Title: The Hounds of the Haagen Dazs
Catogory: MOTW; Challenge-fic
Setting: Season 5
Summary: Scully brings Mulder a case they should investigate after there are reports of large dogs lurking before strange events.
Disclaimer: I only borrow CC’s abandoned play things. I’ll put them back nice, I promise.
Having gotten into the office early, Mulder killed time by throwing yellow pencils at the ceiling. He’d been bummed when so many had fallen out after he reached his new all time high score. Fortunately, Scully wasn’t in yet to stop him from doing it.
And then suddenly she was. "Mulder, I have a case for us."
He looked up, surprised, a yellow pencil frozen in one hand. "You have a case for us? I thought I was the one who was supposed to look into strange things for us to investigate." Mulder say wryly. He casually placed the pencil on his desk.
"I like to keep you guessing." She said dryly. "There’s something really strange going on at one of the factories downtown."
"Which one, and how strange?"
"The Haagen Dazs plant. And the strange thing is that people who work there keep thinking that they see big black dogs wandering about the plant."
Mulder smirked. "And after they’ve seen them a person who works there or one of their loved ones die?"
"You see, for hundreds of years people have reported seeing large back dogs right before the dea- what did you say?"
"I said ‘nope’. There haven’t been any deaths after the sightings."
He looked crestfallen. "None?"
Scully picked up a notebook and flipped through it. "Actually, the first time I returned a phone call, the secretary was out because she was going to her grandmother’s funeral. But Mulder, the woman who died must have been ninety-eight."
"So she had at least one foot in the grave."Mulder muttered. "If not deaths, what is happening?"
"You don’t think that dogs randomly wandering an ice-cream factory isn’t strange enough?"Scully teased.
"I might, but I know you don’t."
"After every sighting of the black dogs, something strange happens. One time a new flavor of ice-cream that was testing well totally failed when it went public. Another time a public taste-test was beset by monkeys- "
"Beset?" Mulder snorted. "And what do you mean ‘by monkeys'?"
"It’s the damnest thing. Apparently a person running an exotic animal rescue lived in the neighborhood, and all the monkeys escaped at exactly the same time, all running to the building that the test was being held in. Tasters were treated for scratches, and one person got bitten, so they had to have a rabies series done just in case."
"Ouch. Were they testing Chunky Monkey ice-cream?"
"That’s Ben N’ Jerry’s."
"Since when do you know anything about ice-cream? I thought you were a Toffuti Rice Dreamsicle type of gal."
"Even I am known to indulge once in a while, Mulder."She said with a haughty nod of her head.
"Oooh Scully, ice-cream has so much naughty potential."She pinned him with an icy stare, which made him swallow hard. "So what’s your favorite flavor?"
"I like Rum Raisin."She confessed.
"Me, I think I’d stay away from any alcohol flavored ice creams."Mulder said piously.
"I don’t think there’s any alcohol in the ice-cream, Mulder. It’s just a marketing gimmick."
"Even so. I’m a strawberry kind of guy."
"Just strawberry? Nothing more exotic like Strawberry cheesecake?"
"Just strawberry. I’m a man of simple tastes."
"You don’t have to tell me that."Scully snorted.
Throwing Mulder further off-balance, Scully insisted on driving as well. She claimed that she wished to do so because she actually knew where they were going, unlike him, but Mulder had his private doubts. In a way it tickled him that Scully had so thoroughly assumed the role of command, but he was also little bit unflattering. Was he that driven as well? If so, he never noticed it before.
The ice-cream factory was smack dab that the middle of an industrial park. Its sterile white and wrought iron exterior made it seemed cold - even for an ice-cream place. Once past the glass double doors, however, the inside seemed infused with life.
Walls along either side of the room were bedecked with colorful, almost tempting, mockups made to look like each of the ice creams' flavors. Scully's favorite, Rum raisin, was on one side of the reception desk, while the other side was flanked with a photograph of their BAILEYS® Irish Cream flavor. It disturbed Mulder just a little bit at the booze flavored ice creams were given such a prominent place of honor. It made him wonder what their priorities really were.
As interesting as the marketing tools were, they were outshone completely by the receptionist. Her appearance made Mulder wonder for a moment if perhaps time travel was one of the problems afflicting the business. She had a beehive hairdo and dated black plastic framed eyeglasses. A gold colored metal sign in front of her proclaimed her to be Wanda.
"Can I help you?" Wanda asked in a gravelly voice that reminded Mulder of the old woman who'd been on night court. Or maybe grandma on Dinosaurs.
"My partner seems to think we can help you. We're agents Mulder and Scully." He told her.
"Ah, someone is finally going to investigate the hounds of the Haagen Dazs." She said with a nod of her head. "It's about time!"
Mulder stole a page from Scully's book and raised an eyebrow. "The hounds of the Haagen Dazs? Why do I suddenly feel like the central character of an Arthur Conan Doyle novel? Any second now you'll be leading us through the moors."
"Lead you? I don't think you're the following type." Wanda quiped.
"How can you say that? You've only just met me!" Mulder protested.
"Your type is easy to see through." The woman proclaimed.
Before Mulder could begin sputtering, Scully grabbed his arm. "Maybe you could bring us somewhere we can talk about what's been going on here."
Wanda frowned. "Why? Here's as good a place as any."
Wanda leaned back in a chair like a queen looking down on her subjects. With a languid waive of her hand she indicated two uncomfortable looking chairs somewhat near desk. Shrugging, Mulder and Scully dragged them to the desk. Once they were both seated Wanda began to speak.
"It all started about six months ago. At least, that's for sure when the first person came forward and said they'd seen a black dog inside the plant. I don't know if you can tell from the outside, but the office building here and the plant itself are connected. Anyway, one of the overnight janitorial staff complained to one of his supervisors as they came in that morning that he'd seen a dog hanging out by one of the packing machines.
"At first his supervisors and everyone else assumed that someone was breaking the no pets rule. Everyone was an interrogated but no one confessed having brought their dog. Then management decided that someone must to take in pity on a straight, which was just as bad. They called on the NSPCA and demanded that they come and retrieve the offending animal. Of course, when they got here there was no dog outside the building. Nor inside."
"Of course." Mulder agreed sardonically.
"The brass, naturally, thought that this was proof that an employee was responsible for the whole dog thing." Wanda said with a nod of her head.
Scully gave her a puzzled look. "Why?"
"I bet I know the answer to that." Mulder interrupted. "They figured that since the dogs were no where to be found that the person doing it must have been scared into stopping. And since only a person who worked there would know that they were getting upset enough to fire someone…"
"Exactly. Very astute, agent Mulder." Wanda praised. "Except it was only two days later that they were proven wrong."
"How?" Scully asked. She was glaring at Mulder since he had a smug look on his face.
"It all happened on a Wednesday. The night before someone saw a black dog sniffing at the vat that is used to process the Black Walnut ice-cream –"
"Vat?" Mulder asked. Wanda gave him a grumpy look. "It's just that it's hard to think of ice-cream as coming in vats. Vats are for dissolving people in acid."
"You'll have to excuse my partner, he watches a lot of bad movies in the middle of the night."
"Anyway… the next day someone fell into that very vat while adding the cream." She paused noticing the alarmed looks that she was getting. " He was okay. I think his cholesterol probably went through the roof since he swallowed a lot of cream before they could fish him out, but he wasn't worst for wear otherwise."
"Thank god." Scully muttered. "And there was something about monkeys?"
"Yes. The monkeys. Let's not talk about that, there's still a lot of damage control being done over that one. Strange things like that keep happening. Every time one of those dogs goes sniffing around, something bad happens."
"Do the bad things always connect to the flavor that the dog is sniffing? You said that the man nearly drown in the vat that the dog was around…"
"Now that you ask, maybe. I only know what flavor the man fell into, since it stuck in the minds of the people who had to help him out. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to make a few phone calls." Wanda said, dismissing the agents with a surprising abruptness.
"We'll be in touch." Scully told her, but since Wanda was already on the phone, she only nodded.
"Any theories, Mulder?" Scully asked him as they got into their car.
"I might have a theory…" He mused. "What would you say to breaking into a private building instead of a publicly owned one for a change?"
"Mulder…" She sighed. "Even if I say no, we're still going to do it. What are we going to be doing, anyway?"
"Oh, you know, breaking into their lab to see if they're abusing supernatural dogs as part of the ice-cream making process."
"Is that all? I thought you were going to try to break into their records department." Scully smirked.
"That's only a back up plan. Why don't we get something for lunch? I'm starving." His stomach gave a growl of agreement.
"Sure. But no where that serves ice-cream."
Mulder wanted to try out the local diner, but Scully vetoed the idea. Instead they stopped at the restaurant with fabric napkins and gingham curtains in all the windows. It was nicer than the type a place Mulder would have preferred but Scully had been threatening him lately with a cholesterol test, so he followed her in without complaint.
All of which only served to make the sight that greeted them just inside the door even more out of place. Mulder whispered in Scully's ear "Oh, look, a pie-eating contest." Rolling her eyes, she elbowed him in the ribs.
It was strange, however. Three gentlemen, all quite sizable, were hunkered down around a small round table. The table itself was covered with at least ten full-size plates, most of which were empty except for grease. Each man had a fully loaded plate under his nose and each was shoveling food of indeterminate nature into his mouth as if eating was going out of style.
"Afternoon folks. You're just in time for the all-you-can-eat clambake." The waitress would suddenly appeared at their elbows said in a way too cheerful voice as she gave a nervous glance in the direction the two startled agents were looking.
Still slightly daze by the dazzling display of gluttony Mulder and Scully took their seats at another small round table and asked to see menus. So the waitress scurried off, apparently thrilled that they hadn't been disgusted enough to leave.
"You weren't serious earlier about breaking into the factory, were you?" Scully asked while they waited for their menus. She gave him a hopeful smile.
"How else are we going to solve this case?" Mulder asked with a shrug.
"I don't know, we gather more evidence and talk to more witnesses and-"
"-and we get waylaid by the managers, and we never solve the case because we never get the information we need..." Mulder said sourly. "You know it's true."
Scully made as frustrated sound deep in her throat. "But does that give us the right to flout protocol?"
She put her face in her hands. It was almost a rhetorical question, since she should have known what his answer was going to be. With her face still covered, she heard menu pages being turned, and realized that Mulder was ignoring her tantrum. Finally looking up at him, she glared hard. "If we get caught, you're the one who's going to have to get us out of trouble with Skinner."
"Naturally. As usual I'm the one with the plan, and I'm the one who will bail us out if it backfires. Just like always. If you look on the fourth page, I think you might like the club sandwich. You can ask them to go light on the bacon."
The smug delivery of the "like always" line nearly did her in. The temptation to throw the menu at him was great, but it wouldn't do to get thrown out of a restaurant while still on the clock, so she picked up the menu with fingers that trembled with anger and looked at the sandwich selection.
Despite the late hour, there were cars in the parking lot. The only lights to be seen though were in the packing building itself. In a way Mulder thought of it as a blessing in disguise, because it made the two sedans seem less out of place when he and Scully parked.
"I thought I told you to wear black." He hissed at her when she got out of her car.
She looked down at her pantsuit. "I am wearing black."
"But..." He made a disgusted sound at the back of his throat. "I meant like this! Something stealthy."
She eyed his attire - a black turtleneck shirt, black jeans, and a black stocking cap she was sure had a face mask rolled up under the brim. "You're right, Mulder, I ought to have dressed like you. You don't stand out at all."
Mulder missed her smirk in the dark, or else ignored it. "Come on, we need to get going."
"God forbid we get a late start to breaking and entering." She complained, but followed along.
It didn't take Mulder much effort at all to jimmy the lock with the lock-pick kit that they're only supposed to use when trying to apprehend criminals. She supposed that Mulder might be able to justify what they're doing to be for that purpose, but she can't quite herself. After all, dogs aren't likely to be criminals. Although, neither are fluke worms… She kept quiet and let Mulder get them inside.
To Scully's relief, there were no guards, armed or otherwise, wandering the building. As if reading her mind, Mulder remarked "No security? How trusting of them."
"Yeah, well, I don't think there's much of a target for theft or vandalism."
"You clearly underestimate the determination of those bent on committing corporate espionage. Or hungry stoners." Mulder whispered.
"Maybe we should volunteer to help fight the war on drugs the next time they shut down the x-Files, then."
"There isn't going to be a next time." Mulder sounded hurt. "You make it sound like a foregone conclusion."
"Isn't it?" She shot back.
Their discussion ended when they reached a door marked "laboratory."
"Well, this is convenient, isn't it?" She gave the door a wary look, but Mulder reached for the door knob.
Nothing challenged them as they entered the room.
The lab looked like a million labs that they'd broken into before, except for the fact that beyond the neat row of counters covered with microscopes and other tools like a centrifuge and Bunsen burners there was a steady green glow.
They approached it cautiously, because glowing green substances were seldom anything that they wanted to get up close and personal with. Scully peered at a rack of bags filled with a greenish liquid hanging at the back of the lab, then jumped back two feet.
"What's with you?" Mulder asked, giving her a long stare.
"There are…things in those bags. And I think they're alive."
Mulder shrugged, then wandered over for a closer look. "Yup, you're right. There are living things in the bags."
"Oh, God...Don't tell me those are fetuses." Scully groaned. "Icky little alien fetuses."
"Yes. I mean no. They are fetuses, but not alien. Not human either."
" hen what kind?" she asked, still not looking.
"Um... puppy? They will be puppies. So canine fetuses Definitely." Mulder said.
"Are you saying that the dogs were bred here?"
"Or grown. " Mulder scowled. "But why?"
Shuddering, Scully stepped back towards the rack, and pulled out her flashlight. "Mulder, there are labels. Right on the bags."
"What do they say?"
Scully tentatively poked one of the bags. "This one says 'Rocky Road'."
"Rocky Road? I had a neighbor who named their dog that, but Rocky for short. Do you suppose they've given the puppies names already?" Mulder wondered.
"I don't think so, Mulder. This one says 'Mocha Almond Fudge'. I think they're…flavors."
Mulder's face turned a little green. "Oh no. You hear rumors about Chinese food places, and now Haagen Dazs? I'll never eat ice-cream again."
"I'm not su-" Scully broke off in mid-sentence, and as Mulder turned to see what she was looking at, she crouched down and called "White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle, c'mer boy."
"Scully, have you lost your-"
A large, bright pink poodle galloped right at them. Scully reached down and scratched it behind the ears. "Good dog, gooood dog."
"What the hell?" Mulder muttered to himself as Scully continued to pet the pink dog. " Well, at least he doesn't seem like he's going to bite."
"He probably won't, but I might." A voice intoned as the lights all flickered to life.
Both agents froze like deer in headlights. The oily voice didn't belong to the smoking man, it soon became apparent, because the speaker was a woman. It could have been CSM in drag, but even Mulder didn't think so.
"What are you doing to these puppies?" Mulder demanded to know, pointing at the bags with the end of his flash light.
"What are you doing in my laboratory?" The woman shot back.
"Investigating a crime." Scully told her.
"And what crime would that be?" the woman demanded to know.
Mulder was at a loss for words, but Scully spoke up. "The cloning of animals is against federal statue x405603b-h12."
"There is no statute, and even if there were, we wouldn't be in violation of it because the dogs aren't clones."
"They look like clones." Mulder said. "If they're not clones what are they?"
"Ordinary dogs, with gene enhancements." The scientist replied with a languid wave towards the bags. "It's perfectly legal. We had the company lawyer investigate it before we began our work."
"Why the hell would an ice-cream company be breeding genetically enhanced puppies?" Scully blurted out and Mulder started. He'd never heard her say hell before.
The phrasing didn't seem to faze the other woman. "I'm sure you've both heard of drug and bomb sniffing dogs."
"And cancer sniffing ones too." Mulder said. He looked speculatively at Scully until she glared at him; her recent bout with death wasn't something she wanted him to spend time dwelling on.
"Yes, that too. These puppies, after several months of postnatal training will grow up to be quality assurance dogs."
"Come again?" Mulder asked. "You're breeding taste-testers?"
She shook her head. "Not taste. Smell. The dogs can smell when a batch of ice-cream doesn't match the formula they're been genetically programmed to recognize."
"That's an awful lot of trouble to go to for a little ice-cream." Mulder remarked with a smirk.
"It's not a little ice-cream, agent. Haagen Dazs is one of the best selling brands in the world. And we have every intention of keeping it that way."
"That's all well and...not 'good', but I guess remotely understandable," Scully said. "But what about the trouble we were called in to investigate?"
"The dogs are not supposed to roam around. Instead we bring them samples from every batch to approve. However, they've been getting loose. Which is a mixed blessing I admit. On one hand we don't want the dogs' existence to be common knowledge because of the risk of corporate espionage-" Mulder shot Scully a look she studiously ignored. "But a dog probably prevented a worker from drowning because its presence drew attention to where help was needed."
"Do you have any theories on how the dogs are getting out?" Scully asked.
"What?!" The agents exclaimed in unison.
"We believe that a mole leaked the dogs' existence to a rival, and that they bred monkeys designed to seek out our dogs and free them from their quarters in order to publicly humiliate us. Monkeys are more than smart enough to learn how to open a door, especially if the mole is the one who got them into the building."
"That's a little far-fetched." Mulder complained.
"This whole case has been a little far-fetched." Scully retorted. " But this would explain the monkeys at the public taste test."
"Exactly. That's why we're taking legal action against that company."
"Which company is that?"
"Edy's. They've been bucking for a piece of our market share for years."
Scully nodded. "Then this sounds like a case for lawyers to has over rather than one for the federal bureau of investigations. Good luck."
"Thank you anyway for giving our problems your concern." The scientist said, "Even if breaking and entering is a little unorthodox."
"We use every investigative tool at our disposal." Mulder said with a perfectly straight face. "I hope you get everything sorted out with the mutant monkeys."
White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle thumped his tail in apparent agreement.
Mulder broke the silence in the car as they drove away ten minutes later. "I'll be damned if I don't have a major ice-cream craving right about now. Do you suppose the lab counters were sprayed with a chemical to cause cravings?"
"Until tonight I'd have thought that they'd stoop to nothing lower than suggestive advertising, but now I don't know. I want ice-cream too, I'll admit. But one thing I do know is that I want nothing to do with brands associated with genetically altered dogs. Or monkeys."
"There's always Ben n Jerry's." Mulder said with a shrug. "But let's avoid the Chunky Monkey flavor just in case."
AD_Hunter’s August Challenge elements
MotW -- M&S (or any other pairing you want) have to investigate a laboratory. That's it.
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