Title - Maplewood Monster
Author - Jodie
Rating - R, how about
Category - XR, a little H
Spoilers - everything, including movie, but it's not like they go into depth talking about anything specific.
Keywords - Mulder/Scully romance
Disclaimer: What, you really think I created these characters? Think I'm that smart? Or are you that dumb? Sorry, that was mean. No, I didn't create them. Oh well. =)

Summary - A weird-ass monster is freaking out the people in Milford, NH. Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate.


Maplewood Milford, NH
7:45pm

"The monster strangled my dog. My other dog. I had two. My dog, here, Frisbee, she senses anything that so much as comes near the house. The dogs were outside, and suddenly I heard one dog yelping and the other barking. I ran outside and saw Amanda, that's the other dog's name, on the ground, writhing. Frisbee was barking at Amanda, it seemed. I looked closer, and saw the monster. It was blue- ish white, with long fingers and slimy looking skin. Frisbee ran to me, and as I looked down at the dog, I heard Amanda yelp one last time. I looked back up and the monster was gone. Amanda lay on the ground, dead. Poor little thing was only three years old. I figured Frisbee could use some company. They got along so good."

"Did you see the monster's face?" I asked, looking at the man. His eyes were ringed with bags, the obvious result of sleepless nights. I had had my share of those. His grey hair was cut long, and a thick piece would fall into his face every now and again.

"No, ma'am," he replied, flipping the hair out of his face.

"May we see the place where the monster attacked your dog?" Mulder asked. I looked over at him, and saw that his own eyes were circled. I frowned in worry.

"Well, now, it's getting quite late. I wouldn't want you to get hurt. I know it looks light enough, but believe me. Why don't I get you settled for the night?"

Mr. Hodgson stood, motioning for us to follow. We walked out of the yard containing a beautifully clear blue pool onto a paved area where a truck, a fairly new Volvo, and our rental car were parked, and then into the colonial house.

"You've got a lovely place here, sir," I commented, and the man looked back at me, smiling.

"You like it? My wife and I bought it in '70...had the pool installed the next year. Two of our kids were already in college, but our daughter came with us. The three of us kept it up real nice. My daughter went away to college and it was just my wife and me. Then, my wife died. I'm afraid I've been letting the place go a little."

"Who cuts your grass?" Mulder broke in. 'Why does he care about grass?' I thought, looking around at it. It was all lovely and green. The air was almost damp with humidity, and a mosquito landed on my arm and I swatted at it, wishing I'd put on some bug spray. It was so hot out I was surprised Mr. Hodgson was wearing pants. I couldn't understand how Mulder could stand wearing a suit; my own suit was feeling like a heavy wool blanket.

"My friend Bob comes and uses my tractor, cuts all the grass. Why?"

"Just curious," Mulder answered, somewhat mysteriously.

"Well, let's go inside, then, shall we?"

"It was very nice of you to let us stay here, Mr. Hodgson."

"The nearest hotel is on the other side of town, ma'am, and it's not that wonderful. Besides, I like the company."

I followed Mulder and Mr. Hodgson into a dimly lit hall. A large box on one side was filled with wooden blocks, and there was a small chalk board with scribblings on it against the wall; evidence of grandchildren. We entered the kitchen, walking through the brightly lit room. The dining area was right next to the kitchen, with a counter separating them. Through a wooden door, and into a more formal room we went. The man's dog followed us, sniffing around and playing. I realized I didn't have my bag, then saw with a small smile that Mulder was carrying it. I stepped beside him and removed the suitcase from his hand with another smile. We went up to the second floor of the house. The dog didn't follow, and the man seemed to have some trouble climbing the stairs.

"Don't usually go up here," he remarked. "Ms. Scully, you can take the room down the hall next to the bathroom...it's on your right," he said motioning toward a door down a short hall on his right.

"Call me Dana," I said as I walked toward it and paused, listening, waiting to hear him tell Mulder where he would be.

"Mr. Mulder, you can sleep in the bedroom around the corner, here. Through that door, there, and then you take a left. I'll leave you to get settled. My room is at the foot of the stairs, to the left, if you need me. Feel free to help yourself to anything in the kitchen. I'm going to bed now. Good night. Good night Ms. Scully...I mean, Dana," the man called to me and I nodded. He carefully descended the stairs, and as I watched him I felt Mulder's eyes on me. I lifted my own eyes to meet his and raised my eyebrows in question.

"You okay, Mulder?"

"Yeah. Are you going to bed now?"

"No...I think I'll change into something...cooler."

"Did you bring your bathing suit?"

"Actually, yes. I knew there was a river down in the woods, and I'd heard it was going to be unbearably hot and humid. Which it is."

"Wanna go swimming?"

Mulder wanted me to go swimming with him? In that Speedo he wore? Hmmm....

"Sure."

I went into my room to change. The bed was firm, of which I was glad; I cannot stand mushy beds. The room was quite large; a dresser with a large mirror was against wall; against the same wall was a wide full length mirror. I changed into my bathing suit, a silver TYR racing back suit I'd had since college. I pulled a pair of jeans over the suit and exited the room. 'Towels' was my immediate thought, and I went into the bathroom to find a few towels. Finding two of sufficient size, I turned to leave and find Mulder, and I almost crashed into him.

"Mulder, what are you doing?" I cried in a whisper, not wanting to wake our sleeping host.

"Looking for you and some towels. Ready?"

"Yeah."

Mulder was wearing a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. I felt self-conscious wearing no top, but I had seen Mulder's look of approval, so I tried not to think about it. I followed him through the darkened house out to the pool yard. A mosquito bit my arm and as I slapped at it, I started to go back to the house.

"Scully?" Mulder called, and I turned, waiting for him.

"Bug spray," I said, and he nodded. I walked back to the house and found a small spray bottle of the smelly chemical. We sprayed it on and went out to the pool. The heat was almost unbearable. I put the towels on a bench on the patio in the pool yard, then sat and waited for Mulder to find a light so we could see. The darkness of the night was velvety, and I shivered despite the heat. I held my hand before my face, realizing I couldn't even see that far. I turned toward the direction of what Mr. Hodgson had referred to as the pub, a building the size of a small house, anxiously awaiting Mulder's return. I heard movement to my left, and turned to look. I saw nothing; I knew I would not. I found myself holding my breath, and again I shivered.

Someone--or something--hit me from the side, smashing me under it onto the damp grass beside the patio. I called for Mulder, and, just before I was hit over the head, a light flicked on. The blow to my head was hard enough to cause excruciating pain, but I did not fall into unconsciousness. I heard someone running toward me-- Mulder, I assumed--and felt cold, slippery arms encircle me.

I was thrown into the pool, and I found myself floating, barely able to move. I struggled to keep my head above the surface, and slowly began to sink further and further into the darkened pool. I heard a muffled splash and soon felt strong, warm arms around me. Mulder pulled me to the edge of the pool, and I sputtered, coughing up water. I looked up at him, blinked several times, and felt my head grow heavier and heavier. My head fell against his chest when I could no longer hold it upright. The pain in my head was numbing, almost blinding. It was worse than being unconscious. I shivered, and Mulder pulled me closer. He grabbed a towel with one hand, still holding me with the other, and began to pat me dry. With half closed eyes I saw the white towel turning red from my blood. My head spun once more and I felt like I was falling.

When I opened my eyes the first thing on which I focused was Mulder. His head was resting on my hand, his eyes were closed, and his breathing was even. I blinked and tried to focus. The bright lights and mellow coloring of the walls helped me realize where I was: the hospital. I debated whether to wake Mulder; he looked so peaceful. I lay, staring down at him, for about five minutes before I decided to wake him.

"Mulder," I said, my voice a hoarse whisper.

He stirred slightly, and I moved my hand from under his cheek. He raised his sleep-heavy head and focused on me.

"Scully," he said, stretching his neck and arms. "Are you okay?"

"What happened?"

"We were going to go swimming. Something attacked you, hit you over the head. Then it threw you in the pool. I'd found the light just in time. I got you out of the pool, and you passed out a few minutes after that. Gary and I brought you here."

"Who's Gary? What hospital?"

"Gary Hodgson; St. Joseph's Medical Center. We're on the edge of the center of Milford."

"You said something. I remember cold, slippery arms, Mulder."

"Did they feel human?"

"From what I remember, there were hands. I don't remember any hair on the arms, but I wasn't searching for details at the time."

"There were no footprints of any kind, and Gary's dog wasn't awakened at all. Animals usually sense intruders better than anyone else."

"What do you think it was?"

"I don't think you're ready to ask that question, Scully."

"You don't think it was that fluke worm guy again?"

"Maybe something like that."

"Mulder, have I ever told you that you're nuts?"

"Yes, yes you have. Many a time."

"I'm telling you again. Mulder, you're nuts."

"Well, I'm not saying it was Flukeman or whatever you want to call him. Maybe something like Flukeman. The dog didn't sense anything. Gary says that whenever a cat so much as steps near the barns the dog is up and barking."

"Flukeman's ghost."

"Exactly my thought."

"You think, Mulder, that Flukeman died, and a ghost has come back to try to kill me. After all these years."

"Maybe."

"Maybe Elvis lives on Mars."

Mulder muttered something, and Scully leaned closer to him.

"What did you say?"

"Nothing."

"No, you said something in Eastern Oregon."

"I didn't."

"You think Elvis lives in Eastern Oregon, don't you?"

"'Ghost' might not be the right term to use, Scully. You said you felt it," Mulder changed the subject and looked away from me.

"What, then? Don't animals sense ghosts as well?"

"Supposedly."

I sighed and looked out the window. A tree with large, round leaves grew just outside. A bird sat on the branch and chirped.

"Thank you," I said, still looking at the bird.

"What?" Mulder asked. I could feel his eyes on me and I turned to look at him.

"Thank you. You saved my life. Again."

"Anyone else would have done the same," he mumbled, looking down at his lap.

"Anyone else wasn't there, Mulder," I said, reaching my hand out and touching his jaw with my fingertips. "You were there. Thank you."

He was silent, and I knew, I understood that he never accepted the thankfulness he deserved. After all the times he'd saved my life....I couldn't even count how many times. Starting back when we first began working together.

"Mulder, do you remember Bambi?"

"Bambi? Dr. Berenbom?"

"Yeah."

"Well, yeah. She and that other doctor got married; she sent me a little note about it. Why?"

"What ever happened to the metallic cockroaches?"

"I don't know."

"I was just curious."

"Do you want to go check it out?"

"No. No, I don't."

Mulder looked at me and then up at my forehead, concern marking his face.

"What?" I asked, hand flying to my head. There was a bandage and I remembered the blood from the night before. "Mulder, I'm fine. I feel fine. I do have a slight head ache, but save that, I'm fine."

He stayed silent and I looked at him, exasperated. He cocked his head, mock innocence in his eyes.

"Mulder. Tell me what you're thinking. For once."

"I want to know why you suddenly brought up Bambi."

"I was just thinking."

"Just thinking."

"Yes."

"Just...thinking about metal cockroaches and Bambi?"

"And you."

"And me. Why me?"

'Because I love you, you godamn fool!' I screamed in my head, shaking my head at the same time. I felt like a fool; I looked like an insane person.

"Just thinking."

Mulder sighed and it was his turn to look exasperated. I couldn't blame him, really. I didn't want to say what I was thinking about. I was just thinking. About Bambi and Mulder.

"Scully--" Mulder began, but I cut him off.

"Do you want to know what I was thinking about, Mulder?"

"Yes," he said without hesitation.

"You really want to know what I've been thinking?"

"I said yes."

"I know."

I was silent, and Mulder looked at me, eyes locked with my own. His hand found my own and gave it a small squeeze.

"You can leave this place today, after they do their check on you," he offered, and I smiled slightly at him.

"I'm not trying to get out, Mulder."

"I know."


Milford, NH

Mr. Hodgson had driven his silvery-grey Volvo to bring me home from the hospital. Mulder insisted on seating in the back with me. I frowned at him when he first offered, but relented. He looked at me, and I couldn't refuse him. We sat, listening to the soft classical music pouring from the speakers, watching the passing scenery.

"Where are you going to live when you're retired, Scully?" Mulder asked softly. I saw Mr. Hodgson look in the rear view mirror, a smile playing on his face.

"I don't know, Mulder. Maybe I won't retire."

"If you don't retire, I won't be able to retire. Can you see us at seventy and seventy two, running around after aliens?"

"Running? More like electric wheel chairing."

Mulder laughed. Mr. Hodgson shook his head, obviously finding the comment amusing but polite enough not to join in the conversation.

"Seriously. Where do you see yourself in ten years?"

Oh, no. A hard, deep question. I don't know, Mulder. Maybe with you. Maybe with someone else. Maybe dead. I haven't thought about it. A million answers flowed through my head.

"That's a very deep question, Mulder," I hedged, wondering if he expected me to answer seriously.

"I know."

Damn.

"Hopefully not with grey hair," I joked lamely, and Mulder smiled, glancing out the window and then back at me.

'You know I wanted a serious answer, Scully,' his eyes told me. I knew. I didn't want to answer, Mulder. I know that he knows. 'I'm not going to ask if you said what I think you said because I know it's what you said.' My words from years before came back to me.

We were silent for the rest of the drive.

At six we sat around the round oak dining table. Mr. Hodgson had invited a sweet old lady for dinner. Her name was Helen, and she had cooked us an amazing meal. Creamy, wonderful mashed potatoes--from real potatoes-- with tender, juicy steak, and sweet peas. I leaned back in my chair, my glass of wine still rather full, looking around at my three companions. Mulder had been silent through most of the meal, leaving me to talk to Mr. Hodgson and Helen. After a while it was they who did the most talking. I was content to listen to their conversation; they talked about anything from when the best time to go swimming was to the price of a dozen ears of corn to how much a dozen actually was, in corn. On a few occasions their topic was extremely odd, almost laughable, and during those times I would glance at Mulder, expecting to share a glance, but he remained shut off to her and to Mr. Hodgson and Helen. He barely ate his food, though he remarked at how delicious it was. His wine glass had been filled three times.

He was sulking. 'About what?' He seemed to be thinking deeply about something. I wondered if it was our brief conversation in the car.

"Well, Gary, Fox, Dana, I really must be going. I have cats to feed, you know! Gary, I trust you to clean these dishes, you know! It was very nice to meet you, Dana," she said, then paused slightly, almost unnoticeably, before saying, "and Fox. Good night."

"It was nice to meet you, too, Helen," I said, standing to shake her hand. Mulder smiled up at her briefly.

"Good night, Gary," she said, and linked her arm through my own. "Walk me out," she commanded in a wonderfully nice way only the elder people in our society have a way of doing.

"That man, Fox, is he your lover?" she asked, once we were out of eat-shot.

"Who, Mulder? No, we're just friends. Partners at work, actually." It hurt to say it, but it was true. Just friends.

"Well, I certainly am glad I didn't ask that back at the table. I was only asking because he seems to be sulking, and you were staring at him the entire time."

"I was?" I asked, feeling my cheeks grow warm. 'God, was I that noticeable?'

"Did you fight?"

"No, not exactly. He asked me a question and I didn't respond the way he wanted." I gave a small laugh. "It sound very petty, but he's really not. It's really not. That way."

"I believe you. Well, I hope to see you again, Dana, dear. Get Gary to invite me over, will you?" she asked with a grin, and I nodded, smiling myself. She left, waving, and I waved back before going back to the men.

"Would you like me to do the dishes?" I asked Mr. Hodgson, who shook his head furiously, glancing at Mulder, who was working on his fourth glass of wine. 'Fifth or sixth,' a voice in the back of my head argued.

"Why don't you and Mulder go into the other room? I think you need to talk," Mr. Hodgson said, getting up and talking in a low voice to me.

"Was he rude to you?" I asked, praying for a negative answer.

"No. Just quiet. He's upset about something, Dana. Talk to him."

I nodded and walked over to where Mulder sat, slouched low in his chair.

"Come outside with me, Mulder?" I asked softly, touching his arm. He looked at me with bloodshot eyes, and nodded slowly.

He stood, swayed slightly, and I reached my hand out to his arm. He grabbed at my hand roughly, took it in his own, and held it. We walked outside.

Maplewood Monster (2/2) X/MSR

"Mulder, you okay?" I asked gently, knowing he wasn't but not knowing what else to ask.

"No," he answered shortly. His answer surprised me; I was used to responses much like my own. 'I'm fine.' 'Nothing's wrong.'

"Is this about your question in the car?" I asked, leading him to a wooden bench situated beneath a large tree in front of the house. We sat, close, almost too close. He looked down at me and spoke. The wine on his breath wasn't unpleasant; it was almost sweet.

"Yes...no...sort of? Scully, I...I picked the wrong time to ask you a question like that. I'm sorry."

"Is that why--"

"No," came his answer, before I could question.

"Then wh--"

"Because," he interrupted again. "Because I know what your answer will be." He paused, sighing slightly, then continued. "You're going to say something like, in ten years I'll be happily married with two adopted kids living as far away from you as possible."

I wanted to go out on a limb. I wanted to take a chance and say what I wanted to say. I had no way of knowing what he was going to say in response. I almost didn't say anything.

"How..." I trailed off, then began again. "If I were ever to be happily married, Mulder, you would most certainly not be as far away from me as possible. You wouldn't be a very good father that way."

There, I'd said it. I watched Mulder's face in the patchy light coming from the window behind us as he processed the information.

"Scully, I--"

He was cut off by a loud rustle in the bushed across the gravel driveway that extended toward the road from the pavement. Mulder stood, again swaying slightly, removing his gun from its holster. I pointed my own gun in the direction of the noise, and we watched the bushed move in the half darkness.

"What the hell is that, Scully?" Mulder asked. He took three steps forward, closer to the swaying shrubs, and I followed.

"How the hell should I know?"

A blue-ish white...thing...emerged from the bushed before us. It had yellow, glowing eyes and a mouth ringed with ghastly, dripping teeth. It seemed to be slightly glowing, and it raised its arm, seemingly motioning for us to follow it.

"Come on, Scully," Mulder said, putting his gun back in its holster.

"This isn't a good idea."

"We have our guns and training to back us up."

He walked in the direction the thing was moving, following at a distance large enough so the thing, if it moved as slowly as it was now, decided to attack he could run. I followed.

The thing was like a dog, always looking back with its awful yellow eyes to see if we were following. We walked through a dry field, following the blue-ish white blob. We ended up down near the river. The creek that ran through Mr. Hodgson's land turned into a fast paced river at the edge of his property, and I shuddered, remembering what the monster--if it had been the monster--had done to me.

"Mulder, what if it plans to hit us over the head and throw us into the river?" I asked, ready to run back up to the safety of the house.

"I don't think it wants to hurt us," Mulder said, watching the thing. It was at the edge of the river, bending down, imploring with its arm and eyes for us to join it.

"Here goes nothing," Mulder claimed, carefully edging his way down the steep bank.

"Here goes everything," I amended, following him.

When Mulder reached the water, the thing disappeared.

"Where'd it go?" I asked, reaching Mulder seconds later.

"I don't know, but look. Can you see it?"

Mulder was pointing down. I looked, and could barely make out the shape of some sort of animal.

"Is it alive?" I asked, and felt Mulder's eyes on me.

"Mulder, I can't see. We don't have flashlights. That thing was glowing enough to let off light, and now I have no idea how to get back. We're stuck here, Mulder."

"Scully. Calm down a second. I think it is alive."

"How do you know?"

"Listen."

I shut my mouth, listening to everything around us. Then, I heard it. A faint moaning sound, coming from the body at my feet.

"God, Mulder, it is alive. What is it? A dog?"

"I don't think it's a dog."

"Well, what do we do?"

"Why don't I stay here with it, and you begin to walk back to the house. I think that thing, whatever it was, will help you out. Get a flashlight from Mr. Hodgson, tell him we found a clue. Then get the hell back down here."

"Will you be all right?"

"Yeah."

I reached out for his hand, found it after an embarrassingly clumsy first try, and squeezed it. His hand brushed my cheek, and I left. I climbed up the steep bank, cursing the dirt that was ruining my clothes. I heard Mulder say something behind me.

"What, Mulder?" I asked, turning to him when I was atop the bank.

"Good luck."

"Thanks."

I began the trek back to the house. The thing did, indeed, reappear, and I followed it, using its light as a guide. I thought long and hard for someway to explain its presence scientifically, but I could not. I gave up thinking about that and turned my thoughts to Mulder. Ah, Mulder. So sullen at dinner. The water was boiling in our pot, the fire was raging. Something was going to happen. Something good, and I was looking forward to it. The touches we'd exchanged--the squeezing of hands, the brushing of cheeks-- were not new, but the frequency of them was. We'd moved up--or down--another level. I smiled, despite my unreal situation, and picked up my pace.

"Mr. Hodgson?" I called when I reached the interior of the house. The thing had disappeared when I'd reached the light of the house, and I'd hurried inside, frightened by the thought of the thing being behind me.

"Mr. Hodgson?" I called again, searching the rooms for him. The lights were all on, and the dishes were seemingly untouched. I opened the door that separated the kitchen/dining room from the living room and almost threw up.

Mr. Hodgson--or what was left of him-- was...covering the oriental carpet. If I hadn't known he was the only one in the house I wouldn't have been able to identify him. His skull crushed, his eyes were pulled out of their sockets, his chest had been torn open and his heart was...where was his heart? I couldn't find his heart. His abdomen had almost been ripped apart, and his entrails were strewn around the room. His feet were the only intact part of his body.

I shook my head, trying to pull myself away from the horrible sight. I was finally able to, and began to search for a flashlight. After I found one, I debated calling the paramedics, then decided against it. They couldn't do anything, and they would only prevent me from getting to Mulder.

Taking the flashlight, bug spray, and a blanket with me, I began to run toward the river. The thing was immediately back, and I shut off the flashlight, clinging tightly to all the items I carried. The thing moved at the same speed I was going, and I...we...reached Mulder in less than five minutes.

"Mulder?" I called.

"Scully!" he answered.

I stood at the top of the bank, catching my breath, then scurried down the small hill. The thing had disappeared and I clicked on the flashlight.

"Mr. Hodgson is dead," I said, and Mulder turned to me.

"What happened?"

"I don't know. I came back and he was...strewn...all over the living room."

"Strewn?"

"I don't want to go into details. I brought bug spray, Mulder, put some on."

We applied the bug spray and then looked down at the body.

"Mulder, is it me or does that thing have blue fur?"

"Blue fur."

"All right, what is it?"

"I have no idea, but it doesn't look very healthy. You brought a blanket, didn't you?"

"Course."

"All right, we'll wrap it in the blanket with its head sticking out--it's about the size of a small child--and carry it back up to the house. Once there, we get into the car and...never mind. Once there, we go inside and sit in the kitchen, backs against the stove, watching for whatever it is that killed Mr. Hodgson. We'll also try to help out this poor guy."

I just smiled at him, glad he'd figured something out while he'd been sitting there.


We arrived at the house fifteen minutes later; the thing had appeared to aid us in our venture once more. Sitting in the kitchen, backs to the stove, we unwrapped the little blue, furry thing.

"We need more blankets, Mulder," I said, and he nodded.

"We'll go together."

We re-wrapped the thing and took it with us up the stairs to Mulder's bedroom. The mess in the living room was hard to get around, but we managed by walking along the extreme edges of the room. Mulder shuddered visibly at the sight.

"We might be safer here, Mulder," I said, looking around the large room.

He nodded in agreement, and we settled down on the bed, backs to the headboard. I'd turned on all the lights, and Mulder helped me settle the furry thing on the end of the bed.

"I don't know what to do about it, Mulder," I admitted.

"Maybe we should just let it be."

I didn't respond, just watched the thing as its chest rose and fell evenly.

"It appears to be sleeping, Mulder."

"It would have awoken if it were just sleeping."

"If it were human."

Mulder and I sat in silence, side by side, close, again, almost too close.

"We never finished that conversation, Scully. Tell me I wasn't drunk."

"You were drunk, but your memory is probably the same as my own."

"In that case I'm pretty content."

'Pretty content?' I thought. 'I practically told the guy I wanted to marry him and all he is is 'pretty content'?'

"You were going to say something."

"I was?"

"You said, Scully, I...then we heard the rustle."

"I was going to say...well, it doesn't seem right now."

"Hmm?"

"Before, it seemed the right thing to say. Now, it seems completely wrong."

"What would you think about having children with me, Mulder?"

"You mean adoption."

Did he have to remind me so bluntly? I think I truly bristled, because Mulder was immediately apologizing.

"I'm sorry, Scully, I didn't think...I'm sorry...I--"

"Mulder. It's okay. Just answer the question."

"I think...I think I'd be pretty upset that they weren't truly ours because I'd love to see another little Scully running around."

"I wonder if Eddie Van Blundht could change into women, too," I mused out loud, and Mulder looked down at me.

"Where did that come from?"

"Another Scully running around. I wonder if he could change into me. Never mind. Anyway."

I was embarrassed. I wondered if Mulder could sense it. I didn't know what to tell him or what to think or even what to feel. I closed my eyes and sighed, then looked up at Mulder.

"Scully, I--"

He was interrupted by the creature at the foot of the bed. It sighed, and rolled over, stretching its furry, blue arms over its head. It fell off the bed with a thump, and I sat up, startled.

"Mulder, is it--"

I almost bit off my tongue when the creature stood up to its full height of about three feet and looked first at me, then at Mulder, with it's large black eyes.

"Hello," it said sullenly, as if it was extremely sad about something.

"Hello," Mulder replied slowly, and I opened my mouth to say the same, but all I managed was a "Hehhh."

"My name is Joe. I'm commonly known as the Maplewood Crying Monster. My job is to cheer up children who come to visit this house. I-I don't have any children to play with anymore!" Joe cried, beginning to spout tears from his eyes.

"Don't cry!" I finally said.

"Why-why not?" Joe asked, and I looked to Mulder.

"Because Mulder wants to be your friend."

"He does?"

"I do?"

"Yes. Joe, what do you know about the blue-ish white mon-thing that's been helping us?"

"Oh...you must mean Jerri. She's quite nice, once you get to know her. She helps out humans to aid her friends. That's why she was showing you how to get to me. I was so tired I fell asleep by the river, and with that creature on the loose she knew I was going to be eaten."

"Creature?"

"Oh yes, I thought you knew. I mean, after what happened to you."

"You know the creature who hurt Scully?" Mulder asked, and Joe nodded slowly.

"It's the dog."

"Frisbee?"

"Yes. The man, the dead one downstairs, switched his dog to a new diet recently, right before his other dog was killed. Jerri was trying to help the other dog, Amanda, when the man saw her. He thought Jerri was trying to kill the dog, when really the dog was already dead. Jerri was yelping to get the dog to realize it was still able to live. It didn't work."

"When I was attacked, I felt cold, slippery arms. Was that the dog?"

"That was Jerri, again, trying to help. The dog was attacking Jerri at the same time it was attacking you, so Jerri was pushed against you. That's how you ended up in the water."

"But...the dog hit me on the head with something?"

"Have you looked closely at the wound? Didn't it resemble dog-bite marks?"

"The doctor said something about that," Mulder told me, looking slightly apologetic.

"Mulder, the dog is downstairs right now," I said, panic rising in my voice.

"Joe, what can we do?"

"One of us has to go down there and get the dog to consume this," the small creature said, producing a small vile filled with red liquid.

"I'll do it," I offered.

"No, Scully," Mulder said. "Let me."

"No, Mulder. I am going to do this. I'll be right back."

"No, no, no," said Joe.

"Oh, don't tell me you want to do this," I said, setting my jaw.

"No, I have no desire. Never say I'll be right back."

"Right."

"Good luck, Scully," Mulder said. Another hand squeeze. I smiled at the two of them and walked out into the hall, then down the stairs. At the bottom was the dog.

I pulled out my gun and pointed it at the dog. It whimpered, seemingly harmless. Fear suddenly raced through my veins, and my whole body sort of twitched. I didn't go back. Instead, I fired a shot next to the dog. It whimpered again, and ran out of the hall toward the living room.

"I'm all right!" I called back to Mulder, who'd appeared at the top of the stairs. I followed the dog, and found it eating its former master. It was oblivious to me as I crept toward it, vile in one hand, gun in the other. It had started at the bottom of one of the torn up legs and was working its way to the stomach. I carefully poured the liquid right where the dog was about to eat, then slowly stepped back to the doorway. I watched the dog chew threw the area where I'd poured the liquid, and crossed my fingers. The dog stopped eating suddenly, stiffened, fell over, then began to convulse. Before I had time to react, it was on its feet, whimpering and sniffing its former master. It looked at me, wagged its tail, and whimpered again.

A lightening bolt lit the sky outside the window, the first sign of the thunder storm that had been predicted. Seconds later, thunder boomed and the lights fzzzed out. The blue-ish white monster--Jerri--appeared and I stood speechless in the doorway as she began to clean up Mr. Hodgson's remains. She wasn't cleaning, though. It was almost as if she was putting him back together. Another flash of lightening followed by the crackling thunder, and I heard a tree outside fall. I ran to the foot of the stairs and called Mulder's name. He and Joe ran down the stairs and we started back to the living room.

"It's been nice knowing you!" Joe cried, and Jerri appeared beside him. Another lightening bolt lit the sky, and before the thunder followed, Jerri and Joe had gone. Mulder and I stood in the hall, suddenly needing each other very much. I pulled him close to me and we hugged. His grasp on me was tight, almost too tight, and I pulled away some. He leaned down, and I watched as his mouth grew closer and closer to my own. We kissed. Another lightening flash followed by another thunder clap.

Mr. Hodgson appeared in the doorway to his room, laughing.

"I knew that would happen!" he cried.

I looked up at Mulder and shrugged.

"I am way beyond rationality here, Mulder."

I kissed him again.

Lightening, followed by thunder.

The End

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