Operation Clean House by Sarah Segretti & Won and Lost by Branwell

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Operation Clean House by Sarah Segretti

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Operation Clean House by Sarah Segretti

From: Mrsblome <> Date: 28 Jun 1999 11:33:54 GMT Subject: NEW: Operation Clean House, V, A, MSR, PG, 1/1

Title: Operation Clean House

Author: Sarah Segretti


Website: http://members.aol.com/mrsblome

Rating: PG (two bad words)

Classification: VA, MSR. Implied adventure.

Spoilers: Tiny ones for Triangle, FTF

Disclaimer: Not mine. Just playing.

Archive: Anywhere, just keep my name and address on it and tell me so I can bookmark your site.

Summary: A lost scene from an unfilmed episode. Colonization looms. A stolen moment on the tarmac. In medias res.

Glossary: As always, CDC is the acronym for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

June 1999

Operation Clean House By Sarah Segretti

Andrews Air Force Base

2:06 a.m.

Their breath hangs frozen and white in the night air.

Helicopters throb to life around them, stirring the air, rotors slowly accelerating into invisibility. Jet engines whine as pilots power up; the exhaust sends eddies of heat into the winter cold.

Soldiers trot by in groups, heavy boots clomping in rhythm on the tarmac, packs and rifles rustling and creaking against their dark green combat fatigues.

This is the last time I will ever see this man, she thinks.

Like the soldiers, he is dressed for battle – suit and tie replaced by black fatigue pants and combat boots, black turtleneck covering the ubiquitous gray T-shirt, Kevlar vest over it all. A dark helmet is trapped under one arm. His Sig rests at his hip, as always. A velcroed pocket on the vest conceals a very particular kind of stiletto; the special mask she helped design to protect him and the others from the fumes dangles from his neck. Only the shapeless black windbreaker with the yellow “FBI” emblazoned on the back – protocol uber alles, even now – spoils the commando look.

He’s been attached to Special Ops. He’s one of only two people on this planet who have been inside one of Their ships and lived to tell the tale.

She’s the other. But she doesn’t remember the details.

He’s never quite forgiven her for that, she thinks, although he knows – and she knows he knows – that it’s not her fault. She wishes she could remember. She doesn’t want to be separated from him on this night.

He watches her watch him from inside her too-big white biohazard suit. Her assignment is to the CDC strike team, the men and women who will safely collect and quarantine anything that Special Ops leaves in one piece.

Doctors with guns. Jesus. That idea frightens him more than what’s really about to happen. He pushes both thoughts aside, focuses on the woman standing in front of him.

Her red hair is skinned back tightly in two barrettes visible above her ears like tortoiseshell antennae, her head perfectly centered in the Elizabethan metal collar that will seal her massive helmet to her billowing suit. Silver tape circles her wrists and her ankles, bracelets of duct tape designed to prevent pathogens from seeping in at the seams. Like him, she’s tucked her helmet under her left arm. The Tyvek of her suit floats and ripples around her in the wash from the helicopters, settling around her hips until she looks like an albino, headless Teletubby.

His mouth quirks in a smile as he imagines the variety of her possible reactions to that image, and he picks the most likely one. When he gets back, he thinks, he’ll tell her she looked like a big white Po, just to see if he guessed right.

He won’t tell her now; no sense getting fragged by friendlies before you even get to war.

War. Shit.

In the space between breaths, it all flashes across that face she can read as if she truly were psychic. <Say it, Mulder, make that smartass comment. Say something so ineffably you that I won’t be able to help but smile. Break that mood you’ve just put yourself in. Let my last vision of you be your face smiling back at me.>

“Agent Scully!”

“Agent Mulder!”

The voices come from opposite ends of the staging area, carrying even over the rising aircraft noise. A young scientist, wearing a biohazard suit that actually fits, motioning for Scully to join the knot of similarly dressed men and women. Skinner, also in Special Ops black, helmet covering his bald head, holding an extra rifle. The AD is gone, replaced by the Marine. Soldiers stream past him, onto the transport where Mulder is expected to go.

They look to their summoners, then back at each other. The air feels suddenly taut. She can almost see individual molecules shimmering, visible. A drop of sweat courses down her back despite the cold. It’s too warm inside the suit.

Mulder puts on his helmet and smiles crookedly at her.

<Thank you, God, for that little gift.>

“Showtime,” he says.

She raises an eyebrow at him for old times’ sake. “Be careful.”

He nods quickly. “See you at the victory party.”

There is a moment, a heartbeat, where she can hear all the things unsaid, considers saying them. She thinks of a hallway, and a bee, and what never came to pass. No regrets, Dana, not now. Take consolation in the fact that you will see him again in the next life.

“Agent Mulder!” Skinner calls again, more urgently.

“Agent Scully!” The scientist’s voice sings odd counterpoint.

The spell is broken.

“Don’t get cocky,” she says.

He gives her his patented who-me? look and turns to go. He is barely three steps away before her heart lurches, and she wants to run after him, stay with me, be with me, don’t leave me alone –

She is not surprised to see him stop.

Backlit in the harsh tungsten lighting illuminating the field, he spins, and locks his gaze on hers.

Their life flashes before his eyes.

<most unwanted lost found my father my sister her sister can’t lose her gotta save her the truth is in her the truth will save us Scully Scully Scully Scully >

And in one long stride he is before her, kissing her, crushing her mouth under his, her face in his hands, drinking her in, tasting her courage. She presses against him as close as she can through Tyvek and Kevlar, her mouth hard and fierce against his, one hand gripping the back of his neck, the other still awkwardly holding her oversized helmet.

“Dammit, Mulder, now!”

He curses Skinner, and tears himself away, and allows himself one last look at her. Her hair has become mussed, her face flushed, her eyes bright. Her white coverall reflects the blue and red lights of the runway and the aircraft, a beacon that will guide him home after this long night.

“I love you,” he says, and runs.

This time, she knows he means it.

For a second, she allows herself to see him the way she always does in her mind’s eye: trenchcoat billowing around him in the fog, tie streaming over his shoulder, long legs propelling him forward, a dark angel running running running towards the truth.

He accepts the extra rifle from Skinner and vanishes into the maw of the transport. One soldier among many.

Her soldier.

<I love you, too.>

Fingers brush half-consciously against the lips he’d finally kissed, touching a memory, touching belief, touching hope.

She adjusts the helmet under her arm before it slips to the ground.

“See you at the victory party,” she says quietly.

— X —

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Author’s note: This springs from a thread on atxfa a few months back about how the first kiss would happen. (This was before “The Unnatural,” obviously. <g>) This image popped into my head, and wouldn’t leave. I had to get it out so I could write something else. Dedicated to the good folks at Delta Air Lines, at whose gate I was waiting and whose plane I was on when I wrote this.

Won and Lost by Branwell

Title: Won & Lost
Author: Branwell


Date Finished: Sept. 28, 1999

Rating: G

Category: V, A, MSR Vignette, Angst, Mulder/Scully Romance

Sequel to “Operation Clean House” with author Sarah Segretti’s permission

Archiving permission: Anyone may archive this. Please keep my name and acknowledgments with it.

Disclaimer: Chris Carter, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, and Ten Thirteen productions created and own the characters you recognize. Sarah Segretti imagined the situation that inspired my story in HER story: “Operation Clean House.” My writing is for fun, not profit.

Thanks: I owe thanks to Sarah for permission to use her idea. I would also like to thank bugs for words of encouragement and advice. Dustjacket by Frohike.

Summary: I read “Operation Clean House” and later realized the perfectly imagined farewell scene was haunting me. Artistically it is note perfect as it stands. In my weakness I yearned for emotional closure. Sarah kindly consented to my attempting a sequel. This is it.

— X —

Won & Lost by Branwell

Won & Lost cover

Homo Sapiens won.

The crew at the Los Sueños Airport hadn’t celebrated yet. They were still struggling to complete their mission.

Two civilians perched on empty packing cases beside the hangar door. Their stillness set them apart in the midst of the activity. He held her hand tightly. For the most part he never let go of it. She laughed at him good-naturedly once, when he almost followed her absently into a port-a-potty.

The facilities were terrible. This little airport hadn’t been designed to support a military operation.

— X —

In the last three months nothing had gone as planned.

Humanity had lavished its best resources on Operation Clean House, which was instantly annihilated. In less than a second three hundred and fifty trained operatives were wiped out. They had carried vaccine in powerful injector guns. Among them was the one human acquainted first-hand with the inside of an alien ship. All vanished without a trace.

— X —

The Los Sueños Airport hadn’t been designed to act as a morgue either. All of the strangeness disoriented him.

The tin roof distorted and echoed every sound. Floodlights rigged on ladders cast crazy shadows around the medical team, as they plodded between rows of body bags. He would have to rejoin the grave procession when the next rescue flight arrived.

A stunned-looking young sergeant had informed him yesterday that the hopefully named rescue flights had no task other than recovering their dead. He was only surprised that anyone could still be stunned.

— X —

The DOD plowed ahead after the first defeat. They deployed Operation Powerhouse with no obvious loss of bravado. During that attack communications remained open until the last soldier had been torn to pieces or dragged into the ship.

He thought he knew what happened to captives. It was certain that no extraterrestrials had attended the Geneva Convention.

After the massacre the military men he advised dropped their condescending manner toward him. They looked at him with frightened eyes and asked what they should do. He had no answers.

— X —

He swayed a little on his packing case.

“Are you all right John?” Susanne asked cautiously.

He wondered if she feared his eventual breakdown. She had lived through much worse than this. He forced himself to nod. She nodded back and stood up.

“Let’s get some coffee,” she suggested. As she spoke she disengaged her hand and took his arm so she could walk closer to him.

Everyone but them wore fatigues and boots. He watched his brown wingtips move over the chipped concrete next to Susanne’s black flats. Dusty dirt rose in little clouds around their feet when they stepped out of the building. The burning bright canopy of stars overhead filled him with dread instead of delight. He welcomed the dull khaki canvas that shut them out.

It was odd how the mess tent always smelled like cabbage, even though it was never served. Not in the two days he’d been here anyway.

— X —

They nicknamed the third assault force Operation Pest Control. The regular army sent in a thousand men at each site. They traveled in tanks or helicopters, and included units with powerful explosives. Missiles couldn’t be used effectively against foes who had dug themselves in deep during the Stone Age.

The enemy died by the dozens. The soldiers died by the thousands within minutes of reaching shifting zones around the ships.

DOD HQ organized Tiger Teams that included specialists in tactical nuclear weapons. The President’s family arrived at the bunker in West Virginia, where they were forced to stay in total ignorance and confusion.

— X —

When they returned to the hangar he checked his watch again. The last shuttle of the day was due in fifteen minutes. God how he hoped someone else had broken the news.

“Mr. Byers. Mr. Byers!” Someone was calling his name. “Sir, did you get a look at row 7, number 3? Her ID tag is gone, but she’s pretty small. Two of us think it’s a she, anyway.”

Byers shuddered at the memory of his look at row 7, number 3. He agreed it was a she, but the thighbones were too long for the ‘she’ he was trying to identify.

“It’s not her,” he said positively. He turned away to see Susanne watching him sympathetically.

“They both knew the risks, John. He won’t be surprised.”

She didn’t know him and his unquenchable hope.

— X —

After the third defeat came the solar flares. At least that was their official designation. Satellites, radio towers and radars everywhere sat useless. News broadcasting and military communications ceased. Paradoxically, that’s when earth’s luck began to change for the better.

Unconfirmed sightings of faceless monsters cropped up in reports couriered by soldiers on bicycles. Then some members of the original strike force started turning up in unpredictable places. It was on their say-so that the CDC began sending sanitization teams to the sites of the alien ships. So far all were clean.

The solar flares subsided and the good news spread. The BioTerrorism Threat was contained. It was V-BT Day.

Three days ago Fox Mulder of the Operation Clean House force flagged down a military patrol near Mount St. Helen.

— X —

Byers swallowed hard when he remembered the phone call.

“Hello. Is this Mr. Byers? I’m calling to complain about the late delivery of my ‘Lone Gunman.’ Not only that, but the boy keeps missing my ‘Inbox’ and I have to wipe off smut from the newsgroups.”

“Mulder? Mulder it’s not you! Is it? You’re dead. I don’t… What about… What happened?”

“Our ally helped with diversions. If I talk about it much I’ll end up rocking on a rest-home porch, brim to the rim with happy sap. The whole truth isn’t going to come out. But we beat ‘em!”

“Did you know what was going to happen ahead of time?”

Mulder ignored his question. “Do you know where she is Byers?”

Byers knew. He’d been keeping track of everybody. Except the dead of course.

“You can’t reach her. Her team is in the field.”

“You could get to her base before me. Do you have access?”

Byers admitted modestly that his clearance went pretty deep.

“Go to her. Tell her I’m alive.”

— X —

Scully’s mission had departed from Los Sueños the day before Mulder’s call. Byers arrived with Susanne in time to hear that her team was missing in action.

It was a routine assignment to confirm site neutralization. Radio communication was disrupted shortly after the confirmation was made. A reconnaissance plane reported wreckage and rescue flights were dispatched. The first helicopter to return brought back a black box. Byers heard the puzzled comments from the flight specialist who examined it.

“One minute the elevation was ten feet above sea level, and the next it was two thousand! Then it went back to ten. It doesn’t make any sense.” He couldn’t explain it further except to say that the same atmospheric anomaly that cut off the radio probably caused the crash.

The entire mission had gone down. Or perhaps the ground had risen up to meet it. Either way, there were bodies and body parts strewn across the desert landscape between the airport and the alien ship. Most of them now lay on the hangar floor.

Byers never got to tell her that Mulder had survived after all. That her partner was on his way to the little airport at Los Sueños to meet her. Byers had wanted to be the angel at the empty tomb. Watching her come alive again at his news—it would have been a double resurrection.

— X —

Mulder wore civvies. The too short jeans must have been borrowed, but it was his own gray T-shirt. He still wore his combat boots.

Byers judged from his expression that he hadn’t heard the news. He appeared no nervier than usual as he covered the length of the hangar in long strides. His broad smile as he caught sight of Byers made the man cringe in anticipation. What if Mulder hugged him and then he had to tell him? He couldn’t bear this.

Mulder contented himself with putting one arm around his shoulder. “Byers. Susanne. You can’t imagine how good it feels to see you here together, without fear.”

Byers writhed under an additional burden of guilt. After years of waiting, he had Susanne. Mulder had lost Scully. And he didn’t seem to know it. How could a trained investigator miss the significance of the body bags?

He couldn’t let his friend continue living in a fool’s paradise. It was better to get it over with. “Mulder, I’m afraid I have some very… sad news,” he faltered.

“You mean about the casualties on Scully’s mission?” Mulder asked guardedly. “I heard about them. I’m not worried. They’ll find her soon.”

Byers gaped at him with horror and admiration. This was going to be worse than he thought. When the truth became unavoidable Mulder’s collapse would be absolute.

“You’ve got to understand,” Byers urged gently. “The choppers out there now are the last they’re going to send. Even if they don’t find her body… .”

Mulder reached out and for one mad moment Byers thought he might hit him. Instead he held the index finger of his left hand to Byers’ lips and the one on his right to his own. Even as Byers saw panic stir briefly beneath his mask of calm, Mulder spoke quietly. “I’ve got a feeling she’s all right. I would know if… .” He studied the trembling of his own outstretched hand with a bemused look. Then he drew it back and folded his arms tightly.

Byers realized with a painful constriction of his throat that they would be testing Mulder’s theory very soon. The movement of soldiers into the landing area with stretchers meant that the last rescue flight had radioed its arrival. He edged toward the door along with Susanne and Mulder.

When the first bodies were added to row 9, Byers expected Mulder to join him in his conscientious examination of the dead. They would honor Scully’s body if they could do no more. Mulder disregarded his meaningful looks and finally pulled away from Byers’ hand on his arm.

“I can’t come with you right now,” he stated impatiently. “I don’t want to give them a chance to drag her off to a debriefing before I can say hello.” Mulder epitomized cool confidence apart from his white-knuckled grip on the railing next to them.

He went back to staring out at the three helicopters that had landed. “You know this accident was probably caused by a sort of friendly fire. Our ally’s travel technology alters time and space. They’re in the process of leaving earth.” He chuckled with an undernote of bitterness. “It’s not strictly accurate to call them allies. They’re the enemy of our enemy.”

“That’s interesting,” Byers remarked automatically. It wasn’t nearly as interesting as what was happening on the garishly lit runway. They were bringing in two more bodies and closing the doors on two of the choppers.

If he had been Mulder he would have asked someone else to keep vigil for him. Since Mulder insisted on maintaining a clear-eyed gaze at the third chopper, Byers averted his own eyes. He couldn’t stand to watch the corrosive grief etch itself on Mulder’s face. He heard a stifled gasp from the man beside him and felt the tears start from under his own closed eyelids.

“It’s all right John,” Susanne said in a strange voice. She never sounded jerky and uncertain like that. He reached for her to offer the comfort of his arms. “Open your eyes,” she said in the same choking voice.

When he did, he recognized Scully at the far end of the landing area. She was turning away from her pilot with an uncharacteristic slump to her shoulders. Her hair was pulled back into a severe knot, and she wore an olive drab T-shirt with baggy fatigues to go with her combat boots. She’d lost even more weight since Byers last saw her. But there was no mistaking her tiny stature or hair color.

She didn’t see Mulder yet. Mr. Cool was pounding towards her across the tarmac. In spite of his breakneck pace he found the breath to bellow her name.


She literally staggered with the impact of hearing it. She squinted against the lights, and made her hands into binoculars to eliminate the glare. When she locked onto her partner she started running too.

Scully’s short legs pumped furiously, a humorous counterpoint to her partner’s graceful gait. But she was speedy. The distance between them closed as though reality had gone into fast forward. Then they were in each other’s arms, like the lovers they had long been in their hearts. Hands and lips sought reassurance in fierce clasps and kisses. They examined each other’s faces as if they found miracles there. Finally Mulder stood very still, his head thrown back defiantly to the starry heavens, his hands cradling Scully’s head close to his chest.

Byers overheard the explanation given by another survivor to a small group of jubilant friends. “…didn’t know it, but one of them was damaged when we landed. Passengers would have been risky. Five of us volunteered to wait at the site for a rescue. But no one came. If McCrory hadn’t rigged that beacon today….I didn’t want to die in that place. It was hell’s waiting room.”

Gradually the flight crew nudged the oblivious Mulder and Scully in the direction of the hangar door. Up close Byers found the intensity of naked joy in their faces almost as difficult to witness as the pain he had feared earlier.

Mulder created a small pocket of privacy for them by putting Scully between himself and the hangar wall. His tense back and protectively extended arms broadcast a clear demand to be left alone. The unspoken message was respected until a tired-looking AF colonel appeared in search of Dr. Scully.

Following various pointing fingers, the man unhesitatingly tapped Mulder on the shoulder.

“We’re waiting for Dr. Scully in the conference room. We need her report.” The colonel appeared not to notice Dr. Scully’s red-rimmed eyes and wet cheeks.

Mulder gave Scully a questioning look. She nodded and made one pass at her hopelessly disarranged hair. He held onto her hand as she followed the officer toward the lounge now glorified by the title of conference room.

“Sir, this debriefing is classified. You can’t attend,” the colonel intoned.

“I can’t leave her,” Mulder stated simply.

The colonel scrutinized his face.

“Who are you, anyway? Let me see some ID.”

Byers knew that Mulder had to have a military ID like his own, but his friend pulled out his FBI badge instead. Security would be all over him any second now.

As the colonel scanned his badge, Byers saw Mulder shift his stance and stand up straighter, probably preparing to dash for an exit. He wanted to scream at Mulder to play the game, just once, for Scully’s sake. How would she feel if he ran away after claiming he couldn’t leave her?

Byers waited for red-faced rage on the officer’s face. He saw awed respect steal over the man’s features.

“You’re Special Operative Fox Mulder? We’ll be honored to have you at our debriefing. How do you take your coffee?” the colonel asked with a deferential smile.

Mulder smiled back. Then he turned to his friend and gave a small, self-deprecating shrug of his shoulders.

Even in this death-filled place, Byers felt a powerful surge of hope.

Things had really changed. It was a New World Order… a better one. There would be no more Callings. No more hideous experiments in the name of preventing or promoting Colonization.

In this world Susanne could live in the open without fear. Mulder would have respect and honor.

Some of John Byers’ dreams might come true.

It was time for the victory party.


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