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Tap tap. A light knock at the door.

“Come in,” Scully called. The door didn’t open, so she got up and opened it herself. In trooped a group of 4 small, pink creatures. They were a bit like large mice with long noses, and they wore vests of different colours. “Mulder, you might want to see this.”

He looked up and his face brightened. “Hello. It’s been a while.” He came out from behind his desk and crouched down. The smallest of the creatures approached him. “”I don’t think I know you, do I?”

The creature made a series of whistling sounds.

Mulder put out his hand and shook the creature’s paw. “Nice to meet you, Tiny.” He then turned to look at Scully. “Scully, let me introduce Granny, Mother, Small, and Tiny. They’re Clangers.”

Feeling more than a little bemused, Scully mustered a smile. “Hello.”

“Mother, where’s Major?”

Mother whistled quickly, with urgency.

Mulder stood up, worry clear on his face. “Then we need to find hm. Scully, you’ll need your medical kit.”

“What’s happening?” she asked as they jostled out of the door.

“They’ve crashed in their music boat and Major’s hurt,” he explained. “That’s why they came to find me.”

It didn’t take them long to find the crash site. Mother sat up front in the car with Scully to direct Mulder.

They found Major lying in the wreck of the boat. The impact had obviously been to the left side, as his arm was at an awkward angle and his foot was crushed beneath a weight.

Mulder crouched down. “Hi, Major. How are you doing?”

Major gave a mournful whistle.

“Scully’s going to help you.”

She knelt beside the injured Clanger. “I need to move you so I can take a closer look. This might hurt a bit.”

She moved the weight from Major’s foot before gently picking him up. More mournful whistling ensued.

“Sorry. Mulder, we need to get back.”

It was evening. Major was propped up on Mulder’s couch, his family around him. His injured arm and foot were both set in plaster. Scully had complained it was one of the fiddliest jobs she had ever done, but she didn’t really mind. She was fascinated by the little creatures.

She was standing with Mulder in the kitchen while he made soup, grilling him for details. “How did you meet them the first time?”

“I found them,” he explained. “They had followed some space junk here and stayed to learn more about us.”

“And how did you learn their language?”

“They used gestures at first. It didn’t take me long.” He smiled. “We could teach you.”

She smiled back. “I’d like that.”

The soup was ready and Mulder poured it out into mugs and a bowl each for himself and Scully. He carried the vessels through on a tray.

“I’m sure it’s not as good as the Soup Dragon’s,” he said, handing out the mugs, “but it’s the best I can do.”

There were several grateful sounding whistles before the Clangers tucked into their soup.

“What’s the Soup Dragon?” Scully asked as she and Mulder settled themselves on the floor.

“There are soup wells on the Clangers’ planet,” Mulder supplied. “The Soup Dragon tends the wells and makes the soup.”

“Oh. That’s…different.”

The soup was delicious and they had all soon polished off their portions. They sat up for two more hours before Mother announced that it was time for the Clangers to go to bed. The creatures, it transpired, slept in hammocks which they had brought with them. The hammocks were set up between the legs of the dining table and chairs.

Bed time preparations were made and the two agents were sat up in bed reading when Tiny hesitantly entered the room. She looked shyly down at her paws.

“What’s the matter?” Mulder asked.

Her eyes were still cast downwards as she whistled her response.

“I reckon we can do something about that,” Mulder said with a smile.

“what did she say?” Scully asked.

“She can’t get to sleep without a lullaby.”

“Ah.” Scully looked at Tiny. “I could try if you like.”

Tiny whistled what was clearly a ‘thank you’.

Scully sang quietly, “Twinkle, twinkle, little star; how I wonder what you are. Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky. Twinkle, twinkle, little star; how I wonder what you are.”

It took several days of hard work for the music boat to be ready to fly again. It was clear that Major was frustrated at not being able to tinker himself, but the work went smoothly under his direction. Tiny wasn’t able to do as much as the others, so she spent the rest of her time with Scully, teaching her some more of the language. Scully learned that Tiny loved music, so she gifted the Clanger a set of miniature wind chimes to thank her. Tiny was thrilled and showed her gift to the others with great pride.

When the boat was ready, Mulder drove them out to a suitable location to launch. Everyone was quiet in the car, all sorry to have to say goodbye. The boat was soon set up, though, and the time came to leave.

Both agents shook each Clanger’s paw and they exchanged their goodbyes. Major especially thanked Scully for helping him.

“You’re very welcome,” she replied, the beginnings of a lump forming in her throat.

The Clanger’s clambered into the boat and readied themselves for the journey. Small was the most experienced pilot besides Major, so he took the controls. Mulder and Scully watched the boat ascend until it disappeared from view.