***Chapter Seven***

A few minutes later, I was in the girl's locker room
showering.  At least there was plenty of hot water.  Water. 
Mulder was so emphatic about water.

How was the water processed here?  I couldn't smell any
chlorine.  We'll have to check.  This I could manage.  And
there has to be something else I can check.  What did Walter
and I have in common besides our insurance that Mulder
didn't also share?  And that Janice Barry did?

All of these questions were spinning around my head as I
dried myself off and got dressed.  Once again, I didn't
bother with makeup or doing more than combing and tying my
hair back.  I grabbed a fresh set of scrubs and a pair of
sneakers and I was set.

Walter was waiting for me outside the boy's locker room.

"I keep waiting for the coach to show up and tell me to stop
dawdling."

A man his age in sweats walked by.  "I would at least tell
you not to wear shoes on my floor."

"You're the coach?"

"Yeah.  Most of my kids are here someplace, with their
folks.  Football?"

"Football."

"What about your boyfriend?  It's hard to tell with him
lying down like that, but I'll bet basketball."

Walter stood for a second.  Then he nodded.  "Fox was a
varsity basketball player."

"Small town like this?"

"Place up in Massachusetts.  I only went there once, on
business."

"Must have been hard on a boy like that.  Someone like you -
you're big.  No problem.  Skinny ones - they get beat up
sometimes."

"Coach?  Is it written on our foreheads?"

"Might as well be.  That pretty little doctor sure isn't
involved with him, and you...you watch him like he was glass
or something.  And you touch him, too.  Don't worry.  I saw
things like that in 'Nam - some boys just needed to be with
each other.  You were a Marine.  I can always tell the
Marines."

"Yes.  You were..."

"Air Force.  Rescue.  I have some medic training, so I
figured I might as well be of use while I wait.  That's my
wife over there."  He pointed to a comatose woman.

"What unit?"

"Sir? We have to talk."  I knew that if I let them, they'd
be trading stories for hours.

"That's right.  You two get yourselves some breakfast.  It's
going to be another long day."  

"We'll talk later, Coach."

Something nagged at me.  "Coach?"

"Yeah, little lady?"

I held my temper. "Has anyone taken your blood?  At this
point, I'm more interested in why folks don't have it than
why they do." 

He pointed to a puncture mark on his elbow.  "That Janice
girl took some yesterday."

"Thank you, sir.  And, sir?"

"Yes?"

"We'll get your kids back.  Next year, your juniors will be
leading the league."

"I pray you're right, young lady.  I pray you're right." 

The halls were lined with patients - and they'd run out of
cots, so they were lying on blankets.  It looked like a
scene out of a Civil War movie.

Walter insisted that I pile my plate high with the eggs and
sausages and toast the lunch ladies were serving.  I use the
term extremely loosely - one "lunch lady" needed a shave.

"If I know you, Scully, as soon as we're done you're going
to disappear inside that van for hours.  You need your
strength." 

The place was not empty, but it wasn't full, either.  The
odd thing was that so many were in their forties or so -
with only a few my age.  Was it something about boomers? 
Couldn't be - Mulder was a boomer, if barely.  It was one
more piece of data to add to the mix.

We sat down and began to eat.  I didn't know I could be so
hungry at five in the morning.

"I've been thinking about what my dream said."

"You mean what Fox said?"

"Walter, it was only a dream - it was my subconscious. 
Mulder isn't somewhere communicating with me.  Wouldn't he
have gone to you last night?"  I couldn't keep that edge out
of my voice.

"Dana, I think you are jealous."

"I'm not in love with Mulder.  What sort of idiot woman
would fall for a man she knows is gay?"

"He's very good looking."

"He's damned beautiful.  But I'm not that shallow."

"He's also damned brilliant."

"And he's also nuts.  Don't forget that."  I shook my head. 
"I love him, I think.  He's a good man, and he has the
courage of his convictions, despite what those convictions
are."  I snorted.  "He's a good partner when he doesn't
ditch me.  He's honest.  And he doesn't mind that I'm a
better shot or that I know things, or that I cut people up,
or that I disagree with most of his theories.  He's probably
the best friend I have.  He was there for me when my...Emily
died, and I pushed him away, and he respected that."

"You pushed him away?"

"I needed to be alone.  Mulder...Mulder can cry in public. 
Not many men can.  Not many can cry in private.  The men in
my family can't.  And I can't.  I can't be weaker than my
brothers, you know?  Missy could - Missy wasn't driven to be
anyone but herself, to prove anything.  Why am I telling you
this?"

"Because you need to?  Because I'm a friend?"

"Are you a friend?  Not so long ago, I was telling Mulder to
accuse you of being part of the conspiracy.  He didn't
believe me.  He believed you.  Even at the time I could
guess why.  And I was jealous that he didn't believe me. 
And I was glad to be wrong."

"I'm a friend.  I've always been a friend, even before I let
myself fall for Fox.  I do care for you, Scully.  I've never
had a finer agent work for me, or a more competent one.  I
once told Fox I respected you, and I do.  You should
be...your assignment is holding you back."

"I don't care.  Mulder used to joke that I'd be heading the
FBI.  He stopped awhile ago.  I know you make him happy. 
I...just wish...I don't know.  Maybe I want him to make me
happy; maybe I want to be the one that makes him smile."

"No one smiles like him."

"No one does.  Or maybe I want someone as in love with me as
you are with him.  You should see your face right now.  It's
glowing."

"Men don't glow, Dana."

"You are.  Everyone here sees it."

"Everyone.  Everyone seems to have served in 'Nam, too."

"Not me."

"No...but we do share the same auto insurance.  The one that
only officers and their children are eligible for.  Didn't
Fox say something about that?"

"Yes, he said he figured it out..."  I sat upright, nearly
spilling my coffee.  "Everyone here is about your age,
Walter, and many are men.  Look around - there aren't many
women.  Even the 'lunch lady' has been replaced."

He looked at me.  "Was Captain Scully on active duty during
Viet Nam?"

"We didn't see him for years.  I have to get to the van
now!" 

"Finish your breakfast, Dana."

"Yes, sir.  Walter - do me a favor. Check on the water
supply here - find out how it's processed."

"Yes, ma'am."  There is something nice about Walter's rare
smiles.  

We finished our breakfasts - I cleaned my plate like a good
girl - and   we went our separate ways.

***Chapter Eight***

May 10
Barryville High School

It took time to collect the blood from a refrigerator in one
of the home ec. rooms, bring it down to the van and get it
ready for testing.  I took all the time I needed.  I knew
that the answer had to be here - both here and in the fact
that so many of those seemingly immune were connected to the
military in Vietnam. 
                         
"Dr. Scully! Lunch!"

It was Janice Barry with a tray of something I'd rather not
think about and coffee.  I let her in.

I cleared some room for the tray.  "Lunch time already?"

"Past.  This place is amazing.  I wouldn't even know how to
work some of this equipment."

I took a sip of the coffee.  "I know most of it.  Sometimes
I'm the only person on the scene who can do lab work."

"A doctor doing lab work.  I haven't seen that since I
became a civilian.  We're lucky you're here, Dr. Scully."

"I'm still trying to figure out what it is."

"Eat first.  No one can think with low blood sugar."  I
smiled.
 
"Yes, Mom."      
                
"I'm probably old enough to be your mother, young lady."   I
began to eat.  "Your parents must be very proud of you."

"My mom says she is.  My dad was not happy I chose to be in
the FBI instead of in practice, but Mom said that even so,
he was proud of me."

"Your father is dead?"

"He's been gone a few years now.  He was a captain in the
Navy.  I 
grew up on bases all over."

"See.  I knew you were a military brat."

I nodded, my mouth full.  She was right.  A little food and
caffeine made things a lot better.

Something pinged.  I got up to check on a test I'd begun.   

"Oh my God!"

"What is it, Dr. Scully?"

"This is my own blood.   I needed multiple samples for some
tests and I was available.  I have *antibodies* to the
organism.  See?"  I showed her the test results, but she
waved them off.  "Ms. Barry, since you're here anyway, may I
take another sample of your blood?"  She nodded and pushed
up her sleeve.  

I asked her to get some blood samples from Walter and Mulder
and to pick a couple of victims and non-victims at random
and bring them back.  Meanwhile, I gave her blood the same
test I gave my own.  She had the antibodies.  And I finished
my lunch.  It didn't taste any better lukewarm.

"Dana?  I have those samples.  And some information."

I let Walter in.  He had a tray of test tubes, all neatly
labeled and color coded, in his hands and a file folder
underneath his arm.  He looked at my empty lunch with
approval.

I took the test tubes from him.  "What did you learn?"

"The water comes from a tower, it's mostly rainwater, and
they don't do more than filter it.  I have someone
collecting water samples now from the tank itself, and
people going to random houses and faucets to get more."  I
nodded as I worked on the blood samples.

"What's this about antibodies?"

"So far, Janice Barry and I have antibodies.  Barry has been
here for years, except for a stint in the Army, and I've
been here only since Thursday night.  Neither of us are ill. 
And both of us have military connections.  I wish I had
Mulder's memory.  Walter, do you know if any of the victims
have military connections?"

He looked thoughtful.  "Some do.  I recall some World War II
vets, and some kids from the Gulf War.  Some are in the
national guard.  No one currently active and here on leave."

"But no one from Vietnam and that era?"

"Not that I can recall.  There are folks who didn't serve,
of course."

"What about wives and dependents?  Any of them?"

"We didn't ask.  I'll get the information."  

"Thank you."  As he left, with my lunch tray, I turned back
to the samples at hand.

By the time he came back with the information, the water
samples *and* a thermos of coffee, I had the results
correlated.   I was staring at the printout as he walked in.

"Dana?  What's wrong?"  

"According to this, you and I and all the other survivors
tested have antibodies, while none of the victims do.  I
suspect the organism is carried by the water, and we've all
ingested the local water.  I'll test the water to be sure,
of course.  We still can't lift the quarantine because I
can't guarantee that it can't be gotten by contact or
transmitted by air yet.  Walter, do you know what it means
that the victims don't have antibodies?" 

"Something to do with immunity?"

"When we get sick, our bodies begin producing antibodies to
fight the infection.  These people aren't fighting the
infection at all.  I should be finding either antibodies or
increasing amounts of the organism corresponding with the
length of time the victim has been out.  I'm not finding
either.  It's as if it's meant to induce this coma and then
stop.  This is like no other disease I've ever seen."

"It's still killing people.  We lost two more this morning." 

"Who?"

"A little girl with a genetic heart problem and a very
healthy young man."

"Was the young man alone?"

"No.  But his wife had already fallen victim when he went. 
There is some record of depression."

"New victims?"

"No.  I have a feeling we've reached the end there."

I sighed.  "Let's see the information you have."

"I can enter it in your computer, and get it correlated. 
You can go to our room and take a nap."

"Walter!  People are dying.  I can't take the time..."

"Dana, I'm letting you run this investigation because you
are the expert, and Fox's best chance, but I'm still your
boss.  Get some rest.  I'll get you in an hour or so."

"Yes, sir."  I thought about gathering up my things, but
decided I didn't need to.  "Walter, have you contacted the
Lone Gunmen?" 

"Fox's lunatic friends?  Not yet.  Should I have?"

"Yes, I think you should.  Ask them about secret biowarfare
experiments in the late sixties."  He nodded, already at
work at the keyboard.  I left him, and the coffee thermos,
there.   

I didn't go straight to our room, though.  After a stop in
the girl's room, where I had an automatic urge to smoke a
cigarette, I paid Mulder a visit.  I brushed his hair back
from his face. 

"Mulder, you hang in there.  Do it for him.  He loves you,
and you know you love him.  You don't want to go away
without telling him that, do you?  If you do, I'll hunt you
down myself, anyway I can.  Oh, God, Mulder, if you knew how
much I needed you right now, you'd jump right out of that
bed."  I shook my head.  Yelling at him wasn't going to do
any good.

I gave Keesha a pat as I walked past her.

I half expected my partner to pay me another visit during my
nap.  Instead, I dreamed of little green organisms and
little girls with ragdolls.  It was a relief to wake up. 
Walter was there when I did.  He looked pale.

"What is it?"

"Dana, do you remember getting inoculated when you were
about six or so?"

I rubbed my eyes.  "I think so.  We were always getting
shots, you know.  All the vaccines were coming out then -
rubella, measles, mumps."

"Even your older brother?"

"Bill?  He got the measles, but he had the other
inoculations.  What's this about?"

"Listen.  Do you remember a time when your whole family,
even your mother, were inoculated against something?"

"Let me think.  Yeah.  I remember - it was some flu thing, I
guess.  Daddy was away, of course.  It wasn't very
successful.  We all had low grade fevers right afterwards."

"You felt bad for a day or so, and then were back to
normal?" 

I sat up.  "Exactly.  Walter, what's going on?"

"Fox's friends found evidence of mass inoculations around
1970 for everyone in active service and the families of
officers.  They're trying to track down the exact dates and
times, and what was given now.  Everyone walking around this
town today was either in the service in 1970 or was
connected to an active duty officer.  And everyone I spoke
to remembers a shot that gave them a low grade fever."

"Oh, dear God.  I need to confirm this.  I need a sample of
my mother's blood.  And I need to know how they managed to
make us immune if it doesn't produce antibodies, and what it
was meant to do.  And how to bring Mulder and the others
back."

"Slow down, Dana.  I'll arrange things with your mother. 
I'll have to use the lunatics again.  Damn."

"I can call them.  Frohike will do anything for me - or at
least my phone number.  I'll need blood from someone who
wouldn't have gotten inoculated, too.  I'd enjoy bleeding
Frohike."

"I don't mind dealing with them.  Fox is only marginally
saner."  His smile was sad.  "If I can deal with him, I can
deal with that trio.  The government, the same government
that might have had a hand in this disease, is the one
giving us supplies.  They know exactly what's going on
because I've kept them informed every step of the way."

"That's your job."

"I know.  I just wonder how much danger we're in.  Did you
know that we haven't made the news?  I've been listening to
the local news stations and watching CNN when I have a
chance, and there is no mention at all.  Byers tells me that
they haven't heard anything either.  We have an epidemic
that has taken out most of a town, including a visiting
federal agent, and no one knows about it."

"No one knows.  We're being covered up."  I closed my eyes

briefly.  

"Okay.  We have to work outside the government.  I should be
used to that.  

"Well, at least you and Fox have the contacts."

"I'm going to call my mother.  She should know what's going
on." 

"Good idea. Do you have the results of the water testing?" 

"No.  They are simple enough tests, so I have one of the
science teachers doing it in a school lab.  If I could get
the equipment out of the van, I'd set it up...I'm a fool. 
There are enough strong arms I can borrow for that."

"At your disposal, Dr. Scully."  

I grinned.  "Round them up and I'll direct." 

Within a half hour, I had the closest thing to a laboratory
I could get - a nicely equipped chemistry lab, with Bunsen
burner jets and sinks and more electrical outlets than I
could ever need.  Walter looked around and said that he'd
drag me out at 11PM, kicking and screaming if need be.  And
then he'd lock the door and hide the keys.

I smiled and dug out my cell phone.

"Hi, Mom?  It's me, Dana."

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