Title: Little Green Men
Summary: Why is the coffee green?
Note: Me again, with more holiday silliness. I had a lot of fun writing "Sweet Conversation" and I got a surprising number of notes about it. Several people asked about a possible sequel and Stella suggested I do something for St. Patrick's Day. I do seem to have this thing about holiday stories... Well, here it is, Stella - not exactly a sequel, but I hope you like it.
Scully sighed in exasperation when the elevator doors finally opened to the basement hallway. She was running a full half-hour late, thanks to a traffic accident on a gridlocked street. And since she'd skipped breakfast in an attempt to get here a little early today she was more than ready for a cup of coffee. She needed coffee.
Mulder was already in the office, of course. He was ensconced behind his desk deeply engrossed in reading a file, his gold wire-framed glasses slipping slightly down his nose. Obviously he'd been here for a while. She sat her briefcase on her desk and slipped back out quietly, coffee cup in hand. Mulder had made coffee already, bless him. She dumped a little powdered creamer into her cup then poured steaming liquid from the carafe, lifting it almost immediately to her lips... She stopped a fraction short of her mouth, though, and lowered the cup slightly to look again. Yep, no doubt about it. The coffee was green.
For a moment she just looked at it, puzzled, then she remembered the date. St. Patrick's Day! Of course. Mulder was playing tricks again.
Well, she wasn't about to drink something colored green with who-knows-what. She dumped both her cup and the carafe in the sink, rinsed them out, and started over. Fresh filter, fresh grounds brown grounds, spring water from the cooler, then she leaned against the wall with her eyes shut, enjoying the fragrance of the coffee brewing. When the coffeemaker finished it's final sputtering, she repeated her earlier motions of pouring a cup. It was...it was still green. What in the hell?
The coffee grounds in the can were fine. The filters looked normal. The water was fresh, so why was it green? Well, she wasn't making another pot until she found out what Mulder had done.
"Mulder," she said as she walked back into the office. He didn't look up and she tried again. "Mulder!"
"What?" he asked distractedly, looking up at her. His eyes behind the glasses looked slightly unfocused as they sometimes did when he'd been reading too long. "Oh, good morning, Scully. You just getting in?" His eyes were already drifting back to the open file.
"About fifteen minutes ago. Mulder, did you make coffee this morning?"
"Um? Oh, yeah, I did. It should be ready..."
"What did you put in it?"
"Same as usual, coffee and water."
"Then why is it green?"
He was barely listening to her. She was in no mood for this. Swiping the file from his hand, she plunked her coffee cup down in front of him. "Why is the coffee green, Mulder?"
Now she had his attention. He leaned forward and peered into the cup. "What's this?"
Sighing, she started over. "It's supposed to be coffee."
"I noticed, Mulder. What did you do to turn the coffee green?"
His head came up sharply and he looked at her over the tops of his glasses. "I didn't do anything to it, Scully. If something's wrong with it, just dump it out and make another pot."
"I did. It came out green, too."
Doubt was beginning to creep in. Mulder was far too preoccupied to be playing jokes on her this morning. "You didn't do anything to the coffeemaker? Or put anything in the coffee?"
He frowned. "Why would I do that?"
"Today's March 17th, Mulder."
"St. Patrick's Day." His frown cleared as understanding dawned. "But it's *beer* that's supposed to be green today, Scully. Why would I mess with the coffee?"
"Never mind." Scully gave up and went back to her desk, leaving the cup of greenish cafe au lait on her partner's desk.
Mulder picked up the cup and sniffed the contents. It smelled okay. He took a tentative taste...
Scully turned to sit down and caught the face he made as he lowered the cup, knowing immediately what he'd done. "Mulder! Don't drink that, we don't know what's in it!"
"Calm down, Scully." Mulder made another face, working his mouth. "Except for that nasty creamer stuff, it tastes like perfectly normal coffee. Yuck, how can you drink it with that stuff?"
Scully took the cup away from him and marched out of the office, muttering about idiots and curiosity and types of death Mulder was pretty sure he didn't really want to know about. He followed her in time to see her pour out the contents of both the cup and the carafe. She dumped out the used filter and rinsed the holder, then partially filled the coffeemaker with tap water and ran it without coffee. The heated water came out clear.
Mulder rummaged through the cabinet and came up with an unopened can of coffee and a new box of filters, and silently handed them to her. She opened them and proceeded to make a fresh pot using tap water. Again, the coffee came out green.
By this time Mulder was getting interested and Scully was about to have a fit. When Mulder poured a cup for himself and tasted it, she protested but made no move to stop him. She knew him too well. She just went back to her desk and did her best to ignore him, but of course was acutely aware of each sip he took as the morning went on. >From time to time he'd stare into his cup with a slight frown, but otherwise he kept the silence.
Near noon, just when things were beginning to settle into normalcy, Mulder got up to replace a file in the cabinet. Scully heard him open the drawer. Nearly a full minute later she heard his voice.
"Scully, have you been in this cabinet this morning?" He sounded puzzled.
"No, why?" she answered, looking up from the forensics report she was reading.
He moved aside slightly as she moved to stand beside him. The open drawer was full of files... but the files were all in upside down.
"What on earth...?" Scully gasped.
"Odd, isn't it," Mulder mused aloud. "I got this file out this morning and they were fine." He opened the drawer above and the drawer below, checking, and they were all upside down. The files in the adjacent cabinets were, too. "We weren't out of the office long enough for anyone to have done this, and the door was locked this morning..."
Scully turned back toward her desk then suddenly clutched at Mulder's arm, her fingers curling with enough force to have him swinging around to see what was wrong.
On the floor, from the center of the office to the door, was a trail of gold coins.
After a frozen moment, Mulder moved forward and knelt to pick one up. "They're foil-wrapped chocolate coins."
"They weren't there a minute ago," she said. It was an effort to keep the stress out of her voice. She didn't like this, didn't like it at all. "The door is shut, Mulder, and we'd have heard it if it opened. How could these coins just appear?"
Mulder stood and crossed to the door, Scully not far behind. He opened the door and stepped out, turning to look both ways down the dim hall. "They lead to the elevator. Stay here for a minute, Scully."
Standing uneasily in the doorway of the office, she watched her partner go down the hall and press the elevator call button. The elevator car, when the doors opened, was empty. He waited until it closed again and then came back.
"What was that about?" she asked when he was close.
"I thought maybe it was someone's way of getting us to the elevator for a delivery or something. Guess not."
Scully turned in the doorway and couldn't quite stop the startled gasp that escaped her. Mulder nudged her aside so he could see what had happened now.
On Mulder's desk, in the small area of the center where it was clear of clutter, were three irregular stacks of gold coins. Not the foil- wrapped chocolate kind this time... from the dull gleam, these were the real thing.
They moved closer almost warily. Neither one of them said a word for long minutes, just stared at the stacks of coins. Finally, Scully reached out tentatively to take one of the top coins. Mulder's hand around her wrist stopped her before she could touch it.
"Don't," he said, pulling her hand back. "If I remember my Irish myths correctly, a leprechaun's gold was usually bad news to anyone who touched it."
"Leprechaun? Mulder, surely you don't think...."
"Scully, are you wearing *anything* green?"
Scully looked down at her cream shell and camel-tan suit, flushing as she realized the emphasis behind Mulder's question. "No, I'm not, but.."
"Neither am I, unless there's some in this tie I don't know about."
"But surely you don't think...."
"I think we should go out for lunch." Mulder used the wrist he still held to turn her towards the door. "Maybe a long lunch."
Scully fell silent as they left the office, both agents pointedly ignoring the shamrock plant now sitting on the corner of Scully's desk.
Two hours later the partners cautiously re-entered the office, both now sporting a tiny green-enamel shamrock pin on one lapel. Mulder had bought them from a street-corner vender on the way out to lunch, joking that maybe it was best not to tempt fate.
The gold foil coins were gone from the hallway and office floor, they noticed, and they stopped just inside the door to look around. The stack of gold coins was gone from Mulder's desk, as was the shamrock plant from Scully's. Mulder checked the file cabinets and breathed a sigh of relief that they were right side up again.
"Everything back to normal?" Scully asked as Mulder moved behind his desk.
"Almost," he said. "Look at this."
He picked up something about the size of a quarter from his desk top and held it out to Scully on his palm. It was a perfect four-leafed clover captured in a circular coin of lead crystal. No bubbles in the glass, no hole for a chain or keyring, just the clover and a pattern cut into the crystal's edge to catch the light.
"What is it?" Scully reached out to turn it over in Mulder's hand, looking at it from different angles. She'd never seen anything like it.
"Four-leafed clovers are supposed to be good luck, aren't they?" Mulder asked, then he turned to look at Scully's desk. "Look, there's one on your desk, too."
Scully picked it up and they compared them. The two crystal circles were identical except for the pattern etched around the edge.
"What are they for?"
"I don't know. Maybe a reward for not taking the gold?" he guessed. After a few minutes Mulder shrugged and slipped his into his pants pocket.
"I've never heard anything bad connected to a four-leafed clover," he said.
Scully looked skeptical for another minute, then she put hers in her jacket pocket. Well, they could certainly use a little extra luck.
"I don't know about you, Scully, but I think I've had enough weirdness for one day. Let's go home."
The agents gathered their things and left the office, turning out the lights and locking the door behind them.
From his shadowy perch on a high shelf, a tiny figure dressed in green stroked his beard and smiled.
* end *
"Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason."
- Jerry Seinfeld, "Seinfeld", NBC
Sounds like something Scully would say to Mulder, doesn't it?