The Next Case (PG-13) - 5/8

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They all got down to work the next morning.  Scully was up and at the hospital early to bring all of her records up to date.  Mulder and Will were at the house, packing clothes and downloading files.  Mulder talked to the car dealership; he'd never bought a car over the phone, but it worked.  He felt good about the deal he'd made and he'd been right, the big SVUs were more like a dime a dozen now. 


With cash he was able to grab a Highlander hybrid and hoped that Scully liked green.  It was fully loaded, much more car than he'd ever had before, but they could pick it up Friday morning, washed and full of gas.


He would pick it up; their supplies would be transferred from the rental car, which would be loaded under cover of dark.  William would remain hidden the whole time.  That wouldn't be hard, as full as the car was.


He looked around the room that had been his sanctuary for the past couple of years.  He and William had worked hard consolidating, weeding out, and packing up the files that might be of use on this project.


Scully came up behind him and wrapped her arms around him.  "You okay?"


"Yeah.  I didn't expect to miss this place.  It . . . it's the first place you and I could finally call home."


She pressed her cheek against his back.  "This next one will be even more of a home."


He looked around at her and winked.  She straightened up then and stepped away, around him.  "You forgot something."


"What?"  There wasn't room for another paperclip in the car.


She headed to the bulletin board and began taking down the "I Want to Believe" poster.


"Scully - "


"It wouldn't be right without it.  We'll make room."


He chuckled and watched her, loving her.




The transfer was made without a hitch.  By midnight Friday, they were in western Pennsylvania.  Scully allowed fast food under the circumstances.  She took over after William fell asleep, and they kept driving.  It was a twenty-two hour drive straight through, but Scully called a halt outside of Chicago.  It was still Saturday, no one was looking for them and she and Mulder both needed to stretch out and rest a little.  He didn't fight her.


The motel room looked familiar, so like the many they had stayed in over the years.  At least this time they were sharing it.  William, their son, slept in the double bed beside them.


They took the second leg more leisurely, stopping for meals and stretching their legs more often.  Mulder had described the house, but now Scully and William tried to pull more details out of him.  He'd only seen it the one time but began pulling details out of his memory.  Scully was pretty sure she'd want to repaint several rooms from his description, and that a lot of airing out would be needed but she had a 'staff' now and she'd use it.


She caught William's grin when she had that thought and raised an eyebrow at him.  He burst out laughing and her heart turned over.




They reached the house a little after lunch on Monday.  She had agreed to picking up lunch to eat there at their cajoling. 


She had to admit she was impressed.  It was a beautiful older house, two stories with white pillars out front, flanking the front porch.  It was on ten acres and woods surrounded it, but none close to the house.  There was a nice large yard; Mulder would probably want a riding mower.  No doubt his take on it was that no one could get close to the house without being seen.


Mulder pulled the SUV into the attached garage and grinned at them.


Shaking her head, Scully stepped out of the vehicle and headed toward the door to the kitchen.  It was a two-car garage, so there would be plenty of room for storage out here.


She opened the door and smiled.  Yes, it was dusty, but large and airy for a kitchen.  There was a small round table and four chairs in an alcove with a bay window and a work island in the center.  The laundry room was off the kitchen, and it held the washer, dryer, an upright freezer and work sink.


"Well, Mulder, I haven't seen the rest, but I like this kitchen."


He grinned.  "I was thinking of you when I looked at it."


"What's this door?"


"Basement.  It's not finished, but it has a concrete floor, the utility room is enclosed and vented, so we could put the generator in there.  Want the rest of the tour, or want to eat?"


Scully looked over at William.  "We want to explore."


"Come on."  The kitchen opened into the dining room on one side and a hall on the other.  The hall led to the foyer, which opened onto a formal living room and a good-size bedroom on the first floor.  The stairs came down into the foyer.  The second floor had four bedrooms, a master suite and a small bedroom on one side of the hall, two medium-size bedrooms on the other side with a bath between them.  The dark pink that Mulder had described in the dining room had turned out to be maroon and very stately, to Scully's relief.


"This place is huge," Scully looked around the master suite. 


"Yeah.  It's an estate.  The family doesn't live around here anymore.  That's why there's so much furniture here.  I bought it from a granddaughter who lives in California.  She was delighted that I offered the asking price, and she threw in the furniture.  I believe she came out and took a few family antiques, but not many obviously."


"Good, this furniture fits here.  We won't need much to finish it up.  That bedroom downstairs," she looked over at William, "the lab?"


He nodded.  "Close to the kitchen, and in the back of the house."


"We'll start on that in just a few days.  We need to get settled first.  Come on, let's eat and then unpack."


They discussed what would go where as they ate.  "Do I get an office?" Mulder asked around a bite of cheeseburger.


"The little bedroom off the master suite?"


He grinned.  "Yeah, that way I won't wake you if I'm working late."




They all carried in their suitcases and supplies.  Scully opened all the windows to air the rooms out, and began dusting as Mulder worked in the kitchen, wiping down the cabinets and loading them up with their cookware and dishes.


Scully came to check on him after a short while.


"Our stuff doesn't come close to filling these cabinets," he commented


"We don't need more.  This kitchen was built for a family of seven, we're three," she reminded him.


"Good point, it just looks kind of . . . bare."


"Wait until you start outfitting the kind of lab we're going to need.  We'll probably fill up these cabinets, as well as every space in the bedroom."


She headed upstairs then to vacuum, dust and make the bed.  She was struggling with the fitted sheet when he joined her.  She smiled as she felt his arms go around her.


"You know we have to christen the room tonight.  Make sure the sheets are on there extra tight."




"Horny.  Hey, when you find the girl of your dreams . . . "


She shook her head as she turned in his arms.  "You know this slows things down."


He stepped back and crossed his arms.  "Get to work, woman."


Her eyebrow rose as he winked, and quickly vacated the room.  She could hear the muffled laugh from William's room.




They began making trips into town and checked in with the local elementary school.  It wasn't much larger than the one he had attended before, and they agreed that this close to the end of the school year, it would make sense for him to be home schooled and began full time in the fall.  Scully took all of the assignments they gave her, to ensure he would fulfill the obligations of the first grade and just kept quiet about his abilities.


He would have to continue his advanced studies at home and pretend to be a 'normal' second grader when that time came.


Scully was undercover as a nutrition professor on sabbatical, working on her research, and Mulder as a writer who telecommuted.  The people they met were friendly and not too inquisitive.  In order to blend in, they joined a small Protestant church and William began to meet the children his age.  Mel and Suzanne Byers and their son, Will, were welcomed with only a little curiosity.  Most of this curiosity centered around the house.  When they discovered that the small family was leasing it from someone on the east coast, just for her sabbatical, they seemed satisfied.


Under Scully's supervision, it didn't take long to get the place organized.  She had a list of things she needed for the lab that seemed to grow hourly.   Mulder groused that it was good thing he'd finally gotten hold of their money again, but they only smiled at him.


Mulder and William built a counter and cabinets to fit the longer wall in the converted bedroom, and another work surface out in the room.  The equipment they needed weren't the kind of things you could run down to the hardware store to purchase, so these items were purchased online and delivered to a pick-up site a couple of towns over.  After accepting a key to his 'box,' Mulder made sure he arrived for his pick-ups after working hours.


Installing them was a challenge.  Mulder wasn't the handiest with this kind of thing, and found himself listening more and more to William's instructions.  When he realized it he sat up from his position on the floor under the counter, and just looked at the boy.


"How do you know this stuff?  Was your f-father the handy man from - "


"No.  Dad knew how to do all sorts of mechanical things, but nothing like this.  I'm kinda asking the people that made them."


"Oh, you . . . you're able to do that long distance?"


"How do you think I kept up with you and Mom all these years?"


"Yeah, right.  Uh, you might not want to broadcast that to Scully."


"She does believe, she just doesn't want to talk about it," Will agreed.


Mulder nodded and crawled back into the cabinet.


In a relatively short amount of time, the lab was complete and Mulder began to dread what felt like a daily donation of blood to the cause.  Still it was better than taking it from Scully or their son, so he managed to hold the griping to a minimum.


He didn't understand what they were talking about, so he did as he had done in Virginia, keeping the house going, expanding his expertise in cooking.




"We need to have some blood samples to compare it to.  I'm sure this is it, but we have to prove it."


"Why, why do you think this is it?"  Scully was still talking to Will as they entered the kitchen.


"It's a feeling," the boy responded.  Mulder grinned and brought dinner over to the table.  Scully huffed but kept quiet.


"Want to share?  In words of one syllable?" Mulder took his seat at the table.


"We've found an anomaly in your blood and mine, and we need to find out if it's in anyone else's blood."


"It's not in any of the ones we've been able to check online," Will added.


"So what do you want to do?" Mulder asked as he passed the chicken to the boy.


"We need more blood samples, not something from the web."


"If I'm going to have to go vampire on this town - "


"Mulder," Scully cut him off.  "I agree we need more samples.  We just have to be really discreet."


"That's why the blood drive is the best way."


"Blood drive?" Mulder stopped with the fork half way to his mouth.


"There's a blood drive at the church this coming weekend." 


"So, we give this immunity to everyone by giving our blood?"


"You and I can't give, obviously; anyone could track us if they saw our blood."


"Dad, you need to get the hazardous waste for us and we'll check it."


"I could do that."  He looked over at Scully.  "Couldn't I?"


"It's well protected, Mulder.  And we wouldn't have any excuse if someone saw - "


"Scully, you think I can't be sneaky?  Besides, I've got Will here as wing man.  What happens at these blood drives, I mean other than people giving blood?"


"In small towns like this, it's a fun day.  Women bring baked goods to feed the donors, everyone sits around and visits, the kids play in the churchyard.  You just hang out."


"Really?" Mulder looked between the two of them.


"You have to be social, Mulder.  You can handle it for an afternoon, right?" Scully chuckled.


He glared at her but nodded.  "Okay, what is this anomaly?"


The conversation got more technical then, but from what Mulder understood there was a five-sided substance within their red cells. This hadn't appeared anywhere that they could find online.  The sample from this small town wouldn't be conclusive, but it would give them a start.


Later that night in bed, Mulder turned to her.  "I'm not asking any more questions about the blood, but how did you find it with the equipment we have?  I bought good stuff, but . . . "


"I know.  Will has 'improved' everything.  I don't . . . he's listening to people in other labs, seeing how they get their data."


"So if we want to go into industrial sabotage . . . "


She just stared at him. 


"What is it?  What's really bothering you?"  He pulled her into his arms and she relaxed within their comfort.


"It's been . . . too easy.  Does that make sense?"


"In what way?"


"Finding something like this in our blood.  Why haven't we known about it before?"


"Have you looked for it before?  Remember, 'they' may know.  It's the reason we're in hiding, the reason they were watching for Will from the beginning."


"Oh thanks," she started to pull away but his arms tightened around her.


"You know what we're up against.  If you feel, I don't know, guilty about using Will's abilities, don't.  Stop it now.  We're outgunned in this fight.  Whatever advantage he can give us, we need."


She looked up at him.  "This is really going to happen."


He nodded.


She swallowed and cuddled closer to him.  "Can we do this?"


"We don't have a choice.  Besides, what can't we do together?  And now that we're all together . . . "  He saw her smile then.  "Sleep."


She got comfortable.




They entered the church fellowship hall, Scully carrying a Bundt cake, Will carrying a container of brownies.  They were greeted warmly, and Mulder immediately moved over to help with setting up tables.


Everyone had been much warmer to them once they had discovered they were only leasing the house.  People talked, everyone knew everyone else in town and now that the Cobles had all moved away, and the older couple that had built the house had died, there had been some resentment that an 'outsider' had purchased the largest house in town.  Knowing that it was owned by some rich dude in the east, had relieved some pressure on them.


Will ran off to play with the kids he'd met, keeping closest to Isaac.  Isaac was smaller than the others, and occasionally picked on by them.  Will had let them know that he had asthma and couldn't run around as much as the others.  With Will around Isaac seemed more at ease, had more fun. 


Scully smiled as the other women greeted her warmly.


"Will you be giving blood today, Suzanne?" one of the women made room for the cake and brownies.


"No, we can't, that's why I brought the food.  I did some research in Africa for the World Hunger Association, Mel went with me, so we can't give for a couple more years."


"That must have been fascinating."


Conversation ebbed and flowed around them, including them, filling in information on the ties within the community.  Scully looked up at one point to see Mulder grinning at her.  Had he ever thought to live like this?  Her own smile warmed him.


It was actually a fun day, relaxing and different for them.  Slipping the waste into the back of the car was easy with Will watching out.  Everyone was very pleased to have collected over a hundred pints of blood, and were already talking about the next one.


Laughing and talking, they headed home after Mulder helped the men take down the tables and rearrange the furniture back to normal.


"Well, 'Mel,' I think you were a hit," Scully smiled at him as he was backing out.


He gave her a shit-eating grin.  "I'm charming."


Will's snort from the backseat caused Mulder to cut his eyes at him.


"I'll have you know that I know how to fit in here.  We've had several cases that brought us into this environment - Home, Pennsylvania, Dudley, Arkansas, Delta Glen, Wisconsin - "  Scully's laugh had him looking at her now.  "What, you don't believe me?"


"If you think this place is like those, why did you really bring us here?"


"Hey, I like being the most 'normal' guy in town for a change."


They all three laughed most of the way home.


Mulder wasn't surprised when the two of them disappeared into the lab as soon as they got home.  He left them to it after depositing the waste on their workbench.


He was in bed reading when she finally joined him.  "Well?"


"No one else that we've tested has the pentagon."


"That's good, isn't it?"


"Yes," she sighed and cuddled up against him as his arm went around her.


"So why do you sound like it's a problem?"


"It's such a small sample."


"Is Will sure?"


"He's so much like you, Mulder."


"Is that a good thing?"


She chuckled.  "Most of the time.  I have to spend a lot of time convincing him that we have to prove it.  He's impulsive, he goes with his intuition."


"You poor thing, stuck with two of us."


She swatted his chest, but her hand came to rest on it, caressing it slightly.  "He's seven, Mulder."


"His age is seven.  You know he's more advanced than that.  He's been 'hearing' things that no kid should his whole life.  He was moving objects with his mind before he could sit up alone.  If he thinks this is it, I'd tend to believe him."


"Even if it is, what do we do with the knowledge?"


"We, uh you, you and he have to figure out a way to get this to everyone.  A way that won't drain us dry.  In the meantime, you need to get some sleep."


"Right now?"


His smile answered that.




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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.