J. EDGAR HOOVER BUILDING
MONDAY, DECEMBER 16th, 2007
"You owe me big time," Mulder heard, and lifted his eyes from his computer screen. Standing in the doorway was his partner, obviously back from her meeting with AD Skinner.
"And how is this news?" he asked with a smirk.
She strutted in, and sat down on the edge of his desk. She had his full attention. "’Tis the season for team building seminars."
"By the look on your face I’m guessing you told Skinner I was suffering from that annual severe hem—"
"No, much better," she said with a smile. "I made the argument, Mulder, that team building exercises were supposed to not only improve our relationship but teach us skills we didn’t previously possess."
"And where does the excuse come in?"
"It doesn’t. We’re going somewhere instead of Oklahoma for the next seminar."
"Where?" Mulder asked, still not convinced that it was time to panic. Scully was, after all, smiling.
"What’s in Detroit, Michigan?"
"Ever watched Tool Time, Mulder?"
He simply gave her a ‘look’. "You know how I am at fixing things."
"You get as far as the instructions and give up. Trust me, I know. Our dryer still beckons."
"I thought you said you called a repair man for that."
"I did, and he bailed. I told you this on the way to work this morning. Weren’t you listening?"
Realizing that he was stuck, he went for the humorous approach. He grabbed a candy bar and shoved it in his mouth.
"Need a moment?" Scully asked, catching his reference and chuckling softly. "Anyway, we’re going to Detroit as members of the Tool Time audience, and then we get backstage passes and a personal lesson from Tim the Tool Man Taylor."
"A personal lesson on what?"
"Knitting. What do you think, Mulder?"
He rolled his eyes at her sarcasm, and said, "We don’t need to learn to fix things, Scully. We’ve got repair men to do that. And besides, I sort of know how to fix a radio."
"Knowing how to fix one thing doesn’t help you in the field when you really need to independently operate."
Mulder sighed. "Scully…"
"Would you rather Skinner make us go to Oklahoma?"
"No," he admitted emphatically. Then he leaned back, surrendering. "When do we leave?"
"This afternoon. We’ll meet with Tim Taylor tonight, before the show, so he can brief us on what he expects us to do. And then tomorrow we’ll appear on the show with him, get our lesson, and we’ll be done."
"How did you find this, anyway?"
She suddenly looked slightly guilty.
"You haven’t been cheating on me with Tim the Tool Man Taylor, have you, Scully?" He asked jokingly.
She shook her head, smiled slightly, and said, "I was going through some X-files…and I found one in Detroit, Michigan. Where the Tool Time show is filmed, actually."
"Scully!" Mulder exclaimed. "You went out of your way to find an X-file!"
"I stumbled across one."
After a brief silence, he couldn’t help but insist, "Well, out with it, what is it?"
"Over the last twenty years, various television shows have filmed in the current Tool Time set area. And every time the show turns three, the main character, the host, or whoever appears on every episode ends up having a terrible accident and the show gets cancelled."
"Let me guess. Tool Time is about to turn three."
"During the time we’re scheduled to be there."
"Remarkable. Scully, this is amazing. Either you really think I need help fixing things or you were bored one night…either one doesn’t bode well for me."
She merely smiled.
"I’ve seen the show one time, and they made a joke about Tim’s clumsiness. Do you know if the other show hosts are accident prone?"
"Not really, but I’ll look into it on the plane."
"Is it me or do you seem a little excited about this one?"
Scully looked down, and said, "Mulder, I have a confession to make."
"Go ahead," he said, giving her a confused look.
"I’ve never missed an episode of Tool Time since the show first aired. I’ve taped it, I’ve put it on the TiVo, I’ve downloaded episodes on the Internet off of FOX’s site…I’ve never missed an episode."
"Explains why you’re always the one to fix everything…" he said with a small smile. "But why not watch Bob Vila? I hear he’s a little more…professional."
Scully nearly glared at him. "That’s like suggesting that a Trekkie go as Darth Vader to a Star Trek convention, Mulder!"
He smirked. "I knew you liked that case…"
"Don’t change the subject! Bob Vila’s name is a taboo to Tool Time fans."
"Scully, it looks like you’re a full-blown fan. As in ‘fanatic’." He chuckled. "Tim Taylor isn’t competition, is he?"
Her face softened. "Of course not," she said, smiling at him. "But don’t ever suggest watching Bob Vila’s show over Tool Time again," she added harshly.
He held up his hands. "Sorry I asked."
"We’d better get back home and pack." She was grinning as she headed for the door, and Mulder gladly followed. Anything that got Scully this excited was well worth attending.
Having seen the show once, he couldn’t help but say, "Can everyone guess what time it is?"
"Tool time!" Scully said without fail, and turned around in the doorframe and kissed him quickly before grabbing her coat, and leading the way out the door.
TOOL TIME STUDIO
MONDAY, DECEMBER 16th, 2007
"What’s with the tie, Al? You haven’t gotten this dressed up since that flannel convention."
Al frowned at Tim’s attempt at humor, and put his hands on his hips casually. "I just thought it would be nice to get a little dressed up for the FBI agents. I am surprised you haven’t left town, though."
"I was thinking about it," Tim said thoughtfully as he snapped on his toolbelt. "Then I realized as long as we keep them away from your mother, we should be alright."
Al smirked nearly imperceptibly, and said, "I highly doubt my mother has done anything illegal."
"That’s because you weren’t there when she tried on that 4X bikini," Tim said, and slapped his friend on the shoulder as he walked toward the set.
A man dressed in jeans and a golf shirt followed an eager-looking woman with a Tool Time t-shirt tucked into jeans. She even had workboots on, and they both had their side-arms attached to their belts. When the female agent approached Tim, she extended her hand. "Hi, I’m Agent Dana Scully, and this is my partner, Agent Fox Mulder."
"Dana, Fox, nice to meet you," Tim said, and shook both their hands. "I’m Tim and this is my co-host Al Borland."
"Nice to meet you Al. And it’s just Mulder, if you don’t mind," Mulder said. He looked a little reluctant to be there, and was eyeing Al suspiciously.
Tim’s sidekick was standing to his side, even more excited than Scully, nearly bouncing on his heels. He seemed to catch Mulder’s odd stare, and explained himself. "I’ve never met FBI agents before…" he started, "And I must confess…when I was a young boy I often dreamt of becoming one."
"You an FBI agent?" Tim said with a small laugh. "They don’t sell flannel holsters, Al."
"I happen to be a pretty good shot, Tim."
"Like mother like son, huh?" Tim said jokingly. Scully laughed, and Mulder just looked confused. As Al folded his arms indignantly, Tim turned to the agents. "So, you’re coming on the show tomorrow…I just wanted to go over some basics, give you a quick run-through of what we’re going to do so you aren’t surprised. Then you’re welcome to join my family and me for dinner, if you’re interested."
"Oh, that’d be great," Scully said with a broad smile.
Mulder nodded in agreement, but didn’t look entirely enthusiastic.
Tim walked over to the work bench and said, "Tomorrow we’ll be going over basic drilling and sanding techniques, and we’ll build some shelves. It’s important not to split the wood when you’re drilling, and it’s also important to know what kind of tool to use. And when you’re sanding, you don’t want an uneven surface, so you want to use specific tools to get the job done. We won’t cut the wood, but later on I’ll show you how to use a miter saw and a table saw. Have you two had much experience with construction?"
"Scully has," Mulder said.
Tim turned to Scully in expectation, and she said, "I’ve watched your show since it came on the air. I have to admit, I’m a big fan. Hence the t-shirt."
God, she sounds like a nervous teenager, Mulder thought in amusement.
"Well, good," Tim said, clearly pleased. "See, Al, another satisfied customer."
"Seeing the show since it’s come on the air means she’s seen all your accidents, too, Tim."
Mulder suddenly looked more attentive as he glanced at Scully curiously. The comment was clearly made to be a joke, but Mulder realized the significance.
"Well," Scully said before Tim could fire back at Al, "the accidents do prove to be educational for the viewers. I’ve always wondered if they were deliberate."
Nice, Mulder thought. Just the right question to ask. Except he’s likely to lie. And that’s where I come in.
"Absolutely," Tim said automatically. "We value the safety of our viewers above everything else on the show, so naturally we want to show them what not to do in a way that makes them laugh, but still communicates the lesson."
"Often at Tim’s personal expense, of course," Al said, a small smirk on his face. Tim gave him a dirty look, and the smirk was gone instantly.
Yep. Lying straight through his teeth, Mulder thought.
"That’s very considerate of you," Scully said with a smile. "So first we’re going to sand the wood?"
"Yes, exactly. We’ll use a couple of different sanders, and have you both try each one. We’ll have some of the wood pre-sanded, and some unsanded for us. Then we’ll start drilling. Again, we’ll try different drills, and different techniques. And some wood will be pre-drilled. We’ll construct the shelves, and then ask one of you to shoot them to see if they fall over on impact."
Mulder and Scully glanced at each other, and before Al could say, ‘I don’t think so, Tim,’ the Tool Man’s facial expression changed from one of seriousness to a large grin. "Just kidding, guys, I’d never ask you to pull out those things on stage…though it might make it look cooler if you wear them up here."
"We’re actually required to wear them," Mulder said.
"Perfect," Tim said with a smile. He looked between the two again. "So do you have any questions?"
"Will we be issued tool belts?" Scully asked.
"Tool belts, safety glasses, and earplugs, on the house," Tim told them. "And you can keep them. We’re in full cooperation with the FBI."
"Good to know," Mulder said with a small smile.
"Tim has nothing to hide except his sense of decency," Al said, and then snorted before he started laughing. Everyone stared at him, including Tim.
"Nice try, Al," Tim said with mock sympathy, and Al stopped laughing slowly. He stood with his arms folded, slightly embarrassed. "So that’s basically all we needed to go over…the make-up crew will take care of you before the show, and you’ll need to get here at 8 AM to prepare for shooting." He suddenly smiled. "That uh…that takes on a whole new meaning around FBI agents."
Scully smiled. "We’ll be here at 8."
"I understand you’ll be appearing on two shows, and you’ll be receiving a personal lesson from Tim tomorrow afternoon?" Al asked.
"That’s right, that’s the plan," Mulder said.
"The second appearance will be shared with other guests," Tim said. "They want us to give the audience some variety, so you’ll be helping out with our tool cleaning and care segment before we move into engine maintenance."
"Okay, sounds good," Scully said.
"Alright, on that note, I’ll give you a tour of the studio and then we’ll head to my house. Al, you’re welcome to join us."
"I’m sorry, Tim, I have a date."
Tim did a double-take, and stared at Al curiously. "Bingo night, huh, Al?"
Al looked incredibly frustrated as he turned and walked away, and Mulder couldn’t help but smirk.
"You’ll have to excuse Al. He’s never been known to let his social life get in the way of his bingo, flannel, or his mother. Though not much could get in the way of his mother," he said with a small smile.
"I heard that!" Both agents heard from behind the set. Tim chuckled, and said, "C’mon, I’ll show you around."
They began following Tim around, studying the set carefully in case they spotted any evidence for their potential X-file.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 16th, 2007
"It’s so nice to meet both of you. Dinner’s ready…I hope you don’t mind Stouffer’s—I was at work all day and didn’t have time to really prepare anything, especially since Tim didn’t tell me you were coming until last night," Jill, Tim’s wife, said with a pointed glance at her husband. He started to back away slowly, nearly running into the Christmas decorations on their banister.
"I’ll call the boys," Tim said as he made his way toward the stairs.
"Stouffer’s is fine, Jill," Mulder said with a gracious smile.
"We’re used to eating cold pizza and two-day-old Chinese food on the road," Scully said, aiming a pointed glance at Mulder that matched Jill’s glance at Tim.
Tim’s wife beamed at that, and said, "Well, then, this’ll feel like a home-cooked meal." She had a slight Southern accent, but Scully couldn’t quite place it.
After a roaring call for the boys, they heard pounding footprints down the stairs and a blonde-haired boy came in first, followed by a smaller light brown-haired boy in overalls and a younger boy in a golf shirt tucked into khaki pants.
"Brad, Randy, Mark, these are FBI agents Mulder and Scully."
While the oldest and youngest boys beamed in shock and awe, the middle one, Randy, suddenly got three shades paler and looked like he was going to be sick.
"Nice to meet you," Mulder and Scully said as they shook the boys’ hands. Mulder paid special attention to the nervous one in the middle, and realized what was going on. "So Randy, right?"
Randy nodded ever-so-slightly.
Mulder looked completely serious as he said, "We’ve picked up some interesting activity on your computer."
Jill and Tim looked shocked, and Randy definitely looked ready to bolt.
"You aren’t burning CD’s illegally, are you, Randy? A little hacking on the side?"
Randy nodded his head, almost imperceptibly.
Then Mulder grinned, and tossled the boy’s hair. "Relax, Randy, I was joking. You’re not in any trouble. But stop the burning—it’s not a good practice to start."
Brad and Mark began poking their brother, Brad yelling, "Ooooh, he so got you!"
Mark turned to the FBI agents. "So you’re real FBI agents? Like you shoot bad guys and stuff?"
Mulder and Scully smiled, and nodded. "We try to catch the bad guys and put them in jail," Scully supplied.
"That’s so cool. Can I see your gun?"
"No, Mark," Tim said scoldingly. "Agent Mulder and Agent Scully aren’t here to show you their guns."
"And you’re way too young to hold a gun," Jill told him. "You know that."
Randy’s cheeks still hadn’t returned to their original color from their instant flush of embarrassment, but he managed to ask, "So you guys really monitor kids’ computers?"
"No, Agent Mulder was kidding," Scully said. "There are agents who check to see if any computers connected to the Internet are involved in illegal activities. Including music downloads and burning. But that isn’t our job."
"Boys, go wash your hands for dinner," Tim said. "And guys…" he walked over to the railing where the three stairs that led down to the kitchen met the foyer, and the boys halted to listen to whatever their father was about to say. "If you’re going to kill each other, now’s the time. We’ve got the FBI already here."
They grinned, and ran off. Brad pushed Mark on the way.
"Tim, if anyone gets hurt, I’m holding you personally responsible," Jill said.
Tim shrugged. "What?"
"Thank you, Agent Mulder," Jill said. "I thought we’d never convince Randy to stop that illegal downloading."
"Always happy to help," Mulder said with a smile. "And it’s just Mulder."
"Alright," Jill accepted with a smile. She lifted the Stouffer’s out of the oven and put it on the stove top, where she uncovered it. Tim grabbed some plates from the cabinet behind her and they began serving the lasagna.
"What would you like to drink? We’ve got beer, Coke, Sprite, juice, water, iced tea…?" Jill asked.
"I’ll have an iced tea," Mulder said.
"Diet Coke?" Scully asked.
"I’ll get it out of the garage," Tim said, and headed that way.
"So Mulder, Dana, how long have you two been partners?"
"Since 1993," Scully said.
"Scully’s been watching Tool Time since it came on, too," Mulder mentioned.
"Oh, you’re a fan of Al’s," Jill joked.
Scully laughed, and was about to reply when the boys came storming into the kitchen again, and lined up at the counter to get their food. Now three small portions of lasagna were laid out for them, and Jill was pouring their drinks. She got a beer out for Tim, and he grabbed it on his way in. He handed the Diet Coke to Scully, and picked up his serving of lasagna on his way to the table.
Mulder and Scully followed suit, and soon everyone was seated at the dinner table. Jill said a short blessing, and then Brad asked, "So…I don’t mean to be rude or anything, but why are you here?"
Mulder smiled. "We’re guests on your dad’s show. The FBI organizes these team-building seminars, and Agent Scully arranged for this unconventional learning experience instead of going to Oklahoma for the next seminar."
"We’re hoping to learn something about tools, and use what we know on the field," Scully told the twelve-year-old.
Randy snorted, and they all looked at him. Tim gave him a disapproving glance, and Randy said, "Sorry…it’s just that…I hope you brought first aid kits with you."
"Alright, alright, enough," Tim put a stop to his son’s behavior before it escalated.
Mulder and Scully shared a quick glance. It was curious that everyone seemed to think Tim was a klutz.
"Do you guys have a specialty, or do you solve all kinds of crime?" Brad asked.
"Well, there are lots of different divisions that the FBI has," Scully answered, "There’s counterterrorism, there’s violent crimes, there’s organized crime, some agents deal with financial things, some agents deal with Internet things…you get the idea."
"We solve unsolved cases," Mulder told the boy.
"Like where Jimmy Hoffa is?" Mark asked excitedly.
Scully chuckled. "Sort of, yes."
"Have you seen lots of weird stuff?" Randy asked.
"Boys, what the agents deal with probably isn’t dinnertime conversation," Jill told them.
You have no idea, Scully thought.
"We have seen lots of weird stuff," Mulder told him. "But yeah, your mom’s right—it isn’t dinnertime conversation."
"Well, to change the subject," Tim said, "On Wednesday, Tool Time turns three, and we’re going to have the agents on the show one extra day to celebrate. We’re also having the boys from K&B construction come on the show at the same time. And it’d be alright with me, Jill, if you want to come on the set, too."
"Oh, Tim, I wish I could. I’ve got a huge meeting on Wednesday from 9 to 12 and then a performance review from 2 to 4…"
"Good luck," Scully offered.
"Thanks," Jill said gratefully.
"You guys will have to go to friends’ houses that night ‘cause I can’t be home after school," Tim told the boys.
"Okay, sure," Mark said.
Brad nodded, and Randy said, "I’m sure Brad will have plenty of fun at Jennifer’s house!"
"Shut up!" Brad said, and shoved his brother.
Tim stuck his hand in the middle of the argument and said, "Not at the table, and not when we have guests."
"But you said we could kill each other," Mark protested.
"Ever heard of sarcasm?" Tim asked, his patience growing thin.
"Nooooo," Randy said sarcastically, which earned him a sharp look from Jill.
"Watch it, Mister," Jill corrected. Then she turned to Scully. "Where are you two staying?"
"The Comfort Inn on Woodward Avenue," Mulder said.
Jill frowned. "Really? There’s a place called the Drury Inn…good for the budget, nice rooms, not far from Woodward."
"We can show you online if you’re interested," Tim said.
"No, that’s alright, we’ve already gotten settled in our rooms," Mulder said with a gracious smile.
"And Mulder likes to pick motels that are more…historic," Scully said jokingly.
Brad laughed, and Randy looked like he was holding back a retort that was just begging to come out.
Mulder frowned in Scully’s general direction as he said, "There’s only so much you can do on the government’s dollar. Besides, the messier they come, the less cleaning we have to do when we leave."
Jill smirked. "Sounds like Tim’s philosophy."
"Hey, I resemble that remark," Tim said with mock anger.
The rest of the dinner went smoothly, and when it was finished, Tim offered to show Mulder and Scully the garage. They spent about a half hour talking about tools, and Mulder had to admit that he learned something at the end of the conversation. He wasn’t even bored.
They bid the family farewell, and the boys waved in excited admiration as they got in their car and drove back to the Comfort Inn.
"That wasn’t so bad, was it?" Scully asked on the way.
"I found Moe, Larry, and Curly pretty interesting at the dinner table," Mulder joked.
"The boys were pretty well-behaved for kids their age," his partner argued.
"If I talked to my parents the way Randy talks to his, at his age…" He didn’t complete that statement. He didn’t really have to.
Scully smiled slightly. "They’re good kids. Tim and Jill give them a lot of leeway but they lay down the law when they have to. And I think their freedom is partially a bi-product of these times, and partially a mark of parenting genius on Tim and Jill’s part."
"Parenting genius?" Mulder asked, matching her smirk.
"The kids are free to explore their own boundaries and when they find them, they don’t cross them because they’d rather retain their freedom. It’s a personal decision not to cross the line too often. And that makes for a better-developed adult, I think."
"And when did you become an expert?" Mulder demanded jokingly.
"Come on, out with it, Scully."
"Tim sometimes talks about parenting on Tool Time."
Mulder laughed. "You’re taking parenting tips from a guy who staples his fingers together?"
"You can laugh all you want—Tim is a very wise and intelligent individual. And I still think all those accidents are planned."
"You do. Were you listening when he answered your question at the studio? Scully, he was lying through his teeth. He doesn’t plan those accidents—they just happen, because he isn’t careful."
Scully was starting to get annoyed. "You’re just jealous."
"Jealous?! Of the Tool Man? You’re grasping at straws, Scully."
"What do you think about the curse, then?"
Mulder paused. "So we’re calling it a curse now?"
"The show’s about to turn three. We’ll be there when it does. What do you think?"
"I think we should pay close attention to that wiring system they have. It doesn’t look new to me. And I think their fire sprinkler system looks like it was installed in the ‘70s."
"So you think whatever might happen would just be a product of luck, or poor maintenance, but not a curse."
"Do you think there’s a curse, Scully?"
Scully smiled slightly. "I just can’t see Tim planning an accident that seriously injures him. He obviously has a high pain tolerance or he wouldn’t be able to demonstrate what he does. But he would never endanger his life willingly. He’s got a loving family and no reason to do so whatsoever. So I think if there is going to be an ‘accident’ two days from now, it’s either a product of luck, or poor maintenance, as you think, or someone is actually targeting the inhabitants of the studio."
"And if the latter is true, it’s our job to find him."
"Of course. It’s what we do. Let’s go find Jimmy Hoffa, Mulder."
TOOL TIME STUDIO
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17th, 2007
"Does everyone know what time it is?" Lisa, the Tool Girl, asked the audience.
"Tool Time!" The audience faithfully recited, and Lisa continued.
"That’s right! Now, I’m proud to present, Tim the Tool Man Taylor!"
After a round of applause, Tim and Al walked out from behind the set and stood in front of the false garage door marked ‘Tool Time’. "Hi, everyone, I’m your host, Tim the Tool Man Taylor, and you all know my assistant, Al Good-God-What’s-Under-That-Beard Borland."
The audience chuckled as Al rolled his eyes and Tim took off his jacket, and clipped his tool belt on. He then addressed the audience. "Today, we’re going to build some shelves step by step, and bring it back to basics with some standard power tool knowledge. But more importantly, we’ve got two very special guests. The FBI apparently has a program that allows their agents to learn more about tools, for field knowledge and…you know, secret agent stuff like that. So here today, directly from Washington, D.C, are FBI Special Agents Mulder and Scully."
The audience erupted in applause as Mulder and Scully walked on the set, Scully smiling nervously and Mulder sporting an indifferent expression. They shook Tim’s hand, and then Al’s hand, just as was discussed. Then Tim asked, "So…Agent Scully, I understand you’ve had some experience with tools."
"Yes, I’ve got general homeowner’s knowledge…you know, fixing creaky doors or broken floorboards or basic plumbing skills."
"The basic plumbing always comes in handy when we eat Taco Bell on the road," Mulder deadpanned, and the audience burst out laughing, including Tim. Scully smiled at him.
"You two are on the road often?" Tim asked.
"Our division’s based in Washington but we do travel," Mulder said. "Now you know where your tax dollars are going."
Tim smiled, and asked, "So Agent Mulder, do you have any experience with tools?"
"I can fix radios. Usually."
"Basic electronics. Great. Okay, so today we’ve got pieces of wood, pre-cut for our convenience, and we’ll be putting them together into shelves. Now it’ll take both of you working together to do this, but I’m sure you’re used to that after…how many years as partners?"
"Going on fifteen," Scully said with a smile.
"Wow, you would really get to know a person after that long," Al said with an admiring gaze.
"Yeah, I think that’s how long I’ve been married," Tim said, pretending to concentrate. "But my wife and I discover new surprises every day." He paused for effect, and then said, "Especially, as you mentioned Agent Mulder, after Mexican food."
The audience laughed again, and Mulder offered a smile while Scully chuckled. Lisa rolled out the wood when Tim walked backward, parallel with the work bench. "Thank you, Lisa," Tim said with a smile. "Alright, now the first thing we have to do with this wood is sand it. Granted, a lot of wood you can buy pre-sanded. But let’s say you cut your own surface. And the factory edge is still smooth, but the edge you cut…not so much. You’re going to need a sander. But first—safety."
Tim walked over to the work bench and pulled out two pairs of safety goggles and work gloves. He handed both to Mulder and Scully, and they put them on.
"Whenever you’re dealing with power tools, whenever you’re picking up something with potential splinters or a jagged edge, you need protection. Al, wanna lend me a hand? Agent Mulder, Agent Scully, if you can lift the other large piece onto the saw horse over there…"
Mulder and Scully lifted the large piece and brought it over to the saw horse, as Tim and Al did the same.
"Okay, so the next thing we’ll do is go over basic sanding techniques. We’ll have Agent Mulder work the small sander." Al brought the small sander over as Tim kept talking. "It’s small but powerful. 1.6 amp motor, 14,000 opm, and it fits in the palm of your hand. Binford edition, this is the Finishing Sander." He handed it to Mulder. "Don’t turn it on yet, Agent Mulder. Agent Scully will be using the slightly larger sander. 2.4 amp motor, 13,000 opm, and it requires two hands. Both will get the job done. They’ll just both have a different feel. Now Agents, next to the saw horses you’ll find a plug in the ground. Go ahead and plug in your sanders, and I’ll demonstrate the general technique before you get going."
After putting earplugs in and watching Tim miraculously successfully work his power sander, Mulder and Scully began sanding the pieces. They only sanded one surface, before pre-sanded surfaces were brought out after a commercial break. Then they were ready to drill, and finally to fasten the shelves together.
"When choosing a drill," Tim said, "You have to remember that more power isn’t necessarily what you always need."
Everyone, even Scully, gasped.
Al took a step forward. "Are you feeling alright, Tim?"
Tim smiled. "Yes, I’m perfectly fine. We’re working with relatively thin pieces of wood here today, and there’s a great risk of splitting the wood."
"Something you seem prone to do, Tim," Al joked.
"Thank you, Al," Tim said sarcastically. "What you want around the house and what you want on the job site can be two different things. When on the job site, getting the job done quickly and efficiently is key. Of course, you want to aim for that at home, too, but you’re more likely to have a charger nearby at home than you are at a site. So a long battery life is essential. It’s also a pain to be stuck up on your roof at home and have your drill run out on you."
"Which has been known to happen," Scully said with a smile.
"Exactly. So choose a drill with a strong battery life. And when you’re talking prices, you want to choose a drill with a voltage rating and torque rating that doesn’t send your credit rating plummeting into negatives."
Mulder smirked. "Hey, it’s government money."
"In that case, bring out the big guns first," Tim said happily, and Lisa brought out a very large drill—almost so large that she couldn’t carry it. Mulder and Scully glanced at each other, both wondering what the hell it was.
"7.5 Amp motor," Tim said with a grin, "Up to 1200 rpm, 120 Volts, ladies and gentlemen, meet the Binford Heavy Duty Hole Hawg!" He propped it up on his shoulder, and continued, "This baby’ll drill a hole from your house foundation to China." He grunted for effect, and everyone in the audience followed along. Then he put the drill down on the workbench, and addressed the audience. "But the Hole Hawg is used for big projects—not building shelves. This wood, ladies and gentlemen, is one inch and three-eighths thick—"
"No, Tim, it’s one and a half."
"I’m pretty sure I measured it, Al," Tim said, looking quite annoyed, "And it was one inch and three eighths—"
Al whipped out a tape measure and measured the nearest piece of wood. "One and a half," he said simply, and then waited smugly for Tim’s response.
Tim pursed his lips, and then addressed the audience. "See, this is why you should always work in pairs. Your partner is likely to catch something you didn’t. And then he’s out sick for a week and you collect all the pay," Tim said jokingly.
The audience chuckled at the attempt at humor, and Scully smirked at Mulder, more because of Mulder’s tendency to ‘catch’ things than anything else.
"Alright, the point is that the wood is pretty thin, and there’s a good chance it’ll split. Especially if you drill right along the ring. So you choose your drill accordingly. Agent Mulder, you’ll be working with an 18V Binford, and Agent Scully, you’ll be working with the 14V." Lisa brought both cordless drills to them, and Tim continued. "You shouldn’t need anything bigger than 18V for your projects around the house, but sometimes you need to call in for the big guns, and get a special bit or a special drill. If you’re drilling into concrete, brick, or mortar, you need a hammer drill. But this is wood, and too much torque and too much power can split it, rendering it useless."
He walked over to Mulder and Scully, and said, "Now you always mark your wood for where you want to drill, using a level, a ruler, and a pencil. These are pre-marked for time’s sake, and so the agents can go ahead and start drilling, nice and slow."
Mulder and Scully handled the drills easily, and one could see that although Mulder didn’t have a lot of practice, he caught on quickly.
"So once you’ve gone through the wood, you stop, and put the drill in reverse, and then pull it out." The agents did as Tim told them, and they had two neat holes formed in their respective pieces of wood. "Now let’s get the opinions of the agents, shall we? Agent Scully, how did the drill feel?"
"It went in easily—the wood wasn’t very dense. The vibration control was amazing. I was really impressed. This drill’s better than the one I have at home."
"And what do you have at home?"
"A Binford 2530, from 2003."
"Ah, see, the vibration control on the drills has improved drastically since 2003. Plus you’ve got a lower voltage on this drill than the one you have at home, so it’s gonna feel a little smoother without so much torque. What about you, Agent Mulder?"
"This thing’s powerful," Mulder said. "It went straight through the wood, even on the low torque setting."
"Well, that’s an 18V for you. It really depends on your style, and what project you’re tackling, as to what drill you need to buy. A 14V won’t carry as much torque, in general, as an 18V, and they tend to be smaller, too. So for smaller hands, a 14V is ideal. Binford also has a line of tools scaled down for smaller hands, which makes sense, given the amount of kids and women who use our tools for their every-day jobs."
"Tim, what’s gotten into you? I’ve never heard you mention the smaller-scale tools on the show," Al said.
"Al, I’m shocked," Tim said, feigning insult, "I’ve always respected the smaller users of our tools. Doesn’t mean I’ve given up any respect for the…Heavy Duty Hole Hawg!" He said as he picked up the giant drill left on the workbench, activated the forward switch, and squeezed the trigger. The enormous bit twisted with torque unimaginable and even displayed some kickback at first.
Al rolled his eyes, and said, "I believe it’s time for a commercial break."
"Absolutely, Al. And when we come back, we’ll put these shelves together."
A few moments later, they had everything in place to construct the shelves. Together, Mulder and Scully were able to fasten the bolts and create an eight-foot-tall bookcase. It was sturdy and impressive.
"The last thing we need to do," Tim said, "Is test its sturdiness. So in light of our visitors, we’ve brought out some volunteers from the set crew to shoot airsoft pellets at the bookshelf and see if it topples over. We’ve got a firing squad of five crew members. Come on out, boys and girls."
The crew, dressed in black and wearing ear and eye protection merely for effect, were sporting spring loaded airsoft guns with bright orange tips. Mulder and Scully couldn’t help but smirk.
"Tim…I don’t think this is such a good idea—Airsoft pellets have been known to bounce off of objects—" Al started.
"If you want to go grab your mother to block the shots—" Tim started, but earned a laugh from the audience before he could complete his sentence. Al stood off to the side indignantly, and Tim put on safety goggles and ear protection just for fun.
"Ready…aim…fire!" Tim yelled, and the crew fired. Little orange pellets bounced off the shelves, and some rested inside. "Fire!" Tim yelled again. Ten more times, until their magazines were emptied, and then Tim lifted his ear protection. "Alright, folks, I think the FBI agents did a wonderful job. Next time, we’ll be working with Agents Mulder and Scully again, as well as the boys from K&B construction on our three-year anniversary episode. Thanks, have a great night."
"Cut!" Was yelled, and the audience got up to leave. Mulder and Scully approached Tim grinning.
"The firing squad idea was hilarious," Scully said.
"Did you guys learn anything?" Tim asked.
"We learned a lot," Mulder said, surprisingly enough.
"And we can’t wait for our afternoon lesson," Scully added.
"Well, let’s clean up the set first, and then you two can head back here later this afternoon. I’ll show you the basics of the table saw and some basic building techniques, and some cleaning and maintenance of your tools. Then we’ll look at a car engine—something I’m sure will come in handy on the field. And to top it off we’ll go over basic home maintenance, something I’m sure you two will be able to use if not on the job or in the office, when you’re at home."
"Absolutely," Mulder agreed.
"Okay, we’ll see you later, then," Tim told them.
Mulder and Scully left the studio, and headed to get some late lunch. They found a Burger King and sat down, discussing what they had seen.
"I really don’t think he’s that much of a klutz," Scully said. "He was careful on the show—he loves his power, but he’s not an endangerment to his surroundings."
"Wish I could say the same for you, with that drill in your hand," Mulder joked.
Scully rolled her eyes. "Come on, Mulder. We need to focus on the case, too."
"I think I agree with you, Scully. After seeing him on the set, I’m pretty sure that some of his accidents can be attributed to carelessness, but not all, and certainly not the big ones. He might shock himself because he forgets to unplug the wall socket but he wouldn’t do something to endanger the people around him, or seriously injure himself. He’s confident, macho, knowledgeable, and caring. He cares about the people around him more than himself, even if he puts on a front of limited emotional capacity."
"Is this your official profile?"
"Something like that. It’s still a little odd to be profiling Tim the Tool Man Taylor."
"Well, if nothing else, we’ll find out tomorrow if the curse can be broken."
"Or if the suspect can be apprehended."
"So you think it’s a suspect now?"
"I don’t know what to think. He really knows what he’s doing. He’s not the type to blow up the studio. But he is the type that everyone would blame for that kind of thing. So I can see how this might turn out, if we aren’t careful."
Scully nodded. "I agree. So…did you learn anything?"
"I learned a lot, actually. I wasn’t bluffing." He took a bite of his hamburger, and gave himself a moment before saying, "I never really got the chance to have a father like Tim…you know, to show me how to use tools and learn the skills you’ve learned from your father."
Scully just gave him a sympathetic, understanding look.
"But now that I’m learning, I don’t really mind it anymore. I think I could really learn to like this stuff."
"Good," Scully said with a grin. "Our dryer’s waiting."
"What have I gotten myself into?" Mulder asked with a shake of his head.
Scully laughed, and they continued with their lunch.
TOOL TIME STUDIO
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18th, 2007
Their lesson the previous afternoon had been enlightening and fun. Tim electrocuted himself once, but not severely, and was the butt of lame jokes from Al for the rest of their lesson. Mulder learned something about how to fix a car engine, and they skipped the hot wiring lesson since the FBI had already educated both agents on the topic.
They also learned how to operate a table saw, basic safety rules for using one, and techniques for preventing kickback. They learned how to change the blade on a miter saw, and how to tell which miter saw was right for the job.
Finally, Mulder and Scully took some time walking around the studio during a break to examine any sources of danger. They found none, other than the rather old electrical system that probably needed replaced soon.
They had spent the night before the anniversary show going through personnel files on the crew, and running background checks to see if anyone had been present for the three previous cancelled shows. One person’s name popped up: Marcus Gregory, a sixty-year-old lighting coordinator who had worked on the studio for the past thirty-five years. But he had no prior police record and no reason to arrest him under suspicion of conspiracy. So they just decided to keep their eyes open.
The next morning Mulder and Scully walked out from behind the set when they were introduced for the second time in two days, and waved at the audience as they applauded.
They had just met the rather…colorful…construction workers from the K&B Construction company backstage, and Mulder couldn’t wait to actually work with them on set.
"Okay, so today we’re going to go over basic tool maintenance with the agents. It’s very important to keep your tools clean, and operating at their maximum capacity."
"And how would you know, Tim?" Al asked.
"Because I maintain my tools, Al," Tim said with mock annoyance.
"I think it’s also noteworthy to mention that it’s important, when working in pairs, to split the maintenance between you," Al told the audience.
"We share plenty of work around here," Tim told him with a clap on his shoulder.
Al paused for a moment. "I don’t think so, Tim."
The audience laughed, and Tim said, "Well, you can share the work all the way to the unemployment line if you’d like."
Al was quiet, even though Tim had a grin on his face. "Anyway, back to tool maintenance. We’ll talk about drills first—these are the easiest to abuse. Almost everyone’s got one, and not many people care for it properly."
Lisa brought out a 14V drill for Scully, and an 18V drill for Mulder. In fact, they were the same drills as they had used yesterday.
"So picture you’re done with a job, and your wife’s calling you," Tim changed his voice to a high-pitched, stereotypical ‘male-imitating-annoying-female’ voice as he said, "’Get back in the kitchen and help me with the carrots. For God’s sake, what are you doing out there in the garage?’ So being the good husband that you are, you just leave your drill on the workbench and walk into the kitchen. Right? Wrong!" Tim leaned into the camera as he exclaimed the last part of his monologue.
"First, you’ve got to take care of that drill," Tim told the audience. "So Agent Mulder, Agent Scully, why don’t you take those batteries out of the drill and place them in the chargers, right on the workbench." After the agents had done so, Tim continued, "Now take the bit out of the drill and put it back in the right slot the containers." The agents followed this instruction as well. Then Tim said, "Alright, now under the workbench are two cases. One for the 14V, one for the 18V. Just pull those out, and open them up on the work bench. Great. Inside there should be a rag. Go ahead and wipe your drill handles down. You don’t want excess grease on your forward/reverse button, and you absolutely don’t want excess grease on your torque gauges. Great. Now place the drill in the case, put the rag on top, and close the case. Fasten it tight.
"Excellent," Tim said. "See, basic tool maintenance not only gives your tools a longer life span, but it also gives you an excuse to stay away from your wi—those carrots in the kitchen."
The audience chuckled, and Tim continued, "All right. Now basic tool maintenance is pretty easy. You keep the case that comes with the tool, and remember to clean and oil your moving parts regularly. This becomes essential as you get older."
This earned another laugh from the audience, and Mulder and Scully.
"The worst thing you can do to a tool is to drop it, dump it into a pile, disregard it like it’s a toy you’re done playing with. Because as I tell my boys, tools are not toys, and they need to be cared for properly. When we come back, we’ll learn some basic techniques on how to use household and mechanics’ tools, and then we’ll bring out the boys from K&B construction and work on a car engine."
The show cut to commercial break, and Tim exhaled. "Is it me, or is it getting hot in here?"
Mulder and Scully were in T-shirts, but Al had already rolled up the sleeves to his flannel shirt and was still sweating. That wasn’t right for the time of year. "Maybe the heat’s broken," Mulder said. "If you want, we could go take a look while you prepare for the next shoot."
"You’ve only got a few minutes. But I can see I’ve inspired you," Tim said with a smile. "Go ahead."
The agents left the set, and walked to where they had seen the heating and air units. "Think this is part of the ‘curse’?" Mulder asked Scully.
"Possibly," Scully said. "But let’s not jump to conclusions before we’ve seen the—whoa." They stopped in front of the electric grid, near the heating system. Scully shook her head. "This doesn’t look good to me."
"I don’t know a whole lot about it, and it doesn’t look good to me, either," Mulder said. "I’m pretty sure juice shouldn’t be leaking out of there…"
"When do you think this was last repaired?" Scully asked.
"The birth of Christ," Mulder joked. He surveyed the system, and frowned. "Scully, it looks like it’s been tampered with."
"How are you getting that?" Scully asked curiously.
"Because these wires…it doesn’t make any sense to have it routed through here. Look. It makes a full loop and bypasses all these wires…this isn’t right."
"What do you think it has to do with the heating system? I thought this just controlled the lights."
"It probably controls the heating too. We just don’t know it. Come on, we need to tell Tim."
Scully agreed, and followed Mulder back to the set. Tim was almost done setting up and they were about to roll. Mulder approached the Tool Man first, and Al walked over too, seeing their expressions. "There’s something wrong with the wiring system over by the heater," Mulder said. "It doesn’t look right, and it’s leaking fluid."
"Leaking fluid?" Al asked, stunned. "Where?"
"Around the corner, the main electrical grid," Scully said.
"We’ll get someone on that," Tim said. "We’re about to roll here. Marcus!" He called, and an older man walked up, dressed in all black. Mulder and Scully exchanged a worried glance. "Marcus, there’s something wrong with the lighting grid, near the heating system. It might be wired wrong, which would explain why it’s so damn hot in here. Take care of it. We’re about to shoot."
"Got it, Tim," Marcus said in a gruff voice, and ventured back behind the set.
"Problem solved," Tim said satisfactorily, and Al nodded, and walked away.
Mulder and Scully just weren’t so sure, and were in silent agreement to keep on high alert.
The new segment started, and Tim showed the agents the basic way of holding and using each standard tool in their homeowner’s kit. Then they began exploring mechanics’ tools, as a precursor to the car engine. Finally, Lisa brought out the car engine and Tim called out the K&B Construction crew.
Pete was a tall, heavy-set man with an interesting beard and very long hair tied tight into a ponytail. Dwayne was a short man with a hardhat on. He looked intense, and completely serious. Rock, on the other hand, was of average build, and looked downright bouncy.
"Tim, it’s great to be here again," Rock said eagerly, shaking Tim’s hand a bit too long.
"Great to have you guys back," Tim said politely, and smiled. "I know you met backstage, but we should have formal introductions here. FBI Agents Mulder and Scully, this is Pete, Rock, and Dwayne from K&B Construction company. They’re recurring guests here on the show. They’ve showed us a lot of useful tips…everything from cooking on the job site to how to get the WD-40 out of your hair at night."
"That’s right, Timmy, and we’ve got plenty of tips for the FBI agents here. But first we’re gonna work on that car engine?" Rock asked.
"Wait—Tim, if I could, I’d like to say something," Pete interjected.
"Pete, this is neither the time nor the place," Dwayne said forcefully, but Tim cut in.
"It’s alright, go ahead," he said. "We’re running on a schedule here, so keep it short."
"Of course." Pete said, and bowed his head briefly before looking into Mulder and Scully’s eyes. "I want to thank you two for serving our country. From the bottom of my heart," " he said sincerely, while Dwayne rolled his eyes, "You two deserve a standing ovation."
And much to Mulder and Scully’s surprise, Pete had apparently elicited enough respect from the audience in the past to warrant just that—a full standing ovation, where even Dwayne clapped.
When that was finally done, much to Mulder’s relief, Tim was standing by the engine, looking it over. "Alright, before we get started, let’s go over the basics on how an engine works. There are six valves to the engine here—"
Tim was cut off by a screeching noise, just as the lights went out. Mulder and Scully had their guns drawn despite the interference from their tool belts, and neither even noticed that the camera was still rolling. Another screeching noise initiated, and then the horrible sound of twisting metal entered their ears.
Mulder looked up, and saw the beam with the lights fixed on it, about to give. He had no idea how, but every light had blown and glass had showered the set.
"Evacuate the set!" Scully read Mulder’s mind. "Everyone out! Now!"
Her commanding voice forced the K&B Construction crew off the set immediately, and Al and Lisa were next. Tim was trying to get the engine out of the way of the beam—he saw it too, and apparently the engine was expensive. But there wasn’t time for that, and as Scully evacuated the audience, they heard one last sickening screech of metal giving way.
The beam fell, and Mulder dove into Tim, both of them rolling past the workbench and colliding with the back wall of the set. The beam crashed through the set floor, and stopped at the concrete.
The camera, miraculously, was still rolling not far away. But the crew had abandoned it.
Through the dust, Mulder coughed and stood up slowly. He offered Tim his hand, and they both stood, slightly dazed. Scully ran over as soon as the last audience member was out of the building, and surveyed the two men. "Are you two—"
"We’re fine, Scully. Take Tim and get him checked out by a paramedic. I’m gonna go find Gregory."
"No way. Tim, you alright?"
Tim nodded, and looked at where the beam had crashed—right where he had been standing only seconds before. "Did Marcus not get out?"
Mulder and Scully glanced at each other, and Mulder coughed from the smoke. "We’re going to look into that. Do you think you can find your way out to the paramedics?"
"I don’t need a paramedic. If some of the crew didn’t get out, I need to help look for them with you."
"It might be too dangerous," Scully told him.
"Why? The set isn’t stable—that doesn’t mean the rest of the studio isn’t."
"Speaking of the set not being stable, I think we should get off of it," Mulder said, and they carefully made their way off the set, and into the audience area. There they continued the conversation, but only briefly. "We think Marcus may have had something to do with this, Tim," Mulder said simply. "And we need to find him. But you can’t be here."
"Mulder, where’s your gun?" Scully asked.
Mulder looked into the pile of rubble where floorboards of the set had come up and crowded the crash site. He shook his head, and reached down to grab the weapon out of his ankle holster.
"Are you two serious? Marcus might have caused this?" Tim asked.
Scully only nodded forlornly, and said, "And we might not have much time."
Tim took a deep breath, and coughed slightly. "Okay," he said. "Let me know when you find him."
"That won’t be necessary," a voice said from behind the set. They all turned, to see the sixty-year-old lighting coordinator with a wire in his hand, standing near the heating tank. "Don’t move," he told the agents. "Or I attach this wire to the detonator wire and create a complete circuit."
"Marcus?" Tim asked in disbelief.
"Oh, shut up," the man snapped. "You’re even dumber than you look. All you TV show hosts are—I haven’t found a good one yet."
"So you keep killing them," Mulder said smoothly, and took a step forward. He moved calmly, non-threateningly. "You keep causing these accidents and no one ever finds the source. What was it this time? Controlled explosion?"
"More like loosened bolts and a simple charge. All it took was some re-wiring. Something the ‘Tool Man’ wouldn’t be able to do if his life depended on it."
"But you could," Mulder told him. "You’re much smarter, more capable."
The sixty-year-old’s eyes darted between his three enemies, paranoid and angry. Mulder was inching closer, but it was so hard to watch all of them at once…especially when Mulder’s partner was edging off to the side, out of his peripheral vision. Tim still stood there, dumbfounded.
"But no one would pay attention," Mulder continued. "You were just the lighting coordinator. And you should have been giving the hosts lessons."
The man realized what was going on, apparently. "Don’t come any closer! I’ve got this wire so close to the detonator that—"
He didn’t get the opportunity to finish his sentence. Mulder caught Scully’s eye and they had a standard plan in motion within seconds. Scully came at him from behind, grabbed his hand with the wire and twisted it behind his back while simultaneously getting him in a headlock. A simple disarming maneuver. She had him cuffed and on his knees in seconds. Tim still stood, pale and apparently in shock, watching the scene unfold before his eyes.
Mulder flipped his cell phone out and called for a Bomb Squad using his badge number, just in case there were more charges around the set. He took over watching Marcus as Scully approached Tim.
"Are you okay?" She asked him softly.
Tim nodded. "Yeah…yeah, I guess." He pursed his lips together. Forever the ‘tough guy’.
Scully gave him a gentle pat on the shoulder and said, "Come on, let’s get out of here."
None of them even bothered to look at the rolling camera as they heard the sirens approaching, and decided to join the others outside.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 19th, 2007
Mulder and Scully sat on the Taylor’s couch with Tim and Jill. The kids were out of school now and upstairs playing…or fighting…as instructed.
Jill and Tim, needless to say, had taken the day off.
"Agent Mulder, I can’t thank you enough," Jill started, but Mulder held up his hand.
"We’re trained to do this sort of thing. It’s everyday life for us."
"Well, we can still be grateful," Jill told him. "If you ever need a place to stay while you’re in Detroit…just ask."
"And you’re always welcome back on the show," Tim told them.
"We’d love to come back on the show sometime," Scully said. "Provided our work schedules allow for it. Hopefully now your studio won’t have any more problems."
"Remind me again how the heating was affected by the bombs on the lighting beam?" Mulder asked, still confused.
"The heating tank was next to the electrical circuit," Tim explained. His voice didn’t sound at all like the confident, all-knowing tone they had heard before when he explained something mechanical. But that, of course, was understandable. "The charges on the beam were run right by the heating tank, and part of the wire to the charge shorted out when it made contact with the heating system. But the other part was still enough to knock the loosened bolts out and let the beam fall."
Jill rubbed Tim’s back affectionately, and he looked down briefly before raising his head again. "The best part is we got it all on tape. Not only can you have a copy for whatever report you need to fill out, but we can air it on the show to pay a tribute to what you did in there."
Scully blushed slightly. "That’s really not necessary, Tim."
"No, it’s not necessary, but I want to do it. The audience will want you back after seeing that. And I think Pete might have wet his pants…may not be coming back anytime soon." He smiled at the last, to let them know he was kidding.
"We really did enjoy being on your show," Mulder said. "And we learned a lot."
"I’m glad to hear that," Tim said, brightening slightly. "That’s what the show’s all about. Oh, Agent Scully…Al got you a present." He got up suddenly, and jogged into the kitchen. He removed something small from the bottom cupboard near Jill’s plates, and brought it over. It was wrapped in a plastic bag.
"Wow, great wrapping job, Tim."
"It was Al’s wrapping job," Tim said with fake annoyance, and handed the small package to Scully. "There’s something in there for Mulder, apparently, too. He picked it up last night."
Scully opened the package, and pulled out the little boxes inside. Seasons 1 and 2 of Tool Time, on DVD. She beamed. "Thank you! Tell Al I said thank you!"
Tim smiled. "I think he figured on the road, you might not get the chance to watch the show. So you can re-watch some episodes."
Mulder pulled out the softer item in the bag, and held it up for everyone to see. A flannel shirt, size large in men’s, with a Tool Time logo on the breast pocket. He had to laugh.
"Figures," Tim said with a smirk. "Well, I’m sure you’ll get some use out of it."
Mulder and Scully exchanged a glance, which Tim and Jill couldn’t really read, and then Mulder turned back to the Tool Man. "I definitely will," he promised sincerely.
"Well, thank you so much for having us over. We should be going," Scully said. "We’ve got to get to the airport. Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas, Dana. Mulder," Jill said with a warm smile. "And Dana…next time you’re in town…I think we should go out to lunch. I get the feeling sharing stories about Mulder and Tim would keep us busy for hours."
Scully laughed. "You read my mind," she said.
Tim and Mulder rolled their eyes. "Cub’s game?" Tim asked. "I owe ya one."
"I’m there," Mulder told him. He shook the man’s hand in a firm grasp, and then Tim clapped the agent on the shoulder.
"Remember, you’re always welcome back," Tim told them as they walked to the door.
"We’ll definitely give you a call next time we’re in town," Scully promised. "Thanks again."
"Have a safe trip!" Jill called as they left the house.
Tim and Jill held hands on their way back to the couch, and Tim popped the copy of the video from yesterday’s event back in the player.
"Tim…no, don’t watch it again. You don’t need to."
Tim stared at her.
"It’s alright. Marcus is in jail. Or he will be. The set can be rebuilt—no one was hurt. Stop obsessing. Go to the garage and build something. Watch sports. Anything. Just stop watching the damn tape."
Tim continued to stare, before pressing ‘eject’, and setting the tape aside. He smiled, and took Jill into his arms. They shared a long, passionate kiss.
SOMEWHERE OVER THE US
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 19th, 2007
"So Mulder, what are you going to put in your field report?"
"Exactly what happened, Scully," Mulder said.
"Including what you learned from the show?"
"Especially what I learned from the show. Hopefully we can get out of more seminars this way."
Scully grinned at him.
"What about you? You’re going to write everything you learned?"
"Absolutely. I don’t like those stupid ‘pyramid of agents’ exercises any more than you."
Mulder laughed. "It’s the icebreaker exercises that always get me. Two truths and a lie. How does ‘I’ve been attacked by a mothman,’ ‘I’ve seen aliens,’ and ‘I’ve gone skydiving in Fiji’ sound?"
Scully shared his chuckle at that one. "Now we’ve got to put skydiving in Fiji on our list of things to do. But first…" she leaned in, and spoke into his ear, "I want you in that flannel shirt. And only that flannel shirt."
Mulder flushed, and turned to look at her. He was about to say something, when he thought of the perfect, and really only appropriate, response. He wrapped one arm around her, and grunted just like Tim the Tool Man Taylor. Somehow, his grunt sounded like a very gravelly, "Ooooh, yeah!"
Scully was happy for the rest of the flight.