Title: Youthful Distraction
Category: MA, Case file, Humor.
Timeframe: Season 5
Summary: Mulder feels like a kid again, and it's all too real.
Archive: Gossamer. I'll take care of the rest.
Disclaimers: All X-Files stories, office furniture and agents' homes belong to Chris Carter, Ten Thirteen
Productions, and Fox Studios. (Which makes for a heck of a line-up for the shower). No money made here, and no copyright infringement intended.
OFFICE OF THE X-FILES
The office was the same. The nameplate on the desk bore the name Fox Mulder. Scully was still... She was standing in front of the desk with a very large pile of folders in her arms. "I know you don't like this one bit, and neither do I. But the status quo remains. Until things return to some semblance of normal, Mulder, you are on vacation. I know it's a challenge not to go off on every lead that comes in, answer calls from your 'sources', as dubious as they are. Skinner says the best place for you right now is out of sight, at home, waiting until this is resolved."
Scully was addressing a man who resembled her partner somewhat, had the sense of humor and mannerisms of Mulder, but he just didn't fit into his shoes at the time. There sat a youthfully fresh, 5'9", 14-year-old boy wearing a Smashing Pumpkins tee shirt, baggy blue jeans and running shoes. The teen folded his hands and asked, "So what do I do now, Scully? I need that pay check, I need to work, and so help me God, I need to keep busy, dammit. I'm still me, but a lot of things here are younger and pay
absolutely no attention to my brain." If Scully didn't believe him, all she had to do was glance down at the
folder in his lap, hiding some frenzied signals.
Scully glared at the young man tersely and warned him, "Don't swear at me, Mulder. Show some respect for your elders. Now, we should be able to synthesize an antidote from the small, ('I'm not going to laugh', she reminded herself), sample you managed to purloin. So, unless you want me to call in the truant officer, I suggest you lay low and avoid those videos your mother would never had let you see, catch up on your reading, and play some b-ball after school lets out."
"Right. Well, while I do appreciate that, Ma'am, I sure would appreciate some help explaining this to my landlord. How is he going to react to seeing me there? Seeing a kid living in Fox Mulder's apartment? I mean, if I can't go back to being me... "
Mulder looked so forlorn. After all, who would take the word of a teen suddenly taking up residence in an FBI Agent's home, when it was known to everyone in the building that Mulder was hardly ever there?
Scully thought things over for a couple of minutes. "This could pose a problem, Mulder. I do see your point. Okay, pack your clothes, the ones you found in the boys' department... "
"Boys' department? Man, you are a rude old bat... "
"Pack your clothes and you can come home with your Auntie Dana until this ends. In the meantime, no driving and make a check out to your landlord post-dated. Somehow, Mulder, I always knew you hadn't grown up. Let's get going. We're wasting time as it is. Leave the movies at home."
"Thanks, Auntie Dana. Really. You've made my little day."
NEW YORK OFFICE OF THE CONSORTIUM
3 WEEKS EARLIER
In the dark, smoky room, the elders sat in their leather chairs, watching with rapt interest as the Well-Manicured Man had it out with the Smoking Man. He was red-faced with rage.
"You simpleton! You assured us that Mulder was under your control. He'd getting far too close to The Project."
"I have him under control. Just a minor detail we couldn't have foreseen." The Smoking Man took a deep drag from his Morley, and exhaled to the side.
Clearly the older man was furious. "See to it that it's done! Keep him out of our way!" Clearly, he didn't have a stiff upper lip today. "Do I make myself clear? See to it that he's kept out of the picture for a while."
"I'll handle him. You know I have access. Someone in the Bureau is about to act on it."
At about that time, Mulder was walking through the Hoover building to the Public Relations Office. An energetic woman was waiting at her desk for a report he and Scully were expected to submit.
"Agent Mulder, I was just about to call down and see what was happening with that Spencer file. You didn't run all the way up here, did you?"
"You're in luck, Kelly. Here's the profile you requested, and now I leave it up to you. By the way, I hear you're retiring this month? It seems like a couple of years since you first worked here. Time flies."
The blonde woman smiled warmly. "I was transferred from the New York Office three years ago, but I have 45 years service, and I will be retiring, yes. I was 21 when I started out, and it's time to live a little." She placed the file aside, and handed Mulder an envelope. "This is the old alert on the Hamilton File you wanted."
"Thanks. Really? 45 years? C'mon."
"Yes, no word of a lie. Frankly, it's been a long stint. I'm going to enjoy my time."
"Okay, seriously. Did you ... "
"No, no facelift."
"You don't look a day over 30, and forgive me if that sounds like a ridiculous comment. I know there are some wild claims about vitamins and cosmetics out there, but... "
Kelly opened a drawer in her desk. "This is the only thing I use underneath my make-up. It's marvelous. It really is. You can keep the jar. I have lots more. Just rub a little into your facial skin every night, and, well, as you can see... And they say it does wonders for men, as well."
Mulder was reading the product label. "Yeah, well maybe Agent Scully might like to try it." He opened the jar
to sniff the contents. "It does have a nice scent. Look, all the best, Kelly. Friday's the date of the party, right?"
"Yes. Maybe I'll see you and Agent Scully there. It's nothing too fancy, but I don't want it that way. You know
how some people are."
"Sure do, and we try to avoid those things, but we might drop by. I've got work to do, and I guess you do. Later."
"Take care." Kelly grinned as Mulder left the office, and when she knew he was on his way downstairs, she dialed the phone.
TWO WEEKS LATER
OFFICE OF THE X-FILES
Mulder was already at his desk when Scully arrived with some folders. There were already about a dozen files on the desk. Mulder stretched as Scully doffed her coat. "I don't know about you, Scully, but I think I'm going to go blind if I have to keep going over case file after case file to convert then to microfiche."
"You're not the only one, Mulder. I was reading well into the night, and I have a screaming headache." Scully turned from the coat rack and noticed there was something about Mulder that didn't seem, well, like Mulder. "Mulder. You trying out a new razor?"
"Hmm? Uh, no. Why?"
"Nothing. It must be the eye-strain. I could have sworn... "
"What, Scully?" Mulder closed a file and picked up another.
"Never mind. You just look... Well, maybe it's the tie. You just look a bit different, that's all."
"Been told I seem different for years, Scully. I'm used to it. Did you get the Overton file finished?"
"Sure did, Mulder. That's what gave me the headache. I think your shorthand in the notes is quite creative, but I really appreciated your help over the phone clarifying a few of the entries."
"Hey, no problem, partner."
Scully looked up from a folder after ten minutes had gone by. "Is that a new aftershave, Mulder?"
"Uh, no." He was adding some comments to a file. "New moisturizing cream." Oh boy. It was too late to correct his words. "I mean... "
"Mulder, I know about men's skin care products. No need to be shy about it. It think it's very modern of a man to want to take care of the 'terror zone' every morning. At least
that's what my brother used to call it."
THE FOLLOWING DAY
If ever there was a man so lucky to beat his alarm clock this day, it was Fox Mulder. He reset the alarm and groggily went to shower. There was a surprise for him in the mirror; there was definitely going to be a change in his routine today.
By the time Scully arrived at the office, Mulder had had time to find his way around certain difficulties, which
he would try to explain to his partner, hoping she would believe him.
Scully walked into her office with a spring in her step and a smile on her face. "The files are done and thank God they are!" she exclaimed, as she hung her coat. The smile on her face faded quickly when she turned to see someone sitting behind Mulder's desk. He wore a sweatshirt, loose jeans, and he appeared to be a teenaged boy.
"May I help you? This is a private office."
"Good," the young man said. "Let's keep it that way. Before you say anything else, just close the door and I can explain. I think." Mulder knew it was going to be a rough time.
"Look. If you're applying for a summer job, Human Resources is two floors up. What's your name?"
"Fox William Mulder, and Scully, you won't believe the trouble I had seeing this for myself. I had to take a cab in to work, by-pass security, and... you don't believe a word I say, do you?"
She looked at the boy carefully. "Mulder?"
"Yeah, Scully. I think THIS may be the problem." He gave her the jar of skin cream. I've been using it for the past three weeks."
"Ever Young Moisturizer? Mulder, whoever you are, is this a sick joke?"
"Maybe. But I think it's on me. I ran a check on the company that markets this great stuff, and they directed me to Hendry Laboratories in Knoxville, Tennessee." He had to endure a three minute wait for Scully to answer him.
"Mulder. Where did you get this?"
"Kelly, Public Relations. Don't... don't open the jar, unless you want to go to high school again, with me."
"Kelly Cavanaugh? I heard she retired last week. Mulder, what's the connection?"
"I don't know yet, Scully. But thanks for believing I am who I say I am. Somehow, you have to convince Skinner that I need a vacation, 'doctor's orders', and we'll try to sort out this mess. You may as well know: I'm now three inches shorter, thank God my shoes still fit, and I already called for the plane tickets. We leave in two hours, so I think you should call Skinner, then pack your things and pick me up here. Just
don't tell anyone about this."
This was a lot for Scully to absorb. "You're serious, aren't you?" No response, just a glare. "All right, I'll be back in an hour. You don't think... "
"I KNOW they're in on it. They've been trying to muzzle me for years, and since they can't do that, they're way-laying me, but this time while I am not going straight after them, I am going to find more evidence. Am I ever hungry! Can you get me a double cheeseburger with fries on the way out?"
"Sure, Junior." Scully grabbed her coat and slung it over her shoulder. "Just, just stay here and behave yourself, Mulder. See if you can get anything interesting on Kelly Cavanaugh."
Mulder and Scully had arrived in Knoxville at 3:51, but there was a lot of explaining as to why 14-year-old Mulder deserved a room of his own. After they did get the room situation settled, they decided to wait until nightfall to go to the skin cream manufacturer's plant. After all, there was an advantage to Mulder's smaller frame, and nobody was going to just hand over the answers to them.
Scully parked the car across the street from the plant. The office building was becoming darker as employees prepared to venture home. "This is it, Mulder. Quantico called back just before we left. They said there were some ingredients resembling hormones, but other than that, I haven't heard anything else. They're going to run a few tests and call later. Luckily, they owe me one. As for Kelly Cavanaugh, her life story seems to begin at the New York Office and end in Washington after her retirement party. No birth records, no word where she went after she moved out of her Georgetown apartment the week after her party. You did well for a kid. So what's the plan, Mulder?"
"Well, normally I'd just pick the lock or get a keycard from Frohike. But, I don't think that's possible. So,
since they're heavily wired for security, I guess we'll have to be inventive."
"But you did find out they have a couple of vulnerabilities,
am I right?"
"Apparently, a security guard makes his rounds through the office building, then goes back to watch the monitors. His partner goes the next round, and so on every other hour. There are some basement windows in the back that are boarded up, apparently. The alarm was never hooked up again because they didn't replace the windows. Research and development is on the second floor, and if we're lucky, you'll have me
home before my bedtime. I need you to be the lookout. If there's one advantage to being small, it's that I'm fast on my feet. Well, there is one more... climbing through a window."
Scully sighed and nodded her head. "All right. Since you can't have a gun, and I can, that's reasonable. Just remember not to take too long, or we may have to resort to waiting possibly months for Quantico to figure this out. If you can't get the chemical to reverse your situation, at least get as many notes on this as possible. Let's go."
Getting to the back of the building was easy enough, but actually getting into it was a problem. Mulder looked around for a large tree branch to use as a lever against the boards over the windows as Scully kept watch.
"Mulder, even if you do get in there, how are you going to get up to the second floor without being spotted?"
As hr pulled down hard to free a couple of planks, he whispered, "Killing the lights in the stairwell. That'll
keep the cameras blind for a couple of minutes, and..." The window was finally uncovered. "Handy dandy flash-light."
"Better hurry. It's nearly time for security to come around."
Mulder made his way into the basement and found the main power controls. The lights went off in the stairwell, and he was off to the laboratory. He carefully made his was through the second floor hallway, and luckily the Research and Development lab was close by. He jimmied the lock and carefully entered the lab. When he found the file cabinet, he scanned over the drawers until he found one that held the files for 'Ever Young'. It didn't take him long to find a folder with a small vial of clear liquid taped to one of the chemist's notes. He carefully read the small print on the label. 'Cavanaugh Clone, Washington Office, FBI'. He stuffed the files into his jacket and carefully made his way to the stairs.
Scully waited restlessly until Mulder reached the basement window.
"Scully," he whispered. "Evidence. Give me a hand up."
Scully grabbed his arm as Mulder climbed through the window, tearing his jacket sleeve, but at least keeping the files and the mystery substance. "C'mon, let's get out of here. I'll explain on the way to the motel."
DANA SCULLY'S APARTMENT
Scully ushered Mulder into her apartment, and he put his bags beside the door.
"Shoes off, Mulder. You don't want to get Auntie Dana's carpet muddy. Can I get you a soda?"
Mulder flopped down on the couch like a the teenager he had become. "Nah. How about a beer?"
"Nice try, Mulder. I'll get dinner started. Quantico said they'd call the moment they had news. Just remember, Mulder: I still have work to do tomorrow. So, it's early to bed for both of us, and I'll make up the couch for you later."
Mulder was somewhat dismayed. "Oh, joy. So, do we write up a report, or just keep all this under wraps?" The word wraps reminded him of plastic wrap, and he stopped himself from drifting into a fantasy about clear wrap, Scully, and whipped cream.
"Frankly, I think it best we keep this between the three of us. We can't make a fool out of Skinner, and even if we carried a video diary of this, no one would believe it. How does spaghetti sound?"
"Then I'll get started."
Mulder stared at the phone, almost willing it to ring. Normally, this would be any schoolboy's dream, but to him it was frustrating not being able to drive, go out for a few beers, hang out, try a few moves on a pretty woman--one in particular. Now that could be cause for arrest.
They had just finished dinner when the call came in.
"Scully. Yes. That's good news. I'm sure he'll be glad to hear that. When? Good. Thanks again."
Mulder exited the bathroom. "Was that about me?"
"Yeah. They isolated the chemicals that were causing your regression and now it looks like you'll be back to normal in a week or two. With a little hormone therapy and time, you'll be back to 6' of wise-cracking in no time."
"Well, it took that long for this to happen, so I guess I can wait a week or two. I sense there's a 'but' in there
"I'm afraid so, Mulder. Your "butt". Three shots a day for at least a week. So I suggest you enjoy your youthful condition while you have it."
"Does that mean I can go out with you? Hey, can't blame a guy for trying. I'm just so full of energy." The smile wasn't going to win him anything.
"Your medicine arrives in about an hour. You're going to be a growing boy, so I suggest you get ready for bed early. And Mulder?"
"Don't look so disappointed. You know I never date younger men." Scully patted Mulder on the head and they watched a movie until 10:00. He didn't feel that disappointed, really. After all, he figured he enjoyed being mothered again. For the time being.
In a New York City, dimly lit, smoke-filled room, the men of the Consortium were weaving their fabric for civilization as we know it.
The Smoking man was on the hot seat again. "Gentlemen, I can assure you that Agent Mulder is under control. All went well in Texas, and I have heard from our friends in the Middle East."
"And the Cavanaugh Clone?" One elder asked.
"Disposed of immaculately. Gentlemen, it's time to begin the next phase of The Project."