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


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They did hit the mall again the next day.  The traffic was slightly less, but not significantly.  No other aliens arrived, and the car Mulder had driven the day before was still in the same parking space.

 

Since there was no need to rush home, they added O'Hare in Chicago as another stop, hanging out in the baggage pickup and just occasionally renewing the atmosphere with a new spritz of the compound.  They had added no scent, and without Scully having people talk about it, no one seemed to notice.  There was a question of whether not drawing it deep within the lungs would slow the process, but they didn't change tactics.

 

At the end of the day, they were tired and more than ready to head back to the hotel.  On the way out they ran into a couple of flight crews and Mulder made sure they were dosed before he moved on.

 

At the hotel, Scully removed her shoes and sank onto her bed.  "We're running low.  We probably need to head home and make another expedition in a few weeks."

 

Mulder nodded, not bothering the remove his shoes as he sank down beside her.  "But we've got enough for the Van de Kamps.  I want to go ahead and get this stuff to them.  Will, I'm sorry, you can't go.  We can't risk them seeing you."

 

The boy sighed.  "I know."

 

"You miss them," Scully said quietly, trying to shove down the jealousy that immediately rose with her.

 

"I do.  They love me and I love them.  It's different than with you guys, but they are very important to me."

 

"As they should be," Mulder assured him.  "And you will see them someday.  In the meantime, I want to keep them safe for you.  I'm going to take us home, then I'll head out to see them."

 

They discussed the merits of driving or flying until Mulder realized Scully had dozed off.  He looked down at her with a soft smile on his face.

 

When he looked up, it was to see Will watching him.  "My other parents love each other, but you two are . . . "

 

"Spooky?"

 

"Yeah," Will grinned at him.  "That fits."

 

*****

 

Mulder had replenished his supply of the compound and put it in different three-ounce bottles he could carry through the airport.  Scully wasn't happy about him going alone, but he refused to put them in further danger.  Even Will couldn't be sure someone that knew him wouldn't spot him.

 

"Make the compound, Scully.  I can handle spreading it around."

 

"I don't want us to be separated."

 

"Neither do I, but it's necessary for just a little while.  I'll check in and I'll be in touch with Skinner."  Finally she nodded, and got out of the car to give him a hug.  He took the small roll-around from the back of the Highlander as well as his briefcase.

 

He waited until they pulled away, making sure no one followed before entering the airport.

 

Once in Salt Lake, he hung around the baggage pick up, making sure that several flights' worth of people breathed in the compound, then rented a car and headed for the FedEx store he'd located.  He took one of the bottles of compound, and poured it into a small spray bottle and secured it.  He purchased a small box and sent it on its way to Skinner with no note or real return address.

 

On the road to Reliance, he called Skinner's private number.  "Skinner."

 

"It's me, good line?"

 

"Yes, is everything okay?"

 

"Yes, but I need to make this quick.  I've sent you a package.  Breathe it in deep, then spread it around work.  If anyone develops tightness of chest, trouble breathing or seeing, don't offer them a ride home.  You should remember the fumes."

 

"Are you - "

 

"Can't talk now.  It's safe and should boost your immunity to whatever the future holds.  I'll be in touch."  He broke the connection then.  Skinner was probably right, but no need to give anyone too much of a shot at him, at them.

 

When he was close to his goal, he pulled off the road and changed quickly into jeans and t-shirt, folding the suit into the small suitcase.  He had timed things well, and the farmer's market should be shutting down for the afternoon about now. 

 

Will had given him precise directions to the stall his mother usually used, and he headed there immediately.  As Will had predicted, Donald was there helping Sarah pack up.  Mulder approached and smiled down at the woman.

 

"Am I too late for any peach butter?"

 

She looked up at the tall stranger in front of her, and responded to his smile.  Donald took a step closer after giving this stranger the once over.  Sarah didn't usually smile like that at other men.

 

"I've got two jars left."

 

Mulder sighed theatrically and placed his hand over his heart.  "The missus would've had my hide if I'd missed out.  I'll take 'em both."

 

Donald seemed to relax slightly at the mention of this man's wife, but Sarah hadn't seemed to notice.  She finally dragged her eyes from him, but the two jars were no longer on the makeshift counter.

 

She looked over at Donald.  "Did you pack them already?"

 

"Oh, yeah."  They both turned to the box behind them and Mulder quickly drew the spray bottle from his pocket and gave it a good squirt in their direction.

 

"Hey, do you have dried lavender?  I think I smell it."

 

They both took a sniff.  "I don't smell anything," Donald said.

 

"No, I think I got a whiff of it," Sarah said, taking another sniff.  Donald did the same and Mulder simply smiled.  It worked every time.  "I don't have any lavender; it must have been one of the booths over there.  Sorry, they left a little while ago."

 

"It's okay.  This is really what I want.  I'm just glad I got here in time."  He turned to leave but she stopped him.

 

"Do I know you?"

 

"Me?  Uh, I don't think so."

 

"You remind me of someone, around the eyes.  I can't . . . " Donald took her arm.  "Oh, well, I'm glad we had some of the peach butter left.  You drive safe."

 

"I will, and thanks."  He headed away from their booth.  There were even less people around now.  What had she seen?  Will's eyes?  Scully said the boy was a little clone of him.  He hadn't thought about that, but he was away from them now and they had had a good dose.

 

He returned to the Salt Lake Airport, feeling the need to put distance from the Van de Kamps, and get going on his trip around the country.  He'd fly from Salt Lake to Dallas, then on to Atlanta.  From there he'd head to St. Louis and finally home.  There had been some discussion of when to release the mist on the plane itself.  Since Mulder couldn't be sure if an alien was on board, it was decided to wait until the plane was on the ground at its destination.  That would give any alien time to get away before he became too incapacitated.

 

Also, going to the luggage pick up, they wouldn't be headed toward a plane.  There was no telling what would happen on a four or five-hour flight. 

 

He wouldn't be back home for a couple of days, which depressed him, but this was necessary and keeping his family out of it as much as possible was essential.

 

He boarded the plane to Dallas, and opened the paperback he had purchased in the airport.  He wasn't in the mood for conversation.

 

It was a smooth flight, and if the man beside him was jealous of the attention the flight attendant paid him, it certainly wasn't at his instigation.

 

He carefully sprayed the plane while waiting to exit, then he headed for luggage claim, carefully continuing to leave the compound in his wake.  He took a shuttle to the hotel, and was able to dose the twenty people on it as well as those in the lobby.  It was just a drop in the bucket so far, but . . .

 

He talked briefly, too briefly, to Scully that night.  Being apart was no longer acceptable, but he would be home in a day or two.

 

He was at the airport early the next morning with freshly refilled bottles.   He wandered around waiting for his plane, spreading the cure.  The flight to Atlanta was relatively short and as soon as he had sprayed down his terminal there, he found a payphone.

 

"Skinner."

 

"Did you try it?"

 

"Yes," he said dryly.  "If you were trying to kill me you failed."

 

"What?  No one else - "

 

"No one else had a lot of nanites dormant in their system."

 

"Shit.  Are you okay?"

 

"Funny you put it that way.  I may have lost a couple of pounds and I'm not thinking about the city sewer system, but I seem to be okay now."

 

"I didn't think.  I am sorry."

 

"Actually you probably did me a bigger favor than you know.  So what is this stuff I was breathing?"

 

"Something my family concocted."

 

"I assume you want me to spread it around."

 

"Yes, especially the office and keep an eye on who doesn't show up the next day, or ever."

 

"Ever?"

 

"Yeah.  I'd start with the gentleman that Gibson outted at my trial, if you can find him.  Do not be overt about this.  We don't want them to know what's happening to them.  After that, try tourist spots, crowded ones."

 

"What about Congress?"

 

Mulder's smile grew.  "You are one smart dude, Walter.  Go for it."

 

"Check in when you can.  I'll keep a record."

 

*****

 

It felt like a long time before he was home again, but he had hit four major airports, and had Skinner working his area.  Nothing felt as good as seeing his family waiting just outside the airport. 

 

Scully couldn't stop herself.  She vaulted from the driver's seat and was in his arms, even as his bag was falling to the sidewalk. 

 

"Why, Scully, I'm beginning to think you like me."

 

"Don't go away again."

 

"I'm not going anywhere without you.  We've gotten things started; now we see what happens."

 

*****

 

The news had become fascinating.  There were two representatives, one from New Mexico and one from Missouri missing, and a Senator from Ohio had disappeared without a trace, as well as various aides for congressmen from other states.  Two high-ranking agents of the FBI were gone as well.  There was a mayor or two gone from Kansas and Texas that had made the news.  There was no way to know how many other people, those not in positions of power, hadn't made the national news.

 

Mulder spent a lot of time logging the disappearances and when safe, contacting Skinner.  Skinner could tell him of other disappearances, including a Presidential cabinet member, that were not being released to the public.  Skinner had made himself very busy around DC, and had been re-supplied twice so far.

 

Slowly but surely the same kind of reports were beginning to appear in the international news.  In the Middle East an entire cell of terrorists had left their hiding place without taking anything, without word to any contacts, just . . . gone.

 

There also seemed to be a decrease in the flu this year.  Scully was surprised at that, but Will seemed unfazed.

 

They were curled up in bed, Mulder was snuggling her neck.  "You know, we could go back to DC if you want."

 

"Would Will be safe?"

 

"I think so.  I think he'd be safe, safer than us, no matter where we go.  That may not be entirely true anymore.  I do think we're safer now than before we got him back, before the two of you saved us all."

 

"We didn't - "

 

"Yeah, I think maybe you did.  And you've definitely put a dent in the alien population in DC."  He felt her shiver and wrapped himself around her a little tighter.  "Scully?"

 

"You believe that?"

 

"They're gone, Scully.  No trace, the FBI can't find them and regardless of your impression of the abilities of the FBI without us, these are high level individuals.  They're well known and there aren't any clues."

 

"I know.  It's just, they were in such high power positions.  They had made such inroads, they - "

 

His lips took possession and she relaxed as his body covered hers.

 

*****

 

A couple of weeks later at breakfast Will looked up from his eggs.  "I think we should move back to Washington, consult for the FBI, maybe buy a house."

 

Both of his parents looked up in surprise.  "A house?" Mulder finally said.

 

"Yeah, and you two could get married."

 

"Married," Mulder just looked at him.  "I hope you have better luck getting her to say yes than I do."

 

Scully shot him a look.  "We're fine."

 

"See?" Mulder looked over at Will.

 

"Yeah, you are, but you might want to do it for us kids."

 

Mulder caught it a fraction of a second before she did.  "Kids?"

 

"Yeah."  Will grinned at him.  They both turned to look at Scully.

 

She sputtered for an instant.  "I'm not pregnant."

 

"Uh, yeah, you are," Will responded.

 

Mulder had turned back to her, his eyes scanning her body.  "Scully."

 

"No, I'm, I'm too old."

 

"Obviously not."

 

"I mean, Mulder, something could be wrong with the . . . the baby."

 

He immediately turned back to Will, who concentrated on her for a moment.  "No, she's fine."

 

"S-she?" Scully stammered.

 

Mulder's smile took up his whole face.  "She'll be safe now, right?  I mean, we've changed the dynamic."

 

"We have, and we're still working on it.  We may just be more trouble than we're worth."  Will grinned watching his parents as they came into each other's arms.  2012 was inevitable, but they had made a dent, a big dent and they still had some time . . . working together, yeah together.

 

~~~

 

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