Nebraska - part 1 (R)
Mulder woke and stretched, opening his eyes. He stopped in mid-stretch. Where the hell . . .? He looked around the room. Not at all familiar and all too familiar - standard cheap motel. He had woken up in hundreds of them. The difference was, this time, he had no memory of checking into one.
He hadn’t gone out last night. After he left the office he’d stopped for a quick dinner at his favorite diner, then gone home. He’d worked on the computer for a while, played a little while on a video game, and then started one of his videos. He turned it off shortly - he didn’t enjoy them as much as he once had. Then he’d gone to bed, alone.
He glanced around the room again. No sign of a woman. Good, at least he wasn’t completely crazy. No sign of a hangover either. Okay, so what had happened? He had on boxers; did he have any clothes here? Yeah, there was his suitcase. It was as though he’d packed to go on a case. Why couldn’t he remember? He’d never forgotten anything like this before. He slipped on a pair of sweats and a t-shirt.
He looked over at the door. The bolt was thrown. He turned then toward the connecting door. It was slightly ajar. He approached it cautiously and pushed it open.
Scully! His relief made him weak. She’d know what was going on and she’d figure out what was wrong with him.
“Scully. Scully, wake up.” He approached the bed.
Her eyes opened as she woke with a start. “Mulder? What are you doing in my - “ She stopped as she took in her surroundings. "Mulder, where are we?”
She watched his shoulders slump slightly. “I was hoping you could tell me. Maybe you better get dressed. We need to figure this out.”
Scully nodded and rose from the bed. She was wearing flannel men’s pajamas, but he was still grateful for the trust she showed him. She gathered some clothes in her arms and started for the bathroom. She stopped as she noticed him pick up the phone in her room. He dialed the familiar number as she watched.
“Yes, sir. It’s - “
“I’m sorry, you have a wrong number.” And the line went dead. His expression caused her to move closer to him.
“He knew it was me. He recognized my voice, but he got off the phone before I could identify myself. We gotta find out what’s going on - and where we are.”
She nodded and continued on into the bathroom. He watched her disappear and once the door was closed he rose and returned to his own room. He went through his suitcase - no cell phone, but his guns were here, wallet but no ID. He packed quickly and took his things into her room.
She was already packing as well. “Do you have a cell phone?”
He shook his head. “No. No ID either.” She looked up quickly and reached for her own wallet. She flipped it open, then nodded at him. “How much cash do you have?”
“$80. Wait a minute,” she checked further, “$180. You?”
“$212. I don’t know if these rooms are paid for, but I think we need to leave and send money later.”
She nodded and lifted her suitcase off the bed. He didn’t reach for it; he’d learned his lesson. “Do we have transportation?”
“I hope so. I have a key to a rental car. Have you seen anything yet to tell us where we are?”
She shook her head and followed him outside. He glanced over at her and headed for the white Taurus outside of his door. The key fit the door and he grinned at her moving to open the trunk. They stowed their gear and got in the car.
Mulder started the engine as she went through the glove compartment. “Nebraska. Mulder, we rented this car in Omaha.”
“Nebraska?” He stopped at a shopping mall and pulled in to look for a pay phone. They stood beside each other and each called their own apartments. “The number you have called is no longer a working number. If you feel - “ He looked over at her. He could tell from her expression that she was hearing the same message. When she hung up he looked around, then leaned in closer to her. “I think I need to call the guys.” She nodded and he dialed quickly.
“Langly, What’s - “
“Line three, fifteen minutes.” And the phone went dead.
“What?” She had hold of his arm.
“Let’s get a cup of coffee.” He led her to a table in the nearby food court and seated her. He was back quickly with the coffee and two bagels. “I think we’ve got a problem.”
“What did Langly say?”
“To call back in fifteen minutes on line three. That means they’re setting up every gadget they’ve got to protect us both.”
“Mulder, have we been missing?” He looked around and spotted a newspaper on a nearby table. He brought it to their table and seated himself. He looked back up at her,
“Yeah. According to this it’s the fourth. We’ve been gone two weeks.”
She closed her eyes for a moment, then opened them wide. “Mom! Oh my god, what is she thinking and Bill, Charlie!”
“We’ll get this straightened out. Try not to worry.” He took hold of her hand. At least he had her with him. “Come on, let’s make that call.” They rose and returned to the phones.
“It’s me.” He
didn’t want to say his own name, holding the receiver so that she could also
“Damn! They said you were dead. Is she . . .?”
“She’s here with me.”
“Praise be.” They heard Frohike’s voice chime in. Scully managed a slight smile.
“You were both found murdered in your apartments, shot in the head. The DNA proved it was you, but - “
“DNA? How the hell could that happen?”
“We’ll get right on it. Can you give us twenty-four?”
“Don’t see a choice. Hey, did our boss know about this?”
“We saw him at the funeral. He was torn up and I know he’s the one that demanded the DNA testing. He believes you’re dead.”
“Not anymore. I called him first. You might want to contact him, but be careful.
Someone’s gone to a lot of trouble to make everyone believe we’re dead.”
“What do you need?”
“A laptop, fully loaded.” He glanced at Scully who nodded. “Just a second.” He covered the phone with his hand. “Do you want them to call your mother?”
She shook her head. “Not yet. It could be dangerous. Let’s find out what’s going on first.” He just looked at her; that was a difficult call for her. With his own mother gone, he knew no one would miss him except this woman standing so close beside him. Finally he took a deep breath and nodded.
“Okay, that’s it for now. Send it to . . . “ he looked up, “to the Mail Box at Valley Mall in Omaha. We’ll pick it up. Thanks guys.”
“Keep your head down. Whatever you need, let us know.”
“Thanks. Later.” He hung up and took a deep breath. “Scully?”
“Let’s get out of here.” He nodded and took her arm. They didn’t speak until they were back in the car. “Damn it Mulder! What are they doing to us now? How the hell did they get our DNA from those bodies?”
“Maybe . . . maybe they were clones.” She just looked at him, not bothering to comment. “Look, we don’t know how long the bodies lay in our apartments. And if the bodies were shot in the face they might have been unrecognizable - why else would Skinner demand DNA? They didn’t have to be fully human then, just bipedal. Look, they’ve already cloned sheep and pigs. Bodies to be killed might not be a big problem.”
He watched her massage her forehead in an obvious attempt to relieve a headache.
“We need to stay hidden, we probably need to ditch this car.”
She was right but he didn’t have a clue what to say to her. “I’m sorry Scully.” She didn’t respond, looking out the window. “Scully, I’ll do whatever it takes - “
“Mulder.” She turned back to look at him. “I’m . . . I’m glad it wasn’t me ordering the DNA testing. Let’s get this cleared up. We’ll have the computer in the morning. We need to find a place, a cheap place, to stay.”
Mulder returned to the car and let himself in on the passenger’s side. Scully pulled away still watching for anyone suspicious. He opened the box and pulled out the laptop. He flipped it open and an envelope fell out. He opened it and pulled out some papers, photos and cash. He counted it quickly, $500.
“Mulder, the guys don’t have that kind of money.”
“I know. I’ll get it back to them somehow. I should have left them something in my will.” She shook her head but she managed to smile, since she didn’t think he could see. “Actually, you’re going to have to pay them back. You’re the wealthy one.”
“Well, you now own two houses on the Vineyard and a cabin and all that land at Quonochontaug.”
“I own what?”
“You were the sole beneficiary of my will. I had good life insurance too. Too bad I won’t get to benefit from it.”
“Wait a minute - you left all of that to me?” She had pulled into a parking space at the far end of the lot.
“Who else would I leave anything to? Mom’s gone and Samantha’s not coming back. You’re the only family I have.” She sat looking at him, mouth open. “Come on, you can’t be that shocked.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
“Don’t say anything. It doesn’t look like you’re going to get to spend it either. I shouldn’t have said anything. Just forget it.”
“Forget it? How can I do that?” He sat there, no longer looking at her and growing more uncomfortable by the minute. She didn’t want to know this. She didn’t want to know how he felt about her and now, out here, alone and cut off like they were that was probably for the best.
“Do you want me to drive?” He wanted to change subjects and the quicker the better.
“Uh, no.” She looked around, remembering their circumstances and pulled out. This was something that needed to be discussed, but not now. Not while they were exposed.
Once back in their room, he powered up the laptop and using the contact that the guys had set up, sent out a message to them.
"He wants you to keep your heads down, but he’s with us on the investigation."
“Skinner? He sent the $500? It had to be for you, he doesn’t care $500 worth about me.” Mulder leaned back in the chair. Scully swatted his arm and then leaned over him to type in a message.
"Can you send the files about the bodies?"
"We’ll keep you up to date. Later."
Their lives settled into a routine of non-routine patterns. They were underground now and running. Whoever had ‘killed’ them surely hadn’t planned to let them go. Someone had released them.
She used the computer to research everything she could get her hands on through the web concerning cloning. Bodies had been found in their apartments. Bodies with DNA that matched hers and Mulder’s exactly. They weren’t dead; therefore something else had happened. There had to be an explanation. Once a week at preset times they exchanged information with the Gunmen. She was rapidly becoming an expert on the new technology - at least virtually. She was beginning to believe that such a possibility existed.
Mulder spent his time working on their murders. Skinner had managed to get the information he had uncovered regarding the case to the Gunmen as well, so Mulder had access to all the evidence that had been gathered. He’d passed along some suggestions of his own, but his frustration with the case was growing. Someone had killed them and was getting away with it.
If there was a positive for him, it was the time he was spending with her. He had worried that too much togetherness would push them apart. He was used to solitude. That was not to say he always enjoyed it, but after all these years it had become comfortable. It hadn’t happened. He’d learned to put the toilet seat down and eat things besides pizza and Chinese.
What surprised him the most though, was that he hadn’t run out of things to talk to her about. She could hold her own with him on nearly every topic and she was good company. He couldn't say whether or not she felt the same, but she seemed okay with living with him. They had their own space; they weren’t joined at the hip or anything, unfortunately. But if he had to go underground with someone, she was definitely his top three choices. Now that deserted island fantasy didn’t seem nearly as far-fetched.
It all changed overnight. All joy seemed to go out of her world and his attempts at conversation were met with silence or thinly veiled hostility. He tried to get around it or jolly her out of it. He even tried to tell himself it was just hormonal and would pass, though he felt like a real Neanderthal even thinking like that.
He woke to see her sitting in a chair by the window, staring out, but not seeing anything.
“Scully?” She didn’t answer. He was certain she didn’t hear him. What the hell was wrong with her? He rose from his bed and approached her. “Scully?”
She didn’t even turn towards him. “Go back to bed Mulder.”
“Nothing. I’m fine.”
“Bullshit.” He said it quietly and put his hand on her shoulder. She jerked away violently. He was stunned and more than a little hurt by her action. “Damn it Scully - we can’t do this to each other. Right now we’re all we’ve got. Talk to me!”
“Leave me alone, Mulder!” She stood from her chair and moved farther from him. He saw all the warning signs but chose to ignore them, moving in on her and taking her arms in his hands. It was like throwing gas on a fire - she was fighting him, scratching, kicking. Anything to get away. For a moment he resisted, until he realized how serious she was about getting away from him. How would she feel if he overpowered her with sheer strength? He managed to force himself to back away from her.
She stumbled back and turned toward the door. She jerked it open and before he realized her intention, she was out, running. He took off after her but he hadn’t paid attention to the fact that she was dressed. He wasn’t - he was only wearing the sweat pants, no shirt, no shoes. And it was starting to rain.
He stood in the parking lot looking after where she had disappeared. What the hell was this all about? Why wasn’t she coming back? It was really starting to come down. He limped back into the room and shook his hair out. Where had she gone?
Mulder alternated between fear and anger. Why the hell couldn’t she open up to him? Okay, they were spending more time together than ever, in each other’s pockets for the last four weeks. But why should that only be stressful to her? They both lived alone in real life, but he hadn’t gone off on her.
Where was she? It was pouring out there. Did she have any cash? Would she . . . god, would she leave him? She wouldn’t be safe. Oh yeah, and she was so much safer with him. Where the hell was she! Why had she done this? He had really thought things were going pretty well between them. They’d had some rough spots but they’d learned to give each other space. It wasn’t like they were strangers before this. They’d been close for years - maybe not this close, but she was his best friend.
She was going to get sick if she stayed out in this. That wasn’t it was it? She wasn’t ill? She hadn’t had any nosebleeds. She couldn’t hide something like that from him - could she? Shit!