Dana Scully held a physics degree from the University of Maryland. She had a medical degree from Stanford University, where she eventually specialized in pathology. She went on to study the subject at the FBI Academy in Quantico, where she graduated near the top of her class. Her performance was so impressive she was asked to teach there for three years, before she was assigned to the X-files division as an active, field agent. While there she had served with one of the most brilliant, if misunderstood, criminal profilers the Bureau had ever produced, trying to solve crimes no one else would even consider given their unusual nature. She had been kidnapped, shot at, tested on, and nearly died for the answers they had tried to discover. She had lost friends, family members, even the ability to have children, all for the cause she had taken up with Fox Mulder. In the end, she took a certain pride in the fact that at the end of the day she stood up for what was right rather than kowtow to politics and ensure herself a cushy desk job somewhere on the upper levels of the Hoover Building,
Instead she was now unpacking her small box at a used and scarred desk, one that had seen better years perhaps twenty years before. At least it had a working computer, and at least it was a desk. In five years Scully hadn't had a desk to call her own. She'd worked from a makeshift table, without the comfort of drawers or private spaces to keep her things. It didn't have a nameplate announcing it as her area to work. Not that this desk had much of a nameplate either, or privacy for that matter. Where before she had a table in an office of two, now she had her much longed for desk in an office of thirty, the bullpen that serviced the minor jobs and small casework detail that was given to agents not yet trusted with full field duty. Scully was surrounded by young, fresh faced rookie agents, all dutifully wandering around the small space, sardines backed in a small, tin can. They occasionally turned to glance at the striking, petite red head, her chin held high as she carefully unpacked the small number of things she was able to save from her area of the now burned and ruined X-files office. They watched curiously as she placed pens neatly into a holder, set her coffee mug, emblazoned with the letters "FBI" at just the right spot to reach it for later coffee consumption, and then ever so carefully placed the two photographs she kept, one of her family, and one of Emily Sim, the little girl who earlier that year had tumbled into Scully's life. The smiling, shining face of the daughter she didn't know she had cheered her somewhat as a shadow fell across it. It was soon followed by a voice that was a hair too happyl, a touch too manic.
"You are Agent Scully?" The face that went with the exuberance smiled toothily at her, a blonde woman with the sort of cheerleader, pep-squad cheerfulness that should be illegal in this hour of the morning. Certainly it was before Scully had her first coffee.
"Yes," Scully managed to slap on something of a friendly expression. "You are?"
"Agent Miller, Andrea Miller. I sort of am the floor greeter here."
Floor greeter? Did the FBI have those?
"Nice to meet you." Who said Scully couldn't lie?
"It's amazing to meet you! I've heard so much about you!" She gushed with a sort of hyper earnestness that made the part of Scully wonder if there wasn't a group of her buddies somewhere behind a door snickering at her antics. So far, none of the other agents working through their files seemed to notice.
"Really?" Scully could well imagine what anyone on this floor heard about the work she and Mulder did. It was no secret that "Spooky" Mulder was little more than a joke to his peers, the cracked genius who took to the basement when serial killers got to be too much, screaming about aliens taking his little sister when they were kids. While Mulder's name still garnered respect in certain corners, after all his work was still required reading at Quantico as far as Scully knew, his work since had earned little more than sneers.
His latest escapade had involved the kidnapping of a twelve-year-old boy, Gibson Praise, who displayed prodigious psychic ability that they were only beginning to understand. Not only that the child gone missing, but the entire situation had been bungled, ending up with the death of their main suspect and two US Marshals, as well as severely injuring Agent Diana Fowley, Mulder's former love interest. To add insult to injury, the agent running the case, Jeffrey Spender, had decried them both to the Attorney General, who had closed the X-files pending further investigation. She need not have bothered, within the hour the entire office and all of Mulder's years of painstaking research and work was destroyed, fire reducing it all to cinders in minutes. Gone with it were all the opportunities for the answers they were so desperately seeking, as well as the once promising careers that both she and Mulder had.
Their reassignment was the bullpen, the place where only greenest of the graduates ever went, those who faired only mediocre in the grind of FBI training went. Scully had secretly always been pleased she had not shared that fate. She, like her classmate Tom Colton and their group of friends, had all shined in their graduating class from Quantico. Similarly, Mulder had been snapped up immediately, the rising star of his group, he had never set foot into the bullpen. Neither of them had been forced to do the drudge work found there, the background checks, the rap sheet runs, the tedious work of checking up on everyday Americans and making sure they had no minor infractions of federal law. It was the sort of work that Scully had once scoffed at, admittedly feeling herself with her prodigious capabilities as a forensic pathologist above such minor trivialities. Clearly, she was wrong.
Now she was staring up in the face of a woman who was so perky, her face seemed permanently frozen in a charming smile. It was annoying, and vaguely creepy. Scully found she hadn't had enough caffeine this morning yet to deal with this. Instead, she nodded at Agent Miller, unsure of what to say about the woman's enthusiasm at hearing so much about the infamous Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. Besides, Scully could just imagine what had been said amongst the new recruits about the two of them - stay well away, if you value your careers.
"Thank you, Agent Miller. Do we come to you if we need anything?"
"Sure," the woman chirped, her head wobbling on her thin neck. "I just wanted to make our newest members of our little family feel at home!"
At her words several of the nearby agents rolled their eyes and snorted, shooting Scully sympathetic looks. Clearly, Scully wasn't the only one who felt unnerved by Agent Miller's enthusiasm. "Errr…thank you."
"Of course!" She clapped her hands together, glancing between Scully's already unpacked and sparsely filled out desk to the empty one that sat just in front of her, the one that conspicuously still had it's trashcan sitting on top of it. "And Agent Mulder, he's not here?"
"Not yet." Scully glanced at the clock up on the wall. It was a quarter till ten, very late for Mulder, who was usually in the office well before most human beings woke up. She'd received no word from him this morning he'd be late, but then he hadn't exactly been thrilled with their reassignment either. Scully half feared he wouldn't arrive at all, but would instead march straight into Skinner's office across the hall and demand access to the X-files again. It was an argument she knew he wouldn't win.
"Well, when he gets in, send him my way! I'll make sure he get everything he needs to settle in." Miller fluttered her fingers as she wandered off cheerfully, a bouncing in her high heels that made Scully's eyes narrow as she watched the other woman walk away. She was sure Mulder wouldn't mind getting the welcome treatment from the likes of Miller. Tall, leggy, blonde, she was the type he used to hook up with when Scully first met him. Except that Diana Fowley was now back on the scene, severely injured, but alive, and likely to make it. What would her presence in Mulder's life now mean? Scully sighed as she settled behind her desk, ignoring the speculative eyes on her as she booted up her new computer. Diana Fowley was the least of her worries at the moment. Right now she simply wanted to help Mulder get back his work, whatever it took. She had invested too much of herself into the X-files to see it all fall apart like this, and if they couldn't do that…well, she reasoned, glancing around the cramped desks and openly wondering stares, she really didn't have much of a reason to stay on with the Bureau. They clearly didn't want to use her pathology skills anymore, and sought to punish her by shoving her in a corner. What other indignities could they possibly visit on the two of them?
A hum of murmurs rose, ghostlike, around Scully, causing her to glance up at the newcomer amongst the ranks. Predictably Fox Mulder caused a stir. He usually did wherever he went within the Bureau. While his brooding moodiness was enough to make most people stare curiously at him, it was the story of his antics usually that caused the whispers to follow him. Most everyone knew of Fox Mulder, the brilliant profiler, the crazed alien chaser, the man who had supposedly died a couple of times, and who took down Section Chief Blevins for corruption. Now he was also the man who had his office set on fire. Mulder was a walking legend, both in good and bad ways, and every rookie watching him as he walked past seemed to reflect that mixed bag of curiosity and amusement, a tall, handsome guy like that looked far too perfectly normal to be a raving lunatic. Didn't he?
"Hi there!" Scully tried to sound enthusiastic as he rounded to his assigned spot, flopping in his chair as he stared desolately at the trashcan on his desk.
"Is this how they greet all the newcomers?" He picked it up to stare at the empty, plastic trash bag inside.
"I think the night crew leaves them up there of an evening." Had anyone ever come down to clean the X-files office in the entire time she had been down there? "Be glad you missed the welcoming committee. I thought she was going to hand out the lemon bars and laced Kool-Aid soon."
"I think I would take them both at the moment," he muttered darkly, setting down his waste basked. Mulder looked as if he hadn't slept once in the week they had been out of the office, and knowing him he hadn't. His suit, while clean, had a vaguely rumpled look to it, his eyes shadowed. He was a man who had lost everything that had given him purpose for eight years. Scully was shocked he was even sitting in the office at all.
"You are late," she pointed out as he puttered around his new desk. It was smaller than his old one and it seemed to ill fit him, rather like his suit that day, or his disheveled, dark hair. Mulder looked as unsettled as Scully guessed he felt. It was unnerving to see him like that.
"Yeah, had an errand to run," he replied, turning on the computer on his desk. Not his computer, not the one with his files. "I went to see Diana."
Scully ignored the lurch in her heart at that statement and admirably pasted on a sympathetic smile. "How is she doing?"
"Much better, the doctors think she'll be out in another week. Then it's bed rest for a while, so I guess that means she'll be in town."
He sounded hopeful about that, of course he would, Scully reasoned darkly. Diana would be a sympathetic ear to the trials and tribulations Mulder would suffer in this indignity. Diana Fowley had a sparkling career with the Bureau. Perhaps she could use her influence to get Mulder out of his spot. She had a vested interest in the X-files, she could push to have them opened again and Mulder involved, and she had a history with Mulder, one that was quite obviously romantic in nature. Scully would be an idiot to think that her partner wasn't lonely after five years. Short of the occasional one-night stands, Mulder had been in no serious relationship since she had known him. The closest he got was Scully, his partner, his best friend, but she was decidedly only that. And while she had come to the uncomfortable realization that her feelings for her partner ran much deeper than just the compatriot nature of two comrades in arms in the same fight, she also knew that Mulder, with his hyper focus on his work, didn't possibly return the sentiment. Scully doubted it had crossed his mind. Diana Fowley shared his vision, his ideas, and his passion for the paranormal. Scully, she was there beside him because she wanted justice for the both of them. Her truth wasn't the same as his.
Which begged the question about why she was sitting there with him in the bullpen?
"So what sort of exciting torment have they envisioned for us here," Mulder grumbled, realizing fairly rapidly he had no office supplies to speak off. They were all destroyed, even his nameplate that had adorned his desk. Patiently, Scully produced a notepad and a box of pens from one of the drawers of her desk, passing them over to him.
"No one has said anything about what our first assignment back is yet, but we have a meeting with Skinner in an hour to discuss what is going on."
"That should be fun." Mulder snorted, glancing up at the ceiling. Sadly, it was too high and too public for him to begin bouncing pencils into it. "Think they'll complain too loudly if I put a little Hendrix on to lighten the mood?"
That was why she was sitting in the bullpen, Scully reminded herself dryly, to babysit him. "I haven't had enough coffee for this yet, Mulder," she muttered, reaching for her mug and standing to go in the direction that she smelled burnt coffee grounds from. She desperately hoped this wasn't how her career was going to end.
"Bring me back some too, if you can," Mulder called over the hum of people at their desks. A few turned to glare at him, but he blithely ignored them as he shot her a vaguely pleading look.
"Sure," she sighed, at this point resigning herself to the whispers she could already feel stirring around her. Let them say what they wanted. It wasn't as if she could stop them anyway. Besides the antics of Mulder and Scully were probably going to be the highlight of their boring, drudging, young FBI agent days, and judging from Mulder's mood, there would be a lot of antics to come.
She hoped that somehow, someway, they got the X-files back again soon.