DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT: sure
CLASSIFICATION: S, H
DISCLAIMER: Not mine; they belong to CC, FOX, etc.
SUMMARY: When Scully stumbles upon an indiscretion from Mulder's
past, it sets off a chain of events in which no one is truly
Notes: Many thanks to my beta X-PhileChick#35 (a.k.a.
UnderMySkinner), for setting aside all of her holiday reading
just for me.
This story is my holiday present to you all (even though it has
nothing to do with the holidays). It is completed and divided
into seven parts that will be posted one per day over the next
* * * * *
* * * * *
It was a Tuesday afternoon, and the X-Files office was
uncharacteristically quiet. Its most exuberant occupant was
noticeably absent, having been detained by Assistant Director
Skinner after a particularly tedious budget meeting. The more
staid partner, however, had been exempted from the meeting since
she was finishing an autopsy. Which is why Dana Scully now
occupied the office alone, sitting at the computer and looking
The truth of the matter, though, was that she was rather bored
and merely killing time by surfing the internet until Mulder was
finally released from fiscal purgatory and they could go grab a
late lunch together. She had already checked her e-mail, and
the weather report, and the Drudge report, and now she was at
Google typing in random phrases and medical terms out of sheer
curiosity as to what she might find. An article on seizures
brought to mind Max Fenig, and her recollection of their first
encounter reminded her of something she had always wondered
about. Max knew of an article that Mulder had once published
under a pseudonym--was that the only such publication by him, or
could there be more?
And thus, it was with this innocent query that the whole thing
Scully typed in "M. F. Luder" and scanned through the hits. The
first ten were allusions of one kind or another to the article
in Omni to which Max had referred. Skipping over these, she
moved on to the next listing of hits, and it was here that she
stumbled upon something unexpected. The snippet of text read:
"Starring Marty F. Luder, Titia LeGrande, and other of Martha's
Vineyard's hottest young bodies." The link was to a site called
Adult Video Emporium.
For a moment, all Scully could do was stare at the screen. This
had to be some coincidence, right? Or even worse, maybe someone
knew of Mulder's pseudonym and was using it to possibly
implicate him in nefarious deeds of which he was ignorant.
Either way, she had to find out. So, she clicked on the link.
The page that came up was the full advertisement for the video
in question, which could be ordered through this site. The
title was "Vineyard Voyeurism." Beneath this appeared the line
she had already seen, which continued: "When the tourists are
away, the locals will play--and you get to watch!" Next to the
description was a thumbnail image of the video's cover, which
featured four frames of footage that were little more than blurs
at this size. Scully clicked on the picture to enlarge it,
which helped slightly, but not enough. She was looking
carefully at the profile of a young man with brown hair, when:
"Hey, Scully, sorry that took so long. I thought I might have
to fake a medical emergency to get out of there, which wouldn't
be much of a stretch since I was about to break out in hives
anyway. You still interested in lunch?"
Scully nearly jumped out of her skin when she heard her
partner's voice moving toward her as he entered the room. She
quickly closed the window she had been viewing and tried her
best not to look guilty.
"Um, yeah, I was just waiting for you to get back. Let me close
this file and then we'll go."
Studiously avoiding Mulder's eyes lest he know there was
something she wasn't telling him, she quickly cleared the
history of visited sites and logged out. Grabbing her jacket
from the back of the chair, she finally dared to glance at him
as she stood. He was carefully regarding her with a look that
said he knew something was up and he was trying to figure out
what it was. So she did her best to avoid the conversation.
"C'mon, Mulder, I'm starving. You keep me from my food any
longer and I can't be held responsible for my actions." With
that, she was out the door, leaving her partner to trail in her
* * *
Once she was finally alone in the privacy of her own home,
Scully sat down at her computer to do what she had been waiting
for all afternoon: to complete Project Luder. No matter how
much she tried to suppress it, that fuzzy image she had briefly
spied on the screen kept flashing through her mind, and she just
had to go back and look at it in closer detail. That couldn't
really be Mulder, could it?
Repeating her initial Google search, she spotted the appropriate
link and once more was transported to the adult video site. The
resolution on her computer didn't improve the image in question,
and she fleetingly thought about having the Gunmen use their
high-tech software on it before she realized just how much she
would be revealing to ask for such a thing. Suppressing the
blush that began to creep up her face at the thought, she turned
away from the picture and paid more attention to the remainder
of the information.
The reference to Martha's Vineyard, combined with Mulder's
pseudonym, made it seem too coincidental to be someone that
wasn't familiar with his background or didn't know him
personally. The date on the video was 1980. She didn't know
specifically where he was in that year, but some quick math led
her to the conclusion that it was shortly after he had graduated
from high school and before he matriculated at Oxford. The odds
seemed to be stacking more and more in his favor....
But the fact was, she would never really know the truth without
getting a closer look at that picture. Asking the Gunmen was
out of the question, as was taking it to the Bureau. Of course,
the other problem was that the man's face was mostly turned away
from the camera, so that even a clear image wouldn't necessarily
That left only one course of action--but could she go through
The arrow on the screen hovered over the "Buy it" button, while
Scully's hand hovered over the mouse. She seldom purchased
things over the web, having learned well to be paranoid about
releasing private information into cyberspace, and she had
certainly never bought an adult video before. But, she
reasoned, it was the only way of finding out if it was Mulder's
image on that tape, whether real or edited, and she was only
concerned with defending his honor--right? Or at least, that's
how she would justify her actions if anyone ever found out.
"Here goes nothing," she muttered to herself. And her hand
landed on the mouse with a decisive "click."
* * * * *
* * * * *
Late Tuesday night, Frohike looked suspiciously over his
shoulder as he unlocked an unmarked door in a dimly lit hallway.
The furtiveness went with the job--no, not their subversive
newsletter but something far more secretive, something that even
his closest buddies didn't know about. It wasn't that his
activity was illegal (other than the fact that he didn't report
this income on his tax returns), or even that he was ashamed of
it. It was, rather, that he just didn't feel like trying to
explain this to anyone.
Settling down at the computer terminal, he pulled up the log for
the day and started printing out orders. The tight office
consisted of two small rooms, this one holding nothing more than
a desk, computer, and necessary equipment, and the next being a
messy array of videotapes, mostly on shelves, but also in boxes
and in various piles covering the dusty floor. To anyone else
besides himself and his business partner, it would have looked
like a mess, but to them, it was a carefully devised system.
Well, to them it was also a mess, but at least one that they
both intuitively understood.
As part owner of the Adult Video Emporium website, Frohike's job
on nights like this was simply to fill the orders for the day
and leave them for his counterpart to drop off for delivery the
next morning. They weren't getting rich off this scheme, but
business was steady, and it brought in a decent profit.
And so, as he was scanning through the day's orders, Frohike
stumbled across something he never expected to see: an adult
video purchase by one Dana Scully.
Frohike was floored--literally. He was really aiming for the
chair, but in his distraction, he ended up on the floor as he
could only stare dumbly at the paper in his hands. Scully, his
Scully, had ordered an adult movie? He didn't know whether to
be horrified or aroused, or both at the same time.
His first thought (or at least, his first decent thought) was
that she must be ordering it as a gift for Mulder. But even
that didn't seem much in character for her. His second thought
was that maybe someone had gotten a hold of her credit card and
was playing a prank on her--perhaps Mulder himself--since the
delivery address was her apartment. His third thought was that
he just had to know what this video was.
And it was upon examining the cover of this video, containing
the same information that was displayed on their website, that
he knew exactly why she had ordered this particular one--and
that he had to know more.
* * *
Only a handful of occasions had Frohike stood on this doorstep,
yet he knew his way to her building by heart. The car parked
downstairs and the light peeking under the door indicated that
the delectable agent was home, and so he raised his hand to
knock. A moment later, he was graced with her beautiful but
"Frohike. Hi." Her befuddled look quickly turned to one
suspicion. "You're not here to tell me I have to bail Mulder
out of jail, are you?"
He snickered at her assumption. "No such luck, my lovely lady.
I'm just here to make a delivery. May I come in?"
"Of course." Scully looked contrite as she realized her
unwelcoming treatment of her guest, and she stepped aside to let
him enter. Before closing the door, she scanned the hallway,
unaccustomed as she was to seeing him without his two constant
Once the door was closed, she turned back toward her visitor to
find him extending his hand. "I thought I'd save you the
She took the small rectangular package that he proffered, and
Frohike watched with pleasure as understanding blossomed along
with a bright reddish flush over her face and neck.
"Oh my God. How did you find out about this?"
"You ordered it from my website." Scully's expression was
quickly changing to something far less attractive, so Frohike
made a quick volley. "So, is it really him?"
"I don't know. That's why I ordered it. I ran across the
description on the web when I was looking for something else,
but I couldn't tell from the cover if it was really Mulder or if
this is some kind of a hoax. Did you watch it?"
It was Frohike's turn to look embarrassed, or at least avert his
eyes from her scrutiny.
"I, uh, I was just as curious as you were, so yeah, I watched
some of it. It's an amateur tape, basically a poorly spliced
home video, so the picture isn't very clear. But I cued the
tape to one of the scenes that features the most likely suspect,
if you want to watch it."
The two exchanged a guilty look before silently agreeing to
leave their consciences at the door and finish what they'd
Frohike made himself comfortable on the couch, secretly hoping
that Scully would join him, while she placed the tape in the VCR
and then stood near the TV with remote in hand as the video
fired up. They were immediately greeted with the sights and
sounds of a couple in mid-copulation, and she quickly glared at
Frohike for choosing such a scene for their joint viewing.
He swiftly jumped in to justify himself. "There really wasn't
much foreplay to this one, and I'm afraid this is the longest
shot of him on the screen. It was the best I could come up
Scully refrained from comment and returned her focus to the
television. The image soon cut to a close-up shot of the point
of joining, and Frohike inwardly winced as he braced himself for
Scully's chastising look. But as the young man's finely toned
ass bobbed up and down on the screen, her reaction was totally
unexpected: "Oh my God--that's him!"
As she looked back at Frohike, it wasn't necessary for him to
voice the question that was written all over his face--how is it
that she could recognize him so clearly from that angle?
She quickly clarified. "It's the birthmark. Mulder has one
the same place. I don't see how anyone could have known to
duplicate that kind of detail." Frohike just stared at her, and
under his scrutiny her skin once again began to approximate the
shade of her hair. "What? I'm a doctor."
"That doesn't explain anything unless you're in the habit of
giving your partner rectal exams."
Scully avoided responding but quickly stopped the tape and
ejected it from the VCR. "Do you have any more copies of this?"
"No, that's the only one we had in stock. I searched some of
our usual dealers to see if I could locate another copy, but
none of them had ever heard of it. Judging by the amateur
quality, I wouldn't be surprised if very few tapes were made to
begin with. They probably just ran off new copies as the orders
"Good, that'll make things easier," she mumbled to herself more
than stated directly to him. Handling the tape carefully, she
sat down on the sofa next to Frohike, but at a greater distance
than he preferred, as she weighed the situation in her mind. He
graciously waited until she was ready to speak.
"I'd wondered if maybe someone else had manufactured this in an
attempt to discredit Mulder, but it appears now that it is
genuine and merely a youthful indiscretion on his part. There
could be irreparable damage to his reputation if this were to
fall into the wrong hands, which is why we can't let anyone else
know about this." She now looked at him directly. "And I mean
anyone. Not Byers and Langly. Not even Mulder himself."
Frohike couldn't help but leer back at her. "You mean this is
going to be our little secret?"
She didn't take the bait but went into full agent mode. "So
help me, Frohike, if you tell anyone about this--"
He threw up his hands in self-defense and cut her off before she
could finish the threat. "Okay, okay. I get it. Don't tell
anybody. You can trust me."
"Promise?" Her gaze was leveled at him, deadly serious.
"I promise." The sincerity was evident in his eyes, and she
Now that their business was concluded, an awkward silence
descended, and Frohike decided to make a quick exit. She showed
him to the door, but as he left, he felt compelled to ask:
"Should I hold on to that for safe keeping?"
Scully guarded the tape closely, but then tried to cover her
possessiveness with a nonchalant answer. "I paid for it."
He tried to stifle his smile and nodded in acknowledgment before
taking his leave.
As he rounded the corner of the hallway and heard the door snick
closed behind him, a momentary pang of guilt washed over him for
what he was about to do. But it wasn't like he was going to
directly betray her. It was simply that, when they struck their
bargain, she hadn't noticed the fingers he crossed behind his
* * * * *
* * * * *
Friday morning dawned like any other day at the office. Mulder
arrived earlier than necessary, sifting through various e-mails
and newspaper articles (he made a point of going through, and
disposing of, the tabloids *before* Scully arrived) to find a
new case worthy of their interest. By the time that his partner
appeared, he had several dubious options to present to her,
which she systematically shot down. He didn't mind this so much
since half of them were selected precisely to elicit this
With no valid investigation to occupy their time today, they
were left with the dregs of paperwork that had accumulated over
the past few weeks, especially in light of the revisions to
their expense reports that were necessitated by the last budget
meeting. It was in this monotony that they were both buried
when the mail was delivered just after 10:00.
As all three envelopes were addressed to Mulder, he turned his
attention to opening them while Scully continued with her
present task. Two of the items related to past cases, and he
set them aside to be filed later. The third was a nondescript
white envelope with no return address but a DC postmark. The
mailing address had been printed on a computer, and thus there
was nothing distinctive on the outside to identify the sender.
Immediately suspicious, Mulder held the envelope up to the light
to inspect the contents before opening it, but there was no
indication that it held anything more than paper. Carefully
holding the edges so as to limit the fingerprints, he used a
letter opener to slice open the envelope and then gently remove
Inside was merely a single sheet of white paper, with printing
in the same font as the envelope. After using the letter opener
and a paperweight to flatten the sheet, he began to read the
"Dear Mr. Mulder,
I have recently come into the possession of a videotape that you
may find of interest. It is called, 'Vineyard Voyeurism.' If
you do not meet my demands, a copy of this tape will be
delivered to Ms. Scully, which I'm sure you would prefer to
avoid. I will give you time to consider your options. You will
be hearing from me again shortly. At that time, I expect that
you will be prepared to follow my instructions.
P.S. Do not bother trying to trace this letter. I have taken
great care not to leave any evidence of my DNA or fingerprints."
"Mulder, are you okay?"
His head came up with a jerk. It was only at this point that he
realized how he must have looked at the moment, with his mouth
hanging open in disbelief and his skin several shades paler than
usual. He had to cover quickly.
"No. Uh, I just got a bill that I didn't realize was overdue.
It's unbelievable the late charges they slap on these things.
I'm going to have to run down to the post office and send this
payment off right away. I'll see you later." He was folding
the letter and stashing it and the envelope in his inner jacket
pocket as he spoke. By the time he was finished, he was already
at the door and made a quick exit. He really didn't know where
he was going; he just had to get out of there so he could think
How did anyone find out about this? Years ago, he and a couple
of his friends had gone to great pains to destroy all the copies
of this that they could find. After all this time, he thought
that no one knew about it, or that they just didn't care. But
apparently, someone had decided to dredge up the past. If it
was simply a matter of releasing it to the press or his
superiors, he almost didn't care. He made a regular practice of
living down humiliation, and this, like the rest, would
eventually blow over.
But he did care whether Scully saw it. What would she think of
him? Would she be disgusted to learn that he had participated
in such a thing, even if it was so long ago? These were
questions he could never learn the answer to, no matter what the
And thus, his decision was made. While his own bank account was
not large, his father had left him a great deal of assets,
primarily stocks and real estate, that he had previously avoided
because he despised the things his father had done to earn that
money. However, it now seemed appropriate to use dirty money
for dirty deeds. If this is what it took to retain his dignity
in Scully's eyes, then he would do it. He didn't want to think
any further about the implications for his own character, or
what it would do to their partnership for him to keep such an
* * *
The weekend was pure agony for Mulder. He had hoped that the
blackmailer's demands would come in the form of a letter to his
home address or an anonymous phone call, but by Monday, he still
hadn't heard anything. At one point, he had even considered
taking the letter to the Gunmen to see if they could help him
find any leads, but he quickly dismissed the idea.
When Monday morning arrived, he was distracted and fidgety.
Scully continually cast him sideways glances, but he would
always meet her suspicious gaze with a warm smile intended to be
reassuring. He wasn't sure that he succeeded, but at least she
refrained from asking any questions, probably realizing that she
was unlikely to get a straight answer.
At about 10:13, the mail cart arrived right on schedule, and it
took everything he had for Mulder to act calm and casual as he
graciously accepted the envelopes from the clerk and sent her on
her way. He was oblivious to the other pieces of mail as he
sifted through and quickly found another white envelope with a
local postmark and no return address. Glancing at Scully to
ensure that she wasn't looking, he surreptitiously stashed this
in his jacket, not intending to repeat the display from last
week by opening it in front of her. He was only able to contain
himself for another half hour before he made a lame excuse about
needing to visit the little boys' room and bolted off to find
privacy so that he could open the letter.
It was a good thing he was alone, because he would not have been
able to hide his reaction.
It wasn't the amount of money that floored him. In fact, the
letter didn't ask for money at all. The demand was of an
entirely different sort.
"If you wish to prevent your partner from learning of this
videotape, you will do the following: On Wednesday, you will
arrive at the Hoover building wearing a pair of boxers on the
OUTSIDE of your suit pants. You will continue in this manner
throughout the business day, including all meetings and
interviews, and not remove the boxers until you have returned
home after a full eight hours. If you do not meet these
demands, I will know. Big brother is watching."
Apparently, the blackmailer's goal was not to bankrupt him but
to humiliate him. But didn't he say that he was used to
humiliation? It was either this, or Scully finding out about
the video. Did he have any choice?
And how was he supposed to explain his actions to Scully?
* * * * *
* * * * *
Wednesday came and went, and somehow Mulder survived. There was
no way to avoid having everyone stare at him, although he did
his best not to leave his office more often than necessary.
Unfortunately, Skinner called them into a meeting, which
required a long trek to and from the fourth floor, not to
mention a bawling out from the A.D. about office protocol.
On the bright side, explaining his behavior to Scully had been
easier than he expected. Before she could say anything, he
regaled her with a tale of a poker game with the Gunmen in which
he had lost more money than he could afford and so was required
to endure this ritual as penance. However, several times
throughout the day she had reasoned with him that he had already
fulfilled his punishment, and could he please remove the boxers?
His suggestive remarks in response to this had only frustrated
her, and by the end of the day she was no longer speaking to
But at least she had bought his story.
Thursday dawned brightly, and a much-relieved Mulder treated his
partner to lunch in apology, making all things right with the
world. By the afternoon, they were engrossed in a new case, and
he had almost forgotten about his previous troubles by the time
they flew home on Sunday evening.
That is, until he picked up his mail in the office on Monday and
discovered another letter.
This time he was required to show up to work sporting bright red
nail polish. The letter specified all ten fingernails, an
eight-hour day, and a particular shade: candy apple red. And
his hands had to remain visible to passers-by as he walked the
halls. At least it didn't say he couldn't hide them during
meetings. Maybe this time he could get away without Skinner
thinking he was crazy.
After a quick trip to the drug store where he scoured the
shelves for the correct shade, he realized he could never do
this by himself. He fleetingly considered asking Scully to do
it for him, before coming to his senses and fleeing the scene.
Thankfully, there was a beauty parlor just down the block. All
he told them was that he'd lost a bet.
The next morning, the best thing he could think to tell Scully
was that he'd had another bad poker night, but that only put her
on the warpath ready to skin the guys for subjecting him to such
humiliation. He finally calmed her down and promised he
wouldn't play poker with them again if she promised never to
mention it to them. She agreed, but he had no idea what he
would tell her the next time.
The humiliation didn't bother Mulder so much, but he couldn't
handle lying to his partner. Something had to be done about
this. The problem was, he didn't know how far the blackmailer
would take this or how to contact the person. However, he was
suspicious that the blackmailer was another agent, considering
the local postmark, the delivery to the office, and the
insistence that he fulfill these demands at work. This time, he
walked the halls more freely and kept a close eye on those
around him, hoping to get a lead. Unfortunately, the day ended
and he was no closer to finding his man.
The next few days passed uneventfully, although Mulder continued
to watch everyone around him with suspicion. Perhaps it was a
bit of overkill, or everyone just pitied him for finally going
off the deep end, because it seemed that no one would make eye
contact with him anymore--well, no one besides Scully.
* * *
On Friday afternoon, Mulder was on his way home from work when
he got a call from Byers. They had loaned him a video of an
alien autopsy earlier that week to get his opinion on its
authenticity, and they needed it back tonight to show it to a
contact. Unfortunately, he had passed it on to Scully, who was
currently at Quantico finishing an autopsy. He reassured Byers
that he would try to return it to them as soon as possible and
then dialed his partner.
Their conversation was brief, as it usually was when Scully was
up to her elbows in innards. She explained to him where she'd
left the tape, if he could please pick it up himself, and that
she would call him when she finished. And that, of course, the
video was a hoax.
And thus, Mulder was perfectly justified in entering Scully's
apartment and rummaging through her videotapes when he happened
upon something that he was sure he wasn't supposed to see.
After the fact, he discovered that the alien autopsy video was
the one currently in the VCR, not on top of it as she had
instructed him. In his search, he had instead come across the
tape that was sitting right beside it: a copy of "Vineyard
Mulder couldn't believe his eyes. At first he thought that the
blackmailer had sent her a copy of the tape anyway. But then he
began to put the pieces together: there were very few copies of
the video available, and this one was clearly an original, not a
homemade copy that would be sent by someone who wanted to keep
the original for himself; the blackmailer was someone who saw
him at work, someone who wanted to get back at him for something
while they stood witness to these "innocent pranks."
"Son of a bitch!" The gender was actually incorrect, and the
slur against her mother uncalled for, but no one was listening
anyway, as Mulder sat on the floor in disbelief with the damning
evidence in his hands.
The things she had made him do! Well, two could play at this
game. He wasn't quite sure yet what revenge he would take, but
several ideas started to form in his mind. He wouldn't let her
know he was on to her, not yet. Not until he was done
humiliating her in kind.
* * * * *
* * * * *
After a satisfying D&D tournament that had lasted late into the
night, Langly awoke mid-Sunday morning feeling victorious and
refreshed. Byers was in the kitchen fixing brunch, but Frohike
was nowhere to be seen. Apparently he was still in bed--he
hadn't fared quite as well as Langly.
"How would you like your eggs?"
Langly was surprised by the request and lowered the milk carton
from his lips as he stood in the open refrigerator doorway. He
usually ate cold cereal or leftovers for breakfast, so it was
rare to have Byers volunteer to cook for him, especially after
the lecture he had given his roomies just a few months ago
entitled, "I am not your mother."
"Uh, scrambled, I guess." Backing away from the fridge and
closing the door, Langly took a closer look at Byers. He wasn't
just making eggs--there was a full spread of bacon, biscuits,
pancakes, and hash browns. Either he was expecting company, or
he was agitated about something; Byers always turned obsessive
when he was agitated.
"What's up, man? We expecting a small army or something?"
Byers paused and turned from the stove, wiping his hands on the
apron that protected his neatly pressed shirt and pants from
spot or wrinkle--not to mention the tie. "No, I simply thought
it would be nice to have a well-balanced meal to start our day.
Would you like toast? I can put some in. We have white, wheat,
Langly groaned internally. This must be bad. Not only was
Byers cooking, but he had gone shopping first.
"Uh, no toast, thanks. Listen, do you want me to wake up
Frohike? I wouldn't want him to miss out on the most important
meal of the day."
By now, Byers had turned back to the eggs. "Frohike won't be
joining us. He had an early meeting this morning."
Now Langly knew something was up. "The only kind of early
meeting that Frohike ever has is with his pillow. Listen, man,
what's going on here? I get the distinct feeling that something
major has happened and you two aren't letting me in on it."
Byers didn't turn around. "I have no idea why you would think
such a thing. Really, everything is perfectly norm--"
Yeah, Langly thought as he watched, like suit-boy normally dove
for the phone like that when it rang.
"Hello, Lone Gunmen. Byers speaking.... Uh, yeah, we need
talk. Can you hold on for a moment? I need to make sure that
I'm on a secure line."
Langly rolled his eyes. All of their lines were secure.
he really meant was that he needed time to leave the room so his
breakfast companion couldn't overhear the conversation. So,
Langly made himself comfortable at the kitchen table, looking
over the Sunday paper while he waited.
He didn't have to wait long. Less than five minutes later Byers
had returned, but wearing his suit jacket instead of an apron.
"Uh, Langly, I have to step out for a while. Do you think you
could check on the food for me? Thanks." He didn't wait for a
response. Within seconds, the door had shut behind him and he
It took a minute for Langly to process what had just happened,
but once he did, he stood and shuffled toward the door to lock
up, mumbling to himself as he went, "Did I wake up in the
Twilight Zone? Something hinky is definitely going on here."
Returning to the kitchen, he turned off all the burners and
piled up a plate. No matter what was going on, there was no
reason to let all this food go to waste, and clearly no one else
was around to eat it.
Forty-five minutes later, he was feeling quite stuffed, and
there was still no sign of either of his roommates. So, Langly
determined it was now time to get to the bottom of this.
The first order of business was to find out who had called
Byers. That was incredibly easy since they recorded all
incoming calls. Langly rewound to the beginning of the last
call and hit "play."
"Hello, Lone Gunmen. Byers speaking."
"I got your message. What's going on?"
"Uh, yeah, we need to talk. Can you hold on for a moment?
need to make sure that I'm on a secure line."
"I thought all of your lines were secure. Just tell me what
this is about. Did Frohike find the picture? Byers?"
"Okay, we can talk now. Langly was in the room and I couldn't
risk him overhearing. Listen, Mulder, I got a very strange call
from Agent Scully this morning. Actually, Frohike got the call,
but I happened to overhear what she said."
"Scully called Frohike? About what?"
"About the e-mail. She thought that he had sent it to her, and
boy, was she upset. Whatever videotape this is about, she
assumed that no one but Frohike knew of it. Based on this
information, I would speculate that she was not your
"Shit. She is going to be so pissed if she ever finds out I was
"Uh, Mulder, there's more."
"Oh, God. What?"
"After he received the call, Frohike rushed over to her
apartment to determine the original source of the e-mail.
Sooner or later, he's going to trace it back here."
"Byers, you can't let him know that I was there. Scully can't
find out about this. Just tell him that you sent it. Do this
for me, John, and I'll do anything you want. I'll pay you any
amount of money--"
"Hold on there, Mulder. Just think about what you're saying.
Do you think that either Frohike or Agent Scully would ever
believe that I was behind this? We have to find a more
"Langly. We have to pin it on Langly."
It was at this point that Langly stopped the tape. "No way,
man. I will not be a patsy."
* * *
As it turns out, Langly's kung fu actually *is* the best, which
he proved well that morning. A quick listen to Frohike's call
from Scully shed a little more light on the subject, and then he
took advantage of the absence of his comrades to do a little
First, he resurrected the e-mail that had been sent by Mulder,
along with the attached photo. A little juvenile ogling delayed
him for a minute, until he felt chastised for diverting from his
task and continued on.
Next, he dug through recent activity on Frohike's computer. At
first, he was merely looking for any information about the
videotape in question, but before long he hit the jackpot. The
files had been deleted, but he had no problem reconstructing
them: three blackmail letters addressed to Mulder and mentioning
Langly was briefly distracted again as he pictured Mulder with
red nail polish.
Back on task, once he found the final piece to the puzzle,
everything fell into place. The same video that Frohike had
blackmailed Mulder about was purchased less than a week before
by Agent Scully. Scully and Frohike knew about the tape, and
Frohike had indulged in a harmless prank, for which Mulder then
blamed his partner, and now they wanted to pin it on Langly.
But all the evidence pointed back to Frohike. Obviously, there
was only one way to deal with this.
Frohike had to pay.
* * * * *
* * * * *
It had been an incredibly long morning for Scully. What she had
intended as a quick check of her e-mail before she ran out the
door for Mass turned into horror, rage, confusion, and then
boredom as Frohike became her unexpected accomplice and guest
for the remainder of the morning. By noon, he still hadn't
discovered the source of her anonymous e-mail, so she decided to
step out to grab them lunch from the deli down the street.
When she returned with the sandwiches, it was clear that
something had happened in her absence.
"Agent Scully, I'm glad you're back. I think I may have a lead
on the source, but I need to track down some information before
I tell you any more. I'll call you later."
"What? Frohike, wait. What's going on? Frohike!"
But he had already escaped through the open door.
Frustrated, she closed the door behind him and plopped down in
the seat that was still warm from his recent tenure to find out
in what state he had left her computer. There was no immediate
evidence of what had sent him off in such a rush. Grabbing one
of the sandwiches from the bag, Scully unwrapped it and took a
bite before turning to her investigation.
Before she had even clicked the mouse, the icon popped up on her
screen to announce that she had just received new mail. She
pulled up her e-mail and immediately saw the incoming message.
It appeared to be from the same sender as the previous offending
message. Scully sighed. It was too bad that Frohike had
Opening the message revealed a text that read simply: "Threat
neutralized." There was also an attachment, which at first she
was loathe to open, until her curiosity got the better of her.
But, once she saw it, she was very glad she did.
* * *
Byers was not the computer geek of the trio, and so it was a
slow and painful process for him and Mulder to figure out the
best way to electronically frame a whiz like Langly for Mulder's
crime. They had spent a couple of hours on Mulder's computer
without any sense of progress when an incoming message caught
"Hey, Byers, look at this. It's the same account I used to send
that message to Scully. I think Frohike's already onto us."
They exchanged a puzzled look as they read the text, "Threat
neutralized," and with a shrug, Mulder clicked on the
It didn't take long before Mulder was in hysterics. Byers was
more composed, but even he released a sonorous guffaw. "This
must be from Langly. Maybe we should've asked for his help to
But Mulder was still too far gone with laughter to respond.
On the screen before them was a picture of Melvin Frohike
wearing nothing more than a pink bra and panties.
* * *
Langly was engrossed in a computer game when the flurry of
activity started. The first to arrive was Frohike, who was
still oblivious to the doctored photo that had been sent out
"Langly, I need to talk to Byers. Where is he?"
The blond didn't look up from his computer screen. "Uh, I think
he's with Mulder."
Frohike's eyes widened. Mulder--of course! Somehow Mulder
have found out that Scully had the tape, so he came over here
last night and sent the e-mail. Now, how was he supposed to
smooth this over without either of them finding out that he was
the one who had sent the blackmail letters?
Thus, when Scully arrived pounding on the door, Frohike was
already cowering in his bedroom. When it was clear that Frohike
wasn't going to come out, Langly paused his game to go answer
"Langly, I need to talk to Frohike. Is he here?"
"Yeah, he's in the back." He turned and yelled, "Hickey!
lady love is here!"
Scully cringed and muttered, "Thanks," as Langly returned to his
computer. Moments later, a sheepish Frohike emerged from the
"Frohike, I'm still not sure why you took off so suddenly, but I
received this e-mail just after you left. Now, would you like
to tell me what's going on?"
No sooner had she finished speaking than the locks on the door
began to methodically disengage. Byers and Mulder had arrived,
drawing their attention. And so it was that Frohike had only
looked at the first page Scully had handed him, with the text
message, and had not yet turned to page two.
Mulder hadn't expected to find Scully there. He wasn't quite
sure how much she knew yet, so he braced himself for her fury.
However, she was obviously confused at his arrival, so he felt
safe for the moment. Next, he spotted Frohike, his own target.
He couldn't help but snicker at the image that was seared on his
Frohike watched with suspicion as Mulder walked over to pat him
on the back. "Melvin, my man, I never knew you looked so good
Melvin had no idea what he was talking about, but a quick glance
around the room made it clear that everyone else did. At least
Scully and Byers had the courtesy to hide their smiles behind
their hands, but Langly snickered audibly without removing his
eyes from his screen.
Frohike looked down at his hands. Somehow he just knew that
this second sheet of paper held the answer he sought. With
trepidation, he pulled it out from behind the page that obscured
His face suddenly matched the shade of the satin ensemble.
"Frohike, those better not be mine." Scully was of course
joking, but the seriousness with which she delivered the line
caused the room to burst out in laughter. Well, everyone except
Frohike. He was busy glaring at Langly.
"You! You sent this, didn't you!"
Langly paused his game again and threw his hands up in self-
defense. "Hey, don't point fingers at me. You're the one who
started this whole thing."
If there had been any lingering doubt in anyone's mind that
Frohike had been the original culprit, that moment clinched it.
And then the confessions began to roll.
* * *
Once all the details had been sorted out, Mulder and Scully
headed out to their cars together. Both looked rather contrite
and obviously felt guilty about their roles in this fiasco.
They walked in silence toward the point where it was necessary
to part toward their respective vehicles, and then they stood
there looking at their feet until one of them figured out what
"Scully, I hope you can forgive me for sending that e-mail. You
know that I never would've sent that picture to Skinner."
"No, Mulder, this is my fault. I should've told you about the
video to begin with. I didn't have any right to keep it a
secret from you."
"Well, I kept it a secret from you first."
There was an awkward pause.
Mulder spoke up. "I guess I owe you an explanation."
"It's really none of my--"
"No, I want to get this out in the open. I just don't want to
lose your respect over this." He turned away slightly and ran
his fingers through his hair, looking for the right way to say
what he needed to. "I was at this party, about a year or so
after I graduated from high school. One of my friends came up
with this idea that we could make a lot of money by making porn
tapes and selling them through magazine ads, which sounded like
a great scheme when we were all that plastered. So, he pulled
out his parents' camera, and we went in the back room and
started filming. It wasn't until a month later that we realized
he was serious and had actually made copies of it. A couple of
us tried to buy back and destroy all of them, but I guess we
didn't quite succeed. I wasn't really trying to hide this
information from you. It was just so long ago that I had
honestly forgotten about it, and it's not like this ever came up
in conversation before." He threw his hands out to his sides.
"So, that's it. That's the story."
Scully just nodded in acknowledgment, not quite sure what she
was supposed to say now. "Well, um, I guess I'll come by later
and drop it off for you. That tape really should be in your
"Okay.... I guess I'll see you then."
They both started to meander back to their cars.
Scully stopped by her door. "Mulder?"
He turned around. "Yeah?"
"You couldn't lose my respect over something like this. We all
do foolish things when we're young."
Mulder smiled. "Care to share, Scully?"
They both inserted their keys, and Scully opened her door.
"Yeah?" She paused with one foot inside the car and looked back
"Did you like it?"
He expected an eye roll, but the enigmatic smile he got instead
seemed very promising.
* * *
On Monday morning, A.D. Skinner arrived at his office bright and
early, ready to face another week. He went through his regular
ritual, sifting through folders and envelopes, prioritizing his
tasks for the day. With a steaming mug of black coffee in his
hand, he finally settled in his chair and logged into his
computer to pick up his e-mail.
In the midst of the businesslike subject lines, one message
caught his attention. It read, "You are invited." He didn't
recognize the sender. It was probably just spam, but he would
check to be sure.
Moments after he opened the message, the image on the screen was
obscured by the spray of coffee that he had suddenly ejected
from his mouth. His eyes bugged out of his head; he couldn't
believe what he was looking at.
"Walter Skinner, you are invited to a lingerie party, featuring
the latest fashions in the trendiest new colors. Below is a
sample of our product, worn by one of our hottest models."
And there at the bottom of the screen was a picture of a short,
unattractive man wearing nothing but a pink bra and panties.
* * * * *
* * * * *
Author's Notes: I regret that I do not have pictures with which
to better illustrate this story. You'll have to use your
imagination, or commission one of our artists. :)
I hope that you had as much fun reading this story as I had
writing it. Happy New Year!
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