He stepped out of the elevator just behind her, heading toward the parking garage. "Hey Spooky! Thought you'd be out of here early tonight. Isn't it your 'special' time?" The agent and those around him laughed.
Mulder was silent, controlling the wince to the best of his ability. It was bad enough that they were after him. He wished futilely that it hadn't been in front of her. He still didn't know exactly how he felt about having to work with her, but she seemed to almost respect him and they had worked pretty well together for the most part.
She'd never called him Spooky, to his face at least, and . . . shit. She had turned to look up at him. She didn't say anything but seemed to move closer as though, as though protecting him. No, that was him projecting, or wishing maybe.
He pushed the door open for her and held it. She looked up again and moved out. The sound of the agents' laughter followed them out.
She stopped once the door had fallen closed behind them. He stopped beside her and tried to smile. He was pretty sure he'd failed. "Plans tonight, Mulder?"
"Just giving out candy to the trick or treaters?"
"What? Oh, uh no. I don't indulge. I'll probably just leave the light off and turn the TV down really low."
"Well, if you're not busy, would you like some leftover chicken casserole with me?"
He blinked, taken aback. Was this a legitimate offer or did she think he needed protecting after all? "Uh, I don't want to bother - "
"It wouldn't be a bother, I'd appreciate it. We don't often have that much time to just talk at work and, well, there's lots of questions I'd like to ask you about the X-Files and . . . " she shrugged.
She looked sincere and he believed there were lots of questions she wanted to ask. They hadn't 'talked' since that night in Bellefleur. He hadn't been avoiding it, not really. She was waiting for an answer and the one he wanted to give came out. "Sure, that's probably a good idea."
Her smile stunned him. People at the Bureau didn't smile at him, not like that anyway. Usually it was more like the jackass that had harassed him on the way out the door. "You know the way? Oh, of course you do."
"Yeah, remember, I'm the one that broke down your door a few weeks ago," he gave her that sideways grin she was really beginning to appreciate.
"Yes, I do remember. I haven't thanked you enough of that."
Again he was surprised. "You're my partner."
"Yes, I am." Her voice was definite, resolved. "Do you need to go by your place first?"
"Uh, no. I can follow you."
"Good. See you there." She turned away and he watched her walk toward her car. For just an instant that spy thing came to him again, but he shoved it aside for now. A home cooked dinner would be an improvement over anything he would order in.
He was caught by a light so she was already inside when he arrived and parked. He grinned at the sight of the cardboard jack o'lantern on her door. She answered his knock with a smile. "Thanks for not kicking it down again."
"If the casserole had already been hot I might have," he grinned and she rolled her eyes.
He spotted the bowl of candy by the door. "You going to eat all that?"
"It's for the trick or treaters, remember?"
"Uh, so you don't hide?"
"It's a good excuse to have chocolate in the house once a year. The leftovers are rigidly doled down until it's gone. This year will be better because I'll send some of the leftovers home with you."
"Oh, so you want me to get fat."
She looked him up and down with a critical eye. "Not likely with what I'm willing to share."
He chuckled and removed his coat, then followed her into the kitchen. "I have wine, tea and diet Coke."
"Tea's great," he replied.
"Glasses are in the cabinet," she pointed and pulled the tea pitcher and casserole out of the refrigerator. With those economic movements he'd become familiar with, she turned on the oven, checked the casserole and began pulling salad fixings together. He had to smile. She'd have dinner ready before he normally got his shoes off.
He poured them both a glass of iced tea and took a sip of his as he watched her.
"It'll be about thirty minutes. Let's have a seat." He followed her into the living room and took a seat on the sofa. Once they were settled she met his eyes. "May I ask a question?"
Oh yeah, she had wanted to talk about the X-Files hadn't she? "Uh, sure."
"Does that happen often? I mean that agent as we were leaving."
"Being called 'Spooky'? Yeah." He shrugged.
"I heard about your nickname when I was at the academy."
He grimaced, but since it wasn't a question, he kept quiet.
"It was a compliment, Mulder. They were talking about your uncanny profiling abilities."
"Yeah, well I'm no longer the wunderkind of the BSU. Now I'm the kook in the basement who chases little green men from outer space."
She opened her mouth to respond, but the doorbell cut her off. She rose from the sofa and picked up the bowl as she opened the door. A ballerina and a Ninja warrior greeted her. "Trick or treat!" they piped in unison.
Scully complimented them on their costumes, spoke to the woman with them and shut the door. As she was placing the bowl back on the table, two things happened. The oven preheat buzzer went off as the doorbell rang again. They both laughed.
"I'll get the oven if you'll get the door."
"Don't trust me with the food, huh?"
"I'm trusting you with my chocolate; think about it," she called back to him as she headed for the kitchen. He laughed at that and moved to the door. A cowboy was at the door and Mulder dropped a couple of pieces of chocolate into his bag and smiled at the woman behind him.
After he shut the door, he heard Scully come up behind him. "See, that wasn't so hard."
"It was just one kid," he reminded her.
"So you start off small. I think you can handle it." She was trying to keep a straight face and for some reason that felt good. She was actually teasing him.
For the first time since that stupid "Spooky" remark he actually did feel good. They took turns answering the door until dinner was ready. Since she was pretty convinced that he hadn't had many home cooked meals lately, she took over the door once dinner was on the table, over his protests.
It tapered off quickly after that as the younger kid's bedtimes were reached. After eating, they returned to the living room with glasses of wine.
"That wasn't so bad, now was it? And legitimate chocolate left over. Why do you refuse to indulge? I'd think you would enjoy it. Did you ever dress up and go out as a kid?" Scully took a sip of her wine.
"Yeah, I did. The last time, Samantha was dressed as a fairy, wings and all. She was so excited about that costume. Of course it was up to me to drag her around the neighborhood when I wanted to be with my friends . . . "
"Mulder, I'm sorry." She hadn't meant to bring up sad memories.
"No, it's okay. What about you? Do you have special memories of dressing up and getting loot?" He turned to her, obviously trying to lighten the mood.
"Well, there is one that stood out. We always lived on bases and so we'd go out early and then gather in the community center of whichever base we were in, and there would be a party. The year I was . . . let me think, Charlie was six, so I was eight, they decided to turn off the lights and the adults there told scary stories. It was really spooky in the candlelight."
"Scare you?" he teased.
"Humpf," she snorted. "But when the lights came back on, Bill was missing. Charlie freaked because Bill was supposed to be 'in charge' of us and walk us home. Of course the little ones knew he'd been taken by ghosties or goblins while the lights were out. The adults started a search."
"I assume they found him."
She nodded. "Yep, in the storage closet making out with Lydia Goldfarb or something like that."
Mulder gaped at her. "You're kidding? He was a ladies' man, huh?"
"Well, not unless his technique improved. It looked like he was trying to swallow her face."
"You saw him?"
"Oh yes, I was there when they opened the door." She gave an exaggerated sigh. "My poor sister-in-law."
Mulder was laughing out loud now. "I need to meet this brother."
"Next time he's in town, Partner."
Mulder finished his wine and rose. "I guess I've hidden out long enough, I should get home."
"Okay, thanks for keeping me company. I'll get a bag for your candy."
"No, you keep it. I can't stand to watch you pout as I take off with chocolate." He grabbed up his coat as her eyebrow went on the rise, and opened the door. "Thanks for dinner."
"We'll do it again soon." She met him at the door and tucked a piece of chocolate in the breast pocket of his suit coat and patted it.
She shut the door behind him and smiled. He had opened up again, at least a little. He was getting less 'Spooky' each time.
Author's note - Happy Muldermas and Halloween!!