Title: Mulder's Creek: 22. Rocket's Red Glare
Summary: A fireworks display leads to a shock for Mulder.
Mulder yawns and stretches as he gets out of bed. The sunlight shining into his room suggests that it is midmorning, and a glance at his clock confirms it. He smiles a bit, enjoying being able to get up whenever he feels like it, then he heads for the bathroom.
His hand is on the bathroom doorknob when he hears a loud voice from down stairs. He freezes, wondering why his mother sounds so agitated. Finally he realizes she must be talking to Sam, so he creeps to the top of the stairs to listen.
"Your father and I have been patient with you, but you've got to start making an effort...Don't you shake your head 'no' at me. Do you remember that meeting we went to at the superintendent's office the last week of May, when you met the woman who did some tests? Well, that was about your IEP, that's short for individual education program. They called me, and you know what, if you're not talking by the time school starts in the fall, they might hire an aide for you...he or she would translate your sign language for your teacher, and they'd follow you around all day. I can tell by your grimace that you don't like that idea, and I don't blame you. However, if you're talking by then, we can get another meeting to tell them you don't need someone's help. But you have to start trying! Look, there's a speech pathologist that Dad and I hired to work with you three days a week, beginning Monday. I want you to promise to try to do what you're asked, ok? Good girl. I hope you know that Dad and I just want what's best for you..."
Mulder slips into the bathroom and begins to brush his teeth. Poor Sam, he thinks, wondering how many other conversations like this he's missed.
Monday morning, Leary home-
Mulder dashes into the kitchen, intending to grab a quick breakfast before meeting Scully, Doggett and Reyes to go the beach, when he stops dead in his tracks as he notices a stranger sitting at the kitchen table across from Sam, who is scowling.
It must have struck the man as comical, because he looks up at Mulder with a broad grin. Mulder looks him over, takes in his chocolate brown eyes, and light brown hair with its golden sun streaks, and decides that most of the girls he knows would swoon over the man. "Uh, hi. I'm Sam's brother, Mulder. You're the speech person?"
"That I am," he says happily, and Mulder wonders how old he is, since he doesn't seem to be that much older than Mulder is himself.
Since he and tact have only a passing acquaintance, Mulder decides to grill him. "I don't mean to be rude, but are you a student or something? You don't look old enough to be a teacher..."
"I'm twenty-three, and I'm a therapist, not a teacher. I went to UCONN until I graduated last year, and I just started working for Capeside school system, in the middle school, this summer. I took the job because it reminds me of the school I did my internship in. Any more questions?" he asks Mulder while still sounding good-natured.
"Well, your full name would be nice, in case my best friend's Dad, the sheriff, wants to do a criminal background check. And since I'm going to be asked this by female friends...are you married, engaged, dating someone, or studying for the priesthood?" Mulder asks, trying not to laugh.
The man does laugh, even as Mulder turns red in the face from the effort of trying not to. "My name is Zane Archer, but the sheriff would find that my record is clean. And if your friends ask, you can tell them I'm very single, but I don't date girls who are under eighteen."
"Oh...some of them are going to be disappointed." Mulder laughs. "They complain that straight, single guys never move here. "He turns to Sam and ruffles her hair. "Have fun, Sam, I'll see you later. "With that he grabs his towel and runs, because Doggett is honking the horn.
"So that's your older brother," Zane says to Sam, who signs yes with a smile. "It was nice to meet him, but I guess we should get back to these mouth exercises." The scowl returns to Sam's face.
As he slides into the back seat of Doggett's borrowed car, Mulder smiles apologetically. "Sorry about that, I just meet Sam's speech person."
"What's she like?" Scully asks Mulder as he puts on his seatbelt.
"He, not she. He seems pretty nice. He's only a few years older than us, and I think that a lot of girls in Capeside are going to develop sudden crushes on him this summer," Mulder tells her with a grin.
"So he's cute." Scully states.
"As unmanly as it is to admit that you notice that another guy is likely to catch the ladies' eyes, I'd be lying if I said no," Mulder admits.
"Well, what's his name?" Reyes demands.
"Hey, you're not shopping for my replacement are you?" Doggett asks in a mock- worried tone, which makes her roll her eyes.
"Zane Archer. I've never heard the name Zane before, but I guess he'll fit right in with a name like that." Mulder chuckles.
"His name is Zane?" Reyes asks. "That's a form of John."
"That's something I love about you," Doggett says. "I never need an encyclopedia- Ouch, quit it!" he demands, rubbing his shoulder before exiting the driveway.
Tuesday noon, McPhee home-
"Reyes, come down here!" Skinner insists as he calls up the stairs.
"Why?" She yells back, still looking for her shoes.
"Because Fowley is standing here waiting for you!"
"Oh." She finally spies her shoes under the bed. "Be right down!"
Fowley and Skinner grin at each other. That sort of exchange makes Fowley wonder what she might have missed out on growing up as an only child. "God, Fowley, what took you so long?" she snaps, watching Reyes face turn pink.
"I, um, couldn't find my shoes," Reyes mumbles in apology.
Fowley giggles. "I'm sorry, I was just messing with you. You've only known I was here for about a minute, so why should I be mad?"
"You never know..." Reyes replies cryptically, making Fowley give her a questioning look, which she ignores. "What's up?"
"I think we need to talk to Spender. Knowing why he did those things is going to be the only way I'm going to be able to get over him," Fowley tells her.
Skinner senses this is his cue to exit. "I'm going to go see a movie at Reed's house, so, uh, bye."
Reyes watches her brother bolt from the room, but she's more concerned about what Fowley has just said. "Are you sure that's a good idea?"
"No," Fowley admits. "But I think it's something I need to do."
"Well, if you're sure..."
"Sure as I can be." Is Fowley's grim reply.
They wander into the kitchen, then stare at the phone for a minute. "Your dad won't mind if I use the phone?"
"It's a local call, so it won't even show up on the bill."
"Well, ok, here goes nothing," Fowely says as she picks up the phone and dials his number. When someone answers, she politely asks," May I speak to Spender, please?"
"Oh, I'm sorry," a woman on the other end answers. "Spender has gone to visit his grandparents for the week. He won't be home until the 5th of July. Would you like to leave a message?"
"No that's ok," Fowely says, resisting the urge to sigh. "I'll call him on the 5th."
"Well, ok. You have a nice day," the woman replies before hanging up. Fowley gives the phone a disgusted look as she returns it to its cradle.
"He wasn't there?" Reyes asks, already knowing the answer, but not wanting to admit to listening closely to the conversation.
"Nope. Apparently he's at his grandmother's, according to his Mother."
"I guess we'll have to talk to him when he comes back, then," Reyes suggests. "Did my brother seem weird to you a few minutes ago?"
"Nah, running away when girls talk about ex-boyfriends is a pretty typical male response." Fowley grins. "Not that your brother is typical."
"He sure isn't. No wonder we all love him," Reyes says. "Even Reed. I'm afraid we sent him out of the pan and into the fire just now."
"I thought you said that Reed knows he's not interested."
"He does. But Scully says it doesn't stop Reed from staring at the poor boy every time Skinner is distracted by something else."
"So do you suppose it's a case of love-sickness or lust?" Fowley asks.
"I don't know. There are some cases, like in the case of your sibling's love-life, that ignorance is bliss," Reyes says with a grimace.
"Aww, keep talking like that, and you're going to make me wish I wasn't an only child."
"If you really want a sibling, we might be able to convince Doggett to give you one of his. He has four so he'd never miss one," Reyes tells her. "But I'm sure he'd give you one of his oldest sisters, so it might not be a good deal."
"No thanks. I've heard tales about the sisters Witter, and from Grams of all people, who is usually the most charitable of souls."
"From what I've heard, growing up those two were Capeside's answer to the wicked witches of the east and west." They both dissolve into laughter.
10 minutes later, Lane home-
Skinner thanks Mrs. Lane, and walks down the hall towards Reed's room. Though he's only been over his house a couple of times, Skinner's good sense of direction leads him right to the other boy's room. He's about to knock on the door when he realizes that he hears singing.
"Let me love you and it won't be wrong....won't be wrong..." Skinner takes a moment to admire Reed's voice before knocking.
"Oh, hey, you been there long?" Reed asks, a blush starting to creep up his cheeks.
"Long enough to wonder what you were singing." Skinner grins at him.
"An old Bryds song, actually."
"Did anyone ever tell you that you have a great voice?" Skinner asks.
Reed brushes his hair out of his eyes, self-consciously. "I don't want to sound conceited but actually, a lot of people have. "
" You should be in a band!" Skinner exclaims gleefully.
"You're in a band? Why haven't you told anyone about it?"
Reed looks down and drags a foot across the floor, obviously avoiding Skinner's eyes. "Because...it's only been since school got out...and you hate the person who asked me to sing."
"I don't hate anyone...You're in a band with Krycek??" Skinner sputters.
"Yeah. I know he's a jerk, but can he ever play the guitar," Reed says with a faint smile.
"So what's the band called?" Skinner asks, trying to keep himself from saying anything bad about Krycek.
"beerisnotasexcrime," Reed mumbles.
"I didn't catch that."
Reed sighs and repeats himself more slowly. "Beer is Not a Sex Crime." He shakes his head. "The band already had a name when Krycek and his friend Craig asked me to join," he adds defensively.
"That is a name people won't soon forget," Skinner says, smiling in spite of himself. "How did Krycek know you could sing, anyway?"
Reed shrugs. "He was in my chorus class this past term. I'm not sure why though, since he seemed to hate it."
"Sophomores get screwed on picking classes, so it probably wasn't his idea to take the class. What sort of songs will you be doing?" Skinner asks.
"Covers mostly, at least to begin with. We might end up writing some songs, but for now we're just trying to play together."
It's at that moment that Skinner's eyes land on an object in the room. "You play bass?"
"Yup. I've been playing since I was eleven," Reed says with a hint of pride in his voice.
"Wow, I guess there's a lot I don't know about you," Skinner says.
"You're right," Reed says in a tone that makes Skinner wonder what he just missed.
4pm, Potter home-
"Mulder, I'm scared," Scully tells him as she cuddles up against him on the couch. For once there's no one else home, because Bessie took Alexander with her when she went to visit a friend.
Mulder puts his arm around her. "Scared of what?"
"Fourth of July," Scully answers in a small voice.
"Well, I've never heard anyone say that before...why are you suddenly afraid of a national holiday?" he asks, trying to sound serious instead of amused.
"Haven't you heard? People on the news keep talking about how there is some rumor that the terrorists are going to steal oil tankers and use them to attack places in Las Vegas."
"While that's disturbing, we're thousands of miles from Vegas," Mulder points out reasonably.
"I know that, but you're not seeing the big picture," Scully insists.
"That it's still not over. Months and months later they're still causing us terror with every rumor because they did what they set out to- they pulled the rug out from under our sense of security. Now we're always on guard, since we have no way of knowing if a rumor is just a way to scare us, or something they intend to actually do. And it will only get worse in September," Scully says with a deep sigh.
"So much for our knowledge that that sort of thing doesn't happen here." Mulder agrees. "I suppose we're not as far removed from the rest of the world's self-inflicted damage as we'd like to think."
"Mulder, you're not making me feel better," Scully complains.
"I'm sorry, but you don't want me to lie to you, do you?"
"'Just lie to me, and I promise, I'll believe...'" Scully wistfully sings a line from Sheryl Crow.
"Well, in that case," Mulder says, pulling her onto his lap. "I'm going to grow up to be a rich and famous photographer, and people will think of me before they think of Ansel Adams. You and I will get married exactly 13 months after we both graduate Magna cum laude from Ivy league schools, so we'll have a prefect June wedding. We'll have two perfect children-"
"Four," Scully insists.
"Well, ok, since you're the one who has to carry them, you get the final say," Mulder agrees with a broad smile. "Four perfect children, two boys and two girls, naturally, who will be the lights of our lives. People on the street will stop you and I and tell them that we are very inspiring, since we're madly in love, and have a perfect family."
Scully begins to kiss his neck. "You can say the sweetest things."
Mulder doesn't reply, because Scully is distracting him from coming up with a witty reply.
Wednesday Morning, Leary home-
Mulder wanders into the kitchen, and pretends not to be listening to Zane and Sam talk. Not that Sam is actually talking, per say. Mulder smiles to himself as he grabs a box of cereal off of a high shelf.
"What sound does a dog make?" Zane asks her. Sam turns and gives Mulder a pleading look, seeming to be asking to be rescued from the crazy person. Mulder grins at her. Zane notices their silent exchange and turns to Mulder. "Well, what sound does a dog make?"
Mulder put down his milk and made a growling noise deep in his throat. "How's that?"
"Not bad," Zane tells him. "Look Samantha, if your big, seventeen-year-old brother isn't afraid of seeming dumb for making animal noises-"
"Hey!" Mulder protests.
Zane ignores him "- then you shouldn't be afraid to try either. Come on now, I did banish your parents from the room to make it easier on you, but they're going to be asking me how cooperative you've been as soon as we're done for the day."
Sam narrows her eyes at him. "wwwwoof," she says, making the first sound, besides a laugh, that Mulder's ever heard her make.
"Yay Sam!" Mulder exclaims as he grabs his bowl and spoon and heads for the living room where he intends to watch the cartoon network.
"Great!" Zane says, passing her a sticker, which she takes with a smile. "Most of the girls that I work with like sticker collections. I bet you do too." Sam nods eagerly. "Actually, don't tell anyone, but some of the adults I know like stickers too. I'll tell you what. Every time you do what I've asked, and at least make an attempt, I'll give you another sticker. I've got all kinds, fuzzy ones, prismatic ones, scratch and sniff...what do you say?"
"Woof," Sam says, laughing loudly enough for Mulder to hear her in another room.
"Great! So what does a duck say?"
Sam rolls her eyes and obediently quacks for him.
Zane is on his way out the door when Mulder stops him. "Hey, that was pretty cool, you getting Sam to make some noise for once. Why animals sounds?"
"Well, a lot of kids with speech problems can make sounds, but they don't talk very often, because they're afraid that they're not going to say things correctly. So animal sounds are a way for them to practice making sounds without having to worry about pronouncing something the wrong way," Zane explains.
"That's pretty smart."
"That's why they pay me the big bucks," Zane says with a laugh. "Or they would in a perfect world, anyway."
"There is no justice in this world," Mulder agrees, going to open the door when the doorbell rings. Zane waits for Scully, Reyes and Fowley to come in before he goes out the door himself.
Reyes turns to Mulder with wide eyes as soon as Zane is out of earshot. "Who was that??"
"Zane, you know, the guy who's working with Sam."
"Oh my God..." Fowley whispers under her breath as she watches Zane through the window, on his way to talk to Mr. And Mrs. Leary, who are doing some planting in the garden. As soon as he's gone she turns to Sam, who has come into the living room and says "You are a very lucky girl." Sam shakes her head and walks away from the drooling girls.
"He's not so attractive," Scully says, wrapping her arm around Mulder's waist.
"You are a terrible liar," he says with a grin, and kisses her cheek. "So, what do you ladies want from me this morning?" he asks, wondering what would cause the three of them to do anything together.
"From you?" Reyes asks. "Nothing. We were hoping to be able to see your brother, though. Fowley hasn't seen him yet."
"Speak for yourselves," Scully tells them. "I've come to harass the older Leary brother."
Mulder echoes Sam, and goes upstairs shaking his head. He brings Price, who is awake and gurgling, back downstairs. Reyes and Fowley immediately start oohing and ahhing over him. "I don't know how my ego can stand this, my brother isn't even two months old yet, and he's already got more female admirers than I do," Mulder says with a mock self-pitying sigh. He notices Scully's unamused glance and adds. "At least the one I do have isn't going to throw me over for a younger, cuter guy."
"Yeah, you think so," Scully tells him with an evil grin. Mulder sighs for real, and even Sam laughs at him.
Wednesday afternoon, The Ice House-
Mulder slides into a booth, and waits for Scully to come over and take his order. Scully brings him a menu, even though they both know he won't use it. Mulder looks up her and says " The lengths I have to go to just to see my girlfriend..."
"Mulder, I've already seen you three times this week...including this morning," Scully says, starting to get a bit defensive.
Mulder holds up his hands in a gesture of surrender. "A joke, just a joke. So...I do want a hamburger since my parents have taken the other kids to visit Aunt Gwen, and I can't really fend for myself because they're supposed to do this week's grocery shopping on the way home."
"Anything else?" Scully asks, wiping out a notebook and pen out of her apron pocket.
"Chocolate milk and a side of fries..." Mulder pauses and glares at his fellow customers, daring them to make a comment about the chocolate milk. No one even notices. "And a confirmation on our plans to see the fireworks tomorrow night."
Scully looks at the floor. "Um...The chocolate milk and French fries I can manage, but...I can't go tomorrow night."
Mulder gives her a morose look, remembering New Year's Eve. "Why not?"
"Bessie doesn't want me to. Oh, she claims that she needs Reed and I to work tomorrow night so she can go somewhere in Boston to buy bulk restaurant supplies from the one place that's open on a holiday. And that she won't be back until very late, but I know she's worried about the fireworks display."
"Let me guess, she's the one who got you all worked up about terrorists," Mulder guesses.
"Gee Mulder, you're showing sparks of clairvoyance yourself. I guess you have something in common with Reyes after all."
"Very funny," Mulder says with a glare. "I'm sorry that you're not going to be able to come to the fireworks, but I guess that's ok. I was planning on bringing Sam along, anyway."
Scully puts her hands on her hips, and pretends to be mad. "I see how it is, three's a crowd, huh?"
"No...but we'd have to be on our best behavior. No mushy stuff," Mulder tells her.
"Darn, that's my favorite part of Holidays," Scully says, watching Mulder's face turn red before going to put in his order.
Thursday morning, McPhee home-
Fowley walks into the house with a curious look on her face. "What was so important that you called me first thing in the morning?"
"I wanted to talk to you about the first step in operation FAS," Reyes tells her.
Fowley looks skeptical. "What does FAS stand for?"
"Forget About Spender, of course."
"Oh God..." she mutters.
"You need to get over him. Really get over him." Reyes admonishes.
"Ok, ok, what is the first step in this program? And are there eleven other steps?"
"We won't know how many steps there are until you're over him," Reyes tells her in a reasonable tone. "And the first step is immersion."
"Immersion in what?" Fowley asks, fearing that this will somehow involve being placed in a pool filled with something.
"Immersion in society. Holing up alone and moping isn't good for you, so tonight you're going to accompany me, Doggett, and Skinner to the fireworks display," Reyes says cheerfully.
"I have a feeling that I'm not the first victim of this 'cure.' So who else have you done this to?"
"My brother, after he broke up with Ethan. Skinner got sort of a mini-program since he stopped mopping soon after the first step."
"It was probably in self defense," Fowely says darkly. "Wait...there was no fireworks display while I was gone, so where did you make him go?"
"The Valentine's Day dance," Reyes confesses.
"Your poor brother!" Fowley laughs because she can't think of a worse place for the newly, bitterly, single. "All right, I'll come along with you guys."
"Great! Doggett will pick us up around six. I think he said something about going for pizza before it gets dark. "
"That sweetens the deal a little," Fowely says, finally starting to warm up to the idea. At least it would probably help keep her mind off of Spender until she got to talk to him the next morning.
Late Thursday Afternoon, en route to Reyes house-
Doggett is driving along at a reasonable speed when he sees what everyone dreads: blue lights flaring up in his rearview mirror. He pulls over to the side of the road, and plans to tell the cop a. that he doesn't know why he's being pulled over since he wasn't speeding, and b. that his father is the Sheriff and wouldn't take him getting a ticket very well.
Doggett rolls down his window, and waits in anticipation as the officer takes his time approaching the car. It's Kersh.
"Hey Kersh, I've got places to go," Doggett says as Kersh approaches the window.
"Step out of the vehicle please."
"Kersh, I'm telling you-"
"Step out of the vehicle please," Kersh repeats evenly.
"Oh, whatever. I don't know what sort of game you're playing..." Doggett complains as he gets out of the car.
Kersh shoulders him aside, and uses a flashlight to look under the seats. After a through check, he walks over to Doggett who has stepped away from the car, and is wearing a confused expression. "Open the trunk please."
"Come on Kersh, even I know that's not legal to ask unless you have probable cause," Doggett tells him. When Kersh give him a hard stare, he finds himself opening the trunk. "This isn't right."
Kersh ignores him and rifles through the contents of the trunk. Once he's satisfied, he turns to Doggett and says, "You can get back in the car now."
Doggett doesn't move. "What in the Hell was that all about?" he asks, glaring at his older brother.
To his surprise, Kersh smiles. "Dad asked me to make sure that you didn't have any fireworks on you. They're illegal in this state, as you know."
"I know that! That's why we're going to go see a fireworks display!!" Doggett screams at him.
Kersh nods. "You have a nice day now, hear?"
Doggett thinks about it and decides it'd be worth a possible ticket, so he flips his brother off as Kersh climbs back into the cruiser. Doggett shakes his head with angry bemusment as he climbs back into his car and continues on his way.
July 4th Fireworks display-
They found a great spot to watch the fireworks, Fowley thinks as they settle onto the grass to wait, although it's hard to find a bad stop when it comes to finding a place to look up at the sky. Capeside goes all out with fireworks every year, even though the city is aware that they can never hope to gain the prestige that the Boston displays, accompanied by The Pops, have. The town doesn't care, though, and thoroughly enjoys itself anyway.
As the fireworks start, Doggett stands behind Reyes, and wraps his arms around her waist as they watch the show. He rests his chin lightly on the top of her head, and points at pattern of sparks he thinks looks like rain. "Look at that one."
"But not as beautiful as you," Doggett corrects her, then kisses her.
Fowley can't help but feel envy as she watches them. She has no interest in Doggett, but she wishes someone would treat her the same way that he treats Reyes. She glances over at Skinner while the sky is right, and wonders if he felt the same way after breaking things off with Ethan. She hadn't gotten to know Ethan very well, but she knew from things Reyes told her that things between them had ended badly, so she felt a wave of empathy.
Mulder and Sam never do find Doggett, Fowley, Skinner and Reyes. Instead they stake out a spot half a field away from the little group. Mulder wishes that they could have found everyone else, but he decides that maybe fate really wants him to enjoy the display with just his sister for company.
As they watch the fireworks, Mulder can see the excited look on Sam's face, and he finds himself wondering if she's ever seen them before. Mulder smiles down at her and says," They're great aren't they?"
He looks back up at the sky and watches a sparkling green and red explode across the sky. He never would have expected a reply, so when he hears a wistful voice say," I've always heard they were pretty, but I've never seen them before," he's so shocked he nearly falls over.
Produced by CC, KW and Neoxphile
< Voice Over>
This episode of Mulder's Creek featured music from:
The Bryds ("It won't be wrong")
Nada Surf ("Fire Cracker")
The Used ("Taste Of Ink")
Stay tuned for scenes from the next Mulder's Creek
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