Spoilers: Three of A Kind. Teensie
brush with 'Like Water For Octane.'
Summary: So... What did 'Blondie' get up
to between the time he breezed off with
Jimmy and Timmy, to catch the floor show
that went along with 'the all you can eat
lobster,' before Scully arrived?
Disclaimer: All X-Files characters and
references are property of C. Carter,
Morgan & Wong, 10-13 Productions and FOX.
I told Cin I'm on my way. Told her it all
went off without a hitch. She'd sounded at
first as though I was calling to tell her I'd
bombed; didn't let me get a word in. Just
rattled off about forgetting about the whole
thing. I mean, she didn't come right out and
say that. It was more like what I was
hearin', and sometimes I hear more than what's
really bein' said, and I jump on it. I hit
first, ask questions later...sometimes. Okay,
Where's that attitudinal valet with the car?
He's kept me waitin' here like this nearly ten
minutes. It's a different shift; new guy.
But what's so hard about locating a used Neon
with a negligibly crumpled left bumper?
I do another time check, and ream him some
more. Damn; it'll be nine-thirty in three
more minutes. I wanted us to be at her bank
no later than nine-forty-five. Close out her
business early in the day. No need for her to
hang around this mire field any longer than
she has already. I've taken care of all the
details for this disappearing act for her and
her cute little money sinkhole.
Hello, 'Vada sunshine, thanks for makin' it
toasty, bright and a good sign of better
things on the horizon for my ex. Vegas
without sunshine is like D.C. without the
Washington Monument, the White House, the
Lincoln Memorial; an eyesore and sucky.
Good...he's here with it--
"Sorry," the crew-cutted guy who limps a
little apologizes after getting out. "I had
trouble getting it to start. Could be your
alternator." I'm all set to cram the modest
tip I cut back on for his trouble into his
extended hand when the voice of gloom and doom
booms, jerking me back from hopping behind the
wheel. Wouldn't ya know it...
"Hey, Ringo, man, where'd you get the wheels,
and where're you running off to in them?"
Byers is right in step with the owner of that
voice that bugs the hell outta me at times
like these when I'm runnin' on my own.
"Belongs to a friend of mine." I toss myself
into the driver's seat and slam the door,
glaring at them. The valet left the motor
running which I gun a time or so.
"Friend? What friend?" Byers questions,
turning the screws by his look alone. "Here
"No, on the moon," I shoot back crossly, and
Byers sets his jaw like it's made of concrete;
real hard and firm.
"Agent Scully just called; we hadn't been
back in the room for two seconds. She's at
the airport. I told her you and Byers would
be waiting for her in the lobby." Frohike's
combing his suspicious eye through me. Yo,
is there a problem, man? Did I just fart?
"You know how she doesn't like to be kept
"Why do I gotta meet her? Why don't _you_?"
"I'll be busy doin' some more funky scopin',"
he fires back. He looks primed for hauling
me out of the car in the roughest way.
Like I'd said before, when I'd broken off from
Timmy and Jimmy momentarily to scoot back to
the room because I'd forgotten my wallet, and
caught my buds using the voice distorter to
put the bogus Mulder call through to 'Hike's
heartthrob, 'Why do we need _Scully_?' She'll
flash us that tired face she always gives us;
like the three of us have crawled out from
under the nearest diseased worms-nested-
underneath rocks and then she'll kick our
collective asses once she calls our bluff.
"Look I'm late as it is, already," I airily
smooth over, all brusque-inflected. "I gotta
finish helping this friend put the finishing
touches on sticking it to a snake." My foot's
twitching to put the pedal to the metal.
"What the hell does that mean," Frohike quakes
like he's gonna spew lava.
"Long story. I'll be back in time to get with
Scully. Gotta go. 'Bye!" My foot makes
heavy contact with the accelerator, and I'm
outta there, silhouetting them in exhaust and
dust; their arms akimbo, their mouths dropped
open saying things they'll save for me when I
get back. Who says I'll be listenin'?
"There's nothin'. Aw, hell--look. There's
nothin' hard about it, baby." I was the one
who did the tough stuff so she'd be able to
waltz. "You can do this. You've got nothin'
to worry about; like a piece of your chocolate
cake, which I didn't get. Remember?" Jeffy's
climbing all over me and the front seat, since
his mom liberated him from his car seat. One
minute he's in her lap, the next, he's
leap-froggin' into mine. "What?" I'm looking
at my watch, peeved that it's so much later
than I wanted this to go down. We wait on
this too much longer, and we can do lunch. I
wonder if Byers and Scully are in the lobby
wondering where the hell am I?
Cin's eyeing me like I've told her to hold her
breath until her son has kids of his own.
Like I should get out of her damn car so she
can drive off to put an end to this caper.
"But what if..."
"What if what?"
"What if they know what you've done," she
says, breathless and jittery. "Couldn't they?
I mean, couldn't they just know? I-I'm really
scared, Richie. They could've found out about
this whole crazy thing. The police could be
in there right now, ready to arrest me if I
make a move on the money."
I grab her hand and squeeze it harder than
it's necessary. She tears it away like I've
bruised it, which isn't that far from being
impossible. I ain't the genteel type. While
she's rubbing her hand, I say, "No way. It
was all clean; everything. No 'slop-mesh
bleeds' on my watch. I did what the Sys's
told me to do, and whatever I did, I did
carefully. I used slews of my inventives and
a couple of others borrowed from friends.
There's nothing for 'em to latch onto unless
there were Cumstance navigables involved,
which I didn't encounter with Swiss Bank; the
SOO most likely to have something like that in
place. Hell, only the DOD, for certain
'vaults', and Maryland's DMV use them. They
burn ya if ya let them get even a tiny piece
of your programming. I don't do stupid shit."
"But what if--somehow--they were able to make
a connection between those transfers and your
Suddenly, I feel the powerful urge to go off
on her, but I control it. She has no concept,
and why the hell should she? "Why don't you
trust me?" I'm _not_ whining, just barely.
Her face clouds. "It's not that--"
"Trust what I'm tellin' ya. Believe in me a
"I'm sorry," she says tiredly, a wheeze passes
for resignation, and instead of being angry, I
niche her under my right 'pit, squeeze her
shoulders gently so I don't leave a mark this
time. "It's not that I don't..." Her kid's
chomping on my hair, which feels kinda cool;
like he's got the munchies.
I'm seriously into the crush on this dynamo
that I've let happen. He's bright and bubbly,
a total little charmer. What I'd want any son
of mine to be. My mind strains under the reel
of the impact of that wild thought; me...some
kid's dad. I'd have my Web tutorials all
lined up, and still be a basket case.
"Richie... Selling me isn't necessary. I
know you're brilliant, baby. You must be, to
even think you could do what you say you've
done. I don't have to be a computer genius to
have some idea."
"I am good, I am," I say like I'm in the
witness stand, giving testimony.
"I'm not saying you aren't. You did all my
math for me. It's not like I forgot, you
"Not _all_ of it. Give yourself some credit
for not suffering from deliberate
dyscalculia." She kisses my cheek and her
precocious kid copies what he's just processed
his mom did. His buss tickled more than
Cin's, and it was lots wetter.
"Computer Science too." She smiles then which
makes me squeeze her a little harder.
"Back then, it was like playin' with Legos."
She looks quizzical. "I know Legos," I firmly
uphold, "Frohike's got a niece. She's about
She looks as if she's met his pudgy relation,
somehow, nodding. "All I'm saying is that
something flukey might have happened.
Something you may know nothing about."
"Mommy-Mommy. MOM... Mom-Mom-Mom."
Cin gasps and for a moment there she looks as
if she's one of the Octium IV's developers
must have looked when on the verge of yet
another imminent breakthrough.
"That's the first time he's ever said, 'Mom.'
Not, 'Mommy, or Mama.' Just plain 'Mom.'"
Her eyes have gotten rheumy the way they went
last night. I clip the bouncy shaver's nose
between thumb and forefinger. Jeffy yanks
his hands out of my hair, (Ow! Easy, kiddo)
and pokes at his mother's rapidly blinking
"C'mon," I say with a tightening throat,
"let's go collect on his future."
Those plaintive eyes of hers caress my face
the way her lips do the same against her
baby's forehead, lingering like...(oooh, I
know; so not like me to spout poetic) fragile
butterfly wings. "You'll come in with me?"
she says, sounding hope-filled, like she's
"Better idea, huh?"
Moist, smooth lips press against the cheek
she kissed a moment ago, giving it the same
treatment she leaves off giving her kid.
"I like your ideas. I was crazy for not
wanting to hear them anymore."
I haven't felt my heart flutter the way she
used to make it for such a long time. "We
wanted different things," I say patiently,
striving to sound big about what nearly cost
me my sanity. I'm getting lightheaded. It's
like we're back in high school; like right
after she let me kiss her for the first time.
She'd been real shy; I was all over her like
the shiny wrapper over Bubblicious. She'd
never made a fuss, but now as I remember it
clearer, I apologized for trying to take
advantage, and she told me she trusted me.
Man...the history we've got.
"I should have kept listening..."
Maybe I could have been more understanding.
This is no time for a maudlin trip. We all
know how it is; hindsight is twenty-twenty
vision. "Let's bounce," I say, rushing the
words, she nodding, and I sense she wants me
to make the first move. I grip Jeffy
securely around the waist, he wraps his eager
arms around my neck. Johnny-on-the-spot male
bonding at your service. "We're goin' in."
The walk from the bank's unattended parking
lot to its rear entrance seems to take
forever, like it's one hundred miles 'stead of
the few yards it takes to get us there. Cin
offers to take Jeffy from me, but the kid
won't be pried, so she holds the door of the
first pair we pass through.
I reciprocate for an athletic looking chick,
wearing work out duds, who's already opened
the door for the second set of glass doors on
her way out. Chicks who work out like it's
their religion. I give it to 'em; there's
nothing wrong with makin' the scene, fit. I
should go to the gym more often. I will, if
I ever get around to joinin' one. I'd be in
a lot better shape for tackling the more
physical aspects of the exploits which seem
to dog us.
Not too crowded, I note, once we're inside
this low-key branch of 'Vegas Savings and
Finance.' There're only three people waiting
on line. I look off in the direction where
the cluster of 'Customer Service' desks are
grouped. "You do that," I reply after she
says what her next move is. "It'd be better
speaking with the Manager, or a Trustee
"How much do you think I should get in
Travelers' Cheques?" she whispers back, all
shifty-eyed and darty.
"You make that call too. If it was me, I'd
take the bulk in Travelers'; large denoms."
She nods, asks if I'll be okay with Jeffy.
"Sure, no sweat," I tell her, corroborated
by a 'thumbs up' with my left thumb that's
free. Not a cop in sight; the security
guard looks like he's lunch break-bound.
"Wouldya stop lookin' so uptight; look
natural. You're not here to rob the joint."
Her facial expression tightens. "Uh, not
"It'll be a breeze." She rubs her son's back,
still unable to look relaxed. "You're just
closing-out your account. People do it every
"Then why do I feel like everyone's eyes are
"Stop being so paranoid..." I think that
one over, still grinning at her anyway.
She takes several deep breaths, and squares
her shoulders. "Well, here goes."
"That's my girl."
She's seen immediately by a plumpish guy who
looks fiftyish; glasses that look too small
for his face, and wearing a suit Byers would
wear. Those Brooks Brothers stick together.
Jeffy threw a little fret, seeing his mother
walk away, but when I produced my wallet the
color of 'System's On' green lights, and let
him hold it, he calmed down quick. The
Velcro fascinates him.
By the mutual smiles at the CS rep's desk,
followed by a hearty handshake, the
discussion wasn't very long, and seems to
have gone well. And why shouldn't it have?
Cin's dressed to impress in her summery
dress that's a bright shade of watermelon.
Her straw, cork-soled sandels are a stain
darker than the dress. She oozes potent
charisma, and it's hard concentrating on
much else except her. Hell, if I were that
dude I'd be just as agreeable; more. Come
to think of it, haven't I already proven what
I'm willing to do for her? Being here in
this bank wasn't on the original itinerary.
They stand together, shake hands again. Cin's
walking back to us with a smile she wasn't
wearing when she'd walked away.
"Went okay?" I ask the obvious. She's even
more beautiful when she flashes 'that' smile.
The smile that could outpower Hoover Dam
multiple kilowatts over. I need to get my
hands on our digicam so later, maybe I could
download it as footage when I need to remember
"Yeah," she replies, beaming. "He's taking
care of it. He's the Manager. When he's done,
all I have to do is sign the checks at his
desk. He couldn't get over the figure when he
checked how much I was talking about. I asked
for two thousand in cash."
"Smart." Jeffy's holding a ten, making like
it's a flag with it.
"Jeffy..." Cin admonishes, "give Richie back
his money, honey." She grows pensive, then
says reflectively, "Thanks to him, sweetie..."
she looks gushy, as though she'll leak a few
tears, "we'll never have to worry about
these," she removes the bill from her son's
clenched in a fist hand, "disappearing so
fast." She tucks the bill back into its
Velcroed home, and slides the wallet down
into my back pocket. She pats my ass' right
cheek what feels like very affectionately to
me, and I grin like I'm the world's neediest
nerd, which I am, who's never had someone as
hot as her even ask the time of day. Not
counting Lislita, though. A pang of guilty
conscience sticks it to me. I ain't cut out
for being a two-timer. Am I?
Chunka-monk wriggles his fingers up my nose,
and Cin's quick off the mark to unstopper my
'shnaze,' streaming apology. "No bigee.
Kinda tickles." I'm enticed, temptedly close
to committing a flagrant PDA in the middle of
this sleepy banking community. As my mouth
veers near her lips, she looks knowing, like
she's fully aware of what I want to make
happen, and she wants it too.
The second reunion of lips is spoiled though,
and she recoils. "Mister Bonabrooke's
motioning me over to a Teller."
'Damn,' I mutter, making sure it stays in my
larynx, and Cin looks as disappointed as I
feel. Softly, I tuck into her ear, "Rain
check?" There're no words to describe the
way she's looking at me. The way she's
making me feel is something I'm beginning to
acknowledge I need to explore. My flush of
emotion is overshadowed by a vision of Leese
sitting at poolside, taking in my splashy
slide into the designated section of the
shipboard pool. I shrug, but can't shake the
smile on her lovely face, watching my every
Like it's ever happened before; two gorgeous
females sniffing around me. Could be I'm
getting less abrasive on the eyes with age.
"Come with?" Cin entreats by taking my hand,
and begins pulling me along with her to the
scrutinizing bank personnel. Jeffy's doing
pop-goes-the-weasel in the arm welded around
him. For a scrawny kid, he's not short on
energy output. Hugging him hard does the
trick though, and he curtails the jerky,
frenetic up-and-down contortions. "Maybe
there's a problem. He said I'm supposed to
go back to his desk when it was time so I
can sign the checks there. Why does he want
me at the Teller's? Something's wrong. He
could be pressing the signal for the cops,
beneath the counter." Her eyes sift, as if
she's searching for a way out.
"Slow down, slow down. Stop thinking like
that," I tackle, running discretionary eyes
over her paling face etched with worry again.
I can't let her see the tick my left cheek
has developed. "There's nothin' to worry
about," I bolster, hoping to convince myself
along with her. I pull on her gently.
"C'mon, we don't wanna keep them waitin'."
Just before we're in earshot of Bonabrooke and
the tall, redheaded Teller, who's staring at
his terminal, I barely move my lips when I
propose, "Me do the talking?" Cin nods before
a relieved look claims her face, and my mind
feverishly works the premise.
"A problem with my wife's account, sir?" I
position the free hand squarely on the
barrier's marbleized ledge and limn the head
The Manager, looking surprised, eyes me up
and down like I've just told him I want free
checking. Too late now to reassess whether
or not this whole thing was a good idea,
which I chide myself for succumbing to doubt.
I hear Cin choke down a tiny gasp. A gong
gongs in my brain. 'Hey, hippie boy...' How
does Frohike do that; get into my head like
this? 'What if they know she's not married,
huh? If she's been banking here a long time,
they'd know something like that, genius.'
My lies leap from my hot air hole faster than
I'm able to control 'em sometimes. It was
goin' down smooth, and there I go, and pull
Mr. Bonabrooke eyes Cin sharply. "I thought
you said you weren't married." Talk about
major disappointment. The guy looks like
Cin had accepted his dinner invitation. Her
face falls, and she flings a desperate glance
my way. I see his, 'what are you (meaning me)
trying to pull here' radiating from stony
eyes. Man, dammit. I shoulda kept my big
mouth shut, but as usual it has other ideas.
"We're divorcing," the team of us duet, and
exchange furtive co-conspiritorial nuances.
Great minds still think alike, I reminisce.
Cin's waiting for me to keep running with the
ball. "She's already saying she's not, but
we haven't signed anything yet, so for now,
we're legal," I gild. "I'm sorta hoping we
can still work things out. We got the kid.
I don't wanna be a drop-in, drop-out dad."
"So..." Bonabrooke grills me with chilly
eyes. I slam-dunk his irritation with
interest. "It's Missus Tanner, then." He
rolls his fishy eyes like a trooper; a State
"No." One corner of Cin's mouth upturns, and
she cooly says, "It's Langly," with a certain
finality which warms me all over. "But on
this account I used my maiden name." Cinny
was always such a stickler for telling the
truth. I know it's killing her having to
'whopper' like this.
"So, like I asked before," I plow through,
increasing my voice's volume, "is there a
problem?" Like Frohike said with that
embedded chip on his shoulder, Scully hates
to be kept waiting, especially if _I'm_ the
bedrock of the holdup. Let's move this along.
"Is there, Mister Bonabrooke?" Cin greases.
Bonabrooke joins the Teller in joint study
of the terminal, frowning, and rapping Cin's
bank book on his fingertips. "An
irregularity, but we're trying to get to the
root of the problem. Please bear with us."
If ever Cin looked as though she was going
to faint, this would be the time. My arm
circles her waist like a boa engulfing its
next meal; at this point, my compression
would rival the serpent's.
"What kind of 'irregularity?'" I needle.
Let me behind there, I'll have it pinned
down in no seconds flat. "Do you have the
right numbers pun--"
"One moment, please," Bonabrooke curtly cuts
me off, and I imagine him stripped to his
Skivvies, with an apple in his mouth, the
main course of the luau. I ply myself with,
'cool it dude, cool it' several times and
concentrate hard on not losing it. The two
of 'em walk off in a huff.
"Richie, they _know_."
Hell, maybe she's right; maybe they do.
"No..." Her eyes scream how unconvinced
she is. "Guess you wanna split?" I say
lamely, and curse the beginning of having
the idea that I could get away with cracking
into any friggin' bank, let alone the Swiss...
Worst of all, I've dropped Cin and the little
guy in shit's creek, and she was dead-set
against the idea of ripping off the baby's
father at first. I won't let her take any of
the rap for what I've done. I coulda given
her something out of my anemic Visa account,
and sent her on her way, but no, I haveta be
the ubergeek. No thanks to me, I've screwed
up chunka-monk's life too. Does it get any
Cinny looks around me, and her already pale
face goes two shades paler. "Too late," she
croaks, "They called the cops. They're here."
Two uniforms are advancing on us. Their guns
aren't drawn, but their faces are far from
offering any reprieves. That bonging gong's
got two toga-clothed guys with Thorian
sledgehammers sluggin' it now. Wonder what
I'll take up as a hobby in prison? Besides
shucking and jiving my way out of sick liasons
foisted on me. Yep, no doubt about it now, I
can kiss bein' a virgin goodbye. We're goin'
down, and it's all my fault. Fuh--
"Richie, I want you to know that no matter
what happens, you meant well, and I'll always
be grateful." Hold that thought when they
implicate you anyway, and take your kid away,
I gripe, as I watch the Law coming to net us.
DAMN-- What the hell was I _thinking_? I hug
Jeffy who's snacking on my hair again, and
close my eyes feeling like slung shit.
My gut twists after I open my eyes; think I'm
gonna be real sick, sicker than last year's
flu. The Manager and the Teller are coming
back. Their facial expressions are distant,
impassive.... "What can we do for you
officers?" the Manager poses. Like you don't
The more obnoxious looking of the enforcement
team shoots us an apologetic look and then
says quickly, "'Cuse me, folks. I'm on the
clock, but I gotta take care of this." He's
holding his passbook, and I make out there's
a withdrawal slip sticking out of it. He
hands this over to the Teller who's gotten
the nod from his boss.
"It's not a problem, Bill," the Manager says,
expansively; the words dipped in honey and
wrapped in velvet.
"Daughter's orthodontic appointment, and the
doc doesn't take plastic. I'll be glad when
these costly pops run their course, and my
girl's got a beautiful set of straight
"Worth every cent. Lizzy's going to be a star
one day, mark my words. She was the hit in
that 'Ovat-Chorum' last year at the high
school." The all sweetness and light Manager
relieves the Teller of the wisecracking cop's
bank book, deciding to handle the transaction
I told myself it was a false alarm. Cin and
I breathe a heavy, cleansing breath in
unison; I actually feel more than a little
woozy. Like that time I ate Fro''s four-day
old crepes; death would've been an act of
kindness. Seeing my former's wan smile is
better than seeing no smile at all, and my
grappling fingers indent the skin of her bare
upper arm. Of course she works out. That's
quite a firm muscle she's got there. I need
a sturdier grip on reality again, and I'm
glad she's here to supply one.
Chunka-monk revs up the 'weasel' and in high
enthusiasm crows, "Wuv Mommy-wuv Mom-Mom.
Wuv Mom; wuv too." 'Thawump'. He clubs me
dead center on the chest with an open palm.
Can't say he knocked the wind out of me, but
he caught me by surprise. I'm sporting a
face-cracking grin I couldn't help but unfold
for all concerned, and I hear Cin chuckle the
way I made her back in our days. I could get
so used to everything about her all over again.
I never truly stopped hoping that one day we'd
see each other again. "Wuv too," her delighted
darling repeats, and his little hand batters me
even harder for the encore. 'You're pretty
together yourself, little guy...' We 'hit-an'-
run aftermaths' need to band together.
I snag the eye of the cop with the daughter
saddled with braces, then the kowtowing
Manger's contemplative peepers. "That's my
boy..." It's rare with me when I wish that an
outright lie I've told is the truth. There
cutie-boy goes, wearin' out my cheek again. I
kiss his little one, and time seems to hold
its breath within these solemn financial walls.
"That's a good-looking boy you've got there,"
the paternal cop says. "They grow so fast..."
I nod, and that's the first time I find myself
seeing eye to eye with a cop.
End Part 6