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by Narida Law


It was just after they'd grabbed lunch at the cafeteria that Mulder had announced his intention to requisition a car.

"I'll come with you," Scully said quickly.

That earned a quizzical look.  "You don't have to, Scully.  I think I've got the hang of it now."  He took her silence to mean that she didn't agree.  "Look, I know there was that big mess before when I didn't press hard enough to get the info through to the carbon copies and they couldn't figure out who had been requisitioning all those Tauruses - "

"It's not that," she interrupted.  Well, what was it, then?  Think on your feet, Dana!  "I'm still pretty full from lunch.  A little walk would be good."  Mental slap on the forehead.

Luckily, Mulder had always been terrible at profiling her.  He shrugged.  "Oh, okay."

Scully drew an inward sigh of relief.  She was safe for the moment.  She wasn't as transparent as she felt.  The cool facade she had perfected sometimes still had the ability to amaze even her.

Full from lunch?  She'd had two bananas and a blueberry Nutri Grain bar, for Pete's sake.  Mulder had, of course, performed his usual Human Garbage Disposal routine and wolfed down two helpings of the cafeteria lasagna Scully wouldn't have touched with a ten-foot pole.

She didn't need to walk anything off.  She just had to keep those women at the requisition desk from ogling what was hers.  Granted, it seemed that =every= female at FBI headquarters seemed to get all moony-eyed and twitterpated at the sight of her tall, well-dressed, impeccably groomed partner, but those women at requisitions were the worst.  They never bothered to hide the fact that they were all over him like static cling on pantyhose.

It was sick.  It was disgusting.  And Scully, for one, would not stand for it.

The only saving grace about the situation was that Mulder was utterly unaware.  He didn't notice the overt glances or not-so-subtle touches to his person.  He didn't notice the high-pitched giggles or the furious batting of eyelashes (though his own would put them all to shame).  And he didn't notice Scully fuming through it all.

But she would rather be there witnessing it than sitting at her desk wondering who was putting the moves on him, who was smiling seductively at him, who was pressing her phone number into his palm...or if he was flirting back.

If Mulder was going to make indecent comments, then by God they were going to be directed at her.

*   *   *

It had been a long, slow day.  Very quiet.  The lull before the storm.  Pretty soon there would be agents swarming all over the place like waves crashing onto the shore; there would be a mad scrambling for papers, writing utensils, information that had slipped someone's mind.  Their little area would be surrounded by harassed secretaries, impatient FBI agents, and - it never failed - an uninitiated newbie who had never filled out a requisition form in his life.

After the lull, there would be chaos.  But for now, all was quiet.

The problem with quiet was that it got rather boring.  And lunch detail was even more so, since there was nary a soul to pass the time with.  Everyone else was out chatting with their friends and colleagues, sitting outside catching the last of the summer warmth, sipping iced lattes or maybe mango-kiwi nectar.

And what was Johanna doing?  Finishing off the last of her leftover pizza, staring at a computer monitor, flashing back at her the data she'd most recently entered.  Oh yeah.  Mind-bending stuff.  She would have to ask Natalie when the other woman returned if anyone had seen the scrumptious Agent Mulder lately.  They had recently run into somewhat of a MulderDrought, and they needed their fix.  People were getting antsy.

Some speculated that it was his partner who was keeping him from showing his beatific face.  It was =so= obvious how possessive Agent Scully was about him.  Not that anyone really blamed her for it, but that didn't mean they felt any less animosity toward her.  It never fazed Scully, though - she gave as good as she got.  Some swore that they had been affected with frostbite for weeks after the last time Scully had shown up with her partner.

The requisition office was - for whatever reason - made up of all women.  The men they came into contact with were either janitors or FBI agents, and it became customary to discuss the merits of each and every male agent that crossed any of their paths.  They had met just about every Special Agent FBI Headquarters had to offer, and then some.  After all, everyone needed to requisition =some=thing at =some=time.

And it was unanimously agreed that Fox Mulder was the yummiest specimen of them all.  That might not be scientific enough a term for his little partner, but it was an accurate description of him.  Even now, they marveled at his mother's foresight, to name him so aptly.

He was just so adorably =clueless=.  The ever-changing hue of his eyes, the way he sucked in his lower lip when he wasn't sure he was filling out something properly, the puppy dog faces he made at his partner, the way he said her name...  Oh, yes - many a woman who worked at the requisition office dreamed of Fox Mulder saying =her= name with the same cadence and worship that was in his voice when he said that one word - "Scully."

Johanna sighed.  It had been much, much too long.

A good fifteen minutes had passed while she ruminated about Agent Mulder, but it would be at least another fifteen before the first person returned to the office from lunch.  She figured she could probably spend another fifteen remembering the first time she had ever set eyes on Fox Mulder, how she had been embarrassingly gawky, stumbling over her own words.  And yet he had been so kind, so good at putting her at ease -

Her mind stopped mid-sentence and her heart jumped to her throat.  For, if she wasn't mistaken, the object of her ongoing daydream had just stepped around the corner and into her line of vision.

*   *   *

Scully smiled tightly at the open-mouthed look of adoration on - quick glance at the nametag - Johanna's face.  Just walking here from the cafeteria she had had to endure three women's covetous glances at her partner, and she was about at the end of her rope.  One had even been a feral look.  Yes, that's what she said.  Feral.

"I need to requisition a car," Mulder told Johanna.

You would have thought he'd just given the Sermon on the Mount, the woman was so captivated, Scully thought with irritation.  She saw the People magazine sitting on the counter that had been there since she could remember.  It was always the same issue; it had never been replaced.  It would have been funny if Scully had been in the mood to point such a trivial thing out to her partner.

She began to thumb through it absently, not really seeing anything.  She had flipped through this particular magazine at least once before.  It was in surprisingly good shape for being several years old.

Scully noticed that Johanna was staring at the top of Mulder's head as he was bent over, filling out a form.  Why was the woman directing dreamy eyes at Mulder's hair, of all things?  Scully eyed it critically, and a frown pinched her eyebrows together.

It was too - perfect.  Not one hair out of place.  The dark brown strands seemed to flop perfectly into place, as if he could simply requisition a government vehicle then take a break and do a little modeling for GQ.  The galling thing was that he had probably just rolled off his couch this morning and run a quick hand through it while rushing into his work clothes.

Mulder mumbled something under his breath, which made Johanna laugh in a way that grated on Scully's nerves.  The two of them began to speak, but Scully was concentrating too hard on Mulder's perfect locks to really catch what was being said.

The pages of the magazine were flipped more violently as Scully noticed that Johanna's eyes were now taking inventory of every inch of Mulder while he innocently filled out his form and cracked a joke about carbon paper.

God!  She couldn't take it anymore!  She had to do something, if only for the sake of her own sanity.

Just then her eye chanced upon a picture of Michael Biehn, and an idea formed in her mind.  Oh, yes.  If she could pull this off, it would be a way to keep the she-wolves at bay, and at the same time punish them a little for not respecting Scully's property.

She would have to use a slightly unscrupulous tactic here, but if she played her cards right, she could pull it off without a hitch.  She saw that Mulder and Johanna's lips were still moving in conversation - who knew about what - but all she could hear was the pumping of blood in her ears as she hoped she'd be able to pull this off without being obvious.

She took advantage of a lull in their conversation to stare at Mulder, critically studying his appearance.

"What?"  He was immediately self-conscious.

She turned back to her magazine quickly, as if embarrassed to have been caught staring.  "Nothing."  Then she looked back up at him and smirked.  "I think somebody needs a haircut."

Automatically, Mulder's hand shot to his head.  "You think my hair's too long, Scully?"

Johanna hastened to assure him.  "Oh no, no, Agent Mulder.  I think it's perfect - "

But Mulder didn't seem to hear her.  Or if he did, he didn't acknowledge it.  He continued to look searchingly at Scully, who pretended not to notice.

Scully shrugged.  "Yeah.  Maybe it's perfect.  What do I know?"  She let her glance fall to the open page where Michael Biehn sporting a short crewcut stared back at her.  Deliberately, she allowed her eyes to linger on the actor a moment longer than necessary, indicating a more than passing interest in the photo.

She knew Mulder noticed.  Hell, she was counting on it.  Out of the corner of her eye she could see him look from her to the photo then back to her again.

Scully glanced up at him questioningly.  "Are we done here, Mulder?"

"Uh - yeah.   We are."  He ruffled his hair again.  "It is getting a little long," he mused.  He indicated the photo of Michael Biehn.  "You think that would be a good look on me?"

Scully contained a smile of satisfaction.  Victory.

*   *   *

Oh boy, was the rest of the office going to be mad when Johanna told them who had stopped by that day.

She had just spent five minutes speaking to Fox Mulder.  They had joked.  They had laughed.  Well, okay, he had joked and she had laughed.  But his attention had been on =her=.  She filed this away in her mind so that she would be able to retrieve it later with perfect clarity.

"I like it," Agent Scully said.  "What do you think, Johanna?"

Johanna looked at the magazine photo dubiously.  "It..." she hesitated, not wanting to insult Agent Scully's hair sense or taste in men.  However, she desperately wanted to spare Agent Mulder from having to sport such a haircut.  She also wanted to spare the female population at the FBI from having to see the object of their collective desire sporting it, as well.

For the good of obsessed female government workers everywhere, Johanna had to speak the truth.  "It looks like someone took a weed whacker to it," she said finally.

Was that a smile that twitched at the corners of Agent Scully's mouth, or was that just her?  Johanna wondered.

It was just her imagination, she decided, because instead of laughing and saying that it was just a joke, Agent Scully murmured in all seriousness, "I think it looks kind of sexy."

That was when Agent Mulder's breath caught in his throat and he practically tripped over himself in his haste to get Agent Scully to accompany him to get his hair cut that very day.  He said something about needing reinforcements, because the barber never did it the way Mulder asked.  Scully could be there in a supervisory capacity.

Johanna thought his transparency was kind of sweet, and looked from him to Agent Scully to share a knowing smile with her.  But the female agent didn't seem to notice anything untoward, still looking at Mulder innocently.

"You want me to do what, Mulder?"

"Come on, Scully," he pouted.  Johanna suppressed a shiver.  A "Scully" =and= a pout.  "You don't have anything better to do."

An eyebrow climbed to her hairline.  "How do you know that, Mulder?"

"You know I always look in your day planner."

Johanna thought she heard Agent Scully's teeth grinding.  "I have to wash my hair tonight," she said coolly, deliberately meaning to insult.

Agent Mulder was not put off.  In fact, he was even amused, if the grin that split his face indicated anything.  "Well, we can do both," he suggested wickedly, leaning in close.  "I'll wash your hair after we go to the barber."

Johanna sincerely wished that such a comment had been directed at her.  She didn't understand how Agent Scully could remain so unaffected by the sexy charm oozing from her partner that was quite obviously for her benefit.

Scully's eyes remained fixed on him coolly.  "How's this - I'll go with you to get your hair cut today if you promise not to touch a single strand on my head."

If it was possible, his grin widened even further.  "Maybe I wasn't talking about the hair on your head," he taunted.  "Maybe I meant - "

"Don't!"  Agent Scully interrupted, two spots of mortification staining her cheeks.  "Don't - even say it, Mulder."

He let his thousand-watt grin say it all.

As Agent Scully stalked away, Mulder right on her heels, Johanna let herself admire the sexy perfection of his hair one last time.  Scully had made it clear that she found the short-cropped hairstyle attractive, and Johanna suspected that the next time she saw him, Mulder would be sporting that look, come hell or high water.

Johanna could only hope that Scully would allow him to grow it out again someday.  It would be interesting to see how long she'd make him keep the hedgehog look.