Title: Mulder's Creek: 26. Roswell
Author Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Keywords: XF/Dawson's Creek crossover. Alternate universe.
Disclaimer: I claim no ownership to the characters, except those I've created, as they belong to Chris Carter and Kevin Williamson
Summary: Mulder plans to break into the Candling school to get information about his siblings, but it takes some help from Roswell residents Max, Isabelle, Michael, Maria and Liz to carry out his plans.
Sam stops in her tracks, still several yards from the restaurant.
"What is it, Sam?" Mulder asks her as he walks back towards her.
"I was just thinking. What's going to happen when Mom and Dad call the house and get no answer?"
"That won't happen," Mulder assures her.
"What do you mean? They're bound to call. They've already called twice this week."
"Ah, but they won't get no answer. We'll answer the phone."
"Mulder, the phone is across the country, how could we answer it?" Sam asks, looking puzzled.
Mulder pats his pocket. "Through the magic of call forwarding. Mom and Dad will call the house, but my cell phone will ring instead of the home phone."
"The level of planning you put into this is scary." Sam unconsciously echoes Doggett's conversation with his siblings while shaking her head. Mulder just smiles and walks towards the Crash Down.
Friday 7:20pm, Crash Down Café-
Liz gives the table a half-hearted swipe with a wet rag and turns to her best friend, Maria. "Another fine Roswell afternoon spent waiting on all the customers." Maria smirks. "Oh wait, there are no customers," Liz says in mock surprise.
"I can't believe that your dad thinks he needs both of us here every day." Maria comments.
"The thing of it is, I'm sure he doesn't think he needs both of us here. I think that this his way of keeping me away from bad influences. Me jailer, you unwitting warden," Liz gripes.
"Bad influences being Max Evans?" Maria asks with a knowing look.
"Of course. Dad just doesn't like him. He doesn't even know that Max is-"
Maria interrupts with a pointed look towards the door.
For the first second Liz is puzzled, but then hears the bell jingle, so customers must be coming in. The customers turn out to be two kids, obviously siblings. The older, a boy about their age, looks a lot more eager to be there than the younger girl.
Mulder looks around the café with barely disguised mirth, inside it looks exactly how you'd picture a café that has a spaceship sticking out of it to look. As he takes in the space/alien motif he wishes that he had a camera so he could take pictures to show Scully.
A young woman wearing a slightly futuristic blue waitress uniform, complete with apron, approaches with menus. "Hi, I'm Liz, let me show you to a table," she tells him.
Mulder notices that she has a slight lisp, but it's sort of cute. "Thanks."
A couple of minutes later Liz takes their order and goes back to stand with Maria while they wait for the food to cook. Maria nudges her and whispers in her ear. "Kinda cute, huh?"
"What about Michael?" Liz whispers back, gratefully noticing that the boy is talking to his sister, and not listening.
Maria makes a face. "Yeah, what about Michael? I've been asking myself that for months. I'm not saying I'm looking for someone else, but even if here weren't..."
"Czechoslovakian," Liz supplies.
"Yeah. I still don't know if it will ever work out between us." She notices the frown on her best friend's face. "You can't blame a girl for looking."
Mulder, who has actually been listening, tries not to grin. The other waitress is pretty enough, but it bothers him slightly that she seems to be a racist. "So, have you ever been here before?" he asks Sam in a low voice.
She gives him a helpless shrug. "They never let us leave the campus."
Mulder gives her a fierce smile. "Then no one will recognize you. Good. But if anyone does, I'll pretend to have no idea that this is where you were, so us being here is merely a coincidence."
"I don't doubt you'd come up with a compelling lie," Sam says, sticking her tongue out at him.
"Compelling, huh? That's an awfully big word for a little girl," Mulder says with a smirk.
Sam checks to see if the waitresses are looking, then flips him the bird.
8:58pm, Pete's Pockets-
The crowd begins to break up as the house lights come on. The first performance at Pete's Pockets ends to hearty applause. Several girls offer the members of Beer Is Not a Sex Crime their phone numbers as they walk by the stage on their way out of the room. Reed just blushes and politely turns them down, but Krycek and Craig welcome the attention with happy grins.
Even happier with the band than their new groupies is Pete himself. Though overweight and balding, his smile still manages to be beautiful as he talks to the band. "I want to congratulate you guys on your first show. You were great. The kids loved you." Pete pauses and looks into the other room. All the tables have games in progress, and there are several show-goers who are waiting for tables to be freed up. "If you want to play again in a couple of weeks or a month, just let me know." The boys nod and smile.
Reyes grabbed Scully's hand as soon as the band said good-night. Because she's smaller than her friend, and didn't want to put up a huge fight, Scully found herself dragged outside before she knew it. "We can't leave without her. Even I think that's too mean."
"We're not going to. We'll just wait for her out here. We, um, needed some air." Scully doubts the wisdom of this, but it's a nice warm night, and it's only been a few minutes.
As the crowd thins out, Fowley looks for her friends, a word that she mentally surrounds with quote marks because she's annoyed, and fails to see them. Zane gives her a look that manages to be equal parts sympathetic and flirtatious at the same time. "Your friends ditch you?" he asks, not mentioning that he saw them run out the door.
Fowley shakes her head. "They wouldn't." Or I'll kill them, she silently adds.
"I'm sure you're right," Zane agrees as they make their way towards the door. "But if they did leave for some reason, I wouldn't mind giving you a ride home."
Fowley feels a tortured anxiety as she thinks of all the warnings she's been given by adults over the years. She doesn't want to offend this nice guy, but... ""I really appreciate the offer, but I'm afraid I don't know you well enough to accept a ride from you."
She's afraid to look at him, since she's sure she's blown it. To her surprise, he smiles. "Hey, no problem. A girl has to look out for herself, I totally understand that. It can be a dangerous world." She gives him a grateful smile, and finally catches sight of Reyes and Scully.
"There you are!" they call, almost sounding like they sincerely thought their separation had been her fault.
Before she goes over to them, Zane lightly touches her arm to get her attention. "But maybe someday you'll know me well enough to accept that ride." All she has time to do is blush before he gives her a brilliant smile and disappears into the night.
The color must have left her cheeks by the time she rejoins the now giggling duo, since neither of them tease her about it.
9:05 pm Crash Down Café-
Mulder puts his fork down. "That was great pie," he tells the waitress. It was pecan, his favorite.
Liz grins at him. "I'm glad that it didn't go to waste. There haven't been many people ordering it today."
"Yeah ... it does seem a little slow. I like that," Mulder says and she nods. "Can you recommend a good place in town to spend a few nights?"
"Is it just you and your sister?" Maria asks, ignoring Liz's look. Liz always thinks she asks too many questions.
"Visiting here? Yeah. Our parents couldn't come."
"But you're from the east coast, though, right?"
Mulder blinks. "Yeah, we are." He hadn't realized that his accent is so noticeable. All he can do is hope that the girl doesn't ask him to say drawer to amuse herself.
Maria, however, has something other than his voice on her mind. "What are a couple of kids from across the country doing all the way out here?" She winces when Liz pokes her in the ribs.
Mulder stares at her for a minute than shrugs. He'll never see these girls again... "My sister here was kidnapped as a baby, then held in a compound on the outskirts of Roswell, where they've been keeping other kids with odd mental powers, for twelve years. I'm hoping to break in and find any records they have on her so we'll finally know why."
"Mulder!" Sam exclaims. Mulder gives her a look as if to ask what she's worried about.
Maria opens her mouth again to ask more questions, but Liz's hand shoots out and covers it. "There's a nice B&B ran by one of my mom's friends about a half a mile from here. Her rates are pretty reasonable."
Mulder thanks her and pays their bill. As soon as he leaves Maria turns to Liz. "Don't cover my mouth when I'm talking, that's rude."
"And grilling the customers isn't?"
"I wasn't grilling him, I was getting to know him." Maria corrects. "It's not like he was telling the truth anyway. They probably ran away from home or something."
"Whatever," Liz replies, shaking her head. The boy was probably having them on, more than likely he was, but there was something in the younger girl's reaction that made her wonder. It bothers her for the rest of the night.
9:30pm Winkin, Blinkin and Nodd Inn-
When Mulder had seen the sign, he'd wrinkled his nose in distaste. There was something cloying about the name that turned him off to the nth degree. Sam, of course, claimed that it was "cute." Now that they were standing in the lobby, though, Mulder finds that it's not nearly as scary as he feared. There are no dolls all over, not cutsey framed photos of babies and kittens, and the walls are white, not pastel.
"You've come at the right time of the year," the proprietor tells them as she leads them down a long corridor. "There's not much in the way of tourism during the summer. The heat, you know."
"It's not so bad," Mulder replies, lying though his teeth. Sweat is causing his shirt to cling to the back of his neck.
The woman nods absently. "Here were are." She swings the door open onto a large room. The room was bright lit and airy, comfortably furnished. Sam immediately claimed the bed nearest the window.
Mulder smiles with a small shake of his head. "Are you sure this is the right room? This doesn't seem like a thirty-five dollar a night room."
"As I said, this is the off season. I lower the rates so I get at least some business to keep me company in this place," the woman explains.
"Oh, ok," Mulder says, hardly believing their good luck.
10: 15pm, outside The Crash Down-
Liz is lococking the door to the café when an arm slips around her waist. She doesn't scream only because she knows who the arm belongs to. "Max." She says, snuggling closer to him.
Max grins at her, and she smiles back, thinking for the hundredth time that her fair, dark-haired, hazel-eyed boyfriend would look at home as an elf on the set of the next Lord of the Rings movie. But, she though as the arm tightened around her waist, he was a lot stronger than you'd imagine looking at him.
"Slow boring night as usual?" he asks, giving her a sympathetic look. He'd spent much of the summer listening patiently as she blew off steam about her unjust "imprisonment" in the café.
"Slow, but not without its interesting moments," she says, thinking about the two kids who'd come in.
"Oh? What was so interesting?" he asks, looking down at her.
She gives him an appealing look. "I'd tell you, but then you'd say no..."
"Say no to what?" A feminine voice asks. Liz peers over Max's shoulder, and sees Max's sister, and their friend Michael.
"Where's Maria?" Michael asks.
Liz frowns. "You missed her by about three minutes. She went home." Michael looks disappointed.
"Say no to what?" Isabel repeats.
Liz squirms as the other girl's piercing look locks onto her. They're not friends, and Liz has the feeling that Isabel only tolerates her for Max's sake. "Oh. I met two people tonight, kids, and if I didn't already know you'd say no, I'd ask if you could help them."
"Help them do what?" Max asks.
"The other one, a guy our age, said that they were here looking for answers. His sister was kidnapped and held somewhere here in Roswell. He wants to know why, and is going to break in to find out." Liz's face burns; she knows it sounds dumb as she say it.
"Oh, if that's all," Michael says, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
"Liz, even if that story is true, you already know that we can't just use our powers to help whoever-" Max says, thinking about Liz's grandmother.
To everyone's surprise, Isabel has something to say in the matter that isn't as mean as Michael's comment. "Before we completely dismiss the idea, don't you think that we should find out if it's true?"
"How would we do that?" Liz asks, her thoughts anxiously conjuring up the idea of the four of them barging into the Inn to interrogate the boy and his sister.
"Actually, how would I do that. I think it's a good night to do some dream walking."
Everyone gives their shrugged consent, it couldn't hurt.
Midnight, Evans house-
One of Isabel Evan's powers is the ability to enter other people's dreams. She can passively observe their dream, or force herself into it, becoming a character within it. Since Mulder is a complete stranger her plan is just to observe. Though she's never met Mulder, she doesn't think that it will be hard to find his dream, since he's probably the only teenage boy staying at Winkin and Blinkin.
When Isabel enters Mulder's dream, she's confused. The typical dream for a teenage boy, or at least in her estimation, usually involves the boy winning a girl or doing something to make himself look good. Which is why she's surprised that the dreamer's character is wearing footed PJs and standing next to a crib.
"Daddy said big brothers look after little sisters," the small boy says, looking into the crib. The baby is tiny and asleep. The boy reaches out to touch the baby, and it disappears. Isabel's brow creases, since she has no idea what she's seeing. The little boy lets out a shriek and two people come into the room and led him away. He balks, and cries "my sister, my sister!" and looks back at the crib. The adults just shake their heads and lead him away.
Time passes as it does in dreams, skipping from scene to scene, and the little boy tries to show his parents the empty crib. They turn their back on him. He tries to show two other people, a towhead little boy and a small red-haired girl, and they do look. "My sister is gone," he tells them. They shrug and point to their ears. After he repeats himself a couple of times, the blond boy turns his back as well. So the little boy keeps trying to tell the girl, but no matter how many times he says "my sister" she can't hear him. Tears roll down the little boy's cheeks.
The boy gets older quickly, and spends what seems like years running up and down hallways looking in cribs everywhere for the missing baby. All the cribs he finds are empty. Eventually he looks in a crib and the baby is there. He gives a happy laugh and pulls the baby out of the crib. The baby morphs into the girl Liz told Isabel about. Isabel thinks that the dream will have a happy ending, but she notices that the boy is frowning. The girl has her hands held over her mouth.
He approaches the older couple again and tells them, "I'm still worried about my sister." They smile and turn their back on him again. He tells the other boy, whose hair has darkened nearly to brown. The other boy points to his ears and shakes his head. Mulder runs and grabs the hands of the red-haired girl. He tries to tell her too, but she can't hear him either. She just gives him a kiss as if that will make him feel better.
He screams in frustration, then calms down. His sister gives him a curious look. "It's just you and me," he tells her, and they begin to walk away.
Isabel opens her eyes in her own room. She's not sure what the dream means, but there's one thing she's sure of: Mulder isn't there because of them. The memory of the dreaming boy's pain echoes in her head she contemplates doing the unthinkable – telling Max and Michael that they should help.
Saturday, 10: 10am, Capeside Mall-
Reyes and Scully quietly sip their frozen lemonades, which annoys Fowley. Or, to be more accurate, it annoys her that they're staring at her while the do it. They met at the mall twenty minutes earlier, and she's been waiting ever since for the other shoe to drop. Instead of bringing up what's on their minds they're looking at her much the way they'd look at Scully's puppy if he suddenly began speaking English and were hoping to interview it as to how that happened.
Finally, she can't take it anymore. "Stop it!"
They give her innocent looks. "What?"
"Stop staring at me the way cats look at mice, right before pouncing on them and snuffing the life out of them," Fowley complains.
"I believe she's calling us catty." Reyes grins at Scully.
Fowley makes a low sound deep in her throat in way of response.
Scully hold up her hands in mock surrender. "Ok, we'll stop playing with you and get to the point. How did you and Zane hit it off?"
Fowley looks down at her lemonade and mumbles, "Ok."
The other girls giggle. "Ok, huh? Details!" Reyes demands.
"There's not a lot to say," Fowley demurs.
"She's right, Reyes, there can't be much to tell. I mean, they only hung out for most of the concert, and that wasn't very long." Fowley sticks her tongue out. Though her words are nice enough, Scully's tone is teasing.
"Come on, you have to tell us. Match making is no fun if the victim won't dish afterwards," Reyes says with a pout.
Fowley smirks. "Pouting may work on your boyfriend and your dad, but it doesn't do a damn thing for me."
Scully senses that things might be taking a turn for the worse. "Tell us to butt out," she urges Fowley.
"Why?" Fowley asks suspiciously.
"Just do it," Scully says, parroting Nike commercials everywhere.
Fowley shrugs. "Butt out."
"You don't play fair," Reyes gripes at Scully, making Fowley wonder what that was all about. Reyes' face suddenly brightens. "Reed's band was wicked good, don't you think?"
"Yeah, he's got a great voice," Scully agrees. "Bet he's going to be disappointing more girls.
While Fowley is glad that they've dropped her evening from the conversation, she feels suddenly left out. There's something in the look that passes between the others that tells her that they're laughing at something other than the mere fact that the girls in question would be disappointed by Reed not being straight. As much as people have been trying to include her this summer, nothing can change the fact that she's missed six months worth of in-jokes.
Noon, Crash Down Café-
As soon as they come to a stop Max and Michael climb out of the Jeep, intending to go inside for lunch. Although the Parkers have subtly tried to keep Liz away from Max, they haven't been so bold as to ban the boy from their business.
Isabel, on the other hand, is none so subtle. "Wait. I want to talk to you first," she says, still sitting in the back seat of the jeep.
Both boys stop and walk back to the jeep. "What about?" Max asks her, not liking the tone he heard in her voice.
"I went into that boy's dream last night, like I said I would."
"-What did you find?"
"–Is he dangerous?"
They speak at the same time, so their words overlap, but Isabel already knew what they'd ask, so it didn't really matter that she hadn't heard them clearly. She gestures to them to be quiet. "He's not dangerous." She tells Michael. "At least not to us. He's not here because of anything involving aliens."
"So why are they here?" Max asks.
"As strange as it sounds, what he told Liz last night is true. His dream was the most painful I've ever visited. This kid, a boy our age, spent most of his life trying to figure out what happened to his sister when he was just a little boy himself. Littler than we ever were, even. He got her back, apparently, but he's still looking for answers. I feel bad for him." Pity fills Isabel's eyes.
"What are you saying, you want to help them?" Max asks.
"Max, you know what it's like to look for answers," Michael argues. At first this surprises Isabel, but then she realizes what it is about this person he empathizes with. Michael, more than any of them, wanted to discover the truth about their origins. So being tortured over missing pieces is something he can relate to. She flashes him a grateful smile.
"Of course I do." Max is torn. He does feel for the kid and his quest, but..." We have to be more careful with humans than ever now, if we're going to stay here and not be detected by others who might cause us harm. If we slip up and someone else does figure us out, they could be like Liz, but they could also be like agent Pierce," he reminds them of the FBI agent who had just recently captured and tortured Max. "I would love to be able to help everyone who could benefit from out powers, but we can't risk exposing ourselves, and if Liz things they need our help they'd need the type of help that would expose us." He finishes with an air of regret.
There's silence for a moment, then something gleams in Michael's eyes. "We can help them without exposing ourselves," he says confidently.
"How?" Isabel asks. She'd like to be hopeful, but Michael's ideas are often fool-hardy.
Michael grins. "Remember what Liz said after Isabel volunteered to dream walk? His sister was kidnapped, and held with kids who had 'odd mental powers'."
"Yeah, so?" Max asks.
"Put yourself in this kid's shoes for a minute. Some people offer to help you break into a place where they keep kids that are 'different' and the people display powers like ours. Which would your first thought be, 'oooh, aliens' or 'oooh kids with strange mental powers'?"
"If I already was thinking about kids who had mental powers I'd probably never give aliens a thought." Max admits.
"So if we get Liz to convince them that we are like those kids, we can help them and without exposing ourselves. He'd probably be so grateful for the help that he'd never say a word about us to anyone, and even if he did, no one would know it was us he was talking about," Michael says brightly. Max gives him a doubtful look.
"I was thinking that we ought to do something fun tomorrow, since you girls finally have a day off," Alex is saying as he toys with his coke. Their tall gangly best friend has been campaigning on more togetherness all summer.
Liz is listening, but when she sees the aliens troop in, she smiles to herself. Her father isn't working, so he won't be there to frown at her. He was still tied up with bringing the receipts to the bank, so only she, Alex and Maria were there. Literally only them, the lunch rush had already passed by since it was a nice day and no one was in the mood to linger over lunch. Stragglers would come in eventually, but for the moment they had the café to themselves.
Isabel looks around at the empty tables and says "Good." She pretends not to notice the worshipful glance that Alex is directing her way. It's not that she minds she just has other things on her mind.
"What's good?" Maria asks. "Not business," she adds melodramatically, since business is just fine and only seems slow when you work entire days instead of a few hours after school.
"She means it's good that there's no one around because we need to talk to you," Max elaborates.
"About what?" Liz asks cautiously. They normally didn't all end up talking about something all together unless there was a problem. A couple of months back that happened more than any of them would have liked.
Max's cheeks turn a dull red. "Maybe Michael and Isabel should explain, it's their idea."
"You know those kids you told us about? We want to help them," Michael says in his usual abrupt manner.
"The two kids who were here last night? They were kidding! They had to be." Maria exclaims while giving them incredulous looks.
Isabel shakes her head. "I promised Liz I'd dream walk the older kid, and the stuff that he told you was the truth."
"How could there be a secret place holding kids hostage in Roswell without us hearing about it?" Maria asks.
"How could there be an abandoned hospital in Roswell that was used to study aliens without us hearing about it?" Max retorts.
"This is a joke, right? You're only pretending you want to help so you can laugh at me for being dumb, right?" Liz asks Michael.
"Nope . This isn't like the thing with your diary, I really want to help them. But we need the three of you to do it."
"As usual, I'm the only one in the dark," Alex complains.
"Last night Maria and I meet a kid and his sister. He claimed that he was here because someone had kidnapped the little girl as a baby, then kept her here for most of her life. Then he said he was going to break into the place to find out what they'd held her for," Liz explains.
"Ok, I can see how aliens would be useful in that sort of situation, but what help would us mere human be?" Alex asks, raising an eyebrow.
Michael points at Liz and Maria. "You two, since you've at least met them, will go and visit them at their room tomorrow night and tell them that you know some people that can help them. Your story is going to be that these people were kids who were born in the place but not raised there. That will explain the strange powers we have without screaming 'alien'."
"How are we supposed to explain your not being raised there?" Maria asks.
"I don't know, but I'm sure you'll come up with something. You're good at making up stories," he says with a smile, which makes her stick her tongue out at him.
"And what is my role in all this supposed to be?" Alex asks.
"We don't know yet, but I'm sure there will be something for you to do," Isabel says with a smile.
"Yeah, ok," Alex answers, and she wonders if he even heard what she said.
"Remember, you girls go see them tomorrow night. We want to do this thing late Monday night," Max says, not looking very happy about the prospect.
Sunday 6pm , Winkin, Blinkin and Nodd Inn-
Mulder is about to eat his last piece of pizza when there is a knock on the door. Sam looks at the door and shrugs, so Mulder gets up and goes to open it. The only person he can think of that would be bothering them is the Inn's owner, which would indicate that there was a problem, so he's slightly apprehensive.
When he opens the door he sees that it's not the Innkeeper, it's the two waitresses from Friday. "Uh, hi," he says, giving them a confused look.
"Do you mind if we come in? Ok great," Maria says as they walk in. Mulder shuts the door behind them. Sam looks up from the cartoons she's watching and gives Mulder another shrug. Clearly she, at least, doesn't find their visit all that unusual.
"So..." Mulder says, hoping to get them to spit out whatever it is that they're there to say.
"So...you know how you told us Friday about your sister?" Maria asks. Sam finally looks interested in their presence. "Well, we have some friends who could help you do that thing."
"Break into the place where she was held hostage?" Mulder asks, to make sure they're on the same page.
"Yeah that," Liz agrees. "The thing of it is, though, that they lived there too. Back when they were really little. So they have some ways of helping you that normal people don't."
"Really?" Mulder asks. There's a happy gleam in his eye.
"Really. But they don't like to talk about it," Maria says. "And, unfortunately, they were really young when they were adopted, so they don't remember the place. They just know that's where they were from," Maria says, hoping that he'll buy it.
Mulder nods like the story is plausible. "Look, I'm glad for the help, so I'm not going to ask questions that would make these friends of your uncomfortable. I don't need to know anything about them if they don't want me to. "
Maria feels better. "Great. They said that they want to meet us back at the café tomorrow night at 10pm, which is when Liz and I get off work."
"Ok, see you then. Thanks a lot." Mulder smiles as they leave and picks up his slice of pizza. It's a little cold, but he doesn't mind.
Once they're gone Sam gives Mulder a reproachful look. "Do you really think it's a good idea to trust some people who don't want to talk about who they are?"
"Well, I trust you, don't I?" Mulder laughs as Sam gives him a dirty look. "At this point I don't care who we have to go to as long as they're willing to help find the truth. They could be six foot tall chickens or little gray men for all I care," he says, having no idea how close to the mark his statement is.
Monday 10: 30 pm, 'Candling School'-
When they arrive at the school they pile out of Maria's Jetta and Max's Jeep. To their astonishment finding the place had been as simple as checking the local phone book for the address.
Michael played "the man with the plan" and assured everyone that he would make sure that they got in and out without being challenged by people at the school. Everyone politely hid their doubts.
The only reason that it took them 30 minutes after the crash down closed was that Michael insisted that he and Sam would need to alter their appearances first. It made sense to Maria that he'd wanted to stick thick glasses on Sam, and put her hair into a different style, since she was the only one who was likely to be recognized, but he told her that there wasn't time to explain why he wanted Isabel to darken his hair while she distracted Mulder and Sam from seeing him.
Max had worried that the place where the girl had grown up would be like the abandoned hospital that Agent Pierce had brought him to, and tortured him in. But the place is, from all outward appearances, a school as it claims to be; hiding in the light. It's a large modern two story building, a lot of white stucco and glass. The building, far from wanting to appear empty and foreboding, seems welcoming.
Mulder notices a metallic sign hangs above the front door and declares the building to be "Candling School for Exceptional Children." He's stuck by the fact that the word exceptional is used to identify children from both ends of the intelligence spectrum, but Liz interrupts with an observation of her own. "Mulder, is your Dad's company called Candling, too?"
"Do you know what candling means?" she asks, thinking about her biology classes.
"I thought it was just a last name," Mulder whispers, giving her a questioning look.
Liz shakes her head. "No, it's a farming term. A long time ago farmers discovered that they could find out if an egg was fertilized or not by holding it up to a candle. They used candling to separate the eggs that would become chicks from those that would be food."
"Wow. I guess my time at farms would have been better spent listening to lectures than hiding from ducks," Mulder mumbles.
"What?" Liz asks, not sure she heard him correctly.
Mulder just blushes and refuses to repeat himself.
Max hisses at them to be quite, and they follow him to a locked side entrance. The lights are all off, so they don't think that they're likely to be spotted immediately if they use that door. Mulder is about to ask how they're going to unlock the door when Max places his hand over the lococking mechanism. For a second Mulder thinks that he sees a faint glowing coming from under the other boy's hand, but it's gone so quickly he's not sure if he saw that, or perhaps a firefly was sitting by the lock. Max grabs the doorknob and opens the door. They all fill in after him.
"You said the records room is on the second floor, but where's the front desk?" Michael whispers to Sam. She points down a darkened hallway. He nods. "Ok, Liz, Alex, Maria, you come with me. We're going to provide a diversion."
The four of them make their way quickly down the hall, then group themselves in front of the desk when the receptionist isn't looking.
"Excuse me," Michael interrupts her politely.
The woman is startled and blinks. "Oh, I'm sorry I didn't see you there. What can I do for you?"
"We're here to see out friend Jason. His mom says his room is on the second floor." Michael lies smoothly. Jason is a common name, so he's sure that there's at least one boy there with that name.
"Oh..." she glances at the clock. "It's awfully late. We don't usually allow visitors after 7pm."
Alex and the girls make distressed noises. "His mother didn't tell us that, and it's taken us all day to get here..." Michael gives her a hang-dog look.
The woman looks at the four unhappy teenagers, and feels bad. "Well, I can see what I can do..." she picks up a walkie-talkie and calls security. "I know it's late, but Jason has some visitors who have traveled all day to see him..." she listens to the garbled response. "Two boys and two girls... the boys and one of the girls have dark hair, and one of the girls is a blond," she says, studying them. She doesn't notice that Maria's eyes widened when she realized why Michael had been concerned about his hair. "All right." She smiles and looks at them. "He's doing rounds on another floor right now, but if you go to the top of those stairs "she points. "And wait in the waiting room on the far right, he'll meet you in about 15 minutes so you can have a short visit with your friend."
"Thank you so much," Michael says, giving her a charming smile, which the receptionist returns. The four of them promptly go up the stairs, run down a hallway, find more stairs, and exit the door they came in through.
Once they're back outside Michael plucks a walkie-talkie of his own out of his pocket. "You've got 15 minutes before you're going to meet a guard in the second-floor lounge to visit your friend 'Jason'," he tells Max, who thanks him.
"Well, all we can do now is wait and hope for the best." Michael tells the others as they walk towards the vehicles.
"You heard that," Max says quietly, as he, Isabel and Mulder follow Sam.
"It's right around here..." Sam says nervously, as they pass closed doors. "Here it is."
Mulder looks away while Max deal with the lock, not wanting to be tempted to ask questions. After a few seconds they find themselves in room filled with file cabinets. Fortunately they're labeled so they find the one containing files on children very quickly.
Mulder rifles through the file cabinet and grabs the files that say "Leary" on the corner, going back a bit he grabs another as well, this one with "Morgan" on it. He's about to shut it when Sam grabs his hand. "Wait a second," she whispers. Mulder shrugs and steps back. Sam pulls out another folder and lays it on the pile he's holding.
He glances down at it. "Archer?"
"Zane," Sam whispers, as if that explains everything.
"We're going to talk about that later," Mulder whispers harshly. He glances around the room with a distressed expression. "I have to find a way to copy these before we get caught."
Isabel rolls her eyes and grabs the folders out of his hands. "I'll do it." She sets them on a desk and waves her hand above the pile. An identical pile of folders forms next to them.
Mulder gaps at her, then thumbs through the first folder in each pile. "They're exactly the same," he says in wonder, as he stuffs them into a backpack that is identical to the one Alex brought in the building with him.
"Of course they are," Isabel says, picking up the duplicates and stuffing them in the file cabinet. "Let's get out of here and find that lounge."
The guard looks at the four people sitting quietly in the lounge. Two boys, both with dark hair, a girl with dark hair, and a blond girl, just like the receptionist said. "Sorry about the wait," he apologizes.
"We're just grateful that we can see Jason despite the late hour." Max grins.
"Ok, you can say hi to your friend, and I'll wait to escort you out," the guard tells them.
"Thanks!" they exclaim, wondering how poor Jason is going to take their arrival. They pass by several rooms with children in them. Most of the windows show sleeping children, but Mulder's pace slows as he passes one room. A small boy is sitting on a bed, playing with toy airplanes. The planes, which look like typical models, probably put together by some well-meaning adult, zip through the air as the child laughs. Mulder is stuck by the fact that the child is no older than Scully's nephew is.
Eventually they reach the room that belongs to unsuspecting Jason. "Five minutes," the guard tells them. They nod and go in. Jason is about 15 years old, and sound asleep, which comes to a relief to them since nothing they'd thought of to tell the boy sounded even half-way intelligent. After five minutes they leave the boy's room, and thank the guard and the receptionist for letting them visit with their "friend."
11:30pm Crash Down café-
Mulder clutches the bag full of folders and doesn't know what to say. "I...I can't believe you would... Thank you," he says with his eyes full of gratitude.
The three humans and three aliens smile at him. "Hey, it's not as though we had anything better planned for tonight," Alex quips.
"Yeah, we don't get to do enough breaking and entering." Michael adds.
"How long are you going to be here?" Isabel asks once the boys stop cracking wise.
"Um...I think we'll be leaving Thursday, so we'll be home before our parents," Mulder replies.
Isabel studies him for a moment. "I can't read minds or predict the future, but I have a feeling that this won't be the last time we see you. If you find after you read those files that you need to go back there for more information, I'm game."
"Me too," Michael says. Max pauses, and also agrees.
"Thank you, but why?" Mulder asks, bewildered.
Isabel looks at Sam. "It's important to know where you come from so you can figure out where you're going." Mulder wants to know what she means by that, but he promised to ask no questions.
Same time, Potter home-
Upstairs in his bed, Alexander is dreaming about being part of Sponge Bob's crew. His mother is finishing up some last minute chores. And Scully? She's sitting on the steps. Fox is curled up on her lap, and she gently strokes his red fur, idly wondering how much longer he's going to be able to fit on lap this way. He won't be a big dog, but he's already bigger than a full-grown cat.
The squeak of the door alerts Scully that she's not alone, so she cranes her head to see her sister. "What's up?"
"It's getting late, so I was wondering when you were coming in," Bessie says lightly.
"Soon," Scully says, shifting the puppy so her legs don't cramp. "I was just out here wondering what Mulder is doing right now."
"It's been a while since you've gone a week without seeing him, huh?" Something on her face makes Scully sure that she's thinking about Brodie, so she nods instead of bringing him up. "He and Sam went to see his aunt Gwen, that artist sister of Gale's right? Maybe he's helping her paint something."
"Maybe. She always did try to get other people to 'express their creative sides' when she visited," Scully says with a slight grin. She's always been slightly envious of Mulder's possession of such a hip aunt. Or any aunts for that matter.
Bessie squeezes her shoulder. "I'm sure he's having a carefree, fun week. He'll be back before you know it." Her look said 'you worry too much.'
"Yeah ... He's probably having a great time," Scully agrees, carrying the sleeping puppy inside.
Produced by CC, KW and Neoxphile
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