Twisted by mimic117

Twisted (mimic) cover

Return to main “Twisted” page

Twisted by mimic117

Twisted (mimic) cover

From: Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2000 11:25:16 -0500 Subject: NEW: Twisted 1/4 Source: direct

Title: NEW Twisted 1 of 4

Author: mimic117

Email address: NOTE NEW (and current) ADDRESS

Rating: Just R. I know – I’m as stunned as you.

Category: XRH

Spoilers: Pretty much everything up until Biogenesis. Some specific references to past cases.

Keywords: Mulder/Scully RST (that means SEX, but not lurid)

Summary: During tornado season, an unusual number of people are being killed in spite of the warning system. But before they can find out who is causing the deaths, Mulder and Scully need to discover how these people are dying.

Disclaimer: If these characters were mine, not only would they have lots more fun than they do now, but I wouldn’t be living in a 120-year-old house with leaky windows. Chris Carter can try to sue me, but all he’s gonna get is an old house with lots of character, two Nintendo-addicted kids, and a dog that’s afraid of everything. (I get to keep the big guy.) This story is written with the greatest love and respect to the original creators, and in no way reflects a desire to infringe on their copyright. It really only reflects on the fact that I’m peri-menopausal, and the frustration needs an outlet somewhere!

Most Humble Gratitude: To Suzanne Bickerstaffe, a wonderful writer and a true lady, for allowing me to borrow her character, Special Agent Mike Thomas. To find out more about Mike, (as well as enjoying a couple damn good stories) read “Flights” and “Faith” by Suzanne at My deepest thanks, gentle author, for letting me play in your world for a time.

Author’s Thanks: To my almost-twin aka”Jake”, my ruthless front-trench beta goddess. I couldn’t possibly have written this without your help, advice, and nudging. Plus I would never have caught all those punctuation and grammar errors. (“Yikes! Ending a sentence with a preposition!”) If I’m not a better writer now, it certainly isn’t your fault! To Their Majesties Char and Teresa: for advice, encouragement, and chuckles in general. Your jester bows to your greatness. To Suzanne: for trusting me with your brain-child, and especially for correcting my dialect so I don’t offend. To Taffy: for her unique perspective and humble humor. More smut next time, I promise. To Dan: for beta above and beyond the call of college. Prioritize, dear, you’ll have more time to read my stories. Every suggestion, comment, and tiny observation has been petted, fawned over, and stroked to tatters. If this story is any good, it’s because of y’all.

Author’s notes, groveling and assorted bleatings at the end.

Twisted by mimic117

x X x

xX Twisted: Part One Xx

Somewhere in Oklahoma

There was another storm building. He could feel it.

The pressure always started just behind his eyes. Not painfully, but as if he had a really bad head cold coming on. It usually would move from there to his sinuses, and then increase until he could feel it invading his ears. It wasn’t the pressure that bothered him, though. It was the noise. The gradual build-up of humming that changed to crackling and hissing over the hours just prior to a storm blowing in. That was the painful part: his inability to do anything about the noise, not being able to free himself from the sounds pushing to get out of his head.

The first couple of times, he hadn’t known what to do for the pain. But lately, he’d found a way to manipulate the noise, to control and redirect it at its worst. The sudden release of energy was almost orgasmic in intensity, leaving him dizzy but relieved every time it happened. Now, he craved that feeling, needed to experience it again, to feel the huge rush of ecstasy surge from his body. He was prepared to do whatever was needed to have that again, to stop the pain with the pleasure.

No matter who got in his way.

x X x

May 15 6:30 AM

His head slowly descended as her lips opened ever so slightly to meet his. As their mouths touched for the first time, he closed his eyes, the better to isolate the sensation of skin on skin. The kiss was firm, sweet, tasting of fresh fruit, and coffee, and unlimited potential. His arms wrapped gently around her body, one circling low on her waist, the other traveling up her back to tangle his fingers in her hair. Neither of them increased the pace of their kiss, feeling content just to revel in the close proximity of each other’s body and the slow waltz of their coupled lips.

After what seemed like an enchanted eternity, he lifted his lips from hers and opened his eyes. Her deep blue pools gazed back at him with such desire and love that he had to catch his breath before he could speak.


You would not have thought that one word could hold so much meaning. But in that word reverberated ‘beloved,’ ‘cherished,’ ‘adored,’ ‘precious beyond all things.’ All contained in six letters.


His lips stippled kisses from her cheek bone to her temple.



His mouth suckled a path down her neck to her throat, where he kissed the pulse beating there.



Her hand trailed down his t-shirt, leaving raw, screaming nerves in its wake, to cup the hard length of him through his suddenly insubstantial jeans.

“Ohhh, Scully!”


Mulder’s eyes popped open to see a grinning gamin face hanging over him, with two sparkling sapphires in the center.

Oh shit.

With an effort, Fox Mulder came to the realization that he was on his couch, in a very aroused state from the lingering dream images, with Scully’s amused gaze taking in every nuance of his disorientation.

I picked a helluva time to have something besides a nightmare, Mulder chided himself.

And he knew he couldn’t count on his partner to overlook the obvious; not with his erection straining against his sweats, trying to wave hello. Maybe he’d get lucky and she’d just put it down to morning wood.

Yeah, and maybe Eddie Van Blundht will stop making monkey babies.

“Good morning, Sunshine,” Scully smirked. “Time to… rise and start the day.”

His luck stank.


“Yes, Mulder, I heard you the first half dozen times. That would be me. I tried calling, but your cell phone’s off and I think something’s wrong with your answering machine.” Scully moved to sit in the armchair across from the couch, observing her partner with exasperated affection. “Skinner couldn’t get through to you, so he woke me up an hour ago. You owe me that extra hour of beauty sleep, Mulder.”

Mulder scrubbed his hands over his face and tried to sit up on the couch in such a way that his temporary embarrassment was not so obvious, but he knew it was a hopeless attempt. All he really wanted to do was lay back on his couch, close his eyes, and revel in the intense feelings evoked by the dream. But if Scully was there, that meant they were needed for a case. Mulder knew he’d have to squash his desire into a small corner of his mind, or he wouldn’t be able to concentrate. Hopefully, his eidetic memory would supply him with total recall at a less awkward time.

Letting out a jaw-cracking yawn, he said “My cell’s battery must be dead. What’s up, Scully? What time is it?”

Mulder gave himself a mental slap.

Swift move, Muldoon. Why don’t you just drop ‘em and show her what’s up? Geez.

“What’s ‘up’, Mulder, is that it’s now 6:37 in the morning, and you need to get ‘up’, and pack ‘up’ because we have to be ‘up’ in the air on an 8:45 flight from Dulles to Oklahoma.”

He couldn’t imagine what had gotten Scully into this puckish mood, but he just knew it was going to be a long trip. Mulder stood and stretched his back, running his hands through his hair.

No point in modesty now.

Dana Scully looked at her partner standing next to the couch, sleep still clouding his eyes, dwindling erection tenting his sweatpants, and decided she’d better stop baiting him or they’d miss their flight. He needed to get moving, and she needed to get her mind off what was already moving. Taking a firm grip on herself, Scully started toward Mulder’s bedroom, talking over her shoulder, hoping he would follow.

“Look,” she said, “we don’t have much time, so why don’t you shower while I pack for you? We can pick up coffee on our way to the airport.”

Glancing back, Scully saw that, as hoped, Mulder was shuffling along right behind her. Only he wasn’t headed for the bathroom; he was just tagging along, a couple steps to the rear. When Scully stopped, Mulder bumped into her.

“Shower, Mulder.”

Grabbing him by the shoulders and spinning him around, she gave a shove in the direction of the bathroom door.

“Hey Scully…”

She looked up to see his eyebrows waggling up and down.

“Wanna wash my back? There’s one spot I can never reach,” Mulder leered at her.

Scully gave him her best ‘why me?’ sigh and turned back to the bedroom, trying hard to keep the smile out of her voice.

“I’ll buy you a back brush, Mulder. Now move it!”

Scully heard his snort of amusement as the bathroom door closed, and grinned. Picking up his suitcase from the corner of the room, she opened the closet door, pulling out suits, shirts, and ties, along with a garment bag.

“At least you’ll be sporting some respectable neckwear for the next few days,” Scully gloated.

Turning to the dresser, she grabbed socks and underwear at random. Mulder wouldn’t care what he wore. Sometimes she wondered if he even cared that his clothes were clean.

Scully’s mind registered the sound of the water coming on, followed by an indisputable ‘girly’ scream. She imagined Mulder stepping into the shower as he twisted the levers, being met with a nice blast of frigid water before the hot kicked in. Hopefully, it would help to wake him up faster.

Smiling to herself, Scully glanced down at the items in Mulder’s suitcase and realized that she needed to pay more attention her packing. Sitting on top of the pile were the Marvin the Martian boxers she’d given him for his last birthday because she just couldn’t resist. Many times at work, she’d wanted to ask if he was wearing them, but she’d never gotten up the courage. He’d want to show her what he had on no matter what he was wearing.

Scully returned Marvin to the drawer, chuckling at another pair of boxers with fluorescent alien heads on them. She just knew those heads would glow in the dark, and hurried to smash down the visual image her mind produced.

Nope, she didn’t need to carry that particular picture around in her head all day.

x X x

In the shower, Mulder was wide awake. The lovely blast of melted glacier just as the water came on had popped his eyes open, but good. It had helped to shrivel some impure thoughts and their physical manifestation, as well.

Of course, the long, satisfying morning wizz had helped get things started. Concentrating on hitting in the toilet instead of on it got his mind off the dream for a few moments, which didn’t hurt. His landlord had as much as told him that if he didn’t start waking up before he took a leak, he could bloody well replace the yellow tile.

Grabbing the shampoo and lathering his hair, Mulder’s mind drifted back to The Dream. Capital letters. This wasn’t the first time he’d had that particular one, but it was the first time there’d been accompanying audio. Usually, they were quiet in The Dream; just soft moans and sighs until Scully’s touch on his crotch made him come in his sleep, starting awake with her name on his lips.

Maybe the addition of her voice would be a permanent change. Nah… he sighed. You couldn’t get that lucky in a million years, Muldork.

Having finished soaping himself on auto-pilot, Mulder rapidly rinsed, shut the water off and stepped out of the shower. Grabbing his razor and shaving cream without bothering to dry off, he wiped a clear spot on the mirror. After all the times he’d prepared for departure on a moment’s notice, Mulder was an expert at shaving the smeary silhouette in front of him. His hands didn’t slow down or miss a beat as he slathered cream on his face, scraping away beard stubble without ever taking his mind off The Dream.

Mulder had known for a long time that he was in love with Dana Scully. Not just that he loved her, but that he was “in love” with her. His respect for her dedication, his admiration for her courageous heart, had grown daily as she followed him into one hazardous situation after another. His trust was given freely as she demonstrated her loyalty to him time and again, making his quest her own. Now, Mulder could hardly remember a time when he hadn’t loved her; cherished their quiet moments together; wanted to protect her, and keep her safe from all the pain in the world. But too often, it seemed as though he was the main cause of her pain. So much so, that he’d wondered for some time why she hadn’t left him long ago.

And with the doubts and wondering came new dreams. Nightmares of Scully screaming his name in agony, while he ran and ran, lungs bursting but never able to find her, until he awoke drenched in sweat, sobbing in fear.

Even worse were the dreams of pointing a gun at her head, unable to stop himself pulling the trigger. Watching as her blood sprayed and she crumpled at his feet. Mulder would wake from those dreams beyond fear, so horrified he just managed to make it to the bathroom before yakking his guts into the commode.

But lately, he’d also been blessed with dreams of such beautiful tenderness they left him as shaken as the nightmares. Since he was pulled from the waters of the Bermuda Triangle (only to find a Scully counterpart in a past decade), the dreams had become more vivid and varied. Maybe his boldness at stealing a desperate kiss from someone who was so much like his own Scully had influenced his subconscious. Ever since that surreal occurrence, his dreams had become increasingly sensual. His declaration of love to ‘his’ Scully in the hospital room he put down to a combination of relief at returning to his own time, and whatever lovely drugs they’d given him. He’d even been a bit relieved by Scully’s “oh brother” in response. It hadn’t been the right time or place for that particular wall to come down. But Mulder could tell that things were moving toward dismantling the final barrier between them. He had a feeling it would be sometime soon, but he didn’t know whether to be ecstatic or scared shitless.

x X x

Hearing the water shut off, Scully quickly grabbed a pair of plain boxers from the drawer. Opening the next drawer down, she found his t-shirts and running shorts.

“Hey, Mulder…” she yelled.

A muffled “Yeah Scully?” came back at her.

“What running clothes do you want?”

“Gimme my blue Knicks shirt and the black jogging shorts. And don’t forget my running shoes, okay?”

His voice kept wavering, so she knew he must be shaving.

Pulling out the requested items, Scully held up the shirt, shaking her head in disgust.

“Mulder, this shirt doesn’t have any sleeves, half the collar has detached from the body, and there’s a big hole in the stomach. I’m gonna throw this in the trash and find another one.”

Before she finished speaking, the bathroom door flew open and Mulder’s head poked out, hair slicked back, half his face covered in shaving cream, and eyes blazing.

“Don’t you dare throw that out! That is my favorite running shirt. It’s comfortable. I don’t have to worry about getting it all smelly and sweaty. Now put it in my suitcase!”

“But Mulder, this thing is older than dirt and twice as ugly. You must have something better to wear for an out-of-town case. The poor shirt is in need of a proper burial before it disintegrates in the laundry,” Scully shot back.

Mulder’s eyes narrowed for a second before he took a deep breath and replied, “Okay, you can throw it away…” her lips quirked at the corners in triumph. “… provided I can throw out your gray sweatpants if they’re in your luggage. You know, the ones with the pulls in the seat and the holes in the knees?”

Mulder barely avoided laughing out loud at the look of indignation on Scully’s face before it was replaced by one of resigned condescension.

“Well,” she huffed, “if you’re going to be that way about it, I’ll pack your silly shirt. But I still think you’re being cruel to it.”

“When it asks for Dr. Kevorkian, I’ll put it out of its misery.”

Mulder grinned, shutting the door, and continued shaving. There were definite advantages to knowing your partner’s weak spots.

Grabbing the ready-packed toiletries kit, Mulder emerged from the steamy room, his hips wrapped in a blue towel that made him look like he was wearing a fuzzy Samoan loincloth. He tossed the kit into his suitcase, turning to the closet.

“Oh good, you didn’t pack my dark gray suit.” Mulder’s nonchalant tone drew his partner’s immediate attention. “It’ll go great with this new tie I bought.”

Scully gasped as he drew forth the neckwear in question.

“Mulder,” she cringed, “you can’t possibly wear that. Especially not for a first meeting.”

Mulder held the questionable article against his suit jacket, displaying his saddest Bassett hound eyes, complete with pouting lower lip.

“What?” he whined. “You don’t think gray UFOs on a brown background goes with this?”

“Mulder…” Scully covered her eyes with one hand, shuddering. “The UFOs are red and the background is lime green. I keep telling you not to clothes shop without me.”

Standing with hands on hips, Scully shook her head in resignation. Having a color blind partner had made for some really tense introductions in the past. At least she’d caught this particular fashion statement before it got out the door.

Mulder stared in delight at the offensive silk in his hand.

“Alright!! I’m gonna save this bad boy for the next OPR hearing we go to!” Reaching into his closet again, Mulder pulled out a shirt, earning a groan. “So I guess this isn’t gray either, huh?”

Scully rolled her eyes.

“It’s fuchsia, Mulder,” she informed him. Reaching into the closet, she pulled out another tie. “It’s a bit intense, but it’ll go just fine with the gray suit and this actually gray tie. Now hurry and get dressed or we’ll have to run for our flight…AGAIN.”

Mulder grabbed black shoes from the closet, black socks and boxers from the dresser, and turned to find Scully still regarding him, arms crossed on her chest.

“Um, Scully?”

“What is it now, Mulder?”

“I think you’re gonna want to leave for this next part.”

Hooking his right hand into the tucked towel around his hips, Mulder pulled.

Scully’s eyes widened as she executed a precise ‘about face’ before marching out the door, yanking it shut behind her.

“You’ve got 5 minutes, Mulder, or I’ll dress you myself!” she shouted.

Opening the door again, Mulder yelled, “You always come on to me when we’re in a hurry. It’s a conspiracy!” and slammed the door.

Chuckling quietly so he wouldn’t hear, Scully began gathering her coat and purse in preparation for a quick exit.

x X x

8:57 AM

After stowing her laptop computer in the overhead rack and her purse under the seat, Scully sat back, trying to get her breathing under control. She could hear Mulder struggling up the plane aisle with the two heavy garment bags, apologizing as he went. She wasn’t the least bit sorry for leaving him with the awkward stuff. It was his fault they’d almost missed their flight and resorted to using their Bureau status to hold the plane. Scully wondered if she could get sprinting through airports credited toward her next Bureau physical. She could hook herself to a portable monitor and take her yearly stress test while racing for her flight.

Mulder dumped the luggage on his seat and heaved a sigh of relief. Glancing at the dark cloud which was passing for his partner’s face, he made an impulsive decision. Stashing the bags in the overhead storage, Mulder put on his best ‘I’ve-been-a-bad-boy’ grin for the benefit of his glowering neighbors.

“Sorry to hold everyone up like that,” he apologized, “but if we’d missed this flight, her husband would have caught us for sure. OW! What?!”

Mulder hopped up and down in the aisle, holding the future bruise on his shin.

Glaring at him with the full wrath of her Irish temper in her eyes, Scully ignored his sexy pouting lower lip and wounded gaze.

“Put away the lip, Mulder, and try to act like a grown-up for five minutes,” she grated. “I didn’t knock you down and steal your tricycle. We have a case to discuss. This flight won’t last long enough for me to brief you if you don’t sit down so we can take off.”

The waiting flight attendant returned to her seat as the tall, dark FBI agent plopped into his, buckling the safety belt just as the plane began to taxi. The guy was really hot looking, but she got the feeling he was also as much trouble as three four-year-olds with one toy truck.

Mulder knew he was in hot water. Scully’s playful mood lasted just as long as it took to get stuck in traffic, almost missing the flight. Now it was back to Scully-as-usual, and he wasn’t sure whether or not to be thankful. At least having her pissed at him would squelch any lingering libidinous thoughts from earlier.

“Look,” Mulder cajoled the back of his partner’s head as she glared out the window, “I know I shouldn’t have spent so much time on the phone, but I had to tell Frohike to feed my fish. He was kinda hard to get rid of. We’d have made it in plenty of time if people hadn’t been gawking at that truck hanging over the lane divider. I’m sorry we had to run for the plane again, but the traffic jam was not my fault.”

Scully turned glacial eyes in his direction.

Mulder shivered. He could feel his testicles shriveling, cravenly trying to seek shelter in his abdomen.

“Prove it!” she snapped.

It was going to be a very long case.

x X x

Somewhere in Oklahoma

He’d followed the storm for hours. The slow pressure buildup inside his head was a good indication he was going in the right direction.

The sky in front of him was brutally beautiful. Hard, sculpted lumps of white piled one on top of the other, as though chiseled from moving marble, the clouds grew, bulging with incredible destructive power.

To meteorologists, the flattening anvil shape indicated a possible super-cell to be watched for changes.

To a storm chaser, the deep gray underbelly of the cloud bank meant a chance of deploying instruments to measure the funnel’s interior for future study.

To the man waiting for the storm to reach its full potential, it was another opportunity to feel the release of energy. To experience the rush of ecstasy that signaled his power over the hurtful noise in his head.

It wouldn’t be long now.

x X x

Mulder was able to sit still for about ten minutes. He didn’t want to piss off Scully any more than she already was, so he decided to let her bring up their new case first. But he was tired of being punished for something that wasn’t entirely his fault: the nervous energy finally started to leak out. He crossed his right leg over the left (his foot was in the aisle)… crossed left over right (he kicked Scully’s knee)… put both feet on the floor… sighed… scratched an ear… scootched his butt around… sighed… crossed his legs at the ankles… tucked them under the seat… sighed… put an elbow on the arm rest (he knocked Scully’s arm off)… sighed… scootched around a little more…

“Mulder, you’re as fidgety as a toddler with a full diaper.”

Startled by the amusement in her voice, Mulder’s head snapped around to see Scully watching him out of the corner of her eye. There was a tiny quirk at the corner of her mouth. Releasing a whoosh of air strong enough to flutter his tie, Mulder gave his partner an apologetic grin that was answered by a twitch of her lips.

“Scully, I’m really sorry…” he began, but was silenced by her hand on his arm.

“No, Mulder,” she corrected, “I’m the one who’s sorry for being so bitchy. I know it wasn’t your fault. It’s just that I’m getting tired of being the favored contender in the Airport Olympics. Ready to go over the case?

Covering Scully’s hand with his own, Mulder enjoyed the tingle that raced up his arm from the feel of her skin and smiled into her eyes.

“I’m sure I could find forgiveness in my heart if you kissed the bruise you left on my leg,” he coaxed, eyebrows dancing.

Scully snorted.

“In your dreams, G-man,” she grinned.

Mulder’s eyes glowed soft and tender in response. “You have no idea, G-woman.”

She dropped her gaze, willing the blush she felt rising on her face to knock it off.

Clearing his throat to dispel the sudden tension in the air, Mulder asked, “So why Oklahoma, Scully? There’s nothing there but corn as high as an elephant’s eye. Couldn’t you just push me out the emergency exit when we’re over Kentucky? I hear the countryside around Paducah is beautiful this time of year.”

Scully shot him a side-long glance.

“Don’t tempt me beyond my limits, Mulder. It’s been a long morning, and it isn’t even 9:30.”

Reaching into her briefcase, Scully extracted a few sheets of paper and proceeded to inform her partner why they were headed for the Sooner state.

x X x

“Let me see if I’ve got the facts so far,” Mulder said. He held up a long, slender finger, ticking off the case points one at a time.

“Oklahoma’s had a lot of tornadoes in the last two weeks.”


“A large number of twister-related deaths have occurred.”

Scully consulted her notes. “A total of forty-seven deaths spread out over twenty-three confirmed touchdowns in different areas. Not unheard of, but unusual when taken as a whole.”

“The victims appear to have injuries consistent with battering by debris thrown at high velocity.”

She shrugged. “As far as I can tell without having done the autopsies, and with the little information Skinner gave me, the deaths were caused by excessive multiple broken bones, lacerations, and contusions, caused by various projectiles, or being crushed under rubble.”

“And this was considered to be unusual… why again?”

Sighing, Dana Scully rubbed the little creases between her eyes, wondering why she felt the need to play devil’s advocate on this case.

“Mainly,” she speculated, “I suppose it’s because of the advances made during the last few years in tornado prediction.” In response to Mulder’s raised eyebrow, she continued, “You need to understand that large numbers of deaths due to a tornado are unusual these days, Mulder. Since the killer storms that ripped through the Midwest in the spring of 1974, almost every community in the country, and certainly in Tornado Alley, has reactivated some sort of storm alert system. With the advent of Doppler radar, the National Weather Service is better able to predict which storms will become super-cells with the potential of forming funnel clouds. The faster people are warned, the fewer lives are lost. It’s almost unheard of for a tornado to strike without warning anymore.”

Scully stopped speaking when she saw Mulder watching her with fond amusement.

“I was just wondering when you became an expert in meteorology,” he teased.

It still surprised her to think of all the things he didn’t know about her, or she about him, after almost seven years together.

“I became fascinated by tornadoes after that series of storms in 1974,” she smiled. “Don’t you remember hearing about it, Mulder? It was early in April, I think, around Easter that year. There were nearly 150 confirmed touchdowns over thirteen states in less than a day and a half. More than 300 people were killed. Half the town of Xenia, Ohio, was destroyed. I remember being awed by the incredible power of something that could rip the roof off a school and reduce houses to kindling. So I read up on tornadoes and learned as much as I could.”

Mulder’s heart skipped a beat at the excitement shining in Scully’s eyes. It was clear to him that she found the whole subject enthralling. Recently, it had seemed to him that Scully was just going through the motions, not finding any joy or pain in anything, much less their work. He rejoiced to see her so interested in a case, even something that didn’t sound like a potential X-file.

“Okay,” Mulder nodded, “I’ll admit that it seems like too much of a coincidence for so many killer twisters to happen in such a short time span. Maybe it’s just a bad season for tornadoes. Don’t we have any other facts to go on? I mean, this isn’t something we would normally investigate. Why the need for our special touch?”

Scully folded her notes, tidying them back into her briefcase before answering.

Mulder got the feeling there was one more detail she needed to share, but she wasn’t happy about divulging it.

“Actually, this is all Skinner gave me over the phone. He said the case file would be waiting for us at the Oklahoma Field Office.”

He studied her face for a moment before responding.

“Alright. Then we’ll stop at the office, before we check into our motel, and pick up the file so we can start going over it. What aren’t you telling me, Scully? I know there’s something.”

Scully sighed, looking at her partner with a heartfelt apology in her eyes.

“There is something else in Oklahoma, Mulder,” she confessed. “Tom Colton is ASAC on this case.”

Mulder closed his eyes in pain, letting his head thump against the back of his seat. The thought of not only having to work with Special Agent Tom Colton again, but actually being under his command, caused his gorge to rise. Colton may have once been a friend of Scully’s, but he and Mulder hadn’t simply not gotten along – they had loathed each other. Mulder could imagine few things that would make dealing with this case any harder.

“I take it back, Scully,” he moaned. “Don’t push me out of the plane. Shoot me right now and leave my body in the overhead compartment.”

“Sorry, partner,” she sympathized. “You’re over the weight limit. You’ll just have to cowboy up and play nice with the other kids.”

Mulder felt her hand stroking his coat sleeve, and wondered if he could manage to be sucked up by a tornado before they reached the Oklahoma office.

x X x

Oklahoma City 10:45 AM

Their medium blue rental car was so similar to all the other medium blue cars over the years, Scully wondered if they’d used it before. Same rubbed-down nap on the seat upholstery; same scuffs on the dashboard; same ambiguous stains on the carpeting whose origins she didn’t care to know. It was as if some inter-dimensional rift allowed the same car to appear wherever they ended up working. A thought occurred to Scully: if she looked under the seat, maybe she’d find the earring she lost last year.

Then again, better not risk it. Who knows what Mulder might have lost under there?

Glancing at her partner as he concentrated on driving, she saw him worry the corner of his lower lip with his teeth and sighed. Mulder hadn’t said much since she’d told him about Tom Colton. Scully couldn’t blame him, considering the animosity Agent Colton displayed toward him during the Tooms case. While Mulder had a unique talent for pissing people off in a matter of seconds, some of the things Colton had done to, and said about, him had been unconscionable. He hadn’t tried to hide his contempt for Mulder’s opinions, even when they were proven right. Scully sighed again. She didn’t look forward to this meeting, either.

“Almost there, Scully,” Mulder announced in a strained, mock- cheery voice. “Who do we to report to this time?”

Shaking off her unaccustomed sense of gloom, Scully pulled the notes from her briefcase and glanced through them. She shrugged.

“I don’t know, Mulder. Skinner just said the SAC is there for a temporary assignment while the regular Oklahoma SAC is recovering from open heart surgery. He didn’t give a name.”

Mulder grinned at her.

“Must not have a doctor handy to watch his arteries for him.” The grin faded, replaced by a dejected sigh. “Well, this looks like the place.”

Neither of them moved for a good thirty seconds after the car engine quieted. Giving herself a mental shake, Special Agent Scully recited a list of previously encountered mutants, monsters and psychos sotto voce to bolster her spirits. Surely a fellow agent couldn’t be as bad as Tooms, or Pfaster, or Betts. Could he?

Throwing a smile in Scully’s direction, Mulder blew out a lungful of air, exiting the car before he could change his mind and race back to the airport.

She quickly joined him in the hot, muggy sunshine, standing for a moment to admire the clouds.

A sculpted bank of intense white was slowly building on the western horizon: giant globes of deceitful beauty, rolling and billowing over and around each other; growing upward like immense soap bubbles in a child’s bath. Enjoyable, even soothing, to watch if you didn’t know the monstrosity capable of being spawned from its underbelly. The heavy humidity of the atmosphere coupled with the blazing light gave every indication that a horrible birth would occur before the day was over.

Pulling her gaze from the sky, Scully straightened her spine, like a martyr preparing for the bonfire.

“Ready, Mulder?”

Special Agent Mulder squared his shoulders, tightened the knot on his tie, and lowered his professional mask into place.

“Bring it on.”

Placing his hand on the small of her back, they held their heads high as they marched up the steps of the Oklahoma Field Office.

It was cooler inside the three-story converted storefront, dimmer without the glare of the sun. Both agents signed in at the registration desk and were directed to the third floor by the receptionist. They were expected.

Mulder and Scully rode the elevator up two floors in silence, each preparing for this initial meeting in their own way. Stopping at the first desk outside the elevator doors, they were pointed toward the SAC’s office at the back of the long room. Heads turned a few at a time as the two agents strode through the midst of their colleagues, shoulders back, eyes straight ahead, knowing their reputations preceded them. Neither was aware how possessive Mulder’s hand on Scully’s back appeared, sending the clear message, “We’re a team. Back off. We don’t need your help.”

Their confident progress would have continued if not for a booming voice directly behind them.

“Hey! Spaceman!”

The agents stopped so fast they rocked on their heels.

“Mike!” Mulder’s face broke out in an enormous grin as he spun around, to be enveloped in a mountain of gabardine suiting inhabited by a tall, balding black man.

Scully stood behind them sporting an equally enormous grin, waiting for her turn to be swallowed up by the laughing agent good-humoredly thumping her partner on the back.

“Mike Thomas!” Mulder pulled back enough to see two dark brown eyes sparkling at his surprise. “What the hell are you doing in Oklahoma? They finally kick you out of Atlanta and make you do some real work for a change?”

Special Agent Mike Thomas exploded into another booming laugh, causing most of the agents within earshot to smile involuntarily.

“I’m the temporary Special Agent in Charge at this office,” Thomas chuckled. “SAC Hvorka needed heart surgery, so since there wasn’t nothin’ special goin’ on in Atlanta, they sent me here for a few months. Didn’t Skinner tell you? I talked to him yesterday afternoon when I called to get your help.”

Mulder turned, wide eyed, to find his partner staring at him with a similar expression. They had been finding it more and more difficult to predict what their boss would do recently. Skinner had met Mike Thomas on the pair’s last case in Atlanta, and knew of their close friendship, so none of them could think why he hadn’t mentioned this little detail.

Scully spoke first, the thought in both their minds.

“Guess he was saving it as a surprise.”

Mike Thomas released his hold on Mulder, who staggered with the loss of support, and wrapped his arms gently around Scully.

“Dana, sugar, how you doin’?” he murmured in her ear.

Holding Scully out at arm’s length, he inspected her with approval.

“You look a lot better than you did last time I saw you. ‘Course, you’d just gotten yourself and the Spaceman here blown up, as I recall.” Mike Thomas’s laughing eyes turned serious. “It’s been way too long, honey. You’re really all better now?”

Scully smiled, aware that he kept in touch with Mulder and knew about her near-miraculous cancer remission.

“Thanks to Mulder’s pitbull persistence.”

Thomas nodded solemnly in return.

“I told ya, Spaceman. You gotta keep the faith.”

Mike squeezed Scully’s arm, leading them both toward his office.

“Did y’all have any breakfast yet?”

“Uh, no,” Mulder informed him, “airline eggs not counting as food in my mind. How the hell those things can be both slimy and rubbery at the same time is beyond me. And I think we’d better give Scully some coffee before she kicks someone’s ass into next week. Probably mine.”

“Well, Spaceman,” Mike Thomas grinned, “if anyone ever deserved a good ass-kickin’, it’d be you. And if you haven’t been treatin’ her right, I just might help.”

Waving them into the only seats in his temporary office, SAC Thomas shut the door, giving tacit permission for speculation to run riot in the outer bullpen.

“How are your family, Mike?” Scully asked, accepting a cup of black coffee. “Is your partner here with you?”

“Oh, they’re just fine, but they had too many things goin’ on at school to leave this time of year. We take turns flyin’ back and forth to visit on weekends.” Thomas’s eyes started to twinkle as he continued, “Alvin’s the reason I’m stuck in Tornado Alley durin’ high season.”

Mulder’s face broke into a grin as one of Scully’s eyebrows climbed skyward. They remembered Mike’s young partner, who was instrumental in their rescue after the explosion. The handsome black agent had been the only one trying to stop a block of buildings from being demolished by a film company as Mike and Skinner raced to the scene. Since they believed Mulder and Scully were trapped inside, Alvin was charged with talking sense into the affected parties until reinforcements arrived. They’d never blamed him for being unable to prevent the explosion, and were still grateful for his help in digging them out of the rubble.

Mulder threw a mischievous glance at Thomas.

“Alvin finally squeal on you for not contributing to the coffee fund?”

Mike Thomas released a sarcastic “Ha ha,” grinning at his friends.

“I pay for every good cup of coffee I take,” he shot back. “Just ‘cause most of it ain’t that good ain’t my fault, is it?”

“Actually,” he drawled in his Georgia peach-nectar voice, “old Alvin got himself hurt a while back and landed his butt in the hospital.”

Waving off their exclamations of horrified concern, Thomas chuckled hard enough to make his chair shake. “No, no, he’s okay. Or he will be once he gets over the utter humiliation of it all. Ya see,” he smiled, settling back, “it was like this.”

x X x

Wiping the tears from her cheeks, Scully struggled to control her breathing.

“You mean to say… he fell over the retaining wall… rather than face a barking Pomeranian?!” She couldn’t help herself. The laughter started all over again. “But that’s awful!”

Sprawled in his chair, Mulder grinned at his partner. “A perfect example of cause and effect,” he drawled.

Mike Thomas’ body continued to shake with mirth.

“Sugar,” he told Scully, “what you gotta understand here is that, as good an agent as Alvin is, he’s still human, and he’s purely terrified of dogs.”

“But it was a Pomeranian, Mike. I owned one once, so I know what they’re like. It couldn’t even have reached up high enough to bite him on the knee.” Scully’s laughter had stopped, but she was still smiling. “Poms are just cute little fluff balls with the fearlessness of a lion. Mulder knows what I’m talking about, don’t you?”

Mulder knew he shouldn’t say it, but he just couldn’t find the energy to resist.

“Don’t believe her, Mike,” he grinned, eyes closed. “Animals that small aren’t dogs; they’re fuzzy rodents that bark.”

Without looking, Mulder could tell that his partner’s gaze was peeling the skin off his body. And she was enjoying it.

“Fox Mulder,” Scully berated him, “you know damn well Queequeg was not a rodent! He was a sweet little dog who didn’t deserve to be eaten by an alligator!”

Mike’s eyebrows rose nearly half-way up his head at her statement, but decided he probably didn’t want to hear that story.

“Well, Dana,” he continued, “sweet or no, Alvin don’t like any of ‘em. I’ll bet that dog looked like a lion to him at that particular moment. I’m just glad he didn’t end up with anythin’ worse than a busted tailbone and a couple fractured legs. I shouldn’t be stuck here more’n two, three months at the most, by which time he’ll be off sick leave. He tacked a month of vacation on the end, figurin’ everyone will forget the whole thing by the time he gets back. Fat chance of that, if you ask me.”

Scully continued to glare at Mulder as he sat up, straightening his rumpled suit jacket.

“I don’t know why we’re laughing,” she observed in chagrin. “It certainly wasn’t funny that Alvin got hurt.”

“Don’t you be worryin’ yourself ‘bout Alvin, Dana honey,” he chuckled. “He was the hit of the hospital ward. Had all the pretty little nurses fightin’ over who was gonna take care of him, climbin’ all over each other contendin’ for the right to bathe him. Most of the time, they didn’t even know I was there. I’m tellin’ ya, Dana, it’s pure hell havin’ a handsome man for a partner.”

“Yeah, I’ve always thought so, too, Mike,” Scully lamented. “That’s why I’m glad I have Mulder instead.”

Mulder blushed, fidgeting in embarrassment, until his partner’s words finally sank in.


Scully and Thomas both burst out laughing at the black glare being beamed at them. Mulder had no trouble interpreting the look he received from his partner in return.

Now we’re even for that rodent remark.

Still chuckling, Mike Thomas wiped his damp cheeks and shifted into SAC mode with reluctance. Intercepting the dueling glares of his friends, he cleared his throat and pulled a file on the desk toward him. Understanding that fun time was over, both agents straightened around in their chairs, giving Mike their full attention.

“I’m glad y’all could come and help us out,” Thomas began. “There’s some really weird shit goin’ down here, Spaceman. That’s why I asked for you two especially. I’m hopin’ you can help us figure out who’s doin’ this, and maybe the lovely doctor here can tell us how the blazin’ hell he’s doin’ it.”

Mulder shifted in his seat, gesturing toward the file near Thomas’ hand.

“Maybe you’d better give us some details, Mike,” he suggested. “The information we got from Skinner wasn’t clear on why we were called. I’d like to know what makes you think our unique talents are needed here.”

Thomas sighed, flipping open the folder.

“Okay, I don’t suppose I gotta tell you that this is high season for tornadoes in this part of the country. That’s nothin’ new or unusual around here, and most of the time people are warned ahead of time, when somethin’ drops from the clouds.”

Both agents nodded, indicating he should continue.

“Even couplin’ Doppler radar with high-speed supercomputers, meteorologists can’t predict all tornadoes ‘cause some of ‘em just form too fast. The U.S. averages around 1,000 twisters every year, but a good majority of ‘em don’t do a lot of damage. Too weak, or they touch down in unpopulated areas. The ones that have been hittin’ here are another matter, though. Either of you familiar with the Fujita Scale?”

Mulder was just about to answer in the negative when Scully spoke up, surprising him yet again.

“The Fujita Tornado Scale was developed by Dr. Ted Fujita of the University of Chicago as a way to classify tornadoes according to the wind speed and amount of destruction caused.”

Scully ignored her partner’s astonished stare and cheeky grin, though she couldn’t help noticing the questioning look on Mike Thomas’ face. Before she could explain her childhood interest, Mulder jumped into the conversation.

“Almost like watching the Discovery Channel, isn’t it?” Mulder waggled his eyebrows. “Smart is sexy, you know.”

SAC Thomas clamped his lips together, swallowing an amused snort. Eyes twinkling, he also ignored Mulder, nodding for Scully to continue.

“Damage can range from F0 tornadoes, with winds less than seventy-five miles per hour and minimal destruction, all the way up to F5 storms, with winds over 300 miles per hour, buildings torn from their foundations, and asphalt ripped from the roads.” Dana Scully shot her unrepentant partner a glance that should have shriveled him in his chair, then looked back at Thomas. “What types of storms have they been experiencing here, Mike?”

“Most of the twisters involved in the deaths have been pretty standard, around F1 to F3, with just a couple F4s thrown in for variety. At first, no one suspected anythin’ was unusual. It seemed like almost every storm produced at least one death, but things like that happen. Somebody gets caught out in the open path of a cyclone, no place to hide, they end up dead. The problem here is, even in the F1s, people started bein’ hurt bad enough to die from their injuries.”

“But that shouldn’t be,” Scully interrupted. “An F1 would produce hardly any damage at all. It would only be strong enough to push cars off the road, not pick them up. And unless you were actually caught inside one, I doubt if it would cause much damage to a house, or even a person.”

“I know that and you know that, Dana, but nobody told these tornadoes that,” Thomas huffed. “Believe me, I don’t understand it either, but then I don’t get lots of experience with twisters where I come from. There’s been property damage from these storms, but not what you’d call devastating, praise the Lord. In spite of that, the death toll seems mighty high, even to the people who’ve dealt with ‘em their whole lives. And nobody’s been able to figure out how fourteen of the forty-seven victims were killed. That’s what we’re hopin’ you can help us with.”

Now it was Mulder’s turn to interrupt.

“Exactly why were we called in, Mike? Is there some unusual pattern to the storms? Do you think someone could be causing them? What is it about fourteen of the victims that makes this an X-file? There’s something you haven’t told us yet.”

SAC Thomas leaned over the desk, handing the bulky file folder to Scully with a nod.

“Those are the autopsy results on the victims we’re discussin’ here. I’d like you to look those over while I keep talkin’. It’s gettin’ to be lunchtime; y’all must be hungry by now. I made hotel reservations for you not far from here, so I’ll try to finish and let you get checked in.”

Scully skimmed the pages in the folder while keeping one ear on the conversation.

“To answer your questions, Mulder my man, the storms seem to be occurrin’ along a narrow corridor west of a line from Wichita, Kansas, through Oklahoma City to Lubbock, Texas. That’s not too unusual from what I understand. The atmosphere in that area is real unstable right now, so bad weather tends to crop up pretty regular. The first anyone noticed that somethin’ strange was goin’ on was about a week ago.” The black agent’s words caused Scully to stop reading for a moment and refocus her attention on him. “A local sheriff’s deputy was at home durin’ a storm that passed within a quarter mile or so of his house. It was later classified as an F2 twister: a few roofs were torn off nearby houses and some cars were pushed off the road. Nothin’ real major, far as damage goes. Imagine his surprise when he walks outside to see if any trees were broken in the high wind, and finds a mail jeep layin’ on its side in the road. The letter carrier was still in the truck, dead; cut up pretty bad from the broken glass of the windows. But not only was he dead, there was steam risin’ off his body, even though the temperature was still in the mid 80s.”

Without looking at her partner, Scully could sense Mulder’s sudden interest. This was just the type of thing to get his ‘spooky’ radar rotating. She sighed, returning to the file.

“Did the deputy notice anything unusual during the storm?” Mulder jumped in. “Were there any strange noises, or lights? I assume the body was autopsied as soon as possible.”

“Yep, they did the autopsy the same day. Once that deputy heard the results, he remembered hearin’ about somethin’ like it happenin’ in another town just a couple days before. So he started checkin’ with other communities, comin’ up with six other victims in two more states, all killed in the same manner. Only unusual thing he noticed was the way his dog was actin’ about fifteen minutes before the storm passed by.”

Mulder interrupted once more.

“Animals are known to sense powerful storms, even at a distance. My dog used to cower under the furniture, whine, pant, and generally act distressed. Was that how his dog was behaving?”

Thomas shook his head.

“Nope. In fact, the deputy said his old coon hound usually acted that way, but this time, he was howlin’, practically screamin’ in pain, for ‘bout five straight minutes while the wind was blowin’ stuff all around the house. He said he’s never seen anythin’ like it before. I quote: ‘That old dog was wailin’ like the devil’s hounds theirselves was snappin’ at his hind end and he couldn’t run fast enough.’ Since then, we’ve had reports of other animals actin’ the same way, not just dogs. I’m not sure what to make of it, Spaceman. It just beats the hell out of me.”

Silence reigned for a few long moments while Mulder digested this information. At last, he gave himself a little shake and sat up straighter.

“So the Bureau was called in because the crimes crossed state lines.” Mulder’s thumb and forefinger worried his lower lip as he nodded. “That would take it out of the hands of local law enforcement. What else is biting your ass about this case?”

Mike Thomas stretched his long arms over his head to the accompaniment of snapping vertebrae before answering.

“Actually, Spaceman, I think the local police departments were damn glad to get it off their hands, to tell you God’s honest truth. They’re havin’ enough trouble keepin’ up with the looters, rubber-neckers, and news crews. Once the cases crossed state borders, I’d bet they were fallin’ over each others’ feet to turn it over to us. The way these people died hasn’t been generally broadcast, by mutual consent of all departments involved. Nobody wants the public to start panickin’ when we still don’t know if there’s anythin’ to panic about.”

The file folder slapping the desk top made both men turn their attention to Scully’s befuddled face.

“Mike, this isn’t possible,” she declared. “These autopsy results must be totally screwed up.”

Thomas shook his head.

“Tell that to the poor sum’bitches it happened to, Dana.”

“But…” she blustered, “what caused this? The reports don’t say anything about these people being hit by lightning. What else could have produced this type of damage to a person’s organs?”

Thomas grinned. “That ain’t my department, Dr. Scully. I was sorta countin’ on you pullin’ my butt out o’ the fire and figurin’ it out for me.”

Mulder could contain himself no longer, nearly bouncing in his chair to get his partner’s attention.

“What is it, Scully? What did you find? You know I have a low tolerance for suspense.”

Pushing distracted hands through her hair, Scully looked at him with bewildered eyes.

“Well, unless we can assume that all of these autopsy reports are flawed…” she grimaced.

“What?” Mulder almost shouted. “How did these people die?”

Scully looked him straight in the eye.

“All of their organs were cooked inside their bodies.”

x X x

12:15 PM

SAC Mike Thomas promised to set up a conference room by 7:00 PM so the investigation team could assemble. Together, they’d spent a good half hour discussing what was needed to run the operation, who was already involved. The ASAC was still out in the field, talking to law enforcement personnel, for which both Washington agents were grateful. They’d deal with that problem when it reared its ugly head. For now, Mulder and Scully were walking toward the elevator as fast as possible. Neither had eaten breakfast before leaving home, and lunch was beckoning.


Seeing a familiar figure with dark blonde hair bearing down on them, the partners realized Tom Colton was heading with a determined stride in their direction.

Mulder’s heart dropped all the way into his left wingtip and crawled straight up into the toe.

Scully found that she really wasn’t all that hungry.

Stopping short of the elevator, in clear view of the entire bullpen, they waited.

“I see our rent-a-goons have finally graced us with their presence,” Colton sneered in a loud voice. “Certainly took you long enough. What happened? Get abducted by little green men on your way here?”

Scully had barely opened her mouth in indignation when Mulder took a step into Colton’s personal space.

“I’m kinda surprised to see you here, Colton,” Mulder grated. “We heard you were four-bagged after the Tooms case. I figured you’d be working in Bumfuck, Egypt for the rest of your career. Oh, and in case you’ve forgotten, Reticulans are gray, not green.”

Tom Colton’s eyes narrowed as he fought to control the response he wanted to make against Mulder’s jaw with his clenched fists. Shooting him a venomous look, Colton turned his attention to his former academy classmate.

“So, Dana,” he smirked, ” you two humping like bunnies these days? I can’t imagine why else you’ve stuck with this loser all these years.”

Starting to take another step forward, Mulder felt a small, strong hand clamp onto his shoulder.

“I see you’re still defending the asshole even when he doesn’t deserve it,” Colton sneered. “Too bad; you really could have gone a long way in the bureau if you’d dumped him years ago.”

Mulder’s fragile control on his temper shattered.

“Colton, why don’t you shove it up your ass sideways and expand your mental capabilities?”

“It’s been nice seeing you, too, Agent Mulder,” Colton taunted. “I’m looking forward to being in charge of this investigation. It’ll be good working together again, won’t it?”

Scully watched, outraged, as Tom Colton swaggered off through the bullpen, his derisive cackle echoing around the room. Her hand caressed Mulder’s sleeve before releasing her hold.

“I don’t know why you let Colton get to you like that, Mulder,” Scully huffed. “The man is a total waste of skin and body parts. He’d need an IQ graft just to get close to thinking like a normal human being.”

Mulder could feel the annoyance pulsing off her body in waves. The thought that her righteous anger was on his behalf tightened his chest and throat. Blinking to dry his moistening eyes, Mulder resolved to be worthy of her championing. At least as long as he could manage to avoid pissing her off again.

“Yeah, Scully,” he sighed in disgust, “I know he’s just going for a reaction on my part. And I know I always give it to him. He pushes my buttons so hard I can’t help myself. I wish people like Colton could be designated as mandatory organ donors. Think how many decent people could be saved. Well, all except his heart. That’s probably black and decayed.”

Scully relaxed as the empty elevator opened, and they stepped in. She pressed the button for the ground floor, pleased that Mulder didn’t seem too hurt by Colton’s hateful words. She realized that he had plenty of experience dealing with the assholes of the world. But standing by, watching her partner being ridiculed, helped her to better understand his constant need to protect her from hurt. Nothing would have satisfied her more than to punch Colton’s smug grin down his throat.

“Well, Mulder,” Scully offered, walking toward the parking lot, “at least no transplant patient would have to worry about getting Colton’s balls – he doesn’t have any.”

Taking the keys from Mulder’s nerveless fingers, Scully opened the driver’s door and climbed in without a backward glance, leaving her stunned partner standing with his mouth hanging open, a smile beginning to pull at the corners of his lips.

x X x

Outside the City Arms Hotel Oklahoma City 12:38 PM

Scully turned off the car’s engine, gazing at the City Arms Hotel with a contented sigh.

Blessed St. Anthony, thank you for your mercy. Please put in a good word for the angel who picked this beautiful place.

“Wow!” Mulder whistled. “A real, honest-to-goodness hotel. Quite a change from our usual digs, eh Scully?”

“It is indeed,” she smiled. “I’ll have to thank Mike for making the reservations. I wonder if he likes roses.”

The 5-story brick edifice had been constructed in a more elegant era. From the delicate roofline cartouches to the oak-framed revolving door, the entire structure exuded an atmosphere of ease, refinement, and sophistication. An air of welcome wrapped itself around the gaping FBI agents. Scully expected at any moment to see a young matron in a floor-length, bustled gown emerge from the revolving doors, pop up her fringed parasol, and glide off down the sidewalk. Her daydream was rudely shattered by her partner jostling her elbow.

“Hey, Scully,” Mulder asked, “how come you never get that look on your face when I pick where we’re staying?”

She huffed, never removing her gaze from the lovely sight before her.

“Because, Mulder, the places you choose come with cows crashing through the roof, or homicidal pizza delivery boys. They burn down along with my luggage, or harbor unclassified life forms. I doubt I’ll have to share the shower with any fungal growths at this place.”

“Aw, come on, Scully,” he wheedled. “At least the place in Chaney had a magic fingers bed.”

When she pinned him with a peeved stare, Mulder realized he shouldn’t have mentioned the magic fingers.

“Yeah, it did,” she snapped. “How did you enjoy it? I never got the chance.”

Mulder didn’t have time to do more than open his mouth with an as-yet-unknown reply before Scully popped the driver’s door. The unseasonable Oklahoma heat rushed in, overwhelming the air conditioning.

“Come on Mulder, let’s get checked in. I’m starving.” She glanced across the car’s roof with a mischievous look. “But I get first dibs on the magic fingers.”

x X x

Taft Ave. Fairfax, Oklahoma 4:48 PM

“Edith, I’m tellin’ ya we ain’t gonna git caught in no damn cyclone so give it a rest already, will ya?”

“But it’s pitch dark out there, Bud. I kin see the wall cloud close ‘nough it looks like I could ‘most touch it. And it’s rainin’ fit to bust itself. How can you see where we’re at let ‘lone where we’re goin’?”

“Listen woman, I’ve lived here, man and boy, for over 70 year now. You think I cain’t tell which way that cloud’s movin’? It’s a quarter mile off at least, and goin’ north to boot. We’ll be okay long as we stay on the hind side of it ‘til we gits home. And that’d be a whole heap sooner if you’d quit makin’ sassy remarks ‘bout my drivin’!”

“Oh, so I s’pose you meant to cut that van off, huh, mister smarty? Poor man got throwed for’ard on the wheel he had to brake so hard. Mebbe we should pull over ‘til the rain lets up a mite.”

The silence in the car told Edith that she’d probably made Bud mad with her nagging. Although she hadn’t said anything another sensible person wouldn’t have agreed with. Sighing heavily, she decided to just let him stew in his own juices for a while. Still, she wanted to ask him why in the world he’d turned on the heater when it was already too hot for May.

And it just seemed to keep getting hotter.

Wiping sweat from her forehead, Edith turned to find her husband’s face a dark shade of red. His eyes were focused on the road without seeming to notice that the car was beginning to weave. The warmth felt like she was standing in front of her open oven on baking day, except the heat seemed to be coming from inside herself. Edith’s mouth opened to ask what on earth was happening a split second before the right tires hit the berm, and the Lincoln Continental started its first spiral into the roadside field.

The recently cut-off van slowed to a crawl on the shoulder as its driver watched the old luxury car spin several times before coming to rest right side up. Smoke poured from the bent hood, almost masking the smaller tendrils of steam exiting the shattered windows, twining through the slowing raindrops. No movement was evident inside the silent wreck. But instead of leaping out to offer assistance to any survivors, the driver nodded his head and pulled back onto the highway.

As his breathing slowed, a satisfied smile curved across his face.

x X x

xX Twisted: Part Two Xx

City Arms Hotel Rooms 314 & 316

5:27 PM. How long is she planning to stay in there?

As far as Mulder was concerned, bubble baths were over rated. While he’d been slaving over a hot preliminary profile, his partner had clipped her silky hair to the top of her head, and informed him that she was not touching the autopsy reports again until she’d had a bath.

That was… glances at wrist; 5:28 shit, that was 35 minutes ago.

Mulder tapped a pencil on his chin, leaning back in his chair. He would never understand the attraction of sitting in a tub full of warm sudsy water, rolls of bubbles sliding down freshly shaved legs, lines of creamy white trickling over shoulders only a shade darker, trailing down to spread over milky breasts just visible above the surface, dripping off the tips…

Red alert, Muldick! Libido out of control! May day! May day!

Mulder ripped his glasses off and flung them onto the desk, grinding the heels of his hands into his burning eye sockets. It had been nearly 12 hours since he’d awoken from a wonderful, sensual dream to find his lovely partner taking in all the subtlety of his morning boner. The knowledge that he’d caught Scully eyeing the goods didn’t seem to bother her at all, but it was playing hell with his own control, now that the first rush of business had died down. He managed to keep his thoughts centered on the new case all through a late lunch at the hotel restaurant. His intentions remained pure the entire two hours they sat side by side at the desk in his room, sorting through the available evidence. But the minute he heard the water in Scully’s bathroom shut off, and the sound of a slender body splashing around in said water, Mulder’s center of concentration had moved south, along with a good portion of his available blood supply. Mulder was very much afraid he was in for an infinite number of cold showers if he didn’t regain his perspective soon.

Standing to stretch, Mulder cracked his spine before moving to the connecting door.

“Hey, Scully,” he called toward the bathroom. “You almost done in there?”

“Why, Mulder?” Her amused reply drifted through the door. “You want to use the water next?”

Only if you’re still in it.

Mulder cleared the lump in his throat.

“Umm, no thanks, Scully. I prefer more manly smelling bubbles in my bath.”

“What, like motor oil and axle grease? I’m coming out now, since you insist, but I don’t understand the rush.”

Sounds of increased splashing reached Mulder’s ears and spun their way down the nerve paths, headed for his groin.

“Well, I was afraid if you stayed in there any longer, I’d have to start introducing you as ‘my partner, Special Agent Prune.’ You’ll end up looking like a giant pink raisin if you’re not careful.”

“Right, Mulder. You’re just jealous because bubbles baths will never make your rugged, manly skin as soft and smooth as mine.”

No, don’t think about her skin! Too late.. direct hit… we’re going down in flames!

Mulder knew he needed to put a stop to his unbridled imaginings before the stirring in his slacks passed the half-mast point. But his traitorous muscles wouldn’t give him the leverage he needed to remove himself from the doorway before he was witness to his partner exiting the steamy bathroom, a blue silk robe stuck to several strategic portions of her anatomy. His eyes chose that moment to join the rebellion by not looking away.

“Mulder, what are you staring at?”

With great effort, Mulder raised his eyes, anticipating her frown… and found a reprieve.

“Well, either your chin is dirty, or you’re starting to grow a beard.”

Scully ducked to look in the mirror over the dressing table.

“Damn, I knew there was something on that mascara brush handle. Yep, got it on my fingers, too.”

Wetting a washcloth, Scully scrubbed her skin.

“Shit, this stuff is harder to get off than mushroom goo. Now my face will be red and swollen. I’m gonna look like I’ve been making out for hours.”

“Hey, Scully, I’ve heard saliva is good for removing stubborn makeup.”

“That’s nice to know, Mulder, but I can’t lick my own chin.”

No, but I can.

The way Scully’s eyes jerked in his direction, Mulder was very much afraid he’d just said that last one out loud. Trying to swallow past a throat with the same moisture content as the Sahara Desert, he was finally able to peel away from the door, and backed into his room, babbling like an adolescent.

“I’ll… uh… I’ll go… the files… I’ll get everything… gathered up and we can… um… we can discuss the profile after you… get dressed… when you’re ready, that is… Scully.”

His amused partner snickered as a thump followed by a series of squeaks indicated that Mulder had just tripped over, and landed on, his own bed.

x X x

Scully peeked in at her partner, working on his profile, as she eased the connecting door closed. It made her feel a little less vulnerable while she was dressing, even though she knew Mulder would never walk in on her intentionally.

Bet he didn’t plan to make that last remark out loud, either.

All things considered, it was better to close the door until she was finished.

Mulder would have been surprised and flattered to know exactly how agitated his early morning display, combined with his carelessly uttered remark, had left her. On auto-pilot, Scully began gathering fresh clothing as she contemplated recent events.

Her rather odd, mischievous mood earlier in the day might have taken her partner by surprise, but Dana Scully had felt it building for quite some time. Finding her sleeping partner in a flagrant state of arousal, moaning her name in obvious desire, had simply heaped fuel on a fire that had been smoldering for a good while.

About six and a half years, to be exact. That’s a hell of a long time for foreplay.

The idea of Mulder licking her face clean had not been the least bit unwelcome. In fact, she might have broken down and told him if he hadn’t started stammering like a bad prom date and backing his way out of the room. The sight of his lean body, shirt unbuttoned part way, sleeves rolled back over golden forearms, hair hand combed, shoulder propped against the door frame, had caused a sudden jolt of arousal to shoot straight up her spine. His unintentional public comment produced a tight, warm feeling in her abdomen that spread south while sending her temperature north. Not a good combination when she was already expending all her energy to maintain a detached, professional appearance around someone whose smallest glance could turn her on without trying.

Scully had managed to tamp down her feelings from the morning pretty quickly during the plane flight: not a difficult task when she was still angry over his childish behavior. But the welcome appearance of Mike Thomas, and the easy camaraderie they shared, had relaxed her guard and, as a result, her long-cultivated defenses. Lunch in attractive surroundings followed by two hours of sitting side by side, elbows brushing, knees occasionally touching, inhaling the scent of his essential maleness, had necessitated an excuse to leave his presence for a time and shore up some of her weakening shields.

Unfortunately, it appeared she had run short of mortar for rebuilding. The warm scented water and mounds of suds only made her more aware of how much she wanted him to share the tub with her. Two hours of watching him chew on a pencil with his sexy-professor glasses perched on his commanding nose made it impossible for her to concentrate on anything else. The sad truth was that Dana Katherine Scully wanted to touch her handsome partner’s gorgeous body in every way, in every place, possible. And there had been no conceivable way to relieve her frustration while in the tub. Not when there was a chance Mulder might hear.

And do what? Jump in the bathtub with you? Come on, Dana. What would be so bad about that?

Before she could come up with a sensible rebuttal to her own question, Scully’s groping hand closed around a large, crumpled t-shirt in the bottom of her carry-on bag. She stared at it a moment, perplexed at finding an obviously male garment in her luggage. Her face brightened as she recalled grabbing the shirt off Mulder’s towel rack during the final sweep of his room at the end of their last case. Since all of the other luggage was already out in the rental car, she’d simply stuffed the shirt in her shoulder bag. It must have fallen under the cardboard support on the bottom of the bag and been forgotten. A thought popped into her head, refusing to be dismissed.

I wonder if it still smells like Mulder.

The urge to find out was almost overpowering. Passing the shirt gingerly from one hand to the other, Scully applied her considerable sense of logic to the question of whether or not to sniff. The side voting a rousing “yea” was in the process of winning when there was a tap, and Mulder’s voice called through the connecting door.

“Scully, are you coming?”

Without any conscious thought, she stuffed the t-shirt, unsniffed, beneath her pillow and hurried to finish dressing.

“Soon, Mulder,” she called back to him, continuing in a whisper, “but not soon enough.”

x X x

Oklahoma City Field Office 6:50 PM

Mulder and Scully strode down the second floor hallway toward the conference room. Mike Thomas had called with the names of the other investigative team members while they were doing a final run-through of the available information. Mulder was pleased to see one or two agents that he recognized. After the interruption, no further time was left to worry about anything but arriving at their destination on time – without leaving anything important behind.

Now as they proceeded down the hall, Scully could feel her concern from earlier returning. But whether it was caused by the approaching confrontation with ASAC Tom Colton, or by her partner’s current restlessness, she couldn’t be sure.

Mulder shrugged… ran his hand through his hair… hitched his belt … adjusted his tie… shifted the briefcase from hand to hand… twitched at the seat of his trousers… shrugged again… patted his pockets…

Scully’s felt itchy just watching him.

“Mulder, you’re fidgeting again,” she admonished. “What is wrong with you today?”

As he turned to her, Scully got a good look at Mulder’s eyes, instantly regretting her outburst. Walking up to join her partner, she ran a hand down his sleeve to soothe both his, and her own, nerves.

“Hey G-man,” she murmured, “you’re not nervous about this meeting are you?”

Shaking his head, Mulder opened his mouth, then closed it again tightly, with a quick nod.

Sliding her fingers down to tangle with his, Scully’s eyes bored into his anxious gaze with absolute conviction.

“Mulder, this meeting is no different than any other we’ve ever been to,” she soothed. “It’s just that this time there’s an asshole running the investigation.”

Mulder snorted so hard, he coughed. Releasing his hand, Scully stepped back to allow him choking room and grinned into his watering eyes.

“Just keep reminding yourself of that, Mulder. Colton’s the asshole here, not you.”

Wiping tears from the corners of his eyes, Mulder grinned back.

“Colton’s the asshole, not me. Colton’s the asshole, not me. Got it, Scully.”

“Well don’t start feeling too complacent,” she warned. “You have your asshole moments, too, you know.”

Mulder’s head bobbed up and down in her peripheral vision.

“Gotcha, G-woman,” he chanted. “Colton’s an asshole all of the time; I’m an asshole some of the time. Colton’s an asshole all of the time; I’m an asshole some of the time.”

Mulder saw Scully’s back shake, accompanied by an odd strangling noise. But when he leaned around to look at her, the Scully eyebrow was firmly in place, no trace of amusement evident. Shrugging, Mulder reached around to open the conference room door, following his partner inside.

It wasn’t a large room, but all the available space had been utilized well. The wall at the far end was hung with maps, colored pins marking the location of each suspicious fatality. Photographs of the crime scenes were strung out below the maps in chronological order, numbers corresponding to the ones designated on each pin. Dry erase boards were lined up along the wall to the right of the door, and the long conference table was pushed as close to the windows as possible while allowing room for chairs to maneuver. Each place at the table held a file folder, legal pad, and pencil, with a stacks of black and white photos covering the remaining space in the center. Between the floor-to-ceiling storefront windows and the track lighting high overhead, there was a false sense of space that would disappear once the entire team was assembled.

Mulder and Scully sent polite nods to the agents already present, choosing adjacent seats at the far end of the table. Mulder figured Colton would prefer the place closest to the door, commanding a view of the entire room, so he wanted to be as far from that end of the table as possible. If he could have crawled out on the window ledge with the pigeons, he’d have done it.

Mulder relaxed a little when he saw Special Agents Joseph Gallatino and Ariela Newbauer enter the room.

They were an incongruous couple. At 5’9″, Joe was half a head shorter than his statuesque partner. Contrasting his craggy, olive-skinned Italian complexion with Ari’s platinum-haired beauty often caused observers to pause open-mouthed. Having been paired with their Washington counterparts on a case a few years before, the two sets of partners had struck up an immediate friendship which continued through sporadic e-mailings and exchanged holiday cards. Opposite-sex partnerings were not unheard of, but they were uncommon enough that all four had found it refreshing to talk with others who understood the unusual dynamics. They greeted Mulder and Scully with obvious friendship and affection.

Only a few minutes were available for handshakes, hugs, and small talk before the rest of the investigative team was assembled. Joe and Mulder were sharing a quiet laugh at the table, as the gathered agents settled into their seats, when ASAC Tom Colton entered the room and proceeded to set the tone for the rest of the meeting.

“Agents,” Colton called over-loudly as he sat down, “if our honored guest is quite finished socializing, perhaps we can get this investigation under way.”

Mulder raised his eyebrows at the obvious sneer in Colton’s voice, but the soft pressure of Scully’s hand on his thigh under the table was sufficient to remind him that he was not alone in the room. Mulder settled into his chair and tried to make his partner proud of him by paying attention without fidgeting.

It soon became apparent to every person present that Colton was ignoring Mulder and Scully. All the assembled agents had been with the FBI long enough to know how an investigation is run. The longer the ASAC continued to request reports from other members of the team without asking for input from the profiler and pathologist specifically called in for this assignment, the more restless their colleagues became. Quiet mutterings and quizzical glances washed around the Washington agents. Attending politely to whoever was speaking, they took notes on the meager information available as Colton insisted on needless repetitions. An uneasy silence descended on the room as everyone waited for the ASAC to call on the visiting agents. Instead, Colton stood, gathering the papers together in front of him.

“Well, if that’s all anyone has to say…” he began.

The lack of any expression on the faces of Mulder and Scully were a sharp contrast to their stunned colleagues. Mouths hung open under raised eyebrows as the assembled agents exchanged looks of disbelief. Finally, Joe Gallatino voiced what was on everyone else’s minds.

“Agent Colton,” he challenged, “shouldn’t we hear what Agent Mulder and Agent Scully have to add?”

The murmur of agreement from the team members caused Tom Colton to halt his ostentatious display of control, a scornful glare evident as he turned to the two visitors.

“I doubt if they would have anything useful to say at this point, considering they’ve only just arrived. They seem to be more intent on chatting with friends than helping with this investigation.”

The rumble of a surprised voice from the open doorway caused everyone facing the other direction to jump in their seats. Including the ASAC.

“Never turn down a free opinion, Agent,” SAC Thomas informed his subordinate. “Even when it’s not to your likin’, you can still learn somethin’ useful.”

Thomas walked into the room, and leaned against the wall between two dry erase boards, lifting a hand at Colton to indicate that he should carry on.

Reigning in his visible hostility before his superior, the ASAC turned to the DC agents with saccharine politeness.

“Agents, would you care to give us the benefit of your insight, please?” Colton returned to his seat, staring at them with exaggerated attention.

The partners glanced at each other in silent communication before Scully rose to her feet with a copy of the autopsy reports in her hand. Keeping her voice neutral, she presented the findings.

“So far, there isn’t a great deal to go on. The suspicious nature, and total number, of unusual deaths was only noticed recently. Not having done the autopsies myself, I cannot attest to the precise nature of the wounds described in the reports. However, all the available records indicate that death was caused by solidification of the internal organs, possibly due to extreme heat. As the skin on each victim was unbroken until the autopsy was performed, with the exception of cuts that may have been caused by flying debris, the method used to administer this heat is still undetermined. All of the victims were discovered in the vicinity of recent tornadic activity, but the precise time of death has been difficult to pinpoint due to the presence of extreme heat in the damaged organs. I hope to re-examine some of the more recent victims myself, and get a better idea of the cause of death.”

Agent Scully sat down in her chair and returned her file to the table. Mulder leaned back, unmoving, as the entire room held its collective breath, waiting for Colton’s next move.

The ASAC stared off into space in pseudo-contemplation of Scully’s information.

“Agent Colton?” The impatience in SAC Thomas’ voice was evident to all.

Colton returned his attention to the assembled team.

“I’m sorry, Sir,” he apologized. “Agent Scully, thank you so much for that riveting report. Agent Mulder, is there anything you could possibly add to your partner’s information?”

Mulder figured he’d pretty much hit bottom in his well of patience a good half hour ago. He didn’t care how Colton treated him personally, but he was fed up with the amount of disrespect being shown to one of the Bureau’s best forensic pathologists: someone who had once been Colton’s academy classmate and friend; who was being mocked in front of her colleagues solely on the basis of her partnership with him. Mulder was prepared to ream the ASAC a new orifice when he once again felt Scully’s hand gently resting on his leg. The belief in him that shone from her eyes was enough to vaporize his irritation with Colton, giving him the strength to avoid stooping to the same level.

Mulder rose from his chair and walked to the maps on the end wall. Hands behind his back, he studied them for a moment before turning to his expectant audience.

“I haven’t really started work on an in-depth profile yet,” he began. A faint snort of derision was audible from the far end of the table. Ignoring it, Mulder continued, “But I did spend several hours going through the reports of each death, and there are some preliminary points that I think bear further investigation.”

Most of the agents in the room hurried to grab their pencils and slide their paper closer. No one wanted to miss anything ‘Spooky’ Mulder might have to say – with one very clear exception.

“Our unknown subject is a white male, aged 30 to 40 years, a basic loner. So far the victims have been Caucasian, with only two exceptions. This gives us a clear indication that the killer is also Caucasian, as well as the knowledge that these crimes are not racially motivated. According to the order in which the bodies were found, he is striking randomly, whenever the mood hits. From this, we can assume he has poor impulse control. Normally we would associate this with a much younger and more immature offender, but in this case, the location of some of the bodies shows a higher degree of risk, indicating an older individual. The first several victims were found in yards and by the side of the road, but subsequent bodies have been found in cars, two inside different trucks at the same rest stop, in a postal jeep near a mail box, and even behind the counter of a mini mart. Several of these situations pose a high risk of discovery, which means that while the UNSUB finds it hard to control his impulses, he is still mature enough to deal with this type of stress.”

Pencils were scribbling to keep up with the flow of Mulder’s words. He turned back to the photos and maps in order to marshal his thoughts, giving the other agents time to catch up. With a tired sigh, Mulder faced the room again, and the welcome support of his partner’s warm gaze.

“Motive is going to be a little harder to come by at this point. We can’t consider this some kind of extended terrorist attack, since no organization has tried to take the blame. This isn’t a spree killer, in view of the time lapses between killings; sometimes as long as a few days. So far, no one has come forward to say they witnessed anything, and at first glance there doesn’t seem to be any correlation between any of the victims. One of the first things we need to do is interview the friends, families, and coworkers of each victim, as well as the people who discovered the bodies.”

Mulder glanced over to catch the SAC’s eye and offered, “To speed things up, Resident Agencies located near the more distant sites could help gather information.”

Thomas nodded in agreement.

“It is obvious by the way the UNSUB treats the bodies that he doesn’t know the victims, nor does he care about them. Leaving the corpses where they’ve fallen, without any attempt to hide the evidence, is his way of displaying contempt for humanity. It’s the coward’s way of depersonalizing the victim, of keeping his distance from his own act. He isn’t targeting any one group of people, as witnessed by the wide age range of the victims, as well as the mix of both male and female. These are indiscriminate homicides in which the victim is unimportant to the killer beyond the satisfaction derived from the killing. Unlike a serial killer who chooses only women with long blonde hair because he’s angry with his wife, our UNSUB is angry at the world, so who the victim is doesn’t matter. These could be killings committed in a rage, as evidenced by the indications of impulsiveness. They could also be motivated by revenge, although that seems less likely due to the lack of any known threats or demands made against the victims. That will be one of the important questions to ask during the interviews. Hopefully, we’ll find some common factors between the victims that will start pointing us in the right direction. We all know the basic tenet of criminal investigation: ‘how’ plus ‘why’ equals ‘who’. Agent Scully should be able to provide us with the ‘how’. It’s up to the rest of us to find the ‘why’.”

Mulder returned to his seat as the scratching of pencils slowed and the team members turned their attention back to the ASAC.

Tom Colton straightened in his chair, inclining his head in Mulder’s general direction.

“I will take your recommendations under advisement, Agent Mulder,” was his only comment. Next, he turned to his superior and inquired, “Sir, do you have anything to add?”

Pushing his shoulders away from the wall, SAC Thomas moved to stand near the head of the table.

“Yes, I do,” he replied. “It is now a little before 9:00. I want y’all back here by the same time tomorrow mornin’, unless the storm buildin’ to the north produces new fatalities. By that time, I’ll have the lists of people each of you will be interviewin’ per Agent Mulder’s recommendation. Contacts farther away than a two hour drivin’ distance can be made over the phone, or handled through a Resident Agency. I don’t want all my agents scattered to Hell and back, but we do need to complete those interviews. Agent Mulder, will you spend some time this evenin’ workin’ up the questions you think would be most beneficial to this investigation?” He glanced over at Mulder, who nodded. “If any of you have somethin’ you think should be included, please see Agent Mulder. In the meantime, I have arranged for Agent Scully to re-examine three of the most recent victims at the city morgue tonight.” Mike sent her an apologetic glance. “I know it’s kinda late, but I figured you’d be itchin’ to get some more insight into what’s killin’ these people.” Scully nodded as well. Thomas looked again at Mulder. “That’s all I have to say for now. Agent Mulder, could I see you in my office when y’all are finished here?”

The SAC went back to his position near the door, watching as the assembly broke up and dispersed. Agents Gallatino and Newbauer stopped near their friends with an invitation to meet for breakfast before going on their way. Mulder dug in his pants pocket and handed Scully the rental keys as he gathered papers into his briefcase.

“Here, Scully,” he offered, “you take the car while I work on those interview questions. I can walk back to the hotel when I’m done. It’s only a few blocks.”

Scully accepted the keys, but raised an eyebrow at him.

“Just don’t let Mike drive you back there,” she warned.

“Hey!” Mulder threw his hands up defensively. “I know better. I’d rather go sewer diving with the Flukeman.”

Scully grinned and shook her head as they finished collecting paperwork. She’d only experienced Mike’s unique style of demolition driving once before, but she’d heard enough stories from her partner to feel a touch of concern over Mulder’s safety.

As Mike Thomas followed the last team member out the door, Tom Colton bore down on the agents. Planting himself in their path, he poked a belligerent finger into Mulder’s chest.

“Listen Spooky,” Colton hissed, “I don’t care who your buddies are. I don’t even care if you’re Janet Reno’s boy toy. This is my investigation and I won’t have you sticking your big nose in my way. So you and the Mrs. just do your little magic act and leave the rest of my agents alone, understood?”

Mulder was grateful for the small fingers he could feel entwined with his own behind his back. Without that physical grounding, Mulder was certain he would find out what Colton’s facial features looked like after rearranging. Instead, he stood his ground, outwardly calm.

“The only reason I’m here, Colton, is to catch a serial killer. How about you?”

Tom Colton snorted in derision, glared at the partners one last time, and strode from the room.

Scully let loose a gust of breath and squeezed Mulder’s hand. Picking up her file folders, they walked out the door, his hand in its customary position.

“I wonder if the Jersey Devil had any children,” Mulder mused.

Scully looked at him quizzically, both eyebrows up this time.

“Well,” he told the eyebrows, “they must be getting hungry by now. Colton’s a pretty good size…”

Scully stopped, halting her partner with a delicate hand planted on his tie.

“I know it’s difficult, Mulder,” she assured him, “but let’s not give Colton any ammunition to use against us. If we’re patient, one day he’ll trip over his own feet and hang himself on his ego.”

“I don’t know what’s wrong with the man, Scully,” Mulder huffed. “Everything that’s happened to him is a result of his own actions. I never did a thing to get him censured. He nearly got you killed.”

“I don’t understand it, either,” she agreed. “Maybe that’s because we’re both sane. Look,” Scully went on, “I’d better get moving or I won’t be back until lunchtime tomorrow. Why don’t you go find out why Mike wanted to talk to you. I’ve got a feeling it isn’t to give you his recipe for sweet potato pie. I’ll see you at the hotel when I get back, okay?”

The partners separated near the elevator, Scully taking the stairs down to street level and Mulder riding the lift up another floor. The bullpen lay deserted at that hour, light spilling in from the SAC’s office. Mulder knocked at the door and entered to find his friend finishing a call to his wife back in Georgia.

“So what did you do?… Uh huh… Uh huh… Did it work?… Well, that’s good. Maybe we should raise one of the kids to be a plumber…. No, not him! He’d end up turnin’ the house into a swimmin’ pool… You fixin’ to fly up this weekend?… Well, you just keep an eye on the weather. Don’t need you endin’ up in Oz with Dorothy…. Look, sugar, I gotta go now. One o’ the worst troublemakers I know just walked into my office…. Yep, Dana’s with him…. Okay, I’ll do that. You take care now, hear?… Love you, too. Bye now.” Mike hung up the phone and grinned at Mulder. “She sends her love to Dana. She said to tell you to behave.”

Shooting back a sarcastic “Ha ha,” Mulder loosened his tie and slumped into a chair; having a pretty good idea what was on Thomas’ mind, he wasn’t anxious to get the ball rolling.

“Mulder, what’s the problem between you and Colton?” Mike jumped right in.

Mulder gave a resigned sigh, straightening in his chair. When Mike Thomas called him by his name instead of “Spaceman”, it was no time to joke around.

“You noticed, huh?”

“When I walked into that room, the air was thicker’n my Grandmama’s grits and sausage gravy. You could say I noticed. So what’s up, my man?”

Shrugging, Mulder wondered how to explain the whole sordid story. He decided the best idea was just to tell the truth. The short version.

“Colton and I have a bit of a history, you might say,” he confessed.

“I take it you’ve worked together,” Thomas observed. “His file says he was assigned to Washington, then was censured, transferred, the whole nine yards. That have anythin’ to do with you?”

Mulder nodded, sour-faced.

“What are you, Spaceman? Flypaper for the socially dysfunctional?”

“Look, Mike, the short story is, a few years back, Colton had a case that was giving him fits. He and Scully were classmates and friends at the academy, so he asked her for help. She brought me in against his wishes, which put his back up right from the start. Colton didn’t like ‘Spooky’ Mulder’s conclusions, so he called off the stakeout I ordered. Scully nearly died as a result.”

“Damn. The suspect came after her?”

Mulder gave the SAC a grim, tight-lipped smile.

“He liked to rip out people’s livers with his bare hands and eat them. Raw. Five livers in a row enabled him to hibernate for 30 years, until he woke up and started over. When I broke into Scully’s apartment, he was in the process of using her as his next sleeping pill.”

Thomas ran a long hand over his face and grunted.

“That’s a pretty big breach of protocol, puttin’ another agent’s life in danger. I can see why they came down on him with both feet, but what’s that got to do with you?”

“For some reason,” Mulder huffed, “Colton decided it was all my fault. But he doesn’t just blame me for his problems; he also blames Scully. I don’t care what he thinks of me, but I won’t have him disrespecting my partner in any way, shape, or form.”

“You know what I’m gonna say, don’t ya?” the SAC asked.

“Play nice, keep my nose clean, don’t take the other kids’ toys, yadda yadda. Yeah, I know, Mike. And I promise that if trouble does happen, it won’t be because of me. I won’t start anything, but there is no way in hell I will let him come that close to making me lose Scully again.”

Mike Thomas sat back, contemplating the visible pain and fear in his friend’s eyes.

“So her cancer is really gone now?”

A joyful grin split Mulder’s face as he nodded.

Mike was not only changing out of SAC mode, he was informing Mulder that the subject was closed.

“Praise the Lord! How?” Thomas asked in awe. “I thought the treatments weren’t workin’.”

“It was a miracle, Mike,” Mulder said with a playful grin. “You always said I’d find one. It was manmade, but a miracle all the same.” Mulder glanced at his watch and stood. “I’d better get to work on those questions or I won’t get any sleep tonight. Not that I sleep much anyway. Want me to leave them on your desk when I’m done?”

“Leave ‘em in the box on the outside of my door. Carol checks for anythin’ that needs typin’ when she comes in. Just make sure she can read your handwritin’ or who knows what embarrassin’ things we’ll be askin’ people. Ya know,” Mike offered, “I can always stick around and help. Then I can drive you back to your hotel when we’re done.”

“I’d rather be carried off by a tornado,” Mulder said, poker-faced.

“See, that’s what I love about you, Spaceman. You’re always so tactful,” Thomas growled. “Now shut up and get out of my office or I’ll make sure you get your wish.”

Grinning, Mulder picked up his briefcase and said good night. Walking to Joe Gallatino’s desk, he placed a collection of dirty paper cups in the wastebasket, turned on the desk lamp, and pulled a legal pad from his case. Removing his coat, he rolled up his sleeves and picked out a pencil to chew on. The only thing keeping Mulder’s mind focused on the task at hand was the thought of seeing Scully back at the hotel. The sooner he finished, the sooner he’d be able to leave.

x X x

City Arms Hotel Room 314 May 16 12:33 AM

Scully cracked open the connecting door and peeked around the jamb.

“Mulder? You awake and decent?”

Rubbing her gritty eyes, Scully realized that although the room lights were on, it was empty.

Empty at 12:30 in the morning?

Examining the bodies had taken a bit longer than she’d expected.

There had been the original reports to go over, as well as the physical exam to redo on each one. The medical examiner was reluctant to release the bodies for burial without a conclusive cause of death. Unfortunately, she was just as stumped. Even viewing the remains hadn’t brought her any closer to a reasonable conclusion. It had taken so long, Scully figured Mulder would be asleep already, or at least lying on his bed channel surfing. The silent room came as a complete surprise.

Checking the floor near the closet, she saw Mulder’s sizable running shoes laying on their sides, where he’d left them after checking in that afternoon.

He’s not out running, so where is he?

Before Scully could start to acknowledge the panic waiting to pounce from a dark corner of her mind, Mulder emerged from the darkened bathroom, toweling his hair.

A shimmering-wet Mulder.

A shimmering-wet, naked Mulder.

A shimmering-wet, naked Mulder who didn’t know she was in the room.

“Put it away, Mulder,” Scully sighed. “I’ve seen all the raw meat I can stand today.”

Mulder jumped a full foot off the floor, managing to cover his crotch with the towel before he landed.

“Jesus, Scully!” he yelped. “You scared me worse than Tooms chasing me under that escalator! Didn’t your mother ever teach you to knock?”

Scully knew she should be feeling guilty at having put Mulder in an embarrassing position. Seeing him standing there, dripping wet, hair spiked in all directions, clutching a towel to his nether regions, all she could think to do was laugh.

But laughing at her partner while he was so vulnerable would hurt his feelings, and once she started to laugh, she wouldn’t be able to stop. Scully was too tired to deal with a wounded man’s pride. The effort of holding in her inappropriate amusement made her eyes water and her throat ache.

Mulder rubbed Scully’s back while she stood doubled over, trying to catch her breath. But having his now towel-wrapped hips right in her line of sight made the whole situation seem even more ridiculous. With a strangled groan, she let go of the door frame, slumping to the floor like a stringless marionette.

“I do believe I’m in need of sleep,” Scully observed, wiping her eyes.

Kneeling on the floor near her head, Mulder shot her an amused look. “Ya think?”

Standing, Mulder reached down a hand to help his unsteady partner to her feet, barely rescuing his loincloth before it came untucked. Rewrapping the towel around his hips, Mulder mustered what little dignity he had left and inquired, “You want to tell me what you found now, or should we wait till morning?”

Scully bit her lower lip to stifle the returning giggles, grinding the heels of her hands into her burning eye sockets while she considered the question.

“I guess it can wait until morning,” she decided. “I wouldn’t be able to concentrate while you’re trying to keep that towel on anyway. I’ll see you later this morning, Mulder.”

Without another word, one rather tired G-woman stumbled through the doorway into her own room, an occasional snicker floating back to Mulder’s ears.

x X x

City Arms Hotel Room 314 2:53 AM

His head slowly descended as her lips opened ever so slightly to meet his. As their mouths touched for the first time, he closed his eyes, the better to isolate the sensation of skin on skin. The kiss was firm, sweet, tasting of fresh fruit, and coffee, and unlimited potential. His arms wrapped gently around her body, one circling low on her waist, the other traveling up her back to tangle his fingers in her hair. Neither of them increased the pace of their kiss; feeling content just to revel in the close proximity of each other’s body and the slow waltz of their coupled lips.

After what seemed like an enchanted eternity, he lifted his mouth from hers and opened his eyes.

To find himself alone, in a somehow familiar room.

Mulder spun in a slow circle, taking in the dark wood paneling, the fireplace blazing with logs, the ladder leading to the second floor balcony of the suddenly, terrifyingly, familiar library.

This is Larkspur Lane in Maryland… Christmas eve… How the hell did I get here? Where’s Scully?

As if in answer to his thought, the door behind Mulder creaked open and his partner stepped through. As he breathed a sigh of relief, Scully’s hands came up into view, pointing her service weapon at his chest.

Mulder froze.

“What are you doing?” he appealed.

“There’s no getting out of here, Mulder,” she answered, in a dull voice. “There’s no way home.”

Stunned, Mulder found himself pointing his own weapon at his partner. He had no idea how it got into his hand.

“What you gonna do?” Scully demanded, wild-eyed. “You gonna shoot me?”

Mulder shook his head, backing away.

“I’m not gonna shoot you. I don’t want to shoot you.”

Scully advanced slowly, a manic gleam in her beautiful eyes.

“It’s me or you, you or me. One of us has to do it.”

“Scully,” Mulder pleaded, “look. We don’t have to do this.”

“Oh yes we do!”

Mulder closed his eyes in resignation, waiting for the bullet’s impact. He remembered Scully telling him about this very event: how he confronted her in the haunted house, daring her to shoot him, shooting her first. Mulder refused to play out this reverse scenario, even if he died by Scully’s hand. God knew he deserved it for all the pain he’d brought her over the last seven years. There was no way in hell he would pull the trigger on his own gun against the woman he loved; and so he would wait for death.

And he waited.

And waited.

Darkness met Mulder’s perplexed gaze as he opened his eyes to an empty warehouse. The haunted house was gone. So was his wild-eyed partner.

God, please, not this place.

Jogging down an empty hallway, Mulder turned a corner to see a faint figure standing in the distance.

“Mulder…” Scully called.

214 Channel Avenue… Linda Bowman… What the fuck is going on here?!

Mulder ran toward his partner, dread settling in his stomach like acid.

“Scully, what are you doing here?”

“You were right about her, Mulder.” She held a gun in one hand.

Mulder slowed to a walk, horror etched across his face.


Raising the gun in both hands, “She’s making me do this…” Scully cocked the hammer.

“Where is she?” he bellowed.

“She’s here. Mulder, make her stop. I can’t help myself.”

“Linda Bowman!”

“Mulder, make her stop!”

“Show yourself!”


He turned, then froze in fear, as Scully pointed the gun at her own head.


Jesus please stop her! I’ll never make it there in time!

But he ran as fast as he could anyway.


Mulder’s ears rang with the sound of the shot. But as Scully’s lifeless body dropped to the floor, he looked down to see the smoking gun clasped in his own hand.

x X x

City Arms Hotel Room 316 2:53 AM

Dana Scully loved the ocean. It seemed like years since she’d been near the water. She couldn’t remember how she’d gotten to Daytona Beach, but that didn’t matter. The important thing was enjoying the sun, the warm breeze, and the deserted stretch of sand. Why it was empty on such a beautiful day was a mystery.

Leaning back on her elbows under the beach umbrella, Scully watched the shimmers of sunlight breaking across the rolling waves. The push and pull of the water was rhythmic, hypnotic, soothing. The hissing of surf on sand was like the heartbeat of the ocean.

What more could I ever want in life?

In answer, the rhythm of the waves faltered as a shape broke the surface off shore. Shading her eyes, Scully watched as the figure approached, growing larger and higher out of the water, gradually revealing itself as something familiar. Some one familiar.


He was coming to her from the sea. Striding through the rolling surf with a graceful, confident tread, looking nowhere but at her.

He was naked.

Like Poseidon, rising from the waves.

Water shimmered on his skin, making him seem to sparkle in the sunlight. The firm muscles of his chest and abdomen stood out in chiaroscuro lines of light and shadow as the light glittered off his golden flesh. Droplets ran from his hair in trails down his lean body, pattering to the warm sand as he knelt before her and reached to cup her face.

She was naked as well.

Scully briefly wondered what had happened to the bathing suit she’d been wearing, but it didn’t seem important enough to worry about.

All that mattered was that he was here, and they were together. She wound the fingers of one hand through his hair, pulling him down to the sand beside her.

His eyes glowed with an inner light that spoke to her of adoration, desire, communion of souls, love everlasting. Long elegant fingers touched and stroked, caressing hips, thighs, waist, breasts, face. Every place they brushed became alive with sensation: nerves pulsing, straining for more contact.

Touch me, Mulder. Please touch me.

Their lips came together gently, sweetly, naturally, as though they were finishing an act begun long ago. His arms gathered her closer. She could feel his cool, tanned skin all along her length. There was no incongruity in their actions. No feeling of shame or embarrassment. This was right. It was what she wanted. What she had wanted for a very long time.


O, speak again, bright angel!

Scully pulled back, the better to behold her radiant lover – and watched in confusion as his face contorted into a mask of horrified fear, mouth gaping on a soul-destroying scream.


x X x

Being jerked out of a pleasant dream can be disorienting for most people. But to be thrown into strange surroundings from a nightmare in which you’ve just killed the partner you love goes beyond disorientation. The only thing Mulder’s panicky mind grasped was the need to find Scully.

Pulling his legs from the tangled sheets, Mulder staggered to the connecting door… and froze.

What if it was true?

What if she really was dead?

Consciously, he knew that to be unlikely. But he also knew that the subconscious mind is cognizant on a different level. What if the end of his dream was caused by something he’d heard? What if that sound had come from Scully’s room?

Spots swam in his field of vision at the thought. Mulder leaned against the wall next to the door, chin dropped onto his chest until his ragged breathing slowed. Then, he eased the door open.

Scully was sitting up in bed, rays from the streetlights filtering through the curtains, casting highlights on her startled face.

Being yanked out of an erotic dream could be disorienting, too.

Mulder stumbled across the room, collapsing to his knees beside the bed almost before she knew he was there. Laying his head on the sheets, Mulder’s questing hands floundered across the mattress. Long fingers tangled in the forgotten t-shirt Scully had pulled from under her pillow for a nightshirt. The other hand wrapped around her slender wrist. His breath hitched on a sob as she stroked his sweat-soaked hair.

“Mulder? What is it?”

His answer was a strangled groan.

“I killed you.”


“I killed you,” he whimpered. “You were dead. I shot you.”

Mulder’s grip on her wrist tightened, leaving the possibility for bruises in the morning. His other hand pulled at her clothes, trying to bring her closer to his face.

“Mulder, look at me,” Scully coaxed. “I’m here. I’m okay. Come on, look at me.”

She wasn’t prepared for the abject terror peering at her from Mulder’s tear-drenched eyes. Scully had seen her partner after every kind of nightmare a person could have. In their line of work, dreams of being chased by monsters were inevitable. Those left him shaken but stoic; declining her comfort because he was scared by the boogeyman; apologetic over disturbing her sleep. Memories of Samantha’s abduction brought tears of guilt and hopelessness, but after seven years, they were both accustomed to those nightmares. Balance was often restored after some quiet, reassuring conversation between friends.

But this was like nothing Scully had ever seen before. The level of horror on Mulder’s face was beyond anything a simple dream should produce. His hands shook where they were clamped onto her; his breathing hadn’t slowed since he’d burst into her room.


Mulder scrabbled at her shirt as Scully tried to move over on the bed. Gently grasping his wrist, she tugged.

“Come up here, Mulder. I’m not going anywhere,” she murmured, as though to a frightened animal. “Come up on the bed with me. It’s all right. I’m here.”

Scully sighed in relief as her partner released his strangle hold on her wrist.

Mulder eased himself onto the bed, scooting next to her, all the while keeping his eyes on her face.

“Hold me, Scully. Please hold me,” he begged.

Reaching to comfort him, she felt Mulder’s cold arms twining around her, hands running through her hair, up her back, anywhere they could reach, as she cradled his face between her breasts. Scully found herself becoming flustered over the similarities between her dream and her present situation. Except for the t-shirt she’d found in her luggage, which still smelled faintly of Mulder, and the loose silk boxer shorts he wore, she could almost believe herself to still be dreaming.

The feelings Mulder’s roving hands aroused inside her, and the warmth of his unsteady breath on her jersey-covered breasts, were wreaking havoc with her self control. Between general tiredness, weakened defenses, a wonderful erotic dream, and plain old-fashioned lust, the fire that had been smoldering for the last six years or more was ready to burst into flames. Scully just hoped they didn’t incinerate their partnership in the process.

Smoothing her hands over Mulder’s back, Scully waited as his breathing slowed. She tried to match her own breaths to his, hoping it would calm him. The only thing that was going to slow her own racing pulse was getting Mulder out of her bed. But it didn’t appear that was going to happen any time soon.

Mulder’s caresses tapered off without stopping entirely. Scully thought with any luck, she would be able to remove his tempting person before her control disintegrated. Only now his head was moving from side to side, and she could feel small spots of pressure on her skin. Scully gasped as the truth struck her – Mulder was kissing her breasts. He was running gentle hands over her back, thighs, shoulders, and placing one deliberate kiss after another over her t-shirt clad flesh. Traitorously, her nipples hardened in response, begging for kisses of their own.

Scully tilted Mulder’s chin so she could look into his face. Stunned by the desire in his dilated eyes, she felt seven years of restraint melting in their heat. An attempt to clear her dry throat failed.

“Do you want to talk about it?” she rasped.

Mulder shook his head no, then began to speak anyway.

“I thought I’d lost you.” Pain returned to his gaze, overlaying the passion with a deep, primal fear. “We were in the warehouse on Channel Avenue. I saw you putting the gun to your head, but when you fell, I was holding the gun. I killed you, Scully.” Mulder laid his head on her shoulder. “I was so afraid I’d killed you.”

Scully gasped as his warm lips brush the side of her neck, the underside of her jaw, the lobe of her ear. He softly drew her shirt aside, pressing heated kisses on her collarbone, the hollow of her throat. She felt control spiraling out of her grasp, spinning out into space along with reason, logic, and professionalism, where they disappeared into the void.

“Mulder, what are you doing?”

His open mouth inched up her chin to tickle a kiss on her lips before moving across a cheek to her temple.

“I don’t know…” he groaned between kisses. “But I can’t stop… I don’t want to stop… I need to feel you… God I need you so badly…”

His hands were everywhere, setting fires that no water could quench. Her shirt had migrated upward, an inconvenient barrier to his questing touch. Now he moved down her body, lips doing what hands did, kissing where fingers brushed, breath quickening as his movements followed.

She was powerless to do anything except touch him back.

“Mulder… Jesus… ohh right there, yes…”

His long fingers pulled roughly through her moist heat as his mouth and tongue paid tribute to her breasts and belly, nipping, licking, suckling in a building frenzy of desire.

“So good, Scully… You taste so good… I can’t stop…” Mulder whimpered. “You’ll have to stop me if you don’t want this…”

Reaching down both hands, Scully cupped Mulder’s face and pulled him back up her body, to behold his wild eyes with wonder and awe.

“Don’t stop, Mulder…” she whispered, “don’t ever stop.”

And she fused their mouths together with years of longing.

The bed became a whirlwind of flying clothes and entwined limbs, tangled sheets wreathed around sweaty bodies, as almost seven years of sexual tension crumbled and blew away in one moment. A moment in time consumed by hardened flesh sliding into velvet heat, the thrust of muscled hips, and clutching of eager hands. They coupled with the desperate abandon of lost souls adrift in a storm, passionate kisses alternating with animalistic cries and soul-deep gazes.

Scully studied the face of her lover, transfigured with new-found joy. She wanted to lock this night in her memory, to be called up again in times of doubt or despair. His cries of ecstasy, the feeling of completion, the unique scent of their conjoined bodies belonging solely to them.

Her cries crescendoed to meet and mingle with his as she watched his face contort, just as it had in her dream. But not in fear this time. The look of sweet agony on Mulder’s beautiful face was all she needed to join him in the painful pleasure of release.

As the warmth of his love flowed into her body and filled her soul, Dana Scully knew she wanted to see that look again. Every day for the rest of her life.

x X x

City Arms Hotel Room 316 7:06 AM

Mulder awoke to a feeling of peace and contentment, the likes of which he hadn’t known throughout his adult life. At that moment, all the mutants, and monsters, and government conspiracies seemed as far away as whatever planet the little gray men came from. Maybe it had something to do with the warm, soft, naked body sprawled across his back, puffing gentle breaths into his left ear.

Grinning, he enjoyed Scully’s small arm thrown across his rib cage, right hand twitching against his chest, right leg draped across his hip, trailing down the side of his thigh. When Mulder’s brain registered the damp curls tickling his left buttock, he suddenly found it difficult to lay still. There was a definite sense of discomfort radiating from the hardening muscle trapped beneath him. Mulder shifted gingerly, trying to relieve the pressure without disturbing his sleeping partner.

He realized he’d been unsuccessful when Scully emitted an unladylike snort and scrambled straight up his back, draping herself on him like a cape, flattening his body into the mattress.

“Good morning to you, too, Agent Scully,” he chuckled into the pillow.

Twisting a hand behind himself, Mulder stroked the soft skin of her hip and thigh, hoping to wake her. He had an urgent need to raise his hips and bring some relief to his suffocating erection, but he didn’t want to startle Scully awake by bucking her off the bed. Just as he felt his partner beginning to murmur against his neck, the phone rang.

Grabbing for the receiver, Mulder stopped himself just in time. This was Scully’s room. He was in her bed. It would be a bad idea for him to answer her phone at 7:00 AM. His hand stopped stroking her hip and shook her thigh.

“Scullee…” Mulder coaxed, “come on, wake up. Phone, Scully. You need to answer the phone. Rise and shine, G-woman. Up and at ‘em.”

After the sixth ring, a small hand shot out, snatching up the phone receiver, and a slurred voice announced, “Shully…”

Mulder could feel intelligence flooding back into her body as his partner returned from the land of pleasant dreams.

“How many?”

Scully’s hand stroked an absent caress down Mulder’s side, stilling in surprise at encountering a naked hip resting underneath her own. There was a definite question in her touch he expected to be answering shortly.

“Where are you sending them?… Okay… Right, I’ll be there as soon as I can. No, I’ll let him know. Thanks.”

Bracing himself for the apology he imagined would be necessary before the morning was through, Mulder waited to see what was on Scully’s mind.

“Mulder, why am I laying on top of your naked body without my clothes?”

Considering several witty comebacks, including the possibility it had rained sleeping bags during the night, Mulder opted for the honest approach.

“Um, because that’s how you fell asleep on me last night?” Just then, a horrible thought caused his entire body to stiffen in fear. “Scully… please don’t tell me you don’t remember what happened. Lie and tell me I was wonderful.”

Chuckling into the tight muscles between Mulder’s shoulder blades, Scully kissed the shiver running down his spine.

“Of course I remember last night, you idiot,” she chided. “I just seem to remember both of us wearing at least one article of clothing when we went to sleep. I was in your shirt, to be exact.”

All the tension left Mulder’s body in a soul-deep breath of relief. That Scully might have somehow forgotten their first night as lovers was too devastating to contemplate, let alone explain.

“Oh, well, we were,” Mulder stammered. “I mean, we did. That is, you had my shirt on and I was wearing my boxers when we went to sleep, but that was before I woke you up with my nightmares. I think we were both too tired to get dressed again after that.”

Scully slid off Mulder’s back, thumping onto the mattress next to him as she sat up and brushed the hair from her face.

He marveled at the unconscious beauty of her nakedness, praying he would never get used to seeing her so open with him. This was the true gift she had given him last night: the right to stop hiding his love and desire. To show her his passion and adoration, without hiding behind jokes and innuendoes, without guilt or shame – freely and honestly.

Scrunching her forehead into tiny lines, Scully watched as Mulder levered his chest off the mattress, balancing on his elbows. She could see the tease in his eyes, waiting for her to admitt she no memory of their early-morning lovemaking.

“Now that you mention it,” Scully confessed, “I do seem to recall a wonderful erotic dream involving us. But it was so much like other dreams I’ve had, I just assumed it wasn’t real.”

Mulder’s eyes lit up like Christmas lights as his fingertips brushed her knee. “Scullee…” he teased, “you’ve had erotic dreams about us? I hope I’ll be privileged to hear some of them in the near future.”

Scully smiled at the delight on his face. Then remembering her wake-up call, she heaved a weary sigh, her gaze serious.

Mulder looked back in solemn understanding.

Heaving a matching sigh, he said, “Well, as pleasant as this conversation is, it sounds like last night’s storm wasn’t harmless.” Not waiting for his partner’s affirmative response, Mulder rolled to the side of the bed, untangling himself from the sheets, and picked up his discarded boxers. Plucking his t-shirt from its decadent position draped over the endtable lamp, he handed it to Scully, enjoying the blush that suffused her face.

Watching Mulder step into his shorts, Scully was hit with a feeling of regret that she’d left the glow-in-the-dark alien head boxers in his dresser.

“There were two more deaths, according to Mike,” she supplied, gathering clothes from her luggage. “The funnel hit northwest of Tulsa and he’s sending me to do the autopsies. I’ll get directions and rent a car before I leave. Colton wants the team assembled by 8:00 so you can start conducting interviews. Looks like an early start to the day for both of us, G-man.”

Mulder knew by the way she didn’t look at him Scully had something else on her mind. He also thought he had a good idea what it was. Opening his mouth to be preemptive with his apology, the glare he encountered from the other side of the bed stopped the words halfway up his throat.

“Don’t even think about saying you’re sorry about last night, Mulder,” she commanded. “You have nothing to apologize for. We’ve avoided the whole issue long enough, and I guess it just didn’t want to be ignored any longer. But we do need to remember that we’re on a case away from home. It might not be considered very professional for me to be boinking my partner in the middle of an investigation.”

As Scully walked around the bed, Mulder couldn’t help but grow hard again, watching the way her firm breasts swayed inside his shirt. It had never occurred to him how sensual a woman could look in a man’s clothes. He spent a few seconds pondering what other items of his attire he could coax Special Agent Scully into wearing. Feeling her soft hand caress the stubble on his cheek, Mulder drew her close, laying his chin on top of her head.

“Do you suppose it would upset the balance of the universe if I kissed you good morning?” he teased.

Smiling into his laughing gaze, Scully reached up on tiptoe and pecked a kiss at the cleft in his chin.

“I suppose the universe can stand one little kiss. But then we really need to put ‘us’ aside and concentrate on the case. This whole thing is so confusing, I wonder how long it will be before we can go home.” Scully’s voice slunk down an octave as she continued, “And I most definitely want to go home soon.”

Mulder wound his arms around her, kissing his partner with a thoroughness that left them both reeling and breathless. Releasing his hold with reluctance, Mulder moved out of temptation’s way.

“Well,” he huffed raggedly, “I guess we’d better get ready to go. You’d probably like to shower, so I think I’ll just pour the ice bucket on my head while you’re doing that.”

“Sounds like a plan, Mulder,” Scully breathed, just as raggedly. “While you’re at it, maybe you’d better fill my ice bucket as well.”

Turning her back on Mulder’s amused smirk, she headed for her bathroom, wondering if she could make the shower run cold enough.

x X x

xX Twisted: Part Three Xx

Oklahoma City Field Office May 16 7:47 AM

Yawning FBI agents stumbled through the conference room door, alone and in pairs, rubbing bleary eyes, clutching steaming Styrofoam cups and grease-stained fast food bags. With their hotel only a few blocks away, Mulder and Scully were among the first to arrive, briefcases in hand, but minus the McBreakfast bags. Scully’s quick call to Agent Newbauer canceling their breakfast date resulted in a promise of bagels and coffee, hand-delivered to the meeting room. For now, they sat back in their chairs, studying the scanty information.

A review of the autopsy findings from the previous night had lasted just as long as it took to travel the short distance from their hotel to the field office, with several minutes left over for silence.

“I didn’t find anything different from what the reports state,” Scully told Mulder as he drove. “The internal organs appear to have cooked inside the bodies. No entrance wounds. No burn marks. Zip. Of course, I can’t attest to the absence of external evidence, so I’ll be sure to look these new victims over carefully. I took some tissue samples to be analyzed by the Bureau labs, but I don’t think they’ll show anything beyond the obvious.”

Now, mulling over the meager file in his hands, Mulder grunted when his partner murmured that she would be right back. He didn’t pay attention when Scully picked up her purse and walked out the door. But he did sit up and take notice when a cup of coffee and a white bakery bag suddenly appeared under his nose.

“Looks like breakfast is a la carte today,” Joe Gallatino observed.

Grabbing the steaming Styrofoam cup, Mulder took a scalding gulp and closed his eyes, sighing.

“Bless you, my son,” he groaned. “May your children be as numerous as the hairs on your head.”

Opening his eyes, Mulder saw only one bag and cup.

“Where’s Scully’s?” he asked.

Sitting across the table, Agent Gallatino grinned at his friend.

“Ari has it,” he said. “She stopped at her desk to pick up something first.”

Mulder relaxed and shook a finger at Joe.

“Don’t scare me like that,” he admonished. “You definitely don’t want to experience Special Agent Scully when the caffeine content of her blood is low.”

Joe Gallatino shot back a knowing smirk.

“Tell me about it, man. I wish I could keep Ari hooked up to a coffee IV line all night just to avoid the morning transition period. It would have saved me a number of ass-chewings over the years.”

Just then, Scully walked in beside Ariela Newbauer, blissfully sipping from a steaming cup. Catching the grin on her partner’s face, she grinned back, only to watch Mulder’s expression close. Colton had entered the room. Turning toward the doorway, she was relieved to see Mike Thomas striding in right behind him. The rustling of breakfast bags tapered off as the SAC stepped to the head of the table.

“Mornin’ Agents,” he said. “Sorry to drag your butts in here early, but we got us another situation. Please take a set o’ papers as they go around the table. Those are the interview questions Agent Mulder womped up for us last night, as well as information on the latest victims. We don’t have much to go on so far, but we’ve sent out a media call for any witnesses. Agent Colton will go over what we do know, and then y’all will get your assignments for today.”

Rustlings resumed as various people took quick bites of their breakfast while the ASAC walked to the end wall. Colton stuck two new pins into the map, side by side, then turned to glare at Mulder. The look Colton received in return was as bland as skim milk.

“Listen up people,” he intoned. “This is what we have to work with. Lester and Edith Herkle, both in their early seventies, found dead inside their Lincoln Continental around 5:00 last night. A passing motorist found the car sitting in a field alongside the highway, roof dented down, as though it had rolled a few times. This was confirmed by the appearance of the surrounding grass. A storm had moved through the area, but no tornado touchdowns were reported in the immediate vicinity, so it doesn’t look like they were picked up by a twister and thrown. No one would have thought it was anything but a rain-related accident if the bodies hadn’t still been too hot to touch when they were first discovered. Local law enforcement has already combed the scene and collected the evidence, which they will ship to us later today. Agent Scully, you’ll drive to the Ponca City Resident Agency and they’ll direct you to where you’ll do the autopsies,” he ordered without so much as a glance her way. “I’ll expect a report as soon as you’re finished later today. Everyone else should have received a list of friends, family, co-workers and other contacts for one or more of the victims. Let’s get started visiting or phoning these people and see if we can’t find something to work with.”

“I’ll drive Agent Scully to the rental agency so y’all can get started on your assignments,” Thomas offered.

A horrified “NO!” was shouted in chorus from nearly every agent in the room, as if they possessed a collective consciousness. Mike’s driving reputation was well known at the Oklahoma City Field Office, either through hearsay or experience.

Joe Gallatino spoke up.

“That’s okay, sir. Agent Newbauer and I need to head that way for some interviews this morning. It won’t be any trouble at all to take Agent Scully with us.”

Mike caught Mulder’s sigh of relief and glowered at the assembled personnel.

“Chickenshit,” he grumbled. “Hot-shot, fearless, big, bad FBI agents, and every last one o’ you people’s chickenshit.”

Staring at the table, Mulder asked, “What’s the record for the most times your wife took the car keys away from you in a month? Is 10 still holding, or did you break that one?”

Mulder never looked at Mike as the quiet laughter of the other agents subsided, but the SAC’s light cuff on his shoulder promised future retribution for his remark. Still staring at the clean table surface, Mulder suddenly realized he was the only agent, other than Scully, who had no list of contacts. Since she would be away for the day conducting autopsies, she wasn’t needed for interviews. But because the papers had started circulating on Scully’s left, continuing around the table clockwise, it was obvious that the shortage wasn’t accidental. Mulder looked at Colton’s smug expression and knew who to thank.

“And what will I be doing while everyone else is busy with the investigation, Agent Colton?” Mulder asked, tight-lipped.

Tom Colton waved his hands in a dismissive gesture.

“Kill a chicken, burn incense, gaze into a crystal ball, dance around a fire naked… Whatever it is you do that lets you pull investigative rabbits out of your hat…”

“Alright, Agents,” SAC Thomas barked, interrupting the few snickers validating Colton’s comment. “Let’s get a move on, we’re burnin’ daylight.”

Chairs scraped and papers rattled as Mike Thomas’s heated stride moved him down the room toward his ASAC. However, he wasn’t fast enough to get there before a certain redhead whose Irish temper had just boiled over. With Colton’s back pinned against the map-covered wall, Mulder, Thomas, and Gallatino could only watch as Special Agent Dana Scully conducted an impromptu lesson in witness intimidation.

Pulling herself to a full 5′ 2″, plus heels, Scully got right into Colton’s personal space and blasted him in the face.

“I have had as much as I can take from you, Colton,” she grated. “You’ve done nothing but disrespect and denigrate both of us since we arrived and I am fed up. It’s not bad enough that you seem to hold us responsible for the shitty mess you’ve made of your life. It’s not even bad enough that you order me around without the small courtesy of making eye contact while you’re doing it. Now you’re going to risk the lives of innocent people because you can’t see far enough past your own vendetta to use the best hope this case has. I refuse to stay silent and watch you treat Mulder like shit just because you don’t have half the investigative talent he has in one finger. Your jealousy and blindness led to your fall off the ladder once already. I hope you fall on your ass again. You’ve got your head shoved so far up inside you’ll be sure to break your neck when you land.”

Pivoting on her heel, Scully ignored the shocked stares of her colleagues, grabbed her briefcase off the table, and marched out the door.

“Guess I wasn’t fast enough with the coffee, huh?” Gallatino observed.

“Hell hath no fury like Scully royally pissed,” Mulder agreed.

Mike Thomas continued to stare at the door, wide-eyed and unblinking.

“Mulder my man, that woman is damn scary.”

“Amen, brother,” Mulder drawled. “Praise the Lord.”

SAC Thomas shook himself, then turned to a white-faced Tom Colton, still pressed against the pin-studded wall.

“May I see you in my office, Agent Colton?” he demanded in a low voice.

Colton merely nodded and shuffled out of the meeting room, not meeting anyone’s eyes.

Mulder heaved a huge sigh, glancing at Joe Gallatino.

“You’d better find Scully and get her out to the rental agency before Mike insists on driving her himself. I think I’ll stay here and work on the profile. We really need to get inside this guy’s head before more people die. Tell Scully I’ll talk to her after she’s done slicing and dicing. I don’t think I want to get caught up in her blast radius right now, and I’m not the one in trouble this time.”

Gallatino clapped a friendly hand on Mulder’s shoulder.

“Man, with a champion like that, I don’t understand why there isn’t a trail of corpses wherever you go,” he laughed.

“Yeah, I know. It’s probably the fact that she uses it up on me first, so there isn’t anything left for anyone else. I’m gonna borrow your desk again, Joe. Take care.”

The two friends shook hands and parted company, both anticipating a long, boring day, but for different reasons.

x X x

Mulder spent the rest of the morning going over his profile and getting nowhere. The paucity of information failed to enlighten him, and even the knowledge that he should wait for Scully’s report on the most recent deaths couldn’t keep him from trying to wring just a little more insight from his words.

Neither Tom Colton nor Mike Thomas had emerged from the SAC’s office, so Mulder was stuck making work for himself without sufficient building materials.

The afternoon passed a bit faster. Joining Agents Gallatino and Newbauer, Mulder spent the rest of the day talking to local law enforcement, medical examiners, and people who’d found victims. It was grunt work that any agent could have handled, but it did keep his mind off how much he missed his partner. Concentrating on the collected data kept him from thinking about the previous night’s encounter for at least a few minutes at a time. But as the afternoon wore on, the gathered information began to take on a mind-numbing sameness: no one had any particular enemies, no one was experiencing any special problems in their life, no one saw what happened. By the time the three agents had contacted everyone they could that day, Mulder was no longer fit for any but his own company, and politely declined his friends’ dinner invitation. Without Scully beside him, watching the easy camaraderie between Ari and Joe was like rubbing sandpaper over a fresh-scraped knee. It just made him ache all the more for his partner’s soothing presence.

Eating carry-out alone in his room wasn’t much better, though. By 7:00 PM, Mulder had concluded that television commercials consisted of ads for food, ads featuring couples in love, and ads with couples in love eating food. None of which he cared to contemplate at that point. Throwing the remote aside, Mulder tucked his hands under his head and tried not to wonder how much longer he would have to wait to feel Scully’s skin under his fingers again.

Maybe she’s already finished and on her way back. Yeah, I’ll bet she’s gonna call me any minute now with the autopsy results. She’ll say

‘Mulder, it’s me.’

And I’ll say ‘So where are you?’ and she’ll say

‘I’m on I-35 South, halfway between Tonkawa and Oklahoma City. Wait until you hear what I found.’

Then she’ll get here an hour later, and she’ll be all hot and sweaty, so I’ll say ‘Why don’t you take a shower?’

Then I’ll sneak in with her after the water starts running and gently start soaping…

Mulder flipped onto his stomach and screamed into the pillow in frustration. They’d only made love one time, Scully hadn’t been out of his sight for twelve hours, and already he was acting like a pimply teenager fantasizing about a movie star. He couldn’t decide if it indicated that he was hopelessly in love or hopelessly pathetic. Huffing, Mulder grabbed the phone off the night stand and dialed a very familiar number.

x X x

Office of Dr. Norman Heeler, MD Fairfax, Oklahoma 7:14 PM

Dana Scully was ready to scream in frustration.

It wasn’t the lack of a real autopsy theater; she’d worked under worse conditions than the basement cold storage room of a general practitioner’s office. Dr. Heeler had been very accommodating; making sure she had the tools and the quiet she needed to work. It wasn’t his fault there was no hospital nearby large enough to house a morgue. At least the facilities were clean, sterile, well lit, and cool. A pleasant change from the oppressive heat outside.

It wasn’t because, after arriving at the Resident Agency in Ponca City well after noon, she’d found the obligatory paperwork incomplete. Resident Agent Carey ‘just call me Burt’ Halliburton was very apologetic, especially after scoping out Scully’s full lips, blue eyes and ringless left hand. He explained, at some length, the difficulties of running an RA office with only two assistants – particularly when one had just given birth and the other was her mother. Scully was grateful for the speed with which ‘Burt’ rushed the approval through, but not grateful enough to accept his invitation to dinner.

It wasn’t even the fact that she arrived at Ponca City later than planned because of several detours caused by storm debris on the roads. That type of delay was to be expected under the circumstances. Getting lost twice in one hour because the car rental agency didn’t carry up-to-date maps wasn’t.

Scully was frustrated enough to scream because there didn’t appear to be any way she would make it back to Oklahoma City that night, and she missed Mulder.

God, I’m acting like a fifth grader with a crush on the cute male gym teacher.

Six hours of cutting, probing, and trying to make sense of what she was seeing hadn’t done anything to blunt the yearning to run her hands through Mulder’s hair… to see the sparkle in his hazel eyes as she refutes an outrageous theory… to feel his hand on her lower back… on her thigh… on her…

I wanna knock him down and jump his bones… how unprofessional.

Even though Mike’s early-morning call hadn’t left any time to discuss the new development in their relationship, now that Scully had admitted her feelings to Mulder, she was also ready to acknowledge them to herself. However, that couldn’t be worked through very well when they were separated by half the state.

Scully put away the last of the surgical instruments and picked up the autopsy report forms. Glancing over the scrawled notes, she frowned. She’d examined each body three times, going over and over every step. There was no question about it: she hadn’t the vaguest idea what was causing these victims’ organs to bake inside their bodies. Scully was stumped.

Guess I’d better find a room for the night. Wonder how far I’ll have to drive first.

Just as she left the storage room and pushed the door closed, her cell phone rang.

“Scully…” she identified herself.

“What are you wearing?”

Mulder’s honey-gravel drawl trickling through the phone brought a wicked smile to Scully’s lips.

“The same suit I had on the day I was born, Mulder,” she purred.

“Ohhh, Agent Scully, you’re an evil woman.”

“So I’ve been told, Agent Mulder, and by men almost as handsome as you.”

“Anyone ever tell you it’s dangerous to do autopsies in your birthday suit?”

“Not when I’m wearing it under my scrubs.”

“She shoots! She scores! A perfect three-point shot against the Chilmark whiz kid!”

Scully flipped the lock on the office’s rear entry, stepping into the oppressive heat outside. She already longed for the air conditioning. Chuckling, she opened the driver’s-side door, allowing the overheated interior air to escape.

“So what can I do for you this fine, sweltering night, Mulder?”

“Gee, I never expected to get such an open invitation. Can I think about it for a few minutes, Scully? I want to make this worthwhile.”

“Mulder, it’s far too hot to play games that are going to leave us both frustrated.”

Mulder’s sigh tickled her ear. Scully shivered as she started the car, in spite of the warm air still pouring from the A/C unit.

“Pretty hot up that way, too, Scully?”

“Mulder, no place has the right to be this hot at this time of the year. Dante must have been thinking of Oklahoma when he wrote ‘The Inferno’. So what did you need?”

“Just you,” he exhaled. “I was sorta hoping you were racing back to my loving arms at this very moment.”

Scully smiled at the sadness Mulder couldn’t hide from her.

“I’m afraid your arms will have to wait, Romeo. I’m on my way back to the RA office. I have to drop off my preliminary report and see if there are any decent motels around here. I’ll fax you what I have so far, but I don’t know how much good it’ll do you.”

Mulder’s voice dropped into a very poor Jack Webb imitation.

“Gimme the fax, ma’am. Just the fax.” He sighed a soft raspberry into the phone. “I wish you could fax yourself back here. I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep alone ever again.”

Scully snorted. “What, you got used to me being there in one night?”

“In one second. In just one beat of your heart against mine.”

Her eyes began to tear up at his sincerity. No one had ever said anything so moving to her before. But driving down the highway, headed away from him, was not the time to go into their feelings in depth. Scully cleared her throat.

“Well, just do whatever you did before last night to help you sleep.”

“I’ve already forgotten what that was. It’s gone from my photographic memory and I never want to remember.”

Scully was afraid she was destined to become a crier if Mulder continued to say such beautiful things to her. Before she could get her voice under control, he teased, “And even if they had the right kind of movies on cable here, it can be a bit messy. I don’t think housekeeping would appreciate it.”

Snickering hard enough to clear her eyes, Scully tried not to imagine that particular scenario. Maybe, at some point in the future, she’d have him show her instead.

“Sooo, Dr. Scully… What do you have for me, besides a new level of sexual frustration?”

Scully straightened in her seat and tried to order her thoughts before replying. There was so much she didn’t understand about these deaths. Hopefully Mulder would be able to come up with something useful to the investigation.

“Well, to begin with, I didn’t find anything in these autopsies that wasn’t in the others. And I even did each examination three times to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. No matter how hard I looked — and believe me, Mulder, I looked — I couldn’t find a single trace of an entry wound, scorching, ingestion of a chemical, inhalation of a toxic substance, nothing. There were some surface lacerations commensurate with a car that’s rolled over several times, but there wasn’t even any bruising so they must have been dead before the first roll. Mulder, this is truly bizarre. How do you cook someone’s internal organs without breaking the skin? How do you cook all of them at once, for that matter?”

“I believe the best chefs recommend some chopped shallots and a little light cream for smoothness.”

Scully shuddered in repulsion.

“Mulder, that is, without a doubt, the most disgusting thing you’ve ever said.”

“Yes! Alright! Maybe now they’ll let me into the Guinness Book of Records. ‘Only man to ever gross out a forensic pathologist’. I could probably live off the tabloid and talk show fees for years.”

Scully could almost see Mulder pumping his fist in the air in victory. She shook her head and grinned.

~Only you would want something like that, Mulder.~

“There was something funny, though,” she resumed.

The other end of the phone became quiet as Mulder ceased his war whoops. Fabric rustled in her ear, and Scully could imagine him scooting higher against the headboard in anticipation.

“How do you mean, funny? Funny ha-ha, or funny strange?”

“Definitely funny strange. Not all of the victims’ organs were solidified this time. Just some of them. And not necessarily the same ones on both victims.”

A soft whistle hissed down the line.

“I’d call that strange. So what did you find?”

Scully glanced at the reports laying on the passenger seat, but she didn’t really need to read them to know what they said. She’d spent all afternoon and evening memorizing the results.

“The victims were an elderly couple, Lester and Edith Herkle. The brains of both were completely solidified, as were the hearts. However, both of Mrs. Herkle’s lungs had been cooked, whereas only Mr. Herkle’s right one was damaged. Part of the stomach on each had solidified, corresponding to the general area of damage on Mr. Herkle’s right side, although Mrs. Herkle sustained more injuries. Her liver, pancreas and right kidney were cooked as well. But his were still relatively healthy. The blood in both of them had coagulated to an extent, but mostly in the areas exhibiting other injuries, as well as Mr. Herkle’s arms and hands. Apparently it happened fast enough that not all of their blood was affected, and the remainder pooled in their extremities the way it normally would. Mulder, these deaths have me so confused I’m about ready to start taking hostages. Only there’s nothing but ATM machines nearby.”

Her minor attempt at humor was ignored. She heard papers rattling and pictured Mulder lying in a sea of information, eagerly sorting through his own unique filing system.

“They were driving a Lincoln Continental, weren’t they, Scully?” he queried. Not waiting for her affirmative, he went on, “The two truck drivers who were found in their rigs had the doors open with the engines running. The Postal jeep was the old kind without a side door. I’d be willing to bet the convenience store counter was made of Formica or wood. Do you see a pattern emerging here, Scully?”

“Nooo…” she admitted. “What are you seeing that I’m not, Mulder?”

“I’m thinking that the injuries to the Herkles aren’t as all-encompassing as the other victims because something was blocking whatever was being projected at them. Something acted as a barrier, most likely the driver’s side of the car, since Mrs. Herkle had more internal damage than her husband.”

“How do you figure that, Mulder? Maybe it just means the person was interrupted in whatever they were doing.”

“No, I think he did what he intended to do, but the car deflected the energy. Picture it in your mind, Scully. Imagine another car pulling up alongside the Lincoln. Maybe it’s even a taller car, a pick-up truck. Now imagine the seat backs have been removed from the Herkles’ car, and the person in the truck sprays paint at them through the driver’s-side windows. What would the spray pattern look like?”

Scully thought it over as she pulled into the parking lot at the Resident Agency. Mulder remained silent, giving her time to visualize the result and digest the implications.

“The paint would land pretty much in the same places where internal damage occurred,” she conceded. “But there should have been some solidification on Mrs. Herkle’s left side as well, don’t you think?”

“Maybe there’s a support in the seat that blocked the projection.”

The eager intensity in Mulder’s voice was evident, and Scully smiled at his enthusiasm.

“Well, it’s something to think about,” she agreed. “In the meantime, I’m at the RA office, and as much as I hate to leave the car’s air conditioning, I need to get these papers to Agent Halliburton and find a place to stay. Do you want to hold on while I’m gone?”

“Sure, G-woman,” Mulder agreed. “I’ll just sit here and amuse myself till you get back.”

“I don’t want to know what that involves, Mulder, so don’t go into details,” Scully chuffed. “I won’t be long.”

Mulder heard the car door open, a disgusted “God, it’s too hot”, the door closed, and then the faint scrunch of shoes on gravel. Having no muzak to beguile the time, Mulder tapped out his own rhythm and hummed.

When Scully returned to the car fifteen minutes later, a catchy tune whistled out of her cell phone. She listened for a moment before letting Mulder know she was back.

“What’s that you’re whistling, G-man?”

“Oh, hey, you’re finally back.”

“Were you worried about me?” Scully asked as she restarted the car and pulled onto the road.

“Well, I did spend several minutes performing the Modified Stationary Panic. You weren’t gone long enough for me to reach the Flat-out Full Bore Ricochet Panic stage. So no, I wasn’t worried.”

“What were you whistling?” Scully asked again. “I really liked it.”

“Just something by a group called ‘They Might Be Giants’. I heard it last week and thought it sort of described me.”

“What’s the song called?”


Scully drove in silence for a few seconds before responding.

“I won’t even ask, Mulder. We’ll just let that be your little secret.”

Mulder’s velvet chuckle caused Scully’s lips to curve in an affectionate smile.

“So what’s with the singing all of a sudden, partner?” she inquired.

“Can’t a guy be happy when he’s achieved his heart’s desire?” he huffed.

A wave of unaccustomed shyness washed over her.

“Am I your heart’s desire, Mulder?” she whispered.

“Scully, you are the heart of my heart. Don’t ever doubt that.”

A long, heavy silence ensued until Mulder cleared his throat.

“So did you find a place to stay tonight, or are you camping out in the rental?”

Scully snorted.

“Once I got Agent Octopus’s tentacles off my backside I got directions to a supposedly decent motel. I’m almost there now.”

A gasp followed by the sound of protesting bedsprings told her that Mulder had shot off the bed and was pacing the room in agitation.

“Did that jerk lay his hands on you?” he roared.


“I swear I’ll have him up on harassment charges so fast he won’t know his head from his ass!”


“I’ll make sure he gets four-bagged like Colton!”


“Hell, I’ll make sure he gets transferred to the field office so he has to work with Colton! That’d serve him right!”



“Did you say something, Scully?”

“Mulder, calm down. It was just a figure of speech. Agent Halliburton didn’t touch me.”

“Oh. You mean he wasn’t pawing you?”

“No, he wasn’t. He’s asked me out to dinner twice since I got here, but he’s been totally professional otherwise.”

“Oh. Sorry, Scully. I’m sorry I got so worked up. I guess it struck me wrong, considering how I feel about you. Let’s just blame it on the love-mo nkey on my back, okay? Do you forgive me?” Mulder’s insecurity and anxiety pulsed in time with her heartbeat.

Dana Scully blew out a huge sigh, vowing never again to make careless remarks about other men – for as long as she lived.

“There’s nothing to forgive, Mulder,” she soothed. “If I’d thought about it at all, I’d have known better than to make that remark in the first place. You okay now?”

Mulder’s relieved breath soughed from the phone into her ear and straight into her heart.

“As long as we’re okay, I’m okay, Scully. I promise not to jump in with both feet next time.”

“I’ll believe that the day I shake hands with a Reticulan,” she snorted. Scully stopped the car outside the motel office, preparing to reenter the Oklahoma blast furnace. “I’m at the motel now so I need to go. They’d better have good air conditioners or someone’s going to get hurt.”

Time seemed to stretch as the separated lovers listened to each other breathe from half a state apart.

“I don’t know how to say goodbye, Scully,” Mulder whispered. “I miss you.”

“You know, Mulder,” his partner observed, “Shakespeare had a saying for almost any occasion. This seems appropriate: ‘Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say good night till it be morrow.’”

“Scully…” Mulder purred, “you closet romantic, you. I didn’t know you were interested in the immortal Bard.”

“There’s a lot of things you still don’t know about me, Mulder,” she cooed back. “If you’re good, you might get a chance to discover them.”

“Well, the only way to answer that is with the words of Juliet’s true love: ‘Sleep dwell upon thine eyes, peace in thy breast. Would I were sleep and peace, so sweet to rest.’”

“Good night, Mulder,” she smiled. “I miss you, too.”

“‘Sleep rock thy brain;” he returned, “and never come mischance between us twain.’”

Scully spluttered on a laugh and opened the car door to the heavy heat of sunset.

“Now you’re mixing tragedies. You must be really tired. Good night, Mulder . Better get to bed.”

“Good night, my heart,” Mulder murmured. “Sleep well.”

Neither agent slept well that night.

x X x

Mulder spent the remainder of that evening, and part of the early morning, flipping between The Weather Channel and an Oklahoma news station carrying updates on the recent storm damage. It was turning out to be a rare night of quiet for the Sooner state. No new storms were predicted, although an area of instability held the promise of more rain closer to Oklahoma City. Mulder chose not to watch anything more cheerful, in keeping with his mood. Knowing that Scully was hours away made it doubtful if he would sleep soundly, or for any length of time. But he knew, if he wanted to be any help at all to the investigation, he should try. With perky meteorologists cheerily discussing the weather in parts of the country he didn’t care about, Mulder fell asleep in the wee hours of the morning, the television remote planted on his chest.

x X x

Scully had a different set of priorities than her partner. First on her ‘to do’ list was a long soak in a tub of cool water, then a crisp carry-out salad while flipping between The Weather Channel and a local news station. She didn’t plan to stay up late, after the long drive from the Field Office plus the lengthy double autopsy, but her stubborn mind refused to shut down. The notes she’d recorded and the conversation with Mulder kept swirling in her head until Scully thought she’d go mad from the chaos. Nothing made sense about these fatalities. But that wouldn’t stop her checking out as many victims as she could get under her scalpel. And knowing Mulder was hours away didn’t bode well for a restful night. Contemplating another long drive in the unseasonable heat, Scully was lulled to sleep by the blissful hum of the air conditioner in room 24 of the Sleep OK Motel.

x X x

In room 3, at the other end of the same motel, a man stared at The Weather Channel well into the night. He’d brought some of his equipment in from the van to check and recalibrate, but he couldn’t tear his eyes away from the television screen. Especially when the weather for the Central states was shown. He was good at predicting where the strongest storms would develop, but it looked like things would be quiet for the next 24 hours. Still, there was that one area of unstable air just west of Oklahoma City. He figured on getting a good night’s sleep for a change, and then maybe he’d head south and see what happened. If it was going to become a super-cell, he’d be able to tell. The thought caused a shiver of excitement to dance down his spine. He was learning that patience had its own reward. He could wait.

x X x

In Fairfax, Oklahoma, Tiffany Tooley chewed her nail polish off as she watched the 11:00 news. She didn’t notice the black flecks clinging to her lips, so engrossed was she in the report of the previous day’s fatalities. There was a video clip of a Lincoln Continental being towed from the field next to the highway. Frowny-faced reporters did sound-bite interviews with perplexed and grieving family members. When a toll-free number was flashed on the screen, Tiffany chewed harder. She hadn’t been a big one for church lately, but this struck her as a sign from God. She wasn’t even sure what she’d seen from the bridge underpass as the storm went by. But she’d sure-as-heck seen something. Maybe it was time to tell someone.

x X x

Oklahoma City Field Office May 17 7:50 AM

The scene Mulder walked into had a deja vu feeling about it that made him grin.

Yawning FBI agents sat around the table, coffee and breakfast bags in hand, as their colleagues continued to assemble. Taking his customary seat, Mulder avoided looking at the empty chair to his left. He consoled himself thoughts of Scully doing important work that would help them catch this killer. He would have just been in the way. His place was here, gathering as much information as possible, searching for the vital link that would lead them in the right direction.

Not that knowing all this made him feel any better.

A 6:30 wake-up call from his partner had been a pleasant, albeit brief, surprise. Mulder wasn’t happy that she was staying in Ponca City for another day, but he agreed it was a good idea. Scully planned to visit three nearby towns that had each sustained a fatality. Even if no bodies were available for examination, it was agreed that talking to whatever medical personnel had performed the autopsies would be beneficial. Mulder gave her a list of questions to ask, and after a hasty goodbye, both agents began their preparations for a busy day.

Sitting at the table, Mulder pulled out the faxed autopsy reports and began highlighting notes of interest. Just having her handwriting in front of him comforted Mulder with the hope that he might get through this second partner-less day still sane.

Nobody commented outright when SAC Thomas walked into the room alone and closed the door, but a light buzz of speculation washed over the assembled agents. Mike plunked himself in the head chair, proceeding straight to business.

“I want to thank y’all for gettin’ here on time today, in spite of the long hours everyone put in yesterday. Agent Angelotti, did you sleep at your desk last night? You’re here early.”

The rookie agent took the laughter and ribbing over his chronic lateness in stride. Everyone relaxed, turning their attention to the SAC.

“Okay Agents,” Mike continued, “what we need to do this mornin’ is go over the information gathered in the interviews, decide if the questions need to be changed, then finish contactin’ the people on the lists. I understand a fax came through from Dr. Scully with the autopsy results on Mr. and Mrs. Herkle. Agent Mulder, will your partner be joinin’ us later today?”

Mulder took a gulp of coffee and cleared his throat.

“No, Sir. Agent Scully has decided to stay in the area of the Resident Agency and visit some of the doctors who performed a few of the early autopsies. I should be hearing from her later. I have the faxed reports on the Herkles, but I’d rather wait until the interviews have been discussed before going over her findings.”

“Well, then,” Mike nodded at his team, “let’s dig in and get our hands dirty.”

Four hours later, the dry-erase boards hadn’t one spare inch of unmarked space, but to Mulder, it was all useless. Negative information sometimes had its place, but in this case, he needed just one piece of solid evidence he could tear apart. Except for the anomalous findings in the Herkle autopsies, all other data collected so far checked out. Enemies were accounted for, family problems were explained, nothing out of the ordinary was noticed, and nobody saw a thing. And they still had no idea what caused the deaths.

SAC Thomas rapped on the table to settle the buzz of restless voices.

“Let’s break for a quick lunch, then Agent Mulder will go over Agent Scully’s autopsy reports and we’ll see if there’s anythin’ useful. See y’all back here in thirty.”

Mike stopped Mulder before he could join his departing colleagues.

“I’d like you to have lunch with me in my office, Spaceman. I had Carol bring in some food for us so we can jaw a while.”

“If this concerns that graffiti about you in the men’s room, it’s not even my handwriting,” Mulder quipped.

Thomas snorted.

“You don’t know me well enough to be writin’ shit like that, anyway,” he shot back. “No, I thought you deserved to hear what’s been decided about Colton after yesterday.”

Mulder nodded, tight-lipped, and followed his friend to the SAC’s office.

Sitting down in front of a cheese-steak sandwich laid out on the corner of the desk, Mulder found he wasn’t very hungry after all. He was getting tired of being involved in other people’s misfortunes, especially when their troubles were self-inflicted. His well-honed sense of guilt refused to hold him totally blameless.

“Eat up, Spaceman,” Mike mumbled around his own mouthful. “And quit beatin’ your breast over Colton. He ain’t gettin’ four-bagged this time, but he won’t be a happy camper for a while.”

After the first couple of forced bites, Mulder found that his body had betrayed him, deciding it was hungry after all. He wolfed down the sub in record time and sat back, replete. The one thing that could have made him feel more satisfied would have been his partner sitting next to him, quoting the fat and cholesterol content of his meal.

“I’m sure you noticed Colton’s absence,” Mike interrupted his daydreaming.

“Hell, everybody noticed, not just me,” Mulder replied. “They’re just too polite to say anything about it, that’s all.”

“I talked to Skinner yesterday while I had Colton in here.”

Mulder’s eyes widened in surprise.

“Yeah, he wasn’t best pleased to hear what was goin’ on, but he wasn’t all that shocked either. I got the feelin’ he almost expected it, knowin’ the way you have o’ stirrin’ things up. He wants to see you and Dana in his office when y’all get back.”

“Just what I need,” he groaned. “Another bend-over-and-kiss-your-ass-good-bye session with Skinner.”

“No, Spaceman,” Thomas chuckled, “I think you’re off the hook for this one. He gave me some background on Tom Colton. Seems he’s been throwin’ off sparks for a while now; you were just the big short circuit. He’s been to several field offices in the last few years, not stayin’ very long at any of ‘em. Colton’s stepped on a lot of peoples’ toes tryin’ to climb the ladder, but he can’t seem to get more than a few rungs up before he falls on his ass again. SAC Hvorka is a good man who felt sorry for him. He pushed to make Tom ASAC on this case as another chance to make good. The decision was a done deal before I got here. It’s a damn shame when a man lets his ambition replace his humanity, but it happens, and you can’t hold yourself to blame for that.”

Running his hands through his hair, Mulder ‘humph’ed and stood up to get a cup of coffee.

“So what happens to him now, Mike?”

“Skinner agreed that he should return to DC, so we arranged an early mornin’ flight. He’ll have a hearin’, another hearin’, with the OPR in a few days, and they’ll decide what to do with him. My guess is he’ll end up in another field office, or even a Resident Agency, where he can’t do too much harm. It all depends on how serious they think the infraction is this time: he may lose his creds. If they take in all his past problems, he could be out of the Bureau for good. “

Sipping his coffee, Mulder sat back in the chair, thinking for a moment. He looked up, fixing Thomas with an earnest gaze.

“Mike, I think I can speak for Scully when I say we don’t want to be the cause of Colton’s career ending.” Mulder raised his hand as Mike opened his mouth to protest. “I know, I know, it’s not our fault, but Colton isn’t going to see it that way. Hell, he never accepted that his actions nearly killed someone who used to be his friend. He’ll just see it as another case of Spooky and the Mrs. fucking up his life, and that’s what he’ll make sure gets spread around. You wouldn’t believe how many people agreed with his way of thinking the last time. Now, you know I don’t give a rat’s ass what anyone says about me, but I won’t have him broadcasting that kind of shit about Scully. She doesn’t deserve it and never has.”

Mike Thomas considered his indignant friend, and nodded his understanding.

“Okay, Spaceman, I’ll see what I can do,” he agreed. His eyes took on a sudden twinkle. “I hear Bumfuck, Egypt has a really nice climate.”

Mulder spewed coffee back into his cup and coughed.

“Now if you can quit kiddin’ around,” Thomas commanded, “you got a report to give us from the good Dr. Scully. Let’s get out there and hop to it. Haul ass, Spaceman. We’re burnin’ daylight.”

Picking up the briefcase beside his chair, Mulder followed the SAC out the door, clutching his Styrofoam cup, still coughing.

x X x

Propped in the only clear corner of the conference room, Mulder chugged another cup of coffee as he observed his handiwork. A babble of confused, agitated voices washed around him as he felt the fresh caffeine kick-start his system.

SAC Thomas resorted to banging on the table with his fist to restore order.

“Everybody quit flappin’ your gums and let’s talk it out!” he shouted, shaking his stinging hand. “Agent Garneski, you been spoutin’ the hottest horse shit. What is it about Agent Mulder’s report you find so troublin’?”

“Sir, what Agent Mulder is suggesting sounds like… science fiction. He’s saying the UNSUB is shooting some kind of ray gun at the victims that magically cooks them. Are we supposed to believe that?”

A burst of cacophony made Mulder wince as everyone tried to put in their two-cents-worth on either the pro or con side of the debate.

The noise just made Thomas angry.

“Shut up!” he bellowed. “If you people can’t take turns, we’re goin’ back to kiddygarden and y’all will be raisin’ your hand to speak.”

The SAC glared around the table until the mutterings ceased, then turned to Mulder.

“Agent Mulder,” he huffed, “I do believe you need to go back over what you just said so we can all be clear on your meanin’.”

Mulder chucked his empty cup into the wastebasket and stood in front of two human anatomy charts recently added to the maps on the wall. Some areas had been scribbled over in red marker to indicate the location of internal damage revealed by the autopsies of the Herkles. One leg exhibiting a coffee-induced jiggle, Mulder faced his colleagues once more.

“Contrary to Agent Garneski’s false assumption, I do not believe that ray guns are involved here. Nor do I see evidence of alien involvement, Dr. Frankenstein, or fire-breathing dragons, all of which were just spewed out as possibilities. I don’t think any type of manmade weapon was used, although I do believe the injuries Agent Scully reported were caused by some type of energy projected at the victims.”

One glare from the SAC silenced the preliminary swell of voices. Joe Gallatino poked a finger in the air and gained a nod of permission.

“How do you think this energy is being projected if not from some kind of gun or other weapon?” he questioned. “Do you think it’s being done physically somehow?”

“I don’t know how yet, Joe. No one has seen anything, so there’s no way of knowing whether or not the UNSUB touched the victims. If he did, that would be one way of physically killing them, but I don’t think that’s likely.” Mulder smacked his hand against the anatomy charts, dancing his fingers over the red marks. “THIS is our only real clue at the moment. And this says to me that some sort of energy was beamed at them from outside the moving car.”

Finding only a few open faces among the skeptics, Mulder scrubbed his hands through his hair, deciding on a demonstration.

“Agent Angelotti, would you grab my chair and come up here? Agent Newbauer, could you do the same with Scully’s chair, please?”

As the two curious agents followed his orders, Mulder moved to the dry erase boards and took the largest one from the wall. Walking back to the front of the room, he positioned the rookie agent in his chair, left side facing the room. Agent Newbauer was placed to Agent Angelotti’s right, facing in the same direction. Once Mulder leaned the board sideways against Angelotti, blocking him from view from the shoulders down, it became clear that Mulder was recreating the Lincoln Continental. Holding a second, smaller dry erase board over their heads, he turned to the investigative team with an excited gleam in his eye.

“Can you see what I’m saying?” he blurted out. “Imagine if they were doused with a chemical straight on from the driver’s side, or maybe at a higher angle. Wouldn’t the metal in the car door and roof, and maybe the internal seat braces, cause the pattern of injuries shown on the charts?”

Mulder put down the car’s ‘roof’ and looked out on nodding, albeit confused, faces.

“But that still doesn’t tell us how he’s doing it, or how we’re going to find him and stop him,” Agent Garneski insisted.

“No, it doesn’t, but at least we know something now we didn’t before. I think we can be certain that he doesn’t cause the injuries by touch, because to do that he would have either had to be in the car with the Herkles or hanging out a window of another vehicle on a rain-slicked road. I don’t know if he’s screaming at them, thinking bad thoughts, or pissing through the window. I do know that in light of these findings, we need to get more information from the doctors who did the previous autopsies; see if they remember any undamaged areas on the other victims. Agent Scully is already asking that question in three towns near the current crime scene. Now we need to talk to the examiners in Texas and Kansas, as well. If we can prove that metal, like the car door, will block the flow of energy, then at least we have some form of protection to offer when we find this guy.”

“Are there any more questions for Agent Mulder?” Thomas held up one hand to silence the buzz of talking. When no one was forthcoming, he continued, “Then y’all go ahead and get the blood flowin’ to your butts again, and see me in 20 minutes to get a new list of contacts. That’s all for now, agents.”

A chorus of groans fused with the scraping of chairs and rustle of papers. Rehanging the erase boards on the wall, Mulder turned to find young Agent Angelotti blocking his path. The rookie agent stuck out his hand.

“Agent Mulder,” he gushed, “I can’t tell you what a privilege it is to be working with you. I’ve studied all of your cases, but to actually get a chance to watch you in action is incredible. Your work on the Virgil Incanto killings was amazing, and of course the results of the Mostow case are required reading at the Academy these days. I’m very honored to meet you.”

Shaking the younger man’s proffered hand, Mulder rescued his fingers before they could be badly bruised.

“Thank you, Agent Angelotti,” he said, giving the blushing agent a crooked grin.

“Paul, sir.”

“Thank you, Paul.” Mulder quirked an eyebrow. “First posting out of the Academy?”

“Yes, sir,” he enthused. “It was pretty dull, too, until you got here. Now I’ve decided to go back to the Academy and train to be a profiler. This is a lot more interesting than background checks and surveillance!”

Swallowing a snort of laughter, Mulder glanced around for deliverance.

“I think you’re on the right track about the energy projection, Agent Mulder,” he declared. “It reminds me of the ‘Pusher’ Modell case, but not quite the same thing. And of course there’s the similarity to the Pinker Rawls case, where he wasn’t able to go through glass. I’m sure you’ll figure it out as soon as we get more information to work with.”

“Well, thank you again, Agent Angelotti… Paul. I appreciate your vote of confidence. But be careful what you wish for, or you may find yourself pushing the last elevator button to reach your office everyday.” Mulder smiled at the rookie’s puzzled frown. “Now how about seeing if you can find some of that information we need?”

Angelotti’s face brightened as he rushed off to do his hero’s bidding.

Mulder ignored a grinning Mike Thomas standing to one side and shook his head.

“Why do I suddenly feel so old?” he asked no one in particular.

“I never knew you had groupies, Spaceman,” Thomas guffawed. “Thank the Lord he’s got better taste in ties.”

“Well, he sure picked a lousy role model. Wait till I tell Scully. She’ll want to examine him from one end to the other, looking for a curable cause.”

“Nah, you’re not so bad,” Mike insisted, “although you are awful obnoxious when you’re this buzzed on caffeine.”

“What makes you think I’ve had too much coffee?”

“Could be the five cups sittin’ in the trash can. Or maybe ‘cause I just saw some trickle out your left ear.” Mike raised a hand to acknowledge something Mulder couldn’t see and gathered up his papers. “Carol’s flappin’ her hands like she’s shooin’ flies, which tends to mean I’m wanted. Everyone should be back in a few minutes, so why don’t you try to relax?”

But Mulder couldn’t relax, and it wasn’t just because of excessive coffee. Something Angelotti had said was tickling his mind, trying to get his attention. He was sure a piece of information was hidden inside their conversation, but he couldn’t seem to separate it from the main body of words. He didn’t have long to think about it, because he looked up to find Mike Thomas almost running toward him down the hallway. Mulder could see the excitement on his face before he reached the door.

“That was a call from the Fairfax police department, Mulder,” Thomas blurted. “Hope you got your skivvies packed, ‘cause you’re headed there right now. We got us a witness.”

x X x

Somewhere in Oklahoma May 17 6:35 PM

This was the right direction. He could tell.

The pressure in his sinuses wasn’t too bad, but it was definitely there. That morning, he couldn’t decide if he should drive north or south. Areas of unstable air were present in both directions, but somehow going south seemed right. This time, when the storm intensified, he’d be smack in the middle. The very thought gave him a thrill: to feel the buildup of pressure, listening to the noise in his head as it changed from a hum to a crackling hiss. The clouds hadn’t even started to develop, and already he could feel the power of it in the air.

It would be the best storm yet.

x X x

Ponca City Resident Agency May 17 6:35 PM

Mulder pulled into a parking space outside the RA office with a sigh of relief.

~God damn piece of shit fucking pile of junk…~

Retrieving his jacket from the back seat, Mulder noticed a rental car in one of the other spaces. Scully was already there. Wiping his dripping face with a rolled-up sleeve, he stepped out of the car, slamming the door with undue force. There wasn’t even enough of a breeze to ruffle the shirt plastered to his chest and back.

Mulder hadn’t been all that surprised when the A/C crapped out before he made it out of Oklahoma City. When the temperature neared 100 degrees with over 90% humidity, the air conditioning always considered it a good excuse to stop working. Especially in rental cars. What he hadn’t counted on was the flat tire he had to change in the blistering afternoon sun. If blue air had a cooling effect, Mulder’s continuous string of curses would have kept him downright frosty.

The building’s cool climate met Mulder’s skin like a lover’s kiss at the door. He sighed, letting his eyes adjust to the dimmer interior. Hearing heels tapping around a corner, he looked up just as Scully appeared right in front of him.

She took in the darkened shirt stuck to Mulder’s body, the wet strands of drooping hair, the trickles of moisture running down his temples, all decorated with a blazing smile just for her.

And took a step back out of his reach.

“Don’t you dare touch me, Mulder.”

His eyes lit up with glee.

“Am I to infer from that statement, Agent Scully, that you no longer consider me shower-fresh and kissable?”

“Mulder, I wouldn’t come near you without a can of Right Guard and a squeegee.”

“Scullee… ” he cooed, “how on earth did I miss this kinky side of your nature all these years?”

“Something else is going to end up with a kink if you so much as lay one finger on me before you shower,” she stated. “Did you get like that just walking from the car, or have you been swimming in the water tower?”

“It’s about 150 fucking degrees out there, Scully, and I had to change a flat after the A/C gasped its last.” Mulder wiggled his eyebrows and leered. “Wanna go skinny dipping in the water tower with me?”

“Mulder, I am not moving from this air conditioned building unless it’s to somewhere equally air conditioned. Besides, the Fairfax police said they’d have the witness at their station between 7:30 and 8:00 so we can talk to her. You’ve got just about enough time to check into your room, shower, and change so we can get this done. We’ll take my car since yours doesn’t have working air.”

“Dana, I’m headin’ out to grab some grub. I could show you a real good time if you’d join me.” The somewhat nasally voice preceded its owner into the small office space, setting Mulder’s teeth on edge. Seeing the partners standing together, the voice’s owner skidded to a stop, raking Mulder with a calculating appraisal. Slapping on an insincere smile, he stuck out a hand in greeting.

“You must be the famous Agent Mulder,” he smirked. “Resident Agent Carey Halliburton. Just call me Burt.”

Mulder shook the proffered hand, taking an instant dislike to ‘Burt’.

x X x

“Mulder, if you pee on my leg to mark your territory, I swear to God I’ll shoot you.”

Scully was speaking to the windshield and couldn’t see him, but Mulder still shot her a lascivious glance.

“Afraid it would turn you on, Scully?”

Mulder felt an involuntary shiver run up his spine as she pinned him with an icy gaze.

“I’ve spent too many years around bodily fluids to be impressed by your macho emissions.” She returned her stony stare to the clouds building on the horizon.

Mulder opened his mouth, a lewd remark about a previous night’s emissions ready to launch. One glance at Scully’s glowering brows, and his jaw snapped shut with a clack.

~Not a good time to let your crotch do the talking, Muldick.~

He had absolutely no desire to be shot by his own partner. After all, she’d shot him once before, and they always say the first time is the hardest. No point in getting her used to it.

They continued driving in strained silence for several minutes until Scully took a deep breath and shook her head.

“You know, Mulder,” she sighed, “this is what I was afraid would happen if we ever became intimately involved. I don’t regret what occurred the other night, but I don’t know how to deal with this.”

Mulder knew, without a doubt, that saying the wrong now risked losing the one person he’d wanted for a very long time. So he stalled.

“What ‘this’ are you referring to, Scully?”

“Your ‘this’, Mulder!” she exclaimed. “The Alpha-male posturing you just displayed back there.” Scully cut him off before he could protest. “How are we supposed to conduct an investigation if you feel the need to assert your ownership every time another man is friendly to me? Are you so insecure you think I’d send out signals to someone I don’t know after waking up with you in my bed? This relationship isn’t going to work if I’m always worrying because you can’t keep your jealousy under control.”

Mulder’s jaw tightened on a biting retort to keep it from escaping. He was sure his behavior hadn’t been anything out of the ordinary when it came to other men hitting on his partner. But it was obvious Scully viewed the encounter through the lens of their newborn intimacy, giving his actions a different slant.

“I apologize if you found my behavior objectionable, Agent Scully,” he grated. “It’s hard to stand by while some well-dressed ape puts the moves on my partner right in front of me.”

“He was not hitting on me,” she spat. “You mistook his politeness for a come-on. And it’s nice to be treated as an attractive woman every now and again, you know.”

Mulder’s knuckles whitened on the steering wheel as he fought to avoid saying something regrettable.

“All these years, I thought you wanted men to see you as an equal, without regard to your gender,” he marveled. “If you prefer to be treated like a woman, Scully, I’d have been happy to oblige. But I’m only supposed to be your ‘partner’. I’m not allowed to pay you a compliment, or notice how beautiful you are, or how good you smell. I get the privilege of standing by, watching every other man who crosses your path being allowed to notice; even when I hated them because I wanted to tell you those things myself. Of course, then you’d accuse me of being ‘unprofessional,’ or ‘suffering from testosterone poisoning’. But hey, if that was what you wanted, all you had to do was ask.”

He could hear the petulant tone in his voice, but Mulder didn’t care. Scully was being unfair, and they both knew it. As the only male on the planet who was forbidden to express his admiration, Mulder had grown somewhat bitter over the years. Seeing another man exercising that privilege had proven too much for his sore heart. Now there would be fences to mend unless Scully could see through his eyes.

The interior of the car was quiet for some minutes, as they continued driving toward the motel. Scully sighed and shifted in her seat, turning a contrite face toward her silent partner.

“I never knew you felt like that, Mulder,” she murmured. “It was always so nice knowing I didn’t have to fend you off, I never considered how it might make you feel. I’m sorry for jumping all over you. I guess I need time to get used to the changes in our relationship. Are you sure Agent Halliburton was hitting on me?”

Mulder relaxed his death grip on the steering wheel, shrugging the tension from his shoulders.

“I could have been mistaken,” he conceded, “but believe me, Scully, I’ve hit on, and been shot down in flames by, enough women to know when a guy is making the moves.” He grimaced at the look on her face. “Or maybe I shouldn’t have shared that little bit of ancient history.”

A tiny grin tugged at the corners of her mouth.

“Just as long as we’re talking about really ancient history, Mulder.”

The silence was a great deal more comfortable after that. Driving through the Oklahoma heat, Mulder allowed his mind to daydream about possible scenarios involving his new lover, and an uninterrupted weekend — until he registered movement out of the corner of his eye.

Mulder glanced over, to see Scully making notations in her day planner.

“Always multi-tasking, aren’t you, Scully?”

“Hmm… Just making a list of things to do once we’re home, while I’ve got the time.”

A wicked smile lit Mulder’s face. “So, am I on that list of things to be ‘done’, Agent Scully?” His eyebrows jigged up and down.

“Oh sure. You’re here.”

“You’re kidding!”

“Nope.” Scully consulted her notes, ticking each item off in turn. “Take in dry cleaning… call Mom to let her know we’re home… retrieve mail from the neighbor… make Mulder scream in ecstasy… do laundry… go grocery shopping…”

Mulder couldn’t help but squirm.

“You know, Scully,” he observed, “these slacks aren’t cut for concealment, and I just got very turned on. I’ll have to keep my coat buttoned to avoid embarrassing both of us.”

Mulder’s peripheral vision was good enough to allow him the sight of Scully glancing at his lap and licking her lips.

“I don’t think embarrassing is how I would describe it, Mulder.”

For once in his life, Mulder couldn’t come up with a single witty comeback. He was so used to his innuendoes being thrown to one side, his brain had no idea how to respond to having one lobbed back. Silence reigned for several long minutes as each agent contemplated the recent changes in their relationship.

Finally, Scully spoke. “What are we going to do about Skinner?”

Mulder shot her a cheeky grin.

“I like you more. He’s not really my type.”

“I mean what we are going to tell him?” she huffed.

“About … ?”

“About us!”

“We’ll tell him he’s not our type; he’ll have to look elsewhere. Maybe Krycek is still in town.”

Mulder’s peripheral vision also caught the death-ray glare lasering in his direction.

“Mulder, I’m serious. We’ll have to tell him something sooner or later.”

Running a hand over his face, Mulder tried to think of a way to explain his feelings on the subject. He couldn’t come right out and say he didn’t give a flying fuck what Skinner thought, even though it was exactly how he felt. He knew Scully was worried about the Bureau splitting them up, but at that moment, Mulder didn’t care if they worked together, as long as they had each other after hours. Nothing else mattered to him as much.

“Scully,” he sighed, “unless I start flashing the words ‘I’m fucking my partner’ on my forehead, I don’t think anyone is gonna notice. They might suspect, but hell, there have been rumors about us since you first stepped into the basement. Most of our colleagues think we’ve been making the beast with two backs for years. There isn’t any reason I can see why we should tell people something that’s none of their business.”

Scully’s retort was silenced by his upraised finger.

“I’m not saying we should lie, you understand. If Skinner comes right out and asks ‘Agent Mulder, are you making the naked pretzel with Agent Scully?’ I will proudly answer in the affirmative, then cite our solve rate. If anyone else is rude enough to ask, I’ll flip ‘em the bird. But I don’t think Skinner will ask, because I doubt if he cares one way or the other, provided our personal life doesn’t interfere with our work. As long as we’re not French kissing by the water cooler, or dry-humping under the stairs, I don’t think it matters to anyone if we leave the office together every night.”

Mulder reached for his partner’s hand, entwining their fingers and rubbing his thumb across her knuckles, pleased that she didn’t pull away. Scully strained to hear his voice as Mulder continued almost in a whisper.

“I want this to work, Scully. You have no idea how much I want this, for both of us. Sure, there’ll be glitches from time to time, but when have we done anything the easy way? And how will it be any different than before? Just because we’re making love doesn’t mean I won’t treat you as I always have. Maybe it means that you’ll notice how I treat you more often. I know I’ll screw up sometimes; I think we both know it’s inevitable. But what I will never do is deliberately hurt you. This is the most important thing in the world to me, Scully. Even if we can’t shout it from the rooftop yet.”

Scully squeezed his hand in understanding.

Mulder’s earnest gaze briefly locked with his partner’s before returning his attention to the road. “Don’t start reading more into what I do just because we’re sleeping together. We both know I’ve always been a jealous ass. Maybe you didn’t notice before.” Her soft snort of amusement brought a smile to his face. “I don’t see how this will change things. Will it make me worry about you more? Even now, I worry about you constantly. Will I act without thinking of my own safety when you’re in danger? You already complain that I never think of my own safety. Keeping you safe is the only thing I’ve thought about for over six years. I doubt I could act more stupid than I already do, although that’s debatable. The only thing that will change is now, I’ll be able to show you how much you mean to me, without having to pretend it’s drugs, or a joke. I’d call that a change for the better, wouldn’t you?”

Raising their joined hands, Scully kissed each of Mulder’s fingers.

“Yeah, I like that last part, too.” She grinned, observing her partner’s full-body shiver. “Just don’t let me catch you being ‘polite’ to any other woman, understand? Beneath this DK-suited, professional exterior beats the heart of an Alpha female, and I’m not above marking my own territory.”

Mulder groaned, struggling to keep his eyes focused on the road.

“Maybe I should have worn the Armani slacks,” he rasped. “I think they’re cut a bit fuller than these.”

x X x

Fairfax Police Station 8:20 PM

Scully jumped when the conference room door slammed against the wall. She didn’t look up as her partner stomped into the room, radiating indignation from every pore. Her pen barely twitched as he slapped a file onto the table next to her.

Proud of herself for resisting the urge to look at him for a whole thirty seconds, Scully peeked up to see Mulder planted in her personal space, hands on hips, a most decided glare in his eyes. Cocking an eyebrow, she wrapped herself in an air of innocence, and waited.

“Agent Scully,” Mulder huffed, “you did that deliberately!”

The raised eyebrow was joined by its sister and a look of blank incomprehension.

Mulder threw his hands into the air, pacing in agitation.

“Don’t give me that! I know damned well you saw the witness before I did. You decided interviewing her alone would be the perfect pay back for my comment on the plane. Why couldn’t you warn me I was walking into a freak show? Would that have been too much to ask?”

Stopping next to her chair, arms folded over his chest, it pleased Mulder to see a sheepish expression on Scully’s face.

“Well,” she defended herself, “if I’d known it would upset you this much…”

“There was nowhere for me to look at her without staring!” he shouted. Mulder twitched in remembered humiliation. “I’ve never seen that many body piercings on anyone before. Besides the two tongue studs, which were bad enough, she had rings lined up along her eyebrows like Christmas ornaments. There wasn’t an unpierced centimeter of skin on either ear. And how the hell do you attach the backing to a nose stud that far up the bridge?”

Mulder closed his eyes and shuddered.

“My God, Scully,” he groaned, “she even had an entire circle of rings around her navel. How was I supposed to get a clear statement from her when I couldn’t concentrate enough to form a full sentence? I probably stammered worse than a rookie agent on his first big case.”

It took all the willpower in Scully’s body not to laugh at her incensed partner. Rising from her chair, she laid a tentative hand on his sleeve, expecting the rebuff she deserved. It had seemed like a good prank at the time. A small repayment for the many embarrassing innuendoes she’d suffered over the years – including that smart remark to the other passengers on the plane. Now it appeared more juvenile than anything else.

But incredibly funny, nonetheless.

“I’m really sorry I didn’t say something to you first, Mulder,” she apologized. “I never meant to embarrass you.”

Mulder snorted, cocking an eyebrow in disbelief.

“Well, maybe just a bit,” she admitted with a rueful grin. “But I swear I never thought it would affect you so much. I apologize sincerely for not giving it enough thought ahead of time. Can you forgive me?”

Mulder sighed in resignation. He knew he’d never hold a grudge where Scully was concerned. Not when she was looking at him with such contrition in her eyes. It made him want to show her his forgiveness with a passionate kiss on her smiling lips. Instead, he settled for nodding and holding her warm hand in his.

“I guess I’m just not used to you pulling something like this on me, Scully,” he smiled, chagrined. “Maybe I should get some tips from Frohike on how to retaliate in an effective manner for future incidents.”

Scully squeezed her partner’s hand and smoothed his stubborn forelock into a semblance of order.

“I promise, G-woman’s honor, there won’t be any more incidents like this, Mulder.” A wicked quirk appeared at one corner of her mouth. “Well, at least not right away, and certainly not while we’re working.” Sitting back down, Scully picked up the file she’d been studying. “Think about this though, Mulder. Those were just the body piercings you could see.”

Dropping into the chair next to her, Mulder clutched his chest.

“Jesus, Scully,” he grimaced, “don’t make me think about something like that. You know what a vivid imagination I have.”

“Yeah,” she smirked, not looking up. “That’s why I mentioned it.”

Special Agent Scully went back to perusing the file folder while her astonished partner sat with his mouth hanging open.

x X x

xX Twisted: Part Four Xx

Fairfax Police Station 8:52 PM

Scully kept her head down, concentrating on the autopsy reports from the local victims. The only sound in the station’s conference room was Mulder’s furious typing on a borrowed computer. She decided to let him work until he was ready to share the witness’ information, rather than risk another outburst. The clicking only stopped when he reached to push on his glasses as they slid down his nose. When the printer began spitting out Mulder’s report, Scully looked over to see her partner leaning back, a satisfied smile on his face.

“A real break, Scully,” he gloated. “This could be what we’re looking for.”

The light reflecting from Mulder’s glasses prevented her seeing the expression in his eyes, but a tickle of anticipation crept down her spine at his confident tone.

“What have you got, Mulder?”

“You mean besides a monumental case of the heebie-jeebies brought on by the Swiss Cheese Witness?” Joking was a good sign Mulder was recovered from his fit of pique. “We may have a description of the killer’s vehicle.”

Scully’s eyes widened in surprise. On the surface, a vehicle description was good, but not something to get worked up about. Mulder’s tone of voice suggested there was something more.

Glancing at his watch, Mulder gathered his report from the printer, preparing to leave.

“It’s getting late, Scully,” he stated. “How about we get some food and discuss this at the motel? I haven’t had a chance to tell you about all the exciting things you missed at the field office.”

“This I gotta hear,” she agreed. Assembling her own belongings, Scully followed her partner through the station into air that had no business being over 80 degrees at that hour. The logy atmosphere gave a promise of ominous things to come.

The return drive was regaled by Mulder’s colorful recital of the previous day-and-a-half. His formidable memory allowed him perfect recall of every event, which he proceeded to embellish for his love’s enjoyment. Everything from the bland results of the interviews to Agent Angelotti’s hero-worship was fodder for his rapier wit, causing the gurgling chuckle he longed to hear. The news that Mulder was someone’s idol produced the exact result he’d predicted.

“Is he ill? Was Angelotti dropped on his head as a child? My God, Mulder, we need to get the poor man to a hospital right away.”

Mulder hooted in glee.

“You’re just jealous, G-woman,” he chortled. “You’re mad because there aren’t any pathologist wannabe’s gushing over how elegantly you sliced a cadaver open.”

“I’ll have you know I’ve had my share of groupies,” she huffed. “Too bad they were either women, or geeky 24-year-olds still sporting acne who hyperventilated every time I made eye contact. What did Colton have to say about all this? I’ll bet he wanted to do an immediate psych evaluation.”

Scully could feel Mulder’s sudden tension without looking at him. When she did look, his face was somber.

“Mulder, what is it?” she asked, alarmed.

“Colton’s not at the field office anymore, Scully. He was sent back to Washington this morning.”

“What?” she gasped.

Mulder grimaced. He knew she wouldn’t like hearing the uncertainty of Colton’s future, but she, of all people, had a right to know. Mulder squashed down his reluctance to be the bearer of unwelcome news, filling her in on what occurred after she left, as well as his talk with Mike Thomas.

Scully’s response proved how well each knew the other’s mind.

“I don’t want the responsibility of Tom losing his career, ” she declared. “We have to make sure he stays in the Bureau.”

Startled by Mulder’s low chuckle at such an inappropriate time, Scully glared at him.

“I knew I should have made a bet with Mike,” he grinned.


“I told Mike you would say that. Do I know my Scully or what?”

She blushed at the thought of being ‘his’ Scully. However, that didn’t ease her concern.

“Don’t worry,” Mulder soothed, “I told Mike the same thing from both of us. He said he’d see what he could do. I don’t want Colton to hold anything else against us, either.”

Scully smiled her thanks.

They drove quietly for a few minutes, until Mulder heard the sound of snickering from the passenger seat.

“Would you like to share the joke with the rest of the class, Ms. Scully?”

“I was just wishing I’d been there for Agent Angelotti’s performance,” she snorted. “I’ll bet if you asked, he’d even clean your gun and badge for you.”

“If my luck runs true to form, you’ll get to see an encore,” he groused. “And for your information, no one handles my… equipment but you, Agent Scully.”

“That’s good to know, Mulder,” she hummed, “but I’d have to say, it’s not the… equipment that matters as much as how you… measure up on the firing range.”

A shit-eating grin split Mulder’s face as he thought of all the different ways he could show Scully how he… measured up.

x X x

Somewhere in Oklahoma 8:52 PM

The pressure behind his eyes had leveled out. At last, his head was humming.

Unlike the first time the noise appeared, now he welcomed it as the precursor to his pleasure. It would be worth the coming pain to feel the rush of ecstasy as the energy was released. What did it matter if the pressure in his sinuses made him breathe through his mouth, the saturated air pressing into his ears like dull probes – muffling his hearing, making his head throb? Nothing he’d experienced yet could compare to the power he sensed in the storm building on the horizon.

It wouldn’t happen tonight. Storms rarely struck during the cooler evening hours, although the temperature this night could only be considered cooler in comparison to the day. No, it would be tomorrow. When the post-noon sun shimmered off the roadways, and dust devils spun in the ditches. When the atmosphere was too thick to breathe without gasping, and even the shade offered no relief from the weight of the air.

It would be a new one for the record books.

x X x

Sleep OK Motel Room 24

Luckily for some weary business traveler, Mulder didn’t need to wave his badge to get the room next to his partner. Number 23 was not only available, it had a connecting door.

Sitting in her own room, Scully looked through said connecting door at that afternoon’s Mulder-in-a-hurry mess. Luggage, clothing, and towels appeared to have blown sky high and landed wherever. Scully wished she’d closed the door before starting to eat; the view did nothing to improve her heat-dulled appetite. She poked at a piece of lettuce that looked as limp as she felt and quirked a tired eyebrow at her partner.

“So are you planning to tell me what has you so excited, or do I have to guess?” she asked.

“If you keep looking at me like that, you won’t have to guess. It’ll be pretty obvious what’s exciting me.”

“Looking at you like what?”

“Like that.”

“But I always look at you like this, Mulder.”

His only response was an evil smirk.

“That’s just great,” Scully huffed. “Now I won’t be able to look at you ‘like that’ without thinking of the effect it’s having. How long has my skepticism been a turn-on for you?”

“Right around the first time I asked if you believed in extraterrestrials, and you lifted that eyebrow at me.”

“But that was the very first day,” she gasped.

The smirk reappeared, with a devilish gleam in his eyes.

Scully dropped her gaze to the sad-looking salad in front of her. She felt awkward sharing a meal in her room. It wasn’t as if they’d never eaten together in their rooms, but this was the first time since becoming lovers. Their second day post-sex, and they hadn’t found time to discuss what they wanted or expected from this relationship. Scully wasn’t sure she was ready to talk about it yet, so she used one of her partner’s best strategies for postponing the inevitable: she stalled.

“You still haven’t answered my question, Mulder,” she reminded him. “What did you find out from the witness?”

Mulder shoved his half-finished tacos aside. While he wasn’t any hungrier than his partner, he was aware of her stalling tactic. It appeared any discussion about their relationship was on hold, but he was willing to give her as much time as necessary. He’d waited far too many years just to have this chance. Mulder was going to take as long as needed to get it right the first time.

“It wasn’t much,” he said, reaching for the printer sheets, “but I think it gives us one real piece of information.”

Scully nodded for him to continue.

“It was, like, really really raining, ya know, and it was, like, really hard to, like, see anything, ya know, and um… like, the wind, ya know, was like, really blowing hard…”

“Mulder,” Scully interrupted, “what the hell are you doing?”

“I’m telling you what the witness said,” he huffed. “Isn’t that what you wanted?”

Scully didn’t even bother with the eyebrow – she just glared.

“Don’t piss me off, Mulder. I’m running out of places to hide the bodies.”

“Agent Scully, I’m crushed,” he sniffed. “I’ll have you know this is verbatim. Did I mention that Pin-Cushion Girl is 17 years old, has pink hair, and wears black nail polish on her toes?”

“Mulder… “

“I never thought I’d see the day when you can’t tell the witnesses from the suspects. It’s such a shame that adolescent weirdness has reached America’s heartland. What is the world coming to, Scully?”


He gazed into space, a rapt expression on his face.

“It is my soul that calls my name.”

“A Mulder by any other name would still be a pain in the ass. Now would you please get on with it?”

“Okay, okay,” he yielded, chuckling, “I’ll give you the English translation.”

Taking a deep breath, Mulder consulted his notes.

“On May 15, at approximately 4:30 PM, one Tiffany Tooley was driving on Taft Avenue, between Ponca City and Bartlesville, near Fairfax. She watched as a funnel descended from a wall cloud to the north. Being a native Sooner and young enough to be scared, she took shelter under a bridge abutment. From there, Miss Tooley had an unobstructed view of the roadway. Only a few vehicles passed by during the 10 minutes or so she was there. She observed they were all traveling slowly, due to the heavy rain and driving wind. The funnel bobbed in and out of the cloud, but never touched down, or came any closer than a quarter-mile away. Are you getting all this?”

Scully nodded.

“She was hiding under a bridge, watching the rain, and waiting for a twister that stayed to the north. What else, Mulder?”

“Okay,” he approved, “now, Tiffany says she saw the Herkles’ car just as it cut off a white van in the right lane. She recognized the Lincoln from a news report she watched last night. The car was still in sight when it drifted onto the shoulder and started flipping through the field. She didn’t see a weapon, and no one exited the van. Those were the only two cars on the road at the time, and she was the only witness, besides the driver of the van. Tiffany says when the car stopped rolling, the van crept along the shoulder for a few seconds, but the driver didn’t stop; he sped up and drove off. The rain had slowed by then, so she climbed down to see if the Herkles were all right. As she approached the car, she saw little wisps of steam rising out of the broken windows through the raindrops. She touched Lester Herkle’s shoulder to ask if he was okay, but his skin scorched her hand, even through his shirt. By then, other motorists had stopped. Once Tiffany was sure help was on the way, she left.”

Scully frowned.

“Why didn’t she say anything about the van that was cut off? That’s withholding evidence, Mulder.”

“She’s just a kid, Scully, in spite of her weird appearance. She didn’t think anything about it until the news report last night, when they asked witnesses to come forward.”

“What have we got on the van? Did she see a license plate? Was there writing on the side?”

Mulder shook his head until his hair flopped in his eyes.

“Nope, not a thing. The vehicle is a plain panel van, white, nothing unusual about it. She did say the plates were Oklahoma, though.”

Scully’s frown reappeared over puzzled eyes.

“Then what has you so excited, Mulder?” she asked. “I can tell there’s something else.”

“Don’t you get it, Scully?” he huffed in disbelief. “There was no weapon seen. Both cars were moving, so he wasn’t touching the victims. It only took seconds for them to die: between the time they cut off the van, and the time the car stopped flipping.”

“And that means…”

“It means he must have done whatever he did mentally. There was no weapon or physical contact involved; that leaves mind control.”

Scully gathered the remains of their half-eaten dinners as she considered this new theory. She admitted the possibility existed for mind control. They’d witnessed it with Robert Modell. But in that case, he was influencing the minds of his victims, not causing the injuries himself. Without some knowledge of exactly what was being done to cause such extensive damage, Scully couldn’t bring herself to believe without question.

“There was something else,” Mulder muttered. “Something Agent Angelloti said yesterday caught my attention, but it was gone before I could grab hold.”

“That’s the story of your love-life, Mulder,” Scully teased.

Reaching out a long arm, Mulder snagged his partner around the waist as she walked past, hauling her onto his lap. Although surprised, she snuggled against his chest.

“I grabbed you, didn’t I?” he smirked, kissing her nose.

“Provided you call seven years of lead time ‘grabbing.’ Besides,” Scully grinned, “I’m getting slow in my old age. Guess I couldn’t out-run you anymore.”

“I don’t know how you can out-run anything in those shoes you wear. You’d never find me running after a suspect in three-inch heels, Agent Scully.”

“I should hope not, Agent Mulder. They’d clash with your dress slacks and suit coat.”

“I could always make them coordinate with my tie.”

Trying to get comfortable, Scully shifted her hips, noticing a hard lump that wasn’t there before. She wiggled a bit more to stop it poking her in the thigh.

Mulder gasped, his face turning red. “Scully…” he squeaked, “I’d appreciate it if you’d stop moving, or I’ll need to change my shorts in a minute.”

Scully ceased squirming, chagrined at her own behavior. It gave her a rush of excitement to know the power she had to affect him, but a motel room on an out-of-town case was not the proper place to exercise that power.

“Have you grabbed hold of that elusive remark by Agent Angelloti yet?” she asked.

“Whatever caught my attention will no doubt come bubbling to the surface sooner or later,” Mulder replied with a yawn. “In the meantime, seeing it’s nearly midnight, I say this old G-man and G-woman should get some sleep. We could use your room; it seems to be neater than mine.”

Scully took a deep breath, hesitating under her partner’s expectant gaze. She knew he was testing the water, trying to determine which way the current would carry them. It appeared the important discussion they needed to have wouldn’t be a long heart-to-heart, but a series of small chats every time they ran face-first into another relationship wall. Here was the second in as many days.

One part of her wanted to drag him naked into her bed, ravish his gorgeous body, and fall into a sated sleep, twined together. But there was another part of Dana Scully she had spent years honing and perfecting: one that prided itself on professional conduct and a conscientious public persona. As much as she wanted to give free reign to her long-denied carnal side, Special Agent Scully knew she couldn’t allow it at this time, in this place. Bimbo-nympho Scully was firmly smacked into a corner of her mind and told to stay put.

“Mulder,” she warned, “I think you know as well as I do you’ll have to clean your room if you want to sleep. We haven’t had a chance to talk about this, but I thought I made my own feelings clear yesterday morning. Please don’t push me.”

“I’m not trying to push you, Scully,” he assured her, “I just need to know what our parameters are. I’ve hardly seen you since we woke up together almost two days ago, and I don’t have any clear idea of what you want or expect from this relationship. I need to know the rules.”

Tucking a wayward lock of hair behind her ear, Scully looked into her partner’s earnest eyes.

“You’re right, Mulder. It’s not fair to make you guess. But I have to warn you, I don’t have all the answers. We’re going to be making a lot of this up as we go along. I do think that engaging in sex while we’re out on a case would be a professional misjudgment, but a lot will depend on each set of circumstances. If something we do causes a… problem” tiny shift of the hips “for you, I’d say that’s a good indication that we shouldn’t do it.”

Mulder scowled at her, trying to stifle another gasp.

“I’ll have you know I’ve been handling that particular… problem… just fine for far too many years, so don’t let it worry you. I’m sure I’ll be able to deal with it whenever the need… arises.”

Scully felt a blush rise as her mind provided the image of Mulder on a motel bed, taking himself in hand to “deal with it”. At this rate, she would have her own problem to deal with before she could sleep.

“Alright, Mulder, think of it this way – how would you behave if we were attending a budgetary committee meeting with Skinner?”

“You know, Scully,” Mulder mused, “I’ve always thought those meetings would be a lot less boring with you in my lap.”

“Me, too,” she snorted, “but I don’t think either of us would remember what was said, do you?”

Mulder gave a snort of laughter, gingerly setting his partner back on her feet.

“I don’t remember those meetings anyway. I always fall asleep with my eyes open.” Mulder stood and stretched his back while both of them ignored the obvious bulge in his slacks. “You’d better get some sleep, FBI woman, before I decide to have my wicked way with you. Wouldn’t want word getting back to ‘Burt’ that you know how to have a good time without him.”

Reaching up on tip-toe, Scully pressed a warm, brief kiss on Mulder’s lips.

“Good night, Mulder. Thank you for understanding,” she smiled. “I’m sure we’ll work things out.”

She got a gentle smile in return.

“‘My bounty is as boundless as the sea, My love as deep; the more I give to thee, The more I have, for both are infinite.’ Good night, my heart. Sleep well.”

For 12:30 in the morning, both agents felt very much awake .

x X x

Scully’s eyes drifted shut almost an hour later. It felt like she’d just fallen asleep when her mind registered something touching her hand. Thinking it might be a bug, Scully jerked to throw off the intruder, and was startled to find her hand being squeezed. Prying open reluctant lids, she gazed into two shining eyes.

“I’m sorry, Scully,” Mulder murmured, “I didn’t mean to wake you. Why don’t you go back to sleep? You must be tired.”

Shifting upright to see him in the curtain-filtered light, Scully asked, “Mulder, what are you doing here? Why aren’t you asleep?”

“I’m sorry,” he repeated. “I know we agreed to behave professionally for the rest of this case, but while you were gone, I hardly slept without you.” Leaning against the side of the bed, Mulder stroked a tentative caress down the back of her hand. “After a night with no Scully, I needed to touch your skin so I can sleep. I want to hold you in my arms at night, to smell your hair in my dreams, to be allowed to kiss you good morning. But I thought I could handle sleeping alone because how we act is important to you. I’m sorry I woke you. Go back to sleep. Maybe if I go for a run I’ll be tired enough afterwards.”

Propped on her elbow, Scully reached out as Mulder levered himself off the floor. Entwining their fingers, she brushed his knuckles with a warm kiss.

“After your run, why don’t you take a quick shower and come back here?” she suggested. “You’re not the only one who didn’t like sleeping alone.”

Mulder grinned in the dim light.

“Whatever happened to behaving professionally, Agent Scully?” he teased.

“Well, Agent Mulder, I think we’re adult enough that a night of just cuddling wouldn’t be beyond us, don’t you?”

“I won’t jump you if you don’t grope me first, G-woman,” Mulder stated doubtfully, “but don’t blame me if you wake up with something hard poking you in the backside.”

Snorting midway through a gargantuan yawn, Scully snuggled into her pillow, looking at Mulder under droopy lids. “Practice some of that iron restraint you’ve been exhibiting for the last seven years. I won’t do anything to make you lose control.” Scully yawned again and snuffled into the blankets.

“If I’d had any restraint, I wouldn’t have needed those videos that aren’t mine all these years,” he said, walking to the door. “And as for losing control…”

Scully’s eyes slipped closed, otherwise she would have heard Mulder whisper “… all you have to do is be there.”

x X x

Sleep OK Motel May 18 7:30 AM

Scully awoke to the insect buzz of her alarm clock, and the realization she was alone. And had been for quite some time. The undented pillow next to her proved she’d spent the remainder of the night by herself.

Frowning, Scully kicked the blankets off the bed and jumped up. Mulder had gone for his run hours ago. It appeared she’d conked out from sheer exhaustion while waiting. But where was Mulder?

Striding to the adjoining door, she eased it open, and was greeted by an unexpected vision.

Mulder had fallen asleep on top of his still-made bed.


His long body was stretched out face down, right arm under his head, the left laying on a file beneath his face. His reading glasses stuck up off his nose at an odd angle that showed how deeply he slept. To Scully’s investigator’s eye, it looked like Mulder was on his way back from the shower when he had a sudden idea about the case . At which point the sandman smacked him over the head.

“Well, Mulder,” she sighed, “guess we didn’t need to worry about acting unprofessionally, did we?”

Scully stood for a moment, admiring the muscles in his legs leading up to two smooth, tight mounds of Mulderass. Trying not to dwell on the intriguing shadowy area between his thighs, she walked around the bed to rescue the spectacles she loved to see him wear.

~Can’t take a chance on these getting replaced. That would be a tragedy.~

The slight pull of the frames sliding off his head was just enough to disturb Mulder’s sleep. Flipping onto his back with a murmur, he provided Scully with an early-morning eyeful that made her adrenaline surge and dampened her panties in a very unprofessional manner.

Deciding that retreat was the only viable option, Scully placed the glasses safely on the night stand before returning to her room and the chilly shower that was waiting. Before she made it halfway, a loud snort turned her attention to the bed, where her now-conscious partner was grinding the sleep from his eyes.

Yawning hard enough to crack his jaw, Mulder blinked at her before lighting up the room with a smile that shone from every pore.

“Morning, beautiful,” he rasped. “What time is it?”

“It’s after seven, Mulder. Ready to put your nose back to the grindstone?”

Mulder ran a forefinger down the bridge of his prominent proboscis. “I suppose it could use a little reducing at that, but be sure to let me know when you like… the way… it… looks… Scully, why am I laying on my bed naked as a jaybird?”

Scully grinned at the confusion on his face.

“It appears you had a brainstorm during your shower,” she told him. “You fell asleep on the file. I hope you didn’t drool and make the ink run…”

“The casefile!” Mulder yelped. Bouncing upright, he grabbed the file, rummaging under the pillows, and muttering to himself, “Where are my damned glasses? I know I had them last night…HA!” Shoving the glasses onto his nose, he flipped the file open.

Her head reeled at the sight of an unembarrassed, naked Mulder sitting cross-legged on his bed. It was obvious there had been a breakthrough in the case. Scully knew she would need all her wits intact, but she was finding it difficult to focus her thoughts north of Mulder’s lap until he quietly announced, “I’ve figured it out.”

Scully read the certainty in his eyes and knew they were headed in the right direction.

“All along, one of the main problems has been trying to figure out why people are dying from cooked innards, when there’s no indication of any heat source, right?”

Scully nodded.

“I went for a run, but I didn’t go very far. Just a few miles toward town. On the way back, a fire engine went racing past me, lights flashing and sirens wailing fit to wake the dead. My ears were still ringing when I got back to the motel. You know how your mind just jumps around sometimes, thinking about nothing in particular?”

Scully nodded again. She could feel the waves of tension rolling off Mulder’s body and her heart rate sped up in response.

“Well, while I was in the shower, I started thinking about how loud those sirens are. Wondering how firefighters can listen to them without their eardrums bursting. And that’s when it hit me – sound. Those injuries could be caused by sound waves of a certain pitch or frequency. Without leaving any evidence to indicate how it happened.”

Scully tried to keep the skepticism out of her voice. She was striving to be more open to extreme possibilities these days. But she couldn’t help just one question in the face of this fantastic theory.

“Mulder, what could cause that heavy a concentration of sound waves? Are you saying there’s someone running around with a ray gun that shoots high-frequency sound strong enough to destroy internal organs?”

Her partner’s sly grin lit up his face.

“That’s what I figured out last night. Have you ever heard the noise a tornado makes?” he asked.

Watching Mulder worry his lower lip between his thumb and forefinger, Scully knew she was not going to like what was on his mind.

“Well, Mulder, having lived on naval bases a good portion of my life, I didn’t get much of a chance to see a tornado. They occur inland more often than along the coast. Some people who’ve experienced it say they sound like a freight train. Others think it’s like a jet plane landing on the roof. Where are you headed with this?”

“I’m thinking someone has learned to use the noise produced by a tornado as a weapon. Someone who survived an encounter with one early in the storm season. Remember Pinker Rawls and the way he was affected by his dance with a twister? He could go through solid objects, making them appear carbonized, but he couldn’t pass through the mirror, because glass is an insulating material. I think this guy can collect and concentrate sound waves at such a high range they become microwaves. It would also explain why the metal car doors protected some of the organs from injury. Microwave ovens are encased in metal to contain the energy. That was what caught my attention when I was talking to Agent Angelloti; he mentioned the Rawls case, and my subconscious latched onto the insulation factor.”

“That still doesn’t explain ‘who’ or ‘why’, Mulder,” Scully insisted.

“I know,” he agreed, ” but we can figure out ‘who’ now that we know ‘how.’ As to ‘why’; in the beginning, I think people were being killed accidentally. Look at the random pattern of the early deaths compared to the later ones. And the victims are turning up more frequently. There’s a reason why he’s escalating; maybe killing people gives him a physical release – now, he craves it. Maybe he’s using this ability to get back at people who piss him off, like Lester Herkle cutting him off on the highway. At any rate, the killings aren’t going to stop until we find a way to make him stop.”

Mulder waited, eyes sparkling, lips parted, for his partner’s rebuttal. He was so busy marshaling his thoughts in preparation, he never noticed the look of serious consideration on Scully’s face.

“You know, Mulder, that would explain a lot.”

“What?” The parted lips dropped open as his jaw fell.

“I mean, think about it. High frequency sound waves can cause an object to heat. That’s how microwaves operate: on ultra-sound. They’re used in some types of therapy to provide deep warmth to injured tissues. And even though it’s a sound, the range is too far above human hearing for us to notice. Remember how that deputy’s dog reacted before the mail carrier’s death? And the other accounts of strange animal behavior? Maybe someone has figured out a way to harness the sound of a tornado. It would help explain how a person’s internal organs can be cooked all at once, without leaving any marks.”

Scully’s lips twitched as a look of wonder blossomed across Mulder’s face.

“Scullee…” he cooed. “Is my little skeptic growing up?”

Her eyes sent an involuntary glance toward his lap before returning to his beatific smile.

“Better protect your inheritance when you say something like that, Mulder.”

Following her gaze, Mulder discovered he was still sitting cross-legged on the bed.


Without fuss, he picked up the open case file and pulled it across his thighs, balancing the folder on his lap.

“Um, sorry about that, Scully. Didn’t mean to flash you so early in the day. I was planning to save it as a treat for later.”

Scully shot him a sly glance through drooping lashes.

“That’s okay, G-man,” she purred. “I copped a look earlier. But I wouldn’t mind seconds.”

Mulder was glad he had the case file laying across his lap. There were embarrassing stirrings going on underneath the folder.

Clearing his throat, Mulder rasped, “Maybe I’d better get dressed. We can talk more over breakfast.”

Walking toward her own room, Scully nodded. “I agree. We need to get this information to Mike.”

Mulder put the file on the bed and stood up.

Before Scully disappeared through the connecting door, she glanced back. “By the way, Mulder,” she drawled, “that’s a good look for you.”

Peering down, Mulder realized all he had on was his glasses.

x X x

Somewhere in Oklahoma May 18 7:30 AM

He awoke to a high-pitched crackling in his ears, almost drowning out the sound of rain pounding on the motel roof. The noise was like a revving jet engine heard over telephone static. He’d never felt anything like it: the intensity of power flowing through his body was close to terrifying. But he knew it hadn’t reached its peak, yet.

Opening the curtains, the scene that greeted him was akin to a turn-of-the-century, hand-tinted photograph.

A billowing wall of black obscured any hint of blue sky behind the rolls and bulges of seething clouds. Dull, yellowish morning light failed to lend color to grass, or buildings, or people. Everything was pastel tinted, as if all the life had leeched out.

Switching on the local weather report, he sat on the bed and leaned toward the glowing screen, ignoring the fatuous comments of the far-too-cheerful forecasters. A multi-colored swath of storms stretched from one end of the state to the other, extending into Texas, Kansas, and even farther north. It was clear this would be a day of weather extremes for a much of the Plains states. But he knew where the greatest potential would be concentrated.

Time to head for ground zero.

x X x

I – 35 South 10:38 AM

Lightning spiked electric fingers into the air as thunder-waves rolled over the speeding car. A wall of boiling clouds stretched along the horizon to the west, as far as the eye could see in both directions. Houses and trees stood out in vivid detail against the unnatural light, glowing against the demon sky with an unearthly brilliance.

“Did you call Mike to tell him about the van?” Scully asked as she changed lanes.

“Yep, while you were in the shower.”

“Did you report our progress to Skinner?”

“Right after I talked to Mike.”

“Did you call the Gunmen to find out about the properties of microwaves?”

Mulder wiggled the laptop computer perched on his legs.

“Information is coming in even as we speak.”

“Did you contact Agent Halliburton about the witness’ statement?”

“Yes, Mom,” Mulder groused, “I faxed him a copy after we got to the office and found it closed. I brushed my teeth, and washed behind my ears, too. Can I go play now?”

Before Scully could utter a scathing reply, the car was sent rocking as several trucks and vans flew past, disappearing into the darkening horizon.

“Whoa! Where’s the fire guys?” Mulder exclaimed.

“Those were storm chasers,” Scully yelped, straining to see the vanishing vehicles. “I wonder where they’re headed.”

“What do you think they’re hauling in the trailers?”

“Tracking equipment,” she guessed, eyes sparkling. “Meteorologists have been trying to get inside a tornado for years. Most of what’s known has come from ground observation and laboratory research. So far they haven’t had much luck getting tracking devices inside one.”

“Why not?” Mulder asked.

“The wind speed, Mulder. A funnel spins so fast, everything just bounces off. The ones that don’t miss altogether, that is. I don’t think they’ve ever had a device successfully picked up off the ground. Tornadoes change course so fast, it’s almost impossible to leave anything in the direct path. It’s a very tricky undertaking, dependent on being in the right place at the right time, plus a good dose of old-fashioned luck. Most storms move about thirty-five miles an hour, but some have been known to travel as fast as sixty. You really need to know what you’re doing to chase storms.”

Mulder couldn’t stop the wide grin that lit his face at her enthusiasm. He decided to egg her on for his own enjoyment.

“Really?” he coaxed. “As fast as we’re going?”

“Yeah. It’s not a good idea to try and outrun a twister. Did you know that a one-pound object can be carried as much as 100 miles? And they’ve even found pieces of paper 200 miles from the original address. Most tornadoes only stay on the ground for a few minutes, but some can travel long distances before they die out. The longest continuous tornado track was the Tri-State twister of 1925. It covered parts of Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana, and was actually on the ground for 219 miles.”

She glanced at her partner to find his lips twitching.

“What, Mulder?”

“Sounds like the whole idea has you a bit turned on, Agent Scully.”

Scully’s lips twitched as well.

“When I was a teenager, I always wanted to be a storm chaser,” she told him. “The excitement and uncertainty appealed to me.”

“It appears you never grew out of it.”

“Maybe not,” she conceded, “but I did channel it into something constructive.”

Mulder’s eyes widened with a question.

“Why do you think I joined the FBI, Agent Mulder?” Scully teased.

“You sure seem to get off on the statistics, Scully,” he observed. “Maybe next time we’re making love, I should recite the multiplication tables; see what that does to you.”

“I don’t think you could handle the result,” she purred.

“That’s a challenge if I ever heard one, G-woman.”

The lowering heavens chose that precise moment to rip open, delivering rain in torrents.

“Jesus, Scully, it’s raining so hard, you couldn’t find your ass with both hands if it was sitting on the car like a hood ornament.”

“Make it your ass and I’ll give it a try.”

“Why Agent Scully, are you making a pass at me?”

“If you have to ask, I guess not.”

Spotting a building during a momentary gap in the sheets of water, Scully pointed it out.

“Look, Mulder, there’s a restaurant. This might be a good time for an early lunch, don’t you think?”

Without waiting for a reply, she pulled into the parking lot of the OK Gas & Grub Diner, shut the car off, and wondered if it was possible to drown while running.

x X x

I – 35 South Near Guthrie, Oklahoma 10:38 AM

It would be right around here. He was close.

The white panel van pulled into a gas station, parking by the restrooms. He checked the computer radar with a satisfied smile as the area around Watonga was swallowed up by red, yellow, and magenta blobs. Telltale hooks swirled in the colors: signature of a possible tornado. It would come from the west, between Guthrie and Oklahoma City.

The calm before the storm. The rain had almost stopped. Then, the wind would start to blow. It was hard to hear the rain drumming on the roof over the crackling hiss in his head, but he didn’t mind. Soon, he would be inside the belly of the beast. He would feel the explosion of ecstasy, again; the release of power only he could create. He wondered briefly who his target would be this time.

Not that it mattered.

x X x

Two drenched FBI agents blasted through the diner’s door, skidding to a halt on the sopping wet linoleum. The few customers jumped in surprise, wide eyes blinking at these creatures of the storm. Shaking water from their clothes, Mulder and Scully glanced around the room.

“Sorry,” Mulder grimaced. “Didn’t mean to make an entrance.”

A beefy waitress in a pink dress appeared with a mop in one hand and towels in the other. Her name tag read “DoLoris”.

“It’s a real frog-strangler out there, folks,” she boomed in good humor. “Have a towel. No charge.”

Shooing them along with the mop, DoLoris got them tucked into a booth and slapped menus down on the table. Pulling a pencil from the hair twist behind her head, she recited the day’s specials loud enough to drown out the deluge.

“We got a open-face Chicken-Fried Steak samwich with fries ‘n slaw fer 4.99, or you kin get anythang off’n the brekfuss menu fer 3.99. That don’t include coffee, less’n you orders the omelets. What’ll you have, handsome?”

Wiping his temples, Mulder looked around to see who she was addressing. He realized it was him.

“Oh, um, I’ll have the Chicken-Fried Steak special.” Handing back the menu, Mulder smiled. “And a large iced tea, please.”

DoLoris grunted an affirmative, turning to Scully.

“What kin I get fer you, deary?”

Mulder hid a grin behind his hand at the look on his partner’s face.

“I’ll have the cottage cheese and fruit platter, please,” she replied tightly. “And a large glass of water to drink.”

The waitress gave a booming laugh.

“Tiny thing like you, ya gotta eat a mite more’n thet kinda swill if’n you don’t wanna float away. A man likes a little meat on a gal’s bones, ain’t thet right?”

For a frightening minute, Mulder thought she was asking him. He was saved from answering by a loud reply from the kitchen.

“You got thet right, DoLoris. Nothin’ better fer keepin’ a man warm on a cold night.”

Scully gritted a smile.

“Cottage cheese and fruit will be fine, thank you.”

DoLoris shoved the pencil back in her hair and swept the menus off the table.

“Suit yerse’f, deary,” she huffed. “But mark my words, handsome man like thet; one o’ these days, he’s gonna show you his heels when a gal with a mite more paddin’ comes along.”

Using the dead silence that surrounded their booth as a shield, Mulder glanced around to avoid looking at his partner. He wasn’t sure how anyone could hold in the belly-laugh that churned inside him without causing themselves an injury, but he was damned well going to try.

Focusing his attention on the TV near the cash register helped. Not surprisingly, it was tuned to the local news station, showing radar updates every five minutes or less. There was some very nasty weather on its way. Mulder concentrated on the shifting color patterns displayed on the screen.

When he felt it was safe to look again, Mulder found Scully trying to repair the damage to her bedraggled hair. He couldn’t resist a comment.

“You know that’s not going to help, Scully. It’s just gonna curl as it dries out.”

“When did you become an expert on my hair, Mulder?”

“Since I’ve spent every case in the last seven years waiting for you to fix it in the morning. Why don’t you just cut it short and let it do its thing?”

Scully shot him a venomous look.

“Because I’d look like I’d been pulled through a hedge backwards. In other words, my hair would look like yours, Mulder.”

He gave her a sarcastic smirk just as the food arrived.

“Here ya go, folks, eat hearty,” DoLoris said, with a parting shot over Scully’s head, “if’n you kin call it thet.”

Mulder dunked french fries in the sandwich gravy, earning him a long-suffering look from his partner.

“Do you have any idea how many calories are in that, Mulder?”

“Of course I do,” he mumbled around a fry, “that’s how I know it’ll taste good. Calories are a direct indicator of flavor.”

“Uh huh…”

“Sure,” he insisted. “For instance, I know that my sandwich will taste wonderful because it’s loaded with calories. Whereas your cottage cheese and fruit, which is healthful and low in calories, will taste the same as your straw wrapper.”

A shout from the kitchen drew their attention.

“Hey, DoLoris, wat’sit doin’ out there?”

All heads turned to survey the diner windows. The rain-washed view was displayed like a surrealist painting of a nightmare.

“Sky’s gone green, Wally,” she hollered back. “Better get the cellar doors open jist in case.”

A concerned buzz of voices was drowned out as she turned up the TV volume.

“… repeat, the National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for Oklahoma City, Yukon, Guthrie, Chandler, and Carney, Oklahoma, until 12:30 this afternoon. A powerful storm system is moving east at forty miles per hour, and will enter the Oklahoma City area within the next half hour. Funnel sightings have been confirmed in Watonga and Custer City, and rather than diminishing in strength, the storm is intensifying. All residents in those cities should seek shelter immediately. I repeat, the National Weather Service has issued…”

Mulder rapidly scanned the diner. “How do they always know when to disappear?” he muttered. “Is there a special class or something?”

Jumping up, Mulder flung some money among their lunch dishes, grabbed Scully’s hand and hauled her from the booth. She back-pedaled, giving him an indignant glare.

“I’m not done eating, yet.”

“We have to go, Scully,” Mulder insisted.

“But I’m hungry!” she wailed.

Releasing her, Mulder strode to the cash register and pounded on the counter.

“Could we get some carry-out containers, please?” he bellowed. “We’re in a hurry.”

DoLoris stomped from the kitchen with two foam boxes, glaring.

“You folks shouldn’t be goin’ out in sich weather,” she protested. “This ain’t no time to be chasin’ rainbows, ya know.”

Mulder held his hand out for the cartons, but she kept them just out of reach.

“What’s yer hurry, handsome?” she smirked. “Off to save the world?”

Hopping onto the counter, Mulder snatched the containers.

“That was last week,” he stated. “Today we’re just trying to save Oklahoma.”

Mulder scooped their meals into the boxes in ten seconds flat, grabbed Scully by the hand again, and dragged her to the door.

Scully stumbled behind her energized partner, back into the downpour. She’d barely gotten the passenger door closed before squealing tires were spraying gravel rooster-tails.

“Okay, Mulder, what’s our hurry? This isn’t the best time to be taking a joy ride.”

As if the heavens agreed, a rolling crack of thunder put a period on her words.

Mulder ignored the question.

“Watch for funnel clouds, Scully,” he commanded. “If you see one, keep an eye on where it’s going, but I’m not stopping unless we’re on a collision course.”

“Fine, Mulder, I’ll keep my eyes open,” she huffed, “but why am I eating my lunch in the car?”

“Because I know who he is and where he’ll be.”


“He’s a storm chaser, Scully, and I know where we’ll find him.”

Scully was silent for so long, Mulder thought she hadn’t heard him.

“How do you figure that?” she asked.

“It makes sense. Look at the random pattern of deaths. They don’t follow any geographic progression – he wasn’t on his way anywhere, he was already there. He’s been around storms for a long time, so he can predict which are the strongest. Maybe he got caught in a twister without getting hurt. Then he accidentally discovered this ability to control sound waves. It gives him a feeling of power or pleasure, so he starts using it deliberately. He searches for strong storms, traveling up and down one area, using radar equipment and a special sense for where the energy is concentrated. One person with that much knowledge is a storm chaser. We need to find those vans, Scully. He won’t be with them, but he’ll be nearby.”

“I’ll grant it sounds possible to a certain extent,” Scully admitted. “But how do you know where he’ll be?”

“That weather report in the diner showed the heaviest storms headed for this area. The NEXRAD tracker indicated a line between Guthrie and Oklahoma City. He’s developed a sense for these things; he’ll be somewhere on this highway.”

“How will we identify him?” she wanted to know. “Will he have a red carnation in his buttonhole?”

“He’ll be in the same area as the other storm chasers,” Mulder answered in all seriousness. “This guy has always been a loner, but as he’s used this power more, he’s gotten more withdrawn, moved away from all personal contact. Still, he needs to be where the storms are the strongest, and that’s where the other storm chasers are, too. Find the chasers, and we’ll find our UNSUB.”

Scully pulled out her cell phone as their car hydro-planed down the interstate.

Mulder glanced at her in surprise.

“What are you doing, Scully?”

“Calling Mike to let him know where we’re going,” she stated. “I’d hate having to live down a repeat of Atlanta, plus we’ll need back-up.”

Her head snapped up as the call was answered.

“Mike, it’s Dana… No, he’s still in one piece. Listen, we think we know where he’s going.”

Scully almost dropped the phone.

Thomas’ voice could be clearly heard bellowing, “Mulder and Scully know where to find him!” followed by hooting, cheering, and applause.

She put her ear back to the phone as though it were red hot.

“Mike, settle down,” she scolded. “This isn’t a certainty, but it seems like the logical answer. Can you send us some back-up?”

Covering the speaker with her hand, Scully grinned.

“He just yelled, ‘Who wants to go psycho huntin’?’ It sounds like every agent there is volunteering, even Garneski.”

“That’s great, Mike, that should be plenty. Start driving north on I – 35 from Oklahoma City, and hopefully we’ll meet up soon. You’re looking for a group of storm chasers on the side of the highway.”

“Tell him to bring riot shields,” Mulder interjected.

“What? Hang on, Mike. What did you say, Mulder?”

“I said tell him to bring riot shields. The city police should have some.” Mulder saw a raised brow out of the corner of his eye. “They’re metal; they’ll provide some protection.”

Scully relayed the information and hung up. They were now halfway between Guthrie and Oklahoma City, and the sky was blacker than ever. A sick green light shone through the clouds, laying an other-worldly veneer over the landscape. Thunder and lightning were almost constant. Scully searched through the drenching rain for the storm chasers.

“Mike says the cavalry is on its way.”

“I sure hope they find us. Otherwise, this could get really ugly,” Mulder worried.

“We’ll find out soon enough, won’t we?” she soothed. “Saddle up, partner. It’s time to ride the bronco twister.”

“Yee ha.”

x X x

I – 35 South Between Guthrie & Oklahoma City 11:15 AM

“There they are!”

At Scully’s shout, Mulder pumped the brakes and whipped the car into the right-hand lane, skidding to a stop ahead of the vehicles on the shoulder. Jumping out, Mulder noticed the rain had slowed to a drizzle. Not that he wasn’t already wet.

A crowd of people bustled around the trucks and vans, setting up fantastic-looking pieces of equipment, trying to keep them upright against the driving wind gusts. They ignored the newcomers, intent on getting everything into place. Huge white thunderheads towered over the scurrying figures, the flattened anvil shape just visible behind roiling gray rain clouds. The tongue of a funnel licked halfway to the ground in the distance before retreating into hiding.

Mulder flashed his badge at a man wearing glasses and shouting instructions to several people at once.

“I’m Special Agent Mulder with the FBI. This is Special Agent Scully.” Mulder turned to find his partner enthralled by the activity.

Scully looked as though she’d just seen a Reticulan.

Mulder decided to gather the information himself. He doubted Scully would remember anything he might say to her at that moment.

“Brian, move the Doppler five feet to the right… no, your right. Garrett…”

Raising his voice, Mulder repeated, “Excuse me, sir, I’m with the FBI. Could I talk to you for a moment?”

“… don’t touch that, Garrett! We can’t afford to replace another one. Help Brian stabilize the Doppler, but don’t touch anything….”



Mulder had his attention. Taking a steadying breath, he leaned into the wind to stay upright. Checking on Scully, Mulder found her helping to reposition the radar dish, not bothered at all by the whirlwind tugging at her body. He turned back to the head storm chaser.

“We’re trying to locate a storm chaser…”

“You’ve found a whole bunch of ‘em,” the tall blonde interrupted. “Who did what now? My money’s on Garrett; why I agreed to take him on I’ll never know. Name’s Dan Walker, by the way. With the National Severe Storms Lab in Norman. Who’s the little red-head? She a meteorologist?”

“That’s my partner, Agent Scully,” Mulder stated. “She’s a forensic pathologist who carries a gun. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions, Mr. Walker?”

Walker shrugged. “Not if you stay out of the way and don’t slow us down. Jenn!” he shouted to a slender, dark-haired girl, “get the longer cable for Brian. I think we need to move it again. What can I do for you?”

“We’re looking for a storm chaser,” Mulder tried again. “I don’t know his name, but we believe he’ll be near your group. He drives a white panel van. He may have started acting oddly in the last few weeks; going off by himself, avoiding the people he usually talks to, seeming more tense. Are there any chasers not here that you would have expected to see?”

“Sure, there’s always a few… Garrett! You damage that and you won’t have to jump off the truck roof this time – I’ll break your arm myself! There’s always a few people who don’t have time or aren’t in the right place,” he went on, “but it seems to me you should talk to Carl Galloway.”

“Is he here?” Mulder asked, looking at the milling crowd.

“I saw him drive past earlier. He’s been setting up in different locations than we have lately. Seems to be trying to get as close to the storm center as he can, which is damned dangerous. He used to hang out with us; we have more sophisticated equipment than the hobby chasers, but Carl was really good at interpreting the radar signatures. I haven’t seen him around much this season.”

Mulder chewed on his lip, scanning the horizon. A curtain of rain hung in front of the gray cloud bank, fluttering back and forth as it advanced on the weather watchers. He caught Scully’s eye at last and beckoned her over.

“How would I find Galloway?” he asked. “We don’t know what he looks like, and there isn’t much time.”

“Brian…” Walker bellowed into the wind, “throw me your binocs.”

A pair of lightweight binoculars made a graceful arc through the air into his hands. Raising the glasses to his eyes, Dan Walker searched the flat Oklahoma distance for a moment.

“That’s him.”

He pointed to a tiny speck near the farthest visible point on the road. At that moment, hail began to pelt down, drawing a shout of excitement from the crowd. A tendril of darker gray snaked out of the clouds, lengthened, and kicked up a cloud of dust on contact with the ground.

“This is it people!” Walker roared. “You know what to do. Make sure the recorders are running and let’s stay the hell out of the way. You, too, FBI,” he told Mulder. “Better move it before you go for a ride.”

Grabbing the binoculars, Mulder focused on a white panel van parked near the road, about two miles away. Tossing the glasses back, he grabbed Scully’s arm and sprinted for the car.

“Thanks!” he yelled.

“What’s this all about?” Walker shouted.

“Sorry. Confidential information.”

Mulder flung open the car door and leapt into the seat, waiting with scant patience for his partner. Tires squealed as he launched them back onto the highway.

“We’ve found him, Scully.”

Mulder’s strained voice refocused her attention.

“Do you think Mike got the riot shields?”

“Won’t matter if he doesn’t get here in time.” Closing in on the waiting van, Mulder squared his shoulders. “Hope you brought your apron, Scully; it’s time to start cookin’.”

x X x

I – 35 South Between Guthrie & Oklahoma City 11:15 AM

He could hear it inside his head – the whines and screams of a thousand demons, battering his skull to escape into the storm.

The feeling was incredible.

He stood in the meadow, oblivious to everything. The wind shoved at his body, buffeting this way and that and back again – lifting his clothes then slamming them tight to his skin. A sudden gust of icy air raised a smile; there was hail waiting to fall. A classic funnel cloud indicator.

The sky was a nightmare landscape of layered colors; olive drab clouds overlaid gray-streaked wisps in front of harsh-white columns of power, towering against the black sky. All washed in sickening yellow tones of destruction.

But he was the only living thing in this tempest-tossed field. How could he find the release he needed without a focus for the energy? How would he cancel out the pain with pleasure if he was alone?

The noise in his head deafened him to the wind shrieking across the ground. Likewise, it masked the sound of car tires screeching to a halt nearby. His mind ignored the shouts directed at him, until his peripheral vision caught the movement of a figure running toward him.

Turning, he smiled at the man and woman calling to him.

He wasn’t alone anymore.

x X x

Slewing the car close beside the white van, Mulder blasted the driver’s door open and hit the ground running.

Scully hesitated for a split second before following. An icy gust of wind swirled her hair into a tangle as she raced to close the distance. Squealing tires drew her attention back to the road as Bureau-issue cars spewed forth reinforcements.

“Galloway,” Mulder bellowed, “Carl Galloway. FBI, Mr. Galloway, we need to speak to you.”

The short, dark-haired man standing rapt before the storm ignored his shouts. As Mulder drew closer, Galloway turned as if noticing him for the first time. A smile crossed his face.

Mulder’s gun was out in an instant, pointing at Galloway.

“Turn around, Mr. Galloway,” he demanded. “We need to talk to you, but I want you facing the other way.”

Scully caught up with her partner, horrified to find him holding his gun on an unarmed suspect.

“Mulder, no,” she shouted. “He isn’t armed. I don’t see any weapon.”

“He is the weapon,” Mulder insisted. “Keep moving, Scully. Don’t let him focus on you and don’t drop your guard.”

The confident tone of Mulder’s voice coupled with the gratified smile on the suspect’s face was enough to convince her ‘better safe than sorry.’ Scully drew her gun, moving to one side in a flanking manuever. The man’s eyes followed her.

Raised voices could be heard closing in, and Mulder spared a look to hold them back. Carl Galloway followed his glance.

“Stay there, Mike,” Mulder yelled. “Don’t give him any more targets. Mr. Galloway, FBI,” he tried again. “We need to talk to you.”

Scully waved to catch Mulder’s eye. Galloway redirected his attention at the movement.

“I don’t think he can hear us, Mulder,” she called. “He’s reacting to motion, not voices. Maybe they could circle him with the riot shields. We’re out in the open here, without protection.”

As Mulder opened his mouth to reply, the heavens opened as well. Hailstones the size of marbles fell on the assembled agents, denting the riot shields of those lucky enough to have them, scattering the rest back to the cars in defense. A sooty rope of writhing black dropped onto an ancient barn nearby, flinging boards and debris upward, whirling it everywhere. The air was thick with planks, beams and nails. Straw spun around their heads as the wind changed course.

Mulder dodged the stinging fallout as best he could, keeping one eye on Galloway, but the heavens seemed determined to batter him senseless. He could feel numerous cuts and welts gouging his body. Ignoring the bludgeoning, Mulder widened his distance from Scully as a plan formed in his mind.

Scully couldn’t avoid being hit, either. Although she wasn’t in the direct path of the wreckage, she felt several projectiles bounce off her back. There would be bruises in the morning. Seeing Mulder move farther away, she wondered what he was scheming.

Galloway divided his attention between the shifting agents. He didn’t appear bothered at all by the shower of icy stones and slivered wood, seemingly more intent on where to concentrate. His head bobbed back and forth, like a spectator at a ping-pong match, as the partners moved to opposing sides of the field. He paid no heed to the flailing demon’s whip behind him.

“Scully,” Mulder screamed, “get his attention, but don’t let him focus on you. I’ll rush him and knock him down.”

“Are you crazy?” she shrieked, struggling against the wind.

“We have to get him on the ground until the storm’s over, so he can’t direct the energy.”

Before Scully could protest, the thrashing twister drew her gaze upward, causing Galloway to do the same.

Making the most of the distraction, Mulder charged.

After executing a classic gridiron tackle around the hips, the two men rolled through the field, each trying for the upper position. Mulder scrambled to keep himself behind Galloway, hoping his control of the energy was limited to where he looked. Debris continued to pelt down as they wallowed in the jagged remains of the barn.

Keeping one eye on the retreating cyclone, Scully observed the silent struggle. She couldn’t risk a shot as long as Mulder was wrapped around the smaller man. Hearing a chorus of shouts, she turned to see the funnel pull up a line of fencing, rolling it into a ball. Fence posts shot into the air, falling to earth like a giant’s casually tossed pick-up sticks. Agents scattered in all directions.

To avoid the deadly steel shafts, Scully watched the sky for falling missiles. When she turned her attention back to the scuffle, Mulder lay on his back with Galloway just rising to his feet.

Mulder had forgotten how much it hurt to be body-slammed. One minute he was straddling Galloway’s back, the next he was flat on his own, staring up. He watched the storm chaser rise to his feet, a look of anticipation in his eyes. As Mulder wondered how it felt to be baked alive, he heard a warning shout.

“Look out!”

Performing a quick tuck-and-roll, Mulder looked up just in time to see a fence post strike Carl Galloway, pinning him to the ground through his thigh. A sudden blast of superheated wind struck Mulder like a steamroller, knocking him flat on the grass. Splintered barn boards leapt in a circle around the downed combatants. Shards of wood rained on the hapless agent, slicing further souveniers into his already mauled body. As the shower of debris stopped, Mulder cautiously sat up.

Galloway lay unmoving. Scully dashed across the field, followed by Mike Thomas and half the investigative team. No one noticed the storm fading away.

“Ambulance is comin’,” Mike panted. “You all right, Spaceman?”

Mulder levered himself painfully off the ground, accepting a helping hand from Agent Angelloti. Shaking straw and bits of wood out of his hair, Mulder grimaced. His skin felt sunburned.

“I feel like I was chewed up by the dog, then barfed onto the rug, but I’ll live.”

“What lovely mental pictures you paint, Agent Mulder,” Mike snorted. “Dana, are you okay?”

Scully looked up from where she knelt next to their impaled and unconscious suspect.

“Most of the fallout missed me,” she said. “Looks like Mulder was standing on ground zero, though.”

There were so many tears in his shirt and pants, they were only fit for a scarecrow. Small bits of debris stuck out of his hair, and blood trickled from cuts on his face. Bruises were already beginning to show where Mulder had ducked when he should have dodged.

“I don’t remember signing up for target practice,” he groaned.

“Sometimes, Spaceman, I think you’ve got a big ol’ bull’s eye on your butt. We gotta find you a safer hobby.”

Mulder looked at Galloway, staked to the ground like a bug on display, and winced.

“I might consider bungee-jumping,” he replied, “but spear fishing is definitely out.”

x X x

Oklahoma City Field Office May 18 3:15 PM

“Spaceman, you can’t honestly believe it was pure luck, that fence post knockin’ down Galloway before he could hurt either of you.”

Lunch remains were scattered over the conference table in drifts. Mulder and Scully relaxed in their chairs with the rescue team, basking in the glow of a closed case.

Carl Galloway lay under guard at the hospital, awaiting charges. Mulder was confident there would be no more strange deaths – just the ones that normally occur in tornado country. After talking to their suspect, Mulder understood why he and Scully were still alive. He looked forward to sharing his theory.

It was all over now except the shouting.

“What would you call it, Mike, as if I didn’t know?”

“I’d say it was the good Lord lookin’ out for your sorry ass, again.”

“I’ll believe that when I see a picture of His hand holding the other end of that fence post. For now, I’ll stick with dumb luck.”

Mike Thomas shook his head, laughing. “Mulder my man, you are one hard-to-convince little shit.”

“You wouldn’t respect me in the morning if I were easy, Mike,” Mulder grinned.

“Well I’m not givin’ up on you yet, Spaceman,” Thomas warned. “You can use all the divine help you can get.”

“There’s no telling when the Lord will choose to pass a miracle,” he agreed. “Stranger things have happened – especially with the X-files.”

A ringing cell phone produced a flurry of pocket-checking among the assembled agents. Mulder groaned to discover it was his. Standing stiffly, he moved a few steps away before answering.


Mike Thomas turned to Scully, eyeing her in concern.

“You’re awful quiet, Dana. You sure you’re okay?”

“Yeah, Mike,” she assured him, “I’m just a little tired. Getting caught in a twister’s backlash can do that, I guess.”

“Gotta admit, that was a real wild ride,” Thomas laughed. “I’m glad you people don’t come to my neck of the woods more often. I’m gettin’ too old for the kinda shit the Spaceman slings.”

Mulder returned to the table, glum-faced.

“That was the Oklahoma City police,” he informed them.

Mike Thomas took in his friend’s dejected expression and got a very bad feeling.

“I sure hope y’all ain’t fixin’ to piss on my campfire, Spaceman.”

“Only if I’m far enough upwind.” Mulder scrubbed tired hands over his face, yelping as sweat caused the cuts to sting. He glanced around the table, crestfallen. “Bottom line: they can’t charge Galloway with murder.”

His statement set off an emotional chain reaction.



“I don’t believe this!”

“How can they do that?”

Mulder halted the babbling with a raised hand.

“They can’t prove he killed anyone,” he stated. “There’s no evidence linking him to the deaths. Even the witness statement about a white van at the last crime scene is inconclusive. She never saw the driver, so we can’t prove it was him. If we could, he would only be charged with fleeing the scene of an accident, not causing it. The most they can pin on him is resisting arrest and assault on a Federal officer. The fact that I tackled him first won’t make that stick very tight, plus the prosecutor wants to know why we were chasing him in the first place.”

Voices were raised in renewed protest. They quieted when Mulder remained silent.

“You’ve got a theory about why they can’t charge him, don’t you, Agent Mulder?” Paul Angelloti asked.

Mulder nodded with a small smile.

“I was afraid this would happen,” he confessed.

“Well it hit me out o’ left field,” Thomas huffed. “Why don’t you enlighten the rest of us?”

Mulder turned excited eyes toward his partner.

“Scully, did you feel anything right after Galloway was skewered by that post?”

She looked back, puzzled.

“You mean besides relieved? I don’t think so.”

“Like a blast shock, maybe?” he persisted. “You were farther away so it might have felt different.”

“There was a big blast of wind right about then. It knocked me to my knees.”

Mulder shook his head, a grin adorning his face.

“That was a sound wave, Scully. It hit about thirty seconds after Galloway was stabbed through the leg. The heat from it scorched my skin.”

“So what’s your point?” Thomas asked.

Gazes locked, the partners exchanged silent words before turning to the SAC.

“When that post pinned Galloway to the ground…” Mulder began.

“…it acted like a lightning rod…” Scully continued.

“…causing the energy he was storing…”

“…to discharge into the soil. It set off a shock wave…”

“…robbing him of his power. He can’t control sound anymore.”

Mike Thomas’ eyes swung from one to the other so fast he was dizzy.

“Would you two quit double-teamin’ me?” he pleaded. “Y’all are makin’ my flesh creep.”

Agent Garneski raised his voice.

“Are you saying this guy could cook peoples’ insides before, but now he can’t?”

Mulder nodded.

“He’s back to being a regular anti-social misfit instead of a psychopathic one. We can’t prove he had anything to do with the deaths, and there’s no law against being socially maladjusted.”

A gloomy silence settled over the room until Angelloti yawned.

“That’s the goin’ home whistle,” Mike chuckled. “It’s already been a busy day, so I guess y’all can have the rest off. Preliminary reports due tomorrow, people. See y’all then.”

Chairs scraped and trash crinkled into wastebaskets as everyone left. Mulder and Scully bid farewell to their colleagues; their plane was leaving in the morning. Mike Thomas was the last to go.

“You take care of yourself, sugar,” Mike murmured, giving Scully a fierce hug. “Be good to the Spaceman, even if he don’t deserve it.”

Scully grinned and hugged back.

“Give our love to your family, Mike, and tell Alvin to buy some pepper spray so he doesn’t break anything else.”

Mike nodded, turning to Mulder. The two men stared at each other for a moment before Mulder was once again enveloped in a mountain of gabardine. He winced at the contact with his bruises.

“I’d say take care of yourself, Spaceman, but you never listen. I’ll be askin’ the good Lord to keep a closer eye on you.”

Pulling back, Mulder shot him a playful grin.

“Thanks, Mike. It’s nice to have friends with connections.”

“I’m flyin’ back home for the weekend to see the folks,” Mike said. “No more takin’ chances with these damn storms. Y’all got plans for the day? I could always take a later flight.”

Mulder gave Scully a sidelong glance that she carefully ignored.

“Hadn’t really given it much thought,” he replied, “but I’m sure we can find something to occupy our time. Maybe I’ll get to work on the case report – give it to Skinner before he has to beg.”

Thomas and Scully both snorted in amusement.

“That right there would be the X-file of all X-files,” Mike grinned. His gaze softened as his friends smiled back. “Y’all don’t be strangers now, hear? Just give me a little restin’ up time before invitin’ me to another o’ your little shindigs.”

Mike Thomas walked out of the conference room with a cheery wave, leaving the partners alone in the room.

“Do we have plans, Mulder?” Scully asked, smiling.

“I plan to kiss you with intent, Agent Scully, so you’d better get out the arrest warrant right now.”

Gathering his partner close, Mulder kissed her with a most satisfactory thoroughness, both of them being careful to avoid the other’s more prominent injuries. They pulled back, breathless.

“Whadda you say, Scully? We’re not on the Bureau clock now. Care to behave unprofessionally with a federal agent?”

She arched a brow at him.

“What did you have in mind?”

“I hope you brought your squeegee. I feel a sudden overwhelming need to get sweaty.”

“Sure you wouldn’t like to wait for a gal with a mite more paddin’?”

Mulder ran his hands down her back, squeezing her ass in passing.

“I’ve always liked your paddin’ just fine, G-woman,” he leered. “Of course, I’ll need to do an extensive examination to make sure none of it shifted in all that wind.”

“Are you up to that kind of investigation right now, Agent Mulder? You did just get battered around pretty good, and you’re not getting any younger, you know.”

“It’s not the age that hurts, Agent Scully, it’s the mileage.”

Twining her arms around his waist, Scully gave Mulder’s ass a return squeeze.

“Feels like it’s time for your 30,000 mile check-up. Maybe we should go back to that lovely hotel downtown so I can conduct a complete inspection.”

Moving to the door, Mulder leaned over, whispering, “If you do a good job, I’ll let you look under my hood.”

Scully waggled her eyebrows as she closed the door.

“Oooh, kinky, Mulder. I like that.”

x X x


x X x


“Scully, take a look at this and tell me if you think I’m crazy.”
“Mulder, it’s no fun when you make it that easy.”
from ‘Faith’ by Suzanne Bickerstaffe –


Bibliography: Any information on tornadoes used in this story was derived from one of these sources. If I’ve gotten anything horribly wrong, it’s my own stupid fault and not theirs.

Dick Goddard’s Weather Guide and Almanac for Northeast Ohio Gray & Company Publishers, Cleveland Ohio, 1998

Tornado Project Online

Thunder In The Heartland Thomas & Jeanne Schmidlin, Kent State University Press, 1996

You can visit all of my stories at the Gossamer archive or these other fine archives at a web site near you:

This story is dedicated to Kronos, Hannah Mason (syntax6), and aka”Jake”, who write the most incredible (mostly smut-free) casefiles imaginable. If Carter had any sense, he’d kidnap all three of you, chain you to a desk and run the series indefinitely. Unfortunately for us, he’s not that smart. I even managed to tone the smut way down, but I was afraid I’d explode if I didn’t let off just a little steam.

Feedback: God lord yes! I think I’m addicted. If I don’t get lots of feedback, who knows what horrible travesty of writing I’ll commit next? Special Bonus: Anyone who can name ALL the episodes referred to gets to play with my NakedMulderWithGlasses doll. But only for a couple of days. I get lonely without him.


This file has been downloaded from It contains work/s of X-Files FAN FICTION and FAN ART which are not affiliated with Ten-Thirteen or The Fox Network. No income is generated from these works. They are created with love and shared purely for the enjoyment of fans and are not to be sold in any format. The X-Files remain the property of Chris Carter, Ten-Thirteen and Fox, unfortunately.

Individual stories and art remain the property of their talented creators. No copyright infringement is intended. Any copyright concerns can be addressed to

Return to main “Twisted” page

I'm getting closer to fixing everything, but there may still be temporary breakages as I'm still doing long-overduebackground stuff. Thanks for being patient.