Damn it had been a ‘hard’ night. He’d fallen asleep on the couch watching a video, but the dream . . . the dream hadn’t been about the woman on the tape. Scully. It had been a hell of a dream. Jerking off hadn’t exactly taken care of his problem.
They had been getting closer. Of course they’d gotten close in the past only to have something or other bring one of them up short and they would remember that it wasn’t a good idea.
It was beginning to look like a hell of a good idea to
him. She was the only woman he wanted, and it wasn’t
because she was the only woman he ever
saw. He had opportunities. He just didn’t feel the need to take advantage of those opportunities.
Now here she was moving gracefully around the office. And she was wearing a skirt today. She usually wore slacks, but not today, no that would have been too much to ask. So his eyes kept trailing back to that exposed thigh when she looked through the bottom drawer.
Damn. He fidgeted in the chair again. He was too damn old for this problem and he didn’t carry a notebook around in front of him any more. He had to get this under control. With her marksmanship she could castrate him from where she stood.
He wanted her, after last night he couldn’t exactly deny it any more. His body had known for years but . . . he was so damn tired of repressing this. They were adults, they could handle it. He glanced down at his ‘problem’. Well, maybe he could handle it.
She’d used that shampoo he liked too. The others she alternated with were nice too, but this was his favorite. She was obviously trying to kill him.
He found himself on his feet and moving toward her. What the hell did he think he was doing? The thought didn’t stop him and he came up behind her and ran his hand up her arm.
Scully jumped and stepped away from him. “What are you doing?” She sounded annoyed but he wasn’t listening.
“You look really nice today, Scully.”
She just stared at him then, not sure whether or not to check for fever.
Rather than listen to the little voice in his head, which was screaming “idiot!” at him, he leaned down and kissed her.
She jerked back, her eyes impossibly wide. He realized his mistake instantly and stepped back from her. “Scully, I - “
She was moving away from him then, giving him as wide a berth as she could in an office this size. She was nearly running as she left the office.
He stood dead still, the horror of his actions slamming him between the eyes. When he could move, his first thought was of escape. He grabbed his coat from the chair and moved rapidly for the stairs to the garage.
He peeled out of the garage, desperately keeping his mind blank. He automatically turned toward his apartment but as soon as that penetrated he made a turn. He didn’t want to go home. That was where this idiotic idea had formed.
He entered the bar and glanced around. Good, no one he knew. He’d never been here before and that was what he wanted.
He ordered a scotch. Not his normal drink, but what about today had been normal? And a beer wouldn’t do it for him. Not now.
The first three went down quickly, he nursed the fourth as more people entered the bar. Happy hour moved into full gear. ‘Happy’ hour, why the hell was it called that?
He was unaware that he had been noticed. He didn’t want to talk to anyone. Which is why he was so startled when the woman took the seat at the bar next to him and placed her hand on his arm.
“You look lonely.”
He jerked back to the present, “Excuse me?”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. You just look so . . . like you could use a friend.”
“Uh, thanks, but I’m waiting for - “
“Well why don’t we visit until she gets here.”
Mulder really looked at her then. She was an attractive woman, probably 5’9”, long blond hair, dynamite figure. She leaned forward again to order a drink and his eyes appreciated the depth of her cleavage. She exuded sexuality, not like . . . He looked up and realized that she was aware of his view. She smiled and, as though given permission, gave him the once over as well.
“I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you here before. I’m Celia.”
“Fox, uh Fox Mulder. This is my first time here.”
“Fox? How appropriate.” Her smile grew even more seductive and he felt the heat in his face. She turned from him then as the bartender placed her wine in front of her, somehow moving her body closer to his in the process.
When had she moved so that her breast brushed his arm?
He had no idea exactly whose idea it had been to get a room, but he was no longer fighting it. Hell, she wanted him. This gorgeous blond wanted him. Who was he to fight it?
He moved away, mortified and frustrated. “Look, I’m sorry. Nothing like this . . . “ he let the sentence trail off. It was too much of a cliché, but it happened to be true. He had never failed to perform before, and she was a beautiful woman.
“Relax Fox. It’s okay.”
“Easy for you to say.”
She smiled at him and retrieved her slip from the foot of the bed. He pulled the sheet up over his lap and she rejoined him on the bed.
Damn he wanted to escape, what the hell was he supposed to say?
“What’s her name?”
“What?” He looked up at her questioningly.
“The real woman in your life, what’s her name?”
“There’s no woman in my life.” He looked back down at the sheet.
“That feels like the first lie you’ve told me. Are you married?”
He looked up startled, “No.”
“Good,” she smiled again. “Is she?”
“I told you - “
“Yes, there’s no woman in your life. And I told you what I thought of that statement. Is she married?”
“No.” He wouldn’t even look in her direction now.
“Then what’s the problem?”
“What, are you some kind of marriage counselor?”
“Some kind, yes. I talk to a lot of men. They tell me about their relationships.”
That sounded true enough, but he didn’t want to. How could he sit here, nude and discuss Scully with some woman he had picked up in a bar.
“You didn’t betray her, you know.”
He looked up startled and she actually laughed.
“You may not have stood through a ceremony, Fox, but you’re as married as anyone I’ve ever met.” She chuckled again. “So, why aren’t you with her?”
“She’s not, she’s not interested in me that way.” He kind of sighed, maybe it was okay to talk to her; he was never going to see her again anyway.
“Is she lesbian?”
“No!” He looked outraged at the idea.
“Okay, don’t get upset. It’s just hard for me to imagine . . .” She shrugged. “Have you told her how you feel?”
“I need to get out of here. Look, I’m really sorry about . . . about everything.”
“I don’t suppose you’re going to ask for my number.” She laughed lightly at him.
“Uh, look, you’re a beautiful woman. I just - “
“Right. And there’s no woman in your life.”
He blushed then.
“I wish you luck with her, Fox. I really do think you ought to tell her how you feel. If there is nothing between you, what harm can it do? And it could always do some good. Think about it.”
She rose from the side of the bed then and moved to the alcove of the room, to give him some privacy to dress again. He grabbed his pants and ducked into the bath. She was gone when he came out. He grabbed his coat off of the chair and let himself out.
That had really made him feel better. Let’s see what else he could do to fuck up his life tonight.
Instead, common sense finally seemed to come to him and he drove home, completely sober once again. Inside of his apartment he saw the light on his answering machine blink, but didn’t go near it. There was no one he wanted to talk to tonight.
He headed into his bedroom, no videos tonight. He probably wouldn’t sleep; he’d just lie there, and try not to think about what was going to happen when he got to work in a few hours.
The door was open when he approached it. He’d overslept and hadn’t set the alarm. Every asshole deserved a late morning once in a while.
He drew a deep breath and squared his shoulders, then entered the office. Yes, she was there, waiting. “Morning.”
“Mulder. Are you . . . feeling alright this morning?”
“Yeah, I’m, I’m more myself today. I need to apologize about yesterday. I have no explanation, I’m just . . . I’m just sorry.”
“Mulder? I think we should - “
“I don’t want to talk about this Scully. Please.”
“You don’t want to talk about it. So that’s the end of it, right?”
“Scully - “
“No, you’re right. You’re absolutely right Mulder. There’s nothing to talk about. I have some work to do in the lab. I’ll see you later.”
“Scully - “ but she was already out the door. He sank into his chair and ran a hand through his hair. He was just making things better and better, wasn’t he?
Hadn’t he had the thought that they were getting closer? In what universe had that been? At least he’d had the sense to remember that something always drove them apart when things seemed good. He just hadn’t realized that ‘thing’ was usually him.
He shuffled paper on his desk, attempted to finish a report, but kept losing his train of thought. Finally he gave in, shoving back from the desk and staring at the ceiling. That’s what he was doing when the phone rang.
He grabbed it instantly, maybe she was speaking to him again and it was almost lunchtime.
“Agent Mulder? You have a visitor at the front desk.”
“A visitor? Do you have a name?”
“No sir. Are you coming up?”
“Uh, sure. Be right there.” He stood and put his coat on. A visitor? Don’t think about it; welcome it as a diversion. He took the elevator up. As he exited the second elevator opened and he saw Scully headed for the basement. She spotted him at the same moment, but the doors were closing.
He stood there watching the elevator door. Would she come back up? Should he go back down? Oh yeah, his visitor. Well, he would stay in sight of the elevator, then if she did come back he would know she was looking for him. He’d take every advantage of that to try to recreate the status quo.
As he approached the visitor’s desk he noted the number of agents loitering around, but his mind was elsewhere. He needed to get rid of this ‘visitor’ and check on Scully.
“Fox.” She smiled radiantly at him.
“Celia? What are you . . . “
“I thought I’d try to talk you into taking me to lunch.” She leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Is that the little wife?” She whispered in his ear.
He turned then to look into the pale and stricken face of his partner. Before he could speak she spun on her heel and was out the front door.
He took an involuntary step after her, but Celia had his arm. He turned back to look at her. “What have you done?”
“Well, from the look on her face, she’s used to having you exclusively. I think I’ve given her something to think about.”
Mulder just stared at her for a long moment, not speaking.
“How about that lunch? There’s a nice coffee shop just down the street. If we leave now we can beat the tourists.”
Rather than argue, he allowed her to lead him from the building. His eyes automatically scanned the streets for Scully, but she wasn’t there.
Once seated in the coffee shop where Celia had led them, he finally spoke again. “How did you find me?”
“I took one of your cards from your coat. Now I’m very glad I did.”
“Glad? You know that . . . we talked last night, you know that I’m not in the market for a relationship.”
“Right, and there’s no woman in your life. But she’s extremely attractive.”
“This woman you’re not involved with, the red head. She’s a beautiful woman.”
“What’s going on?”
“Look, you seem like a nice guy. Things didn’t work out between us, for a very good reason, but you’ve got class. Last night could have been very different, but because of your feelings for this woman, they didn’t. Something is keeping the two of you apart, so I thought I’d see if I could help.”
“If you love this woman as much as you obviously do, you should at least have a chance with her.”
He blinked, not at all sure he had heard her correctly. “You’ve decided to make me your project? Look, just because I had a little problem last night, doesn’t mean that I need a keeper. I appreciate the sentiment, I think, but - “
“Fox, relax. Tell me why this woman is off limits, if neither of you are married.”
He stared at her for a minute, then heard himself answering, “She’s my partner.”
Celia leaned back in her chair, a smile growing on her face. “Oh. That could be a complication. What’s the Bureau’s policy on fraternization?”
“Not that its any of your business, but it’s kind of a don’t ask, don’t tell thing. But that doesn’t matter. You don’t get it. She’s not interested in me that way. She’s made that very clear - “
Celia broke into delighted laughter.
“You are so clueless! Did you see the woman after I kissed you?”
“Yes. She was furious with me.”
“Actually, she was furious with me. And hurt by you.”
“Well, if she didn’t care about you, she couldn’t be hurt by you.”
“Of course she cares about me, we are partners.”
“You just don’t want to believe me, do you?”
He started to protest, but after a moment just sighed. “Celia, let’s just have lunch. I need to get back to work and see if I can salvage what’s left of my relationship with Scully.”
“Scully. Finally a name.”
“Scully, she’s Special Agent Dana Scully.”
“I’d like to meet her.”
“Oh yeah, that’s a super idea.” He opened the menu and pointed to it. “What would you like to eat?”
She smiled and tossed her hair back over her shoulder. It was a seductive gesture and part of him wanted to be affected. Most of him, however, just wanted to get back to the office.
She ordered the fruit salad with yogurt and he rolled his eyes. Exactly what Scully would have ordered. At least they had something in common, other than annoying the hell out of him.
He finally noticed that men were watching them; one even gave him the thumbs up. He didn’t know how to feel about that.
Once she was finished with her meal, he couldn’t say that he had actually eaten; she smiled up at him again. “Why don’t we go back to the Bureau? I’d love to see your office, maybe meet your partner.”
“Fox, I can help you.”
“Help get me killed maybe. Listen, I enjoyed your company, to a point, last night and I’m sure my reputation at the FBI is enhanced with your presence, but it’s not exactly the kind of reputation I’ve been looking for.”
“I won’t stay long. Come on, Fox.”
“No. You’re out of your mind. Don’t you understand English? I want you to leave me alone, okay?”
She smiled and stood, taking his hand. She tugged him to his feet, then linked her arm with his as they exited the restaurant. They looked very cozy as they walked back toward his building. The problem was, he wasn’t able to shake her then. And with so many agents watching, he didn’t think he could brush her off without being arrested.
It wasn’t until after they exited the elevator in the basement that he was able to speak to her again in private. “I said I didn’t want to bring you here.” The fact that he was hissing at her didn’t seem to bother her at all.
“Why are you in the basement, Fox?”
“To keep me out of sight and mind. You’re not helping.”
Again she laughed lightly and moved toward his office. He leaned against the wall beside the elevator and closed his eyes. He couldn’t hit her and he wasn’t sure how to get rid of her otherwise.
“Hello, you must be Agent Scully.”
That brought him upright again and moving toward the door. He got there in time to see Celia extend her hand to Scully, who shook it. “I’m Celia Wright, a friend of Fox’s. I’ve heard so much about you.”
Scully seemed at a loss at that. “I’m afraid you have the advantage.”
Celia laughed lightly. “I suppose I have. Fox would much rather talk about you than me.”
Scully blinked but didn’t speak as she spotted Mulder standing in the door.
He came on in the room. “You, uh, you missed a nice lunch. I couldn’t catch you upstairs.”
“I didn’t want to intrude.” She sounded icy and he struggled not to shiver.
“Oh Dana, you wouldn’t have been intruding, would she Fox? Well, I should be running along. I just wanted to see the office and possibly meet you. I’ll talk to you later, Fox.”
“I’ll, uh, I’ll see you out.”
“I can find my way. I didn’t mean to take up so much of your time anyway.” She brushed another kiss across his cheek and waved at Scully, then left the office.
Mulder fought the inclination to collapse into his chair. “Uh, Scully - “
She turned from him, moving toward the files. “You have lipstick on your face.”
“Oh, uh” He wiped at his face. “Listen Scully, I need to talk to you.”
“Mulder, I have an appointment outside the building. We can talk later.” She reached for her briefcase.
“Will you be back today?”
“No. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She was out the door then and he finally did sink into his chair. He didn’t see her look of relief when the elevator was empty, or her hand shake as she pressed the button.
Scully almost didn’t answer the phone when it rang shortly after six that evening, but decided that she was not going to let Mulder dictate her every move.
“Hello, is this Dana Scully?”
“Who’s calling please?”
“This is Celia Wright. We met earlier this afternoon.”
It took a moment for Scully to respond. “Yes, Ms. Wright, I remember.”
“Oh call me Celia. I realize I’m calling with no notice, but I was wondering if you had plans this evening. I’d really like to talk with you.”
“With me?” That was about all she could say.
“Yes, you obviously know Fox so much better than I do, and I’d really like to get to know you as well.”
“I . . . I’m not sure that - “
“Please Dana. We could have a quick bite, or a drink. I’d really appreciate it.”
“Celia, Mulder might not like me talking about him to you. He’s a fairly private man, and - “ and it was the last thing in the world she wanted to do.
“Oh, I know. That’s why I wanted to talk to you. The way he talks about you, I know you could help me.”
Help her? Scully felt despair settle over her. She sighed, but if Mulder wanted . . . “Fine. Where would you like to meet?”
Scully spotted the woman immediately when she entered the bar. She stood still for a moment, reminding herself of her own accomplishments, then moved toward her table.
“Dana.” Celia smiled up at her and tossed her hair over her shoulder. Scully managed not to bolt. This was what Mulder wanted; she had known that for a long time. Remember Detective White? And those videos . . .
“Celia.” She took the seat across from the woman.
“I really appreciate you coming out like this on such short notice. What would you like to drink?”
“Uh, just coffee I think.”
“Okay.” She motioned for the waitress and ordered two cups of coffee.
“Celia, I’m really not sure this was a good idea. If you want to get to know Mulder, you should be talking to him.”
“Oh, I plan to, but you’re so important to him - “
“I’m important to him?”
“Oh yes, and not just as his partner. But I’m sure you know that. He compares every woman he meets to you.”
Scully realized her mouth was open and snapped it closed. “I believe you’re overestimating my place in Mulder’s life.”
“No way, Dana. You should see his face, his eyes when he talks about you.” Celia was quiet then, watching her reaction.
“How, how long have you known Mulder?”
“Not that long. It doesn’t take long to see how he feels about you.”
“I beg your pardon?” She stopped as the coffee was placed on their table. “I thought we were talking about you.”
“We are. I want him to look at me the way he looks at you. How long have you two been partners?”
“The way he . . .” Scully shook her head, “We’ve been partners for seven years.”
“Seven?” She kept her expression still; that man had kept himself on the hook with this woman for seven years and neither of them knew it? They both needed help. “I guess you’ve been through a lot together.”
“That’s going to be hard to compete with.”
“Excuse me? Compete?”
“Well of course. You’re the woman in his life, the person he confides in. You two are just partners right, I mean . . . “ Her expression made her question obvious.
“Yes, just partners.”
“You two must have the self control of saints.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Well the man is a hunk, Dana. I mean look at him. The first time I saw him, I wanted to lick him all over, you know? How do you keep that under control?”
Scully stiffened. This was not
something she wanted to think about. It was hard enough when
nothing was said,
but to have the woman just state it . . . the kiss in the office. That had nearly undone her; she’d raced from the office
to try to escape what it had done to her.
“Dana? Dana, I’m sorry, did I bring up bad memories?”
“Bad, no. No, of course not.”
“And then there’s the mystery of how he’s managed to keep his hands off of you. You’re an extremely attractive woman, Dana. And a very powerful one as well. That’s an incredible aphrodisiac.”
Dana looked down at her coffee then, unable to face Celia. She was wrong of course; the fact that this woman was sitting in front of her was proof of that.
“I don’t believe you have anything to worry about where I’m concerned.”
“I disagree Dana. Especially now that I’ve met you. I understand why he speaks of you the way he does.”
“He, he talked about me when he was with you?” Damn, she shouldn’t have said that. She sounded like a high school student.
“Ad nauseam. I feel like I know you better than I know him.”
“If that’s true, it’s only because he doesn’t like to talk about himself. I told you, he’s a very private man.”
“I could tell, but I bet there’s nothing he’s kept from you.” She smiled gently at Dana, very non-threatening.
“Well, I guess, I guess that’s . . . He seems to trust me.”
“Of course he does. You’ve been partners for seven years. I bet you’ve even had to save his life a few times.”
“He’s saved mine as well.” She glanced down again, memories flooding her.
Celia smiled while she was unobserved, it seemed to be working. “Dana, I’m getting hungry. Why don’t we order something?”
“Uh, okay.” For some reason this woman had been able to put her at ease. That was surprising, she was such an attractive woman, tall, blond and buxom. She’d seen Mulder look at this kind of woman so many times, but . . .
Once the food was ordered, Celia leaned forward for a little more privacy. “Dana, tell me, why haven’t the two of you gotten together? I mean, you know.”
Scully managed to smile and hoped it looked real. “I’m not exactly the type of woman that Mulder wants.”
“You’re kidding, right? I told you, attractive, smart, powerful. What do you think his ‘type’ is?”
“Well, you, of course.”
“Me? Thank you, Dana. I realize this isn’t the kind of question I should ask you, but has he dated a lot of women like . . . like me?"
“Uh, actually, no. He doesn’t date very much, as far as I know.”
“You’d know.” Celia nodded.
“We travel a lot, our job keeps us very busy.”
“What about you? Do you date much? Or is there that one special man in your life.”
Scully shook her head immediately, “There just isn’t that much time.”
“No time to date? Please, you have to be holding them off with a sword.”
“You’re very good for my ego, Celia.”
“I don’t need to be. I know how I look, Dana, I know what my strengths are. I’m wondering if you do.”
The pounding on his door jerked him back to the present and he was on his feet. “I’m coming!” Sheesh, who wanted to see him that bad?
He opened the door and the red headed tornado whirled past him. “Okay, just what is your relationship with Celia Wright?”
He shoved the door closed, and stood blinking at her. “I don’t have one.”
“I don’t! I met her last night in a bar in the District. I don’t remember the name, I’d never been there before.”
“Last night? She told me about - “
He groaned at those words. “Damn it! She told you? Look, it could happen to anyone. Hell, it eventually will happen to every man someday. And regardless of her psychobabble, it had nothing to do with you.”
He turned at her continued silence, to see his partner standing shock still, her lips parted and her eyes wide at his revelation. He realized his error and closed his eyes, leaning against his desk.
“Mu . . . Mulder, why were you at a bar anyway?”
He shook his head, “Because I’d made a damn fool of myself in front of the one person in the world I don’t want to think of me as a fool.”
The kiss. He was talking about the kiss. And he was feeling so vulnerable she could feel it from where she stood. She made her decision, for better or worse, and moved toward him while his eyes were closed.
She rose onto her toes and pressed her lips against his. His eyes flew open and she dropped down onto her heels again.
“Now we’re even. What happens next?”
He didn’t respond, he didn’t even seem able. “Come sit down Mulder.” She sighed; it wouldn’t do to have him fall down.
“What did you do?” He had finally found his voice.
“The same thing you did, except that neither of us ran from the room this time. So what’s the next step?”
He involuntarily glanced at his bedroom, and she tried to hide her smile. “Think you could handle that, Mulder?”
The question was unnecessary; she could already see that he could. She had no fear of any problems that might have been experienced in the past.
He held her against him, secure for the first time since he could remember. Her skin against his warming not only his body, but his soul as well. His eyes were drifting closed when she spoke.
“Do you know how to get in touch with Celia?”
That startled him and his eyes flew open. “No. Why?”
“Because I think she’s my new best friend, and quite possibly the smartest person I know.”