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Home on the Range

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“Good god, woman, this insta-pot shit is delicious!”

She chuffs, rolls her eyes. “Not everything bought from Amazon is a ticking time-bomb, Mulder.”

He’s eating directly from the appliance, hissing as the food burns his tongue. He’s 57. One would think he’d have learned by now.

There was a lesson he learned when he was 27 though. One that stuck with him.

A minimally powered car may not make a single sound when pulling up to a house… and crunching gravel makes no sound if you live on a dirt road with no gravel to crunch… but squeaky brakes will always betray the driver.

Every. Single. Time.

She hears it too. She learned the same lesson, at about the same age.

“Mulder?”

“Did we uh… did we invite anyone over for dinner?” He’s already killed the light switch to the kitchen and headed for the living room, foregoing the dining area – Scully’s got it on lock down. “Because I think we’re about to have company and right now Scully,
I’d settle for Bill.”

Glock pulled from the pancake holster tucked at the small of his back, he backs down behind the front door and shares one look with her. And god fucking help him. Fox Mulder cracks a grin.

The door smashes open and his hopes are answered because these guys may be para-military, but even the best fuck up. And they don’t check behind the door. Rookie, over-confident, cocky-ass mistake.

He’ll settle for the handle imprint on his forehead if he can get them out of this.

He hears clatter from the kitchen… holy shit! Did she flip the table? And two rounds pumped off from a 30-ought.

Mulder stands. He pops two rounds of his own and they ring true; 30-ought drops.

40-cal swings around and he’s got a flashlight attached on his barrel – Mulder can’t see shit so he dives past the door frame and next to the stairs. He hears two more round crack off from the dining room, and a male voice cries out in agony.

Mulder’s on the guy in an instant and cuffs him as he bleeds out on their dining room floor. Old habits die hard. “Where’s 30-ought?”

She stands from the table, whipping her head around to make sure they’re clear.

“Nailed him straight through the throat, Mulder. I think the cuffs are a little late at this point.”

“I’ve got flex cuffs. We can use ‘em if we need ‘em.”

More brake sounds.

He looks up at her. “Oh shiiiiiiii-“

They dive to opposite sides of the dining room. “I’m too old for this shit, Scully!”

“Mulder, shut the fuck up!”

“They already know where we’re at, don’t you, you fucks!” he calls out. As always. The valiant bastard is trying to draw fire.

“Mulder!” a voice calls from the doorway, and Mulder can’t place it. “We’ve got a flash-bang with your name on it, there, sir; you should probably just go ahead and step out. You and Agent Scully!”

“Yeah? We’ve got about 20 hollow-points with your name on them, son. You wanna see who wins that fight between your flashbang and my wife’s .40 cal?”

“I’ll take my chances, sir. Come on out and we won’t shoot.”

The man across from them, handcuffed, is groaning. Mulder may be a little crazy but he’s tired of body counts. He tosses his gun across the floor, nods at Scully to do the same. In this, as in everything, she trusts. “Alright kid, alright. I’m guessing you have a million more guys out there.”

They come out, hands in the air.

The man before them is really just that. A man. A kid, in fact. Mulder doesn’t have to know that under his ski mask, this person is barely scratching the surface of adulthood. And… he’s got zero backup.

In another life, Mulder would feel insulted. They sent three guys to take him and Scully down… Three. And one of them is barely old enough to buy beer.

Shit, he’s more insulted for Scully than for himself.

The village idiot handcuffs them together like some bad Tarantino movie, and for the first time, Mulder sees Scully’s lips twitch back towards him in a smile.

“Alright, double lock him.”

“What am I supposed to do? Grab the key with my teeth?” Scully nods at the outstretched handcuff key.

As soon as the man-child beside them leans in to give her the key, Mulder and Scully burst up as one and Mulder elbows the shit out of the kid’s face.

Scully pulls them both back down and drops a thoughtful knee to the guy’s groin.

“Let’s go.”

Mulder is all too willing to comply and they rush out of the house.

“So uh, I’m hoping you skimmed the key off that kid because I feel like I probably dropped mine in the house,” Mulder whispers, for no reason, as they jog to the squeaky car, abandoned and running, outside.

Scully manages to produce a key from her bra, and Mulder’s not upset about that one bit. “Status-quo for you, Agent Mulder.”

They’re both still high on adrenaline as they slide into the car. He’s sure, sometime soon, they will come down and he will be ‘what the fuck pissed’ at the obliteration of their IKEA table, because dammit they made that together, and she will be ‘what the fuck pissed’ at the fact that her paleo-insta-pot chili went to waste.

But right now, as she whips them back (she was actually always the better driver… he likes to keep that a secret) and shoves the car into drive… even as he catches flames peeking out from the back of their house, he’s too high to care.

She rejoined his fight last year.

She moved back in last month.

She finally agreed to actually marry him. Last week.

She floors the pedal, and he catches his breath in the passenger side.

He’s Agent Mulder and Scully’s his partner. He may not have much left in life. But he’s got that.