Trinity by XF-Stew
Title: Trinity III: Pilgrimage
Classification: SHA (Story, Humor, and a little Angst)
Rating: R (for language and adult subject matter)
Spoilers: None in this story, but takes place post-Gesthemane
Keywords: Features Megan Largo and a hint of MSR
Summary: When Mulder hears of a West Virginia man who claims to have run over an alien with his pick-up truck he drags his partners out to investigate. (Based on actual events)
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, nor anyone else who regularly appears on the X-Files. They belong to Chris Carter and 1013 Productions. I am using them for non-commercial purposes, so please don't sue me. Also, I borrowed lyrics from Matchbox 20 (Push) and Sister Hazel (All For You), these are also used without permission. I do 'own' the character of Megan Largo, however, so if you'd like to borrow her, please ask at:
***The events depicted in this story are based on actual facts. This is a twisted and partly fabricated take on a 30-second radio blurb I heard last week about a man who claimed to have run over an alien with his pick-up truck. The names and places have been changed to protect both the innocent...and the guilty. This is a lighter take on the new X-Files crew, a little more humor and a little less angst. I hope you like it.
TRINITY III: PILGRIMAGE
J. Edgar Hoover Building
Friday, August 22, 1997
Mulder walked into the newly-expanded basement office. He whistled to himself as he propped the door open and dropped his briefcase on his desk.
Abruptly, his whistling ceased and the corners of his mouth turned down as he spotted Megan Largo, sitting in the chair at her desk in the far corner of the room. She wore a gray blazer over a white shirt, black dress pants, and an amused expression.
"Well, somebody's chipper this morning." She called across the now-large room. "What, did Scully let you hold her hand on the couch last night?"
"She let me do a lot more than that." He replied merrily, waggling his eyebrows up and down.
"Yeah, I'll bet." Largo said, her smooth voice dripping good-natured sarcasm. "Come clean, Mulder."
Mulder smirked. He wasn't completely enamored with Meg Largo. They'd only met a mere two weeks ago, and at that time he'd been certain she was a pawn of the Consortium. Now, he began to doubt that, for he'd seen her by-pass possible opportunities at sabotage on more than one occasion. Still, he didn't trust her completely, but she'd been instrumental in helping him realize what his true feelings for Dana Scully were. In return, he promised himself to be as open and honest about his relationship as she was about her own. She was a strange choice for a confidante, but they had developed a good rapport on this subject, both feeling it was relatively safe territory.
"Okay, okay, I'll come clean." He spread his hands. "She let me kiss her goodnight."
"On the cheek, or on the mouth?"
Mulder held a hand to his chest, an indignant look on his face. "A gentleman never tells."
"Ha! This is you we're talking about, Mulder. Besides, if you don't say, then I'll tell you what *I* did last night."
Mulder's eyes went wide. He threw his hands out in front of himself to ward off the threat. "No, no, that's not necessary...Okay, it was on the cheek, but it's progress, right?"
Largo decided to massage his ego instead of letting it crash by saying, "Sure it is, Mulder. You're doing great."
He beamed, and Largo shook her head at his near-giddiness. When she'd originally heard about 'Spooky' Mulder, everyone depicted him as a dark, brooding man with a sharp mind and an acid tongue. She'd seen flashes of all those qualities, especially the brilliance, but what she didn't expect was to see Fox Mulder when he was falling in love. He was serious when he had to be, which was most of the time, but these morning conversations were her favorites with him. Before the day began, before they put on their official FBI-Agent faces they could speak a little about their personal lives, and Mulder could allow himself a rare moment of happiness.
He poured himself a cup of coffee and sat down to attempt some paperwork on the case he and Scully had just completed.
When Skinner reorganized the Division, he sent down a memo outlining the new guidelines for investigative procedure on cases. Although there were three agents in the X-Files Division, only two would be assigned to the field if out-of-town travel was a necessity. The third would maintain office duties and provide support from Washington. When assigned a case by his office, Skinner would choose which two agents would leave and who would stay. However, if they requested an assignment, Mulder and Scully would divide duties themselves.
So far, he and Scully had been out on two short cases, the most recent one involving Satanic rituals; which locals claimed were responsible for the death of two teenagers out in the woods of Tennessee. It was later discovered that a jealous boyfriend had set fire to the couple while they were camping. Mulder had just shook his head over this strange and disturbing conclusion. Love sometimes took haunting turns, pushing people over the edge of sanity.
During both of their road trips, Largo had stayed in DC. From there she provided back-up in the form of data from old X-Files and background checks. In addition, she did research on strange subjects Mulder insisted might be connected to their investigation. During the last case, he asked her to find everything she could on Catholic exorcism. The next day she faxed him a 40 page brief she compiled on the subject, complete with footnotes and an annotated bibliography. She hoped that would shut him up for awhile, but the next day he called and asked her to find all reported incidents of poltergeists in the state of Maine within the last year. She almost...almost told him to go fuck himself, but instead, she calmly and sweetly told him she'd fax it out the next day. Largo knew he was testing her, intentionally sending her on wild goose chases, insisting she prove herself to him.
The problem lay in the fact that she believed *he* should be the one proving himself. Proving to Scully that things would be different, that he wouldn't be running off after lights in the sky anymore. Most of all, she wanted Mulder to prove that he wasn't the arrogant, self-absorbed asshole she'd originally believed him to be. So far, the jury was still out.
She did, however, wish him luck with Scully, mostly because she'd seen the new gleam in Scully's eyes when she looked at Mulder. Largo truly cared for and admired Dana Scully, and she knew Scully had feelings for her long-lost partner. He, however, definitely needed some work.
Of course he did, just look at the man's family! They were nearly as dysfunctional as the Bordens, and the ghosts of childhood still haunted Fox Mulder. That much she knew. True, her own childhood hadn't been idyllic, she'd split her life between two worlds, living a school year in the Twin Cities, then spending the summers on the Redwood Indian Reservation. She was an orphan by the age of 14...but she'd always been loved, and that was the essential ingredient missing in Fox Mulder. Half the time he looked like an old mutt that had been kicked one too many times. And even though she thought he was an asshole, it tore at her heart to see that tortured, hangdog look on the man's face.
That was also why she was so happy when she saw the way Scully washed that look right off his face. Largo wanted this thing to work out between them, but lived in fear of the consequences if it didn't.
The moment the clock hit 8:00 am, Dana Scully strolled calmly into the office. Her punctuality was uncanny, and Largo was occasionally tempted to create a dummy X-File folder with a mock report regarding Scully's eerie promptness and leave it sitting on her desk one morning. She was stayed only by the fact that two files in the cabinet already bore her name, and perhaps Scully, taking it the wrong way, would be upset.
"Morning Scully." She called over her shoulder, already turning back to the paperwork on her desk.
"Morning." Scully replied as she dropped her trench coat on a hook and her briefcase on the desk. Mulder and Scully's desks faced each other in the middle of the room, while Largo preferred the back wall.
Scully was immaculate as always in a black "power" suit and matching pumps, which elevated her to an impressive 5'5". She poured herself a cup of coffee and turned, eyeing both Largo and Mulder as she carefully sipped the hot brew.
"What's the matter, Scully?" Mulder asked.
Smiling as though at a private joke, Scully shook her head, "Nothing. It's just that every morning I walk in here and you two look like cats who just split a canary. Smug, but not happy about having to share."
Largo blinked at her. "Wow Scully, that's deep."
Mulder snorted a laugh, then stopped when no one joined him.
"What do you two talk about every morning before I get here?" Scully asked seriously.
Mulder looked so completely busted Scully wanted to laugh, but didn't. She kept her face neutral as she looked across the room. Largo, however, kept her face neutral. She was a smooth liar, a fact Scully knew all too well.
She looked at Scully blandly, her hand creating small circles in front of her as she calmly replied, "Oh, you know...the pennant race, Jim Rome's sports-radio show, our Washington football team with the derogatory nickname. Or mutants, midgets and geeks--you know, the usual suspects."
Mulder nodded rapidly, ready to agree with anything the young woman said.
Scully just shook her head and smiled enigmatically. "Well, Mulder, you should have stuck with 'a gentleman never tells'."
She watched his jaw drop in surprise and horror. Largo held up a hand to cover her laughter.
"Yes," Scully continued, "sometimes I get here early, and sometimes I get curious about you two. Can't blame a federal agent for eavesdropping. But you," she turned her steely-eyed stare to Largo, who abruptly stopped laughing, "you're worse than he is! Threatening him with you own sordid little details."
"That was low, wasn't it?" Largo said impishly.
"It sure was. You never offer to tell me those details!"
It was Largo's turn to drop her jaw. She gaped at the petite red head. It was perhaps the first time Scully had seen Meg Largo bereft of speech. She cheered inside.
"Gee...well...I...Scully, I never thought..."
"Got you Largo! I've finally shocked the Queen of Shock." She raised her small arms above her head, Rocky-style. "Who rocks now, Largo?"
Largo made a face, she twisted her lips and mumbled, "You rock, Scully."
"Yes I do. Old Mulder's an easy target, but getting both of you in one morning...oh-ho, this is going to be a good day."
She threw her head back and laughed. Mulder nearly went into cardiac arrest, and Largo's almond-shaped eyes got as round as full moons. Both agents were surprised, but pleasantly so, by the rare sound of unadulterated laughter coming from Special Agent Dana Scully, M.D.
Mulder looked across his desk and over at Scully. They'd both been finishing paperwork all day, and he'd been waiting to ask her his question for three hours now. At lunch, he'd received a call from the Gunmen. They'd run across the story of a retiree from Wolftail, West Virginia who claimed to have run over an EBE with his pick-up truck last week. He recovered the head of the creature and had stuffed it, putting it on display in his home.
Mulder desperately wanted to check it out, and considered driving to Wolftail tonight. To hell with Skinner and his *guidelines*, what he did on his own time was his own. But what he really wanted was for Scully to come along with him. One of the major focuses in his life right now was proving to Dana Scully that extraterrestrial life did, indeed, exist, and that they were already here. He didn't understand it. How could she not believe? After everything they'd seen, all the evidence that hinted around the edges. What, did the woman need an EBE to come slap her upside the head with a wooden plank? Maybe that's what it would take, but until it happened, he would continue to try and convince her himself.
"Scully?" He asked quietly, looking at Largo's back out of the corner of his eye. She had a set of headphones on and was tapping her foot to an unheard beat as she typed rapidly at her PC.
"What?" She looked up at him from behind her reading glasses.
"What are you doing this weekend?"
"Well, I've been meaning to talk to you about that. My mother has a small family dinner party planned, and she's been hounding me to bring you to it."
"Scully, you know family things are hard for me. And your brother hates me."
"Bill doesn't hate you, Mulder. He just doesn't know you. Maybe if you'd give him a chance to--and tomorrow night is the perfect opportunity to give him that chance."
"Aw, Scully--" he whined.
"Mulder, will you please come? My mother's been driving me nuts about it, and she hasn't see you since dinner two weeks ago."
Mulder thought for a second, suddenly getting an idea. His face brightened.
"Okay, Scully, I'll make you a deal."
He received a famous Scully-look in return. Skeptically, she said, "A deal?"
"A deal. I'll go to your mother's dinner party on Saturday night, if you'll go to Wolftail, West Virginia with me on Sunday. It'll just be a daytrip."
Her tone was flat. "Why?"
"It's a beautiful drive. Wolftail is in the Monongahela National Forest, and it's only about three hours drive."
"What's in Wolftail, Mulder?"
He tried to look innocent. "Nothing. I just figured it would be a good turn-around point. I just want to take you for a Sunday drive."
"Mulder, that is by far the flimsiest justification you have ever, and I mean *ever* had for getting me involved in one of your little UFO-watching schemes."
"It's not a scheme." He replied, careful of how he phrased the words.
Scully looked up and sniffed the air. "What's that I smell, Mulder? Could it be this ration of crap you're trying to feed me?"
"Scully! Would I lie to you? Would I feed you crap?"
"You've done it on a daily basis for over four years now, Mulder." She sat back in her chair, toying with a pencil between petite fingers. Suddenly, she smiled.
<Uh, oh> Mulder thought.
"Okay Mulder, you have your deal. On one condition." She jerked her head in the direction of Largo's unsuspecting back. "Largo goes with us."
She smiled smugly.
Mulder frowned at her, then at his hands. He looked over at Meg Largo's back. Suddenly, as if she could feel the eyes on her, she turned and glanced over her shoulder. She saw the two elder agents staring at her and removed her headphones.
"What?" She asked, "Did someone stick another 'I love Cancer Man' note on my back?"
Mulder turned back to the smug red head. "But I thought it would just be the two of us, a nice late-summer drive..."
"Sure you did, Mulder."
"Okay," he said in defeat, knowing she had seen through him, "it's a deal."
Megan Largo's Apartment
Sunday, August 24, 1997
She smelled coffee brewing, and a faint hint of her favorite perfume. On any other morning but Sunday, that would have been a good enough hint. She rolled over, reaching out an arm to throw across her companion, glad that she had finally moved in to this place for good. She patted the sheets with her fingers, searching for her bedmate.
The right side of the bed was empty. Jolyn Parker groaned and opened her eyes. She glanced over at the digital alarm clock. Way too early to be awake on a Sunday morning. What the hell was this all about? She intended to find out.
"MEG!!" She yelled, startling Lenny, the lithe little striped cat who sat perched on the end of the bed. Lenny jumped down and went to retrieve his owner.
A smooth, sweet voice got louder as it approached the bedroom. "Jo, what are you doing up at this hour?"
"Get out of my head! That's just what I was going to ask you." She said grumpily.
Largo approached and sat down next to Jolyn on the bed. She wore a white t-shirt and loose jeans. All Meg's jeans seemed too loose to Jo, who didn't think her friend had completely recovered from her injuries and illnesses of the past year. And she knew for certain Meg had frequent nightmares, from which she'd awaken sweaty and babbling in her native Dakota. Through it Jo could distinguish the commonly heard English names of "Ben", and "Scully", and the word "omakiza", which Jo knew meant 'help me'. All Jo could do was hold Meg after one of these disturbing dreams, she knew her friend was still healing from emotional scars as well as physical ones.
Now, Largo held out a caramel-colored hand, and Jo slipped hers inside of it. "I forgot to tell you," she said, "I have to go to West Virginia today."
"West Virginia? What's in West Virginia?"
"I have no idea, but Mulder has insisted on taking this daytrip to Wolftail, West Virginia, and Scully said she wouldn't go unless I did."
Jolyn frowned at the wall, "This is getting a little weird, Meg."
Largo shrugged, "I have no idea what kind of game they're playing, but it's only one day. Besides, if Mulder *really* wanted to take her on a romantic drive, he would have dropped the whole thing when she mentioned me joining the party. Don't you think?"
"Who knows? It's every guy's fantasy to have two women instead of one."
Largo clicked her tongue in mock-disgust. "That's nasty, Jo."
"Oh, like he doesn't make any 'threesome' comments down at the office?"
Largo smiled a little, "Yeah, sometimes he does, and I think he's the envy of every male agent in the building. He sits down in the 'privacy' of the basement all day with two women."
"Two beautiful women." Jo inserted.
Largo smiled down at her, a little self-depreciatingly. "I love you, Jo."
"I love you, too, but I still think this is crazy. I'm beginning to think those two are more dysfunctional than a couple on 'Melrose Place'."
Largo laughed, showing a brilliant mouthful of white teeth. "Enough about Mulder and Scully," she said, leaning down for a kiss.
Jolyn obliged, kissing her long and deep for several minutes. Finally, she broke off, out-of-breath. "If they're picking you up soon, you better get out of here. If not, I can't be held responsible for my actions."
"Doh! Mulder!" Largo cursed. She kissed Jo once more, briefly, then made herself leave the room, now regretting her off-hand promise to join her partners on this stupid Sunday morning field trip to Wolftail, West Virginia.
Mulder's knock was answered by a stoic Meg Largo, who had thrown on a moss-colored fleece pullover in deference to the crisp morning air. The jacket matched her eyes perfectly.
She didn't invite him in, but answered the door with a backpack over one shoulder and a plastic 'Coffee People' mug in hand.
"Let's go." She said tersely, flying by him and down the hall. She got into the backseat behind Scully and mumbled a hello.
Mulder was a little stunned by Largo's attitude. Normally mercurial and full of good-natured humor, she now seemed almost pissed off...
Suddenly the lightbulb went off and he said, "What's wrong, Largo? Didn't you get your lovin' for the day? Did I interrupt something?"
"Shut up, Mulder." She called from the backseat, crossing her arms over her chest.
He continued to rib her, "Bingo! That's it! I hit it right on the head that time."
"If you're not careful, Mulder, you'll be taking a crack to the head, and I don't mean the one I can see."
"Yeah, that's if you can even remember where it is!" He shot back.
"Well at least I'm getting some, Mulder. Too bad you can't say the same!" Aside, she added, "No offense, Scully."
"Oh yeah, well I--"
"THAT'S ENOUGH!!!" Scully roared over the din. "Both of you! If you want, I can drop you both off in some locker room and you can talk like that to each other all day, but here...NO MORE! Okay?"
They were silent for a moment, then Largo said, "Yeah, I'm sorry. That was mean and I'm just tired, that's all."
"I'm sorry too." Mulder muttered, and started the engine.
They'd driven in silence for at least half an hour, when Scully suddenly knew exactly what to do. She turned on the radio. It was set at an AM all-sports station, but she quickly flipped it over to the FM dial.
"Hey, what are you doing?" Mulder protested, a little miffed that she'd play around with his radio. It was set on his favorite station, but Scully patently ignored him and turned the dial to a station she'd seen Largo's own radio tuned to on their car trips together.
Scully spun in her seat to look at the brooding Meg Largo. She still stared blankly out the window, but Scully knew Largo could see her out of the corner of her eye, and she smiled as she saw Largo's mouth begin to twitch up into a grudging grin.
"What the hell is this?" Mulder asked indignantly.
From the backseat, Largo replied, "Duh, it's the Sneaker Pimps. It's 'Six Underground'."
Mulder rolled his eyes. The Sneaker Pimps? Scully smiled at him, her own eyes asking for his indulgence. He nodded slightly and continued to drive in silence until he heard a soft, achingly beautiful voice from the backseat sing along with the music of a new song. The singer on the radio was male, but Largo's rich, smooth voice overtook his just slightly. She sang, as if to him:
"...I don't know if I've ever been good enough
I'm a little bit rusty, and I think my head is caving in
and I don't know if I've ever been really loved
by a hand that's touched me..."
She seemed to know the entire song, but she sang some parts a little louder than others. He glanced over at Scully, who had her head tilted back, eyes closed, listening.
"I wanna push you around, well I will, well I will
I wanna push you down, well I will, well I will
I wanna take you for granted..."
Was she trying to tell him something? Or was she merely singing? He had no idea Largo has such a beautiful singing voice, but was she trying to manipulate him with some stupid song lyrics? Women!!
"She said I don't know why you ever would lie to me
like I'm a little untrusting when I think that the truth is
gonna hurt you..."
Largo stopped singing and simply hummed along with the rest of the song. She was already beginning to feel better. She knew what she really needed, though, and it was a fast-paced, guitar-driven, summertime kicker to pick her right up. She got her wish, too, because the next song was one of her summer favorites, one that reminded her of Jo. But, in a way, it reminded her of Mulder and Scully and their strange relationship too. Again, she couldn't help but sing along with the band:
"Finally I figured out
But it took a long, long time
But now there's a turnabout
Maybe 'cause I'm trying.
There's been times, I'm so confused
All my roads, they lead to you
I just can't turn and walk away.
It's hard to say what it is I see in you
Wonder if I'll always be with you
Words can't say, and I can't do
Enough to prove
It's all for you."
Mulder listened, surprised that he could actually tolerate this song. He glanced at Scully and saw something he'd never, ever seen: she was tapping her foot AND drumming her fingers against her leg. She even sang softly with the chorus.
So, there had been things the two women shared, things he as yet had no part of. One had been Meg Largo sucking Scully into what Mulder considered to be a cultural and intellectual quagmire: modern alternative music. For the most part, he hated it, and for the next half hour, except for when Largo accompanied the singer in her sweet, heart-breaking tones, it was like nails on a goddamned blackboard.
After each song he asked Largo who sang it, not really caring, just trying to irritate her. However, she foiled him by staying placid and easily ticking off the names of the bands. Mulder either grunted at the absurd names or simply shook his head. Alice In Chains? Smashmouth? Third Eye Blind? For Christssake, one was even called the Squirrel Nut Zippers! Then, to top it off, she told him the next song was by a new band called Love Lode.
< Great,> he thought, < just what the world needs, another angst-driven group of screaming freaks named after ejaculate.>
Largo spoke up from the backseat, "You can turn it off now Scully. I think we all need to talk."
"About?" Mulder asked innocently.
"About what the hell we're going to do in Pig's Eye, West Virginia."
"Well," he began, shooting a tentative glance over at Scully, "I was talking to the Gunmen the other day-"
Largo interrupted, "Now, those are your undersexed hacker buddies, right?"
"Yeah, we met 'em very briefly once. I thought the old guy was going to slip on the drool he spilled on the floor from leering at Scully. Geez, do the guy a favor and get him a Playboy or something."
"Okay, old Frohike's kind of a perv," Mulder conceded, "but what did you think of the other guys?"
"Well, that Byers is kind of cute. He looks all natty in that suit of his."
"Oh my God!" Mulder blurted, "Megan Largo has just declared an interest in the male species! Stop the presses!"
"Shut up, Mulder." The women said in unison.
"So, Largo, can I ask you a personal question?" He said, more seriously.
"If it's a legitimate question, go ahead."
"You say you're attracted to both men and women, right? So, how do you meet them? Do you sometimes see a guy or a woman on the street and, you know--"
"Check them out? Stare at their asses? Hit on them? Is that what you want to know?" Largo supplied, looking at Scully to make sure the conversation wasn't making her uncomfortable. It didn't appear so. In fact, she looked very interested.
Mulder nodded an affirmative.
"No, not usually. I've seen attractive people on the streets before, but I don't really stop to check them out. And I would never dream of *hitting on* anyone I saw in the streets. Maybe it's par for the course for other people like me, but that's nothing I would ever do. I've had five relationships over the course of my life. Two with men, and three with women. In each case, I've known the person quite well before we've become involved. By that, I mean that we were friends or associates first. I'll tell you a few things about myself: I don't meet people in places like bars, and I don't go to gay clubs. I do love music but don't really like to dance AND (and this is a very important one) I don't sleep with people I don't have *very* strong feelings for. I don't believe in sex without love, but I do believe that a person's gender isn't what matters. In addition to physical attraction, it's what's inside that person that draws me to them, not whether the person is male or female."
"Wow. That's quite a speech." He replied, surprised by her candor.
"Yes, and now I think I might throw up. I've never said all that out loud before. It's a little scary."
"So you're 'in the closet'?"
"It's not that simple for people like me. Well, maybe I shouldn't say that, because I'm hoping my dating days are over forever. I'm in love with Jo, and, although this might sound overly-optimistic, I hope we stay together forever. She's living with me now, by the way. But back to the subject, most of the general population doesn't accept bisexuality as an actual sexual identity."
Mulder glanced over at Scully. They shared a knowing glance, which Largo caught. "And I can see there's at least one here in this car." Largo lightly touched Scully's shoulder. She turned.
"So, Scully," she continued, "what's your opinion on the subject? Your honest opinion."
"I don't feel comfortable talking about it."
"That's fine, but I would like to know. I'd like to know how you really see someone like me."
"Okay, Largo," she said, deciding to let it all out. "I see you as a person who is becoming very important to me. I see you as a friend as well as a co-worker. I look at you and I see your intelligence and I see your drive and I see a person who picks herself up after every fall and jumps right back into the fray. I look at you and I see a person struggling to stay in harmony with two diametrically opposed cultural backgrounds. And I see a woman trapped between two other worlds as well. I see a person who has to hide her love behind the walls of her home. A person who will never engage in anything even remotely resembling a public display of affection. Who may never marry, may never have children, and may never be comfortable or happy within the confines of mainstream American society. But most of all, I see a person who remains strong, positive, and endearingly optimistic despite all of this.
"I haven't answered your question about bisexuality because, no, I have never believed in the concept of it. I believe either you are attracted to men, or to women, but I've never understood how someone could attest to an attraction to both. Despite this, however, I do believe in you, Largo. Because of you, I'm beginning to change some of my attitudes. You've shown me a strength of character I've rarely seen, and I admire you for your persistence along the difficult path you have chosen. You are true to yourself, which is something many people are afraid to be. Whatever your choices are, I will accept them without question or hesitation, because I believe in you."
Scully stopped speaking and looked out her window. There was silence in the car. Finally, Largo said, "Thank you, Scully."
"No one's ever said anything like that to me before."
"Well, they should. You're an incredible person, Largo."
Megan Largo sat back in stunned silence. She had no idea what to say. It was the second time Scully had seen her speechless, but this time, she felt less victorious and more empathic. She knew what her own response would be to such a statement, so she let Largo alone to take it in.
Mulder reached over and took her hand. She squeezed it briefly, then covered his with her smaller one and fitted her petite fingers between each of his.
They drove like that for the next twenty minutes.
"So Mulder," Largo said quietly from the backseat, "why *are* we going to Pig's Eye?"
"The Gunmen told me about a man named Frank Jennings, a retired bartender who claimed to have run over an extraterrestrial biological entity on a dark and stormy night with his '82 Ford pick-up truck. Of course, Mr. Jennings didn't call it an EBE, he said he ran over a 'mother-fucking alien'. Now, no incestuous relationship can be proven, but--"
Scully rolled her eyes, "But what, Mulder? He recovered the body and has it on display at his home in Wolftail?"
"How did you know?"
"Call it an *unlucky* guess."
"Actually, it's not the whole body, just the head. Ol' Frank stuffed it and mounted it in his house."
Largo spoke from the back seat. "Let me play the guessing game this time, Scully. Mulder, is the head actually in a 'house', or, by chance, does Mr. Jennings have a trailer?"
"Um...I believe it is a trailer."
"And, is Mr. Jennings, by chance, *charging* his friends and neighbors, oh, maybe $10 apiece to look at this genuine, authentic alien head?"
"Well, this is America, you know."
"And, just one more question; if, perchance, one of Mr. Jennings neighbors, say...JoeBob from up at the feed store, say old JoeBob doesn't have his $10, will Jennings willingly barter two chickens and a fresh baked sweet potato pie in exchange for a glimpse at the E.T.?"
"That I can't say for sure, but aren't you using a bit of a stereotype, Largo?"
"Why yes, Mulder, I am, because I believe it's quite possible that most the people of Wolftail, West Virginia are a bunch of rednecks who might just believe a smelly dead possum hanging on someone's wall is an alien from another world!"
"Largo, calm down." Scully suggested.
"No, I can't calm down. Not right now. I think both of you know the guidelines on UFO-related investigations. I really don't want to lose my job because you, Mulder, wanted to go look at an 'alien' some 'neck in West Virginny stuffed and mounted on the wall of his fucking trailer!"
"You won't lose your job." Mulder assured her. "Look how many times I've screwed up, and I'm still here, aren't I?"
She shook her head in disbelief, "I think you know our situations are a little different. I really don't want to go back to undercover vice work, thank you very much. Yes, I would rather compile a 40 page report for you on vampire bats of Southern Louisiana than sit in a two-tone Deadhead Volkswagon Bus pretending to smoke reefer with unwashed loser-freaks named Ray-Ray and The Sandman. Believe it or not, I like my current position much better."
"And you won't lose it, just trust me."
"Trust you? Trust you!? Mulder, I'll trust you the day you begin to trust me. How about that?"
Scully turned on them again. "OKAY! ENOUGH! Am I going to have to play referee all day with you two? It's already getting old. Mulder, I'm upset as well. You know how I feel about getting dragged up to Nowheresville to look at another 'alien corpse.'"
"I just can't win, can I, Scully? I get in trouble for 'ditching' you, and I get in trouble for dragging you along on my little excursions. You tell me what I can do, and I'll do it, okay?"
Scully chewed her lip, thinking about that one for a moment. "You're right, Mulder. I'd rather be with you than have you disappear for three days."
"I'd kind of like the break." Largo mumbled sullenly from the backseat.
He ignored her. Turning to Scully, his *real* partner, he said, "This won't take that long."
"I hope not, and if it is an actual alien, then we both will owe you an apology."
"Yeah you will."" He agreed self-confidently, inwardly praying this wasn't yet another false claim.
There was silence for a few minutes before Mulder spoke again, "So, Largo, what's your theory on extraterrestrial life?"
Before she could reply Scully answered for her, "We call it the 'Phone Home Theory" Mulder. I'll give you the details later. Suffice it to say Largo thinks aliens are nice, not ruthless bounty-hunters trying to stick oversized pins into the base of each other's necks."
"And I don't think," Largo added, "that they traveled across the far reaches of space to go cow-tipping in West Virginia. It's my opinion that aliens capable of that kind of sophisticated technology are probably smart enough not to play in traffic."
Scully stifled a laugh, turning it into a yawn and covering it with the back of her hand as she caught Mulder's sidelong glance. She had decided to humor him for the day, but couldn't be held responsible for anything Largo came up with on her own.
Ed's Country Cafe
Wolftail, West Virginia
Mulder, Scully, and Largo took stools at the counter in Ed's Country Cafe. A woman in her late 50's offered them each a menu. Her nametag read 'FLO'.
Largo rolled her eyes. <Christ!> She thought, <Are there any small town waitresses *not* named Gladys or Flo?>
"What's the special?" Mulder politely asked Flo.
"Chicken fried steak and spuds. You want?"
"Yeah," he replied, smiling at the woman.
"And for you gals?"
<Gals?...Gals?> Largo's brows lifted, <Did she actually call us gals?>
She scanned the menu. It resembled the American Heart Association's worst nightmare. She decided to risk a question.
"You got any sandwiches, Flo?"
"We got meat loaf, we go the patty melt, and we got the turkey melt."
"Could I possible get the turkey, unmelted?"
The waitress looked her up and down. "Listen to me, skinnygirl, you look like you could use a little meat on them bones. Pretty young thing like you won't ever catch herself a man if he can't see you."
She caught Mulder and Scully's snorts of laughter out of the corner of her eye.
"Unmelted, please," she repeated, unamused, "and a Dr. Pepper."
She set the menu back down with finality, hoping Flo would leave her in peace.
She did, moving along to take Scully's order. She asked for waffles and got them on a late Sunday morning. Much to Largo's chagrin, Scully didn't have to take any crap off of Flo either.
As they finished their meals, Mulder called Flo over once more. The hearty waitress waddled over.
"Hey Flo, you know anything about a guy who's got the head of an alien on his wall?"
"Course I do, hon. That's Frank Jennings. Ran over it last week in his Ford. Big news round here. It's not every day you get visited by aliens, you know."
"And not every day one gets the death penalty for jaywalking." Largo mumbled in Scully's direction. The redhead only raised her eyebrows enigmatically.
"So you believe Jennings's story?" Mulder asked the waitress.
She shrugged, "Looks like an alien to me."
Largo spoke, "So you've seen others to use as a comparison?"
Flo frowned at her, a little confused, then her face relaxed as she understood the question. "Naw, but it looks like a lot of 'em you see on the TV."
"You mean like ALF? Or more like Marvin the Martian?"
Flo clicked her tongue at the young woman as she refilled Scully's coffee cup. "Naw, not like ALF. You know, those ones with the big eyes, little noses, little mouth. But Frank's is kinda furry too."
Mulder frowned, "Furry?"
"Yeah. It's got short hair, almost like fur."
Scully rejoined the conversation. "What color is the fur?"
Flo backed away from the counter. "If you folks are so interested, why don't you go take a look for yourselfs. I can give you directions to Frank's place. Only twelve bucks a head."
The women both gave Mulder a sarcastic look. He ducked their stares and took Flo's directions. He paid for their lunch and the trio left Ed's Country Cafe.
Wolftail Trailer Court
They really didn't need directions to the Jennings's homestead. They passed, by Scully's count, 11 signs announcing the presence of the dead alien, all pointing the direction in which to turn. Outside Jennings's trailer was a huge billboard reading:
REAL LIVE DEAD ALIEN HEAD
DISCOVERED ON ROUTE 67
MONDAY, AUGUST 18, 1997
COME ONE, COME ALL
COME SEE THE ALIEN HEAD
To Largo's surprise (remember, she'd never been taken to see a 'real live dead alien head' before) there was a line of about eight people, all waiting, money in hand, for a glimpse of the head.
Scully, on the other hand, had seen such lines before, and patiently waited for their turn. When it came, she elbowed Mulder in the ribs, a hint that he was paying their admission. He gladly shoved two twenties at the plump woman who sat behind a card table with an old Folgers coffee can. She dug in the can for a moment and emerged with four singles, which she handed back to him. She then stamped each of their hands with a round orange smiley face.
As they entered the dimly-lit trailer, Largo muttered, "Hope we aren't interrupting today's episode of 'Hee-Haw'."
Scully stifled a snicker. Mulder just shot her a dirty look.
The agents stepped into the trailer, only to be greeted by Frank Jennings, the legend himself. Jennings gathered the group of ten or so into a small circle and told them his story.
"It was a dark night, but the moon was full," said the white-haired retiree, clad in overalls and a checkered cotton shirt. "I was driving home in the old Ford you see out front."
<Probably from the local tavern> Largo added mentally.
"When what should jump out in front of me but a small, white creature. I slammed on the brakes, but luck warn''t with me. I hit the poor fella straight on. When I got outta the pick-up, all I could find was the head."
Mulder was dying to ask questions, but waited patiently for Jennings to complete his narrative.
"Now, I took that head to the county hospital, but they gave me no time. Said they didn't want it, so I took it home here and preserved it myself, as proof of extraterrestrial life here on Earth. That's what I did, I tell ya."
"Mr. Jennings," Mulder asked, "did you see any other aliens, or just this one?"
"I saw two or three others running right along with this little fella."
"And instead of turning the head over to medical officials, you removed the contents of the head and filled it with stuffing?"
"Now, young man, I told you they didn't have no time for an old man like me."
Scully and Largo took the opportunity to examine the alien more closely. It was small, roughly the size of a child's head. The eyes were large and glassy, the nose very small. The face tapered down, and had a curious cleft toward the tiny mouth, which was little more than a slit.
Largo gave it a cursory once-over, not really having much experience with such things. However, when she reached out to touch it, she felt a very familiar furriness beneath her fingertips. Scully was examining the curious bone structure, which seemed almost lumpy. Was it simply a bad taxidermy job, or was it a fake? Scully couldn't tell on a ten second examination.
Then, Scully heard a "P-s-s-t" and walked around to Largo's side.
"Feel this, Scully." She said, placing Scully's hand on the alien's 'neck', then on the top of its head. "What does this feel like to you?"
"I'm not sure. It's kind of familiar. A little like suede, maybe?"
"Close, but I think it's rough deerskin. It's what a lot of our people make medicine bundles out of. But then, I'm not positive. I haven't had a medicine bundle since I was much younger, and I've never taken animal biology, so I can't be sure it's a deerskin."
Scully caught Mulder's eye and motioned him over. She examined the pelt of the creature a moment longer before she sighed and said, "I have taken animal biology, and, upon closer examination, such as small scar, evidence of a past buck shot injury, I'd have to say that this is most probably an Odocoileus Virginianus."
"A what?" Mulder asked, eyes still on the 'alien'.
"A white-tailed deer. The hindquarters, in particular."
Largo quickly covered her mouth to stop the gales of laughter which tried desperately to spring forth. When she found self-control, she leaned over, tears of laughter streaming down her face, and whispered,
"It's a deer's ass, Mulder!"
"It is not!"
"Mulder," Scully said with resignation, "it's a deer's ass. These eyes have been fashioned, and this nose was set up with wires or something from the inside to make it protrude. See the cleft near the 'mouth'? That's...well, I think you get the picture."
"It's a deer's ass?" He was incredulous.
She nodded, putting a consoling hand on his arm.
Largo leaned in closer and jerked an elbow in the direction of their 'host', "So what do we do with Wilford Brimley over there?"
They walked back over to Frank Jennings and showed him their badges. Scully called the local police to report Jennings's fraudulent claims and the fact he'd reaped huge profits by convincing unwitting local yokels his mediocre taxidermy job was the skull of an extraterrestrial biological entity.
Maybe Jennings he could fool the people of Wolftail, West Virginia, but he couldn't fool the trained professionals of the FBI's X-Files Division, one of whom was still having trouble controlling herself, and could be found at odd moments bursting into snorts of laughter as she mumbled, "a deer's ass." The whipcord-thin deputy, a man named Fife (of all unfortunate deputy names), forgave her, though. She was rather young-looking and had alarmingly-bright green eyes. Of course, it probably helped that she wore a very large Sig Sauer in a belt clip at the small of her back. In fact, both the women looked like they could kick his ass, even the hard-nosed little red head.
The police had finally let them be on their merry way after giving official statements attesting to what they'd seen at the Jennings' place. The agents had little idea what would happen to Frank Jennings and his wife, Myrtle (the rotund hand-stamper), but figured it would be little more than a slap on the wrist. After all, pretending to have a 'real live dead alien head' was not on the same scale as counterfeiting a pillowcase full of Ben Franklins in the eyes of local law officials. They usually figured anyone dumb enough to pay to see something as ridiculous as that deserved to have their money taken.
Fox Mulder, however, was not a happy camper on the way home. Once again, he'd failed to convince Scully of the existence of extraterrestrials. Plus, he'd made a fool of himself in front of Largo.
<A deer's ass, for Christsakes! She'll never let me live that one down.>
As if knowing his thoughts, Largo spoke up. "I think you owe me something for this one, Mulder."
"Oh really." He replied drolly.
"Yes, really. I think you owe me a trip out of the office."
"Next assignment, *I* get to go and *you* have to stay in the office and fax me reports about anything I want. If I say I want all information available on Silly Putty, you have to spend four hours looking it up for me. If I say I want the skinny on voodoo priestesses who bite heads off live chickens, you'll be waiting in the wings with a grin and a 'yes ma'am'."
"And you think I'll agree to that?"
"Actually, yes, I do."
Mulder was silent. Scully only sat, listening to the exchange, an enigmatic smile on her face.
Finally, Mulder said, "It's a deal. On one condition."
"What's that?" Largo asked.
"You never say the words *deer's ass* ever again."
The car was filled with the sound of female laughter, and, after a few moments, Mulder began to chuckle as well.
Well, I see you have reached the end (for now). Thank you for reading along, and I hoped you liked these little stories. If you're still interested, look for "Trinity 4: Visions," it's slated for release before the end of 1997, and will be posted here as soon as it's finished.
Thanks again, and feel free to drop me a line and let me know how you liked the "Trinity" series.