The Orange Files

by diannelamerc
Copyright 1998

...Thursday, May 21, 1998, 08:29 hours EDT
...Washington, DC

Special Agent Dana Scully took a deep, steadying breath as she pushed open the door to the dank, dark basement corner office to which the "X Files" long ago had been consigned. Special Agent Fox Mulder was already sitting at his desk, chair tipped back and feet disturbing a small stack of folders on the blotter, tossing a small ball aimlessly up in the air and catching it, over and over. No, she corrected herself, her finely-tuned observational skills kicking in automatically. It wasn't a ball it was an....

"Orange," Mulder proclaimed by way of greeting, snatching the sphere from the air once more, sliding his feet to the floor, and sitting up in his chair in one smooth move. Balancing the fruit on his palm as though presenting a specimen for her review, he looked up at her intently. "What do you know about orange, Scully?"

Great. He was in one of _those_ moods. Whatever this was she'd be lucky to get out of it without some creepy thing taking a tour through her insides. And she'd be working all Memorial Day weekend too. With no holiday pay. Why couldn't she have just stuck with teaching forensics at Quantico....

He was still looking at her expectantly, so she obliged him. "It's a fruit; genus Citrus. Grows on a tree with small white blossoms, most of them in Florida or California. High in ascorbic acid-- vitamin C. Usually squeezed and drunk as juice with breakfast."

"Not just the fruit, Scully, the color."

She frowned at him. "Then why are you holding the fruit?"

He shrugged in his most annoying manner and began to peel the orange. "I was hungry."

She sighed; sometimes this job reminded her uncomfortably of her teenage babysitting years. "Mulder, why did you call me in? I'm supposed to be heading out to my mom's place. Memorial Day, remember? Vacation? I know you don't believe in it personally, but it's a concept millions of people in this country routinely accept...."

Mulder set the half-peeled orange down on the desk, picked up one of the folders, and handed it to her. Feeling like a trained seal, she obediently opened the file and started perusing the contents as Mulder returned to his snack.

"Sunnybeach, California, three days ago," he informed her around bites of sweet Valencia. "A young man involved in a single-car automobile crash on Interstate 5 in the early hours of Monday morning reported to rescue workers having made contact with a humanoid creature that gave off an unnatural ocherous glow. Shortly afterwards he slipped into a coma and died."

Scully looked up at him, '_Aaaand_...???' plainly written on her face.

"There's more."

Scully evinced an overwhelming lack of surprise at this news.

"Sunnymountain, California, Tuesday afternoon: An elderly woman falls in her home and can't get up. When she is found, hours later, suffering from shock and impending congestive heart failure, she is reported as 'delirious' because she speaks of a strange, otherworldly visitor who," he consulted a second folder on his desk for the precise quote, "'glowed like a damned radioactive tangerine'."

Scully's eyebrows silently rose a considerable distance.

Mulder smiled, "A no-nonsense grandma, apparently. However, within the hour, she was also dead."

Repressing the sudden urge to bark for a fish, Scully sighed and asked the expected question, "So, what does this have to do with us?"

"Five times over less than a week this glowing orange creature has been reported in small California communities by people who died shortly afterwards." He tossed the folders one-by-one to her side of the desk, "Sunnybeach, Sunnymountain, Sunnyhill, Pueblo del Sol, and Rainydale--" He paused, a shadow of uncertainty clouding his face for a moment. "Although I suspect that last one may be an aberration," he admitted.

"And you think that these people are being visited by some cadmium-based space alien who is attempting to contact them in order to apologize for their part in the Kennedy assassination, while the witnesses are being silenced-- permanently-- by Men In Black who are working for a secret governmental organization that has, in fact, rigged the whole thing as a diversion to keep people from discovering that there *is* no damned Truth-- out there or anywhere else?"

Mulder nodded, "Exactly! Unfortunately, there's no way of knowing yet where it will strike next...."

"All right, all right. I'm calling my mother and telling her I'm working this weekend-- and I'm making sure she knows it's _your_ fault too," Scully groused as she gathered up her things, snatching up the Orange Files as well. "You get us seats on the next flight to Sunnydale."

"Sunnydale?" Mulder looked startled, a rare occurrence that Scully made a mental note to cherish. "How could you possibly know...."

"Mulder, _really_!" she scoffed, "I think the Buffy cross-over potential is pretty obvious, don't you?"


...Thursday, May 21, 1998, 08:29 hours CDT
...Just south of Chicago, IL


"Yes, Ray"

"Why does she keep referring to me as 'Ray Classic'? What the hell is that all about?"

"Um... I really believe you would prefer not to know, Ray."

"Why don't I want to know?"


"Is this anything like why 'I don't want to know' why we've suddenly hopped in the Riv and started on a cross-country roadtrip for L.A.?"

"Well, no. Actually...."

"Because Jenny isn't even into 'Due South', is she, Benny?"

"Well, no, I'm not certain that she is, Ray. But, considering her extensive proximity to Amy, it's highly likely that she will appreciate this segment to some extent. Also, her name is 'Jennie', Ray."



"That's what I said: 'Jenny.'

"No, no... oh dear. See, well.... She spells it with an '-ie', Ray."

"Benny, we're talking, right?"

"Well, yes, of course, Ray."

"So how the hell could you tell how I was spelling it when we're _talking_?"

"Actually, Ray, there is an extremely fine phonetic distinction that most native English speakers, such as yourself, make when...."

"There is not! You're making this up!"

"I assure you, Ray, the distinction has been noted by a number of highly-respected linguists. I myself learned to...."

"O.K., O.K., fine. I believe you. 'JennIE', then. Why are we in JennIE's Oranging story when she isn't even into us?"

"Well, I don't believe she's *adverse* to our presence, Ray. At least _I_ don't recall ever giving her reason to...."


"Uh, well, yes. Um. I believe the answer would lie in the inexplicable attraction the author of this story has for you personally, Ray."

"Yeah, well there _is_ tha... Hey! What do you mean 'inexplicable'?"

"Ray, I only mean that it has been my observation that, in most situations in which we are both present, that the feminine element's attraction seems rather distressingly focused on myself...."

"Yeah, yeah, 'distressing' my ass...."

In the back seat Diefenbaker gave a heartily lupine sigh, and settled down with his head on his paws, resolved to sleep through as many as possible of the next two thousand miles.


...Thursday, May 21, 1998, 08:29 hours PDT
...Sunnydale, CA


Xander looked doubtfully at Buffy, who merely shrugged, "That's what they said. 'Orange.'" She looked over to the other side of the library table where Willow sat, eager to help. "It had them really wigged," Buffy continued, aiming her voice to carry towards the wire-enclosed 'special' stacks Giles was currently poring through. "They kept babbling about it instead of fighting. Said he showed up whenever they tried to feed. And these were your average, big, bad vampires too."


The sound, coming suddenly from behind made Xander jump, "You-What?"

" 'Eureka'," Willow explained as Giles approached laying down the heavy, dusty tome. "It means 'I found it'."

"So, give, Giles," Buffy insisted, peering at the indecipherable squiggles on the brittle pages. "What did you eureka?"

Sparing only a sidelong glance in response to her creative word- usage, Giles responded, "I've found the records of an ancient Anglo-Sumerian Maltese cult that speaks of 'El Order de Naranja'."

Buffy frowned, "Doesn't that just mean 'Order of Orange'?"

Willow frowned as well, "But in _Spanish_... kinda?"

Giles out-frowned them all in dismay, "That's the least of the things wrong with that sentence, actually."

"So, if we're always getting random Orders through here, why don't we ever get 'the Order of Takeout', huh?" Xander promptly withered right back into his chair under the combined glare-age aimed his way.

"So, why would a... a... _obscure_ ancient cult like that name itself in Spanish?" Willow asked, eyes wide with confusion.

"The answer is surprisingly simple, actually," Giles assured them. "Our Author doesn't speak 'Anglo-Sumerian Maltese'. In fact, she barely speaks Spanish, and obviously hasn't got her dictionary to hand as she's writing this." The librarian sighed deeply, removing and polishing his glasses as he continued. "Thus, in attempting an exotic touch, she has simply decided upon using...," Giles looked like he'd swallowed a nice, tall, cool glass of Buffy's lemonade, "...'Spanglish'."


There really didn't seem to be much more to be said.

"Soooooo," Buffy broke the odd silence, "What's the deal with these Naranja guys?"

"I don't know." Giles admitted.

The three teens simply blinked at him.

"Well most of the time research takes a lot longer than you all seem to think." Giles practiced his cranky-librarian glower a bit more. "You should be impressed that I even found this reference at all! Do you think there's just a Cliff Notes Index to these things?"

"Well, yea...." Xander wisely shushed as Willow's elbow caught him in the solar plexus.

"I _suggest_," Giles said in a quiet voice that reminded the Scooby Gang _way_ too much of the whole 'Ripper' thing, "That you all go to class now, for which you are already _late_, by my calculations, and return here at lunch. Agreed?"

The sounds of various monosyllables of agreement were lost in the hasty scrape of chairs pushed back and footsteps headed out the door.


...Thursday, May 21, 1998, 12:01 hours PDT
...Sunnydale, CA

Mulder and Scully meet the Slayerettes in the library. For relatively inexplicable reasons, they all exchange the information we already know. Yadda, yadda, yadda. It's pretty boring, really.

They also all decide to stake out the cemetery together that night. (All but Giles, who plans to continue working his cute little butt off researching away in the stacks.) That part gets more interesting. (The cemetery bit, not the butt bit.)


...Thursday, May 22, 1998, 00:01 hours PDT
...Sunnydale, CA


Xander sighed and repeated the routine, "Banana _who_?"

"Knock, knock!" Mulder insisted, deadpan.

Xander glared, but the older man out-waited him and he complied once more, "Who's there?"


The teen looked slightly surprised, then promptly reverted to annoyance, "O.k., *Orange* who?"

Mulder grinned, "Or-ange you glad I didn't say 'banana'?"

His straight man blinked, then broke into a big grin himself, "Hey, that's good!" Turning to his left he raised his voice enough to clearly carry a several yards away to where 'the girls' were sitting. "Hey Willow! Knock, Knock!"

"Xander!" the younger redhead groaned.

"We already heard you," Buffy assured him, exchanging rolled eyes with Willow. "Ha, ha. Very funny." She turned to the special agent beside her, "Don't tell me they don't grow out of this."

Scully shook her head sympathetically, "I'm afraid sometimes it just gets worse." She smiled as the two teens groaned dramatically, then changed the subject. "So this is what you do every night? Sit out in the cemetery waiting for these 'vampires'?"

"Oh, no!" Willow piped up emphatically, "Usually Buffy, like, patrols the whole city!" The agent raised an impressed eyebrow. "Well," the teen qualified her claim, "unless it's like a big prophecy night, or something comes right directly for her, or unless there's a big test tomorrow or something...." her voice trailed off as she saw Buffy looking at her. "Oh, I'm oversharing again, huh?"

"Maybe a little," the Slayer agreed with an indulgent smile before turning to the woman sitting with them with a shrug. "It's the whole 'Chosen One' thing."

Scully took advantage of the conversational twist, while trying to ignore the distant yet unmistakable sounds of her partner and the boy sitting with him exchanging dirty limericks. "So how exactly is it that you're 'chosen'...."

Unfortunately for all the fans reading this who would love to hear the answer, she was cut off by a muffled squeal from the general direction of Willow. "I... I... it... it... it... what...?"

Following her gaze, the other two jumped to their feet, gun and stake in hand (respectively) and at the ready. Out of the corner of her eye, Scully saw the two guys also jump to their feet, empty- handed and staring. She made mental note of their position in preparation for the inevitable time when they would need to be rescued, saved, and/or otherwise extricated from whatever mess this turned out to be.

Joining everyone else, she gave her full attention to the... person... standing between two of the tombstones about twenty feet in front of them. He was reasonably tall and quite attractive, medium build, blond... and glowing a particularly nauseating shade of CalTrans orange.

"Who are you?" Scully demanded in her best, no-nonsense FBI voice, realizing by the breath beside her as she said it that she'd beaten the stake-wielding teen to the question by a heartbeat.

Taking a breath-- for all the world like he was steadying himself for some particularly difficult admission-- the severely blue- deficient apparition looked directly into her eyes, held out his hands slightly, and spoke.

"I'm an Orangel, sent by God."

This introduction was followed by a prolonged moment of utter silence in the cemetery.

"Uh, you're a _what_?" Buffy finally responded.

Wincing only slightly, the... whatever..., repeated, "My name is Andrew, and I'm an orangel."

"What's an 'orn-gel'?" Xander asked, bewildered.

"Oooh, oooh, oooh!" Willow suddenly broke in, the excitement of sudden understanding overwhelming any shyness. "You mean '_angel_'. Like 'an angel', I mean. Not like '_Angel_'... or...." To Scully's surprise the girl sneaked a sideways, apologetic look towards Buffy, then returned to silence.

"Well why not just say so then?" Xander asked 'Andrew' outright. "Just say 'I'm an angel'...," realization hit him visibly (and soundly... like a good *thwap* over the head). "You're an _angel_???"

Andrew shook his head sadly. "No, I used to be. Then it all changed: Administrative restructuring, 'rightsizing', 'paradigm empowerment'; I was forced to join a Core Quality Focus Group.... It was horrible." He shuddered in a delicate, apricot-hued manner.

One of those eerie, stunned silences that were becoming all too common in this cemetery threatened to fall.

Luckily, Cordelia appeared suddenly from behind a tombstone to avert such a fate. "They reengineered *heaven*?"

The two agents were slightly startled by the young woman's appearance, but the rest of the locals seemed unfazed, so they merely exchanged glances and shrugs.

"But... but...," Willow frowned in confusion. "Why... uh... _orange_?"

Andrew scowled in an rather un-orangelic way. "Rumor around the Pearly Gates...," he paused to wince painfully. "Sorry-- the 'Papaya Gates'-- is that it's all due to someone named 'Jennie Hayes'. And let me tell you, nobody up there's feeling all that beatific about _her_ right now."

Pausing, he noticed the looks on the mortals' faces and began to blush a faint ginger tint. "Not that we... uh... _gossip_ or anything...."

"Uh-_huh_," Xander and Scully replied in skeptical unison (surprising themselves, each other, and pretty much everyone within hearing distance).

"So," Mulder interrupted _that_ awkward pause, while taking the requisite rash step forward, "You're actually an ang... um... 'orangel'?"

"Actually, I'm the Orangel of Death," Andrew admitted.

"Here in Sunnydale. Why am I _so_ not surprised?" Buffy asked the world at large.

"But why now?" Mulder persisted doggedly, like an exposition- riddled author's dream. "People die all over the world every day. Why have you suddenly appeared now?"

Andrew, perhaps spotting a chance to get out of this embarrassing fic as soon as possible, responded eagerly. "My appearances are not a new thing. God always sends someone to comfort and reassure the dying; to lead them into his waiting arms...."

("Sounds about as canned as Giles' Slayer catechism," Buffy whispered to Scully, who had to suppress a snicker.)

"In most cases, I am visible only to the dying. So the reports don't really get around." He frowned.

"Here's a hint," Xander offered. "If you want to be subtle, try anything _except_ Day-Glo orange."

"So I'm learning," Andrew sighed. "This 'Jennie' has an awful lot to answer for...."

"So why can we all see you?" Buffy insisted, gesturing absently with her stake in a way that made even the orangel flinch.

As the Slayer suddenly paled, Willow spoke up eyes saucer-like, "So are we all, like, _dead_?"

"No, no," Andrew reassured them in his best orangelic manner. "Living so long on the Hellmouth has apparently given you an unprecedented, but highly opportune ability to see me. Mulder," and here he turned to the agent, "Has likewise had much practice in looking for the unbelievable."

"So...," Scully prompted, as everyone turned to look at her.

"*GARRRRRGH!*" snarled the vampire that inexplicably popped up from behind a tombstone and grabbed her by the throat.

With a twist Scully flipped the generic CPD vamp over her shoulder... and right on to Buffy's stake. (Thus, sadly, ending our exciting action scene.)

"You couldn't have _warned_ me?" Scully snapped at the orangel as she readjusted her jacket and reholstered her weapon.

The cupreous glowing entity merely shrugged. "Unless death is actually a possibility, I'm not supposed to show up."

"_Now_ he tells us," Willow groused as she helped Buffy dust vamp ashes off her sweater.


...Thursday, May 22, 1998, 01:01 hours MDT
...Somewhere in the general vicinity of Denver, CO

"Fraiser? Yo, Benny! Wake up!"


"Look! The action is already over and we're barely halfway there!"

"Oh... oh, dear."

"There was never any point in us even being here, was there Fraiser?"

"Well... uh... apparently not, Ray."

"So can I turn around and take us _home_ now?"

"Yes, Ray, I think that would probably be best."


"I _do_ apologise, Ray, I had thought it better to be safe...."




"I *am* sore-y, Ray!"


"Oh dear...."


...Thursday, May 22, 1998, 01:01 hours PDT
...Sunnydale, CA

"Hey, Giles!"

Buffy's voice echoed in the quiet of the library, which since they had left it had been interrupted only by the occasional rustling of pages, one surprisingly rude British curse in response to a particularly nasty paper cut, and a soft, scholarly murmuring....

"...a globose berry with a reddish yellow rind and a sweet edible pulp...."

"Giles?" The concern in the Slayer's voice grew and she reached for her always-handy weaponry.

The murmuring grew slightly louder: "...any of a group of colors that lie midway between red and yellow in hue and are of medium lightness and moderate to high saturation...."

"What?" Buffy demanded, looking puzzled.

"Orange!" Giles snapped, then instantly regretted his harshness and

immediately began polishing his glasses in what was apparently some sort of odd, British, ritualistic penance. "I am," he clarified, looking vaguely in her general direction, "still researching the phenomena we were discussing...."

"Oh that's done!" Buffy reassured him with a friendly pat to the shoulder. "It was just an orangel. Case solved. One vampire casualty." She grinned, "I just wanted to let you know that we're all taking Cordy's car to the airport to drop off Mulder and Scully. 'K?"

Just before she could bounce right out of the room again, Giles got the glasses back in place and fixed her with one word and a carefully directed stare. "Buffy!"

"Um, yeah?" She turned back towards him, the picture of innocence.

"It's all over?"

"Yup. Just thought I'd let you know." Seeing the piles of books covering the long table and noting his distressed response, she added, "Not that you have to stop on our account or anything! I mean, it could be like research practice, right?"

Unfortunately, Giles was caught speechless enough by that suggestion to allow Buffy to make good her escape.

Staring after the swinging doors in shock, he suddenly frowned.



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