Fox Mulder threw the woolen blanket he had been covered with aside and sat up on the sofa. With his head in his hands and his elbows on his knees, he tried futilely to rub the sleep out of his eyes. A quick glance at his watch showed that it was 4:04 am, Monday morning. He wanted to be in his basement office by 6:30 so there wasn’t any sense in trying to go back to sleep. He sat there for several minutes in the glow of his desk lamp before getting up and plodding off to the kitchen. He fixed himself a ham sandwich, grabbed a bottle of water out of the fridge, and made his way back to his living room.
“Yeah, this three hours of sleep I’ve been getting for the last, oh…what… four nights….really isn’t cuttin’ it,” he said to no one. He’d been so totally absorbed in coming up with and starting work on a new x-file that he’d had time for little else…and that included eating and sleeping. He had finally settled on a case out of Bellefleur, Oregon involving missing teenagers, several of which eventually turned up dead. He’d read, dissected, re-read, and re-dissected all the material he could find. His inquiries had led him to similar cases in both Texas and South Dakota. The deeper he delved the more he was convinced these were all cases of abduction….of the alien kind.
He had also spent some considerable time looking through the profile of one Dana Katherine Scully, age twenty-eight. He had to admit, he was quite intrigued by what he had read of her: graduate of the University of Maryland, an undergraduate in physics, residency in forensic medicine, recruited by the bureau, and an instructor at the academy. Impressive. He was similarly impressed with her senior thesis which featured her own interpretation of Einstein’s twin paradox. The folder on Scully that Blevins had provided him with also contained a picture of a fresh-faced redhead, sporting a sprinkling of freckles, with a smile that was both coy and enigmatic at the same time, accepting a diploma. He found himself doing some more admitting…that she was indeed a looker.
Mulder finished his sandwich and gulped down the last of the water. He gathered together his papers and other materials, put them back in their folders, and stuffed them into his briefcase. The agent had also put together a slideshow of the photographs he had managed to snag of the dead…with close-ups of some mysterious markings on their backs. These slides he put in their own special container and lay on top of the briefcase. He then quickly showered and picked out a clean suit for the day. He spent a bit more time with his personal grooming than normal and knew he’d be kidding himself if he said it wasn’t due to the impending meeting later that day with a certain redheaded agent. He’d received a call from the office Sunday afternoon informing him that Agent Dana Scully would indeed be joining him Monday afternoon. He splashed on some cologne, brushed back his hair and rubbed a dab of mousse through it as he gave his reflection one more glance…and frowned. What the hell Fox? What are you doing? They’re sending her to spy on you for Pete’s sake…don’t forget that. And she’s just a colleague. Enough with the preening already.
Still, that mysterious smile set within that perfect, porcelain face…..
Mulder consulted his watch again finding the time to now be 5:46. He should have plenty of time to make it to the office by 6:30. Most of the snow was gone and the traffic had been moving pretty smoothly lately. He put on his coat, grabbed his briefcase, deposited the small container holding the slides into his coat pocket, exited apartment 42 and Alexandria altogether, and headed for the J. Edgar Hoover.
Dana Scully woke with a start. Positive she had overslept; she sat up quickly and grabbed her bedside clock: 6:45. The redhead blew out her breath as she set the clock back down. She hadn’t even fallen asleep until almost 4 am. In fact, she hadn’t been sleeping well at all for the last several weeks. As a result, her lessons at the academy had been…well…off, for lack of a better word. Or maybe it was the other way around; her teaching was getting stale and that was causing her anxiety and this crippling case of insomnia. The old egg or chicken first dilemma. At any rate, she needed to get to the root of the problem for her own peace of mind. In truth, she was concerned that she was just simply getting bored with the teaching job. Yes, it was fast paced and never dull, but she wasn’t ...well…satisfied somehow. Secretly, she was glad her last class had ended almost a week ago. She hadn’t been given another assignment…yet, but the previous evening she had gotten a phone call from the secretary of Division Chief Scott Blevins of the FBI’s violent crimes division requesting her presence in his office at 10 am. She had no idea what he might want with her. Hopefully, it was something good.
“Well, enough of that,” she said aloud while shaking her head. Dana got up, made the bed, and started rifling through her closet in search of adequate attire for the day. She finally settled on a pair of tan slacks and a gray silk blouse coupled with a lighter gray plaid blazer; she laid them neatly on her bed. Her jewelry was minimal consisting of a pair of pearl drop earrings and her ever-present gold cross. These she placed on the nightstand. A pair of black pumps would complete the outfit.
Dana put on her robe and made her way into the kitchen for a light breakfast of toast and tea. She took her time eating and even finished reading a magazine that she had been meaning to get around to for over a month. After loading her dishes into the dishwasher, she proceeded to the bathroom and adjusted the water temperature for her bath before putting in the plug. Bath salts? Why not. She chose a bottle she had received from her sister Melissa for Christmas; a lightly scented jasmine and hibiscus blend. Missy claimed the jasmine scent could be utilized for “balance”, “calm alertness” and “enable the opening of the third eye chakra with a move towards spiritual awakening”, while the hibiscus acted as a natural skin and hair moisturizer. Scully smiled at the thought of her only sister. While the two women could not be any different…..Melissa ascribed to all things mystical while the younger Dana clung to hard science….they loved each other dearly. Dana tested the water then turned off the faucet. As she lowered herself in the tub, an involuntary deep sigh escaped her. She let the warm water engulf her as the pleasing scent of the bath salts filled her senses. Damn, I should have done this about midnight. Might have actually relaxed and gotten a decent night’s sleep.
After a leisurely soak, she undid the plug letting the water drain. As it did so she grabbed the hose lying across the back of the tub, attached it to the faucet, and proceeded to wash, condition, and rinse her hair. As she stepped out of the tub, the phone rang. She knew she’d never make it and decided to just let the answering machine pick up. While she quickly toweled off her body and hair, Dana thought yet again about her future. Although she wasn’t exactly displeased with her life, at the same time she felt that it was passing her by. When she was first recruited by the FBI she thought that this would be the fulfilling culmination of all that she had worked for during her post-high-school educational years. It seemed the perfect job for her, teaching at the academy. And it was a steady paycheck with good benefits… a definite plus. There was just this nagging sense that something was…well…missing.
She blow-dried her hair, dressed, added her jewelry, and applied some make-up. She preferred sticking to neutral tones and shades that accentuated her blue eyes and light complexion. She’d long ago given up worrying if any of her left-over youthful freckles were showing. Her father had always said they were very “endearing”. Sure dad, maybe when I was ten, but not so much at twenty-eight. She gave her hair one last good brushing and announced that everything was as good as it was going to get. She decided an outer jacket wasn’t necessary and left her apartment heading for D. C. On the way she realized she had forgotten to check the answering machine, but as there was nothing she could do about that now she put it out of her mind.
Scully pulled into the parking lot of the FBI headquarters and had just found a parking spot when her cell phone rang. She saw that it was her mother.
“Hello, mom. What’s up?”
“How are you, Dana? I haven’t heard from you in forever.”
“Sorry, mom. I’ve just had a lot on my mind lately. I just finished up a class in bloodstain pattern analysis that was particularly intense. But that’s no excuse, I know. I really am sorry.”
She could hear her mother audibly sigh on the other end before she answered. “Dana, I don’t mean to nag, but I’m beginning to think you work too hard and too much. Do you ever go out with a friend…or do anything just for fun anymore?”
Well, that stings! Mainly because she knew it was true. And go out with a friend? She had no idea when the last time was she had done that. In fact, she remembered turning a few people down for parties over the holidays because there was just too much preparation to do for her job. And since then….had anyone even tried to contact her? She was pretty sure they hadn’t. Great, now I guess I’m alienating everyone. Maybe I do need to get away for a bit. Maybe somewhere out west?
”Um, Dana,” her mom questioned, “are you still there?”
“Uh, yeah, yeah mom, I’m still here. Is there something you wanted? I’m about to go into the FBI building in D.C. I got called to a meeting. I’m hoping it’s a new assignment.”
“I see. Well, I’ll make this quick then. Believe it or not, Charlie is here. Missy is coming around noon. I haven’t talked to Bill yet, but I was hoping I could get us all together for dinner tonight. Would that be a possibility?”
“Charlie is here? Yeah, sure mom….sure, that should be fine. Any particular time?”
“I’m shooting for a 6:30 dinner. That sound okay to you?”
“Yes. Six-thirty’s fine. What can I bring?”
“Maybe some wine? Something to go with a pot roast. You know how your brother’s love pot roast.”
“Red wine it is! Sounds great mom. I’d better go. Give my love to dad and I’ll see you tonight.”
“Alright Dana…be careful.”
Dana entered the FBI headquarters and addressed the receptionist.
“Yes,” the receptionist replied, “you’re here to see…...”
“District Chief Blevins,” Dana responded.
“His office is on the third floor.”
Dana smiled, replied “thank you”, and made her way to the elevator.
She came to D.C. Blevins’ door and knocked.
Dana entered the office and saw two other men there besides the Division Chief.
“Agent Scully, thank you for coming on such short notice. Please….”
After Agent Scully left Blevins’s office, she decided to head to the cafeteria and grab a cup of tea. She needed some time to think things over before she just went waltzing into her new office….into this Agent’s Mulder’s office really. And in the building’s basement of all places! The news Blevins’s just gave her was not what she was expecting at all. In fact, it took her aback a bit. “We want you to assist Mulder on these X-Files…..along with your observations on the validity of the work.” It sure sounded like they were sending her to keep tabs on the man.
As she sat sipping her tea, she tried to come up with a couple of scenarios where she might have the opportunity to apply her area of expertise. What in the world is in these x-files anyway? Reports of ghosts? Obviously someone with a lively imagination. Vampires? Some kind of cult probably. UFO’s and aliens? Please! She was quite confident that any situation she and agent Mulder came up against could be solved with either a diagnosis of some type of psychosis afflicting an individual, some naturally occurring event that could easily be misinterpreted as some mystical phenomenon or by some scientific application.
Actually, the more I think about it, this could turn out to be a very gratifying experience allowing me the opportunity to do research I might not otherwise be able to do. If only I had a better idea of how Agent Mulder is going to handle the whole thing. If I feel like I’m being sent to debunk or spy on him, then certainly he must feel it. Well then, I’ll just have to convince him otherwise. And damn… I feel a whole lot better!
Scully drained her teacup with a smile and headed for the basement office and her new partner.
Fox Mulder was sitting at his desk going over some slides from the Oregon abduction case when the knock on the door came. D.C. Blevins’s secretary had just called to let him know that Agent Scully was on her way, so the knock was expected.
“Sorry, nobody down here but the FBI’s most unwanted…”
Scully entered the room and looked around at the mishmash of posters, pictures, files, and whatnot, all over the place. She approached the man sitting at a desk. She smiled and shook his hand.
“Agent Mulder, I’m Dana Scully. I’ve been assigned to work with you….”
Scully put the bottles of merlot on the counter and addressed the cashier.
“Hey, Rick, how are you?”
“Can’t complain,” the cashier responded, ringing up her purchase. “That’ll be $28.95, Dana. Big party tonight?”
Scully chuckled as she handed over her credit card. “Ah, no, just dinner with the family. Charlie is home.”
Rick raised his eyebrows. “Really? Well, make sure you tell him I said hi and to give me a ring if he ever has a spare second.”
Dana picked up the bottles and took the receipt Rick was handing her. “I’ll make sure I let him know you asked about him. Bye”
As soon as she walked into her parent’s house, the aroma of pot roast and something spicy assaulted her nose. Her sister came bounding towards her.
“Dana! It’s great, all of us together again. Mom’s in heaven over it, as you can imagine.”
“So, Bill made it then?”
“I sure did,” her older brother responded as he made his way to her and kissed her forehead. “And how is my baby sister doing anyway? How’s the teaching going?”
“Actually, I have something exciting to report on that front. But we can talk about that during dinner. I’d like to go say hi to dad and mom. And Charlie, of course… where is he?”
“Probably still carving the roast,” Missy said. “Mom bought one big enough to feed an army.”
“Or maybe the Navy?” William Scully, Sr. smiled widely as he approached his youngest daughter. “How are you, Starbuck? Long time, no see!”
Dana shrugged her shoulders and sucked in her breath. “I know, dad….sorry! I haven’t done much of anything besides work.”
Her father rumpled her hair a bit. “Well, I know how work can take over sometimes. But you know your mother worries about you overdoing it.”
Dana smiled. “I’ve mentioned to Bill and Missy that I have some news about that. Now, I think I’ll go find my baby brother and give him holy hell for staying away so long. And then I’ll help mom with dinner.”
“And I’ll tag along,” said Missy.
The Scully women made their way to the kitchen and greeted their mother and younger brother. Within fifteen minutes they were all seated at the dining room table diving into the delicious feast Margaret Scully had spent all day preparing.
“You outdid yourself again, mom,” Dana remarked as she refilled everyone’s wine glass. “Although I have to admit, it’s really nice to eat someone’s cooking besides my own.”
“You can say that again,” Melissa remarked. “I don’t think I’ve eaten anything that didn’t have to be microwaved in months.”
Margaret Scully raised her eyebrows at her daughters. “And whose faults’ that? You are more than welcome here for dinner at any time. And that goes for all of you!”
The four of them gave their mother a “mea culpa” look before Charlie spoke up.
“Double for me I suppose. I really will try to get back more often. It seems like time just gets away…and….”
Their father slapped his hands down on the table. “Well, we’re all here now and I’m thankful. Now….Dana, I’d like to hear about this big secret you’ve been keeping from us.”
“Oh,” Charlie teased, “Dana keeping secrets. Imagine that!”
Dana stuck her tongue out at her brother then proceeded to tell her family about the change in her career. “Well,” she started, “I’ve been recruited into a division of the bureau not many in the general public know exists. It deals with what is known as the ‘x-files’, namely cases that cannot be solved in a conventional way.”
The younger William Scully gave her a puzzled look. “Meaning what, exactly?”
Dana took another sip of wine before responding. “Meaning cases that have been shelved as ‘unsolvable’, unexplained phenomenon, freak conditions, extreme incidents outside the realm of what is considered, well…normal. And honestly, I’m not really sure…yet…what all that entails.”
Margaret Scully was looking at her daughter, mildly shocked. “Dana, are you sure this is something you want to pursue? What about your job at Quantico?”
Dana gave her mother a sympathetic smile but didn’t answer right away. Her father sat with pursed lips, his left hand stroking his chin….a sure sign he was troubled Dana knew. She looked at him out of the corner of her eye.
“Dad,” she pleaded, “please…. just say you’re happy for me! And mom….. Honestly? I was getting ….bored…restless….I don’t know, but something was… has been…off for me. As for my medical degree, I believe I’ll have even more occasion to put it to practical use with this assignment.”
Charlie laughed. “But what exactly will you be investigating? Unexplained phenomenon? Missy, that sounds like something more up your alley!”
“Funny, ha-ha,” Missy quipped back to her brother.
“Well, for starters” Dana began, “we will be looking into a case in Oregon concerning several youths who went missing and turned up dead with…well, ‘mysterious markings’ on their backs.”
“We,” Bill Jr. questioned.
“Yes. I have a partner. His name is Fox Mulder and he’s been working these…x-files…for a while now. I think they are sending me in as a sort of buffer.”
“Well now,” Melissa teased, “a male partner! That should be interesting. And Fox…what a curious name!”
Dana shot her sister a “look”.
“So, when are you starting this assignment, Dana,” her mother asked.
“Actually, we leave for Oregon tomorrow morning.”
“Wow, that was quick.” Charlie snorted good-naturedly.
Dana gave him a smile and turned with a pleading look to her father. “Dad….”
Her father gave a smile and shook his head. “Aww, Starbuck. I just want you to be happy.” He rose from the table, stood beside his youngest daughter and kissed her lightly on the top of her head. “Of course I’m in your corner. And that goes for all of you. Right, Maggie?”
“Of course, she answered. We’re very proud of all of you. Now… who want’s pie?”
Later, while finishing up the dishes, Melissa Scully questioned her sister. “So, Dana…tell me about this Fox person. What do you think?”
“Well, ummm….,” Dana started, blushing slightly. “I knew of him, although I had never met him until today. He’s an Oxford grad and he’s been with the bureau for some time. He basically started investigating these x-files again on his own. They’ve been around for quite a while just… shoved away. He seems pretty passionate about the whole thing. And he’s got some very opinionated and …ah...thought-provoking ideas about the case we’ll be looking into tomorrow. I admit he’s….interesting. I’m looking forward to all this, to tell you the truth. I really needed a change, Missy.”
“And…well…is he…. handsome?”
Dana raised her eyebrows and shook her head at her sister. “What the hell does that have to do with anything? Honestly! But, yes….yes he is, very much so actually. But don’t go getting any ideas! It’s strictly professional…a job.”
“Hmmm….for now perhaps,” Melissa replied, smiling wryly.
Fox Mulder sat in his living room once again surrounded by all the information he had acquired about Bellefleur, Oregon’s dead youth. He was convinced more than ever that this was an abduction case; all signs led to that conclusion. Now all he had to do now was prove it. Yeah. With a new partner who probably thinks I’m bonkers. Great. Well, he would just go about business as usual and this Special Agent Dr. Dana Scully would just have to keep up. And, actually, he was pretty confident that she could. Their brief meeting together had told him a lot about the woman. He admitted it, he was impressed with her...and not just because she was good looking…beautiful in fact, but because he could sense in her a passion...a drive to achieve; much like his self, truth be told. Still, he couldn’t shake the feeling that, even though she was his partner, she would be, to some extent, working against him. Yeah, he was sure she was sent to spy. But, he had to admit, there was still… something else. Agent Scully had somehow, in their very brief encounter, awakened something in him that he had successfully kept suppressed for the better part of a year. Something that was actually still painful to think about. Now, his mind kept flickering back to his last partner on the x-files. How could it not? Especially when Agent Diana Fowley had been much more than just a… well…partner. At one point, he had thought maybe she was “the one”. But…then… without a warning….without so much as a goodbye or kiss my ass, she was gone. He could understand her wanting to further her career, understand her accepting the position in Europe, but to just drop everything with him… Well, if this causes any issues with Agent Scully… Shit… I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.
Mulder decided to call it a night, put the material away and went to get ready for bed. Tomorrow was going to be interesting. He had a case to solve and a partner to convince.
Agent Scully stood just inside the main terminal of Dulles International. She had arrived at 6:30 am to assure she was there when Agent Mulder showed. She didn’t have long to wait though as she spotted him walking through the door with several others at 6:42.
“Agent Mulder,” she yelled as loud as she dared without attracting attention. Mulder acknowledged her by waving and smiling. They met and he handed over her ticket.
“Are you ready for this Scully,” he asked, a hint of a tease in his voice, “last chance to back out!”
“Agent Mulder I am quite ready, thank you very much. Now, to security…shall we?”
Mulder bowed. “Lead the way!”
As the two Agents walked through the security check line, they both secretly found that they were looking forward to this new voyage…this new journey fate had thrown them into…together, for better or worse. And it was Agent Scully who, in the future, would say it best speaking to the son who would someday come of this seemingly odd couple: “Chance meeting your perfect other, your perfect opposite, your protector, and endangerer. Chance embarking with this other on the greatest of journeys, a search for truths fugitive and imponderable.”
But, in the here and now, the agents discussed the tentative itinerary for the day ahead as they continued towards gate 22A…and their future.