Title: Eavesdropping
Author: flynn
Classification: S,R
Keywords: Skinner
Written: October 2000
Category: S,A
Archiving: Xemplary, Ephemeral, Spooky, Gossamer, yes; anywhere else, just ask. I share.
Spoiler Warning: Passing references to S7.
Rating: NC-17 for observations of adult expressions of affection.
Feedback: Please. It's better than .... well, I don't like chocolate.
Disclaimer: My last name is not Carter.

Summary: During a meeting with Scully, the burly surly one muses on a few things: Kersh .... Doggett .... how Scully had gotten pregnant.

 

Thanks, Christine. I'm running out of glib ways to say it.


I should have known this was going to be an interesting day.

I have a meeting with Kersh this afternoon, among other things. It comes on the heels of another one with Agents Scully and Doggett, who are due any minute. Now, as Assistant Directors go, Kersh is good. He's thorough. He's methodical. He takes no bull. He accepts only the best efforts of the agents under him, and as a consequence he's blessed with a unit boasting one of the highest case-solved rates in the division.

He's a born accountant. He's a nitpicker. He's a stickler for protocol.

He's hell to work for.

I'm sure it's difficult for any of the agents under him, at one time or another. I can only imagine the hell Mulder went through, languishing under his jaundiced eye for as long as he did, he and Scully.

Scully. That's another interesting thing. This meeting will be one of our last before her maternity leave. THAT concept still stops me. Scully's pregnant. Jesus. Guess those rumors really were true, about her and Mulder and all their time spent together. All those rumors I ignored, having decided to give them the benefit of doubt. I know I should be pissed. I mean, it's almost humiliating. I could even bring them up for disciplinary actions, or at least him. It's one thing to have a close working relationship with your partner. To depend on him or her before all others. To trust when you have nothing else but faith and history between you to depend on.

But to get said partner pregnant? Must have missed that one in the regs.

I can't get angry and stay that way. Sure, they make my unit look a little .... lax. They might even make me look ineffectual, in the wrong light. But it isn't like this hasn't happened before in the history of the Bureau. The traits that make a good, strong partnership can lead to other things. Normally, the agents involved would recognize the situation and request transfers. Under normal circumstances, it'd be a real strain to work together AND attempt to co-habitate. This job can be hell on relationships. I know.

But I find I can't begrudge those two for anything that has happened. First off, they have enough going against them as it is. Normal circumstances, as might be defined by someone working in another section, have never existed for these two. And besides, for years now I've watched them. I've seen the dynamic which idiots like Blevins underestimate, or that bookkeepers like Kersh just flat-out disregard. Those two really do have something special, and have had it a long time. Besides, the status of their partnership .... well, it isn't exactly cut-and-dried any longer. Technically, their partnership will be suspended when Scully takes off to do her thing.

There's a knock on the door an instant before it opens. Scully. I nod a greeting as she settles herself in one of the chairs facing me. There's a nice glow to her today. I've never spent much time around pregnant women so I'm probably not the best of judges, but she just doesn't seem that big to me. I guess part of that is careful tailoring. Oh, it's been obvious for months now that something's afoot, and there's been lots of speculation about paternity; but I've seen women who could have been mistaken for sumo wrestlers. She does not have that look.

We exchange pleasantries. I'm fine, I tell her; my apartment is fine, my plastic houseplants are fine - outside of my job, I don't really have much of a life. She appears to blush when I ask about Mulder. He's doing better; the shrinks say he should be cleared for duty in a couple more weeks. None too soon; I know Mulder, and I know he must be busting out at the seams. She says he spends hours on the internet or haunting the DC libraries, researching God only knows what. He's undergone regression therapy a couple times now, but to no avail. His memories go straight from standing in an Oregon forest to waking up in an Oregon hospital, with nothing in between. Whatever happened to him, it's locked down tight. He's on edge about it. I know Mulder on edge. It can't be pretty, having to live with that.

The conversation moves on to more staid topics. Her brothers are both in the Navy, a fact I'm well aware of, and both are expecting shore leave soon; first Charles, and then Bill. Her mother is already planning a family reunion. When Scully says her brother's name, I have to use a hand to actually smother a quick smile. I met Bill when she was in the hospital a long time ago, the same time Mulder did. As I recall, it wasn't exactly love at first sight between the two of them. I understand it's almost come to blows between them a couple of times. I don't know much about Bill, but I do know there are few forces in this world that can contain an agitated Mulder. This woman is one of those forces. I can honestly say I don't envy anyone unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of her wrath. I've been there a time or two. I didn't like it.

The polite conversation lags, and we both glance at our watches - looks like Doggett's running a little late. One thing he has in common with her partner, but that's about it. John Doggett, I muse to myself. I didn't have a lot to do with either Mulder or Scully for the first few months of their partnership, so I can't say I know just how their relationship evolved, but I'm fairly sure it wasn't anything at all like what I see developing between her and Doggett. She's different with him. There's an edge to her. They work all right together, and I know they watch out for each other; but I don't think they'll ever be friends. It's obvious that he did something or said something at the outset that she found offensive, and he hasn't been forgiven. I know something about the devotion between Scully and Mulder. I've seen how his disappearances affected her. Whatever Doggett did, if it has anything at all to do with The Man, he's screwed.

I find my mind wandering a little as she recounts something from another family event. Something about her nephew and chocolate cake. I listen, but I don't exactly take notes. Dana Scully, I muse silently, is a complex person, something I've been aware of for a good long while. Nothing about her is overt. When she gets angry, she withdraws and becomes outwardly still. I've seen that plenty of times. I can't say I've ever seen her in a rage, though I know it must happen from time to time, especially considering how her partner can be. I've seen her scared shitless. I've seen her grieve, silent and inward. I've seen her shed tears, again, quietly. No histrionics for her. I've even seen her smile a few times, and on one memorable occasion, I actually heard her laugh. Not a tight, bitter cackle, but a real, from-the-gut laugh.

If there's anything I would like to take with me to my grave, it's the sound of this woman's laughter.

I think about how she was when Mulder finally turned up. Certainly not a lot of laughter then. I don't think she'd been taking really good care of herself. She was pale and almost gaunt, which certainly made them a nice pair. She was intense in her concern for him, and obsessive in the way she hovered. I'm sure the government HMO gave the hospital hell for all the tests and procedures she wanted done. I kept in touch with her after she'd taken him home - oh, there was no doubt where he'd be staying. For the first week or so she was still clearly stressed. Didn't have to see her to know those dark circles under her eyes hadn't gone anywhere. Then something happened, something she still hasn't really explained to me. Mulder had some sort of breakthrough. He wasn't himself exactly, but suddenly there was progress. Each week saw more things return to normal. Well, normal for them, at any rate.

I wonder if they've resumed their .... well, physical relations. Shit, why is it so hard even to think within the safety of my own head? What, am I afraid she'll see it in my eyes? Sex. I wonder if they've started having sex. Again. I mean, something obviously happened before he left, because .... hell, look at her. These things don't just happen. Unless it isn't his. THAT thought never fails to trouble me. What was happening back then? What cases were they working on? There was his unexpected and completely unauthorized excursion to England. Sorry, Mulder, you're gonna have to eat the cost on that one. But immediately before that was the episode with Old Scratch. Three days she was alone with him. It's possible something could have transpired. She said in her report that there was a good-sized time span she couldn't account for. Jesus, could he have .... The thought makes me shudder. Yet as unpleasant as it seems, I know the possibility exists.

Oh, surely she's thought of that. Surely she asked her OB to run every test he could. Not difficult to determine paternity in this day and age. Until and unless I hear otherwise, I'm going to assume it's Mulder's.

Mulder's. That means they did have sex. I wonder about their first time. I wonder when it was. Have they been involved for years, as it's been speculated since her disappearance so long ago? Personally, I doubt it. I think it's a recent development. That's just my opinion. I've watched them for years. I'm no authority on women, God knows, but I do know a little about male-female relations. I know that Mulder's been pretty fond of her for a hell of a long time. I've caught onto the fact that the stronger his feelings about something, the blanker his expression gets. I've watched him. How they are in the basement office, when they're just THEM, is anyone's guess. They come up for meetings or to consult with another department - or, hell, coffee - and the man's face is as empty as a cadaver's.

She's a little harder to read. Still, I see the looks. Before his latest disappearance, I saw her smile just a little more. I saw her touch him. Nothing obtrusive, just a hand on his forearm, or straightening his tie when it didn't need it. There's always been a connection between them, but it seemed a little different. They were physical about it. There was .... an ease to it that wasn't there before. When did it start? I can't even say.

So if I'm curious about anything, and obviously I am, it isn't when so much as how. Did he romance her first? Hell, did SHE romance HIM? It wouldn't really surprise me: there does seem to be a certain role reversal where those two are concerned. Was it slow and deliberate? Or impulsive? I think about that, mentally construct a scene which I pray she can't see in my expression. Where are they? Not the office. Probably not a motel room - too anonymous Maybe her apartment. Or his. I see them in an embrace. It's unhurried. Mulder's no giant, but he might as well be when she takes her shoes off. I see his hands working at her collar. I see her skin bared little by little to his touch. I see the emotions in her eyes. She accepts his overtures, but silently.

What would she taste like? I've never considered it before this.

Mulder knows. Mulder knows how she feels. He knows where all her little moles and freckles are, and how they're laid out on the white canvas of her body. He knows the spots that make her giggle, that make her writhe and maybe whisper his name, like Sharon used to whisper mine. He knows what it's like to have those lithe hands on him. Those fingers dragging through his hair - something I haven't personally experienced since I was eighteen. The warmth of her hand closing on his neck, drawing him to her. Did he groan when he kissed her the first time? I imagine that he did. Who wouldn't, when receiving something so long desired?

There's a sharp rap on the door. Scully and I both jump a little. Thank God my train of thought is derailed. Doggett makes his entrance and sits down, nodding once to each of us in acknowledgement of his tardiness. I see a tightness in Scully's expression, one that wasn't there a few seconds ago. No, she's living, breathing proof that trust and friendship do not necessarily go hand in hand. Goes to show, I guess, that the indefinable chemistry between this woman and her true partner is one-of-a-kind.

They start running down the list of cases that are currently pending. There are six being run in conjunction with Violent Crimes, and two with Domestics. Mulder would be consulting, if he were back at work. Doggett's good, but he just doesn't have the bent that Mulder does. When all is said and done, Mulder is a solid criminal profiler. I don't know how many times the VC and other units have benefited from his particular skill. That the same people he's assisted no doubt disparage him in their off-hours grinds the pride not just a little bit. I feel for Mulder. See, the Bureau's always been about team-playing. Maybe it's some innate personality trait, or maybe it's as simple as the fact that he was basically raised as an only-child. The man is a loner.

I listen to my agents, and this time I do take notes; but with a knack that probably developed during my stint in Vietnam, a portion of my mind simultaneously returns to its earlier musings. Which means I can listen to them and fantasize at the same time. As the agents explain their strategy for phasing Scully out and Mulder in downstairs, I see something totally different. They ARE in his apartment. They're in the living room, the only room I can remember being in. He has her shirt undone, and now she's working on his. The height difference comes in handy when she wants to .... I find myself shifting a little in my chair. She's kissing him. His hands are on her shoulders, and he tips his head back and bares his throat to her. She's smiling. I see a flash of her teeth, and he groans just a little as she worries his larynx. A shudder wracks him. Then he dips his head and goes for her shoulder. Her neck. Jesus, what must she taste like.

With very little effort, I can feel the heat of her skin. That softness just over her breastbone, the one which would hit me somewhere around the sternum. It hits him there, too. Her hands are on his neck again, one working its way into his hair while the other one ....

Shit. I twist a little in my seat.

The other one glides down his arm, grasps his left hand, and raises it to her chest. His fingers don't hesitate, but curl around her breast in a gentle embrace. He doesn't want to hurt her, clearly; but it's just as obvious that she wants more than what he's giving her. Her fingers close around his, tightening his grip on her. She's murmuring something to him, but I don't catch the words. What they say to each other doesn't matter.

We didn't need to talk much at this point, my wife and I.

I come up for air and try, I really try, to keep my mind on what Doggett's saying. Something about expense reports and how he needs last year's to do a comparison. Is it legit, I wonder, or is he still trying to define himself, to distinguish his own record from that of his less-than-respected predecessor? Does it matter right now? I don't see how. I jot down a note to contact Accounting and have the old files dug out of Archives.

He's gone to his knees. Is their height really this perfect, or am I creating details that aren't valid? I can't say that I've ever witnessed Agent Mulder kneeling in front of his partner before. Again I shrug away irrelevance. He's drawing the shoulder strap of her bra down, baring her to him. Jesus, she's beautiful. Pale. So pale that she'd burn within minutes out in the sun. Her aureole is pinkish-peach. Rose, that's it. She really does have rose-tipped breasts. There's a small mole on one of them, and he kisses it tenderly before trailing over her white flesh, nuzzling and licking as he goes. She shivers as he takes her in his mouth, lets her head fall forward until her temple is pressed to his. Closer. Always closer.

Jesus, I shouldn't be doing this. I clear my throat suddenly and loudly and shift my weight forward in my chair. Whoa, wrong move; the material of my slacks binds suddenly over something that wasn't there a little while ago. Hastily I sit back. Thank God I have a desk to hide behind, because there's no explanation for what I have going on here. A puerile joke flits through my head, something about icing down a painful swelling, and I almost lose it and snicker. I clear my throat again to cover it.

Doggett's going on about the audit in May and doesn't notice, but Scully's looking at me curiously. Dammit, it's easy to forget she's a doctor. I give her a level look and raise my eyebrows. "You have a question, Agent Scully?" I ask brusquely. Doggett breaks off and looks at her curiously.

She doesn't call my bluff, but a little frown pinches her own brows together and she gives her head a shake. "No, sir. You just seem uncomfortable. We could postpone this meeting if you're not feeling w- "

"I'm perfectly well, I assure you," I snap, cutting her off. She bites back her words, and I mentally kick myself. Well, it isn't like this is the first time I've lied to the woman. Jesus, I hope I haven't gone six shades of red. I hope she can't see my thoughts in my expression. My guilt. Sitting here, fantasizing about a subordinate like I was a kid thinking about his crush. And not just any subordinate, but the one sitting there looking at me with eyes that could melt the iceberg that brought down the Titanic. Jesus, it's been a long time since hormones had anything at all to do with my actions.

Okay, enough of this. Time I get a grip on myself, and not the kind that feels good. I reach for my coffee cup and take a hefty swig. Shit, it's tepid. I force it down and wipe my mouth in disgust. That leads to a bigger problem than forcing down cold coffee: the lingering aftertaste is sweet and smoky, and so much a part of sex for me that the memory alone is enough to change the course of blood in my body. I'm not a smoker and neither was Sharon, so our post-coital ritual was to split a cup of coffee. Light sugar, heavy cream. A long, deep, gentle kiss to share the flavor. Dammit dammit dammit. Why doesn't my assistant call with a really important, irritating phone call from the Attorney General? Why doesn't Kersh come in and politely demand his appointment be moved up by half an hour? Why can't Mulder burst in, talking about bees or sewer monsters or Bigfoot, for God's sake?


Ah, hell. Mulder. Why did I have to think of him? Jesus, right now I'd like nothing more than to hate the man. Hate him and I wouldn't care. I wish I didn't. How many barrels have I been over in the past eight years specifically because of Fox Mulder? So this *particular* barrel has nothing to do with conspiracies or aliens or devil women running amok in New Jersey, of all places. No, the Amazon in my thoughts is sitting right here in front of me, looking right through me to my soul with eyes the color of lapis.

She looks at her partner in just such a way, or at least she used to, so bewildered and concerned. She also looks at him like Sharon used to look at me, with patience and tenderness, or hot, brooding lust. She's looking at him like that right now, the woman in my thoughts. He's on his knees and he's suckling and worrying her, and it's becoming quite clear that she wants much, much more from him. I can see his hands meeting around her back, his fingers spreading and overlapping, slowly working their way into the waistline of her skirt. He lifts his head and looks up at her, and I bite back a soft gasp at what I see in his eyes. Wonder. Unabashed adoration. This man's worshipping with his body what his heart and his mind have been devoted to for the better part of a decade. Did I ever look at Sharon like that? It hurts to realize that I probably didn't. I loved her - hell, I still do love her - but I could never look at her with my soul in my eyes. Even with her, I was hidden. Not so with this man. I can see every thought, every impulse in those clear eyes. And so can his lover.

His lover. She stoops a little and covers his mouth with hers. Their eyes do not quite close. Tongues dance and weave, seeking not to conquer but to continue and complete. Her hands are in his hair again, stroking and massaging, and this time he gives a nice, strong groan. His own hands continue their way into her clothing, loosening and removing. Her skirt drops in a heap around her bare feet. What she wears beneath it is a rosy nebula of anonymity. I don't need to visualize her underwear.

She draws him to his feet again, then purposefully unlatches his belt and tugs it free. It lands on the floor several paces away. He doesn't move, merely stands there with his hands angled away from his hips and watches her. She makes short work of his shirt, then unzips his pants and pushes them down. He's fully erect. A man doesn't think much about another guy's package, and he certainly doesn't spend time on it in a hyperhormonal daydream like this. I concentrate on her instead. Jesus, she's beautiful. Slim and pale, round in all the right places. The swell of her ass fits into his hands as if she'd been made just for him. I'm tempted to think maybe she was.

He takes her hands as he backs toward the couch. She stands before him and looks at him as he slowly sits. Her breasts are eye-level with him. He doesn't seem to know where to look. Glances up at her, smiling a little as his hands slide up her sides to cup her again. She leans into the touch. She isn't coy, but neither is she overly-aggressive. She wants what she wants, and she makes no bones about letting those desires be known. As he fondles her, she frames his face with her own slim hands and leans down to kiss him.

Jesus, to be kissed like that.

He sits back as she lowers herself on him. There's little hesitation, and no fumbling. She shifts slightly and helps him find the right angle, and he groans softly as she envelopes him. I think this was my favorite part when my wife and I made love. Ejaculation might be the pinnacle, but it's over and done with in the flicker of an eye. This moment can be drawn out until you can't seem to find breath in your body. Slowly she rises, then sinks down over him again. Her eyes. Jesus, her eyes. I can't help it, I find something on my desk to occupy my own gaze. I can't look at her right now. Her expression is rapt, and she arches back until the hair on his chest tickles her breasts. Her hands are kneading his shoulders. She breathes his name in time to her gentle rhythm of rise and fall. His response isn't spoken so much as it's moaned. God, how can he just sit there and let her do that?

Evidently he can't. His hands settle on her hips, arresting her movements. He murmurs something, and she immediately coils herself around him. Ah, I see. He collapses onto his side, then rolls and shifts them until she's under him. God, I can almost feel his relief as he starts pumping into her. They don't say anything; all I hear is the sounds of their breathing, of their bodies moving and meeting. She lifts her legs and drapes them over his, deepening his penetration, increasing the impact. Her face is pressed up close against his, and oh God, her expression .... it couldn't be duplicated in all the porn flicks that could ever be made. That expression isn't a practiced grimace; it's almost a smile. Jesus, my heart flutters at the thought.

I realize I'm looking at joy.

He's working on her neck as he slides in and out of her, but the difference in their sizes proves to be a strain for him. He lunges upward, bracing himself with his hands planted on either side of her shoulders, and actually looks down between them as he moves. I sit there, frozen. Jesus, I can't stop it; it's like a film that just keeps running and won't stop until it's through. I don't have to see what he sees. I understand the impulse to look, because it feels just too damn good to be true; looking somehow makes it real. She's still smiling, still panting, her chest heaving beneath him. Her hands slide up between them to her breasts, and as she works her own flesh - something he clearly wants to do but can't just at the moment - an invisible barrier is crossed and she's there, God help me, she's there .... and he starts pounding. Hard. Fast. She's making a sound somewhere between a whimper and a cry, one that is soon echoed by her partner. He throws his head back as he let's go. She's still flying. The smile's still there, but it's softer now. Ah, she's coming down. He gives a last few lunges and then collapses atop her, and in that way women have - the way that Sharon had - she holds him with her arms and her legs and keeps him from moving, from rolling away. Not that it looks like he'll be going anyplace any time soon.

I can't believe I'm doing this. For all intents and purposes, I just watched my two star agents make love. I can almost feel her pulse where we touch, but of course we aren't touching. I'm not her partner. I don't want to be. I've been where he is, so to speak; but it wasn't these aquamarine eyes that were staring at me, it was the slate blue eyes of my wife. Still, I know the heat. I know the slickness, the urge to rise and plunge, to go faster and faster until I can't stand it. I know the feel of a mouth against mine as I lose it. I know the feel of *her* losing it.

I know how these two felt when they made love the first time and the last time. I know it, because I had it.

Jesus, sometimes I miss my wife so bad, I want to weep.

Thankfully, the erotic images are fading. I think of Sharon lying next to me, touching me wherever she can. Her legs wrapped around my thigh; her arm flung across my torso, her hand doing a side-to-side pattern on my chest. My arms around her, holding her so tight it's not possible to talk.

Maybe I should have found breath for it. Maybe if I'd just told her more often how I felt, she wouldn't have left me. She wouldn't have ....

Thank God, I've made it through the meeting. My sober thoughts have taken care of .... certain problems, so I'm able to rise and see my agents to the door without a trace of my earlier discomfort. Carefully I brush past Scully, touching her discretely on the shoulder in order to ensure the proper arm's-length between us, and ask Kim for my messages. She hands me a cluster of pink notes. Something brushes my arm, and I'm surprised to see Scully's hand hovering over my sleeve. Those cornflower blue eyes hold mine effortlessly. I want to cringe in shame, for this thing I did without meaning to do. I don't allow myself the luxury of a reaction. Instead I drop my chin a little and meet her gaze full-bore. "Problem, Agent Scully?" I grunt.

Her lips open, but for an interminable moment no words are uttered. Her eyes twitch around my face as she clearly attempts to decipher my thoughts. "Are you all right now?" she asks. Her tone is so soft, I don't think Kim could hear her, even though she herself is standing only a few feet away.

I raise my head again. When haven't I given her a gruff, taciturn front? When hasn't she bought it? I just pray she will again. "I'm fine, Agent Scully."

Was that the wrong thing to say? Her eyes narrow as she studies me, and for a gut-wrenching moment I wonder if she's somehow caught on to my unforgivable intrusion. In that instant, I realize my mistake. *I'm fine.* How many times have I heard her utter that very phrase? How often had it been true? How many times had I refused to buy it from her? Yet I expect her to take it from me. How dumb is that?

Shit, regroup. Redirect. Distract her. Or ignore her until she gives up and lets the matter be. I turn away from her, leaving her hand hanging in the air in an aborted appeal. "Kim, there are some materials I need to get from Accounting. Get me an Interdepartmental pouch, would you, please?" I state it as a question, but it's really more of a plea from me to her. And a plea to Scully: leave it alone. Leave *me* alone.

Kim nods and presents one of the big manila envelopes from a desk drawer. I grunt a thank you as I turn away. Kersh is standing beside the outer door, his expression contained, almost placid. Lucky bastard. Hell, I would bet *he* doesn't have afternoons like this. If Kersh daydreams at all, it's probably about humiliating Mulder in front of a review board, not watching displays of sexual and emotional gratification. Why is he here, anyway? Oh, yeah. Budgetary wranglings for our departments. Great. More cost analysis. More notes to Accounting.

I look at Kersh - Alvin is his name, but no one dares call him that - and nod to him as I usher Scully past him to the outer door. Doggett follows obediently. A minor disturbance in the outer hallway catches everyone's attention.

I should have seen this coming. Somehow, I should have known.

Jesus, I hate deliberately loud whispers. I hate the gawkers that seem to come out of the woodwork at times like this.

Mulder's just stepping off the elevator. He's not exactly hard to pick out; whereas everyone here is dressed in business suits, men and women alike, he's wearing jeans and a turtleneck. Boots instead of Wingtips. What the hell is he doing here now? To my knowledge, it's the first time he's set foot inside the Hoover Building since his return from Oregon. And the whispers I hear are about him. About his obviously pregnant partner. About his conduct and his subsequent disappearance. He'd knocked her up and then chickened out. He'd found out she was sleeping around and dumped her, only to relent and take her back despite her indiscretions. She'd been abducted and assaulted while investigating a case he'd flatly refused to accept. The baby isn't even his. Hell, I've heard the theories. If I'd ignored them before out of an albeit misplaced sense of decency, I ignore these because they are so blatantly insulting.

He must know. He has to hear the whispers in this hallway alone. I don't see how he *can't* be aware of what people have been saying all these years. It would kill me to know people were talking about me like that. Difference is, Mulder has a real Screw-you strength. He really doesn't give a shit what people think.

I take that back. He cares what Scully thinks.

He doesn't seem to be in a big hurry, but I see his expression change a little when he catches sight of her. A wry smile, and his stride lengthens. Quickly I spare her a glance. Her own expression is almost neutral, but I see a flicker of something in her eyes. One corner of her mouth actually lifts just a little.

He nods once or twice to people who have stopped dead in the hall and are watching him. I can't look away myself, though I feel like I'm about to witness a twenty-car pile-up on the 95. I know that swagger. I know that expression. He has something planned. Oh, hell. I look at her again. At Doggett. At Kersh. Shit, I realize too late that Scully's the destination, but Kersh is the target. A Point is about to be made, and I'm sitting front row, center.

It's the best seat in the house. Anyone standing out there would agree with me.

I'm just not sure I want it. But I can't look away. In fact, I find myself smiling. Jesus, if Mulder had any bigger balls, he'd be nothing but a scrotum with legs.

Thirty people must be watching by the time he finally reaches my office. Thirty people, but you could still hear the proverbial pin drop in that hallway.

Kersh sees him coming and folds his arms in a display obviously meant to intimidate. "Agent Mulder," he rumbles. Greeting? Uh uh.

"Alvin," Mulder replies, brushing past him. Kersh bristles. Doggett falls back a step, his expression one of marked irritation. Clearly no love lost there. The prodigal agent reaches for his partner's hand. "'Scuse us, boss," he says flippantly to me, drawing her after him back out to the hallway. They both grace Kersh with a lingering glance.

Do I dare breathe? I can't imagine what my expression is. I know what's coming, and it's taking all my inner strength to restrain a belly laugh the likes of which this office has never heard.

The wind-up: he engulfs her in his long arms and draws her slowly, slowly, in a close embrace. Is it merely reflex that makes her tip her chin up like that, or is she onto him? I can just glimpse her eyes from this angle. Yeah, she's guessed what he's doing, and no doubt *why*; and while she isn't actively encouraging him, she certainly isn't putting up much of a struggle

And the pitch: his mouth connects with hers in what I can only term a Hollywood kiss. It's long and deep, and it has a lot of action. It also puts to shame the erotic daydreams I've been courting. Her hands hover in the air around him - she's obviously unsure just what to do. They separate briefly, and I see her eyes quirk in a silent warning; then he's on her again, if anything deeper and more possessive, and this time one of her hands make it to the back of his neck. God, this one lasts a long time. He releases her with a resounding smack. She's blushing furiously, which comes as no surprise. Her hand goes up like she's going to belt him, but it hesitates before gently meeting his cheek and giving it an affectionate shove. He grins, unrepentant as hell. "Hi, honey," he says. It's far from a shout, but in that tomb-like hall it might just as well have been blasted through a bullhorn. "Tough day at the office? C'mon home - I have a roast in the oven." His gaze drops significantly to her round little belly, and Scully actually giggles when he addresses it. "Hey, child o'mine. Been giving your mom a bad time this afternoon? We're gonna have to have a talk about this, you know: you're never, ever supposed to kick a girl, even if you are one yourself. Don't give me any lip on this, or you'll be grounded until you're twelve."

How long have I been standing there? I hear soft murmurs as people around me find their voices. He drapes an arm around her shoulders and steers her away. They just about make the elevator when I remember Kersh. He's still there, looking for all the world like a dark Buddha, chest pushed out, eyes closed to slits. Clearly he's not amused. I can't help it, and I really don't care if I offend him: I allow myself a chuckle as I gesture him into my office. "AD Kersh," I say with a lightness I haven't felt in months, "you picked a hell of a day for a visit."

Kersh glanced meaningfully at the elevator doors, now closed between us and what will soon be known as Skinner's Amorous Agents. "Guess I'm not the only one." He shoots me a hard look as he passes me. "I'm surprised you can laugh, Walter. You have to deal with the little bastard."

I eye him soberly as I take my place behind my desk. It's just for a few seconds, but the significance is not lost on either of us. "Yes, I do," I reply. "Mulder can be a royal pain in the ass, but he's an asset to my department. He'd have been one to yours, too, if you'd given him the room to maneuver."

He snorts softly. "I gave him what he deserved. As I said, you're the one who has to work with him."

I nod once in concession. "I wouldn't have it any other way. Alvin." Shit, the look he gives me would curdle my blood, if I really gave a crap what he thought of me.

Hmm. Mulder might have something, here.

Yeah. Interesting day.

 

end


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