Headers and Author's notes at the end
* * *
by queequeg's ghost
* * *
The Dew Drop Inn
565 Welcome Street
November 30, 2001
There was a presence in the room, watching, waiting. He felt its attention
snap toward him as he closed the door and took a tentative step toward sanctuary.
"So you got here okay." He tapped at the switchpad on the wall. Despite its
quaint name, the Dew Drop Inn had some interesting technology.
"Where else would I be?" She turned from the window. One hand went up, shielding her eyes from the harsh overhead light.
She'd kicked off her shoes, he noticed, but hadn't changed yet. He focused
on the soft blue of the shirt under her suit jacket. Not the same color as
her eyes, which he still couldn't see. But close enough.
the autopsy go?" He dropped the rental car keys on the bed, the Chinese takeout
on the bureau, and slid out of his jacket -- then almost pulled it back on.
"Jesus, it's freezing in here."
"I just got in." She turned back to the window. "The temperature controls are over there."
He watched her for a brief moment, gauging their distance, not by the yard but by the ache.
The cold air creeping along the floor, cramping his toes, drew his focus
back to the room's system panel. After puzzling over a set of switches complicated
enough to launch the next moon shot, he settled on one, tapped it, and hoped
for the best. Nothing happened. "Must have missed the briefing on the secret
password," he muttered. A solid thump on his second choice brought forth
no whirr, no buzz, no welcome gust of warmth from some hidden vent. He controlled
the impulse to try a low-tech kick at the high-tech enemy. "Are you ready
to be beamed up? Because I think this is actually the control panel for the
She padded over, leaned in front of him, peered at the
controls. In the frigid air of the room her body was like a tiny generator,
a warm, tightly wrapped coil of energy. He forced his hands into his pockets,
thinking they'd thaw out faster and be a hell of a lot more useful if they
were massaging the tension out of her neck and shoulders and... But he couldn't
"I think it's these two together." She pointed to switches
embedded on either side of the panel. Her right hand was too small to span
them. His left hand brushed over hers as it reached toward the companion
switch. He held on. For dear life. His mind supplied the automatic cliché,
considered it, accepted it. He felt her relax, one finger at a time. If there
were cameras in the room, they wouldn't have access to this blind corner.
He considered the consequences of staying with her in the corner all night.
Her hand was still nestled in his, leaving an imprint he knew he would feel
even after he let go. "Are you okay?"
She glanced up at him, gaze
warm and sharp, so vivid it washed out every other color in the room. He'd
be dreaming about blue tonight. Among other things. "I'm fine," she said.
"As long as you are."
"You know, fine has always been a relative term where I'm concerned. Not that you'd know anything about that."
There had been a time, years ago, when she would have looked away, dismissed
the notion and the challenge. She never would have blinked slowly, or assessed
his intentions with a small, superior smile and a glimmer in her eye. Her
head was tilted up at an odd angle because of the way they were standing,
because of the height she'd lost along with her shoes. It didn't matter,
of course. He'd lost the ability to look down on her five minutes after they'd
He rubbed his thumb across the back of her hand. Strong,
delicate hand, capable of handling a weapon with ease, cupping a baby's cheek
with tenderness. His throat tightened as she began pulling away, drawing
her fingers across the hollow of his palm. Not yet, not yet. "Are you sure
this is the only way to do it?" His voice was hoarse.
She turned to
face the panel, her right hand hovering over it. Her left, the one that had
lain so warm and soft in his for such a short time, drifted up to her face.
"Of course I'm sure. You press over there, and I'll press the one here."
He caught his breath, moved in on her, made sure his shoulder blocked any
watcher's view. Her fingers passed lightly over her upper lip, rubbed softly
over the bottom. She closed them into a fist that came to rest on her chest,
just over her heart. He wondered what traces of him she'd picked up from
their momentary hand-to-hand contact. Kung pao chicken, possibly, and the
acrid, coppery smell of the loose change he'd rattled through in his pocket.
From the look on her face, the combination was potent. All these years he could have saved himself a fortune on cologne.
His reverie collapsed as she rocked into him, the movement subtle. Wicked. "Do you want to argue or freeze to death?"
"Neither," he muttered. He reached toward the switch, inclining his head
for one last brush of her hair with his lips. They couldn't see that. Probably.
Their motions combined to power up the heater, the hum disguising his last,
whispered sentence describing exactly what he wanted, how he wanted it, and
where. A paean, a plea. He caught the scent of her, wafted toward him on
the warm air as she turned away. Dreft detergent, the menthol gel she used
to cut the nasty side effect of her job, the perfume he'd given her at Christmas.
The unique blend had its usual effect.
By the time he remembered how
to put one foot in front of the other long enough to reach the bed, she was
standing back by the window gazing at her own reflection or something just
beyond it. The thick silence in the room eventually yielded to the rustling
sound of him sliding off his tie and rolling up his sleeves, pulling the
pillow out from under the covers and lounging back into it. She stood still
through it all, still as stone. Or a pillar of salt.
"How did the
autopsy go?" He glanced at his watch. Four minutes on the clock since the
first time he'd asked the question and it felt like hours. Somewhere Einstein
She turned toward the small table next to the window
and pulled the red and white folder toward her. "Straightforward meningitis
cluster. Four victims, all members of the same hospital board. This still
seems like a CDC investigation, not something for us."
"Yeah, but all the victims were the board members who sided against Dr. Badger and got his license yanked."
"Victims? You still think the doctor infected them purposely?"
"I think he infected them consciously, yes."
"That still doesn't answer my question. Why us?"
He could feel the rush of annoyance that shot through her, but there was
something else, something like anticipation. Her call naturally summoned
his response. "One of the reasons he lost his license was for doing unsanctioned
research on bacterial intelligence."
The reaction he was hoping for
manifested itself in a sharp, incredulous laugh. "Bacterial intelligence?
Bacteria aren't intelligent, they're-- they're bacteria!"
turned away from the window and was standing, arms crossed, ready for action.
He leveraged himself into a sitting position, leaned toward her, reveling
in the feeling of barely contained nervous energy that arced between them.
Discourse as sublimation, outlet, metaphor. Whatever it was, it got the job
done. "I think the good doctor has figured out how to direct the bacteria,
to make them learn. That's how he can infect only the people he wants to
"That's impossible. There's probably some underlying genetic susceptibility in each of the victims."
"Shared only amongst those who were the doctor's enemies, and none of his
allies? He came in close contact with both. How do you explain that?"
"He spiked their food."
"He had no access to their food. These people all died within two days of
a board meeting where he sat across the table from them. You told me yourself
the incubation period indicates that they all contracted the infection on
the day of the meeting."
She turned back to the window. He could see
her face in the reflection, her expression one he knew by heart. She was
searching for another angle to the problem, looking stubborn, determined,
"Look, just re-read the file, will you please?
Tell me what you think. Then tell me more, like what you think I don't want
to hear, and maybe we can start to move forward on this case." He punctuated
his challenge by leaning back on the pillow and folding his arms behind his
head. "When I interviewed the guy this afternoon, I got a very clear picture.
He's a control freak, driven by ego, and there's no doubt in my mind he's
a killer. Trust me."
She walked to the bureau and picked up the takeout
bag. It was possible, just possible, that as she began unloading the contents
onto the table, over the creak of styrofoam and the crackle of brown paper,
he could hear her say, "I do."
End Chapter 2
To be continued in Chapter 3
* * *
November 30, 2001
Scully hit the key for printing the post marked 'rec.fic.creative: "Pinax,
Chapter 2/? by queequeg's ghost,"' then closed her eyes for the few brief
seconds it took the computer to comply. The last words on the screen danced
across her mind. "Yes," she whispered, looking into the basinet at the peaceful,
sleeping miracle beside her. "I do trust you, Mulder. But that's not the
only thing I can do."
She pulled the pages from the printer, along
with a single blank sheet. The chapter would be read and re-read tonight,
burned into her memory then burned to ash in the morning. The record would
stand on the web, but it didn't matter -- one of thousands upon thousands
of stories, hiding in plain sight.
She pulled the blank page toward
her and began to scribble a note she'd pass along by hand tomorrow. It would
meet a similar fate as the printed pages, once the information was absorbed.
He's still in New England. Coordinates the same as last week, still in the
high tech area around Cambridge. He's having trouble getting into Daedalus
Dynamics Inc. -- the password's not working. They've changed the configuration
on security and it needs two keys now. He's got something on the artificial
intelligence angle but not enough to spell it out. He's still convinced--'
She paused and glanced at the baby as he gurgled awake. As always, the fierce
instinct to succor and protect startled her, made her heart pound. The feeling
had always had a single focus until six months ago. Now that focus was divided
by distance but joined by love. The enormity of what she had to lose threatened
to overwhelm her at times. But not now. Now she had tangible proof that they
were both safe. For this week, this chapter, at least. She ran a finger over
the baby's soft cheek, then turned back to finish the message.
that it's Badger who's pushing the super soldier A.I. component that DDI
is working on, and that he's the one behind the deaths. Tell Byers and Langly
we need more on him. I'll use the back channel to Skinner and see if we can
get something official going. I want Badger out of the picture as soon as
possible. We need clear access to the A.I. data, or Mulder is going to get
frustrated and try to break in without our help. Get on it, guys. Please.'
"Please," she whispered. She turned to the baby. Solemn blue eyes regarded
her with grave approval as she leaned down to deliver the rest of Mulder's
message in the soft, sing-song of a mother soothing her child. If they were
listening, they'd dismiss it as whispered nonsense.
"He's fine, baby."
She huffed a mirthless laugh. "But he must be cold. I told him to bring the
gray sweater but there was only so much I could convince him of that morning.
He... I think he's having trouble concentrating on what he needs to do and
that scares me more...." Familiar terror at the idea of Mulder loose in the
world without back up, without her to back him up, crept up and grabbed at
her throat. She swallowed hard and pressed her lips to the baby's forehead,
drawing strength from obligation.
"He needs me to look at the data
he'll be sending, and I need to analyze it, and he's still a little angry
even though we agreed this was the best way, and he needs me too... He needs
me...." Eyes shut tight, hearing the soft, snuffly sound of the baby's breathing,
the tick of the clock on the mantel, the hum of the computer, her mind focused
on what she couldn't hear. His voice, low and gruff. Saying the words that
jumped out from between every line on the printed pages.
her eyes and took one of the boy's hands as it waved toward her, kissed it
and rubbed it against her cheek. "He needs us to know. He misses us."
* * *
Pinax: Wooden tablets covered with wax, the writing surface of the day in
ancient Greece. Ongoing stories, such as those of Odysseus and Penelope,
were probably recorded on these to be passed among communities who had no
access to the original oral storyteller.
Title: Pinax, Chapter 2/? by queequeg's ghost
Author: Barbara D. (firstname.lastname@example.org
Spoilers: Early Season 9, a few weeks after NIHT
A, UST, MSR
Disclaimer: Not mine, fair use, & etc.
Summary: In my megalomaniacal cosmology, M&S were in touch somehow up
till "TrustNo1," and it wasn't just through obvious emails.
draft of this story was written specially for the Scullyfic Spring Training
fic book. It is a standalone piece, meant to begin and end here -- in the
middle of the story.
Grateful thanks to Lysandra for on-the-spot,
in-flight beta, Anjou for confidence-building and techno-beta, Sarah Segretti
for saving my ass beta, and haphazard method for knowing my little foibles
so well, and catching them cheerfully.
The stalk for more "Tangible"
by Meredith was entirely intentional -- thanks to Jean Robinson for training
us so well, and for her years of faithful service to the cause of feckless
fic writers. And thanks to Jill Selby and the members of Scullyfic for the
best fic and discussion experience on the web.
For Revely. It's not one of the stories she wanted, but it's a start.
May 4, 2002
Back to Barbara's fic