Title: Things Left Unsaid
Author: Annie Wright
Category: M/S UST, eventually MSR
Summary: When Mulder and Scully are forced to go to Quantico for a week for a training session, secrets are revealed. How will they deal with them?
It was a lazy Friday afternoon in the basement office of the J. Edgar Hoover Building. A TV that Mulder had snuck in some weeks ago was turned on; itís volume low so as not to alert any visitors that the two agents in the basement who should have been working on their March expense reports were instead watching ĎJudge Judyí.
"Kick his ass, Judge Judy." Mulder spoke to the television, spitting a seed husk into the trashcan and taking a long swig of iced tea. "Make that asshole pay."
Scully rolled her eyes. "Mulder, the man didnít do anything but protect his property. This woman is obviously psychotic."
He snorted. "Whoís the psychologist here, Scully?"
"Donít even try that with me, Mulder." She got up from her desk and walked over to his, opening a drawer and extracting a Twinkie from itís depths.
"Hey," he said. "How did you know that was there?"
With a quirk of her eyebrow, she replied, "Thatís why they put the ĎIí in ĎFBIí."
"Well, as long as youíre over there, toss one to me."
She tossed him a Twinkie and went back to her desk. "Iíll bet you these things could survive nuclear winter," she said, unwrapping it. "Theyíre nothing but chemicals."
"But thatís what makes them so good," he replied, his mouth full. "Nothing natural about them. Iíll bet you every child in America has had a Twinkie at least once in their lifetime."
"And the FDA wonders why thereís an obesity problem in Americaís children,"
He chuckled. "The Twinkie could be considered the modern American bonding experience. Think about it, Scully......the 1930's had the Depression, the Ď40's had World War Two. Todayís kids have the Twinkie."
"Waxing poetic about Twinkies?" Scully asked, quirking her eyebrow. "I think youíve been down here too long."
"Your mother never packed Twinkies in your lunch, did she?"
"No, she didnít. I was more of a Little Debbie Swiss Roll kinda girl."
He grinned. "Let me guess......you used to peel the chocolate coating off and unroll it until the only thing left was the cream in the center."
Despite herself, she smiled. "Yeah. That was the best part. The cake part always seemed so unnecessary to me."
"So, if a man wanted to woo you, he could do it with a box of Swiss Rolls."
"Mulder, somehow I donít foresee a man wooing me with a box of snack cakes." Scully chuckled. "Besides, I donít think Iím the kind of woman men want to woo. Most men seem to be put off by a woman who packs heat."
She rolled her eyes. "Let me guess.....this is some thoroughly researched information garnered from one of those magazines in the drawer that arenít yours."
"You wound me." As the credits for Judge Judy rolled, Mulder began flipping channels. "Itís a well known fact that men actually find women with a gun arousing. Why do you think there are so many men in the FBI? Who wouldnít want the chance to see a woman with a gun every single day." He stopped flipping channels. "You want Ricki Lake or Oprah?"
"Ricki has ĎIím Sleeping With My Sisterís Maní, and Oprah has Sean Connery."
Mulder sighed. "I should have seen that coming."
The phone rang, and Mulder muted the television while Scully answered the phone in her ususal business-like manner. "Scully."
"This is Kimberly. Assistant Director Skinner would like to see you and Agent Mulder in ten minutes."
"Weíll be there." She hung up. "Recess is over, Mulder. Skinner wants to see us."
"Gee, Mulder, I donít know," she replied sarcastically. "Maybe because he has a case for us?"
Mulder turned off the television and stood up. "Youíre just mad because youíre going to miss Sean Connery."
Ten minutes later, they were seated in front of Assistant Director Skinner, who had their personal files open on their desk.
"Agents, Iíve been reviewing your files," he said, his face dour. "Over the past several yeas, both of you have had several official reprimands, both from AD Kersh and myself."
They shifted uncomfortably in their chairs. This was not good.
"Next week, the Bureau is having what they call a Ďrefresher courseí down at Quantico.... classes on some of the new developments in forensic technology, some law review, your basic firearm and physical fitness training," he paused, looking at them sternly. "And some classes on Bureau protocol."
Like a deer in headlights, Mulderís eyes widened. He knew what was coming.
"You are to report to Quantico by 8am Monday morning. Leave your cell phones and laptops at home."
Mulder laughed. "This is a joke, right? We get a few reprimands and weíre being sent to the principalís office like juvenile delinquents who got smoking in the boys room?"
"No joke, Agent Mulder." Skinnerís face was firm. "This is not a punishment. The Bureau looked over the files of every agent and chose the agents they thought would benefit the most from a program like this. You arenít being singled out. There will be over 100 other agents there with you."
Mulder looked over at Scully, who spoke up. "Sir.......Agent Mulder and I have one of the highest solve rates in the Bureau. I donít think that either of us really need any of those refresher courses."
Skinner sighed and took off his glasses. "Look, Iím going to be blunt with you..... if it were up to me, you wouldnít be going. But the fact remains that neither of you has been to any of the Bureau required seminars in the past seven years. That doesnít look good, and it doesnít endear you to the higher-ups. Add that to the official reprimands in your files....."
They sighed. They knew when they were beaten.
"Iím sorry." Skinner put his glasses back on. "Frankly, I think that sending you to this ridiculous thing is a waste of your time and my manpower. But you need to do this, agents. Youíre on thin ice as it is."
They stood up and walked to the door. As they were leaving, Skinner called, "Oh, and Mulder?"
He turned. "Yes, sir?"
"Try to play nicely with the other agents."
"It is to damn early for this," Mulder complained as he set his bags in the trunk of the Taurus with a thunk. "Itís 5am on a Monday morning. I should be in bed."
"Iím not exactly thrilled about this either, Mulder," Scully replied. "But bitching about it isnít going to help us any."
They got into the car, with Mulder at the wheel. He pulled out of the Hoover Buildingís parking garage and onto Pennsylvania Avenue. "Iíd rather have major dental work done than go to this thing." He laughed. "You realize why theyíre sending us, donít you? Because we donít play well with others. We might as well be the kids in class who eat paste and run with scissors. Weíre the Bureauís answer to Ralph Wiggum."
Scully gave him a smile. "Do you honestly think itís going to kill you to play nicely for a few days?"
He sighed. "Itís not that, Scully. Iím used to being picked on. Iím just mad that the Bureau has singled us out."
"But Mulder, if this is anything like Skinner says it will be, we havenít been singled out." She sighed. "I think itís probably geared to the agents who have been out of Quantico awhile."
"So Iím old?"
"No, but you have been out of Quantico for ten years. Things have changed."
He looked over at her. "So why are they sending you? Youíre still a youngíun."
"I have a sneaking suspicion they knew you wouldnít go without me."
"My my, Agent Scully, we think pretty highly of ourselves, donít we?" he asked her with a smile.
She quirked an eyebrow.
"Okay, okay, so youíre right."
"I like the sound of that, Mulder. Say it again."
He chuckled. "Not on your life, Scully."
The lobby of the FBI Training Academy at Quantico was filled with agents from around the country, all dressed in casual clothes. A long table sat at one end of the room, manned by several people in the blue uniform of the Academy. When Mulder and Scully entered, the room fell silent for a moment, then began to buzz with conversation again. As they walked through the crowd, Mulder overheard snippets of conversation.
"Look whoís here........itís Spooky Mulder."
"I see he brought the missus."
"Too bad sheís stuck with him.....sheís a fine piece of woman."
Mulder wanted to reach out and slap the offending agents, but knew that he had to be on his best behavior.
They reached the sign in table, and Scully spoke up. "Agents Mulder and Scully."
The formidable looking man behind the table looked them over. "Iíve heard about the two of you," he said. "And no funny business this week, capisce? Iíve heard about your penchant for taking off after little green men, and Iíll have none of it. You step foot off this campus, Iíll have your asses in slings. You understand me?"
"Perfectly," Mulder replied with a smile, and Scully detected the snotty tone in his voice.
"Good." The man checked his list. "Agent Scully, you are in C wing, Agent Mulder, youíre in B. The names are on the doors. Your uniforms are waiting for you there. Youíll find your schedules on your desks."
As they walked down the hallway to the dorms, Mulder said, "Oh yeah, this is gonna be fun."
"About as much fun as a junior high gym class."
Mulder sighed. "Scully, Iím sorry I got you dragged into this."
She stopped and turned to him. "Look, Mulder, we did this to ourselves. Weíre the rogue children of the FBI, and while that comes with certain benefits, it also has itís down sides. This is one of them. Itís better than leave without pay or another reprimand." She smiled up at him. "Besides, I canít think of anyone Iíd rather spend a hellish week with."
He smiled. "I guess youíre right. I mean, how bad can it be?"
"No way in hell I am living with this weirdo for a week!" Tom Colton practically shouted at the large man who had signed Mulder and Scully in. They had learned that his name was Agent Frank Kinsey, former Marine and currently the PE instructor for the Academy.
"Oh yeah, Colton, this is my idea of a good time," Mulder replied sarcastically. "Iím looking forward to seeing how you get that pole out of your ass."
"AGENTS!" Kinsey shouted. "Thatís enough! You listen to me, and you listen good. You donít have a choice. I donít give a flying fuck whether or not you like each other. Youíre stuck, so youíd better find a way to get along without killing each other. Youíre adults-try acting like it."
"This is great," Colton muttered. "Just un-be-fucking-lievable. Stuck with Spooky Mulder for a week."
Rather than reply, Mulder silently changed into his uniform and unpacked. On his dresser he put his picture of Samantha, and a small alien figurine Scully had given him for his birthday. He tucked several packages of sunflower seeds into his sock drawer, along with a picture of Scully he took with him everywhere. He had no idea whether or not she knew about the picture-he had kept it out of sight, almost embarrassed to have it. But deep down, Mulder was a sentimental man, and having that picture of her made him smile every time he looked at it.
He heard Colton leave, slamming the door behind him, and a minute later there was a knock. "Mulder? Are you alive in there?"
He opened the door to see Scully standing there, a small smile playing on her lips. "I heard about you and Colton," she said, sitting on his bed. "Do I need to divide the room in half with duct tape and a black magic marker?"
"Welcome to Buchenwald," he quipped somewhat sadly. "This is a recipe for disaster. No good can possibly come from this."
"You think I want to be here?" she replied. "I want to be here about as much as I want to have my fingernails removed. But face it, Mulder-weíre stuck. We might as well make the best of it."
Mulder sat down next to her. "I donít know who I pissed off to get us stuck with this detail, Scully, but heís gonna get a burning bag of dog shit on his front porch when I get home."
Despite herself, Scully laughed. "Thatís really going to improve our standings, Mulder." She reached out and took his hand. "Weíve been through worse, Mulder. Weíll get through this."
He looked over at her and smiled. "Yeah, we will."
She gave his hand a squeeze before she released it. "Come on, Iíll buy you an iced tea before class."
The first class of the day was Phys Ed, taught by the very intimidating Agent Kinsey. Mulder and Scully sat next to each other at one of the tables, and noticed that the other agents all sat as far away as possible.
"What, do I smell?" he asked jokingly. He knew exactly why nobody would sit with them.
"A little. I told you to shower more than once a week."
"I told you Scully, the little grey men like people who are unwashed."
She stifled a chuckle.
"Good morning, agents." Agent Kinsey stood at the front of the room and commanded the full attention of all the agents. "Welcome to Phys Ed. Iím here to whip your flabby, paper-pushing asses into shape." The agents chuckled, and Kinseyís face hardened. "You think this is funny, Colton?" he asked, leaning over into Coltonís face. "Whenís the last time you lifted anything but a fork, Porky?" He poked Coltonís paunch. "Sitting behind a desk in the VCU isnít doing you any favors, Doughboy."
Laughter erupted from the class, and Kinsey looked around. "Itís not just Colton here," he yelled. "Each and every one of you pansy desk-jockeys could use some exercise." His eyes focused on Mulder and Scully, who were trying to contain their laughter. "Do you two find something amusing?" he asked them.
"No, sir," Scully managed to say, quelling her laughter.
"Actually, I did think that remark-" Scully kicked him under the table. "No, sir."
"Good. Then I guess you and Agent Scully wonít find it amusing when you run the five minute mile tomorrow morning."
Scully gave Mulder a murderous look.
"Anyone else find something amusing? If you do, you can feel free to join the Dynamic Duo here tomorrow morning."
Nobody so much as blinked.
"Alright, you pansies, change into sweats and be out on the track in ten minutes. Weíre going to run sprints today."
By the time lunch rolled around, both Mulder and Scully were in desperate need of a break. They got their food and say at a table, as far as they could get from the other agents.
"This sucks, Scully."
"The potatoes are okay if you use salt," she replied, knowing he wasnít talking about the food.
"You know what I mean."
She sighed. "This isnít fun for me, either. The other women agents look at me funny, like I have a third arm or something." She sighed. "They think I donít hear them when they talk."
Anger boiled up inside of him. It was one thing to pick on him, to call him names. But picking on Scully was a different story entirely. "What did they say?" he asked her, keeping his tone as nonchalant as possible.
"You know, the usual. Mrs. Spooky, Ice Queen..........yadda yadda yadda." She looked over at him. "They did say I was lucky, though."
He looked at her quizzically.
"And I quote, ĎHow did a frigid woman like that get paired with a man as hot as Spooky Mulder? The man may be weird, but heís got a body that wonít quit.í"
She said this very matter-of-factly, but Mulder could see the hurt in her eyes. He reached out and gently touched her hand. "You arenít frigid, you know."
For a brief moment, her veneer of self-assuredness dropped, and she said, "Really?"
She looked so melancholy that he wanted to take her in his arms and kiss the hurt away. He wanted to tell her just how warm and caring she was, how much brighter and warmer she had made his life. But he pushed those thoughts aside and said, "Really. And you know I wouldnít lie to you."
She gave him a small smile, and Mulder felt his world brighten. He cut his brownie in half and put one half on her tray. "Itís no Swiss Roll......"
She gave him a genuine smile. "Thatís okay. A brownie works just as well."
Later that night, they were jogging around the track. Mulder watched Scully out of the corner of his eye-her short hair was pulled into a messy ponytail, and a sheen of sweat made her face glow under the trackís floodlights. He thought she had never looked more beautiful.
"Heard any more good gossip?" he asked conversationally.
"About us? Plenty."
"Are you going to share this information with me?"
"Well, thereís the usual are-we-or-arenít-we sleeping together stuff," she replied. "And of course thereís the ĎPoor Danaí group."
" ĎPoor Danaí?"
"Yeah.....you know, the people who thought I threw a promising career in the Bureau away by working with ĎSpookyí Mulder." She threw him a smile. "The Tom Colton Contingency, I call them."
He rolled his eyes. "That man is a royal pain in the ass."
"He wasnít always so bad," she replied. "Back when we were in the Academy, he was actually quite nice. Then he got all ambitious and decided to screw over anyone who got in his way. Itís sort of sad, really. He used to be such a good guy."
Mulder snorted. "I find that hard to believe."
"You know, you are just as bad as he is," Scully said sternly. "Neither of you will give the other a chance. You pre-judged him just like he did you. No wonder you canít get along...... youíre too alike."
Mulder stopped dead in his tracks. "What?"
Scully turned and faced him, her legs pumping in place. "He judged you before he had even met you-he decided sight unseen that you were the biggest freak the Academy had ever produced and was bound and determined not to like you. And you did the same thing to him-you arbitrarily decided he was pompous and self-righteous and unworthy of your time. You are two of a kind."
"Yeah, weíre the freaking Bobsey Twins." Mulder was angry now.
Scully stopped. "Look....Iím not saying that I think Tom is right.....heís been, and continues to be, unfair and even cruel to you. But that doesnít mean he was never a nice guy."
Mulder looked at her with sad eyes. "Am I not a nice guy?"
Despite herself, Scully smiled. "Stop fishing, Mulder."
He laughed. "I deserved that. But Iím serious."
"So am I. You know what I think."
"I want you to say it."
She gave him a look. "Why?"
She sighed and looked away, and when she finally returned his gaze, she smiled. "Youíre a nice guy, Mulder. A really nice guy."
"The nicest guy you know?"
Her smile widened. "The nicest guy I know."
"The best partner in the world?"
"Youíre pushing it."
He laughed. "Race you to the dorms."
They ran back to the dorms, laughing the whole way.
Tuesday was hellish. After a morning of running the obstacle course and the better part of the afternoon spent in a protocol class, Mulder was ready for a relaxing jog. When he returned to his room in the late afternoon, sweaty and tired from his jog and ready for a shower, he was pleasantly surprised to find he had the room to himself.
Twenty minutes later he emerged from the bathroom in sweat pants to find Colton and two other male agents talking. Colton gave him a dirty look as he walked over to his bed and put on a t-shirt. He took a bag of seeds out of his sock drawer, noticing too late that the picture of Scully had fallen out. He made a grab for it, but Colton was quicker.
"Whatís this?" he asked with a sneer.
"Give it back, Colton."
"Why? Donít you want to share?"
"Not with you."
Colton looked at the picture. "Does Dana know you have this?"
Mulder paused. "No."
"Where did you get it?"
"Thatís none of your business." Mulder made a grab for it, but Colton held it just out of reach, obviously showing off for the other agents.
"You know how the Bureau feels about partners being involved," he said. "I think AD Skinner would be very interested to know you keep a picture of your partner by your bedside." He gave Mulder a nasty smile. "Is she good, Spooky?"
"Shut up." Mulderís temper was quickly rising.
"Tell me Mulder......is she a screamer, or more of a moaner?" Colton looked at the picture again. "She looks like a moaner to me."
"Shut up, Colton." He clenched his fists, willing himself not to hit Colton.
"Iíll bet you like to do it on your desk," he continued, "A quickie at lunchtime, perhaps?"
"For the last time, Colton, shut up."
He smiled. "Sheís got fabulous lips, you know. Do you watch her when she goes-"
Like a flash, Mulder slammed Colton against the wall. "Donít you ever, ever, talk about Scully like that again, do you hear me? If you say another word about her, Iíll personally see to it that your face looks like a Picasso."
"Get your hands off me, asshole!" Colton shouted.
"I donít even want to see you looking at her! If I so much as see you glance at her, youíll be peeing through a catheter." He saw fear in Coltonís eyes. "Do I make myself clear?"
"Crystal," Colton spat at him.
Mulder dropped him to the floor, took the picture from his hand, grabbed his sneakers, and left.
Scully looked around the cafeteria. Mulder was nowhere to be found. She had checked his room, the library, the lounge, and the track-it was almost as though he had disappeared into thin air. She picked at her spaghetti, her mind otherwise occupied.
"This seat taken?"
She looked up to see Mulder standing over her, looking wan. "Where have you been? Iíve been looking for you."
He sat down with a sigh. "I went for a walk."
"Oh." She looked at him-he was avoiding her gaze. "Mulder, whatís wrong?"
"Nothing. Iím fine."
She gave him a look. "Mulder, thatís my line."
He smiled. "Sorry."
She noticed he really was avoiding her eyes. "Mulder, seriously. Whatís the matter?"
"I told you, Scully. Nothingís wrong."
"Then why wonít you look at me?"
Mulder sighed. "Not here."
She looked around. As usual, they were the only people at a large table in the corner. There was nobody in earshot of them. "Why not?"
He gave her a look. "Please, humor me."
They ate in silence. Neither of them was really hungry, so they picked at their food and tried to make conversation. Finally, Mulder sighed and got up. "Come on, letís go."
She followed him outside, to a set of benches about 30 yards from the front of the building. They sat in silence for awhile, until Scully finally said, "Are you going to talk to me, or are we going to sit here and freeze?"
He turned to her, his eyes sad. "I donít know how to begin."
"The beginning usually works."
Mulder smiled. "Thatís my Scully." He heaved a sigh. "Back......when you were gone....I saw your mother. We met by the Tidal Basin, in our usual spot."
"And?" she prompted.
"She was very kind to me, reassuring me that this was not my fault, that weíd find you. She was the only light in a very dark time of my life." He paused. "When she gave me your cross, she also gave me a picture of you. She told me to keep it......she wanted me to have it, even though I told her I didnít need it. I didnít want to take any more from her than I already had. When you returned, I tried to give it back, but she wouldnít take it."
"I donít understand, Mulder."
He sighed. "I have kept that picture by my bedside ever since. It reassures me, it comforts me........itís a reminder to me of how lucky I am to have you."
Scully was touched. "Thatís.......thatís beautiful."
"Colton found it."
"He was being crude about it.......threatening to tell Skinner we were involved, asking me if you were good in bed, if I watched you when you......." He stopped, to embarrassed to go on.
"He what?" Scully was livid. She stood and began to pace angrily. "How dare he? Who the hell does he think he is? Heís lucky I donít call Louis Freeh and have his sorry ass drummed out of the Bureau!"
Mulder tugged on her hand. "Scully, sit down. Weíll deal with Colton in a minute. Iíve already threatened to rearrange his face if he so much as looks at you."
"Mulder!" She sat down. "Youíll get in trouble."
"You let me worry about that." He smiled. "Not like itís the first time."
They stared at each other in silence. Finally, he reached over and took her hand. "When Colton said all those things today.......I was livid. I wanted to ram his little pug nose through the back of his skull. I went for a walk and I did some thinking about what he had said, and I realized that while I was mad at him, I was more mad at myself."
"Iíve done this to you, Scully. You being my partner has reduced you to being the brunt of some sick menís room humor."
"But thatís not all, Scully. Thereís more."
She swallowed hard. "What?"
"When he said those things about you.......it was nothing I had never thought myself."
Slowly, her eyes widened. "You mean..........?"
He nodded solemnly, avoiding her eyes. "Iím so sorry, Scully. I feel so dirty, like Iíve all but raped you, reduced you to a sex object."
He looked up at her, and she saw the tears flowing freely from his eyes and down his cheeks. "Iím so, so sorry. I would never do anything to deliberately hurt you. But itís just that-" He paused.
"Just what, Mulder?" Scullyís voice was high pitched now, almost frantic. "What, Mulder? Please, just tell me." She wiped his tears away with her thumbs. "Iím not mad, and I wonít be, whatever it is, I promise."
"Itís just that....." his voice cracked. "I love you. I couldnít help it. Iím sorry."
"Oh God, Mulder......donít be sorry," she said, tears streaming down her own face. "Donít ever be sorry about that." She ran her thumbs over his cheeks once more, then across his lower lip. "Donít be sorry, please. Iím not."
His hands reached up and took hers from his face and kissed them tenderly, tasting the salt from his tears on her fingers. "Iím so sorry."
"For what? What are you sorry for? Why should you be sorry?"
"I donít know," he admitted with a rueful smile. "I just feel like I should be apologizing."
She smiled. "Donít. Iím not mad." She squeezed his hands. "How could you think Iíd be upset?"
"Because of what happened with Colton......what I said I had thought about you." He looked away shamefacedly.
"Look at me, Mulder." She put her hand on his chin and moved his head so that his eyes looked right into hers. "That doesnít matter. Iím not angry. Maybe I should be, but Iím not. Because what you said to me after that is what matters here, Mulder. Only that."
He reached up and tenderly wiped her tears away. "Why are you crying?"
She smiled. "Why are you?"
"I asked you first."
"I always cry when my crackpot, albeit brilliant partner tells me he loves me."
"Then I always cry when I tell my beautiful and enigmatic partner that I love her."
She smiled again, a thousand-watt smile that broke his heart, and leaned forward and kissed his mouth. "Say it again, Mulder."
"Why?" He gave her a genuine grin.
"I love you, Scully."
New tears spilled down her cheeks, leaving a wet trail. She sniffled.
"If youíre gonna cry every time I say it, Iím gonna have to find another way to tell you," Mulder said with a laugh. "I donít think I can stand to see you cry, even if it is with joy."
"No," she said. "Itís okay. This is good." She looked at him steadily. "Donít you want to know if I feel the same?"
"I figure youíll tell me when youíre good and ready." He tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. "I think I can wait awhile. But I have a sneaking suspicion I know what youíll say."
"Suppose I want to tell you now?"
He grinned. "Far be it for me to stop you from doing anything, Scully. Whether or not I wanted something has never stopped you before. Why start now?"
She smacked him playfully. "Hey! That wasnít nice!"
"All I meant was that you know your own mind and you do what you want, when you want," he said soothingly.
"Youíre right." She smiled at him almost bashfully. "I love you, Mulder."
"I thought so."
She laughed as she wrapped her arms around his waist, holding him close. "So now what? Weíve got three days left here."
He rubbed his hands up and down her back. "Weíve waited seven years, Scully. A few more days wonít kill us."
As they walked back into the lobby, one of the agents Mulder recognized from earlier that day approached them. "Agent Mulder, do you think I could have a word with you?"
Mulder eyed him warily, but a glance from Scully urged him to proceed. "Sure."
"Iíll be in the lounge," Scully said to Mulder, giving him one last glance.
Once Scully was out of earshot, the man began. "I just wanted to tell you.......about what happened with Colton earlier-"
"Look, I donít want to hear it, okay?" Mulder said defensively. "If youíre going to make some joke, Iím really not in the mood."
"I think you misunderstand me," the man said. "I wanted to tell you that after we left, Agent Larson and I let Tom know how very unnecessary and unprofessional what he had done was." He sighed. "Look.....I know you and Agent Scully are the brunt of a lot of jokes.....I just wanted to tell you that not all of us feel the way Colton does."
Mulder was taken aback at this. "Oh.........uh, thanks."
"I really respect the work that you and Agent Scully do," he continued. "Iíve read a lot about your work, and I find it fascinating. More interesting than what I do, thatís for sure."
Mulder laughed. "Itís not all fun and games."
The man extended his hand. "Agent Bond. Iím in the white collar crime unit in Salt Lake City."
Mulder gave him a look. "Let me guess.....your first name is James?"
He grinned. "My friends call me Jim."
"And I thought Fox was bad." Mulder smiled. "Guess you get razzed a lot."
"And I do a mean Sean Connery."
While Mulder was chatting in the lobby, Scully had gone to the lounge and plopped herself down in front of the television. The lounge was surprisingly empty for that particular time of the evening, but Scully had heard rumors of a poker night in the B wing. She flipped on the television and settled onto the couch to watch ĎGreaseí on some fuzzy UHF station.
A few minutes later, Scully heard someone come in. She didnít even look up-the other agents never spoke to her or Mulder, why should this time be any different.
"I love this movie."
Scully turned to see an older woman standing in the doorway.
"I always wanted to be Rizzo.....the bad girl with a heart of gold." The woman sighed. "However, I was always more Frenchy than Rizzo."
Scully gave the woman a small smile.
"You mind if I sit?"
"Ah......no. Go ahead."
The woman sat down at the opposite end of the couch. "Iím Liz Crawford."
The woman opened the soda in her hand. "I know your work. I have to say I am quite envious of your job."
Scully looked over at the woman and studied her carefully. She was an older woman, Scully would guess somewhere in her early 40's, but she looked younger. Her brown hair was cut in a pageboy, and she wore little makeup. Her eyes were brown and deep set, and in them Scully could see that this woman was not out to get gossip or make a joke of her.
"Well, donít look so shocked, Agent Scully," she said. "A lot of us desk jockeys envy you and Agent Mulder your jet-setting careers."
Scully laughed. "Yeah, well......I hear about the envy, but itís not the job."
Crawford laughed. "You mean your partner? He is handsome."
Crawford leaned forward. "Look......I know a lot of the other agents give you and Agent Mulder a lot of grief. I just want to let you know.......not all of us feel that way. I for one donít, and I know my partner doesnít either. He was there when Mulder and Colton got into it this afternoon. And just to let you know.......Colton is in some deep shit for what he said."
"Thanks." Scully gave the woman a genuine smile.
They turned back to the television, and at the next commercial break, Crawford spoke again. "You know......the Bureau has no official policy on agents fraternizing on off hours. Itís a bunch of crap they tell you so you donít sleep with your partner."
Scully gave the woman a confused look. "Iím afraid I donít understand."
"Sure you donít." She gave Scully a look. "I know itís all just rumor and hearsay about you and Mulder.......but just FYI, it is possible to have a relationship with your partner."
"How.........how do you know?"
Crawford laughed. "I speak from experience."
Scullyís eyebrow shot up.
"Jim and I have been partners for 15 years, and lovers for 10."
Scully gave a small smile. "Why are you telling me this?"
"Because I think you need to know that itís possible."
"I know itís possible....Iím just not sure how smart it is." Scully could not believe that she was confiding in this woman, a virtual stranger.
"Did you know that in J. Edgarís time, you had to have special permission to marry someone outside of the Bureau?"
"One of those little details they conveniently forget to tell you when youíre in training." Crawford smiled. "I admit it can be hard at times, especially when Jim and I are fighting. But we each have our own homes, and our own friends outside of work. When we need time apart, itís not hard to come by. And separating our personal lives from our work one isnít as bad as youíd think. It takes some time and practice, but you learn to leave work issues at work."
"Does your AD know?"
Scully paused. "Suppose you wanted to get married?"
"We could. Our AD actually proposed that idea to us. But I like my career too much. I donít want to settle down and be a housewife. Not yet."
"Could you still be partners?"
Crawford shrugged. "I donít know. Our AD never said we couldnít."
Scully processed this information. She wondered how Skinner would react, if he would offer them help, if theyíd be allowed to remain partners.
"Dana.......Iím not assuming anything here. Iím just telling you what my experience has been." Crawford smiled. "And you donít have to worry......I wonít tell anyone about our conversation."
The door to the lounge opened, and Mulder walked in with the man Scully had seen in the lobby. "Hey Scully........ask this guy his name."
"Just do it."
He gave her a look. "Come on. Please."
She sighed. "Whatís your name?" she asked of the tall, dark man next to Mulder.
"Bond, James Bond," he replied in a pretty good imitation of Sean Connery.
Scully laughed. "Seriously."
Mulder grinned. "He is serious, Scully."
The man extended his hand. "Agent Bond. I see youíve met my partner." He gestured to Agent Crawford.
Scully looked from one to the other. "Yeah......I have."
Crawford got up from the couch and grabbed her partner by the arm. "Come on, Jim........ Iíll let you buy me a pop."
After they left, Mulder sat down next to Scully. "I hope you were playing nice."
"Thatís your problem, Mulder. I play very nicely with the other agents."
He laughed. "What did she have to say?"
She faced him squarely. "She was telling me........theyíve been partners for 15 years."
"Talk about the old ball and chain," he quipped.
"And theyíve been romantically involved for ten of them."
His eyebrows shot up. "Really?"
"Yeah." Scully reached out and took Mulderís hand. "She says itís pretty rewarding."
"I guess weíll see."
Scully got up, pulling Mulder up with her. "Come on, Mulder. Walk me home."
"Will I get a goodnight kiss?"
She looked at him coyly. "Maybe."
Wednesday was ĎPartnership Dayí.
. "If we have to build a tower out of office furniture, Iím outta here," he said to Scully as they sat in the auditorium, waiting for the seminar to begin.
"Itís better that not being able to use negative words."
He snorted. "Not much."
"Why are you so against this?" Scully asked. "I mean, this couldnít hurt any."
"We donít need this stupid seminar, Scully." He looked over at her. "Weíre a great team."
"Even great teams need some work now and then."
He sighed and gave her his best sad puppy look.
"Humor me, please?" she asked.
Mulder gave her a smile. He knew when he was defeated. "You owe me for this one."
Before Scully could reply, the auditorium fell silent and Agent Kinsey began passing out pieces of paper. "What you are to do, agents, is separate from your partner and fill out this worksheet about them. This is for your eyes only, so be honest. This is so that you can gauge exactly how much you actually know about your partner, and see if maybe you could improve your partnership by opening the lines of communication."
Mulder rolled his eyes.
"I saw that, Agent Mulder," Kinsey said. "And from what I understand, you could stand a little work on your communication skills."
Scully bit back a laugh as she took the papers she was handed.
"Meet back here in one hour." Kinsey said, looking at his watch. "Dismissed."
Scully stood. "See you in an hour."
She sighed. "Mulder, canít you even try to be pleasant about this? I know this isnít ideal... but can you at least try?"
After looking around surreptitiously, he reached out and took her hand. "Anything for you, Scully."
Mulder sat at a table in the cafeteria, gnawing on a pencil. This stupid worksheet was pissing the hell out of him. He just kept reminding himself that this was for Scully.
"My partnerís full name?" he said to himself. "If I donít know that, I have no business being in the FBI." <Dana Katherine Scully> he wrote.
Birthdate? That was easy. <2/23/64>
Family? <mother Maggie, father William (deceased), brothers Bill Jr. and Charlie, sister Melissa (deceased)>
Likes? What the hell was this, Love Connection? <Coffee-one cream no sugar, dogs, diet Coke, Ben and Jerryís Cherry Garcia, Sean Connery>
Dislikes? <Flukemen, AD Kersh, being awakened at 5am, parking in Georgetown on a Friday night.>
Pets? <Do I count?> he wrote, then added, <Once, a yippy little Pomeranian named Queequeg (deceased).>
What is your partner most afraid of? Mulder sighed. <Death. And that cream cheese thatís been in my fridge for the better part of a decade.>
Tell one thing you know about your partnerís childhood. <She shot a snake once, trying to fit in with her brothers. But when she saw it bleeding, she started to cry-as though she had just realized that it was a living creature. She tried to save it, but it died anyway.>
Does your partner have any particular talents? <She does a beautiful autopsy?> he wrote, then erased it. <She can shoot a gun, bandage a wound, and disprove a theory better than anyone I know.> That didnít sound all that great, and he knew it. But he couldnít very well put down she was a good kisser.
When was the last time your partner made you angry? <Last week, when she accused me of being a chauvinist because I wanted to drive.>
When was the last time you made your partner angry? <Last week, when I was being a chauvinist and insisted on driving.>
If there were one thing you could say to your partner, what would it be? He sighed, then began to write furiously. <I would tell her that Iím sorry for being a chauvinist pig and having to drive all the time. I would apologize for ditching her so much, but I do it because I want to protect her-I want to know sheíll be there when I get back. Iíd apologize for her abduction and her cancer because I was powerless to stop them, and for Emily because I just didnít have enough time to save her. Iíd apologize for her brother not liking me, even though I probably deserve it. Iíd tell her that she has done so much for me, just by standing by me through everything, and that I can never be grateful enough for that. Iíd tell her I love the way she smiles at me when sheís being coy, the way her hair looks when sheís just woken up, the way she swings a baseball bat, and how cute she looks in her glasses. Iíd tell her sheís the most caring person I know, that sheís made my life so much more complete just by being my friend. Iíd tell her how much I love her mom and how I wish I had known her dad, and how sorry I am about Missy because she was such a good person- a little odd, but Iím not one to judge. Iíd apologize about that stupid dog because I know damn well itís my fault the little anklebiter died, and if I had known she really liked him Iíd have chased him through the swamp. Iíd tell her that I donít know when or how I started to love her, but that it just happened and I was powerless to stop it and the only thing I would change about the past seven years is that heinous plaid jacket she used to wear.>
Mulder looked over what he had written, pleased with himself. Who says he couldnít be honest?
The agents were once again seated in the auditorium.
"Was that so bad?" Scully asked, plopping down in the seat next to him.
Agent Kinsey began to speak. "What youíre to do now is exchange these questionnaires with your partner."
"WHAT?!?" Mulderís eyes widened. If he had known Scully was gonna see this, he never would have written all of that.
Scully looked at him warily. It was obvious she didnít want to share either. Taking a deep breath, she said, "Iíll show you mine if you show me yours."
He looked at her face, anxious and yet hopeful, and smiled. He had nothing to fear. "Yeah. I think we could do that."
They exchanged papers and sat to read.
Mulder looked over Scullyís answers, skipping the more routine answers.
Tell one thing about your partnerís childhood. Scully had written <Mulderís sister was taken when he was twelve. That single event changed his life forever. Itís where he gets his drive to keep searching for the truth, to find his sister.>
Like he hadnít seen THAT one coming.
When was the last time your partner made you angry? <When he acted all macho and chauvinistic and wanted to drive.> Mulder laughed.
When was the last time you made your partner angry? <I donít know. Probably on Friday when I chose Oprah over Ricki.>
If there were one thing you could say to your partner, what would it be? He took a deep breath and started reading Scullyís response. <I would tell him how much I admire him and his drive to find his sister, his faith that the truth really is out there. I would apologize for his crappy childhood and reassure him that he is the smartest, sweetest, kindest man in the world and not responsible for his sisterís abduction. Iíd tell him how much I appreciate his concern for me, even though I donít need it. I would thank him for saving my life. I would thank him for being my friend. Iíd tell him how the sound of him eating sunflower seeds is now the most comforting sound in the world to me, because when I hear it I know he is near and I am safe. I would tell him how much Missy liked him, and how much like my father he is, and to ignore Bill because heís just being a big brother. Iíd tell him how his intensity both frightens and inspires me, how beautiful he is when he smiles, and how heís even more beautiful when he cries. Iíd tell him I love the way he wears his heart on his sleeve, and how I wish I could be more like him. Iíd tell him I like his hair better longer. Iíd tell him that he is my best friend, the one person I cannot live without, and the answer to my motherís prayers. I would tell him just how much I need him.>
Mulder looked up and saw Scully looking right back at him, her eyes slightly damp. "I got rid of that ugly jacket long ago," she said.
Mulder laughed. "Iíll let my hair grow."
"I never knew you felt this way."
"I could say the same."
She gave him a small smile. "Maybe we do need to work on our communication skills."
He gave her a look. "Iíd rather work on our non-verbal communication, if you get my drift."
She rolled her eyes. "Youíre incorrigible. But Iím serious, Mulder. Maybe we do need some work."
He sighed. "Okay, howís this? Obviously neither of us are really all that comfortable expressing stuff like that to each other, and if weíre going to be.......an Ďusí, that should probably change. How about once a month we have an evening where we sit down and talk about how we feel.....honestly. We just let it all hang out, good and bad."
Scully couldnít believe this was coming from Mulder.
"Hereís the stipulation, though. Are you ready? No going away mad. Itís no fair to say weíre going to be honest and then get mad. We have to agree that if we do this, neither of us can get all bent out of shape about it."
Scully was almost speechless. "Yes. I like that idea." She smiled. "I must admit Iím a little shocked, Mulder. This is unlike you."
He grinned. "Thereís a lot you donít know about me, Agent Scully."
Thursday morning Mulder ran into Scully on the phone with her mother. He could see her through the plexiglass of the phone booth, and went over an knocked on the door.
She slid the door open. "Itís mom," she told him. "You want to say hi?"
He took the phone she handed to him. "Hi, Mrs. Scully."
"Fox." Maggieís voice was warm. "Having a fun time at camp?" she asked, a slightly teasing tone to her voice.
"Oh yeah, Mom, can I come back next year?" he replied with more than a little sarcasm.
Both of the Scully women laughed. "Two days, Fox. You can last 48 hours."
Mulder looked at Scully. "How would you like to join Dana and I for dinner on Saturday evening?"
Scullyís eyes widened. "Were you planning on asking me if I would like to go first?"
"What, you got a hot date?" He covered the mouthpiece with his hand.
"Yeah, with my bathtub and good book," she replied, giving him a look.
He grinned. "Thereís room for two in that tub."
"Mulder! Thatís my mother on the phone." She sighed, then smiled. "Yeah, thatís fine."
Mulder uncovered the phone. "Seven okay with you? I was thinking we could go to the Old Ebbitt Grill, if thatís okay with you."
"That sounds wonderful. Iíll see you Saturday."
Mulder handed the phone back to Scully, who said a quick goodbye. "Mulder! That restaurant is not only expensive, itís also very hard to get into."
"Byers knows the maitreíd. Weíll get a nice table."
Scully gave him a look. "Why did you invite my mother?"
"Because, Scully," he said, looking at her seriously, "I think we should tell your mother about us."
"Now? Mulder, thereís just barely an Ďusí to tell her about." She pushed past him out of the phone booth. "Why donít we wait until we have something to tell her about?"
" ĎSorry, Mrs. Scully, but I got Dana knocked upí is not the way I want to break this to your mother." She gave him a sharp look. "Okay, okay, not that thatís the way it would happen. But I sure as hell donít want it to be a big secret. I like your mom, Scully.....I really respect her. And I think she deserves to know."
Scully sighed. "You know sheís going to ask a million questions."
"Yes." After looking around to make sure they were alone, he put his hands on her upper arms. "Look, Scully.......After all that weíve been through.....after all that we have put your mother through.......this is the very least we can do." He smiled down at her. "If it were up to me, Iíd shout it from the Washington Monument. But I know you would hate that."
She chuckled. "Yeah."
"And you were probably going to tell your mother anyway," he continued. "Am I right?"
Giving him a mock angry look, she replied, "Everyone likes a piece of ass, Mulder....but nobody likes a smartass."
He chuckled. "Cute. Make that one up yourself?"
"No, actually.......my grandmother."
"I think Iím gonna like this family."
Scully laughed. "Sheíd have loved you, Mulder."
"What can I say? Iím the kind of guy mothers and grandmothers love." He placed a quick kiss on her nose. "Now get lost......I have some calls to make."
"So you can butt in on my calls, but I canít on yours?" she asked.
"Not if you want a surprise, you canít." He gave her a grin. "Go on, scram. Iíll see you in a few."
With a sigh and a roll of her eyes, she walked away.
Mulder dropped a few coins in a pay phone and dialed.
"Lone Gunmen," Largely answered.
"Langly, itís me. Turn the recorder off."
There was a pause, and Largely said, "Mulder, what can we do for you?"
"Is Byers there?"
Mulder heard a click, and then, "Youíre on the speaker."
"Mulder, what I can do for you?" Byersís voice sounded tinny.
"Is the lovely Agent Scully there?" Frohike piped up.
"No, Frohike, sheís not. Byers, I need a favor."
"I need a reservation for three for Saturday at the Old Ebbitt Grill."
"Someone has a hot date," Largely said. "Does Scully know?"
Mulder heard the sound of typing in the background. "What time do you need it for, Mulder?"
"Whoís the lucky lady?" Largely asked.
Mulder sighed. "Iím taking Scully and her mom to dinner."
"To the Old Ebbitt Grill?" Frohike said with a whistle. "Thatís one chichi restaurant. Must be muy importante."
"Yeah, Frohike, it is."
"Seven it is," Byers said. "Any particular spot?"
"One with a nice view."
"You gonna tell me what it is?" Frohike asked.
"Come on, Mulder," Largely said. "You know weíre gonna find out anyway."
"Later. Byers, I also need some flowers. Nice ones."
"Dinner and flowers?" Frohike responded. "Sounds serious."
Mulder heard Byers tapping away. "You talking roses here?"
"Long-stem or tea roses?"
"Color?" Byers was all business.
"If I may be so bold, Mulder," Byers said, "I happen to know that Agent Scully likes peach colored roses."
Mulder paused. "How do you know?"
"Thatís not important. How many?"
"A dozen, I suppose. And a dozen yellow for her mother."
It was Langlyís turn to whistle. "Thatís a nice chunk of change there. You going to tell us what for?"
Finally, Mulder relented. "Okay, fine. You really want to know?"
"Yes!" all three replied in unison.
"Scully and I are.......together."
"Itís about time," Largely said. "I was beginning to think youíd never catch on."
"Yeah," Frohike chimed in. "For a MENSA member, you sure are stupid."
"IQ really has nothing to do with-" Byers began.
"Byers, do you have what I need?" Mulder interrupted, somewhat irritated.
"Yes. Your reservations are for seven, the roses will be delivered to your apartment by 6:30."
"Good. Thanks." He hung up. The Gunmen were good in a pinch, but sometimes they could be downright irritating.
By Friday lunchtime, Mulder was chomping at the bit.
"Five hours, Mulder," Scully said. "Youíre at the home stretch."
He looked at the meatloaf on his plate with distaste. "Five hours is five days and five hours too damn long."
"Why so antsy, Mulder? Got a hot date?" she asked, looking coy.
"Yeah. Thereís this cute little redhead Iíve been kinda seeing," he replied with a straight face, but a mischievous twinkle in his eye.
"Yeah......sheís amazing. I figure tonight weíll order dinner in, rent some movies.....and see how things go from there."
She smiled. "What movies?"
He shrugged. "I dunno.....depends on what sheís in the mood for."
"Suppose she says something romantic?"
"I was thinking maybe like ĎThe Naturalí."
"Thatís not a romance!"
"It is so!"
She rolled her eyes. "In what sense?"
"Only the love of a pure and good woman can get Roy Hobbs back on track again. If thatís not romance......."
She sighed. "Fine."
"Of course, the movie will be her choice......."
"Suppose she chooses ĎThe Way We Wereí?"
"Then this little romance may be over."
"Mulder! You jerk!" Laughing, she kicked him under the table. "I love that movie."
"You just like Robert Redford."
Mulder chuckled. "Iím kind of hoping sheíll pick a romantic comedy......something along the lines of ĎJerry Maguireí. That way I can have my sports and she can have her mushy stuff."
Scully nodded. "That sounds like a good compromise. What will you do for food?"
"I was thinking Italian......spaghetti and meatballs, a nice chianti.......how does that sound?"
"Add a red checkered tablecloth and an accordian player and itís a scene right out of ĎLady and the Trampí." Scullyís voice was sarcastic, but she smiled.
"Arenít you the romantic?" he replied. "I thought women liked to be wined and dined."
"Itís the skeptic in me." She chuckled. "But yes, women do like to be wined and dined."
"Good. Iíll be over at 7." He gave her a look. "Prepare to be wined and dined."
"Prepare? Iíve been preparing for seven years, Mulder. If anything, Iím too prepared for this."
"You prepared to cook, too?" His grin was playful.
She stood up, fighting a smile. "If this is how you wine and dine a woman, Mulder, I can hardly wait to see what else you are sadly mistaken about." Then she winked at him and walked away, and all he could do was chuckle.
"Whatís with all the bags?" Scully asked her mother as she let her in Saturday evening.
Maggie Scully set the two large Macyís bags on the coffee table and shrugged her coat off. "I was going through some things in the attic today, and I found some things I thought youíd like."
Scully began to sort through one of the bags and pulled out an old photo album. "Donít you want the pictures?" she asked her mother as she began flipping the pages.
"I have enough of them at home," Maggie replied. "Besides, these are mostly pictures of you and Missy.....I thought you might like to have them."
Scully smiled. "Yeah, I would."
Together, they rifled through the bag. Maggie had brought her Grandma Scullyís cameo brooch, her old teddy bear Jasper, an old music box that played ĎDanny Boyí, and the old pink and white quilt that had been on her bed as a child.
"Whatís in the other bag?"
Maggie pulled a black peacoat out of the bag, and Scully immediately recognized it.
"Dadís coat." She took it from her mother and held it up to her nose, the rough wool scratching her face slightly as she inhaled the faint scent of her fatherís Old Spice. "I thought you got rid of most of Dadís stuff."
"Me, too. But I found this today in the closet." She gave her daughter a look. "I thought maybe Fox would like it."
At that moment, Scully knew her mother would not need to be told anything this evening-Maggie Scully had known all along. Hugging the coat to her, Scully looked at her mother with questioning eyes. "How did you know?"
Maggie smiled. "A mother just knows." She kissed Scully on her forehead. "Come on, we donít want to keep Fox waiting."
Mulder drove Scully home after their dinner. As she paused in front of her door to slip the key in the lock, Mulder kissed the back of her neck. She laughed as the door swung open, and she pulled him inside.
"Whatís all this?" Mulder asked, seeing the bags on the coffee table.
"Stuff Mom brought over." Scully hung her coat up. "She did some spring cleaning today and brought me some of my old stuff."
Mulder held up the well-loved teddy bear. "This fella have a name?"
"Jasper. He was my first teddy bear. I used to sleep with him."
"Just so long as he knows who you sleep with now."
She laughed. "I doubt thereís much chance of Jasper replacing you at this point."
Mulder continued to rifle through the items in the bag. "This coatís gonna be awfully big on you, Scully," he said, holding the peacoat up to her.
"Itís not for me," she said, taking it from him and slipping it on him. "Itís for you."
"Yeah......it was my fatherís. Mom said she thought you might want it." She picked at some invisible lint on the shoulder. When she finally looked up at him, he saw tears in her eyes.
"Scully, if you donít want me to have this jacket-"
"No, Mulder, I do." She smiled through her tears. "It looks really nice on you."
"Are you......" he paused, unsure. "I mean, if this makes you uncomfortable-"
"No," she said. "Really. Itís just that-" Her bottom lip quivered and tears spilled onto her cheeks.
She took a deep breath. "My dad would really have liked you, Mulder. Heíd have liked your drive and your determination. ĎA real go-getterí he would have called you." She laughed. "Heíd have taken you to the Army-Navy game and barbecued with you and called you ĎSoní."
Mulder smiled and wiped her cheek. "So why the tears?"
She sniffled. "Because I wish he were here to see it, Mulder. To see that I found someone who reminds me of him. To see how happy I am-in the Bureau, with you, with my life. I wish you had known him, Mulder. I think youíd have liked him."
"Judging by the way he raised his daughter, I know I would." He pulled her into an embrace. "He sees you, Scully. And he is so proud of you, of your strength, of what youíve become." He looked deeply into her eyes. "He sees, Scully. He knows."
She stood up on tiptoe and gently kissed him. "Thank you."
Silently, she slipped the coat off of his shoulders and lay it on the couch. Then, taking him by the hand, she led him to the bedroom.