The Next Case (PG-13) - 7/8


Scully was nearly speechless as she investigated the contents of the hazardous waste container from the next blood drive

 

Scully was nearly speechless as she investigated the contents of the hazardous waste container from the next blood drive.  Will leaned against the counter watching her and his dad as they hugged each other.  When they finally separated, he beamed at them. 

 

"We need to get this stuff out to everyone."

 

"We should still test - "

 

"It's working.  Now we need to see how it works on 'them.'"

 

"How do you propose we do that?" Mulder asked, stunned.

 

"We go where they are, and give them a whiff."

 

"You know where they like to hang out?  Alien bars?"

 

Will grinned.  "Not exactly, but they're in every big city.  They've been scoping us out for awhile now.

 

Mulder's arm tightened around Scully as she looked up at him.  He could feel her fear, her desire to go back to ignorance, at least for a little while.

 

"Where?"

 

"Bloomington."

 

Mulder looked puzzled for a moment, then grinned.  "Mall of the Americas."

 

Will nodded.  "People come from all over and 'they' would want to observe them.  Then, we should go to airports, bus stations, places where people gather, maybe emergency rooms.  I, I know it's not safe to see my other parents, but I need them to get this too, as soon as possible."

 

"Of course," Scully said immediately.  "They should be top priority."

 

"Bloomington first, then . . . " Will shrugged.

 

*****

 

They had their act down.  Scully was dressed in a suit, pretending to be the representative for a new fragrance.  She wandered around the mall approaching groups of people and asking them if they had an opinion of a name for the product.  They had printed up cards that she handed out, to which she added a quick spritz of scent and waved around when they accepted.

 

What amused Mulder the most out this exercise, was the fact that no scent had been added to the compound.  They were sniffing basically water, but they seemed to have no trouble filling in the blanks about a perfume-y aroma.

 

Mulder didn't let her out of his sight, though he stayed in the background.  Will was with him, but was searching for one of them.

 

Mulder felt him stiffen suddenly.  "Will?"

 

The boy nodded.

 

"Is he looking for us?"

 

"No.  He's just here to observe."

 

"Do you know where he is?"

 

Will turned east and concentrated.  "Over there, but he's coming this way.  You and Mom need to get out of sight, just in case.  I know what to do.  Please, trust me."

 

The look on Mulder's face caused Will to take his hand and squeeze it.  "It'll be okay.  Come on."  They headed for Scully.  She spotted them and cut her spiel short, thanking the people around her.  Her eyes were on them now, and Mulder could see her fear.

 

His hand came up to her lower back, and unexpectedly she felt herself relax slightly.  It felt so real when he touched her there, almost as though they had normalcy.  She found him smiling down at her and knew he had picked up her thought.  He was doing that more and more since they had begun living with their son and even that felt . . . right.

 

"Will spotted one of them.  We need to follow the plan."

 

"I know," she said softly.

 

"It is working so far, Mom.  You've gotten the compound into a lot of people so far, and they'll get it to even more.  We're not through here today.  I just need you and Dad to get out of sight for a little while. Please."

 

"He's right, Scully.  Come on."

 

She looked up at him.  She trusted this man above all others, but this was their son.  "He won't know - "

 

"No, he's not looking for any of us.  He's just here to observe.  Give me the perfume bottle, I need to hurry."

 

Closing her eyes, she allowed him to take the crystal bottle.  "Be careful."

 

"I promise," he smiled up at her, then was gone.

 

"Mulder?"

 

His arm went around her, and he led her into the closest department store.

 

*****

 

Will headed into the anchor store that the alien had entered.  He took up a position near the makeup counter, and waited.  It didn't take long, the 'man' was in no hurry, just observing.  Will clamped down on his shield, allowing only childish thoughts to the top of his brain.

 

The man turned to look at the display of men's cologne, and Will approached him from behind.  "Hey, Dad, what about this for Mom?  Doesn't it smell good?"  He pressed the bulb and the 'man' turned to look at him, automatically taking a sniff.  Will made his eyes big and round.  "Oh, Jeez, I'm sor- I thought you were my Dad."

 

"It's okay."

 

"There he is, I'm really sorry."  Will was already backing away and headed to the other side of the counter.

 

His prey was smiling slightly, reading the fear and embarrassment in Will's mind.  He forgot the incident, scanning other minds and wandering out into one of the common areas of the mall.

 

Will stayed back in the store, following him with his mind while making sure that he didn't pick up on his parents.  When the 'man' had moved into another store, Will hurried to the department store where Mulder and Scully waited.

 

He joined them in the boys' department.  Scully shoved the shirt she wasn't really looking at back onto the rack and hugged him.

 

"It went perfectly.  He's in Macy's right now.  We should just stay here, so I can keep an eye on him."

 

"Can he hear us?" Mulder asked quickly.

 

"No, you both have a pretty good shield already and I'm keeping an eye out . . . " he turned away from them.

 

"What?" Scully asked before Mulder could.

 

"He's having a little trouble breathing, and his chest feels tight."

 

"Already?"

 

"Their metabolism is different from ours.  That's why they like warmer climates, like reptiles.  But he's not worried, he's more curious because he's never been sick, and he hasn't recognized what he's feeling as symptoms."

 

Mulder and Scully looked at each other and she sighed.  "So what do we do now?"

 

"Go eat.  He's headed away from the food court, and we need to lay low and let me concentrate on him for now.  After he's gone, we can do more with the perfume game."

 

"I guess I'm paying for lunch, huh?" Mulder said, leading them toward the nearest food court.

 

They both noticed that Will was quiet, distant while they ate, but they kept quiet, not wanting to distract him.  Finally he looked up.  "He's not doing too well."

 

"In what way?"

 

"Mostly his breathing, but his vision is being affected for some reason.  That's kind of weird.  Have you noticed anyone at church not needing their glasses since they got a dose of the compound?"

 

"I haven't noticed," Scully said slowly.

 

"Wasn't that one of the problems with nasal Viagra?  Regular Viagra caused people to see blue and taking it up the nose . . ." Mulder looked over at Scully who shrugged.

 

"It's another thing we haven't tested.  This could be so irresponsible."  She looked strained, tired.

 

"It's not.  Mom, listen to me.  Look how well Isaac is doing.  He's running and playing just like everyone else now.  This made him better, and made him immune to the virus that they used on you.  Now we know it affects them badly.  Please, we have to continue."

 

Scully was silent, but Mulder nodded.  "We know.  We're just worried.  This hasn't been done before."

 

"Someday everyone will know what heroes my parents are," Will said quietly.  Scully's breath hitched but she remained silent.

 

Will's attention was drawn away again.  Both adults were quiet, watching him.  Scully cuddled into Mulder's side.

 

"He's leaving.  He knows something's really wrong now."  Will looked up at Mulder.  "Do we want him to catch up with his friends, and have them see him like this or . . . "

 

"No, he can't go to his friends now.   We can't alert them.  I'm going to follow him, see where he goes."

 

"He shouldn't drive.  He really can't see now."

 

"Okay, I'll use that.  I'll follow him to his car; see if he needs any help."

 

"No.  Mulder, no.  You can't - "

 

"He can't see that well.  He won't recognize me."

 

"You can't be sure!" she hissed.

 

"You have my back, you and Will.  We need to see what he does.  I'll be careful.  You know I'm not about to be separated from you.  Trust me, Scully."  He turned to Will.  "Where can I find him?"

 

*****

 

Mulder fell in behind him, following him toward his car.  When he staggered, Mulder stepped forward and took his arm.  "Hey, guy, you okay?"

 

"Yeah, yes, I'm fine."

 

"You don't look it.  Where you headed?"

 

"My, my car.  It's just over there."

 

"Okay."  Mulder stayed slightly behind him and helped him to his car.  The alien fumbled with his key fob, but got the doors unlocked.  "Listen, you can't drive.  Why don't you let me take you somewhere, home?"

 

The alien wheezed, trying to shake his head.

 

"Then how about the emergency room?"

 

"No, no I just want to go home."

 

"Where's home?"  He gave an address between gasps of breath.  "I'll drive you.  Get in."  He had little choice and allowed Mulder to help him take a seat on the passenger's side.  "Buckle up." 

 

Mulder pulled on a pair of thin rubber gloves and shut the door.  This guy wasn't going to notice.  Mulder pulled out of the parking lot and headed out of town.  The alien leaned back and closed his eyes, a little too confident that regardless of his physical situation, he was in charge.

 

"Why are you helping me?"

 

"Think of it as my good deed for humanity today."

 

The alien didn't realize that Mulder had seen the slightly ironic smile on his face.

 

Mulder saw the sign he'd been looking for, 'land fill' and turned where the sign indicated.  There was no one at the gate, so Mulder drove through and around to the right, so the car would be out of sight.

 

Mulder let himself out of the car and hurried around to the passenger door.  "Okay?  Come on, let me help you."

 

The thing opened his eyes but his vision seemed to be mostly gone now.  He squinted into the light.  "Is this my apartment?"

 

"Not exactly."  Mulder pulled him from the car and closer to the pile of garbage.

 

"What are you - "

 

Mulder pulled the plinth from his pocket.  "Sorry about this, a little bit, but I can't let you be seen or report back."

 

"What are - " Before he could finish the question, Mulder stabbed the pointed instrument into the back of the thing's neck.  He stepped back quickly when the green goo began to foam out of the alien's neck.  There was no wind, but he could smell the acrid scent, not iron like human blood.  If he was getting fumes, there was no effect.  How many times had he been exposed to their new compound?

 

*****

 

"I can't stand this.  Will, where is he?"

 

"He's okay.  The alien isn't paying any attention to him.   He's really sick now."  Suddenly Will seemed confused.

 

"What?"

 

"Dad's taking him to the land fill.  He's not that close to dying," the boy mused out loud.  His eyes widened then.

 

"Will?  What?" Scully had hold of his arm.

 

"He has a plinth with him.  He's - "

 

"The fumes!  Where is he, we need to go.  We have to get him to a hospital."

 

Will shook his head.  "It's not affecting him, Dad, I mean.  The fumes aren't bothering him."  He looked up at his mother.  "Could that be another plus about what we've created?"

 

Scully sank onto a bench and closed her eyes.

 

"He's okay, Mom.  He's okay.  He's just waiting for the guy to dissolve, so there'll be no evidence."

 

"Wonderful," Scully said faintly.

 

*****

 

Mulder approached what was left of the alien, and with a stick, forced the wallet out of his pocket.  The leather was barely singed so far, and he used a rag to flip it open.  The inside wasn't harmed and he pulled the ID and cash from the wallet.  He had $460 in cash, which Mulder shoved into his pocket.  It was the ID he was more interested in.  When he got to a computer, he'd be check this information out.

 

Now he needed to get back to his family.  He kicked some dirt over the remaining green foam and obliterated his shoe prints as he returned to the car.

 

Shit, he hadn't been paying attention.  He was very nearly out of gas.  He sighed, Will would know he was okay, and could reassure Scully.  He just hated to take more time. 

 

He pulled into a convenience store, and put in about a quarter of a tank of gas.  No need to waste the money since the car wasn't going anywhere soon.  He noticed a woman pull up on the other side of the pump.  The car she was driving needed work, and she frankly looked exhausted.  A young boy called out to her as she got out to pump gas.

 

"Can I have a Coke?"

 

"I'm sorry.  I don't even have enough to fill the tank, Jerry.  Maybe this weekend I can get some drinks and stuff, after I get paid."

 

"Okay, Momma."  He settled back and looked out at traffic.

 

Mulder felt of the roll of cash in his pocket.  That was the way he and Scully had lived when they first hit the road together.  All they'd had was each other.  They hadn't had Will with them.  How would they have handled that?

 

He smiled and pulled the nozzle from the gas tank.  He leaned over and pretended to pick something up from the ground. 

 

"Ma'am?"

 

"Uh, yes?"  She looked up at him.

 

"I think you dropped this."  He handed her the cash he had taken from the alien.

 

She looked down at her hand.  "No, I didn't - "

 

"I saw you drop it.  Have a good day."

 

"I - "

 

He winked at her, then got in the car and drove away, leaving her speechless behind him.

 

Wow, two good things for humanity today, he was on a roll.

 

He parked as close as possible to the original parking space, and got out, locking the doors.  He tossed the keys in the nearest trash bin, then pulled off the rubber gloves and stuffed them in his jacket pocket.

 

He stopped just inside the entrance, and let his senses feel for them.  He turned east without resistance and headed out into the mall.  He spotted Scully sitting at a small table near the entrance to an arcade.  She was staring into space, and he could feel her stress from across the court.

 

Before he could reach her, Will had emerged from the arcade and they reached her at the same time.

 

"Scully?"

 

She looked up and he saw the strain on her face, the evidence of tears on her cheeks.

 

"Scully, it's okay.  We're okay."

 

She just looked at him.

 

"Let's get out of here," he spoke to Will, and took her arm.  She came without resistance but that didn't exactly make him feel any better.  She was silent all the way to the motel.  Will talked a little at first, telling Mulder about taking the compound into the arcade and making sure all the kids were exposed.

 

Mulder parked the Highlander outside of their room, and hurried around to help Scully out.  Will was silent now as well, just following them into the room.  He was the one that shut the door.

 

Before Mulder could speak, the palm of Scully's hand had connected with his cheek, full force.  He said nothing, watching her as she proceeded to pummel his chest with her fists.  Not understanding, and not wanting to hurt her, he just gathered her into his chest and held her tightly against him.  He didn't even turn to Will, who was watching with his mouth fallen open.

 

"Scully?  Come on, talk to me."

 

She struggled for an instant, then was crying against his chest, her hands fisted in the fabric of his shirt.

 

"It's okay, I've got you," he crooned as she sobbed in his arms.

 

Will was struck dumb and didn't move even as they swayed in each others' arms.

 

He didn't know how long they all stood there before Scully took a deep, shuddering breath and looked up at Mulder.  "I'm sorry I hit you."

 

"I'm sorry I upset you.  It was the only way, Scully, I couldn't let him report back and I couldn't let you near him."

 

"What if you had been affected by the fumes?"

 

He shook his head.  "I had to take the chance; I have to keep the two of you safe."

 

"That's my job too," she reminded him.

 

He gave a tiny shrug.  "It's the caveman in me."

 

"Damn you."  She buried her face in his chest again.  "You planned it; you took the plinth with you."

 

He nodded though she couldn't see.  "I had to be prepared."

 

Her arms slid around him then and she clutched him to her as tightly as he was holding her.  He kissed the top of her head and she stepped back.

 

"We need to go back tomorrow.  I think Saturday would be the busiest day, but - " He glanced over at Will who was still standing by the door, looking back and forth between them. 


Scully looked over to see what had drawn Mulder's attention.  "Will?  William?  What's wrong?"

 

"You were fighting, you were furious and, and you hit him."

 

Scully blushed but she stepped closer to their son.  "I'm sorry you had to witness that.  I was - "

 

"You were upset, because he put himself in danger." 

 

She nodded.

 

"But, but you were so angry."

 

"Will," Mulder moved toward him as well.  "We fight sometimes, but that doesn't mean we don't love each other."

 

"That's not it.  You, you love each other even more after the fight."  He was clearly stunned.  "You're not mad, you, you want to have sex."

 

Scully's blush grew deeper and Mulder looked over at her trying to keep a straight face.  "Uh, Will, I always feel that way."

 

"Mulder!" she hissed.

 

"Well it's true and he can read minds."

 

Abruptly Will laughed.  "You guys are so different from my other parents."

 

"Is that a good thing?" Mulder asked quickly.

 

"Well, I'm not going to get you confused."

 

Scully huffed and turned away.  Mulder tried to bite down on his own laugh.  "Uh, anyone hungry?"

 

Scully shot him a glare.

 

"Okay, in order to stay out of sight, I'll order in a pizza, and we can talk strategy."

 

*****

 

Links to other sites on the Web

Home

 

Donna's Stories

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