Spoilers for 4x04 "Teliko". Also, forgive Chloe's attitude. Literally she's a brat the whole time, so you've been warned. All mistakes are mine.
Disclaimer: I don't own 'American Girl' or any of its trademarks. I do own two of the dolls though! (The '90s girl dream, right? An American Girl Doll, and Tamagotchi pets, and colorful gel pens, and Lisa Frank, and Game Boys? Okay, enough nostalgia.)
"Do you want a party for your birthday?" Mulder asks his daughter as he drives her to school. She officially starts middle school and is about to turn twelve in September. The father has no idea which one he's afraid of most.
Nodding, Chloe answers, "I want to. I just don't know where."
Mulder nods answering, "Well, just think about it, okay? I'll be by to pick you up after school."
"Dad, you know I could just ride the bus, right?"
"And let you stay home alone? Good try."
"You were babysitting your sister at twelve!"
"Yeah, and you know how well that turned out," The man answers bitterly before adding, "Besides, you aren't twelve yet."
With a sigh he asks, "Are you okay being here this early?"
"Sure," The girl responds grabbing her back pack. Mulder can tell she is lying but lets her go inside.
Going into work and not finding his partner, the agent soon finds she's in autopsy. Entering the room, Mulder says, "'Hey. I heard you were down here slicing and dicing. Who's the lucky stiff?'"
"'His name was Owen Sanders. He was reported as the fourth kidnap victim in Philadelphia until his body turned up last night looking like this'," Scully replies.
"'There's a Michael Jackson joke in here somewhere, but I can't quite find it'," Mulder jokes lamely.
Scully elicits a tight smile before replying, "'I have been requested to determine what leeched the pigment from his body.'"
"'Requested by whom?'" Mulder questions eager to join the case. Continuing her assessment, the medical examiner states, "'The Centers for Disease Control.'"
"'The CDC in a kidnap case?'" He asks confused.
"'Well, they believe that the uh, the case has been mislabeled. That this man and the others may have fallen prey to a disease or a pathogen'," The red head explains. Curious, Mulder asks, "'Based on what other evidence?'"
Scully turns toward her partner as she says, "'There were no external signs of trauma or defense wounds and uh, his wallet was still full of cash.'"
Fishing a sunflower seed from his pocket, the man eats the snack saying, "'That's interesting. What, uh, what sort of disease is this?'"
"'I don't know. There are conditions like vitiligo which attack melanocytes and prevent the manufacture of melanin in the skin. Auto immune disorders which are not yet clearly understood.'"
"'So this man died of a disorder. He and four other young black men who conveniently contracted the disease in succession and then disappeared without any explanation whatsoever'," Mulder theorizes. Nodding, Scully can see the logistics of the theory, but proposes, "'Well, it's very possible that they have already turned up but because of the depigmentation there may have been a problem with identification, so I have reissued descriptions of John Does to area morgues and ERs.'"
Being the bearer of bad news, Mulder takes a page from his partner's book as he counters, "'Scully, has it occurred to you that this might just be a...a little PR exercise?'"
"'To divert attention from the fact that young black men are dying and nobody seems to be able to bring in a suspect? The perception being that nobody cares'," He explains. He can see his friend practically roll her eyes at him as she replies, "'Mulder, not everything is a labyrinth of dark conspiracy, and not everybody is plotting to deceive, inveigle and obfuscate.'"
She watches as he cracks another sunflower seed and sighs. Knowing he is aggravating her, the man turns the conversation to normal by asking' "'Did you lift any forensic evidence from the body?'"
Nodding, Scully replies, "'Yes, there's hair, skin, and fiber behind you on the counter.'"
Seeing her partner become a little too invested in the evidence, the red head asks, "'What are you doing?'"
"'I'm going to join the snipe hunt ... if you don't mind ... before the body count rises.'" He answers with a smirk before leaving. After he is gone, Scully sighs wondering why she bothers to stop her partner's meddling.
Hours later, with Mulder gone, Scully picks Chloe up from school.
"How was it?" The red head asks as the eleven year old enters the car.
"Horrible. We got our middle school schedules and Anna's not in any of my classes," The girl grumbles.
"I'm sorry, Sweetie," The red head offers. Chloe merely rolls her eyes saying, "You're supposed to say that."
The woman merely nods knowing the girl will not see the bright side of her situation any time soon.
"Wasn't Dad supposed to pick me up?" The girl asks. Nodding, Scully answers, "He's been detained. I know you'll hate me for this, but you're going to have to stay with me, okay?"
"Sure, fine, whatever," The eleven year old mumbles. Setting her jaw, Scully tries not to lose her temper. First, Mulder goes off on his own and now, Chloe has an attitude. Her best bet is to deal with one Mulder at a time, and Chloe is not on the list.
"I have to meet your Dad in Pennsylvania tomorrow, the red head adds. Nodding, Chloe takes out her homework. For ten minutes into the drive, Scully is thankful for the silence. Then, she asks, "Did you meet anyone in your classes you can make friends with?"
"No," The girl replies. Scully can tell something else happened at school that Chloe is not saying, but decides not to push. Instead the pair lapses into silence again until Chloe says, "Boys are stupid."
Laughing a little Scully asks, "Why do you say that?"
"Because Brett won't stop calling me names."
"What kind of names?" Scully questions.
"Dumb ones, like Doll."
"He called you Doll?" The woman asks wondering if she needs to contact the kid.
"Yeah. He found out my middle name in class today. He usually ends it with 'American Girl Doll'. I don't even like American Girl! At least, not Samantha. She's like a little goodie- two shoes," Chloe mumbles crossing her arms. Knowing she cannot do anything to stop the boy, the red head offers, "Well, maybe he'll stop soon."
As they enter Scully's apartment, the brunette goes to the room she declares as her own over the past couple years as the red head begins making dinner and wondering how Mulder is going to survive the next couple years. The rest of the night is about the same until Scully asks, "I know you have class in the morning, but do you want to watch a movie?"
Confused, Chloe answers, "With ice cream?"
A small smile plays on her lips as the red head complies. If she is honest, she secretly wants ice cream as well. Making sure the girl's homework is done first, Scully gets two bowls from her cabinet and grabs the ice cream from her fridge. Waking up early the next morning, Scully gets a quick shower before making sure her surrogate daughter is awake. Knowing a repeat performance from a few years ago is brewing, Scully says, "Up. Now. There should be extra clothes for you in your closet."
Walking away, the woman debates on if a movie night is the best parental decision. Deciding not to dwell on the fact, the woman gets breakfast cooked for Chloe before yelling for the girl that she has ten more minutes to get ready. She soon sees the preteen rush off to get dressed. Rolling her eyes, Scully puts her own clothes on before driving the girl to school. With a sigh, Scully drives up to Philidelphia.
"Was Chloe fine staying with you last night?" Mulder asks as the agents meet up for an early breakfast before interviewing the driver of a bus where a suspect is last seen.
"As fine as she can be. Did she have an attitude with you yesterday?" Scully asks as she takes a sip of her coffee.
"Yeah, I take it she had one with you too?" He questions. Seeing his partner nod, the man states, "I am not looking forward to the next few years."
Scully merely smirks at her friend's comment causing Mulder to remark, "You're stuck with her, too! Why can't she just be little again?"
"Because you'd have to do this all over again," The red head replies before looking at her watch. Mulder almost opens his mouth to tell Scully he has her to help him, but decides against it. Instead, he pays the bill and leaves the diner.
As the day progresses, Mulder looks at the time and sighs. Signaling to his partner that he is going to make a phone call as the woman access their suspect, the father calls Rachel to ask if she will take Chloe for the night. Coming back to his friend after making the call, Mulder asks, "So?"
Standing up, but making sure the man will not leave, Scully pulls her partner to the side saying, "We need to get him to a hospital. Preferably to get an MRI. Do you want to head back to be with Chloe?"
Shaking his head, Mulder answers, "I called Rachel."
She can see the look of doubt in her partner's face as he speaks and reassures, "You're not a bad parent, Mulder."
He gives an unconvincing half smile before saying, "We should probably get Aboah to the hospital."
He simply wants to get the case over with and see his daughter.
Finally, near one in the morning, Mulder officially goes home to sleep. Taking off work for the day, the man types part of his report before picking up his daughter.
"How was school?" Mulder asks as the girl gets in the car.
"Like you'd care," The girl grumbles.
He makes a note to ask Scully for advice later.
"Have you thought anymore on your party?" He asks changing the subject as they get back on the road.
"I don't want one anymore."
"What do you mean you don't want one?"
Sighing, Chloe answers, "I just don't want one."
"Okay," Mulder replies slowly. He really needs to call Scully.
Entering the apartment, Chloe puts her back pack down before going to her room. Thinking he is safe, he calls his partner.
"Mulder, I refuse to go anywhere else this week."
"What about my apartment? I need to talk to you," He replies. He can practically see the eyebrow raise through the phone as Scully asks, "You can't do it over the phone?"
"Not really. It's about Chloe," Mulder confesses.
"I'm not a parent," She reminds him.
"Yeah, but you're a girl, which means you can explain things to me."
"Such as?" The woman questions.
"Well, first off, she doesn't want a party and now she's locked herself in her room. What eleven year old locks themselves in their room?"
"I think my sister did. Although, Missy may not be the best comparison. I'd lock myself in my room too to escape my younger siblings," Scully answers with a small smile.
"That's not helping, Scully," Mulder sighs. After a pause, Scully asks, "Did you ask her what's wrong?"
"I figured she'd tell me. At this point I may resort to parenting books," Mulder admits. He hears a chuckle on the other end and retorts, "Hey, wait until you have your own kid then you won't be laughing."
When there is silence on the other end, Mulder asks, "Scully? You there?"
"Yeah," Is the slightly distracted reply. "I'm just reviewing my report for any mistakes before I turn it in to Skinner."
Mulder sighs knowing he has to finish his own report.
"Alright, Scully. I'll let you go. You think we should just throw a surprise party for her instead?" He questions before hanging up. Rolling her eyes, Scully answers, "Good- bye, Mulder."