Disclaimers: Mulder and Scully are hostages of the 1013 consortium. I am only liberating them
for a time to suit my own purposes, after which they will never speak to me again. As in my
other stories, I claim no special knowledge of anything, other than how to work a keyboard. I
also did not consiously steal any ideas from anybody, so if you see any similarities to anything,
you can not sue. You would only get two dollars and a meal card anyway.

Please Review once you finish. It's getting cold in my place without the flames to keep me all
nice and toasty.

I'm guessing this is PG, for language. If not, then I am wrong.

"Mulder?" I asked, closing our latest case file with a snap.

"Hmmm," he answered, crunching another seed from the bag on his lap and tossing the shell out the
window.

"What were you like when you were younger?"

His eyebrows quirked ever so slightly. "You're kidding, right?"

"No, I honestly want to know."

He thought for a moment, and said, "I was the same as I am now. But with more faith and a better
reputation," tossing another shell out the window.

"A better reputation?" I asked, curiously.

"A little better," he said, mock defensively.

I sighed and leaned back. I was hoping for something a little more concrete. It was a long
drive, the perfect opportunity for a real conversation. Besides, the fact that Mulder was eating
sunflower seeds meant that the window was open. I was cold, and my hair was a mess.

Mulder glanced at me, opened the ashtray, and shut the window. "Better?" he asked, dropping a
shell into the tray.

"A little better," I said, slipping the file under the seat.

Mulder gave me an exasperated, but not upset look. "What were YOU like, Scully?" he said, a hint
of mischievousness in his voice.

I was startled. "I don't know, Mulder. I suppose I was a tomboy. I went out and did things
with Bill and Charlie, mostly. Missy always tried to dress me up and teach me to act properly,
but I never really had any interest in that sort of thing until I was in high school. Why do you
ask?"

Mulder shrugged. "You're the one who brought it up." We rode together in silence for a while,
looking at the trees on either side of the road. Then Mulder asked, "Did you used to travel a
lot?" I looked up at him curiously. "I mean," Mulder continued, "I know your father was in the
navy, but did you ever go on road trips?"

"You mean, like we do now?" Mulder nodded. "We went on a few. Mostly national parks and things
like that. It's hard to spend hours on the road with your entire family cooped up together in
such a small space. There was one summer where my brothers and I went camping alone. That
was... an adventure."

"Tell me about it," Mulder said, rearranging himself in his seat.

"Well, it all started the first week after school ended..."

*********************************************************************************************

My mind began to wander. I couldn't help it. Her comment reminded me of the first trip that I
took alone. I was sixteen, fiercely unpopular and didn't give a damn. My only saving social
grace was that I was a point guard for the school basketball team. Even then, I would have been
a doormat if I hadn't also happened to be 6'1". But no one wanted to mess with "Crazy Fox
Mulder. Spend time alone with him and he'll beam you up to the Enterprise or some crap like
that. You know his Martian relatives will want him back someday." Guess that explains why I
never had dates, even though Mom said I had the "classic Mulder good looks." Although it might
have been the drawstring pants and black-rimmed nerd glasses I wore constantly (even though I
only needed them for reading), I was never too sure. Not that it mattered much.

On that particular day, I was sitting and attempting to make a batch of pudding gone wrong stick
to the ceiling.

Mom came and knocked on the door. "Fox?"

"Sorry. No Fox here," I answered, sending up another clump up with a satisfying splat.

Mom came in anyway. "What are you doing?"

"Having pudding," I said, holding up the spoon. She glared. I licked off the spoon and put it
back in the bowl. Yuck, butterscotch.

"Clean that off the ceiling and come eat your lunch," she said, closing the door behind her.

I launched the last bit of pudding, completing the "y" in "Have a groovy day," and left the bowl
on the bed.

Mom went into her usual "let's talk about our day" mode. She told me that a friend told her
about someone robbing a bank a few towns away, that not even small towns were safe anymore, how I
had to be more careful, etc, etc. I listened halfheartedly while I finished my lunch. The phone
rang, saving me from the monotony.

"Fox, it's Danny. I found a big ass burn mark out in the forest near my uncle's place. It looks
like something landed there."

"Nice try, Danny," I said, hanging up. I finished lunch. The doorbell rang. Danny was there
when I answered.

"I'm serious, man! I found this at the blast site," he said, holding up a piece of twisted
metal.

I looked at it, and started to get excited, but I kept my face carefully blank. "You're kidding,
right? You probably pulled this off one of your uncle's junk cars," I said.

"No man! This is no hype! Can't you go check it out or something? One of my friends spent the
night; he swears he saw lights."

"Who? Weed?"

"Yeah, but..."

"Goodbye, Danny," I said, shutting the door in his face.

"He swears he wasn't high this time!" Danny yelled through the door.

I took the metal up to my room and studied it. It definitely wasn't like anything I had ever
seen before, even when I looked at it under my magnifying glass. I sat back with a frustrated
sigh. I had been lead on so many wild goose chases by Danny, but maybe this one time... I went
and got my coat.

"Where are you going?" Mom asked as I came downstairs and took the keys off the hook next to the
front door.

"I'll be back in time for dinner, Mom," I said, closing the door.

I tried to push as much speed as I could out of that car. Mom did not have talent when it came
to selecting high performance machines.

I got passed up on the road by some of the jocks on the football team in their brand new
convertible. "Hey, Mulder! That car's a real chick magnet! Your grandma give you that for your
birthday?"

I gave them an acerbic smile and a wave. I tried to pass them up at the light, but they left me
in a cloud of dust.

I took the two-lane road out of town and into the forest. It looked like rain; it was already
starting to get dark. I turned on the bright lights so I could see, and rain started pelting my
windshield. I turned on the wipers and squinted.

Just then, something burst out of the trees. I unconsciously swerved, and drove the car into a
ditch.

"Shit!" I said, rubbing the bump on my head.

What the hell was that? I got out of the car, hiked up the side of the ditch and peered across
the road. A small, blurry shape...a kid?

"I'm so sorry!" the shape called.

It was a kid. A tiny girl, about twelve years old in a collared shirt and jeans, I think, I was
having trouble focusing.

"I didn't mean to scare you, I was just hoping that you could give me a ride...That looks really
bad," she continued, indicating the growing lump on my forehead.

"It feels really bad," I growled.

"Maybe you're getting a concussion. You should lie down," she said.

"I can't lie down," I said, staring at the car. Hell, I probably couldn't even get back in the
car. No money, nowhere close to a phone... "What the hell are you doing out here?" I asked the
kid.

"My brothers took me camping. They said they wanted to take me on a snipe hunt. We went
looking, but they lost me out in the woods. Once I found my way back, the car was gone."

"They left you?" I said incredulously.

"My brother's always doing stuff like that. He tries to scare me to see if I'll cry. So I
waited for a while, but they didn't come back. So I went back to the road and walked, hoping
someone would come. Do you have a first aid kit? I can bandage that if you want," she said,
pointing to my bump.

"You're a doctor now?"

"I want to be," she said, all smiles.

I nodded, and slid down the embankment toward the trunk.

I managed to pry the trunk open and get out the kit. I let out a long whistle. With the angle
that the car was in there and the forming mud pit, there was no way that I could get the car
back out without a tow truck.

"Mom's going to kill me," I muttered under my breath.

"She won't have to, if we catch cold," the kid said.

I grunted my affirmation; the rain was coming down in earnest now. I managed to get the rear
door open and crawl into the back seat. The kid followed. She expertly bandaged my head, while
I wiped my glasses off on my shirt.

"Guess we'll wait until the storm lets up. Do you think your brothers will come back?" I asked.

"Not until it stops raining," she said. "Do you live around here?" she asked me.

"Yeah."

"My grandma lives in Chilmark. We don't get to see her very often. We live in San Diego." I
nodded. There was a groan of metal, and the car shifted. "We're sinking," the kid observed.

"I know," I growled. I pushed her out of the way, opened the door and crawled back out of the
car.

"You're not very friendly," she called as I sank knee deep into the mud.

I turned to glare at her. She hopped out of the car and sank up to her waist. Her eyes were
round as saucers. I stood still and said, "Climb onto my shoulders." She tried to hop up, but
couldn't get much leverage. I crouched until she could put her arms around my neck. Then I
stood up slowly, and she came out of the mud with a pop. We climbed back out of the ditch after
several muddy attempts. My head was still pounding.

"My friend's uncle has a farm not far from here. We can call your parents or a tow truck from
there," I said.

I put down the kid and trudged in the right direction. Her little light step followed me.

The rain just got worse. I was shivering, and I knew the kid couldn't be much better off,
neither of us had a coat. I could hardly see the road anymore, especially after it started to
get dark. I kept an ear out for the steps behind me. She had been prattling most of the way,
but I think she was too miserable now to keep up the one sided conversation. There was a
skidding sound, and a squeak.

"Kid?" I called.

"I almost fell. I'm fine," she announced. I stumbled back towards her until I felt her head
bump into my chest. "It's spooky out here," she said.

I felt like teasing her a little, so I said, "The aliens take people out of these woods all the
time, you know."

"There's no such things as aliens. You're just making it up to scare me," she said briskly.

"Fine," I said, walking away.

"Hey," she called, trying to catch up. I went a little faster, and heard her pick up the pace.
I broke into a run, and she made a funny little squawk and tried to follow me. I could see the
outline of a dead tree just off the road, so I stopped dead, reached up, and slipped silently
onto one of the branches. She stopped as soon as she couldn't hear me any more. "Hello?" she
called. She took a few steps, stopped. "Not funny!" she whined. A few more steps, and she was
standing right under the branch I was on. "YOU CAN'T LEAVE ME OUT HERE ALONE!" she yelled.

I reached down and put my hands on her shoulders. She let out a blood-curdling scream and tried
to fend me off. "Why not? I thought you said there was nothing out here," I said innocently,
coming back out of the tree.

She kicked me in the shins. "Don't DO that."

"Ow," I said, trying to keep the grin off my face and not doing a very good job. I was starting
to like the kid; she had spunk.

Just then, the entire horizon through the trees lit up for one brief moment. I could see as
though it was broad day outside. Then the light was gone.

"Did you see that?" I exclaimed.

"Yeah, it was lightning," she answered.

"No, no it wasn't," I said, laughing and heading towards where I had seen the light.

"Maybe I should have let you leave me alone," she muttered, trying to follow me.

"Why?" I said, pausing.

"Because you're crazy!" she yelled.

"Crazy help's better than no help at all. Anyway, this is my friend's uncle's property. You can
see the house lights from here," I said, pointing through the trees. I walked toward the lights.
I could hear her follow. We got to the edge of the clearing a lot sooner than I expected...
"Whoa," I said, stopping short. The entire forest around the house had burnt, leaving a
completely flat area full of ash.

Even the kid stopped in astonishment. "He set fire to his truck," she said.

"THEY set fire to his truck," I said, looking up at the sky.

"You're kidding, right?" I shook my head. She said, "Why would aliens set fire to your friend's
uncle's truck?"

Suddenly, a man I didn't recognize came out of the house with a large bag and a shovel.

"Just bury it under the truck," a man's voice called after him.

"Is that a body?" the kid squeaked.

"I don't know," I answered, creeping in closer.

"No! Come back," she hissed.

"Don't you want to find out what's in there?"

She rolled her eyes, but crept forward with me. "If we get caught, it's all your fault," she
said.

I shushed her. The man started to bury the bag, pausing to light a cigarette. I crept a little
bit closer. Suddenly, a light from one of the side windows came on, bathing us in light.

"What the hell?" the voice from inside said. I grabbed the kid by the arm and took off.
Footsteps came clattering out of the house after us. One of the two from inside the house
jumped me. I wrestled with him, but he outweighed me, and I didn't have much experience with
hand to hand combat. The kid bashed him over the head with a brick, but she was so small that it
didn't do anything but piss him off. He grabbed her and tossed her to the other man from inside
the house, Danny's uncle. Then Inside Man picked up the brick and hit me with it. The kid
screamed, and everything went dark.

I woke up tied to a metal pole. It hurt to open my eyes, and there wasn't anything to see
anyway, just concrete walls. The kid was tied to the same pole I was; I could feel her hands.

"Are you awake?" she said softly.

"No. Sound asleep," I said.

"I was scared when I was out by the road. I was afraid some killer like on TV would get me, and
here I am."

"Here you are."

"At least I'm not alone. That would be worse, I think."

"Depends on who you're with."

"You seem okay. Just grouchy."

"How do you know I'm not a serial killer?" I said in my most evil voice.

"Because you look like a nerd," she answered with a giggle.

"Maybe I just disguise myself as a nerd to lure innocent victims."

"I don't believe it. If you were a killer you would have done it already." I shrugged. "Why
would you wear nerd glasses, anyway?" she asked.

"They're my dad's. I use them for reading."

"But you can see without them?"

"Yep."

She was quiet for a minute, then asked, "What do you look like without them?"

"Like a nerd."

She laughed. It actually was good to have company. "Do you think we'll get out of here?" she
asked.

"I'm sure of it," I said decisively.

"My parents are going to be so worried..."

"My mom's going to kill me when she finds out about the car."

"Is that all you're worried about?"

"No one would care if anything happens to me. I'm more worried about you. You seem like a great
kid."

She started to say something, then voices overhead interrupted her. "You were the one said to
get rid of the evidence. If you wanted to keep the truck, you should have thought of that before
we used it for a getaway." It was Inside Man, from the sound of it. Danny's uncle made some
sound of protest, but Inside Man cut him off. "Once everything cools off, we'll get you any kind
of truck that you want. After all, one third of it is yours, to do with whatever you want."

"You nearly burned down my goddamned house getting rid of that truck. Then where would you and
your great plans be, without a place to hole up? Huh?" Danny's uncle snarled.

"We got the fire out. Your precious house is still intact," Inside man said smoothly. I
groaned. That's where Danny got the metal, from his uncle's burnt out truck. I'm going to kill
him. And Weed's "lights" were probably the bonfire mixed with one of his giant bongs.

"What about the kids?" Outside Man asked. I perked up. "They saw where we buried the money," he
continued.

"We'll take care of them just before we go. No witnesses," Inside man said.

"One of the kids is a friend of my nephew's," Danny's uncle said.

"Well, then, you'll have one less dope smoker hanging around the property to worry about," Inside
Man said smoothly.

The kid squeaked. "They're going to kill us!"

"I know," I hissed. I felt around with my fingers. We were secured to the post with a length of
chain and a combination lock. I could just barely reach the dial with my fingers. "There's a
lock on this chain. Can you see it?" I asked her.

"No," she said miserably.

I slid my arms up the post slightly, causing her to make a little sound of discomfort. "How
about now?" I asked.

"No," she insisted. I let the lock drop in frustration. "It's more on your side. I can hear
you moving it around through the post, but that's all," she continued. I started to get an idea.
I pressed the lock flat against the post.

"Keep your ear there," I said.

"What?"

"Put your ear flat against the post, and tell me what you hear."

She moved slightly, then said, "Okay."

I started to turn the dial. "I can hear you turning it," she said.

"Great. Keep listening."

After a pause, she said, "It clicked! I heard it click!"

"Okay, tell me when you hear it click again," I said, turning it slowly the other way.

"All right!" she announced. I then slowly turned it back the other way. "That's it!" she said,
just as the lock sprang open. I slipped the lock out of the chain, and it fell to the floor.
"You're the best!" she said, jumping up and hugging me.

I said, "Being a hero, saving the day...I could really get into this," prompting a shove from the
kid.

We crept up the stairs. Just as we reached the top, Outside Man threw the door open. "What
the..," he said, just before I punched him. He fell to the floor, and I dragged the kid through
the back door.

"There's a place we can hide. Come on," I said, pulling her into the trees. We could hear the
men running out of the house after us, and a discharge from a shotgun. I ducked, but kept
running. The kid fell, and I yanked her back up. I wove in and around the trees, trying to make
us harder to hit. I found the tree I was looking for, and shoved the kid up onto the first
branch. "It's hollow. Get going," I said. She started to climb, and I followed her.

I was almost to the top, when a blast shot off the branch I was standing on. I fell to the
ground, and had the double barrel of a shotgun shoved in my face. "Come on down from there, kid,
or your friend gets it," Danny's uncle snarled.

"Stay where you are," I called to the kid.

"Shut up!" he yelled, shoving the barrel closer.

"Enough. I think I can hit her from here," Inside Man said. The kid ducked into the tree trunk.
"Sure, girlie, climb down inside the trunk. Makes things a whole lot easier. Why, in a closed
space like that, it's like shooting fish in a barrel," he continued with a smile. The kid
climbed down, and I felt my heart sink. Inside Man shoved her to the ground beside me. "On
three," he said. "One... Two..."

"Sheriff's Department! Drop your weapons!" a voice yelled from behind a stand of trees.

Danny's uncle turned and fired at the voice, which gave the kid and I enough time to get up and
run. We heard shots from multiple locations around us like a string of firecrackers, then all
was quiet.

The kid and I sat in the back of one of the sheriff's cruisers, wrapped in blankets and drinking
hot chocolate. Danny was there waiting for us.

"Man, I am sorry. I meant it to be a joke. I had no idea my uncle was into that stuff. But
when you didn't come home, and your mom called all worried, I knew something must have happened
on the way out there. So then I told the police, about the joke and the metal from the burnt
truck and everything, and that robbery's been all over the news, man. And I knew it was my
uncle's truck from the pictures and stuff on the news, it's the ugliest thing I've ever seen. So
they sent in everybody they could think of, and just in time too. I am so, so sorry, man."

"Just promise me you'll watch my back from now on and I'll forgive you," I told him.

"We're going to take you two home now," one of the sheriffs said, closing the cruiser door.

The ride back to Chilmark was quiet. The car stopped in front of a nice, cheerful house with a
picket fence.

"Is that your grandma's place?" I asked the kid.

"Mmhm," she answered.

Just then, the front door opened and expelled a whole squadron of people, all jumping and yelling
and talking at once. The only one who didn't come forward was a teenager, about my age or a few
years older, observing us with a sullen look.

"Is that the brother who left you behind?" I asked.

"Yep. I'm just sorry I missed Daddy punishing him," the kid said with a grin. I laughed, and
took off my glasses to clean them. "Hey!" she exclaimed, staring at me.

"What?" I said, feeling self-conscious.

"You lied!"

"About what?"

"About looking like a nerd!"

I gave her my sexiest grin, which caused her ears to turn the slightest bit of pink. Then I
laughed and put my glasses back on. I got out and greeted the family. Her father shook my hand,
tears in his eyes.

"Thank you. Thank you so much for helping my little girl," he said.

I mumbled my thanks, a little embarrassed. Her mother gave me a hug, her sister looked at me
quietly but with considerable interest, and her little brother jumped up and down while
chattering constantly. Her grandmother waved from the porch and looked proud. After the uproar,
the family left the kid and I alone to say our goodbyes.

*************************************************************************************************
"I knew it would be the last time I would ever see him, but I couldn't resist asking if
there could ever be anything more between us when I got older. Oh, pull over here, I need to use
the restroom. And you'll never believe what he said," I said to Mulder.

"Take me, hot mama, I'm burning with love?" Mulder said as he pulled into the gas station.

"Oh, that would have been nice." Mulder's eyebrows quirked, and a grin spread across his face as
he pulled in front of the pump and turned off the engine. "No, what he said was..." I started.

"Red, you're a great kid, and I think I could like you a lot. But there's just one problem. You
talk too much," Mulder said, getting out of the car.

"How did you know?" I asked him.

"You're kidding, right?" he said, closing the door with a flourish.

I paused for a moment, then yelled, "MULDER!" I knew he heard me through the closed door,
because he turned around and waved with a grin. I tried to glare, but somehow I couldn't. Damn
him. I started to laugh, and went to the restroom.

"Talk too much, huh?" I said when he finished pumping the gas and sat back down.

"Look like a nerd, huh?" he answered. He started the car, and we drove away.