Title: The Morning After (a.k.a. Masks)
Author: The Dragon Lady
Disclaimer: This story is a pre-X-Files/Due South crossover that I'm still writing...but they aren't connected. So not only do I have to do a disclaimer, but it has to be a *double* disclaimer... here goes: THEY'RE NOT MINE! I just borrowed these great characters from their respective owners. Chris Carter and Paul Haggis are gods in their own rights. I bow down and kiss the feet of Ten Thirteen, Twentieth Century Fox, and Alliance Corp. for allowing the creations of the two gods to come to life. Oh, and a great big *bitter* lemon to CBS, for not renewing Due South... you have an equal evil coming to you in your next lifetime...(Nancy hugs her Mountie Stetson keychain and hums along with her Due South Soundtrack, trying to let go of the evil thoughts possessing her)

Summary: At a bar another agent tells Mulder about a case involving Canadian mounties and masks.

I didn't think it could be done... but I actually wrote something that has *no* MSR!

Lastly, this story is the late-night minor hallucination resulting from the challenge put forth by Rhondda Lake, who, in the spirit of upcoming Hallowe'en, asked for XF stories involving masks...

Mulder sat back in the chair he was sitting on. It was late at night, and the silence of his apartment had been too much for him, so he'd come here to knock back a few... Another Halloween night. He sighed and closed his eyes for a second, letting the noise of the crowd drown out his thoughts.

As he opened them, he saw someone walking up to him. Uh oh. Agent Ford... one of the most uptight, arrogant agents in the Bureau. Wonderful!

"Hey, Mulder. Mind if I sit down?"

Mulder repressed another sigh and shook his head, staying silent while the other agent pulled out a chair and sat down to his right. Be civil, Mulder. I know you can...

Ford smiled at him, obviously wanting to talk.

"So, Mulder... how've you been? I haven't seen you in a long time. Not since I'd been assigned to Chicago. But I'm back... Finally. I couldn't stand to be there another minute... not with that annoying Mountie."

Mulder's curiosity was piqued.


Ford just looked at him, shook his head slowly, and said, "Nah... I'm not telling you now. Not until I've ingested copious amounts of alcohol..."

"That traumatic, huh?"

"You don't know the half of it... for now let me just say that if you think Canadians are harmless, you're dead wrong."

Two hours and six drinks later, both agents were slightly bent over the table, Ford outlining one story after another to the best of his capacity, considering his slowing speech. An outsider hearing snatches of conversations would have heard about chinatown, trains, bolts, semaphore, a broken nose, a veteran - going after the Prime Minister - who somehow looked amazingly like some men in cases Mulder had investigated...

"Yeah... I'm telling ya... I thought your alien ab- ab- ab- kidnappings were bad... but this guy is worse... It's like he's not human! I mean - he was polite, but he was a little too polite, if you know what I mean... And his lady boss... Oh... you don't want to hear about her... Scully looks like a stripper at the corner joint in comparison... That Thatcher woman would freeze boiling water in a second."

Mulder nodded, a silly grin on his face... Hmmm.... I should tell this to Scully? ... she'd be happy to find out that she can pass the title of Ice Queen onto someone else...

"And then there was this one case... we weren't directly involved but I heard the repercussions of the case... There were these two Native American masks... and they were stolen from a museum in Chicago... Anyway... it was unbelievable. And you know what happened? The Canadian was the killer. Can you believe it? I mean, they're so polite!"

Mulder nodded. He didn't have a clue what Ford was talking about, but the room had started to spin, and he needed to get out of there fast before he embarrassed himself. Waving to Ford, he got up and hailed a cab to his home where he promptly collapsed on the couch.

It was the bright sunlight streaming through the living room window that woke him up. The light felt like hot needles were being driven through the back of his eyes... quite appropriate considering it felt like a jackhammer was trying to crack open his skull.

Why do I keep doing this to myself? Mulder thought, swearing to never get tanked again for the umpteenth time in his life. Eyes closed to reduce the pain, he got up, waited until the world had stopped shifting, and made his way to the bathroom by feeling along the walls.

Cold water splashing into his face helped revive him a bit. It also got his brain functioning. He got sudden flashes of stories about an unearthly-like Mountie with a bomb under a poncho, relating something about a Dr. Prescott.

Mulder lifted his head and looked at himself in the mirror. Had he dreamed that? Had Ford really told him this?

After a few more seconds Mulder shook his head slowly, reached into the cabinet, popped a couple of Tylenol, and as he turned around, finally decided he'd dreamed it all.

A Canadian Mountie that polite? Hey, I believe in extreme possibilities, but even I have my limits...

the end...

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