Chapter 1: Mornings and Meetings
I'm such a morning person. It's actually a little annoying. I can't for the life of me ever sleep past 5:30 am. I blame Ahab and always waking us up at the asscrack of dawn every single day, regardless of what day it was to watch the sun rise over the flag. So it is now 6:30 and here I sit, breakfast finished, showered and ready for my day. The ring of my phone startles me out of the newspaper I was reading.
"Hello?" I answer on the second ring.
"Agent Scully? Sorry to bother you so early. The Director would like to see you in his office promptly at 8am for a meeting."
A meeting? What could I possibly have done wrong? Since coming to the bureau it felt like I was always being watched, critiqued. I am a smart agent, a damn good agent. I know I had been hanging low in the bureau, doing everything asked of me.
I took one last swallow of my coffee, savouring the taste. Soon it would be mugs of burnt, oil-slick beverages that had sat in a pot that most likely had not seen a drop of dish soap in a decade. I set my mug in the sink, a habit becoming very ritualistic. Every single morning, the same faded mug from my graduation, in the same spot in my cold, steel sink. Maybe someday there would be two mugs in the sink, but highly unlikely. My life wasn't exactly one that seemed to fit a partner. Not one that wasn't in law enforcement anyways, as it's a life that not just anyone understands. And I have seen the mess of "men" around the bureau. If you can even call them men. Grown boys with guns was more like it, trying to overcompensate. I grabbed my purse and keys and locked the apartment door behind me. I really need to get a dog, or something. There had been two break and enters in my building the last few weeks. Maybe I'll check out one of the K9 agents, I could always just date him for the dog. Ugh, Dana, get ahold of yourself. I chuckle at the thought on my way down the hall.
My car sits in the exact same parking spot it has sat every morning for the last two years. It's door hinges squeak, almost like screaming "no, not anymore". I did feel bad for the poor car. She came to me third hand my first year of medical school. I had put more than my fair share of miles on her. Sadly I think it was becoming the end of her time here and I was going to need to add car shopping onto my never ending list of chores this weekend. A new car wasn't exactly in my budget, living on the joke of a salary I was making with the bureau.
I pulled into the parking garage and found my usual parking spot taken. I made a trip around and down to the bottom level. I had never parked here before. The darkness alone was enough to swallow your soul. It smelt stale, of cigarette smoke and the faint hint of ammonia, likely from urine. There was only one other car down here, not the most popular place to park I could guess. I grabbed my bag out of the back and double checked the locks on the door for good measure. Thankfully the elevator in was right beside my parking space so I didn't have to walk in this darkness for too long. I felt a chill wave over my body as I opened the door and I shuttered, the hairs on my neck standing on end. Someone was down there, watching me, I could feel their eyes burning into my soul. Get a grip Dana, there's no such thing as monsters. It's just your imagination, I said to myself as I hit the button for the lobby and the elevator doors began to shut.
"Hold the door!" I heard a voice yell, and a young man running towards the elevator caught my attention. I quickly hit the button but the doors were closed before I could. I heard a "shit" as they shut. Good work, now I looked like an ass. Oh well. The bureau is huge, and I don't generally spend time in this "area" of the parking lot, I would likely never see him again I thought to myself.
Oh how wrong I was…...
Chapter 2: FBI's Most Unwanted
The meeting was complete bullshit. I was thankful I chose the pantsuit over a skirt today because in the corner of the director's office stood a man I had never seen before, and something about him just sent shivers down my spine and made my hair stand on end. I couldn't wait to get out of there. I could feel his eyes on me the entire time.
And now here I was on my way into the depths of the building, heading down the hall, the smell of mildew filling my nostrals. What did I do to deserve this? I knew the kind of reputation this Fox Mulder had. When I joined the bureau I didn't join it to spend my days chasing after little green men. I stood for a few minutes in front of a door marked "Special Agent Fox Mulder" collecting my thoughts. I took a deep breath and knocked loudly.
"Nobody down here but the FBI's most unwanted" came from behind the door. Clearly manners and chivalry were dead in this office. I turned the doorknob and slowly opened the door.
There he sat, back turned to me, looking over what I assume were slides. "Agent Mulder? My name's Dana Scully. I've been assigned to work with you" I extended my hand towards him as he turned around.
With a complete lack of any social skills aparent, he continues to load slides into his slide projector. "Oh isn't it so nice to be so highly regarded. So who did you tick off to get stuck with this possition... Scully?" He raises his eyes to meet mine and I instantly feel on guard. Almost threatened. Like he is challanging me. I take a quick glance around his office. Who does he think he is? I'm not going to take it either.
"Actually, I'm looking forward to working with you. I've heard a lot about you." Stand my ground.
He snickers at me. "Oh really? Because I was under the impression that you were sent to spy on me."
"If you have any doubts about my qualifications or credentials..."Before I can even stop myself, I find myself beginning to defend my qualifications. Its that brain to mouth filter I strongly lack. Great Dana, piss him off. Wave your accomplishments in front of him. Come off as a boasting bragging bitch. That's the way to get him to respect you. It's not a pissing contest! Fuck. Now he is smiling. I'm a joke. I want to hide. I can't.
"You're a medical doctor. You teach at the academy. You did your undergraduate degree in physics" He takes his glasses off and shoots me a look as if to say "did I miss anything". He looks down at the file he is holding which I realize is my personal file.
"Einstein's Twin Paradox: A New Interpretation. Dana Scully Senior Thesis. Now that's a credential, rewriting Einstein."
Fuck, that's not my file, he has a copy of my thesis. Not that he likely read it. It doesn't seem like his type of reading material from what I gather looking around an office full of UFO posters and calendars of half dressed women on cars.
"Did you bother to read it?"
He stops and looks at me and contines loading his slides. " I did. I liked it"
I can feel my face getting hotter. I'm just making a huge ass of myself and I dont understand why. Something about this man is getting under my skin. He comes off as cocky, spoiled. I can't tell if he is being serious or making fun of me. I've never had someone throw my emotions for such a loop. I pride myself on my levelheadedness and my cool composure but right now I am sounding like a complete moron.
He breaks the awkward silence. "It's just that in most of my work the laws of physics rarely apply." He walks past me, brushing my arm as he turns the lights off, and I send him a glare. I don't know if he did it intentionally or not, but I can't help myself. He hits the slide projector and an image of a woman appears on the screen. "Maybe I can get your medical opinion on this though. Oregon female, age twenty-one, no explainable cause of death. Autopsy shows nothing. Zip." The slide changes to a picture of the same victim's back with three small bumps. "There are, however, these two distinct marks on her lower back. Doctor Scully, can you ID these marks?"
The way he calls me Dr Scully almost sounds condescending. I'm not sure if it's sincere or a jab at my credentials again. I study the slide a little bit and can feel his eyes on me. Like he is almosy waiting for me to say something stupid. "Needle punctures maybe. Or an animal bite. Electrocution of some sort" The truth was, I had never seen anything like that in my life but I wasn't about to say that.
Another slide, this time of a molecular compound. "How's your chemistry? This is the substance found in the surrounding tissue."
I study the slide for a moment. Chemistry was never my favorite. "It's organic. I don't know, is it some kind of synthetic protein?" I look over to him, trying to judge his reaction. Was this some kind of test, a sort of hazing he was putting me through?
The look on his face, if anything, says nothing. Why is he so hard to read? I always put stock in my ability to read other people, to make a quick judgement on their temperament and their mannerism. On his answer I catch almost a snicker. "Beats me, I've never seen it before either." He changes the slide to one of a man, face down, same marks. "But here it is again in Sturgis, South Dakota." Slide clicks again. "And again in Shamrock, Texas"
My mind begins to start to pull some logic out of this. But even it is struggling to make some sense. Since this Mulder character is so experienced in this, it is time to test his credentials. "Do you have a theory?"
"I have plenty of theories" He is now standing so close to me I can smell his cologne, the mint of his toothpaste, the scent of his shampoo. I can feel myself becoming breathless, almost a mix of fear and excitement. My face is becoming flushed, I can feel the blood flowing to my cheeks. Keep it together, keep it together. What the hell is wrong with me?
"Maybe what you can explain to me is why it's bureau policy to label these cases as "unexplained phenomenon" and ignore them. Do you believe in the existence of extraterrestrials?" His breath is warm against my neck. His low tone and over exageration of the word extraterrestrials almost sends me over the edge.
I snap out of it almost as quick as it came over me. "Logically I would have to say No" I can feel the blood returning to my extremities, and my heartrate lowering. Whatever that was that just happened, I need to learn to control that. Not that it's likely he caught on. He crosses me as pretty clueless when it comes to women. "Given the distances needed to travel from the far reaches of space, the energy requirements would exceed a spacecraft's capabilties th..."
He cuts me off midsentece, clearly not happy with my answer. "Coventional wisdom. You know this Oregon female? She's the fourth person in her graduating class to die under mysterious circumstances. Now, when convention and science offer us no answers, might we not finally turn to the fantastic as a plausibility?"
Now he is just irritating me. I don't have time for this back and forth banter with him. Any sort of attraction I thought I felt in that brief moment of lapse of judgement instantly has faded. "The girl obviously died of something. If it was natural causes, it's plausible that there was something missed in the post-mortem. If she was murdered, it's plausible there was a sloppy investigation. What I find fantastic is any notion that there are answers beyond the realm of science. The answers are there. You just have to know where to look." I snap back a little harder than I had meant to. I half expect him to get pissed at me, ask me to leave his office and never cross paths with him again. And at this point with my day I would be just fine with that. But a smile comes across his face. Almost like this was the reaction he was hoping for.
"That's why they put the "I" in "F.B.I." See you tomorrow morning, Scully, bright and early." He walks back over to his desk and sits and I straighten my stance. "We leave for the very plausible state of Oregon at eight A.M."
He turns back to whatever is on his desk. I crack a smile walking out of his office. Because this is my life. I was planning to spend the weekend car shopping and maybe taking in a movie with a friend, but instead I am going on a wild alien hunt with a man I just met that can singlehandly make me want to strangle him and drop to my knees all in the same conversation.
Chapter 3: What the hell did I say?
My car sputters and stalls as I pull into my driveway. Great. At least she chose home as her final resting spot. Silver lining. I reach into the back and grab my purse and step out of the car. There is a scent of rain in the air. How perfect, my passenger side window won't roll up. I fumble with my keys, complete frustration with my day taking over my motor functions. I check my mailbox in the lobby, bills, a letter from my brother, junk mail. The gentleman with the two chihuahuas down the hall smiles as he walks by, his dogs yapping. I turn the lock, step into my apartment, drop my keys on the table and let out an audible sigh.
I open my fridge, as the realization I haven't ate since breakfast sets over me, and pull out the few fixings for a garden salad. My fridge shows the signs of my lack of grocery shopping, which was on my to-do list for tomorrow. I shove everything back in the fridge and decide to call a cab and head into town for something to eat. A quick change into a t-shirt and jeans and I am on my way.
I step out of the cab, pay the driver and walk into my favorite little diner. It's quiet, low key, exactly what I am looking for after the day I had. The waitress comes over to my table.
"Good evening Dana! We haven't seen you in here in a while! The usual?"
I instantly recognize her as one of my favorite waitresses here. "Good evening Megan. Actually I think tonight I am going to order a glass of the house red, steak rare with veggies."
"Rough doesn't begin to describe it."
"I will be right back with your wine"
As she walks away I reach into my bag and pull out an old, tattered paperback and begin to bury myself in it. I should be prepping for this case tomorrow, but at this point in my evening I don't give two shits about work. I almost have the world shut out when I hear a familiar voice, like nails on a chalkboard.
I want to pretend I don't hear him. But I am not that much of a bitch. As much as I want to be. But I pay him the same respect he showed me earlier today.
"Mulder." I don't even look up from my book. A section of my red hair falls over my face, and before I can push it back behind my ear his hand comes across and does it for me. I feel all my defenses dropping and a voice in my head says stop being like this.
"Good book?" He sits down at the chair across from me and Megan the waitress comes over.
"Good evening sir! Can I grab you a drink?"
"A beer please. Whatever is on tap. And she will have another of what she is drinking"
"No thank you Megan. Thank you Fox, that is a kind gesture, but it would be insanely unprofessional of you to buy me a drink. "
"Oh I didn't say I was buying it. I was just asking her to bring you another. So Megan was it? Please bring Ms Scully here another glass and add it to her bill, as it would be unprofessional for me to buy her a drink"
What was his problem? Clearly this Mulder character has a very big ego. Likely compensating for something. I sigh because I am clearly not getting out of this any time soon. We sit in an awkward silence while we both drink our drinks, neither one of us wanting to start a conversation. This feels like an awkward blind date, one my sister Melissa would have set me up on. We both pay our respective bills and walk to the door together. He holds the door for me and as I walk through I feel his hand on the small of my back. Chills run down my spine.
"Thank you for the company Fox. I will see you tomorrow morning at the airport."
"Let me walk you to your car."
Was this his pathetic attempt at trying to be a gentleman? "Thank you, but I took a cab here. "
"Then let me drive you home. It's the least I can do, I feel we got off on the wrong foot this morning. "
I sigh. This man does not know how to take no for an answer. I reluctantly nod and follow him to his car, which looks more rundown than my shitbox of a car that now sits in my parking spot as nothing more than a large paperweight. He holds open the passenger door for me and I slide in. The backseat oddly is clean, his briefcase sitting on the seat, but nothing else. He catches my eyes, and I can feel myself blushing so I turn quickly to the window. I can sense he is smiling, but I don't dare look at him until I have collected my composure.
"Thank you for the ride Fox. I do appreciate it." I speak the first words I have spoken since getting in the car as we pull up to my apartment. "Did you want to come in for a coffee?" The words leave my mouth before I can even process what I am saying.
"I would love to"
Oh shit, what did I just do?
Chapter 4: Would you like to come in for coffee?
Completely AU-- Scully invites Mulder in for coffee, and then realizes what she just did.
What the hell, Dana? What are you thinking! You have to leave early in the morning. Plus, you barely know this man! Before I could retract my offer, he answers with “sure”. No turning back now. I fumble with my key in the lock trying to buy some time.
“You have a beautiful apartment” he says as I hold the door open. Judging by the way he dresses and his demeanor, I can only assume he lives in the dumpy neighborhoods if he finds this place beautiful.
“Thanks. Rent control makes it affordable. Furniture courtesy of my mom who decided having her daughter move out on her own was reason enough to redecorate her entire home. “I open my pantry to grab the coffee and the bag of beans goes flying, spilling all over the floor. “Damn it.”
“Oh shit, here, let me help you. “He throws his coat onto a chair and is down on the floor faster than I can grab the broom and is picking up the coffee beans by hand. If I wasn’t so irritated with him, I might find him attractive. What the hell am I saying, I am completely attracted to him. I can feel my heartbeat in my throat as he gets closer to me, I can feel his breath on my face. I can feel the blood rising to my cheeks. “I think I got it all. I mean, there’s worse things you could spill. At least coffee beans smell nice and are easy to pick up.” He says with an awkward laugh. “If you would rather, I could run and grab us a few beers from the store across the road. Saves another coffee mess. Besides, coffee makes me restless, and we have an early flight.”
“Thank you, Mr. Mulder, but I think maybe I’ll stick to water for this evening.” I stand up from the floor and instantly put on my tough girl front. I don’t know why I am acting this way. He’s just being friendly Dana, it’s not like he’s trying to get in your pants. And Mr. Mulder? You’re partners. You have to work together. Get your shit together Scully!
“You know, you can just call me Mulder. Everyone just calls me Mulder. No Mr., just Mulder. Mr. Mulder makes me feel like someone’s dad, and as far as I know, I am not a father. Anyways, I have the casefile in my car if you want to look over it. I was just going to go back to the office before I ran into you at the restaurant and work on some stuff before catching the flight. If you don’t mind, I will run out and grab it and we can go over it together. I mean I was going to ask you anyways, and then you invited me in, so I assumed we were thinking the same thought. I’m sorry if you got the wrong impression. I was just trying to start our partnership off on the right foot. I know you’re not happy about this and quite frankly I didn’t ask for a partner, especially a female one, but let’s just try to make a crappy situation good ok?”
Shit now see what you’ve done. You made it awkward. I let out a sigh of embarrassment. “Sure, let’s go over the casefile. You can fill me in on any pertinent information while I pack for tomorrow. “I wait until he shuts the door before, I move. I’m 50 shades of embarrassed right now. Was it that obvious I wasn’t overly excited to work with him? Did I make it that known? I feel sick to my stomach. I’m being a complete idiot right now. I’ll finish this case with him and then I am going to ask the assistant director to be relieved of this assignment. He doesn’t want a partner either, he said it himself. I try to fight the vile taste in the back of my throat, but the feeling won’t go away. My stomach flops and I run to the kitchen sink as I hear the door open. And the contents of my dinner are coming up my esophagus. I hear him throw his briefcase down and before I can even comprehend, my hair is pulled back and he is rubbing my back as what I can only describe as every meal I have ate today coming out of my mouth and into the sink. He hands me a washcloth to wipe my mouth off with.
“Don’t mention it. Are you ok? Here, let me help you to the couch. You should lay down.”
“I’m fine Mulder. I think it was just the drinks I had at dinner. “
He washes out the kitchen sink of my stomach contents and puts a wet washcloth around my neck. He sits down on the floor in front of where I am on the couch. “If you want, we don’t need to go over this stuff now. “
I must have dozed off because I woke up to my alarm at 6am, with a blanket around me, with my suitcase sitting by the door and a note attached that read “ Dana, didn’t want to wake you. Packed your bag for you but you might want to just verify the contents, I’ve never actually packed someone else’s suitcase before. I will pick you up at 7, I’ll grab breakfast on the way. I noticed a lack of food in your fridge. Feel Better. Maybe no more wine for a while. Mulder”
If he wasn’t so irritating, he would be the perfect man. I check the suitcase and surprisingly enough it is packed pretty good. I’m not sure if I should be happy or a little creeped out that he folded my bras and panties in matching sets. I quickly hop in the shower, throw on a skirt for comfort on the plane and just as I am about to slide my feet into my shoes, I hear a knock on my door.
“Good morning, Scully. Black, 2 sugars. And a carrot muffin. “
How the hell did he know my coffee?