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TITLE: Skuamorph
AUTHOR: Tabula Rasa
EMAIL: tabulaxrasa@yahoo.com   Notice I'm no longer begging for feedback.  Okay, I lied. Please, please.
ARCHIVING: Free to a good home.  A small note would be appreciated.
CATEGORY: X
KEYWORDS: MSR, some H, I hope
RATING: PG-13 for language of all sorts.  A girl has to have some fun.
SPOILERS: Blink and you'll miss 'em for FTF.  And you should have some knowledge of the mytharc, at least to Season 5.
DISCLAIMER: I obviously made a mistake lending them to 1013, and I apologize to everyone for that.  I want them back now.
SUMMARY: Purposely investigating a throw-away case, Mulder and Scully find more then they bargained for.
TIMELINE: (Don't you think this should become a new category?)  Season 7.  Before 'Requiem.'
NOTE:  Notice how mature I'm being with all these casefiles.  I'll snap out of it soon.  As Mulder says, a skuamorph is something made to look like something else.
Home address: http://members.tripod.com/tabulaxrasa/
XxX
  Thank God it was Friday.  Christine checked the coffee; it was almost ready.  She pulled the bag of chocolate-chocolate chip cookies down from a high shelf ("out of sight, out of mind") and set them on the coffee table in the living room.  It was her after work routine: coffee, cookies, and Oprah.  She fiddled with the remote, making sure the tape was rewound and ready to go.  She listened to the coffee percolating.
 It was nice and quite at home, unlike the office.  She fingered the rubber buttons on the remote, listening.  It was too quite.
 "Brandi?" she called.  Now that she thought about it, the dog hadn't made a noise since she got home.  Usually Brandi whined and scratched at the back door as soon as she heard Christine.
 The young woman walked to the back door, opening it and leaning outside.  Brandi didn't appear to be in the yard.  "Brandi!" she called again, and whistled.  The back yard was fenced, but the large dog could jump the fence, and had before.  Christine felt guilty once again, and decided she'd call tomorrow about getting a larger fence.  At least there wasn't much trouble for Brandi to get into; the area was fairly rural, with the grass of Christine's yard turning rapidly into forest beyond the fence.
 Christine tried whistling and shouting again, but her dog still didn't appear.  Well, it wasn't too unusual.  Christine went back inside, leaving the door open a couple of feet.  Brandi could just let herself in when she got back.
 Christine went back into the kitchen, and found the coffee ready.  She took her favorite mug from the dishwasher, and poured french roast in.  She added cream, and just a little bit of sugar.
 The growling bark from behind her made her jump, hot coffee sloshing around and nearly spilling on her hand.  She hadn't heard Brandi come in.  Christine turned around and screamed, dropping her mug, scattering coffee and chips of porcelain on the floor.
 Brandi stared up at her with big, wet, hopeful eyes, her tail wagging eagerly back-and-forth.  In her mouth, she held a human skull.
XxX
 "It was silly, really" Christine explained later.  "It's not like I was in danger or anything.  I was just...it just...startled me, I guess.  I wasn't expecting to see...that."
 Deputy Jenna Baugh, who had been taking her statement, nodded sympathetically.  The two women had gone to high school together, and while they hadn't been friends exactly, they were always on good terms.
    Deputy Bob Black, behind her, looked impatient.  "It was just the skull?" he interrupted.
 The two women looked at him, annoyed.  "Of course" Christine said.  "At least, that I've noticed."
 Black turned away and grit his teeth in a manner suggesting of course she wouldn't have noticed something important like that, women never did.  He left the kitchen and walked through the living room to join the rest of the force on the back porch.
 His partner, Deputy Roger Walker, and Sheriff John Walker were in the back yard, trying to coax Brandi into showing them where the skull came from.
 Deputy Walker held the skull out to Brandi, wiggling it back and forth in front of her nose.  "Here, girl" he called in a high, babying voice.  "Come on girl, show us where you found this, huh?  Be a good doggy."
 A good doggy?  Black closed his eyes for a moment in pain.  God, this was awful.  Bob Black had aspirations, aspirations that included getting as far away from Bumfuck, Michigan as he could.  As soon as possible, before he ended up like this guy.
 "Roger, if you just wave it at the animal, we aren't gonna get anywhere." Sheriff Walker snatched the skull out of his deputy's hand and held in front of the dog until Brandi took it in her mouth.  "See?" John Walker looked at his deputies.  "That's how you do it." Brandi lay down on the porch and began gnawing on the skull.
 "Damnit!" Sheriff Walker shouted, and began tug-of-war with the dog.
 Black wandered off the porch and across the yard, hoping the fence.  "I'll let you know when I find something" he shouted over his shoulder.
XxX
 "Damnit" Scully hissed, shoving stacks of files around Mulder's desk, causing some of them to slide off the edge and spill their contents all over the dirty floor.
 "Scully?" Mulder walked in, bearing coffee.  When he saw her taking the office apart, he frowned and approached with caution.  "Scully, is-- what are you doing?"
 "We need a case" she ground out, spinning around to pull a stack of files off the top of a nearby file cabinet.
 "We do?" Mulder still held the coffee cups, afraid they'd get swept to the floor if he set them down.
 "Yes."
 "Um," he watched her work for a moment, fascinated.  "Why?  If you don't mind me asking."
 "Because my brother has unexpected shore leave and is in town and my mother wants me to have dinner with them and I'm really not in the mood this week." This was said, possibly, in one breath.
 "Oh" he said.  "You can't just say no?"
 Scully heaved a huge, heavy sigh.  "Guilt, Mulder, guilt.  Something you, of all people, should understand.  She knows I don't have a life." She shot him a look, anticipating his sulk.  "Well, as far as she knows.  *I'm* perfectly happy."
 "But if you were out of town on work..." he said.
 "Exactly" Scully turned back to her stacks of files.  "But I want a throw away case.  Something that won't result in another stop on our tour of the nation's hospitals."
 "I have one!" Mulder said.  He left the coffee cups on the desk to fend for themselves.  To Scully's annoyance, he plucked a folder out of the middle of a stack whose continued vertical existence was in serious jeopardy.  "Here," he waved it around, but didn't let her take it.  "The Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  They found a body they think belongs to Bigfoot."
 "Bigfoot, Mulder?"
 "We weren't going to investigate it, but you did ask" he said, smug.
 Scully snatched up one of the coffee cups and began nursing it.  She continued to regard him suspiciously.
 "Come on," he coaxed.  "It'll get us out of the city."
 Scully's eyes widened and she put down the cup.  "Is it in the woods?  Will there be hiking involved?  I'm not going into the woods with you again, Mulder.  Nowhere near them."
 Mulder looked hurt.  "Why?"
 She gaped at him.  "Mulder!  Where the hell have you been?"
 "Bigfoot or Bill" Mulder reminded her.  Scully scowled, and picked up the coffee.
XxX
 There had been some slight, essentially harmless fudging with Skinner, but now they were on their final descent into Detroit-Metro, where they would catch a commuter flight to Marquette. Mulder nudged Scully awake, amused as she lifted her head from his shoulder and blinked in momentary confusion.
 "Late night?" he leered.
 She gave him a cool look.  "Nothing too exciting.  Except the blankets kept migrating to the other side of the bed."
 Mulder looked insulted.  "I don't steal blankets.  You, on the other hand, my dear Agent Scully, can be rather--"
 He was saved from himself when the plane took a sharp nose dive.  Scully's face went white, and she grabbed her armrests--except they had pushed up the armrest between them, and Scully's nails dug into Mulder's thigh instead.  He grit his teeth and waited for the plane to level out, then waited a bit longer for Scully's grip to relax.
 He wrapped his hand around hers to prevent further blood-drawing, and squeezed it.
 On the ground and off the plane, they ran through three long terminals, most of them under construction, to make their connection. Once on the small plane, Mulder realized right away he would have to distract Scully.  She disliked small, old planes even more then 737s.
 "Do you want to hear about the case now?" Mulder asked as she strapped herself in.
 She looked at him and raised her eyebrow.  "So you're finally going to tell me about the case?  Is this some sort of distraction technique?"
 He gave her an innocent look, which fooled her not at all.
 "Go ahead" she sat back, and waved her hand to indicate she was all his.
 He opened the folder to refresh his memory, and wrinkled his nose as he perused the file.  "Actually, there's not much to tell.  The county sheriff's office found some skeletonized remains in the woods on the edge of town.  They were so large and unusual, they thought, well..."
 "They were evidence of Bigfoot?"
 "Yep." He flashed her a grin.  "The sheriff's sitting on the remains up there.  Somehow, I guess he heard about me."
 Scully snorted.  The words "Jerry Springer" remained unsaid.
 "And he sent me the file, asked me to look into it.  Now contrary to popular opinion," he gave his partner a pointed look, "I do not go off chasing Bigfoot.  Yeti, maybe, but not Big Foot.  Or Sasquatch."
 "Or the Florida Skunk Ape" Scully conceded.
 Mulder looked delighted.  "Scully!  You really *do* care!" He received the expected response, and picked up where he had left off.  "So, I don't just go running off whenever someone offers the slightest evidence." Scully gave him a Look.  "Of Bigfoot" he amended, somewhat sheepish.
 "Anymore" Scully finished.
 Scully was clearly relieved when they touched down and were able to escape their flying tin can.  The stairs were narrow and slippery from recent rain.  They rented a car ("This is *Michigan*" Mulder complained.  "You'd think we could get something other then a Taurus.") and drove to their hotel.
 Mulder went to check them in while Scully used the restroom.  The hotel was actually rather nice, she noticed.  It looked like a hunting lodge, but almost tasteful.  And it was old.  There were pictures on the wall that dated back over a hundred years.
 As Scully walked towards the desk, she heard Mulder talking to the desk clerk.  And she did not at all like what she heard.
 "Have you seen the ghosts?"
 The desk clerk nodded eagerly and leaned forward.  Scowling, Scully interrupted.
 "Mulder.  What is this about?"
 His guilty look confirmed her suspicions.
 "Our hotel is haunted!" The desk clerk proclaimed.
 "Mulder" she said in a low voice, reminding herself to breathe, "we are not here to investigate a ghost, are we?"
 "No!" he said quickly.  "That's just sort of a bonus." He gave her that damn I'm-too-adorable-to-be-mad-at look.  "Just for fun."
 The stupid desk clerk was beaming and nodding, still very enthusiastic.  "Now," he said, "would you and your wife like a room where occupants have reported seeing ghosts?"
 "No" Scully said, at the same time Mulder said:
 "Yes."
 They turned to eye each other.  "Well," said Scully after a moment, "since we're actually partners--we need two rooms.  One can be...allegedly haunted--" she made a face, "--and the other can be normal." Mulder pouted, and she stepped on his foot to remind him actual sleeping arrangements could be arranged later.
XxX
 They left their luggage in the haunted room, and drove to the police station.  It was small, with an empty reception desk.  They leaned over and looked around.  They could hear a radio playing, but no one was in sight.
 "They should have a bell" Mulder muttered, leaning over to try and look beneath the counter.
 "Can I help you folks?"
 Mulder jumped and almost fell over, but Scully grabbed the back of his jacket and pulled him mostly upright.  The man who had spoken was a few inches taller then Mulder and gangly, with sandy hair and pale skin.  There was a smattering of freckles under his square-shaped glasses.  He was younger than both of them.
 "Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, FBI" Mulder flashed his badge.  He never got tired of that.
 "Oh!" the officer grinned and shook their hands.  "Deputy Roger Walker.  It's great that you two made it up here for us."
 "No problem" Scully said, remembering the message she'd left on her mother's answering machine.
 "I'll take you back to see the Sheriff.  Come on."
 He led them around the desk and through the back, into the room playing the radio.  "Sheriff?  These people are the FBI agents."
 A large, red-faced man turned off the radio, stood up, and shook their hands.  "Sheriff John Walker."
 "Fox Mulder and Dana Scully" she said.
 "Are you..." Mulder trailed off, indicating the Sheriff and Deputy Walkers.  They waited patiently for him to finish.  Mulder felt stupid.  "Uh, are you two related?"
 They stared at him in surprise for a moment before bursting out laughing.  "Well, I guess I can see how you'd think that.  But, no.  There's always been two families of Walkers in this town.  I'm from  one, and Roger here is from the other.  We're not related at all!" The  two men continued laughing.  Mulder smiled weakly, and felt Scully gently touch his arm.  It didn't help, since he knew she was laughing at him, too.
 "Do you have the remains here?" Scully asked, to divert attention from her partner.
 "Oh sure," the Sheriff said.  "Downstairs, in the storm cellar."
 "I'll show you down" Deputy Walker said, taking a step forward in eagerness.
 The Sheriff laughed.  "Roger here's the one who suggested you, Agent Mulder.  He's the one pushing this Bigfoot theory."
 "Really" Mulder smiled and looked at Roger Walker in a new light.
 Scully rolled her eyes.  This was just wonderful.  Mulder had a new friend.
 Roger led them down narrow, unlit wooden stairs.  "You ever seen anything like this before?" he called back to the two agents.
 "We haven't seen anything yet" Scully remarked.
 "We've seen a lot of stuff" Mulder said. "But not Bigfoot, per se."
 "I'd love to hear about it" Roger said eagerly as he flipped on the light at the base of the stairs.  "Have you really seen aliens?"
 Mulder and Scully exchanged a glance.  "We've seen a lot" Scully said.  "Where are the remains?"
 "Over here." He pulled over a rolling table with a sheet over it.
 Scully pulled gloves out of her pocket and snapped them on.  She pulled back the sheet, revealing an articulated skeleton.  The bones were yellowed and still partially covered with dirt and bits of plants.  Scully noticed the ribs had been arranged in order from smallest to largest, instead of small to large to small, giving the torso an odd shape.  She'd have to fix the order before she started on a real examination.
 "What do you think?" Roger asked eagerly.
 Scully pursed her lips.  "There is definitely some serious bone deformation.  I'll have to take a more in-depth look to determine what sort."
 "Oh, here." Roger pulled a cardboard box off a shelf and handed it to Scully.  "We didn't know where these went."
 "Well," Mulder shot a reassuring glance at Scully, "Deputy Walker, why don't you take me to the person who found the remains.  I'd like to look around the area.  I'll call you" he added to Scully.
 "Sure" Roger said, eagerness unabated.  "And call me Roger, please, Agent Mulder." As they walked up the stairs, Roger called back to Scully: "Oh, a dog chewed on the skull!"
 Scully sighed, and stripped off her gloves before tying her hair back.
XxX
(2/3) Headers in Part 1
 The forest was thick, and the humidity torture as Mulder wandered around the area the skeleton had been found in.  This was not a good idea, he thought, already sweating.  And they'd only been out of the car for five minutes.
 Roger wiped his forehead on his sleeve.  "The bones were just laying there" he said, gesturing at the ground.  "I knew right away something was wrong with 'em."
 "Who found them?" Mulder asked.  A mosquito was buzzing around his ear, and Mulder raised a hand to swat it away.
 "Well, Deputy BB found the body, but Christine Hampton's dog found it first, if you know what I mean."
 Mulder nodded.  Dogs were notoriously adept at finding bodies, and even scattered the bones in a predictable pattern.
 Now the mosquitos were buzzing all around his face.  They looked uncomfortably like a cross between mosquitos and craneflies.
 The earth had been well-trampled during the recovery of the body.  Mulder decided there was nothing to learn at the scene when one of the super-mosquitos landed on his hand and bit him.  It hurt.
 After smearing bug guts all over his hand, Mulder asked to talk to Christine Hampton.
 Christine was pretty, even with her oversized nose, a condition Mulder had nothing but sympathy for.  She greeted Roger familiarly, but looked at Mulder a little wide-eyed.
 "The FBI" she said.  "Is this body really important then?  Would you like some coffee?"
 Since they were back in strong air conditioning, Mulder accepted the coffee.
 "Your dog found the remains first, is that correct Ms. Hampton?"
 "Christine, please.  Yeah," she blushed a little at the memory.  "Brandi came in with a skull in her mouth.  It scared me, just a little, at first.  I broke my favorite coffee cup" she shook her head.
 Mulder nodded in sympathy.
 "Brandi's right out there." She nodded at the glass door.  A large golden retriever was running in the yard.  "She's supposed to stay in the yard, but she can jump the fence and go into the forest.  Especially when it's hot."
 "Christine, you don't remember anything happening in the woods that could have left that body there, do you?  This would have been a few months ago, probably.  Any odd noises you remember?"
 Christine thought hard for a few minutes, then pursed her lips and looked him in the eye.  "No, I'm sorry.  If there was anything, I probably forgot about it by now."
 Mulder nodded and smiled again.  "That's all right.  It's what I expected.  Thank you for your time, and the coffee." He stood up to leave, and Roger quickly scrambled to his feet.
 "See you later Christine."
 "Bye, Roger.  Good bye, Agent Mulder.  It was nice to meet you!"
XxX
 "Sheriff?" Deputy Bob Black poked his head around the doorway.
 "Mmh?"
 "Are those FBI agents here yet?"
 "Been and gone.  Well, the one's out with Roger, and one's down in the basement with the body."
 With Roger?  Shit, this was a disaster.  The Feds were going to laugh their asses off at Roger and his Bigfoot theories.  "What's the name of the one in the basement?"
 Walker thought for a minute.  "Baseball something..."
 "What?"
 "Announcer.  Scully!  Yeah, Agent Scully."
 Black shook his head at the sheriff's system of remembering names.  "I
think I'll go down and talk to him."
 The sheriff looked at him a moment, then chuckled.  "You do that, BB."
 Black grit his teeth at the hated nickname, then headed downstairs.
 "Agent Scully?"
 "Yes?" she said, irritable.
 "You're a--" he gasped.
 "Woman" she snapped.  "Yes, I am." It had been a while since she had to deal with this, she realized.
 The deputy stood at the bottom of the stairs.  "That wasn't what I was going to say" he said.
 "Yes you were." She had correctly positioned the ribs, and was just about finished with her examination.
 "Jesus Christ, BB, who are you bothering now?" A women, with long blonde hair tied up behind her, came down the stairs and pushed past Deputy Black.
 Scully stripped off a glove and shook hands with the female deputy.  "Jenna Baugh.  And everyone's favorite misogynist over there is Bob Black."
 Scully smiled. "Dana Scully, FBI."
 Black cleared his throat.  "Did you find anything interesting, Agent?  Like Cause of Death?"
 "Not officially." Scully said.  "I couldn't find any evidence of trauma.  Since the body is completely skeletonized, cause of death may be difficult to determine.  I took a small sample for analysis, but I'd like to forward the remains to experts at the Smithsonian.  I will say, however, that the remains are definitely human."
 Jenna smiled, Black scowled.  They heard someone calling "Hello!" upstairs.
 "Maybe Mulder's back" Scully muttered, and the three of them went upstairs.
 Mulder and Roger were back, and everyone assembled in Sheriff Walker's office.  Only the sheriff, Mulder, and Scully were granted chairs.
 "I didn't find anything" Mulder announced.
 Scully repeated what she'd already told Black and Jenna.
 "Not officially" Mulder repeated.  "Then you do have a theory?"
 Scully nodded.  "Hypervitaminosis A."
 It was silent for a moment.
 "What?" Sheriff Walker asked.
 "Vitamin A poisoning" Scully clarified.  "An over-ingestion of vitamin A leads to the uncontrolled growth of repair bone--bone that's weak, and is intended for temporary use, such as when your bones heal after a fracture.  But in hypervitaminosis A, repair bone grows unchecked, all over."
 "Like cancer?" Jenna asked.
 "Something like that" Scully agreed, "but much faster.  Eventually, so much bone grows that there is no more room under the skin, and soft tissue is crushed."
 "The victim's bones squash them to death?" Mulder clarified.  Everyone else in the room looked slightly green.
 "That sounds like it hurts" Roger said.
 "It is an extremely painful way to die" Scully agreed.
 "It must be rare, though" Mulder said, looking at her.
 Scully nodded.  "It sometimes occurs in infants, but almost never in adults."
 "What about an id?" the Sheriff asked after a moment.
 "I'm not an expert, and I didn't have access to the charts that would allow me to determine age, and I only have a rough estimate for stature.  That's why I would like to send the remains to the Smithsonian."
 "What about the sex?" the sheriff continued.
 "That I could determine.  Male."
 The Sheriff frowned.  "Are you sure it wasn't a woman?"
 Scully raised her eyebrow.  "*Very* sure."
 "'Cause we don't have any missing men."
 Scully swallowed a sigh.  "I assure you, it is very clear that this was a man.  I can show you the pelvis if you'd like, the angle of the pubic arch is very..."
 He paled.  "No, no ma'am.  I'll take your word for it.  I'm sure you're right."
 Mulder couldn't resist a smirk.
XxX
 The heat outside was still drugging, the air almost tangible.  Mulder and Scully decided to just go back to their hotel and eat at the dining room there.
 "Hostile natives?" Mulder asked when they were ensconced in the car.
 Scully shrugged.  "Not really.  Deputy Black's annoying, but not in any way I'm not familiar with."
 "Familiar how?" Mulder growled.
 Scully smiled.  "Sexist, Mulder.  There's no need to engage in aggressive displays of male behavior."
 He scowled, but it changed to a smile when he saw her smiling.  He was completely helpless against her smile.
 They ate lethargically because of the heat and went back to Mulder's room.
 Scully made some rather enticing groans as she kicked off her shoes, but Mulder's attention was fixed on their luggage.
 "Scully, didn't we leave our stuff near the bed?" Their bags were now piled against the opposite wall.
 "What?"
 "They've moved."
 "Are you sure they were by the bed?"
 "Yes.  Scully..."
 "Mulder, no.  There is not a ghost."
 "But Scully--"
 "*No*.  Mulder, even if there was a ghost, why would it waste its time moving our luggage around?  That's not very attention-attracting.  Only you would have noticed it.  Maybe housekeeping moved them.  I'm taking a shower."
 Mulder frowned and stared at their suitcases.
XxX
 "We've sent the body off like you requested, Agent Scully." Sheriff Walker said when they returned to his office the next morning.  "I guess you two are done then?  I feel bad about dragging you all the way up here just for that."
 "Actually, Sheriff," Mulder said.  Scully resisted rolling her eyes.  "What was that you mentioned about a missing woman yesterday?  Why did you think the body might be hers?"
 Walker leaned back in his chair.  "Well--frankly, cause she's the only person we've had go missing from this community in a long time.  This is a small town, and once in a while we get a hunting accident, but that's about it.  When Rosalee Gunderson went missing, it was quite a shock.  She wasn't the type to run away.  Two kids she adored.  Her husband wasn't around much-- he was a traveling salesman.  Plus, the time frame's right for the state of decomposition in this part of the world."
 They looked at him in surprise.  He smiled and gave one nod of acknowledgement.
 "Could you give us the Gunderson's address?" Mulder asked.  "I'd like to talk to them."
 "Mulder, what are you doing?" Scully asked as they got back in the car.
 "I think you know, Scully."
 "You're playing a hunch.  But Mulder, that was a man's body."
 "I know.  But I still have a hunch.  Besides, isn't Big Brother still in town?"
 Scully sighed and looked out the window.  "Yes.  And I guess it isn't any more humid here than DC."
 David Gunderson was no longer a traveling salesman. His wife was gone and probably wasn't coming back, and he had two children to raise alone. "So the FBI's finally here" he said in bitter tones.
 "Did you request FBI involvement?" Scully asked, surprised.
 "Yes, when the Sheriff didn't turn anything up.  No one came.  They said there wasn't any evidence of wrongdoing" he huffed.
 "But you don't believe your wife left of her own free will?" Mulder asked.
 David shot him a glare backed more by pain then anger.  "She would never leave.  At least not the kids, my god..."
 Mulder and Scully politely looked away for a few moments.  Scully noticed a boy and girl peering at them through the doorway.
 "Hi" she smiled.  "Who are you?"
 The kids shuffled into the room.  "I'm Peter.  This is Angel" he gestured at his younger sister.
 "How old are you?"
 "11" said Peter.
 "7 and a half" Angel whispered.
 They sat on the couch on either side of their father.  "This is Agent Mulder and Agent Scully with the FBI" David told them.
 "Was there anything unusual about your wife's behavior prior to her disappearance?" Mulder asked.
 "No" David Gunderson said.  "She was involved in a government study for about six months before, though.  She wasn't allowed to talk about what was going on."
 Mulder and Scully exchanged a glance.  "Do you blame the government for your wife's disappearance?" Mulder asked.
 "She was sick" Peter said suddenly.
 "What?" Scully asked.
 "Sick how?" Mulder asked gently.
 David was looking at his son in surprise.  Peter glanced around the room for a moment, gathering courage.  "She was tired all the time.  She slept a lot.  She got really weak.  She couldn't open cans and stuff."
 "I didn't know that" David looked at the agents, bewildered.
 "What can you tell us about these tests?" Mulder asked.
 "Not much" David sighed.  "She wasn't supposed to talk about it, and she didn't.  I know that it was called Project S-- something.  Skewamorph, Skimorph, something like that."
 "Mommy didn't like it" Angel whispered.
 "What was that?" Scully leaned forward.
 "She wanted to stop but couldn't" Peter said.
 "Are you sure?" Scully asked gently.
 "I'm sure."  He offered Scully a brave smile she couldn't resist returning.
 "I didn't know any of this" David shook his head, pale.
 Mulder and Scully exchanged another look.
 "Do you know where she would go?" Mulder asked.
 "I can give you directions."
 Scully got the directions while Mulder called the Gunmen.
 "Where you have made off to with Agent Scully this time?" Frohike asked.
 "Michigan.  As if you didn't know."
 Frohike snorted.  "That's romantic."
 "We have better things to do then monitor your credit card, man." Langely added.
 "Shut up.  Both of you," Mulder sighed.  "We're in the Upper Peninsula on a Big Foot thing..."
 "Bigfoot?" Byers said.  "Scully went for that?"
 "It's a long story" Mulder said.  "But we have something we want you to check out for us."
 "Bigfoot related?" Frohike asked.
 "No" Mulder said.  "Government testing related.  Project Skuamorph.  Call us when you get something."
 They drove along a winding occasionally graded road through the bright green forest, over many small hills.  They were disoriented when they finally reached cleared land that looked like it had once been a farm.  A modern three story building stood in the middle of a field, displaced.
 It was obviously deserted, all the windows locked, weeds in the parking lot.  The agents drove up anyway, and walked up to the dark and locked doors.  They cupped their hands against the glass, but nothing inside revealed itself.
 Mulder looked up at the sky.  "How long until it gets dark?"
 Scully opened her mouth to object, but sighed, resigned.  "Funky poaching?"
 "Funky poaching."
XxX
 Scully didn't have the energy to make a rational appeal.  And when she thought about it, she didn't even want to.  The government had been experimenting on that woman.  It had made her sick.  And they'd gotten away with it, again.
 They entered their icy hotel room with relief.  "It is too damn hot" Scully said.  "Everywhere."
 Mulder nodded and sprawled all over the bed.
 Scully struggled out of her jacket and threw the hated thing into a corner of the room.  She sighed.  "I need a massage."
 Mulder sat up.  "My kind of massage or your kind of massage?"
 Scully bit back a smile and tried to look stern.  "*My* kind of massage, Mulder." But she wouldn't be at all surprised if he got his way.  He usually did.
XxX
 The Gunmen called them back just as they were leaving.
 "How are we supposed to call you when your phone's turned off?" Frohike complained.
 "Was it?" Mulder feigned innocence.  "I had no idea."
 Frohike grumbled something about a "lying bastard" but continued.  "We didn't have much luck.  This project is way black ops.  We couldn't find anything about it officially."
 "Really?" Mulder said.
 "Not with the time you've given us" Langley snorted.  "But we went asking around for you on the internet in some places we know."
 "And what did they have to say?"
 "Speculation says," Byers took over, "that it's an attempt by the military to alter appearance--even gender."
 "Alter gender?" Mulder exclaimed.  Scully looked impatient for an explanation.  "Who says that?"
 "We can't reveal our sources" Langley said.
 Mulder sighed.  "Okay.  That may actually make sense. What happened to the project?"
  "It looks like they closed it down earlier this year" Byers said.
 "Government spending cuts" Frohike said.
 "Thanks guys" Mulder muttered, and hung up.  He related to Scully most of the conversation as they walked to the car.
 "So you think that body *was* Rosalee Gunderson, altered in a military experiment into a male?"
 Mulder smiled.
 Scully shook her head and opened her mouth to speak.
 "I know it's impossible," Mulder said.  "But think about it, Scully.  Skuamorph-- something made to look like something else.  Let's just wait and see what we find."
 "So, assuming this is true-- assuming it's even possible--" Mulder nodded impatiently, "what happened to Rosalee Gunderson?  Did she die as a result of the experiments, and they dumped her body?"
 "How would you get an overdose of Vitamin A, Scully?"
 "I admit that was bothering me.  I looked it up-- you can get an overdose from eating a carnivore's liver, and that will kill you.  Inuit never eat a polar bear's liver because of hypervitaminosis."
 Mulder made a face.  "Yet another reason to avoid liver and onions."
 "But it doesn't seem likely Rosalee Gunderson ate a polar bear liver.  Of course, there's no evidence, since her stomach contents have completely decayed."
 Mulder made another face.  "What if they injected her with it?  Just gave her a shot of pure vitamin A?"
 Scully frowned.
 "A lot of it?"
   "In theory..."
 That was good enough for Mulder.
XxX
(3/3) Headers in Part 1
 They parked around the bend from the facility, and walked the rest of the way.  Mosquitos were out in full force, and they spent the entire time constantly swatting at the air around their heads.
 "Maybe they've moved from bees to mosquitos" Mulder muttered.  "They're full of Vitamin A.  I guess we'll find out.  Ow!  They hurt."
 Scully was amused by his running commentary, but kept her mouth shut.  She didn't need any more protein today.
 They checked all around the dark building, and found a back door that looked like an emergency fire exit, also locked.  They made their way back to the front.  Mulder used his favorite toy to picked the lock.
 Inside, the building smelled of dust and mold.  Disuse.  The floor was tiled, making it difficult to move without noise, but the building was obviously abandoned.  There were black marks on the floor where a desk had once been.
 After a search of the ground floor, they unholstered their weapons and split up; Scully taking the second floor, Mulder taking the third.
 They shuffled through dark corridors lined by empty rooms.  Scully had the feeling someone was watching her.  She kept telling herself it was all in her head; this building was deserted.  The dust lay thick and undisturbed on the floor and windows, diffusing the moonlight into watery trickles, when the windows weren't boarded over.  But the longer she thought about it, the more the feeling built up on the back of her neck.  She heard the building creak behind her, but the hallway was empty when she spun around, pointing her flashlight and gun, heart pounding.
 She was very relieved when the fifteen minutes were up and she met Mulder in the stairwell.
 "I might have something" Mulder said.  He brought her to a large room that looked like it had been a lab.  Black-topped counters clung to the walls.  At the far end was a room with a thick door.  It was a small chamber, with stainless steel walls, floor, and ceiling.
 "Odd" Scully said.
 It looked like there had been some sort of control panel outside the chamber.  That section of counter was ripped away, leaving a massive tangle of cords.
 "Very odd" Mulder said.
 "What do you think they were doing in here?" Scully asked, looking around the large room.
 "Taking transvestites a step beyond" Mulder muttered.
 "Come on" Scully said.  "There was a cabinet I wanted to break into on the first floor."
 "Scully" he murmured as he followed her.  "I'm shocked.  Your morals have really gone downhill."
 "You must be rubbing off on me."
 "I love it when you talk dirty."
 
 The cabinet Scully wanted in to was large and gray metal.  The lock was cheap, and they had it open in no time.
 "Scully, I'm impressed." There were blue prints inside.  Unrolling them, they found wiring plans for the third floor.  "I'm no architect" Mulder said, "but this looks like a hell of a lot of electricity going in that room."
 Scully nodded, still studying the plans.
 "What would they be doing with that?" he asked.
 "Mulder, there's a lot we don't know about how the body works.  But osteoblasts and osteoclasts seem to be controlled by electrical impulses in the body."
 "So they were running all this electricity up there and using it to change a person's electrical fields?  Change the way the cells were rebuilding bones?"
 "I don't know Mulder..."
 "Shh" Mulder said suddenly.  They stood silent, listening.  After a moment, Scully heard it, and she felt Antarctic cold rushing through her veins.  Somewhere in the air above them, a helicopter was beating.
 "We should get out of here" Mulder whispered.  They took the schematics with them, but closed the cabinet.
 "We need to go out the back" Scully tugged on his arm.
 "No" he hissed.  "There's nothing but fields there.  We should head for the woods."
 But now the helicopter was loud and clear.  As they approached the front, they saw it shining its blinding searchlight around the front door.
 "Shit" Mulder said, and they scrambled for the back.
 They slipped out the fire door, relieved the warning system had been disconnected.  The night was warm but Scully still felt very cold.  The air was so close the sounds of the copter were muffled.
 Mulder grabbed her hand and pulled them against the building, the blueprints held close to his body in his other hand.  Clinging to the shadow of the building, they crept along the wall towards the front.
 The helicopter was now moving over the building, and they pressed against the wall, holding their breath.  They continued inching forward when the spotlight was on the other side of the building.
 They finally reached the front, and had the building between them and the copter.
 Mulder waited until it looked like the helicopter was involved in searching the field.  He jerked Scully hard, and they started to run.  They plunged across the short stretch of parking lot and field, diving into the woods, tripping over fallen branches and underbrush.
 They didn't head for the car-- they would be too easy to spot.  Mulder pulled them behind a large bush.  They crouched down, and after a moment, Mulder wrapped his arms around Scully and pulled her against him.  She was shaking.
 They collapsed on the ground, breathing hard.
 "Amateurs" Mulder whispered, his breath hot on her ear.  "Those aren't our usual companions."
 Scully nodded agreement.  They settled down to wait.  Scully noticed how bright and how many the stars were.
 It was an hour before they were both satisfied the helicopter was gone, and almost another hour before they felt it was safe to leave.
 They spent an interminable time finding their way through the forest.  "At least there's no chance we're going to freeze to death" Mulder remarked.  "We might get eaten alive, but we're not going to freeze" he said, swatting at yet another damn mosquito.
 They found their car.  It looked like it had been searched, but it still ran.  Mulder handed Scully the blueprints and she tried not to crumple them in her nervous hands.
 Scully kept checking the skies and the road behind them.  She kept telling herself it was just nerves, They had all left, no one was behind them, but she didn't feel safe until they were back at the hotel.
XxX
 
 Scully awoke at 2:35, her throat and mouth dry.  She uncurled herself from Mulder, then rose to check on the blueprints, still rolled up in Mulder's suitcase, before going to the bathroom to get a drink.
 Strange.  No water was coming out of the faucet.  Scully went back into the room and looked for her robe.  As she pulled it on, she noticed the jacket she had thrown into a corner earlier now hung on the chair back, and frowned.  She didn't remember doing that.  Mulder must have.  Maybe she was wearing off on him, too.
 Scully took both room keys and stepped into the hallway, intending to try the sink in her room.  The hallway was freezing.  The air conditioning must be broken, too.  She shivered and pulled the robe tightly around her, but it was a thin travelling robe, and didn't help much.  She was about to unlock her room when she happened to look down the hall to her left.
 A little girl, about nine, stood at the end of the hallway, looking at Scully with a solemn expression.  She was wearing a frilly white nightgown.  Scully frowned, and straightened up.  It was very late for her to be up and wandering around the hotel by herself.  Maybe she was sleep walking.  Wouldn't her parents worry about her? Scully started down the hallway, but the girl turned the corner and disappeared. Scully hurried after her, but by the time she reached the juncture, the girl was out of sight.
 She shivered again.  The girl hadn't looked asleep--maybe she was playing and didn't expect anyone to be up.  She didn't want to get in trouble so she'd gone back.
 Not fully satisfied, Scully returned to her room.  She must have adjusted to the temperature in the hall by now, since it didn't seem that cold.  She went into her room and got her drink of water.  She went back to Mulder's room, and, on a hunch, tried the faucet in the bathroom again.  Somehow, she wasn't surprised when it worked.
XxX
 She went to talk to the enthusiastic desk clerk the next morning.  "How many other people are staying here?" she asked.
 "No one" he said.  "It's off season for us.  You're the only guests this week."
 Scully knew he could see her surprise.  "Does a little girl live here?" she asked.
 The clerk grinned.  "In a manner of speaking.  Did you see her last night?  What did she look like?"
 Scully described her, with a sinking feeling.
 The clerk's head was bobbing up and down.  "That's her, all right." He suddenly brought out a Polaroid camera and took her picture.
 "What the hell?" Scully said, blinded by the flash.
 Mulder showed up with coffee, frowning.  "What's going on?  Scully?"
 "I had to take your partner's picture" he grinned.  "For the Wall of Fame."
 They watched as he tacked Scully's still-developing picture to a bulletin board behind the counter.
 "What for?" Mulder asked, bewildered.
 "She saw the ghost!" he cried gleefully.
 "Scully!" Mulder looked genuinely hurt.  "Why didn't you tell me?"
 "I didn't know--she wasn't a ghost!" Scully insisted.
 Mulder and the clerk exchanged sympathetic looks.  "She does this all the time" Mulder said.  "When did you see her?" he asked Scully.
 "Last night."
 Mulder looked confused again.  "Where?"
 "In the hallway.  I woke up thirsty so I went to get a drink.  But the faucet wasn't working."
 The clerk nodded sagely.  "You were in the haunted room, right?  That happens in that room."
 "You didn't wake me up?" Mulder whined.
 "I didn't know it was haunting-related" Scully snapped.  "So I went to go into--er, the other room--"
 The clerk's smiled turned smug, which pissed Scully off.
 "I saw her at the end of the hall.  I thought it was odd she would be wandering around that late by herself."
 "What time was it?" The clerk duly noted it in a book.  "And then what happened?"
 "When I got down to the end of the hall, she was gone."
 "Did you notice anything else?  Cold, maybe?"
 Scully sighed and nodded.  "It was freezing in the hallway at first.  But then I got used to it, I guess."
 "Or the cold sensation went away" Mulder said.  Scully scowled at him.
 "I got a drink of water, then went back in the other room.  On a whim"-- she refused to say hunch-- "I checked the faucet, and it was working again."
 The clerk noted this all down in a book, which Mulder looked extremely interested in.
 "I can't believe you got to see the ghost" Mulder sighed.
 "I was under a lot of stress last night!"  Annoyed, Scully marched out to the car.
 
XxX
 Scully was still annoyed when they arrived at the Sheriff's office.
 "Agent Mulder, Agent Scully," Deputy Black was waiting for them.  "Is there anything I can help you with?"
 "Yes" Scully said, brusque and professional as usual.  "I want a DNA test ordered on that bone sample."
 He went off to call it in, and Mulder and Scully went in to see the Sheriff.
 "I heard you went to see the Gundersons yesterday" he said.
 They nodded.
 "What are you thinking now, if you don't mind me asking?"
 Mulder and Scully exchanged a glance.  "There may be top secret information involved" Scully said.  "Beyond our clearance."
 The Sheriff raised his eyebrows.  "Here?"
 The agents nodded.  "I've ordered a DNA test" Scully continued.
 "But we have reason to believe that body may be Rosalee Gunderson" Mulder said.
 "What?" Walker said.  He looked at Scully.  "I though you said that body was male."
 Scully took a deep breath.  "It may be both."
 Sheriff Walker's face went dark.  "Now, see here, I've known Rosalee Gunderson for years, and I know--"
 The agents winced.  Mulder held up his hands in a placating gesture.  "That's not what we meant, really."
 The three deputies suddenly appeared in the doorway, all trying to get in at once.
 "Agent Scully" Jenna called.
 "It's gone!" Roger shouted.
 "What the hell!" shouted Walker.  "Now calm down.  You're worse then kids on halloween.  What'n hell are you talking about?"
 Black sighed.  "The bone sample the agents took yesterday is gone, sir.  I just called the lab and they can't find it.  They say it never got there."
 "Where the hell did you send it, BB?" Walker asked.
 Black flushed.  "I sent it to the lab!" His voice was raising.  "I double checked the goddamn address, sir.  It went to the lab. They've fucked it up on their end.  Pardon my language, ladies."
 Scully and Jenna caught each other's glance before their eyes rolled.
 "I'll call them" Walker muttered.  "Tell them to look harder."
 Mulder and Scully looked at each other, confirming what they both believed.  That sample was not going to be found.
 Scully excused herself to call the Smithsonian.  Then she called Quantico.  Then she called the airlines.  "They've lost the rest of the body" she announced when she came back in.  "No one has it, and the air lines have no record of ever accepting such a package for transport."
 Mulder and Scully exchanged disappointed, but not surprised, glances.
 Sheriff Walker put down the phone.  "Would one of you Fibbies please explain what the hell is going on here?"
 Mulder offered his sardonic smile.  "Believe it or not, the government doesn't like us very much."
 They explained about the military facility and the testing that had gone on there.  "When they lost their funding and closed down, they had to get rid of the evidence" Mulder said.  "They injected Rosalee Gunderson with Vitamin A, to disguise any unusual characteristics in her bones.  They probably did it at the facility, then dumped her body in the woods."
 The Sheriff and his deputies were shocked silent. "Those poor kids" Roger whispered, shaking his head.
 Black gave him an annoyed look.  "This doesn't make any sense" he said.  "Why would the military do this?"
 "To create a better spy?" Scully suggested.  "Witness Protection Program?" Her voice was sharp and bitter.
 Mulder shrugged.  "Because they can?"
XxX
 
 They left the Sheriff's office, after Jenna and Roger had promised to contact David Gunderson.
 Mulder and Scully went back to their hotel to pack.  They had a flight out that afternoon, then a redeye from Detroit.  Bill was due back on his ship that day.
 "I still can't believe I didn't see a ghost" Mulder muttered.
 "Look on the bright side" Scully said dryly.  "We broke into a military instillation and got chased off by black helicopters.  We lost all the evidence.  That's usually a successful case, right?"
 He gave her one of her Looks.  "Well, we didn't get caught" he admitted.  "So Skinner can't complain about having to bail us out of jail again.  And we didn't loose *all* the evidence, Scully.  We still have the blueprints."
 "My God," she remarked as they lugged their cases to the car.  "I think I hear Hell freezing over."
 Mulder grinned.  "Come on, Scully.  At least we didn't end up in the hospital."
XxX
More Author's Notes: Okay, I could have easily thrown in smut, but didn't feel like it.  Really, I can't, 'cause my mom has my website bookmarked. Thanks for reading.
 
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