The plane was so late that they didn't even bother checking in with local authorities, only checking into their hotel and getting ready for bed. Tomorrow morning would be time enough to find out why the police chief had asked for them specifically.
She had drifted off to sleep fairly easily and didn't move until she felt the weight press down on the mattress. Startled she reached out to fend off whoever was there. The contact with the hard muscles of his chest sent a surge of adrenaline through her. Who had gotten into her room? Would Mulder hear her if she screamed? Of course he would and he'd be here in seconds. Except . . .
Mulder? This was Mulder, in her bed, his hands on her! He wasn't really forcing himself on her, at least not in the rape sense. He was holding her, caressing her, murmuring her name as though he belonged in her bed.
Fully awake now, she pulled away and he followed her. "Mulder! What the hell are you doing?" It was when he didn't respond that she realized he was asleep. But walking in his sleep into her room was no excuse. "Mulder?" She shook him, which he seemed to take as a signal to nuzzle her breasts. "Mulder!" Now she drew back forcefully and before he could reconnect, slapped him across the face.
That had the semi-desired effect. He woke with a start and looked down at her. "Scully? What are you doing in - "
"This is my room Mulder. You were apparently walking in your sleep." She spoke dryly, trying to disguise her discomposure from him.
"Sleep walk . . . " That was when the physical nature of his presence became clear to him and he rapidly exited her bed. Not good enough - he was only wearing the boxers and they, well, they weren't adequate. He jerked the bedspread from her bed and wrapped it around him. She had finally managed to sit up and sat watching him without a clear idea of anything to say.
"Scully, I - I'm sorry, I . . . I've never walked in my sleep . . . "
"No, uh, no real harm done, Mulder. You must have been dreaming or . . . or something."
"Yeah. Look, I'm sorry. Maybe, uh maybe you should lock the door on your side. Then if you need me . . . " He was backing toward the door, nearly babbling. She waited until he closed the door behind him, then rose from the bed and after a second, did turn the lock. She tried to ignore the fact that her hand was shaking and hurried back to the bed. Sleep refused to come for a very long time.
Back on his side of the door the sound of the lock slipping into place sounded like a death knell. What the hell had he been thinking? That was the problem - he hadn't been thinking; he'd been dreaming. But, hell, he'd been doing that for years. Thank god she'd slapped him when she had, or he'd be in a jail cell. Deservedly so. He dropped her bedspread on the floor. His "problem" hadn't gone away, but he'd be damned if he was going to do anything about it. Not now.
He slipped back into his own bed and stared at the ceiling, trying not to remember the feel of her body against his. He didn't sleep the rest of the night.
When he tapped on her door the next morning, the outside door, not the connecting one, she answered immediately. She opened the door, fully dressed as though she'd been up for hours. He didn't look as good. The shower hadn't really revived him and the guilt was still hovering over his head like a cloud.
"Good morning, Mulder." All business. Okay, he could play that. She was probably just trying to make him feel better. She'd do that for him; he shouldn't be surprised.
"You want some breakfast?"
"Just coffee. You look like you could use some too."
"Yeah." Maybe he couldn't do the "all business" thing. He wanted to talk to her about what had happened, maybe apologize again. She wasn't exactly giving him an opportunity. His hand automatically came up to the small of her back and, though she didn't flinch away, he dropped his hand immediately.
She felt her spirits sink. Whatever it was that had happened last night had messed up the status quo. He was going to be awkward around her and face it, she felt awkward around him. Their breakfast coffee and bagels was even quieter than normal. She had barely finished her cup when he rose. "Well, I guess we ought to go meet Sheriff Baker."
"Uh, yeah. I'm ready." But she didn't look at him, fiddling with her jacket and slipping from the booth.
Shit! He'd made an ass of himself last night. They hadn't locked the connecting door between their rooms since . . . hell, he couldn't even remember. He shook his head again at his own stupidity and followed her from the coffee shop. The drive to the sheriff's office was made in silence. He held the door for her, again having to remind himself not to touch her back. Did he really do it that much or was he just conscious of it now?
"Boy, are we glad you're here." The Sheriff led them into his office, "Some friends of mine thought you guys might be the perfect people to investigate what's going on around here. They said you were used to weird things and, well, that's what this is."
"Could you tell us what's been happening?" Mulder would have listened to him recite the alphabet - anything else to think about besides his own stupidity.
"Well, you aren't going to laugh at me are you?" He shut the door to his office and motioned them toward the chairs.
"No sir, we just need to hear what you think is going on." Scully looked up at the man to reassure him. Mulder noticed Sheriff Baker's shoulders seem to relax just looking at her. He felt his own tighten.
"Okay, guess I shouldn't stall anymore. Have a seat." He sat behind his desk and pulled out a handful of folders. "We've had a real crime spree here in town: an arson, a bank robbery, the school vandalized, and several molestations. It's like the whole town has gone crazy."
"Sheriff Baker, I'm sure you know that this is happening all around the country. Maybe statistically - "
"Yeah, yeah. That's what you'd think, except for the people doing it. The arson was committed by the fire chief; the school was vandalized by the teacher voted teacher of the year last year; the minister of the Baptist Church broke into one of his parishioners homes and . . . well that didn't get too far, but
still . . ."
"Excuse me, you know who's done all of these things?"
"Well, yeah. They've all been caught at the scene, before too much damage was done."
"So, what do they say?"
"That they were asleep." Mulder's whole body stiffened and he felt Scully's head snap up. "They say they were dreaming, like they were acting out their fantasies in their sleep."
"Their fantasies?" Scully asked that one; no way he was going to speak.
"Yeah, that's been the most puzzling thing. I mean the fire chief and I have been friends for thirty years, grew up here together. I knew how much he liked fire as a kid, though he'd never set one. But apparently it's been one of his deep, dark secret longings for years. That was real hard for him to confess to me. And Mrs. Perkins, over at the school, apparently she's - what do you call it - burnt out? She just wanted to lash out like the kids do sometimes."
"So these people are acting out."
"Yeah, but the thing they've all said, and they're real strong on this point. Every one of them thought they were in bed dreaming. When we found them, we did have to wake them, like they was in a trance or something. These are good people Mr. Mulder, Ms. Scully. They wouldn't do this normally."
"I'm not sure - " Scully tried to keep her eyes away from Mulder, not waiting for him to speak.
"Could they be possessed?" The sheriff looked at them.
"I, uh, I think Agent Scully and I need to, uh, need to talk to some of the people."
"Sure, sure. Jacob is over at the fire station right now."
"He wasn't suspended?" Scully asked, looking up from the folder she had picked up in order to do something with her hands.
"Well no. He helped us put out the fire and he's gonna pay for the damage, but there wasn't all that much. He's a good carpenter, so he'll be doing most of the work himself."
Scully took a deep breath. Small town America - you had to love it. "Okay, we'll start with this Jacob White and check back with you." She rose, and Mulder was only a beat behind her. He stopped to shake the sheriff's hand and had to hurry to catch up with her before she left the building.
"Scully - "
"Don't say anything."
"But Scully - "
"Let's just go over to the fire department and speak with Mr. White."
"Maybe there's a hallucinogen in the water or . . . " His voice trailed off as she turned away.
The fire department was less than a block away and the chief admitted them into his office immediately. "I sure hope you can help me. I'm afraid to go to sleep now." He wasn't denying his part in anything.
"Can you tell us more about what happened?" Scully was definitely leading this investigation. He leaned back to watch the man as he talked. He was obviously rattled; he'd never walked in his sleep and hadn't even admitted to himself how much the thought of actually starting a fire had appealed to him until this incident.
"Are you on city water here and at your home?" Mulder's head snapped up at that question. So she had listened to him!
"Well, here I am, but my house is on well water. The city gets its drinking water from the processing plant over near the river. Do you think someone slipped something into the water?"
"We don't have any theories at this time."
"Boy that would be a relief. 'Course it won't help the Reverend Sykes too much, now that his wife knows he's lusting after the widow Sutherland. Even if he was drugged, the impulse was still there, you know?"
Neither of them responded to that. After a few more questions and a sample of the water from the station, they were back in the car. He sat for a minute, not starting the car, waiting and hoping she'd speak. When she didn't he swallowed, "Scully."
"Let's go to the school. I want to talk to the teacher next."
"Fine." He turned away from her and started the car, not speaking again even after they parked and were headed inside. They stopped at the office and were directed to the teacher's lounge, where Mrs. Maddox would meet them. They sat in silence, uncomfortable though neither would admit it, while they waited for her.
She entered the room with shoulders slumped, head down. She didn't look at all like a teacher of the year would look. "Are you here to arrest me?"
"No ma'am." Mulder rose and held a chair for her. "We're here to try to get to the bottom of what's going on and why."
"I can't believe I did it. I mean, yes it was a fantasy of mine, especially after a really bad day, but not something I would ever really do. My god, I'm a teacher, an authority, and now . . . " She buried her face in her hands. Scully moved closer to her and comforted her until she was composed again.
They got very little new information out of her. She had been dreaming. It was a dream she had had many times in the past. She'd always felt a guilty pleasure in enjoying the dream. And yes, she was on city water.
"Scully, it's not the water. You're not going to find anything there."
"What do you mean? This was your idea in the first place. Now you're convinced it's something else? Why?" She finally turned to look at him, really look at him, probably for the first time all day.
"I didn't drink any water, or any water based fluid. I didn't even take a shower."
"What have you got to do with - "
"Are you going to keep denying that I experienced the - "
"I'm tired, Mulder. I'm going to bed." She moved to the connecting door, leaving his room.
"Scully, we need to talk about this." He was beseeching her, but she refused to look at him again. "Scully . . . " But he was talking to the closed door, and after hearing the lock snick into place, sank onto his bed unable to decide what to do next.
She obviously didn't want to face the fact that he had fantasies about her. And she just as obviously didn't have them about him. Great. He felt his mood slip even lower. Finally he stood and decided to get ready for bed. After having no sleep last night he was tired. At least he knew she was safe, she'd locked him out to ensure it.
He'd fallen asleep to the TV, sprawled on top of the covers, not willing to admit he was going to sleep and possibly dream of going to her again.
The sound of the TV being turned off and the light missing from the room woke him. He was aware of someone moving around. He lunged for his gun as a car drove past his window. The headlights illuminated the room and he realized Scully had entered and turned off the TV.
"Hey, I'm sorry. I didn't realize I had it turned too loud." She didn't answer, moving toward him. "Scully?"
She tugged on the covers and he shifted, allowing her to pull them from under him and crawl inside. "Scully, if this is some kind of joke, retaliation for last night . . . Scully?" She still hadn't spoken. But his eyes had adjusted enough now to see that she was completely nude.
His mouth went dry. What was going on? She was against him now, her hands doing things he was enjoying way too much. As one hand trailed down his stomach, heading even further south, he managed to grab it. Now what? No way was he going to slap her. He couldn't hit Scully anyway, but for doing this? No way in hell.
"Scully, please." She was biting him now, his nipple, his chest. His arousal was complete and he knew he was losing good judgment. "Scully!" He forced her down on the bed, trying to talk to her, make her hear him. His hand cupped her breast and his fingers tightened on her nipple. Ahh, she liked that. He was definitely going to end up in jail.
He had to stop thinking with his cock, not an easy thing under the circumstances. "Scully, listen to me. We can't do this, not like this." He grabbed her hand again, accidentally bringing it down on her thigh just close enough . . . he was frozen in place, she was coming - he was holding Dana Scully as she came in his arms. This was a sight he'd been afraid to even imagine and here it was.
She was relaxing again, drifting off pressed against his body. Once he was sure she was sound asleep again he rose, no way he could stay in the bed with her, not and remain sane. He made his way to the chair as he wrapped the extra blanket around him.
"Mulder? What are you . . . " She sat up in bed, "I locked the door from my side."
"This isn't your room." He responded gently. "You came to me last night. You might want to pull up the covers."
"I . . . I . . .oh god." Her face was bright red as memory flooded her. Not a dream.
"I think I understand now why you acted like you did yesterday. You weren't angry at me for having fantasies; you were scared your own would surface." He rose from the chair now and stretched, then bent and picked up his t-shirt from yesterday. "Here." He tossed it to her and watched as she dived under the covers with it.
When she emerged he sat on the bed beside her. "You okay?" She shook her head but didn't speak. "Look, you may not remember it like it really happened. I didn't take advantage of you, Scully. I swear. Otherwise would I have slept in that chair? I was nearly a perfect gentleman. It is nice to know I'm not alone in the fantasy department. Was it me you were fantasizing about?"
She nodded her head miserably. Now what was going to happen? Her power, her distance was gone. He knew even this about her now. Was nothing sacred?
"I'm not going to use this against you, Scully." She looked up startled and he gave her a small smile. "If you won't use the same information against me."
"Mulder . . . "
"We still need to get to the bottom of what's causing this. What if we meet back here in a few minutes, after we're dressed." He stood and headed for his bath.
"Thanks." He turned back and nodded, but didn't speak. He heard her leave his room just as he turned the shower on.
He wanted to laugh when she did return. Did she own a more severe suit? "I assume this is not for my benefit, since I've already seen - "
"Mulder! You said - "
"I said I wouldn't use what happened last night against you and I won't. But you don't have to punish yourself either. You are no more to blame about what didn't happen here than Chief White or Mrs. Maddox. Lighten up, Scully. No one will ever know about this." He stepped closer to her and lifted her chin to look into her eyes. "I promise."
He looked up as Scully approached with a fax in her hand. At least she'd removed her jacket and unbuttoned the top button of her blouse. She still looked a little too much like a Catholic schoolgirl, but it didn't hurt his memories at all.
"Well, the water has no discernable chemicals that could cause a lowering of inhibitions. Now what?" She sank into the chair beside the desk he was using.
"Look at this." He pointed to a map he had drawn of the town with the work locations of the 'participants' marked. "It seems to fan out from this location." He pointed to their motel. "If ground zero is the motel, that would explain why I was affected so quickly. That and the fact that I hadn't slept the night before."
"Why not?" She looked up from the map.
"Huh? Oh, bad dreams." He dropped it at that and she let it go. It was explanation enough. "Since this is a new phenomena we need to find out what's new in this area." His hand encompassed the area around their motel. She nodded and he rose to go search for Sheriff Baker.
She watched him walk away. Who would have thought Mulder could be so sensitive? This could have ruined everything, but he had made it tolerable. She knew a talk would be forthcoming, but at least for now they were okay with each other. That brought back memories of the 'dream' she'd had and color suffused her face. She rose abruptly and headed for the ladies room. She couldn't let Sheriff Baker or Mulder see her like this.
After she splashed water on her face she was able to return to the squad room and found the two men leaning over the map talking quietly. "Oh Scully, we going to head over to the motel, look around. Sheriff Baker isn't aware of anything new."
She nodded and he rose. This time when his hand automatically went to her back he left it there and saw her smile before she turned away.
The Sheriff followed them and as they parked he hurried over to their car. "I thought of one new thing, but there's no way it has anything to do with this. In fact, it's stupid to even mention it."
"Go ahead anyway." Mulder rose from his seat in the car and looked over at Scully.
"Well, Becky, the woman that runs this place has a son. In fact, he's the reason she took this job, because she lives here and can keep an eye on him, you know, even when she's at work. He, uh, he's in a wheelchair. Always has been. He can't speak, feed himself, anything much. He has partial use of his left hand and he can see and hear. He's in his teens now and just too big for her to handle alone so the church, the men's group, and some townspeople went in together and bought the boy a new chair. It's electric and he can move himself around a little, move forward, turn right or left." Baker grinned, "He can play the remote control now and turn to see the screen. He watches a lot of TV while Becky works."
"Well, you're right. I don't see a connection." Scully ventured as they walked toward the office.