Her mind was filled with other thoughts, so it took a couple of seconds to notice the one red rose on her keyboard. It brought a puzzled smile to her face, then she glanced at the calendar. No, he wouldnít have remembered. Had they really been together five years? It didnít seem possible. She took a deep sniff of the beautiful flower, then placed it in an empty glass and added water. She got down to work, occasionally glancing up and smiling again.
When Mulder breezed in she saved what she had been typing and watched him divest himself of his suit coat.
"Youíre welcome. What did I do?"
"The flower, it was sweet of you to remember." Scully watched him, smiling.
His forehead creased in a frown. "I think Iím in trouble. What flower?"
"The rose you left on my keyboard." He looked where she gestured.
"Now I know Iím in trouble. Scully, I canít take the credit, and Iím afraid I didnít remember."
Her face fell a little. "Thatís okay, it was silly anyway. But who was in here delivering flowers this morning?"
"Thatís second. What did I forget?"
"I told you, it was silly."
"Humor me." He was invading her space again, imposing himself on her to get his answer.
She leaned back in the chair. "Weíve been partners for five years this week. I told you. . . "
"It was silly." He finished the sentence for her. "But it isnít. And I would have remembered, I just havenít seen the calendar this morning. Iíll find out who my rival is, kill him, then take you to dinner tonight."
"Thatís not necessary."
"Okay, Iíll only rough him up."
"Mulder." Her tone was warning.
"Oh, you mean the dinner? That is necessary. Letís go someplace nice. Seven thirty, Iíll pick you up."
"Mulder, you donít. . . " Her face was reddening from embarrassment.
"Wear something low-cut."
"Mulder!" But he had picked up the phone and was flipping through his wheeldex.
"Reservations please. Yes, two for tonight, eight oíclock. Fine, thanks." He turned back to her with a grin. "Let flower boy top that."
If Iíd know it was that easy Iíd have sent flowers to myself years ago, Scully mused, then chided herself. This was ridiculous, sheíd practically roped him into asking her on a date.
"You do not have to take me out."
"Scully, if I Ďhad toí I probably wouldnít. Now about that flower. . . "
She explained how it had been sitting on her keyboard when she entered the office that morning. Yes, the door had been locked. Thatís why she had assumed it was him.
"Well, I donít like it, especially the part about someone getting in here, but everything important is in the safe. Keep an eye out, okay?"
She nodded and they both returned to work.
At 4:30 Mulder closed down his computer. "Well, Iím going home to make myself beautiful. It wonít take you as long, so Iím leaving now. Pick you up at 7:30." And he breezed out of the room. She shook her head and began packing up her work.
Mulder pulled up in front of her apartment building. He still couldnít believe heíd actually done this. It had been in the back of his head so long it had become part of his skull, but to actually ask her out on a real dateÖ He tugged his coat into place, slightly embarrassed. How long had it been since heíd had on a tux? He couldnít remember even having it on but a couple of times since leaving England. Hell, he owned the damn thing, might as well wear it. If she laughed, she laughed. He took a deep breath and knocked on her door.
She didnít laugh. Her eyes widened in appreciation. His eyes however, nearly came out of their sockets. Was she going to wear that? It was the darkest green, perfect with her hair and complexion, but could she breathe in it? It was hugging her body as tightly as he wanted to. Oh that would look good on a psych profile, jealous of a damn dress. It was obvious, at least to him, that the cancer that had racked them both last year was gone. But the part that really bothered him was the bodice, what there was of it. It did cover her nipples, in a design worthy of the best scientists of NASA defying physics, but why? His dismay must have shown.
"Donít you like it?"
He swallowed. "I like it. So will every other breathing male in DC." Her cheeks colored slightly. "Please know that I would enjoy it immensely if you were to actually fall out of that dress, but my clip only holds ten rounds and Iím not sure I can protect you."
She laughed, causing him even more concern. "Have a little faith, Mulder."
"Oh I do, Scully, but my faith is in other things, like gravity."
She shook her head. "Weíre going to lose our reservations."
They had wine before dinner, toasting their partnership, then he asked her to dance.
"Mulder?" He stood and took her hand.
"Come on, Scully. Besides if the waiter leans over you one more time, my first round is going into him."
Why had he ever thought of her as short? She fit perfectly into his arms, but looking down was a hazard. He felt his groin tighten. Maybe this wasnít such a good idea.
Scully arched one eyebrow. "Happy to see me?"
"I think we better sit down."
"Donít start with me, Scully." He led her from the floor, walking slightly behind her. She was thoroughly enjoying herself.
The meal was great, the company better, and when he walked her to her door later that evening she decided to invite him in for coffee.
"Youíre not going to seduce me are you?"
"Me?" He didnít have to be the only one throwing innuendoes around. "But I am going to slip into something more comfortable." He actually paled a little at that, she hid her grin. "Why donít you start the coffee."
When she returned he drew his first deep breath of the night. She was wearing an oversize sweater and black tights.
"You are a cruel woman, Dana Scully." She grinned and took the cup he offered her.
Heíd only been gone a few minutes when her phone rang. "Hello? Hello? Is anyone there?" The phone went dead. "Must be a wrong number." She got ready for bed, humming softly to herself.
With Mulder it was the body that was humming. What a great night! Why the hell had it taken him five years to ask her out? She could give as good as she got. How had the powers that be screwed up so badly giving her to him? Thank god they werenít as smart as they thought they were. As he stretched out on the couch getting ready to sleep through yet another old movie he remembered the rose. He might need to check deeper into that.
No flowers were in evidence the next morning, but the smile Scully gave him when she entered the office nearly stopped his heart. Had she always smiled like that? Obviously not often enough. Concentration came hard the whole day and neither of them were entirely convinced they earned their pay, but so what. They walked to their cars together and reached hers first.
He reached across the windshield and plucked a note from her wiper blade. "You got a love note, Scully." He handed it to her.
"Look for dents while I read, Mulder." She unfolded the note and read it, then without a word handed it to him.
"Hope you enjoyed the rose. Wish I could have found one as beautiful as you." He read aloud, "I donít like this. Could it be an employee, first he gets into the office, now into the parking garage? Have you noticed any secret admirers panting around you?"
"No more than usual." She answered dryly. "Oh, I hope this wasnít the hang up I got after you left last night."
"No heavy breathing?"
"Nope, just a hang up. Now Iím going to start getting paranoid."
"You get used to it." She looked up at him and laughed. His heart clutched again. Damn this was a good week so far. She reached for the note. "Let me hold on to this, I want to see what I can pick up from it. Send it through the lab."
"Do you really think thatís necessary?"
"Probably not, but itís what we do around here. Iíll let you know what we turn up." He stood there until she was in her car and backing out. She noted the protective gesture and gave him another smile before driving off. Damn. . .
At her apartment there were two hang-ups on her answering machine. She made a note of the times of the calls to pass on to Mulder. It rang again while she was eating dinner. "Hello? Is this the person thatís been calling me?" Silence. "Please say something." She started across the room toward her jacket. The phone went dead. "Damn."
She dialed Mulderís phone. "Mulder."
"Itís me. He just called again."
"Could you get a trace?"
"No, couldnít even get to my cell phone in time. There were also two hang ups on my machine."
"Iím coming over."
"Thereís no need for that."
"I think there is. I want to get a trace on this guy. Iíll bring a movie."
"Okay. See you in a few minutes." He brought "The Thing", so she opened a bottle of wine and they watched it like two old married people. Her on the couch and him stretched out on the floor following a short shoulder massage. The phone never rang.
At 11 she stretched and yawned. "Go home, Mulder. I canít take two late nights in a row."
"I could hang around, let you go on to bed."
"All heís doing is calling, Iíll be okay."
"Heís been to your office and your car."
"Thanks. Iíll lock up, Dad."
"Will you call me if you need anything?"
"Who else? Now go." He reluctantly climbed to his feet and popped the tape out of the VCR. He turned to her and started to say something, "Iíll be fine, Mulder. See you in the morning." She handed him his jacket and while his arms were entangled in the sleeves, startled them both by brushing a quick peck on his cheek. She stepped back, blushing.
"I guess I had better go." He stated it as a fact, but there was a definite question in his eyes.
"Yeah, see you tomorrow." She held the door open for him, not quite meeting his eyes. He got in his car, but instead of driving off sat and stared at her windows for a moment. She watched him from the window, not even trying to analyze her feelings, just letting them wash over her for a change.
When he finally pulled out she backed away from the window and turned toward her bedroom. The phone rang. She froze for a second, then reached for it. "Hello?" Silence. The timing was too much, he was watching her apartment. She slammed the phone down and immediately picked it back up and dialed Mulderís cell phone.
"Please come back."
"Did he call?"
"As soon as your car pulled out. Heís watching the place."
"Iím turning around now. Iíll be right there."
She was watching through the peephole when he entered the building and she had the door opened, waiting for him. "Iím sorry. It just unnerved me, the timing."
"Iím going to have a tracer put on your phone right now. I shouldnít have been so slack before, but I thought of it as a prank. You go ahead and get ready for bed."
"Iím not tired any more."
"Scully, Iíll be here. Go on to bed. Iím not going to sleep anyway. Go."
She reluctantly obeyed him, but got very little sleep. Her mind refused to shut down. The next morning she rose to start the coffee before her shower to find he had already made it. She sank into a chair and gratefully inhaled the aroma.
"How much do you charge for this kind of service?" She questioned.
"You could never afford me. Do I get first shower, or do we share?"
"Go on, I need to enjoy this." He shot her a disappointed puppy dog look and headed for the bathroom.
She put up with his mock complaints about her not letting him keep some supplies over by assuring him she would find him a drawer somewhere. They finally achieved a state of readiness for work. Walking to the car he used his height advantage to scan her car.
"You have another note."
She pulled it carefully from the wiper blade and unfolded it. "You shouldnít let him stay over. If he wants you, he should earn the right to be with you. Why buy the cowÖ"
He watched her eyes grow big and her complexion pale but did not reach for the note.
"Get in the car. You drive." He slid into the passenger seat as soon as she unlocked the car.
"What about your car?"
"Donít worry about it. I want to get your car in for dusting and whatever else we can find. May I see the note?" She handed it to him without a word. After reading the note, he looked over at her. "Scully, I. . . " He couldnít respond to this. "I think we made him mad."
"Well then weíre even. I hate this."
"I know. I donít have any good advice, but letís see what we can turn up."
Mulder came into the office and handed her a file. "Look this over. Weíre headed for North Carolina."
She opened the file and glanced over the material on top. "You think this is an X-file?"
"Well, probably not. But we can investigate it."
"To get us out of town for a couple of days."
"Why?" She pinned him with her stare. He found himself wishing for that smile heíd enjoyed so only yesterday.
"I just got off the phone with the DC police. My car was vandalized last night."
"Oh no, what did he do?"
"Weíre not sure it was him. . . " The look she gave him pulled no punches. "Okay four slashed tires and a pretty good key job according to the guy I talked to."
"Were any other cars vandalized?"
"Nope, I was the only lucky one."
"I should never have called you back last night. This is all my fault."
"Iím glad you called me back. If I hadnít been there he might have tried to seize an opportunity. And itís not your fault that Iím involved with a woman whose admirers range from Frohike to Pendrell."
She finally did smile at that. "Well, I need to get a few things."
"No, youíre not going back to your apartment. Weíre kind of sneaking out of town."
"I canít go out of town with just what I have in my purse!"
"You can buy some pjs and a toothbrush in North Carolina. I hear theyíve gotten very sophisticated lately."
"Mulder, whatís Skinner going to say?"
"He said it was a good idea. Heís going to have your apartment under surveillance while weíre gone."
"What if weíre blowing this thing out of proportion?"
"I hope we are. Come on, you can read the file on the plane."
After closing the file, Scully turned to him. "Weíre wasting our time here. This is just a missing person case, not even kidnapping. Where did you get this?"
"Well, Iíve been tracking anything going on in the genetic engineering field and this popped up. This Dr. Isaman is smack in the middle of it and he is gone."
"Genetic engineering? Why Mulder?"
"Itís a field that interests me."
She gazed at him for a few seconds and decided to postpone that discussion to another time.
"Anyway, North Carolina should be nice this time of year."
"Possibly, assuming we see more than the Raleigh-Durham airport and the, what, Xenotech Labs. Xenotech? Now really Mulder, is that why weíre here?"
He grinned, "Never miss an opportunity, Scully."
They grabbed a rental car at the airport and following the map found Xenotech in the labyrinth that is the Research Triangle Park. Their IDs got them to Administration with no delay.
"Iím sorry, I wasnít aware that the FBI was involved. Do you consider this a kidnapping? We havenít heard. . . "
"No sir, we received word that Dr. Isaman was missing and decided to look into it."
"Oh, oh I see. Would you like to see his lab?" The administrator took them down himself, and hovered around as they checked the place out. A commotion outside the lab drew their attention after about twenty minutes. The door burst open.
"What is going on around here?"
"Dr. Isaman! We didnít know what had happened to you. We. . . "
"Who are all of these people in my lab!" His face was red and his anger extremely evident.
Mulder stepped forward. "Iím Special Agent Mulder, and this is. . . "
"Fox Mulder?" Dr. Isaman interrupted him.
"Yes, Sir. Have we met before?" Mulder watched the color drain from his face and made a mental note to have the guys check him out. If he could be a lead to Dr. Scanlon. . .
"No, no, weíve never met. Look this is all a misunderstanding. It never occurred to me. . . Have you spoken with my wife?"
"No, Sir." Scully spoke for the first time. "We just arrived."
"Good, good. Listen thereís no need to bother her with this. I. . . I appreciate all of the trouble youíve gone to, but really. . . Iím home and Iím safe and I need to get back to work." He was literally shooing everyone toward the door.
They allowed themselves to be escorted out and with many apologies from the administrator were led to the front door. "When do I get to say ĎI told you soí, Mulder? And when did you become so famous?"
"Maybe the genetic scientific community is keeping an eye on you too."
"Wouldnít that be interesting." They headed toward the car.
"Oh god." She placed her hand on her stomach.
"What? Scully, are you okay? Are you sick?"
"Thereís a note." His head whipped around, she was right. He reached for it.
"No, let me." She lifted the piece of paper. ĎDonít run away. I didnít mean to scare you. Iím sorry.í Mutely she handed the note to Mulder. He scanned it.
"Iíll drive. Come on."
"No, weíre staying here tonight."
"Thereís time to get back to DC. Weíre not needed here."
"I donít like the connections. Weíll stay, weíd planned to anyway." She made no comment, simply withdrawing into herself.
She remained silent until he pulled into a motel. "This isnít where you said weíd stay."
"I know. I changed my mind. Scully, itís going to be okay."
"He followed us here."
"Which means he had to have left a trail."
"But how did he know where we were going? The only person who knew was Skinner."
"You donít think Skinner. . . " Mulder started to question her.
"I donít know who might have overheard him, or. . . "
"Skinner? No, there was some other way. Come on."
They entered the lobby and the man behind the desk immediately looked up and smiled. "May I help you?"
"Yes, weíd like two rooms, connecting if possible."
"Certainly Sir. If you could both fill out these forms." They did and handed them back. He glanced over them. "Scully? Youíre Dana Scully? Well, I guess these belong to you." He motioned to the flower arrangement on the counter.
"I beg your pardon?"
"These were just delivered for you. We didnít have a reservation in your name and werenít sure what to do about them."
"Who delivered them?" Mulder took over as Scully stared at the flowers.
"Iím afraid I donít know. I stepped into the back a few moments ago and when I returned they were here. Thereís no name on the envelope except Ms. Scullyís. Donít you know who sent them? There is a card."
Scully made no move to take it, so Mulder reached for the card. ĎIím sorry.í "Do you have our rooms?í
"Oh, yes sir. Here you go. Do you need help with your luggage?"
"No, weíre fine. Thank you."
"Arenít you going to take the flowers?"
"Sure." Mulder picked them up and they went out to move the car.
"How did he know? Mulder, how did he know? I didnít even know where we were going to stay."
"Neither did I, Scully. I just pulled off the highway."
"But he beat us here!"
"Well? Iím waiting to hear one of your theories."
"And you will, when I think of one. What room does he have you down for?"
"Iím 214. Switch with me after we get inside." With no luggage, unpacking the car took no time. Mulder kept scanning the parking lot, but spotted nothing. Once inside he opened the door connecting their rooms.
"I need to see the note again."
She handed it to him. "Theyíve not been able to get anything from them."
"Smell it, Scully. I canít place it."
"Itís an aftershave, isnít it? Iíve smelled it before."
"Maybe itís a start. The others havenít had it."
"Mulder, I donít want to think about this anymore, at least for a little while. Being stalked is exhausting. Please?" She laid the paper on the table, dropped onto the bed, and lay back stretching her arms above her head. Mulder stood there, appreciating the view.
"No. Mulder why are we staying?"
"I want to see if we can get a glimpse of him, someone out of place or someone we recognize from DC. If heís even something we can spot at all."
"Uh oh, I can hear the wheels turning. Come on, amuse me with an out of this world theory."
He grinned and plopped down beside her on the bed, his hand accidentally brushing her thigh. The electricity of the movement stunning them both into silence.
Mulder rose from the bed and moved to the chair. What was wrong with him, five years and now he couldnít be in the same room without embarrassing himself. Was it because of the stalker? Was he just feeling more protective? Or was she exuding some sort of aura that was driving him mad.
She felt a stab of disappointment when he left the bed, but he was right. Why after five years was she suddenly losing control at his touch? She thought sheíd given up on those fantasies years ago Ė though if she were honest he still held the number 1, 2 and 3 slots of top fantasies when she couldnít get to sleep. She really needed a life.
When she was sure she was under control she fixed him with a slight smile. "Well?"
Her voice was husky, breathy. God, the way things were going his own voice would probably break. He cleared his throat.
"Iím not sure weíre looking for a corporeal body, Scully."
She made no comment and her expression did not change. She just waited.
"No human could have gotten here before us."
"My stalker is a ghost. I love it, I canít even get a live male to look at me but Casper is jealous of you."
"Iím not a live male, Scully?"
"You know what I mean."
"Maybe you better explain it to me." His eyes held her trapped, waiting.
Damn, damn, damn, why didn't she think? "Youíre my partner, my. . . "
"Your what?" He probed when she hesitated. "Come on, Scully. What am I to you?"
"I donít think this is the time. . . "
"When is the time?" He interrupted her.
"Mulder, donít. Not now. Maybe we ought to get something to eat. I have to get a few things for tonight anyway."
He allowed her retreat, but the questions remained buzzing between them. Conversation over dinner was nearly non-existent. It wasnít anger, more fear, they were both aware they had stepped over a line with the anniversary dinner, the status quo was damaged. Now what?
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Admirers - Part 2
Disclaimer Ė Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris, 10-13 and Fox Ė Bless them for it!! No infringement intended.
Authors note: A friend going through my stuff found this and made me finish it, Iíll keep her away from the older things in the future if I canÖ