Title: Puppy Love
Summary: Not your usual Valentine's Day story. Here be werewolves.
Written for Virtual Season 12's Valentine's Day Special. Tamra, you know it's yours, sweets. Thanks to Lisa and Sally for once overs.
Dana Scully held the cell phone to one ear and tapped her foot impatiently. "So you're telling me it's impossible," she said flatly, trying to keep the disappointment out of her voice. "Yes, I know what day tomorrow is. It just never occurred to me that Valentine's Day would be a major holiday for airport travel." She dug at the worn shag carpet of her motel room with her shoe. "Yes, I imagine a lot of businessmen need to get home on that day, but you're telling me every single flight to DC is booked through Tuesday. Now, surely, there are two seats, somewhere?" The answer made her cringe. "Yes, well, thanks for your help." She clicked off the phone, not looking at all grateful.
"No go on changing our flight?" Mulder asked from the other side of the room. He was sitting at the lopsided desk, scribbling on a yellow legal pad. When he heard her heavy sigh, he looked up. "Hey, Scully, no harm, no foul. We can celebrate Valentine's Day here."
"Here?" she asked, waving one dainty manicured index finger to encompass their surroundings. "Mulder, this place makes some of the flea bags, or rather, some of the _other_ flea bags you've put us in look like the Ritz!"
"Hey, it's not that bad," he countered, immediately regretting his unconscious need to defend a choice that was not his in the making. "The sheets are clean," he pointed toward the bed.
"It's a double bed. Your feet hang off the end. When you aren't lying at a diagonal, so that I have to curl up in a ball to keep from falling off," she volleyed back. "And what about our reservations for dinner tomorrow night?"
He had no answer to that one. For once in his sorry existence he had actually remembered a major holiday in advance and had made reservations at the trendy new restaurant down from the Hill that Scully had been dying to try. Not to mention the diamond and emerald earrings he'd purchased for the big day were safely hidden in the back of their bedroom closet at home. "We may just have to postpone Valentine's Day this year, Scully. It won't be that bad. I'm sure the dinner special over at the diner will be, um, romantic?"
"Provided your wolfman doesn't make another appearance," Scully replied dryly, crossing her arms. "Werewolves, Mulder. Really?"
"You saw the body of that bartender, Scully. You were the one to tell me that the deep lacerations on the torso of Mr. Billy Bob Cravens had to have been made by a creature at least 6 feet tall with long claws. What do you think it was? And don't mention that 'b' word again, because as the state Department of Natural Resources told us, they are all still hibernating."
"Mulder, a bear that happened to wake up early is far more believable than a man who takes on the form of a wild animal just because the moon is full."
"Dwight Millford is still missing, Scully. And seventeen witnesses at the Du Drop Inn are willing to testify to the threats he made against Cravins."
"Dwight Millford might have been eaten by the same bear, Mulder," she exclaimed as she smacked her arms to her sides in exasperation.
"Then we should be finding Dwight Millford's remains _somewhere_," he countered and stood up, almost knocking the desk chair over in the process. He grabbed his suit jacket off the back of the chair and slipped into it, then checked his gun. "The Sheriff is coming by to take me back to where they found Cravins' body. Apparently Millford has a hunting cabin in the woods near there, we'll check it out. Any chance we'll get the results back from the lab on the DNA samples from the body?"
"I asked them to rush it, Mulder, but I wouldn't hold my breath," she said with a sad shake of her head. "Maybe I should go out to the drop site with you," she added, chewing on her lower lip.
"It's muddier than all hell out there, Scully and they're predicting more rain and possibly snow this afternoon. Besides, I'll have the Sheriff with me. Stay here, wait for the lab. If they send you anything -- damn it, there's no cell phone reception out there," he remembered angrily. He ran his hand through his hair in frustration, then thought of something. "If the lab does email something, call the sheriff's dispatcher and have them radio us. If the saliva found in the wounds matches Millford, I want to know about it as soon as possible."
She looked more nervous as he reached for the door. "Mulder . . . please -- "
He smiled at her, and then took her in his arms. After kissing her lightly, he ran one fingertip across her lips. "I'll be careful. I promise. Cross my heart and hope -- " She stopped him with her own index finger touching his lips.
"Don't say it. Not even the part about needles in eyes," she warned, giving him a faint smile. She hugged him fiercely. "Don't forget your hat," she said, scooping the watch cap up from its resting place near the window heat/air conditioning unit. She glared at him until he pulled it over his ears.
"Gonna put on my mittens for me, too," he growled, but she wasn't concerned. She continued to glare until he put on his overcoat and buttoned it up to the neck.
"When you get back, we'll go find something to eat," she told him.
With a last longing glance, he turned at the sound of the sheriff's car horn. "Love you," he whispered quickly before running over to the squad car.
"You too," she said to his back as she closed the door, trapping the little heat the room held.
Woods near Burkesville 4:45 pm
In true Weather Channel fashion, it had rained steadily all afternoon until a bitter north wind turned the raindrops in sharp little points of ice. Mulder turned his collar up against the wind and wished he had remembered his mittens. His leather gloves were more for driving than for tramping through the Kentucky backwoods. He glanced down at his boots. At least he'd had the presence of mind to pack suitable footwear, something he knew his partner had not. "If combat boots make a comeback on the fashion scene, she might get with the program," he muttered to himself as he followed Sheriff Hardy through the snagging underbrush and tall pine and oak trees.
"Millford's cabin's right up there on that knob," Hardy assured Mulder.
Mulder squinted into the distance, wondering not for the first time what the difference was between the top of a hill and a 'knob'. He had only a general idea of where they were headed and relied on the Sheriff to lead the way.
After huffing and chuffing up the side of the hill, a small wooden cabin came into view. Mulder had to stop his automatic reaction -- the place was a dead ringer for the down and out cabin that featured prominently in the movie 'Deliverance'. The only things missing were the hound dog and the toothless kid with the banjo. Sheriff Hardy didn't put him at ease as they came within fifty feet of the porch.
"Hold up a minute, Agent," Hardy said, raising one hand and unholstering his weapon with the other. "Might wanta arm yourself," he cautioned as he waited for Mulder to unclip his holster and ready his Smith and Wesson. Hardy took two steps and stood with his gun extended. "Millford -- it's Sheriff Hardy from Burkesville. C'mon out with your hands up!"
The silence of the woods was punctuated by the sound of the sleet hitting tree limbs and the coats of the two men.
"Dwight Millford. This is your last chance. Come out with your hands up!"
Again, only the sleet and the howling wind answered.
Hardy looked over toward Mulder and motioned toward the back of the cabin. Mulder nodded once in understanding and carefully moved to the left side of the structure and around back. He could hear Hardy's heavy boots on the small front porch. Mulder found a door in the back and with gun at the ready, reached out to take the handle.
All of a sudden the agent was bowled over by a highly charged force of brown fur. Finding himself flat on his back, the wind knocked out of him, Mulder looked up into the rimy eyes of a large dog. The dog's teeth were bared and standing on Mulder's chest where it would be an easy movement for the animal to lean forward and take a bite out of his neck.
Dog and man regarded each other silently over several heartbeats. Mulder fought to get his breath back, but the dog was perched directly on his diaphragm and ribs. The dog was huge. The beast weighed at least 100 lbs, or so Mulder surmised from his precarious position on the ground. The dog seemed to have enough of the silence because the lips pulled back more than Mulder thought possible and the animal let out a low, deep- throated growl.
The agent was trying to figure out how to bring his gun hand up under the dog without having it attack when the decision was taken from him. The dog lunged forward, teeth clamping on Mulder's neck at the same moment a loud explosion resounded through the air. With his eyes clamped closed in anticipation of having his throat ripped out, Mulder felt the large animal crumple to his chest and then roll off his body. The teeth had managed to scrape the skin on his neck, but not take hold. When Mulder was able to pry his eyes open, he saw the dog laying still, a bullet wound to the head. It was everything he could do not to lose his lunch.
"You awright there, Agent Mulder?" Hardy asked anxiously, dragging the dog more completely off the fallen man and offering a hand up.
Slowly, still watching the dead animal for possible signs of life, Mulder made it to a standing position. "Thanks, Sheriff. I think he mistook me for a chew toy," Mulder quipped, but it was only to deflect the tremor he felt in his hands and heard in his own voice.
Hardy cocked his head toward the back of the house and then walked over in that direction.
"'Pears he weren't a he," the Sheriff said cryptically until he reached a hand under the steps to the back door and withdrew a puppy by the nap of the neck. "Was just protectin' her pup."
"Damn it," Mulder cursed with a grimace. "Are there others?"
Hardy traded his gun for a pocket maglite and investigated the crawlspace under the cabin. "Nope. Jus' the one. Musta lost the others or maybe this was just a single. Happens sometimes with dogs been whelped a lot."
The puppy squirmed and Hardy put it down on the ground. It bounded, stumbled and leaped its way over to the mother. Nosing at the fur, the pup attempted to wake the mother up, whimpering for attention.
Instinctively, Mulder scooped the puppy into his arms. "Sorry, little guy. You have no idea how sorry I am," he soothed to the inconsolable handful of fur.
While Mulder tried to console the pup, Hardy checked the cabin. He came back out with a towel and a coffee can.
"No sign of Millford. Doesn't look like he's been here for a while, either. Sure didn't see no dog food. The momma was probably makin' do with what she could find in the woods." He dipped the end of the towel in the coffee can, twisted the cloth loosely and brought it to the pup's mouth. Hungrily the little furball latched onto the cloth and sucked freely.
"Sugar water," Hardy answered Mulder's questioning look. "It'll keep him for a bit."
Mulder took the towel, dipping it again in the can while Hardy took a look at his neck.
"You got some scratches there. We'll have to have the vet take a look at the body. We got rabies in these woods."
"But it's just a scratch."
"Germs are in the saliva, Agent Mulder. Even a scratch can transmit the disease. We'd best get the dog's body tested."
Mulder sighed but nodded in agreement. "What's going to happen to this one?" he motioned to the puppy in his arms.
"Want a huntin' dog?" Hardy asked with a grin.
"Sheriff, I live in a duplex in the city. If this one grows up to be the size of the mother . . ."
Hardy nodded. "I understand. I'll turn it over to animal control in town. Maybe someone will adopt it."
Before Mulder could answer, the two men heard an earsplitting howl. Mulder shifted the pup to his other hand and produced his gun. Hardy switched out the maglite for his weapon and stood silent, listening to the woods.
"Do you think that was Millford?" Mulder asked.
"I know it t'weren't no bear," Hardy replied.
Another howl caused both men to jump and the puppy to burrow into the crook of Mulder's arm. The next howl was much closer.
"He's comin'. Get in the cabin, at least we'd have a little protection."
With the puppy firmly in his arms, Mulder ran up the three steps to the back door of the cabin, right on Hardy's heels. While Mulder slammed and bolted the back door, Hardy did the same to the front. Hardy took up a position at one of the front windows, Mulder at a small window in the back.
"Should we radio for back up?" Mulder was asking, just as something large and dark hurled itself against the back door.
Hardy smashed the walkie talkie against his palm. "I'd like to, but the battery's dead," Hardy shouted back. "I dropped it when I saw you about to get mauled. That might happen again if we don't get these doors secured."
Mulder put the puppy down and grabbed anything that moved to prop against the door. A table, a chair and a load of wood were soon stacked as obstacles to any intruder. Hardy had been similarly busy at the other door, moving a wooden box and some remaining chairs to block the path. There was another crash at the back door and Mulder's furniture tower shook with the force of the blow.
"Damn it, Scully keeps reminding me we need to attend that teambuilding conference," he said to the puppy that cowered at his leg. "It's OK, fella. Just your kindly owner turned into a vicious beast out there. Nothing to worry about."
"Too dark to see anythin' out there," Hardy shouted. "I think -- " The beast threw itself at the front door. "Never mind. I was thinkin' we could get out this way while he's occupied out back."
"I think he can smell us, Sheriff," Mulder said. Hardy snorted and checked the clip in his gun, a Glock 9 mm.
"Unless you happen to have some silver bullets in that clip, it's not going to do us any good."
"You been watchin' too many creature features, Agent Mulder. This baby'll blow his head plum off."
"Not if we can't see well enough to aim," Mulder said pointedly.
Outside the window, night had fallen. It was pitch black.
"Damn. Guess I shoulda called for back up earlier," Hardy mused.
The being outside had given up trying to crash through the door. It now scratched and sniffed at the windows, once pressing a wet snout to the glass. Hardy took aim but the creature moved out of the way before he could get a bead.
"Damnit all. We're stuck here."
"Scully is gonna be so pissed," Mulder moaned as he slid down the wall to the floor. The puppy scrambled over and started to chew on the agent's shoelace. "And I bet you're getting hungry," he told the pup.
"I know I am," replied Hardy.
"It's getting pretty cold in here, too," Mulder answered.
"Maybe we should start a fire." Hardy reached into his pocket and pulled out a lighter. "Go 'head. I'll keep watch," he promised.
Soon Mulder had a small fire going, enough to take the edge off the cold in the room. He didn't want to make a large fire because they needed the wood to pile against the doors. It was pretty unnerving, as they sat in the darkness. The beast outside would slam itself against one door and then the other, but never figured out that it could break the glass. Maybe it feared the fire it could see from the window, but not enough to turn it away from the cabin. Just when they thought it might have gone, it hurled its body against the wood door and the hinges would groan with the stress.
A few hours later, the puppy had curled up between Mulder's legs and fallen fast asleep. Absently, Mulder rubbed the baby fine fur on its head and ears. From what he could see of the mother before they'd run into the cabin, it was at least part German Shepherd. "You'll make somebody a great watch dog, I bet," he murmured softly. Picking up one tiny leg, he squinted at the toes. "And with feet this big, you're sure to be a brut. Nobody's gonna mess with you."
"Agent Mulder," Hardy called from his place against the far wall. "No sense in both of us being awake. Why don't you try and get some sleep while I take watch. I'll wake you up in a few hours."
"I don't think I can fall asleep, not with that -- " Mulder admitted, jerking his thumb toward the sound of the latest impact between wolfman and cabin.
"Still, stretch out, get a little rest," Hardy advised.
Mulder had just lain down when the fire collapsed and left only the embers. The room was plunged into darkness. Apparently, it was just what the monster was waiting for. With a shattering of glass and broken timbers, the wolf creature came through the window.
Hardy took aim and fired his clip but the creature flinched and yet managed to stay on his feet. Slowly he looked around and with glowing red eyes, he found his target. He headed straight for Mulder.
One long arm slashed through the air, Mulder could feel the sharp claws come within a hair's breath of his skin. He jumped back, pulling his weapon. Although he knew it was useless, he fired four rounds in succession. They were all direct hits, but it didn't faze the creature at all.
From the floor, Mulder caught sight of the puppy. Suddenly awakened, he expected the pup to scurry closer to him, seeking protection. Instead, something amazing happened. The little dog bared its teeth and with a tiny imitation growl, flung itself at the ankle of the creature.
The wolf being howled in pain when the needle-like milk teeth of the pup sank into its flesh. It kicked the leg with the puppy attached and swatted at the dog. The pup went flying a few yards away. The pup rolled like a little fur covered ball, scrambled to its feet and tore right after the creature again.
Mulder watched in awe as the puppy attacked the beast, distracting it enough for him to find one of the logs from the pile behind him. He brought the two-foot of tree limb crashing down on the monster's head. The impact was enough to stun the creature. It fell to its knees, almost landing on the puppy.
The pup scrambled out of the way, but went back in for the 'kill'. The wolf gained its senses slowly and made a swipe at the pup just as a gunshot came through the window. A second round followed and unlike previously, the monster's eyes glazed and he crumpled to the floor, right on top of the puppy.
Mulder raced over and rolled the beast off the puppy. The little scrap of fur lay motionless.
He picked it up gently, tears forming in his eyes. As he cradled the little dog close, he half heard the Sheriff taking down the barricade and admitting his deputy and Scully.
Mulder was stroking the tiny back when Scully made her way over to him. "Mulder, are you all right?" she asked, side stepping the creature at their feet.
"It was protecting me," he said in a hoarse voice. "It went after that thing. Scully, why in the world would it do that?" he asked her, looking into her eyes, showing plainly the anguish in his own.
"Mulder, it's an instinct. Protection is bred into dogs and . . ."
As she spoke, the little legs moved and the tiny head gave a shake. Mulder's agonized expression turned to one of pure joy as he held the puppy up close to his face and the little spotted tongue came out to lick wildly at his nose.
"You're OK! You made it! You're some fighter, for a light weight!" Mulder crowed as he held the puppy close to his face and showered it with kisses. Scully couldn't help but laugh at him, but it was a joy-filled laugh.
the next evening
"So tell me again, how did you get the silver bullets. Or better yet, _why_ did you bring silver bullets?" Mulder asked his partner as he put down his wine glass and took her hand across the candle lit table.
"Elementary, my dear Mulder," she said with a Cheshire cat grin. "You'd be surprised what you'd find in the tool shed of your typical Kentucky boy. The deputy didn't even blink when I asked him where I could find silver bullets to fit my gun. He just told me he'd pick me up in a squad car and when he arrived at our door, he handed me the clip already loaded."
"But Scully, earlier you were convinced we dealing with a, dare I say it, bear."
"Right up until I got the lab reports, yes, I did think we were likely dealing with a bear. A brown bear, to be exact. But when I opened the email and found that there was human saliva in the wounds . . ."
"You realized we were going after 'the wolfman'," he finished.
"And when you didn't come back and it was getting late, I called the Deputy, who knew exactly how to find Dwight Millford's cabin -- "
"In the dark, during a sleet storm," Mulder interjected.
"And he didn't argue at all when I asked for the silver bullets. Seems it's been a legend around these parts for some time."
"Well, I am certainly relieved," Mulder sighed. He took her hand and kissed it lightly. "And see, we still get to celebrate Valentine's Day."
Scully looked around the darkened room, lit only by four or five votive candles. "Yeah, with take out pizza and a bottle of red wine of indeterminate vintage," she said with a smirk.
"Ah, but it's who you celebrate with that matters," he told her, dishing up a piece of the pizza from the box and putting it on a paper plate in front of her.
"Speaking of which," she said with a grimace. Leaning down, she picked up a small bundle of fur with a long tongue. "The motel is going to charge us extra for the little puddles this one has been leaving behind," she noted.
"Let 'em. I don't care."
"Mulder, what are we going to do with a dog? As you so rightly pointed out when I acquired Queequeg, we're on the road a lot, we have no way to care for a dog -- "
"Scully, I have an idea. Just wait till we get home."
Tara Scully's residence Fairland, MD
Tara stood at the top of the stairs, watching her son roll on the floor, playing with his new pet. "I haven't seen Matty this excited -- well, since . . ." she let her voice trail off. It had been no secret that Bill's death had almost crushed his son. "But really, Mulder, from what you told me, are you sure you want to give him up?"
"We don't have room at the duplex, Tara. I gotta warn you, he's gonna be a bruiser. But he'll be a great watchdog. And he's very protective. I really think he'd be better off with you."
The slim blond leaned over and gave Mulder a hug around the waist. "I just wish Billy had given you a chance," she said with a sad smile.
"He wasn't completely wrong, Tara. I've done things -- "
"Shhh, none of that," she said, a finger to his lips. She dropped her hands and combed her fingers through her now short hair. "We wanted to get Matty a dog. We just wanted to wait until we had a bigger yard than we had in base housing."
At that moment, Matty came flying up the stairs, the puppy hopping and leaping to follow. "What's his name, Mr. Mulder?" he asked.
Mulder winced, he really hoped one day the boy would drop the Mr. part. "We've been calling him 'wolf' but he doesn't really come to it yet. I guess it's up to you to name him, Sport."
The boy thought for a moment, and then reached down and picked up the puppy, looking it in the face. "Wolf. Wolf. Wolfy." He looked up at Mulder. "I kinda like that name, Mr. Mulder."
"Then Wolf it is," Mulder said with a grin. "C'mon Wolf, I'll show you my room." Matty carried the puppy up the other flight of stairs toward the bedrooms.
"Keep him off the bed," Tara warned. "At least until we get him housebroken."
"Mulder, I think that's our cue to leave," Scully said with a wink. After kissing baby Claire and giving Tara a hug, they walked out to the car together.
When they reached the passenger side door, Scully pulled her partner down and gave him a sizzling kiss. He returned the favor, but eventually, the need for oxygen won out. When he reluctantly pulled back, he gave her a curious look.
"What was that for?" he asked.
"The best Valentine's present I ever got," she said and kissed him once again.
Mulder smiled all the way around the car and was still smiling as he eased himself into the driver's seat. "Does this mean I can take back the earrings?"
"Not on your life, Mister," she replied.
His grin got even broader. "Didn't think so."