The Man Who Would Be King

Cover

AUTHOR: Jess

Artwork: Theresa

INFO: Written for I Made This Productions Virtual Season 8

EMAIL ADDRESS: snarkypup@mindspring.com

DISCLAIMER: Elvis says put those lawyers down, boy. I

don’t own Mulder, Scully or the King.

SPOILER WARNING: Up through Je Souhaite, but nothing

specific

RATING: PG-13

CONTENT WARNING: None

CLASSIFICATION: X-File, UST

SUMMARY: Mulder and Scully investigate their first Elvis

sighting, and end up questioning nature vs. nurture.

Songs quoted are, in no particular order: “Burning Love”,

“All Shook Up”, “Always On My Mind,” “Blue Suede Shoes,”

“Are You Lonesome Tonight,” “Teddy Bear”, “Whole Lotta

Shakin’ Going On,” and “Suspicious Minds.” Thank God for

Napster, that’s all I can say. Long live the selfish

grabbing of other’s intellectual property, right CC?

The Man Who Would Be King

by Jess

xxxxxx

Honey, please don’t ask me what’s on my mind

I’m a little mixed up, but I’m feeling fine

xxxxxx

Just Outside Memphis, Tennessee

February 29, 2000

It was fitting, Janelle Hopkirk thought, that the day

after Donny’s death she could sit on the porch in his

favorite beat-up old rocking chair and watch the rain fall.

Hot, thick rain, the sort that swept in from the far-off

ocean in a dark gray line across the horizon. It was as

close to the sea as she would ever get, this rain, bringing

with it the essence of deep water, of surging waves and

pulling tides. Janelle sometimes thought she could smell

fish, imagine warm sand and shells as pink as a child’s ear.

Out across the farm the first blossoms were appearing on

the peach trees. Disarmingly pretty, they appeared brave

against the backdrop of scoured earth and bare oaks.

Janelle rocked, sipped iced tea, and pondered life without

her husband for the first time in twenty-five years. Donny

hadn’t been a bad man, exactly. He was a good farmer. He

knew his hogs and understood them, but she wasn’t sure if

that was the sort of thing a woman could describe as

comforting in a husband. Janelle thought it might be nice

to find a new man, someone who didn’t go around to the back

door of the old farmhouse to avoid brushing past her as she

did the dishes.

From inside, she could hear the steady thump of the local

country music station coming from the radio in Ed’s room.

Donny hadn’t wanted to take Ed in, especially not this

time, but Janelle had argued that he was, after all, blood.

Just because he also happened to be no-account lazy and

stupid didn’t mean you just abandoned him. Siblings have a

powerful pull, she had learned over the years. It didn’t

matter how low he sank, she would always be there to throw

down a rope. And now, having him here might be a comfort to

her. Might be, she thought, watching the watery sun peek

out from between the dark clouds. Tentatively, the evening

cast the last of its soft light across the pasture in front

of the house. Muted clouds of golden drifting pollen hung

above the tall alfalfa they hadn’t harvested last year,

stirred up by the passing rain. Further out, the road we had learned over the years. It didn’t

matter how low he sank, she would always be there to throw

down a rope. And now, having him here might be a comfort to

her. Might be, she thought, watching the watery sun peek

out from between the dark clouds. Tentatively, the evening

cast the last of its soft light across the pasture in front

of the house. Muted clouds of golden drifting pollen hung

above the tall alfalfa they hadn’t harvested last year,

stirred up by the passing rain. Further out, the road wed little

boy. Janelle wiped her hands on her jeans and started down

the stairs. The rain had mostly passed, leaving a mist

against her skin. He met her half-way, his hand on his

heart, his dark hair tumbling into his eyes.

“Ma’am,” he said. “Ma’am, I need your help.”

“What’s your name?” she asked gently, seeing how he shook,

how his clothing was matted with dirt and sweat and water.

“I…” He stared at her, his lovely face a bit blank. He

blinked once, twice, then cleared his throat and said in a

deep voice: “I don’t know, Ma’am. Guess that’s one of the

things I’d like some help with.”

And in that moment, Janelle knew she would take him in,

heal him. He was a gift to her on this beautiful day, the

first day of her life without Donny. Heck, maybe she’d even

kick out Ed. For the first time in years, plans flooded her

mind and nearly overwhelmed her. She wanted to do so much

for this weary and exhausted man. She wanted for once in

her miserable life, to be really, truly needed.

Of course, it also helped that he looked just exactly like

The King.

“C’mon inside,” Janelle said. “I think I’d like to call

you something. Can I call you Pete?”

xxxxxx

Maybe I didn’t treat you

Quite as good as I should have

Maybe I didn’t love you

Quite as often as I could have

Little things I should have said and done

I just never took the time

xxxxxx

Dana Scully’s apartment

October 1, 2000

10:17 p.m.

Mulder waited impatiently outside Scully’s door, his foot

still tapping out the rhythm from the song he’d been

listening to in the car. Something hard and fast, good

driving music, the sort that set his body on edge and made

him want to move.

She jerked the door open on his third volley of knocks,

hitting him with a glare meant to shrivel the gonads of any

intruder, but most especially him. Instead he grinned at

her, knowing he could disarm her easily these days. She

sighed and opened the door a bit further, not exactly

conceding.

“Hey Scully,” he said, pushing past her into the candle-

lit living room, shedding his coat on her chair as he went.

The whole apartment smelled like cinnamon and was

blissfully cool compared to his own. Something, he mused,

like Scully herself. “I brought you something.”

“Mulder, it’s well past 10, in case you hadn’t noticed,”

she said, picking up his jacket and hanging it in the

closet. He smiled tenderly at her. Lord, but they were

predictable. It warmed his heart sometimes to know that he

finally, finally had something to depend on, something he

could point at and say, yes, I know that.

“I noticed. I was cleaning out the boxes I brought back

from my mom’s and I found something I thought you would

like.”

She raised an eyebrow, but stepped forward and sat beside

him on the couch, pulling her thin robe tight across her

chest. He wasn’t sure whether it was meant to hide her form

or reveal it, but it made him want to stroke one finger

down her satin shoulder. “Fine,” she said. “You got me. I

was just sitting here listening to music anyway.”

Nodding, he handed her the small book he’d tucked under

his arm. Well-worn and battered, it made his heart tight

just to see it, to remember the long summer evenings spent

reading it out on the porch of the cabin as his father

grilled their dinner.

“‘The Science of Baseball’,” she read. “Mulder, you came

rushing over here to give this to me tonight?” Seeing his

feeling for the little volume in his disappointed pout, she

began to flip through it. “Thank you,” she said at last.

“It does look interesting.” Then she stopped, her hand

hovering over the book. “Mulder?” she said, and looked over

at him, smiling.

Puzzled, he leaned over and saw that tucked into the pages

of the old book was something he had forgotten. A memento

from his childhood so unexpected he felt as if someone had

knocked him in the gut. Scully pulled out the square black-

and-white photograph and turned it over as if expecting an

explanation to be printed on the back.

“When was this taken?” she asked, holding it out to him.

He didn’t need more than a glance to know what it was. He

left it dangling between her careful fingers.

“1971,” he said softly. “The summer before my 10th

birthday. He took me with him on a business trip and we

went to see the A’s play the Angels. We sat right over the

dugout. The A’s pitcher, Vida Blue, struck out seventeen

men in eleven innings. It was the longest shutout in

American League history. But that’s not what I remember. I

remember that it was the last time he and I went anywhere

alone together before Sam disappeared. God, it was so hot.

Early July and the sun was just amazing. He bought me three

cokes and a chili dog.”

When he paused, she was looking at him, soft around the

edges, her emotions blurred as if they were in motion.

“Take it,” she said. “It’s important to hold onto the good

things.”

He nodded, accepting the photo and tucking it into his

wallet, behind his money. “He was a good man then,” he

said, stroking the ruffled edge of the old photo. “At

least, I thought he was.”

She slipped one hand over his and squeezed. “Of course he

was. Look at his son.”

xxxxxx

Baby let me be

Your loving teddy bear

Put a chain around my neck

And lead me anywhere

xxxxxx

X-Files Office

October 2, 2000

8:02 a.m.

Scully sipped her coffee distractedly as she stepped from

the elevator into the basement hallway. With practiced

precision, she made her way around the boxes jutting out

from the walls, the old folded chairs and shelves of

abandoned books. She had long since stopped trying to

battle it back into an organized submission. If everyone

else thought the basement was a repository for useless

junk, then she wasn’t going to argue anymore. There was a

certain security in being thought useless.

Pushing open the door with her shoulder, she stepped into

the room already aware of Mulder’s presence, despite never

looking up.

“Mulder, did you know that for an average, 88-mile-an-hour

fast ball, the batter has less than three-tenths of a second

to decide whether or not to swing?”

He was sitting behind his desk with his feet up, a goofy

grin lighting up his face. She set the book down on her own

desk and smiled back.

“See, I knew you’d like it.”

“I do,” she affirmed. “You were right. For once.”

“I’m often right,” he said sternly, but she caught the

smile hiding behind the gruff timbre of his voice. “You

just never admit it.”

It was then that she noticed he was holding a case file

out to her. This was going to be one of those times, she

thought, where she wasn’t going to want to admit it.

“What’s this?” she asked, accepting it only to find two

words written in black Sharpie across the tab. Two words

she had long dreaded seeing. “‘Elvis lives,’ Mulder? Lives

where? In your eternally youthful imagination?”

“I like to think that a little bit of Elvis lives in all

of us, Scully. But the current pretender to the throne

lives just outside Memphis, Tennessee.”

She opened the file to find no pictures, just a doctor’s

report. She scanned it and rolled her eyes.

“Atrophy of the muscles in the limbs, weakness in

the arms, chronic ear infections… what does any of this

have to do with Elvis, Mulder?”

He stood up and crossed around the desk to stand beside

her. “Space travel.”

“Oh, for crying out loud,” she said, setting the file

behind her with a deliberate smack. “Those could be

symptoms of all sorts of ailments, Mulder, not just

prolonged weightlessness. Where did you dig this one up,

anyway?”

“Frohike,” he answered, ignoring her snort of derision.

“He keeps an eye out for promising sightings. Here’s what

you didn’t take the time to read, Scully. This man has

total and complete amnesia. He can’t remember where he’s

been for the last twenty-two months, much less the last

twenty-two years. According to the doctor, he looked so

much like Elvis Presley that the nurses were calling him

‘King’ just for fun. Frohike believes this might be the

real deal, and I don’t take his tips lightly.”

She crossed her arms and looked up at him. He was so

enthusiastic, so boyish that for a moment she was almost

impossibly angry at him, if only for making himself so

irresistible.

“Mulder, this man is not Elvis.”

“How do you know, Scully?”

“Because Elvis Aaron Presley died on Aug. 16, 1977 of

heart failure after ingesting a potent cocktail of

prescription drugs. And as every school child knows,

Mulder, he died sitting on the commode.”

“Actually,” Mulder said, sounding wounded, “he fell off

the toilet before his death.”

“That’s just lovely,” she said. “So therefore, this isn’t

him.”

“Oh come on, Scully, you know all about the conspiracies

relating to his death. Just admit that it could be him.”

“No,” she said firmly.

“You’re certain?” he pressed.

“Very,” she affirmed. “Now, can we see a real case?” She

moved over to the bank of file cabinets and pulled open the

top drawer. “Mulder, there’s a whole rack of legitimate, or

at least somewhat more legitimate cases here, just crying

for your attention.”

“You a betting woman, Scully?”

She sighed and replaced the first file, something about

vampire babies who sucked their mother’s… well, it was

rather ridiculous and grotesque. “Maybe. What’s the wager?”

“If this isn’t Elvis, Scully, I’ll… I’ll book you a

night at the finest hotel in town for our next case. No,

better yet, I’ll book you a suite and sleep on the couch.”

Slightly astonished, she sat down on the edge of his desk

and stared at him. “How could you possibly be that certain,

Mulder?”

He smiled, running his hand along the edge of the folder.

“Because of what I want in return.”

“Ok,” she said warily, “what do I have to do if it is

Elvis?”

“You have to take me to a baseball game. Good seats,

Scully. Right above the opposing team’s dugout. And no tofu

dogs.”

Mulder was watching her with a combination of hope and

amused resignation that was uniquely his own. Something

about the look moved her, just as it always had. She

hesitated, then decided what the hell. Why not make him

happy? What did she have to lose? Blood-sucking infants,

that was what.

“Fine. When do we leave?”

xxxxxx

Lord all mighty, feel my temperature risin’

Higher higher, it’s burning through to my soul.

Girl girl, girl, you gonna set me on fire.

My brain is flamin’, I don’t know which way to go.

xxxxxx

Memphis, Tennessee

October 3, 2000

2:30 p.m.

They were stopped for gas, that was what he told himself.

They were not sitting in the “full service” lane of the

Kuntry Korner gas and grocery trying to get directions to

Janelle Hopkirk’s hog farm, no indeed. He knew exactly

where they were. It was Scully who was a little confused by

Janelle’s directions and phrases like “go past the Jesus

billboard to that little shop that sells deer meat jerky.”

To his left, three gloriously tall black girls wearing

impossibly short shorts and baby tees were arguing with a

certain friendly relish. All were eating something from a

little cardboard take-out container that he suspected might

be hush puppies, but wasn’t sure.

“Look,” one girl said loudly, “I seen ‘Beloved’ and you

didn’t, so you don’t know.”

“Yeah,” one of the other girls replied, licking grease off

her long red fingernails, “but I read the book, so I guess

I know what I’m talkin’ about.”

“Oh, now, you read the book so you’re an expert on

everything, is that it? Well, just ’cause you read it,

don’t mean you know nothing about it.”

The logic was strangely compelling.

“Look, all I’m sayin’ is: I wouldn’t take that scary old

thing into my house. No way, not even if she was my own

blood. Blood don’t mean nothin’ if they’re gonna hurt you,

does it?”

Mulder pondered this statement and decided she might have

a point.

One of the girls looked over to see him watching them. She

nudged her friend, the one who was an expert on everything.

The friend smiled a long, slow, sexy smile and he felt like

whistling, but knew he wouldn’t.

“Nice suit,” she said and from the way she licked her

lips, he was fairly sure she wasn’t really looking at his

Armani knock-off. Then loudly: “You like what you see, Mr.

Silk Tie?”

He laughed a little nervously and turned back to the

suddenly very interesting air bag warning on the rental

car’s visor.

The gas station attendant, a skinny boy wearing a faded

Butthole Surfers t-shirt and a pencil thin mustache that

looked more like a caterpillar than facial hair, leaned in

through the window toward Scully and made his third attempt

to look down her shirt.

“Well,” he drawled slowly, “I know where you’re talking

about, but I don’t know how to get you from here to there,

exactly.”

“That’s just great,” Scully muttered darkly. “You’re very

helpful.”

Mulder watched her expression and knew the clerk was about

to get more than an eyeful. Leaning out his window, Mulder

called to the girls still standing by the store’s sign.

“Hey, any of you ladies know how to get to Tarken Road?”

The tallest of the girls, the one who’d licked her lips

and appraised him earlier, raised her left eyebrow in an

expression so reminiscent of his partner, he almost died

and went to heaven.

“Who’s askin’?” she said, strolling slowly over to the

car. She had long, sleek thighs and hair extensions that

slapped against her back when she moved. Beside him, he

heard Scully snort and he knew she’d read his mind as

surely as she would have read his face.

“I am,” he answered and smiled at the girl.

She stood a few feet from the car with one hand on her

hip. “You look like a cop,” she said.

“That’s because we are,” Scully answered loudly from

within the shadows of the car. Mulder winced.

“We’re FBI agents, and we’d appreciate your help.” He

tried another smile.

“Sure you would,” the girl said, tossing her hair. “But

you ain’t gonna get it.”

With that, she and her friends departed, hips swaying

pleasantly. Mulder groaned.

“Sorry I ruined your chances there, Mr. Silk Tie,” Scully

said, her face down as if she were further examining the

map, but he saw the smile. “For once, your best winsome

look couldn’t get you what you wanted.”

“Scully,” he admonished. “It’s not my looks, it’s my

innate intelligence and wit that attract the women.”

“That girl,” she said, raising her eyes to meet his, full

of mirth, “was not looking at your intelligence, or your

wit. I think I know where we’re going,” she added quickly

when he grinned at her. “Take a left at the next light and

I think we’ll run right into Tarken.”

“Right,” he said, starting the car and pulling out onto

the road. The greasy attendant watched them go with one

hand at his brow, as if he were saluting the car. “And I’m

sure that skinny kid was looking at your fine-tuned

scientific mind, right Scully?”

She smiled at him, tightly, and shrugged. “What’s the use

of being genetically blessed, Mulder, if we can’t even get

directions?”

xxxxxx

It’s comin’ closer, the flames are now lickin’ my body

Won’t you help me, feel like I’m slipping away

It’s hard to breathe, my chest is a-heaving

Lord have mercy, I’m burnin’ the whole day

xxxxxx

Janelle Hopkirk’s Farm

Outside Memphis, Tennessee

October 3, 2000

3:45 p.m.

At last, they had found the right place. At least, she

hoped the stench in the thick blanket of air outside the

cool confines of the car was, in fact, from pigs. If not,

it spoke of dead things and other unspeakable horrors.

Spilled sewage came to mind.

“Woo-eee!” Mulder declared beside her, wrinkling his nose.

It must be tough, she thought with a mental smile, to have

that nose on days like today.

“I think it’s Soo-eee,” she replied and he grinned weakly,

like a man who is attempting to breathe through his mouth.

“I’m betting this is the place,” he said and led her up

the stairs of the old farmhouse. Standing on the wide front

porch, she realized she could see right out to the back

yard. A low breezeway extended right through the center of

the house.

“Mulder,” she said, “look at this.”

“Ah,” he said with a knowing glance, “a dog-trot cabin.

The channel down the center divides the house into a

sleeping area, and a living and eating area. The

circulation of air through the channel keeps the rooms

cooler, and the separation of the kitchen from the bedrooms

kept the old wood-fired stoves from overheating the…” He

trailed off as the door opened.

“Yes?” A tall, blond woman, still striking, despite what

was obviously a poor diet and hard life spent out in the

sun, greeted them with a suspicious look.

“Mrs. Hopkirk?” Mulder asked politely. At the woman’s nod

he continued. “I’m Agent Mulder and this is Agent Scully

from the FBI.”

The woman sighed and nodded reluctantly. “C’mon in,” she

said. “I was expectin’ y’all yesterday. Actually, I been

expectin’ y’all for months and months.”

Scully shrugged at Mulder and they stepped into the house.

The front room was at least fifteen degrees cooler than the

outside air, and yet it was still unbearably hot. An old

clock ticked loudly from the mantel, it’s darkened back

reflected in the age-grayed mirror behind it. Scully could

see herself there as well, her hair unnaturally bright in

the dim room.

“I’ll just go get Pete,” Janelle said slowly. “Then you

can ask him whatever you want to know.” She backed out of

the room, untying a faded flowered apron as she left.

Alone in the heat, Mulder pulled at his tie beside her and

shifted from foot to foot. She could feel the nervousness

coming off his body like cologne. “Moment of truth,

Scully,” he said as they heard footsteps on the back porch.

A deep Memphis accent drifted toward them.

“They’re in the parlor?”

“That’s right,” she heard Janelle reply. “You go on in and

just tell ’em whatever they ask. Don’t worry about nothin’.”

“I won’t, Nell. You just go see ’bout that sow. I think

it’s a breech birth. I left my glove and the gel over by

the stall.”

Mulder winced and shot her a knowing look. She wiggled the

fingers of her right hand at him menacingly before dropping

back into her best agent stance.

The man who entered the room looked exhausted. Sweat

plastered his dark hair to his forehead, and his eyes were

deeply shadowed.

“Ma’am, Sir,” he said, extending a hand that had just been

wiped clean on his jeans. Scully reminded herself that her

own hand had been in far more disgusting places than the

vaginal canal of a pig and shook it politely.

“Agents Scully and Mulder with the FBI,” she said. The man

nodded. He did, if she were forced to admit it, look a damn

lot like Elvis.

“Janelle calls me Pete,” he said softly. “Don’t know what

else to call myself, so I figure that’ll do.”

She nodded. “Pete, I understand you are suffering from an

advanced case of amnesia?”

“So they tell me,” he said, wiping his hair back with his

hand. She saw Mulder’s eyes widen in surprise. All right,

she thought with irritation. He does look a lot like the

King. A lot. So what? That doesn’t prove a damn thing. “All

I know is, I don’t remember anything before I woke up in

that irrigation ditch out front. It was rainin’ and I was

cold. The first thing I saw was Janelle, walkin’ toward me.

She sure was a sweet thing to see.”

Mulder smiled. “And since then, you haven’t remembered

anything about your previous life?”

“Oh sure,” Pete said, nodding. “Bits an’ pieces. I

remember someone talkin’ to me. I remember music playin’

somewhere. I remember bein’ underwater.”

“Underwater?” Scully asked, feeling Mulder shift beside

her in triumph.

“Yeah, only the water was real thick and heavy, more like

goo. And I was tryin’ to move and I couldn’t. And I

remember someone came in and stuck me with a big ol’ needle

and I couldn’t stay awake any more.”

“That’s all you remember?” Mulder asked.

“That’s it,” Pete affirmed. “Doesn’t help much, does it?”

“Oh, I don’t know…” Mulder began, but she silenced him

with a look.

“Pete, I’d like to take your fingerprints, if I may?” she

asked. “I’d like to run them through our database, see if

any matches turn up.”

He nodded and smiled sadly. “If I do turn out to be a

wanted man, Miss Scully, you’ll go easy on me, won’t you?”

His gentle face was so sad she found herself reassuring

him, patting his hand as if he were a child. His dark eyes

twinkled at the contact and she realized she was being had,

just a little bit. What a charmer, she thought, and then

chided herself. “I’m more worried that someone may have

reported you missing, Sir, than that you might be a

criminal.”

“Well,” he said, “that is reassurin’. I’d hate to have to

leave Janelle.”

xxxxxx

Well bless my soul, what’s wrong with me?

I’m itchin’ like a man on a fuzzy tree .

My friends say I’m actin’ wild as a bug.

I’m in love, I’m all shook up.

xxxxxx

Outside, Mulder watched the sun set slowly over the flat

expanse of the delta. Recent rain had refreshed the rich

land, forming patches of vibrant green between the long

lines of oaks and alders snaking beside the irrigation

ditches. The evening sky was clear and promised to be

starry and brilliant. He felt a temptation to howl at the

sliver of rising moon, silver in a deep blue suede sky.

He heard the door creak open behind him and Scully emerged

carrying the little canvas bag she kept their

fingerprinting equipment in. Really, it was just a special

stamp pad and some ink. She smiled at him and extended her

hand, the tips of her fingers dyed a soft blue, despite the

fact that he knew she had washed them. Resting on her palm

were two red plums, so dark they were almost black, like

blood after it was exposed to air. He accepted one, popping

it into his mouth.

“Janelle says Pete signed her up for the Fruit of the

Month club for her birthday,” she said, by way of

explanation. “I don’t know if he’s Elvis, Mulder, but I’ll

tell you one thing: he’s sweet on Janelle Hopkirk. No doubt

about it.”

Mulder nodded, his mouth filled with the tang of the

fruit. Scully was nibbling at hers, biting off precise

little bits of plum. A thick drop of juice hovered on her

upper lip and he sighed as she reached up, swiped it onto

her thumb and licked her fingers clean.

Turning from him with a small smile, she looked out over

the farm and nodded, approving. “This place is actually

quite beautiful, Mulder. When you’re up-wind.”

“I can certainly see the appeal.”

Scully regarded him with a skeptical eyebrow. “Oh, come

on. You? On a farm?”

He shrugged and leaned closer. “Sure, Scully. I love to

work with my hands.”

She rolled her eyes, but didn’t move away. “See, that’s

the difference between you and I, Mulder. I can understand

the emotional draw of the pastoral, but I know my own

character enough to see that in the end, I’m a city kind of

girl.”

Mulder was glad someone knew her character well enough to

make sure pronouncements, since even after all their time

together, he certainly didn’t. Of course, he was well aware

of the attraction the mysterious always held for him.

“But how do you know that the need for a corner stand with

a non-fat steamy latte isn’t the direct result of

conditioning, rather than character, Scully? In terms of

your innate personality, I can really see you out here.

There’s something eminently practical about a farm. The

predictable science of the growth season, of weather and

crop rotation. There’s no room here for the fantastic,

for the surreal.”

She hesitated, then licked her lips and spoke. “And maybe

that’s why I wouldn’t like it, Mulder. Maybe I’ve developed

an insatiable desire for the paranormal.”

Mulder stared at her for a moment, suddenly feeling very

snarky.

“Insatiable desire, Scully?”

With a shy grin, she reached up and ran her thumb over his

lower lip, ostensibly to capture some spot of juice he had

missed.

“Insatiable,” she said, and slipped the thumb between her

own lips.

xxxxxx

Ooh, I feel my temperature risin’.

Help me I’m flamin’, I must be 109.

Burning, burning, burning and nothing can cool me.

I just might turn into smoke, but I feel fine.

xxxxxx

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Memphis Field Office

October 4, 2000

9:15 a.m.

Scully shifted uncomfortably, resting one sharp corner of

her pelvis on the edge of someone’s desk. Mulder lounged in

a chair beside her, his jacket off, his tie loosened to the

point where she expected it to slide off at any moment. At

least he wasn’t wearing khakis.

“Damn, it’s hot,” he remarked to no one in particular.

“Air’s broke,” commented an agent, sliding past in a linen

suit that made Scully sweat with envy.

“So,” the kid sitting in front of the computer said to

her, “you just want to run it against this one print?”

“That’s right,” she said. “Just tell me if it’s a match,

then if it isn’t, we’ll start running it against the rest

of the database.”

“Ok,” the kid said, hesitant. “Can I ask who’s print I’m

comparing it to? This isn’t standard Bureau issue.”

She glanced at Mulder, who was pretending to examine the

wall behind her head with great interest. She sighed.

“We’ve obtained it from… other sources. It’s classified,

I’m afraid.”

The kid nodded and shrugged. “Gimme ten minutes.”

“Come on, Mulder,” Scully said, slipping off the desk and

back into her now far-too-tight shoes. “Let’s go get some

fresh air.”

They pushed open the door to be hit by a wall of wet heat.

Mulder groaned. Across the street, Scully saw the familiar

shape of a Sonic drive-through.

“They have these frozen things,” she explained to Mulder

as he jogged after her. “These ice-drinks. My Dad used to

love them.”

Three minutes later they returned with two plastic cups

and faces bathed in happiness.

“I can’t believe you’d buy a bubble gum flavored anything,”

Mulder was saying. “That just goes against everything I

know of you, Scully.”

“Maybe you don’t know everything about me, Mulder.” At his

disappointed face she said: “Wanna taste?”, holding her own

straw up to her lips and taking a small sip.

Mulder blinked and then nodded. She offered the drink to

him and watched as a clump of pink ice rose slowly up the

straw to his lips.

“Oh, God,” he said suddenly, backing away. “That’s the

worst thing I’ve ever tasted! Scully,” he admonished. “No

one should drink bubble gum. That’s just wrong.”

Warm wooden benches beckoned them to the shade beneath the

local office’s broad concrete awnings. Scully perched

delicately on the edge of one, attempting to keep the near-

bare skin of her legs off the superheated metal rivets that

held the seat together.

“So what’s your theory, Scully, if he turns out to be Joe

Blow from Des Moines?”

She turned and examined Mulder briefly. He seemed

genuinely interested.

“Well, total amnesia is almost always faked, Mulder.

Medically, it does happen, but the cases are extremely

rare. My guess is that he’s some sad, middle-aged man who’s

run away from home. Maybe the responsibilities of life were

too much for him.”

“I don’t know about that,” Mulder said, sipping his drink

and watching the passing pedestrians. “He doesn’t seem like

a man shirking responsibility to me.” There they were, she

thought, just two Feds sitting on the bench during their

break, sipping drinks. It was good for a moment to be this

deeply anonymous, even to Mulder. How wonderful it was to

be able to occasionally discover something unexpected in

one another. Mulder glanced down and smiled at her toes.

“No,” she had to admit, “he doesn’t.”

“You know, when I came out to Graceland…” He stopped

suddenly and looked away. She wished fervently he wasn’t

thinking about what she knew he was thinking about. He

cleared his throat and continued. “Elvis didn’t really love

Priscilla by the time he married her. He had been working

with Ann Margaret and the two of them really hit it off.

They were crazy for one another. Priscilla was so jealous

she actually dyed her hair red in an attempt to compete.

But he did marry her, giving up on his romance with Ann

Margaret. He married her because he’d promised he would.

Even if it was misguided, there’s something to admire in a

man who keeps his promises.”

He looked back at her, his face undisturbed. Whatever had

happened to them that week in Philadelphia, Mulder had put

it behind him. Or he had simply buried it too deeply to let

it surface without pain.

“I know,” she said. “I’ve always admired fidelity in a

man.” They were both silent for a moment before she spoke

again. “Maybe he just wanted to start over with someone who

loved him. That’s no crime. And if this fingerprint shows

what I suspect it will, I think I’ll just leave well enough

alone.”

“You won’t run it against the criminal database?” Mulder

asked, clearly surprised.

She shrugged. “He’s not hurting anyone, and Janelle needs

him. The hogs need him.”

Mulder laughed, then, a joyous bark in the still air. “The

hogs need him, Scully?”

Before she could reply, a hand touched her shoulder,

causing her to jump. The kid from fingerprinting was

grinning at her.

“Hey, you were right,” he said.

“What?” Mulder asked, glancing to her in a moment of true

confusion.

She realized then that he hadn’t really believed it. The

force that disappointment held over their lives was

staggering. The kid looked from one to the other and then

shrugged, finding them inexplicable.

“It was a match,” he said.

In the shocked moment that followed, she heard Mulder drop

his drink to the concrete.

xxxxxx

We’re caught in a trap, I can’t walk out

because I love you too much, baby.

Why can’t you see what you’re doin’ to me,

when you don’t believe a word I’m saying?

We can’t go on together with suspicious minds

and we can’t build our bridge on suspicious minds.

xxxxxx

“Mulder, this can’t be right,” Scully was saying, brushing

her hair back from her face, where the car’s full-blast air-

conditioning was pushing it. The car was still hot, as if

someone had heated it with a blow drier. At least it was

drying the sticky film of root beer flavored ice that had

soaked through his left sock.

“Hey, you saw the results just like I did, Scully. Except

for that scar, the fingerprints were exactly the same.”

“Scars do not just disappear.” She was rationalizing

frantically, her stunned eyes blinking against the steady

stream of air and disbelief.

“You don’t know how fresh the cut was when he was first

fingerprinted, Scully. It could have healed to the point

where the latest test didn’t pick it up. For God’s sake,

you’re a doctor. You know the significance of

fingerprints.” He felt like banging his head on the

steering wheel.

“I know,” she huffed, “that people do not just disappear

and reappear twenty-two years later without having aged a

single day.”

“Scully, you’re the one who wrote your thesis on Einstein,

not me.”

She slumped back against the seat, her eyes clamped shut,

her brow pinched. “This is completely impossible.” When she

lifted one hand up to rub her temples, he saw it shake.

“No, it isn’t,” he said, excitement growing in his

stomach, replacing the earlier incredulity. He was often

right, but he was never, ever this right. “It’s perfectly

possible. Time isn’t a universal invariant, Scully, as you

well know. It varies from person to person, just as

Einstein said it would. For Elvis, it’s been traveling at a

rather accelerated rate. Twenty-two years passing in just a

few short days in space.”

“Oh God,” she said and he turned to stare at her. “I think

I’m hyperventilating. Mulder, do you understand what this

could mean, for the scientific community? For the world?”

“More bad imitation leather jumpsuits and come-back

specials?”

“This isn’t funny.” She was pale, her skin covered in a

thin veil of sweat. Mulder pulled the car over to the side

of the road and touched her, stroking one hand down the

damp curve of her neck until he felt her racing pulse calm

beneath his finger tips.

“Scully,” he said softly. “This isn’t the end of the

world. It’s the beginning of something very big, sure, but

you need to take it one step at a time. We’ll take it one

step at a time.”

Outside, a chorus of cicadas stopped and started on cue,

sounding like lawn sprinklers. Kudzu draped the tree beside

Scully’s window and crawled across the grass, making the

old oak resemble a giant, moving through a lush carpet of

green water. If the world were going to become somewhere

extraordinary, he thought, it would have to happen here.

Her soft voice drew him back to the car. “Thank you,” she

said. And then, so quietly he could barely hear it, she

said: “Thank you, thank you verra much,” in a deep tenor he

recognized immediately.

The need to touch her was so intense he had to remove his

hand from her neck or give up completely.

“Come on, Scully. Let’s go tell Pete and Janelle. I’m

itchin’ like a man on a fuzzy tree.”

“My tongue gets tied when I try to speak, my insides shake

like a leaf on a tree.”

“Scully, I’m all shook up.”

“Let’s just stop that right now,” she said, grinning, one

small hand on his arm. “Before it gets completely out of

hand.”

“Right,” he agreed, returning the grin as he started the

car.

xxxxxx

Well it’s one for the money,

two for the show ,

three to get ready

and go, cat, go!

xxxxxx

Janelle Hopkirk’s Farm

Outside Memphis, Tennessee

October 4, 2000

12:36 p.m.

As they pulled up in front of the battered old house, she

had reached a sort of liquid equilibrium. So they had found

Elvis. So what? How did that compare to space aliens,

vampires and mutant fluke men? Mulder was unconsciously

tapping his restless fingers against the steering wheel.

Neither of them made a move to get out of the car.

“You first,” he said. She nodded and pulled her jacket

tight over her breasts. This was it.

Her fist made a hollow ponking sound against the front

door. Mulder twitched beside her.

The man who answered the door wasn’t Pete or Janelle,

though he bore a faint family resemblance to the latter.

“Yeah?” he said. He wore a greasy white undershirt and

jeans that looked three sizes too big for his non-existent

hips.

“We’re looking for Janelle or Pete,” she said, feeling the

adrenaline drain from her body like sweat.

“They ain’t home,” the man replied. “You two must be the

FBI. Janelle told me you might be by later. They went to

get groceries. Told me to have you wait in the living room.”

He opened the door and motioned them in. Mulder entered

first, eyebrows raised in an expression she recognized as

BadSmellAhead.

“And you are?” Scully asked as she slid past him. Clearly,

he hadn’t bathed in days.

“Ed Beers, Janelle’s brother,” he said, shutting the door

and standing nervously beside them.

“Ah,” Mulder said, moving slowly into the living room.

“And you help around the farm, then?”

Ed laughed and shook his head. “Hell no. I don’t touch

those dirty hogs. Nah, I run a business over the Internet.”

Scully felt, rather than saw, the glance Mulder shot her

way. “What sort of business?” she asked.

“Oh, you know…” Ed drifted off. Then he smiled

nervously. “Gotta get back to work. Say…” he began

suddenly, his hand on the door to the opening in the center

of the house. “You two don’t investigate porn, do you?”

“Porn?” Mulder said, innocently. “Not unless there are

minors involved. Why?”

Scully could barely contain her laughter as Ed’s face

relaxed and he said: “Nothin’. Just wonderin’. Well, y’all

can hang here till Janelle gets back. Holler if you need

anythin’.”

After he left, Mulder eyed her speculatively. “What do you

think Ed’s business entails, Scully?”

“Celery,” she replied, smiling.

“Celery?” he asked, clearly puzzled, leaning forward to

hear her response.

“When Melissa and I drove down to San Diego from her place

in Portland to see my dad… it must have been in the late

’80s. I can’t remember exactly what year… anyway, she

brought along some celery sticks to snack on.”

“That sounds like Melissa,” he admitted. “I’d have brought

cheese doodles.”

She smiled indulgently. “Well, we’d forgotten about the

produce check at the California border. It was too late to

just pull off the interstate and throw the celery away. So

we started this joke, as we were waiting in line at the

checkpoint. The guard would walk up and ask: ‘Ladies, do

you have any fruits or vegetables?’ To which we would

reply: “No, Sir, no celery here.’ ‘But I didn’t ask you

about cel…’ he would begin and we would be shaking our

heads frantically. ‘No celery in this car!’ It was very

Monty Python. You would have liked it.”

“So what happened?” he asked, grinning.

“We drove up to the guard, rolled down the window, and he

said: ‘Ladies, do you have any fruits in your car?’ To

which we, with great solemnity, replied: ‘No Sir, no fruits

at all.’ We laughed all the way to San Diego.” She sighed,

remembering her sister’s warm, throaty voice telling their

father the story. That they were both gone was nearly

inconceivable. She shut the little, disbelieving part of

herself away under Mulder’s gentle smile. It astonished her

how easily he read her emotions now, despite her fruitless

struggle to contain them.

“I’d say Ed’s working with some serious celery in there,

indeed.”

“It’s astonishing to think he’s related to Janelle,” she

said, banishing the subject but not the mood.

“Maybe he’s adopted,” Mulder said. “Or maybe his mother

had an affair.” Though it was there for a moment, his smile

faded as they lapsed into silence. She knew what he was

thinking about, could read it in his tight face. He had

long since given up the effort to keep himself hidden from

her.

“Do you miss your mother?” she asked, and he looked up,

startled.

“Sometimes,” he said quietly. “Now that she’s dead, I

sometimes find myself missing the person she could have

been, but wasn’t. Does that make any sense?”

She nodded. “Perfect sense, Mulder. I often wonder who

Melissa would have been if she had survived, or Emily,

grown from a child to a young girl.”

Mulder rose and stepped to the mantle, running one

tentative finger along the wooden curves of the clock

resting there. Yellowing family photos stretched out to

either side of his hands, branches of Janelle’s family

tree. His eyes met hers in the darkened mirror. “Who would

you have been, Scully, if you weren’t you?”

clip_image001

Smiling, she shook her head at him. “Only you could ask

that question, Mulder.”

“And only you could attempt to answer it,” he said.

“I don’t know…” she said slowly. “I suppose I’d probably be

somewhat like my mother. Married with children, a family…

Like my brothers. That’s the way everyone in my family has

always been.”

Mulder stopped caressing the clock and smiled gently,

acknowledging all she wasn’t saying about her own

choices. “I would have played pro ball.”

She returned the smile, feeling tentative in the dim light of

the shrouded room. “Isn’t that rather presumptuous?”

“Don’t rain on my parade, Scully. I would have hit .385

lifetime and stolen more bases than Ricky Henderson.”

She rose to stand behind him, startled by how bright her

own reflection was beside the darkness of his suit jacket.

“Who’s to say you wouldn’t have been a plumber? I’ve seen

you in action, Mulder, and I think you’d be a natural.”

Mulder turned to face her, and tipped her chin up with one

finger. “And who’s to say you wouldn’t have been the celery

on one of Ed’s websites?” They could only look at one

another for a brief moment before she burst out laughing.

“I think that’s a bit unlikely,” she said, though he was looking

at her as if he disagreed.

Mulder shrugged and let his finger drift along her jaw.

“Maybe in our other lives, Scully, maybe in our other selves,

we get to be who we should have been. I get to play all day

on the warm, green grass of summer and you have the

family you deserve, whole in every sense.”

For a moment, she felt the strength of his words and was

too moved to speak. He cradled her left cheek with his

palm. “I wouldn’t want to be anyone else,” she told him at

last. “And I’m selfishly thinking that I happen to like how you

turned out too.”

The sound of footsteps on the stairs startled them apart.

Janelle opened the door to the hall, followed closely by

Pete. At least, that was what he was to be called for now,

Scully thought and shook her head in wonder. How could it

be possible? It was like meeting… Einstein? No, that didn’t

quite compute either. Pete didn’t look any different to her,

merely weary.

Janelle set her purse down on a small table and called out.

“Mr. Mulder? Miss Scully? Are you in there?”

“Right here,” Mulder answered.

They watched as Pete carried a bag of food past them into

the kitchen, unable to look away.

“We have the results of the fingerprint test,” Scully said

slowly, entranced by the dark fall of hair over Pete’s

forehead. That was Elvis. Elvis Aaron Presley. She was

startled by Janelle’s nervous face suddenly appearing in

front of her. Janelle’s deep blue eyes were teary and terribly

frightened. She stared at Scully for a moment and seemed

placated by Scully’s careful smile.

“Let me just help Pete put those things away,” she said

quickly. “He still doesn’t know where I like things to go.”

Mulder nodded. “We’ll be right here,” he said. “Take your

time.”

When Janelle had stepped into the kitchen and put one

hand on Pete’s shoulder, Mulder leaned over and

whispered in her ear just what she had been thinking: “My

God, Scully, this will change everything for them.

Everything.”

She hesitated before replying, afraid of her own thoughts.

“Yes, but is that a good thing?”

xxxxxx

Does your memory stray to a bright summer day when I

kissed you and called you Sweetheart? Is your heart filled

with pain? Shall I come back again? Tell me dear, are you

lonesome tonight?

xxxxxx

Janelle, Pete and Ed sat in a line on the old horsehair sofa,

their faces stunned and disbelieving. Mulder realized he

was staring at Pete, trying to see the spark, the thing,

whatever it was, that made him the star he had once been.

He saw nothing but surprise and exhaustion. Perhaps he’d

been robbed of it during his missing time. Had they done

something to him? Did his lost memory hold the key? Did

memory itself create the people we become, he wondered?

And what did that say about himself, about Scully, with their

pattern of missing time? Was it the experiences they

remembered best that made them who they were? Or those

they couldn’t remember at all?

“You’re sayin’ I’m Elvis?” Pete repeated. “Are you people

nuts? What the heck kinda operation is this?”

Mulder felt Scully tense slightly. She hated doing this, giving

into the paranormal. “Insatiable desire”, my ass, Mulder

thought and nearly laughed out loud. It was too surreal.

“I know it seems impossible,” Scully was saying, “but I

assure you, it’s the truth. Your fingerprints were an exact

match.”

“Dear Lord,” Janelle said. “I can’t believe this. He’s… he’s

been dead since I was a teenager!”

“There are… circumstances we haven’t been able to work

out,” Scully admitted.

“What does this mean?” Pete whispered. “I mean,

assuming you two aren’t on some sort of drugs.”

“Assuming a DNA test proves conclusive,” Mulder said,

“then you’ll have to take steps to reestablish your identity

with the family. Your… um… Priscilla has amassed quite a

considerable fortune from the profits at Graceland. It’s all in

Lisa Marie’s name, but once they know you aren’t dead…”

He drifted off after seeing the glazed look on Pete’s face.

“Lisa Marie?” he whispered. “Jesus in heaven.”

Scully gave Mulder a look that told him he was rushing

forward too quickly. It was a look he was intimately familiar

with.

“Pete,” Scully said carefully, “do you remember anything

else? Anything at all about the time you were gone?”

Pete shook his head. “Just what I told you before. This can’t

be right. It don’t make no sense! Where did I go? And if I’m

Elvis, shouldn’t I be old and gray by now? I don’t suppose

anybody’s got the answers, do they?”

It was a rhetorical question and they all knew it. The room

was unbearably hot. Sweat trickled down Mulder’s sides

and pooled at his waist band. The back of his shirt seemed

permanently fused to his skin. No one moved for a moment,

still absorbing the news. What did it mean, in the end? This

man, whomever his fingerprints might say he was, wasn’t

going to suddenly release a comeback album. He wasn’t

going to start touring Vegas. Mulder was fairly sure Pete

wouldn’t even want to do those things. Deeply absorbed in

this conundrum of identity, Mulder actually jumped when

Janelle stood suddenly and rushed out of the room, her

apron lifted to her face. Either she was going to be sick, or

she was crying. Either possibility made him nervous.

“Janelle!” Pete called, starting to rise.

Scully held out one hand, her face calm in the rising storm of

the room. “I’ll go,” she said quietly.

Pete sank back into the couch, defeated. Mulder thought for

a man who’d just found out he was rich and famous, Pete

looked about as miserable as… as a hound dog. For a

moment, the three men simply stared at one another. Then

Ed spoke, his voice high and slightly shrill. “Well, guess we

don’t have to worry ’bout those damned dirty hogs no more,

huh?”

xxxxxx

Now the stage is bare and I’m standing there with

emptiness all around. And if you won’t come back to me,

then they can bring the curtain down.

xxxxxx

Janelle stood on the back porch, arms around herself, her

large eyes filled with tears.

Scully stepped up and gently touched her arm. “Janelle, I

realize this is a lot to absorb right now…” she began as the

older woman turned to stare at her. Her skin was patchy

and red, her hair had been loosened from the bun she had

wrapped it in and floated, nimbus-like, around her face. In

her faded jeans and battered denim shirt, she was the

picture of despair.

“You don’t know what it’s like,” she said, miserable. “I

waited years to meet a man like this. All my damn life, I

think. Someone who’d protect me, and care for me. He

listens to me, Miss Scully. He cares what I think about

things. Hell, even Ed never gave a damn what I wanted,

what I thought. After Donny died… well, this just seemed like

a fresh start.”

“He’s still going to care about you,” Scully offered carefully.

“That won’t stop just because he’s… he’s… someone

different.”

Janelle gave her look that said she understood very little

about the situation, but thanks very much. Scully winced.

“Look, you don’t get it,” Janelle said slowly. “You’re a real

pretty girl, Miss Scully. Any man’d want to be with you. But

what do you think Pete’ll think of me when everyone starts

throwin’ themselves at him? How long do you think he’ll want

someone like me when women who look like you start

hangin’ round?”

Scully sighed and cleared her throat. “Look, Janelle, Pete

loves you, that’s obvious. I don’t think that’s going to change

just because he’s suddenly presented with shallow

opportunities. That just doesn’t seem to be his character.”

Janelle sniffed and wiped the back of her hand across her

nose. “You think?”

“You know him better than I do,” Scully said gently. “And you

do love him, right?”

Janelle nodded. “More than you can imagine.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Scully said, placing a hand on Janelle’s

arm and leading her back inside the house.

Mulder and Pete stood up as they entered. Scully glanced

at her partner’s worried face and smiled. “You’d be

surprised what I know about love,” she said so only Janelle

could hear.

xxxxxx

I said, “Come on over baby, there’s a whole lotta shakin’

goin’ on. We ain’t fakin’, there’s a whole lotta shakin’ going

on.” Said “Shake, baby, shake.”

xxxxxx

Mulder watched Scully as he drove back toward their hotel.

She seemed subdued, especially compared with this

afternoon. Both hands were neatly folded in her lap, and her

chin nearly touched her collar bone. Janelle’s reaction to the

news had shaken them both. It hadn’t occurred to Mulder

just how much this would alter one lonely woman’s life.

Perhaps, he thought, he could find a way to make that

alteration work in her favor.

“So, how much does our genetic make-up determine who

we are, Scully?” he asked, breaking the silence between

them. Something had been playing in the back of his mind,

though he couldn’t put his finger on what it was that

bothered him.

Scully replied after a brief pause. “Genetics is merely the

road map, Mulder. Everyone’s journey is different.”

“But the destination is always the same, right?” he said.

She smiled. “The destination is unique to each individual,

Mulder, no matter who they were born. I think you’ve run too

far with that analogy. You’re asking me if Pete is still Elvis,

without his experiences.”

“Exactly. Does the mere fact that he is genetically Elvis

Presley make him the King?”

Shrugging, she settled further back into her seat. “Genetics

isn’t the only thing that determines how we turn out, as you

know, but no one understands the exact proportions

required within that equation.”

“So I might not turn out to be my father, just because I’m

descended from him.”

She turned to look at him then, her eyes narrow in the dark

car. He knew she was carefully formulating her reply to be

as impersonal as possible. “You’re bothered by the idea

that we might be doomed by genetics to repeat the same

sets of mistakes as our parents, right? That Pete might

have to live up to being Elvis because his parents created

him that way?”

“I suppose so,” Mulder answered truthfully.

Frowning, she reached across the car and touched his arm.

He felt comforted immediately. It wasn’t that she touched

him, it was that she wanted to make him hear her,

understand her.

“Well, Mulder, it just isn’t that simple. Genetically, you aren’t

simply the descendant of your mother and father, but also of

your grandparents and their grandparents. Genetics isn’t

just a matter of ‘a plus b equals c’, but a complex battle for

dominance by traits that may only surface once in a

thousand generations. You could be, genetically, more like

your great-great- grandfather than your father. I, for instance,

could just as easily have been a violent alcoholic like my

uncle Ted. Perhaps something in my decision to join the

FBI and carry a gun is related not to my father’s inherent

heroism but rather to my uncle’s need for false security and

bravado. There’s more than one way to skin a Scully,

Mulder.”

Mulder smiled and squeezed her hand within his own. “Why

does that sound so obscene?”

Scully returned the caress, then slipped back to her own

seat. “We’re discovering so much about the roles genetics

plays in our lives, Mulder. Just a few months ago I read an

article about a study involving breast cancers in identical

twins. Did you know that even if your identical twin gets

cancer, your own chances of getting it only go up thirteen

percent? Someone who is genetically identical to yourself

and yet their life, the outcome of their experiences, can vary

greatly from your own.”

Mulder tapped his fingers on the steering wheel. “Elvis had

a twin brother, you know, who died at birth. I wonder who he

would have been, had he lived?”

She was quiet for a moment, then she shrugged, her profile

lit by the setting sun. “Just because someone is a twin,

Mulder, doesn’t make them an exact clone.”

It struck them both at the same moment. He felt her stiffen

beside him and heard her open her mouth then close it with

an audible smack.

“My God,” she said at last, her voice filled with a new

excitement that set his own blood racing, “it explains

everything.”

xxxxxx

Well you can knock me down, step on my face, slander my

name all over the place. Do anything that you wanna do, but

uh-uh, Honey, lay offa them shoes.

xxxxxx

They could hear the argument in progress from the

driveway, rising above the stench of the hogs in the bright

red light of the sunset and swirling around them, capturing

Scully’s attention by the notes of sheer desperation.

Janelle’s voice reached them clearly as they approached

the open door. “How could you call a record producer, Ed?

Are you out of your mind?”

“This could be an opportunity for us!” she heard Ed whine.

“Do you know how much this guy is worth? All he’d have to

do is go on TV a couple times and we’d be rollin’ in dough.”

“I don’t want to be rolling in dough,” Janelle said. “I was

happy before!”

“You were?” a deep voice asked and they heard footsteps

across the wooden floor of the living room.

Janelle’s exact words were lost, but Scully caught the tone

well enough to imagine what she had said.

“Ed, get out,” Janelle said loudly at last. “Take your things

and get out.”

“Janelle,” he shouted, obviously flustered, “I’m your brother.

Your own flesh and blood. You can’t throw me out!”

“Blood don’t mean nothin’ if they’re gonna hurt you, does it?”

Mulder said quietly beside her. Scully glanced at him and

raised an eyebrow. He smiled back. There was a pause

from within the house and then Janelle’s voice. “Hello?”

“Janelle, it’s Agents Scully and Mulder,” Scully called. “We

need to talk to you.”

“Go away,” Janelle said, suddenly standing behind the

screen door. She twisted the edge of her apron in her

hands and glared at them. “You brought us enough bad

news today.”

“It’s all right, Nell,” Pete said, his hand on her shoulder. He

nodded to them, and sighed. “These folks don’t mean no

harm to us, do you?”

“No,” Mulder said quickly. “In fact, I think we can help you.”

Janelle reluctantly opened the door to let them in. Ed sulked

in the corner, his hands thrust in his jeans’ pockets, nearly

dragging them off his skinny frame.

“I thought I told you to get out,” Janelle said firmly as they

passed him. He slinked out the door toward his room.

“Please have a seat, agents. We’d love any help you could

give us.”

Mulder hesitated, then leaned forward slowly. “Pete, Agent

Scully and I think we know who you are. I know we told you

that you were Elvis Presley, but I think it’s actually more

complicated than that.”

“Oh,” Pete said wearily. “So now I’m not Elvis?”

“Not exactly,” Scully said. “We believe you are a clone of

Elvis Presley.”

“A what?” Janelle said, staring at them blankly. “Like that

sheep?”

“Precisely,” Scully nodded. “Most people aren’t aware of it,

but there are scientists who have developed the ability to

clone human beings. This work is not sanctioned by the

scientific community, but it can be done. I don’t know quite

why someone would clone Elvis then abandon that clone,

but I’m almost sure that’s what has happened here.”

“Strange enough, that does make some sense to me.

Maybe,” Pete ventured quietly, after a moment’s

contemplation, “they found that whatever it was that made

him, you know, Elvis, wasn’t there in me.”

“Maybe,” Mulder admitted. “But there’s nothing wrong with

that, Pete. Elvis died of a drug overdose, miserable and

lonely. You don’t have to make those same mistakes. You

can be whomever you like.”

“You mean I can stay here with Janelle? I don’t have to go

be a singer?”

“No you don’t. You never did, if it comes down to it,” Mulder

said. “But this means you can stay here if that’s what you

want to do, and no one can say anything about it.”

Pete sighed and stood up slowly. Scully winced as his

knees cracked loudly. “I appreciate that, Mr. Mulder. I been

so heartbroken since you told me who I was. All I could think

was that I like it here. I don’t want to go nowhere else.”

With that, he took a step forward and held out his hand.

Mulder rose to shake it, but as he gripped Pete’s hand, the

older man stumbled slightly and then slipped to his knees,

nearly pulling Mulder down beside him.

“Pete?” Janelle cried. “My God, Pete?”

“Call an ambulance!” Scully shouted, kneeling beside the

now-prostrate Pete. “I need to elevate his feet. I think he’s

going into shock.” As Mulder reached for a foot stool, she

saw him shut the living room door in Ed’s face. She

applauded the sentiment.

xxxxxx

Well my hands are shaking and my knees are weak I can’t

seem to stand on my own two feet. Who do you think would

have such luck? I’m in love, I’m all shook up.

xxxxxx

Memphis Memorial Hospital

Memphis, Tennessee

October 5, 2000

1:32 a.m.

Mulder reached out and stilled Janelle Hopkirk with his

hand. She had been pacing for over an hour. Looking down

to where he sat, her face was blankly terrified.

“Agent Scully will see that Pete gets the finest care

possible,” he reassured her. “She’s a doctor too, you

know.” He didn’t mention what state her patients were

usually in. “She’s been my doctor for years.”

Janelle sank down beside him on the couch and sighed. “I

just worry.” Her hands had not ceased their constant

twisting of the apron she still wore. “He’s the most important

thing I got. I never thought I’d want a man more than I want

my own flesh and blood, but it’s true. I’d kick Ed out in a

second if it meant I could stay with Pete.”

Mulder smiled at her, gently. “I know what you mean.

Sometimes someone you love means more to you than any

genetic relation. They become your only family, because

that’s all you need.”

“Blood don’t mean nothing if they’re gonna hurt you, ain’t

that what you said?” Janelle asked. “Makes sense to me,

Mr. Mulder. Makes sense to me.” Janelle watched him for a

moment, then cleared her throat. “You and her…” She drifted

off as the door to the waiting room opened and Scully emerged.

Mulder stifled the urge to grin in gratitude.

“How is he?” Janelle asked.

Scully sat primly on the seat beside the couch. Mulder could

see her exhaustion, but marveled that it was probably

hidden from everyone else. He had begun to take delight in

the things only he could see, the moments anyone else

would miss.

“He’s going to be all right in a few weeks,” Scully said.

“A few weeks?” Janelle asked, her face concerned.

Scully sighed. “Though I’ll never convince those doctors of

this, I believe Pete is suffering from Dolly Syndrome.”

“Named after the sheep?” Mulder asked.

“Exactly. Clones made from adult genetic samples age with

greater rapidity until they reach the same age as the

original sample.”

Janelle blinked. “So he’s agin’ too fast?”

“Just until he catches up with the original Elvis,” Scully

reassured her. “Then he should resume normal aging. I

think you two will have plenty of time to spend together.”

Janelle sighed with relief. “When can I see him?”

“You can come on back now,” Scully said, standing.

Mulder saw her arch slightly to crack her back and smiled at

her. As they followed Janelle down the corridor, he leaned

close and whispered to her. “Speaking of aging

prematurely…” He let one hand drift up under her suit jacket

to push at the sore muscles in the small of her back. “When

was the last time you had a good night’s sleep, Scully?”

“Hush,” she whispered back, but he didn’t miss the way she

pressed back into his fingers.

Pete was sitting up in the bed as they filed in, his dark hair

falling over one eye. The nurse grinned at him and patted

his cheek before she left. He blushed and looked quickly to

Janelle.

Bending, she kissed his lips swiftly, as if she were

ashamed. He smiled tenderly at her and patted the spot

beside his hip.

“Agent Scully tells me you’re gonna be just fine,” Janelle

said, settling next to him. It was a familiar tableau. So

familiar, in fact, it made Mulder’s heart ache.

“I’ll be home to help you out before you know it,” he agreed.

The room lapsed into silence as the two stared deeply into

each other’s eyes. Mulder felt Scully shift next to him and

briefly caught her eye. There was something tender there,

something for him. He smiled back.

Janelle sighed loudly and picked at the edge of the hospital

blanket. “This is all a relief,” she said at last, addressing

everyone, “but it don’t solve what I’m gonna do ’bout Ed. He

still thinks you’re the real thing. I don’t want a bunch of

record producers wanderin’ in and out of the house all day

long.”

Mulder stepped forward. “I think I’ve got the answer to that

problem,” he said. He’d been pondering that very problem

while he watched Janelle pace the waiting room floor. Pete

nodded and he continued. “Elvis had a twin brother who

died at birth named Jesse. I’m sure you’ve all heard about it.

Anyway, I was thinking that maybe we should revise history

a bit.”

“You want me to tell people I’m Elvis’ long lost twin brother?”

Pete asked with no small amount of amusement. “That’s not

gonna cause a bit of a stir?”

“It’s better than actually being Elvis, right?” Mulder said and

watched as Pete nodded slowly. “I mean, the media may be

interested, but once they see that you’re just a hog farmer

from Tennessee, they should back off. I’m sure some

celebrity will do something stupid and they’ll forget all about

you.”

“Yeah, well, I guess anything’s better than bein’ Elvis,” Pete

said at last. “I never wanted to be nothin’ but a hog farmer

anyhow.”

“I never thought I’d hear anyone say that,” Mulder said and

grinned widely as Pete chuckled, his hand linked tightly with

Janelle’s.

xxxxxx

Maybe I didn’t hold you all those lonely, lonely times. And I

guess I never told you I’m so happy that you’re mine. If I

made you feel second best I’m so sorry, I was blind. You

were always on my mind.

xxxxxx

Bank One Ballpark

Phoenix, Arizona

Sometime in the Future

Drenched in sunscreen and feeling pleasantly pink, Scully

watched in awe as the massive cantilevered roof slid slowly

forward to block out the insistent Arizona sun to the strains

of Beethoven’s Ninth. “The Romans would have loved this,”

she said to her partner, perched beside her, his face also

raised. He’d also developed a bit of color, bringing out the

intense green of his eyes. She could see a pale line of

demarcation just inside the neck of his shirt. It made her feel

weak.

“Aside from the fact that historically, there would have had

to be more carnage to interest the Romans, like maybe a

bloodbath in the hot tub, the roof is one of the reasons I

picked this one,” he said. “That and Randy Johnson

pitching against Greg Maddux.”

“So that was why I got that e-mail marked ‘urgent’ last

week,” she said, smiling at him. “A pitching duel. Just what I

wanted to see.”

He turned to look at her and she poked his elbow playfully

with her own. “I’ll have you know you’re watching pitching

history, Scully. Two of the greatest pitchers of our time.

Watch carefully.”

“I can’t help but watch, Mulder, with these seats.”

“Yeah, Scully, I’ve been meaning to ask you about that. How

the hell did you get seats this good that fast? What’d you

do, kiss the governor?”

She smiled coyly and shrugged. “I just happen to know

someone whose kung fu can get him into the Ticketmaster

site faster than you can spell ‘hacker’.”

He laughed and turned back to the game, watching the

players make their way out onto the field.

“Is that how you got that hotel room?” she asked. “I’ve never

seen a tub that big indoors. I’m just glad I brought my suit,

as instructed.”

“No, I didn’t take advantage of Frohike’s charms,” he

admitted. “I just paid through the nose for that one.”

“Mulder,” she said, grinning, “if anyone has the nose…”

He silenced her with a hand on her knee and a look that

made something inside her melt, even in the heavily cooled

air.

“I love it when we both win,” he said after a moment of

mutual stillness.

“Well,” she said, “it depends on how you look at it. He both

was, and wasn’t, Elvis. So either we both won, Mulder, or

we both lost.”

“I always prefer to think we’ve won, Scully.”

They were quiet for a moment, watching Greg throw a

couple warm up pitches from the mound.

“So, Scully, hot dogs? Ketchup and mustard only? You sure

I can’t talk you into some kraut?”

She shook her head and admired him as he slouched down

the aisle in a pair of faded jeans and his Roswell Greys

shirt. It was nice to see Mulder so happy, she mused. It was

even worth a promise of candlelight and Italian food to a

very bemused Frohike.

Beside her, a father and son sat, heads bent over the

scorecard. The boy didn’t look any older than Mulder had

been in the photo of him with his father. They had matching

baseball hats and a big styrofoam hand that read “Number

1!”

“J-O-H-N-S-O-N,” the father was saying. “That’s right. I’m

going to go get us some food, ok? I’ll be back in a few

minutes. You want a pretzel?”

The boy nodded, his head still bent over the card. After a

moment he looked up and met Scully’s gaze. “Excuse me,”

the boy said. “Do you know how to spell Maddux?”

The first inning passed quickly, one batter after another

sulking back to the dugout. The boy marked the pitches

dutifully on the card for his father. Scully leaned back and

enjoyed the cool air and festive atmosphere. It was good to

relax. Only Arizona would have a hot tub in a ball park. She

smiled at Mulder’s image of death and gore superimposed

over the big breasted women in bikinis trying to get on the

giant screen by bouncing up and down in the bubbling

water.

Mulder reappeared at the top of the second, bearing two

trays of food and a bag of popcorn he dropped into her lap

with a grin.

“Extra onions and relish, just like the lady likes it,” he said,

handing her a hot dog with only ketchup and mustard.

She rolled her eyes at him.

Beside them, the little boy looked anxiously down the aisle.

Mulder nodded to him and leaned close to Scully. “Where’s

his dad?”

“He went to get food just after you,” she whispered. “Do you

think we should say something? Maybe he doesn’t know

how long those lines can be.”

Mulder eyed the boy for a moment, then shook his head. “I

think you’d only embarrass him, Scully. I remember at that

age how brave I wanted to be all the time.”

She watched as he then devoured half his hot dog in a

single bite. “I’m sure you were,” she reassured him. “You

still are the bravest man I’ve ever known.”

Mulder seemed astonished at the compliment and smiled

with his mouth closed around his food. It made him look

rather endearingly like a giant, tanned chipmunk. She

reached over and patted his knee to let him know she

understood. He closed one hand over hers and left it there

as he finished the hot dog.

She took a tentative nibble at her own and found it tasted

smoky and wonderful. Beside them, the boy waited, his

anxiety increasing until he was practically bouncing in his

seat. At last his father appeared, carrying a tray of food and

a beer. He sat down beside his son and handed him the

food. “Darn, the line for beer was crazy…” he began. He

froze when the child suddenly burst into tears. Something

tore in Scully’s heart and she felt Mulder’s hand squeeze her

own. “Oh, hey now,” the father said, flustered and surprised.

“Don’t cry. Hey, now, I wasn’t gone that long, was I?”

The child didn’t answer, sobbing in relief and

embarrassment. The father slipped his beer into the cup

holder in front of his seat and slid one arm around the boy’s

shoulders. “Now come on, it’s not so bad now, I’m here.” He

leaned over the child and hugged him close. “I’ll never leave

you, son. We’re family. Family don’t just up and leave. I

wouldn’t let you go, not for the world.”

Scully turned to see tears in Mulder’s eyes, just before he

blinked them carefully away. She leaned over and kissed

him gently on the cheek, smelling his aftershave and the

warm scent of her own sunscreen.

“The game,” she said, pointing to Randy as he stretched

toward the second doomed batter.

“I know, Scully,” he said quietly. “I was just thinking about…”

He met her gaze and sighed, his face softening. “I was just

wondering if we’re looking at a chance for another crack in

Roger Clemens’ armor. It’s possible we’re looking at a

twenty K game here, Scully. You wouldn’t want to miss that,

would you?”

She touched his cheek and shook her head. “Not for the

world, Mulder. Not for the world.”

xxxxxx

My tongue gets tied when I try to speak, my insides shake

like a leaf on a tree. There’s only one cure for this body of

mine, that’s to have that girl that I love so fine. She touched

my hand, what a chill I got. Her lips are like a volcano that’s

hot. I’m proud to say that she’s my buttercup. I’m in love, I’m

all shook up.

xxxxxx

Author’s Notes: Yes, I’ve been to Bank One Ballpark and

witnessed the jiggling women in the hot tub, but that isn’t

where I saw the little boy and his father. That was at

Candlestick. It was one of the sweetest moments I have

ever seen. Thanks to the team at VS8 for taking good care

of me.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s