"Oh come on, the 'Ice Queen' will never fall for it."
"Why not? She doesn't know him; okay she's probably heard rumors, but so have we all. If he thinks she knows something about that weird case where the body kinda . . . melted?" She shrugged. "Come on, after the way she showed you up at the last autopsy? I know you're dying to stick it to her, one way or another."
Peter thought about it; Sheila was right. The bitch did need bringing down a peg. He'd been head of his class in medical school; he'd wanted to join the Bureau. But she'd been recruited, and the instructors bent over backward for her. Okay, she was good, but her attitude toward him stung. He'd never had problems getting women - premed in college, then as an intern, but this icy redhead had turned him down flat.
If she could be taken down a peg or two . . . yeah, he'd enjoy that. "You really think we can get her to accept?"
"I think so. I mean she's ambitious and he did have a reputation as the golden boy of the VCS. Yes, he's 'Spooky' but he's supposed to be a brilliant profiler. If she has heard of him, how could she pass that up? It could enhance her career, or she'll think it could. Come on, she dated Willis."
"True. But you don't think the name will tip her off?"
"She's too busy with showing you up to know that many people. I'll have Karen talk up his credentials."
"Karen? You think she'll help us?"
"Not if she knows what she's doing." Sheila grinned and for just a second Peter was aware that the woman in front of him seemed more than anxious to help him with this. What had Dana done to her, but as she continued to talk, Peter was caught back up in it.
"Karen, I'm not interested in a blind -”
"Dana, come on. You haven't been out since you broke up with Jack."
"Jack and I didn't 'break up’; we just decided to see other people."
"Okay. What 'other people' have you seen?"
Dana stared at her, eyes slightly narrowed at being caught.
"That's what I thought. Come on, it's Friday night. If you have a terrible time you'll have two full days to recover. Besides, I know you want to work with Violent Crimes. You'd have an opportunity to make some contacts and you definitely have something in common."
Well, Dana couldn't exactly dispute that. Still . . .
"I can see you're weakening. Come on, it's one date."
"Have you ever seen him?" Dana finally asked.
"No, but I've heard he's hot."
"Hot. Why am I even considering this?"
"Because you want a life outside the Bureau. You know you do."
"If I want a life outside the Bureau, why would I date an agent?"
"Don’t use logic on me Dana. Just do it. One date."
Dana rolled her eyes, but Karen's smile grew.
"Oh all right. You're sure he -”
"It's all set. He'll pick you up at your place at seven."
"My place? He'll know where I live."
"He's an FBI agent, he can find out where you live." Karen pointed out.
"I don't care. I'll meet him at the restaurant. I want to have my own car."
"Fine, just tell me you accept."
Dana groaned. "Will it get you off my back?"
"Only if you promise to let me be a bridesmaid."
Dana rolled her eyes, but gave a reluctant nod. She knew that Karen was only trying to look out for her. And she hadn't been out with anyone since she quit seeing Jack. But that hadn't been a breakup as much as a moving on, and she had been busy.
She entered the restaurant and looked around. She was a couple of minutes late and very annoyed at Peter. It was as though he had tried to drag class out so that she'd barely have time to get ready. That was absurd, he had no idea she had a date or anything about her personal life, but she had hoped to sign on to a computer somewhere and find out who this "Agent Mulder" was - at least see a picture.
There was an incredibly fine specimen at the bar - long and lean with dark floppy hair and beautiful eyes. She moved on, the FBI might seem like a 'romantic' place to work, but the agents never looked like those men gracing the covers of her sister's books.
Over there, that was probably him. She focused on a shorter man, on the stocky side, with pale, thinning hair.
She started to take a step when a voice at her side stopped her. "Agent Scully?"
She turned and looked up and up into the smiling face of the man from the romance novel cover.
"A . . . Agent Mulder?"
His smile widened. "Yes, I thought maybe you recognized me, but then you turned away."
She returned his smile and made a mental note to send Karen that new tape she wanted. "No, the blind part of this date held true. How did you know me?"
"You're the only gorgeous redhead to walk through the door."
She blushed slightly and looked down, then back up to meet his eyes, "and my file on-line has a photo."
She was quick, he liked that. "Doesn't change the fact that you're the only gorgeous redhead to come here tonight."
"Our table's ready if you are." She nodded and felt the fingers of his right hand touch the small of her back to lead her. Normally she wanted more personal space and she didn't know the man, but he seemed not to notice he was even in her space. He seemed very at ease in his body and she appreciated the way he moved. He reminded her of a large, and dangerous, cat. He knew how to wear clothes too. If she didn't know an FBI agent's salary, she'd think it was tailored for him.
He held her chair, then seated himself. "Would you like a drink?" He asked as the waiter approached.
"Ice tea, please."
For some reason she thought that amused him, but then she heard him say to the waiter, "Two iced teas please."
"If you'd like a cocktail . . . "
"I don't drink much."
She felt as though she had passed some sort of test, which was ridiculous, but she relaxed another notch.
But why was a man who looked like him on a blind date? She spent most of her time at Quantico, but she had no problem imagining women at headquarters throwing their underwear at this man as he walked by. Then she realized he was speaking.
" - surprised you were free. I've looked forward to meeting you."
"Meeting me? I don't understand?"
He smiled, but it dimmed a little, "I've heard about the new dynamo in forensics. I was afraid the line was so long I'd be retired before we met."
"Hardly." She said dryly. "Is this a consult or a date?"
He had the grace to blush, "a date. Now maybe the next one . . . "
She inclined her head, but made no commitment he noticed.
"So, you're a profiler?"
He blinked then and sat up straighter. " You, you don't know who I am."
"Well I, you're Special Agent Fox Mulder. Karen told me you worked in Violent Crimes. Should I know more than that?"
He nodded, but his smile was nearly non-existent. "Look, we haven't ordered, if you'd like to leave now . . . "
She looked puzzled then, "Why would I want to leave?"
"I'm 'Spooky' Mulder." He waited.
It took just a moment, then he saw the recognition in her eyes. Before she could speak, he did. "Why don't I walk you to your car."
"But I want to stay."
"Agent Scully - "
"Dana. Please call me Dana."
"Dana, this wasn't a good idea. I really thought . . . I didn't realize how 'blind' a date this was. You didn't have all the facts."
He was interrupted by the waiter bringing their tea. "Would you like to hear our specials for tonight?"
"Uh, no, we're not - "
"Yes, please." Dana interrupted him.
"Are you sure?"
"Very." She looked up at the waiter and smiled. He returned her smile and Mulder's relief that she actually wanted to stay, dimmed at little.
"I'll give you a few minutes to decide." The young man's eyes darted down to her breasts and back up, following his recitation and was gone. Now why had he noticed that? He'd done the same thing himself from the bar when she had walked in.
"Uh, Mulder. I go by Mulder. I never really liked 'Fox'."
"Okay, Mulder. You want to tell me why you thought I'd want to leave?"
"Look, Dana, it's . . . let's have dinner and then you can - "
"Go home? Why don't you tell me where you got your nickname?" He grimaced, “That bad a story?” she asked.
What the hell, he was confident she’d never want to see him again anyway. He was used to that by now. As long as he acted like someone he wasn’t, dates were fine, but be himself . . . That’s why porn and 1-900 numbers were better. “I, uh, when I was at the academy I was doing my rotation in VC and I tried to write a profile on my own. I made a connection that was glaringly obvious to me, but no one else could see where I was coming from. Since they were at a dead end, they applied my idea and caught him in about two days. They were stunned and asked me to look at another case. I guess my mind works differently, they say I’m making these ‘leaps’ and have just been lucky, but the stuff is right there in front me for everyone to see.”
“It hasn’t made you popular.” She said quietly.
He looked a little startled, she was quick.
“You’re smarter than they are and you scare them.”
“You’re the one scaring me now.”
She smiled, “What little I have heard about you is coming back to me. Couldn’t ‘Spooky’ have been a compliment?”
“Maybe in the beginning.”
He shook his head, “Why don’t we talk about you.”
He chose the dessert he saw her eyes dilate over when she refused for herself, with two forks. “Mulder, I can’t eat that.”
“Then we’ll let it go to waste and some starving child in a third world nation will curse us both.”
She chuckled, “You do have a different spin on things.”
He smiled and didn’t dispute her, taking a sip of coffee. He’d had a good time. And she hadn’t bolted. Of course, Monday when she did check on him she’d no doubt change her phone number, but that was days away.
She watched him smile. He was shy. It had taken her a little while to figure it out, but he really wasn’t used to this. Why he was insecure about women intrigued her and she found she wanted the opportunity to find out.
He almost laughed out loud at the look on her face when the chocolate concoction was placed in front of him. He handed her one of the forks. ‘You know some of those curses could be painful, you could grow a third knee in the middle of your calf.”
She chuckled and took the fork. “I’ll have to rely on your vast knowledge of curses I suppose.”
The humor left his face and she knew that somehow she’d said the wrong thing. “Mulder?” He looked down to see that her hand had covered his there on the table. Her touch made him feel better somehow.
“It’s nothing. Eat up.” After a slight hesitation she did, motioning for him to join her. He did, but enjoyed watching her enjoyment much more than the actual dessert. She put her fork down and watched as he slipped the last bite into his mouth. She was caught by his lips, they really were . . . luscious. And just when had she ever used that adjective before? Never mind, it fit.
She realized he was watching her watch him and she lowered her eyes.
“I don’t want to press my luck, Dana, but would you like to see a movie or . . . “
“I’m enjoying talking actually. But I can see they want our table.” She visualized coffee in some little place nearby.
He took that as the rejection he’d been expecting and nodded. He signaled for the bill and paid it, then rose and held her chair. She wasn’t exactly sure what had happened but now he seemed to want things ended. What had she said?
He walked her to her car in silence. The stars were gone, behind clouds now and she spotted lightening in the distance. She pulled out her keys and unlocked the car. He opened the door.
“I appreciate you having dinner with me.”
“I enjoyed myself.” He looked into her eyes, she seemed sincere.
He opened his mouth to ask if there was a chance to see her again, when a fat drop of rain hit her head.
“You better get in. I think it’s going to open up.”
She nodded and ducked inside regretfully. This weather had lousy timing. He stood there, not worrying about getting wet, so she turned the key, but nothing happened. She did it again and still nothing. It didn’t sound like a dead battery; there wasn’t even a click.
Mulder opened the door to the car, and leaned in. “Has it been giving you problems?”
“No. It was fine. I guess I better call AAA.”
Thunder rumbled nearby. “I don’t think you’re going to want to wait for a tow. I could give you a ride.”
She looked up at him, he was getting wet standing there. She nodded and he took her hand to help her out. He seemed to hover over her as they hurried to his car where he let her in, then got in himself. Well, so much for having her own car.
“Look, I could take you home, then come back and wait - “
“No, that’s okay. I can pick up the car tomorrow. I guess you’re not rid of me yet after all.”
“I didn’t want to be rid of you.”
“You didn’t?” She looked at him.
“No, I thought . . . “ He smiled then. “Never mind what I thought. You want to give me directions?”
She did and as he pulled out, her eye caught a couple in a car nearby. Funny, if she didn’t know better she’d think it was Peter and Sheila.
It was raining hard by the time they reached her apartment. He pulled an umbrella from the back seat and walked her to the door.
“You’re wet, Mulder. Why don’t you come in and wait for the rain to slack off. I can make a pot of coffee.”
“You sure you don’t mind?”
“I wouldn’t ask if I did.”
“No, you wouldn’t.” He grinned.
“Have a seat.” She turned toward the kitchen but he trailed her. He followed her directions and they made the coffee together. He’d just taken a sip from the mug she handed him when the lights went out. The apartment was plunged into total darkness for an instant before lightening, the brightest she’d ever seen, lit up every window. The hairs on her arm stood up and the thunder boomed immediately, directly overhead.
The next flash let her see his face. “Mulder?” He was frozen in place, but his eyes were dilated and the mug was in pieces at his feet. “Mulder, can you hear - “ She stepped closer, but he didn’t seem to notice. She touched his face and though he didn’t look at her, his arms suddenly clasped her to him. The storm hadn’t abated, but she knew the storm inside of him was somehow worse.
He breathed a name. It sounded like ‘Samantha’, but he said nothing else and she wasn’t sure she’d heard anything.
“Mulder, come on.” She stepped back and he allowed it, then she took his hand and led him to the living room. She sat him in the corner of her couch and quickly lit the candles she had on the coffee table and shelves.
When she turned back, he was watching her.
“How do you feel?”
He shook himself slightly. “Stupid, embarrassed, mortified.”
She shook her head, “Want to talk about it?”
He looked past her then for a long moment, then brought a shaking hand up to his forehead. She turned and he reached out toward her.
“I’m not leaving. Just a second.” She returned immediately with a small amount of amber liquid in a glass. “It’s brandy. I know you don’t drink, but - “
“Thanks.” He took the glass from her and drank. He coughed once and smiled slightly. “I should get out of here.”
“No. This storm is terrible and you shouldn’t be driving.”
“Or do you just want to get out of here.”
He gave a half grin, “Do you blame me?”
Her face softened, “May I ask a question?”
He looked into her eyes, then shrugged. This ‘date’ couldn’t get any worse for her. “Sure.”
“Who’s Samantha?” She asked it quietly, but the reaction was nearly as devastating as the storm.
“Where did you . . . where did you hear that name?” His voice sounded strangled.
“Mulder, I’m sorry. You . . . you said it in the kitchen.”
“She, uh, she’s my sister.”
“She . . .” he swallowed.
“Mulder, you - “
“It’s okay. It’s no secret. She disappeared when she was eight.”
He nodded slightly, “I was, uh babysitting. The . . . the lights went out and I woke up two days later in the hospital.”
The lights, that’s what had set him off. “How old were you?”
“That was . . . nearly twenty years ago, wasn’t it?”
“Nineteen, last November.”
“Is it still that . . . “
He managed a small smile. “Since I’ve already made a fool of myself, you might as well know. I, uh, I’ve been trying to remember those hours for decades. I can remember everything else - every book I’ve read, every course I’ve taken, every interrogation, but that’s gone. A few months ago I made an appointment with a, a regression therapist.”
He shrugged, “the guy wasn’t exactly reputable . . . or discrete.” He gave an ironic sort of smile. “It certainly enhanced my nickname.”
“And that’s what you thought I’d heard.”
After a moment he nodded.
“I hadn’t. But you owe it to yourself to try to find out the truth. You should find someone you can trust.”
He blinked at that, clearly caught off guard by her attitude.
“Have you had other . . . effects of the treatment?”
My dreams are more . . . vivid.”
He nodded. They both were silent then, just sitting together.
“Dana, why did you accept this date tonight?”
The question surprised her, but there was no reason not to answer. It felt like this man yearned for honesty. She shrugged, “I haven’t been out lately.”
“Are you kidding?”
She gave him a small smile, “No. I was dating Jack Willis. Maybe you know him from the Bureau.” Mulder nodded, he’d met the man a few times. “We decided to see other people, and I just . . . Anyway, Karen set this up. She said you were . . . hot.”
His eyes widened and she grinned. “She also told me you worked in Violent Crimes, and she knows I’m interested in that area, so we’d have something to talk about.”
“But we’ve barely discussed Violent Crimes.”
“So, we didn’t need a prearranged topic. We did fine on our own.”
“We did fine? You consider this a successful date? Damn, Jack must be a major dud.” He looked down, “Sorry.”
To his surprised, she laughed. “Not always, but I haven’t missed him terribly either. Tonight has certainly been interesting.”
She couldn’t read his expression, though she could see a myriad of emotions cross his face. “So, if I got up the courage to ask you out again . . . “
“I could pretty much assure success.”
Even more expressions crossed his face, but she knew she recognized delight when she saw it. He looked even happier when she blushed. He finally seemed to relax a little. He glanced at the window. “The storm’s moving off.” He caught the fleeting look of disappointment on her face and was stunned. She was actually enjoying his company. What the hell, “Dana, since we didn’t get around to talking about my job tonight, maybe we could get together again.”
She tried to keep her face bland, but he spotted the twinkle in her eyes. “Yes, I think that would be a good idea. I’m free tomorrow night.”
His mouth dropped open and she focused again on that lower lip. Unprofessional, but she was a breathing female.
“So, are you free tomorrow night?”
“Good. Since you know where I live, do you want to pick me up?”
"I'd love to, but you're going to need your car. I could . . . "
"True, maybe we could get together a little earlier and take care of that, if it's not an imposition."
A smile blossomed on his face. “Not an imposition at all. Before lunch, say . . ." Go for it Mulder, "Nine?"
“That would be good.” As though waiting for her acceptance, the power returned and the lights flickered on. She didn't seem to notice and made no move to extinguish any candles.
“Well.” He nodded again and rose reluctantly to his feet. “I’ll see you at nine.”
She walked him to the door. The thought of kissing him crossed her mind and she knew it had crossed his, but neither made a move. They both knew there was tomorrow.
He put his hand on the doorknob, then stopped. Something had been nagging at him since she’d talked about accepting the date. “Dana, did you say someone named Karen set us up?”
“Yes, Karen Connors. She’s at the academy with me.”
“That’s not the name . . . do you know a Sheila Lewis?”
She blinked, Sheila? Had that been her in the parking lot, with Peter? Had they done more ‘setting up’ than she realized?
He wished he’d kept his mouth shut, was she upset?
Then she looked up at him, “Sheila, huh? I’ll have to thank her personally.”
He knew he’d missed something, but with any luck he’d get the chance to ask what. “Tomorrow.”
“Yes, I’ll see you in the morning, Mulder. Be careful, the streets are wet.”
He nodded and at the last moment, let his fingertips brush her cheek. For some reason it felt more intimate than a kiss and she knew blood had suffused her face again. He looked at her for a long moment, then stepped out into the hall, feeling happier than he could have thought. Imagine, a blind date . . .
Blind Date 2
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