Sinfully Delicious

Title: Sinfully Delicious

Author: Vickie Moseley

Category: Valentine’s Day

Summary: Mulder plus Valentine’s equal sudden violent attacks? Must be an X file.

Written for Virtual Season 13’s Valentine’s Day Special Event

Two weeks exclusive on VS 13 site, after that archive at will

Disclaimer: no copyright infringement intended.

comments: vickiemoseley1978@yahoo.com

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Bachman’s Jewelers

Georgetown, Washington DC

February 6, 2006

12:05 pm

“It’s a beautiful watch, sir. I’m sure your lady will be very happy with it,” the

salesclerk gushed as she placed the timepiece inside a plastic bag. “Now, our

engraving department promises all items purchased before Friday will be completed

by Valentine’s Day next week, so what would you like on the back?”

Mulder thought for a moment and then smiled. “Do you have a piece of paper?” he

asked. The clerk nodded and handed him a small post it note. Mulder quickly

scribbled a few words and handed it back to the clerk. “Can you make that out?” he

asked.

“Oh yes sir. A lovely sentiment, to be sure. Now, I’ll just finish filling out your

paperwork and you can be on your way.”

Mulder sighed in relief. Even in the crowded jewelry store, he felt the weight of the

world had been lifted from his shoulders. He’d finally found the perfect Valentine’s

gift for Scully. Sure, he hadn’t exactly come up with the idea out of the blue. If the

ER doctors at Howard University Medical Center hadn’t demolished her old watch in

their efforts to start IV lines in her arms to replace the blood lost after their run in

with murderous Professor Brown, she wouldn’t need a new one. But the fact of the

matter was they had and she did and that was how he found himself placing half a

month’s salary on his American Express card to pay for a watch that, according to

the salesclerk, could withstand impact, survive under 50 feet of water and the

watchband was replaceable.

He glanced down at his own watch and noted that he still had almost half his lunch

hour left to burn. He walked out onto the sidewalk and smiled to himself. He had

enough time to run to their place for a quick bite to eat before heading back to the

Hoover Building. Scully was having lunch with Tara and her mom, so he was pretty

much on his own.

Tara and Maggie. Not for the first time did Mulder think about the other two women

in his ‘extended’ family. He knew that Matty would be making both of them

Valentine cards in school and no doubt little Claire would draw them heart pictures

on red construction paper. But it wasn’t the same as getting something nice from

the man in your life, he pondered. As he walked down the street to where he’d

parked his car, his glanced ahead and saw a sign he’d not noticed earlier.

‘Cordially Yours’, the signboard said as it swung in the February breeze. A large

chocolate bon-bon was painted at the top of the sign. It was a beacon to him and he

followed it willingly.

The shop smelled wonderful as he stepped in out of the cold. Cases filled with every

bon-bon and chocolate confection imaginable lined the side and back of the store.

Other chocolate items were packaged and sitting on shelves on the other side of the

store. A jolly man in a white apron was waiting on a customer while other customers

examined the wares.

A table in the middle of the store held foil covered heart shaped boxes. The sign

above read ‘Don’t Forget That Special Someone’ and the price of $19.95 per pound.

Mulder saw that the boxes were empty, the customer could choose what confections

would be held within. Inspiration struck and he grabbed three of the heart shaped

boxes and then made his way over to the line waiting at the counter.

Hoover Building

Feb. 10, 2006

7:45 am

Mulder juggled the coffee cups while Scully pulled out her keyring and opened the

office door. Mulder hurried past her to place the overwarm papercups on the edge of

his desk. “Starbucks thinks they have the answer with those little cardboard

sleeves, but they just don’t make the grade over the long haul,” he groused. He

pulled off his overcoat and headed toward the coat rack by the door when he noticed

that his partner was staring at an envelope in her hands. “What’s that?”

“I don’t know,” she replied, turning it over several times as if it might divulge its

origin. “There’s nothing on the front. No address of any kind.” She handed him the

envelope while she shrugged out of her coat.

Handling it carefully by the edges, Mulder walked over to his desk and pulled a letter

opener out of the top drawer. At Scully’s startled gasp, he sliced open the top of the

envelope. When nothing explosive happened, he grinned at her.

“Mulder, one of these days — ” she warned but he was already busy withdrawing the

contents and placing them on his desk blotter. She moved closer to look around his

shoulder. “Newspaper articles,” she noted.

“Yeah, five of them,” he replied, picking up the first one and examining it in the light

of the skylight. “It’s labeled the Philadelphia Daily News, day before yesterday.” He

sat down in his chair and started to read the article aloud.

“Gunman opens fire in Suburban Mall,” he intoned. “A gunman opened fire on a

crowded shopping Mall in suburban Lima yesterday. Police identified the shooter as

35-year-old Harvey Rossman of Lima. When police attempted to arrest him,

Rossman opened fire on the officers, who returned fire. Rossman was shot and

killed. Two unidentified women were injured in the gunfire and were treated and

released at Lima Medical Center.”

While listening to her partner’s recitation, Scully had picked up one of the other

articles. “This is from the Dover Post. A 40-year-old salesclerk at a department

store grabbed a knife and started attacking shoppers. She was arrested after a

scuffle with police and is now in a psychiatric hospital undergoing evaluation to see if

she’s fit to stand trial.”

Mulder scanned the other three articles. “They are all spree attacks,” he said,

picking each up in turn. “A state employee started pummeling coworkers in a

cafeteria in Trenton, New Jersey, a truck driver attacked patrons with a tire iron at a

truck stop in Atlanta, a retired postman went berserk at a bingo game held at a

senior center in Shelton, Connecticut.”

“Well, at least the postman had an excuse,” Scully joked. “So why did someone

send us these articles?”

“Gee, Scully, you’d think after all this time, you’d have figured that out,” Mulder

quipped. “Look, I’m going to do a little snooping here, see what I can find out about

these attacks. Want to take half of them and share the joy?”

“Shouldn’t we mention it to Skinner before we go spending a lot of time on this?

They sound like random attacks, Mulder. People do just go crazy once in a while.

Besides, I have an autopsy scheduled this afternoon and I thought we were working

on the quarterly report later.”

At his curled lip and grimace, she had her answer. “OK, you see what you can dig up

on these attacks and I’ll put together the figures for the report. But Mulder, before

we go haring off anywhere, we will get a 302 from Skinner,” she warned sternly.

“Yes, Mom,” he muttered.

Five o’clock came and went and Mulder was still engrossed in his search for

information about the five attackers. Scully had finished compiling the statistics for

the quarterly report and was getting ready to close down her computer. “Mulder, it’s

time to go. Remember, we’re expected at Tara’s by 7 and I want to take a quick

shower.”

He looked up at her blearily and confused. “What time is it?”

She shook her head and walked over to stand next to him. She pointed to the

bottom right corner of his computer screen. “See this? It’s called a clock. Some of

us use it to determine the correct time.”

He shifted in his seat and pulled her into his lap. “Someone’s quite the smarty pants

this evening,” he said, giving her a squeeze.

“Find anything interesting, or were you just playing Spider Solitaire all afternoon?”

“Scully, all those people who were killed or arrested, none of them have a history of

criminal behavior or violence. Rossman was the Cub Master of his son’s school.

Marion Benton, the salesclerk, was a part time yoga instructor and avid follower of

transcendental meditation. These people were not your average ticking time bombs

of insanity.”

“Mulder, you can’t possibly know all the stressors they faced just by looking through

the police reports. Maybe Rossman was facing a bitter divorce and custody battle.

Maybe Benton was a closet sadomasochist. And besides, did you find anything that

would link them together?”

Mulder sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. “No. They lived in different states;

none of the attackers knew one another. They attended different colleges, different

churches, even different civic organizations and clubs. I can’t find a single thing that

would link they together — except, of course, the unprovoked nature of their

attacks.”

“Well, as much as I would like to say you could solve this riddle tonight, we have a

previous engagement and I’m almost positive that Tara said something about beef

stroganoff.”

“You know I love your cooking, Scully, but Tara has a way with a slow cooker.”

They were just about ready to leave the duplex when Mulder remembered his

purchase of earlier in the week. He joined Scully on her way to the car carrying the

two heart shaped boxes of candy.

“Mulder, when did you get those?” she asked.

“When you three went to lunch. I thought I’d pick up something for Tara and your

mom. Just for the holiday.”

She looked at him with an unreadable expression before she pulled him down for a

bruising kiss. When she let him come up for air, he had a goofy grin on his face.

“I take it I did something right for a change?” he guessed.

“You do things right a lot of the time, G-man, and this time you outdid yourself. But

where did you get these? They don’t scream Whitman Sampler.”

“I found a little candy boutique on Wisconsin,” he said slyly. “And if someone is

really nice to me, they might find a similar box next to their breakfast on Valentine’s

Day morning.”

“Oh, you can bet I’ll be nice to you, Mulder. When we get home tonight, I’ll show

you just how nice!”

Tara Scully’s residence

Fairland, MD

“Dinner was wonderful, as always, Sweetheart,” Maggie said fondly as she kissed her

daughter-in-law on the cheek. “And you, Fox — I haven’t received a box of

chocolates for Valentines in, well, I don’t even want to think how long it’s been!

Thank you so much!” She cupped his cheek and gave it a pat.

“Yes, I’m going to put this box somewhere out of the reach of little people who can’t

appreciate the finer things in life,” Tara announced, grinning and clutching the foil

heart to her chest. “They can have conversation hearts and chocolate kisses, the

cherry creams are mine!”

Mulder chuckled, but secretly he was pleased at their reactions. From the look on

her face, his partner was appreciative of his generosity, too.

“Dana, you can sneak one if you want,” Tara offered, starting to pry off the lid.

“No, but thanks, Tara. A little bird told me I have a box in my future. I don’t want

to waste the calories eating all of yours.”

“Well, I think I’m going to save them, too. If I eat one piece a day from Valentines

on — I should have enough to last through March!”

“Lent begins March First this year,” Maggie cautioned.

“Then, I’ll just have to eat three pieces a night,” Tara replied with a smile.

“And on that note, I think we better get out of here before someone starts counting

up the calories I’m guilty of doling out,” Mulder said dryly.

Mulder reached out to open Scully’s door and she pulled him down for another

scorching kiss. “Woman, shouldn’t we wait to get home, I don’t want to give Matty a

sex ed lesson in his own driveway!”

“I just wanted you to know how much I love you. And how much I appreciate how

you treat my family,” she said, buckling her seatbelt.

“I consider them my family, too, Scully,” he said softly.

“Good,” she replied, taking his hand. “Because from the looks on Mom and Tara’s

faces, you couldn’t get out of this family with a truck full of C-4.”

“Gee, all this over some chocolates? What would happen if next year I gave out

roses?”

She smiled seductively. “Why don’t you try it and find out?”

Hoover Building

February 12, 2006

9:45 am

Mulder straightened his tie in the glass of Skinner’s outer office. There was no need

to stop to chat with Kim, she had the day off, as did all the rest of the support staff.

“Sorry I didn’t get your message earlier, sir. I was out for a run. Scully’s at Mass, I

left a message on her cell phone and one at home. I’m sure she’ll join us when she’s

able.”

“Thank you for coming in on a weekend, Mulder,” Skinner said amiably. He picked

up a folder from his desk and handed it over to the agent. “What do you think of

these?”

Mulder leafed through the pages and looked up at Skinner. “I don’t mean to give

credence to my nickname, sir, but I’m one step ahead of you. I started looking into

these same attacks on Friday.”

“How did you find out about them? The local police in Birmingham didn’t request our

involvement until late last night.”

Mulder shrugged. “We got an anonymous envelope under our office door on Friday

morning. There were five newspaper articles. But I see that there have been other

attacks since then.”

Skinner nodded. “A total of nine attacks so far. Admittedly, it’s not the number that

has us concerned. Random attacks take place every day, we both know that. But

these attacks are being perpetrated by people who have no previous history of

violent behavior. To be honest, Mulder, I was wondering if maybe — other forces

were at work here.”

Mulder looked up sharply. “You’re asking if I think the consortium might be

involved?”

“You tell me. They’ve experimented on unsuspecting individuals before. Bees

carrying smallpox, rocks with black oil — ”

“I know what you’re saying, sir, and it’s definitely a possibility. But I don’t want to

make any hasty assumptions just yet. From what I see here, three of the nine

suspects were killed by police. Have there been autopsies performed?”

“Only on the first suspect, Rossman. I think the medical examiner’s report is in the

back of the file. The other two deaths just happened yesterday.”

“I’d like Scully to take a look at that ME’s report and maybe see if she can perform

the other autopsies. She knows what to look for, if there are other forces at work.”

The bodies of the two other attackers arrived late in the day. Mulder had spent most

of Sunday on the phone to the attackers family members who could be reached. No

one had a clue as to why the individuals became aggravated enough to harm others.

The case was baffling in its almost consistent lack of clues.

Scully shuffled in and dropped into her chair opposite Mulder’s desk. “I’m

exhausted,” she said with a tired sigh.

He got up from his chair and went over to gently massage her neck and back. “I

bet. Not the way I wanted to spend Sunday afternoon with basketball in full swing,

that’s for sure. But did you find anything?”

“Anything useful? No. But the tox screens won’t be back until tomorrow morning.”

“So you didn’t find any chips, anomalous pieces of metal, big signs saying ‘this is

why they did it’, — nothing?”

“Mulder, these people, including the one from earlier in the week, were as different

as three people can get. There were no chips in their necks, gums or abdomen, no

pieces of scored metal. To be honest, there was nothing to link them at all.”

He pulled on his lip. “A toxin? A poison?”

“Possible. But as I said, we won’t find out until tomorrow. And,” she said, looking

askance at the watch on his arm, “we only have 9 hours until we have to be back

here and I haven’t done our laundry. So unless you want to wear your tuxedo shirt

under a suit again this week — ”

“That was only once, Scully and no one noticed,” he interjected.

” — we better head home. I’ll toss everything in the wash and we can set the alarm

and I’ll get it in the dryer an hour before work.”

3605 N Street NW

Washington, DC

February 13, 2006 5:45 am

Scully crawled out of bed and headed for the laundry room, noticing the light under

the door to the office as she crept down the hall. Mulder had been up all night, from

the looks of things. After moving over the clothes, assuring that at least they would

‘appear’ presentable at work, she went back upstairs and slipped into the room

where her partner was slouched over the desk, head on his arms.

“Mulder,” she called softly as she rubbed his back. “C’mon. You can stretch out for

a few minutes before work.”

Slowly he stretched and sat upright. “Whattimizit?” he asked around a jaw-cracking

yawn.

“Almost six. You can sleep for an hour.”

“Or we can do other things for an hour,” he suggested, wiggling his eyebrows at her.

But before she could answer, he yawned again, his whole body trembling with the

force of it.

“I think we better hold that thought until you get some sleep,” she said gently

teasing him. “C’mon, we can snuggle until the second alarm goes off.”

“Are we really that old, Scully, that you just topped my suggestion?” he whined,

following her into the bedroom. He pulled off his jeans and tee shirt, left his boxers

on and crawled in to bed. “Get in here quick, I’m cold,” he ordered.

“We aren’t that old, Mulder. You’re just that tired. Did you find anything, or was it a

wasted night?” She tossed her robe to the chair next to the bed and wiggled under

the covers.

“Not being with you was a waste, but I actually found something that might be

useful,” he said, pulling her close. “Six of the nine attackers have recently been in

our fair city.”

She pulled back to look at him. “Washington? Why were they here?”

“Some business, a couple winter vacations — bring the kids to the capitol kind of

thing. They weren’t here at the same time, but quite frankly, it’s the only link I

could find.” He yawned again and she felt his arms slip from their hold around her

waist.

“Sleep now, G-man,” she whispered, kissing his nose. “We’ll figure it out when the

sun’s up.”

Hoover Building

9:45 am

They ended up oversleeping the alarm, but only by half an hour. Showered,

changed and in the office, Scully went first to the fax machine, where she found the

results from the blood tests on the three victims.

“What was it, Scully? Some exotic poison? LSDM? Something I can hang my hat

on?” Mulder asked, peering over her shoulder.

“I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, love, but there is nothing in the tox screen at

all. No sign of any toxin or poison, and quite frankly, not even abnormal levels of

adrenaline. Although this is interesting.” She tapped her finger against a line of

numbers.

“Don’t do this, Scully. You know I hate it when you get all ‘Doctor’ on me.” She

gave him a sideways glare. “You know, ‘aheming’ and keeping me in the dark! Spit

it out!”

“OK,” she said haughtily. “Their white blood count is abnormally high,” she said,

handing him the papers.

“Which would mean — what? An infection, the flu, a cold?”

“Possibly. But Mulder, you asked me if there was anything unusual. That’s all I

could find.”

“Was it equally high in all three bodies?”

“No. And without further testing, it could be anything. You’re right, it could be a

cold, or the flu or any number of other ailments.”

“Scully, this is gonna sound really weird — ”

“How you can say that with a straight face, I’ll never know,” she muttered.

“ANYWAY,” he said loudly over her snide comment, “would you check the hospitals

where the other attackers are being held and see if they have a similar result in their

blood work?”

“That was my next phone call. Are you going to tell Skinner about the DC

connection?”

“I’m on my way up now. I was hoping for better news from the tox screen, but at

least we’re getting something.”

“Mulder, do you really think it’s a conspiracy at work here?” she asked as he headed

toward the door.

He stopped and turned back to look at her, his expression perplexed. “I don’t know,

Scully. At first it sure sounded like it, but now — I just don’t know.”

Skinner had more bad news when Mulder arrived at the Assistant Director’s office.

“Three more cases, this time we have a domestic violence charge in the mix,”

Skinner said, shoving the file folders across his desk so that Mulder had to lunge to

grab them before they skittered to the floor.

“We might have found a connection,” Mulder said absently as he scanned the pages

of each folder.

“What?”

“Six of the attackers had been on trips to DC within three weeks of the attacks.”

“That would point to those ‘other forces’, wouldn’t it?” Skinner asked, leaning

forward with interest.

“Not necessarily. Plus, Scully found that each of the three dead assailants had high

white blood counts.”

“I assume — ”

“She’s calling the hospitals where the others are being held as we speak. We’ll know

more this afternoon. Also, she’s going to see if she can determine the cause for the

elevated counts in the bodies.”

“Mulder, I don’t have to tell you that this is of the utmost importance. Those three

files I just gave you came in over night. I suspect more may be on the way here

today. If this is a biological weapon of some kind, I need to know immediately.

Should I be bringing in the Terrorism Task Force?”

Mulder looked at his superior with a lost expression on his face. “Sir, I realize what

you’re saying, but I just can’t make that determination yet. Aside from the trip here

and the blood tests, we have no way to connect these people. Let me dig some

more this afternoon and tonight.”

Skinner nodded reluctantly. “I can give you today. But Mulder, if we get more

cases, I’ll have to call in the big guns.”

“I understand, sir,” Mulder said rising from his seat.

Hoover Basement

5:30 pm

“Yes, Dr. Hanson, I really appreciate the call back. I was wondering if you had done

blood tests on . . . ” Scully consulted the paper on her desk, “Rachel Anderson?”

She tapped her pencil lightly on the blotter. “Yes, I’m still here. You did? Did you

test further to determine the possible cause? No, I understand. Yes, thank you for

your help.”

“Any luck?” Mulder asked, leaning back in his chair.

“Not much. Dr. Hanson in Melbourne, Florida did further testing on his patient,

Rachel Anderson — she’s the Sunday School teacher who attacked the pastor of her

church during services yesterday — her white blood count was quite high but he said

the infection was unknown. It’s the same answer I’ve gotten all day.” She sighed

deeply and rubbed the back of her neck. “Maybe Skinner’s right. If this is

consortium work, we wouldn’t be able to find the cause.”

“But they usually try to keep their experiments closer together, Scully. Like the

leper colony and the bees — ” He stopped short, he hadn’t discussed the case of

smallpox carrying bees that Skinner had stumbled onto when she was sick with

cancer and he wasn’t sure he wanted to get in to it. “I just don’t think it feels like

them.”

She shook her head and tossed her pencil in the general direction of her pencil

holder. “Then we’re at a standstill.”

“Let me see what you got out of the other doctors,” Mulder offered.

Tiredly, she handed him the set of papers. “I’m going to make another pot of

coffee.” When she returned, he was staring at one report with a puzzled expression.

“What did you find?”

“This doctor told you he thought the patient might have had an allergic reaction,”

Mulder said, handing her the paper again.

She read silently for a moment. “Yes, apparently Brian Mulligan had consumed a

large amount of chocolate the night before he became aggressive. His wife said he’d

had stomach cramps for hours before falling asleep, but when he woke up, he

appeared perfectly normal.”

“Up until he used a shopping cart as a battering ram at the local Ace Hardware,”

Mulder noted, pulling absently on his lip. “Scully, is there anyway to find out what

the assailants ate in the 24 hours before their attacks?”

Her eyes widened. “Mulder, that would be — nearly impossible! In many cases, the

individuals are heavily sedated, so they can’t be interviewed. Unless they were

married and their spouses kept tabs on what they ate — ”

“But could we at least try?” he asked innocently.

“Tonight?” she winced.

“No time like the present,” he shot back. “Please?”

She sighed. “I’ll see what I can do. But if you really want that information, I’m not

doing this alone. Here, you get half the list!”

At 9 o’clock, they called it a night. Mulder pulled on his jacket and overcoat, sticking

his hand in his pocket to locate his keys. It was then he found the claim ticket for

Scully’s watch. “Shit,” he muttered.

“Did you say something?” Scully asked, zipping the case on her laptop.

“No, nothing. Something I have to do tomorrow,” he covered.

“So, any chance I’ll get my Valentine’s present early,” she asked with a cheshire cat

grin.

“You’re definitely going to get something . . . early tomorrow morning,” he smiled in

return. “Just be sure you don’t scratch or dent it — it’s not refundable.”

3605 N Street NW

Washington DC

Valentine’s Day 7:30 am

It had been a good morning and it was only half past 7 o’clock. Mulder couldn’t wipe

the grin off his face as he finished shaving and Scully stopped on her way into the

shower to pinch his butt. How had he managed to ignore such a perfect holiday all

those lonely years of his life?

He hurried down to the kitchen and popped two pieces of whole wheat bread into the

toaster. The coffee maker had done its job and the pot was filled, giving off a

heavenly aroma. While waiting for the toast, Mulder sliced a grapefruit in half and

placed the halves in two cereal bowls. After buttering the toast, he put each piece

on a paper napkin and carried the toast and grapefruit into the dining room. Another

trip for utensils and coffee cups and his Valentine’s breakfast was complete. Finally,

he brought the foil-covered heart shaped box of chocolates out of its hiding place on

the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet and waited for Scully to arrive.

“Grapefruit, whole wheat — and not a Corn Pop in sight? This must be a holiday,”

she said, leaning over to kiss him on the cheek as he sat cutting his fruit into

sections and ladling at least a quarter cup of sugar onto the citrus.

“All for you,” he said with a smile. “After my Valentine’s Day present this morning,

you need the energy,” he added. “We both do,” he corrected himself under his

breath.

“My box of chocolates,” she exclaimed, opening up the lid and peering inside. “May I

have one now?”

“Grapefruit and chocolate? I don’t think that’s going to make it on the Food Network

any time soon,” he warned.

“You’re probably right. Besides, if I save them, maybe someone will be coerced into

feeding them to me later tonight,” she said coyly.

“If you’re looking for volunteers for that duty, don’t ask Skinner. I’ve heard he’s a

pig for chocolate.” He ducked her swat at his behind as he got up to get another cup

of coffee.

She looked over her selections. “It won’t hurt if I sneak a couple with me when we

head to the office,” she whispered to the box. Picking carefully, she chose three of

the plumpest bon bons, wrapped them in a paper napkin and secreted them in her

pocket.

Hoover Building

10:45 am

They had just made it to the office at 8 when Skinner called. There had been five

more attacks in the previous 12 hours. Scully was tapped to perform three

autopsies. With a quick peck on Mulder’s cheek, she headed out to the morgue at

Quantico, leaving her partner to wade through the listing of all foods consumed by

the earlier assailants.

By mid morning, he’d picked up a pattern. At first, he thought it was just a

subconscious correlation resulting from all the Valentine’s festivities in the office and

on the radio on the way to work. But after reading over the stomach contents of the

autopsies, he knew he’d stumbled on part of the answer.

FBI Academy and Labs

Quantico, Virginia

1:30 pm

She felt itchy. All over. Her clothes were too tight, the very air brushing her skin

was rough and scaly. And that damned buzzing in her ear was about to drive her

crazy!

She’d only gone over to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee. Why was everyone staring

at her? They were mumbling about her behind her back as she stood in line at the

cash register. What the hell were they talking about?

The guy in the brown suit — he was staring at her. Had she seen him before? But

the man she thought he looked like was dead. Now he was back? It wouldn’t be the

first time that had happened.

Trapped! He was blocking her way to the door. She had to do something and fast!

Her gun —

Strong arms reached around her, stopping her from pulling her weapon. She fought

her attacker but his embrace wasn’t bruising, it was tender and he kept a running

monologue in her ear.

“No, Scully. No. It’s OK. You’re safe. I’ve got you. I’ve got you and I won’t let

anyone hurt you.”

As she struggled, both physically and mentally through the fog, she recognized that

voice. “Mulder?” she asked, just before the darkness engulfed her.

Northeast Georgetown Medical Center

9:15 pm

When she opened her eyes, he was smiling down at her.

“Good morning, starshine,” he quipped, lowering the bedrail so he could sit beside

her and take her hand. “How are you feeling?”

Scully closed her eyes and took a silent inventory. “My head is killing me. My eyes

are burning. Do I have a fever?”

“A low grade one, yes,” Mulder replied. “You have an infection. The doctor wants

you to stay put for a day, let the antibiotics get a head start. Then I can take you

home.”

“Mulder, what the hell happened?” she demanded, suddenly remembering her fear in

the cafeteria.

“It’s OK, relax,” he soothed, and pushed her gently back against the pillows. “I

poisoned you.”

“You what?!” she challenged.

“Well, I didn’t do it on purpose,” he balked. “The chocolates I got you for Valentine’s

Day had an extra surprise — a previously unknown bacteria that induces paranoia

and aggression in some individuals. Apparently only the cherry cream ones are the

problem, but I tossed the whole box. And I called your mom and Tara. They’re

getting flowers to replace the candy. The arrangements will be delivered tomorrow –

– I couldn’t find a florist who wasn’t booked up this afternoon.”

“Mulder, the chocolates? I don’t understand.”

He sighed and shrugged. “I bought your chocolates at a little store on Wisconsin

Avenue. The owner, Mr. Chekov — distant relation to the writer but no connection to

the character on the original Star Trek — likes to make candy the old fashioned way,

the way they did it back in the old country.”

“Old country?”

“One of the Baltic States, apparently. Anyway, he’s had a horrible time finding

natural cherry flavoring that really tastes like he remembers from his childhood. So

he found a supplier back in the old country. Unfortunately, the supplier also likes to

do things the old fashioned way, and somehow the natural cherry got contaminated

with this bacteria — ”

“Why does this sound frighteningly like a tattoo incident from several years ago?”

she muttered.

“Suffice it to say, this was a little more widespread. Mr. Chekov had just started a

website last fall and we had quite a time tracking down all the potential victims.”

“Did everyone who ate the cherry creams go — ” She left the word ‘crazy’ off the

sentence, it was just too close to home.

“Not everyone. Or rather some people had stronger reactions than others. But we

did manage to get hold of everyone. He does almost all of his business with credit

cards, thank heavens. Skinner had all the whole VCU tracking down the phone

numbers from the credit card receipts. The District Department of Public Health is

checking out his store but if it’s clear that it was just the one ingredient, he’ll

probably get off with a warning.”

“People died, Mulder,” she said sadly.

He looked contrite. “I know. Mr. Chekov is really upset about it. But it only

heightened paranoia, Scully. I know that’s no excuse — ”

“Are you saying I’m paranoid, Mulder?” she asked, raising an eyebrow in defiance.

“So, since I totally botched the candy part of Valentines, and the lab rats at Quantico

decided to get you flowers,” he said, nodding to the tasteful display of cut flowers

and balloons on the windowsill, “you are still owed a present.”

“I thought you said I couldn’t go home till tomorrow, Mulder,” she said flirtatiously.

“I’m not talking about that present,” he replied. He reached into his pocket and

withdrew a long, thin velvet box. “Scully, will you be my Valentine?” he asked with a

boyish gleam to his eyes.

“I don’t know. I’ll have to check my social calendar,” she answered, but held her

hand out for the box. “What did you do, Mulder?”

He laughed out loud. “After all this, how can you ask me that?” He gazed at her as

she gingerly opened the box.

“Oh, Mulder, it’s beautiful!” She took the watch out, carefully examining it. She

turned it over in her hand and stared at the inscription on the back.

“The truth is in us,” she recited softly, tears welling in her eyes.

“Your last one — ” he started to speak, but she hushed him with one finger to his

lips.

“It’s beautiful. You out did yourself, again. Thank you.” She held it out for him to

fasten onto her wrist. She admired it for a while and then protectively unclasped it

and handed it to him. “You should take it home with you, I don’t want to tempt fate

by leaving it here all night.”

“Who said I was leaving,” he countered. Fastening the watch to her wrist again he

carefully slid her over and laid down next to her, holding her close.

“Happy Valentine’s Day, my love,” he whispered. She snuggled into his embrace and

the both fell fast asleep.

The End

Credit Due: To my son Patrick, who thought up the idea of the bacteria that caused

aggression and paranoia. He also dreamed up the title for the story. His original

idea was a chocolate monster that ate people, but we’ll save the case for next year.

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