Did she really need a damned pancake wrapped in bacon with a pickle in the center?
Weren’t pickle cravings cliché? Couldn’t she crave something unique like Worcestershire sauce, flax seed, banana bread with cinnamon … oooh, she’d have to make some of that the next time she had ingredients and a kitchen on hand … but no, she had to crave the damn pickle.
And not just the Kosher dill ones but the extra garlic, ‘I’m going to reek for the rest of the day and you can’t stop me’ kind of pickle. She’d taken to carrying a jar of them in her bag, she left a jar at work, her mom had a jar, for God’s sake, even Skinner had a stash of them in his office.
Which was where she was now …
Craving a God-damned pickle but trying to listen to some other director guy with a bad comb-over and a mole right in the middle of his chin that waggled with every word …
Would it make her look too terrible if she got up and routed in Skinner’s closed shelving unit for her fix?
Really, would it be that bad?
Stroking the toothbrush handle in her pocket and the travel size toothpaste beside it, she stopped listening to AD Babcock when she felt a hand join hers, thicker fingers gently running over nails, knuckles, palm and skin stretched over joint and tendon.
Mulder could feel the tension in her body and once he saw her hand disappear in her toothbrush pocket, he nearly laughed, knowing her focus was food and not federal. Surreptitious in movement, obvious in movement, not caring about movement, he drifted his hand in with hers, feeling the toothbrush, feeling her fingers, feeling the need to take them out, suck on the tips of them, move up her arm …
Shit, this would be the time not to fantasize about her, regardless of how boring this meeting was.
Well, there was always time to fantasize about Scully but given the look Skinner shot him a moment later, he fumbled around, found a stray mint and pulled it out, giving his boss the nod of ‘just looking for a candy, calm your ass down, sir’ all the while 9/10th of his brain was occupied with memories and future satisfactions of lips on skin and hands on breasts.
When the hell would this damn meeting be over?
Finally, the thing ended, neither Mulder nor Scully having any damn clue what was discussed and fine with this, did their professional handshakes before skirting out the side door of the office, back stairwell their unspoken mutual destination.
Once the door had shut behind them, the cement echoing the clicking of the latch, Scully turned to Mulder, Mulder reached for Scully,
“Can we go get some lunch?”
“How many parts of you will you let me lick in the next three minutes?”
Before either could do more than smile at the other, the door opened up behind them, Skinner holding out a pickle wrapped in a paper towel, “next time, just go get the damn pickle. Babcock has six kids and I’ve witnessed his wife calling to ask him to bring home grapefruit juice and Moose tracks ice cream. He’d be fine with you eating a pickle.” Skinner then disappeared, door shutting behind him, the smell of the garlic dill filling the enclosed space.
Scully ate it on the way to lunch.
Mulder discovered he can lick a good portion of her body in three minutes, efficiency being key.
Given it was Thursday, they were hip deep in 5-card draw and milkshakes, courtesy of Maggie and her blender, saying it could do more than make Ruth’s punch, which she proved, a gallon of ice cream later, everyone on the cusp of diabetic shock and permanent numb tongue. Skinner, realizing he needed something warm in his stomach, discovered, to his own amazement, that he’d forgotten to buy coffee on their last supermarket run.
As an aside, once he announced he’d forgotten to buy it on said supermarket run, Scully realized Skinner grocery shopped with her mom.
It was the weirdest thing she’d discovered so far about them because, in all honesty, she never really figured on him eating, shopping, cooking and/or doing these mundane things on a daily basis.
Eventually, she’d find his boxers in the corner of the bathroom and that would make the grocery store thing seem like nothing but that is for another time.
Declaring he would be back in fourteen minutes, long enough to run to the corner market and back, he kissed Maggie on the cheek and headed out the door. Scully’s eyes drifted from Mulder, because, seriously, she always seemed to be looking at him and vice versa, to Maggie, who watched Skinner’s retreating figure with a secret little smile and a twinkle in her eye.
Finally, after another second, she looked over at her daughter, “Dana?”
With a grin that bordered on mischievous evil, “You gonna deal those cards or what?”
A half-hour later, Maggie began glancing at the clock, outright staring at it after 45 minutes had passed, “I wonder where Walter is?”
The rest of the table had been wondering as well, Mulder pulling out his phone, “want me to call him?”
After two attempts and nothing, he stood up, giving Scully his FBI look, “if you want to keep calling, I’m going to go look for him. Maybe his car broke down or he ran out of gas.”
Scully, Federal face descending as well, “get your gun.”
Ignoring her mother for the moment, she stood beside Mulder, “call me if you find him. If you don’t in ten, I’ll wake up Danny.
Mulder nodded, already retrieving his boots and yanking his hat on, gun in the safe upstairs, “Maggie? Which way would he have gone?”
Giving him concise directions, “and he doesn’t deviate. It’s the fastest route. He wouldn’t go another way.”
Loving Skinner and his set-in stone routines at the moment, Mulder kissed Scully, then headed upstairs quickly, retrieving his weapon and thundering back down the steps, locking the front door as he left. Scully, phone to her ear, waited until it went to voicemail, “hey, Walter, just wondering if everything was okay? You should have been back about 30 minutes ago. Mulder’s out looking for you in case something happened. Call me when you get this.” Once that was done, she looked at the concerned faces around the table, realizing a little too late that they’d been awfully nervous looking since she mentioned to Mulder about his gun, “it’s just a precaution. Mulder doesn’t like us to leave the house without guns and badges.”
Maggie, her stomach twisting in a way it hadn’t since Scully had gone missing five years earlier, “do you really think something happened?”
It was the eighth of a second pause and milliliter air intake that hinted at the entire story, beginning, middle and end, which, naively, Scully smiled to cover, “he’s probably fine. We’re just extra paranoid because … well … it’s what we do.”
The fear, familiar in its complete uncontrollability, shook her bones, “call him again please.”
Mulder called Scully seven minutes later, “I found his car in the parking lot of the store but he’s not in it. The guy at the register says he never came in.” Looking in Skinner’s windows, “his doors are locked and I don’t see any blood or damage so he must have gotten out of the car before whatever happened.”
“Want me to call Danny?”
Hating his next words, “give me another five to look around, then I think we need to call Kersch.”
Had he said that some other moment in time, she would have snorted at the nonsense of what he spoke but instead, she hung up, dialing Frohike before she had time to realize it, “it’s me. Turn off the recorder.”
“Hang on … okay, what’s up?”
“We have a problem.”
Frohike woke Byers and dragged Langley from the kitchen, explaining then carrying out Scully’s request to no avail. Scanning all the bands but not finding any chatter about suspicious activity, police action in the area or 911 calls pertaining to their situation, Frohike called her back, “what do you want me to do?”
“Track his phone if you can and if you can’t, hack his computer and see if he’s gotten any messages. I want a pair of eyes I trust in those files.”
“Later, when this is all over, I’ll be declaring my undying love and adoration for you.”
“Thanks, Frohike. If you find him, I’ll declare it back.”
The Gunmen now on the case, she waited for Mulder to call her back.
When he did, she clenched her teeth and told him to stay there, she’d be calling Kersch and having a team sent his way.
The nightmare began.
Only it wasn’t Mulder but Walter.
Her mother’s Walter.