Why did Skinner always want early morning meetings? Did he think he had an advantage that early? Well, he probably did. Mulder wasnít always at his best first thing in the morning. Oh well, sheíd better call and let him know. She continued getting ready as his phone rang and was reaching for her necklace when the phone was picked up.
"Mulder, itís me. . . "
"Hello?" The phone had obviously awakened the woman. The voice was husky, sexy.
"Iím, Iím sorry I must have dialed a wrong number." Even as she said it she knew that wasnít the problem, sheíd use her speed dial.
"You lookiní for Fox?"
"Huh, yes." Damn, she sounded like a fool.
"Heís in the shower. Can I give him a message?"
"No thank you. Sorry I disturbed you." She broke the connection, too many emotions assaulting her to carry on any further conversation. Who the hell was she? Even as her anger grew she was grateful there was no one around to see how those few words had devastated her. This was ludicrous, he had every right to have a woman in his apartment, well okay, his bed. Get a grip, Scully.
She managed to finish dressing and drove to the office. She left a note on the office door and proceeded on to Skinnerís office rather than wait in the basement. She might be early, but she needed the time. She still couldnít trust her composure. How the hell was she going to face him? She was already aware that concentrating on this meeting was going to be a useless gesture.
She actually jumped when Skinner said her name to call her into his office.
"Is everything okay, Agent Scully?í
"Fine, Sir. I just have a lot on my mind." He nodded and held the door for her. He offered her coffee, which she refused. Caffeine was the last thing she needed Ė she was going to jump out of her skin as it was and finally lapsed into silence.
"Did you tell Agent Mulder about this meeting?" he asked.
"I wasnít able to reach him this morning, Sir. I left a note on his office door." Skinner shot her a questioning look, but made no comment. He did note that she stiffened slightly when Mulder tapped on the door.
"Sorry Iím late, I didnít get word of the meeting." He directed that at Scully, but she didnít comment or look at him.
"Well, letís get started, shall we?" Skinner began the meeting.
Scully had been right, this was a futile exercise. Would this meeting never end? She was gathering herself to leave when she realized Skinner was dismissing them. She was up and out practically before he was finished speaking.
Mulder caught up with her at the elevator. He took her elbow and she reacted as though sheíd been scalded.
"Are you all right?"
"Iíve got work to do Mulder. Do you need anything?" If she didnít get away from him. . .
"I guess not. Iíll catch up with you later." He turned and headed for the stairs. He didnít have a clue what had put her in that mood, but he could go get bloodied elsewhere. Heíd give her a little time, maybe check back at lunchtime. He put her out of his mind and got down to work.
She was less fortunate. No matter how she tried to put the morningís incident out of her mind it was always there ready to reassert itself. She didnít hear him approach the cubicle she was using and jumped when he spoke to her.
"Donít sneak up on me." She turned away crossly.
"Sorry, I thought you heard me. Want some lunch?"
"No thank you." God, she sounded like such a bitch.
"Aw, come on Scully. I donít know whatís bugging you, but canít we eat?"
"I would think you already had plans." Why couldnít she get this under control!
"Why would I already have plans?" His temper was beginning to go, too.
"Look, you have your own life. You donít owe me any explanations. . . "
"Youíre damn right I donít." He interrupted her. "But just for the sake of argument, if I did owe you any explanations, what the hell would I be explaining?"
"Come with me, now." He took her arm and gently but firmly led her to the elevator. Rather than cause a scene she allowed him to do so.
He led her to the basement and locked the door to ensure they were not interrupted.
"Okay, whatís the problem."
"I donít have a problem."
"The hell you donít." He placed a finger on her chin to turn her face up to him.
"Donít." She stepped away from him.
"Scully, what did I do? Shit, donít be like this."
"Do? You didnít do anything to me." He slammed his hand down on the desk, causing her to jump.
"Weíre not leaving here until you tell me what the hell is wrong."
"We have no claims on each other, you can have as many women as you want over, but you might let me know so I wonít call and disturb you."
"What the hell are you talking about?" Mulder stared at her as though sheíd lost her mind.
"Your friend answered the phone this morning. Iím sorry I woke her."
"What friend? Scully, I do not understand." He took a step toward her and she flinched.
"I called you to tell you about Skinnerís meeting and a woman answered. I woke her up."
"There was no woman. . . "
"She answered your phone, Mulder."
"You dialed the wrong number."
"How do you misdial Ď1í, Mulder?"
"Iím number one on your speed dial?" He tried to lighten the moment.
"Look maybe the programming went out."
"She said Fox was in the shower. I donít know about you, but the number of my acquaintances with that name is limited."
"Fox. Youíre sure she said Fox?"
"Scully, I donít have an explanation, but there was no woman in my apartment, much less my bed, last night. What did she sound like?" He had gotten closer and closer to her as they spoke, invading her space, making her dig in her heels to stand still.
"Sound like? A busty blond. Mulder, how the hell would I know?"
"Well, there was no busty blond around. Iíd have noticed. Even in my dreams, the only woman is a short red-head."
"Mulder, donít." She finally did step back, away from the power of him.
"Itís true, Scully. There was no woman at my place last night. I swear it."
"But. . . "
"I donít know what happened. I canít explain it. But there was no woman." He put his hand on her arm. " Did you know your eyes flash when youíre jealous."
"I am not jealous."
He pulled her to him. "Scully?"
She had the grace to blush. He grinned down at her. "Now we have to find out whoís been answering my phone."
"Mulder. . . I. . . "
"Letís go get some lunch. Come on."
Scully nodded, too embarrassed to follow that line of conversation anyway.
She was out of sorts the rest of the day, mostly angry with herself. How could she have revealed so much, cared so much? They were partners, not lovers, for godís sake. Regardless of whatÖdamn what a terrible day.
She ought to apologize. Yes, thatís what she needed to do. Sheíd really been a bitch this morning. She dialed his phone, not bothering with the speed dial.
Scully heard the phone picked up, then, "Oh damn, I forgot you donít want me to answer the phone."
"Just hang up." The line went dead.
Scullyís nerveless fingers dropped her phone. Mulder. That was Mulderís voice. Heíd lied to her, heíd looked right in her eyes and lied. Heíd even joked about dreaming about her. Fury shot through her. To hell with him, he wouldnít be lying to her again soon. Sheíd talk to Skinner first thing tomorrow.
When her phone rang at two a.m. she knew immediately it was he. Who else called at such ungodly hours? She lifted the received, heard his, "Scully" and dropped the phone back into the cradle, then lifted it again to ensure he couldnít call back.
"Scully? Scully!" What had happened? He tried again and got a busy signal. He waited a minute and tried again. Something was wrong. He grabbed his jeans from the back of the couch and slipped on his shoes as he found his keys.
He lost no time in reaching her apartment. When his knock brought no response, he pounded on the door. He was reaching for his keys when she opened the door.
"Be quiet! Some people are trying to sleep."
"What happened? I called you and the phone went dead, then I couldnít get through."
"My phone is off the hook so I wonít be disturbed. You, however, are disturbing me. You can go back home now."
"Scully, I thought we were okay. Now whatís going on?" Heíd never felt this kind of iciness from her before. He could actually feel himself shriveling up, if she were armed heíd be on his knees begging.
"Go back to your busty blond, Mulder and leave me alone." Mulder pushed past her into the apartment. "Get out of here!"
"No way. Somebody is feeding you bad information. . . "
"I heard you. It was you on the phone."
"I called you earlier. She answered and you told her to hang up."
"That never happened, Scully."
"Are you telling me Iím crazy? That I didnít hear what I heard?"
"No, but. . . Scully. . . shit, it didnít happen."
"Will you leave now?"
He stared at her for a minute, but she didnít waver. Finally he opened the door, but looked back once more. Her return look left no room for conversation. He walked out. In case she was watching, he drove off. He circled the block, then returned and parked outside her building. Her lights were out, but he waited an hour before he returned to her door and letting himself in with his key. He stretched out on the couch. Something was happening to her and he wasnít leaving her alone until he figured out what.
When she rose the next morning she donned her robe and headed for the kitchen to start the coffee. Spotting him on the couch brought her to a dead stop. She pulled the robe closed.
"What are you doing here? I threw you out last night."
"I came back."
"Why?" He rose from the couch and stretched. "She not woman enough for you?"
"Damn it, Scully! There is no woman. If there were some busty blond in my bed, do you really think Iíd have slept on this short little couch?" His anger was mounting. He advanced on her and grabbed her shoulders, pulling her around directly in front of him. "There is no damn woman, Scully!" He shouted in her face. "Oh, to hell with it." He let her go and plopped back down on the couch.
"Then what do you want me to believe?"
"That someoneís trying to break us up. That someone doesnít want you to trust me. And theyíre damn good." He ran a hand through his hair.
"There ought to be a way to prove that."
"Call my apartment."
"To see if Iím there." She just looked at him for a moment, then nodded and picked up her phone.
After ten rings she turned to him, "All this proves is that you were able to train her not to answer the phone."
"Whereís my machine, Scully?"
She just stared at him for a few seconds. "Whatís going on here, Mulder?"
"I donít know. But you have to believe me, Scully. You have to trust me."
"I want to."
"Scully, there is no other woman." It was so hard looking at him, she couldnít do it any longer, couldnít meet his eyes. She had believed the worst, that he would lie to her. She looked down.
"It shouldnít matter if there were."
"Well," he forced a slight grin, "Iíd be a fool not to admit how good it feels that it does matter."
"Okay, okay. We need to find out where my calls are being diverted. Iíll call it in, you better get dressed."
"Oh! I. . . " They had spent time on the road together. Heíd certainly seen her in nightclothes before. Why was she blushing, why was this different?
"Iíll start the coffee. Go on."