Date: 3 Dec 2002 03:26:29 -0000
Subject: The Love Bug (part one) by Girlie_girl7
Reply To: FoxfireX_00@yahoo.com
Title: The Love Bug (or how I learned to stop worrying about the
bomb and love my partner)
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
Disclaimer: Fox owns 'em not me.
Summary: "Is it the love bug or jus' a big ol'
~ 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.
"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
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?"
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
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?"
"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
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
"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
"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
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
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!"
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
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
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.
"Where are we going?" Scully asks, pushing herself off the bunk.
"To The Cut Dog."
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
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
"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
Scully looks at Mulder and smiles at the blush that covers
"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
"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."
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
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
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
"Mulder wait," Scully says pulling out a tiny flat packet from
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
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
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
"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."
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
"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
"'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.
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."
"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
"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
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."
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?"
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?"
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
"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
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
"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,
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."
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
Mulder takes the old woman's hand in his. "Mae I think I'm
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
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."
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
"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
"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
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
"That I do child, that I do."
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
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
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."
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
"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
"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
Scully runs her arm down Mulder's back. "I wouldn't have it any
The two agents head off to The Cut Dog.
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."
"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.
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
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
Just then Mulder burst into the kitchen. "Scully we've got
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.
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
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
"Agent Scully, I've got those reports in fer ya."
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."
"Mulder this goes beyond your love bug, this is a medical crisis
if the other cutters levels are also this high."
"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
"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
"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."
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
"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
"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.
Mulder comes out of Mae's house with his duffel bag and some
files. Scully has already deposited her cases in the trunk of
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
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 ~