Regaining Perspective & Judgement Trilogy by abracadabra

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Regaining Perspective & Judgement Trilogy by abracadabra

Regaining Perspective & Judgement Trilogy cover

The Regaining Perspective and Judgement Trilogy

by abracadabra

(writing as nja3)

Regaining Perspective & Judgement collage by Spooky's Girl

Collage by Denise (Spooky’s Girl)

I.  Regaining Perspective and Judgment
II. Undercover Phase
III. He Said/She Said

Regaining Perspective and Judgement

Regaining Perspective & Judgment by nja3

Setting: Washington, DC

Timeframe: late March/early April; sometime after Millennium

Author: Nancy.

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Skinner’s Office; Monday, 8:30AM

Skinner is sitting at his desk, reviewing files when his receptionist tells him Agent Mulder has arrived. Skinner asks her to send him in.

“Sir, you asked to see me?” says Mulder.

“Yes, Agent Mulder. I’ve been reviewing personal leave time usage. You have exceeded the allowable number of accrued days for vacation.” Skinner puts down the folder and looks across the desk at Mulder.

A slight grin starts to spread on Mulder’s face. “Well, Sir, I don’t really need any vacation time since the cases I’ve been working on allow for so much travel. You know, ‘See the USA in your Chevrolet’, oh, right, we usually rent Fords.”

“Agent, this is a serious matter. You know as well as I do that the Bureau requires its Agents to maintain sound judgment and perspective. They are 2 of the cornerstones of our work.”

Mulder starts shifting in his chair, knowing where this discussion is headed. He starts to speak, but Skinner cuts him off. He squares his jaw and opens his eyes just a little bit wider; giving Mulder the definite impression that something he probably won’t like is on its way.

“Agent Mulder, you are now officially placed on two week’s vacation time effective Friday”. Skinner closes the folder, stands behind his desk, hands on hips and bids Mulder good day. He then sits back down and picks up another file. Mulder has been summarily dismissed.


Mulder and Scully’s Office; 9:00AM

Scully has arrived at the office to find it empty. She doesn’t mind; she has a report to finish. She heads for the computer, grabs her glasses, and starts typing:

“Final report for Casefile #X-223: Mystery Predator, Newark, DE.

This case began with the report of “someone/thing not quite human” cornering women in the greater Newark area. Several statements taken from women in their 30’s and 40’s alleged that they had been corned in their apartments after midnight. When asked to describe the alleged predator, all 5 women stated only that: “it appeared to be male, had frightened them greatly and then gave off a strange sexual energy.”

Agents Mulder and Scully failed to …” Scully stopped typing as Mulder walked into the office.

“Well, Scully, that’s it; I’m outta here!” he announced in a sarcastic tone.

Scully saved her work, removed her glasses, and turned off the computer. She walked over to Mulder and asked, “What are you talking about, Mulder?” He didn’t answer right away. She raised her right eyebrow and continued to look at him, knowing he’d answer her when he was ready.

When it seemed as if that was all he was going to say and had started walking over to his desk, Scully asked him again, “Mulder?”

“The Skinman says it’s time for my 2-week vacation starting this Friday. Wanna see when the next space ship’s leaving for Mars? How about Alpha Centauri?”

Scully sits on the edge of his desk as he leans back in his chair. She smiles and says,

“Mulder, what’s so bad about a little time off? You’ve probably got things you’d like to do, somewhere you’d like to go, aliens you’ve yet to discover, crop circles begging for a trim?”

Now it’s Mulder’s turn to smile. He leans forward and puts his hand lightly on Scully’s knee and says, “You just don’t understand; he wants me out of here because he’s sending you on some case by yourself or with another Agent.”

“Mulder, where DO you come up with these ideas? Don’t you think I would have told you if I’d been assigned a case? I’m still finishing the report on the Delaware case, I have 2 autopsies waiting and then who knows what? Are you telling me you know something I don’t?”

“Scully, you mark my words, I know whereof I speak. Now, just so I can practice this time off thing, let’s go get some coffee.” Mulder gets up, grabs Scully’s hand and starts to head for the door. Scully pulls back and says, “Mulder, I just told you I have to finish that report; I can’t leave right now.” She’s trying hard to look serious, but her eyes are saying she’d probably like to take Mulder up on his offer. He’s in that sarcastic-playful-conspiracy mood of his; one she happens to like sometimes…


Café Moonglow; downtown DC; 10:00AM

Scully’s heels click on the hardwood floor as the 2 Agents walk over to a booth. They slide in on the richly colored tapestry cushions over the cherry wood seats. John Serrie is softly playing in the background. The Café is not busy at this time on a Monday morning. The only other sounds are the occasional clatter of porcelain mugs on the wooden tables, servers taking orders and the buzz of quiet conversations around them.

“Ok, Mulder, what is this really about?” Scully’s arms are folded and she leans across the table.

“Would you say our last several cases have pretty much gone ‘by-the-book’? I mean, we’ve filed some rather mundane, by my standards I mean, reports, but we’ve had a pretty strong success rate; wouldn’t you say?”

Scully thinks about responding, but realizes that Mulder just needs to get it out. He continues, “we haven’t run up any extraordinary bills, haven’t detoured to any other cases along the way. So, I ask you, why does Skinner want me out for 2 weeks?”

“Mulder,” Scully looks directly at him and smiles, “I don’t think this has anything to do with a plot to keep you from your work. It has everything to do with ensuring your ability to continue to DO your work. You remember; judgment and perspective? Those words were hammered into our heads as new Agents. Now, don’t start telling me how well-adjusted you are and how you don’t need to abide by any of the Bureau’s finer dictums,” she tries not to laugh, but she has seen him trying to interrupt her non-verbally.

He’s flashing one of those smiles that is both sad and cute simultaneously. Those smiles can stop her in her tracks, but she’s not about to let that happen here, now. She continues, “If you’re not actually leaving town, how about if we spend some of your time off together? I mean, I don’t know if I’ll be assigned to another case in the meantime and I might be asked to do a workshop over at Quantico, but we might be able to do some day trips. My vacation time is getting close to the limit, too. Skinner might think it a good idea if I took some time, too.”

Mulder briefly looks down at the table, shifts in his seat, and then nods once, “Sounds good to me, Scully. Just what are your plans for me?”

They both realize they’ve never ordered and it’s now almost 11:30A. They head back to the office.


Separate apartments; Thursday night; 8:00PM

Skinner has allowed Scully to use some time off, but only until Tuesday morning. Then, it’s back to work for her. Scully briefly entertains the idea that Skinner is purposefully not allowing her and Mulder the same time off. “Well”, she thinks, “even if that’s the case, the bottom line is we do have a little time together.”

She’s home, pacing. She can’t seem to shake the sudden excitement she has at spending some down time with Mulder. It’s not as if they’ve never spent time alone together, it’s that most of that time has been connected to an assigned (or a “Mulder unassigned”) case. Now, her excitement begins to turn to anxiety. Just what will they do together? What if it doesn’t go well?. Now, her anxiety turns to frustration. Why hasn’t he called? We ALWAYS call each other (and, I will not pick up that phone and make the call myself). She thinks, “proud, are we Scully? Wasn’t it you who suggested you’d spend some time with him? How about YOU give HIM a call…”

She turns on the water for a bath.

Tomorrow starts his official vacation; probably the first he’s actually taken in about 8 years! It’s almost exciting to think he’ll still be in town. For most people, vacation is a time to get away from their everyday existence. Mulder’s job takes him away from his everyday existence; well, almost every day! They’re predicting a late season wet snow event (the latest in PC weather forecasting, he guesses.) But, when he thinks about it, a bad weather day on vacation is better than wonderful weather at work! So, just when is Scully going to call him? And, just HOW did his thinking jump from weather to Scully? He plops down on his couch and turns to his fish; “Well, guys, what do you think? Is she going to call me? What do you think we should do on my vacation? Why do you think I’m getting so worked up over this? Oh yeah, you don’t think…”

There’s a knock on his door. For a few seconds, he just sits there. He leans over toward the fish and says, “I’ll get it.”

“Hey, Mulder; I was just thinking”, says Scully as he opens the door.

“Do you want to continue in here?”, he smiles and asks her in.

They both drop onto the couch, turning to face each other.

“So, Scully, what are we going to do on my vacation; aside from making sure that I regain my perspective and good judgment?”

Scully smiles, “Who said ‘good’ judgment? Remember, it’s MY time off, too.

Whenever I’m in town, I usually go to the gym in the morning. Do you want to join me?”

Mulder starts to make a face and then remembers that many of the local gyms have tracks and hoops; a match made in heaven if ever there were one.

Scully, seeing the look on Mulder’s face, says, “It’s ok, Mulder. If you prefer not to go with me, I’ll just catch up with you later.”

“No, Scully, it’s ok; I’d like to go! Does your gym have a basketball court?”


“Then, I’m in!”


Friday morning; 6:30AM; Scully’s Apartment

Scully awakens, remembering Mulder will arrive to pick her up to go to the gym. After a quick shower, she throws on a pair of black capri leggings and her cropped Quantico, powder blue, tank. She pulls her hair into a ponytail with a black scrunchie. She grabs her bottle of lavender and sprays a short burst onto the back of neck. She grabs her tennis socks and sneakers and heads for the living room. After putting them on, she makes herself a cup of tea and sits down to wait for Mulder.

She assumes he’ll be late; the only time he’s ON time is when they’re departing for parts unknown to work on an X-File.. She smiles at that thought.

Just as she finishes her tea, there’s a knock on her door. She opens the door to see a tossled head Mulder smiling, but still half asleep (“this man smiles at the oddest times”

she thinks). He’s wearing long grey cotton shorts and a black FBI tee. “He must want to do the track first; he’s wearing his running shoes” she thinks. She suddenly realizes that she was also thinking, “and I’d love to watch him run…” Well, THAT could easily be arranged.

“So, Scully, are we set for our workout?”

“Let’s go, Mulder,” she says, pushing him backwards out of her doorway.


The Beltway Gym; Part I

The building is quite unimpressive from the outside. A large, rectangular, wooden structure, it sits on an almost entirely empty lot. Across the street is a chain link fence that overlooks the Beltway, the major artery around the DC area. Mulder is instantly attracted to the place, but can’t, for the life of him, figure out why Scully would like this place OR how she found it. He almost wants to ask, but figures it can keep.

The exterior does gives no clue to the interior. The place is cutting edge, high tech.

Gleaming stainless steel-like walls, black cushion padded floors that appear to be polished hourly, subdued and recessed overheard lighting just bright enough to see but without being ostentatious and glitzy. Now, Mulder REALLY wants to ask Scully why she likes the place! She is always surprising him.

The place isn’t crowded right now. The assortment of members and visitors is truly diverse in every way.

Mulder scans the layout. The track area is directly ahead. To the right of the track is an enclosed basketball court. To the left of the track are two squash or handball courts. The floor above juts out over where they are standing and continues around the entire perimeter. It is glass enclosed, floor to ceiling. Cardio equipment is interspersed with lifting machines. The equipment is lined up facing the windows and overlooking the track, basketball and squash courts. The people using the equipment look as if they could just hop off and float down to the main floor; they are that close.

Mulder doesn’t realize that he’s been gazing a little too long at one particular gym visitor.

She’s on a stair machine directly over him and to the right. He gets a nice view of how well the machine works her glutes, quads and calves. He starts to ponder other muscular benefits she’s gaining when Scully spikes an elbow into his ribcage, tosses a towel his way and heads for the stairs to the level above.

Mulder smiles his “ahh-scheese” smile, watches her walk away, and heads for the track.

After a few perfunctory stretches, 60 seconds of jogging in place and a few deep breaths, Mulder hits the track. His pace is slow to start. He then begins to match his speed to fellow runners; most of them men.

Scully pulls out a copy of the latest JMA, grabs her water bottle and heads for the EFX machine closest to the track. Always analyzing, she stops herself thinking,

“now why did I choose this machine when there were at least 4 available by the stairs?” Her own, involuntary glance in the direction of the track is her answer. She doesn’t change her location.

After propping the JMA onto a magazine holder and putting her water bottle on the same stand, she climbs on and puts on her glasses. She becomes engrossed in both her workout and the article on new latex-free autopsies. She hits her stride about 10 minutes into her workout and is breathing heavily. She’s pumping her arms, as well as, her legs, upping the intensity of the workout. The sweat… Is dripping down the front of her tank, Mulder realizes as he looks up each time he passes her window. He realizes they have something else in common; they value a good, hard workout. As he runs, he keeps the picture of her strong, well-shaped legs and her very fit abs in his mind. There’s something about the sweat dripping down the front of her tank and the seriousness of her reading glasses that ups the intensity of his run around the track making him… breathe a little harder, Scully notices. She was really concentrating on her reading, her workout, Mulder? As he runs toward her, she thinks she catches him glancing up a few times. His hair is hanging in his eyes and looks quite damp, “strike that, Scully!”, she thinks, “it’s soaked!”. As he passes, she briefly catches the retreating view. Most of him is soaked; “have we been here that long?” His long, grey shorts describe beautifully one of his (many) fine features, she thinks. Her workout is fueled just a little more.

“At this rate, I’ll get in a week’s worth in a just a few short hours”, they simultaneously think.


Beltway Gym, Part II

Scully climbs off the EFX, puts away her glasses and JMA, towels herself off a bit and heads for the weight machines.

Mulder walks a few last laps, grabs his water bottle and douses himself in the locker room. He towels himself off and heads for the weight machines.

Scully prefers free weights for part of her workout; usually upper body work. She starts with a slight decline bench, grabs some 25 lb dumbbells. She’s in the middle of her first set, breathing hard as she exhales, and suddenly notices a pair of rather hairy legs behind her head. They are attached to Mulder’s long, grey, somewhat damp, shorts. This realization sends a slight tingling sensation through the middle of her body and almost causes her to drop the weights.

Mulder notices the slight hesitation as she’s lowering the weights. He quickly drops down on one knee and lightly places his hands on her elbows, effectively steadying the descent of the weights.

She realizes he’s spotting for her and lets him continue. She doesn’t know for sure if she’s having trouble finishing this first set because she’s recently increased the weight, because she’s going so slow on the down phase or, possibly, because Mulder’s hands are very warm on her elbows. She doesn’t really take time to figure it out; she hasn’t enjoyed her lifting in quite this way before.

Mulder is now a little closer to the end of the bench where her head is resting. Her ponytail has come loose and her hair is hanging down on the sides and off the back of the bench. He can smell her lavender oil and thinks it’s pleasantly intoxicating. He notices the rise and fall of her chest as she breathes and pumps the weights. He also realizes that unless he pays a little more attention to spotting her, he’s going to be the cause of a lifting accident. Hair still hanging in his face, he takes the weights from her hands and then stands up.

Scully sits up. As she’s about to thank him for his help (“and his closeness?” she wonders), two male gym members walk up to her.

“Hey, D; what’s shaken’?” they ask.

“Twins, to boot” thinks Mulder as he pretends to smile at them, “D? Who’s ‘D’?”, he wonders.

“Oh, hi”, she says, smiling, “Ray, Ralph, this is my friend, Fox”.

“Ray and Ralph, huh; you’re kidding, right?”, Mulder thinks, trying not to smirk (too much…) The twins extend their hands to shake Mulder’s. Mulder obliges, albiet reluctantly.

Ray and Ralph chat with Scully briefly, tell her they’ll workout with her next time, and head for the downstairs area.

Mulder is just itching to find out the nature of the twins’ relationship with Scully. He opens with, “D? They call you, ‘D’?” He doesn’t succeed in stifling a laugh as he bends over, hands on his bent knees.

Scully waits patiently for a while. When she realizes that Mulder’s laughter is going to continue indefinitely, she tosses her towel at him and heads down the stairs. He’s not two feet behind her.

“Aww, Scully, what’re you so ticked about? I just never knew you had such a cute nickname!” He bursts into uncontrollable laughter again, almost tripping on the stairs.

Scully casts one backward glance at him to make sure he’s ok, then heads for the locker room.

“So, ‘D’, what’s our next vacation activity?” Mulder heads for the men’s locker room.


Beltway Gym; Part III

As they head out the door, Mulder notices the extreme flush in Scully’s face. They’ve seen each other after chasing suspects, but this is different. He realizes he loves how natural she looks.

Scully is trying hard to stay even slightly angry with Mulder’s behavior. While she’s

“trying”, she’s also noticing that he looks rather healthy after his workout. He’s changed into some rather lightweight sweats that drape quite nicely over his body.

“So, ‘D’, I ask you…”, he begins.

“Don’t go there, Mulder; I’m warning you”, she glares up at him.

He gently grabs her by her shoulders and stops her in her tracks. For just a minute, he just looks into her eyes, but says nothing.

“Scully, just what are you so hot and bothered about? What did I do now?”, he asks.

Scully reaches up and places her hands over his as they still hold her shoulders. “I’m not hot and bothered, Mulder; I’m fine, really.”

“Normally, I’d take your word for it, but not today. I thought we were trying to have some fun together and you’re wound tighter than the concentric circles of Azkabar! Help me out here, Scully.”

“The ‘concentric circles of what, Mulder? I don’t believe I’ve heard of them; whatever they are.” She starts to smile involuntarily; he has that effect on her.

“Well, Scully, the concentric circles were hand-laid spirals of mica-genic stones found near the mountainous shores of…” he begins in earnest.

“Okay, I give, Mulder! You made that up, Azkabar doesn’t exist.” She’s laughing heartily at this point and so is he.

He puts an arm around her and they walk to his car.

Mulder is happy, but not willing to let the earlier issue die. He knows he could end up on the silent end again, but he risks it. “Scully, can you tell me what was really going on earlier?”

“It’s really nothing, Mulder. Sometimes, I think that my relationships outside the Bureau and away from you don’t seem important to you”, she replies.

He looks over at her and knows that as the words come out of his mouth, he is once again heading for the doghouse, “You actually have relationships outside the Bureau?”

Much to his surprise, she doesn’t blast him! She merely shakes her head slowly and says,

“How about if we let this one lie, Mulder?”

As they approach her apartment, he asks what’s next for their time off together. She tosses the question back at him since she picked the gym.

“I don’t know, Scully, but I have a nice set of videos and I’ve been told I make a mean bowl of popcorn”, he replies with a smile.

“Mulder, I don’t think I’d really be interested in the content of your video collection; we’ve been over this ground before, I think. But, you do make a mean bowl of popcorn.”

He ponders this turn of events briefly. He then has a plan.

“Scully, have you recently done your strength and agility reqs for this month?”

“As a matter of fact, Mulder, I haven’t. What did you have in mind?”

“Well, since we can pick it…how about a little workout of my choice?” They’ve reached her apartment and the car is parked. He turns toward her and smiles widely.

“Mulder, just exactly what type of workout did you have in mind?” she smiles back.

“Have you ever done one of those Tae Bo/kickboxing classes?” he asks with a I’ve-got-a-hidden-agenda look.

“Yes, Mulder, as a matter of fact I have done quite a few of those workouts. Are you challenging me?”

“Well, no; I mean yes. No, let me explain. I’m not talking about one of your hundreds of bodies packed into a huge gym with someone yelling, ‘kick! jab!’, etc. That’s too easy.

I’m talking me and you, you and me, one on one at the local boxing ring.”

“You’re on, Mulder.” She grabs her gym bag and opens the door. Before he can say good-bye, she’s running up the stairs to her building and in the front door.


Saturday afternoon, Mulder’s Apartment

It’s snowing on and off. That big, wet, can-almost-see-every-individual-flake kind of snow.

“Oh, hey, Scully; c’mon in.”

Scully smiles to herself. Mulder certainly likes to “dress” the parts he plays. He’s wearing long, black, ripstop nylon boxing shorts, his black tee with the sleeves rolled up almost to his shoulders (“where DOES he get all of those black tees?” she ponders) He already has wrist raps on and is holding his lightweight punching bag gloves. He grabs his grey, hooded sweatshirt, unzips and puts it on.

Scully is wearing black lycras, knee length, with grey, cotton knit shorts ofver them and a teal cropped tee. She pulls her sweatshirt over her head.

Her hair is just pushed back behind her ears with two barrettes holding it back there.

They give each other the once over; although both will deny it.

“So, Mulder, are we ready to go to your favorite boxing ring?” Scully taunts.

“You know it, Scully. I hope you’re prepared for a little weaving and bobbing because I’m going to make you run for your life.”

They walk quickly through the fast-falling snow; finding it strange that it’s a little bit warm and it’s snowing.


The Ring; local boxing gym, Part I

“There’s really a ring here,” Scully thinks surprised. She really doesn’t like the idea of making a spectacle of herself with a bunch of people she doesn’t know. Luckily, she discovers that that’s not quite what Mulder has in mind.

She follows him over to the north side of the ring and notices to side-by-side speed bags and punching bags. He tosses her a set of gloves, but she pulls her own out of her jacket.

“So, Scully, do you want me to pull a stool up to the speedbag for you?” Mulder is admirably trying not to laugh too hard.

“No, Mulder. As kind as that request was, I think I’ll just ask Macho Man over there to lower it for me.”

Mulder quickly stops her, “I can do that for you, Scully.”

“Gee, thanks, Mulder; you’re so strong,” she says, running her gloved hand along his biceps.

They both start with their speed bag. They each work up a steady rhythm. A few heads turn to watch this interesting couple pound the bags. They start to draw a small crowd.

Tandem speed bags is a new event at the Ring.

Mulder moves over to the punching bag and starts a series of jabs and hooks. One of the on-lookers comes over to steady his bag so he can land some kicks.

Another on-looker moves over to Scully’s bag to do the same for her. He seems particularly willing to help her out… Mulder notices, but continues his patterns of kicks.

Scully starts out slowly, but ends up kicking the bag with a ferocity that surprises even Mulder. She’s landing some rather nicely formed roundhouses. Each time she turns to step into the roundhouse kick, Mulder notices just how finely toned her body is. His kicks are becoming a little sloppy. He realizes he’s not paying attention to what he’s doing. He has stopped kicking completely and is now watching Scully with some of the others.

She’s now alternating between punches and kicks; letting them fly with an energy she doesn’t realize she has.

Mulder pulls his sweatshirt on and pull his hood up. Now that he’s stopped, he’s getting a chill. He walks over behind Scully as she pauses, takes a few, short inhales, and places his hands lightly on her shoulders. “Focus your kicks straight on this time; no upperbody moves”, he says quietly, close to her ear.

She doesn’t flinch or pull away. She’s almost not aware of anyone else around her other than Mulder. She smells the sweat, feels the slightly rough texture of his gloves through the thin and wet fabric of her tee.

She does as he suggests and focuses her kicks dead center. At one point, she almost slides backwards on the sweat pooling on the black flooring. Mulder is there to steady her, his hands firmly gripping her upperarms and setting her upright again.

She realizes she’s exhausted and breathing very heavily. (“What is it about our time off that keeps bringing us to sweaty places?”)

“Mulder, I’m thinking a break and lots of water would be a good thing right about now,” she pants.

After a round of unexpected applause from the gathered on-lookers, they head for the water cooler.


The Ring; Part II

“Mulder, just how far do I have to walk to get some water?”

“It’s right back here, Scully.” He leads her to the walled hallway and they disappear behind it. Scully props herself up against the wall and takes a few very deep breaths.

Mulder gives her a paper cup of water and drinks one himself.

She is still breathing hard, but the water has helped. She tosses the cup into the wastecan.

He is watching her. Her eyes are closed and she’s trying to slow her breathing with a succession of deep breaths. He takes her hands, says her name.

She looks up at him and says his name with a questioning tone. She notices the way his damp hair falls onto his forehead out of his hood.

He slowly pulls her toward him. She can feel the wall of heat emanating from his body.

She knows she’s producing that same intensity. His hands slide down her back, feeling the wet fabric of her tee. His hands move lower.

She has her bent arms pressed up against his abs and chest. His tee is plastered to him.

Her face is up against his tee.

“Since when have you been so into boxing, Scully?” he murmurs into her hair.

As he pulls his face up out of her hair, she lifts her face up and starts to answer him. She rethinks her action.

Their very warm and wet lips meet.

“Have I started to regain any of my perspective and judgment, Scully?”


Apartment Interlude; Sunday morning

Scully has the Sunday paper spread out on her coffee table. The snow is still falling, but not sticking. She pauses to watch the flakes and her mind moves from the daily news to Mulder. She removes her glasses and smiles. She begins her analysis:

“What IS this thing between us?”

“Where did THAT come from, there is no ‘thing’ between us.”

“That kiss at the Ring was nothing, Scully? Just something one does after a great workout; is that it?”

“Sparks fly when we touch each other.”

“Ok, Ms. Scientist; you’ve laid out some of the facts and posed the questions. You’ve also used the discovery method. So, what’s the answer?”

Her smile broadens, she puts her glasses back on and turns to the magazine section.

Mulder finishes feeding his fish; “hope you’re having a good Sunday, guys.”

He paces back and forth in front of his window. He pauses to watch the flakes and his mind moves to Scully.

He walks back over to his fish and starts talking to them:

“So, guys, what do you thinks is really going on?”

“We do this little dance; a few steps forward, on giant step back. But it sure is fun, this ‘dance’.”

“We’ve touched each other physically, emotionally; it just feels right.”

“I could have been decked, guys, kissing her in public like that! No, it’s not illegal, it’s ‘Scully Rules’.”


Apartment Split Scene; Sunday afternoon

Rrrrriiinnng! “Scully.”

“Scully, it’s me. What’re you doing?”

“Just standing at my window, watching the snow fall. What about you?”


“Do you plan to watch it snow all night?”

“Are you suggesting something else, Mulder? If so, it better not involve sweating.”

“Well, then I guess I better hang up.”

They are both pacing in front of their apartment windows; smiling on and off.


“Actually, Scully, I was thinking of something a little different.”

“I’m listening, Mulder.”

“It’s a surprise.”

His face is serious; “will she go?”

Her face is amused. She often enjoys the back and forth of their conversations. She enjoys letting him stew just a little bit.

“What do I wear, Mulder, and what time should I be ready?”

“Casual, comfortable, I’ll pick you up at 8 sharp.”

“No sweating, Mulder; I mean it”, she says trying to keep the silly grin from her face.


Making Plans; late Sunday afternoon

Mulder quickly hangs up; he has work to do if he’s going to pull this off. He calls Burt Sharpe, a former Academy buddy. Burt owns the planetarium by the water. Burt also owes Mulder a big favor and Mulder is about to collect.

Mulder then calls the local caterer. He needs an indoor sophisticated picnic for two and he needs it yesterday.

Trying to dribble the basketball and make grand arrangements is not turning out to be a good idea. The basketball gets dropped and rolls into his bedroom.

Mulder heads for the shower.

Scully is intrigued. She has to admit that even though Mulder isn’t one for making major plans or being overly organized, he knows how to have a good time.

She’s torn between a feeling she hasn’t had since her college days; that giddy, over-inflated feeling that everything is right with the world and the hard reality of their situation.

She knows she can trust Mulder; God knows she’s done so more times than she can count.

She knows he feels the same way about her.

She’s also thinking she feels much, much more than that and still hasn’t decided if that’s the best thing. Good, better, best; how about ‘fun’, Scully! She puts on a pair of black stretch pants that flare a little at the calf. She pulls on her square-heeled, black, zip boots. She grabs for her sapphire blue velour, scoop neck shirt.

A quick head-down flip of her hair, a little make-up and she’s ready.

“Ready for what, Scully?” she asks herself in the mirror. No answer is forthcoming. She spritzes on some cologne. She grabs her black, leather, labcoat, jacket.

Mulder’s all in black; jeans, ribbed turtleneck sweater, leather jacket, bucks.

They do that “mutual admiration” thing again without saying a word. “Is this what he means by communicating telepathically?” Scully wonders.

They head for his car.


On Their Way to Where? Sunday, 8PM

As she opens the passenger door, she tries to look into the back seat. She notices a fleecy blanket that seems to be hiding a big lump.

She tries to reach for the blanket, but Mulder is quicker. With a quick,

“uh, un, Scully!”, he pulls her into the front seat. “I said it was a surprise!”

“I know, Mulder, but you know how us scientists are naturally curious. That’s what makes us so good at our profession!”

“Well, try to suspend your professional outlook for just a little while, will you, Scully?”

They pull away from the curb.

“Do I get any hints?”

“Nope; don’t think so.”

“You’re not going to blindfold me?”

“Hmmm, hadn’t thought about that, but maybe later.”

“Mulder, what ARE we doing tonight?”

“Just relax, Scully. Remember, you’re helping me regain my perspective and good judgment.”

“It’s just ‘judgment’, Mulder; ‘good’ is not part of it.”

“Whatever you say, Scully.”


The Big Sky Planetarium, Sunday night, Part I

They drive up and everything is dark. The snow is still falling and still it doesn’t stick.

Scully opens the door and immediately hears the clanging bell-like sounds of the buoys and the gentle lapping of waves nearby. She can barely make out a rather large, dome-shaped, building in front of them. The entire area is utterly deserted save for her and Mulder. She can barely see the stars through the snow even though there are no lights anywhere.

Her curiousity is piqued big time!

Mulder removes the fleece blanket and picnic basket from the floor in the back of the car. He tells Scully to ‘back off” and leads the way.

“Mulder, what is this place?”

“You’ll see in a minute.”

She makes a few half-hearted attempts to distract him so she can see what’s in the fleece bundle, but she doesn’t succeed. She does get him to smile, although she doesn’t know this because she can’t see his face.

When they arrive at the main doors, Mulder kicks it with his foot. It opens, letting a small patch of dim, soft, light flow out from it. The person opening the door nods to Mulder and waves his arm, indicating they should come in.

Scully looks at the man, also dressed all in black, including a black hood that doesn’t let her see his face. “Just WHAT is going on here?” she asks herself.

“Scully, follow me up the stairs here.”

When they reach the top, she notices small, yet amazingly bright, white lights all over the ceiling above her. It suddenly dawns on her that they’re in a planetarium. Leave it to Mulder to find a way for us to view the sky even when we can’t be outside.

Mulder puts the basket down and unfurls the blanket onto the carpeting. Off to the side is a low table with small, lantern, candle-holders. Mulder lights each one.

He unpacks the basket. He places a bottle of champagne and two stemmed flutes on the table first. He then pulls out a chafing dish with dry ice packs. The dish contains samples of various exotic fruits, some Brie, a small glass bowl of caviar and some small, hothouse strawberries dipped in dark chocolate; Scully’s favorite.


Big Sky Planetarium; Part II

He suddenly realizes that Scully isn’t right behind him. He turns around to find her sitting in one of the reclining chairs, ‘stargazing’.

He walks up behind her and places a hand on her shoulder. “Surprise,” he says quietly.

Music by John Serrie is playing just loud enough to be heard. Otherwise, all is still.

Mulder also reaches for the remote Burt has provided. He clicks it once and the ‘sky’ begins to move slowly.

Scully’s head leans farther back to watch the stars move. Mulder lets his fingers float through her hair. Her scalp tingles.

“Mulder, this is wonderful.”

“There’s more where that came from. Come over here, Scully.”

He takes her hand as she stands up and leads her to the fleece blanket. Mulder has moved it next to the table.


Big Sky Planetarium; Part III

There is just enough light from the lantern candle holders. Scully looks at the spread in front of her, smiles and shakes her head.

“Mulder, you’re always surprising me!” She kneels, leans toward him and kisses his cheek lightly.

The candlelight hides his blush, but not his smile back at her.

He pours champagne into the stemmed flutes and hands one to her. They hold the flutes close to one and other and make silent wishes. The flutes clink and they taste the champagne. Mulder’s taste is a small swallow; Scully finishes hers in one long swallow.

Both feel the warmth of the bubbles flow through them.

Scully moves closer to the table. She picks up a piece of star fruit and nibbles on it, making a slight face at the slightly tart taste.

She spreads some Brie onto a piece of pear and puts it to Mulder’s mouth. He bites half of it and Scully takes the other half.

“It’s getting warmer in here”, Scully thinks. She removes her leather jacket.

“Someone must’ve turned the heat up in here”, thinks Mulder. He notices how the deep blue of Scully’s shirt clings to her every curve.

Mulder pours them more champagne. They drink it and lay back on the fleece blanket to watch the heavens move. Mulder uses the clicker to change the show.

The music is a little louder and the bass is heavy in the speakers. They both feel the not unpleasant vibrations through the floor and blanket.

Mulder reaches over to the table and grabs a strawberry. He rolls on his side, props himself up on his elbow, and holds the strawberry dangling over Scully’s mouth.

She bends her knees so her feet are flat on the floor and comes up onto both elbows. She looks at Mulder. She bites the strawberry while looking at him looking at her.

She has strawberry juice on her chin and chocolate on her lower lip. Mulder removes both the juice and the chocolate with his tongue.

Scully can tell he is exercising much restraint. His breathing is somewhat labored and his heart is beating faster. She recognizes the symptoms both as a doctor and as someone simultaneously experiencing the same symptoms.

They are both thinking, “do I talk now or do I follow my heart and body”.

They have shared so much over the years and within the last few months. Some of the sharing is verbalized, some of the sharing is just mutual knowing. Sometimes the words are needed, sometimes the words say nothing but the actions speak volumes. They have declared their very beings to each other.

Scully lays back on the floor. Mulder moves closer and is almost over her. She reaches up and runs her hands through his hair. She watches his face; his eyes close slowly, he smiles and at once looks serious again. The man wears emotions like the ocean waves roll.

She feels as if she’s testing herself. Her every nerve ending is firing erratically. She is overwhelmed with emotion for this man who can simultaneously exasperate her and bring her to the brink of fireworks. She knows just how easy it would be to pull him toward her, grab hold and never let go. She also relishes their slow exploration of each other. It is painfully, excruciatingly exciting.


Big Sky Planetarium; Part IV

Mulder watches Scully lay down. He smells her perfume as he moves over her. He feels her soft hands moving through his hair. His body is responding as if on auto-pilot. His very being is expanding with emotion for this woman who fulfills so many wants and desires for him. He feels only the present moment, but knows of those preceeding this one. He thinks that he should tell himself to breathe because his heart is racing. He touches her arm and feels the softness of the fabric over the taut muscles. He moves his hand down along her ribcage , rests it on her hip; gently rolling her over onto her side to face him.

The stars continue to move across the heavens. The music weaves an intricate web around them.

“Mulder”, Scully whispers near his ear, “your judgment is VERY good.”

Big Sky Planetarium; Part V

She props herself up on her elbow, still facing him.

To say they are both breathing quite rapidly is an understatement.

Time is standing still; time is expanding around them.

There is a knock on the door behind them. Mulder rolls onto his back and is on his feet very quickly. Scully nearly jumps out of her skin. She is so into the intensity of the moment. She is physically and emotionally primed. She hears snippets of conversation between Mulder and: is it his friend who has given them use of the facility? Is it the Man in Black? She hears Mulder say, “No, not now!” He’s trying to keep it to a dull whisper, but she’s sure he’s not pleased by the interruption. Finally, Mulder takes something from the man and thanks him. He returns to Scully, sits down and holds something up in front of her.

It’s a key.

“They were going to close the place. Instead, we’re locked in for the night.” Mulder is smiling from ear to ear. Scully can barely make out the look on his face in the candlelight and “starlight”.

The mood has changed. The intensity shifts from unresolved tension to playful flirtation, but it is still intense…

“Mulder, we can’t stay in here all night.”

“We can’t?”

“I have to go back to work on Tuesday, Mulder. I have things to do tomorrow.”

“Scully, there’s still a lot of time until Tuesday. I can help you do whatever ‘things’ you need to do tomorrow. There’s still so much to do until then.”

“Something tells me, Mulder, that my surprise isn’t over yet…” Scully is smiling.

Mulder, smiling broadly, can see her since she is facing the candlelight. She’s bathed in a soft glow. He kisses the key and dangles it from his fingers in front of her.

Scully seizes the advantage and grabs it from Mulder. She stands quickly and places it in her back pocket. She slowly backs up against a row of seats.

Mulder is taking his time moving toward her. He’s whistling that ‘I’m-trying-to-be-nonchalant” tune everyone whistles when they’re pretending you don’t know what’s coming…

“Mulder, you just stay right where you are! You know I want to stay, but I can’t be here all night and you know that. The key stays with me. Do we have a deal?”

“No deals, Scully. Don’t you remember your Special Agent training? When I have the advantage, I don’t make deals.”

Scully is laughing so hard, she’s having a hard time staying standing.

“Mulder, I think you’ve twisted the policy just a bit.” She realizes that if she wants to keep her advantage, she has to move away from the seats. She quickly steps to her right, moving away from Mulder, and runs down the steps to the main control area.

Mulder is momentarily caught off guard, but pursues her. When he reaches the control area, he can’t see her.

Scully has ducked underneath the very large, circular, raised control platform and is on the farthest side from Mulder.

“Scully, I know you’re very close; I can smell your perfume. You know it will go much better for you if you come out on your own, don’t you?”

He is greeted with utter silence. He wishes he had the remote because the music is making it hard for him to hear her movements. He tries to access the volume from the control platform, but it’s encased in plexiglass. It appears to be more for show, allowing visitors to see the archaic version of the controls.

Before he can react, Scully is behind him. She is standing on the first step and has her body pressed up against his. She reaches around his body, placing her arms over his at the elbows. She bends her own elbows and pulls her hands back toward her body. She has locked his arms in place. Her chin is resting near his right shoulder.

“Pretty clever, Scully”, Mulder says with some admiration. “However, don’t think this is anywhere NEAR over.”

Scully, with her face still very close to his body, says, “Mulder, it would appear that you are in no position to make idle threats, are you now?”


“Mulder?” As Scully wonders why he is so quiet in response to her taunt… She finds herself sitting on the edge of the raised control platform with her arms pinned at her side. Mulder is standing between her legs. He playfully licks her chin, her lips, the tip of her nose.

Scully nearly melts. She can taste the champagne on his breath. She cannot move her arms, but she wraps her legs around his hips.

When she has regained her breath, she asks, “Mulder, are you looking for the key?”

Mulder moves toward her ear and says, “Actually, Scully, I found what I was looking for.” He very quickly and lightly nibbles her ear lobe, let’s her arms go, turns and walks back up the stairs. He pours them both more champagne.

Scully is still sitting on the platform with a look of utter confusion on her face. She takes the kep from her pocket and leaves it on the edge of the platform. “I wonder if this show includes sunrise?” she thinks and walks up the stairs very slowly.

Mulder is sitting cross-legged on the floor near the candles on the table. He looks up as Scully approaches and pats the floor next to him, motioning her to join him.

Scully stands there with her hands on her hips, leaning her head to one side, trying to figure out this scenario. She can easily picture Mulder as a toddler, exploring and acting upon his environment with sheer abandon. She can picture him in grade school alternately charming his teachers with his winning smile and exasperating them with his pranks. She sees him in high school, basketball and baseball on his mind, smiling shyly at the girls and hanging out with a mixed crowd. To say he is “in touch with his inner child” is accurate, but only so far as one can figure out which of his children at what point in his life! God, how she enjoys trying to figure him out!

Scully sits down. Mulder reaches over and gently pulls her to him. She’s sitting between his legs, leaning up against him. He’s propped up against the wall facing the table with the now seriously-shorter candles. Scully tilts her head up and Mulder feels her face up against his. It’s a very pleasant sensation. They sit quietly for a few moments.

His knees are bent on either side of her. His arms are wrapped loosely around her. She is holding onto his hands which are clasped in front of her. One leg is straight out in front of her, the other is bent at the knee.

Mulder breaks the silence first. “Scully, what’re you thinking right now?”

She feels him talking; his face is still touching hers. She turns her head just slightly, as if to look at him. “I’m thinking how much fun you can be.”

“Is that all?”

“I’m thinking that you and I-we don’t get enough time together; together, alone”

Mulder tightens his hold on her. She nestles into him.


“Yes, Scully?” She slides out of his arms and turns to face him. She looks into his eyes, then glances away. The look she sees is the way she feels.

He places one hand on either side of her face and turns her back to him.

“Scully, why are you looking away?”

“I’m not sure what this is; where it’s going; IF it CAN go, how it—” Mulder holds up his index finger as if to say, “stop”, or “quiet”. He touches the finger to her lips.

“We should have this conversation, Scully. You have questions. I have questions. I know what I feel Scully. If you want to leave now, I’ll understand. If you want to talk now, we’ll talk. You say the word; it’ll happen, Scully.” They look at each other.

She is speechless. She is overwhelmed with the sight, the sound, the touch (oh, God, the touch) of him! She is not used to relationships that combine this intensity with this depth of emotion. Yes; she has lived through some rather wild, earlier years; making her choices as quickly as one chooses what to have for dinner. She has also had relationships she believed would “go somewhere”. Her experience with investing her heart and soul in another outside of her family have brought heartache and soul searching, but not what she would describe as depth of love. She puzzles often over the nature of her relationship with Mulder. Their long journey together has been a ride her earlier, wild self would describe as “over the top”. Yet, if she is to be honest with herself, she is still present.

She is still enjoying the journey. She is sometimes scared by just how much she is enjoying this journey. She senses that if she were to just let herself go completely, he would be there to support her and, probably, love her.

He has tried on and off over their years together, to hide or mask his true feelings for her.

It has not been easy. His relationships over the year would best be described as (IF he’s being honest with himself…) severe flirtations, carnal, lustful and occasionally loving.

It’s not that he lacks desire for or understanding of the way of relationships. It is more the circumstances of his life that have intermingled with his need to believe, yet doubt.

This combination often leads him to leap first, consider results, later.

He realizes, not without some wonder, that it is different with this relationship; with Scully. She has not ever been one to believe easily. She doubts first; waiting for her proof. Yet, she is also giving in a way he has never experienced. She stands by his side in the midst of her own personal turmoil. He often cannot fathom the reasons she stays.

He occasionally allows himself the luxury of thinking it could be because she feels something for him. He know without a doubt that he will take whatever time is needed to understand and nurture this relationship.

“Mulder, let’s put our conversation on hold for just a little bit. I you to continue with your surprise. However, you should know that I think I have your little plan figured out.”

“Oh, you do, do you? I wouldn’t bet all your yogurt dressing salads on it, Ms. Scully…”

he smiles playfully. “Ok, here’s the deal. We pack up here and we go somewhere else.”

“There’s MORE, Mulder?? Are you trying to recreate those all nighters we pulled at the Academy studying for exams? Are you thinking I no longer need any sleep to function? Are you___”

Scully doesn’t get to finish her last in a series of questions because Mulder has kissed her. He has achieved the desired effect and no more questions are forthcoming.

They re-cork the champagne and take a few of the remaining strawberries. Mulder stores the uneaten caviar and the rest of the Brie in the small refrigerator in the control room behind them. Only a few of the taller and larger candles remain lit.

As Scully reaches for her jacket, Mulder grabs the remote. The music changes first. It is

“I’m Gonna Find My Baby” from Moby. The beat is definite, pulsing and insistent. Her turns up the volume. He then adjusts the “heavens”. The “stars” are popping up in brilliant bursts overhead.

He comes up behind her and places his hands on her shoulders, moving her forward down the steps. As they walk down the stairs, he whispers in her ear,

“Scully, I know you have the key somewhere down here. We’ll just have to dance our way to it.” Scully laughs.

When they arrive at the bottom of the steps, he turns her around to face him. They place their hands on each other’s shoulders. They are Scully’s arm length apart, gently pushing each other away and back to the beat. He then grabs her hands and they begin to move toward and away from each other to the music. Their eyes never leave each other. As the beat picks up, Scully places her hands once again on his shoulders. He places his hands on her hips and pulls her close. The sensation of his hands guiding her hips against him is driving her mad. She momentarily attempts to create a little space between them, then wonders why she would want to. His hands move to her waist and across her back.

Her shirt slides up and his hands are on her bare skin. Neither is able to think; they only feel. She raises onto her toes and kisses his lips, pulling his head down to her. He now has his arms criss-crossed around her back, his hands holding her sides. They are as close to one and other as possible without being one.

“Mulder, we, I, uh…” He kisses her back. “Scully, we should leave.” He slowly and gently takes a step back, his hands trailing against the skin of her abs. They both breathe in deeply. They briefly hug each other, not wanting to really end their contact. They both know this is not the end.

Scully steps back, walks to where she has left the key. Mulder waits for her and takes her hand as they walk up the steps. Scully, who has previously suggested leaving, is hesitant.

She does not want the mood of this evening to fade.

Mulder blows out the candles, wets his fingers with some champagne and touches each wick to make sure it is truly extinguished. He grabs the champagne bottle and the blanket in one arm. He retakes Scully’s hand in his other. Before they reach the door, Scully pulls gently on Mulder’s hand. “Mulder, this was a wonderful surprise”, she smiles at him. “I know Scully, I know.” She playfully punches his arm.

They open the door to the lobby area. Burt and his buddies have thankfully left the lighting low. They can see to navigate, but are not blinded by the change in lighting.

They open the doors to the parking lot and notice that the snow is still falling. “Mulder, I’ve lost all track of time.”

“How many minutes are you missing, Scully?”

“No, really, Mulder, what time is it?”

“I’d guess it’s around 2AM.”

It’s beautifully quiet. The snow is falling and there is a wet, thick coating on the car.

Out over the water, the waves are rolling toward the low cement wall of the parking lot.

They both stand still for a few moments. They then head for the car. Mulder puts the blanket and other items into the car and closes the door.

Scully looks at him questioningly.

Not one to let a potentially playful moment pass, Mulder grabs some of the wet snow off the roof of the car. He quickly reaches behind her and places some of the snow against her neck. She jumps, she yells; laughing. “You really know how to end a wild evening, don’t you, Mulder?” She reaches for some snow, but he reaches her first.

“You don’t want to get this started, Scully.”

“I don’t want to start this, Mulder??? ME??” She’s laughing and still reaching for the snow.

She is quick, but he is taller and his longer legs take longer strides. She has snow in her hands, he has his arms around her. She manages to toss some snow up and hit him squarely in the face. She is up against the car, facing him. He has released his hold on her to wipe the snow from his face.

She is still laughing, trying to hold him off. He shares some of the snow he has wiped from his face. He puts it into her shirt and then leans against her.

“Mulder, are we going for extremes tonight?”

“No, Scully; we’re leaving, remember?”

She is speechless, she is cold and her teeth are chattering.

They haven’t changed positions; she is up against the car and he now has his hands on the roof of the car, standing in front of her and very close.

“Are you happy, Mulder?”

“Seriously, Scully?”

He takes one hand off the roof of the car and touches the front of her wet shirt lightly.

“You’re all wet”, he says quietly. “Mulder, you are the master of understatement”, she replies.

“I can help you warm up, Scully; especially since you probably think I’m responsible.”

“I don’t know Mulder, you don’t have such a hot track record sticking to your own plan…” she says with a small smile on her face. She doesn’t move away, she doesn’t protest.

They are both lightly covered in wet snow. The air has a slight chill to it. The waves continue to move against the low cement wall.

Mulder looks at her, then removes his other hand from the roof of the car. He first places both hands on her shoulders. She is breathing quickly.

He places one hand on her wrist; gently holding her arm against the car. He moves the other hand up under her shirt. He looks into her eyes. Her skin is wet and slightly cold to his touch.

His hand is cold on her skin, but it sends warmth through the center of her body. She inhales deeply at his touch; his warmth. He drops down onto one knee in front of her.


He lifts the hem of her shirt a few inches. He kisses her skin and then drags his lips up higher. He releases her wrist. She has her hands on his head. Her head is back against the car.

“Mulder?” He stops. He looks up at her. “Scully?”

She takes a deep breath and pulls his face back to her body. She slides down the side of the car until she is eye-to-eye with him.

“Remember… that conversation …we’re… going to… have, Mulder?” she says catching her breath.

He nods slowly. “Tomorrow, Scully?”

“Mulder, just so you know, I can’t think of a place I would rather be right now or a person I’d rather be there with. I just have to sort through all of this before there’s more to sort. We’re tired, Mulder.”

“Speak for yourself, Scully”, he smiles and laughs. “Let’s go.” He opens the door for her and hands her the fleece blanket. She pulls her seatbelt across and settles down under the blanket. Her head falls back against the headrest.

Scully is asleep before Mulder is out of the parking lot.


Scully awakens as Mulder pulls up in front of her building. “Scully, let me walk you in.”

“No, Mulder, I’m ok; really. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed tonight. Well, I could, but…”

“Scully, we both need to sleep. We can think and talk tomorrow. Remember, you have things to do and I’m going to help you.”

“Yeah, did I tell you what ‘things’, Mulder?” she asks groggily.

“Scully, go to sleep. Maybe I’ll come draw a bath for you in the morning.”

“Ok, Mulder.” Scully says barely awake enough to get out of the car, not really hearing what he is saying, but not allowing Mulder to help her in. She is not sure what will happen if he comes in with her. It is not him she is unsure of… She heads for her bedroom. She knows she is very tired. She also knows she feels wonderful. As she tosses her jacket on the edge of her bed, kicks off her boots, she tells herself she’ll think about everything tomorrow…


Monday, 9AM, Scully’s Apartment

Her phone is ringing, but Scully isn’t sure if it’s her home phone or cell phone. After reaching and haphazardly slapping around on her night stand, she finds her home phone.

It is ringing; a little too loudly for this time of day, she thinks.

“Hullo, Scully”, she says wearily into the phone. “Who would be calling me at this hour”, she thinks.

“Hey sleepyhead, it’s me”, Mulder is cheerful and chipper. Scully is not.

“Mulder, do you know what time it is?” she asks.

“As a matter of fact , I do. It’s 9AM. What is it with you and time Scully? That’s two references in less than 12 hours. Are you contemplating the fluctuation of time variables?”

“Mulder, I don’t even know what you just said”, she mumbles. She then stops, jumps up and says a little more coherently into the phone, “Mulder, it’s really 9AM!”

“Well, now that you have confirmed that I can tell time, what do you say; time for a bath?”

“I’ve got to get going. I have things to do today!”

“Scully, slow down.”

“Mulder, come pick me up in an hour, ok? Don’t be a minute late or I’ll be forced to do something wicked.”

“Yes, oh keeper of the time clock. Do I get to choose which wicked thing you do if I am late?” Mulder starts to hang up.

“Mulder?”, she ignores his question. “Why don’t we forget the car for today?”

“Scully, are we back in the workout business? You do realize that I don’t actually live in walking distance, right?”

Scully sighs, “Yes, Mulder, I do know that you can’t walk over here. I was thinking maybe we could just ride the metro for a change. We’re always driving somewhere.

Why don’t we pretend we live in the city and just be taken where we need to go?’

“Are you forgetting that you’re the one who has the errands to run?”

“You’re not coming?”

They both start laughing. “I’ll meet you at the metro stop nearest your place, Scully, in one hour.”

Monday, 11A, Greater DC Metropolitan Transit Station #14 The day is warmer, the wet snow is nowhere in sight. Scully sits on the granite wall of the entry to the metro. She smiles as she watches people walk by. She has purposely arrived earlier than Mulder, wanting and needing the time to begin to sort through their whirlwind last days together. She is basically happy; no, strike that, she is very happy.

She is also unsure of how all the pieces of her life as she knows it fit together. She loves her job, she loves her job as Mulder’s partner, she loves Mulder—wait! Where did that come from? Just the next link in the logic chain, Scully? Her job as Mulder’s partner and her love for Mulder as her life partner can’t work. One or the other? Both? Is it possible that she could have finally found true happiness? They work well together, they play well together. The “play” part brings a huge smile to her face, causing those walking by her to smile back.

Mulder has been standing slightly off to one side for a few minutes, enjoying the view.

He quietly moves up next to her, hops up onto the wall and puts his arm around her shoulder. “Whatta ‘ya thinkin’, Scully? Can I join in; sure looks like you’re having fun…”

“Mulder!” Scully nearly jumps out of her skin. She’s so into her daydream and so deep in thought that she doesn’t hear him approach. Damn! He catches her that way often.

“Let’s go, Mulder. I need to get downtown to the cleaners.”

“Scully, you sure know how pick the fun things for us to do.” Scully tosses her two suits over Mulder’s shoulder and runs down the stairs to the metro station.

At this time on a weekday, the metro is rather empty. They find two seats facing each other. Mulder puts his feet up on the seat next to Scully and across from him. He puts Scully’s clothing next to him. She’s looking out the window as they pull out of the station. He’s looking at her. “What WERE you thinking back there, Scully?”

She surprises him by answering directly, “I was thinking about us, about the last few days, about how much I enjoyed myself with you, about us…” He is speechless. Scully has forsaken her, “nothing, Mulder”, for candor. It’s not that he feels she tries to decieve, only that she is usually not one to talk emotion and feelings with him when it concerns the two of them. She seems to prefer hedging or putting off.


“So, Mulder, I can’t figure it out.”

“Figure what out, Scully?”

“Figure out how it can possibly work”, she replies. “You’ve lost me, Scully.”

Now it’s her turn to be speechless. Is he lost because he doesn’t think there is an “us”? Or, is he lost because he doesn’t think there’s any conflict between professional and personal partners? Scully jumps in… “Mulder, how have I lost you?” She is taking a huge leap here. She steels herself for the one response she’s afraid to hear.

“Well, Scully, I guess first of all, we need to talk about what you mean by ‘us’.”

“Mulder? You don’t think…” Scully is cut off as the train pulls into the station. This is their stop. Mulder looks at her expectantly. She doesn’t finish. She grabs her clothing, turns toward the exit and walks off the train.

Mulder follows thinking that she’s storming now and she’s upset. Somehow, he thinks he’s asking good, sensitive, clarifying questions. How is it that when he thinks “a”, she’s thinking “b”, he wonders. He guesses that’s part of the reason he is so head over heels for her. He just wants to be sure they both feel the same way. He also needs to catch up with her. At the rate she’s moving, she’ll have the clothes back from the cleaners before he even gets there!


Just outside the DC limits, 10:30A

He catches her on the stairs to the street. “Scully, where’s the fire?”

“I just need to get there before they close, Mulder”, she says rather stiffly. Mulder follows silently. HE knows she has the whole day, but telling her so will only escalate the situation. They walk into the shop. The shopkeeper greets her by name and smiles at her.

“Friday ok, Dana?”

“Sure Andrea.” She tucks the slip into her back pocket and turns to leave.

Mulder smiles at Andrea and follows Scully. When it appears that she is not going to talk to him as she speedwalks past the shops, he stops where he is. Hands on hips, weight shifted to one hip, he stands. Scully passes the bank, the gift shop and is in front of the Café when she realizes Mulder isn’t right behind her. She stops. She’s fuming, but mostly at herself. She is not good at the talking about feelings game. The first time he questions her, she collapses. She turns around and looks at him standing several storefronts back. His eyebrow is raised over the frame of his sunglasses. He has a slight smirk on his face. He is the picture of everything she wants. His jeans fit snugly where it counts and his brown sweater underneath his brown barn jacket give him that devil may care look. His hair has fallen into his eye on one side and the sun is shining off of it.

Scully drops her arms by her sides and slowly walks toward him. She’s starting to smile and he’s smiling right back. He doesn’t move, however. When she reaches him, she stops directly in front of him. Her sunglasses are on. She looks up at him, but doesn’t say anything at first. He is perfectly content to stand there and wait. The ball is in her court, so to speak… She looks down momentarily, then gazes back up at him. He still says nothing. He does notice the sun in her hair and wishes he could see her eyes behind her shades. “Ok, I give, Mulder!” Still, he is silent. “Are you going to make me do this on the street in broad daylight with lots of people around us? Mulder?” Silence. He is enjoying this scene.

She is obviously trying to pull it together and is unsure how to proceed. He is slightly afraid to help her out because there is a high probability that he will say the wrong thing again. He believes he is choosing the path of least resistance. He waits for her.

He is surprised when she acts. She does not offer any explanations. She doesn’t laugh, she doesn’t yell. She grabs onto his shoulders and kisses his lips, on the street in broad daylight with lots of people around them… It is not the “public display of affection”

quick peck he is expecting. Between the warmth of the sun on his back and the heat of her lips on his, he is singed. She then turns around and heads for the metro station.

Mulder touches his lips with the back of his hand and then smiles and shakes his head.

“Keeps me guessing, oh yeah.” He follows her.

“Scully, wait up! You’re heading into the wrong station.” He now has to run just to make sure she doesn’t get on the wrong train. Too late; he manages to duck inside the door as the train is pulling out of the station. They are headed out of town.


Monday, 11AM, Taking a Ride

“Scully, where are we going now?”

“Just enjoy the ride, Mulder.”

“Does that mean you don’t know either, Scully?”

She smiles enigmatically and looks out the window. The car is nearly empty. They are passing through a dark, underground, section of track. Mulder moves over to Scully’s seat. He sits with his hands on his legs, looking at her looking out the window at darkness. As the car rounds a sharp corner, he leans into her. He puts his arm around her shoulder.

The car comes out of the dark and flies through the station; no one is waiting to get on or off.

“Are we headed anywhere in particular, Scully? Not that I mind a good adventure, but I’m getting hungry.”

“I’ll check, Mulder.” She stands up and starts walking to the back of the car. They re-enter another dark section. “Scully?” Mulder does not get an answer. He stands, trying to see where he’s going in the occasional, dim, lighting. He finds her standing in the next car, trying to check out the metro line map on the side wall overhead. She is hanging on to the silver, U-shaped hand hold suspended from the ceiling.

He moves up to the hand-hold directly behind her. He is trying to squint at the metro map. “Scully, can you actually see that?” The train jerks over a bumpy section of track and sways side to side. Scully is tossed back up against Mulder. He steadies her with an arm around her waist from behind. The ride smoothes out, but he does not remove his hand. She tries to take a slight step forward; he holds her in place. He leans in toward her right ear and whispers, “Shall we have a seat or are you going to continue to pretend to read that map?” She removes his hand from her waist, takes it in hers and leads him to a seat.

The train pulls into the Pentagon City Station. A few people dressed in suits board and move into another car. Scully gets up and walks to the doors. Mulder follows her; totally puzzled. He decides that while he is enjoying spending lots of time with her, he needs to know what is going on in her mind and he needs to know it now.

Before she can get to the stairs leading to street level, he taps her on the shoulder. She stops and turns around.

“Scully, will you please stop and tell me what’s going on? I mean, I’m glad to be here with you, but I don’t know where ‘here’ is. Come over here and sit down for just a minute, please.”

Scully follows Mulder over to the red and white ceramic tile wall bench and slides over next to him. She pulls her legs up under her and turns slightly to look at him. She smiles at him.

“Ok, Scully, talk to me.”

“Mulder, I’m just trying to be a little adventurous, less planned, more spontaneous.”

“You’ve succeeded. What else is behind this little jaunt?”

“I guess I’m just trying to find a time and place to continue our talk. I can’t seem to find that time and place.”

“Why don’t you just ask for my help, then? I am part of the talk, right?”

“Ok, Mulder, you name it; when and where?”

“Let’s go upstairs.” They exit at West Hayes Street. Mulder heads for the Ritz Carleton Hotel Lobby. He walks with purpose, as if he’s been here before. He heads for a small area of tapestry, cloth-covered tables and high back, velvet, lounge chairs off to one side of the lobby. He pulls a chair away from the table for Scully and then sits down himself opposite her. A server places a basket of warm breadsticks and a pot of tea on the table.

“Mulder?” Scully looks at him questioningly. He just shrugs and says, “it’s just what they do here, Scully, honest.”


“Well, I must admit this is rather nice, Mulder. Middle of the weekday, no crowds, no big decisions to make, good food, good____”

He puts down a cup of hot tea which he pours for her. “Scully!”

She stops. He realizes she must be nervous. “Scully, let’s try to pick up our conversation from last night again. We were talking about us and what that means.”

Brrrng brrrng Scully’s cellphone rings. As she reaches for it, Mulder sighs and sits back in his chair and hangs his head down in an exaggerated fashion.

“Scully”, she says into the phone. “Yes, sir. Yes, he’s right here. Respectfully, sir, it doesn’t matter where. Yes, I will convey the message.” She flips the phone closed and places it back in her pocket.

“Skinner?” Mulder asks. Scully replies, “He wants to see both of us first thing tomorrow morning. He has a case for us; possibly an X-File.”

“So, my vacation is over before it’s started, huh?” Mulder asks.

“I guess, so, Mulder. You could always tell him you’re unavailable, that you have other plans out of town. He wouldn’t know. I can handle whatever it is on my own or with another agent.”

Mulder sits back up when he thinks about Scully working with another agent.

“No, that’s fine, I’ll be there with you Scully.”

They both sit back and drink their tea, trying to regain the earlier mood.

Mulder has an idea to prolong their day. Ever the man of mystery, he smiles at Scully.

“Do you think we can spend just a little more time here, Scully?”

She leans forward, elbows on the table, chin on her hands. She playfully scrutinizes him.

“Just what is going on in that lovely, mysterious head of yours, Mulder. Out with it.”

“You trust me, right, Scully?”

“Mulder”, she says warningly. Her smile remains.

Mulder puts some cash on the table. He stands and holds his hand out to Scully. She takes it and looks questioningly at him.

“What now, oh partner of mine?” she asks.

“Scully, you didn’t say if you trust me, but that’s ok; I know you do. No more questions, just follow me.” He leads her away from the tea room and through the lobby. The lobby is ornate in a turn-of-the-century way. Deep burgundies, warm golds, hunter greens interspersed with white flowers. Velvet seating, golden chandeliers, brocade wallpaper.

Mulder doesn’t seem to notice, but Scully feels just a bit out of place.

He leads her through the lobby, still holding her hand, but they are now walking side by side. They pass the brass doors of the elevator banks leading to the guest rooms. People are passing them in both directions; some moving with a purpose, others strolling leisurely.

As they pass underneath an overhead walkway, Scully hears the piano. With an ear for classical music, she picks out a Chopin piano sonata. She doesn’t realize she’s slowed down until she turns to see Mulder stopped, staring at her. “Mulder, isn’t it beautiful?”

“Yes, you are… C’mon, Scully, I need to show you something.” The romance of classical music is lost on Mulder, but only the music.

As they near what appears to be the back door to the main level lobby, Mulder stops. It is much darker here and Scully almost runs into him. He then leads her carefully to a door she never would have found if he had not shown her. “Mulder, just where are we going? Should we be back here? This looks like private____”

“She’s doing it again” Mulder thinks. He gently grabs her shoulders, turns her to face him and kisses her. “Do you know you’re even more beautiful when you’re trying to figure me out, Scully? Now, let’s go!”

“Mulder, I—” She realizes it’s no use. He is one of the most determined people she knows; especially when he has a plan. That is one of the very things that both endears him to her and frustrates her. Endearing always wins… He opens the door to a semi-dark stairwell heading down out of the lobby. While it is dark, there is clearly enough lighting to see their way safely. Scully again hears piano music, but it is not coming from the lobby. The music is different, too; bluesy, “Stormy Weather”.

Scully whispers, “Mulder, what IS this place?” She is intrigued and surprised to find she is also turned on. Mulder’s grip on her hand tightens some; not an unpleasant sensation.

He decides that she has been a very good sport. Actually, she’s always a good sport where he’s concerned. “Scully, a friend of mine owns this place. It’s an old, private club open only to members and ‘special guests’.”

Scully is speechless. “Scully?”

“Um, yeah, Mulder; this is wonderful. Just one question; how many of these ‘friends’ do you have? Do they all own out of the ordinary places? I mean, planetariums, private clubs; what else, Mulder?”

“No fair, Scully, you said ‘one question’.”

They walk through a warmly lit lounge area. All the seating is plush, deep, couches that look like they belong to a bygone era. The carpet nap is thick and rich. The only lighting consists of glass covered table candles and what look like gas powered wall sconces.

The lighting is warm, but Scully feels a chill. They have descended almost three levels from what she can tell. Mulder feels her shiver. He moves behind her and enfolds her in his arms. She leans her head back against his chest.

“Why don’t we go sit down for awhile and listen to the music, Scully.”

The blues gives way to slow, New Orleans jazz, very sensual in its slow, plodding beat.

They walk over to one of the couches set off in a corner. Mulder playfully pushes Scully into the large, soft pillows lining the entire couch. “Mulder!” she laughs. They appear to be alone in the back corner of this private club.

“Can I join you, Scully?” Before he finishes his question, Mulder is on top of Scully.

With false effort, she tries to push him off of her. “Mulder, I hadn’t finished what I wanted to say and this place is filled with people!”

“Is it, Scully? I don’t see anyone but the piano player and he’s too far away to even notice us.”

“Mulder, I could have sworn there were more people when we came in.” Scully is clearly puzzled.

“It’s not worth thinking about. Let’s just enjoy ourselves. I know you had more you wanted to say, but I want to say something, too. I think it can wait, though. What do you think?”

“I think we’ve waited this long, we have a new case tomorrow. It’ll probably keep a few days longer.” Scully smiled.

“So, Scully, now that that’s settled and you can see there aren’t really that many people here at all, what do you say we get a little cozier?” Mulder smiles slyly.

“Just what did you have in mind, Mulder?”

“I had in mind”, he whispers, “no more questions, Scully.” He is running his hands through her hair until she thinks she’s on fire. He loves the soft feel of her hair on his hands. As she gasps, he closes the gap and kisses her. She forgets about the other people no longer in the lounge.

They end up lying on their sides facing each other. “Wish we had this kind of furniture now” Mulder thinks. She buries her head in his neck and gently bites him several times.

“Try explaining THAT to Skinner tomorrow morning, Mulder.” She whispers in his ear.

“Scully, you are a wicked woman.” He runs his tongue over her lips, but as she tries to kiss him, he pulls back. She places a hand on each side of his face and runs her tongue over his lips. “You taste very good, Mulder.”

“Like I said, you are a wicked woman.”

“A wicked woman who knows where this is going to lead if we don’t head home right now, Mulder.”

“We need to go home, why, Scully?”

“We can put ‘this’ and our discussion on-hold just a bit longer, can’t we, Mulder? I mean, no one’s ever died of failing to feel completely physically fulfilled. I haven’t read any studies or reports to that effect, Mulder.”

“I’m going to be the first study case, Scully. I’m going to use your name when I apply for the study, too. I’ll detail all the ways you have brought me to the brink, only to let me go.

You’re weakening my immune system, doc!”

“C’mon, Scully”, he takes her hand and stands up, “We can talk as we head back. Let’s walk down Hayes Street. We’ll pick the train up at another station. I know you’re anxious to get home now that we have to report in tomorrow morning.”

When they reach the main lobby, they both squint in the brighter lighting. Scully, still holding Mulder’s hand, stops. She is visually imprinting this place in her memory along with all of the places she and Mulder have visited the last several days. Truth be told, while she is excited about the possibility of a new case, she will miss the time she has enjoyed with her partner.

Mulder is also creating a visual recording and recapping his time off to regain his perspective and judgment (good!). He has discovered a new perspective where his partner is concerned and has exercised extremely good judgment when it comes to displaying gargantuan restraint when his body said otherwise. He wonders whether this new case will give them any time alone together. She wonders whether their recent declarations and promises to continue will have any effect on their ability to work as partners.

They head out onto Hayes Street and walk on down past Pentagon City Station. The way they are feeling right now, they could walk all the way home.


RPJ2; Undercover Phase by nja3

First week of April; spring still having a hard time settling in to East Coast The Office; Tuesday, 8A

Scully is usually very organized and efficient while at work. She moves through her routine; checks her email and voicemail, reviews any folders left in the inbasket on Mulder’s desk,…“Mulder’s not here yet”, she pauses in her routine.

“Skinner’s not going to be in a very good mood if he’s late for this meeting.”

She goes back to the folders. She opens the first one, sees the final report, sees the words on the page, but there is no comprehension. She’s viewing, but not processing. She puts the folder back into the wire basket. She is jumpy this morning. She assumes it is because of their upcoming case with another Agent.

She has not told Mulder about this development. She chastises herself from keeping it from him and tells herself that she did so because she didn’t want to ruin their last day together. They are rarely assigned to work an entire case with someone else. Three is a strange number she muses. She then wonders whether the new case is the entire reason for her feeling on edge.

She sits in Mulder’s chair, her arms on the armrests and sighs. Unbidden, freeze frames of Sunday night at the Big Sky Planetarium are going through her mind; the shutter advancing rapidly. Mulder’s look of excitement when they arrive. The man dressed all in black ushering them inside. The “stars” overhead as she sits in the chair while Mulder arranges his surprise for her. Mulder’s fingers in her hair. Mulder feeding her a chocolate covered strawberry. Mulder moving closer… Thoughts of Monday play through her mind next. Little moments; big feelings. Their subway ride, their bodies close, the private club at The Ritz. She is in another place, another time. She needs to cool off! She leans back in Mulder’s chair and places her feet on his desk. As she leans back, her eyes close.

The phone ends the picture show in her head abruptly. Her eyes open, she rouses with a start. She sees Mulder leaning against the door frame with one hand on his hip. He is smiling mischievously.

She grabs the phone, her face flushed, “Scully.”

“Agent, I need to see you and Agent Mulder in my office now.” Skinner hangs up before she can answer.

“Welcome back to the real world, Scully”, Mulder smiles.

@ @ @

Skinner’s Office; Tuesday, 8:30A

Skinner has several folders open on his desk when Mulder and Scully walk in and sit down.

“Agents, I have a new case for you. You are going to be working with a Field Agent on this case. You will be travelling to Rye, New Hampshire later this week.

Rye is a small town on the eastern edge of Portsmouth very close to the ocean.

You will all be in deep cover. Agent Mulder, you will be leading the team.”

“Sir, what is our case?” Scully asks.

“We’ll get to that in a minute. In the meantime, as soon as this briefing is over, the three of you will go to the Deep Missions Office for your new identities. You will spend the next few days learning all you can about your covers, the town and the case.”

“Some would like to think of this as an X-File. At this point, I just don’t have enough information to make a definitive statement on that. However, the Field Agent will fill you in. He should arrive any minute now.”

Scully is looking down at her hands. She furtively glances over at Mulder. He is staring off into space. He senses her gaze and returns it with a slight smile.

They both look away simultaneously.

Skinner’s assistant comes to the door. “Sir, the Field Agent is here to see you.”

“Show him in.”

Scully and Mulder both look to the door. Two sets of eyebrows raise in amazement.

@ @ @

Skinner stands. “Agent Ritter, please come in. I believe you know Agents Mulder and Scully?”

Field Agent Payton Ritter has the good grace to momentarily look toward the floor and then says, “Uh, yes, Sir, we all know each other.”

Mulder starts to stand.

Scully reaches over and lightly places her hand on his arm. He remains seated.

Skinner moves them past the possibly indendiary situation. “Let’s clear up any misperceptions and judgments before we proceed. Field Agent Ritter was sanctioned by his home office following the case he and Agent Scully were assigned to last year. He has redeemed himself since that time. He needs our assistance since the current case crosses state lines. He needs your unique skills, Agents.”

Mulder is thinking about how Scully almost lost her life because of the redeemed Agent Payton Ritter.

Scully is not sure of Ritter’s willingness to work with either of them based on the comments he has made regarding Agent Mulder.

Mulder and Scully both know that protesting the assignment is detrimental to their future employment at the Bureau and continued status with the X-Files.

Neither one says anything.

“Let’s move over to the table so Agent Ritter can fill us in.”

Skinner observes the non-verbals among the Agents. He briefly wonders about the wisdom of partnering these three. However, no matter what he shows externally, he has the ultimate faith and confidence in his Agents’ abilities to put aside personal issues for the sake of the case at hand.

The four sit around the table. Skinner sits next to Agent Ritter on one side; Mulder and Scully on the other.

“Agent Mulder, Agent Scully; I’m going to work very hard to make this work. The New York Field Office desperately needs your help.”

“Okay, Ritter, enough with the niceties”, Mulder is antsy, “Get on with it.”

Scully tries hard to remain silent.

“Ok, Agent Mulder is right. Here’s the story. Dr. Brenton is a surgeon of some repute at New York General.” Before he can continue, Scully says, “‘Some’ repute? He’s a renowned surgeon. He does general surgery, but his specialty is neurology; especially those cases related to brain functions. I’ve heard him speak and read some of his papers.”

“That’s him. The problem is what’s been happening to his recent surgery patients. As Agent Scully said, he specializes in brain surgery. In the last year, he has completed approximately 50 successful brain surgeries. Of the 50 patients, all went to recovery with strong vitals and no outward appearances that anything was out of the ordinary. Once they went home, the peculiar behavior began.”

“Define ‘peculiar’”, Mulder says with a small smirk on his face and a not-so-small edge in his voice.

Agent Ritter looks slightly flustered, glances at Skinner and then continues.

“By ‘peculiar”, I mean that once home, families, partners, friends started reporting strange behavior. While Dr. Brenton told each patient that she or he could expect some lasting effects; mainly dizziness, nauseous or feeling a slowing of movements, he did not warn them about what they were experiencing. They appeared to be mind reading those closest to them.”

Agent Ritter pauses. He looks at each face at the table. Agent Scully has her lips pursed and her right eyebrow raised slightly. Agent Mulder is trying to look anywhere but at Agent Ritter. Only AD Skinner is looking directly at Ritter.

He remains silent. When he does not get any questions or comments, he thinks

“tough room, Ritter” and continues. “While cases of people close to one and other having a special connections is not unheard of, these people reported that the surgery had made it possible for the patient to actually quote specific thoughts. The strangest part of the case is that these patients then disappeared.

They cannot be located anywhere. The disappearances occurred within 48 hours of their return home. There do not appear to be any similarities among these patients. We pulled data for age, sex, living environment, family size, family medical history, place of employment, schooling; no overlaps. Even our interviews with the families and friends showed no consistencies other than the anecdotal reports of mind reading.”

“And we’re going to New Hampshire for the scenery?” Mulder asks.

“When the heat got turned on at NY General and in New York state, Dr. Brenton also disappeared, seemingly without a trace. He is now practicing at Mercy Hospital in Rye Beach as Dr. Baines. Although neighboring Portsmouth has a much larger hospital, Mercy has continued to serve the smaller outlaying areas of West Rye, Rye and Rye North Beach. It is somewhat more conservative, but has a strong track record medically. The area is economically well-situated and can afford to provide state-of-the art techniques. We believe Dr. Baines chose a smaller hospital in which to practice to keep the heat off.”

“Are there any questions? Dana?”, Ritter asks.

Scully looks him in the eye, “It’s Scully. And, no , there are no questions; yet.”

@ @ @

Skinner continues with the case details, “Agents Mulder and Scully will fly to Boston’s Logan Airport on Wednesday morning. From there, you will receive a an SUV. You will drive it into Rye, New Hampshire. This vehicle will be part of your cover. Mulder and Scully will each have an apartment in a Victorian house on Cable Road. Agent Ritter will be living on the next street over, Central Road.

He will fly straight into Portsmouth.”

Mulder is fidgeting; he is getting too many details without the bigger picture.

“So, Scully and I get to drive while our man Payton here wings it in?” Mulder refuses to lessen the animosity he still feels toward Agent Ritter.

Skinner notices and attempts to move past the tensions.

“While the three of you will naturally interact in such a small town, it would be much too obvious to have three newcomers all arrive on the scene together, replies Skinner. He continues, “I’ll ask a final time before you all head to Deep Missions; are there any questions?”

Scully looks up questioningly, “Sir, Field Agent Ritter has stated that there are no common variables to the patients. What about their medical procedure? Surely ‘brain surgery’ is a broad term encompassing many different conditions and subsequent protocols and procedures.”

“That’s just it, Scully, their surgeries were all different, yet the final result was the same”, Ritter replies.

Mulder and Scully stand. For them, the meeting is at an end.

Although they are still concerned with their new partner, they are anxious to begin their new assignment.

Scully starts to head out the door first.

As Mulder begins to follow, Ritter stops him. Scully, sensing that Mulder is no longer behind her, pauses and turns around.

“Sir, I’d like to talk with Agent Mulder alone, if I may?” Ritter asks.

Skinner merely nods once and ushers Scully out of the office, closing the door behind them as he leaves Mulder and Ritter alone.

Mulder stands, hands on hips, his suit jacket behind his hands. Ritter is looking somewhat sheepish, but tries to hold his ground. “Agent Mulder, I think we need to clear the air here and now if we’re to work together.”

“No, Field Agent Ritter, I don’t think we need to clear the air. You have been redeemed, your superiors speak highly of you. Agent Scully and I will treat this case professionally. However, I will remind you of what I’ve said before, ‘you were very lucky’ your first time with Agent Scully. Do NOT tempt Lady Luck for a second time. Am I making myself perfectly clear?”

“Yes”, is Ritter’s only reply as he heads for the door.

@ @ @

Deep Missions Office, 9:30A Monday

The man behind the reception desk looks up as the three agents enter. “Yes, may I help you?”

Scully, anxious to get underway, speaks first, “We’re Special Agents Scully and Mulder and Field Agent Ritter for the New York City Office. We’re here to receive our cover assignments as prescribed by AD Skinner.”

“Ah, yes, Agents; please follow me. Agent Scully, you will be working with Specialist Nona Harkins. Agents Mulder and Ritter, you will be working with Specialist Bart Smith. Since Agent Scully’s cover is much more involved, she will need to work very closely with one Specialist. The three of you will remain in this complex for the remainder of the day. The first part of your briefing will be intense. After today, you will begin to assume your new roles and interact with each other in those roles only. Are there any questions, Agents?”

The Agents walk away with their Specialists.

@ @ @

Deep Missions Office; Specialist Briefings

“Specialist Harkins”, Scully begins. “Please, call me Nona; the other stuff is quite a mouthful, don’t you think?” Scully smiles, “ok, Nona, just what will my role be?”

“You will be Dr. Baines’ chief medical/surgery nurse. Given your background and training as an MD, it would make the most sense to have you establish a close working relationship with the man. He’s in his early 50’s, salt and pepper, blue-grey eyes, about 6’3″. He comes across in a very mild-mannered, charming way; especially to the women with whom he works. Unlike some of his counterparts, he is not usually intentionally demeaning to women. He works hard to treat his nurses and fellow doctors appropriately. He does, however, have a slight reputation as a lady’s man, if you catch my drift.” Scully ‘catches’ it alright. She’s thinking Mulder won’t like that aspect one bit.

Nona continues, “You will become Dana Katz. We’re going to darken your hair to more of a medium brown; you’re red hair will make you much too ‘memorable’.

Given the conservative, yet monied nature of Rye, we’ve created a new look for you.” Nona pulls out three jewelry cases. Inside are a choker, bracelet, and earring of small seed pearls with gold spacer beads. “These will be worn all the time; your ‘signature’ as Dana Katz. They show a classy, yet moderately well-off woman.”

Scully is always a bit skeptical of what she views as ‘sweeping generalizations’ made from something so insignificant as jewelry or hair color, for example.

However, she defers to Nona who has much more experience in this area than she does.

“You have just moved into town with a long-time, but casual, friend; that will be Agent Mulder. You received your nursing diploma from the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington. You have been most recently practicing out West in New Mexico where you also received a certificate in advanced training from NMU School of Medicine. You have moved back east to be closer to your family. Ms. Katz is athletic; she runs daily, usually in the early morning. She also likes an occasional glass of wine with dinner and has a fine sense of humor. Agent Scully, this means you will need to let yourself smile more. Now, to make Nurse Katz a little more interesting, she needs to have a slightly wild side that is apparent, but only in appropriate settings.”

Specialist Harkins waits for a smile. She doesn’t get one from Scully.

Scully thinks, “oh brother…”

Nona tells Scully that from this point forward, Scully will need to live her new role.

Scully and Nona head off to “wardrobe” for her hair and clothing changes.

Meanwhile, in the next set of rooms, Mulder and Ritter are getting their assignment briefings.

Specialist Smith begins with Mulder. “Agent Mulder, you will become Fox Masters. You’re new to town and have arrived with your long-time, casual friend, Nurse Dana Katz. You have been on the east coast while she’s been nursing in New Mexico; although the two of you have visited frequently and been in touch the entire time. You’re helping her settle into her new position in Rye and you may stay around for a while. You are looking for a job, but are in no rush to do so. Your family has some money. You will end up teaching psychology at the nearby Portsmouth Community college.

We’re going to give you a somewhat more ‘rakish’ look; let your hair fall forward a little more, buzz the back, do the v-neck sweater with the pushed up sleeves over nice trousers look. You will exude boyish charm.”

“Agent Ritter, you also have a colorful role to play. You wll become Peter Roden and…”

Before Specialist Smith can continue, Mulder bursts into laughter. “Well, Ritter, I mean Rodent, guess some grand poobah got your number straight!”

“That will be enough, Agent Mulder”, Specialist Smith continues describing Ritter’s role.

“You have been hired as the chief of hospital maintenance. In that role, you will be Agent Scully’s major on-site contact.”

Mulder is not happy about this development.

Ritter seems to make note of this fact as he smirks in Mulder’s direction.

Smith continues as if he doesn’t notice the chill in the air. “In keeping with the hospital appearance codes, we’re going to shorten your hair considerably. You will wear the hospital uniform. Your backstory is that you have recently been widowed and fallen on hard times. You have moved here to put as much distance between you and your past so you can make a new start. You will need to casually ‘meet’ Dana and Fox as quickly as possible so you can make some contact in public.”

“Now, I suggest that you both get to wardrobe and begin to review your roles.

From this point forward, the three of you will live your new roles.”

Mulder and Ritter head off to wardrobe for their new looks.

@ @ @

“Wardrobe” Section of Deep Missions Office, 10:30A Monday

Scully is escorted to a room equipped to resemble the local hairdressers. She is given a permanent wave and her hair is dyed a warm brown with some red highlights. Once it is dried, she’s given a dark brown velvet slim fabric headband. Her hair is slicked back from her face and the band rests behind her ears.

She puts on the seed pearl jewelry.

She then disappears into the Closet. Nona helps her select her street clothes.

She chooses a chocolate brown just above the knee length suede skirt, brown hose and a mocha satin stretch button down shirt which she tucks in. Nona suggests chunky heeled brown suede slip ons. Although this is a departure from Scully’s usual style, she finds she is comfortable with it. The hair is taking her longer to adjust to… She has her make-up redone.

Nona gives her a casefile on her new persona and takes her to the library section to read.

Mulder has his hair re-styled. A little gel and a dryer allows the stylist to give him the rakish look. His hair is buzzed in the back. He is given a hunter green v-neck cashmere sweater and tan lightweight trousers. They are fitted through the waist and hips, but drape from his backside to his brown loafers. He pushes up the sleeves of his sweater. The ‘V” dips down slightly below his collarbone. He keeps his watch, but is given a marine link gold chain for his neck.

Ritter’s dark brown hair is cut very short and close. He wears jeans and a white polo shirt.

They are each given their reading material and head for the library.

@ @ @

The Library Section of Deep Missions Office, 12:30P Monday

Scully finds a table in the corner. She chooses a chair facing the door so she can see when Mulder and Ritter enter. She has her file laid out in front of her and is learning the details of Dana Katz’s life prior to her arrival in Rye. Her newly-brown hair falls forward from her headband and her legs are crossed at the knee under the table. She pulls on her wire rim glasses and takes notes as she reads.

Mulder is thinking of how many ways he can use Ritter’s new last name. He also starts to play his new “rakish” role. “Hi, I’m Fox Masters”, he swaggers.

Ritter is not far behind him. He wonders just how they’ll pull this one off with Mulder’s open animosity toward him. He believes that he can handle Scully, but Mulder is an unknown. He’ll have to report on his progress with them.

They both reach the Library and look around for Scully.

The Library appears mostly empty except for one man at the first table and a woman in the back corner in this section.

Ritter tells Mulder he’ll go around the other side to see if he can locate Scully.

Mulder nods and walks in. He automatically checks out the woman in the back corner. She draws him to her. He stops and chastises himself. He is finally making headway with Scully and is looking at someone else.

She’ll kill him.

As he approaches the back table, the woman glances in his direction.

She puts her pencil in her teeth, smiles shyly at him and then wraps her lips around the pencil as she take it out of her mouth.

She puts her hair behind her ear. Mulder’s blood pressure appears to be on the rise.

They both stop. They realize who they are looking at each other.

Mulder wonders how she can be anymore exquisite and gives himself a brief reprieve when he realizes he was attracted to Scully!

Scully checks out his new look with open admiration. She stands and walks over to him.

He notices her outfit and gives her the once over. She extends her hand to him and tosses her hair back behind her shoulders. “Dana Katz, nice to meet you Mr.?” She says.

“Dana Katz, long time, no see; it’s me, Fox Masters”, he purrs to her.

They know they are supposed to remain in their new characters but they are having so much fun checking each other out.

Scully wonders absentmindedly when Mulder’s hair grew in. She’s so used to seeing it combed back. The way the front part hangs down over one eye and the extremely short back is very…interesting she thinks.

“Let me show you my antique book collection back there in the stacks, Dana”, he says as he guides her around the corner to the shelved books.

She whispers, “what are you doing, Fox?”, as she walks backwards toward the stacks.

He walks with her, toe-to-toe, backing her into the wall. He is developing his new persona.

He not-so-gently pulls her arms over her head up against the wall. He holds her wrists with one hand.

Her chest is rising and falling noticeably; threatening to open the buttons on her satin blouse.

He wets one finger and slowly places it inside the pearl choker. He runs his finger along her neck. When his hand reaches the back of her neck, he tilts her head up. He teasingly kisses her lips lightly. Then he kisses her more deeply.

She wimpers his name.

He brings her arms down and puts his hand lightly over her mouth.

“Remember, Dana, I’m not Mulder.” He smiles, kisses her forehead, and walks back to the outer section.

“Mulder”, she whispers and then grabs the shelving for support.

“This is going to be one interesting undercover assignment!” she thinks.

When she has cooled down and composed herself, she walks back to her table.

She finds Mulder and Ritter sitting there.

Unbidden, she thinks that Ritter looks rather handsome in a boyish sort of way.

She thinks this assignment is going to be trouble.

@ @ @

Making Arrangements to Leave Town, Tuesday, 9A Scully’s Apartment

Scully is reading over her information about the case for the hundreth time.

She’s thinking about “Dana Katz” and trying to keep herself in her role. She’s chosen her outfit for travel; something comfortable that can go from flight to drive.

She finds herself wondering what Mulder will look like, “Fox Masters”; she chuckles at the sound of that name.

She decides it’s time to call her mom since she’ll be out of town and undercover for at least the next month.


“Hi, mom; it’s me.”

“Dana! What’s new?”

“Well, I actually called to let you know that I’ll be out of town for the next month or so. You’ll be able to reach me by cellphone only during that time.”

Maggie Scully is quiet. She realizes this means that her daughter is embarking on another (probably dangerous) case. She understands that Dana can’t discuss her business, but she worries nonetheless. She secretly hopes that Fox will be with her daughter.

“Are you sure you’re going to be ok, Dana? Should Fox go with you?”

Scully smiles into the phone. Her mother is very protective. Her smile fades briefly as she realizes that her mother is worried about losing another daughter.

“Mom, yes, Mulder will be with me.”

“Can you at least tell me what state you’ll be in?” Maggie pleads.

“Ok, Mom! We’ll be in New Hampshire. If it helps you feel better, we’ll also have another Agent with us.”

“Dana, it sounds serious!” the thought of additional help, intended to help her mother feel that Scully will be safe only makes it worse.

“Mom, I’m a big girl, I’ve worked for the Bureau for a long time and I know how to take care of myself. I’ll be careful.”

“I love you, Dana.”

“Love you too, Mom!”

Scully hangs up. She grabs the picture of the family taken the Christmas before her father died and puts it in her luggage.

On her way to her bedroom, she passes a mirror and does a doubletake. It’s taking her awhile to get used to her new hair style. She reflects that Mulder and Ritter seemed to like the change. She picks up the pearl jewelry and puts it on.

As she clasps the strand of pearls around her neck, she remembers Mulder’s finger against her neck as he fingered the necklace. A shiver runs down her spine.

@ @ @

Mulder’s Apartment

Mulder drops a long-feed tablet in his fishtank and says good-bye to his golden scaled friends. He picks up errant tapes from his famed video collection and puts them in the closet with the others.

He feels a little like Biff from Death of a Salesman. He hopes he looks better.

Scully didn’t seem to think he looked half bad in the Library yesterday. He realizes he’s going to have to get used to her new look so he reacts normally to her. He doesn’t want to admit how turned on he is by her new persona. He admits that a little wild thing in the stacks definitely crossed his mind. Luckily, his Bureau training gives him willpower to overcome his potential dalliances… He cancels his paper and mail deliveries for the next month.

He decides that he and Scully should work on their new roles somemore. He breifly wonders if he should be magnanimous and include Ritter. He just as breifly thinks “no way!”

Fox Masters would definitely know how to cook a little something for his close friend…Even if it’s just a late lunch/early dinner in his very tiny kitchen. “Mulder, what ARE you thinking? Your greatest skill lies in punching the phone buttons for take out. Just delete the ‘cooking’ aspect of Mr. Masters’ life.”

“Hey Scully; I mean Dana. What’re you doing right now?”

“I’m reading more information about Mercy Hospital and Dr. Baines. Why, Mulder, what are YOU doing?”

“Well, I’m thinking that we will probably both need to eat something later today. I mean, we have this big case coming up and will need our wits about us and our strength and”

“Mulder, do you want to have lunch or dinner together?”

“Um, yeah, Scully. How about if I make us a late lunch/early dinner at my place?” Mulder is suddenly very nervous about Scully’s reaction and response.

She pauses and takes a deep breath away from the mouthpiece so he doesn’t hear her gasp.

Half-laughing, but trying very hard not to, she replies, “Why Mulder, I didn’t realize you liked to cook! I guess you’ve been hiding that side of you from me all this time, hmm?”

“Scully, I don’t cook that often, you know how busy we are.”

“Ok, Mulder, it’s a date; I mean deal. Tell me what time and let me go finish my reading.”

“Be here at 4:30P Scully and don’t be a minute late.”

“Mulder, am I ever late?”

“Bye, Scully!”

Scully smiles and then falls onto the couch laughing. The lengths this man will go to for her.

@ @ @

In Mulder’s Kitchen; 2P

Mulder is pacing in a state of near panic. He has just invited the woman he’s pretty sure he loves over to eat at his place. “What’s wrong with this picture, Mulder? For starters, you haven’t cooked anything more complicated than Ballpark Franks and a can of beans in the last year. For another, you don’t own any real cooking items. He**, you don’t own any food right now! What does Scully like to eat? Where do I buy non-fat tofutti rice dreamsicles? Can we just order take out?” A rush of crazed thoughts fire through his mind.

He then remembers something his mother used to say when she and her dad had friends over for dinner, “Always keep it simple and provide what you’re most comfortable with. Remember, they’re here to see you and a little presentation is everything.”

“Ok,” he thinks, “I can do this. Just need to be a little creative. Sneaky, conniving and cunning wouldn’t hurt either”, he thinks.

First, he needs to make the kitchen look like it is used. This means some signs of food, cooking, activity. He takes the one quart saucepan that serves as almost his entire cookware collection and places it on the stove. He then takes the 10-inch fry pan and does the same. He needs flatware, dishes, stemware (although in his mind, he needs plates, silverware and glasses). What are neighbors for? He walks across the hall to Mr. and Mrs. Stephens apartment. As he explains what he needs, Mrs. Stephens takes pity on him. She’s always had a soft spot for Fox. If she were just 20 or 30 years younger and not married, why, she doesn’t know what she’d do with him, but it would be oh, so, fun!

She goes inside and invites him in. He looks around at the exact mirror image of his apartment done in early grandmother. Lace doilies on the furniture, quaint lamps, wall-to-wall carpeting and two, big, plump, grey cats sleeping on the sofa.

She returns from the kitchen with a full place setting for two of her best Currier and Ives stoneware, flatware and stemware. Mulder’s arms struggle to hold everything without dropping a piece. He thanks her profusely and wonders how she knew he only needed two of everything. All he asked for was “some plates and stuff”.

He doesn’t worry about a tablecloth. One of the few nice pieces of furniture he owns is his small, rectangular, mahogany kitchen/diningroom table. He guesses it will look okay with the dark blue and white of the stoneware. He sets the small table in his pseudo-dining room.

Now, he just needs the food. “Relax, Mulder, it’s only 2:30P, you’ve got two whole hours.”

He grabs the phonebook, heads for the yellow pages under “Delicatessens”. He calls Dardens and places his order. He returns to the kitchen and puts away his pot and pan. This late lunch/early dinner is well on it’s way!

Now he can’t figure out what to wear. Undercover Fox would probably wear sweats as he’s wearing now, but he needs to get inside Fox’s head for this late lunch date. He decides some wide wale corduroys and a soft pima cotton, long sleeved pullover should be fine. “Ok”, he thinks, “small clothing problem. You don’t OWN wide wale corduroys and that cotton pullover.” Mulder heads two blocks down to the Brooks Brothers. He figures that his clothing allowance for this case can afford the new digs. The hair thing is driving him nuts, but Scully did seem to like it…

@ @ @

Scully’s Apartment, 3:45P

Scully plans to take a cab to Mulder’s apartment. She is also seriously trying to become Dana Katz. She sweeps one side of her hair up and back with a barrett and lets the other fall naturally. She puts on a black, mid-calf length skirt with leather boots and a eggshell cropped angora sweater. She puzzles over what scent to wear and chooses her basic lavender.

She’s nervous about this lunch thing. Ostensibly, they are merely further learning their new roles. That’s a good thing. Underneath, she’s turned on by the whole thing. Her senses where Mulder’s concerned are on high alert. (She smiles inwardly at that phrase. She hasn’t heard it since her father passed away.

Her upbringing in a military home provided many such phrases over the years.) They have both made attempts to talk out their situation, but always seem to get interrupted. Maybe this trip will give them some time to talk.

“Ok, Ms. Katz, let’s go sample some fine Masters cuisine! Yeah, right!”

@ @ @

Mulder’s Apartment, 4:15P

Mulder has found chocolate brown corduroys and a tan pullover.

There is a knock on his door. “It can’t be Scully; the food’s not here!”. He walks toward the door, then walks away, cursing quietly.

“Darden’s delivery.” Relief floods through Mulder. Their timing is perfect.

He pays the delivery person and tips handsomely. Darden’s saves his butt!

He places the salads in the chilled stoneware from Mrs. Stephens and returns them to the refrigerator. He puts the still warm sourdough rolls in the cloth lined basket and puts it on the table. He takes the lemon thyme broiled chicken breast and rice pilaf and puts them on plates he sets in his warm oven. He’s forgotten a vegetable, but hey, they do have salad! The spiked rum raisin gelato goes into the freezer. The blush wine is already chilled and in an icebucket by the table.

“All is right with the world, Mulder”, he thinks.

There is another knock on the door. He looks through the peephole to see Scully standing there smiling right back at him.

“Scully, you’re right on time. I didn’t see your car downstairs.”

“That’s ‘cuz I took a cab, Mulder. Can I actually come in or are we eating in the hall? Not that halls are such a bad place for us, Mulder.”

Mulder grabs her by the arm and pulls her into his apartment. “Are you hungry, Scully?”

Scully smiles and says, “lead the way, Mulder.”

He takes her hand and they walk into his kitchen. She is impressed and amused. “Mulder, I didn’t know you owned such historic china.”

“There are some things a man just have to keep hidden, Scully”, like lies about owning anything resembling cooking and eating paraphernalia, he thinks to himself.

He pulls a seat out for Scully and brings the salads out of the refrigerator. They are already dressed with a low-fat, yogurt vinaigrette. Scully tastes a forkful and smiles as she chews. “This is excellent, Mulder. Whose recipe is the dressing? I’d love to get it from you.”

He is sitting across from her. “Well, it’s really easy, Scully. It’s just that yogurt stuff you like to eat at lunch.” The lies come a little easier once you get going, he thinks.

Scully pauses with her fork halfway to her mouth at that response. She stops chewing and raises one eyebrow, looking up at him from beneath her hair. She then resumes eating.

He pours them some blush wine. At least he actually purchased this himself… To give the illusion of dusk, Mulder has pulled the living room curtains partially closed and lit some candles on the kitchen counter. The overhead lights are out.

They sip the wine and look at each other.

“So, Dana, what have you heard about Mercy Hospital?”

“Well, Fox, it’s cutting edge, I mean really state-of-the-art and the staff is top notch (did I just say ‘top notch’, Scully thinks). This Dr. Baines is a leader in his field.” Scully is trying to use Dana Katz language and inflection.

Fox Masters, on the other hand, is just admiring Dana Katz. “So, Dana, what type of relationship have we been having prior to Mercy Hospital?”

She has kicked off her boots. She runs her bare foot up against his shin. The thick wale of the corduroy is deep and thick.

Her unspoken response to his question startles him; catches him momentarily off guard.

Her foot moves to the inside of his lower leg and heads for his knee.

She finally speaks her response, “I hear I have a slightly wild side that exhibits itself only in appropriate places.” She smiles and leans back in her chair.

“Maybe we should skip to dessert, Dana?” The chicken warning in the oven quickly forgotten, Mulder gets up, rather quickly, and heads for the freezer. He pulls out a large, balloon goblet with the spiked rum raisin gelato and grabs two spoons. He then moves his chair a little closer to the other side of the table.

He spoons some of the gelato and leans toward her. He places one hand under her chin. He brings the spoon closer to her lips.

She parts her lips, looking at him the entire time. When the cold gelato touches her tongue, her eyes close. The taste is as exquisite as the company… She follows suit, feeding Mulder some of the gelato. They feed each other a few more bites.

She moves her foot against his leg again. This time, she moves her foot above his knee. He draws in breath sharply and his eyes close. She moves her foot between his legs and then ‘massages’ his inner thigh with her toes. She can see and feel his reaction. “How’s dessert, Mulder?”

He reaches under the table and grabs her foot in his hands. Now, it is her turn to inhale sharply. His hands are cold from the goblet of gelato. One hand holds onto her foot. The other moves to her ankle, her shin, her calf. When his fingers touch her behind the knee, she tries to pull back.

He smiles at her with a “cat and mouse” kind of look. “Dana, what’s the matter? Don’t like it when someone beats you at your own game?”

She smiles back cunningly. “Fox, who said anything about ‘being beaten’?” She stands up, bends over and tries to put her boots back on.

Mulder comes up behind her as she’s bent over, trying to grab her boots. He places his hands on her waist. He sits down in her chair and pulls her onto his lap. “Scully, say ‘uncle’”, he taunts.

“Mulder, no way! You know I don’t give up easily, don’t you?”

“Ok. You’ve got a point there. Just tell me one thing, Ms. Scully; oops; Ms. Katz.

How do you see yourself getting out of this one? I’ll wait very patiently and quietly while you figure out your answer.” Mulder waits patiently, but does not take his arms away from her waist. She is squirming, trying to find something to distract him or hold onto so she can pull away. She’s very strong, but he has her from behind in a sitting position with no shoes on. Her feet barely reach the floor, so she has no purchase to stand up.

He’s enjoying her struggles in more ways than one. The sensations she’s creating as she squirms to get free have him very aroused.

She decides to turn his own game back on him. She stops struggling in hopes that he will relax his death grip on her. She slowly turns to look at him. She places one arm on his shoulder and behind his neck. She leans back slightly and blows lightly in his ear. He does not loosen his grip any further, but she does notice the very physical and visible differences in his body.

“Scully, you’re good”, he whispers, “but not good enough to break free!”

She then tongues his ear lightly. She tells herself she’s just trying to stay in character as Dana Katz. If she’s honest with herself, she’s probably even more turned on then Mulder is. She’s alternating between softly blowing in his ear and tonguing it. She leans in to his neck and gently bites and sucks on his warm, soft skin. She whispers in his ear, her lips barely touching him, “Mulder, you taste very good.”

There is a loud knock on his door. Both Agents are shocked to reality.

However, Mulder doesn’t let her go. Scully is momentarily glad; she has just been so badly jolted, she’s afraid she won’t be able to stand on her own. His hold on her is strengthening (as well as a huge turn on).

“Mulder, someone’s at your door.”

“I know, Scully; they’ll go away when I don’t answer.” He smiles and tries to kiss her.

The knocking continues.

Scully wriggles free of his arms and heads to the door barefoot. When she looks through the peephole, she is very surprised by who she sees. Mulder is now behind her. She turns to him and motions toward the door with her head indicating that he should look for himself.

“Oh, jeez, it’s Rodent himself.”

Mulder slicks back his hair, looking rather exasperated. Scully is standing between the two Agents looking from one to the other. Finally it is she who speaks, “So, Ritter, what brings you here?”

“Skinner called. He said he’s been trying to reach you two, but wasn’t having any luck. He asked if I knew where you were. I went to your place first, Da- I mean, Scully.”

“Ritter, we both have our cellphones on and Skinner does have our apartment numbers. I can’t imagine how he tried all four numbers?” said Scully. She wanted to respond first because she was a little concerned what Mulder’s response might be if allowed to answer.

Ritter ignored her response and started looking around Mulder’s apartment. The two Agents followed him as he headed for the kitchen. “Mmmm, smells good in here, Fox. Didn’t know you were a cook, too! Scully, your boots seem to have fallen off during dinner”, Ritter smiles.

Scully smiles briefly and looks at Mulder. She thinks Ritter is trying to lighten the mood, but they still do not know why he has come over.

Finally, Mulder can wait no longer for the explanation. “Look, Ritter, what’s really going on?”

“Seriously, Skinner’s looking for you two. Look, I may not be your best friend, but the fact of the matter is that we’re assigned to work together. Since we’ll all be undercover, it’s essential that we interact effectively, convincingly. I’m willing to give it a shot if you are?”

Mulder sizes Ritter up. He then says, “Ok, Ritter, I’ll give it a try, but remember what I told you before. I’m dead serious and I always keep my promises.”

Feeling just a little short in her bare feet between two very tall Agents, Scully heads for the kitchen to get her boots. She also gets her cellphone and calls Skinner.


“Sir? Special Agent Ritter tells me that you’ve been looking for me and Agent Mulder? Our cellphones have been on all day.”

“Agent Scully? What? I have not been calling you. There must be a mistake.

However, as long as I’ve got you on the phone, I want to make sure the three of you are all set for your roles and the case. I cannot stress enough the importance of this case. I’m counting on you, Agent Scully. You will have your hands full with Agents Ritter and Mulder along for the ride.”

“We’ll be fine, Sir. Now, I need to go find out how Ritter got so confused about your phone call.”

Scully has put her boots on and put her phone away. Mulder comes in the kitchen alone. “Scully, what’re you doing?”

“You mean, why did I put my boots back on, Mulder?”

“I think we know the answer to that question”, she says. She then moves a little closer and whispers, “Besides, Mulder, you lost that one.”

“Only because Rodent showed up and you know it”, he smiles back.

“Mulder, I just talked to Skinner. He didn’t call either of us. He did say that he expects us to work well together; all three of us! Remember, Mulder, you’ve been regaining some of your perspective and judgment. Use them wisely.”

“Well, now that you mention it, Scully, I think I’d like some additional classroom experience; especially on the good judgment part.”

Scully smiles and shakes her head as if helping an errant student, “Mulder, how many times do I have to tell you, it’s just ‘judgment’; there’s no ‘good’!?”

“Scully, I really thing you should rethink that stance. Philosophically speaking, everyone has judgment, right? Right. If I’m to continue to be a strong Agent, I would think my judgment should be better than neutral; it should be ‘good’. I think that makes a lot of sense. I mean..”

“Mulder, as usual, you’re right. Now, let’s go talk with Ritter.”

When they come out of the kitchen, Ritter is nowhere to be found. They are both puzzled. Mulder walks over to the phone and calls Ritter’s cellphone.

“Ritter here.”

“Ritter, this is Mulder. Where are you?”

“I’m down at my car. You two looked pretty busy, so I was heading out.”

“Look, Ritter, Scully talked to Skinner. We both know he never called us. Did you think we werent’ even going to follow up?”

Ritter is silent. He then says, “Well, I knew he’d want to talk with you, so maybe I was just helping him make the connection.”

“That was lame, Ritter, lame; even from you! Look if you just wanted to come over and play, you should have called. Now that you’ve had your fun, go home.

We’ll see you at the airport in the morning.” Mulder hangs up. Scully has heard the whole conversation. They both decide to laugh it off; for now, anyway. They are both somewhat concerned that this type of game among Agents undercover can turn out badly.

“Mulder, I really should go.” Scully is sitting on his coffeetable facing him on the couch. She leans forward and gives him a quick kiss.

“Aww, Scully, you’re no fun. Just think about what could have happened if Rodent—”

“Mulder, stop calling him that! Give the man another chance. I know you’re much more magnanimous than you let on outwardly.”

“Ok, Agent Ritter. Now, if he hadn’t shown up…”

God, he could be like a dog with a bone that wasn’t going to let go!

“I’m going, Mulder. I’ll see you at Ronald Regan Airport in the morning.”

She picks up the phone to call a cab. He puts his finger on the switchook and ends her call. “Mulder, what’re you doing? I need to go.”

“I know you do. I just figured I’d save you the money and drive you home.”

She contemplates his offer. She decides to turn him down. She needs to sleep and she knows that that will be the last thing on his mind-or hers-if she lets him drive her home.

“You’re sweet, Mulder, but no, I’ll get a cab.”

He watches her walk down the hall. He closes his door, shaking his head. He smiles and reaches his hand up to his neck, rubbing it lightly. He winces slightly as he realizes she’s bruised him. The pain is delicious.

@ @ @

Ronald Regan Airport; Washington, DC 9A Wednesday

The three Agents meet at the gate to check in. AD Skinner is there waiting to see them off. “Well, I see the three of you are in your roles already; a wise plan.”

He is amazed at the physical transformation in his two Agents and Special Agent Ritter. He also admits, somewhat grudgingly to himself, that Agent Scully looks quite, “oh, heck Skinner, she looks hot! Mulder’s going to have his fragile ego bruised a little, I think.” Skinner walks a little closer to Mulder.

“Agent Mulder, you’re injured.”

Mulder is caught off guard and does not know what Skinner is referring to.

Scully is walking back and forth; two steps away, two steps back, to keep from laughing. Mulder has a good, old fashioned, hickey on his neck! Let him talk his way out of this one, she thinks.

“I’m fine, Sir.”

Scully looks into Skinner’s eyes and can see the rare sense of play there. He is enjoying Mulder’s discomfort.

“No, Mulder, maybe you should let Agent Scully have a look. You cannot jeopardize this case if you’re ill. If need be, Special Agent Ritter can fill in for you.”

Skinner and Scully watch the light dawn for Mulder. Ritter is slow on the uptake, but realizes what Skinner is looking at just after Mulder does.

“Sir, can I talk with you privately about my ‘condition’?” Mulder tries to move Skinner away from Scully and Ritter.

“Really, Agent Mulder, I think Special Agent Ritter and I will go have a seat while you and Agent Scully head for the first aid station so she can get a better look.”

Scully knows that Mulder is going to kill her, although he didn’t seem to object yesterday… Scully tries to lead Mulder away. He reaches up and touches his neck. He winces slightly. He smiles broadly, “Scully? This score has yet to be evened…”

“Hello and welcome to United Flight 55560 with service to Boston and connector flights to Montpellier, Kittery,Portsmouth and Montreal. We will begin boarding our first class passengers and those passengers with small children or in need of special attention now at Gate 15. Please have your tickets and boarding passes ready. Thank you for choosing United.”

The three Agents move toward the gate 15. They are all travelling first class; Mulder and Scully as far as Boston and Ritter on to Portsmouth. The boys in Auditing will have a filed day with this case’s expenses!

In keeping with their new roles, they are all seated separately. While Mulder and Scully actually have an undercover relationship, it would be better that they not be too obvious until they reach their destination.

Mulder and Scully both think about changing their seat assignments, but realize that their job must come first. Ritter ends up on an aisle seat right across from Mulder’s aisle seat. Scully is directly in front of Ritter. She glances back at Mulder and smiles.

Her look at Mulder isn’t lost on Ritter. He is sure there is something between them. He is also wondering how that will affect their work. He plans to keep AD Kersh apprised of the situation. While he knows that Skinner trusts his work, he also knows that Mulder and Scully are on the top of Skinner’s “favored Agents”

list. He has already talked candidly with Kersh because Ritter’s own reputation is at stake with this case. Everyone knows that personal relationships between Agents is expressly forbidden. He files that information away for future use, if needed.

The three settle into the flight. Scully sleeps, Mulder watches ESPN on the seat back screen. Ritter is looking out the window to his left.

Scully drifts off to sleep worried about this case. Something doesn’t feel quite right to her. Oh, she feels the case is legit; she’s done her homework thoroughly.

She can’t help but continue to wonder about Ritter’s “visit” yesterday and the precise timing of it. She decides to shelve that thinking for now. Besides, that’s more her partner’s baliwick. As she falls asleep, she pictures Mulder as Masters, the look, the taste of his skin.

Ritter is thinking, too, as he gazes out the window. Somewhere deep inside, he knows that he nearly got Scully killed on the case of the photographer death chaser. He got careless. If he digs a little deeper yet, he knows he let his hormones dictate his actions on that case. He had heard about Agent Scully’s reputation from colleagues. He had also heard about “Spooky” Mulder and his reassignment to background checks. Word had it that the two partners were more than that. The case started out well enough, he reflected. He appreciated Scully’s analytical mind and ability to cut to the chase. Somewhere along the line, it became about trying to pull her away from Mulder, too.

So, Ritter knows he has to do this pretty much by the book. He knows he is a good Field Agent. Skinner has also told him he needs to keep his focus.

Undercover work should be the perfect way to focus. Scully stirs in her seat in front of him. He feels his resolve waver, but reigns himself in.

The flight hosts make their way down the aisle bringing light refreshments.

Scully wakes and asks for hot tea. Mulder takes a cheese danish and a large coffee, black. It appears that he does not really need the caffeine as he is now bopping along to something lively through his headphones.

Ritter passes and continues to gaze out the window.

Scully gets up to use the restroom at the front of the plane. When she returns, Mulder beckons her with his finger. She smiles and walks over to him.

“What’s up, Mulder?”

He takes the headphones off and places them on her ears. “Listen to this”, he slightly yells. Scully momentarily pulls the headphones away from her ears; he has the volume turned up very high. He is listening to “Light My Fire” by the Doors. Scully hands the headset back to Mulder and starts to return to her seat.

Mulder sings, slightly off key, “C’mon baby light my fire.”

“Agent Scully, I’d like to talk to you about our roles and interaction at the hospital”, Ritter motions her to the window seat next to him. Scully knows it is risky to have a visible relationship with Ritter prior to arriving in New Hampshire, but she agrees since it has to do with the case.

Mulder, trying to look as if he isn’t noticing, is noticing. He glances over as Scully squeezes infront of Ritter’s knees and sits down. She catches Mulder’s gaze and raises her eyebrow in question. Mulder tries to smile, but doesn’t quite succeed.

“So, Ritter, what do you want to talk about?”

“Well, unless we determine an initial point of contact, it’s going to be difficult to explain how the Chief Med/Surg doc’s nurse hangs out with the Chief of Maintenance, don’t you think?’

“Ok, you’ve got a point there. From the floor plans, it appears that Med/Surg is on the 5th floor and the Maintenance Operations office is in the basement.” Scully begins. Ritter cuts her off with, “Guess that won’t be a problem for you, you being used to the basement and all.”

As soon as the words leave his mouth, he looks over at Scully. She sits turned toward him wth her arms folded tightly across her chest. Her face is dead serious as she looks at him. Just past him she can see Mulder who has removed the headset. Mulder appears to be restraining himself from leaping across the aisle. Scully sends him an, “it’s ok” look.

“Agent Ritter, I thought we were pretty clear on trying to work this out. You do not know me in any way that could be misconstrued as having a friendship on which to base your statements. While our cover roles may require a more personal relationship, I would advise you to back off that line of approach with me. Have I made myself completely clear?”

Ritter, not wanting to appear to have been redressed, holds her gaze. He simply says, “Point noted, Agent.”

They continue discussing their meeting and the establishment of a relationship.

“I imagine that Human Resources will have some type of new employee orientation. That would be an ideal place to connect”, Scully proposes.

Ritter considers her suggestion, but has a concern, “I’m still not following how a powerful nurse, connected to the top doc, will associate with the lowlife.”

“Well, then, I guess you’ll just have to turn on the charm, won’t you?” Scully makes a perfunctory smile, stands and returns to her seat. Now it’s Ritter’s turn to cross his arms across his chest.

Mulder seizes the opportunity and moves over next to Scully whose seat mate has decided to visit someone in coach.

“Scully, maybe this won’t work and Ritter and I need to switch roles.”

“Mulder, that ugly green thing called ‘jealousy’ is rearing it’s ugly head…”

“That’s not it, Scully, though I do admit that I’d rather be working more closely with you. “

“Mulder, we’re going to be living in the same building!”

“I know, Scully. It’s just that I still don’t trust him as far as I wish I could throw him.”

Scully grasps Mulder’s forearm and smiles at him. She is greatly touched by his concern. “Mulder, you know I can take care of myself, don’t you?”

“Yes, Scully, I do, but…”

“Look Fox Masters”, she whispers in his ear, “I’m going to tell you this one more time and one more time only; trust me to work this out. I’ll have you to come home to. Ok?”

Before he can reply, she kisses him on the cheek, places her fingers over the black and blue mark on his neck and smiles at him. She makes him return to his seat.

@ @ @

Logan Airport, Boston

Noontime Wednesday

“Hello, this is your Captain. We are on approach for Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts. The current time is 11:50AM, the weather is a chilly 50 degrees and very breezy. They are predicting heavy rains for the Boston and northern areas tonight. The flight attendants will come around to give you the gate numbers for the connector flights. Flight attendants, please prepare the cabin for landing. Thank you for flying United and enjoy the rest of your travel.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, please return your tray tables and seat backs to their upright position. Fasten all seat belts and turn off any cellphones or computers.”

The flight attendant walks through First Class and stops at Ritter’s seat. Sir, your connector flight to Portsmouth will be at Gate 10, off the plane and turn right.”

“Agents, I’ll see you in Rye.” Ritter grabs his bag from the overhead compartment and deplanes.

Mulder and Scully follow and head for Baggage Claim. Once Ritter heads for his connector flight, Scully says, “Mulder, I can’t shake the feeling that Ritter’s up to something. I keep thinking about his outright lie to us about Skinner trying to reach us and his quirky disappearance from your apartment. I know that’s not much to go on, but that’s all I’ve got.” They head down the escalator toward the United Baggage Claim area. Mulder smiles and shakes his head. “Scully, you sound like me. You must admit I’ve been pretty quiet where Ritter’s concerned.

Remember, that my perceptions of him are slightly influenced by the fact that he nearly got you killed. So, anything I might say in agreement would be suspect, would it not?”

“Mulder, you know that I trust your judgment. So, what DO you think?”

“I think that things are not as they seem. I think we will need to be at the top of our game and one step ahead of the wonderful Janitor, Mr. Rodent.”

They stand at the baggage claim carousel. They don’t say anything more about Ritter. Mulder grabs their larger bags and Scully carries the carry-ons. They head for the government agencies rental vehicle area.

They board the shuttle to the outlaying lot to pick up their vehicle. “So, what do you think Skinman has waiting for us?”

“Mulder, you know he doesn’t do the reservations. It’s from Deep Missions. I’m sure it will fit our covers and our location.”

They pull up in front of a black 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee with black leather interior. Before Mulder has a chance, Scully hops out of the shuttle and grabs the keys for the Cherokee. “Hey, Scully, I think I should drive.”

“Why is that, Mulder? Could it be because you drive all the time? Could it be because you think you do a better job driving than I do?” Scully smiles as she keeps the keys and unlocks the vehicle. Mulder takes the luggage to the back compartment and lifts the hatch. Scully joins him with their carry-ons. Mulder cannot resist one more attempt, “C’mon, Scully, you can rest all the way there.” When he doesn’t see her moving to hand him the keys, he tries again. “I’ll let you drive when we hit the border.” Scully is standing there with her arms folded. When she thinks he has stopped pleading, she walks around to the driver’s side and gets in. She leans over to open the passenger door for him. He gets in and buckles his seat belt, smirking sheepishly.

As Scully starts the vehicle, the clouds roll in.

@ @ @

On the Road; Route Interstate 495 to Route 1

Wednesday, 1P

Mulder assists by navigating. After leaving the airport, they follow the signs for 495. It has started to rain lightly. “Scully, I’m hungry.”

“Mulder, you’re always hungry”, she smiles at him, “I’d really like to make it by early evening, can we do drive through somewhere?”

They pull into a McDonald’s. “May I help you?”

“Uh, um, yes. We’ll have a grilled chicken salad with Lite Vinaigrette, a double bacon cheeseburger, extra large fries and two Diet Cokes.” Scully drives up. They pull into a parking space to have their lunch.

“Mulder, just answer this; where DO you put all the gross food you eat? You never seem to put on even one pound!”

“Scully, it’s genetic. I just have good genes. My body knows how to convert all of this into beneficial nutrients so I am always in peak form.”

“Oh, yeah, Mulder, ‘good genetics’…”

Scully thinks, “you’re damn right about your peak form”, though, but only smiles.

“Mulder, I’m heading for the restroom. Mulder, I have the keys, so don’t get any ideas.”

Once again, they are on their way. They make good time, initially. Once they are close to the Massachusetts/New Hampshire border near Newbury Port, the rain becomes relentless. It is so heavy that Scully has a hard time navigating or even seeing the highway.

“Scully, maybe we should pull over at a rest stop for a little while until this clears up some.”

“That’s a great idea, Mulder. I can barely see the road.” The sky has darkened considerably since they left Boston.

Scully pulls into a rest stop with a winding entryway that leads up quite a hill.

The area is densely wooded with pine trees. The parking spaces overlook a meadow and are quite removed from the highway down below. The overhead lights start to flicker on due to the encroaching darkness.

Mulder finds an oldies station. A block of Chicago is playing. “Color My World” is on. Scully is still sitting with her hands on the wheel and her seatbelt buckled, staring out the window. She suddenly realizes just how tired she is. The last few days with Mulder have been a real (enjoyable) roller coaster. Then, the sudden call back to duty by Skinner, the meeting and assigned case with Ritter and now, driving in the pouring rain. She is exhausted.

“What’re you looking at, Scully?” Mulder unbuckles his seatbelt and turns toward her in the seat. The leather is very soft. He leans over a little closer to her; trying hard to ignore the stupid gear shifter console.

“What, huh?” Scully looks at Mulder and seems a little dazed.

“Here, Scully, let me help you”, he says as he takes her hands off the stearing wheel. He reaches down to unbuckle her seatbelt, but she stops him. “I’ll get it, Mulder. Besides we won’t be here that long.” The rain continues to fall steadily almost to prove her wrong.

Mulder doesn’t say anything. He moves closer and puts his arm on her shoulder.

He gently moves her out from behind the wheel and helps her over to his seat.

“This is kind of nice, Scully, isn’t it?”

Scully seems to come alive again as if merely moving from behind the wheel has awaken her. “Yes, Mulder, it is. It’s so quiet here except for the rain. Almost peaceful.”

The Chicago block has ended and Earth, Wind and Fire is on. “That’s the Way of the World is playing. “I’ve always loved this song, Scully. Isn’t it beautiful?”

Scully gets more comfortable. She slides down, putting her feet somewhat awkwardly, over the gear shifter into the driver’s seat until she is laying back with her knees bent and her head resting in Mulder’s lap. He is moving her hair back from her face and rubbing her arm. “You’re not going to sleep on me, Scully, are you? I might have to drive, then.”

“Mulder, do you ever know when to shut up?”

“Oww, Scully, you wound me—again, I might add!” Mulder feigns personal insult.

Scully slowly sits up, moving onto his lap, facing him. She places her hands on his leg and looks at him. “Mulder, kiss me”, is all she says.

He holds on to her arms and pulls he closer to him. She is flooded with excitement and sparks. “Damn, he does this to me every time”, she thinks. Just when she thinks he’s about to kiss her, he pushes her slightly away from him again. She looks puzzled, but says nothing.

“I don’t think you heard me, Mulder…”

“Oh, I heard you alright, Sully. Have you ever heard of delayed gratification, woman?”

“Well, if that’s the way it is today, Mulder, maybe we should just get back on the road.”

She attempts to move back over to the driver’s side. As she tries to pull free of his grip, he pulls her closer. He moves her so she is sitting even closer to him.

He kisses, then sucks on, her lower lip. He does the same with her upper lip.

She feels as if she has just reached her boiling point. She is trying to kiss him, too, but he has his own agenda. He releases her arms and places one hand on either side of her face. He runs his hands into her hair, pulling it back from her face on both sides. He turns her head and kisses her earlobes and her neck.

She feels his hot lips on her neck and thinks he’s decided it’s payback time for the little “gift” she gave him. She is breathing so fast she is sure he can actually see her heart beating.

His kisses make her skin tingle. She needs to feel and taste his mouth and turns toward him. “There is something about his mouth”, she thinks…

Mulder briefly notices that the windows around him are completely fogged. The rain continues its steady, heavy beating on the roof of the Cherokee.

“Scully”, he pants, “wait, stop a minute.”

“Mulder, you’ve picked a strange time to talk and; just for the record”, she pants,

“isn’t that my line?”

He looks into her eyes and sees the desire. He also remembers that they still have not finished their discussion from Monday. His love for her will not allow their situation to get out of control without both of their approval. What he would like to do now and what he should do now may be two very different things.

“Scully, I want this more than anything; I hope you know that. However, I want it because we are clear with each other about what it means for us. We have both talked about the problems a relationship can present for our jobs. I just want us proceeding with our eyes wide open.”

Scully smiles. She knows why she loves this man so much. “How much of ‘this’, as you refer to it, do you think we can take before our rational minds are taken over by our not-so-rational bodies, Mulder?”

Now it is his turn to smile. He kisses her again. “Hey, Scully, after 6 and a half years, this is very exciting; don’t knock it!”

“Mulder, you’re a first class rat!” Scully laughs.

As Scully starts to move back to the driver’s side, she reaches down, briefly touches and then squeezes, Mulder’s upper thigh. “Well, then here’s a little more ‘excitement’ for you, Mulder.”

Mulder looks at her and then down at his thigh as she moves. “I think that was very direct excitement, Scully. Do you think they have showers at this rest stop?”

The rain has slowed some, but it is enough for Scully to see the road. They head out.

@ @ @

Rye, New Hampshire

Wednesday, 4P

“Hey, Scully, we’re ‘Entering Rye’” Scully slows down. They both look around.

The rain has almost completely stopped and a hint of late afternoon sun is peeking out of the clouds. The streets are broad and tree-lined; large oaks and maples. From Route 1, they turn left onto North Road which turns into South Road a little farther down.

“Mulder, this town is beautiful!” Scully looks at the quaint northern New England mixture of old Victorians, “Leave it to Beaver” capes and old farmhouse style homes. The streets have oldfashioned street lamps that peak either right in or right above the trees.

From South Road, they turn left onto Central Road. On their right is Bailey Pond and just within site is Rye Beach and the Atlantic. Central Road ends at Cable Road where Mulder and Scully will live. They turn right onto the eastern end of Cable. The entire street is also tree lined, but also has a small park-like island down the middle of the road. The eastern end borders the ocean.

Scully is in awe. She has not had much experience with New England towns; especially those as quaint as Rye appears. Mulder is pleasantly surprised, as well. Although he grew up in New England, the Cape are is a bit different.

“Mulder, I think that’s our house; I mean our apartments are in that house.”

“It’s ok, Scully, I was sort of thinking of it as ‘our house’, too.”

The house is a large charcoal grey Victorian with white and mauve shutters and bric-a-brac. The roof has a few parapets and widows’ walks facing the water.

The house is set back from the street and turned on an angle to the road; secluded.

They pull up into the winding driveway, shut off the Jerokee and just sit there, taking it all in.

“I think we have to get out, Mulder.”

“Um, yeah, Scully, you’re right.”

They walk up the red brick walkway; noticing the hydrangea bushes alongside the holly berry bushes and sculpted arbor vitaes. There is a huge wrap-around porch on the front and sides of the house. They head up the stairs to the front entryway.

“Ok, Scully, time to really become Dana Katz. It’s showtime!”

“Yes, Fox Masters, I think I figured that out.”

Knock knock, knock.

They wait a few minutes and still no one comes to the door. Scully walks around to try to look into the windows. The long, ecru lace panel curtains allow her to view what appears to be the main receiving parlor. The furniture fits the style of the house and the feel of this town.

“Scully, I mean, Dana, come back over here. I’ve found a note for us.”

Mulder is squatting down beside some flower pots with a note in his hand.

“I saw this sticking out from under the flowers. There’s a key here, too. It says, ‘Welcome Dana and Fox. I’m your landlady, Sandy Bell. I’m volunteering over at Mercy right now and am sorry I couldn’t be here to greet you. Here’s the key to the house. Your apartment keys are laid out on the kitchen counter with some nosh. I thought you might be hungry after your long journey. I’ll see you in the morning. Please get settled in and tour the house. You two are the only tenants for the next several months, so move about as you will.”

“‘Nosh’, Scully?”

“Mulder, that’s a colloquial term for munchies.”

“Sure, whatever you say, DANA.”

“I’ve got it, FOX.”

@ @ @

55 Cable Road, Rye New Hampshire, Wednesday

Mulder goes back to get the luggage while Scully unlocks the front door and steps inside. This home is impeccably kept, furnished and appointed. She suspects the pieces are antiques. She wanders around the main floor. She notices that most rooms have large windows that reach almost floor to ceiling.

“Must have huge heating bills”, she thinks. There is a fireplace in the main parlor, the sitting room and, surprisingly, in the large kitchen. The windows in the dining room and kitchen face out onto a large back yard and the ocean just beyond.

She finds the apartment keys. She will be on the 3rd floor and Mulder just below her. She opens the backdoor and steps outside onto a semi-circular, red brick patio. She can actually smell the salt in the air! She stretches with her arms in the air and then runs her hands through her hair, pulling it up. She reaches into her pocket and pulls out a hair clip that she hastily fastens. Whisps of hair float down around her face.

Mulder has been observing from inside the kitchen. He is taken with this house, the grounds, the view. He quietly walks out behind Scully. He places his arms around her waist from behind and steps closer until their bodies make contact.

He rests his chin on the top of her head, looking out toward the ocean.

“This reminds me a little of home, Sc—Dana”, he says wistfully. “Oh, the climate’s all wrong, but it’s just the feel of the place.” He kisses the top of her head.

“It is beautiful, isn’t it? I’ve never ‘lived’ this close to the beach. I wish it were warmer.”

“I can help you there, Dana”, Mulder is smiling mischievously now. He places his hands on her shoulders and turns her to face him.

“Fox, I think we should get settled in. I have to attend new employee orientation tomorrow morning over at Mercy. I need to be alert and ready.”

“I can help with that, too, Dana.”

“Well, Mr. Helpful, how about we get the luggage up to my 3rd floor apartment?”

Scully grabbed the carryons. As they walked toward the stairwell, they were surprised to see a very old, accordion gated, elevator! “Fox, I can’t believe this!”

Scully smiled as she went over to the brass gate. She put the carryons down and pulled the gate open. Then, she pulled the heavy door with the diamond-shaped window in it open. The elevator was large enough for two or three people and was actually wallpapered in a small rose print.

Mulder and Scully got in and wedged the luggage around them so they didn’t have to make two trips.

“Mezzanine, sportswear; first floor women’s lingerie, second floor—”, Mulder began.

Scully laughed as they reached her floor.

They left the elevator door open when they pulled her luggage out. Directly in front of them is a small hallway that leads to the door of her apartment. No expense had been spared even on the interior design. The door mirrored the main entryway’s with two smaller windows at just about Scully’s eye level.

“Oh, Fox, I think I’m in love!”

Once inside, her feelings didn’t change. Her parlor, kitchen and bedroom windows faced the ocean. The bathroom was large with a real victorian tub. The bathroom also had a shower stall and sitting area. The kitchen was warm and bright with all of the modern conveniences. The bedroom and parlor also had working fireplaces.

“Fox, much as I’d love you to stay, right now I need to get unpacked and get into my role for tomorrow morning. How about I meet you for lunch somewhere in town and we can catch up?”

“Awwh, Dana, do I have to go now? I want to explore with you.”

“We’ll have plenty of time for that. Remember, we do have a ‘relationship’ already…” she said with much innuendo. She took him by the arm and started walking him to her door. “Do we get keys to each other’s place, Dana?”

“We’ll see if our landlady can help us out tomorrow.” As they reach the door, Mulder blocks the way with his arm.

“Fox, you need to go.”

“What I ‘need’, Dana is this.” He bends down to kiss her forehead. He then finds her mouth with his. “Fox, that’s—”

“That’s going to have to be enough for now, Dana; you greedy woman, you.” Mulder closes the door quietly behind him; in her face.

@ @ @

The First Day

Thursday, 5:30A

Her alarm buzzes quietly and she is not sure where she is, what time it is or why she’s supposed to awake. Although the light has yet to dawn outside, her role “dawns” on her quickly enough. She is a runner and doesn’t miss a day; “please let me miss today”, she pleads to no one in particular.

When no one intervenes to allow her to remain sandwiched under the down comforter and on top of the feather bed, she arises. After a quick go at her face and brushing her teeth, she dons her sweats and sneakers. She performs a few stretches and then heads for the stairs. She notes the beautiful silence of the house at this time of day, “I’d love to experience that silence from my bed”, she mumbles to herself and is halfway down the stairs. She pauses momentarily, thinking it would be fun to wake Mulder, but thinks that she really has to run and needs no more temptation to go back to bed.

She heads out the front door and takes a deep breath. The sky is dark; street lamps still glowing. The grass is wet with dew. She hears a lone dog bark in the distance. She starts walking and then picks up her pace. She follows Cable Road to Washington and turns right, following it until it reaches the beach. She then turns left and runs along the beach itself. She hears the waves slapping the shore loudly; it must be high tide. There is a slight wind off the water and the seagulls ride the wind, squawking as they soar. She is actually enjoying the run.

She figues she has done about 5 miles this first day out; thank goodness she keeps up her cardiovascular work. She finds Cable Road again and turns right onto it. Her house is on the right. She enters through the back yard where the sun is making its slow appearance. She walks around the yard, cooling down.

She comes to a stop at the patio and stands there to watch the orange and red glow rise over the ocean. She takes a deep breath and leans down to stretch.

As she straightens up again, she feels hands on her shoulders. With lightening reflexes, she reaches back without turning to look. She grabs the right arm attached to the hand on her shoulder. She then turns into it, stepping hard onto the right foot. She continues her momentum to knock the body to the ground; hard. She releases her grip, shaken and breathing hard. She steps back deciding what she should do next.

“Aww, Scully, is that any way to greet the morning?” Mulder says, rubbing his head, grabbing his foot and trying to hold his shoulder.

Scully is caught between her fury at a perceived attack and sincere remorse for downing her partner.

Her first words echo the fury, “Mulder, what were you doing?!? You nearly scared the sh** out of me!”

Her next words belie her concern for him. She kneels down by his side and cradles his head on her lap. “I’m so sorry, Mulder; you just scared me. Are you alright?”

“I will be when you make it all better”, he purrs.

“Mulder, we have a landlady and I have to get ready for work.”

“Scully, she’s not here, remember? She told us she’d be away. It’s only 6:15 and the hospital is 5 minutes away. He pulls her toward him for a quick kiss. He sits up and, as he does, he rolls her off into the dewy grass.

“Mulder, we’re both soaking wet!”

“Gee, Scully, I was wondering what that sensation was; thanks for explaining that for me.”

“Mulder, you are the true master of ‘seize the moment’!” she says with a little exasperation, but much more enjoyment. “Just when I think I can guess what comes next, you go and surprise me again.”

He doesn’t actually respond to her statements. “Scully, it’s gorgeous out here, isn’t it?” He pulls her with him to sit at the edge of the brick patio. He directs her gaze to the slow, brilliant sunrise over the water. The sky is lightening.

She leans into him and he wraps his arm around her. Though neither voices the sentiment, they both revel in their ability to spend quiet time with each other. It is rare that in their day to day lives moments like this one venture in.

“Mulder, I really do have to get ready for work. Can I tell you something?

” Not waiting for an answer, “I can think of a place or two I’d rather be. One would be right here with you.”

“What about the other, Scully?” He smiles, although he’s not looking at her.

“The other, Mulder, would be back upstairs, in my apartment, in my warm bed— with you.” She kisses his cheek quickly, stands and runs back inside before she changes her mind.

First Day; 6:30A Scully is glad Mercy’s uniform code allows Operating Room (OR) staff to wear colors. She knows she looks ghastly in white from her experience performing autopsies. She chooses a teal, two-piece skirt and short sleeved shirt uniform for her first day. She is doubly thankful that Mercy does not subscribe to the need to wear the old-fashioned nurse’s cap. Scully hates hats for other than warmth even more than white uniforms! She remembers to put on the signature pearls.

She heads out to the Cherokee. She moves resolutely down the stairs, knowing that if she so much as stops to knock on his door, Mulder will want to come with her.

She has decided she will grab some coffee and drive around the town for awhile before reporting early. She also plans to explore the hospital on her own before the official “orientation tour”.

She heads back up Cable onto Washington Rd and over onto Sagamore. As she approaches Foyes Corner, she notices a small, quaint looking, strip mall. She sees a small bakery, “Foyes Family”. She decides to spend a little time here; check out the local community.

The aroma as she opens the door makes her stomach growl quite loudly. She didn’t realize she was this hungry. Then again, she never runs in the mornings!

She walks over to the old fashioned counter and sits on one of the stools. It’s a good thing it has a foot rest; her feet are hanging above the floor. The counter is black marble with aluminum trim. All of the fixtures behind the counter are chrome and are reflected in the huge, marble flecked mirror that covers the wall behind the counter.

“Can I get you anything, sweetie?” asks the counter staff.

“I’m new in town and don’t really know what you have.”

“Well, you’re looking at ‘what we have’, hon. Homemade bagels; 4 varieties, sesame, poppy, plain and chokeberry. Homemade muffins; 5 varieties, blueberry, corn, bran, lemon poppy and kitchen sink. Your basic eggs, home fries…”

“Whoa! That’s quite the menu. What’s a chokeberry bagel and a kitchen sink muffin?”

“You definitely aren’t from around here, are you, sweetie! Chokeberry’s a local berry; cross between a cranberry and blackberry; tart and sweet. Kitchen sink muffins have a little bit of everything but the kitchen sink in them; real delicious leadweights! So, what’ll it be?”

“I’ll have a cup of tea, black and a chokeberry bagel with a little bit of cream cheese on the side, if you don’t mind.”

As she awaits her bagel and tea, she looks into the mirror to observe the other patrons. There is a good mix of people heading off into the city of Portsmouth to work, some vacationers and who she guesses are retired town folk. All seems pleasant enough.

Her food arrives. She enjoys the local chatter around her and the time to be incognito. She is halfway through her bagel and sipping her tea when she sees a face she recognizes behind her in the mirror. She pretends she hasn’t seen him, but she knows he has seen her.

“Excuse me, is this stool taken?” he says.

“No, it’s not.” she replies.

Field Agent Ritter sits down and takes the other half of her bagel off her plate.

She quickly and efficiently extricates it from his hand and returns it to her plate.

“We don’t know each other yet…remember??” she asks, extremely angry at him for stepping out of his role in public.

He is not sure how to recover this one; he knows he acted impulsively. He cannot shake the pleasant-enough agitation he feels around her. It is different than the feeling he had on the previous case with her; although he was attracted to her then, too. Her new look, he admits, turns him on. He is going to have to be more careful.

“I don’t believe we’ve met,” he extends his hand to her. “I’m Peter Roden; that’s Ro-DEN. I’m new to town.”

“Hello, Mr. Ro-DEN, I’m Dana Katz and am also new to town. Where are you from?”

“The DC area. I’ll be working over at the hospital. It looks like you will, too?”

“Yes, actually, I’ve just been hired on as a nurse for Dr. Baines.”

When Scully mentions his name, a few heads turn in her direction. She resists turning around to look at them more closely.

“What do you suppose the looks are all about?” she whispers to Ritter.

“I don’t know, but it sure looks as if our doc is known in these here parts. Why don’t you continue talking about him a bit more and we’ll see what happens.”

“I’ll be working primarily on the medical surgery floor. He’s very well-known for his techniques, you know.”

“I wouldn’t know. I’m going to be working maintenance; not too familiar with the docs. I just keep the building in tip top shape for them.” Ritter is checking the reactions in the marble flecked mirror now, too.

Scully notices that no one seems to be smiling at their conversation. As a matter of fact, they look downright stricken.

She leans over and quietly says, “I think now would be a good time to leave.”

Scully leaves money for the bill on the counter and they head out. Ritter places his hand in the small of her back as they approach the door. Scully waits until outside the door, steps away from him and glares. “Agent, you are clearly out of line! You are supposed to be in character and your character doesn’t know me well enough to have physical contact. Unless you want to be reported faster than you can say ‘undercover’, get your priorities straight!” She storms to her car and drives off.

Scully drives out of the strip mall and heads for route 1A, intending to drive along the ocean on her way to the hospital. She sees Ritter pull out and head in the opposite direction. She is clearly angry with him and concerned that he will blow their covers.

As she drives along the shore, she is hardly seeing the beauty of it. She finds her mind wandering back to that fateful case in New York. It had been hard enough trying to act nonchalant about being assigned to the case and leaving Mulder to do background checks without her.

She hated the unfair reputation that Mulder had with certain higher ups in the Bureau. She also knew full well that he would not want her to jeopardize her own career path for him. Their relationship was just that way… Trust and care for one and other to the extreme. They would do anything for each other. Her thought process had veered sharply from anger with Ritter’s behavior to, to, what? “Mulder” was her answer.

As her thoughts turned more to Mulder, she found herself appreciating the view more. She pulled over to the beach area and stopped the Cherokee. She sat there watching the waves and thinking about her partner. He was never far from her conscious thoughts; professionally and personally. If she were truthful with herself, she would admit to much more where he was concerned. The hardest part was wondering how he felt. Oh sure, she had indications. Heck, their days together before this case were ‘very indicative’; but, of what? “Mulder is a very caring and sensitive man,” she thinks. “Maybe he’s just showing me he cares.”

“He would care about any of his good friends in that way.” Yet, deep down she thinks otherwise. It’s true enough that Mulder is sensitive and caring. But the sides of him that she is allowed to see and experience are different; she knows this in her heart of hearts. She also knows in her heart of hearts that when she thinks of him, she goes weak in the knees and in the heart and in the soul. This is not mere concern for her partner. She wonders whether being away, pretending to be someone different, will afford them some time to explore. She starts to think it through logically; ‘Scully, you scientist, you!’. “Ok; we live in the same building with an absentee landlord. We share a rather nice vehicle (what ARE you thinking, Scully?), we have a cover that allows us to have contact, we have Ritter; oh, God, Ritter! Talk about acid and oil (Mulder and Ritter are much more volatile and unmixing than water and oil, she thinks). Mulder hates Ritter.

Ritter is jealous of Mulder’s relationship with her. Ritter is her ‘approved’ contact for this case. UGGGHHH! Time to go to my new job!” She leaves the beach area.

Rye Mercy Hospital; 8:45A Scully walks up the brick walkway and through the automatic doors. She still has 15 minutes before reporting for orientation. She stops at the Information Desk and asks for the Human Resource Department; it is one floor below the lobby.

She notices that the building exterior very quaintly hides the cutting edge setting of the interior. Exterior brick, white shuttered windows and parapets slide into a very warmly decorated lobby with soft lighting; easy on the eyes. Also on the main floor, she finds a rather large, well-equipped cafeteria. She notices the large choice of meal items and makes a mental note to stop here for a few meals. Part of her pay includes a meal plan. She then walks around the other end of the floor to find Patient Registration, Same Day Surgery, Emergency, Radiology and the Gift Shop; “The Sea Drift”. She finds the main Directory and notices that maintenance is in the basement as Ritter has told her.

A call over the pager catches her attention, “Good morning, this is the Hospital Administrative Offices welcoming you to Rye Mercy. All new employees should report to the cafeteria to begin orientation. Thank you.”

Scully heads in and sees Ritter already waiting. She sits down next to him.

“Good morning, staff! I am Jason Dodge, Chief of Staff here at Mercy. Welcome to the greatest little hospital in New England.”

“They’re pretty sure of themselves, aren’t they?” Ritter whispers to Scully. She tries to ignore him. She feels a little like the kid who made a mistake and sat next to the class clown in grade school.

“First, a few business items: if you have not completed your benefits package paperwork, please stop by Human Resources located downstairs, there are men’s and women’s staff lounges on the top floor, there are on-call rooms on the same floor. Before I bid you good day and ship you off to your new assignment, I wanted to announce that there will be a staff dance tomorrow night at 8PM sharp!

The theme is “Disco Retro”. It will be dressy casual which translates to ‘no prom gowns, but no chinos’. We strongly urge all staff to attend. Since this is our first team building event for the spring season, we respectfully request ‘staff only’; no families or partners. Thank you; that is all.”

Scully briefly wonders how they’re going to hold a staff dance in a hospital cafeteria with patients upstairs trying to recover and sleep. Don is not far behind her; catches her glance upwards. He realizes what she’s thinking. “Barb was telling me the Board pulled out all the stops when designing this place; sound proof walls and ceilings, overhead walkway looking down into cafeteria proper, extreme sound system, etc. Don’t think we’ll be bothering much of anyone. So, are you coming to the dance?”

“I’m thinking about it.” Scully smiles.

“Well, then I’ll see you there, Dana.”

The 20 or so new staff get up and start milling around. Scully sees her chance to move away from Ritter. Ritter decides to tag along. Scully finds a few other new nurses and doctors and stops to introduce herself.

“Hello, I’m Dana Katz; new to med/surge.”

“Dana, hello, I’m Barbara Sullivan and this is Don Sisko. I’ll be working in peds; CAN, and Don is a new thoracic man. I’ll be working on the floor right below you; we should have lunch sometime. Who will you be working with, Dana?”

“I’ll be working with Dr. Baines.” Scully again notices the change in the conversation directly around her. This time however, some of the women blush and smile. The men merely try to make small talk and turn away. She starts to feel like an old TV commercial; something about, “when someone talks, everyone listens” only in this case, when she talks, she gets strange reaction… Ritter is still standing there. Scully realizes she should probably introduce him to the group. “Barbara, Don; this is Peter RoDen, head of maintenance.” Ritter smiles and shakes their hands. He stands a little too close to Scully and she moves away. “He’s pushing this relationship thing a little too far.”

“Well, everyone, I think it’s time I go meet the good doctor.” Scully heads out quickly before Ritter can catch up with her.

Med/Surge and Dr. Baines; 9:30A Thursday Scully gets off the elevator on the 6th floor and heads for Dr. Baines’ office. He is working at his desk when she knocks on the door. she notices the wall-wall windows of his corner office. They overlook the flower garden on the side of the building. She notices that he is all Nona has said he is. As he looks up, she is shocked to find that her instant reaction is a strong similarity to a younger Daniel.

“Why are there so many elements of this case that are trouble?” she wonders not for the first time… His voice, luckily, is nothing like Daniel’s. Nor are his mannerisms.

“Nurse Katz, welcome!” he exudes and reaches to shake her hand. He has a firm, warm grasp.

“I’m sorry I came right to your door, your receptionist was away from his desk.”

He waves off the comment with a sweep of his hand, “No problem, we don’t stand on ceremony around here. So I’ll guess that you’ve had the orientation spiel from ‘ole Dodge City himself?” he laughs and smiles.

“Uh, yes; I did. I also met some of the other new staff. By the way, please feel free to call me Dana.”

“Ok, Dana, then feel free to call me ‘doc’! No! Just kidding! Call me Art. Let me show you around Med/Surge.”

Dr. Baines escorts Scully past a number of patient single and double rooms, past ICU, a smaller CCU. Interspersed along the way are the three ‘hearts’ of the floor, the nursing station desks. They are amazingly spacious and well-staffed.

They finally arrive at the Operating Room suite. There are 4 large Ors within the suite.

“They’re all equipped like this one.” Dr. Baines tells Scully. She looks around to see the latest equipment, monitors, video projection and sound equipment. Each room has a ‘gallery’ above it; used in teaching scenarios. Each room is connected to the other via special decontamination chambers. One wall has approximately 10 pagers charging so that medical staff are always accessible.

“I’m impressed!” Scully demurs. She hasn’t seen facilities like this since her training days. She also much prefers having the upper hand in her hospital visits…

“Well, Dana, I think I’ll have you visit a few of our surgery candidates. I’ll get you the charts and then let you do some rounds on your own, if that’s ok with you? I have to prep for an assist with Dr. Smyth.”

“Yes; that’s fine, Art. I’d really like to get going.”

“I’ll send you out to Nursing Station#1. By the way, there’s a staff lounge on the floor that’s prett well equipped and stocked. There’s also a private phone line since we obviously can’t use our cells, here.”

Scully heads out to the station and introduces herself to the staff. She picks up the folders of the three patients Art has told her about. Her trained eye looking for similarities doesn’t see any upon cursory inspection. One 25 year old male, one 50 year old male and one 78 year old woman. The 25 year old has just been tested for a possible brain stem tumor, the 50 year old is exhibiting signs of early onset dementia syndrome and the 78 year old has a vague diagnosis dealing with her parietal lobe functions. She quickly makes copies of the files, intending to study them more at home tonight.

She walks in to the first patient room. Jeremy Hudson, 25 year old white male, is sitting up in his bed, watching a game show. His head is bandaged from the last test procedure. “Jeremy? Hello, I’m Nurse Dana Katz, but you can call me Dana.” Scully smiles as she walks over to his bed.

“You’re new here, aren’t you? I mean the nurses here are babes, but you’re hot with a capital ‘H’!” Jeremy is trying to be the cool young adult while trying hard not to blush.

“Thanks for the compliment, young man. Now, what can you tell me about your lovely bandaged head, Jeremy?”

“She watches him become more serious.

Serious illness will make you serious,” Scully reflects from personal experience.

“I’ve got a brain stem tumor; about 5 centimeters, typically inoperable,” he begins.

Scully is somewhat surprised, but has been around those with chronic or life threatening conditions to understand the ability to absorb and repeat lots of technical information about themselves. It’s almost as if the disease’s intensity requires the patient to learn its terminology. Jeremy continues, “Dr. Baines has this way cool procedure that can remove the tumor without affecting the surrounding tissue or any of my higher brain functions.”

“Wow, that’s a mouth full! It does sound pretty promising, though. How did you and your family find out about Dr. Baines and his procedure?”

“Oh, I don’t have any family, they’re all dead. I found out through one of my professors at the community college. He referred me when I started getting sick and didn’t know why.”

Scully spends a little more time with Jeremy and then moves on to the other two patients.

Bruce Davidson, 50 year old black male, referred by clergy; no family alive. Hilda Yardling, 78 year old white female, widow, no other family, referred by her family physician.

A pattern emerges for Scully…

@ @ @

RMH Cafeteria, noontime

Scully makes her way down to the cafeteria. One of the benefits of working for a hospital that can pay well and keep up with required technology is hiring enough staff. A benefit of enough staff means that they can take breaks and they can end their shifts as scheduled. It also means generally happy staff and that translates to well cared for, happy patients.

She goes through the line and grabs a small salad, hard roll and apple. She finds Barbara and Don and joins them. Amazingly, Ritter finds them, too.

“We’re going to need a serious talk…“she thinks.

Ritter greets everyone. He looks like he’s been working hard for his first day.

While he appears put together, there are obvious sweat stains under his arms; his well-muscled arms, Scully notices.

Everyone chats as they eat. Barbara brings up the staff dance tomorrow night.

“So, is everyone coming to the dance? I hear they decorate the cafeteria and hire a great DJ.” Don and Ritter both nod that they’ll be there. Scully just smiles and says she’s going to try to be there.

She excuses herself to get some fresh air. She heads for the parking lot and pulls out her cellphone. “Mulder.” It’s only been about 6 hours and she is thinking how she misses him. She’s glad she caught him.

“It’s me, Mulder. What’re you doing right now?”

“I was just going to have some lunch and check out the community college since I guess I’ll have to be teaching a class there. What are you doing, Scully?”

“Well, things are going well here, but I am finding some interesting facts about the good doc’s patients. I’ve made copies of the files and was hoping you’d take a look for me tonight.”

“You know I’d be happy to help out, Scully. How about we order in pizza at my place and do some work?”

“It’s a deal, Mulder. I’ll be home around 5.” She hangs up and heads back to work.

@ @ @

Cable Road, 5P Thursday

Scully has pulled her hair up in a clip, but as the day has worn on and she has worn down, whisps here and there are hanging down her neck. The wave that was added along with the color and the early spring warmth of the day have added ringlet curls here and there.

As she drives home, she tries to clear her head of the hospital, but finds it hard to do. Her senses have been innudated; patients, new staff, Dr. Baines; Art, Ritter getting in her face once too often, surgery next week to prepare for. She has her work cut out for her.

Right now, she needs to relax and clear her head before going over the files with Mulder. She locks the Cherokee in the driveway and heads for the front door.

Mulder is waiting for her on the front porch. He is sitting in a white ladder back rocking chair and smiling at her. She feels the stress flood out of her as she sees him smile. God, this man is too much to handle sometimes and at other times…

“Mulder, you’re looking like the cat who got the canary. What gives?” She smiles back at him as she stands in front of his rocking chair.

“And you, my dear Nurse Katz, look exhausted, but rather pretty. Come here.”

He tells her in a low, monotone voice. He reaches his hand out toward her and pulls her toward him.

She moves toward him willingly. “Really Fox, I should get inside and change before our pizza.” She half-heartedly tries to back away.

He pulls her gently into his lap and she swings her legs up to hang over the arm of the chair, leaning against his chest. “Mulder, I could sleep right here, right now.”

“That’s not what I had in mind, Dana.” He continues in the low voice that is surely driving her mad at this point. She knows her tiredness is compromising her judgment right now, but she’s not interested in self-chastisement right now, either.

Mulder pulls the clip from her hair and lets the clip fall to the floor. He runs his hands through her hair.

“So, Dana, how was your day?”

“Muld—I mean, Fox, it was very hectic, but I’ve started to learn a few things I think we can use. Can we talk about that later, I’m resting right now and I’m enjoying it way too much to let work interfere.”

Mulder is running his hand through her hair and stroking her face with the other.

Scully looks up into his eyes and smiles. She sits herself upright, leans over and kisses him on the forehead.

“Let me go shower and I’ll meet you in your apartment in a half hour, Mul—Fox!”

Damn, she’s having a hard time with the name!

“Dana, are you sure that’s what you want to do?”

“No, not at all, Fox. It’s what I ‘have’ to do.”

She takes her time getting up. He remains on the porch a while longer and then heads up to his apartment. He orders two large pizzas; he’s starving. He’s somehow forgotten to eat since coffee this morning.

@ @ @

Pizza and Files Chez Fox; 6P

Mulder clears the round oak dining room table and puts a red-checked tablecloth on it. He grabs some paper plates and napkins and tosses them onto the table.

He finds mugs for the beer.

Mulder answers the door. Scully arrives, files in hand. Her hair is damp and she’s pulled it up again. She’s wearing grey, dancer sweats; rolled low on the hip and a black, cap sleeve tee. Mulder lingers on her. Although her new look is certainly a turn on, it’s moments like this in which he sees the real Scully in there.

Without thinking, he smiles at her and thinks, “she’s not wearing a bra”. He then blushes profusely and tries to hide his thoughts. Scully appears not to have noticed; much.

“Mulder, I hope you haven’t been working too hard on the pizza. I know how much you love cooking for me; you wild chef, you!” Scully smiles sarcastically and walks past him into his apartment.

She deposits the files on the coffee table and sits on the floor. Mulder joins her on the other side of the table.

“When does the pizza get here, Mulder?”

“Are you that hungry, Scully?”

“I’m starving; it’s been a hectic day.”

“Tell me about your day, Scully.” Mulder says, feeling a little like one half of a couple; not a bad feeling.

“Mulder, I’m really concerned about Ritter. Now, before you go getting all protective, it’s not like that. He just seems to forget about his role a little too easily.” She tells him about their breakfast meeting and his overfamiliarity with her and several instances at the hospital. She also tells him that she has spoken rather pointedly to Ritter about his slips.

“I just can’t shake the feeling that something’s not right, but I can’t put my finger on it, Mulder.”

Mulder appears to be deep in thought as he listens to Scully voice her concerns.

“Scully, is there a chance that you may be reading more into this? I mean, yeah, we all know what a bastard Ritter is; we’ve got his number. But, is it possible he’s just having a hard time working with us knowing how we feel? You know that Skinner wouldn’t purposely set us up.”

Scully smiles briefly. “Mulder, since when have you been willing to cut Ritter slack. You’re usually ready to go at him with little provocation! Plus, isn’t it my job to tell you that you’re reading too much into a situation?”

They both laugh. “Ok, Mulder, I’ll give it another chance. But, I’m telling you, my guard is up with him.”

“As well it should be Scully, as well it should be.”

They spend the next half hour going through the files. Mulder also notices that each of the three pre-op patients has no family. Mulder, ever vigilant, has also picked up on another commonality, although he’s not sure it has any bearing on the case. All three share the same height and green eye color. Scully is impressed with his analytical abilities. While any of the commonalities alone might be interesting, but not statistically significant, the three commonalities taken together appear to be much more than mere coincidence.

Scully is looking at their test results. Each has had both CT scans and MRIs.

The test results don’t really seem to indicate anything out of the ordinary because those tests are used to diagnose a variety of brain and nerve disorders.

“Mulder, here’s what I’ve got so far: three patients of varying age, weight, ethnicity with previous good health. All three have no familiy, are 5′ 8″ tall, have green eyes and have had the same diagnostic tests on the same day. Now, what does strike me about this scenario is that those are the only two tests they’ve had. It’s almost as if Baines already knew their condition.”

Mulder is listening intently. He appreciates Scully’s deductive reasoning skills.

“So, Scully, what’s your next step?”

She is concentrating hard. Jeremy is scheduled for surgery first; on the following Friday; just 7 days away. The other two are on Monday and Tuesday after Jeremy. “I need to meet the other two first. I don’t have enough to go on. I also need to get my hands on some of Baines or Barnes former patient files. Do you think you can work on that part for me while I’m at work?”

“Sure, Scully; I aim to please!”

“You do, Mulder, you do.” She smiles warmly.

They close the files and stack them neatly on the coffee table. Mulder gets up and puts the news on. The announcer is finishing a local, Rye story about the hospital, “and their first dance party will be held this Friday night in the RMH cafeteria turned ‘disco’. Of course, as this is Chief of Staff Dodge’s first staff team builder, this party is not open to the public. If it goes anything like the last one he threw, who knows if the hospital will open in the morning! This is Daniel Drew…” Mulder is no longer listening to the news. He is all over Scully with questions. “You didn’t tell me we were going to a dance Friday night, Scully! I don’t have a thing to wear.”

“Mulder, back up the bus a minute. You heard the same report I did; hospital staff only. You can’t risk blowing our covers.”

“I’ve got a great idea, Scully. While almost everyone is occupied downstairs, I can snoop around the good doc’s office and the ORs. It will be easy to get around without so many staff underfoot; don’t you think?”

“I think that’s a great idea, Mulder.”

Knock, knock!! The pizza has arrived; one veggie, one Meat express. Mulder grabs a few beers out of the fridge and pours them into the mugs while Scully opens the pizzas. They both dig in; ravenous.

After at least two pieces each, Mulder asks, “Scully, do you have work this weekend?”

“Only half day on Sunday, why?”

“Oh, no reason, I was just thinking.” He mutters between bites of pizza.

“When you’re ‘just thinking’ I need to watch out, Mulder. Out with it.”

“Well, I noticed some nice, craggy, hills near the beach and thought it might be nice to do some beach hiking if the weather’s nice. What do you think.”

“I think I would like that, Mulder.”

@ @ @

Friday morning, 5:30A

“This could get old, fast”, Scully thinks as she throws on her running tights and long sweatshirt. As she’s tying her running shoes, she decides to take some music with her this time. She grabs her CD walkman and puts in her beltpack, inserting the ear buds. She quietly heads down the stairs and out onto the front porch.

It’s still dark and it’s very quiet. The sound of the water is soothing; not what she needs right now!

She turns on her Euro Club cd and cranks the volume. She starts to stretch and then finds herself getting into the steady, repetitive beat.

She heads off; up Cable, across Washington and Lang Roads and out toward Route 1. She picks up her pace. She is much less winded this time and suddenly finds herself at Foyes Corner again.

“Well, might as well grab breakfast.” She heads into Foyes Family Bakery. The counter staff recognizes her from yesterday and says ‘hello’. She orders a bowl of oatmeal with some strawberries and an OJ. One of the locals she remembers seeing yesterday comes over and sits down beside her.

“Hello, I’m Sandy.”

“Hi, Dana.”

“Um, Dana, you’re new to the area, right?”

“Yes; that’s right.” Scully isn’t sure where this is going, but has a feeling she should play this one just right.

“Did I overhear you say you’re working at Rye Mercy, with Dr. Baines?”

“Yes, yes you did. Is there something I can help you with?”

Sandy is clearly striken. Her jaw has dropped slightly and she is no longer speaking.

“Are you ok, Sandy?”

“Oh, um, yeah! How well do you know Dr. Baines? I mean, I know you’re new here and he’s relatively new, too. I was just wondering if you followed him here or just ended up here; you know?”

“Well, actually, I’ve heard of him before, but never worked with him. I knew I was going to move to the area and found a vacancy posted. Why do you ask?”

Sandy looks around furtively and leans closer to Scully who has a spoon of oatmeal halfway to her mouth.

“Um, Dana, I can only say this once and won’t repeat it even if you ask me: be very careful, take every precaution; he is not who he seems to be. Well, nice to meet you Dana”, she says brightly and walks away.

Scully puts down her spoon of oatmeal and takes a large gulp of OJ. She smiles at the server, pays her bill and leaves. She heads home to shower.

Her cd player turned up, she has reached Cable Road again. She has tried to forget Sandy’s comments, but keeps re-running them in her head. She is so into the music and trying to decipher the meaning of the comments, that she does not see the dark shape coming up behind her. The shape is pacing her; not too close, not too far away.

She is about halfway down Cable when he runs closer and grabs her arm. Her reactions are instantaneous. She turns quickly and kicks him in the shin. She then sprints to the house.

She can see him under the street lamp, bent over, holding his shin and making little yelping sounds. She is thinking that running when it’s dark is not such a safe thing to do.

As she turns to head into the house, she hears a familiar voice, “Scully, just ‘what’ are you trying to do to me, or, more accurately, what did I do to you to deserve this two mornings in a row? This is no way to show me you care!”

“Mulder! Haven’t you learned yet? You’re trained the same way I am; what did you expect me to do? I’m alone, it’s dark, someone approaches from behind.

What did you want me to do, stop and ask what you had in mind?”

“I just figured I could get my run in, too.”

“Why didn’t you just come with me, then?”

“Is that an invitation, Scully?”

“Mulder, you ARE absolutely exasperating sometimes—and this is one of those times!”

“I don’t have many limbs left untouched by you; maybe we could explore the others now while they’re still in good shape?” He asks with a sly smile.

“Ok, Mulder, here’s the deal for today. I go get dressed for work, I go to work.

You get dressed, you go get that teaching position at Rye Community College.

You have entirely too much time on your hands for this assignment! We meet for a quick picnic outside the hospital at noon; emphasis on ‘quick’ and you have to bring the food. After work, I come home, get changed, go to Disco. Got it, Mulder?” Scully is playfully all business.

“Ok, work, RCC, picnic, Disco; wait, Disco?” Mulder is suddenly all ears.

“Mulder, we already had this discussion; no guests. You’ll be upstairs nosing around. Just remember, there will still be a skeletal staff; especially for pre and post op patients.” Scully heads for the front door before he can react.

“Hey, Scully, if I wear white polyester, will you hustle with me?”

“Mulder, if you wear white polyester, I may have to hurt you. You’re not invited, Mulder!”

@ @ @

RMH; Friday, 8A

Scully walks into the cafeteria to grab some tea. She notices some of the maintenance staff on ladders suspending a mirrored ball from the high point of the ceiling in the center of the room. Others are mounting the colored and strobe lights from the balcony areas around the perimeter of the high center ceiling.

She shakes her head in amusement. On her way out, she runs into Ritter, literally.

“Excuse me, Nurse Katz; didn’t mean to get in your way.”

“Oh, that’s alright Peter, and please, call me Dana.”

“So, Dana, are you going to the Disco tonight?”

“Yes, I think I will, although I don’t know where I’m going to find any 70s clothing on such short notice. How about you?”

“I’ve got by shiny polyester and stretch bells all set. I’ll save you a dance.” He walks away before Scully gets a chance to say, “don’t bother”.

She heads up to Med/Surge to start morning rounds. She stops in Jeremy’s room, but doesn’t find him there. She pulls his chart and notes that he’s gone for additional testing.

She next heads over to meet Hilda Yardling, the 78 year old woman. Hilda is sitting in a chair by the window, facing the door. “Hello, Ms. Yardling, I’m Dana Katz, your nurse.”

Hilda simply looks at Scully. Scully slowly walks into the room, holding Hilda’s chart. “May I call you Hilda?”

“Yes, I’m Hilda; who are you?”

“I’m you’re nurse, Dana. Hilda, how are you feeling this morning?”

“Nothing new except for my big headache. Dr. Baines is going to make it all better and then I can go home.”

“Who’s going to be with you at home, Hilda?”

“Oh, no one, I can live by myself once my headache is gone.”

Scully checks her vitals and tells her she’ll be back later.

She moves on to meet Bruce Davidson, the 50 year old male. He’s sitting in his bed reading. “Well, aren’t you the cutest little thing to come through that door in days!” he says as a greeting. “Why thank you, Mr. Davidson. I’m Dana Katz, you’re new nurse. How are you feeling today?”

“Oh, fine enough, I guess. Just bored,though, really rather be outside enjoying the spring day, “he says, hooking a finger behind him toward the window. “Really wish I could at least see outside.”

“Well, ‘that’ I can fix for you!” She steps on the lockdown peddle of the bed and then heads behind the headboard. She slowly turns the bed so it is parallel to the window wall, allowing him to look out. Since this hospital is so well-equipped, there are panels for equipment on each wall making the room arrangement changeable.

“Well, I’ll be; that’s great, Dana!”

“We aim to please, Mr. Davidson.”

“Please, call me Bruce.”

“Bruce, things are looking good right now. Are you all set for your surgery?”

“Yeah, I guess so, ” he looks a little glum at the prospect, but quickly brightens again.

“I’ll be back to see you later.” Scully heads out to meet the other patients on her floor.

Before she knows it, it’s noontime. Her beeper goes off and she heads for a phone at the Nursing Station. “Hey, Dana, it’s me. Your picnic awaits on the edges of the South lawn.” Mulder hangs up. Scully smiles and tells the desk staff she’ll be back in an hour.

@ @ @

South Lawn, RMH, Noontime

Mulder is sitting on his fleece blanket (Scully has visions of the planetarium; does he take that everywhere he goes? She wonders.) Shocked to see him in off-white dockers and a white cable knit cotton sweater with the sleeves pushed up.

The closest to white she’s ever seen him in was dark tan! This all-in-white look is a good one for him; he** the man looks good in just about anything…

“Hey, Dana, how was your morning?” He smiles as he opens the picnic bag.

“Leave it to Mulder to pack a picnic lunch in a bag” she thinks. “What’ve you got in there, Fox?”

“Well, I have two turkey sandwiches, two salads, two iced teas, and, if you’re really good, some of that fake icecream you seem to like so much.”

“How did it go over at the college, Mulder? You did go, didn’t you?”

“Yeah, I did. I’ll be teaching a two week special section of Advanced Psych for Professor Susan Strand. She wants me to cover Non-Verbal Communication with her senior psych majors. You know how good I am at non-verbal communication, Scully.”

“Don’t go there now, Mulder, but yes, you are very good. Who’s this Professor Strand?”

“What you really mean, Scully, is ‘what does she look like’?”

“No, well, you can tell me that, too.” Scully pretends to be very interested in what’s in the picnic bag.

“She’s only been teaching at the college for 5 years now. She’s from London.

She’s about 35 and…”

“That’s enough, Mulder.” Scully is picturing Phoebe Green.

“AND, as I was starting to say, she and her husband are expecting their second child in July.”

Scully laughs and grabs a sandwich and the iced tea. Between bites she says,

“Mulder, you’re going to need to be very careful tonight. I didn’t get a chance to tell you about a strange, pretty one-sided conversation I had with a local this morning at the Bakery.”

“So, talk to me, Scully.” Mulder, already just about finished with his sandwich, opens the salad and starts eating, “just what do you see in this, Scully?”

“Mulder, a woman named Sandy was very concerned that I’m working for Dr. Baines. She actually warned me to be very careful around him. I’m thinking she’s got someone else in mind.”

“Scully, keep your guard up. I think you can probably recall a character or two you ‘trusted’ who gave you know good reason to?” Mulder is thinking back to their early days together with Martin of the Massachusetts Kindred. Scully is not pleased with the connection he has made, “Mulder, how can you bring him up? That was very early in my career and he was using some type of chemical control over me at the time.”

“You didn’t seem so controlled; you seemed about to do the horizontal bop with the man. Anyway, I’m going to check this character out, too. It’s just what good Agents do.”

“So, where’s my dessert, Mulder?” Scully smiles and reaches into the picnic bag and pulls a small cup from under the ice packs. “I’m in heaven, Mulder.” She smiles.

He moves over, still facing her, and kisses her cheek, “So am I, Dana, so am I.”

@ @ @

Getting Ready to Boogie, 6P Friday

Barbara and a few of the other staff have helped Scully piece together her outfit for tonight. While the Agents were given a healthy clothing allowance for special circumstances, “Disco clothes” were not on the list. Scully decides for

“conservatively provocative”. She’ll wear black satin stretch no-pocket jeans cut a little low through the waist, a cap sleeved low-cut front and back deep pink stretch satin top and some black patent platforms. She again sweeps one side of her hair up, but this time, clips it with a large rhinestone barrett. She’s only partially dried her hair so it’s curlier than usual. She ditches the pearl jewelry just this once and opts for a black velvet ribbon close around here neck and tiny rhinestone studs. Since it will be rather dark, she opts for a little more make-up.

A quick spritz of Jovan’s Night Musk and Dana Katz is ready to boogie-oogie-oogie.

She grabs a small purse and her black leather jacket and heads for the door.

Just as she opens it, she finds Mulder about to knock.

“Whoa! Is that really you, Scully?”

“No, Fox; it’s me, Dana.” She smiles at his reaction to her. “Where are you going all decked out? You seem a tad over-dressed for ‘snooping’ around Mercy, don’t you?” She raises her eyebrow, arms folded across her chest and waits for his answer. She wonders whether he’ll take a while to make up a good one or just tell her the truth. He opts for door number 2.

“Well, Dana, I figured I could do some snooping and then maybe just stop by, you know, give you a ride home?” He’s wearing a black polyester suit right out of Saturday Night Fever and she has absolutely no idea where he could have found it. He also has on a dark blue, paisley shirt unbuttoned almost to his waist with the long, pointed collar laying over the lapels to the suit jacket. He’s wearing what she calls, “strutting boots” a la John Travolta.

“Fox, don’t you think you might be just a little obvious on the Med/Surge floor in that get-up?”

“Dana, Dana, Dana, how little you think of my abilities as an Agent, ” he shakes his head from side-side in mock disappointment, “this is for later. I have ‘this’ for snooping.” He pulls a large black tee from behind his back.

“Oh, yeah, you’re prepared, Fox.” She gives him a small smile and heads for the stairs.

“I’ll drive, Dana.”

“No, you’ll call a cab. We can’t go together.”

He’s watching her walk down the stairs and admiring her parting view. “Hey, Dana, for old time’s sake, you know, me and you being such good friends and all…” As she steps into the parlor, he takes her jacket and purse out of her hands and puts them on the chair. He takes her hands, places them on his shoulders and whispers in her ear, “Wanna get down tonight, Lady Marmalade?”

Before she can laugh or reply, he kisses her earlobe and then kisses her lips.

“None of that close ‘bump’ stuff, Dana.”

She smiles, grabs her jacket and purse and opens the door. On her way out, she points her index finger and waves it up and down in the air, and say, “ooh, ooh”.

@ @ @

Fox Undercover; RMH Med/Surge Floor, 8P Friday Night

“Dana Scully, Dana Katz, Scully, Katz…” Mulder is waiting for the cab. “How many more sides of her am I going to find…” He’s thinking that he could use a few hours of routine, Bureau work. They have a serious case to unravel and there seem to be quite a few threads. He likes the challenge of this case; their new roles, the setting. He is, in part, living some of his fantasies where Scully is concerned. Many opportunities. Not enough time. Needing to stay on his mark.

Needing to find her mark.

The cab arrives. It’s a short trip to RMH. As the cab pulls up to the front entrance, Mulder can already hear the pulsing rhythms and see the strobes and colored lights. The cafeteria is to the right of the entrance and its windows continue around the east side of the building.

He decides against using the main entrance. As he walks around the outside of the cafeteria, he finds one of the side exit doors propped open. Thinking he might be able to check things out, he quietly slips inside. He finds a stairway to the overhead balcony and ascends. He walks around until he finds a good vantage point. He leans onto the railing and looks down.

More and more staff are arriving. As he looks toward the main doors, he thinks he sees Ritter and almost looses his own balance from laughing so hard. He gives Ritter credit; he has really gotten into the mood of the evening! Ritter is decked out in a totally white polyester suit with a shiny black shirt styled much like Mulder’s dark blue shirt. If Ritter’s pants were any tighter, he might need a gender change. Ritter is literally swaggering around. Ritter finds some staff he seems to know; a man and a woman.

Mulder is looking for Scully, but hasn’t found her in the ever-growing crowds.

Just as he’s about to head up to Med/Surge, he notices the man and woman grabbing Ritter’s arm and pointing away from them. Mulder follows their gazes to the main entrance doors. Scully is walking in with someone. From the briefing description and Scully’s, it appears that this is Dr. Baines. Mulder experiences a slight pang somewhere deep inside. Scully plays her role well, he’ll give her that.

The look on Dr. Baines’ face says he’d like to give her a thing or two, as well.

Mulder decides it’s time to get to work. He knows Scully can take care of herself.

Mulder pulls out a copy of the Med/Surge floorplans. He locates Dr. Baines’ office suite. He decides to take the back staircase so he won’t alert anyone to his presence. Scully told him there will be skeletal staff only, so he won’t have to dodge too many personnel.

He quickly finds his way into the office suite. This hospital is “rich” in everyway he thinks as he looks around. Even with minimal lighting, Mulder can tell that the furnishings are not cheap. He follows the small reception area to the smaller office to its left. The door plaque reads, “Chief Medical/Surgical Nurse; Dana Katz”. Mulder’s curiousity gets the better of him. He enters. Since it is an internal office, he risks turning on her desk lamp. Scully with a real desk all her own. He sits in her desk chair and looks at the pictures she has on the desk.

She has a fictious “family” picture; no need to risk her real family. He is very surprised to find a Fox Masters picture on her desk. It is a copy of the picture taken by the Deep Missions Office for their files. The picture is only a 3X5 and is situated so only she can see it, but it still concerns him. He places it in her top desk drawer and exits her office.

Dr. Baines’ office is located through a small hallway behind the reception area.

His office is larger than Scully’s and the reception area combined. Not wanting to waste anymore time, because he knows he’s going to find his way into that damn Disco and to Scully—under the pretense of having to know more about this Dr. Baines—he heads for the files. He pulls the files for each of the three patients slated for surgery next week. As he reads each of their files, he initially notices nothing out of the ordinary. That is, until he reaches the bottom of each under,

“Other notes:” He finds a mysterious set of words that at first appears to be

“doctor’s handwriting”. Upon further inspection, he realizes that it says,

“transfer substation 48hrs stat, subdermal temporal factor .08 solution”. Although it is still mostly greek to him, Mulder now believes he has some solid proof about the post-recovery involvement of Dr. Baines. He makes a copy of each file and returns them to the filing cabinet. Scully will make sense of this, he is sure.

@ @ @

RMH Disco A-Go-Go, 9:30P Friday

Mulder heads back down the stairwell, stopping briefly to retrieve his satin shirt and jacket from the corner he left them in on the way up. He heads out to the parking lot to toss his tee shirt in the Cherokee. He decides the balcony might be a good place to start his entrance. From that vantage point, he can scope out the scene (“where did that language come from, Mulder?” ) before he enters it.

As he walks in, he hears the question, ‘Voulez vous coucher avec moi, ce soir? Voulez vous coucher avec moi?” So, who’s reading your mind, Fox? The whole floor below him seems to be alive and moving to the beat. The lights are pulsing, the mirrored balls reflecting the light in strange ways.

He notices Ritter’s stark, white suit. The man knows how to dance…With Scully!

They are both moving quite well to the beat; knees bent, hips low, arms overhead. Ritter is using his two index fingers, crossing them in front of him in that Travolta sort of way. Mulder wants to laugh. Then Ritter is trying to cross them behind Scully’s back. She is but a mere sliver of a shape so close to Ritter’s body, arms over her head, head thrown back, smiling.

As the song shifts to “Don’t Leave Me this Way”, Dr. Baines cuts in on Ritter.

Ritter smiles good naturedly and finds someone else to dance with.

Baines is holding Scully’s hand, pulling her toward him and then moving her away again. He spins her once, twice. The man and woman he saw talking to Ritter earlier come up to Baines and Scully. The four stop to talk.

The music slows down. “Pick Up the Pieces” is being mixed in to “Don’t Leave me this Way”. Scully and the other woman, still talking with the man and Dr. Baines, start to do the bump with each other. This seems to attract some attention. Quite a few others are dancing near them, but they stop to watch. The woman is about an inch of two taller than Scully and as blond as Scully is temporarily-brunette. She has a little more weight on her, but is every bit as curvaceous. Mulder wonders how their knees allow them to bump so low to the ground. Mulder also wonders what it would feel like to be very close to Scully as she bumps…

Mulder starts to head downstairs. He decides he very much wants to enjoy this party with Scully, not watch her enjoy it with everyone else.

As “Rock the Boat” plays, two lines form. Two by two, dancers start moving down the middle showing their most creative moves. Baines and Ritter both approach Scully at the same time, but the other man gets to her first. Scully acts like she knows him. They start out holding hands; both with arms overheard, facing opposite directions, letting arms cross behind them. They step apart, each dancing on her and his own. He comes up behind her, pulls her hips to him and shimmies toward the floor and back up. They’ve reached the end of the line.

Mulder realizes that he is experiencing many reactions right now; most of them possibly resulting in a few bruised men if he acts upon reactions. His rational side is keenly aware of their roles here and realizes his downright jealousy and protectiveness have no place here. Many of his other sides are arguing with his rational side and telling him to get to Scully before he has to watch anymore.

Ritter starts walking toward Scully as the music changes to the Bee Gees singing, “More than a Woman”. Mulder has seen enough. He smoothly walks up to Ritter, smiles, shakes his hand as if in greeting and then smiles at Scully.

He sees surprise and anger flash across her face. He knows she is concerned about their covers. He also knows he has a cover that includes a prior relationship with her. He only broke the “no guest at the party” rule. He takes ahold of her hands and smiles again. She is trying to pull away from him without causing a scene.

She leans in close, he gets the wrong idea. “What are you DOING here?” she demands in a hoarse whisper. “Are you trying to purposely cause a scene?”

She is smiling, but he can still see the anger in her eyes. They are both dancing to the beat. She is trying very hard to be uncooperative.

He leans in to her other ear and bitingly says, “I’m causing a scene?!? Who is it that has my picture on her desk?”

“What were you doing in my office?”

Mulder twirls her and comes out of it with his arm around her waist,

“walking” her around by his side, and then twirls her again. “Dana, why don’t you just introduce me to your friends?” He can feel her breathing very hard attempting to diffuse her anger toward him. He is thinking, “Guess who doesn’t have an icecube’s chance in he** of getting anything tonight, Mulder?”

She realizes that he’s partially right; all he did was crash the dance. She just wishes that he hadn’t come in the way he did. He has a way of jolting her senses that makes it hard to think. She suddenly looks at him in his Disco finery and realizes that he’s chosen colors he usually wears to work; she’s seeing the 70s version of Mulder the FBI Agent! She starts to laugh. He mistakes her laugh for acquiescence.

She decides to push her anger aside for awhile and enjoy the dance. Afterall it IS Mulder she’s dancing with. He senses her body relaxing. He places his hands on her shoulders and steps away from her briefly. Her platform shoes bring her almost to his eye level. He looks at her questioningly and smiles, “Shall we continue to dance, Dana?” In response, she reaches her arms around under his jacket. He places his arms around her waist, his hands landing on her velvet clad hips. He leads her farther from the middle of the room. “Scully?” She glares briefly at him. “Dana?” He tries again. She looks into his eyes and smiles. His hands move up her body and into her hair. His lips find hers. Her lips part and she tastes him, feeling her own body respond with heat and…

“Hey, here they are. I told you I saw them over here.” It’s Ritter..

<Talk about ‘interruptus’…> Mulder, still holding onto Scully tightly, turns to seethe at Ritter. When Ritter is close enough to hear, Mulder fumes, “This had better be VERY good, Rodent!” Scully playfully slaps Mulder on his butt.

“Ok, I’ll make the introductions,” Ritter continues, not missing a beat. He introduces Mulder as a good friend of Scully’s who lives in her apartment building on Cable Road. Barbara and Don shake hands with him immediately.

“Welcome, Mr. Masters.”

“Please, call me ‘Fox’.”

Ritter steps up and says, “‘Fox’; what an interesting name that it. Were you parents animal lovers?”

Scully quickly holds Mulder’s hand and puts it around her waist. “Actually, Mr. Rodent, I am so sorry, Mr. RoDEN, my parents simply liked the name; it was as unique as they knew I would become.” Mulder demonstrates true grace under fire. Scully gives his hand a reassuring squeeze and smiles at him. She thinks,

“Jesus, Mulder, you can be truly amazing when you want to be.”

Barbara takes a step toward Mulder leaving Don standing alone. “So, what do you do, Fox?”

“Well, I’m about to teach a two week session for a Psychology class at the community college.”

“Oh, really. Psychology was my favorite course. What will you be teaching?”

Scully rolls her eyes at the obvious come on, but also wonders what’s going on.

Mulder smiles and holds onto Scully a little tighter, sensing her uncomfortableness with Barbara’s blatant flirting. “I’ll be teaching a section on reading body language.”

Barbara doesn’t miss a beat, “What is my body saying to you right now, Fox?”

Just then, Barry White’s low, deep gravelly voice starts to sing a very slow, dripping with heavy innuendo song. Barbara is standing close to Mulder and Scully, one hip thrust forward toward Mulder, shoulders back and down and one hand on her hip.

Dr. Baines approaches her from behind and invites her to dance, much to Don’s surprise. If pouts could wound, Dr. Baines would need a bandage. He nonetheless leads her to the dance floor.

Mulder, oblivious to Ritter and Don, pulls Scully to face him. Ritter and Don head off to find dance partners. Ritter keeps his eyes on Mulder and Scully.

Mulder moves Scully onto the dance floor, almost dragging her, albeit willingly.

Barry White’s music is like sex on the dancefloor muses Mulder silently. He reaches both hands to Scully’s backside and gently squeezes, pulling her even closer.

She is having flashbacks to their night at the Planetarium. She is very turned on and reaches her arms up around his neck. They look at each other, catching glimpses of each others’ eyes as the strobes and colored gel lights cross their faces. The beat is getting heavier and the song thankfully refuses to end.

Ritter is standing by the dancefloor pretending to listen to a woman who appears to be attracted to him. He really needs some concrete evidence to support his claim to Kersh that there is a personal relationship going on between the two Agents, but he knows this situation won’t do it. They could justifiably claim they were “in character”.

Meanwhile, Mulder moves them deeper into the gyrating, pulsating throng of dancers. Scully moves her hands to Mulder’s satin shirt and unbuttons it to his waist. Mulder is clearly surprised; he takes a sudden breath. She runs her hands over his abs and his chest. She then rebuttons his shirt and smiles up at him.

He leans toward her ear and says loud enough to be heard over the music,

“You know, Scully, I still need to even this score. You are making it harder on yourself with each little flag on the play…” He moves his hands to her waist and across her back. The smooth satin shirt moves over her back easily. As she’s pressed close to him, he keeps one hand on her back and moves the other to her neck.

She looks up at him and smiles. “Mulder, I know exactly what I’m doing.” She raises on to her toes, although with her platforms, she easily reaches him anyway, and kisses him playfully. He, however, takes her face in both hands and kisses her a little more roughly. Her reaction is to push herself against him even closer.

“Scully, I think we’re demonstrating more than ‘good friends’ behavior; don’t you?”

Scully unwillingly pulls back a little. Mulder is right; she’s risking their covers.

But so is he!

“Mulder, how is it we keep finding ourselves in these ‘close call’ situations? Have you noticed that’s happening a lot lately?”

“Oh, I’m noticing Scully, I’m noticing.”

Before they can risk further discovery, the Ohio Players jumping rhythms of

“Love Rollercoaster” cut in. “Maybe we should call it a night, Mulder?” Scully is readjusting her shirt. She reaches over and touches Mulder’s face briefly, smiling.

They start to make the rounds to say good night. Dr. Baines finds them first.

“Leaving so soon, Dana, Fox? I hope you had a good time. I’m glad you could join us, Fox. I mean every party should have at least one crasher, right?” Scully cannot tell if Baines is totally joking. “I’m sorry, Art; I tried to tell him it was staff only!”

“Look, Dr. Baines, this is all my fault. Dana put the fear of God into me about showing up. I just couldn’t help myself.”

“Well, think no more of it, Fox. Good luck with your course over at the College.”

Mulder is practicing for his course. He thinks that there is a definite lack of one-one correspondence between Baines’ words and his body language. The body is saying, “I didn’t like you being here.” One of Baines’ eyebrows is raised skeptically, his arms are crossed; he is about as “closed” as a body can get and still be visible!

@ @ @

55 Cable Road, Midnight Friday

Mulder and Scully walk out to the Cherokee hand in hand. They notice the quiet night, the dark sky. The only light other than the stars are the parking lot lamps set not much higher than Mulder is tall.

Neither needs to speak. Both are content with each other’s silence.

“Mulder, you—”

“Scully, I’m—” They both laugh. It is often this way; one knows what the other will say; neither need to speak.

Scully is half asleep. Mulder wishes he were.

They’re home. Mulder sees that Scully is sound asleep. He is hesitant to wake her. He opens her door and leans in to lift her out. He has one arm behind her back and under her arms and is reaching under her legs with the other. Her satin shirt is warm, yet slippery, against his arm. She is very warm in his arm.

She is somewhere halfway between asleep and partially awake when she feels him close. Her arms automatically encircle his neck, her had resting on his shoulder. She is awake enough to enjoy the wild sensations and asleep enough to love the dream.

@ @ @

Upstairs and Downstairs, 55 Cable Road, Saturday morning 8A

Downstairs, Mulder is trying hard not to wake from his dream. Scully is in his arm, he is lifting her onto his bed. She is nibbling his ear lobe. She is whispering to him how much she wants him. He is lowering her gently on to his bed. He is lowering himself on top of her, his hungry mouth findng hers roughly. She is responding. She is beeping in his ear. “Beeping in my ear?” Mulder reaches over to swat at the alarm clock. He succeeds in shutting off and sends it flying into the wall.

He needs an extremely cold shower. He needs Scully. He sets the shower nozzle on driving spikes of water… Upstairs, the warm water is being shut off as Scully steps out of the shower. Her running has become a short term habit. She awakens later since she doesn’t have to work today, but she decides to run. She’s running because she likes it.

Running is good for her cardiovascular system. Running clears the mind.

Mulder snuck up on her last time she was running. Running. Mulder. Mulder.

“Gotta run”.

She tries to head quietly down the stairs. Surely he won’t be awake this early on a Saturday. She knows he’d probably live in his bed until noon if not for his job.

She makes it outside and heads off through the back yard toward the beach.

@ @ @

Body Language Beach, Later than 8A

She is experiencing the runner’s trance; steady padding of shoes on sand, low, early spring morning fog and mist enrobe her. The beach looks endless.

Autopilot runner; Scully.

A momentary shiver runs through her. Her mind, as if connected by unseen tendrils, floats back to Mulder. There is much and little unresolved between them. There is chemistry between them; it’s like beads of water on a sizzling frying pan. Deeper, there is an unshakeable trust they share. Yet, she keeps some fence gates closed over her emotions. She does not trust easily; yet she trusts him implicitly. She senses the same from him to her. She is not sure what she is afraid of. She is afraid of the immensity of feelings.

She is in the midst of deeper, early morning fog. She has run farther than she knows; Maine can’t be far! She continues. She is on the coast, she cannot run out of beach. She hears only the occasional seagull. She notices a few pine trees in small stands; three or four here, seven or eight there. As she runs past a small stand, she notices a sign post, “Wallis Sands State Beach”. She has run almost ten miles.

She explores the area closer to the water although she cannot make out much past her arm’s length due to the heavy fog. She can feel it wet on her face. Her hair hangs in wet ringlets around her face. Her light weight sweats are lightly clinging to her skin.

She is thinking about how easy it is to become disoriented in such deep fog when she hears a rustling in the trees. It is almost a whisper through the pines. She turns slowly in each direction, trying to sense the location of the sound.

Out of habit, she reaches for the weapon that is not there. She is cautious and her adrenaline is pumping; preparing her for flight or fight.

She hears breathing and reasons that if she can hear the breathing, this person or animal has been running recently. She tries very hard to control hers.

Although she is no longer running, her mounting anxiety level has kept her breathing shallow and quick.

She starts to back away from the sounds. As her shoe hits much softer and yielding sand, she realizes she has moved too close to the water’s edge. She heads farther up the beach until she comes to a clearing. “Great; visiblity for me and my stalker.” She finds a few pieces of broken driftwood and grabs a hefty piece. She heads back toward the small stands of pines. She finds a defensible position in a stand of seven or eight trees, holding her driftwood in front of her.

She slows her breathing and remains still and silent.

She senses someone moving up from behind, but her right shoe is wedged between to tree trunks. She quickly unties both shoes and, with a firm grasp on the wood, runs for it. Her wet, stockinged feet are kicking small clumps of sand up behind her; she is moving at the speed of light.

“Scully, slow down; you’re going to trip.”

She whirls around, dark eyes flashing extreme anger. She cannot speak she is so angry. This man, the subject of her running reveries, her fantasies, her career is running three for three. “He has the knack, oh yeah, he does.”

“Whoa, Scully, no shin kicks, no karate, put down the driftwood and no one gets hurt; especially me!” Mulder is walking toward her slowly, observing her body language. Still he tries to talk his way out of the situation, “Ok, Scully, I’m reading a little bit of a defensive posture here, go with me on this one. I’m reading maybe a smidgen of anger, laced with a fine line between wishing me dead and wishing me on my back in the sand. How am I doing; close?”

Scully thinks that he has read her very clearly indeed. She is not even sure which wish for him comes first; “ok, let’s be honest, a dead Mulder would just be no fun, supine in the sand is so much better.”

He is taking in their surroundings and her. She looks beyond beautiful; wet, angry, damp sweats clinging to her hips, her chest, driftwood sword still held tightly in her hand. “Maybe we both belong in the sand.” Mulder thinks as he walks closer to her.

“Don’t do it, Mulder. You are on very thin ice. I do not understand why the hell you can’t just say you want to run with me. This is three mornings in a row! I didn’t want to believe it was you, Mulder. I thought, ‘oh, no, he’d never do that to me; especially after my reactions the first two times.’ How wrong could I be? Just tell me, Mulder. I’m waiting.”

“And, Scully, you’re going to keep waiting till you give me a chance to get a word in edgewise,” he says quietly as he approaches her, arms open at his sides.

“Don’t give me that ‘open, trusting posture’, Mulder. I want an explanation.”

Scully is still visibly angry and, although she has not lost control, she has lowered her voice level some. As he approaches, she backs away. She runs into something and stops. She turns slightly to get a look. It is a large driftwood log with several branches poking off it it toward one end. She sits down toward the end away from the branches and catches her breath. She wonders how many more mornings of getting up early, running and being caught off guard with Mulder her poor heart will take.

He sits down next to her and swings his legs over the log until he is straddling it.

He reaches one hand toward her, but says nothing. His eyebrows are raised and his head is tilted slightly to one side; a question, an invitation. RSVP? Scully lets the driftwood sword drop to the sand and looks at Mulder. She sees the sincerity in his eyes, makes note of his invitation, decides to RSVP. She turns to face him and holds his hand, “my reply is ‘yes’”, she smile.

As she turns toward him and moves closer, he pulls her toward him until she has her back to him, his legs on either side of hers as she leans back against him.

She holds his hands in hers and he places them on her thighs. Oh, God, how she wants to just melt into him. She knows it would take very little to do so.

First things first, however. “Mulder, please help me understand why you follow me. I’m at a loss to figure out why you seem to get perverse pleasure out of scaring the wits out of me.”

“Scully, do you honestly think that was my intent?”

“Mulder, what am I supposed to think when it’s happened three days in a row? I mean, once, it’s kind of cute, twice it becomes annoying, three times, a little jail cell could be your new home.”

“I just didn’t want to bother you. Oh, he!!, what am I saying. I just wanted to be with you.”

Before they can continue, they glimpse someone in the stands of pine trees. The sun is starting to melt the fog, sending golden haze across the sand and water.


“Shh, Scully.” Mulder sits Scully up and then he gets off the log. He looks toward Scully, motioning with his finger to his lips.

Mulder walks toward the trees. Scully watches his back and follows. As they near the trees, Ritter steps out, hands held up in front.

“Ritter, what are you doing here?” Scully beats Mulder to the question.

“I need to warn you both; Baines is very suspicious.”

“What are you talking about? We’re supposed to have a relationship.” Mulder snarls, suspecting Ritter of who knows what.

Scully walks toward Ritter and glances back at Mulder. “Tell us what you know, Agent.”

“After you two left the dance, me, Don and Barbara were hanging around talking and dancing. Baines approached us and started out just chatting. He danced with Barbara and then stayed with us. He tried to be casual about it, but didn’t succeed. He asked me specifically who you are, Mulder. He was very interested in your background. He also wanted to know just how well you know Scully.”

“What else do you think he knows or suspects?” Mulder asks.

“He told us about a possible break in to his office suite during the dance; right before you showed up to crash the party. His words, not mine.”

“Mulder, this isnt good. We better get back and figure this out.” Scully is clearly worried that their covers may be blown.

“I can give you both a lift to town if you’d like.” Ritter offers.

Mulder, ever the skeptic, declines for them both, “We’ll walk, thanks.”

@ @ @

Heading Home

“I just don’t get him, Scully. He’s after something, he’s dogging us. Then he’s playing Agent of the Year, tipping us off.”

“I know, Mulder, I know. I have the same doubts and questions.”

They’re walking along the beach; almost back to Cable Road.

“What’s your read on Baines, Scully?”

“Oh, he’s everything he claims to be medically; genuis, brilliant. There’s an edge there, though. He treats all staff with respect; I can feel the sincerity. But, it just doesn’t jive with what we suspect. I do think Ritter was really trying to warn us.

Baines wasn’t exactly friendly to you, Mulder.”

“I think we play this one by the book. Blowing our covers too early and calling in the big guns isn’t going to get the same results.”


The sun has really started to burn off the haze. The sunrise to their right over the water is almost complete.

As they are talking, they don’t intially notice just how close the water’s edge they are. More accurately, how close to the water’s edge Scully is.

“How about an early morning swim, Scully?” Mulder smiles playfully in her direction. He nudges her closer to the gentle white surf foaming near her feet.

“Mulder, it’s April, it’s northern New England. Do you know how cold that water is? I’d be blue in an instant.”

“Yes, you would be, wouldn’t you?” Mischief lights his face as his left arm is pushing her right arm. She is off balance and trying to push back.

Since her arm does not provide enough leverage, she puts both hands on his hip and shoves him away from the water; and her.

“Sccuuullllly; whoa. I really think a swim is just the thing. A nice, bracing, saltwater dip. Does a body good!” With that last statement, he comes up behind her, his hands on her shoulders, and tries to push her into the water.

She digs her feet into the sand to stand her ground. An idea surfaces. She allows him to “push” her closer to the water. She pretends to be concerned, muttering plaintive cries about not wanting to get her hair and clothing wet.

Mulder is buying it, “Scully, I can’t do much about your hair, but if you want to stop to remove your clothes, I’ll wait.”

Scully seizes her advantage. She stops. Mulder lets her go. She pretends to pull her sweatshirt up over her head. Mulder is relaxed just enough.

She drops her shirt, runs behind him. She puts her weight into his hips and sends him sailing into the water. He ends up running forward into the surf.

Although he’s moving too fast to stop completely, he does manage to grab Scully’s hand so she joins him.

They both end up sitting in the surf, totally drenched. The water is cold enough to bring goosebumps.



“Ok, Mulder, you truly are the king of the practical joke; I concede.”

“Scully, remember, it’s me, Mulder; I know you don’t believe one word you just said. I’m thinking you need to lie back and get some rest.” He pushes her backwards so the water rushes over her. She quickly sits up, sputtering water at him. Mulder notices that her lightweight sweats are almost completely stuck to her body.

“Mulder, I’m frozen. Please, let’s go get dry.” He pulls her into his arms to help

“warm” her. From two cold, wet bodies, warmth ensues…

@ @ @

55 Cable Road, Saturday, 9A

The two, very wet, Special Agents try to squeeze some of the water out of their clothing before walking on the hardwood floors of the house. Mulder reaches for the hem of Scully’s sweatshirt, “I could give you a hand, Scully.”

“No thank you, Mulder, you’ve already ‘given’ me so much this morning already.

I wouldn’t want to appear greedy.” With that, she heads inside and upstairs.

Mulder follows.

As he reaches his apartment, he calls out to her, “Scully, I’m going to run in and grab the information I copied from Baines’ file for you before you head up. Can you wait just a minute?”

Scully waits in the hallway.

Mulder returns and gives her the information he copied, “transfer substation 48hrs stat, subdermal temporal factor .08 solution”. “I can figure out the first part, Scully, but what the heck is a subdermal temporal factor in some weak solution?”

Scully wrinkles the bridge of her nose as she puzzles the information.

“Well, Mulder it looks to me as if Baines is using a specialized cloning solution to affect the temporal lobes of the patient’s brain. The temporal lobe is responsible for memory function. This solution may somehow be involved in enhancing its function. The 48 hour notation may be the time period the cloning factor needs to have an effect. The information though is not proof of anything; possibly assumptive. I need hard facts, Mulder. We’ve got to do better than this.”

“Ok, how about I get cleaned up and head back over. You said Baines isn’t due in until late this afternoon. I’ll go see what I can find. We can get together downtown at lunchtime.”

“Mulder, be careful. You know that Baines is suspicious already, but you don’t know if he merely suspects or already knows. If any of what I’ve heard and been warned about is accurate, you could be walking into a trap.” She places her hand on his arm and looks into his eyes.

“Scully, you know I’m always careful. Ok, I take that back, you know I always try to be careful. Now, go take a hot bath, you’re freezing! Much as I’d love to warm you up, I know you’ll just say, ‘Mulder, we’ve got work to do’”.

@ @ @

Downtown, Saturday, 11:30A

Scully decides to walk to Washington Street a little early and wait for Mulder to join her. The spring air is warm, but with that slight New England chill still in the air. This is turning into quite the case. She has been on stake outs with Mulder before, but this is their first long term undercover work. It has rejuvenated her interest in the Bureau. The closeness of their situation is not lost on her, either.

She reflects that neither one of them is having any difficulty staying in character.

The living situation is perfect. “Perfect” for what, Scully? She has wandered west on Washington and realizes she’s heading toward the outskirts of town. It’s almost noontime and she hasn’t seen the Cherokee anywhere. She dials Mulder’s cellphone, “the cellular customer you are trying to reach is not available.” Scully is at first angry that he left the phone off. She then experiences that sharp little pang of anxiety in her chest. It quickly moves to her throat. She is worried.

While Mulder is not known for his punctuality, he’s been at RMH for over two hours. Unless he decided to perform surgery, there is no good explanation for his absence.

She calls a cab. “Rye Mercy Hospital, as fast as you can get there.”

“Easy lady, it’s only a ten minute ride. You must be from the big city, maybe New York?” The cabbie drones on, but Scully isn’t listening.

@ @ @

RMH, Saturday 11:30A

Mulder is trying to open his eyes in the darkness. They will not open more than a fraction. They will not focus. He realizes he is blindfolded. His jaw is extremely hot and sore as he tries to move his mouth. The cloth pulled tightly between his lips and fastened behind his head does not allow much movement.

He continues his situation assessment. His hands and feet are bound with something that feels like duct tape. He wriggles his fingers to regain some of the feeling in them. He is barefoot, but otherwise fully clothed. His ribs cause him to attempt to cry out whenever he tries to move. He leans against the wall, trying to stand. He slides back down the wall. Lying instead on his side, he pushes himself forward, trying to explore his captivity. “Scully’s going to be mighty hungry by the time I get out of here.” He tries to remember what happened.

He went up to Baines’ office. He started looking through the doctor’s desk files this time. He heard someone coming and decided to leave. He went into the stairwell. The lights went out. Sounds behind him on the stairs. A couple of jabs to his ribs; one to his face. He is in this room. He’s pretty sure he’s in the hospital still. He can smell faint cleaning fluids and disinfectant.

He tries to stand again on the other side of the room. This time, he makes it. He half jumps and half slides against the wall in search of the door or another exit.

@ @ @

RMH, Saturday, noontime

Scully enters through a back, staff entrance and heads for the staff lounge. She is not sure where she wants to go first. She cannot imagine Mulder still upstairs after all this time. The lounge is specially shielded, allowing her use of her cellphone. She calls Field Agent Ritter. He has not seen Mulder today and expresses concern. He offers to assist Scully. She tells him she’ll be back in touch.

Wondering where she would end up as the result of foul play, she heads for the basement. Ritter is not working today, so she knows she won’t run into him.

Other than emergency lighting, the basement appears to be in a blackout. She tries the light switches. No change. She draws her weapon.

She can hear the steam hissing in the overhead pipes. She can smell the disinfectants and cleaning fluids. She wants nothing more than to call out his name, but is afraid she may alert his assailants if they are still there.

She finds Ritter’s office, but the door is locked. She moves farther down the hallway, feeling her way along. She reaches another door. It’s unlocked. She walks in, but the room is empty. She hears heavy footfalls in the hallway. Her breath catches in her chest. Her weapon is cocked. She walks back toward the door to the hallway. Raises her weapon to shoulder level and steadies the weapon with her other hand.

The hallway is empty. She steps out. As she passes Ritter’s office again, she hears a heavy thud and a grunt.

She wants to call Ritter for back up and his damn key. She decides to continue on her own. The door is only hollow core wood. If Mulder is in there, he may be able to hear something less than a yell. She whispers as loudly as she can,

“Mulder, are you in there?” At first, she hears nothing. She calls his name again, a little louder.

She hears someone up against the door. “Ulleeee. It’s eee.”

“Mulder, I’m coming in, move away from the door now!”

Deciding that freeing Mulder is a greater need than maintaining silence, she high kicks the center of the door. The second kick blasts the door in.

She reholsters her weapon and runs to Mulder. She removes the blindfold and mouth cloth, touches his face gently. “Are you all right, Mulder?” She reaches gently for his carotid; checking his pulse. As she touches his forehead with the back of her hand, she notes he is warm, but does not appear to have a fever.

She smooths his hair back, he winces and moans. “I’m sorry, Mulder, it seems like you’re pretty bruised.”

She removes the duct tape from his wrists and ankles. “I’ve got to get you out of here, Mulder. Whoever put you here may still be in the area.”

“Scully, I don’t know how well I can stand.” She pulls him to his feet and reaches an arm around his waist. He groans; she has touched his very sore ribs.

“You’re not in such hot shape, Mulder.”

“Is that your final medical assessment, Dr. Scully?” There is a laughter quality about his voice. Scully takes it as a good sign.

“Mulder, lean on me, we’re getting out of here now.”

@ @ @

RMH; Saturday, 4 Hours Ago

“Baines, here.”

“Roden’s on his way up to your office now, sir.” The lobby security guard calls upstairs.

“You wanted to see me, Dr. Baines?”

“Uh, yes, Roden. There seems to be a problem with security in my office. It’s clear to me that someone has entered when I wasn’t here. I’m guessing it may have been last night during the party.”

“Do you want me to call on the local police, sir?”

“No, no; that won’t be necessary. I wanted to get your impressions though.

Unless it was one of our other new staff, the only outsider was Nurse Katz’s friend, Fox—quite the name, that, huh?”

“Well, he was the only one here that wasn’t invited, but…”

“Look, I want my locks changed and I want the place card access only from now on. See that no one but you, me, Nurse Katz and the receptionist have cards or the access code.”

“I have some business to take care of.” Baines heads out.

Ritter is quite concerned that Mulder’s cover is blown. Not that he gives a rat’s a$$ for him, but he could blow the entire case out of the water. Kersh would definitely not like that.

Ritter heads off to warn Mulder and Scully. Not that Ritter would be able to stop what he already thinks Baines is setting in motion.

@ @ @

55 Cable Road, Saturday afternoon

“Well, Scully, I guess hiking is out for this afternoon, huh?” Mulder winces slightly as Scully sits him on his bed. “Scully, I never thought bed could hurt so much.”

“Mulder, just relax a little. You’re holding yourself tighter than a closed clam shell. Let me help you out of these clothes.”

“I thought you’d never say that, Scully.” He mouth is smiling; his eyes are not.

Scully notices how much pain he’s in. While helping Mulder heal is not a new experience for her, it still hurts to see him in pain; ever. She gently eases his pullover off. She then removes his shoes and socks. As she reaches for the button on his jeans waistband, he touches her arm. She looks up at him and smiles. “Mulder, would you rather do this yourself?” Already in pain, she does not wish to embarrass him. Although, with all they have been through together, there is little left unseen between them.

“No, Scully, I need your help. It’s ok. I just hate that you have to do this.

Because I’m hurt, that is…”

As she helps him ease out of his jeans, she says, “Mulder, it’s not as if you brought this on. You are not responsible for this situation. As soon as I get you set, I’m off to find Ritter. I think he knows more than he’s letting on.”

Scully lifts Mulder’s legs up onto the bed and pulls a blanket over him. She moves up to the head of the bed and lifts his head to adjust the pillow underneath him.

“I’m going to get some ice for your ribs and face, Mulder.” She places a towel over his abs and lays the icebag on it. She takes an ice bag and places it on his forehead.

As she moves away, he holds her hands. She gently squeezes his hands and looks into his eyes. She sees hurt, but she also sees something much deeper.

Part of it is gratitude for her, part of it is that inexplicable bond between them.

Their eyes lock.

Anxious to find his attacker, Scully leans down and kisses Mulder; first on the cheek and them on his lips. She whispers, “Mulder, if you so much as entertain the thought of getting out of this bed for anything other than bodily functions, you are so dead.”

“Scully, I promise to stay put if you promise to be very careful. You know my feelings about Ritter, but Baines is the unknown. I’d bet the farm he’s behind this. If he’s on to me…”

“Mulder, how many times do I have to say it, shut up!”

@ @ @

In Pursuit of Mulder’s Attacker, Saturday afternoon

Brrrnnng. “Ritter.”

“Ritter, meet me in the grove of trees at the edge of the Cable Road property as fast as yo can get her.”

“Scully, I’m in the middle of something. Can we make it say, in an hour?”

Scully is seeing red. “Ritter, I do not care WHAT you’re ‘in the middle of’ right now. If you’re not here in the five minutes I know it takes you get her, I will hunt you down. Do not make me any angrier than I already am.”

Scully snaps the cellphone shut and heads outside. The day is beautiful; she has hardly had time to notice. She reflects that she could be spending a nice afternoon with Mulder instead of stalking about waiting for Ritter to show his sorry butt.

<Somewhere underneath it all, the man has scruples.> Scully thinks as she watches him approach. <Either that, or I scared the shit out of him. Yeah, that’s probably it.>

“What did you want to talk to me about, Scully? I mean, it’s not like I don’t have a life you know. I was just about…”

“Ritter, I don’t personally care what I caught you in the middle of. Mulder’s laying upstairs after having been beaten to within an inch of his life. What do you know about it? You took the time to find us this morning to tip us off to Baines’ suspicions; why?”

Many looks are passing over Ritter’s face. Probably because many emotions are passing through him at the moment: Dana is beautiful when she’s flat out angry, he didn’t realize just how hurt Mulder could be, he really had nothing to do with what Baines set in motion, but he did have a very good sense that something was about to happen. Oh yeah, there is also the fact that once again, in spite of himself, he’s messed up.

“Look, I don’t know who attacked Mulder. I was with Baines early this morning.

He wanted to see me because he suspected someone had broken into his office.

He was having the locks changed to card access and codes. I suggested he contact the local PD, but he just said he’d ‘take care of it’ himself. I guess I could have told you and Mulder a little more when I saw you. Look, I’m sorry, Scully.”

Mulder has come out of the bathroom and heads for his window. He has been watching what looks like a very one-sided, heated interaction between Scully and Ritter. “That’s my girl.” Scully’s diminutive size in no way diminishes her ability to tackle the situation head on. Ritter looks as if he’s weasling and waffling; no surprise there.

Back outside, Scully grabs Ritter’s wrist. “Look at me, Agent. I don’t know what your other agenda is, but you’re clearly not playing with the team, here. I have been willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, but you’re sorely trying my patience. When Skinner hears about the latest development, you’ll be risking a pull-out. I suggest you reevaluate your goals, here.”

“Skinner knows I’m capable or he wouldn’t have allowed me to work with you two. And Kersh—” Ritter stops dead in his tracks when Kersh’s name falls from his mouth unintentionally.

Mulder thought the discussion was going much better. He then notices that as Ritter appears to stop talking mid-sentence, Scully literally throws his wrist down by his side, places both hands on her hips, opens her mouth to speak and then closes it again. “Whoa, Scully Fury!”

“What does Kersh have to do with this case, Ritter? Tell me!”

“He probably notified Skinner that I had information.”

“You’re not a very good liar, Ritter. I will find out what’s going on here.” With that statement, Scully quickly walks back to the house.

Mulder quickly climbs back into his bed. He can’t wait to hear what Scully has discovered. By the look on her face, he’s going to want to pulverize Ritter.

@ @ @

Mulder’s Apartment; Saturday Afternoon

Scully storms into Mulder’s apartment. She is seething over Mulder’s attack and Ritter’s complicity. Her face is contorted with rage.

Mulder, clothed only in his grey, cotton, knit, boxers, is standing in the doorway to his bedroom watching her pace; listening to her growl in frustration. He half-smirks, erasing the look before Scully sees it. <Not a good idea to anger her further.> She sees him. “Mulder, what are you doing out of bed?” She is not angry at him.

She is very concerned about him. She is wondering why she is entertaining such impure thoughts about Mulder in his grey cotton knit boxers when there are more urgent and pressing matters pushing them, <whoa, girl; that’s mightly graphic thinking!>

“I’ll go back to bed Scully if you join me.”

“Mulder, please, turn yourself right back around and get back in bed. I was coming in to talk to you anyway.” Mulder does as asked. Scully finds her eyes glued to his butt as he walks away from her. Those damn cotton boxers leave little to the imagination. She experiences a hot zing through her body and quickly tries to banish it.

Mulder is back in bed, propped up against the pillows at the headboard. Scully admits he does seem to be recovering nicely.

She sits crossed-legged on the bed, facing him.

“Mulder, it appears that Baines is probably behind this attack. It makes some sense. He knows you’re not on staff, you crash the party, he thinks you were in his office, he knows about our connection.”

“Scully, you’re probably right. The one question I have is what is Ritter’s connection. I was watching you two outside. You did not look like you’d choose him for your volleyball team.”

“Mulder.” She smiles, “I thought you were supposed to be in bed?”

“I was near my bed. I really wanted to go outside and send him a message where the sun don’t shine.” Mulder smiles sheepishly. “Now, back to my question about Ritter’s connection.”

Scully shifts so she’s facing him more directly and has moved a little closer to him. “I just don’t know, Mulder. There’s something very questionable in his behavior. When he came to find us, he had already been with Baines. He never told us any of that. There’s more, Mulder, but I don’t think you’re going to like it.”

Mulder leans toward her, one hand on hers. “Talk to me Scully.”

“I guess there’s no good way to say this, so here it is. Ritter’s somehow working with Kersh on this case. I don’t think he intended for me to know, because the name just dropped into our conversation.”

Mulder is the picture of tightly coiled energy; anger and energy; anger and energy and extreme frustration. He is up out of bed. He is pacing.

“Scully, this stinks! We’re being set up for a fall. We’re right back with the big boys manipulating, controlling, obfuscating.”

“Much as I hate to admit it, I’m with you on this one, Mulder. Something’s not right here.” She is up off the bed and walks over to him. He’s looking out the window. The look in his eyes tells her he’s planning. Mulder at his best; grasping onto the situation, considering all the angles; heck, inventing extreme angles if need be, developing his finely honed strategy.

“Mulder, what are you thinking?” She joins him by the large, picture windows.

“I’m thinking we need to talk to Skinner. Do you have your cellphone on you? I seem to be missing my pockets right now.” He smiles at her.

Scully grabs her phone. “Sir? Yes, our covers are intact, but I need to talk to you about Ritter.”

“Agent Scully, what is the problem now? I thought the three of you were going to make this work. Is Agent Mulder providing provocation?”

“No, sir, that’s not the issue. Agent Mulder has been attacked. No, he’s fine. We think Baines is behind it, but Ritter is smelling fishy. He mentioned Kersh.”

“Kersh? In what way, Agent?”

“Well, Sir, that’s what we were hoping you could help us with. Has the AD mentioned anything to you about Ritter?”

“No, Agent Scully, I can’t say he has.”

“Sir? That sounded awfully cryptic.”

“Agent, I will do what I can, but I need you and Mulder to stay on top of this.

You’ll need to forge a stronger relationship with Ritter to keep him focused.”

Skinner hangs up.

Mulder has heard bits and pieces. He reads Scully’s eyes; she is no longer angry, but she is definitely concerned about something.

“What is it, Scully?”

“I can’t shake the feeling, Mulder, that Skinner knows something he’s not telling us. He seemed more surprised that I thought there was a connection between Ritter and Kersh than he did that Kersh might be involved. He said we need to stay in top form.”

Now that Mulder has his plan, he has moved on with this issue. His plan is simple, he will beat the tar out of Ritter while trying to coax him into providing information. In the meantime, Scully appears way too stressed.

“C’mere, Scully.” He walks behind her. He places his hands on her shoulders and begins to message them. His touch is gentle at first. It is then more demanding. He moves from her shoulders to her back, using his thumbs and the pads of his fingers to rub and probe.



He moves her toward the bed. She sits down at the end. He moves onto the bed, kneeling behind her. He continues to massage her back and shoulders.

She is trying very hard to relax without letting on how turned on she is becoming.

She bites the inside of her cheek to keep from making any sounds that may be misconstrued.

She manages to get out a sentence, “Mulder, I should be doing this for you.”

“Yes you should, Scully, but I’m afraid a message could be a little painful at this point in my recovery.”

Mulder continues his ministrations. His hands move to her neck and then her scalp. She lets her head roll forward.

Scully’s cellphone chirps loudly. <Just how do we always end up getting pulled apart?!? Someone’s sending us a message; I know it!>


“Scully, it’s Ritter. You may want to come over to my apartment. Can’t say more here.”

“I’m on my way.”

“That was Ritter? What did he want?”

“He seems to have some urgent information for me.”

“I’m coming with you, just let me throw on my jeans.” Mulder is already half dressed.

“Mulder, you really should rest. I can handle this.”

“It’s not about whether or not you can handle it, Scully. It’s about my plan for Ritter. Now, he can make it easy on himself by being honest with us, or he can make it really fun for me…”

Scully sighs. She sits down as Mulder finishes dressing. “Mulder, is there anything I can say to make you stay here?”


@ @ @

Ritter’s Apartment, Central Road, Late Afternoon Saturday

Although the distance is negligable, Scully takes the Cherokee. Mulder is in no condition to walk it right now.

Ritter’s apartment is just a street over from theirs’. Although smaller in size; bedroom sitting room and bath, it is also very old New England.

“I didn’t know you’d be coming, too, Agent Mulder. Scully said you were pretty badly beaten.” Ritter has the good sense to appear contrite.

Mulder says nothing. He knows Scully will get this started just fine.

“Enough, Ritter. You called me; let’s have the information.”

Ritter is pacing the short distance between Mulder and Scully in the sitting room.

“I went over to my office at Mercy. When I got downstairs, I could hear Baines’s voice, as well as, someone’s voice I didn’t recognize. They were talking about the upcoming surgeries for this week. Scully, you know, the three patients Baines has assigned to you?”

“How did you know about them, Ritter? I haven’t spoken to you about them and I can’t imagine why the Chief of Surgery would tell his Head of Maintenance.”

“Ok, so I did some snooping. I’m an Agent too, you know.”

“Oh, poor Ritter’s feeling left out; that it?” Mulder’s voice drips with undisguised sarcasm.

“Contrary to what you believe about me Agent Mulder, I do want this case to conclude successfully. I have a lot riding on it.”

“Not to mention the lives of the patients you care so deeply about, huh Rodent?”

Mulder is gaining speed.

“Ok, you two, enough! What do you know about these patients and how do you know it?” Scully once again pulls the focus back.

“How I know it doesn’t really matter, does it?” Ritter pushes on before Mulder or Scully can reply. “What I heard is that we’re correct that the patients are sent into a holding warehouse of some sort for 48 hours once they’ve recovered sufficiently here. Their families are led to believe they are in intensive care with instructions for no visitors; not even family. That temporal solution; whatever it’s nature, is given intravenously right after surgery.”

“Ok, so that sounds like our case is solved. Scully will be there to stop the IV solution, we follow them to the warehouse.” Even as Mulder says it, he knows the answer cannot be so simple.

“Well, see, that’s where it gets weird.” Ritter has stopped pacing and joins Scully on the two-seater.

She looks at him, eyebrow raised. “Define ‘weird’.”

“One of the nurses who has worked closely with Baines and one of the newest nurses, Barbara Sullivan—”

“She’s the person I met at Orientation. She was with us at the dance.”

“Yeah, Scully, that’s her. Anyway, she and the other nurse were talking about how ‘effective’ Baines is with his mind control. The long term nurse was talking about how she’s seen him do it for staff. She described how he places his hands on the shoulders and starts to chant. The person starts chanting with him and begins to look ‘glazed’; hey, their words, not mine!”

Scully is looking dubious. She looks across at Mulder and sees that familiar look in his eyes. He’s doing a ‘brain search’, probably going through vast internal catalogues of cases and encyclopedic information to identify Baines’ methods.

Sure enough, she is right. He has reached several conclusions and is about to share a few… His voice takes on that almost monotone, low-pitched, yet also, excited tone Scully is so accustomed to. “I bet it’s either some form of deep regression post-hypnotic suggestion, often practiced by psychologists and psychiatrists for those patients least likely to show progress with other, invasive or intensive methods OR it could be the lost British art of touch suggestiveness practiced at the turn of the century by nobles…” Mulder continues.

Scully and Ritter look at each other. Scully takes a deep breath and stops Mulder.

“Mulder, we have our smoking gun; the solution. Now, we need to get a sample to identify its actual chemical make up and its path of action. From there, I’ll be able to contact the labs to help with an antidote. I hardly think that looking for some paranormal connection is going to help.”

Ritter is watching the volleys. <Don’t they ever tire of this nonsense? They’re playing a well-rehearsed game.>

“Are either one of you going to concede to the other, or, better, come up for air? It sounds to me like we’ve got our work cut out for us.”

Mulder stands and, in one stride, is face-face with Ritter. “Before you rush us off, Rodent, I need to know what Kersh has to do with this case and, with you!”

“Where did you hear anything about Kersch, Mulder? Too much oxygen deprivation to the brain?”

Before Scully can intervene, Mulder punches Ritter square in the mouth. He is about to swing again when Scully steps up behind him and touches his arm. She then leaves the apartment.

“Ritter, I’ve got your number, had it from the start. You’re doing nothing to prove me wrong. You don’t want to mess with me; do you hear me? You’ve jeopardized all of us. Scully has to assist Baines with those surgeries. If you have, in any way, put her in danger—again—you will not live to try to make it right this time.” As Mulder leaves the apartment, he shoves Ritter into the two-seater.

Ritter reaches up to touch his now sore face and bloody nose.

Mulder finds Scully sitting in the passenger seat of the Cherokee. He heads to the driver’s side. “Hey, you’re going to let me drive this thing?” Mulder feels great; he’s set things straight; for now.

Scully smiles inwardly, <He’s such a kid sometimes; gotta get it out of his system.>

“Mulder, you’ve been dying to drive this thing and have had very little opportunity.

Let’s go get some food for dinner and go back to my place.”

“I thought you’d never ask, Scully!”

@ @ @

55 Cable Road, Scully’s Apartment, Saturday Night

As they pull into the driveway, Mulder notices that Scully has been staring out the window for the last 10 minutes. “You ok, Scully?”

“Hm? Oh, yeah, I’m fine. Just a little tired; actually exhausted, and hungry. It’s been a long day.”

Mulder grabs the chinese take-out and they head for the house. “Can we take the elevator just this once, Mulder? I don’t think my legs will make it up the stairs!”

Mulder smiles and heads for the elevator. Now that they’re moving, Scully seems a little more awake. The smell of dinner is rousing her.

Once inside the elevator, Scully moves to stand close to Mulder. “Hmmm, something smells very good.”

“Can’t you wait till we get up to your place, Scully?” Mulder asks, softly laughing.

“You know, Mulder, I don’t think I can. I’m just soooo hungry.” She takes the two cartons from his hand and presses the “stop” button on the elevator panel. She is standing only inches from him.

Mulder’s lips part slightly; he is very surprised. “Scully? If you’re hungry, leaving the food on the floor won’t help you feel satisfied.” <Bad choice of words, Mulder!> Scully shakes her head playfully from side to side. “No, Mulder, it won’t help me feel ‘satisfied’. I actually had a little something else in mind to feed my current hunger.” She places one hand on either side of his waist against the wall. She looks into his eyes.

“Mulder, this has been a very hectic and frustrating day, wouldn’t you agree?”

Not sure where this is leading, but very much interested in finding out where, he replies slowly, “Yes, Scully, I guess I would say I agree.”

She places one hand on his chest and he draws in a breath sharply. “Mulder, do you believe—”

He is trying hard to focus on her question but his concentration is having trouble hearing, <What is she doing?>.

“—do you believe that the human mind is capable of blocking out all else but physical sensation? That it can, let’s say, forego contemplation of the more spiritual, the metaphysical, the emotional? I mean, would you say that’s theoretically possible?”

Mulder decides that a: if she doesn’t stop now, he will not be responsible for his actions, b: she is driving him mad and c: damn she’s hot when she’s commanding and theoretical.

“Scully, where is all of this coming from? A mere few minutes ago, you were exhausted and starving. Now, you’re arousingly contemplative. Care to enlighten me?” <There, I have some control again!> She takes her hands away from him and walks to the other side (two feet away) of the elevator. “I’m sorry, Mulder, I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.”

She picks up the food and reaches for the 2nd floor button.

Before she can push it, his hand is on hers. “Back up the truck there, Scully. Just what do you think you’re doing? You can’t start this and then just let it go.”

She backs away again. “It’s just that you looked as if I was upsetting you. I wouldn’t want to do that to you, Mulder. I mean, first you end up drenching wet in the ocean, then you’re attacked, then you had to deal with Ritter. I should have realized I’d be expecting too much.” She feigns disinterest, all the while surreptitiously watching him. She glances downward and notices that she has ‘indeed’ upset him…She turns to face the door, arms folded against her chest.

“Oh, I wouldn’t say ‘upset’ is the right word Ms. Katz…” Mulder comes up behind her, grabs her by the upper arms and turns her to face him. He backs her into the wall of the elevator. He whispers very close to her ear, still holding her upper arms, “What are you up to, Scully?” He looks into her blue eyes. He smiles that half smirk, lopsided smile.

She is having trouble holding up her end of the game. That damn smile… He uncrosses her arms and places her hands on his hips. He lightly kisses her lips. It is sometimes like this after a rough case or prolonged heavy schedules.

Today qualifies as ‘one of those days’ for both of them.

@ @ @

Brief Interlude; Scully’s Apartment, Saturday Night

The two Agents devour their dinner quitely. Scully has put on the evening news.

They sit, very domestically, at the oak dining room table eating Chinese food out of cartons. Mulder decides to give chopsticks a try just one more time. His long fingers intermingle with the sticks making “X’s”. He manages to secure a large piece of chicken, but the grains of sticky rice lay scattered in clumps on the table and on him.

Scully covers her chuckle by going to get them something to drink.

“So, Scully, which shift do you have tomorrow?”

“Second shift; at least I get to sleep in some.”

“Don’t forget your run, Nurse Katz.” Mulder mumbles as he forks some snow pea pods into his mouth.

“I am not running tomorrow, Mulder. You remember, ‘and on the seventh day, he rested.’?”

“You said, ‘he’, Scully. That still leaves you.”

“No run, Mulder. You’ll just have to find another way to interrupt me tomorrow!

<ow! Where did ‘that’ come from, Scully?> They finish eating. “Well, Mulder, time to ship out, hit the road, put an egg in your shoe and beat it, take a burger with that shake.” < WHAT am I saying? Have I lost it?> Mulder has been silently watching her reel out the cliches. He is amused. He doesn’t often get to see this side of Scully. Hell, he didn’t even know this side existed! <She must be beat!>

“Ok, Scully, I think you’re trying to tell me you need your beauty sleep.”

PUNCH! “Scully, I didn’t mean it like that. You hurt me! Remember, I’ve already been attacked once today?”

“Goodnight, Mulder.”

“How about a goodnight Mulder kiss?”

Scully kisses two fingers and puts the fingers up to his lips. She pulls them away before he can react. “Your goodnight Mulder kiss.”

@ @ @

Sunday, Noontime, Landlady Luncheon


“Hey, Scully, it’s me. Do you smell something good?”

“Mulder, why are you calling me on my cellphone when you’re right downstairs?”

“Scully, I think someone’s making us lunch and it’s not me! Get your little self down here right now!” Mulder hangs up. Scully just shakes her head at the now dead phone and heads downstairs.

Mulder is coming out of his apartment as Scully reaches it. She is dressed for work.

“So what are you up to this afternoon, Mulder?” <whatever it is, wish I could be ‘up to it’ with you…> He’s bounding down the stairs behind her, “I don’t know yet, Scully. I was thinking about checking the area for that warehouse Baines might be using. Is Ritter on shift with you today?”

“Check the area about 5 miles from Mercy. I think I remember seeing an open field while I was driving through there the other day. And yes, Ritter is on shift with me. What are you up to, Mulder?”

Just as he is about to answer her, they reach the parlor. Sandy Bell is waiting for them, apron wrapped around her waist. “Glad I finally get to meet my new tenents! Hope you’re finding everything to your liking. C’mon in and have a seat.

The kitchen’s the coziest place to eat, I think.”

“It smells like Saturday lunches from my childhood.” Scully says with a smile on her face.

Sandy brings over 3 calico print placemats, 3 white porcelain plates and soup bowls and some spoons.

Mulder is smiling ear to ear. Scully can’t tell if he’s just happy or deliriously hungry. She admits to herself that her mouth is watering.

Sandy sets down a large porcelain soup pot filled with tomato soup with homemade croutons on top. She sets down a platter of piping hot grilled cheese sandwiches cut in half diagonally.

The two Agents and Sandy help themselves, eating in companionable silence for some time.

Sandy breaks the silence. “So, Dana, you’re working with Dr. Baines, I hear, over at Rye Mercy.”

“Yes. We have 3 surgeries scheduled this week. Do you know him well?” Scully is thinking that Sandy could be a great resource since she volunteers at RMH.

Sandy pauses briefly; the Agents can’t tell if she’s just reflecting or trying to figure out how to answer the question posed. “Hmm, Dr. Baines is, uh, well, I don’t often get to Med/Surge. Sorry, I’m rambling! Well, if you’ve heard he’s nice; he is. If you’ve heard he’s quite the ladies’ man; that is he, too!! He is truly wonderful with his staff, but he’s also, let’s say, raised and lowered the old hospital beds in the on-call room a few times more than I can count. Some of the women staff seem to find him irresitable. As for his medical prowess, that’s beyond reproach.” Sandy smiles, somewhat weakly. Mulder, ever the observant one, finds a mismatch between her words and her smile.

Scully, making the same observation, presses on, “Sandy, you must have heard the stories about what has happened to some of his patients after they’re released. Do you think there’s any truth to the stories?”

While Sandy contemplates, Mulder is leaving no sandwich half uneaten. Scully shoots him a side glance and smiles.

“Well, I guess, yeah, I have heard the stories. They do make me wonder. I mean a few very reputable staffers have mentioned it; you know, hushed whispers and all. I guess I don’t pay them much mind. He’s always been very nice to me.” She blushes.

Scully looks at her watch and starts to get up. “Sandy, thanks so much for lunch!

It brought back warm memories of little girl Saturdays. I’ve got to run or I’ll be late for my shift. I’ll be quiet when I come on later tonight.”

“Oh, don’t worry about it, I’ve been staying off with a friend and will probably be there most of this week, too. I’m on third shift tonight, so I’ll probably catch you as you’re leaving.” Sandy heads into the kitchen and starts cleaning up.

Mulder walks Scully to the Cherokee. “So, what do you make of all that, Scully?”

“I just don’t know, Mulder. We keep getting the same kind of ‘definite/not definite’ information about him. I guess, though, that I’ve slipped under his ‘womanizing’ radar!”

Mulder pouts, “You sound disappointed about that Scully!”

She smiles as she gets into the truck. She lowers the window as she starts the ignition. Mulder is leaning up against the door. she reaches through the open window and grabs his shirt, pulling him toward her. “Mulder, be careful, behave yourself and be waiting for me when I get home.” Before he can say anything, she pushes him away, raises the window and backs out of the driveway.

@ @ @

Rye Mercy Hospital, Sunday, 4P, Dr. Baines’ Office

“Dana, please, come right in. I’ve sent the receptionist on a long break.” Art Baines stands up to offer Scully a seat.

<Get a hold of yourself, Scully! The man is just being polite.> Scully is having a hard time =not= thinking about all of the comments she has been hearing about Dr. Baines.

“So, how did you find your patient visits?”

<Loaded question, Dana…> “Well, a few things struck me. One: the similarity in how their cases present, two: how different they are in race, gender and age, and three: the fact that none of them have families.” Scully tries to relay the response neutrally; no raised eyebrows, hands in her lap, relaxed posture. She hopes it is convincing.

Dr. Baines looks at her thoughtfully and smiles, “I can see why they recommended you to me for this position. You’re everything your file promised!”

“I’m a little confused. I wasn’t aware that I was recommended to you.” Scully is treading lightly, but hoping to learn more information.

Dr. Baines is hoping to learn more about Dana…

“Well, Dana, when this position became available, I asked some of my friends from New York to make some calls. It’s one of those ‘friend of a friend’ things.

Someone called someone who knew someone and, well, you know how it goes!

I heard about your work at Quantico. You’re just what I was hoping to find!” He smiles broadly and rises.

Scully is thinking he’s closing their meeting, but, is also very concerned. This is a new development. While she is sure that the Deep Missions Office has planted all of the information his ‘friend of a friend’ scenario discovered, he’s hit a little too close to home. She starts to stand, as well.

Instead of approaching her, he walks past her and closes the door. She hears the ‘click’ of the lock. <Where’s my weapon when I might need it?> He places a hand on her shoulder, motioning her to follow him. <Where? He locked the door.> He is now walking slightly behind her, guiding her. He places his hand in the small of her back. <Whoa, buddy! What is it with these guys and my back?!?> She moves just enough so that his hand loses contact with her body.

They have walked into a back room area that is set up much like a living room; soft, plush, dimly lit.

“Have a seat, Dana.” He sits close to her on the couch. “So, what do you like to do when you’re not working? Do you spend much time with that party crasher friend of yours, Fox?”

Scully is becoming very uncomfortable and her senses are on full alert. She is too close to making a discovery for their case and doesn’t want to risk blowing her cover. However, she is not sure how far Baines will take this situation.

“Oh, I like to run, explore. I’m enjoying getting to see more of Rye and the surrounding areas.” She avoids mentioning Mulder, hoping Baines will let it drop.

He does. Seemingly satisfied with her lackluster response, he moves on; literally. He places an arm across her shoulder. <How far is he going to push this? How far will I allow him to push it in the name of getting information? Well, better start information gathering then, Scully!> She doesn’t move his arm away. “Art, what about you, what are your interests? I mean, I know about your general practice area, but how did you get into it?”

He interprets her question as a sign that she is comfortable with the situation. He moves closer while answering, “Well, Dana, I’ve always been interested in the working of the brain and, subsequently, the mind. I’ve done quite a bit of ‘supplemental’ reading in the area of higher thought processes and forms of communication. A little bit on telepathy, auto-suggestions, etc. Fascinating stuff; don’t you think?”

Scully starts to open her mouth to reply. Baines places his other hand quickly on her other shoulder and kisses her lightly on the mouth.

She pulls away abruptly, taking his hands off her shoulders and stands. <This guy has balls!> “Art, I don’t think this situation is appropriate.” Scully tries to muster as much calm reserve as she can. She must extricate herself without offending him if she is to continue this case.

@ @ @

One half hour earlier, Rye Mercy Hospital

Mulder has come to Mercy to gather informal information about Baines after heading out to check out the abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of town.

Even though he knows that Baines’ office has been changed over to a key card system, he has found a way around it. <Hey, they don’t call me Spooky Sticky Fingers for nothing.> He notices that the door to the reception area is closed. This end of the hall is deserted and very quiet. He hears voices; Baines and Scully. It is not difficult to hear almost their entire conversation.

<Way to go, Scully, skipping right over his question about me! He IS curious though, isn’t he?> Mulder listens carefully. The conversation seems to stop. He hears the lock being set from the inside and he experiences a sense of foreboding. He strains to listen, but their voices are receding. They are no longer in his office area.

@ @ @

Back in Baines’ Office

She starts to walk back into the outer office area; appearing to take her time, but move confidently.

As she reaches the receptionist area, she discreetly unlocks it, but does not open it.

“Dana, I’m sorry if I startled you, but I can’t believe you don’t feel the attraction, too.”

<Why oh why do they always assume it’s mutual…>

“Art, I don’t know what to say. I’m enjoying working with you. Maybe we can talk some more over an early dinner downstairs?” She is hopeful he will not take this as the ‘grand brush-off’.

Mulder is right outside the door, listening. He does not want to storm in. It is obvious that Scully is handling the situation. He remains partly because of his sworn duty to watch his partner’s back and a lot partly because of who his partner is and what she means to him.

Dr. Baines pauses and seems to be considering Scully’s offer. He walks closer to her. In one very quick move, he is in front of her, his hands on her wrists rather tightly. He moves her away from the door, his face very close to hers. “I’d love to have an early dinner with you, Dana. But, you do know that appetizers come first, don’t you?” Before she can respond, he places both hands on her face and begins to kiss her deeply.

She is in the midst of pushing him away when the door opens.

Mulder grabs Baines, who is very distracted by his attempt to kiss Scully. A well-placed knee to the groin causes Baines to bend over, holding himself, and head for the back room. The door slams shut behind him. The deadbolt is thrown.

Mulder takes Scully by the hand and leads her out into the hall and to the stairwell..

Scully takes a few deep breaths and leans against the wall of the stairwell.

“Scully, are you all right?” Mulder’s face is lined with concern and care for her.

“I’m ok, Mulder; he just caught me off guard. I didn’t believe he’d actually try that!”

“Scully, you’re just way too trusting. I keep telling you that…”

“Yeah, you do, Mulder and it’s got to stop!”

Mulder is watching Storm Scully develop and he has no idea who seeded the storm clouds.

“Whoa, Scully, what did I say?”

She is absently rubbing her wrists, trying to shake off the feeling of Baines hands on her.

“Mulder, I am perfectly capable of judging others and my situation. I was right by the door, I had unlocked the door, it was broad daylight. Is that enough for you, Mr. Overly Protective?” She really doesn’t want to be angry with him, but she is torn. She was in control of the situation. She knows he cares deeply for her and was afraid for her.

“Just back off!” The words come out rather harshly before she can stop them.

To attempt to save face and give him breathing room, she starts down the stairs.

He is right behind her. “Scully, wait!”

“Mulder, just let me go. Go check on that warehouse. I’ll see you home later.”

He continues to follow, hoping that she will talk to him. “Scully, just stop. I need to set this right with you.” He reaches out to try to touch her shoulder.

She freezes in the stairwell and turns to glare at him. “Mulder, what part of ‘let me go’ did you not understand?” She continues down the stairs, leaving him standing there.

@ @ @

The Warehouse; Sunday night

Mulder heads to the parking lot, stopping occasionally to check on Scully. She is in the hospital lobby. She walks back and forth for a short distance, then stops, arms folded tightly cross her chest. She then begins walking back and forth again; stopping to fold arms across her chest. Mulder can recognize Angry, Fuming, Frustrated Scully when he sees her. He wants nothing more than to try to comfort her, but he knows from experience that she needs her space right now.

Mulder starts the Cherokee and heads out to the warehouse. <Might as well get this overwith. At least she said she’d see me at home.> The sun has just about set; it’s twilight. He approaches the warehouse from the open field area. The area appears very run down. It is hard to tell what this place may have been previously.

He is able to park right by the door. It is unlocked; surprisingly.

He pulls his flashlight out and heads inside.

The main entryway looks like some many thousands of other warehouses he and Scully have visited. He spots a stairway farther back and to the right. He heads toward it.

He spies a faint light source at the top of the stairs. It appears to be framing a slighlty open doorway.

When he reaches the top of the stairs, he turns off the flashlight and reaches for his weapon. He moves against the wall to the lit doorway, weapon trained on the opening.

He does a quick sensory sweep; there are no unusual smells, the light appears to be a simple incandescent bulb, but there is a faint clanging of metal on metal coming from within. He does not hear any voices.

He moves quickly and silently to the other side of the door frame to enter from the side closest to the hinges. As he pushes the door open, he hears the voice,

“Oh no, not again, please!” The plaintive cries are coming from farther inside the room.

“Hey, it’s ok, I’m not going to hurt you.” Mulder tries to reassure the unseen male.

“No! Don’t come any closer! I don’t want anymore, send me back!”

Mulder follows the voice. He enters a well-furnished and carpeted room. There is a young man, probably in his 20s, sitting in a club chair with chains around his wrists and ankles. His head is entirely bandaged and his eyes are wide. He looks badly frightened.

“I’m Fox Masters. Are you all right?”

The young man looks at Mulder as if he’s sizing him up. “Um, I’m Jeremy Hudson. I’m ok, I think, but then again, I don’t really know.”

Mulder pauses. He remembers that name. <This young man is supposed to be Scully’s first surgery. If that’s the case, then what is he doing here, now?>

“Jeremy, aren’t you a patient at Rye Mercy Hospital?”

“Uh, I was, I mean, I am, I think. How did you know that?!” Jeremy is once again agitated, questioning Mulder’s motives.

Mulder notices the effect his question has had on Jeremy. “Jeremy, it’s ok! I’m new in town and so is my part—, my friend, Nurse Katz? You remember her from Mercy?”

Jeremy smiles faintly. “Yeah, Nurse Katz is pretty hot. You live with her or something?”

“Or something, Jeremy. Now, let’s get back to you. What are you doing here?”

“I’m not sure. Dr. Baines told me my surgery had been pushed up to Monday.

Then on Saturday, two orderlies came and told me the doc wanted me moved. I thought I was just going to another room. They brought me here for some pre-op treatment. I thought it was pretty weird; especially being brought to this place.”

Mulder is starting to piece things together. “Jeremy, were you given any medication while you’ve been here; a shot, a pill, something?”

“Yeah, I mean, he gave me a shot, but it didn’t seem to do anything at all; didn’t feel any different, didn’t fall asleep. Just one weird thing…” Jeremy’s eyes scrunch a little, as if he’s looking far away, trying to remember something just out of reach.

“What is it, Jeremy?”

“Well, I got here on Saturday, right? I got one shot on Saturday and one today.

Well, tonight, I started thinking that maybe I was the doc. I would all of a sudden start to think about prepping patients for surgery. As soon as I would wonder why I was thinking it, it would go away.”

“When was the last time anyone came here to see you, Jeremy?” Mulder is worried about Jeremy’s emotional and nutritional state.

Mulder pulls out his cellphone.


“Dana, it’s me. You need to get to the warehouse right away. I think there’s someone here you need to see now. Bring your medical bag.”

“Mulder, what are you talking about? How am I going to get there, you have the Cherokee?”

“Dana, you’ll fnd a way. Jeremy Hudson wants to see you.” Mulder disconnects, confident that Scully will come.

Mulder tells Jeremy he will return. He heads downstairs to meet Scully. He finds himself quite angry when he sees who has arrived with her.

“How did you expect me to get here, Mulder? They don’t exactly have buses running out here.”

Mulder bites back his response, thinking of Jeremy alone, upstairs.

“Hey, Fox, Dana tells me you’ve had a breakthrough?” Ritter walks between Mulder and Scully. He seems quite pleased with himself for getting to bring Scully.

“Let’s not stand here talking about it. Jeremy is waiting.” Mulder leads the way to the lit room.

Scully instantly goes over to Jeremy to check his vitals. Other than hunger and emotional strain, his vitals appear strong. He recounts what he has already told Mulder.

Scully’s eyebrow raises and she pushes the hair back from her face.

“Fox, we’ve got to get Jeremy out of here right away. Ritter, he’ll need to stay with you for the short term.” Scully, being directive and in control.

Ritter starts to open his mouth to protest, but decides against it. <She doesn’t want to mess up their little nest.> Ritter pulls some tools from his best and removes the shackles from Jeremy’s wrist and ankles.

“Look, Jeremy, we’re going to make sure everything is ok for you to go back for your surgery. In the meantime, you’re going to go home with our friend, Mr. RoDen. He’ll get you some clothes, food and a bed. I don’t want you to worry.

Your health is fine.” Scully smiles at her patient trying to reassure him.

“What about those weird ‘doc mind’ things that are happening to me?”

Scully looks questioningly at Jeremy and Mulder, sensing that her partner knows something about this.

Mulder speaks first, “don’t worry about that Jeremy. It might just be your medication. Nurse Katz will check into it for you. Tonight, you just eat and sleep!”

Jeremy and Ritter head out to Ritter’s car.

“Mulder, what’s the doc…” Before Scully can finish her question about Jeremy, Mulder touches her shoulder. “Scully, I’m really sorry about the scene at Mercy.”

He looks intently at her.

She smiles at him, “I’m sorry too, Mulder. I guess I overreacted. It’s just that I need you to know the difference between caring about me and trying to ‘save’ me. I know you’d lay your life down for me, Mulder, and I’d do the same for you.

I just need you to know that sometimes small packages can pack a wallop.” Just to prove her point, she punches him in the arm and sprints to the Cherokee.

@ @ @

Monday, Rye Community College, 9A

After a quick call to Ritter to make sure Jeremy is doing ok, Mulder is off to teach his first psychology class.

He and Scully will meet at lunchtime to discuss Dr. Baines, Jeremy, and all of the other loose ends of this bizarre case.

As Mulder pulls into the parking lot at RCC, he notices a lot of students heading toward the Humanities Building.

He joins them and locates lecture hall room 148. The classroom is empty. He has one half hour before his class begins.

He sets up his laptop for his presentation and begins to review his notes. He is so absorbed in his reading that he doesn’t notice the time, nor, the first wave of students entering the small lecture hall.

“Excuse me? Um, excuse me, Professor Masters?” A small group of students are standing at his desk, waiting for his acknowledgement.

Mulder looks up quickly and removes his glasses. “I’m sorry! I hope you haven’t been standing here long?”

The group of students look at him. The women in the group are blushing. One man speaks first, “We’re just wondering if we’ll need to talk notes or anything today. I mean, I’d probably have to borrow and pen or something if we do.”

<Ah yes, youth…> Mulder smiles at them and simply says, “Why don’t you all have a seat and we’ll get started.” They seem to scurry up the steps to take their seats.

“Good morning, class. I’m Professor Masters. I’ll be here for this week and next.

Your professor has asked me to talk to you about body language.”

Before Mulder can finish his introductory speech, he hears a comment from the front row, “I’d like to talk to you about your body and the language I’d like to make it speak.” The woman who made the comment smiles. The women on either side of her, obviously friends, whisper, “Shh, Kat, he’ll hear you!”

Too late…He feels his neck warm slightly. <Get a grip, Mulder; they’re probably all of 19 or 20! Scully will have my head.> He continues, acting as if he has not heard the comment.

“Today, we’re going to explore the messages conveyed through facial expression. Who can give me some examples of facial features that communicate?”

A woman in the second row stands. “I’m Eris. I think that the eyes communicate.”

Mulder nods in agreement, “So, Eris, tell us how the eyes communicate. What can they ‘say’?”

“They can express sadness, joy, simply by the way they move or the direction in which they move. Eyes down can mean contriteness or sadness. They can show extreme joy or arousal when they dilate. That’s one way to know that someone is returning your feelings of extreme joy.” She sits back down. Her friends pat her on the back and smile.

<Whoa, she cut right to the chase! This is going to be harder than I imagined.>

“Yes, Eris, the eyes do speak volumes.” <If Scully were here, she’d tell her a thing or two about lowering her eyes in my presence.>

“How about someone else? Yes, you in the back.”

“Hello, I’m Carrie, but my friends call me ‘Aussie’. I’d say that the mouth communicates, even when no words are voiced. The mouth can be a very powerful communicator. It can also be used as a strong sensory organ. I’d be glad to demonstrate, if you want me to?”

Mulder is wondering whether Ritter set him up for this class! He has to pull it back to his lesson plan.

“Um, thank you, too, Aussie. Sit back down, I mean, have a seat.” Mulder is tripping over his words.

He turns on the laptop presentation and begins to talk about the possibilities for match and mismatch between the spoken and the non-spoken word. He notices that most of the students are busily taking notes.

He also notices that some of the women are non-verbally communicating extremely lustfull looks in his direction. <Maybe Scully and I should head back to the Arctic?>

“Ok, class, next week, we’ll be doing some role playing. If anyone has any questions before we end this session?”

Not one hand rises. They are non-verbally communicating the “if anyone speaks now, they’re dead” mantra.

“Class dismissed.” <Did I just say, ‘class dismissed’? You are rusty, Mulder, rusty!> Eris, Aussie, Kat and her friend, Raine, come down the steps and approach Mulder’s desk.

It is Eris that speaks first, “Umm, Professor Masters, we were wondering if you’d like to join us for a cup of coffee in the Student Center?” Aussie is batting her eyelashes at him and Eris is smiling so broadly, he’s concerned she will get a facial muscle cramp. Kat and Raine are merely staring. <Oh, yes; they have understood this lesson in body language.>

“Well, ladies, as much as I’d love to take you up on your nice offer, I’ve got lecture notes to transcribe. Thank you, though.”

<Phew! That WAS close!>

@ @ @

Lunch at RMH Cafeteria, Noontime

Scully is on line when Mulder joins her. She is chatting with Barbara and Don.

“Hey, Dana; how was your morning?” <Hope it was nothing like mine or I’d be pretty mad!>

“Pretty busy, Fox. I’ll tell you about it when we sit down.”

Scully grabs a salad, some soup and an apple. Mulder surprisingly takes a turkey sandwich and some soup. “Fox? Are you feeling all right?” Scully smiles and laughs good naturedly.

Scully tells Barbara and Don she’ll talk with them later and heads over to the far corner to join Mulder.

Nodding in Scully’s direction, Don says, “There’s something going on between those two. Did you see the way Dana looked at him when he came in? I’d swear they’re much more than good friends.”

“A little jealous, Don? I didn’t know you had the hots for her. Better back off.

Baines is next in line, I think. Right after that maintenance guy, Rodent is it?”

“So Mulder, how did your first class go? Any cute co-eds?”

Mulder’s face gets a little hot as Scully zeroes in on his first class. <How DOES she do that?>

“It went okay, Scully. Have you heard how Jeremy’s doing today?” Mulder quickly changes the subject. The look on Scully’s face tells him she caught his subterfuge, but allowed it.

“Ritter says Jeremy’s fine physically. The memory effects Jeremy alluded to seem to have ended. I’m guessing he hadn’t been given enough of whatever drug was being used to induce the full effect. One thing bothers me, Mulder.”

“Just one, Scully? Usually, you’d have a whole list of implausible scenarios, unsubstantiated theories—”

“Mulder, shut up!” She smiles and continues, “This does not seem to be an X-File at all. Sure, we don’t know what drug has been used, but that’s not a mystery; it’s just unknown at this time. There are many drugs which can effect the memory in a vast array of methods. Why, there’s the—”


“I know; shut up.”

“I agree with you though. Everything here seems pretty clear cut. Except for why Baines needs to make the memory change and why he chooses patients with the common variables.”

“Paging Nurse Katz to Dr. Baines’ office stat, paging Nurse Katz….”

“Damn! What do you think he wants?”

“How was he this morning?”

“He wasn’t here; he called in sick.” Scully giggles and Mulder loves the sound of her laugh. “What’s so funny, Scully?”

She tries to be more serious. “Mulder, a doctor calls in to a hospital to say he can’t work because he’s sick; get it?” She once again breaks out in a fit of giggles.

Mulder is laughing with her, but doesn’t quite get the depth of her joke; at least not in the way it’s affecting her.

“If he’s not here, then how can he page you, Scully?”

“I’m going to check and be right back.”

Scully heads for the house phone. Mulder can see her nodding and talking. She returns.

“They don’t know who paged me and they confirm he’s not in today.” Scully gets up and picks up her tray. As she’s heading for the tray drop off, Mulder comes up behind her.

“Scully, I’m going to head up the stairwell and just ‘be available’, ok?”

She considers telling him she doesn’t think it’s necessary and then decides not to protest. He’s following SOP; one Agent always backs up the other.

As Scully approaches Baines’ office, she notices the door is open. She glances to the left, toward the stairwell door, and sees Mulder’s face in the small window in the door. She nods to him and then heads in.

“Oh, hello, Dana, come in.” It is the receptionist. “Can I help you with something?”

“Um, yeah. I just got paged to Art’s office, but he’s out today. Do you know who paged me?” Scully looks around and sees that his office and the room behind it are both dark.

“Nooo, I don’t know who would have paged you. I’m the only one up here and have been for the last hour. Are you sure they said it was Dr. Baines?”

“I’m positive. Look, if you don’t mind, I’m going to just check out the back rooms.”

“Sure, go right ahead, if you want. I think someone’s playing a joke on you, though. Hey, do you mind if I just run down to grab a take out lunch?”

“No, no, go ahead. I’ll grab the phone if it rings.” Scully heads into Baines’ office first and switches on the light; no one there.

She then heads for the back room where Baines put the moves on her previously. She is about to reach for the light switch when she feels a hand on her wrist. She gasps, startled. Before she can ask any questions, another hand covers her mouth. The door is kicked shut.

“Don’t move, Dana, everything is ok. It’s just me.”

She recognizes the voice and bites the hand covering her mouth. In one swift motion, she yanks her wrist free. “Ritter! Just what the hell do you think you’re doing?!” she says indignantly.

“Scully, quiet. I had to talk to you privately and-”

“Any your basement office was so public, you were afraid everyone would see us, so you chose the high profile Med/Surge Chief’s office and had me paged by him and he’s not here today! What the hell is your game, Agent?”

Ritter begins to sweat; a lot. <Ok, this was not such a smart move on my part.

Now, Ritter, find your way out of this before she really goes ballistic.>

“I needed to tell you that Jeremy is ok and—”

Scully is not yet ready to back down. “You already told me he’s fine. Is he more fine now, Ritter? You know, Mulder was right, you’re a rodent!” She gets up to leave.

Mulder comes walking in as if he doesn’t have a care in the world. He has heard the entire exchange. He is smiling; but his eyes are not.

Ritter stands. He paces, attempting to find a way out of the room. Mulder’s long and lanky frame is clearly blocking Ritter’s exit.

“Not so fast, Rodent. Just what do you get if you dig up something on me and Agent Scully, huh? Do you get promoted? Do you get assigned to the DC field office? Do you get a commendation? Picture those career altering rewards.

Now, picture them non-existent. If I were to call Kersh and Skinner right now, your sorry ass would be hauled out of here so fast, you little whiskers would be twitching in the wind. Get your sorry ass out of here now before I do something you and Scully might regret. Notice I didn’t say I’d regret it…”

Ritter hightails it out of the office just as the receptionist comes back with her lunch. “Oh my, where did he come from? Did something need fixing I didn’t know about?”

Mulder and Scully head for the stairwell and head home.

@ @ @

Rodent with Tail between Legs; Monday


“Agent Ritter, AD Kersh here. What do you have to report?”

“Well, sir, we’ve found out that Baines is using some type of mind or memory altering drug on his patients. We were able to—”

“Agent Ritter, I’ve already heard that information from AD Skinner. Agents Mulder and Scully have already reported in. What have you learned about improprieties between the two Agents?”

Ritter is flustered. He has tried to arrange situations or to appear where he is not invited. All he has gained is Mulder agony.

“Agent? I’m waiting for your report.”

“Well, Sir, they are extremely friendly.”

“Ritter, listen to me and listen well. You are on a short leash. I am well aware of the friendship connection between the Agents. Hell, the whole fucking world is aware of their friendship. You had specific instructions. You know what is resting on your successful completion of your case. Have I made myself clear? Is there anything you wish to report?”

“No, Sir. I mean, ‘yes, Sir’, I understand what is riding on my work and ‘no, Sir’, I have nothing to report.”

@ @ @

Trying to Tie Up Loose Ends; Monday Night, 6P

The evening air still holds a slight warm spring hint. It’s staying light much longer. Mulder and Scully walk out onto the patio and watch as the sun starts sinking toward the horizon; just over the water’s edge.

“I’m going to check in with Skinner, Mulder. He hasn’t contacted either of us in a few days.”

“Can’t it wait? Aren’t you tired?”

“Yes, I’m very tired, but I think we need to get this over with. Don’t you think Ritter’s reporting in to Kersh? Why leave Skinner in the dark?”

Mulder exaggeratedly hangs his head down.

“Sir? We wanted to check in with you. I’m more sure than ever that Ritter has another agenda with this case.” She explains the recent developments to Skinner.

“We’ve taken Jeremy out of the hospital; he’s safe. I don’t find any evidence of the paranormal with Dr. Baines. No, Sir, only very ‘normal’ criminal behavior.”

“Skinner wants to talk to you, Mulder.”

“Hello, Sir. What? Oh, yes, that is true.” Mulder is walking around as he talks.

Scully gets the distinct impression that he’s moving away from her so she doesn’t follow the discussion. “Yes, Sir, I always do.”

“What was that all about, Mulder?” Scully is standing by his side, one hand on her hip, looking up at him inquiringly.

“Um, nothing, Scully. Skinman just wanted to make sure we’ve got everything under control.”

“You’re a bad liar, Mulder! Out with it.”

“Kersh had contacted him. He just wanted to know if it was true that Baines had tried to put the moves on you.”

“And you said, what, Mulder?”

“I said that you handled it fine.”

“You said nothing of the sort, Mulder. C’mon, tell me.”

“He asked if I helped you out. I said, ‘I always do’.”

“Yes, you do, don’t you, Mulder?” Scully smiles. They head inside.

They stop in the kitchen to grab some dinner. They take a few sandwiches upstairs.

“You know, Scully, I think this case is almost wrapped up. Another few days or the week and we should have enough information on Baines to nail it. My college teaching career will come to an end! We’ll have to go back to just plain old Agents again.”

They stop at Mulder’s floor. “Your place or mine, Mulder?”

“Let’s head up to yours.”

Mulder holds both plates as Scully fishes out her apartment key. She turns on the lamp.

“Do you mind if I get out of this uniform, Mulder?” Scully is pulling the shirt out of the the waistband of her pants, walking toward the bedroom.

“Do you want any help, Scully?” Mulder is being helpful.

Scully turns and smiles almost coyly at him, “Much as I appreciate your offer, I think I can handle this. I’ll be out in a minute.”

Mulder sets the plates on the dining room table by the window. <It’s going to be hard to go back to my apartment… At least Scully’s real apartment is nice.> Scully comes out in a pair of knit shorts and a cropped tee shirt. She’s barefoot and her hair is in a ponytail. She looks over at Mulder. He’s holding his sandwich halfway to his mouth and looking up at her.

“Mulder, let’s talk about what still needs to be ironed out, ok?” She smoothly steers the conversation to a ‘safe’ topic. She knows well that look in Mulder’s eyes.

Mulder takes a bite of his sandwich and pushes Scully’s plate toward her.

“Wuhh, Scuhli, Ah.”

“Mulder, I didn’t mean we had to talk this minute! You CAN eat first.”

They finish their sandwiches in companionable silence.

Scully outlines what they know and what they need to accomplish. “First of all, we’ve got to get Jeremy over to Portsmouth to have some testing done. I don’t know if he really has a neurological disorder or not, but we’re not going to be able to take him back to Mercy. Second, I need to get some blood samples of the other two pre-op patients to the lab for the same reasons. I don’t want any unplanned disappearances like Jeremy’s. I’m sure Baines is much more suspicious now and I’m not sure how effective I’ll be with him. Then, there’s Ritter—”

“Whoa, Scully, were you planning on writing all this down for me? Ok; I follow you. As for Ritter, he needs to be trussed up and—”

Scully heads into the kitchen to get some icecream. She calls back to the dining room, “Mulder, you’ve got nothing on Ritter other than being a royal pain in the ass. That alone doesn’t justify ‘trussing him up’ and whatever else you had in that brain of yours.”

“Scully, isn’t he driving you nuts, too? He’s put you in some compromising positions, he’s almost blown our covers and he’s reporting to Kersh on some unknown agenda. I’d say that qualifies him for ‘bozo of the year’ or something like that.”

“Mulder, wait, I think I’ve got Ritter’s ‘unknown agenda’!” Scully puts the bowls of icecream on the table, but continues to stand. “Think about every time he’s been in our faces; your apartment the afternoon you, uh, ‘made me lunch’, on the plane, at the hospital, on my run, in Baines’ office. Are you seeing a pattern here, Mulder? I am. He’s trying to prove we have a more than ‘partnerly’ relationship for Kersh. Kersh has been gunning for us for awhile. He can’t fault our work, so he’s going to fault us. Kersh will have enough to pull us out.”

Mulder is still eating his icecream when Scully makes her point. “I think you’re right, Scully. That IS what he’s trying to do; ‘trying’ being the operative word, here. There’s nothing for Ritter to report, that’s why he keeps turning up.”

They both pause. They have been so wound up in their covers, this case and trying to keep Ritter at bay, that they have not really had the chance to further explore their feelings and the depth of their relationship. Now that they’re aware of Ritter’s motives, maybe it is for the best. Or, maybe it will just wait a day or so until they wrap up the case…

@ @ @

Tuesday’s Routine, 5:30A

Knock, knock, knock. “Scully, are you in there? Isn’t it time for your run?”

Mulder is dressed in his sweats, having decided to go with Scully this time. He is running out of body parts to have injured.

Scully cracks the door open. Through a sleepy fog she says, “Is that you, Mulder?”

He pushes the door open a little bit more. “Scully, I want to run with you this morning. C’mon, time to get going. Let’s double the distance this morning!!

Wake up, sunshine.”

Scully opens the door for him to come in. Her apartment is dark; it’s now obvious she had no intentions of running this morning.

“Scully, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you, I just thought—”

“It’s ok, Mulder, I should be up anyway. I’m not running this morning, though, so if you want to go, go on ahead without me.”

As she walks over to the couch, Mulder can see she’s wearing a long tee shirt that barely covers her panties. Her hair is loose and she has a rather wild look about her. <God, if this is how she looks when she wakes up, I’d love to see her… Better stop there, Mulder.>

“If you want some coffee, help yourself. I set the timer on the coffee maker last night. I’ll wake up soon enough.” She scrunches herself into the couch and hugs her arms around her. She is suddenly aware of just how little she is wearing.

She’s also a little chilled since she turned the heat down when she went to bed.

Mulder gets some coffee for them and then heads for the bedroom. He grabs a cotton blanket and heads for Scully.

He sits down next to her and gently pulls her over to him. He wraps the blanket around both of them.

“Hmm, this is nice, Mulder.” She snuggles up against him, feeling the warmth of his body.

He kisses the top of her head.

“Scully? The sun is up. You do have to work today, don’t you? I have to get to the College.”

They have both slept for an hour in each other’s arms.

“Oh, gosh, Mulder. I’ve got to be at the hospital by 8 this morning. I hope I haven’t made you late, too.”

Scully sits up quickly, her tee up around her waist as she pulls the blanket off of them.

<Guess I’m wide awake, now> Mulder thinks with a smirk.

“Do you think we should check under the couch for Ritter, Scully?”

“Don’t even think it, Mulder! You better get going. I’ll call you around lunch time, ok?”

Mulder stretches out his lanky frame as he stands and heads for the door.

Before he gets there, Scully comes up behind him. “Mulder?” She touches his arm and turns him toward her. “Yeah, Scully?” He smiles.

“Mulder, you’re awfully comfortable to sleep with.” She smiles up at him, stands on her toes, and gives him a quick kiss on the lips.

<You’re not getting off that easy this time, Scully.> Mulder lets her take her lips from his, but then he grabs her, on hand on each arm and pulls her toward him.

He lips find hers and they explore each other. She is heat and fire and electricity on his lips.

“Mmmm, Mulder…”

Mulder gently breaks the kiss, “Yes?”

Scully leans in closer, struggling to stay standing on her almost liquid legs and whispers in his ear, “Go get ready for class, Mulder. Now. Before you have to find a sub.”

@ @ @

Rye Community College; Advanced Psychology Class, Tuesday morning

Mulder strides into the lecture hall. Most of the students are already there, in a totally sociable mood. The noise level is so high that they do not hear him when he says, “Good morning, class.”

He notices his ‘fan club’, Eris, Aussie (<wonder if she’s from Australia>), Raine and Kat. He also notices their furtive glances in his direction. He picks up bits and pieces of their animated conversation, <talk about non-verbal communication; these four have it down to a science!> Kat: Oh my god, look at what he’s done to his hair today, or, should I say ‘hasn’t done’!? It looks like he just let if fall in his face!

Eris: Forget the hair, check out that body, black chinos and ribbed turtleneck; the man clearly knows how to dress ‘hot’!

Raine: C’mon you two, it’s the total package; he’s packing something and it’s leaving flames… Aussie: I’m sticking with the face; talk about your ‘body language’. That man’s face says ‘get me to the bed’ in every language!

Mulder’s heard quite enough and he’s starting to blush. “Ok, everyone, today we’re going to practice observing body language. Do I have any volunteers?”

When he sees the show of hands, he adds, “Uh, I’d like some women AND men to volunteer.”

@ @ @

Rye Mercy Hospital, Tuesday Morning

“Paging Nurse Katz to OR #4, Nurse Katz to OR#4.”

Scully is on the phone with Portsmouth Hospital when the page comes through.

She does not want to hang up because they are about to give her the blood work results on Jeremy and the others. The page comes through again, this time with ‘stat’ tacked on.

“I’ll call you back.” Scully heads to OR #4. When she enters, the OR is dark.

She reaches for the light switch and a hand is immediately on top of hers.

She freezes, waiting for whoever it is to make her or his move. “Dana, don’t move. It’s me, Don. Don’t turn on the lights.”

“Don, why didn’t you just come to my office? What’s all the cloak and dagger about?”

Don, who seems to see quite well in the dark room, leads Scully by the wrist to the stairs. They ascend to the viewing theater above the OR. He turns on one of the seat lights since it contains only a 40 watt bulb.

“Look, Dana, Barbara and I wanted to warn you, Baines is on to you.”

Scully’s heart skips a beat, but she says nothing. She waits for him to continue.

“He knows you got Jeremy out of here and he’s not a happy camper. What’s going on? We can help you.”

<Phew! Baines is only on to Jeremy, but not my actual role here.>

“Thanks, Don; it means a lot to me that you and Barbara would want to help me, but there’s no need. I really appreciate you tipping me off, though. You’re taking a risk being here.”

@ @ @

Rye Community College, Role Playing

“Ok, now that you’re in small groups, here’s what you need to do. Each group will choose an emotional situation they want to role play. It can be anything that doesn’t take too long. For example, you might choose receiving a gift from someone special. When you’ve chose your situation, you’ll act it our for the rest of the class without using any words. You’re going to use your bodies to show us. Now, just a reminder; you’re in a public place with people you don’t necessarily know. Choose your body language appropriately, for class, please.”

Mulder smiles and hops up to sit on the counter in the front of the room as they work with their groups.

<I’m just a little nervous about what the ‘fan club’ might choose. Good thing they’re working with some others.>

@ @ @

Rye Mercy Hospital, Check and Checkmate

Scully goes back to her office. She calls Portsmouth Hospital Lab. She is distressed at the results; none of Dr. Baines pre-op patients had any pre-existing conditions and show no current signs of neurological problems. This means tests have been faked and more importantly, people have been hospitalized against their will and unnessarily.

She wants to call Mulder, but knows he’s teaching his class. She contacts Ritter and tells him she’s coming down to his office.

On her way to the elevator, Dr. Baines stops her. “Nurse Katz, I’d like a word with you in my office, please.”

“Can’t do that right now, I have to see someone. I’ll be back—”

Although he is smiling, his words are not, “Nurse Katz, this is of the utmost urgency. I highly recommend that you follow me now.” He places a heavy arm across her shoulders and leads her there.

<Ritter, I hope you wonder where I am…>

@ @ @

Rye Community College, Emotional Situation

“Ok, is Group 1 ready to go? Come up here to the front of the room. Everyone else have a seat. What I’d like you all to do is use your senses to observe. Let each group show their entire ‘situation’ before guessing at it. “

Group 1 includes Eris, Aussie, Kat, Jake and Stephen. They approach the front of the room. Eris and Jake move to the center. The others coach them and let them begin. Eris slowly approaches Jake, half smile on her face. She pauses halfway there and looks at him from his feet, slowly moving to his face. Jake returns the gesture. He approaches her and takes her hand, looking into her eyes. She takes his other hand and puts it to her face.

By this point, some of the students are ‘ooohing’ and ‘ahhing’. Raine, Kat and Stephen are nodding to Eris and Jake in encouragement and support.

He starts to pull her body to his. At that point, Mulder tries to calmly indicate that they should end their role playing. When discreet signals don’t work, he say,

“Ok, nice job, Group 1!!” He notices that both Eris and Jake have dilated pupils and are breathing a little heavy. Heck! So is he!

“Anyone care to guess what their emotional situation was?” It seems like every hand in the room shoots into the air. When it takes him more than two seconds to call on someone, they begin calling out their guesses.

“Shake their booties!”

“He wants some and she’s ready to give.”

“Hot monkey love!”

“She’s a hooker.”

Mulder is ready to laugh. <This would be a great time for the Dean to walk in…> He asks Group 1 to respond. Stephen speaks for the Group. “Actually, the only wrong guess was that she’s a hooker; the rest are all ok!”

“Ok, everyone, before you go, let’s talk a little bit about what you observed and how you decided what was being portrayed.” Mulder waits a few minutes; no one responds.

He decides to help them get started. “Alright, let me give you an example.” He pauses breifly, considering which example to use. He stops midway across the front of the room and looks up at the class members who are all sitting quite attentively.

“Now, observe me and tell me what I’m doing to get my point across.” Mulder begins by standing in front of them with his arms at his sides. He lifts his shoulders, shrugging, then lets his arms fall back to his body. His head hangs down to his chest, his hair falling in his face. Next, he looks up, focusing his gaze toward the back of the room. The students follow his gaze and all turn around to look. He smiles before they turn back around to watch him.

“Ok, what was I experiencing and how did you know?”

Now they are quite animated. Raine is ready to melt into her seat, she has been studying him rather intently. Kat elbows her, suggesting that Raine’s response is just a little too obvious.

Jake replies, “You appeared to be dejected; your arms hanging down, then your head. I don’t know what the hair in your face signified.” The class erupts with laughter. Aussie finds herself thinking that the hair in his face simply signified another wonderful look for Professor Masters.

Eris raises her hand. “You also looked disinterested when you shrugged.”

“Thank you, all. How about when I looked to the back of the room?” Mulder is walking back and forth in front of them, hands on his hips, eyes sparkling.

Although he is sure they are paying attention, he is not sure to exactly what or who they are paying attention. He notices several sets of eyes following him; or rather, following his body.

As if by some unknown galactic force, everyone starts to put their notebooks into their book bags and stand. <A true X-File; unexplained college behavioral phenomena.>

“Ok, class, we’ll finish the groups next time!”

@ @ @

Rye Mercy Hospital, The Gig’s (Almost) Up, Noontime Tuesday

Ritter is pacing in his office. Scully called him almost 10 minutes ago. There’s no way it would take her that long to come down the stairs. <Scully is a woman with an agenda. When she’s got a plan, there’s no stopping her.> Ritter’s training kicks into gear.

He bolts from his office and takes the stairs two at a time to her floor.


Baines has ‘walked’ Scully into the backroom of his office. <Oh, no, not here again…>

“What it is you want to talk to me about, Art?” Scully is nervous, but she’s trying very hard to portray confidence.

He sits her down on the couch and joins her.

“Dana, I’m not sure exactly what you’re up to, but Jeremy is missing and all indications point to you.” He smiles briefly, as if he’s forcing himself, and continues,“I really think that now is the time to explain yourself.” The smile is gone. He has one hand on her knee and is gripping it tightly. The other hand is around her waist.

As she is about to answer, Ritter bursts through the door. His sudden appearance is enough to startle Baines and he releases Scully. She moves over next to Ritter.

@ @ @

On the Way to Rye Mercy Hospital, 11:30A

“C’mon, Scully, answer your phone.”

“The cellular customer you are trying to reach is not within the service area.”

<Shit! It’s not like Scully to turn her phone off.> Mulder punches the gas pedal.

He takes the corners on two wheels, causing the Cherokee to balk. <Don’t fail me now.> he pleads with it.

He leaves it in the Employee Parking Lot and runs through lobby. He jabs at the buttons on the elevator. When it doesn’t respond fast enough, he heads for the stairs.

@ @ @

Rye Mercy Hospital, Gig’s Up! Noontime

Mulder approaches Baines’ office quietly. He hears voices inside; Scully, Baines, Ritter. The voice tones and levels tell him that no one is in danger, but there is tension among them.

“Look, Doc, we’ve got your number and you’re not going anywhere.” Ritter begins to read Baines’ his rights, much to Scully’s disappointment.

“Just who the [edit] do you think you are, Mr. RoDEN, is it? Since when does the Chief of Maintenance ‘read me my rights’?” Baines is extremely angry. He takes a step toward Ritter and Scully. Ritter stands his ground and reaches out to pull Scully slightly behind him.

At that moment, Mulder walks in. “Great, now the whole gang is here!” Baines spits out that sentence, looking for an exit.

Cooler heads prevail.

Mulder begins, “Look, Baines, why don’t you just have a seat and we’ll talk this out.” He gestures toward the couch.

“YOU have a seat! This is my goddam office, I don’t know who you all claim to be and I want some answers now or I’m calling security!” Baines remains standing, reaches out and grabs Scully by the arm. He holds her arm behind her back with one of his arms and pulls his other arm across her throat.

“Did you know that the human larynx can be easily crushed when pressure is applied to the exact point?” He pushes his arm against her throat; not hard enough to injure, but just enough to get his point across. Scully’s face turns red as a beet and then goes white. Her body arches forward and her head lolls back onto Baines’ shoulder.

Ritter starts to move forward slowly. “Baines, why don’t you let her go and we’ll all just answer your questions. W e can work this out.” Ritter keeps Baines talking. Baines eases up on Scully’s neck a little. Some of the natural color returns to her face.

Mulder slowly slinks out the door and walks into Baines’ office. He slides the office window open and notices a rather large ledge outside.

He makes his way out onto the ledge and walks the short distance to the other room. Ritter sees Mulder, but does not give away the plan.

<Hang in there, Scully, I’m on my way.> Mulder eases the window open, glad that Ritter is carrying on his mindless conversation with Baines. Baines is totally engaged, never having noticed that Mulder left.

Mulder steps onto the couch from behind and grabs Baines. Baines falls back onto the couch with Scully falling backwards on top of him. As Baines falls, he releases Scully.

Ritter helps her up and looks at her neck which is rapidly becoming black and blue.

Mulder pulls out his badge and holds it in front of Baines’ face.

“Get a good look Dr. Baines, or, should I say, Dr. Brenten? Let me also introduce Special Agent Dana Scully and Field Agent Payton Ritter. Now, I will read you your rights as they relate to your alleged involvement in the plan to conduct memory altering experiments on subjects without their express permission.”

“You have the right to…” Mulder continues. Ritter assists him. Scully observes, massaging her throat.

@ @ @

Rye Mercy Hospital Cafeteria, Tuesday Night

After calls to Kersh and Skinner, the three Agents have dinner in the cafeteria.

“Can we drop you somewhere Ritter?” Scully offers.

“Nah, that’s ok, I’ve got a few things to do here and then I’ll be making my flight arrangements. When are you two heading out? Maybe we can get on the same flight.”

“Ritter, don’t push the relationship thing. I’ll be sure my report indicates your ‘helpfulness’ to Skinner. We’ll probably never see you again, such a shame…”

Scully pokes Mulder in the ribs for that comment.

“Actually, Payton, Mulder and I are diving the Cherokee down to Boston, so we’ll head out in the morning. Thanks again.” Scully stands to signal the end of their dinner.

“I’ll be right back, Scully.” Before she can respond, Mulder follows Ritter out to the parking lot. Scully starts to follow, but decides against it. <I’m sure I know what he’s up to…Can’t say Ritter doesn’t deserve it, either. And, what I don’t know I can’t respond to.> Ritter is a few feet in front of Mulder when he hears footsteps. He pauses, but does not look back. Mulder closes the gap and grabs Ritter’s arm, spinning him around to face Mulder.

“What do you want, Agent Mulder? I thought we said our good-byes inside.

And where’s Scully?”

“Enough talk, Rodent man. You listen and listen well.” Ritter tries to shrug free of Mulder, but has no luck. Mulder’s hand is like an iron clamp.

“I’ve got a good mind to pulverize you where you stand you lousy skunk, but I know it would just upset Agent Scully. Just so you’re clear on this matter, we’re both on to your hidden agenda with Kersh; you like letting yourself be used by others, don’t you? No matter. Consider this fair warning: keep your nose and, he!!, any other part of you, out of my way or you probably won’t live to regret it.

Scully would be much kinder and give you the benefit of the doubt, but I can’t say I suffer from her kindness where you’re concerned. Now get your butt across the state line before I toss it there.”

Before Ritter can utter a syllable, Mulder turns and walks back inside. Scully greets him at the door, arms crossed, smiling. She shakes her head and rolls her eyes, but the smile never leaves her face. “Don’t even say it, Scully. Just get your little feet moving.”

@ @ @

55 Cable Road, Nightfall

The night is one that presages summer; heavy, moist air, but the darkness has edged away some of the heat, leaving the air early summer warm.

“I can’t believe we only get one more night here, Mulder. It really is beautiful.”

“It is beautiful, Scully. Since we’re not in any hurry, why don’t we head to the beach for some down time?” Mulder wishes he could see her face; he could swear he can ‘hear’ her smiling back at him. <God, how I love that smile…>

“Sounds good to me, let me just go get changed. This uniform isn’t exactly ‘beachwear’. I’ll meet you on the patio in a few minutes.”

Mulder is sitting in a lounge chair by the patio door. Visions of Scully dane through his head. He hears Scully walking through the dining room, her sandals clacking on the hardwood floors.

Just as she reaches the patio door, he pulls it open. Before she can react, he pulls her toward him, into his arms. She nearly steps out of her sandals as she’s pressed to him.

Her breath catches in her chest and she looks up at him. “Hey, Scully.” Mulder smiles at her casually as if it’s everyday they’re in this situation. He is the master of understatement at times.

“Hmmm, I could get used to this type of welcome when I come through a door.”

She lightly blows a whisp of her hair from in front of her eyes; not wanting to free her hands to push it aside.

“I think Skinman would be only too happy to oblige you, Scully.”

She looks puzzled. “What’re you talking about, Mulder?” She circles his waist with her arms.

“Oh, c’mon, Scully; don’t tell me you haven’t noticed how he looks at you! He just about drools—ok, Skinman probably wouldn’t ‘drool’, he’d probably ‘leer’ very sternly.”

Scully is laughing; a devil-may-care-to-he!!-with-them-all laugh that Mulder rarely witnesses. He laughs easily with her.

He steps back and brings her to his side, his arm around her shoulder, her arm around his waist. They walk to the edge of the patio.

“So where’d you get this little outfit, Scully?” <And I wish I’d seen it earlier!> Scully is wearing a simple , ruby-colored, cotton knit tee dress that falls just above her knees. “It’s been around Mulder, but it’s not exactly my usual office attire.”

He takes her hand and they head out to the beach. With the exception of the half moon hung low over the water, there is little light anywhere.

Scully smiles; the fleece blanket is back, along with a couple of large, square cushion, pillows and another large throw. <Someone’s been busy…> she thinks.

His ability to plan out his fantasies to the most minute detail never ceases to amaze and delight her.

They sit on the blanket facing each other.

“So, what do you think will happen to Baines, Mulder?”

“I think they’ll make Ritter spend some time with him; cruel and unusual punishment for one so deserving.”

“It’s tragic that those patients risked losing so much to someone who cared so little for their lives, Mulder.”

“Yeah, it is. Ever wonder how we do this day in day out when all that seems to come of it is hurt, pain and social injustice, Scully?”

“I try to focus on the reason we do this. Then, I try to find something or someone to take it from me.” She turns around until her back is to him and slides closer to him. She reaches her hand back to signal him to open his legs so she can sit between them. She leans back against him and he encircles her in his arms. Her body is bracketed by Mulder’s. She leans her head back against his chest, feeling the warmth radiate. For several timeless minutes they’re breathing exists in unison. Mulder rests his chin in her hair and then kisses her.

He whispers into her ear, “If I were to use my judgment right now, Scully, do you know what I would do?”

“Yes, Mulder, I think I do.”

His tongue slips into her ear gently, sending wave-like ripples of warmth from her ears and south… He then whispers into her ear, murmuring her name until she is beginning to squirm in his arms. He hears and feels her sigh and whimper.



“Kiss me, Scully, now.”

She turns sideways, her legs over his leg. He cradles her in his arms and leans toward her upturned face. She licks her own lips and then his; first his lower, then his upper lip. He parts his lips to allow her tongue to move inside his mouth.

His hand moves along her hip, his mouth covering hers. A low, almost-growl escapes him sending vibrations through them both.

Scully breaks the connection and murmurs, “Mulder, I think you have an angel on your shoulder, but the devil on those lips of yours.”

His voice low and throaty, he says with mock surprise, “Is that a problem, Scully?”

She smiles just before she places her hands on his face, drawing him closer.

When their faces are but mere inches apart, she whispers in response, “No, Mulder, not a problem.” She kisses his mouth. The kiss begins sweetly; it languishes; it moves beyond ‘sweetness’.

Mulder tells himself to pull back, to ‘read’ Scully’s reaction before continuing. Try as he might, he cannot pull away from the taste of her lips. As if intuiting his intentions, Scully runs her tongue over his lips and briefly pulls back.

“Mulder, I need—I want—you, more”, she pants.

Mulder has the response he needs. His hand moves to her hip. He runs it along her dress, moving the dress up a little higher each time, but stopping before it reaches higher than mid-thigh. “Why, Scully; I don’t think there’s anything under this dress…”

Scully’s hands are underneath Mulder’s shirt, leaving sparking trails along his skin when she says, “I must have forgotten a few things in my haste to join you, Mulder.”



Title: Regaining Perspective & Judgment: She Said/He Said

Setting: Past: Hilton Head, South Carolina, Present: Washington, DC

Summary: Mulder and Scully have to sort out the results of their time at the International Law Enforcement Conference

Rating: PG and NC-17

Author: Nancy. Feedback wanted.

Email me:

FBI EAP (Employee Assistance Program-Counseling) Office, Session 1, Present Time.

FBI Counselor: So, Agent Scully, tell me what happened.

Scully: I’m still not sure exactly what went wrong when. Wait a minute, let me change that. I am sure that Mulder made me look and feel like an a$$ in front of colleagues and trashed whatever we had started to discover about each other; our relationship.

I’ll probably kill him unless someone takes away my license to carry my weapon. Heck, who needs a weapon; I’ll use my bare hands! Guess that would mean I actually have to see and talk to him. Not a chance.

FBI Counselor: Tell me more about what you’re feeling. I’m sensing some hostility?

Scully: I wonder if I’d be this angry—did I say ‘angry’? It’s probably more a combination of angry, bereft and sad. I truly thought we had something significant going for us.

FBI Counselor: When you say, ‘him’, I take it you’re referring to Agent Mulder?

Scully: Yes.

FBI Counselor: Tell me about him.

Scully: <smiles wistfully, blushes> He is playful to my serious; emotion to my reservation; passionate to my skeptical. We are yin and yang; two pieces of the same whole. Independent; yet desperately intertwined, symbiotic.

FBI Counselor: Tell me about your relationship with him.

Scully: Mulder allowed me to drop my barriers; at my own pace. Well, almost always at my own pace. Sometimes, it was more like he pushed them in. Encouraged the exploration of feelings I had sublimated far too long. God, I even stopped saying, “fine, whatever” to him!

He had started to show me just how vast our physical connection could be. That man is a walking “More Joy of Sex”. <Eyes lowered, cheeks flush> He humanizes those bull-like, pseudo-men in his video collection. He is caring and rakish; bold and soft; animalistic and tender; a study in contrasts. I cannot remember another man who has put aside his own needs for mine more.

All that aside, I am so angry I see stars, but I want him in the worst way.

FBI Counselor: You ‘want’ him. What does that mean, exactly, Agent Scully?

Scully: It means more than one thing, I guess. First of all, I want him to apologize to me.

Second, I just ‘want’ him—badly.


FBI Counselor: Tell me why you’re here, Agent Mulder.

Mulder: I’m not sure; maybe because Skinner said I needed to be here. Ok; I guess we caused a scene or two. We did work it out, though. So, I’m not sure why I still need to be here.

FBI Counselor: Honesty is a good sign, Agent. But, I think AD Skinner wanted to make sure you two are back on the right track professionally.

Mulder: Hmmpf..

FBI Counselor: Ok; let’s move past the specific reason you’re here. Tell me what happened between you and Agent Scully that caused Skinner to suggest you need to see me.

Mulder: First, it was the damm conference, then it was the damm train. Ok, ok, I’m not helping any, am I? As usual, she lept to conclusions that only looked like what she thought they were. She refused to let me explain. She let me have it verbally. If I hadn’t restrained her hands, she would have let me have it with them, too.

FBI Counselor: Describe your relationship with Agent Scully prior to this, uh, ‘incident’.

Mulder: <smiles ear-ear> Great! I mean, we had just come off of several days of shared vacation spent together followed by an undercover assignment in New Hampshire. We got to spend more time together while on assignment. We were finally beginning to take our almost 7-year relationship to a new level. She had let me get quite close to her; emotionally and intimately. And, we were probably tired before that conference, too.

FBI Counselor: So, I repeat, what do you think went wrong for the two of you?

Mulder: Well, if you ask her—

FBI Counselor: I’m asking you.

Mulder: But she sees it differently.

FBI Counselor: I realize that, Agent Mulder. Tell me what you think went wrong and why. Her Counselor will ask her for her version.

Mulder: <Pause > What probably went wrong was that she thought the attention I paid to a few fellow Agents eroded our relationship.

FBI Counselor: Agent Mulder? How about you let me be the psychologist and you be the client?

Mulder: Right, yeah, ok! What went wrong was that when she got upset, I laughed at her upset. We ended up hurling every name we could remember or manufacture, at each other.


Two Weeks Ago: Skinner’s Office, Friday 8:30A

“Agents, come in. I have just finished reading your report from the New Hampshire case.

I must admit, I’m a bit surprised. Your reports actually indicate very little difference of opinion on the outcome. Do you have an explanation?”

Scully sits very still. Mulder squirms only slightly.

“Well, Sir, it was a pretty direct case. We just put our minds to it and worked very hard.

We were very conscious of wanting to bring it home without a lot of bills to the department.”

“Ok, Mulder, you can drop the bs. Maybe Scully can offer a better theory?”

“Sir, I honestly support Agent Mulder’s assessment in every way.”

Skinner is stumped, but nonetheless pleased that the higher ups will have their resolution.

He does wonder about this new found connectedness between his star Agents (ok; one star, one who is brilliant and often needs to be reigned in.).

Skinner continues, “And the Ritter involvement? How did that resolve itself. I don’t see any mention of it in your report.”

Mulder looks as if he would like to respond. Scully feels the need to give Skinner an honest, direct, assessment. “Well, Sir, he clearly had an agenda other than the resolution of the case. However, in the end, he performed as you would expect him to; he redeemed himself.”

“Agent Mulder? You look like you disagree with Agent Scully’s assessment?”

Mulder is clearly torn. He knows Scully is right. He also worries that such a ‘glowing report’ could partner Ritter with them again in the future; a burden too heavy for Mulder.

“No Sir, I do not.”

“Well, then. I’d love to tell you that I had another case for you, but the main reason I called you here was to tell you about your next situation.” Skinner clamps down on his jaw, setting it in his determined face. He is about to share some information he knows will not set well.

“I’m sending you two to Hilton Head for the ILEA Conference for the next week. You leave on Saturday out of Dulles—”

Before Skinner can finish the details, the Agents have geared themselves for an argument;even if it is for different reasons. Scully begins, “Sir, we’ve just come off a rather intense case. There’s probably a lot of administrative catching up to do?”

“Nice try, Agent, but the International Law Enforcement Conference happens only once every two years. There will be representation for all facets of Law Enforcement from all corners of the world. This is our chance to shine.”

Mulder is anxiously waiting to slip in his ploy, “Sir, you know that conferences aren’t really my forte. Wouldn’t I best be utilized in some other capacity?”

“As I was saying, you leave Saturday. You’ll be sharing a suite at the Hilton Head Towers. The last part of the conference is a train ride back to DC. All Agents who head home out of Dulles will accompany you. Call it a little ‘team building’. There will be a few required activities.”

“If we have to start building with office furniture, I may have to pull the emergency stop, Scully.”

“Agents, I don’t want to hear any more resistance. It’s a done deal.”


EAP Office, Session 1, Continued, Present Time

FBI Counselor: So, tell me about this conference. The way you mentioned it sounded like you had mixed emotions about going. Is that correct?

Scully: Mixed emotions, yes, that sounds right. Ok; I’m not big on conferences, but I never mind going. It’s a great way to stay on top of the latest developments, do some networking and catch up with friends. It’s just that I was tired after the undercover assignment and…

FBI Counselor: And, what?

Scully: And, there was still the unresolved relationship to deal with.

FBI Counselor: The unresolved relationship between you and Agent Mulder? You almost make it sound like a task to complete. Is that an accurate read, Agent?

Scully: Yes, my relationship with Agent Mulder. I don’t mean to make it sound like a task. It’s just that we were like the tortoise and the haire; he running quickly to somewhere or something and then stopping quickly at an undefined ‘end’ or ‘finish’. Me, checking out the plan along the way; probably heading to the same place, but getting their differently. It was taking a lot of my energy. With Agent Mulder, there are so many levels of complexity. I often find myself enjoying that about him, but there are times I’d really like us to just decide what our relationship is.

FBI Counselor: Was that a good thing; that it was taking a lot of your energy?

Scully: <smiles unconsciously> Um, yeah. Like I said yesterday, Mulder had allowed me to take down some fences. He sense of playful teasing and testing was driving me over the edge. I’d gladly go back there right now. If I could get over being so damm angry at him.

FBI Counselor: Agent Scully? You do know that there’s a fine line between opposites? Love and hate. Anger and joy. You get the picture?

Scully: Yes; oh yes.


Mulder: So, how many more of these ‘little talks’ do we need to have?

FBI Counselor: As many as it takes, Agent Mulder. Now, do you mind if I ask a few questions?

FBI Counselor: So, tell me about this conference. The way you talk about it almost sounds as if you didn’t want to go.

Mulder: That would be because I didn’t want to go. I detest those sorry excuses to waste time away from my job to pretend I like playing nice with others. Oh, yeah, you learn a few new things, run into some former college buddies, get trashed, but other than that, WASTE OF TIME.

FBI Counselor: What would you have been doing during that time if you didn’t have to attend?

Mulder: I would have been working on X-Files and I would have been spending more time with Scully; not necessarily in that order…

FBI Counselor: Spending time with Scully?

Mulder: Did you lose your sense of hearing, Sir? YES; spending time with her. We were at a turning point in our relationship. I had finally admitted to myself that I love her; love her enough to risk my job with the Bureau—just checking, but these sessions are confidential unless I give you serious reason to believe I’m a threat to myself or others, right?

FBI Counselor: Yes.

Mulder: Ok, then. I think she was telling me, in her own way, that she loves me, too.

Getting to the point of actually telling each other; talking about our feelings, isn’t always easy for us.

New Hampshire actually let us play more together. It was exciting playing our new roles and discovering where our true selves differed from and merged with our covers.

FBI Counselor: So, what happened to all of that?

Mulder: ILEA! The damm conference. Ok, truth be told, the conference was only the setting for the disaster.

FBI Counselor: Now, we’re getting somewhere, Agent.

Mulder: I know; I’m the one who said it. Anyway, the influx of so many other people with us day and night made things hectic. I guess that wouldn’t have been so bad, we’re used to being thrown into new and hectic situations on a routine basis. I just think it was the identity of those people that was our downfall.


Two Weeks Ago; Saturday Morning, Dulles Airport

“I’ll still can’t believe it, Scully! Who invented the conference idea, anyway? Certainly not someone who had any interest in preserving individual sanity.”

Scully hooks her hand through the crook in Mulder’s bent arm as they walk along the concourse with their carry-ons. She smiles and replies to him, “Mulder, give it a rest; ok? I know how much you hate going to these workshops, but we’ve got no choice.

Seeing we’re in the airport, we’re half-way there already. Besides, we get to spend some more time with each other, right?”

Mulder stops them and looks over at Scully with that ‘layers’ deep’ smile of his that said a little bit and a whole lot more. “Hmmm, more time together. Ok; I can do that, Scully, yes I can.” Before she has chance to respond or reflect, he is guiding them toward their Gate. Scully finds it a little hard to walk with her knees about to buckle underneath her.

<When am I going to get used to the reaction that smile causes?> +++

EAP, Session 2, Current Time

FBI Counselor: So, Agent Scully, your trip started out on a good note?

Scully: Yeah, it did <a very good note>. He has that effect on me.

FBI Counselor: If he ‘has that effect’ on you, why didn’t it help you through whatever happened at the Conference?

Scully: I don’t know, actually. We’ve had our ups and downs over our entire working relationship. You know how it is in our profession.

FBI Counselor: Tell me ‘how it is’, Agent.

Scully: Intense; sometimes brutal. Sometimes you’re partners, best friends, confidantes, sometimes the sheer drudgery, the evil you see, the long hours that turn into days, sometimes you grate on each other, fuses burn hot and short, emotions run icy and steamy, you set each other off.

FBI Counselor: But you cope?

Scully: Yes, we have, for the most part. There have been other times where we’ve coped well and some not-so-well. Usually those not-so-well occur when one us of shuts the other out.


FBI Counselor: Agent, tell me how you and your partner cope with the life of Bureau Agents; the day-in/day-out tediousness, the ups and downs.

Mulder: Usually pretty well. Scully and I were thrown together against our will. From the start, a bad dynamic almost won out. Had we not been the people we are, our partnership could have been tragic. We learned to trust one and other; talk to one and other, complete one and other.

FBI Counselor: Tell me about the ‘trust’.

Mulder: It’s very simple and basic, I trust her with my very life.

FBI Counselor: Does she trust you?

Mulder: Yes.

FBI Counselor: What evidence do you have, Agent?

Mulder: Now you sound like her. ‘What evidence do I have?’ How about the fact that she’s opened up to me, revealed some of her fears, her anxieties, her deepest desires? How about the shared life experiences we’ve had; her abduction, her cancer, the deaths of her father, her sister, my father, my mother; we’ve been there for each other through all of those.

FBI Counselor: You also said you “complete one and other”. What’s that about?

Mulder: <fidgeting> I’m not sure exactly how to explain it; it’s just a gut feeling. Ok, ok, an example. We can be working on separate tasks in the office and I’ll think about needing to do something. Before I can actually plan to do it, Scully will be assisting me.

Does that sound strange? Yup; probably does. Anyway, it goes deeper to; on an emotional level. We’re just very connected to each other. <smiles wistfully>

FBI Counselor: So, what changed?

Mulder: If I knew the answer to that, I wouldn’t be here.


Saturday Noon, Hilton Head, ILEA Conference Site

“Mulder, I’ve never seen so many suits, badges and briefcases in my life! And, they’re all in one place. We all look interchangeable.”

“Yeah, you did say this would be a good time, Scully. Now I know why! But look, we’re not all the same. Some of ‘us’ have shiny badges and we don’t.” Mulder laughs as they head into the hotel lobby to register.

The weather is very warm and somewhat humid. Scully can’t wait to change her clothes.

They have a day before the Conference begins. She plans to enjoy it… Mulder tells Scully to feel free to sit and relax and he goes to check in for them. They have a suite on the penthouse floor. <Boy, auditing will have a field day with this trip.> Other Special and Field Agents from the national and international Bureaus are starting to arrive. Scully also spots a wide range of Police, Security Officers and Guards.

Mulder is also checking out the crowds; wondering who he might run into. As if someone has read his mind <and decided to be vengeful>, he spots Ritter. <Oh, god; not again.> Mulder quickly looks away; <if I don’t see him, he doesn’t see me.> Mulder gives the Bell Captain their room number and goes to find Scully. She is over by a large window facing the street. She is sitting in a over-stuffed, club chair with her feet on an ottoman, her shoes kicked off. She is leaning back, eyes almost closed.

Mulder squats down behind her and quickly kisses the top of her head. He then stands and smiles at her. “How can you just veg out here, Scully, in the midst of the teeming masses?”

Scully slowly stands up and puts her shoes back on. “Mulder, it’s all about self-control and the ability to contemplate only what you choose to focus on.”

“And just what were you focusing on that produced that serenely happy face, Scully?”

“Hmmm, I’ll never tell. Let’s go check out our room.”

They walk through the lobby that sports, “Welcome ILEA Conference. Hilton Head is Happy You’re Here” banners. They nudge their way through the crowds to a bank of elevators with no one waiting.

The elevator cars that take hotel guests to the Penthouse have a glass wall that overlooks an atrium lobby with fica and palm trees and exotic flowers. Scully walks to the window wall and places her hands on the railing as she looks down. Mulder comes to stand behind her, a hand on each side of hers on the railing.

“You still haven’t told me what you were thinking back there, Scully.”

“You’re right, Mulder.”

He leans into her a little more closely. The doors open on the 15th floor and two adults and 6 children walk on. Scully elbows Mulder gently, asking him to break contact.

The children vary in age from 2-15. The younger children really want to look out of the window wall. They ‘indicate’ their desire by nudging Mulder and Scully away.

The two year old grabs a handful of Scully’s skirt hem and tugs on it until she looks down and smiles. “Molly wanna see, lady.” Scully laughs. She turns toward the parents and asks if she can lift the little girl up for a better view. They say ‘yes’. Scully picks up the little girl who is small for her age. “Nice to meet you, Molly.” She is pointing and talking; sometimes looking at her, sometimes merely babbling and pointing. At the 23rd floor, her parents call her name. She claps her small hands and smiles at Scully. Her parents then take her and they depart; five other children following and chatting.

“Only three more floors to our suite, Scully.” Mulder smiles mischievously. She returns the mischievous look. He hits the “stop” button and comes up behind her again. She is looking down over the canopy of vegetation. Mulder once again presses against her.

Without turning around to face him, Scully asks, “At the risk of sounding very trite, Mulder, is your service weapon in the wrong place today or are you just ‘extremely’ glad to be standing behind me?” Mulder moves his hips against her in response.


The Penthouse Suite

“Mulder, this is unbelievable; isnt it? Look at the size of this and this is only the living room/dining room area. We’ve got a view of the ocean, too.” Scully is wandering around, narrating as she goes, “Oh, my; my bedroom is obscenely huge. It looks larger than my apartment! Check out the bathroom, too.”

Mulder walks into the bathroom where she is standing by the sunken tub with a window wall to the ocean. He then runs across the common living area to his room. While it is very nice, it pales in comparison to Scully’s; and he tells her so.

“Hey, Scully, how come you get the bigger room? My bathroom doesn’t have an ocean view, either.”

She walks up to him and places the palm of her hand on his polo shirt. She smiles sweetly at him and whispers, “Because, Mulder.” She then heads back into her room to unpack.

Mulder is already watching the ‘hotel channel’. “Scully, did you know the Penthouse has its own pool on the roof? Should we go for a swim?”

Scully walks out of her room, holding up her one piece bathing suit. “We were thinking alike, Mulder. Last one dressed gets thrown in.”


Hilton Head Penthouse Pool, Saturday They find two lounge chairs close to the pool and drop their towels onto the chairs.

“Scully, I was dressed first, so I guess that means you go in first?” Mulder is entirely too excited about the prospect.

<How is it that such simple things seem to bring him such pleasure?>

“Mulder, that was just a taunt; it wasn’t meant to be taken literally.” Scully is backing away from her chair as she speaks. Mulder, in no hurry, follows her.

“Well, Scully, you should be more careful about your ‘taunts’. They can be misinterpreted.

Misinterpretations can lead to unexpected results. You know that, don’t you?”

Scully’s bathing suit wrap is starting to slide as she breaks into a run. She grabs it and hastily re-ties it at her hip. There really isn’t very far to go as the pool area is intimate.

Mulder does not need to run to catch her.

She has backed herself up to the food service counter. The staff are presently serving other guests around the pool, so the area is empty.

Mulder approaches Scully, his look unreadable. She attempts to move either to her right or left, but he has effectively blocked her exit.

“Scully, Scully, ‘nowhere to run to baby, nowhere to hide’, huh?” He sings as he walks up to her and unceremoniously picks her up, placing her facedown over his shoulder. His arms are wrapped around her backside and thighs; holding her to him. She is trying hard to display anger, but the close contact with Mulder’s body is sending extreme messages coursing through her. None of those extreme messages are even close to anger…

“Mulder, put me down!” She is pounding his back and hips with her fists and kicking her sandaled feet. She is yelling and laughing.

“Scully, I will put you down; we’re almost there. I do think that it would be a good idea if you stopped kicking just a little though. You’re going to injure me, if you know what I mean.” Mulder’s voice is playful, but calm. He runs one hand down the back of her legs, raising goosebumps on her skin and causing her to wriggle and writhe in his grasp.

Scully stops kicking, realizing the injury she can cause… She does not stop pommeling him.

When he reaches the side of the pool, he slips her sandals off and lets them drop. He unties her wrap and in one strong pull, it is with her sandals.

Scully resorts to pleading and begging, “Mulder, can’t we just swim together? Why don’t you just put me down and I’ll walk in, I promise. What if it’s cold, Mulder?”

Mulder is laughing so hard he’s afraid Scully will end up in the water simply because he will lose control over his muscles. “Scully, you’re going in all right, but ‘walking in’ isn’t one of your options. And, whining doesn’t become you, G-Woman.”

Plop! Rings of waves of water disperse from where Scully hits the water with a loud,

“Muuullllldddeeerr!!!” Mulder is not far behind her.

Scully is just surfacing, sputtering water and inappropriate public epithets. Mulder swims over to her and pushes her wet hair from her face. <God, is there any setting where this woman isn’t gorgeous?> “Scully, relax, the water’s good for your everyday stresses.”

Scully is having none of his attempts to relax her ‘everyday stresses’. As a matter of fact, she would love to dunk her most current ‘everyday stress’. She dives under water and comes up behind Mulder. She pushes down on his shoulders as hard as she can. With the buoyancy, she is having some difficulty trying to shove him under. She succeeds.

However, a surprise can only work once… Mulder reaches behind him and grabs one of her ankles. He pulls her around and toward him. She is pushing against the water with her arms, trying to move herself in the opposite direction. At some point, she realizes that is not what she ‘really’ wants to do.

She finds herself literally wrapped around Mulder; arms around his neck, legs around his waist. The water is warm, the air is humid, their bodies are electric.

Ever conscious of the fact they are in a very public pool where colleagues could surface at any time, they make every attempt to confine their actions to their location. It is not easy. “Mulder, I don’t know whether I want to kiss the life out of you or beat the crap out of you right now. And, that’s just for starters.”

Mulder chastely kisses her mouth. “Scully, I choose door #1 and a lot more right now.”

He reaches his hands from her waist to her hips and pulls her closer to him. She takes one hand from his neck and moves it lower, in between them. Her hand illicits a low growl from Mulder as his body moves of its own accord, coming closer to hers.

She then lays back in the water, her legs still around his waist. He runs his hands along her abdomen and up toward the very low-cut neckline of her suit. His gesture raises the fabric of her suit.

Sputtering for breath, she says, “Mulder, I think we should swim separately for a few minutes and then get out of here.”

Mulder swears he can see steam whisps rising off the water’s surface.


Sunday Morning, ILEA Conference Keynote Speaker, Hilton Auditorium

“Awww, c’mon, Scully. Can’t we just stay here and read the paper and have breakfast and go back to bed and…” Mulder’s attempts at whining are not convincing Scully that they can avoid the keynote speaker. She knows that Skinner will want documentation of their attendance. The brief description of the speaker in the Conference Schedule book will not suffice.

“Get a move on, Mulder. Pretend this is something you’ve fantasized about; like —you pick it. That ought to get you ‘up’ and out!” Scully playfully slaps his butt and disappears back into her bedroom to grab her handbag and Conference materials.

Mulder reappears ready to go. “Up on the roof…” He’s singing at the top of his lungs, mugging it up, his hand held like a microphone. “What got you going, Mulder?”

“Oh, I don’t know, Scully, must be your words of encouragement—and that slap on my a$$!”

Scully grabs the lapel of his jacket and they head down to the auditorium.

As they walk in and take a seat in the back (Mulder wants an aisle seat incase they’re ‘called away’), they scan the crowds, looking for people they know.

“Hey, Scully, I think I spotted your boyfriend from that vampire case down South. Yeah, it is him, Sheriff Lucius Hartwell. Maybe I should call him over to visit with us. I’m sure you’d like to reminisce, huh?” Mulder tries to stand up to get the Sheriff’s attention.

Scully plants her heel into his instep, immediately causing him to sit back down; hard.

“Mulder, I can run into him later; ok? Let’s look at the list of attendees in the Program Book. Much easier than hoping to spot people.”

Scully opens her Book, but Mulder grabs it from her. “I’ll read it to you, Scully.”

Mulder starts down the list, trying to pick out names they both know.

“Hmmm, Colton, Colton, where do I know that friendly name from, Scully?”

Scully looks over at Mulder expectantly. She says nothing.

“Ok, moving on then. Oh, look, it is Sheriff Hartwell; he’s listed right here. I didn’t know his middle name is ‘Boone’; Lucius Boone Hartwell!”

“Ok, Mulder, that’s enough out of you. Give me my Program Book back. It’s my turn to read some names I’m sure are in there.” She reaches for the Book, but Mulder puts it on the seat to his right. “Later, Scully, the speaker is about to begin. God, I just love being here, ready to soak in all this new-found knowledge.”

Scully playfully jabs him in the ribs with her elbow, silencing him. As the speaker begins, Scully finds herself glancing around the auditorium, trying to make out faces of people they know. It’s hard since Mulder chose the back row, all she gets to see is the back of heads. Then, as she looks to her right to see who else is in their aisle, her gaze stops at Mulder. He’s looking at her, too. She raises an eyebrow in question. He raises his back, then looks toward the speaker. He takes her hand in his and rests it on his leg.

She doesn’t turn toward him again, but she does smile. The fact that the simplicity of Mulder’s touch can stir her emotions so deeply seeps into her.


Penthouse Café, Lunchtime, Sunday

“Mulder, we should be socializing with our fellow Law Enforcement colleagues.” Scully puts her salad down on the umbrella table and sits down. Mulder joins her with his burger and fries.

“Scully, why would I want to do that? Let me count the reasons for you: 1. They’ll just call me ‘Spooky’, 2. They’ll call you ‘Mrs. Spooky’, 3. They’ll bust on me about aliens and 4. I won’t get to spend any alone time with you.” He bites into his freshmade, but still greasy, burger.

“Mulder, people have always referred to us as Mr. and Mrs Spooky; that’s never bothered us before, and, you love ‘aliens’ and, we have been spending time alone together. Now, I found another Program Book and I’m going to look to see what evening activities they have that we can attend. Don’t give me that look of yours; it’s not going to work.” She opens the Program Book as she takes another forkful of salad.

Mulder sighs visibly when he realizes she isn’t looking for the list of Conference attendees.

“Hey, look at this, Mulder. There’s a Dance Party the last night we’re here. We have to dress up for it.”

“What kind of Dance Party, Scully? I’m NOT doing another John Travolta imitation, although, I must admit I was pretty good, huh? Scully?”

Scully looks up at him and tilts her head to one side, ‘seeing’ something Mulder doesn’t.

“Hmmm.” Is all she says. Mulder stops eating. “What are you thinking, Scully. I know that look; something’s up.”

“Well, Mulder, to answer your very first question, it’s a ‘Hot Salsa Night’ Dance Party.

And, to answer your second question, I was picturing you dressed for this party.”

“Scully, that wasn’t my second question! I wanted to know how good I was as Travolta at that Disco.”

Scully pauses and smiles. “Mulder, for someone who wasn’t even invited, you were amazing. Feeling better, now are we?”

“Ok, not, tell me just how you were picturing me dressed for this one.”

“Ok, starting at the top; a very carefully disheveled head of hair, a nice, open down to here black, shirt and some ‘barely-room-to-move-in’ leather pants.” Scully is quite surprised by two things. The look on Mulder’s face and the heat she knows is showing on hers.

“Whoa, Scully, down girl! Remember lunch? Salad? Give me the Program Book and no one gets hurt. We’ll talk about this later, ok?” Mulder is surprised at how ‘into’ it Scully is. Actually, he’s pleasantly surprised. He’s dying to find some tight, black leather pants; in a hurry!


Private Musings; Program Break Time, Sunday afternoon

Mulder is trying to decide which session to attend in the second afternoon time slot. He really wants to go with Scully, but Skinner likes it better when his Agents split up and cover more ground. They then come back to DC with information to share with all Agents.

He’s walking out of the Men’s Room, flipping through the Book when he bumps into someone. Without looking up, he mumbles and apology and tries to move on. A hand reaches up to his Book and pulls it down.

“Hello, Fox. I thought I saw your name in the Book. Shall we?” Phoebe Green leads Mulder over to an alcove of lounge chairs. People are coming and going all around them, but Phoebe acts is if they are the only two people in that area.

“It’s been a while, Mulder. What, 6 years?” She flashes her eyes at him, batting long eyelashes his way. She has one hand on his.

He gently extricates himself from her touch. “Yes, Phoebe, it’s been 6 years. Six years since the fire and the little fiasco.”

She doesn’t miss a beat as she continues. “So, how is that mousey partner of yours? Gotten an injection of backbone yet or is she just following you around, panting over you.

It was pathetically obvious from the first time I met her that—”

Scully turns around and heads in the other direction before she has a chance to be seen.

She has seen and heard enough.

“That’s about enough, Phoebe. Now, I came here to learn something new, so it’s a colossal waste of my time to rehash old information with you.” Mulder stands to leave.

Phoebe isn’t ready for him to do so. “I’m sorry, Fox. I guess I’m a little jealous of the hold she has on you; something I couldn’t seem to produce.”

“Phoebe, you talk about what we had like the game it was for you. What Scully and I have is not like that. Ah, he!!, what am I doing trying to compare you to her? I’ll see you around.” Mulder drops her hand from his and walks away. He’s glad Scully wasn’t here.


Scully, now well away from the scene with Phoebe and Mulder, is on her way to a session on “Women in Forensics”. She is angry. She is moving quickly through the throngs of people who are chatting in between sessions. As she moves around a group of people, she hears a familiar voice. She pauses for a moment and then moves on.

At that point, the ‘familiar voice’ breaks from the group he was talking with and approaches her. “Dana? Dana, wait. It’s me, Tom.” Tom Colton walks up to Scully somewhat shyly. Scully looks as if she is going to turn and leave. She does not want to talk to Tom and she is far too angry to even consider the possibility.

He stops her. “Don’t go, Dana. I owe you a big apology.”

“Yeah, you do, Tom. But actually, I grew tired of waiting for it during the first year it was due. So, if you’ll excuse me?” Her comments come out harshly. She sees the reaction her tone of voice has on him and somewhat regrets her brashness.

“No, wait, Dana, I—” As Tom begins to explain, a voice comes over the speakers,

“Conferees, please move toward your last session now.”

“Maybe later, Tom. I really want to get to this session.” She moves away. Tom stands there looking upset.


Penthouse Suite; Sunday Night

Mulder walks into the suite and finds Scully sitting on the large sofa by the window. He plops down beside her. She has the Program Book in her hands and appears to be reading intently. She doesn’t look up as he joins her.

With her eyes still on the Book, she asks, “So, Mulder, meet anyone interesting today?”

Mulder, not yet sure exactly what she’s referring to says, “No; what about you?”

Scully slowly looks up at him and says, “Actually, yes, I did run into someone between sessions.” She is not going to give him more until he explains why he didn’t share the names of the attendees with her this morning or the fact that he talked to Phoebe. She closes the Book in her lap and turns toward him, arm across the back of the sofa. Mulder fidgets slightly.

“Are you sure you didn’t run into anyone, Mulder? I mean this Book seems to have names of quite a few people we both know.”

Mulder, given the chance to tell Scully about running into Phoebe,and, unaware that she witnessed half of the conversation, again tells her ‘no’.

“Well, I ran into Tom Colton.” She stands and heads for her room.

Mulder is up in a flash and he follows her. “You don’t mean Mr. Tough Guy Colton, do you? I mean, he was supposed to be friend of yours, Scully. Turned out to be a real a$$, huh?”

“Tom hasn’t changed, Mulder, if that’s what you mean. I just find it strange that with all the people we both know, you haven’t seen anyone yet…”

A silent war is erupting in Mulder’s head. If he tells Scully right now that he saw Phoebe, she’ll only be slightly angry. She already knows Phoebe is here (he’s sure she was reading the Attendees list when he walked in.) and she’s pretty sure he has to have seen her. She’ll be angry because he denied it. If he waits any longer, she’ll be angry about Phoebe and extremely angry that he lied to her for so long. The war continues and he’s fast becoming a member of the losing side… Before he can give more thought to his next statement, he blurts, “It’s not all that strange, Scully, there are so many people here, so many choices of sessions, it would be statistically possible to never run into one person you know.”

“Guess I blew those stats right out of the water, huh, Mulder?”

Scully decides not to press the issue any farther at this point. However, Mulder’s response, or, rather, lack of sufficient response, has been categorized and filed away for future reference.


Featured Speaker Session, Auditorium, Monday Morning

Once again, crowds are filing into the auditorium. “Mulder, let’s sit a little closer to the front today. I really want to hear what this speaker has to say without all the distraction.”

Mulder looks at Scully questioningly. He attempts light humor first,

“Scully, you don’t want to hide out with me, your brilliant partner? You’d rather get right into the thick of it?” He smiles.

She smiles right back at him. She loves his sometimes feeble attempts to sidetrack her.

She actually plays along with him because she knows it’s all in good intent. Not this time, however.

She holds onto his arm and gives him a disarming smile, “Actually, Mulder, I’m doing this more for you than for me. I remember you saying that you hadn’t yet run into anyone you know. This will be your opportunity.” Mulder swallows; hard.

She leads him to the 4th row, center. The podium on the stage is still empty. The session is titled, “Pulling the Pieces Together: Utilizing Multiple Forms of Investigative Style to Discover the Best Resolution”.

Scully knows that Mulder knows that she knows who the speaker is! Scully wants to watch him squirm; just a little. She’s not all that happy about sitting this close, either… Someone has walked onto the stage and come to the podium, “Excuse me Agents and Officers, can I have your attention for a moment? Our speaker is just about ready to begin this morning’s program. If you would all kindly take your seats?”

Mulder’s private little war is raging. Not only has he seen Phoebe and lost his opportunity to tell Scully, but they’re about to come face-face with another of her not-so-favorite people. He’s pretty sure she has to know who it is. Suddenly, the enemy line meets the resistance head on. <What little game is she playing with me? Ok; so I didn’t tell her I ran into Phoebe and she was very upfront about Colton. What’s she trying to do here? Ok; two can play at this game.> Let the war games resume…

“Scully, are you sure this is close enough? There are a few seats on the stage…”

Scully notices the change in his approach and is somewhat puzzled by it.

“This is fine, Mulder.”

The Program begins. “Good morning Agents, Officers and other law enforcement personnel. I’m very pleased to present to you today an outstanding Agent. This Agent has extensive background and experience internationally. While originally working here in the States, the work has provided an opportunity for world-wide experience and education. I’m sure you’re going to find what she has to say as fascinating as she is!

Without further ado, let me introduce to you, the FBI’s Special Agent Diana Fowley!”

As Diana walks onto the stage, Mulder glances at Scully. Her eyes are straight ahead of her, but he can sense her agitation. It is no secret how she feels about Diana.

Scully is trying to guage Mulder’s reaction, but finds him looking over at her. She keeps her eyes on Diana. Her hair is longer than the last time they met and it is pulled up in a french braid. She is wearing a red pantsuit with a white satin tank underneath. Scully doesn’t remember ever seeing Agent Fowley in bright colors.

As Diana reaches the podium, she briefly scans the audience. As her eyes make their way from the farthest seating to the front rows, she seems to zone right in on Mulder.

She smiles broadly. He turns just slightly less red than her suit. Diana then casts her glance toward Scully. She drops the smile. Scully, however, smiles at Diana.

“Good morning, everyone…” Diana begins her speech. Mulder reaches over and puts his hand on Scully’s leg lightly. She turns to him, her expression blank. Mulder raises his eyebrows and moves his head to one side, suggesting they leave.

Scully smiles at him, looks up at Diana and follows Mulder out of the auditorium.

As they two Agents reach the back of the auditorium, Mulder stops and looks back.

Diana is still watching him, still speaking. Ever the master of duplicity, she manages to imbue her speech with sincere enthusiasm while glaring at Mulder.

They walk outside to the hotel courtyard. They head over to a stone bench under some cypress trees.

“Scully, you knew Diana was the speaker, right?” Mulder continues to just look straight ahead.

“Yes, Mulder, I did.” She turns toward him. “Why?”

“Well, I can’t imagine why you would have made sure we sat so close to her. I know how you feel about her. We could have skipped the session; just as we ended up doing.”

“Mulder, look at me. You’re right, there is no love lost between me and Diana. I guess I was just a little upset that you purposely hid the list of Attendees from me, then made such a big deal about Sheriff Hartwell and Tom Colton. It was obvious you had read Diana’s name and, probably Phoebe’s, too. If I could remember Bambi’s last name, I bet she might be here, too—”

“She’s not, I checked—” Mulder opens and engages his mouth before his brain is fully in gear.

“I’ll just let that slip right on by, Mulder. Bambi’s not a law enforcement agent.

Anyway, I thought we were always upfront with each other. I asked you if you had run into anyone. You said ‘no’ and I guess I should take you at your word. You just seem to be going to great lengths to ‘hide’ something from me. How about an explanation?”

Scully is still looking directly at Mulder.

A few Agents walk by and say hello. Mulder, thankful for the brief respite, says hello back. “Scully, I just don’t like to see you upset. I figured it would be better to just , well—”

“Just ‘lie’ to me, Mulder?”

“No, I mean, well, how about saying I was momentarily ‘truth challenged’? Ok; seriously, Scully, I’m sorry for however it looked. Can we move on?”

Scully hangs her head down and then looks back up at Mulder. “Mulder, promise me that you’ll be upfront and honest with me about whoever you run into? I know you’re not responsible for how I feel about people. Just trust me enough to let me decide how I feel, ok?”



FBI EAP, Session 2, Continued; Current Time

FBI Counselor: It sounds like the first couple of days went well?

Scully: Yes, they did. We did have an initial issue about me finding out about other Agents—wait, no that’s not right. You see, there are some women from Mulder’s past who have this effect on me and—

FBI Counselor: Let’s stop right there. Tell me about these women from Agent Mulder’s past.

Scully: Well, they were colleagues in law enforcement, one with the Bureau, the other from Scotland Yard. They occasionally resurface in his life. Because he and I are partners, that means they appear in my work life, too. It’s complicated. I know Agent Mulder and I aren’t an ‘item’; we’re work partners. I guess it’s just that I expect that they, as fellow women of law enforcement would know how hard it is in a mostly male environment. If they knew, they probably wouldn’t treat me with such disrespect.

FBI Counselor: Is there another reason, aside from the fact that you are all women in law enforcement, that you feel they might treat you the way they do?

Scully: <pause> I think they might be jealous of my relationship with Agent Mulder.

FBI Counselor: Exactly what about your relationship do you think causes their jealousy?

Scully: Well, Agent Mulder had a pretty serious relationship with each of these women.

They seem to think there’s something more to my relationship with him.

FBI Counselor: Ok, we’ll leave it at that for now. So you and he decided to be upfront with each other about running into former colleagues of the opposite sex…

Scully: Yes; we got everything out in the open; or so I thought.


FBI Counselor: So, Agent Mulder, you ran into some former colleagues and Agent Scully exacted a promise from you?

Mulder: Yeah, I ran into two; both women. After Scully found out I had been trying to keep it from her, we agreed to be upfront with each other about meeting up with former colleagues. I guess I just know how upset she gets; especially because I had relationships with both of these women and—

FBI Counselor: Let’s break this down a little more. You were trying to keep Agent Scully from finding out you saw these women because you wanted to protect her. You didn’t want her to become upset because she knew you had relationships with these women. Is that correct?

Mulder: Yes.

FBI Counselor: Are these relationships over?

Mulder: Yes

FBI Counselor: What exactly are you protecting her from?

Mulder: Uhh, that’s what she usually wants to know…

FBI Counselor: All right, now that we know she doesn’t understand why you want to protect her, why don’t you explain it so I’ll know the answer, too.

Mulder: I guess I just feel so responsible for so many things that have happened to her since she became my partner. I truly don’t like to see her hurting, in any way! Is that so bad?

FBI Counselor: Then, why does Agent Scully get upset about these women?

Mulder: Um, well, they have occasionally acted rude her presence.

FBI Counselor: And?

Mulder: <swallows, hard> And I had relationships with each of these women.

FBI Counselor: How would you characterize those relationships; then and now, Agent Mulder?

Mulder: The ‘now’ is easy; we no longer have a relationship. ‘Then’ is a little more complicated. Suffice it to say that at the time, with each of these women, it was pretty intense and rather wildly hot. I guess I was experiencing relationship extremes.

FBI Counselor: So, you agreed to keep lines of communication open?

Mulder: Yes.

FBI Counselor: Did it work?

Mulder: For the most part…


Special International FBI Luncheon, Monday, Grand Ballroom

As the Keynote and morning sessions conclude, the Agents make their way to the Grand Ballroom off the hotel’s lobby. The set up includes approximately 50, large, round tables with seating for 10 at each table.

“Where do you want to sit, Scully?” They are both looking around for Agents they recognize. Neither of them is very interested in the social part of the Luncheon.

However, to not attend would look bad for the Washington Home Office.

“Oh, no.”

“What is it, Mulder?”

“It’s those two Agents who started out with us for that Team Building Convention. You remember, the one where I was asked to stop and help the locals with that mossman creature in the woods?”

“You were asked, Mulder?” Scully is standing with one hand on her hip, holding her Program Book. She’s trying to look stern, but isn’t succeeding.

“Ok, maybe I volunteered; they needed my help!”

“You volunteered? How about trying the words tried to take over their investigation just so you could get out of the Convention?”

Mulder smiles sheepishly and steers them clear of the two Agents.

Mulder leans over and whispers to Scully, “Oh, oh, Agent Colton approaching at 12 o’clock.” Mulder looks at Scully to see her reaction. She crosses her arms in front of her body and just stands there; waiting. Mulder turns to go. She stops him with her hand. “No, don’t go, Mulder. I want to see what happens this time.”

Tom Colton approaches the Agents. Mulder is wearing a neutral expression. Scully’s arms are once again crossed in front of her and she is standing slightly in front of Mulder.

“Hello, Dana, Mulder. Are you enjoying the Conference?” Colton looks mostly at Scully, but glances at Mulder briefly.

“Yes, Tom, we are. Look, I’m sorry I was so harsh with you earlier, but I’m not sure what we have to say to each other.” Scully looks at him expectantly.

“Could I talk to you alone for a minute, Dana?” Colton looks as if he’s in pain and his face is turning redder by the minute. Mulder starts to walk away. Scully stops him again.

“Tom, anything you need to say to me can be said in front of Mulder. We don’t keep secrets from each other.” Mulder stands his ground, but keeps the neutral look.

Colton is struggling. Scully does not help him; she waits patiently. “I believe I owe you an apology, Dana.” He lets the words hang in the air, hoping that Scully will bail him out. She simply tilts her head to one side, indicating that she is listening. Mulder is enjoying the interaction between his partner and Colton. <Wish my Advanced Psych class were here to check out this body language!>

“Go on.” Scully keeps her ‘help’ to a minimum.

“Dana, I really wanted us to be able to work together on that case. Regardless of how it turned out, you only proved my point; you are a brilliant Agent. I’ve kept up on your cases and your record; officially and unofficially. I’d like to wipe the slate clean and maybe give our partnership another chance.”

It is starting to get noisey in the Ballroom. Scully motions to both Mulder and Colton to follow her. She leads them to a quieter area just outside the Ballroom.

Colton cannot wait for her reply and, he has no idea what he will get in response…as evidenced by his smile.

Mulder remains silent. Scully is pleased and surprised; he is showing great respect and restraint. She chooses her words carefully because she knows how easy it would be to allow her emotion to rule her response.

“Tom, we started out as friends, maybe even a little more, at one time. I was deeply flattered that you asked for my help so early in our careers; it meant a lot to me. But, you didn’t and still don’t, play fair. All you saw and see is your way over and up on your way to the top. Yes, you’ve got some solid skills and expertise; I’ve checked out your career, too.” Mulder raised his eyebrows; his first visible reaction to the conversation.

“The part I just don’t think you ‘get’ is that I was and still am, very challenged and happy right where I am, doing what I do. It’s quite presumptuous of you to think you can waltz in here, slap on an apology, and then have the nerve to suggest we can be partners now.”

“Dana, it’s just that you have so much to give and—”

Mulder cannot believe the audacity. Colton is assuming that Scully is not working to her potential on the X-Files; with him! He opens his mouth to add his thoughts, but Scully is quicker. “Tom, I think this conversation is at an end.” She starts to walk away. Colton walks in front of her to block her way. “Dana—” Scully pushes past him, furious.

Outward appearances, to those who do not know her, would not give away her thoughts.

Mulder, however, knows exactly what she is thinking. He follows her into the Ballroom and they take seats at one of the back tables. Thankfully, no one they know is sitting there and the table is only half-occupied by others already engaged in conversations.

Scully grabs a glass of water and gulps it down. “Mulder, I can’t believe the gall of that man.” She is speaking in a loud whisper.

“Scully, he’s not even worth your time or effort. It’s clear he just doesn’t get it. He’s thinking selfishly, looking at how he can use you to gain his goals. I know you know that, but you’re too angry to see it right now.”

Scully takes a few deep breaths and appears more relaxed. “I partially blame myself, Mulder. All those years back, I could have just told him that you’d be very much a part of the case no matter what. I didn’t do that.”

“No, you didn’t, Scully. But, it wasn’t your place to do that. He and Blevins were calling the shots and you were doing what good Agents do; assisting and consulting. You went out on a limb to include me and defend me; things you didn’t have to do. Colton is either going to understand that or he’s not; nothing you can do will make any difference.”

“Oh, yeah, Mulder. I could turn around and request a transfer to work with him. That’s what he wants.”

Mulder doesn’t say a word. Scully grabs a roll and some butter. As usual, tacit understanding passes between them without any spoken words.


Monday Night; Penthouse

“Scully, how about if we just stay in and watch TV or something? I really don’t feel like socializing with anyone.”

Scully follows Mulder into the Penthouse. “Not even with me, Mulder?”

“I didn’t mean it that way, Scully. It’s just that it’s easy to just be myself with you.”

They drop their briefcases down on the sofa. “I don’t have to watch what I say or try to figure out what everyone else is going to think once I stick my foot in my mouth.”

Scully smiles. “Sounds good to me, Mulder. It might be nice to actually have some time to ourselves. I’m going to go in and get changed.”

“Need any help, Scully?”

“Mulder; I’ll be out in a bit.”

Mulder tosses his jacket off and removes his tie. He decides to get changed, too. A few minutes later, he comes back into the living room area in his gray tee and sweats. He hears a knock at the door and the water running in Scully’s bathroom.

Mulder opens the door and stares. When he locates his voice, he says,


“Hello, Fox.” She walks past him into the living room. “I had hoped you would have waited after my address this morning, but I saw you being dragged out of the auditorium soon after I began.”

Mulder has not left the door. “Diana, I don’t think you being here is a good idea. We don’t really have anything to talk about.”

“Come now, Fox, relax; it’s me.” She walks over to him at the door and puts a hand on his arm. She leads him back into the living room and over by the window.

The running water has stopped in Scully’s room and all is quiet.

“Fox, this is a great time for us to talk. And, we do have a lot to talk about, you and I. I know we can’t just pick things up right where we left off, but—”

“Diana, we can’t pick things up at all. I thought you knew that. You’re no longer a part of my life and haven’t been for some time, now.”

Diana doesn’t miss a beat and does not seem at all affected by Mulder’s words.

“Fox, you know as well as I do that your life has been nothing but heartache, searching and desperation since we’ve been apart. I can remedy all that.” She places her hand on his shoulder.

Scully has put on her leggings and long tee and is listening by the door as she pins her hair up. She is essentially trapped in her room unless she wishes to become part of the discussion. At this point, she has no desire to tangle with Diana. One overheard conversation with someone from Mulder’s past is more than enough in one day…

“Diana, I don’t know exactly what you think there is to ‘remedy’—” She cuts him off with a finger to his lips.

“You’re going to try to tell me that your deep and profoundly meaningful relationship with your partner has helped you, that you trust her implicitly and possibly, you’re going to somehow believe that you are actually in love with her. What you feel for her, Fox, is obligation and loyalty; nothing more, nothing less. She goes out of her way to tamp down your theories, ignore your brilliance. She does nothing to support you or care for you the way that you know I can.”

Scully is beginning to fume and seethe. While she does not believe that Mulder will fall for any of her lies, she nonetheless wants to remove all of Diana’s hair, one strand at a time and she means all of Diana’s hair. Scully is pacing in her room.

“Diana, I think that’s quite enough. I want you to leave before I say things I won’t even regret anymore. You’ve managed to trash whatever possible relationship we could maintain.”

Scully is quietly routing for Mulder. He is ever the gentleman and goes out of his way to show respect, but Diana is pushing his buttons and Scully can tell Mulder is nearing his boiling point.

“Fox, can you be so blind that you do not recognize how Scully is manipulating you? Playing on your good nature? Are you aware that she is sleeping with another Agent?”

Scully is trying to figure out how to leave her room and not kill Diana. While she is sure of her relationship with Mulder, she is bitterly angry with the lies being spread.

Mulder stops in his tracks. He smiles sardonically at Diana. He cannot believe how low she will stoop to try to reintiate their long-over relationship.

Diana misreads the smile as agreement. “Oh, Fox, you do understand!” She places both arms on his shoulders and moves closer to him.

Scully no longer hears any talking, but can’t see what is happening without giving herself away.

“Diana,” Mulder says as he pulls her hands off of his shoulders, “I won’t listen to anymore Scully bashing. For the record, I have never met anyone like her and probably never will. Far from tamping me down, as you put it, she has encouraged me and supported me. She has been by my side through the best and the worst. She has been sincere and honest with me; integrity is important to her. Something you seem to know so little about. Notice that I will not even dignify your comment about her sleeping with another Agent. You’re leaving now. You’re not coming back.”

Mulder unceremoniously drags her to the door. When he closes it behind her, he leans his back to the door and takes a deep breath. When he opens his eyes, he sees Scully standing barefoot, looking up at him and smiling. How she always seems to know just what he needs, he’ll never know.

“You heard, Scully?”

“Oh, yeah.”


“And, thank you, Mulder.” She walks over to him, stands on her toes and kisses him quickly. “Let’s watch TV and order in, ok?”

Mulder is waiting. This is too good to be true. He’s just had an all-out scene with Diana with Scully in the same area and she’s not fuming at him. It even seems like he did something right!

Scully orders some nachos and beer from room service and turns on the TV. She is flipping through the channels when Mulder sits down beside her.

“Scully, you are amazing, you know that?”

“Mulder, let’s just watch TV right now.” She snuggles into him, still flipping channels.

Mulder takes the remote from her hand and puts it out of her reach. He mutes the sound.

“Scully, what’s going on? You just witnessed a pretty big Diana scene and you’re acting like it happens everyday. Have you been cloned? Where’s my real Scully?”

“Mulder, it’s me; I’m still here. Yes, I heard everything. Yes, she makes me see red and want to inflict major bodily harm in the most wicked of ways. I must admit, she has reached a new low with the comment about me and another Agent. You should have asked her who it is so I could figure out if I’m enjoying myself. I guess the reason that I’m not mad is because I admire the way you stood up to her. And the ‘thank you’ earlier was for the nice things you said about me. I feel the same way about you, Mulder.”

Mulder says nothing initially. He’s much too busy being stunned, surprised and outrageously happy by Scully’s comments.

The nachos arrive and they dig in. Once the nachos are finished and a couple of beers have disappeared, they continue to talk.

“Mulder, hypothetically speaking, how do you suppose two people know how they really feel about each other?” Scully is now sitting on the floor up against the sofa. Mulder is sitting on the sofa next to her.

He pauses thoughtfully. “Well, ‘hypothetically speaking’, aside from each of them simply telling the other, it’s probably obvious from how they behave around one and other. Can they be natural with each other? Can they tell each other anything without fear? What do you think, Scully?”

She turns around toward the sofa to face him. “I think sometimes it’s an unspoken thing that happens when you just find your paths coming together more often than not, when two people are just comfortable around each other, when the occasional tension doesn’t destroy what they have.”

Mulder reaches down and pulls Scully to her knees between his legs.

“Hypothetically, does any of what we’ve both described relate to anyone we know?” His eyes look into her; his hands are firm on her arms as he holds her in place.

“I would say, ‘yes’.” Scully manages to whisper that one response.

Mulder leans down and kisses her mouth. The kiss is, at first, tentative and light. He pulls back and looks again into her eyes. “You do know how I feel about you, don’t you, Scully?”

She answers by initiating the kiss this time. Her arms move around his waist. Her lips press more insistently into his.

He helps her move up onto the sofa, never breaking their connection.

They both silently wonder who or what will conspire to stop this moment from becoming many moments in time strung together. Hopefully, the stars have somehow aligned to allow the moments their due.

Scully is fast becoming breathless. She wonders who has turned the heat up in the Penthouse.

Mulder experiences a tingling sensation that originates somewhere in the center of his being and moves along his nerve endings; an all together pleasant sensation… Scully lands on the remote and the tv volume increases dramatically causing both Agents to briefly pull apart. She finds the remote underneath her and flings it over her shoulder and across the room.

Mulder opens his mouth, closes it and then opens it again as he reconnects with Scully.

She pulls his lower lip between hers and gently sucks on it. The blood is pounding in her head and she feels deliciously dizzy. Mulder pulls her to him until they can feel each others’ hearts pounding.

She maneuvers his long limbs onto the couch underneath her and straddles his legs.

Unwilling and unwanting to break the touch of their lips, she leans forward and kisses him lightly, at first. He pulls away again and whispers in her ear,

“Scully?”. She really does not want to discuss or analyze this moment. All she knows is that she is here where she wants to be, he is beneath her, his warm breath in her ear is sending wave after wave of hot pulses through her body.

Thankfully, it seems as if Mulder understands her lack of verbal response. He slips his tongue into her ear and circles the inner whorls playfully.

She responds, turning her face to his and tracing his lips with her tongue. She parts his lips and her tongue explores his mouth. She is breathing so hard that she is not sure if she is breathing on her own or with him. She can no longer hold herself up; her muscle strength has been drained and transferred to other areas of her body. She lowers herself on top of him, her legs still straddling his hips.

He reaches down with both hands and pulls her hips closer to his and she says his name breathlessly into his mouth. He does not move his hands from her hips.

Their desire to explore each others’ bodies is beyond their ability to control. She sits up again and runs her hands underneath his sweatshirt, trying to pull it over his head.

Mulder, seeing no reason to slow them down, assists her. The sweatshirt lands on the coffee table. The feel of his skin under her palms is almost too hot to touch. She starts to lower herself down once again, wanting to be as close to him as possible.

“No, no, no, Ms. Scully, not ‘that way’.” He says quietly as he pulls her sweatshirt up and off of her. It joins its partner on the coffee table.

Mulder’s chest is rising and receding quickly as he realizes that Scully seems to have forgotten to wear a bra.

Their brief separation from each other chills her and she lowers herself back to Mulder.

“Ohgodohgodohgod…” Mulder is nearly incoherent, the words strung together hoarsely as he feels Scully’s chest against his. He is also thankful he chose to wear sweats… He manages to eek out his last coherent words to Scully, “If you want me to stop, Scully, please tell me now.”

Nearly out of her own skin at this point, she lifts her head. Her face is flushed, her skin is rosey and she is smiling, her hair wildly framing her face. “Mulder, ‘stopping’ is the last thing I would want you to do. Sometimes, things just align and—”. Words fail her.


Tuesday Morning; Going to Sessions?

“Knock, knock, knock.”

“I’ll get it, Scully. It’s probably room service.”

“Room service, Mulder? Skinner’s not going to be happy about that. You know, we could have just gone down the hall to the lounge. They’re serving breakfast in there as part of the room rate.” She smiles as she walks out of her room and into the living room putting her jacket on.

“I know, Scully, but it’s not quite the same as having coffee here; just the two of us.” He wheels the cart into the room, drapes a white linen napkin over his arm and bows, “What can I get you, mademoiselle?”

Scully slides the napkin off his arm, grabs his arm and pulls him down beside her, “You can get me you…”

“Uh, Scully, are you suggesting we blow off this morning’s sessions?”

“I was sort of thinking—”

“Don’t do that, Scully, it gets in the way of the fun stuff.” He pushes her jacket off her shoulders as he kisses her neck. “You smell nice, Scully.”

“Mulder, we probably should attend a session or two; it’s the last day. Besides, we’ve got the dance tonight and the train ride all the way home…” She brings his face back to meet hers and kisses the tip of his nose.

“I’ll see you up here at lunchtime, ok?”

“Oh, Scully, ‘afternoon delight’?”


FBI EAP, Session 3, 1st part, Current Time

FBI Counselor: Agent Scully, this is probably the last of our sessions. I’d like to cover a little more ground today. It sounds as though you and Agent Mulder made some rather strong headway in your personal relationship. Tell me about that.

Scully: <smiling> Well, after talking about keeping our lines of communication open, one of those women showed up at our Penthouse suite. She wasn’t aware that I was in the other room. I was very impressed with how forthrightly Mulder dealt with her and I told him so.

FBI Counselor: And?

Scully: And, that led us into some revelations about our own relationship. We talked for a bit, but frankly, I sometimes tire of having to always be in control and talk everything out. We mutually agreed to just let things take their course that night.

FBI Counselor: Did the evenings course of events go the way you planned?

Scully: I don’t know if I’d say there really was a plan…


FBI Counselor: As this is probably our last session, I’d like to see if we can piece this together. Tell me what happened with you and Agent Scully after you two agreed to keep your lines of communication open.

Mulder: Well, it was almost as if someone were conspiring against me. One of the women Agent Scully reviles most came to visit me. Her sole intent was to persuade me that I belong with her and not with Agent Scully. Scully was in the other room and overheard the entire conversation.

FBI Counselor: What happened?.

Mulder: I basically threw the woman out; tactfully, of course. She had alluded to some rather nasty stuff regarding Scully that I knew was patently a lie. Scully had indeed heard everything and surprised the he!! out of me by thanking me for how I handled the situation.

FBI Counselor: Surprised you, how?

Mulder: In several ways. First of all, she outright told me I handled the woman well.

Secondly, we ended up in this conversation about relationships. Third, well, we got a whole lot closer than we had been in a while.

FBI Counselor: And there was no more reference to your first encounter with the other Agent?

Mulder: No, I think she had put that issue away.


Tuesday Lunchtime

Scully is on her way to the elevator when her cellphone rings. “Scully.”

“Hi, Scully; it’s me.”

“Mulder, you couldn’t wait until I get upstairs? Where are you?”

“I’m in the lobby with someone who wants to say hello.”

Scully looks around. “Where in the lobby are you? I’m in the lobby, too.”

Mulder walks up behind Scully. “I’m right here.” He says into his cellphone.

Scully snaps the phone shut and whirls around on her heel.

“Mulder! Don’t do that! Now, where’s this person—”

“Agent Scully, long time no see. Hope this partner of yours has finally realized what a hot little number you are! Glad I didn’t have to compete with him out in Las Vegas.”

Scully blushes, trying to look angry, but ends up laughing. Mulder is smiling broadly; wondering about Las Vegas.

“Mr. Fletcher—”

“Morris, honey, Morris.”

“Morris, I didn’t realize you’d be here, too. Nice to see you again.”

“Look, for old time’s sake, let me take the two of you to lunch. No, I won’t take ‘no’ for an answer, I insist!” He pats Scully on her backside and extends an arm up and over Mulder’s shoulder. “So Agent Mulder, how’re you liking your waterbed?”

Mulder looks puzzled and looks over and behind Morris at Scully. She just raises her eyebrows and shrugs.


Tuesday Late Afternoon

The crowds file out of the auditorium after the closing speaker. Mulder yawns showing his intense interest in the topic, “Going Forth in the New Millenium as Vital Partners in the Protection of the Community at Large.”

“Scully, do you think they hire the same people who write ‘get well’ cards to title these talks? I could do better, I know it…”

Scully leans closer to him and whispers, “Just get over to the Penthouse elevator right now and don’t say another word.”

It is very easy for them to get to the elevator; the crowds are pressing them forward.

Luckily, only one elevator goes to the Penthouse and it’s private!

As the door opens, the two Agents are propelled into it by the teeming masses waiting to board other cars to their floors.

Mulder’s tie is around his neck and over the back of his jacket. Scully’s hair is falling every which way.

“We’ve escaped with our very lives, Scully! We’re alliiiivvee, Scully, allliiivvvee.”

Mulder pushes the button for the penthouse. They stand by the glass wall, looking down into the atrium. “Cute, Mulder.”

As soon as the elevator passes the 3rd floor, Scully hits the ‘stop’ button.

“Scully, I’m in trouble? Ok, so the little ‘we’re alive’ wasn’t that funny.” Mulder’s hands are out in front of him, palms open and up.

Scully smiles suggestively and takes his hands. She kisses his open palm and then wraps his hands around her hips. She walks him back into the window wall.

“Uh, Scully, I thought you weren’t into pubic displays.” Mulder is a little nervous about what she has in mind, but is nonetheless turned on by her actions.

“You’re right, Mulder; move over to the other corner and don’t move.”

“Ooh, commando Scully. And you once told me I was ‘unfolding like a flower’. How many more sides do I get to see, Scully?”


Tuesday Night, Preparations

“Do we really have to go to this dance, Scully?” Mulder walks into the living room and Scully tries to suppress her desire to get just a little bit closer to him. His hair is partly covering his forehead and ruffled just a bit. <god, this man has a thousand looks and I can’t seem to find one that doesn’t undo me.> He’s standing with his hands on his hips, the black leather of his pants creasing and pulling quite nicely in a few strategic places.

His black shirt has a small, stand-up, collar. The buttons undone almost to his waist leave Scully speechless and breathless. She walks a little closer and reaches for his hand.

The cuffs of his shirt are open so they hang onto the backs of his hands. She takes his hand and runs her fingers lightly underneath the open cuff. “I like this look on you, Mulder. ¡Me lo gusta mucho!”

“I didn’t know you spoke Spanish, Scully. What did you say?”

“I spent a little time in Mexico, but don’t remember too much, Mulder. I’ve got to go get ready. Don’t go anywhere ok, suavecito mio?”

“Scully, what did you say? Yo quiero Taco Bell? Hasta manana?”

Scully heads into her room, smiling. She calls out to him, over her shoulder, “Cute, Mulder.”

Mulder is discovering that sitting in tight leather pants is not quite as easy as he’d like.

He heads for the breakfast counter and perches on a stool. He turns on the TV and finds a basketball game. He’s gesturing and vocalizing wildly when Scully appears in the room. She walks around on the other side of the breakfast counter and leans on it, facing Mulder. He glances at her quickly then looks back at the game. <And the saleswoman who said this dress would turn heads obviously doesn’t know Mulder.> Scully waits not-so-patiently for Mulder to glance her way again. She is rewarded just a few short minutes later. It’s almost as if it’s taken that time for Mulder’s brain to catch up with his eyes.


“Yes, Mulder, it’s me.”

“Scully, I think I need to see the rest of this little number. Get over to my side of the counter.”

“¿Que quieres, caro mio?” Scully raises an eyebrow in question.

Mulder tries to swivel the stool around to face her, but ends up having to stand up and move the stool. Leather pants on vinyl stool…Scully stifles a giggle.

“Smooth, Mulder, smooth.”

Scully walks around the counter slowly. Her hair is swept up on one side with a small, black velvet, flower by her ear. Her diamond stud earrings are her only jewelry. They glint as she moves. Her dress has a wide, square, low-cut neckline with wide-set, ‘bra’ straps. The back exposes her shoulder blades. Until the dress reaches her hips, it caresses her curves. The skirt has bias-cut swirls of rust-colored glitter that are hidden when she stands still, but sparkle and shine when she moves. Mulder notices her shoes; matt black 3 strap, spiky heels. He’s still not quite sure how Scully (or any woman) moves on those pinpoints. He’s also glad he’ll never have to figure out that aspect of a woman’s life.

“Turn around, Scully.” Scully obliges, spinning just a little as she turns. Mulder notices just how nicely the skirt flares.

Since it does not appear that Mulder is capable of further speech, Scully asks, “So, what do you think?” Mulder stands, takes her hand and spins her around, just a little bit faster than she spun herself. “I think you look absolutely good enough to eat.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment. Let’s go.”

“Scully, you’re always trying to leave so fast. Shouldn’t we practice a little first?”

“Practice what, Mulder? All you have to know how to do is move to the beat and move those hips of yours. You can handle that, can’t you? ¡Vamanos!

“Ooh, Scully, I can handle that. I love it when you speak foreign languages to me.” <Just wish I knew what you were saying.> They walk out the door and head for the ballroom.


Tuesday Night, Salsa Latina Dance Party

The Ballroom is a wild, sensory overload. There is a large dance floor in the middle of the room. There a large spotlights and colored gel lights; some stationary and some cutting through the crowds imbuing faces with a firey look. The music is decidely heavy on the bass in full surround sound glory. Positioned on platforms of varying levels above the crowd are male and female dancers moving singly and in pairs. Guests are arriving in large and small groups and are streaming in through the multiple entrances.

Scully and Mulder pause just inside a door to absorb the scene. Mulder is holding Scully’s hand and her hips are moving and shaking to “Livin’ La Vida Loca”. Mulder places his other hand on his hip, sticks it out to one side and glances over at Scully. He is smiling broadly, enjoying the Scully Show. She is initially unaware of his gaze.

As the song begins to mix into a slower number, she glances his way. Her face becomes flushed realizing he has been watching her. “Don’t stop now, Scully. I was enjoying the view.” She punches him in the arm and leads him toward the dance floor. The slower,

“Nobody Wants to be Lonely” (Ricky Martin, Sound Louded) is playing.

[…Here I stand in the shadows.
Come to me. Come to me. Come to me.
Can’t you see that…]

Mulder’s right hand moves to Scully’s hip. His left hand takes her right and he pulls it close to his body.

[Can’t you see that
Nobody wants to be lonely.
Nobody wants to cry.
My body’s longing to hold you so bad it hurts inside…]

Scully looks up into his eyes and slides her hands onto his shoulders. His hands on her hips pull her closer.

[Time is precious and it’s slipping away
and I’ve been waitin’ for you all of my life…]

Mulder lightly kisses her lips. Her hands move under his arms and around his back to his shoulders, pulling him closer still.

[Nobody wants to be lonely
so why, why don’t you let me love you tonight.
Can you hear my voice, do you hear my song,
it’s a serenade so your heart can find me…]

Mulder moves one leg inbetween hers. She moves forward, leaving no room for even a molecule of air between them.

[And suddenly you’re flying down the stairs into my arms, baby.
Before I start going crazy.
Run to me, run to me, cause I’m dyin’.
I wanna feel you need me just like the air you’re breathin’.
I need you here in my life…]

Mulder blows lightly into her ear. He whispers, “Scully, I–” He thinks he spots someone in the crowd and loses his train of thought.

Scully pulls her face back slightly and looks up at Mulder. “Mulder?” she says. She tries to turn around to see what or who he is looking at, but only sees other dancers. She places one hand on the back of his neck and turns him back to her.

“I’m sorry, Scully. Where was I?”

“I don’t know, Mulder, you tell me.” She is wonderng what or who broke the mood.

“I was right here. About to tell you that this is one of my fantasies.” <Nice cover, Fox.>

“Dancing with me? We’ve done that before, Mulder.” Scully smiles at him.

His attention momentarily re-focused on Scully, he replies, “No. No. Dancing with you close and slow while I kiss you here,” He kisses her nose. “And kiss you, here.” He kisses her cheek. “And kiss you, here.” He kisses her lips. His hands move to her arms, holding on tighter than she expected or he intended. When she squirms in his grasp, he looks startled and pulls back slightly.

Scully looks up at him, puzzled. “Nice fantasy, Mulder. Was it supposed to include bruising me? What’s up with you?”

Mulder glances around her, takes her hand and leads her off the dance floor. Since she has experience being in the middle of a situation with him about which she has no prior knowledge, she is not all that concerned. What is perplexing to her is the strange change in moods. She decides that if he brings her up and then suddenly drops her back down one more time, she will ask to get off this rollercoaster.

When they reach the edge of the dance floor, Mulder finds a chair and sits down. Scully is standing there, hands on her hips, looking down at him. There is only one chair, but he does not seem to notice.

“Earth to Agent Mulder. Hellloooo, is there life on this planet?” Scully bends over and places one hand on Mulder’s shoulder.

Mulder seems to suddenly realize that she is standing there. He takes her arm and pulls her onto his lap. The sensation of being pulled down so quickly and having her skirt flounce up behind her surprises her. She finds herself in Mulder’s lap with very little between her and his leather pants. <Breathe, Scully, breathe.> The loud, pulsing music is doing nothing to aid her efforts at breathing.

“Ok, Mulder, are you all right?”

“Yes, Scully. I guess you want some sort of explanation?”

“That would make sense.”

“Ok, I just thought I saw someone I know.”


“And, nothing.”

“Mulder, excuse me for being blunt, but one minute you’re whispering sweet nothings in my ear, holding me close and kissing me. The next minute you’re miles away. In my book, that’s not ‘nothing’.”

Mulder tilts his head to one side, as if seeing her for the first time tonight. He smiles and kisses her lips. “You’re right, Scully. I’m sorry. I guess I just let my mind wander.”

Scully, still thinking the whole situation is odd, even for Mulder, looks puzzled.

“Mulder, who did you think you saw?”

He hesitates. <Now would be the time to clear the air, Mulder. She’s right here listening and understanding.> “Probably no one. It looked a little like Phoebe.” <There! You said her name and Scully’s still sitting here. Oh, yes, she’s sitting in my lap and I don’t think there’s a whole lot separating her from my leather pants. Try to stay in the moment, Mulder…>

“It was ‘probably Phoebe’ and that got you sidetracked? Ok. Ok, let’s just let this go. I hear some great music and I want to dance. Do I need to find myself another partner or can you get it together enough to help me out here?”

Mulder doesn’t need an engraved invitation to get him back into her arms on the dance floor. They head for the dance floor, holding hands, Scully walking slightly ahead of Mulder.

“So tell me, is there more to this fantasy, Mulder?”

Mulder draws a deep breath as if preparing to say something that he’s unsure of. He stops them and holds both of her hands. “Actually, there is more, Scully. I imagine myself telling you how I feel about you.” Mulder looks deeply into Scully’s eyes and sees her encouragement and warmth.

“Go on, Mulder.”

“I see me telling you that I love you.”

“Do I say anything after you tell me?” Scully breathes deeply.

“I don’t usually get that far in my fantasy. Finish it for me.”

Before she can say anything, Mulder notices Phoebe and Tom dancing nearby. Tom’s hands are moving up and down Phoebe’s back and hips, pulling her close and then spinning her around. Mulder notices that Phoebe looks less than excited about her dance partner. She catches his eye and silently mouths, ‘Help me.’”

Meanwhile, Scully is ready to finish Mulder’s fantasy for him. “Mulder, I think that I would tell you that I—”

“Scully, I’ll be back in a few minutes, ok? Someone needs my help. Promise me you’ll wait right here, please?” He’s looking at her and then over her shoulder.

Mulder is holding her hands, looking at her imploringly. She squeezes his hand and says,

“Let me come with you. Maybe I can help?”

“No, no, no, Scully. This is my problem. Just give me 5 minutes. I want to continue right where we left off.” He pulls her off the dance floor. He grabs her upper arms, pulling her toward him and kisses her. His face inches from hers, he says,

“wait for me, Scully.”

<Oh no you don’t, Mulder. You’re not leaving me standing here with my heart on my sleeve all wrapped up in yours.> Scully stands there for a few minutes, too stunned to move. She watches Mulder plunge back onto the crowded dance floor. She realizes she is following him after her legs take her forward.

Mulder reaches Phoebe and Tom and sees the artfully crafed, grateful look on her face.

For just a moment, Mulder thinks he sees something else; Phoebe-deception perhaps? He taps Tom on the shoulder. When Tom turns around, Mulder grabs him by the arm and starts to pull him off the dance floor. Scully is now standing just a few feet away. Tom sees her and looks panicked. He clearly has no idea what this is all about. Scully notices the sly smile in Phoebe’s eyes as she watches the scene. Mulder is in Tom’s face, pointing toward Phoebe. He still has Tom by one arm. Finally, he lets go, shoves Tom out of his way, and moves back toward Phoebe.

Phoebe bats her eyelashes at him, takes his hand, and leads Mulder away. Scully follows out of sight.

Phoebe and Mulder reach a quiet area and sit facing each other.

“What happened, Phoebe?”

“I asked him to dance, but I think he got the wrong idea, Fox.” She reaches for his hand.

“Phoebe, I know you better than that. You can hold your own in almost any situation.

What’s going on here?”

“Fox, we need another chance to—”

“Phoebe Subterfuge; now there’s a real surprise! We don’t need any other chances to do anything with each other. I thought I made that clear a day ago.”

He tries to figure out how to get rid of her before Scully finds them.

Mulder stands to leave. She joins him. He heads back onto the dance floor to find Scully.

“Look, Phoebe, I don’t want to be rude, but you’re not leaving me much choice. I’m otherwise occupied.

“Yes, I can see that, Fox. You’re all by yourself on this dance floor. Just what kind of detective work are you involved in; other than wondering where your pretty little partner has gotten off to?” Phoebe puts her hands on Mulder’s arms, moving her hands up and down lightly.

Mulder removes them. She then reaches around him and massages his back. Mulder is trying to pull himself away when she kisses him. His hands on her arms, her hands on his butt, their lips together. Scully walks back onto the dance floor as

“Jezabel” is playing.

<Just who plans the music to play in synch with life, anyway?>

[You walk into a room, you’ve got killer eyes that hypnotize. You’re dangerous, oh yeah, you’re dangerous. You’ve got a snaky kind of strut, it’s too hot to touch, can’t trust a thing you do or say, gotta stay away. Jezabel, kiss and tell, you use your body just to cast your spell…here you come…and now the damage is done…]

Phoebe and Mulder are moving. Scully’s heart drops into her stomach, her mouth hangs open, as if to speak and then closes again.

She leaves the dance and heads out of the hotel.


Tuesday Night, Cause and Effect

Scully knows that things are not always as they appear. She cannot, however, get the image of Mulder and Phoebe out of her mind. She trusts him with all of her heart and soul. She also is pretty sure that he neglected to tell her he ran into Phoebe at the Conference and then she sees them together and, oh boy, were they ever together.

Scully needs some air. She walks around the hotel and finds herself near the water. She suddenly feels sad, thinking about the last night in New Hampshire she spent with Mulder on the beach. She walks back into the hotel lobby and finds an unoccupied couch. She kicks off her heels and pulls her feet up under her. Sometimes, being in the midst of bustling activity helps her collect her thoughts. Her mind rambles through the swirl of thoughts. She has very deep feelings for Mulder. They haven’t come easily for her. Sometimes, she is very sure of those feelings. At other times, they are like individual grains of sand pieced together in an intricate pattern that forms a beach when the elements cooperate. At other times, the intricate pattern can be toppled too easily.

The music tempo has picked up at the dance. Phoebe is guiding Mulder off the dance floor. “Phoebe, look, I need to go find Scully. She should have been waiting here for me.”

“Fox, I’m sure she’s around somewhere.” She continues to hold his hands. He pulls them away. She returns them.


<Trust. That’s what it comes down to, doesn’t it? I cannot deny our mutual trust. We both have a past. But why does it seem as if his past is always testing me? Why do I feel that I’m the one failing the damm test?> Scully feels foolish. Mulder has been so good to her and she does know he really cares.

She has never liked Phoebe since they met so long ago. She just doesn’t trust her where Mulder is concerned.

Focusing on her trust for him, Scully heads back in to find Mulder.

She stops short outside the ballroom as she sees Mulder holding Phoebe’s hands. They are as she left them. Only their location has changed.

Scully turns and walks off angrily.


“Phoebe, I’m tired, oh so tired, of asking you nicely to back off. You don’t need my help. You’re just doing what comes naturally to you, playing. I’m done and have been done with your games.” Mulder gets up and walks away from Phoebe. To her (very slight) credit, she does not pursue him.

He heads for the Penthouse, hoping to find Scully there.


Scully leaves the note and heads into her room. Shortly after she is settled into her bed, she hears the door to the living room open. Mulder is calling her name. She rolls over and pulls the blankets up around her.

Mulder finds her note, “Mulder, I was very tired and went to bed early. I came to look for you on the dance floor. Good night. S”

Mulder is clearly puzzled. Scully seemed anything but tired. He knocks on her door, but gets no answer.

He heads in to pack since they are scheduled to leave in the morning.


Wednesday Morning, Troubled Waters Scully rises very early. She has already packed the night before. She is emotionally torn.

She cannot stop focusing on what she saw and what she believes about Mulder keeping his earlier meeting with Phoebe a secret. She is especially upset because she feels she gave him every opportunity to tell her. Her anger runs smack into her feelings of love for him.

She quietly takes her suitcase into the living room and places another note by his keycard on the coffee table.

She leaves.


Mulder wakes up and wonders if Scully is up. The phone rings on his way to Scully’s room. “Hello?” He recognizes the voice on the other end and almost hangs up. “Fox, it’s me. I think we parted under, let us say, not so favorable circumstances last night.”

Mulder is irate. “Phoebe, there is not such thing as ‘favorable circumstances for us’. i may have just ruined the most important relationship in my life because of my lack of spine around you.” Phoebe is relentless. “Fox, nothing that strong can be destroyed by simple jealousy. You’re just helping her develop more backbone”, Phoebe purred into the phone.

Mulder was pacing back and forth, choosing the right words to put a stop to her behavior.

Merely hanging up would solve nothing. She would just try another avenue in her approach. He willed himself to be calm and direct. “Phoebe, here me and hear me well because this will be the last time I will speak to you. Whatever it was that we had, you trashed it. That is in the past. What I want to have with Scully, if she’ll let me, is lasting and true. I love her with all of my heart and soul. Now, if that’s not enough of an explanation for you, maybe you need to take a remedial communications course.” With that, he did hang up.

Mulder once again headed for Scully’s room. He is not sure what is wrong, but he knows something is not right and his guess is that Phoebe is at the core. He thinks that he should have pursued her last night instead of letting her sleep. He focuses on her note. It said she went to look for him on the dance floor. He desperately wants to talk to her. He walks over to her room, still rubbing the sleep from his eyes. He knocks on her door, gets no answer.

“Scully, are you awake? Can I come in?” Still, no answer. He opens the door slightly—and finds her room empty.

He opens her closet and bureau drawers finding both empty. Now he is very concerned.

On his way through the living room, he sees the note. He does not want to read this one.

“Mulder, I’ll see you on the train. S” <She’ll ‘see me on the train’? What’s this about? What the he!! is going on?> His first thought is that she’s run into a dangerous situation and cannot tell him any more. His next thought is that she’s sick and doesn’t want to bother him. His third, final, and most accurate thought is that she knows about Phoebe and saw them together. <Quick on the uptake, huh, Mulder?> He runs and gets dressed, picks up his bag and heads for the taxi stand.


Wednesday Morning, C’Mon and Ride the Train

Scully arrives at the train station and pays the cabbie. The porters begin boarding passengers. He helps her with her carry-on as she climbs the steps. She walks through the various cars on the way to their adjoining compartments. <The Bureau will definitely have some explaining to do with the auditors for this trip.> She allows herself to luxuriate in the elegance of the glass-ceilinged dining car, the multi-level viewing car and then on to the sleeper cars.

She checks the number on her ticket and unlocks the door. Never having traveled on an overnighter, she is sure the quarters will be quite cramped. While not quite as sumptuous as the penthouse, she is nonetheless surprised with the spaciousness and the natural light afforded by the rounded roof windows. There is a connector door into Mulder’s sleeping area and their shared bathroom. <This is going to be rough.> She unpacks and decides she should not be here when he arrives. She also needs some time to figure out what she’s going to do when she runs into Diana and Phoebe.

She almost finds herself wishing she could locate Tom and Payton; almost…


Mulder rides to the train station with Morris Fletcher. “So, Fox, how was the conference for you?”

“Hmmpf.” Is all Mulder manages to get out.

Morris doesn’t miss a beat, “Yeah, I brought back something for my wife and kids. They love it when I come back with presents. So, you and Dana get to have any time together? You two certainly seem like a cozy pair. Bureau frowns on that kind of stuff, though, huh?”

<Who wound Morris up?> “Hmmpf.” Mulder is ready to board the train.

“Catch you later, Morris.”

Mulder tosses his bag up the steps and heads for the sleeper car. He is still trying to piece together how to approach Scully. He tries to see the situation from her point of view, but he’s having trouble because he knows there is absolutely nothing going on between him and Phoebe; much to Phoebe’s chagrin. He thinks he knows how it probably

“looked” to Scully, but he expects more from her than simply believing appearances. He is also having trouble understanding just how she could think he’d have anything to do with any other woman when he’s given himself to her so completely.

When he arrives at his compartment, he smiles. Train travel has sure changed since his early days at the Bureau!

He checks out the adjoining room and finds that Scully has already arrived and left.

Since it’s almost lunchtime, he decides to check out the dining car.


Scully is seated by a window, sipping tea. Her arm is bent and she is leaning on her hand, gazing out at the unmoving scene of passengers ready to board. Mulder sits down across from her. “Scully?” He speaks softly, hesitantly.

She looks over at him blankly, but does not respond. He tries again,

“Scully, please talk to me. I know something’s bothering you, so don’t even pretend to try, ‘I’m fine’, ok?”

Scully puts down her tea, slides to the end of the booth, stands and walks away. Mulder is not ready to give up. He follows her. <She can only go so far unless she gets off the train; a real possibility where Scully is concerned…> She knows he is following her, but she is not sure what will come from her lips if she speaks. She is walking against the crowds of boarding passengers, not sure where she will end up. The crowds serve her well; Mulder gets stuck trying to move by them and she disappears to the second level of the viewing car.

The train starts moving out of the station. The scene through the windows changes from the station rooftop to tree tops to roofs of residential neighborhoods and finally to open sky.

She heads for the back of the car and takes a window seat one row from the end. She can see only mid-day sun and clouds. Several minutes pass quietly. She realizes someone is talking to her. <Oh, brother…Skinner is so dead for sending me on this trip.>

“Agent Scully, you would be wise to think this thing through carefully. You think you know what your relationship is with Agent Mulder, but you don’t.” Scully attempts to leave, but Diana places her hand firmly on Scully’s arm. Scully looks down at Diana’s hand with sheer venom and yanks her arm free. “You believe he trusts you, cares for you and maybe, just maybe, you are foolish enough to believe that he loves you. I will concede that in his own, strange way, he probably cares what happens to you. It’s just the kind of man he is.” Scully glares at Diana. She says nothing to her. She doesn’t have to. Diana moves in front of her, blocking her way. “But if you think you foresee anything more, you are sadly deluded. I know this because I truly know Fox.” Before Scully can respond, Diana Fowley starts to walk away from her. Scully thinks for all of about 10 seconds and decides she’s spent much to much time ‘thinking’ about this situation. She is tired of being the doormat for the two bad witches from Mulder’s past.

She takes a step forward and reaches for Diana. She grabs her wrist, turning her toward Scully. Raising her other hand, she hears the satisfying ‘thwak’ as Scully hand meets Diana face. The remaining red imprint on Diana’s face brings an unbidden smile to Scully’s face. She shoves Diana out of her way and walks past. A few people hoot and clap.

<One down, one to go.> She hopes she will not actually have to meet up with Phoebe.

<And Skinner said the train trip back would include ‘team building activities’. Wonder just who’s ‘team’ I’m on? Do they realize the team is extremely dysfunctional?>


Mulder heads back to their living compartment, hoping to find Scully there. When he doesn’t find her, he lays down on the sofa bed. The steady movement lulls him to sleep.

He does not hear Scully come in. She kicks off her shoes and sits facing the window, watching the curtain of greenery blurring by the window.

While her encounter with Diana actually let her vent some of her anger, she can’t seem to shake her underlying anxiety. She’s not sure who she’s more angry with at this point; Mulder for not talking candidly with her about Phoebe or herself for not giving him a real chance. She knows she just needs a little more time to pull herself together to talk with Mulder.

Mulder awakens and decides to see if Scully has returned. He knocks on the adjoining door. No answer. He knocks louder. She actually says, “come in”.

“Scully, will you please let me talk to you? I got the message that you don’t want to talk to me. Please, at least hear me out. This distance between us is killing me, Scully. It’s killing us.”

“I’m so sorry about that, Mulder.” Scully replies, voice dripping with sarcasm. She stands and starts to pace like a caged animal who has the key to the door, but doesn’t know how to unlock it.

“Good, at least you’re talking to me. Now, maybe we can get somewhere. Let me tell you what really happened at the dance. I know that’s what you’re so upset about.”

“Oh, you do, do you? Why would that be, Mulder? Possibly because there is something for me to be mad about? Possibly because what you tell me and how you behave are different? C’mon, you’re the master of non-verbal behavior and psychological profiles. Tell me what you’re seeing and hearing, now, Mulder!”

Mulder takes a step back. Her intensity catches him off guard. He keeps his voice low, quiet, “I’m seeing and hearing that you don’t want me to explain anything. You’ve already made up your mind about what you ‘saw’ and you didn’t even hear anything.

You’ve made assumptions and you’re not ready to allow me the benefit of the doubt.

Me, your partner, your—”

“Don’t go there, Mulder; not now.” She softens her voice belying the uncertainty of her feelings. “I can’t do this, now, here.” She slowly walks past him and into the hallway.


Wednesday Night; Down Time

Scully is lying in bed on her back, looking up at the blackness through the overhead windows to her compartment. She can hear Mulder getting ready for bed in the bathroom. She is dying inside. Unbidden, she thinks about and feels his lips on hers.

She remembers her total inability to think when he kisses her. She has to find a way to move past the issues. Problem is, she’s not sure what they are: her inability to swallow her pride and admit he may be right? That he’s somehow not strong enough to not even have to deal with Diana or Phoebe? That relationships have their ups and downs and the true test is how the ‘downs’ are handled? <Now we’re getting somewhere, Scully…Maybe you’re the one who’s not handling the ‘downs’ so well.> She vows to talk with him in the mornng.

Mulder is angry and hurt. He squeezes way too much toothpaste onto his brush and shoves it absentmindedly into his mouth. He is at a loss of how else to approach the situation with Scully. He’s not even sure what she’s mad about. He really wants this trip to give them some more time to talk, but, at this rate, they might as well have separate living compartments…on separate trains…


Thursday Morning

Scully’s travel alarm chirps at 5A. She quietly gets up and puts on her Quantico tee and a pair of gray cotton running shorts. Since it’s so early, the train will be quiet. She is going to work off some of her pent up emotions. She plans to calm herself down and really talk with Mulder today. She grabs her walkman and slips the headset on. She inserts her mixed INXS tape and heads out. Always able to maintain her pace, even with a slower beat, she finds herself lost in the sultry, slamming beats. She runs the stairs to the viewing car, listening to “Devil Inside”, taking advantage of the empty car and driving beat to do a series of jumping jacks. She’s feeling better already.

She leaves the viewing car and heads back along the train, heading toward the caboose.

“I Need You Tonight” plays, the words causing her to take an unplanned rest stop.

[I need you tonight, ‘Cuz I’m not sleeping. Something about you…that makes me sweat…Your moves are so raw, I’ve got to let you know…] She heads back toward her compartment, a sudden, renewed desire to rouse Mulder settling over her.


At 6A Mulder rolls over when he hears the door to Scully’s compartment open and close.

He rolls over and holds his clock close to his half open eyes. He reaches overhead and pushes the button on the reading light. He sits up, careful not to bump his head on the overhead storage shelf. He pads barefoot to the wall mirror and smiles. <Hope the unplanned spiky look is still in…> He heads into the bathroom to wash up quickly.

Wearing nothing more than his pale, blue, drawstring, pajama, bottoms, he knocks on Scully’s door.


Scully is feeling physically tired, but emotionally charged. She didn’t realize just how long the train is, so she’s had a great jog. Her hair is falling out of the scrunchie in curly tendrils and her face is still damp. Her headset is still on and she’s singing softly to

“Never Tear Us Apart” as she stretches. She places one foot onto the bed in front of her, her back to the bathroom door., She bends toward her foot on the bed from her hips, reaching toward her foot, gently stretching her hamstrings. [Don’t ask me, what you know is true. Don’t have to tell you, I love your precious heart…] She sings along.


Mulder can hear her voice and wonders who she’s talking to. He knocks again. When he gets no answer, he slowly opens the door just a crack. Unsure of what type of reception he will get, he cautiously sticks his head through the crack. He smiles. He can hear her singing. He recognizes the words, but just barely recognizes the tune. <I could get used to her off-key singing. Better than any alarm clock on the market.> He takes in the scene. Her hips facing him, her gym shorts rolled at the waist and hitched up provocatively at the top of her thigh. A slight shine to her exposed skin. Her hair damply curling. He wonders if he should call out to her or touch her. Deciding he really doesn’t want to risk losing a precious body part, he opts for the verbal approach. He places his hands above her on the overhead storage shelf and calls out, “Scully?”


Caught off guard, she pulls the headset off and whirls around to find Mulder a foot in front of her. She takes in his presence and stifles a laugh at his hair. <Sleep definitely produces a soft, arousing look for him, but the hair could use a little work.> He takes the headset from her and puts it on.[I was standin’ and you were there, two worlds collidin’…and they could never tear us apart.] He smiles broadly at her choice of music.

He hands the headset back to her and she hangs it around her neck; switching the power off.

She is framed by him; arms on the storage shelf, legs slightly apart bracing him to the movement of the train. She realizes that she is standing there staring into his eyes. <To keep me from staring south. God, Mulder, don’t do this to me. You drain me of rationale thought.>


The train takes a sharp turn around the track. Scully is jostled and loses her footing momentarily. Before she can struggle to regain her balance, Mulder grabs her. The train is still in its turn. He ends up with his back against the closed bathroom door. She is up against him spun around, her back to his front. Her walkman beltpack hits into him squarely, meeting some rather stiff resistance and eliciting a sharp, ‘ugh’! The train settles into the straight track again. Scully, realizing the location of her beltpack, unclips it and tries to pull it from between them, leaning forward as she does so. He tries to help her pull it around in front of her. In so doing, his hand inadvertently moves across her chest. She reaches for his hand, but ends up with the beltpack. She takes it and the headset and tosses them toward the bed. She tries to stifle a laugh. Mulder does not.


Scully tries to move forward out of Mulder’s arms. He pulls her back toward him, leans down and whispers, “Don’t.” He reaches one arm over her shoulder and across her chest, effectively pinning her to him. Her head falls back on his chest. He nuzzles her ear and her neck, causing her to lean back into him further. He turns her around to face him, holding her close to him. He holds her upper arms gently, but firmly. The sun is starting to come up outside the window and is casting a faint light in the still semi-dark compartment.

She looks into his eyes and sees nothing but sincerity and desire. She smiles oh-so-slightly, but it is enough to be mirrored on his face. She reaches up to his arms and holds him. He places one hand on her shoulder and pulls the scrunchie from her hair with his other. “Mulder, I’m so sorry I—”

“Not now.” He touches her lip with his finger. The tip of her tongue touches his finger.

She kisses and tongues it. He runs his wet finger down the hollow in her throat. Mulder backs her up to the window, playfully kissing her as they move. She stands on her toes and pulls his head toward her, deepening their kiss.

The shriek of the train whistle momentarily jars them apart and they laugh. Scully, her hands at his waist, pulls him away from the window and toward the bed. The train rounds another sharp turn and they end up back at the window again. Scully laughs,

“Mulder, either someone threw a few extra curves into this track or we’re being sent a signal to stay away from the other side of the compartment.”

“Or, Scully, to get closer to each other.”

Once again, they move toward the bed. She stops; looking at him from head to toe and then looking at the bed from end to end. They smile. He backs her toward the bed. When the backs of her legs hit the bed, she sits. Mulder kneels down in front of her. She is suddenly wide-eyed, her lips parted slightly.

He smiles crookedly; mischief in his eyes as he reaches for her sneakered foot. He slowly unties the laces of her right sneaker and pulls it off. He does the same with the left. He runs his hands up, along her calves and then around and down her shins, causing her to gasp. He then removes her socks, placing one of her feet on his very thinly pajama clad thigh. He runs his fingers along the arch of her foot and then around her heel and ankle. Scully places her hands on the bed on either side of her, scrunching the bedspread in her fists. She closes her eyes briefly. When she opens them, she watches Mulder. She moves her foot higher on his leg, her target obvious. She leans forward just slightly and whispers, “That looks wonderfully…painful, Mulder. Can I help?” Her foot rises just a little bit higher and toward his inner thigh. “Uh, Scully…” <Gotcha> Her foot reaches its destination and she revels in the exquisitely hard and soft feel under her toes through the cloth of the pajama bottoms. His legs begin to lose their ability to support him.

“Scul—down here.”

“I know, Mulder, I can see ‘down there’… Just what is it you want ‘down there’?” She continues to use her toes to elicit a response from him. His eyes close and he bites his lower lip. Scully brings her other foot onto his other thigh and loses herself in the moment.

At that point, Mulder pushes one of her feet onto the floor, quickly grabs her by the waist and pulls her down to the carpeting. They can feel the heavy motion of the train beneath them. She is panting, caught off guard one more time. She grabs the blankets off the bed and he lays the blankets on the carpeting.

“Too much, Scully.”


<Breathing hard> “Too much clothing…must go…Scully.” He breathes the words huskily, tugging on her tee.

“Go where, Mulder?”

Scully’s tee lands on the overhead storage shelf. Her shorts snag the bathroom doorknob.

She leans toward him, their bare upper bodies touching. She kisses him.

“Did you ever consider making basketball a career, Mulder?” she laughs into his mouth.

“Some of the guys told me that my aim doesn’t always hit its mark.”

Scully holds onto the tied drawstrings and tugs. She then pulls the drawstrings on Mulder’s pajama bottoms, untying them. “I don’t know what ‘the guys’ were thinking, but I think ‘practice makes perfect’, Mulder. Besides, from what I can tell, your ‘aim’ is already straight on. As a matter of fact, Mulder—”

“Scully, too much…talking.” Mulder leans forward and kisses her.

Thursday Night; 8P, The Viewing Car Mulder and Scully head for the viewing car. “Let’s head upstairs; it’s beautiful to see the stars rushing by in the dark, Mulder.”

“You’ve been in here at night, Scully?”

She does not answer him and leads him upstairs. They settle into a two seater sofa recliner and sit in companionable silence for awhile.

“Scully, can we get a few things cleared up?”

“Sure, Mulder.”

“First of all, what did mean about Diana talking to you yesterday? I knew nothing about that, you have to believe me.”

Scully smiles at him and touches his cheek with her palm. “I do believe you, Mulder. It’s just that I cannot fathom how you can ignore her duplicity. Yes, I heard perfectly well what you told her the other night. You probably thought she took it to heart, right? Wrong, Mulder! She ambushed me in public and proceeded to tell me how you don’t care about me, I’m not enough for you, etc. She then had the audacity to try to just walk away from me.”

Mulder is visibly agitated by what Scully has told him. Diana is like a loose cannon around Scully. If he’s the expert profiler everyone claims him to be, he’s placing money on the Diana jealousy theory. Deep down, she probably knows she doesn’t hold a candle to Scully in his eyes, so she makes every attempt to pull Scully down.

“She ‘tried’ to walk away? What does that mean, Scully?”

“Mulder, let’s just say that I’ve had enough of her getting the last word.” Mulder turns to look at Scully, his eyebrows raised. “Am I detecting some ‘action’ on your part? You do know that striking a fellow Agent is considered criminal?” He’s trying not to laugh.

Scully responds, “I ‘do know’ that provocation requires response.”

“Scully, you also know that I cannot control the words and actions of another; especially someone as obsessive as Diana is where I’m concerned.”

“Yes, I do know that, Mulder. Sometimes, it’s just so very hard feeling that I have to run head first through brick walls to be with you, to try to figure out where this relationship with you may go.”

Mulder does not respond right away. He can’t see Scully’s face in the faint floor lighting.

He can hear the despair and question in her voice. He reaches toward her and pulls her against his so that she is leaning against his chest. He runs his hand through her hair and down her arm. He can feel goose bumps on her bare arm. “Are you cold, Scully?”

She nods against his body, “A little, I guess.”

“Don’t move, I’ll be right back.” Within two minutes, Mulder is back with his fleece blanket. <Where does that thing come from??? Did he actually pack it for the Conference?> He sits down, pulls her back against him and covers them both.

“Ok, Scully, you were talking about running into brick walls to be with me.”

<That’s my Mulder, cuts right to heart of the matter.>

“Scully, it seems to me that you’re either questioning things I cannot control; like my past, relationships or things that I’ve told you from my heart. I can’t make you believe what you choose to doubt.”

Scully moves to sit up. Her hand slides off of Mulder’s chest and accidentally lands in his lap. Thankful that it is dark, her bright red face goes unnoticed. As does Mulder’s.

She quickly removes her hand and pulls the blanket up a little closer.

“Mulder, I think I do know that you cannot control others. I just can’t figure out how you are always the victim of ‘wrong place, wrong time, wrong people’. I’ve never known anyone who ends up in the wrong situation as much as you do; especially where I’m concerned. As for the second—”

“Scully, why is this about ‘you’?” Mulder surprises himself with this small show of anger. He thought it was long gone.

“It isn’t about me, Mulder, it’s about us. Everytime one of those, those, women,” she spits the word out, “drops back into your life, it always seems to be timed to us being somehow together. Don’t you see that? Now, before you get angry again, let me tell you that I have never doubted what you’ve told me from your heart. No other man has ever been half as open with me as you are and…”

“And?” He wants badly to tell her how he feels, but he also needs her to share her feelings. He thinks he knows what they are, but needs her to acknowledge them.

Scully leans a little closer. She places her face as close to him as possible and with her lips almost touching his ear says, “And…I do love you, Mulder.”


FBI EAP, Last Session, Continued, Current Time, Monday Morning

FBI Counselor: So, Agent Scully, some of your fellow Agents claimed that you and Agent Mulder were having some difficulties with your partnership. Do you want to talk about it?

Scully: No, not particularly. It’s not something I’m proud of. I was just feeling as if Agent Mulder was telling me one thing and then throwing these women in my face.

FBI Counselor: What was he ‘telling’ you?

Scully: <color rising in her cheeks, lowers eyes> I think he was telling me he loves me.

FBI Counselor: But if he loves you, why would he also be, um, how did you phrase it? Throwing these women in your face?

Scully: It doesn’t sound like it makes much sense when you put it that way. I guess I was just feeling too many intense emotions at the same time. I am very uncomfortable around both of those women. I’m not proud of the fact that inflicting bodily harm on both of them would give me extreme satisfaction. I mean, it’s not like I condone the usual of physical violence! <becoming more agitated> Sometimes, no—isn’t it helpful to— what if I’m venting my anger; that’s a good thing?

FBI Counselor: <furiously jotting down notes> Agent, are you about to tell me something I would be compelled to report?

Scully: <pauses; looks down, then at the Counselor> Um, no, not at all.


FBI Counselor: Agent Mulder, tell me why you think your fellow passengers would report that you and Agent Scully were having difficulty with your relationship.

Mulder: I’m guessing they may have witnessed us around the two women I was referring to earlier. I think we were exhibiting a lot of strange behavior; even for us.

FBI Counselor: Tell me about this strange behavior and what happened from there.

Mulder: <smiling nervously, playing with his fingers> The best way to describe it would be extreme avoidance and verbal chastisement. I mean, I guess we’re both pretty good at avoiding issues we don’t want to deal with. And, well, after Agent Scully managed to deal with one of the women; she doesn’t know that I found out <smiles broadly remembering that he wanted to congratulate Scully>, we talked things through.

FBI Counselor: Is that all?

Mulder: It’s all you’re going to hear from my mouth.


FBI Counselor: Agents, how would you describe the current state of your non-professional relationship with each other?

Scully: <looks toward Mulder, smile in her eyes> I’d say things are looking up.

Mulder: <wide grin> Aw, Scully, looking skyward, are we?


FBI Headquarters, Current Time Tuesday Morning

The two Agents are sorting through files in their office when the phone rings. “Mulder, Skinner wants to see us right away.”

“Scully, if he’s going to send us to another conference, I may just have to reach across his desk and—”

Scully playfully grabs his tie and starts walking toward the door. “Mulder, shut up and follow me.”

“Anytime, Scully, anytime.”


“Well, Agents, are you ready to tell me about it?”

Scully sits quietly, waiting for Skinner to explain what ‘it’ is. Mulder, not one to leave dead spaces in any conversation, chimes in,“It was a colossal waste of time, Sir.”

“Would you be referring to the ILEA conference or the Counseling sessions, Agent Mulder?”

Mulder has the decency to look down and then appear contrite.

“No clarification necessary Agent, I think I know your response pertained to both.”

“I’ve heard a few things myself about the Conference. Would either of you care to enlighten me?” Skinner leans back in his chair, his arms on the arm rests.

Both Agents start speaking at the same time. “It’s not what it looks–”

“We didn’t, it’s just what everyone else–”

“Then, someone went and–”

Skinner is working his jaw, trying desperately not to snicker or grind his teeth. “Agents! Enough. I was referring to the sessions and the featured speakers. I didn’t send you there on vacation. I want to hear what you’ve brought back that can be of use to the Bureau.

Agent Mulder?”

Mulder is thinking about how to describe their short-lived stay at the Opening Session featuring Diana Fowley as the speaker. “The auditorium they used for the Opening Session was spacious and the stage was expansive.” He realizes he’s making no sense, glances over at Scully and then looks neutrally at Skinner.

“Thank you, Mulder for that elucidating overview. Agent Scully, would you care to elaborate? Agent Mulder seems to have lost his ability to form coherent thoughts and speech.”

Scully is feeling no more able in the area of coherent thoughts, her mind wandering to Diana. “Um, no, Sir, I think Agent Mulder summed up the Opening Session with all due coherence.”

Skinner is looking disgruntled, but no more so than almost anytime his two star Agents are asked to disagree with or elaborate for each other. <They rehearse; that’s what it is.>

“All right, then, we’ll travel a different route. Did you get a chance to meet up with any colleagues?” Skinner smiles, wistfully remembering his early days in the Bureau when he was afforded the opportunity to attend conferences. He connects with a very special memory of a fateful meeting. The smile slowly fades and he returns to the present as he remembers that meeting with Sharon and the subsequent failure of their marriage.

Willing himself back to the question he asked, he nods toward Mulder and Scully, inviting their responses.

Scully begins. “Well, we did meet up with Morris Fletcher.” <There, I chose someone neutral.> However, Mulder does not choose the middle of the road.

“Let me see, there were so many.” He holds up one hand and uses the fingers of his other hand to count them. “My very close friend, Field Agent Rodent—sorry, Sir—Ritter, Scully’s old friend, Agent Tom Colton…” Scully is shooting Mulder a warning glare.

Skinner is carefully observing the unspoken communication occurring between them, realizing that they are not even aware it’s happening. He again reflects on their strengths as Agents, the fact that they are very skilled and that that special communication bond gives them an edge few Agents share. As he comes back to reality, he knows that special communication also usually manages to get one of them in trouble and he sees Mulder heading down that road, unaware. He tries to assist him, “Well, Agent Mulder, it certainly seems–”

“I’m almost done, Sir.” Scully looks at Skinner, then at the door to Kim’s desk, then back at Mulder. <You are, Mulder; you’re as good as done if you mention their names.> Mulder comes out of his recollections when he feels the Scully Glare on him. He turns towards her and smiles wanly, turning his palms up as he shrugs his shoulders. She smiles at him and his recitation ends.

Skinner moves the conversation in another direction.

The Counselor has certified you both officially finished with your sessions. While I am not asking you to divulge that which transpired during your sessions, I would hope that whatever came out of it will prevent a repeat situation. Do I make myself perfectly clear?”

Both nod and stand.

As they head for the door, first Mulder, then Scully, stop and turn toward A.D. Skinner.

Skinner is mumbling. “Did you say something, Sir?” Skinner’s color rises a bit, but he nods, letting them leave his office. “Problem magnet, my a$$. More like woman magnet.

Mulder needs her to keep his a$$ in line.” Skinner tossess two folders down onto his desk, shaking his head.


Unfinished Business; A New Reality

Mulder and Scully head for the elevator upon leaving Skinner’s office. Mulder’s cell phone chirps. “Mulder. Who? Where? Why? How the—?” Scully is looking at Mulder’s phone and then, at his face. She moves over closer, hoping to hear who he is talking to without appearing to eavesdrop.

Mulder snaps the phone shut and jams it into his pocket. “Who was that, Mulder?”

Mulder looks at Scully and touches her shoulder, guiding her around the corner out of site of the few Agents in the hall. “Mulder?” Scully’s curiousity is piqued.

“It was the main security desk. They said there’s an international Agent waiting there for me who refuses to show identification saying I’ll come down to see her.”

Scully’s expression hardens visibly. Suddenly, a small smile appears on her face; a woman with a plan… “Scully? I’d know that look anywhere. What’s going on in there?” Mulder taps her forehead with his index finger, attempting to appear serious.

Scully swats his finger away, looks up at him and then turns and almost runs for the elevator. Mulder follows, but Scully slips inside the car before he can join her.

Scully approaches the lobby security desk from the overhung walkway one level above.

She steers clear of the railing so that she is not seen from below. She walks slowly, searching the groups of people below her. She strikes paydirt.

Standing next to the main desk area, ‘entertaining’ the men within a 10 foot radius; batting her eyelashes and exhibiting very ‘open’ body language, she sees Mulder’s ‘international Agent’. Scully walks back and forth, deciding how she wants to proceed.

She knows she has but a few minutes before Mulder shows up. She heads downstairs; calm and collected.

She approaches quickly, confidently, from behind and taps Phoebe on the shoulder.

Phoebe, thinking it is Mulder, turns slowly, her arms open wide, a smile plastered to her face. When she sees it is Scully, her look changes; dramatically.

“Agent, Scully, how nice to see you.” Phoebe is looking over Scully’s shoulders, her eyes darting around. “Having some trouble locating my face Agent Green?” Scully moves directly in front of Phoebe.

“I thought Fox might have come with you to say, ‘hello’?” She smiles placatingly at Scully.

Scully takes hold of Phoebe’s arm, smiles and starts walking with her toward the main doors.

Mulder, from the overhead walkway, cannot hear what Scully is saying, but, from the look on Phoebe’s face, Phoebe is not happy and is shocked.

The two women approach the glass doors and walk outside. Mulder wishes he could be a fly on Scully’s lapel for the rest of the exchange, but figures he’ll find a way to find out what transpires.

Scully propels Phoebe through the lobby and out the front doors. As they walk along, Scully is speaking in a low, very firm voice. She leaves Phoebe no room for response.

“Phoebe, your visits to Agent Mulder, to the Bureau, hell, to Washington, DC, are officially at an end. Your diplomatic exchange agreement will no longer be in service. It would be an extremely wise decision on your part to listen well to what I’m telling you.”

They approach Phoebe’s car, her driver waiting.

“Should you choose to saunter back into ‘Fox’s’ life again, I will personally see to it that you never ‘saunter’ again in your life. You play with him like he’s your toy. What you claim is affection is nothing more than a hold over to the sick games you tortured him with long ago.” Scully stops when they reach the car. Phoebe’s driver opens the door for her. Scully, still holding Phoebe’s arm, leans toward Phoebe’s ear. “I do hope we have come to an understanding, Agent Green.” Scully smiles and lets Phoebe’s arm go. She stands and watches the car drive away and then takes a deep breath.

As Scully heads for the main doors, Mulder approaches from her left. <I can’t believe he restrained himself for this long.> He takes her arm and whisks her past the doors toward the parking garage. When they reach the main floor of the darkened gargage, he puts his arm around her waist and whispers, “I want to hear all about that, Scully.” She removes his arm and replies, “I’m sure you do, Mulder, but my lips are sealed.”

“Yeah, but, it just looked like you—”

Scully stops and faces Mulder. She holds her index finger and thumb together and brings the up to her closed lips. She turns her fingers as if turning a key in a lock and then makes a sweeping motion with her hand as the ‘key’ flies away, out of reach.


Nobody Here but the FBI’s Most Unwanted

“Going down?” Mulder reaches the elevator, holds the door open for Scully. She tries to keep a straight face as she raises one eyebrow at him. “Sure do know how to turn a phrase, Mulder…”

Once the door closes, he hits the ‘stop’ button. “Mulder, not here! We’re being surveilled!”

Pssst! A can of spray paint appears out of Mulder’s pants pocket and covers the camera eye. “Mulder! There are probably more cameras than those that we can see. And, do you always carry spray paint equipment in your pants?”

She walks to the other side of the elevator. Mulder follows her and, before she can turn around to face him, quickly places his arms around her pressing her against the back wall of the elevator. She turns her head to the side as he nuzzles her neck and his hands roam over the front of her jacket.

“We don’t have much time, Scully.” He breathes into her ear. His lips nibble her ear lobe. She says his name through clenched teeth and heavy breathing.

He presses against her harder. <The man’s going for a full court press in broad daylight in the J. Edgar Hoover Building and I’m outrageously turned on by it. What next?> Mulder unwraps himself from Scully and hits the basement button.

Scully holds onto the railing so tightly her fingers turn white.


Mulder heads over to the desk and puts his feet up. “So, Scully, no immediate case, conference out of the way, no more counseling sessions, what’s there to do?”

Scully hangs her jacket on the coat rack and heads over to the other desk.

“Well, I have some email to catch up on and then maybe we can go to an early lunch?”

“Sounds good. Guess I should probably check my email, too.”

Scully logs on and reviews a few messages from colleagues who have just returned from the ILEA conference. She responds to the first one and deletes the original message. She is about to open the next message when her system alerts her that she has new mail.

There is no name in the sender area and the subject line reads, “Want to?”

Intrigued, Scully clicks open the message. The entire message area just says, “want to”

over and over again. Scully deletes it, sure it is some crank or hacker playing stupid games with her address.

Again, the alert sounds. This time, the subject line reads, “I do.” The message area simply says, “with you.” Scully is puzzled and a bit intrigued. She does not notice Mulder behind her until she sees his face in her monitor. She gasps and then laughs.

Without turning around, she says, “Are you telling me you’re ready for lunch this early, Mulder. I mean, I know you can eat at any time, but—”

“Shhh, Scully. I’m not interested in food right now.” She attempts to turn around, but he places his hands on her shoulders and gently pulls her back in her chair.

“Give me your hands, Scully.” As if a mindless clone, Scully lifts her bare arms and places her hands in Mulder’s. He kisses her fingers, sending a fluttering thrill up her body.

“Mulder, is—the—door—locked?” Scully’s breathing does not allow the smooth release of words. “Yes; I think ahead, Scully.” Mulder answers her in a low, throaty, voice.

Scully’s head drops back against the chair as Mulder places her arms against his body.

He runs his hands slowly down her arms and her sides. He can see the reaction he is having on her through the clingy fabric of her sleevess, low-cut tee.

“Mulder, I need you here, in front of me, now.” Scully pulls her arms back down and pushes away from the desk. She stands and faces Mulder. He slides the paperwork from the desktop onto the floor. Scully raises her eyebrow and finds herself lifted onto the desktop with Mulder standing between her legs.

Her skirt finds its way up her thighs. “Mulder?”

“Yeah, Scully?”

“Mulder, I’ve been thinking about things.”

“What ‘things’?” He is caressing her back, her shoulders, her hair, her face. He is slowly and deliciously obliterating her ability to speak.

“Um, you know, our situation on the train and, and…”

With one finger touching her lips, Mulder says, “C’mon, Scully, tell me more.”

She kisses his finger and nibbles it.

Now it is Mulder’s turn to be rendered speechless. Scully explores his body with her hands as he withdraws his finger from her lips and kisses her recklessly, wildly.

She tightens her legs against his hips. As she does so, he reaches down with one hand and slips her shoe off her foot, letting it fall to the floor. He slides his hand along her calf and mutters into her mouth, “Scully? No stockings today? Planning ahead are we?”

Mulder reaches for her other shoe and removes it. Her legs now encircle his hips, her heels pressing into his backside.

Scully tugs on Mulder’s tie, pulling him a little closer. “You know, Mulder, I’ve always been a good planner. It’s an acquired ability. You set yourself a goal and then you plan the steps you need to achieve the goal.”

Mulder loosens her grip on his tie and steps back, her feet sliding off his hips. He puts his hands on his hips, leaning his head to the side and looks at her. Her face is flushed, her skirt around her upper thighs, her jacket on the floor and she is breathing heavily.

He smiles. “So, just what is your goal, Master Planner?”

Mulder is painfully out of Scully’s reach. She sits up and leans forward.

“Mulder, come back here.”

“Nooo, not until I find out what your goal is.” He takes another step back; still smiling at her.

“Mulder, this isn’t part of the plan.”

“Then come show me what’s supposed to happen.” He walks back farther until he is against the low counter on the back wall to their office. As the back of his legs come in contact with the counter, he sits on it, scattering the disorganized piles of files and papers. Some of the mess slides and drifts to the floor.

Scully slides off her perch on the desk and walks slowly, barefoot toward Mulder. “You want to see what’s supposed to happen, do you, Mulder?” She starts lifting the hem of her top out of the waistband of her skirt. She pauses midway. “You’re sure you locked the door?”

He smiles and nods, transfixed by her slow, but steady, movement toward him. He loosens and removes his tie.

Scully removes her top and tosses it to him. He drops it with his tie. His pupils dilate as he stares at the rise and fall of her chest in her skin-tone bra.

She starts picking up papers and files, placing them in neat piles on the desk. She bends down, sitting back almost on her heels, twisting her hips to one side to pick up the files, She takes the time to push the ends of the papers and file folders together until all sides match and then lays them neatly on top of the previous pile.

Mulder, now clearly puzzled, but nevertheless enjoying the show, asks her,

“Did I miss something here Scully? One minute your performing an office striptease and I emphasize ‘tease’ and then next you’ve become the office cleaner?”

She approaches Mulder, stands up against him, leaning against his knees. She reaches to a pile of papers to his right and starts to straighten it.

Mulder has had enough. He laughs and then takes the papers from her hands and flings them into the air. He grabs her hair in each hand and pulls her closer to him.

“Scully, are you intentionally trying to drive me crazy? I’ve heard of foreplay, but…”

She pushes him back into his “I Want to Believe” poster and climbs onto the counter next to him.

Knock, knockknockknock!!

“Mulder,” Scully gasps, “I think we need to go back and work some more on your judgment.”

“Scully, it’s all a matter of your perspective and, I really do love your perspective.”

THE END of the RP&J Trilogy by nja3


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