Disclaimer: I do not own Moose and Squirrel. Chris Carter, 1013 and 20th Century Fox have all the rights. I'm just playing with them – as I have been for years.
Rating: For the most part T or R depending on your rating system but in some places, MA or NC-17. When we reach MA, I will tell you so you can request a copy.
Summary: Mulder and Scully are forced to revisit their past.
Author's Note: I'm giddy with excitement for the new movie! This has been a long time coming and hopefully it will regenerate some interest in X-Files fan-fic! Don't forget to review!
Friday, January 19th 2007
Her feet were cold.
Toes icy where the bitter snow had seeped through her boots and two pairs of thick woollen socks.
She shook freshly fallen flakes of powdery snow from her hair, sweeping the dampened strands away from her frostbitten cheeks. Suppressing a shiver that coursed along her spine, Dana Scully unwrapped the multi-coloured scarf from around her neck, draping it on the coat rack by the front door. She stamped her feet – half to shake off the stubborn clumps of snow and half to announce her presence.
Thor, the shaggy brown and white Springer Spaniel bounded towards her, tail waggling with enthusiastic bliss. "Thor, sit," she commanded and as usual, the mutt ignored her.
"Thor... sit!" Together, Dana and Thor turned their eyes to the kitchen doorway – the dog obeying at once. Wiggling his brown bottom, the Spaniel sat peering up at his only master with doe-eyed affection. "You're late," Fox Mulder said, turning to her. "I was worried." Of course he was worried, she thought. A day barely went by in which his and in some cases, her, over-active imaginations didn't almost get them into trouble.
"Have you looked outside?" she asked moodily. "I don't suppose you have. Writing profiles doesn't involve going out much." Mulder chuckled, looking enviably toasty in his navy blue sweater and faded jeans. Despite the advancement in years in them both, he still looked good. Come summer, he'd be in his element – outdoorsy work in which he'd mend the fences around their ranch, repaint the house, cut timber for the winter, mow the grass – all of which kept him in fine physical form.
Hours of sunshine exposure kept his skin golden, even during winter. There was a ruggedness to him now, she thought as she knelt to untie her boots. "It's really coming down out there."
"I made hot chocolate," he told her, grinning like a schoolboy. She groaned.
"It's good this time, I promise." His previous attempts had ruined her saucepans – burnt milk and congealed cocoa powder. "Come see," Mulder held out his hand, "I even bought marshmallows." Her eyebrow rose, interest aroused. "It was either hot chocolate or I tried to paint again. Is it just me or is this the longest winter ever?" Scully peeled off her socks, slipping her feet into the uncharacteristically fuzzy pink slippers by the sofa before taking his outstretched hand.
"It's not just you," she reassured. "And please, don't paint again." Sometime in mid-December, he'd been inspired by a television programme about budding artists and had immediately ordered canvases and paint from the Internet. The mess he made on the canvas was rivalled only by the mess he made of the spare bedroom in his attempts. "I just got through cleaning 'jungle ginger' and 'Celtic moor' off the carpet."
The kitchen was always the warmest room of the house – courtesy of a stunning green Aga. She'd always wanted a proper kitchen – filled with colourful mismatching knick-knacks, a big sturdy wooden table, a spice rack and most definitely, an Aga. This kitchen had been filled with all her favourite things – including a table which she could testify was more than sturdy. A deep blush crept along her neck. Scully cleared her throat.
"So, hot chocolate?" she asked, sinking to the enormous armchair in the corner that faced the Aga.
"How was work?" Mulder asked as he handed her a large ceramic mug filled with creamy brown liquid and tiny, melting marshmallows. She accepted it gratefully, wrinkling her noise as the sweet cocoa scent assaulted her senses. Thor, hating being left alone, pottered into the kitchen and slumped next to the chair.
"There's something to be said about having a normal nine to five job," she complained, "not to mention one that doesn't require copious amounts of time spent by corpses." Scully lived her sleeve and sniffed. "Eww... parfum de la mort." He never complained when she came home, surrounded in that distinct smell. "I need a shower." Their lives had become a routine of ordinariness. Each morning she took their heavy truck – built for snowy conditions – down the hillside to the hospital where she worked.
They lived thirty minutes from Glacier National Park - a scenic wonder. The mountains and the lakes were perhaps the most beautiful either of them had ever seen. Rochester was a medium sized town with only one hospital - the Ellen Hickerson Memorial Hospital, where Scully worked. They had chosen carefully, where they'd 'lay roots' as Mulder put it. Less than a hour would take them into British Columbia, should the need ever arise.
Five years in Montana and there had never been any hint that the 'need' would arise.
"Drink up," Mulder told her, kneeling to ruffle Thor's soft brown ears. "It's Friday." Back when they worked in DC, the weekend was only occasionally used as a recuperation period. Quite often their investigations into the paranormal forced them to led anti-social lives. These days, like the rest of the world, Sundays were filled with loathing dread of Maniac Mondays. Mulder found he had no desire to return to the destructive existence they had lived for so many years. "Movie night?" It surprised him how easily they'd slid into their domestic life. 'Movie Night' started about a year back, when they had decided to catch up on all the blockbusters they'd missed on the road. They'd encountered some great cinematic feats – and some loathsome plots. Not once had they watched a B-Movie. Mulder found that he didn't miss those either.
A bottle of beer, a bag of potato chips and some gummy-bears and he was more than satisfied.
"I have some work to complete," Scully said, sipping her cocoa. "I'm hesitant to mention this... but I had the weirdest case today." Something instinctive glinted in his kaleidoscope eyes. Neither of them mentioned 'X-File', ever. It had been an unspoken agreement, forged back when they had left the shabby motel in Roswell. Move on. Live life as it were meant to be lived. Admittedly, there were still many things in which they couldn't do, thanks to a price-tag on their heads. But their low-key normality was better than anything he or she could have hoped for.
"Weird as in...?" As much as she was hesitant to mention it, Mulder was hesitant to probe further.
"I had a body today, completely skinned with this," she drew a pentagram in the air, "burned unto the chest." Their eyes fused, memories of a hundred cases flashing through their minds at lightening speed. Her throat was tight. "I am thinking Satanic cult." Mulder thought of Comity , and her scepticism all those years back. Too many events had occurred and now, she was surprisingly open to the things that had plagued his imagination for most of his life.
"I'm thinking leave it alone," Mulder replied, getting to his feet and pressing a kiss to her forehead.
"Leave it a...? Mulder?" She had expected something more – the familiar hub of enthusiastic activity as he paced, tossing theories at her – ones that she'd debunk in a second. Why she felt disappointed that he did not, Scully didn't know. "You're right," she conceded softly, licking a sticky morsel of marshmallow from her lower lip. "You're absolutely right." Getting to her feet, Scully emptied her cup. "I'm going for a shower and we'll watch The Illusionist at twenty-one hundred hours!" Her grin was wide, her majestic blue eyes twinkling with humour. But something was missing. Mulder smiled back.
"Yes, Drill Sergeant!" He saluted her.
Scully climbed the stairs to the landing above, peering over the thick wooden railing at the spacious open-plan of the living room. Nothing was amiss, she thought. Everything perfect. The couch was well used, the cushions taking on that battered look from many movie sittings. Unlike her sofa in Georgetown which she rarely felt the benefit of. Her apartment had been a show-home. A place that she came back to after a hard day of work but where she never truly relaxed. This cabin, halfway up a Montana mountain, was more like home than anywhere she'd ever lived.
The fireplace was empty now, but by the time she'd showed and dressed in her cotton pyjamas, Mulder would have a crackling blaze roaring within the stone arch. The coffee table displayed an array of well-thumbed magazines and books and sometimes, remnants of some profile he was working on.
Cosy and familiar – never once occupied by a government mole, alien bounty-hunter, trained assassin or freaky serial killer. That she felt safe here was either wonderful or very foolish indeed.
"Are you going to stand there all night?" Mulder and Thor stood below, two pairs of dark eyes peering up at her. Pulling her hair from the coated rubber band that kept the strands away from blood and guts, Scully flashed a smile. Thor's tail thumped the floor and he barked, as if telling her to hurry. "That's right boy," Mulder said, kneeling to clip his leash to the blue collar around his furry neck. "I'll take the dog for a walk while you shower."
He drew his heavy winter coat over his arms. A navy blue woollen hat came next, then a thick scarf and finally thermal gloves. The wind whipped nosily at the door and Mulder looked longing at the sofa, then up at her as she ruffled her hair. "See you soon," she quipped with a cheeky grin. That morning over coffee they'd taken a quarter from their loose change jar on the shelf and flipped. Scully called tails – which was a lucky guess for her. She wrinkled her nose as she recalled a distinctly unlucky streak she had encountered some months back, at the end of Fall in which she'd called wrong five times in a row. Pay back was a bitch.
Saturdays and Sundays they walked Thor together, along the hiking trail when it wasn't too snowy. Tonight the poor mutt would be lucky if Mulder took him to their property boundary before bringing him back.
"Be careful," she called, unbuttoning her shirt.
"I will," he promised, slipping outside.
Mulder rattled Thor's leash.
"Come on," he sighed, shivering inside his coat. The dog whimpered, squatting by the fence at the boundary edge. Beyond, a row of darkened fur trees rose skyward, an icy wind making the almighty branches creak in the night. The darkness was unnerved him these days. He'd seen encountered enough frightening things to know that bumps in the night were never good. "Dammit Thor..."
Even the heavy weight of his gun didn't appease the anxiousness that crept along his spine. He glanced over his shoulder at the house, the burning yellow light comforting. The dog barked and in an instant, Mulder's hand had drawn his gun, finger on the trigger. "What's the matter?" he asked, half expecting that the spaniel might answer. He strained on his leash, large eyes trained on the whispery trees in the distance. "Lets go..." Mulder ordered, taking two steps back. He wasn't sure
whether it was Scully's mention of a Satanic cult, or the fact that he was perpetually suspicious – but tonight, something just didn't sit right.
Thor never disobeyed his command and the fact that he would now, unsettled Mulder greatly.
"I said 'lets go' Thor!"
"Mulder!" He spun on his heel, almost colliding with Scully whose gun was also drawn. She trembled, her hair soaking wet. Her eyes were round. "There was someone in the house," she whispered as her bottom lip trembled. Thor's barking had intensified, the dog intermittently growling into the darkness.
"There's someone in the trees," Mulder replied. "You're going to freeze." She wore a t-shirt, wet patches soaking the fabric where she hadn't had time to dry properly. "Christ Scully," he snapped, unzipping his coat. "Lets get inside." Tendrils of saturated hair clung to her neck as he forced her arms inside his coat, despite her protests that she was – as per usual – fine. "Just be quiet." Thor finally followed, stopping to glare back and give a final warning to the intruder. "There must be two of them," Mulder whispered as they plundered across the snow. Freshly fallen it crunched beneath their weight, louder even than his voice.
She didn't reply, her teeth chattering as they plundered across the grass. Still wearing her slippers, the fuzzy wool was soaked through – muddy brown slush staining the material. "You're going to catch your death out here." Scully burrowed her chin deeper inside his coat, her gun clutched in her fingers.
"I wasn't really concerned with that when I was chasing an intruder from our home." In the distance an engine growled in the darkness and they stopped. "They always get away, don't they?" Scully complained, moving forward. "And now they've found us." Mulder ground his teeth together – hard enough that his jaw hurt. "I heard rattling in the kitchen – drawers slamming. Whoever was there wasn't worried about being quiet." Her expression had taken on an angry resolve.
His mind was whirling as they stepped inside the house.
"We need to check if anything is missing," Scully was saying, shaking off his coat. "For bugs..." It wouldn't be the first time they'd been spied on. She thought those days were long gone, now.
"I will check," Mulder said. "You get changed." He locked the door, throwing the deadbolt. Thor stood, agitated. Scully kicked off her slippers, folding her arms beneath her breasts. Another shiver ran through her and Mulder loathed the spike of icy blue fear in her eyes. Their sanctuary had been breached. No matter how hard they tried to escape their past, something always came knocking. Or not, as the case may be. Tonight no one had knocked – they'd barged in. Obviously with a purpose. "Go get changed."
A chilly gust blew into the living room from the kitchen and the back door slammed. Together, they spun, startled. Thor barked, angrily. "What were they looking for?" Scully asked in a hushed whisper, as if expecting that they might not be alone. Mulder kept remnants of their past stored in filing cabinets in his study. Always locked. He hadn't opened the cabinets in years.
"I don't know." It wasn't a lie – Mulder didn't have even haunch. They'd kept a low profile, avoided all ties to the paranormal. In fact, it hadn't been mentioned between them until... "You don't suppose this has anything to do with that body you autopsied today?" he asked and she shrugged.
"I don't see why. Everyone else thought it was a vicious killer. Local field office is going to start a profile soon. I'm the only person who thought it might have been something else." Despite Mulder's advice that she get changed, Scully followed him in to the kitchen. The drawers of the old ranch dresser had been pulled out, their contents tipped unto the floor. "There's nothing kept here of importance."
"Please don't panic..."
They both turned to the pantry door, where a tall, broad figure hid in the shadows. They recognised the voice and despite knowing there was nothing to fear, their guns remained pointed at the man's head.
"Put the guns away, Agents." They hadn't heard that in years. "I didn't do this." Their former boss stepped into the light, dressed entirely in black. He held a weapon himself, the metal against his thigh. Mulder stepped forward, reaching for the older man's shoulder, spinning him so fast that he almost lost his balance and staggered towards the wall. Pulling on his collar, Mulder peered intensively at his neck. "For Christ's sake, I'm not an alien. It's me!"
Scully was shivering again, on her knees by the upturned drawers.
"What do you want?" she asked in a tone that was cold – unwarranted, even. Skinner holstered his weapon, stepping away from Mulder's clutches.
"I came to warn you. Apparently I'm too late." Scully sighed.
"A phone call wouldn't have done?" Her perfect – or as perfect as it could ever get – life had been disrupted. Mulder shook his head slightly, feeling a touch of sympathy for their old friend. "Sit down, Sir." Old habits died hard, she supposed. Skinner would never be 'Walter' to her. "You came to warn us of an attack on our home?" she asked. As he sat, Skinner shook his head.
"No, I came to warn you not to get involved." A perplexed glance passed between his former agents. They had changed, he thought. Mulder looked older, wiser and far less gung-ho that he remembered. Mellowed, perhaps. He kept his hair short and a few strands of grey peppered his temples. Scully's hair was longer now, less red. He suspected their lives has slowed down so drastically that their bodies had almost recuperated from over ten years of abuse. Mental and physical.
"I don't know what gave you an impression otherwise," Mulder said, "but we have no intentions of getting involved in anything. We're happy the way things are." Skinner never imagined he'd
witness Fox Mulder – the maverick – being happy living in a house with a woman and a dog. The spaniel glared at him, as distrusting as his owners.
"You've surprised me. You Mulder, more than Scully. I hadn't realised how tired you must have been until about two years ago. Time has passed and it was as if you had disappeared off the map. Living quiet lives, hidden away here in the mountains." It seemed almost anti-climatic. "But I was relieved. The quieter you are the less trouble you cause." The beginnings of a smirk rose on both their faces but they sobered quickly.
"We lost too much," Mulder said. "The quiet life was preferable to losing each other."
"Yes," Skinner conceded, "and it's one of those things you lost that's brought me here. "With advice to leave it be. You're being played." Scully was oblivious to the chill of her soaking clothes.
"Played?" She was familiar with it.
It felt as though all the oxygen had been sucked from the room.
"What about William?" Mulder asked tersely.
"His parents are dead." Scully's stomach tightened as the mention of both her son and his 'parents'. She'd learned to think of her child as little as possible. "I believe they were murdered in an attempt to lure you out.
"Why are you telling us this?" Scully asked in a choked whisper. "We wouldn't have known if you hadn't come." Her blue eyes shimmered. Mulder stood by the counter, his body tense.
"You need to know – so you are prepared. You see, there are people who wants you to stay buried and those who want you to come out. To finish what you started." Mulder swept his arm through the air.
"We finished what we started. I'm done. We're done." Scully's voice was tiny.
"Where is William?" she asked. Skinner's heart ached for her. When her baby had been born it had been as though a final piece of her life had been slotted into place. "Is he... okay?"
"Yes. Please don't buy into this... let it go."
"Done." Mulder said coolly.
"Mulder!" Scully looked scandalised. "His parents are dead... murdered because of us."
"Getting involved won't help William. It'll make things worse and he'll be nothing more than a pawn in their game. A player. Just like us. No. We're not getting involved."
Pushing his gun across the counter, he stormed from the room, leaving them alone.
Anyone else stoked about this movie?