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The Love Bug

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From: ephemeral@ephemeralfic.org

Date: 3 Dec 2002 03:26:29 -0000

Subject: The Love Bug (part one) by Girlie_girl7

Source: direct


Reply To: FoxfireX_00@yahoo.com



Title: The Love Bug (or how I learned to stop worrying about the

bomb and love my partner)

Author: Girlie_girl7

EM: Girlie_girl74@yahoo.com

Date: 11-11-02

Category: XF, M&S, RST

Spoilers: Deep Throat, Darkness Falls, Detour, Rain King,

Hollywood AD, Brand X, set somewhere after Brand X

Rating: PG to R

Beta by FoxFireX

Archive: Anywhere

Disclaimer: Fox owns 'em not me.

Summary: "Is it the love bug or jus' a big ol'


(First Part)


                       ~ The Love Bug ~



Dana Scully walks into the basement office of the X Files, her

partner Fox Mulder is already there.  She takes off her trench

coat, shaking off the rain, hanging in on the coat rack.  Mulder

is pouring over a pile of papers, shifting from one to the other.

He leans back in his chair with one foot braced against the desk.

Scully is certain the day will come when she will have to suture

up the back of Mulder's head after he tumbles out of the chair.


"Morning Mulder."


"Good morning Scully and how are you on this fine May morning?"


"I'm fine," Scully replies unsure what's up with Mulder but sure

enough to know it can't be good.  Scully takes her place before

her PC and fires it up.  She straightens the papers on her desk

while waiting.  The pens and pencils are straightened out and her

desk lamp is lit.  Mulder glances over to watch the ritual he has

been a witness to everyday he has worked with this woman.


Scully looks up to see Mulder smiling at her.  "What?" She

finally asks.


Mulder plops his feet on the floor and moves around to sit on

the edge of Scully's desk.  "Ever heard of the love bug?"


Scully places the last sharpened pencil back into her drawer.

"Yeah, it was a Disney movie made many years ago."


"No! Not the love bug car," Mulder whines.


"Obviously Mulder, you and I are not on the same page."


Mulder jumps off the desk and stalks around the room.  "Each

may in a small southern Indiana town a mysterious bug appears.

People fall in love, marriage rates soar and nine months later

so does the birth rate."


"Mulder, you're not suggesting the bugs have anything to do

with it?  It could just be an anomaly or a coincidence."


"No Scully, these people weren't involved in long term

relationships.  One woman married a man who stopped at her

roadside vegetable stand."




"Another woman married her mailman."




"A jailer fell in love with, married and impregnated a woman he

had jailed for shop lifting, all in one night."






"None of this is an X File.  It might be unusual but. . ."


Mulder grabs the arms of Scully's chair and leans over her.

"Scully a farmer married his cow."


"When do we leave?"




Part 1.



Heading southwest out of Indianapolis on State Road 67 Mulder

is looking for a small town called Bushrod.  Now in Indiana,

Indianapolis is a big, big city; Bedford is a big city;

Boonville is a city; Winslow is a town; Snake Run is a small

town and Bushrod is smaller than Snake Run.  The joke going around

Snake Run is 'they're finally getting a stop light and they even

have the colors picked out'.  Bushrod can only dream of picking out



Bushrods' only claim to fame came in 1954.  In that great year in

the annals of Bushrod history, they were beaten in

high school basketball by Milan who went on to upset Muncie Central

in the state finals.  Now, as all true basketball fans know, Milan

is the team the movie Hoosiers was based on.  Other than that,

Bushrod doesn't have much to offer. 


Snuggled in the rolling limestone hills of southern Indiana, Bushrod

has a post office and a combination grocery, gas station, hardware

store.  Convenience stores are far into Bushrods' future. 


It has a tavern and a small city hall that had once been the high

school until consolidation hit the small Indiana towns.  The

offices of the town manager, the fire chief and the chief of police

are all house there, along with the city jail.  The chief of police

is the only paying position.  The fire chief and the town manager

are all volunteer positions held by the chief of police.  He

figures if he has to be there, he might as well keep busy.


All roads in Bushrod are dirt, gravel being too expensive to put

down.  The 30 or so homes that line the tiny town mostly house

retirees and stone cutters.  The 'cutters' as they are known

locally, all work in the limestone pits.  The people who live just

outside town are all farmers.  Each night those that drink, not

the God fearing ones, amble in to Bushrods' tavern, The Cut Dog.

Fights among the cutters and the farmers are rough and frequent.

Many a night Chief Dale Mentzer has had to roll out of bed and

head down to The Cut Dog where 'head knockin' was going on.

He usually just jailed one of the offenders and sent the other

one home.  Knowing full well that on a rough night the drunks would

just start fighting again he'd close the tavern down to insure his

sleep would remain uninterrupted.



A red Ford Taurus trailing a cloud of late spring dust blows into

town.  Fox Mulder pulls the car up to the city hall.  The bell

above the door announces his and Scully's arrival.  Out of the

former principals office comes Chief Dale Mentzer.  The chief is

a portly man with a head of unruly gray hair.  He doesn't drink,

so he does the only other thing worth doing in the area, he eats.


Mulder extends his hand to the chief.  "I'm Special Agent Fox Mulder

and this is Special Agent Dana Scully.  We're with the FBI."  The

chief looks puzzled.  "Okay. I'm Chief Dale Mentzer."  The chief

turns his head slightly.  "You folks lost?"


Mulder smiles,  "No sir, we're here investigating a. . .,"  Mulder

looks over at Scully, "Actually umm. . ." 


Scully chimes in, "We heard about the love bugs."


The chief frowns.  "Oh yeah, you mean those itty bitty critters

that comes out ever' May and cause this town to go nuts!" 


"So you've seen them," Mulder jumps in suddenly excited.


"Hell yes, I've seen 'em.  About as big around as the end of a

lead pencil and black as coal."


"Do they bite?"  Mulder quizzes.


"Naw, not so's you'd notice. They do smell funny when ya squish



Scully looks up with a frown on her face.  "What do you mean

they cause the town to go nuts?"


"Well, ever' body gets all friendly like and treats each other

real nice.  Hell my jailer Nub, ran off with Bessie Whitehead

last year.  Bessie gave birth to Nub Junior then she filed for

divorce and this year when the bugs came back she ran off with

a trucker."


Mulder is about to speak but thinks better of it.  Scully isn't

as easily dissuaded.  "Sir, are the bugs here now," she says

pointing to the ground.


"Yeah, they started swarmin' 'bout a week ago."


"Is there a particular time of the day the insects come out?"

Scully questions.


"Well mostly at sunset but ya can see 'em anytime of the day."


"Sir, could I get you to make a list of the people that you

think may have been affected by the bug?"


"Well. . .Agent Scully is it?"


Scully nods her head.


"Well Agent Scully, I can draw ya up one if ya want."


"Thanks chief. How long has this phenomena been going on?"


The chief grabs his chin, deep in thought.  "Well I'd say

'bout fifty years now."


"And no one has made a big deal out of this?"


"Well, you are," the chief looks at Scully.  Mulder grins

at her and nods.


"Chief do you have a motel. . ."  Mulder can tell by the look

on the chief's face there is no use in finishing his question.


"Naw.  Mae Gimbert can put cha up.   She takes in sleepers fer

extra money but she only takes cash 'cause she don't want the

government takin' her social security checks."


"I understand chief," Mulder smiles.  "Can you direct us to

Ms. Gimbert's house?"


"Sure, but don't go callin' her Ms.  Mae don't agree with

NOW. Come on she jus' lives a few houses from here."


Mulder and Scully return to the car.  Scully turns to look at

Mulder.  "Just how long do you intend to be in 'Mayberry'

looking for the love bug?"


"As long as it takes Scully and it's Bushrod," Mulder says

starting the car.


Scully looks up to see Chief Mentzer standing before a house

three doors down.  "Mulder the chief is waving at us.  Better

get moving."


Mulder drives the car 150 feet.  They stop before a white,

two- story clapboard house.  It's surrounded by a neat little

flower garden in the front and right side and on the left is a

row of lilac bushes, an old woman is sitting on the front porch

swing. Chief Mentzer meets Mulder at the bottom of the porch

steps.  "Agent Mulder, Mae says she's got a room fer ya."


Scully looks at Mulder.  He glances back.  "Chief we need two

rooms if she has them."


The chief takes off his hat and scratches his head.  "Mae only has

the one room but it has got two beds."


Scully rolls her eyes.  Mulder knows she doesn't like the

arrangement but she can live with it.  "Okay Chief, we'll take



Mulder unloads their bags from the trunk while Scully grabs

the notebooks and case files.


The chief steps onto the porch and walks over to Mae.  She's a

tiny woman, even smaller than Scully.  Her white hair is pulled

back into a bun and her long print dress is covered by a crisp

white apron.  Her hands reflect the hard life the people in these

parts live.



"Mae!"  The chief shouts then turns to Mulder and Scully.  "She's

a little hard hearin'."  He turns back to the old woman.  "Mae,

this is Agent's Mulder and Scully.  They're with the FBI in

Washington, Dee-Cee.  They need yer spare room."


Mae eyes the agents, then slowly gets out of the swing.

"Twelve dollars a night, no checks, no credit and no debit

cards.  One night in advance."


Scully holds back a laugh while Mulder pulls out his wallet

and hands Mae a twenty-dollar bill and a five.


Mae frowns.  "Can't ya figger son.  I said twelve-dollars."


"That's for each of us," Mulder yells so the old woman can

hear him.


"I don't charge by the head son."


Mulder pulls out a ten-dollar bill and two singles.  The little

woman takes the money from his hand and tucks it in her

apron pocket.


The chief steps off the porch and turns back.  "Agents, if ya

need any help jus' call me.  Oh an' Agent Scully I'll get right

on that list fer ya."  "Thanks," Scully replies walking to the



Scully and Mulder are standing in Mae's living room.  It looks

like any other little old ladies living room, doilies on the

chair arms, an upright piano, a black and white television on

a stand and a life size cutout of James Dean standing in the



Scully jumps at the sight of the cardboard James Dean.

"Shit!"  She says clutching her chest.   Mulder looks up to

see what the commotion is all about and he too jumps.


Mae shuffles back into the living room.  Mulder yells, "Sorry

Miss. Mrs. Gimbert."  Mulder points to the cutout.  "That thing

took Agent Scully and myself by surprise."


Mae frowns and covers her ears.  "Stop yellin' at me sonny.

I don't know where in the hell Dale got the idea I was hard



"Sorry," Mulder says in a normal tone.


"Damn fool cop," Mae mumbles as she shuffles over to the cardboard

cutout of James Dean.  "You know who this is don't cha?"


Scully takes in the cutout; the red jacket, the loose fitting

blue jeans, the finger's clutching the cigarette.  "It's James

Dean isn't it?"


"Sure is little lady, from his movie, Rebel Without a Cause.

Best damn movie ever made."  Mae runs her fingers reverently

over the cutout.  "He's a fellow Hoosier, born an' raised in

Fairmount.  A good boy, that died too young," Mae's voice trails



Mulder walks over to get a closer look at the cutout.  "This

is an impressive piece of movie memorabilia you've got here



"You think that's impressive sonny?"  Mae motions for Mulder

to follow her.  She leads him to a set of closed oak pocket

doors and slowly slides them apart.


Both Mulder and Scully stand before the open doors speechless.

The room that had once been the dining room was now a shrine

to James Dean.  The walls are covered in studio photos, movie

posters, and various James Dean memorabilia.  The dining room

table is overflowing with James Dean commemorative cups and

spoons and various other items bearing his likeness.  Mae slowly

walks to a sweater hanging near a window.  "This is my prize

possession.  I'm only tellin' ya this 'cause. . .  well hell if

ya can't trust the FBI who can ya trust."   Mae runs a bony hand

over the soft red sweater with a large 'F' embroidered on the front.

"This was Jimmy's high school sweater.  He lettered in basketball

at Fairmount."


Mulder can see tears in the old woman's eyes. 


"Shit!"  Mae barks.  "You two come here for a room not a tour."

She shuffles from the dining room letting Mulder pull the doors

shut behind her.  Mae climbs the creaky old stairs to the second

floor with Mulder and Scully right behind her. She grabs the

crystal doorknob and gives it a turn.  "This is yer room.

The next one is the bathroom and the one next to that is mine.

I'll have breakfast on the table no later than 6 am and supper

on the table no earlier than 6 pm.  Lunch ya can git at the

tavern or the grocery makes a mean baloney sandwich.  Ask for

Smudge, he'll toss ya in an extree slice fer free."  Mae winks,

stepping around Mulder and Scully she heads back down the stairs. 


Mulder flings the door open and lets Scully step in first.

"Mulder," she whines, dropping her shoulders.


"What?  The chief said she had two beds."


"Mulder," Scully glares at him, "these are bunk beds!"




Part 2.




"I get the top bunk," Scully says while hanging her suit jacket

in the closet.


"I always knew you'd want to be on top Scully."


Scully glares at him.  "You have got 70 pounds on me Mulder.

I don't want you to come crashing down on me in the middle

of the night."


Mulder removes his jacket and tie and is about to unbuckle his

belt when Scully finally looks up.  "Mulder! What do you think

you're doing?"


"I'm changing into my running clothes.  I want to see the town

and thought I'd go for a run."


"Then change in the bathroom," Scully huffs.


Mulder gives her a large smile.  "If you don't like what you're

about to see then you go to the bathroom."


Scully grabs her makeup case.  "To bad for you I need to

freshen up."


"I can wait," Mulder says as she shuts the bedroom door.



Scully comes out of the bathroom to find Mulder gone and his

clothes lying where he'd taken them off.  She smiles and

shakes her head, picking up his things and depositing them

on his bunk.  She places her makeup case on the bureau and

grabs the case containing her notebook and paperwork.


Scully heads down stairs to find Mae sitting in the living

room watching Bill O'Reilly on Fox News.  She enters the room.

"Mrs. . ."


Mae raises her hand.  "Stop right there' Missy.  It's just Mae.

I'm not a Miss and I ain't been a Mrs. in over forty years.


"Okay," Scully smiles at Mae.  "Can I use your kitchen table

to do some work?"


Mae gets up from her chair and shuffles over to the television

and shuts it off.  "Missy you can use anything I got but

don't touch my Jimmy Dean things."


Scully drops her head and runs her tongue over her lips,

stifling a laugh.  "I can assure you Mae, your collection

is safe with me."


The old woman leads Scully into the kitchen.  "Care for

somethin' cold?"


"Sure.  I'd like that and you can call me Dana."


Mae looks over her shoulder at Scully and pulls the old

refrigerator door open.  She bends down and peeks in.

"What'll it be, Bud, Micheloeb, Mike's Hard Lemonade?" 


Scully looks at the old woman with wide eyes.  "I'm on

duty Mae."


"Shit!  That's right," Mae grumbles, shoving around the aluminum

cans in the 'fridge she pulls out an orange Crush.  "Hope ya

like orange.  I'm all out a grape."


"Orange will be fine."  Scully takes the offered can and pops

the top while Mae chugs down her Bud.


"The best beer use to be Schlitz but the big boys put 'em out

a business."  Mae gets up to grab a fly swatter, mashing a green

fly against the side of the old wringer washer.


"Was that a love big?"  Scully asks.


Mae looks at Scully and laughs, "Don't tell me you believe in

that crap!"


Scully blushes.  "No actually it's my partner.  I need a few

more facts before I'm convinced."


Scully takes another drink.  "So what is your opinion of what's

been happening around here?"


Mae shrugs and sits down next to Scully at the table.  "Personally

I think this love bug business is a load of shit."  The old woman

takes another swig from her beer can and kills another fly.

"But somethin' does smell 'round here and it ain't the manure."


"Why do you say that?"


"I believe there is somethin' weird goin' on here Dana but I

don't think it's a damn bug."


Scully looks at Mae and listens.  Mae leans in and pokes her

bony finger down on the oilcloth covering the table.  "I think

it has somethin' to do with the cutters."


"The cutters?"  Scully asks with a puzzled look on her face.


"The cutters Dana, the limestone cutters.  You know all those

big beautiful buildin's in Washington Dee-Cee?"




"Well all those buildin's are made from Indiana limestone quarried

from the pits 'round here.  These boys dig that stone out of the

ground and cut it so they call 'em cutters."


"Why do you think the cutters are involved?"


Mae gets exasperated.  "I don't think they's involved.  I think

they's the only ones to be affected by this damn craziness."


"But I thought the jailer was affected too as was his female



"They was but the jailer, Nub Haney, worked in the pits 'til he

wanted to better himself an' he become the jailer.  Bessie

Whitehead did the payroll at the pit 'til they caught her

stealin'."  Mae takes a swig of her Bud.  "Then she moved on

to shop liftin'.  Guess it was too good o' occupation to give

up," Mae laughs.


Just then a siren is heard.  Scully gets up and hurries to

the front door with Mae trailing behind her.  Mulder steps

out of the back of the police car in handcuffs. 


Chief Mentzer unlocks the cuffs as Mulder rubs his sore wrist.

"Sorry Agent Mulder but Dink Covey wouldn't be satisfied if

I didn't cuff ya."


"Not a problem."  Mulder mumbles, leaning against the police car.


"Mulder what happened?"  Scully says as she runs down the porch



"Ain't nothin' goin' on Agent Scully.  Yer partner here was

out runnin' and Dink Covey mistook him fer a terrorist."


Mulder pushes himself off the police car and steps close to

Scully.  "He stepped out from behind a barn with a double barreled

shot gun Scully!  Then he marched me off to his pickup and made me

ride in back while he held the gun out the back window.  I was

certain I was going to die, if not by a gunshot blast then from

his crazy driving!"


"That damn fool!"  Mae swears from the porch.  "He's been pissed

ever since they disbanded the local John Bircher's.  He's sure

we're 'bout to be invaded by little green men."


Mulder leans into Scully and whispers, "Maybe he isn't all bad."


Chief Mentzer opens the car door.  "Sorry 'bout that agents.

I'll straighten Dink out."  The chief starts up the car, leaving

a large dust cloud that sends Mulder into a coughing fit.


"Better git in here Mr. Mulder for ya hack up a lung," Mae says

holding the screen door open for the agents.  Scully leads Mulder

into the house.  He stands in the living room gasping for air.


"Mulder," Scully moves around him with concern on her face,

"you better go upstairs and change.  Take a shower and cool down."


Mulder keeps coughing as he slowly climbs the stairs with

Scully watching him.


Mae looks over at Scully.  "Kinda spindly ain't he?"


Scully throws Mae a confused look.  "No actually he's very

fit.  He had a bad lung infestation a few months back," Scully

lowers her head and then looks back up the stairs.  "I worry

about him."


Mae slowly walks toward the kitchen.  "I don't know 'bout

Washington Dee-Cee but 'round here he'd be considered spindly.

These boys here need bulk and muscle to work in the pits and

the fields."


Scully smiles at Mae.  "Mulder has to rely on his speed.

He gets himself into some sticky situations."


"And you pull his ass out of the fire, huh?"  Mae laughs.


Scully blushes.  "Something like that."


Mae winks.  "And you think it's a fine ass." Scully stands stone

stiff choosing to ignore that right on target comment.


Mae moves slowly across the kitchen and pulls the refrigerator

door open.  Scully stiffens, afraid Mae is heading for another

Bud.  Mae slams the door shut and slaps a plucked chicken on

the counter.  "Ya like chicken?"


"Yes but don't put yourself out for us." 


"No trouble Dana, I gotta eat too."  The old woman smiles bringing

a butcher knife down on the poor birds neck with a crack.  "Be here

at six and I'll fatten up that partner a yers."


Scully heads upstairs to find Mulder sitting on his bunk tying

his dress shoes.  His shirt is open and his hair is standing at

attention.  "Scully I want to interview some of the people who have

been married in the months of May and June then tonight I want to

look for those bugs."


Scully sits down on the bunk next to him.  "Mulder wait, I've talked

to Mae about this love bug."


Mulder finishes tying his shoes.  "And?"


"And she thinks it's a load of shit."


Mulder stops straightening out his shirt collar and stands up.

"She does.  Why?"


"She is of the opinion that there is something going on, but

Mulder did you know all the people affected have a connection

to the limestone quarries."


"They do?"  Mulder says, buttoning up his shirt.


"Mae says they do."


"Even the jailer?"


"The jailer and his prisoner."




"Yes," Scully nods.


Mulder unzips his pants to tuck in his shirt.  Scully looks away

but then returns her gaze to Mulder's face.  "I think we need to

see the list the chief is working on."


"I do too."  Mulder grabs his jacket and heads for the door.

"Come on."


"Where are we going?"  Scully asks, pushing herself off the bunk.


"To The Cut Dog."





Part 3.



Mulder pushes open the front door to the musty dark tavern.

The jukebox is softly playing a Hank Williams song while the

smell of alcohol permeates the air.  He pauses, allowing his

eyes to adjust to the darkness.   The walls are covered in old sports

memorabilia and the occasional stuffed animal head.  The tables and

chairs are made of maple and look like they came right out of a John

Wayne movie.  Behind the bar where a large mirror once hung is a

live-action poster of Payton Manning.  Mulder picks his way between

the chairs and takes a stool at the bar with Scully sitting down next

to him. 


A tall dark-haired man in his early sixties appears from the back

room.  He is wearing an Indianapolis Colts' jersey under his white

bar apron.  "You two wanna beer?"


"No thanks," Mulder says, "we're working."


The bar owner grabs a towel and runs it over the wood surface

of the bar.  "I know, the chief told me you was with the FBI.

So you want somethin' else?"


Mulder nods.  "We'll both have an ice tea."


The bar owner places two tall glasses of ice tea before Mulder and

Scully.  He moves off to the side, never taking his eyes off them.

"We don't get many fed's down this way 'cept fer the ATF boys."


Mulder isn't sure he wants to know why the Bureau of Alcohol,

Tobacco and Firearms would be in Bushrod.  "We're here investigating

a mysterious insect that seems to inhabit this area."


"You mean the love bug?"  The bartender says, opening a huge jar

of pickled eggs.


"You've seen them?"  Mulder says as he takes another drink from

his glass.


"Sure I have.  Ever'time I go 'shroom huntin'."


"Shroom' hunting?"  Scully asks.


"Sure!  Ain't ya never been 'shroom huntin' Agent Scully?"


Scully frowns.   "How did you know my name?"


"The chief told me Scully was the purdy one so I figgered it wasn't

him," pointing at Mulder, "not that you ain't good lookin' in a

spindly kinda way.  But we don't talk about men thattaway in

these parts." 


Scully looks at Mulder and smiles at the blush that covers

his face.


"Anyways, I was out 'shroom huntin' just the other night, ran

across some nice sheepheads and found some sponges near as big

as my fist."


"You hunt mushrooms!"  Scully says finally understanding.


"Sure!  What'd ya think I was huntin'?  Anyways them little

critters was all over the place."


Mulder finally speaks up.  "Mr. . ."


"Strap, Strap Wilson," the bar owner replies.


"Okay, Mr. Wilson."


"You all can call me Strap.  That ain't my real first name but

hell, I just hate my real name."


"What is it?"  Mulder asks.


"Fox," the bar owner complains.  "Ain't that the most piss poor

name to stick on a kid!"


Scully chokes on her ice tea.  Strap gives her a concerned look.

"You okay ma'am?"


Scully coughs and in a raspy voice replies, "Yes, yes I'm fine."


Mulder glances at Scully then questions Strap further.  "Does

everyone here eat mushrooms?"


Strap pauses, deep in though or as deep as he'll ever get.  "I guess

so.  Ain't never seen anyone turn down a 'shroom before."


Scully interrupts, "Mr. Wilson have you witnessed any unusual

behavior among the cutters?"  Scully is still in agreement

with Mae that it might just be an anomaly common to the cutters.


Strap pauses once again.  He's never been asked so many questions

in one day and he's finding it hard to concentrate.

"Naw, 'cept that time Toad Hendrick dressed that goat up in his pa's

tuxedo."  Strap stares off into space.  "Fit real nice too.  His pa

was kinda spindly, just like him."  Strap nods at Mulder.


Scully continues,  "So you haven't seen the kind of behavior that the

bug is suppose to cause among the cutters?"


"Oh that!  Sure I have.  They get all nice and lovey-dovey.  Scares

the hell out a me," Strap says, mopping the bar with a rag.


Scully is still stuck on the part the cutters play in this X File.

"So you think the bug makes the cutters this way?"


"Well, I don't rightly know if it's the bug.  I do know that eleven

months out a the year they'd jus' soon piss on ya as to say 'cuse me

but soon as May rolls 'round they change."


Scully frowns and pauses in thought then speaks up again, "Do any

other people change too?"


"The only other people we got is farmers."


"Do they change too?"


"I recon' so but the change in the cutters scares 'em so they mostly

keep to themselves 'til the first fist flies then they know it's

safe to come out."


Mulder has been taking in the conversation.  "Strap do you

personally know any of the people that were affected by this

love bug."


"Well sir, there's Granville Banger fer one."


Mulder looks surprised.  "He was affected?"


"I guess so.  Ol' Gran never had any inclination to get hitched

and then 'bout three years a go this month he met Elsie and

fell in love."


Mulder scrunches up his face.  "She wasn't a cow was she?"


"No sir.  She was a big woman but I wouldn't call her no cow."


Scully suppresses a smile and takes over.  "So what happened?"


"Well, like I said he met Elsie, fell in love and was married by

the end of May."


"Did it last?"


"Oh yeah, right up 'til she left him fer that door to door salesman.

She said he could show her the world and they moved to Terra Haute."


Mulder looks at Scully and pulls out his wallet, placing two bills

on the bar.  "Thanks Strap, you've been very helpful."


Mulder meets Scully outside the door.  "Come on Scully while I

still have a drop of testosterone left."


"Oh Mulder you're not that spindly."



Part 4.



Mulder couldn't remember the last time he had eaten so much.  Mae

had stuffed him with fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green

beans and hot biscuits.  She topped the meal off with homemade

strawberry pie. 


Scully helped Mae tidy up the kitchen and then made her way up the

stairs to the bedroom.  Mulder is clad in jeans and a flannel shirt

over a gray tee shirt.  He is going through his overnight bag.  "Hey

Scully did you pack a flashlight?"


Scully grabs her suitcase and pulls out a large flashlight.


"Holy shit Scully!  There is no way I can compete with that thing!"


Scully walks seductively over to Mulder and speaking in a low sexy

voice says, "Mulder have I ever complained about the size of your

flashlight."  Then she slaps the flashlight into Mulder's palm.  He

is too stunned to reply.


"I'll see you in the car."  With that Scully turns to leave their

room. Mulder drops down on the bunk unsure of what just happened

but sure

of one thing, he likes it what ever it was.



Mulder has been given directions for the best place to view the

bugs by Chief Mentzer.  He drives a couple miles outside of town

and turns off onto a cow path, pulling up to a gate he shuts off

the engine.


"Mulder wait," Scully says pulling out a tiny flat packet from

her pocket. 


Mulder's eyes grow large. "Scully!  Just what do you think we're

going to be doing tonight?"  


Scully looks at the packet and then up at her partner.  "Mulder,

this is protection but not the kind you're thinking of."  She

rips open the little packet and takes out a tiny white cloth.

"It's an Off towelette," she says handing it to Mulder.  "Here wipe

your exposed skin with this."


"Damn!  And I thought I was going to get lucky tonight."


Scully rips open another towelette and runs it across her face.

"The evening is still young Agent Mulder."


Mulder is speechless for the second time tonight.


Scully tosses the used cloths into the car.  "So where to now?"


Mulder unlatches the gate and holds it open for Scully.  "The chief

said if we follow this path it will take us down to the stone cuts."

Mulder walks a few steps ahead of Scully.  "Water percolates up

from beneath the old cuts, producing a man made lake.  The bugs

swarm there."


They walk along the path that starts getting deeper into the

undergrowth and large trees.  Mulder calculates they've walked about

three-quarters of a mile when the trees give way to an opening.

Before them is a huge quarry with solid limestone walls and a lake

at the bottom.  The water is clear and shimmering in the fast fading

sun.  Over the years small trees have take root on the sheer rock

surfaces and add some greenery to the gray background. 


Scully steps around Mulder and sits down on a limestone outcropping.

"This is amazing."


"Yes, it is."  Mulder pulls a small pair of binoculars out of his

pocket and raises them to his eyes, scanning the quarry.


"You think we'll see any bugs?"  Scully takes off her shoe and dumps

out a rather large piece of limestone.


Mulder drops the binoculars from his eyes.  "I hope so, other wise

we've got some real explaining to do on the expense report."


Mulder looks back across the quarry and frowns.  He brings the

binoculars to his eyes once more.


Scully notices the slight change in Mulder.  She turns to stare

out over the pit.  "What is it?"


Mulder takes the binoculars down and points to the right side of

the pit.  "There they are."


"Where?"  Scully jumps up, placing her hand above her eyes shading

them from the setting sun.  Mulder places his hand on her shoulder

and points once again at the pit.  "There." 


He hands her the binoculars and bends down until his face is level

with hers, his cheek is next to hers and his hand is draped over

her shoulder.   A fact not lost on Scully. 


"Oh I see them!  They look like tiny black dots moving in a large

cloud."  Suddenly Scully drops the binoculars and looks at Mulder.

"You don't think they're anything like the insects we ran into in

the Washington forest do you?"


Mulder's mind flashes back to the fear Scully felt for the

luminescent insects that nearly cost them their lives.  "No not

at all.  People have lived with these bugs for nearly 50 years

without any mysterious or unexplained deaths having been

reported."  Mulder squeezes her shoulders.  "Would I let anything

happen to you Scully?"


Scully looks up at the concern on Mulder's face.  "Not

intentionally, no."


Mulder releases Scully's shoulders and bends down picking at

the ground.  "What are you looking for Mulder?"


I thought I might find some insects or evidence of them."


Scully walks around the stone she has been sitting on.  "I'll

check the trees out."


Mulder pulls out a plastic evidence bag and places the bits he's

picked up into it.  Suddenly Scully calls out, "Mulder come take

a look at this."  He runs over to the tree line and spots Scully

about 50 yards in. "What is it?"


Scully hands Mulder a leaf.  He turns it over to find it's covered

in fine brown grit.  "Mulder, hand me those binoculars."  Scully

takes them and the leaf back to the rock.  "Turn on the flashlight

and hold the beam on the leaf."  Mulder does as she asks.  Scully

moves back slightly to adjust the binoculars then stops.

"Look at this!"  She hands the binoculars to Mulder while she

holds the flashlight.  Mulder looks down at the leaf.


"What do you think it is Scully?"


"I'm not sure.  It looks like insect eggs."


Mulder pulls another evidence bag out and gently places the leaf

into it.  "Come on Scully I think we've found our smoking leaf."

Scully huffs at the bad joke and follows Mulder back down the path. 


The sun is just below the edge of the horizon when the two agents

emerge from the trees.  They are only two hundred feet from the

gate when Scully pauses.  "Mulder, do you hear something?"


"No.  What do you think you hear?"


"I don't know but I thought I heard an animal."


Mulder starts walking again.  "Maybe it was a woodchuck."


Scully stops.  "A woodchuck!  Mulder, just what kind of Indian

Guide were you?"


Mulder's eyes are drawn to a point over Scully's shoulder.

"Could that sound have been a bull?  Run Scully!"


Scully doesn't even pause to turn around.  She shoots for the gate.

Mulder is right beside her but not for long.  His longer stride

carrying him closer to the gate.  He hits the bottom cross bar and

climbs over it, turning just in time to see Scully swing herself over

the top and come crashing to the ground in a heap.  The bull stops

short of the gate, snorts and moseys off.


"Dammit Mulder!  You seem to attract cows!  If they aren't crashing

into your room, they're chasing you!"  Mulder gathers his breath and

reaches down to help Scully up.


"Hell Scully!  That red hair of yours is like waving a red flag at

that thing."


"My hair has nothing to do with it."  Scully huffs as she accepts

Mulder's hand.  "Ouch!"  Scully looks over her back as she

rubs her hand across her backside.  "My ass is going to be sore!"


Mulder pulls her up close to his chest.  "Want me to kiss it

and make it all better?"


"You wish!"  Scully gives him a wide grin.


Mulder laughs and takes her elbow.  "Come on let's go home."




Part 5.



Mulder is in the shower when Scully enters their room.  She lays

out her nightwear and opens the windows, letting in the breeze.

She can feel the dust on her face and around her neck; she definitely

needs a shower. 


The bedroom door is flung open and before her stands a nearly nude

Mulder.  He is wrapped only in a towel and the towel doesn't leave

much to the imagination.  Scully lets the thought slip out before

she remembers she should be indignant at the sight before her.

"Mulder!  Don't you have any modesty?"


Mulder walks to his bunk and pulls open his duffel bag.  "Scully

I forgot my sweats.  Besides it not something you haven't seen



"That may be true but Mae hasn't and she looks like a prime

candidate for a coronary."


Mulder grabs the sweats and leers at Scully.  "Are you saying that

my body could kill a woman just by looking at it."


Scully looks him straight in the eyes.  "Yes, a seventy-year

old woman."


"How about a thirty-eight year old woman?"



"Mulder, we are on the job.  Now while I take my shower, put some

clothes on and then we'll discuss the case."


Scully leaves the room with Mulder following behind her, yelling

down the hallway,  "You didn't answer my question!"




Mulder sits on his bunk with his back against the wall and papers

covering his bed.  He's deep in thought when the old door creaks

open.  Scully walks in wearing a print cotton shorty pajama set.

Mulder stares at her knees.  He'd never noticed before just how

cute her knees were.  He also knows he can't admit this to Scully,

it will have to be another secret he keeps from her along with how

he likes the stray strand of hair that falls across her face, and

the way she licks her lips, and the way she blushes at his

innuendo's.  He wisely glances down at the paper he is trying to

read before she can question his staring.


Scully places her dirty clothes in her case and crawls onto the

bunk, sitting next to Mulder.  He looks up at her and then up at

the bunk over head.  "Hey Scully, you wanna toss a blanket over

your bunk and we can pretend we're on a camping trip?" 


"No thank you Mulder.  Every camping trip we take ends in

disaster."  Mulder laughs and looks back down at his notes.


"So Scully what do we know so far?"


"Well, we have two groups; the cutters and the farmers.  The cutters

seem to be the carriers."


"Or the victims," Mulder adds.


"Right or the victims."  Scully shifts on the bed.  "We have people

eating fungi."


"'Shrooms Scully."  Mulder laughs.


"'Shrooms," Scully repeats.  "And we have what is assumed to be

the cause of all the bizarre behavior, an insect."


Mulder nods his head and glances at the papers in his hand.  "So

what is your take on all this Scully?"


"I'm not sure.  I think we need to send the leaf to Indianapolis

and interview some of the people on the chiefs' list."


Mulder looks at his partner and says, "I agree," not dropping his

eyes from her.  Scully drops her head slightly.  "I better turn

in. I need...we need to get an early start tomorrow."


Mulder finally comes out of his trance.  "Yeah, um, need any

help getting into bed?"


Scully slides off Mulder's bunk and walks to the head of the bed.

"Nope.  I slept in one of these as a kid."  She then scales the

headboard like it's a ladder.


Mulder chuckles and gathers up his papers, tossing them into

his case.  He shuts off the ceiling light and crawls into the

small bottom bunk.  His long legs make it impossible for him to

lay stretched out flat.  He lies on his back with his feet drawn

up.  In the moonlight he spies one tiny hand draped over the

top bunk.  He reaches up and gently clutches it, running his fingers

over the soft knuckles.  His actions are rewarded with a thumb

caressing his palm.  Life is sweet.



Part 6


Daylight finds Mulder and Scully sitting in the chiefs' office.

"Here ya go Agent Scully."  Chief Mentzer hands Scully several

pages of paper.


Scully is surprised at the number of names on the list. "Chief,

there must be a hundred names on this."


"Hun'erd an' three to be exact."


Mulder glances over at the list.  "Has anyone not been married in

May or June around here?"


"Not many. 'Cept fer the ones who shacked up first and was married

'fore the kid come along."


"So even the farmers are on this list?"  Scully sighs. "There

goes my theory."


"Not necessarily."  Mulder shifts in his seat.  "Chief I take it

you are the justice of the peace."


"That's right."


"Are there any churches in the area?"


"There's the Baptist Church 'bout a mile from town and the

Methodist 'bout three miles out."


Mulder slumps in his chair.  "So marriages were preformed there



"That'd be right."


Mulder takes the list.  "So some couples could have been married

at other times of the year that aren't on your list."


"Oh yeah, plenty of 'em was.  I married my wife Dolores in the fall

and my niece Shelby married Slap Nuts Sweeney jus' this past



Mulder looks over at Scully but doesn't utter one smart-ass



Scully speaks up, "Chief, did you or your niece ever work at

the quarry?"


"No.  I've been a civil servant ever since I left my daddy's

farm and my niece works at home addressin' envelopes."


"What about Slap. . .Nuts?"  Mulder says trying not to look at

Scully, knowing full well she is grinning at him.


"Oh he never worked in the pits.  He grows walnuts."


"Thank god for that," Mulder sighs.


Scully flips the report shut and rises from her chair.  "Thanks

chief, you have been very helpful."  Mulder follows Scully out

the door.


They stand in front of the city hall.  Scully is looking over

the list of names while Mulder is tugging up his dress pants

that are riding low on his hips.  "Scully does anyone in this

town NOT have a nickname?"


"I'm sure not everyone does Fox," Scully teases.


"Just call me slap nuts."


"And I thought Spooky was bad.  I think we need to talk to the



"I do too."




Part 7


Two hours later Mulder and Scully walk into The Cut Dog.  A few

locals pause to look at the strangers and then go back to their



Mulder takes a seat at a table while Scully uses the ladies room.

"What'll it be Agent?"


"My usual Strap."


"And the lady?"


"Her too."



Mulder fills his tea with sugar while Scully goes for the

artificial sweetener.  "Scully it's beginning to look like you're

right.  Both ministers have married the majority of the cutters in

their congregations in the months of May and June except for the

few who actually fell in love."


"I know.  I think if we plotted the marriages on a graph, the

cutters' would soar in May and June."


"While the farmers remained steady."


"So do you think the bugs are part of this X File or is it just a



"I'm not sure Scully but there might be something in the physiology

of the cutters that makes them susceptible to the insects."


"The State Police are relaying the evidence bags to Indianapolis.

With any luck we should have the results tomorrow."


Mulder sips on his tea then gets up from the table and walks to

the bar.  "Strap, you said you've been mushroom hunting?"


Strap is chewing on a bar straw.  "Yeah, I was out 'gain last night.

Been good weather for 'shrooms."


"Where do you find the 'shrooms?"


Strap grins at Mulder with the straw still between his teeth.  "Now

Agent Mulder, you don't 'spect me to go tellin' ya that do ya?

I mean that'd be like me tellin' ya where the best place to catch

blue gills is.  It jus' ain't done."


"Look Strap.  I don't care about the damn 'shrooms.  All I want is

to see where they grow and gather some evidence."


Strap frowns at Mulder and in a bold move, gives in.  "You come

'round here at six tonight an' I'll tell ya."


Mulder stares at Strap wide-eyed.  "Could we make it seven, Mae's

cooking for us."


Strap laughs and winks.  "She done fed ya chicken didn't she?"


Part 8.


At seven PM on the dot, Mulder and Scully walk into The Cut Dog.

Without saying a word, Strap hands Mulder a cocktail napkin.

Mulder takes it, turning it over to find cryptic directions and

a crude map drawn on it.


Mulder stares at it then looks up at the bar owner.  "Strap, this

says 'turn at Cozy Buckles place and go north to Mossy Baker's

sycamore tree then cross Murphy's stream to Carlyle's woods and

look for the big granite rock."  Mulder turns both hands palm up.


Strap looks at Mulder like he's from, well. . .Washington Dee-Cee.

"Agent Mulder that's as clear as I know how to make it."  Strap

points to the napkin.  "I even drawed ya a map."


Mulder scratches the back of his head while Scully looks around

the tavern.  "Okay.  Can you tell me where I can find Cozy

Buckles place?"


"Oh sure ever'one knows where Cozy lives."


Mulder looks at Strap with a stare that says, 'this guy can't

be that dense'.


"Ya go west outta town two miles and you'll see two big ol'

silos and a big red barn."


Mulder is getting flustered.  "Strap every farm around here

looks like that!"


Strap smiles around the red bar-straw he is clutching between

his teeth.  "Damn, you're right.  What was I thinkin'."


Mulder nods his head in agreement.


"Cozy has a rusted ol' Farmall H in the front yard."  Strap

winks at Mulder with a grin and a nod.


Mulder ushers Scully out the front door.  "Come on, I need to

get out of here."


Scully looks over the map.  "Mulder the last time you were

given a map on a napkin you ended up with a brain wipe."


"And you would think I would have learned my lesson," Mulder

says with a smirk.


The granite rock turned out to not be that hard to find.  Mulder

and Scully are walking the marshy ground around it.


"Mulder look here."  Scully stoops down to point at a large

sponge mushroom.  Mulder stoops down next to her.  "Well I'll

be damned Scully, it's a 'shroom."


Scully smiles at the gleam in her partners' hazel eyes.

"That it is."  She pulls on the stem of the delicacy, pulling

it away from the root with a snap.  She hands it to Mulder,

"Better bag it as evidence."


Mulder stands and pulls out the plastic bag placing the sponge

in it. 


They back track along the path, heading out of Carlyle's woods

in silence.   "Scully you ever thought about love?"


"You mean the metaphysical aspect of it or the emotional side?"


"You're just an old softy, aren't you Scully," Mulder says

holding a tree branch back for her to pass.  Scully smiles at him.

"I mean have you ever been in love?"


"Yes, but I think it was more like lust than love.  You know

the tingle, the excitement."


"I can relate to that," Mulder smiles.  "So you've never been

in love?"


"I don't know."  Scully begins to blush, "What about you?"


"I thought I was a time or two, but if it had been real love

the first time there wouldn't have been a second would there?"


Scully pauses to look up at Mulder.  "No I guess not."


Mulder walks beside Scully.  "I see love as something eternal,

unwavering, and long lasting. Something different than what

I saw with my mom and dad."


Scully lowers her head to clear another branch.


"You come from a functional family Scully, except for Bill.

What's it like?"


Scully smiles unsure where this is leading.  "Umm, it's like

knowing that person is always there.  No matter how much mom and

dad would disagree, they were a team.  They backed one another up

and they seem to grow closer the tougher times got."


"That sounds like us."  Mulder nudges Scully's shoulder with his



"Yeah it does Mulder.  You ever thought about falling in love



"Me?  No I can't."  Mulder shakes his head.  Scully lowers her

head but this time not because of a branch.  "I'm already in

love," Mulder whispers.


Scully's head snaps up, a soft smile covers her face.  "Yeah,

me too."


Mulder takes Scully's hand and leads her from the woods.  "Come

on Agent Scully.  There's an upper bunk with your name on it."


Part 9.

Another day dawns over Bushrod. Mae pours Scully another

cup of coffee.Scully rubs her hands over the napkin on her

lap and swallows her last bite of biscuit. Mae do you eat



"Sure do.  Don't ever' one?"


Mulder pushes himself away from the table, well sated.  "So Strap

was right.  Everyone here does eat mushrooms."


Mae pours Mulder another cup of coffee.  "Agent Mulder, we ain't

got much here but we got the best damn 'shrooms in the world."


"It would appear that way."  Scully says bring her coffee cup

to her lips.


"Tell ya what.  I got a friend who owes me a favor.  I posted

his bail once'd.  I'll see if he can rustle me up some 'shrooms

to fry."


Mulder takes the old woman's hand in his.  "Mae I think I'm

in love."


Mae laughs and bats at Mulder, "Awwww."


Scully looks at Mulder over her coffee cup with Mulder

returning the look.


The two agents return to their room.  "So what's on the agenda

today?"  Scully says while making Mulder's bunk up then adding,

"Mulder, do you have to live like a frat boy?"


"We could share a bed," Mulder says over his shoulder while rooting

around in his duffel bag.


"We could," Scully says fluffing the pillow and tossing it onto

the bunk, "but I'd just end up making it."  She grabs her notebook

case and heads out the bedroom door.  Once again Mulder is left

to try and figure out what just happened.


Scully meets the State Police courier at Chief Mentzer's office.

They exchange the report on the bugs for the evidence bag

containing the mushroom.


Mulder and Chief Mentzer are discussing the cutters while Scully

is pouring over the lab results.  She frowns and shifts from reading

one page of the report to another and then back again.  She then

spreads the pages out on a near by table.


Mulder takes notice of this and approaches his partner. He leans

over her with his jacket open and one hand on his hip.  "So what

are we looking at and what should I be seeing?"


Scully lifts a page, "Well according to the lab.  This is

nothing more than a common garden variety gnat except. . ."

Scully pauses, pulling out another paper.  "These particular

gnats produce a powerful chemical similar to pheromones."


"You're kidding," Mulder says looking directly at Scully.     


"And in large amounts.  Over one hundred times more than anything

normally found in nature."


"Maybe that's the smell the chief here talked about when they are



Mulder sits on the edge of the table, reading the report and playing

with his bottom lip.  "Scully could these bugs have produced this

kind of love potion but have remained unknown until now because they

need a triggering mechanism to set them off?"


"I'm not sure Mulder. What are you getting at?"


Mulder shrugs, "Let's wait until we get the test results back on

the mushroom."


Chief Mentzer has been watching the two agents interact.  "Agent

Mulder, what's all this mean?"


Mulder looks up.  "It means you really do have a love bug."





Part 10.


Mulder and Scully step back into The Cut Dog once more.  Strap

sees them approaching and nods for Mulder to follow his to the end

of the bar.  "You find 'em?"


Mulder smiles and speaks in a low tone. "We sure did. We must have

picked two bushel-baskets full.  They were delicious."


A look of sheer terror crosses Strap's face.


Mulder then laughs.  "Breathe Strap.  We only picked one."


Strap finally let's out his breath.  "Shit Agent Mulder, fer a

minute there I thought you was serious."  Strap glances up from

the bar he is mopping.  "Ya was kiddin' weren't ya?"


Mulder nods for Scully to join him at the bar.   "Strap, Agent

Scully and myself need to find a cutter who would be willing

to donate some blood."


Scully looks around the room.  "Preferably one that is sober."


"Aw Agent Scully don't let this bunch fool ya, most cutters

is hard workin' family men."


"You think you can find us one of them Strap?"  Mulder asks.


Strap looks around the room.  "Sure can.  See that ol' bird

sittin' in the corner?"


"The one that's asleep?"


Strap laughs at Scully.  "Sure that's what he is Agent Scully,



Mulder chuckles while Scully blushes.


"His son Virgil is a cutter."


"Virgil doesn't have a nickname?"  Mulder turns to look back

at Strap.


"Well Myra calls him baby-cakes but that don't go over too well

in here so's we jus' call him Virgie."


Mulder looks back at the old drunk.  "You think Virgil will



"Oh yeah!  Virgie's a great kid.  He goes to church ever'

Sunday.  Hell, he even votes!"


"Very patriotic," Scully remarks.


"You bet cha," Strap winks.




Two hours later Scully and Mulder are walking down the steps of

Virgil's small yellow clapboard house.  Scully holds a vial of blood

in one hand and her medical bag in the other.

"I can send this by courier to the Indianapolis bureau.  We'll have

the results by morning."


Mulder stops and leans on the car door.  "Scully we have a sample

of cutter blood; don't you think we should get a sample of farmer

blood, just for comparison?"


Scully rolls the vial in her hand.  "I think you're right."


"Come on let's go back to Chief Mentzer, I'm sure he'd like to

do his patriotic duty."


One hour and another vial later, the blood is on its way to



The two agents head back to Mae's home.  Mulder takes off for a

run, staying clear of Dink Covey's place.


Scully reviews the report on the bugs that she received earlier

in the day.  Tiring of all the paper work, she closes the files

and walks downstairs to see what Mae is doing.  She finds her

in the kitchen cleaning a large pile of sponge mushrooms.

"Can I help you?"


Mae looks up.  "I ain't never turned down help."


Scully pulls out a kitchen chair, and grabs a large mushroom

breaking the stem from it and placing it in the bowl with

the others.


"So Dana, you and yer friend there, you got plans?"


Scully is intently breaking off the stems.  "We should be out

of your hair in a day or two."


Mae gets up from the table and moves slowly over to the old

oven, pulling open the door.  The pleasant smell of roast beef

fills the air.  "Dammit Dana, I'm ain't talkin' about yer visit

here."  Mae spoons drippings over the roast and shuts the oven

door.  "I mean yer long term plans."


Scully stops stemming a mushroom.  "Mae, you must have misunderstood.

Just because my partner and I are sharing a room doesn't mean we're



"Hell Dana, not ever'thing is about sex!  I'm talkin' about the

feelin's ya got fer one another.  I kin tell yer smitten with him."


Scully blushes.  "Is it that obvious?"


Mae shuffles over to her kitchen chair and sits back down.

"Dana, that's the same look I got on my face the first time

I caught sight of my Jimmy."


"Was Jimmy your husband?"


"Hell no!  That ol' fools name was Leonard.  Jimmy was Jimmy



Scully finishes the mushrooms and shoves the bowl away.

"Of course, I'm sorry.  Did you ever meet James Dean?"


Mae pulls a potato out of a sack and begins to peel it.  "Dana,

he and I was fixin' to git married when he left fer Hollywood.

I lived jus' two farms from his uncle that raised him."  The

old woman's eyes glass over as she speaks.  "He used to repair

motor cycles.  He'd take me out on his bike and tell me his

dreams and what he wanted to do with his life.  One night he

told me he was goin' to Hollywood and would send fer me when

he could.  That call never came; he was killed in a car wreck.

That was in '55.  Jimmy was only 24."


"Oh Mae."  Scully pats the old woman's hand.  "I'm so sorry."


Mae dries her eyes on her dishrag.  "Funny thing is Dana,

I'm a crippled up ol' woman but Jimmy is still a dashin' young

man wavin' at me from that bus window."  Mae looks Scully in

the eyes.  "Take my advice Dana, don't wait.  Ya might never get

another chance." 


Scully wipes her nose across the back of her hand as a giggle

bubbles up from her throat.  "You sure know how to tell a

story Mae."


"That I do child, that I do."



Part 11.


Mulder nears Mae's house at a trot; he's cooling down from

his run.  He spies a person sitting on the front porch.  It

looks a bit like Scully but not his Scully, or not a version

of his Scully he's use to seeing.  He slowly walks up the path

to the porch.  He runs his forearm across his sweaty brow and

pulls up the bottom of his shirt, wiping his face on it.  It

is Scully!  She's clad in a soft lavender sweater and tight

blue jeans.  White sneakers cover her tiny feet.  But the thing

he notices most is her hair.  It's pulled back into a ponytail.

He never sees her wear her hair like that except when she's up

to her elbows in an autopsy.  He's thrown off a little by this

version of his partner. 


"Scully, what cha doing?" 


Scully slowly pushes the swing back and forth.  "I'm waiting

for you."


Mulder sits down next to her, his long legs stilling the motion

of the swing.  "Has something happened?"


"No," She says looking down at her hands.  "I just thought since

its Friday night we might leave the work behind and go to the bar

after dinner."


Mulder takes her hand in his.  "Sure.  I'd like that."


Neither agent sees the curtains fall back into place.  Mae is

heading to the kitchen to dish out supper.



"Mae, I've never eaten mushrooms this good before," Mulder says

as he pops the last golden nugget into his mouth.


Mae gathers up the plates on the table.  "I told ya they was

good."  Mae looks at Scully's plate.   "Dana, ya jus' picked

at yer supper.  Ya feelin' okay?"


"Yes Mae, I'm fine."  Scully tries to change the subject, "Let

me help you with the dishes."


"Naw, you two git out a my kitchen.  Skeedaddle!"  Mae shoos Mulder

and Scully out of the room.


"Okay."  Mulder laughs taking Scully by the hand.


They walk together to the porch.  "You want to walk to The

Cut Dog or drive?"


"No let's walk," Scully says, "It's so nice out tonight."


"And I can walk off some of those 'shrooms," Mulder laughs still

holding Scully's hand.


"Mulder, Mae says you're too thin anyway," Scully smiles up at



"I know, I know, I'm spindly," Mulder jokes with Scully.


Scully pulls Mulder's arm closer to her. "Well I think you

look just fine."


Mulder stops to look down at his partner.  "What's gotten

into you tonight?"


Scully tugs on his hand she has clasps in both of hers.



"Come on Scully I know you."  Mulder tilts her head up by

placing a finger under her chin.


"Mae and I had a little talk.  She told me not to wait forever

for what I want."


Mulder stares at her, his eyes filled with concern.  "And what

do you want?"


Scully smiles and takes both Mulder's hands in hers, smiling up

at him.  "I guess I want what I've got."


Mulder's face breaks into a smile.  He wraps his arm around

Scully's shoulder as they continue to walk.  "Did I tell you

how smart I think Mae is."


Scully snuggles into Mulder's arm.  "No but I can think of a

thing or two I need to tell you."


"What's that?"


Scully stops and turns placing her hands on Mulder's forearms,

looking up into his dark eyes.  "That you mean the world to me

and I've been a fool for not telling you this before."


Mulder places his arms around Scully's waist.  "Well maybe not

a fool but stubborn, yes."


"Mulder I am not stubborn."  Scully frowns, then catches her

self and smiles' up at him, "Besides you haven't been the most

open man I've ever met."


"Scully due to our work some things must remain a secret," Mulder

replies in mock seriousness.


"Oh pish!  Knock it off Mulder."  Scully slaps his chest



Mulder pulls her to him linking his arms around her back.

"Scully I've been certain of how I've felt about you for years.

I just wasn't getting any signals from you about how you felt

towards me."


"Is this the kind of signal you need."  Scully stands on her

tip- toes and places her hands on the back of Mulder's neck

pulling him down.  She locks her lips to his and slowly grinds

her mouth into his then pulling back she looks into his eyes.


"Yeah something like that," Mulder softly laughs as their

foreheads meet.


"We need to talk about this Mulder, decide where this is going

and what it will involve..."


"Wait!  Wait!  Slow down.  Tonight we're just Fox and Dana. Two

people out on the town."  Mulder looks around, "Such as it is."


"Fox and Dana huh." Scully smirks then adding, "I don't think so." 


"Nah."  Mulder says, "I guess we're just destined to be Mulder

and Scully."


Scully runs her arm down Mulder's back.  "I wouldn't have it any

other way."


The two agents head off to The Cut Dog.



Part 12.


They enter The Cut Dog to find the place about half full.

Mulder and Scully both take a seat at the bar. "What'll it be



"Our usual Strap."


Strap pours two large iced teas. "Still on duty huh."


"No but tonight I want all my faculties."  Mulder says eyeing

Scully.  She blushes and looks around the room.


The jukebox is playing a soft country song while a few couples

are slow dancing.  "Not many here," Scully comments, looking

across the dance floor.


"Naw there ain't.  Since the cutters all got smitten with love they

stay home with their wives and girlfriends.  They don't even come

here to scrap with the farmers anymore.  I hate May!"


"So how long does this calm last?"  Mulder asks sipping his ice tea.


"Well the bugs should be leavin' in a day 'r two.  They sure don't

help my business any."


"I can see that," Scully says turning on her stool to look out over

the small crowd.  Strap points to a man and a woman sitting in the

corner necking.  "Agent Mulder, see them two."


Mulder nods.


"Well that's Harlan Poovey and Ester Jean Fugate.  Their families

has been bitter enemies ever since Harlan's daddy Pooey sold

Ester Jeans daddy a piece of ground that turned out to be over a

big ol' sink hole.  Poor ol' man Fugate woke up one mornin' to

find his cornfield had been swallered up and they's been feudin'

ever since.  Jus' look at 'em, ain't that a shame!"


Mulder frowns at Strap.   "But I thought only the cutters were

affected by the bug?"


"Oh they's cutter families all right, but Fuzzy Fugate did a little

farmin' on the side.  Guess you could call him a renaissance man."


"Mulder," Scully leans over to her partner.




"Enough shop talk."


Mulder softly laughs, "Care to dance?"


"Yes, do you have any quarters?"  Scully asks slipping off the

barstool.  Mulder stands to fish a quarter out of his jeans' pocket.

Scully promptly feeds it to the jukebox.  On comes a slow Elvis tune.

Mulder leads her to the dance floor.  A dozen quarters later the

agents are still on the dance floor.  Scully's head resting against

Mulder's chest with his head lowered to hers, their hands

intertwined. All is right with the world.



Part 13.


The two agents leave the musty smelling, over heated tavern, walking

hand in hand in the cool May evening, neither has spoken a word

since leaving The Cut Dog.  They climb the porch steps.  Mulder

quietly opens the old screen door and turns the doorknob.  He grins

at Scully and sure enough Mae doesn't lock her doors.  They creep

into the house and up the stairs with a few of the steps creaking

as they near the top.  Mulder still hasn't released Scully's hand.


He opens the door to their room and pulls her inside.  It's dark

with the only light coming through the window from the full moon.


He pulls Scully near him.  A fit of suppressed giggles bubbles up

from each of them.  It could be from the alcohol or just a bad

case of the jitters.  Mulder cups Scully's face as a broad smile

covers his face before he moves in to kiss her lips.  He pulls

back to see a soft inviting smile on her face.  She makes the

next move by returning the kiss.  No words are spoken none are

needed.  Clothing is removed and giggles turn into moans.


The next morning Mulder is up and out of the house early.  Scully

is certain he isn't regretting what happened last night but she

had hoped to find him beside her in the morning.  She showers,

dresses and tidies up the room before slipping downstairs.


The smell of coffee draws her to the kitchen.  Mae is seated at

the table with a cup of coffee in front of her and a plate of

hot rolls next to her cup.


Scully slides into a chair and pushes her hair back as if

nothing has happened.


Mae sips her coffee and tears off a piece of cinnamon roll

dipping it into her cup of coffee.  Scully pours herself a cup

and adds a little cream to it.  Her hands are trembling slightly.

Mae glances over at her, saying nothing.


Scully stirs her coffee.


Mae finishes her bite of roll.


Scully stirs her coffee.


Mae rubs her hands across her apron.


Scully stirs her coffee.


Finally Mae can't stand it any longer.  "Dammit Dana!  How'd it go?"


Scully looks surprised and stops stirring her coffee.


"Don't give me that look!  I invented it."  Mae says with an

exasperated frown.


Scully gives in, letting a little smile cross her face deciding

to play along, "Why Mae, I don't know what you're talking



Mae laughs and slaps Scully on the arm, "Aw, so ya talked to him,



Scully finishes her bite of roll.  "Yes I did."


Mae continues, "And he kissed ya, didn't he?"


Scully nods her head.  "That he did."


Mae's face lights up.  "And ya humped like bunnies, right?"


Scully laughs, "That we did!"


"I knew it!"  Mae slaps the table. "So its okay betwixt you to?"


Scully gets up and rinses out her coffee cup.  "Mae, it's more

than okay."


Just then Mulder burst into the kitchen.  "Scully we've got





Part 14.


Mulder and Scully walk into Chief Mentzer's office just as a

scream is heard and a woman yells, "Pa don't hit him there!"


The office is full of men in bib overalls.  In the middle of the

crowd stand's a young woman and a very scared looking young man.


"What's going on here?"  Scully yells above the din of the crowd.


The room grows quiet.  Chief Mentzer makes his way through the mass.

"Well Agent Scully what we got here is a misunderstandin'."


An old man in bibs speaks up.  "It ain't no misunderstandin' Dale.

I understand this cutter was fixin' to marry my daughter Arleen here

and we was jus' gonna pree-vent it."


"Ned, ya don't go preventin' a marriage by hangin' the groom!"

The crowd gets surly.


Mulder puts up his hands.  "Wait a minute!  There's not going

to be any lynching."


"Who's he?"  Someone in the crowd asks.


"This is Agent Mulder from the FBI in Washington, Dee-Cee,"

Chief Mentzer shouts.


"Kinda spindly ain't he?" 


Mulder runs his fingers through his hair.  Scully rolls her

eyes up at him, stifling a laugh.


"Does somebody want to tell me what's going on?"  Mulder is

getting tired of this mess.


The little man who threatened to hang the younger man steps

foreword.  "Well sir, my name is Ned Womack."  Ned grabs the

girl by the arm.  "And this is my daughter Arleen."  He points to

the scared young man.  "And this dog is Dode Zucker.  He was fixin'

to have the chief here marry him an' Arleen."


"Is that right?"  Mulder asks Dode.


"Yeeess sir."


Mulder turns back to the little man.  "And you have a problem

with this Ned?"


"Ya damn right I do!"


Mulder puts both hands on his hips.  "Is it because Mr. Zucker

is a cutter?"


Ned looks confused.  "What?  Hell no, it ain't 'cause he's a

cutter.  Arleen was fixin' to git her degree in cosmetology an'

then he comes along and ruin't all that!"


Dode speaks up, "No Mr. Womack, ya got it all wrong! I want Arleen

to finish her schoolin'.  I figger if she an' I are both workin'

then we can git our own place.  I got the down payment on a trailer

all saved."


Mulder looks over at Ned.  "So Ned what's it going to be.  You going

to have Arleen underfoot and paying all her expenses or are you going

to let this young man set her up housekeeping in a

house. . .trailer?"


Ned scratches his nearly baldhead.  "Well Mr. Mulder when ya put

it that a way I guess I kin give 'em my blessin'."


Arleen grabs her father around the neck, "Oh pa!"


Dode extends his hand to Ned.  "Mr. Womack ya ain't never

gonna regret this."


Arleen still has Ned in an embrace, his eyes growing narrow.

"I better not."


Chief Mentzer claps his hands.  "Okay folks lets do this quick!" 


Twenty minutes later, after Mulder and Scully have played best

man and maid of honor, Arleen and her new husband are off on

their honeymoon to Vincennes.


The room empties out with most of the folks satisfied with

the outcome.


"Agent Scully, I've got those reports in fer ya."


"Thanks chief."


The chief grabs an envelope off the filing cabinet and hands

it to Scully.  "Agents, I have my rounds to make. I'll be back

in a few."


Scully opens the package and starts to plow through the results

of the blood tests. Mulder takes the lab work report on the

mushroom and sits down on the edge of the chief's desk to study it.


Minutes' later Scully speaks up; "The blood work on Virgil is

clean except there is a high level of calcium in his system."


Mulder's head pops up from the page he is reading.  "Higher

than a normal high level?"


Scully huffs.  "Yeah, this is the highest level I have ever



"Scully what do the test results on the chief show?"


"Umm."  Scully digs out the chief's results.  "Here it is.

The chief's level is normal."


Mulder hops off the desk and looks over Scully's shoulder.  He

runs his finger down the list until he gets to the calcium

figures, then he straightens up.  "Scully the cutters work in

the limestone quarries.  Limestone is calcium, right?"


"Yeah calcium and carbonate."


"So they are ingesting or inhaling the stuff."


"Or absorbing."




"Mulder this goes beyond your love bug, this is a medical crisis

if the other cutters levels are also this high."


"How so?"


"Well, high levels of calcium can lead to degenerative pulmonary

disease and impaired liver functions.  A wider study needs to be

done but my guess is this level of calcium could be dangerous to

the cutters."


"Anything else catch your eye?"


Scully runs her finger down the report and frowns.  "There is a

trace amount of something called gametophyte in his blood too."


Mulder flips through the report on the mushroom.  "Scully did the

chief have this in his system too?"


Scully flips back to the report on the chief.  "Yes, he did."


Mulder smiles and lays down the report.  Pointing to a specific

line.  "It's the mushrooms Scully."


Scully leans over Mulders' arm to read the line and frowns.

Mulder it does seem to be the source of the gametophyte but why

isn't it affecting the farmers or you and I."  Scully blushes,

"Don't answer that."


"No Scully it's not like that."  Mulder sits back down on the edge

of the desk.  "The cutters and the farmers both have the chemical

in their systems."




"But only the cutters have high levels of calcium in their

systems too."


"Right.  So you think it's a reaction caused by the combination

of the calcium and the gametophye?"


"No."  Mulder gets up from the edge of the desk and walks around

the room.  "See the cutters are only affected in May, but you heard

Strap; he's been picking mushrooms all spring.


Scully frowns.  "I guess I'm not following you."


Mulder begins to gesture with his hands.  "The bugs produce the

pheromone and they're attracted to the cutters.  That's why they

swarm at the quarry."


Scully is beginning to get it.  "So the combination of the calcium

and the gametophye attracts the bugs!"


"That's the connection!"  Mulder excitedly says.  "Come on we can

talk about this over lunch.


Scully gathers up the reports, putting them back into the envelope

and smiles, "Yes being a bridesmaid always makes me hungry."


Mulder takes her hand.  "How about being a bride?"


Scully looks into his eyes.  "I don't know Mulder, I guess I'll

have to be one to find out."




Part 15.


Mulder and Scully settle into a corner table at The Cut Dog.  Strap

walks over with a pad in his hand.  "What'll it be Agents?  More

ice tea?"


"Yes tea for two," Mulder laughs, "and a couple of menus please."


Strap frowns, "Only menu I got is on the wall," pointing over his



Behind the bar next to the Payton Manning poster is a cryptic

hand written menu.


Mulder has to squint to see it.  A broad grin covers his face.

"Scully look! Strap's got fried trail-baloney.  Does that come

with onions?"


"Comes with any thing ya want."


Mulder knows Scully doesn't approve but it's not every day a man

can find fried baloney.  "Give me the that with fried onions

and an order of potato skins."


Scully can't stand it any longer.  "Mulder I can hear your arteries

slamming shut from here."


"But I like fried baloney Scully."


Scully ignores Mulder's whining and orders for herself. "I'll have

an egg salad sandwich on wheat bread."


Strap scratches his head.  "All I got is white bread Agent Scully

but I kin toast it fer ya, it'll be brown."


Scully gives Strap a stone-cold look.  "That will be fine, egg

salad on toasted white bread."


"Comin' right up."


"Scully it looks like we've solved the case of the love bug."


"It seems like it. Of course more tests will have to be run to

confirm. . ."


A noise is heard.  The front door swings open and in tumbles a

dozen or so burly men in plaid work shirts and loose, well-worn

jeans and heavy work boots.  They all gather into groups at

various tables laughing and hollering.  Someone in the crowd yells,

"Hey Strap, git yer sorry ass out here.  You got payin' customers."


"Yeah Strap, we're back."


"Strap I can see yer service ain't improved any since we was here."


The laugher only grows with each cutting or rather cutter remark.

Strap rushes from the kitchen with two ice teas and the food.

"Hey guys! It's sure good to see ya back."


He sets Mulder and Scully's order on the table.  Mulder grabs his

arm.  "Strap are these the cutters?"


"Sure are. Those damn bugs must a left."


One burly man with thick sinewy muscles is poking quarters into the

jukebox while another cutter lifts a table up, placing it next to

his own.  A rugged-faced man with a trim waist but muscles filling

out his shirt and jeans stands at the bar.  Mulder is watching

him.  "I take it back Scully, I am spindly and you can stop eyeing

that one at the bar."


"I'm not eyeing him Mulder."


"You've have to be Scully because I am."


Scully laughs, "Well maybe a little but I'm certainly not

attracted to him.  He's too muscular, too perfect."


"So you like me instead?" Mulder huffs.


"No Mulder. It's different with you.  With you it's the complete



The words no sooner leave Scully's lips and another group of

men enters the tavern.  These men are clean-shaven, dressed

slightly neater, and have bib overalls on.


"Uh oh."  Mulder mumbles.


"What is it?"


"Those must be the farmers."


Mulder you don't think. . ."


Suddenly a voice calls out.  "Cletus Noble, where you hidin'?"


From deep within the crowd comes a returning voice.  "I ain't

hidin' Coot Whitaker.  You're jus' too damn blind to see me."


The cutters erupt in laughter.  The farmers take up residence

at the few remaining tables.


Coot approaches the table where the voice came from.  "All I

know Cletus Noble is that I owe ya an ass whoopin' fer stealin'

the block outta my pickup."


"That ol' pile of shit. It weren't worth the effort to git it

out.  The head was warped and the valves was grindin'. 'Sides

you owed me fer that huntin' rifle I lent ya and never got



Coot is getting madder by the minute.


Mulder and Scully are quietly eating their sandwiches, watching

the drama unfolding.


"Listen ya ol' peckerhead, that rifle barrel was so bent that the

first time I fired it I nearly took my ass off!"


Even Mulder has to laugh at that one.


The two men are now standing toe to toe.  The room has been divided

into two sides.  The cutters are standing near the bar and the

farmers' are near the door.


Scully is beginning to get concerned.  "Mulder don't you think we

should be doing something?"


"Like what Scully, call in reinforcements from Indianapolis?

The most we can manage is you, me and the chief and I don't

like the odds."


Before Mulder could even attempt to call the chief all hell

breaks loose.  Cutters and farmers are fighting each other.

Fists are flying along with the occasional chair.


Mulder pulls Scully farther back into the corner.  "Mulder! What

do you think you're doing?"


"I'm trying to protect you from the danger."


"Oh bullshit!"  Scully replies, obviously having spent just a

little too much time with Mae.  She pulls out her gun, firing

it into the air.


The room immediately grows quiet as all the faces turn to look at

one very pissed off redhead in the corner.


Finally Strap speaks up. "You shot my ceilin'."


Scully looks up at the bullet hole in Straps wooden ceiling.




Part 16.


Mulder comes out of Mae's house with his duffel bag and some

files.  Scully has already deposited her cases in the trunk of

the Taurus.


Mae has her arm linked with Scully's as they walk down the path

from the porch.  "Dana, take it from a 90 year old woman, foller

yer heart."


Scully pauses, as it dawns on her she's been taken in.  "Mae

that would make you forty three in 1955."


Mae's old gray eyes twinkle.  "That's right."


Scully squints.  "Mae, you never had a love affair with

James Dean, did you!"


Mae stops and faces Scully. "Yes I did, he jus' never know'd

it. 'Sides, you said I told a good story."


Scully's face breaks out in a huge grin.  "I did, didn't I."

She grabs the old woman by the arm and they continue to the

car.  "I think the biggest love bug lives right here."


Mae pats Scully's arm and breaks away from her.  "Ya take

care of yerself Dana and fattin' up that man a yers."


"I will," Scully says sliding into the passenger side door.


The chief approaches Mulder, who is finishing up the loading.

"Agent Mulder, I jus' wanted to thank ya and Agent Scully fer

helpin' us out.  The CDC is comin' in tomorrow to test all the

cutters and the EPA is seein' what it kin do 'bout the bugs."


"That should make Strap happy."  Mulder smiles slamming the

trunk lid shut.  "I hear that OSHA is checking on the working

conditions at the quarries too."




"That's good."  Mulder stops before he opens the car door.

"Chief there is one thing that's been bothering me."


"What's that Agent Mulder?"


"If the bugs only affected the cutters, why did that farmer

want to marry his cow?"


Strap laughs.  "Aw Agent Mulder, he was jus' real fond a her."


                           ~ The End ~ 





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