Title: To Bee or Not to Bee
Summary: A third installment to the series known as "An Ordinary Life". Scully and Mulder continue to fight for mankind's survival as the threat of an alien plague takes flight.
Jason Myers, M.D., former trauma surgeon turned Assistant Director for the CDC, was often referred to as "the Pirate". He certainly resembled one in appearance with a swarthy complexion, dark hair and black eyes that flashed like midnight gold. Yet, it was his manner that really earned him this title. He was a provocative mixture of cunning and arrogance. Those who weren't cut down by his rapier wit were generally seduced by his charm.
Or so he thought...
Although Myers sailed his division like a well-trimmed schooner, his superiors had just broadsided his request to issue a general health alert about the alien virus. To them, what remained "not programmed, catalogued or easily referenced" was the mass hysteria should the truth about Colonization be made known. He was instructed to maintain his course and to inoculate as many people possible without their knowledge.
He was also reminded that there were privateers still determined to sink the Program and that his primary focus should be to keep his ship afloat. They were referring to his predecessor, a female marauder, whose dark cunning had plundered the Program from within.
His fingers now toyed with a vial that she had mysteriously sent him. Inside of it was a dead bee and a note which read, "To bee or not to bee."
Punching the button to his intercom, Myers spoke to his assistant, "Get Agent Mulder on the line."
"Sir, he's on vacation."
"Tell me something I don't already know," he retorted.
"Okay," his assistant countered in her thick Bronx accent. "Agent Mulder left strict instructions that he and Agent Scully not be disturbed."
"Did he now?" snapped the Assistant Director.
"And, he told me to remind you that if their vacation is cut short, a certain surgeon will have to learn how to operate with a hook rather than a hand."
Myers put a hand over the receiver as he shook with laughter.
Mulder's gall was as appealing as his partner's stoic reserve. Together, the two agents were an intoxicating mixture.
Speaking of which..
"What time is it, Sheri?" he asked her suddenly.
"A little past five."
"Gin and tonic time, wouldn't you say?"
"Twist of lemon, sir?"
"Only if you'll play the lemon," he responded wickedly.
Dana Scully stood at the edge of the dock, unwinding one of the marina's hoses to wash the salty residue off her sailboat. The sun was slowly descending behind the row of townhouses, but the harbor still reflected its light. From the aquamarine shallows to the channel's indigo blue, the water sparkled like a smooth, brilliant jewel.
She returned to the dock reluctantly, sad to end the day, yet eager to begin the night. Turning on the hose, she began to plan the evening. As dusk would darken the eastern horizon, she would light candles on the patio, set out cheese and crackers and uncork a bottle of Chardonney. She would grill swordfish, basted with tarragon butter... his favorite...
The sailboat had been an impetuous gift, but more poignant than the engagement ring he had wanted to buy her. She didn't need a ring to symbolize their commitment. And marriage? Well, at this point an ordinary, married life seemed like a distant dream.
So, she settled for a more tangible one.
A sailboat. And, her seasick, Dramamine popping partner.
Dressed in cutoff shorts and a bikini top, Scully's smile of serenity turned into a mischievous grin as she turned the hose on Mulder. Still on board the boat, he startled as the cold water hit his bare chest. Smirking, he twisted his towel into a rope and took a swipe at her legs.
Darting sideways, she shot another stream of water at his back.
"Hey," Mulder protested. "Keep it up, Scully and I'll..."
"You'll what?" she taunted, twirling the hose nozzle around in her hand.
"Let's put it this way," he snickered. "You get me wet... I make you wet."
Without hesitation, Scully fired another blast of water.
This time, it hit his ass.
She shrieked when he jumped on to the dock to grab her. Dropping the hose, she sprinted the length of the pier and up the grassy incline to their townhouse. Panting with laughter rather than exertion, she slowed down as she approached the French doors.
The best part of this chase was being caught...
Mulder's hazel eyes flickered with bawdy delight as he dragged her inside. Seconds later, she found herself on the living room floor anchored by the weight of his body, his one hand pinning both of hers high above her head. While he stripped off her bikini top, her chuckles matured into snorts of laughter.
The idea of him trying to ravish her on a cotton throw rug was as comical as it was titillating.
"Is dripping water on my face your idea of making me wet?" she teased as he leaned over her, shaking his hair like an indignant dog who had just been bathed.
Scully didn't mind his silence, for he had found a better use for his tongue. The tip of it flicked the nipple of one of her breasts, then the other. Humming a note of approval, she arched her back to accommodate him. He pulled away then, grinning with amusement as the cool air from the ceiling fan chilled the peaks he had just moistened.
"Mulder," she gurgled in exasperation. When he mimicked her pout, she broke free from his grasp. Filing her fingers with his wet hair, she pushed his head back down.
"Ah...Scully," Mulder choked out.
"What?" she asked, pulling him up by his bangs.
"Am I allowed to breathe here?"
"Is it necessary?"
"What's wrong, Scully? Find yourself in a sticky situation?"
"Why don't you check for yourself," she murmured, squirming beneath him.
With an ease she was already familiar with, he glided her shorts and bikini bottom down her tanned legs. Parting her thighs, his finger traced circles around her moistness before sliding into its source.
"Water, water everywhere...," he joked in a sing-song voice, "...but, not a drop to spare."
"I hope that's your way of saying you feel a little dehydrated," Scully murmured, opening her legs in invitation.
As Mulder lowered his mouth to hopefully quench his thirst, she moaned.
Not in pleasure, but because the phone rang.
"Did you forget to re-set the answering machine?" Mulder asked, lifting his head.
"I thought you were supposed to," Scully answered, rising up on her elbows to give him an annoyed look.
By the fifth ring, he swore loudly and reached for the phone on the coffee table.
"You're not going to answer it...," she began to protest.
Mulder pressed a finger to his lips, silencing her. Cupping the receiver close to his mouth, he spoke in a metallic tone, "Ahoy there mates. The boat has sailed. If you'd like to leave an SOS, please..."
Suddenly, Mulder stopped and shifted the phone closer to his ear.
"Well... well...," he said sarcastically. "If it's not the pirate, himself. Guess you don't prize those nimble fingers of yours, do you Hook?"
Scully sighed and reached for her bikini
So much for an ordinary life... they couldn't even manage an ordinary vacation.
"So, what do you think?" Myers asked the two agents who sat across from his desk.
The Assistant Director had summoned them to the underground facility, sending the CDC's jet that night to hasten their arrival. While Scully had the decorum to change into one of her business suits, Mulder apparently didn't care how he looked. He was dressed in a tacky floral shirt and shorts. Unshaven, hair sticking up on end, he looked like a beach bum, rather than a federal agent. Myers leaned over his desk, half expecting to see flip-flops rather than shoes.
"It's a dead bee," Mulder said unimpressed. He leaned back in his chair and thumped his sneakered feet on his supervisor's desk. "You interrupted our vacation for this?"
"And this..." Myers passed Scully a note which she read quickly, eyebrows lifting as she turned it over and studied the figures on the back.
"These are coordinates," she announced, handing the note to Mulder. "Have you checked them out, Jason?"
"Why, when I have a sailor and her beach boy to navigate them for me?" posed Myers, still scrutinizing the agent's attire.
"Well," Scully mused, peering at the note again. "Judging by the latitude and longitude, the location is within the northern hemisphere."
"Somewhere near the legendary Twin Peaks?" Myers reached for his letter opener and jabbed the rubber soles of Mulder's Reeboks.
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Scully demanded, her blue eyes crossing from partner to supervisor.
"That's Jason's degenerate way of saying that the handwriting is Diana Fowley's," answered Mulder, frowning at him.
"Fowley?" Scully's voice grew instantly hostile. "Isn't she dead by now?"
Myers suppressed a laugh by coughing into his fist.
"Apparently not, Dana..." he said, clearing his throat. "But the bee is. Will that do?"
"No," retorted Scully. "There's no substituting a bee for a spider."
"You're not going to make this personal, are you Dana?" Myers asked, twirling the letter opener between his fingers.
"I think the real question is whether you are, Assistant Director," Scully answered stiffly.
"Ouch," Myers yelped, pretending to be hurt, noting with amusement how he had accidently stabbed his thumb with the blade. "Now, look what you made me do..."
"Serves you right for sticking things where they don't belong," Scully retaliated, pulling a tissue from her pocket and handing it to him.
Mulder was strangely silent, not oblivious to their banter...just not interested in it. He appeared to be contemplating the dead bee, pondering the significance of the message.
"Scully, what if the Consortium's plans have changed?"
"What do you mean, Mulder?"
"What if bees are not the most efficient means of spreading the virus?"
"I think I'm living proof that they are," Scully argued.
"Then why did Fowley infiltrate the CDC in the first place?"
"That's rather apparent, isn't it?" she said. "To slow the distribution of the vaccine. To bomb the facilities that hosted the Program. And, to ultimately replace the vaccine with the virus, itself."
"Exactly..." Mulder reached over and placed the vial in her hand.
"What are you saying, Mulder?" Scully demanded heatedly. "That the Consortium may be seeking another alternative to infect the populace?"
"To bee... or not to bee...," he intimated.
"That appears to be the question," Myers interrupted, "And, I need the answer."
"It's a trap," Scully insisted. "The message is designed to lure us into the spider's web."
"Then bring me the spider," Myers demanded.
The air of the underground facility was regulated by a sophisticated biosystem, yet the atmosphere of their quarters felt stagnant and uncomfortably warm. Naked, Mulder stretched out on the bed, keeping a watchful eye on the bathroom door.
Scully might not be an open book, but he had spent years studying various passages. A silent Scully was a pissed-off Scully in bold print. This latest assignment was re-opening a chapter he had hoped would remain closed.
The chapter known as the "Fowley Triangle"...
Of course, Diana had been as treacherous as the Bermuda Triangle, but the "mysterious disappearance" had occurred when he steered past Scully's feelings on the subject. By not making it personal, Scully had taken it personally. She walked out on him, resigning from the Bureau and dropping off his radar for over a year.
Professionally, he had managed to move on. He returned to profiling and rehabilitated his failing reputation as an agent. But, personally he had floundered. Without Scully's calm steady hand to guide him, he drifted like an abandoned ghost ship. Before long, he found himself sinking into a dark, fathomless sea of depression.
Scully came out of the bathroom wearing blue scrubs, left- over attire from her stint as an operative, posing as a medical resident. Mulder watched her as she moved around to the other side of the bed, noting how the drawstring at her waist was tied tightly into a knot. Hoping to tease her out of her mood and substitute pajamas, he joked, "Does this mean we're gonna play doctor?"
Ignoring him, Scully reached for her pillow and plumped it into shape.
"You never fluff my pillow...," he whined.
Lying down, she silently faced the wall.
Mulder's gaze shifted from the curve of her hips to the flat, low ceiling above him. The oppressive environment really had nothing to do with the circulation of air, just the unresponsive woman beside him.
"You have no reason to be jealous, Scully," he said to her softly.
"I'm not jealous, Mulder."
"Then what do you call it?"
"Bee-leaguered." She stretched out the syllables to emphasize her point. "I'm sick and tired of watching Fowley tempt you and Myers with her latest turn of tricks."
"Are you referring to the message she sent, or the fact that she's willing to prostitute herself," he retorted.
"Does it matter?" she contended. "Both you and Myers are former customers."
For a moment, Mulder stared at her back in disbelief. Trying to modulate his tone and temper, he said, "So are you, Scully. Granted, it had nothing to do with sex, but Fowley hustled you all the same. You're the one who bought the goods about being an operative for the CDC, remember?"
"I remember a lot of things, Mulder."
"Do you remember turning your back on me, just as you're doing now?"
The mattress squeaked as she rolled over to face him.
For a moment, they stared at each other. Her eyes were bright with tears while his were dark with regret.
"I was trying to buy hope," she explained in a quivering voice.
Mulder shifted his gaze back to the ceiling.
"And, I once tried to buy love," he confessed. "I never thought I'd get it any other way."
When she didn't respond, Mulder closed his eyes, trying to shut out the pain of what he thought was her silent rejection. Then he felt the mattress dip beside him and her warm tears drop onto his skin.
"But, I love you, Mulder," Scully whispered.
"And, I'll do anything to buy you that hope," he murmured back.
"I'm sorry," she apologized, lowering her face to his. She pressed gentle kisses along his brow, twining her fingers through his hair. "I don't mean to be so possessive."
"You can possess me anytime." Mulder tried to hide his own desperation by adding lightly, "Right now, if you want to."
"I want to..." Scully's lips found his.
As she kissed him, Mulder felt the same thrill he experienced the first time they sailed the harbor by their townhouse. At first, there was a tiny flutter in his stomach, a nervous anticipation which left him dizzy. Sensing it, Scully opened her mouth, reviving him with her breath and the silken texture of her tongue.
It wasn't long before her scrubs were buried beneath the rippling white sheets.
Poised over him, Scully guided him inside of her. Every muscle of his body tensed as he felt the tide sweep him out to sea. He stared up into her eyes, as blue as the horizon, watching her tears fade into a distant mist.
"Only you, Scully," he murmured, his hands skimming the roundness of her hips. "Only you make me feel this way."
Scully glided up and down on him in a slow, leisurely pace. When she eased him in deeper, he tightened his grip to stop her. Already he was gasping for breath, his control slipping...
"It's alright," she leaned over to kiss him again. As easily as she would shift the mast of their sailboat, she rolled them over so she was flat on her back. At first, he hesitated, but the pull of her eyes was too great. He began to sink into her wet softness, again and again, shuddering as a wave of pleasure began to engulf him.
"Give into to it," she whispered before her head fell against the pillow. Her cries of rapture, wild and abandoned, whipped around him like gusts of wind. Only then did he let go, his own cries drowned out by the roar of the surf, his sight blinded by the hot summer sun.
When he collapsed into her waiting arms, Mulder found himself both exhausted and exhilarated.
By giving love, Scully had sold him on wanting an ordinary life.
And, now he would do anything to buy her hope.
The next morning the CDC's jet flew the agents to a small, rural airport which was within thirty miles of the position Fowley had sent them.
While Scully and Mulder set off by car to investigate, the CDC began its own preparations. A.D. Myers was not the type to take any threat lightly. Viral infestation through bees was the first stage of Colonization. Although the attack was rumored to be years away, he hoped for the best and prepared for the worst. The airport was closed, the one hanger transformed into a possible quarantine zone. A back-up team, consisting of Air Rescue and a team of doctors were waiting on the landing field.
"Corn... corn... everywhere...," Scully groaned, "and still no bee in sight."
"Are you sure we're at the right coordinates?" Mulder asked, steering the car with one hand as the other reached over to turn up the air conditioner.
"As sure as I am that we've passed that stupid scarecrow three times now," she answered. "We've circled this field enough, Mulder. The only thing pollinating this crop is the gas fumes of our car."
"What about that group of migrant workers up ahead?" Mulder pointed through the windshield. "Think they know anything?"
"If they do, I wouldn't count on them sharing it," said Scully. "To them, FBI means Federal Bureau of Immigration, and I doubt any of them have green cards."
"Let's try playing overdressed entomologists, who are on a field trip gathering specimens," suggested Mulder.
"Okay." Scully grinned, remembering the last entomologist they encountered. "I'll be Bambi the Bug Woman and you can be..."
"Shit!" Mulder exclaimed, slamming on the brakes.
"What?" she gasped, bracing herself as the car skidded to a stop.
"Do you see that dark cloud ahead?" he asked as his hand fumbling around the back seat for his pair of binoculars.
"What dark cloud?" Scully scanned the horizon, shielding her eyes against the afternoon sun.
"It looks like a swarm," said Mulder, passing her the binoculars.
"Oh my God..." Scully focused them on the group of men in the field. "It's really happening."
"Roll up your window!" His urgent cry made her drop the binoculars.
"We've got to warn them, Mulder," Scully insisted.
"Too late, Scully." He reached past her and hit the button to close the window.
Digging her cell phone out of her pocket, Scully punched in several numbers and barked the coordinates into the receiver.
"How close is Air Rescue?" Mulder asked, shutting the vents to the air conditioner.
"Less than ten miles away." She bit her lip in apprehension.
Thousands of bees were attacking the migrant workers, swarming them. Their bodies were soon blanketed like a dark, humming pelt. Panicked, the workers staggered aimlessly around the field, their sense of direction lost within their stinging shroud.
"Jesus, Mulder. I can just sit here and watch this."
"Scully..." Mulder's arm shot across her chest, blocking her from opening the door. "You can't go out there."
"I'm immunized against the virus," she cried.
"You're not immunized against a virulent bee attack," Mulder yelled back. "Vaccine or no vaccine, hundreds of stings can be deadly."
Swallowing hard, she nodded to her partner and waited. What was only a matter of minutes seemed like hours as she watched for the CDC's rescue team. As the helicopters buzzed overhead, dumping fire surfactants to the ground, Mulder turned on the windshield wipers. It was like being in a car wash, the foam soaking their vehicle and obscuring their view.
"Think they got them?" Mulder asked, shifting his eyes back and forth to see out the windshield.
There was a knock on the passenger side window.
Startling, Scully turned to see a rescue worker, clad in protective gear and netting.
"All clear?" she asked through the window.
"The bees are immobilized," the worker relayed. "We're evacuating the victims to the quarantine site. We could use another pair of hands, though. Several men are already experiencing complications."
"On my way," Scully said before she turned to Mulder. "You coming?"
Mulder shook his head, contemplating the horizon.
"Nah...go play doc, Scully. I think I'm gonna take a look around."
"A pair of Jiffy Corn poppers."
"I shouldn't have left him," Scully said to herself as she worked on one of the victims inside the helicopter.
"What's that, Dr. Scully?"
"Nothing...," she muttered, returning her attention to the crisis at hand. "Careful. Scrape the stingers off with your nail. Don't use tweezers or the contents of the venom sack will be injected."
"Not to mention the virus..." added the rescue worker.
"So we believe," commented Scully, reaching for an syringe of Epinephrine. The victim's breathing was becoming shallow. While it could be a symptom of the virus' paralyzing effects, it could also be caused by anaphylactic shock. Not willing to take any chances, she injected the contents of the syringe.
"His pressure's still dropping."
"Let's tube him," she instructed.
Virus or no virus, the man's airway was closing.
Five miles up the road, Mulder found what he was looking for.
Not twin domes at the edge of the field... although, Jason Myers might salaciously debate him on that point.
Seated in a dark sedan, she was watching him from the rear view mirror. Her eyes scanned his reflection to the image of the empty seat next to him, smiling when she realized that he was alone. Cutting the ignition to her car, she opened the door and extended a long, graceful leg to the ground.
"Hello, Fox," she greeted him as he approached, noting with amusement how his hand remained fixed on his holster.
"Quite a show, Diana," he remarked sarcastically. "Don't bother auditioning your legs. The director of `A Chorus Line' might be interested, but I'm not."
"That's right," Fowley murmured, gliding out of the car. "Your taste, shall we say, is a little short-sided these days."
"Actually I just managed to develop some," he returned, leaning over to glance into her car. "Traveling without protection, Diana?"
"Depends on your definition," she said, smiling as she reached for her purse. "I'm packing more than just my gun, if you're interested."
"The only thing I'm interested in is what the hell you're up to," he demanded. "Those men back there..."
"A demonstration...," Fowley interrupted, "of the importance of bees in the colonization process."
"I've seen it before," Mulder said blandly.
"You've seen what we've wanted to you to see..." commented Fowley, holding out her hands in a gesture of surrender.
"Are you turning yourself in or flaunting your manicure," asked Mulder, reaching for his cuffs.
"She's what?" Scully's voice rose an octave to convey the range of her disbelief. She pressed her cell phone to her ear and moved towards the opening of the airport hanger.
"Defecting..." was her partner's response.
"More like defecating, she's so full of shit," Scully grumbled under her breath.
"What?" Mulder's voice was garbled with static. "Scully?"
"I'm here," she paused, struggling with her tone and her level of irritation. "Where are you?"
"About two miles from the airport. Call Myers and tell him that Diana has requested asylum."
"Asylum..." Scully repeated, gripping the receiver of the phone. "Mulder, the only asylum requested will be the one I commit you and Myers to if you buy into this hoax."
"What was that, Scully?" His signal was disrupted again. "I can't hear what you're saying."
"You never could," she snapped, ending the call with a furious pound of her thumb.
Turning around, her eyes scanned the row of migrant workers.
Each one of them was being prepped for transport...
In body bags...
Jason Myers leaned back in his chair, studying his cuticles as he considered Fowley's words. When his black eyes spotted a piece of dead skin, he scraped it off with his nail.
"If you keep picking at it, you'll be fighting more than just one infection," the woman advised.
Myers' lips curled into a sneer.
"It's good of you to be so concerned, Diana."
"Don't misinterpret my meaning, Assistant Director," cautioned Fowley in a stiff voice. "Or Dr. Scully's autopsy reports. What happened to those migrant workers is only an unfortunate side affect of our experiment."
"Experiment?" Scully's derisive voice rang out from the corner of the room. "Is that what you call the slaughter of defenseless men?"
Fowley's rolled her dark eyes in exasperation.
"Don't you have a bedpan to empty, Dr. Scully?" she shot over her shoulder.
"That type of attitude won't help your situation, Diana," warned Mulder as he leaned over to unlock her handcuffs.
"I'd be more concerned with your own," Fowley murmured, her fingers grazing the agent's forearm.
While Scully wasn't in a position to witness the woman's subtle caress, Myers was. Seated behind his desk, he watched the rumored triangle take shape. Already Diana's presence had distanced the two agents, in location and in attitude. While Mulder was trying to mediate, Scully was openly hostile.
Leveling his gaze on Fowley, he asked, "Why should we listen to you?"
"Because I can give you a solution to your current dilemma," she intimated.
"Exactly what dilemma am I in?"
"A race for a cure," Fowley said. "Don't forget, Dr. Myers, I once sat in your chair. I probably know the CDC's projections on the efficacy of the Program better than you do."
"Maybe you should clarify those numbers, Diana," Mulder prompted.
"Gladly." Fowley crossed her legs, allowing the hem of her skirt to rise up her thigh. "Only one out of a hundred civilians has been successfully inoculated against the alien virus."
"Sounds futile, doesn't it," remarked Myers.
"Only to the Colonists," stated the woman. "which is exactly what the Consortium wants them to think."
"Why?" The Assistant Director shifted around in his chair and gave her his full attention.
"Because the Consortium needs time to further their own agenda," hinted Fowley. "Don't forget who developed the vaccine in the first place."
"For their exclusive use and control," Scully interjected scornfully.
"It was their ultimate goal to distribute the vaccine to the general public," the woman related. "That is, until you, Dr. Scully, disrupted their plans."
There was an uncomfortable silence, which Mulder tried to fill with his own explanation.
"When I injected the vaccine into Scully, it spread through the biosystems of the Colonists' alien craft."
"Alerting them to its existence," Fowley continued. "Which, of course, threatened the Consortium's already fragile alliance."
"As well as your own coalition," Myers pointed out.
"Yes," Fowley admitted. "Several members of the Consortium insisted that we end our cooperation with the Colonists."
"Including the scientists who developed the vaccine?" asked Scully.
"Rather than mutiny, the scientists decided to jump ship. And, I was instructed to swim along with them."
"Only so you could climb aboard the CDC and sink the same program you helped develop," sneered Scully.
The agent crossed the room to stand by Myers' desk. Her blue eyes chilled to an icy stare.
"You never intended the Program to succeed," Scully accused. You were the one responsible for the hospital bombings."
"It was a necessary diversion," claimed Fowley, refused to meet her gaze. "The Colonists were suspicious and insisted that the Consortium either stop the Program or utilize it to further their own plans."
"By replacing the vaccine with the virus, itself," prompted Mulder. "Which is why Diana summoned the three of us to uncover the conspiracy, but without exposing herself as the conspirator."
"The distribution data..." Myers nodded, remembering, as his gaze skimmed the woman's long legs. "You left Mulder the codes to access the data and..."
Noting the direction of his eyes, Fowley leaned forward to murmur, "Yes, Jason. And, by the way, I don't talk in my sleep."
Clearing her throat, Scully lifted the autopsy reports from Myers' desk. In a crisp, no-nonsense voice, she said, "Since you've found various ways to articulate yourself, perhaps you can expound on this. The migrant workers were not infected with the virus, yet all died within minutes."
"Go back to your microscope, Dr. Scully. Instead of squinting through biased eyes, try opening them for a change."
"They were injected with the vaccine, weren't they?" Mulder asked. "Or should I say overdosed with it..."
"What?" Scully gasped.
"The bees were never meant to spread the virus," announced Fowley. "Only the vaccine."
"I don't believe it," denounced Scully.
"You don't want to believe," Fowley stated in a condescending tone. "Especially if the truth exonerates me in your partner's eyes."
"Don't bother looking for absolution," Scully said in a frigid voice. "Instead, take a good look at your hands. They're covered in blood... the blood of thousands of innocent hospital workers who deserved a better fate than to be the Consortium's latest smoke screen."
"Spare me your idealism," snapped Fowley, her composure beginning to crack. "This is war, where survival depends on strategy, not scruples."
Rising from her chair, she slammed her fists onto the Assistant Director's desk.
"I'm here for one reason only," she declared. "To offer you proof that the bees are to be used to spread the vaccine, not the virus."
"Get your hands off my desk," Myers told her curtly. "Don't forget, Diana, one of your bombs leveled my hospital. The blood of my staff still seeps from beneath your nails."
Fowley withdrew her hands, pulling herself upright to recover her edged dignity.
"Let this seep into your brain, Assistant Director," she said. "If you take the Program to the next level by issuing a general health alert, you will compromise all our plans."
The woman then turned to Mulder and appealed to him softly, "Fox, we need more time. The last phase of our test trials are almost complete. If you buy us that time, we'll be able to disseminate the vaccine on a massive scale, using the bees to spread it. You'll buy us all hope."
"Hope..." Mulder nodded, leaning over his chair to glance at Scully.
But, his partner didn't hear his words. She had already left the room.
"Excuse me," he said, bolting up from his chair.
Inside the facility's lab, Scully peered through her microscope, the pupils of her blue eyes retracting under the intense light. She was running lab tests, viewing blood samples to locate the vaccine's antigens.
It was late. Both staff and technicians had retired to their quarters, but Scully was not alone. A few feet away was her partner, tapping his fingers against the counter. Like Myers, he was impatiently waiting for the results.
Or, as Scully put it, the means by which he could post bail for the hooker in order for her to street walk the CDC's facility.
"That's not funny," Mulder remarked.
"It's not intended to be," she scoffed. "It's pathetic. If it meant selling her credibility, Fowley would drop her drawers for Old Smokey, himself."
"Scully..." There was a warning to Mulder's voice.
Ignoring him, she lifted her eyes from the microscope.
"Come to think of it, she probably has," she mused out loud. "That is slept with the enemy, or ally, depending on which side of the bed she's spreading her legs on."
"Is this your perverse way of telling me that you've isolated the vaccine's antigens?" Mulder asked sharply.
Her eyes met his hesitantly. Sighing, she slowly nodded.
"The cell counts are flooded with them."
"Why didn't you do this earlier?" he charged her angrily, "You're a pathologist, for Christ's sake. Who else is going to run lab tests... the janitor?"
"Mulder..." Scully swallowed hard, a lump of hurt clogging her voice. "I spent hours conducting and supervising the autopsies on these men. Each one of them died from anaphylactic shock, which on the surface is consistent with an allergic reaction to bee stings."
"What's beneath the surface?"
"The less obvious cause is an overdose of the vaccine," she relayed, "which is also consistent with anaphylactic shock."
"No, Scully," he said, his eyes narrowing in on hers. "What's beneath the surface of your scientific approach these days, other than antagonism?"
"That's not fair, Mulder," she protested.
"You want fair?" Mulder yelled. "Then try playing fair. If not with Fowley, then at least with me."
"Alright," Scully retorted as she jumped up from her lab chair. "Come here, Mulder. I want you to see something."
The body of one of the migrant workers was still in the autopsy bay. Scully turned on the overhead lights and snapped on a fresh pair of latex gloves. Without a word, she tore the sheet back, exposing Mulder to the swollen, ulcerated corpse.
"Shit..." He held his breath and turned away.
"Is this the answer to the CDC's dilemma?" Scully challenged him. "To utilize bees to inoculate the public? This man was stung hundreds of times. Do you know why that is?"
Mulder shook his head as he moved back from the autopsy table.
"It's because bees swarm when they attack, Mulder. They emit a pheromone called iso-pentyl acetate, an airborne beacon to signal other bees to pile on their target."
"What you're saying is that bees can't be controlled," he murmured.
"No, they can't," confirmed Scully. "Which is fine for the Colonists who only want to spread death. But, no legitimate doctor or scientist would attempt such extreme measures. Not if they want to save lives."
Mulder rubbed his chin thoughtfully as she drew the sheet back over the migrant worker's body.
"Maybe that's what this is all about, Scully."
"To bee or not to bee," he replayed Fowley's message. "Maybe we're just not asking the right question."
"I'm getting tired of all these questions," Fowley groaned as she rubbed the back of her neck. "Can't you think of a better way to interrogate me?"
Myers had been pacing his office, barking questions at her like a high-strung dog. But, now he stopped behind her chair, sniffing more than just the jasmine scent of her hair. Slowly, he lifted her long, dark tresses and slid his hands around her neck.
"You'd like that, wouldn't you, Diana," he asked in a low, tantalizing voice.
He felt her stiffen when his fingers circled her throat.
"That's not what I had in mind," she said in a controlled voice.
Myers relaxed his grip and began to massage her shoulders with the palms of his hands.
"Relax, Diana. Remember, I've sworn an oath to preserve life, not take it."
"And, I've been in this game of life and death so long that I've forgotten what it's like to relax," she sighed.
"Is that why you're really here?" he asked, his fingers sliding down the front of her blouse to skim her breasts. "Do you need me to remind you?"
"Would you think less of me if that was partly true?" Fowley inhaled deeply, arching her back to meet his touch.
"It would depend on which part thought it."
He abruptly removed his hands.
"But, I'm always thinking, Jason," she murmured, turning around to smile at the noticeable bulge in his pants. "And, I'm very good at using my head."
Myers snickered then, lowering the zipper to his fly, "How good are you at giving it?" he asked.
"You want me to do what?" Scully cried.
It was the next morning. Scully stood before Jason Myers' desk, staring at him in disbelief.
"I want you to travel to all of our Program facilities and shut them down," Myers instructed her. "We're recalling our operatives and stopping the distribution of the vaccine."
"Have you lost your head, Jason?"
"Depends on your definition," he answered, sniggering to himself.
She couldn't have heard him correctly. She was tired, having slept restlessly the night before. Debating with Mulder had been like turning mental somersaults. By the time she joined him in bed, she was in no mood for further gymnastics. When he tried to coax her onto his balance beam, she ignored him and turned away.
Only when she woke up did she realize that her "back-flip" had landed her flat on her ass.
Mulder was gone.
"Where's Mulder?" she asked, suddenly suspicion.
"You know what they say," Myers said, swinging his chair around so he could turn on his computer. "The early bird always catches the worm."
"Define bird," she demanded.
"And, the worm?" Scully asked, hoping he meant Fowley.
"The first flight out this morning," he responded, typing in several codes on the keyboard.
"God damn it, Jason," Scully exploded, her fists pummeling the top of his desk. "What are the two of you up to?"
Myers reached across his desk to clasp her hand. His touch was firm, but affectionate. It was a gesture to remind her that he wasn't only her supervisor, but her friend. Black eyes focused on the data that filtered across his computer screen, he said, "That's for me to know, and the Consortium to find out."
"I don't understand," she replied, leaning forward to peek at the data he was scrutinizing.
"Good," Myers laughed, turning the monitor off. Lifting her hand to his lips, he gave it a quick kiss. "Just remember, Dana, you're the only one who has never had to sell her credibility."
"Why won't you tell me?"
"Because I need that credibility right now."
When the office door opened, Myers dropped her hand abruptly. Scully turned around and saw Fowley enter the room.
"Good morning," the woman smiled triumphantly at her.
"Out on bail, I see," Scully assessed her cynically. Turning to the Assistant Director, she tried to reason with him. "Jason, I think..."
"Don't think," Myers cut her off sharply. "Just do... I want you on the next plane out of here, Scully. Do your job and let us do ours."
As Scully spun on her heel, she came with inches of Fowley's face. Glaring directly into the woman's eyes, she said in an acidic voice, "It's not over..."
"Was it ever?" Fowley said knowingly.
Three weeks later, Scully returned to her townhouse on Baltimore Harbor. It was another rainy, blustery day. By the time she dragged her suitcase up the brick path that led to her front door, she was soaked. Auburn hair plastered to her face, she blindly maneuvered the key into the lock. When it wouldn't open, she twisted the knob impatiently.
As the cold rain pelted against her back, she realized that she was trying to unlock the door with her car key.
"I really hate this fucking job," Scully muttered. The keys slipped from her wet fingers and landed in the puddle by her feet.
"And, my life," she added, running her hose as she crouched down to retrieve them.
By the time she opened the door, her leather pumps were filled with water. Sloshing across the hardwood floor, she dumped her suitcase by the stairs. Surveying the living room, she sighed. Rather than being welcomed by the warm comfort of a sun lit room, she felt as if she entered a crypt. The air was dank and chilly. She shivered, rubbing her arms as she peered out the French doors to the harbor.
What she saw only submerged her deeper into despair.
Bitter east winds assaulted the boats moored along the dock, including her precious sailboat. If the gale didn't shift soon she would have to drag out her bilge pump to drain the boat's small cabin. Days of steady rain had wreaked havoc along the shoreline. The deck of her townhouse was flooded, from the terra cotta planters to the seafoam green cushions of her patio set.
Burying her face in her hands, she began to cry.
Scattered geranium petals and the promise of mildew.
Not to mention her sunken hopes that she might find Mulder home, waiting to greet her.
The last few weeks had been hard ones. While her instructions had been clear, the meaning behind them were still ambiguous. She'd obediently traveled to every facility that hosted the Program. Maintaining her stoic composure, she diverted the questions of the CDC's operatives and recalled the vaccine.
Yet, beneath the surface, she was drowning in a turbulent sea of speculation. She was not permitted contact with Mulder, only Myers, who called her each night to check on her progress. And, although she knew that there was a method behind Myers' madness, she also worried that he'd been bewitched by Fowley's dark, seductive appeal.
Whether it was an attraction to power or flesh, she feared that her supervisor had proven to be a return customer.
"Oh God," she sobbed out loud, "Let there be some prices that he's not willing to pay."
"You can't attach a price to love, Scully. You taught me that..."
She slowly lifted her face from her hands. Turning around, she saw Mulder at the foot of the stairs.
"You're here..." she said, catching her breath.
"But, I did manage to buy you hope," he responded, reaching out to her cautiously.
"Don't talk to me about buying hope," she cried, slapping his hands away. "Don't you understand? You're my hope, Mulder. Hope begins and ends with you."
Without a word, Mulder tugged her into his arms. He held her tightly as she sobbed out weeks of frustration and fear. She gripped the front of his flannel shirt, pulling and pushing, still undecided if she should fight or surrender to her incredible need for him.
So he decided for her...
Lifting her wet, flushed face to his, Mulder kissed her.
And everything changed in one heart-stopping moment.
"You're home," she whispered as his lips drew away from hers.
"And, you're soaked," he murmured, gently disentangling her arms which she had clasped around his neck. "We better get you out of these clothes before you catch a cold."
"I'm fine...," she sniffed, wiping her cheeks with the back of her hand.
"Well, the floor's not," he teased, lifting her up into his arms. "And, I'm not going to spend our vacation stripping and re-varnishing it."
"I'll explain later," Mulder said as he carried her up the steps. "Right now, let's just celebrate being home."
Although she had many questions, she decided they'd wait until later.
Mulder had sold her on the moment.
After they had made love, the two partners snuggled comfortably in each other's arms. For a while, they were silent, content to listen to the rain tap against the shingles of the roof.
Once Mulder felt her body relax against his, he told her where he'd been the last several weeks.
"I was distributing the same vaccine you were recalling," he said as he stroked her damp hair.
"What?" she gasped.
"But, this time the vaccine has been disguised as a inoculation against bee stings."
"What?" she repeated, this time squeaking.
"Ever hear of Africanized Bees, Scully?" Mulder asked. "An existing threat which has been slowly migrating north these past several years?"
"Are you saying what I think you're saying?"
"The FDA approved mass distribution over two weeks ago," he advised. "By now every health care facility in the country has the vaccine."
"Oh my God," Scully bolted up in bed. The down comforter slipped beneath her waist, exposing her bare breasts. "It was all a hoax?"
For a minute, Mulder stared at her nipples. Their rosy peaks were taut, chilled by the temperature of the bedroom. He reached for his flannel shirt, which had been discarded on the floor, and wrapped it around her shoulders.
"You're the only one who has never had to sell her credibility," he murmured.
Scully blinked at him uncertainly, the fog lifting from her brain. She had heard the same words before, from Myers. Now, she realized where the words had originated.
"Mulder..." her voice cracked as tears gathered in her eyes.
"The Consortium was up to their old tricks, again." Mulder conveyed as he gently buttoned the shirt. "They never intended to use the bees to save lives. Like you said, no legitimate doctor or scientist would consider using bees to spread the vaccine."
"Why should they bother to trick us in the first place?"
"Because Myers is a pirate, capable of plundering the government's resolve. He was getting close, Scully. Authorization to issue a health alert about the virus was within his grasp."
"And the Consortium need more time," Scully mused. "She said it herself..."
"Oh yeah, she was selling, alright," Mulder said contemptuously. "But, Myers knew that she was lying. As he put it, a whore is always a whore."
"What about you, Mulder," asked Scully, her eyes meeting his. "Did you believe her?"
"I wanted to believe," he responded, turning away, his face shadowed with guilt. "But, only because I wanted to exonerate my own crime of ever trusting her in the first place."
"Where is she now?"
"Myers let her go," he said, shrugging indifferently. "He said it was the only way she could report to back her pimp that she'd sold her goods."
"Think the Consortium bought it?"
"That's where you came in," Mulder returned his gaze. His eyes were contrite, his voice apologetic. "Recalling the vaccine was proof that we were willing to cooperate."
"You could have told me, Mulder." Scully wiped her tears with the sleeve of his shirt. "I would have played along."
"No you wouldn't," he said gently. "When it comes to Fowley, you're incapable of hiding your true feelings."
"Which got us into this mess in the first place," she sighed. "Well, I'll be curious to see how this all turns out."
"It's already happening," Mulder assured her. "By the time the Consortium realizes that Myers has double-crossed them, hundreds of thousands of people will be inoculated against the alien virus."
"Only Myers," remarked Scully, the corners of her mouth lifted into a wry grin. "He's so good at playing a pirate that he makes walking the plank seem like a pleasure cruise."
"Speaking of which," Mulder paused to reach over to the nightstand. He retrieved an envelope which he handed to Scully. "How does Jamaica sound to you, right now."
Her blue eyes lit up instantly when she saw that it contained two tickets.
"A Windjammer cruise?" she gasped.
"Courtesy of Captain Hook, himself."
Jason Myers was reviewing the statistics of the new vaccination program when his intercom buzzed.
"What can I do for you, Sheri?" he asked in a honeyed voice.
"Do I have the right extension?" the woman gasped. "Could this possibly be the Assistant Director's office?"
"You're such a saucy wench," he chuckled. "Remind me to give you a raise later tonight."
"My desk or yours," she snickered. "By the way, another package has just been delivered to mine."
"Send it back!" he barked. "This time, with postage due."
"It's from Agent Mulder, sir."
"Why didn't you say so in the first place?" Myers lightened his tone. "Bring it aboard, Sheri, and yourself along with it."
When his assistant entered his office, Myers allowed himself the pleasure of examining her shapely legs
"You really are a sea wolf, aren't you," the woman said, noticing his leer. She deposited the package on his desk and folded her arms in annoyance. "I've heard the rumors, Jason."
"What rumors?" Myers used his letter opener to sliced open the tape on the package.
"About a certain brunette who used to sit behind your desk," his assistant responded. "I heard she had you quite captivated."
"The only woman who captures my attention is you," he related as he opened the package. "Haven't you heard? Gentlemen prefer blondes."
The woman smoothed back her bleached hair as she tried to suppress a smile.
He was hardly a gentleman, but that's what she liked about him.
"Besides," he teased. "why would I want someone who once sat behind my desk, when I already have someone who's willing to kneel beneath it?"
Bristling with indignation, the woman said, "You're such a black-hearted..."
"Rum!" Myers exclaimed, lifting a bottle of Jamaican Rum from the wrappings. "Quick, get some glasses."
"Wouldn't you rather just swig from the bottle?" she retaliated.
Pulling her into his lap, Myers kissed her. His lips coaxed hers open only to ravage her senseless with his tongue. When she sighed, nestling her blond head against his shoulder, Myers raised the bottle of Rum and uncorked it with his teeth.
Who needed an ordinary life?
For him, a pirate's life would do.
Many thanks to my "bee-mused, bee-guiled and bee-wildered" betas, Linda, dlynn and (last, but never least) Exley_61. And to Kimberly for her constant encouragement for me to continue this series.