Washington D.C.
"Hey, Scully... I finally have those lab tests you ordered."
Scully instinctively glanced around to make sure Mulder wasn't in earshot, then remembered he'd gone out and relaxed a little.
"Thanks Tanner, what've you got?"
"Weird stuff is what I've got."
"How so? Wasn't it blood?"
"Oh, no, it was blood alright. One sample was AB-negative, the other one AB-positive. Definitely human, not animal."
"Okay, so you have two relatively rare blood groups represented. Is that what was weird?"
Tanner shook his head. "Nope, not at all. What's really odd is the fact that we found anything at all. Considering the length of time those samples sat around before you brought them in, we shouldn't have been able to find much of anything but blood and chromosomal types, but take a look at this!"
He plopped a sheaf of papers down in front of her. She studied them for a moment, brows drawing down in puzzlement.
"I don't.... what is this? 17-dihydrotestosterone? 11- ketotestrogen? Ditestosteryl ether? Xyloestradione? I don't recognize any of them, though judging by the derivations they must be hormones.
"They're *synthetic* hormones and a couple of synthetic pheromones too, near as I can figure. They're present in each sample in fairly large concentrations, though different ones in each."
"Synthetic hormones? Like birth control pills?"
"Not like birth control pills at all. If I had to guess, I'd say we were looking at something designed to do just the opposite. Sex attractants, maybe fertility drugs. Aphrodisiacs, if you will."
Scully laughed a little uncertainly. "Come on, there's no such thing."
"Maybe, maybe not. I'm just telling you what it looks like to me."
"Tanner..." she started, he interrupted.
"Hey, they were *your* samples, Scully! You brought them in. What are they? Where'd they come from?"
"That's just it, Tanner, I don't know. I *found* them."
"I know... maybe someone wanted me to see them and planted them there. I don't know. You're sure about the breakdowns?"
"I ran it twice."
"Okay... well, thanks. I owe you one."
"Anytime Scully. Oh, for what it's worth, your AB-negative was a female, and your AB-positive a male."
Tanner walked out the door of the office, leaving Scully sitting alone, staring at the lab report. AB-positive. She'd read Mulder's chart when he been shot on the Boggs case. He was AB-positive. She remembered that clearly. So one of the samples could be his... could be. The other one, though. She felt a slight shiver of relief at the knowledge that she was O-positive. The second sample wasn't her own.
She scanned the report again and stopped suddenly, her attention caught by another item... it couldn't be... She picked up the phone and dialed Tanner's extension.
He answered after a few rings. "Tanner here."
"Hi, Bob, it's Scully... you didn't mention this other thing... it looks to me like there were benzodiazepine metabolites in those samples!
"Yeah, I meant to mention that, sorry. I got distracted. I thought the same thing at first, but actually this stuff is different from any of the benzodiazepines I've seen before. It's probably related, and with similar effects, though, the chemistry is too similar for it not to be."
"I see... well, thanks. I appreciate it."
She hung up and stared at the report, remembering Mulder's insistence that they'd lost two days, and his complaints about missing clothing. She had put it down to stress-related memory lapses, and assumed that his missing clothes had been left in the hotel in Seattle. But... could he have been right? Drugs in the benzodiazepine family all had memory and behavior-related effects.
Her own memories of those two days were less than clear, despite her protests to the contrary. Had she taken those blood samples herself, and been drugged into forgetting having done so? If so, whose was the second sample? Troubled, she opened up her laptop and began to type, making a quick outline of a report. She finished it, and stared at the last sentence, re-reading it.
"I cannot at this time entirely rule out the possibility that Agent Mulder and I experienced a missing-time episode of approximately forty-eight hours duration."
She swallowed hard, and pushed her chair away from the desk. A moment later she pulled herself back toward it and reached for the keypad. Again, she hesitated, then finally she set her jaw and quite deliberately deleted the file. There was no reason for her to submit such a report. It had nothing to do with a case.
Scranton, NJ, FBI Field Office
Mulder looked around the lobby of the building as Scully went to the reception desk and asked for directions. He'd never been in the Scranton field office before, but he knew they'd hired one hell of a data analyst about a year earlier because in the past year, some of his best information had been gleaned from the work of someone with the initials J.F. in this office. He wondered if he'd be able to meet the mysterious J.F. while he was here. Scully returned from the desk.
"Okay, let's go."
She struck off toward the rear of the office. Halfway there Mulder spotted a small table against the wall which held a coffee pot, and cups, and headed for it. Scully balked.
"Mulder, will you come on? Agent Dietze is waiting for us!"
"Just a sec, Scully... I've gotta have some coffee. There's something about Pennsylvania that always makes me sleepy."
"Fine, but hurry."
He dropped a handful of assorted change into the can marked "coffee fund," grabbed a styrofoam cup from the stack and splashed coffee into it.
"Better. Now I can deal with a briefing."
"Good, just try to stay awake, okay?"
"You got it, where're we going, anyway?"
"They said down this hallway, all the way to the end."
As they moved down the hall, a small figure darted out of a doorway, giggling happily. Mulder stumbled back as the child caught him right at knee level. Coffee went everywhere, but he somehow managed to get most of it on his coat rather than on the kid. He knelt to make sure, though.
"Hey there sweetheart, are you okay?"
The toddler, a girl, looked up at him solemnly, and his breath caught in his throat. She had light hazel eyes with a teak-brown ring around the pupil. Her dark-brown wavy hair was parted in the middle and caught into pigtails. Her chin was stubborn, slightly pointed, with a thumbprint cleft in the center below a mouth with a slightly pouty lower lip... he *knew* that face. His mouth formed a word, but no sound emerged. The echo of it was supplied by an anxious woman's voice.
"Samantha! Honey, are you all right? Yes? Oh, no! Oh, I'm so sorry... I couldn't drop what I was doing fast enough to catch her. I'm sorry about your coat! I'll pay for drycleaning..."
The mundanity of her words lifted the paralysis from his voice, and he shook his head. "No, that's all right, it's no problem. I just wanted to make sure she was okay..."
He looked up at the child's mother and was shaken a second time as a series of extremely erotic images crowded in on him. Images of himself, and this total stranger. He seemed to see her from the same angle, her above him. He remembered skin like cream, tousled golden-streaked brown hair, perfect curves, gray eyes smoky with passion.... He felt his face warm. She was staring at him with the same rather odd expression he knew he wore. Her lips parted, closed as she swallowed, then she bit her lip. He almost reached out to her, only the extreme strangeness of the situation kept him from doing so.
A touch on his face drew his attention down, the child had reached up and put one finger on his chin. She was smiling, and he couldn't help but smile back. She turned her head to look at her mother, and Mulder followed her gaze, still somewhat bemused by his overactive imagination. Their eyes met... he knew her, he *knew* her! But he didn't.
"Daddy," the child announced definitively.
The woman went white. "No! No, Sam, don't say that!" she gasped, then dragged her lucent gaze away from his.
"I... I have to go... I'm sorry. Goodbye..." she snatched up the child and hurried away, almost running, leaving him kneeling in the hallway.
"That was odd." Scully commented. He looked up to find her staring after the pair, a strange expression on her face. "She looked so familiar, but I can't seem to place her," she turned back and looked down at him, and her expression grew concerned.
"Mulder? You look like you've seen a ghost!"
"I did..." he breathed. "My god, Scully... she looks just like my sister!"
"No... the girl!"
"That's funny, I thought she looked kind of like you," she paused a moment then arched an eyebrow, smiling slightly. "Daddy?"
Mulder ignored her. "Scully! She called her Samantha!"
"I know, I heard. Peculiar coincidence, isn't it?"
He didn't much believe in coincidence, but what else could it be? He realized abruptly that he was kneeling and stood up, brushing coffee off his sleeve, feeling very disoriented.
"Are you going to be okay?"
"I... yeah, of course. No problem," he rubbed his temple, his head had begun to ache, and looked up to see a big blonde man heading toward them, chuckling.
"You must be Agent Mulder, and Agent Scully. I'm Carl Dietze. I see from the coffee stains that you've met Jeanne and Sam Fitzcarrol. Jeanne works in data analysis, usually remote from her home outside Renovo, but she has to come in for work packets about once a month and brings Sam with her. Things get a bit... lively around here whenever they're around. Sometimes that kid is so smart she scares me! Can you believe she's only two?"
Mulder turned, looking back toward the hallway where the woman and child had gone, eyes narrowed. Jeanne Fitzcarrol, working in Data Analysis... J.F. Another coincidence?
"Do you want to wash up before the briefing?"
Mulder pulled his attention back to the man in front of him, shaking his head. "No, it just got on my coat, no problem."
"Good, this way then."
As they entered the conference room Mulder consciously put the experience in the hall aside. He would try to puzzle it out later, right now he had work to do.The End
SFLAaE/BS PSEB DDEB
Charter Member of the Walter Mitty Society for the promotion and preservation of daydreaming!
"The fantasy life you save could be your own!"