"Now, Becky, this is not . . . there's no arrest pending, so we don't have a search warrant. We just want to look around, see if there's anything that could be causing what's happening around here."
"But why here? What do you think . . . you don't think I'm doing anything."
"No, Becky, don't even think that. We're just exploring extreme possibilities." Scully's head flew up and she looked over at Mulder who was trying not to grin. Her eyebrow went up, she obviously shouldn't have left these two alone together.
"Well, don't mess anything up. You never know when those corporate guys are going to come by and check on things." She opened the door to her personal apartment just off the lobby.
Mulder took one step in and stopped in his tracks. "You never mentioned this."
Scully had nearly bumped into him when he stopped, now she looked around him to see the electronic equipment on the far side of the room.
"Well, you said new stuff, Agent Mulder." Sheriff Baker turned back to look at him. "This equipment has been here for years."
"Yeah," Becky looked up at Mulder. "I'm licensed, there's nothing wrong with . . . "
"I'm sorry, I'm not accusing you of anything. What is all of this?"
"It's my radio equipment. I do ham."
"Yeah, Becky's been doing this since before Joe was born. She's been a big help in more than one emergency. Couple of years ago, she was our only contact with the world during a bad ice storm. Not only with this, but keeping this place going with generators and letting folks stay here."
Mulder nodded and Scully watched his eyes. He had a theory now, she better buckle up.
"May we meet Joe?" She wasn't able to follow his thought processes but whatever it was . . .
"Sure, he's in his bedroom." Becky led them to the room behind the equipment. It was definitely not a typical teenage boy's room. Hospital equipment predominated: the bed, the oxygen canister. There was a TV and a VCR; the universal remote was attached to the arm of the motorized wheelchair.
The boy was awake, his eyes following the movement on the screen.
"Looks like a nice chair." Mulder spoke quietly so as not to disturb the boy.
"Oh it is. He's much more comfortable than in the old one and being able to move around himself has just been a godsend. He's even started sleeping in it occasionally. He breathes better and with the neck support I don't have to worry as much. I'm even sleeping better. And I'll tell you trying to get him in and out of bed alone has become more and more difficult."
"So Joe is now sleeping in the chair?"
"Part of the time. He asks to, actually. It's okay, I mean I wouldn't do anything to hurt - "
"No, I'm sure he's more comfortable. I was just asking. It looks like you take very good care of your son." Becky smiled at him, the look of relief plain on her face. Scully marveled at the charm this man exuded without even trying.
Joe looked over at them then and Mulder saw the agreement in his eyes. Mulder squeezed the boy's shoulder lightly and nodded for Scully to proceed him from the room.
He thanked Becky for her cooperation and followed Sheriff Baker out to the cars. "I think I know what's happening."
"Happening? Mulder - "
"Just listen. That chair, it's high tech and it sits right next to the ham radio. What if . . . what if that boy is doing this."
"Doing what? How could the boy do anything?"
"He's trapped in that chair, he always has been, but now he's a teenager. He's feeling desires, longings. He watches a lot of TV and I'm pretty sure it's not censored. Okay, now he's got this new electronic chair, one he even sleeps in, dreams in. When his mother is broadcasting over her radio . . . "
"Mulder, you think that boy's fantasies are being sent throughout the town and causing people to - "
"Yes, I do." He didn't finish his thought, not in front of Baker and Scully was grateful. "This started two weeks ago, when did Joe get his chair?"
"Uh, maybe three weeks ago. I could look it up. I was here so it's on the signout sheet."
"Thanks, I'd like that information. Then I think we need to run some tests." He looked over at Scully who nodded.
Sheriff Baker got into his car. "I'll check on that. I've got to do my patrol now, but I'll call you." He waved and pulled out.
Mulder turned back to her, "It makes sense, Scully. It took a few days for the boy to get in synch with the chair. But now he lives in the thing, dreams in it, watches all of his fantasies played out on the TV and movies from that chair. Then at night, while he's asleep his mother gets on her radio. I'm not sure what direction her antenna's pointed but I'm willing to bet it's right past my room. And yours."
The color rose on her face, but she didn't look away. "How do we test for something like this?"
"Well, I'd like to volunteer." Her eyebrow rose and he grinned, "Well I would, but that's not really feasible. I do't know . . . if we stop her from transmitting for a few nights and nothing happens . . . "
"That's not a very scientific test."
"I . . . what about the guys? Would they have any gadgets that would be able to detect something like this?"
"Good question." He pulled the cell phone from his coat. After a short conversation he hung up. "They're sending me some equipment overnight. We just have to hope no one 'overreacts' tonight." She looked away shaking her head. "Do we lock both sides of the door tonight?"
"Okay, just so you know I offered." She turned away, "Hungry?"
"I guess so."
"Then come on."
They had been served their dinner when his phone rang. "Mulder. Yeah, yeah, that sounds right. Okay. I have some equipment coming tomorrow morning; we'll run some tests. Tonight? We just have to keep our eyes and ears open. Thanks." He hung up and looked over at Scully. "The first incident happened three days after Joe got his chair. We can't prove it only happens on nights she broadcasts, yet, and let's face it a lot of the 'fantasies' probably haven't been reported. I mean between married couples, smaller non-illegal fantasies . . . "
"I get the picture, Mulder."
He grinned, "Should we canvass the town, get everyone's dreams?"
"No thank you." She turned back to her meal.
It had started raining by the time he walked her to her room, so she let him in. He took off his coat and draped it over the back of her chair. "I'm going to call the guys back, see what kind of tests they've worked up for us to run."
"Well do it in your room; I'm getting ready for bed."
"You shouldn't be tired. You slept very well last night."
"Don't start with me." He grinned and moved toward the connecting door. "Here." She tossed his coat to him, splattering his face and grinned.
"Thanks." He retreated to his own room and shut the door behind him. He didn't hear the lock engage and his smile grew bigger.
After a lengthy conversation with the guys he got ready for bed himself and flipped on the TV. He settled in, not knowing if he was waiting for her to join him or not.
Morning brought disappointment as well as daylight. He stretched and made his way into his shower. When he emerged he heard hers going. Damn, too bad. He finished dressing and headed over to the office.
"Agent Mulder. Did you sleep well last night?"
"Better than I even wanted to. Say, were you on the radio last night?"
"No, I was tired. Joe's therapist comes every other day. When sh's not here I have to do it."
"I guess that's rough." She nodded. "I just wanted you to know I'm expecting a package overnight. Could you call me at this number when it arrives?"
"No problem." She smiled up at him and took the card he handed her. "Joe liked you."
"I liked him. I wish I could explain to him what he's done for me."
"Done for you?"
"Nevermind. I'll talk to you later." He returned to his room and tapped on the connecting door.
"Come in." She was brushing her hair. "Breakfast?"
"Aren't you going to complain about being lonely?" She shot him a nearly lethal glare. "Just FYI, Becky wasn't transmitting last night."
"I know it doesn't prove anything . . . "
"No, but it does support your theory. When should the package get here?"
"By ten. Let's go eat." The sheriff joined them for breakfast and Mulder went over the tests he wanted to run. There had been no disturbances or reports of sleep walking during the night.
Explaining what they wanted to Becky was a little more complicated. The fact that she didn't believe them at all and thought they'd lost their minds didn't help any.
"Look, you are not being accused of anything. We just want to test to see if there are any funky wavelengths in the radio band. We're not going to see if anyone starts sleep walking, we just want to see what happens when you transmit while he's in the chair."
"I never transmit during the day. The company - "
"We'll clear that, don't worry. You're helping with a police investigation."
"I don't know if I can explain this to Joe. I can't take the chair away from him."
"There's nothing to explain and we're not asking you to take the chair. This is just a test."
"You're crazy." She looked over at Baker. "You are, you know."
"What's been happening around here is crazy, too, Becky. Maybe we ought to look for crazy solutions." She shook her head but went to power up her equipment.
Scully sat in front of the screen, Mulder leaning over her. "Ready? Go ahead, Becky."
"You know, we probably need Frohike here to interpret - Mulder look at that." The lower bandwidth jerked alive. "Okay, something's there. What does it mean?"
"I can't tell you that. Now we've got to do some testing." Scully stood and pulled Mulder away from the others.
"Mulder, how the hell are we going to test this?"
"We'll have to leave the door unlocked, and promise not to take advantage of one another. Can you keep a promise like that?"
"You are having altogether too much fun with this case, Mulder."
He grinned. "So far no one's been really harmed. No charges have been filed. Maybe some secrets have come out but I'm not complaining. The damages done are being repaired."
"What about the minister's marriage?"
"Well, sometimes the truth is painful, Scully. But what I've learned about myself and others has been enlightening to me."
"Mulder." Her tone was warning.
"Scully, you came to my bed two nights ago naked and willing and I managed to keep my virtue intact." He saw that her blush was accompanied by a smile. "You're just going to have to trust me." He sobered then. "Can you trust me that much?"
"Of course I trust you, Mulder." Of course? She'd said of course? "We're just in very delicate territory here. I don't . . . " She gave a small shrug and he nodded.
"We've got some time. I think I better get on the horn to Byers and see what they think of this."
This conversation took a lot longer and when he finally hung up he was shaking his head. "They can't duplicate it and they haven't seen it either. But Frohike wants to move here."
Scully snorted, "He would. So what do we do?"
"There's not a lot we can do right now. Nothing happens until everyone's asleep, including Joe. I think I'll go for a run, work off some of this energy."
"Excellent idea." She spoke dryly. "Take a long one."
"Like I'm the problem." He shot back at her and left to change. She was left with little or nothing to do except contemplate what might happen that evening. She found herself becoming more and more nervous.
She actually jumped when she heard him come back from his run. When she heard the shower cut on she thought for an instant she was running a fever. She needed to get out of here as well, this was stupid. It was like she was waiting for him to attack her or something.
She signed off the computer; it had already gone into pause mode she had sat in front of it without working for so long. She wasn't going to admit she was bolting from the room before he could knock on the door.
When she finally worked up her courage to return, she was caught off guard to see him lounging in the chair in her room. He looked up at her, not moving. "Do I scare you that much?"
"What do you mean?" She tried to sound confident, even defiant, but she knew it didn't work.
"You were here when I got back from my run. I take a three-minute shower and you've vanished. Scully, I'm not going to do anything to make you uncomfortable. And I sure as hell am not going to force myself on you. Talk to me, please."
She sat on the bed facing him, not sure what to say. How much should she confess to him? She took a deep breath, "I'm scared."
"Do you think I can't make you happy?"
"No! No, that's not . . . Mulder I don't think I can make you happy." He gaped at her, not make him happy? Did she not know - "When's the last time you were happy, Mulder? Really happy?"
"You mean other than waking up to find you in my room?" Her eyebrow stopped further quips. "Okay, the first thing that comes to mind with me is New Year's Eve. I was very happy then. When do you remember being happy, Scully?"
She was back in the emergency room, watching the ball drop in Times Square. Yeah, even the memory made her happy. "Me too." Then she straightened her back, "But that was a one-time thing. I don't normally make you happy."
"Where are you getting this? The first time I remember being happy since I was twelve years old is the night you burst into my motel room in Oregon and showed me . . . " She stiffened, "your trust ,Scully. I was going to say your trust. Then we talked, really talked like I hadn't talked to anyone in years. Maybe I wasn't dancing around, but god I was happy for the first time since I could remember."
"What about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?"
He looked at her startled. And people talked about his memory. "That was lust, Scully, just lust. My memories of Phoebe don't include happiness. I remember betrayals and mind games, but never happiness. I was just a kid when I met her, alone in a foreign country. If I'd had more experience I would have seen through her much earlier. No, happiness is not a word I use when I recall that period of my life." He stood then and joined her on the bed. "Scully, when I think of the word 'happiness' I see you bending over me when I woke up after you fished me out of the Bermuda Triangle. I feel you breathing against my chest after the stranger tried to take your heart, when you came out of your coma and, oh god, when I found out your cancer had gone into remission. Do you see a theme here, Scully?"
Her eyes were bright with unshed tears as she reached for him, bringing her lips to his and pulling him down with her to the bed.
"Scully, Scully, wait. This could mess up the test."
"No test. I don't want any outside interference in this. I want to be wide awake and making my own decisions. I want you."
"Scully?" Had she really said those words? Did she mean them? And how did her hand get inside his t-shirt?
He collapsed beside her, not sure he'd ever get his breath back. My god what a woman! She was obviously struggling with composure herself and he reached for her. "You okay?" She smiled up at him - he'd never seen that smile before. "Happy?" He grinned at her.
"I've never been any happier, Mulder. I didn't think it was possible." They held each other for a few minutes then he felt her hands exploring.
"Scully, you're going to have to give me a break here. I'm not seventeen anymore."
"Oh yeah?" What the hell was she . . . god!
"You're a dangerous woman." He managed to growl before he lost himself in her again.
She started to roll over but his arms stopped her. Morning? Scully smiled. She'd just spent all night in Mulder's arms and wanted more. But it was morning - one of them needed to be mature."Mulder? Mulder, wake up. We need to see if anything happened last night."
"Do you need reminding about what happened last night?" He was kissing her hair.
"Not that." She moved his hand away and scooted toward the edge of the bed. "We need to see if the 'test' worked."
"Scuulllly." He whined at the thought of leaving the bed and her body.
"Come on, big guy." She jerked the sheet from his body and after admiring it for a second, slapped him smartly on the ass. His eyes widened and she stepped away, out of his reach. Now he rose and followed her into the bathroom and on into the shower.
When they finally were dressed she tried hard to wipe the smile from her face. She carefully applied lipstick and looked herself over. Damn, a blind man could see that she'd 'gotten some' last night and he was no help. Look at him, grinning like a fool. How the hell were they supposed to go out in public like this?
"Mulder, we've got to get a grip here. We are supposed to be working."
"You're absolutely right, Agent Scully. I want you to try to keep your hands to yourself for at least a few minutes." Her eyebrow rose and she straightened her spine to walk past him.
"Behave!" She growled at him as she opened the door and moved toward the office.
Sheriff Baker looked up as they entered the office. "Morning. Did you sleep okay?"
Scully knew the blood was rising in her face, but she spoke as though it were a normal day. "Fine. Did anything happen?"
"Yep. Almost came over and woke you, but I decided there wasn't anything you could do about it."
"What?" Mulder eagerly joined the conversation.
Baker couldn't keep the grin off his face. "We had a woman ride down Main Street on horseback - stark naked."
"You're kidding! Maybe I shouldn't have missed that." Scully turned so that the Sheriff couldn't see her face. Mulder wiped the grin off of his face once again.
"Yeah, I got a deputy who may never recover. You see Mrs. Marshall was his third grade teacher and he . . . " He looked over at Scully who had begun to chuckle.
That was all it took. She was laughing now, full out, and leaning against Mulder to remain on her feet. Both men watched her. Mulder began to snicker himself; that's when the sheriff started in and all three of them were lost, laughing as hard as they could.
Becky came out of the apartment about that time. "Lloyd? What is going on out here?"
Scully recovered first, standing up straight and wiping her eyes. "I'm sorry, I just . . . Sheriff Baker, that's a powerful weapon you have there. You need to make sure it's used for good and not evil." And they were all three off again.
She opened the door to the apartment already smiling. She knew he was in there, waiting for her.
"About time you got here." He called from the kitchen.
"Afraid I'll learn you can cook?" She retorted as she headed his way.
"Oh I can cook." He put his arm around her waist and pulled her to him. "Want me to show you?"
"Later, I'm starving." She kissed him and moved over to the stove to check the pasta. He spotted the envelope sticking out of her pocket.
"What'ja got?" He was nuzzling her neck again.
She arched her neck to increase the contact. "Do you remember Sheriff Baker?"
"Um, my favorite X-File."
"Yeah, him. He sent a letter updating us on the situation." She pulled it from her pocket. "They did additional testing after we left. It seems there were only problems when Joe actually slept in the chair. So, they made some improvements to his bed and Sheriff Baker settles him in every night and gets him up every morning. He's not that heavy, but he was tall enough that Becky couldn't handle him alone anymore."
"That's got to be a strain on the good sheriff's time, making sure he goes by twice every day."
"Not really. It seems Lloyd has moved in with Becky."
"Yep. And it seems that the only long-term effect on the town is the population explosion that's due in seven months."
"Ah, so there were fantasies we didn't get to investigate."
"Apparently." She smiled up at him then turned back to dish up their dinner. He leaned back on the counter and watched her. She'd already more than fulfilled his fantasies and was busy creating new ones every day. Yes, definitely his favorite X-File ever.