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                                    Title: FPS - First Person Scully        
                                    
                                    Author: Sara Bowen and KimK
                                    
                                    E-Mail: sabo727@tampabay.rr.com 
                                    k_nig_it1013@yahoo.com
                                    
                                    Feedback: Greatly appreciated including constructive criticisms. 
                                    
                                    Disclaimer: The characters that you recognize in this story
                                    belong to C. Carter and Co., Fox and the wonderful actors who
                                    breathed life into written words, most notably G. Anderson and D.
                                    Duchovny who where able make us believe in the improbable.
                                    Jonathan belongs to Kim. The story belongs to us.
                                    
                                    Spoilers: Most notably First Person Shooter, but we suggest being
                                    pretty well familiar with the series and its characters. 
                                    
                                    Category: Scully/Other, MSR, Scully Angst, Mulder Angst 
                                    
                                    Rating: PG
                                    
                                    Summary: Scully is feeling unattractive and fed up with being
                                    "one of the guys" and decides to venture out and claim her
                                    rightful place as a woman.
                                    
                                    Archive: Just let us know.       
                                    
                                    Gratitude: To CC. And Co. for creating these most memorable
                                    characters and the show we all love.
                                    
                                    Authors Notes: 
                                    Sara: The beginning of this story sat on my hard drive for nearly
                                    a year. I had painted the characters into an angst-ridden corner
                                    and I didn't know how to rescue them. Enter Kim who built a
                                    bridge to release them and they soared (for which they are
                                    forever grateful). Kim sent me the first installment of her
                                    portion and it was my voice I heard when the characters spoke yet
                                    very much hers too. I can never thank her enough for saving this
                                    story from forever wallowing without an ending.
                                    It has been my pleasure and honor to work with her. Thank you
                                    Kim! You are the bestest!
                                    
                                    Kim: This was the ultimate fanfic challenge. It was like "Here
                                    are the first couple pages . . . where do we go from here?" I had
                                    so much fun writing this and Sara is so awesome! We continuously
                                    bounced off ideas and together constructed this baby. She was
                                    also there to help when I would back myself into a corner. Thank
                                    you Sara for coming up with the idea of this story! You're
                                    freakin' GREAT! 
                                    
                                    Thanks goes to . . .: Dev for being our beta reader! You did your
                                    job in improving our story and did it well. And thank you Chris,
                                    David, Gillian and crew for making this show so much fun to write
                                    about. It is impossible to run out of ideas!  As always, thank
                                    you readers for reading our fic!
                                    
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    Scully stood at the check-in line for the airline. Mulder and the
                                    Gunmen were currently being checked in and she was next. Not that
                                    any of them noticed she was missing. No, they were too busy
                                    recapping the narrow escape at FPS and the evening that had
                                    followed. Mulder had herded them all to the strip club that Jade
                                    Blue Afterglow performed at. Scully only escaped by taking a taxi
                                    back to their hotel. A very expensive cab ride that she was
                                    determined that Mulder would reimburse her for. 
                                    
                                    It was her turn at the counter and, along with her ID and e-
                                    ticket, she produced her frequent flyer card and upgraded to
                                    first class. She needed to be as far away from Mulder and company
                                    as possible. Dana Katherine Scully had her fill of their
                                    continuing replay of the previous days activities and more than
                                    her fill of the discussions about Ms. Afterglow. How many
                                    adjectives were there to describe big boobs anyhow? She'd
                                    expected comments from Frohike and Langly but Mulder shocked and
                                    disgusted her. By the time they'd had breakfast and gotten to the
                                    airport she felt completely unwomanly and totally unattractive. 
                                    
                                    When she was checked in she looked for the others only to see
                                    their retreating backs as they proceeded to the gate. Scully
                                    shrugged her shoulders and followed, not attempting to catch up.
                                    Sitting across from them at the gate she observed the dynamics of
                                    the foursome. Mulder was the undisputed leader, Frohike and
                                    Langly watched him intently while he spoke, hanging on his words.
                                    It was Byers' reaction that fascinated her, he kept slightly
                                    removed. He chanced a glance in her direction and she understood.
                                    His eyes spoke the words he could never say -- the whole thing
                                    embarrassed him. He dared not tell the others because of some
                                    arcane male code, but John Fitzgerald Byers wanted nothing to do
                                    with this display of machismo. She nodded slightly, almost
                                    imperceptibly, to let him know she understood and she was
                                    rewarded with the smallest of smiles.
                                    
                                    Boarding was called and no one noticed that she stood when the
                                    rear coach rows and first class were called. Scully reached her
                                    seat and buckled in, watching the other passengers board turning
                                    towards the window when Mulder came into view, refusing to look
                                    at them as they passed.
                                    
                                    Mulder saw her sitting on the plane and for the first time since
                                    they'd left the game he really looked at her. Until that moment
                                    he hadn't realized she wasn't with the group. Her features looked
                                    casual but her posture screamed defeat. Scully was hurting and he
                                    didn't know why. He wanted to talk to her but the crush of the
                                    boarding hoards made him keep moving. No matter what they were
                                    going through they never split up on a flight unless the plane
                                    was over booked. 
                                    
                                    Scully didn't really care for flying and take offs and landing
                                    often found her nails digging deeply into the armrest. Mulder
                                    found out early in their partnership how to talk her through it,
                                    they both knew what he was doing and she'd once raised her hand
                                    to his cheek and thanked him. He feigned surprise and told her he
                                    just liked the sound of his own voice. In the last several years
                                    they'd taken to holding hands too. It just dawned on him that
                                    they hadn't done that in awhile.
                                    
                                    When they got to their seats, four together in the center, he
                                    stopped an attendant and asked about upgrading, specifically row
                                    3 seat B, next to Scully. He laid on some of his "ladies charm"
                                    as Scully called it and within five minutes he was bidding his
                                    friends goodbye and moving towards the front of the plane. 
                                    
                                    Before he got very far Byers caught him. "Don't mention the game
                                    or that stripper." Was all he said and then he returned to his
                                    seat. 
                                    
                                    Scully didn't looked at him as he took his seat, it was almost as
                                    if she expected him. The captain called for the final takeoff
                                    preparations and he reached for Scully's hand only to find her
                                    arms wrapped around her center with her eyes tightly screwed
                                    shut. She was not going to allow him to comfort her. He couldn't
                                    push it, but the action spoke volumes of how far their
                                    relationship was deteriorated. Scully was not a person who
                                    allowed others in easily and it was a gift to him that she not
                                    only showed him her weakness, but also allowed him to help her. 
                                    
                                    The first hours of the flight were silent except for the few
                                    interruptions from the flight attendant about drinks. When their
                                    meal came, which was quite nice considering the source, he
                                    watched her pick at it. She looked as if swallowing was hard and
                                    she soon gave up. He looked at the other occupants of the cabin
                                    and noted they both were watching the film and had their
                                    earphones on. It was time to talk.
                                    
                                    "Scully, tell me what's wrong." He kept his voice soothing but
                                    with an edge that brooked no challenge. "And don't even think
                                    about telling me you're fine." That earned him a small smile.
                                    
                                    Scully sat back and took in a deep breath and she kept her eyes
                                    straight ahead. "Yesterday and today I listened to you talk about
                                    that woman. I guess I should say both of those women. You talked
                                    about her looks, how beautiful she was, how her body looked and
                                    so on. At first I was shocked that you all would talk like that
                                    in front of me until I realized that you didn't think of me as a
                                    woman at all." Mulder wanted to say something but didn't know
                                    what he could say. She was right, they had treated her like one
                                    of the boys. It shamed him to think how he'd pushed them to go
                                    watch that strip show. He'd actually laughed at Scully when she
                                    grabbed a cab back to the hotel after dinner. 
                                    
                                    He heard her continuing, her words were coming fast as if she
                                    feared he'd interrupt her. "It's a sad moment for a woman to find
                                    out that the reason she hasn't been on a date in years was not
                                    her choice, but because she was--is totally unattractive to men.
                                    That the last man that even looked at her was a psychopath and
                                    even he backed away. I now understand the way you treat me. The
                                    ditches, brazen innuendo that never amount to anything, that
                                    moment in your hallway before the bee stung me that was never
                                    spoken of or acted on and the women--Kristin, Bambi, Angela,
                                    Phoebe, Diana, that blind woman Marty and even Karin Berquist,
                                    not to mention every waitress, flight attendant and nearly every
                                    woman our cases brought us in contact with--and now that walking
                                    wet dream. Everyone of them got the Mulder treatment, but not
                                    good old Scully." She stopped to take a breath and gave the
                                    saddest laugh he'd ever heard. "I might as well tell you how
                                    truly stupid I am. In spite of everything and your complete
                                    disinterest I harbored ideas of a future between us, a romantic
                                    future." Tears were teasing the corners of her eyes. He had to
                                    say something.
                                    
                                    "Not disinterest Scully, caution and not an insignificant amount
                                    of fear. Fear that you would flee if I made any real overtures."
                                    
                                    This time her laugh was bitter. "Don't Mulder, just don't. I'm a
                                    big girl I don't need to have you placate me with false words of
                                    encouragement. Don't worry I'm not leaving the X-files division
                                    so you don't have to try another forced overture to keep me
                                    around."
                                    
                                    "Scully that wasn't why--" Mulder started to defend himself but
                                    she interrupted.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, come on, how can you think I would believe you when you
                                    claim 'caution'? You have never been cautious. You and Agent
                                    Fowley carried on an overt affair up until she left for Europe."
                                    Mulder was surprised she knew about that. "The Gunmen knew about
                                    it and you wouldn't believe how many 'friends' I have in the
                                    Hoover that couldn't wait to fill me in on the details after she
                                    returned. Apparently you weren't very discrete, long lunches,
                                    lingering kisses in the break rooms and the cafeteria. And my
                                    personal favorite, one motel room on assignments. Someone even
                                    told me that you and Diana were married. Yet with all that there
                                    were no backlashes and low and behold SHE was never abducted to
                                    have her internal organs reworked." Her words were bitter and
                                    angry but her voice remained calm which made his despair of her
                                    interpretations all the deeper. 
                                    
                                    He had no idea how to convince her of how deep his feelings for
                                    her ran, and considering how stupidly he'd acted he wasn't sure
                                    if he ever could. 
                                    
                                    She was talking again. 
                                    
                                    "I should have known from the first, Phoebe Green. After the
                                    hotel fire while you were passed out she told me how you'd booked
                                    only one room for the two of you. Then when you woke you didn't
                                    ask about the children or the information that I had found. No
                                    your first words were 'where's Phoebe'. In your view on things I
                                    was so insignificant that you didn't bother putting on a robe
                                    until Phoebe entered the room. That woman had left you alone
                                    while she glad-handed the 'driver' and played up to the press not
                                    to mention the Marsdens. I had to ask you if you wanted my
                                    findings and then you couldn't wait to run after her."
                                    
                                    Mulder was trying to form the words to tell her how her view of
                                    things was mistaken when the captain announced their decent and
                                    Scully closed in on herself. He wanted to hold her hand and talk
                                    his nonsense to her, but he knew she didn't want him to so he did
                                    the only thing he could, he watched her.
                                    
                                    When they disembarked he passed the attendant who'd upgraded him
                                    she held out her hand and he took it. She slipped a note to him
                                    and one look back at Scully told him she'd seen the exchange. She
                                    passed him and walked away without looking back. When he caught
                                    up with her he made a big show of tossing out the note.
                                    
                                    "Not very impressive Mulder when you take in account your famous
                                    memory, one look at that note and you had her number memorized."
                                    She wouldn't believe him if he told he never looked at the damned
                                    thing. 
                                    
                                    The Gunmen caught up with them at the luggage carousel. By the
                                    time they'd gotten their bags Scully was gone. He'd driven her to
                                    the airport so he surmised she was taking a cab home. He ran to
                                    the nearest cabstand only to see her entering a taxi and leaving.
                                    
                                    
                                    Mulder dropped the guys off and drove around for several hours
                                    not knowing what to do. He wanted to go to Scully's to talk this
                                    out but he was afraid she'd refuse to see him. Mulder debated the
                                    pro's and con's of going to her. His decision was made when he
                                    realized that there was no way he'd get any rest that night and
                                    he suspected it was the same for her. Eleven twenty-seven found
                                    him parking in front of her building. Her lights were on; it was
                                    time to confront this issue head on.
                                    
                                    Surprisingly Scully opened the door after his first knock. She
                                    was dressed in a pair of navy slacks and a light-blue V-neck tee,
                                    her feet were bare she'd let her hair air dry so it was a mass to
                                    soft curls and her face was devoid of make-up. She said nothing
                                    but simply moved aside to let him in. Mulder couldn't help but
                                    wonder if he could have been so generous if she'd been as
                                    careless and insulting as he'd been towards her. He still
                                    couldn't figure out why he'd acted the way he had. The problem
                                    was he had some explaining to do, but no explanations came to
                                    mind.
                                    
                                    "Mulder I know you are here to try and make me feel better but I
                                    think it would be best if you would just go home. We need to be
                                    in the office at eight to try and make some sense of what
                                    happened so we can report it to Skinner. And to be quite frank, I
                                    don't think what's left of my ego can take any more humiliation.
                                    I couldn't stand to have you make some half-hearted attempt to
                                    make me feel better. How I have it all wrong and that you do
                                    think I'm attractive or some other nonsense. All because you are
                                    afraid I might leave or do something foolish. Well, let me head
                                    it off; I'm not leaving the work and my days of doing rash things
                                    are long past. Now please leave me alone to lick my wounds and
                                    get some rest." Her last words were laced with the tears that
                                    choked her throat.
                                    
                                    Mulder wanted to grab her and hold her to him forever. He wanted
                                    to tell her everything in his heart. How much she means to him.
                                    But he knew that because of his stupidity and callousness there
                                    was nothing he could say that she would believe. 
                                    
                                    Therefore he decided to say the only thing he could think to say
                                    at the moment, deep down knowing it would blow up in his face.
                                    
                                    "You're beautiful, Scully." He said it with an unwanted hesitancy
                                    that he soon regretted to no end. Way to make it believable, he
                                    chided himself.
                                    
                                    "You bastard," she whispered with disdain and stepped back ever
                                    so slightly.
                                    
                                    Mulder winced and ran a nervous hand through his hair. He'd
                                    screwed up and there was nothing he could do or say at this time
                                    to fix it.
                                    
                                    "I deserved that."
                                    
                                    "Oh trust me, Mulder, you deserve a lot worse than that." Her
                                    voice was low and even now, but the anger in her stance and tone
                                    were palpable. 
                                    
                                    "Scully, I don't know what I'm supposed to say, much less, do
                                    about all of this. I screwed up and I'm sorry."
                                    
                                    "To be honest, I don't want to hear anything you have to say."
                                    She heaved a heavy sigh after that statement and her tense
                                    muscles relaxed in defeat. "Just go home, Mulder, please. If you
                                    want to do anything for me now, just go home."
                                    
                                    Mulder closed his eyes momentarily, nodding in compliance. He
                                    made his slow retreat to the door, opening it slowly. Scully
                                    followed him and watched him step into the hallway. He looked up
                                    to say goodnight when she interrupted that idea with her own
                                    words.
                                    
                                    "I am a woman, Mulder and I do have feelings. I had hoped after
                                    all this time together you would know that. Goodnight." Without
                                    allowing a word in, she shut the door and he was left to stare at
                                    the paint on door.
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    Next Day
                                    
                                    Awkward was one of the many adjectives Mulder could think of to
                                    describe his day at work with Scully. She'd said her good morning
                                    and they quickly threw together a report. After the short meeting
                                    with Skinner, Scully excused herself for lunch and Mulder was
                                    left alone in the basement, his appetite non-existent. 
                                    
                                    Scully returned from lunch an hour later with a hard-to-miss hop
                                    in her step and a smile on her face. Mulder was beyond suspicious
                                    but didn't dare ask where the sudden change in mood had come
                                    from. He just let her be. If anything, he was happy to see that
                                    she was happy. 
                                    
                                    All day, Mulder had tried to come up with the right thing to say;
                                    he wouldn't let either one of them leave until some sort of
                                    resolve was settled between them. 
                                    
                                    She took her seat at her little foldout desk and started tapping
                                    away at her keyboard. After an hour of mindlessly sneaking
                                    glances at her, Mulder got up the nerve to approach her. 
                                    
                                    "So, Scully, your mood seems to have brightened," he commented
                                    with as confident of a tone as his emotions would allow. 
                                    
                                    She looked up at him briefly, a smile hinting at the corners of
                                    her mouth and then returned back to her computer screen. 
                                    
                                    "Really? I hadn't noticed. Sorry."
                                    
                                    "You don't need to apologize, I'm happy to see you smiling."
                                    
                                    "Well, if you are standing there in hopes that it was something
                                    you did to cause my sudden optimism, then I don't regret to
                                    inform you that it has nothing to do with you."
                                    
                                    Mulder grabbed a chair and straddled it, his hands folded across
                                    the top and his chin resting against them. Sensing he was going
                                    to try and make things peachy keen again, Scully thought she
                                    would at least enjoy the show and turned her attention towards
                                    him.
                                    
                                    "Look, Scully, I don't know how many apologies it is going to
                                    take for you to realize I mean it, but I am willing to say it as
                                    many times as you see fit. I _am_ sorry, Scully. I was just
                                    thinking with the wrong part of my anatomy and you didn't deserve
                                    that sort of treatment."
                                    
                                    "You're right, I didn't." Her look was somewhat more pensive now,
                                    however her eyes had taken on a softer look compared to the one
                                    given at his failed attempt at an apology the night before.
                                    
                                    "You mentioned all the women from my past and how my excuse for
                                    wanting to take things slow just wasn't going to cut it, but it
                                    is the truth. Despite my speed with past relationships, I have
                                    changed a lot since I have met you. Hell, I've changed a lot in
                                    the past year because of you. I respect you Scully and whether
                                    you choose to believe me or not, I think you are beautiful. The
                                    most beautiful woman I have ever known, to be honest."
                                    
                                    He sat quietly after spilling that out of him, expecting her to
                                    say something. She didn't so he continued.
                                    
                                    "You see, I have two ways of looking at women. There are those
                                    who I look at and I think how, um, hot they are and I am filled
                                    with nothing but lust. And then there are women like you who
                                    captivate me with their brilliance, their wit, their stubbornness
                                    and undeniable physical beauty and I think of how wonderful it
                                    would be to spend the rest of my life with you them."
                                    
                                    She graced him with a smile at his faltered last line and then
                                    brushed an errand strand of hair from his brow. He was no longer
                                    slouching like before and his eyes followed her as she moved to
                                    stand up. 
                                    
                                    Come on Scully say something. Anything! 
                                    
                                    "Thank you, Mulder." She said it quietly and with caution. She
                                    wasn't about to forgive so quickly. It just wasn't in her nature.
                                    However, she knew Mulder far too well and what he had said had
                                    been from his heart. 
                                    
                                    He smiled in triumph and then moved to stand beside her. 
                                    
                                    "But "
                                    
                                    For once in his life he had not sensed a 'but' coming on.
                                    
                                    "I am not letting you off that easily. Let's just say you've
                                    quickened the process." She moved to put things away and began to
                                    tidy up her desk. 
                                    
                                    He leaned against his desk as he watched her move to close up
                                    shop. Why was she in such a hurry?
                                    
                                    "You have an appointment or something, Scully?"
                                    
                                    She looked up from putting things in her briefcase and gave him a
                                    sheepish smile. It was the same smile she'd had since returning
                                    from lunch. 
                                    
                                    "Um, actually, no," she paused briefly then stood to look him in
                                    the eyes, "I have a date."
                                    
                                    A date?
                                    
                                    "A date?"
                                    
                                    "Yeah, you know, those things where a certain individual asks
                                    another individual out for coffee, or lunch or possibly dinner
                                    and a movie. Don't act so shocked that I, Agent Dana Scully, was
                                    actually capable of getting one." She'd meant to make that last
                                    part sound bitter, but it came out with humor. Her mood just
                                    wasn't going to allow any bitterness at this time, and frankly,
                                    she was okay with that.
                                    
                                    "No, Scully, you are perfectly capable of getting one of these .
                                    . .dates, is that what they call them?"
                                    
                                    "Mmhmm." She was distracted now and ready to make her exit. 
                                    
                                    "Who with?" He was really trying to sound like it didn't bother
                                    him, but jealousy, yes jealousy, was painted in big neon green
                                    letters all across his face. 
                                    
                                    "I don't think you know him. Agent Little."
                                    
                                    "Well that sounds promising."
                                    
                                    "I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that."
                                    
                                    "Never met him, is he a rookie?"
                                    
                                    "No, he's actually a doctor. He works up in the lab." She made
                                    sure to stress the word doctor. Doctors were easy to relate to,
                                    so she knew it would cause Mulder to squirm with jealousy knowing
                                    that she had found an attractive man of her caliber. 
                                    
                                    Not to say she was doing all of this out of revenge. Agent
                                    Little, Jonathan, had had his eye on her for quite some time. He
                                    was a gentleman to the extreme and had a remarkable sense of
                                    humor. However, deep down, she knew he didn't hold a candle to
                                    Mulder. 
                                    
                                    "Ooooh, I see."
                                    
                                    "Yes. Well. I have some errands to run and then I need to get
                                    ready."
                                    
                                    "What are you two kids going to do?"
                                    
                                    She shrugged and smiled. "I have no idea, he is  very
                                    spontaneous."
                                    
                                    I'm spontaneous, Mulder thought. He almost added a stomp to
                                    emphasize his point to . . . himself. He was seconds away from
                                    pouting. 
                                    
                                    "I hope you have a good time." Ah jeez, Mulder, that wasn't even
                                    convincing to you. 
                                    
                                    "Thank you." It was obvious he was about to scream, so despite
                                    herself, she walked over to him and placed a lingering kiss just
                                    to the right of his mouth. Maybe this date and a lingering,
                                    albeit chaste, kiss would teach him to accept her for the woman
                                    that she was. 
                                    
                                    It was because of this date that she finally felt like a woman
                                    and she was almost giddy.
                                    
                                    "Bye, Mulder." And with that she walked out the door.
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    Scully's Apartment
                                    
                                    A date. Scully hadn't been on a date since Ed Jerse and that
                                    wasn't a pleasant memory. It had been too long. In her mind she
                                    had always seen dinners and lunches with Mulder as dates, but now
                                    figured that had never been the case at all. This was different.
                                    She had someone to dress up for and Jonathan was someone who
                                    would appreciate it. 
                                    
                                    Jonathan had been in D.C. for only a year and she had known him
                                    since his arrival, not so much on a personal basis. He worked in
                                    the lab and was usually there when she would be up there working
                                    on a case. He'd asked her out a few times in the past, just for
                                    lunch or coffee, but she had always turned him down. She turned
                                    him down all because of Mulder.
                                    
                                    She'd still been beyond angry with Mulder when she'd left for
                                    lunch. Not bothering to drive, she'd walked to a deli down the
                                    street and just ordered a chicken salad, her appetite wavering.
                                    Jonathan had been there. He'd even been kind enough to offer and
                                    join her and she'd accepted.
                                    
                                    Scully thought it was about time to get to know him personally,
                                    so she'd asked him about his life and he about hers. He had a
                                    great sense of humor, very different from Mulder's. No innuendos
                                    or sarcasm, just witty comments and jokes at the right moments.
                                    They'd shared a strawberry cheesecake, her appetite having been
                                    returned to her. 
                                    
                                    Jonathan was only a little shorter than Mulder with blonde hair
                                    and green eyes. He always had a smile pulling at his lips and had
                                    obviously been raised to treat a woman with respect. It was close
                                    to the end of lunch when he'd finally asked her out for, well,
                                    whatever he had planned.
                                    
                                    "So, Dana, all these times I have asked you out and you've turned
                                    me down . . . has it been because of Agent Mulder?"
                                    
                                    She couldn't lie to him.
                                    
                                    "Actually, yes. Although on this last case I realized I'd been
                                    holding out for no reason. I'd thought there was something there,
                                    but there wasn't. We're just partners."
                                    
                                    He'd offered a toothy grin that lit up his face and lightly
                                    placed his hand on hers. 
                                    
                                    "I'm sorry to hear that."
                                    
                                    She'd smiled and, much to her chagrin, blushed as well then
                                    joked, "Yeah, it's written all over your face."
                                    
                                    "Well, okay. I'm sorry things didn't work out the way you wanted
                                    with him, but I am not sorry that you have no reason to hold back
                                    now. Would you do me the honor of being my date out on the town
                                    tonight?"
                                    
                                    She considered him briefly and her smile grew. "Okay."
                                    
                                    "Thank you."
                                    
                                    "What do you have in mind, just so I know what to wear."
                                    
                                    "Oh just look beautiful, which won't be a problem. I'll pick you
                                    up around seven."
                                    
                                    Writing down her address for him, she'd watched him as he stuck
                                    the napkin in his pocket and left with a satisfied smile. 
                                    
                                    She shook the memory from her mind with a smile and opened her
                                    closet. After staring at her suits, she pushed them down the rod
                                    to reveal her black dress covered in plastic.
                                    
                                    When was the last time I wore this? She asked herself as she
                                    pulled it from the closet.
                                    
                                    It was simple but classy; black silk that fell loosely to just
                                    below her knees. Spaghetti straps held it up and the back
                                    crisscrossed, the scoop low. She slipped it on with ease.
                                    
                                    It hugged her waist just right and the sides flared at the hips
                                    perfectly. Thank God. 
                                    
                                    She'd already pinned her hair up, some tendrils falling to frame
                                    her face. All she needed was some lipstick and a little more eye
                                    make-up. Shoes! She needed shoes. Shoes that cried out 'vixen' to
                                    anyone and everyone who saw her.
                                    
                                    Scully had the perfect pair. It was a pair she had purchased in
                                    New York, but had never worn. Where was she to wear them? The
                                    office? The look on Mulder's face would be the only thing worth
                                    the trouble. 
                                    
                                    Taking the box from the bottom of her closet, she opened it, the
                                    shoes still placed nicely in the box. They were three-inch
                                    stiletto heels, with rhinestone straps. One strap crossed right
                                    above her toes and the other wrapped around her ankles. Perfect.
                                    
                                    She actually felt beautiful. Something she hadn't felt in a long
                                    time.
                                    
                                    Making her way gracefully into the bathroom, she rummaged through
                                    her secret stash of make-up. Opting for dark red lipstick and a
                                    little more eyeliner. She applied them and then headed for the
                                    living room. 
                                    
                                    As if on cue, she heard a knock at the door. Jonathan had said
                                    'around seven', so that allowed him to be early. Opening it
                                    without hesitation, Scully was surprised to see Mulder on the
                                    other side. 
                                    
                                    "Mulder, what the hell are you doing here?"
                                    
                                    Mulder gave her the once over before he even thought of
                                    responding. She looked ravishing, absolutely delectable. Her hair
                                    was swept up, with stray hairs finishing the look. With only a
                                    little more eye make-up than usual, her rosebud lips were red and
                                    full. Aside from the form-fitting dress that did her curves
                                    justice, his eyes settled on her feet. 
                                    
                                    Her perfectly pedicured feet. The rhinestones also did their job
                                    in serving justice to the perfection that was Scully. Why hadn't
                                    he ever told her what a vision she was to him?
                                    
                                    "Hello? Mulder? I asked you what you were doing here."
                                    
                                    "Oh right, yeah, um . . ." Why had he come here again?
                                    
                                    The foot she had been tapping suddenly stopped and a smile pulled
                                    at her lips.
                                    
                                    "You came here to meet him didn't you?" Scully shook her head and
                                    then welcomed him inside with an ushering hand. 
                                    
                                    Mulder walked in, the door shutting behind him. 
                                    
                                    "Actually, this situation we're in is eating me alive Scully. I
                                    don't know what to do to convince you that I am sorry."
                                    
                                    "Mulder, I have no doubt in my mind that you are sorry now.
                                    Despite that fact, 'I'm sorry', just isn't going to cut it. You
                                    made me feel like crap Mulder and it is going to take a lot more
                                    than a few compliments to make up for your hormones on parade
                                    display."
                                    
                                    "Would it help if I said you looked stunning tonight?"
                                    
                                    "It wouldn't hurt."
                                    
                                    Approaching her with caution, he looked into her eyes and smiled.
                                    
                                    "You look stunning, Scully, absolutely breath-taking."
                                    
                                    "Thank you, Mulder," she said it with control, but her stomach
                                    was fluttering and she hated her body for turning against her
                                    like that. 
                                    
                                    A knock on the door broke his gaze and Scully moved to answer it.
                                    
                                    
                                    In came Prince Charming. Mulder hated him on sight and he hadn't
                                    even met the guy.
                                    
                                    A genuine smile crossed the man's face as he took a look at
                                    Scully.
                                    
                                    "You look amazing, Dana, absolutely breath-taking."
                                    
                                    Mulder wanted to scream, "THAT'S MY LINE!"
                                    
                                    With warmness in her eyes that Mulder had not been blessed to see
                                    when he had paid her the same compliment, she simply replied,
                                    "Thank you Jonathan, you look very handsome."
                                    
                                    Jonathan had on a pair of black slacks and a blue button up
                                    shirt, no tie, but a tailored black sports jacket. 
                                    
                                    Jonathan looked to Mulder and offered a handshake. "You must be
                                    Agent Mulder, or at least I hope so, otherwise I have a lot of
                                    explaining to do." Jonathan laughed at his own joke and Scully
                                    smiled in response.
                                    
                                    Mulder took the man's hand and feigned a friendly smile.
                                    
                                    "Yes, I'm Agent Mulder, I guess you're Agent Little."
                                    
                                    "Please, no formalities, just call me Jonathan," he said with a
                                    smile that was real. He didn't feel inferior at all, which made
                                    Scully smile and Mulder cringe.
                                    
                                    "Agent Mulder was just leaving, weren't you Mulder?" Scully gave
                                    'the look' that said he better agree or die. 
                                    
                                    "Right, yes. Um, you two kids have a good time and don't do
                                    anything I wouldn't do."
                                    
                                    Mulder let himself out and apparently Jonathan cracked a joke
                                    soon after, for Mulder heard Scully unleash a giggle. A giggle?!
                                    Scully doesn't giggle, Mulder almost yelled. What was this guy
                                    doing to her?
                                    
                                    An inner voice broke in and responded with, "He's doing what you
                                    should have done a long time ago, you moron. He's making her feel
                                    like a woman."
                                    
                                    A frustrated sigh escaped his lips as he pushed open the door to
                                    exit her building. He took a seat in his car and seethed. 
                                    
                                    Almost five minutes later, Scully and Jonathan left the building,
                                    a light shawl draped over her shoulders. After witnessing
                                    Jonathan open the car door for her, Mulder waited until they
                                    drove off before he got out of his car. 
                                    
                                    Taking out his key for Scully's apartment, he let himself back
                                    into the building and made his way to her apartment. When she got
                                    back, he'd be waiting. 
                                    
                                    "I am so pathetic," he said to himself and sat down on her couch.
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    Scully's Apartment
                                    2:23 am
                                    
                                    Jonathan only walked Scully to the front of her building, so as
                                    not to disturb her neighbors at such a late hour. He placed a
                                    gentle kiss to her cheek and then gave her a brief hug.
                                    
                                    "I had a really good time, Jonathan, thank you."
                                    
                                    "The pleasure was all mine, Dana. I better let you sleep," he
                                    said with a wink.
                                    
                                    "All right, good night."
                                    
                                    He waved and walked down the stairs to his car. 
                                    
                                    Scully walked, well floated, to her apartment and unlocked her
                                    door.
                                    
                                    She was about to reach for the lamp when a voice in the darkness
                                    asked, "You have a good time?"
                                    
                                    Scully almost jumped out of her skin, despite knowing whom the
                                    voice belonged to.
                                    
                                    "Jesus, Mulder, what are you doing sitting in the dark . . . in
                                    my apartment?"
                                    
                                    "Just thought I'd be here to make sure you got home safe."
                                    
                                    "Yeah, well, you're freaking me out. I'm in one piece and I'm
                                    home, now scram." Scully turned the light on and threw her shawl
                                    on the back of the couch, exasperated. It was like working with a
                                    two-year-old!
                                    
                                    "You're not even going to tell me what you and Spontaneous Agent
                                    Little did on your date?"
                                    
                                    "How is that any of your business, Mulder?" She slipped down
                                    beside him, only to unbuckle her shoes and take them off.
                                    
                                    "I don't know, I guess it's not."
                                    
                                    "Well, I'm glad we've got that settled. Now leave."
                                    
                                    Mulder sighed, but made no move to get up. Scully looked up at
                                    him and rolled her eyes. Why did he have to be so stubborn? It
                                    was a terrible thing, because she too could be just as stubborn,
                                    if not more so. Right now she was too tired to fight him though.
                                    
                                    "Ugh, fine! I'll tell you, but you have to leave as soon as I
                                    finish."
                                    
                                    Mulder smiled triumphantly and turned his attention towards her,
                                    "Deal."
                                    
                                    "We went and saw 'Casablanca' at the old movie theatre. Turns
                                    out, one of his favorite movies is a favorite of mine."
                                    
                                    Well woop-de-do, Mulder thought.
                                    
                                    "Then we went and had a nice picnic dinner in the park. A live
                                    jazz band was playing and it was beautiful. The sky was so clear
                                    and the music set the mood perfectly."
                                    
                                    Scully had this far off look on her face and Mulder was tempted
                                    to reach for his gun and shoot himself.
                                    
                                    "Then we got some ice cream and afterwards we took a nice walk by
                                    the lake and talked about anything and everything under the
                                    stars."
                                    
                                    The window looked awfully inviting right now, jumping from it at
                                    just the right angle would easily put him out of his misery.
                                    
                                    "And now I'm home. He was a perfect gentleman, he walked me to
                                    the door and kissed me on the cheek."
                                    
                                    Thank God, Mulder almost screamed.
                                    
                                    "Well, I must say that I am happy things didn't go too far," he
                                    replied without thinking.
                                    
                                    "Wow, you really don't know me at all, do you Mulder?"
                                    
                                    "Wait, no, Scully I didn't mean to imply "
                                    
                                    "It's all right. Nothing could spoil this evening, not even you.
                                    Now, if you will please keep the deal and shut the door on your
                                    way out." She stood up and stretched. Leaving her shoes and shawl
                                    where she'd tossed them, she made her way to her bedroom.
                                    
                                    Without so much as a good night, she shut the door and left him
                                    with his own thoughts.
                                    
                                    Standing slowly to leave, Mulder ran both hands through his hair
                                    and made towards the door. A heavy sigh escaped his lips and he
                                    left, his head downcast.
                                    
                                    There would be no sleep tonight for Agent Mulder.
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    Monday 
                                    Basement Office
                                    
                                    "'Morning Mulder."
                                    
                                    Scully entered, her head held high and a hard to miss smile on
                                    her face.
                                    
                                    "Hey," Mulder replied, his voice quiet and low. He was sitting at
                                    his desk, playing with a pen.
                                    
                                    Scully put her things down and hung up her jacket. Moving to her
                                    desk, she turned on her computer and waited patiently as it
                                    started up.
                                    
                                    "Look, Scully, I'm really sorry about what I said on Friday. It
                                    wasn't my intention to even suggest you would sleep with
                                    Jonathan."
                                    
                                    Scully looked up and replied meaningfully, "Mulder, forget about
                                    it."
                                    
                                    As if her response had completely gone through one ear and out
                                    the other, Mulder continued. 
                                    
                                    "I just thought that because of Ed Jerse "
                                    
                                    "Ed Jerse has nothing to do with anything. But since you brought
                                    it up, you thought what because of Ed?" She walked around to lean
                                    against the wall, her arms crossed and her eyebrow arched.
                                    
                                    Mulder cleared his throat, regretting already that he had even
                                    started this conversation.
                                    
                                    "Well I, uh, just always assumed "
                                    
                                    "You assumed?"
                                    
                                    "Ah come on, it's just that you never gave me any reason _not_ to
                                    believe something intimate didn't happen with you and Ed. There
                                    was never an explanation given for me to think otherwise."
                                    
                                    "An explanation?!" Scully moved away from her leaning position
                                    and stepped closer to Mulder in challenge.
                                    
                                    "Yeah, you could have at least "
                                    
                                    "Well, isn't that the proverbial pot calling the kettle black. I
                                    should explain _my_ personal life and dates to you, but when it
                                    comes to you, you're a man of mystery."
                                    
                                    You are digging your grave, Mulder thought to himself. Why
                                    couldn't he have just said good morning and offered her some
                                    coffee. He could have at least stuck to neutral topics like the
                                    weather.
                                    
                                    Mulder stood up from his chair and mirrored her earlier position
                                    by leaning against his desk and crossing his arms. 
                                    
                                    "What? Do you want an explanation?"
                                    
                                    "Don't offer it as peace offering, Mulder. I want you to tell me
                                    about your life when you feel like it. It's all about you anyway,
                                    isn't it?" Her eyes were cold and one could cut the tension in
                                    the room with a knife.
                                    
                                    "Damn it, Scully, it's not like I have been trying to hide
                                    anything from you, not intentionally. How was I supposed to know
                                    you were interested in all the gory details?"
                                    
                                    "Don't even try and pull that on me! Our first case together you
                                    spilled your heart out to me with no hesitation. I would think
                                    after seven years I would at least know if you were ever married
                                    or not!"
                                    
                                    At some point in time, Scully had stepped close enough to Mulder
                                    to jab her index finger into his chest. Her breathing was heavy
                                    and the Irish in her was being unleashed. 
                                    
                                    Shrugging in defeat, Mulder dropped his arms to his sides and
                                    Scully dropped her finger away from his chest. 
                                    
                                    "Fine, Scully, sit down. I'll tell you everything you want to
                                    know, because as my partner I want you to know and as my best
                                    friend I need you to know."
                                    
                                    Scully rolled her eyes and took a seat in the chair in front of
                                    Mulder's desk. 
                                    
                                    "Ready when you are," she said simply, irritation in her voice.
                                    
                                    "I'll start at the beginning."
                                    
                                    "Clever."
                                    
                                    Ignoring her sarcasm, Mulder took a deep breath and reached back
                                    into a history he'd like to have forgotten long ago.
                                    
                                    "Phoebe was a college fling," he started, already pacing. "She
                                    made life interesting in the worst way. She was good company, but
                                    it was all physical attraction. Sure she was smart, but arrogant
                                    and selfish too. We had our fun and as a college man I thought it
                                    was love, but there wasn't anything there, just lust. When she
                                    came back into my life, I couldn't help but have some feelings
                                    towards her again. Needless to say, I regret that relationship,
                                    if you could even call it that."
                                    
                                    Scully thought of saying something, but stopped herself. Her
                                    expression had softened only slightly and Mulder was back in his
                                    chair. 
                                    
                                    "As for the women who made their brief appearances in my life,
                                    they were just fantasies. Not even that. They were attractive
                                    and, for the most part intelligent, but not worth considering.
                                    I'm a man, women are my Kryptonite," he shrugged, as if that
                                    would explain everything. In a way it did. 
                                    
                                    Men, for the most part, had an almost uncontrollable sex drive
                                    and Scully wasn't about to suggest Mulder was any different.
                                    Still, he had yet to get to the thing that really made her skin
                                    crawl. Diana.
                                    
                                    "Well, except for Marty," he quickly interjected, "She was
                                    innocent and I didn't like her taking the blame. In a way I saw
                                    her as my sister."
                                    
                                    Scully nodded, but her eyes told him to continue. He read it well
                                    and took in a shaky breath.
                                    
                                    "Diana . . . you want the truth?"
                                    
                                    "Always."
                                    
                                    He wasn't ready for this. He would never be ready to tell her
                                    this. Just say it, Mulder thought to himself. 
                                    
                                    Without giving it another thought, Mulder blurted, "We were
                                    married."
                                    
                                    Scully's eyes widened. Why she was surprised she wasn't sure.
                                    She'd always assumed there had been more than an office fling
                                    between them, but to actually know it was a lot to handle. 
                                    
                                    Her poker face in place, Scully stood up and brushed her hair
                                    behind her ear. 
                                    
                                    "Thank you for telling me."
                                    
                                    "It was a short, miserable marriage, Dana." He moved in one fluid
                                    motion from his chair to a couple feet in front of her. 
                                    
                                    Scully's eyes shut at the mention of her first name. For some
                                    reason, when he called her 'Dana' she felt uneasy. It was a rare
                                    endearment, but it rubbed her the wrong way. I guess she figured
                                    that in the back of her mind their last names were in a sense pet
                                    names for one another. 
                                    
                                    "It lasted a few months into our partnership before we realized
                                    we made a lousy married couple. When she came back into my life,
                                    our lives, I still respected her as my partner. Our divorce ended
                                    mutually and we remained friends. I know this isn't something you
                                    want to hear but "
                                    
                                    "No," Scully interrupted, "it's fine. I'm glad you told me.
                                    You're a few years too late, but I guess it is better than not
                                    knowing at all. It's a shame I had to coax it out of you,
                                    though."
                                    
                                    "Scully "
                                    
                                    She moved away from him and walked towards the door. 
                                    
                                    "I haven't had breakfast yet, so I'm going to get me something
                                    from down the street."
                                    
                                    It was a lie and they both knew it.
                                    
                                    "Scully "
                                    
                                    "Mulder, please, just . . . don't, ok?"
                                    
                                    He stepped back, as if allowing her more space than the millions
                                    of miles between them and watched her walk out the door.
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    It had been a little over one week since Mulder had explained his
                                    past to Scully. One lousy week.
                                    
                                    Sure, she was talking to him in complete sentences now and would
                                    even make eye contact, but she was growing more distant from him
                                    than he could handle.
                                    
                                    He wanted his Scully back. If he couldn't have her romantically,
                                    he wanted to at least have her back as his best friend. They were
                                    in this strange realm between partners and strangers and it was
                                    unsettling. 
                                    
                                    Even though Scully was moving on with her life and had a
                                    wonderful guy, she hated where she and Mulder were at as well. It
                                    was hard to shut him out of her life like this. Seven years of
                                    friendship, companionship and amazing chemistry and it was
                                    dissolving like sugar in water. It was hard to just let go.
                                    
                                    He'd been married, so what right? There were a lot of things from
                                    her past he had no idea about. She could've handled the idea if
                                    he had been married to some woman named Rachel who'd been born
                                    and raised in Nebraska. However, he had been married to Diana. He
                                    had sat back and watched while Scully fought for him and fought
                                    to keep his trust in her against his ex-wife. 
                                    
                                    It was useless to dwell on it. Mulder had told her. Scully was
                                    sensible enough to know that staying angry with him over such a
                                    thing was a waste of time. What would it accomplish? Diana was
                                    dead and so was the past. 
                                    
                                    They had just spent the last few days in California on some
                                    twisted voodoo case. Scully'd had to cancel a date with Jonathan,
                                    but promised to make it up to him the coming weekend. She wasn't
                                    about to tell him what had happened. That was probably the only
                                    imperfect thing about him. She couldn't talk to him about her
                                    cases because she didn't want him looking at her like she was
                                    nuts. He wouldn't of course, he wasn't like that, but it didn't
                                    make her fear of him running away scared subside. 
                                    
                                    The voodoo case had probably been the closest she and Mulder had
                                    been since the FPS case. They'd discussed the case professionally
                                    and when she had fallen victim, as usual, to the craziness that
                                    was the X-Files, he'd been there for her. 
                                    
                                    Scully walked into the office after having lunch with Jonathan,
                                    only to find Mulder snacking on a sandwich and looking through a
                                    pile of folders. 
                                    
                                    "Hey Scully," he greeted, his nose buried in the manila folder.
                                    
                                    "Hi."
                                    
                                    "I was just catching up on some reading." Mulder tossed the file
                                    aside and took a healthy bite out of his sandwich.
                                    
                                    Scully just nodded and hung up her jacket.
                                    
                                    "So, I've been thinking," Mulder said as he tossed his napkin
                                    into the trashcan and finished chewing the last of his sandwich.
                                    
                                    Offering a mock expression of worry, Scully took a seat in front
                                    of his desk.
                                    
                                    "What's that look for?"
                                    
                                    "Nothing Mulder, it's just that . . . when you think, something
                                    of the extreme always rears its ugly head."
                                    
                                    "No no, hear me out. I think we should go out."
                                    
                                    A genuine look of surprise crossed Scully's face and she sat
                                    forward in her chair. Yep, something extreme had definitely come
                                    to be.
                                    
                                    "Like, on a date?"
                                    
                                    "Yeah, you know, that thing where one individual asks another
                                    individual "
                                    
                                    "Yeah yeah, I seem to remember refreshing your memory on the
                                    definition of a date not long ago." She was amused. 
                                    
                                    He'd amused Scully! All was not lost.
                                    
                                    "Right."
                                    
                                    "Mulder I don't know if that would be a good idea "
                                    
                                    "Oh come on, it'll be a celebration."
                                    
                                    "Of what?" Scully had relaxed into her seat once again and Mulder
                                    was still comfortably seated in his chair, swiveling from side to
                                    side. 
                                    
                                    "Well, I've tallied up about ten reasons   plus a thousand- why
                                    you should have walked out of that office door for good in the
                                    time you have been working with me and one of those has been in
                                    the last few weeks. I feel your tenacity and amazing will power
                                    for putting up with me calls for a celebration."
                                    
                                    Mulder had this confident, playful smile on his face but his eyes
                                    gave away his fear of rejection. He was taking a huge leap in
                                    asking Scully on a date, but it was now or never. The closer she
                                    and Jonathan got, the further she and Mulder got. 
                                    
                                    The ball was in her court. Technically the ball had been in her
                                    court since she'd decided to move on, but Mulder figured he would
                                    steal the ball and take a shot. 
                                    
                                    Scully had a thoughtful look on her face and much to his relief
                                    and delight, she was smiling. 
                                    
                                    "You have a point Mulder."
                                    
                                    "Excellent."
                                    
                                    "That wasn't a yes."
                                    
                                    Mulder cleared his throat uncomfortably and eyed the door
                                    briefly, plotting his escape.
                                    
                                    "Okay, sure," she finally complied. 
                                    
                                    "Really?"
                                    
                                    "Yes, really. Don't get too excited, I'm still cooling off from,
                                    well, everything."
                                    
                                    Holding in his unbelievable joy, Mulder brought his hands behind
                                    his head and took on a relaxed, neutral pose. 
                                    
                                    "Me get excited? I wouldn't dare."
                                    
                                    "Good." A smile was still hinting on her features as she stood to
                                    sit at her table. 
                                    
                                    "Friday good for you?"
                                    
                                    Saturday was her date with Jonathan therefore Friday was open.
                                    
                                    "Yeah, that's fine. I'm a little scared to ask what I should
                                    wear," she replied, not yet seated.
                                    
                                    Mulder shrugged and looked Scully up and down. Did he just check
                                    me out? Scully mused.
                                    
                                    "I'm sure anything will be perfect."
                                    
                                    That's about as close as Mulder could get to a compliment. Unless
                                    there was adrenaline pumping through him due to a life changing
                                    moment or death knocking at the door, Mulder was terrible with
                                    words. He may be a charmer, but it was all body language with
                                    him. 
                                    
                                    She gave a polite nod and took her seat.
                                    
                                    The rest of the day was, well, unusual. Mulder kept sneaking
                                    glances at Scully and much to her chagrin, her heart would speed
                                    up each time she caught him in the act. 
                                    
                                    You're mad at him, she kept chanting. You have a thousand reasons
                                    to hate him right now; she would tie in every now and then. How
                                    could he be so confident? She would question with each glance he
                                    gave her. He must have one hell of an evening planned, was her
                                    final conclusion.
                                    
                                    After everything Mulder had kept hidden from her, after the way
                                    Mulder had treated her, Scully was haunted by one other
                                    imperfection Jonathan possessed and she hated herself for having
                                    the nerve to even think about it.
                                    
                                    Jonathan wasn't Mulder. 
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    Scully's Apartment
                                    Friday
                                    
                                    Friday came too soon. Granted Mulder had only asked her out on
                                    Wednesday, it was still too soon. 
                                    
                                    Why did I agree to this? Scully berated herself as she combed out
                                    her wet hair. 
                                    
                                    Drying it with haste, Scully was mentally going through her
                                    wardrobe, trying to decide what exactly she was to wear on this
                                    particular date. 
                                    
                                    On one hand she wanted to look like regular Agent Dana Scully to
                                    prove that she wasn't treating this event any different than
                                    going to the bank. 
                                    
                                    On the other hand, Scully wanted to take on her rare role as
                                    vixen to show Mulder what he had missed out on. She wanted her
                                    outfit to say, "sorry pal, you only get me for a few hours, you
                                    had your chance for a lifetime."
                                    
                                    Maybe that's not how she really felt and maybe she wanted it to
                                    still be a lifetime, but she couldn't let her feelings get in the
                                    way. There were moments Scully considered letting it all slide
                                    and giving him another chance, but she was not about to show her
                                    weakness. 
                                    
                                    In her life she had learned to fend off her weaknesses with
                                    strengths. Unfortunately, what had become her life was her
                                    weakness and strength    Mulder. 
                                    
                                    Now that her hair was dry, not styled, Scully stared at herself
                                    long and hard in the mirror.
                                    
                                    "Why did you agree to this?" she finally vocalized, albeit
                                    quietly. 
                                    
                                    The whole celebration part of all this had been an excuse and she
                                    had fallen for it. His excuse was her excuse; it was the only way
                                    she could've allowed herself to walk into this mess. 
                                    
                                    Plugging in the curling iron, Scully padded to her closet and
                                    stared at the few dresses she owned. 
                                    
                                    She knew she was not going to wear the same dress she had worn
                                    for Jonathan, but there was no harm in wearing the same shoes.
                                    They were black with rhinestones; surely something in her closet
                                    would work just fine. 
                                    
                                    Scully reached for one of her shorter black skirts and draped it
                                    over her arm. Rummaging through the clothes, her eyes settled on
                                    a sleeveless blouse she had only worn a few times. It was ice
                                    blue with sequins scattered every which way on it. It was loose,
                                    but very flattering.
                                    
                                    She couldn't remember what the fabric was, but it was soft. Very
                                    soft, like silk. Reaching into the far reaches of her mind,
                                    Scully vaguely remembered that she had bought the blouse because
                                    of how it had felt. The color had caught her eye, but the texture
                                    had sold it. Where she had bought it was another question. 
                                    
                                    The comfort of the blouse would make up for the shoes and for
                                    Mulder.
                                    
                                    Scully laid the outfit neatly on the bed and made her way back to
                                    the bathroom. She opted for some soft curls and then applied a
                                    generous amount of make-up. Once again she added only a little
                                    more eyeliner, but went for a soft pink color for her lips
                                    instead of the red. She didn't want to be too va-va voom for this
                                    occasion. 
                                    
                                    Mulder had left early from the office, quickly stating that he
                                    would pick her up at seven. In MulderTime that was seven-fifteen,
                                    if she was lucky. 
                                    
                                    Since he'd left early, she'd had no reason to stick around so she
                                    went home and lectured herself while relaxing in a bubble bath. 
                                    
                                    It was approaching seven now, so Scully began to dress herself.
                                    She closed her eyes at the sensation of the blouse on her skin
                                    and then sat on her bed to slip on her shoes. 
                                    
                                    Taking one last look in the mirror, Scully walked to the kitchen
                                    to make herself a quick cup of tea. This night out with Mulder
                                    was stressing her out in so many ways.
                                    
                                    Just as she had set the kettle on the stove, a familiar knock
                                    sounded at the door and Scully glanced at the clock. Much to her
                                    surprise it was only slightly passed seven. Mulder was early,
                                    compared to his habit of being fashionably late. 
                                    
                                    Scully took a deep breath before opening the door. 
                                    
                                    She opened the door to a smiling Mulder, a bouquet of gardenias
                                    in his hand. 
                                    
                                    "You're on time," she stated with a smile. 
                                    
                                    Unable to help himself, he swept his eyes over her. If it was
                                    possible, she looked better than she had for her date with
                                    Jonathan. Mulder knew she hadn't planned it that way, but she'd
                                    pulled it off. The blue brought out the color of her eyes and
                                    accented her hair perfectly. Much to his delight, she'd worn THE
                                    shoes. 
                                    
                                    "Only according to some," he quipped, striding in with a
                                    confidence that was hiding his nervousness. He handed her the
                                    flowers with a smile.
                                    
                                    Mulder was dressed in dark khaki pants and a blue-gray button up
                                    shirt, the top few buttons unbuttoned. He looked casual, but
                                    undeniably handsome.
                                    
                                    "Thank you. I was just about to make myself some tea."
                                    
                                    "Please, continue to do so, I know how important your tea is to
                                    you. They're not expecting us until seven-thirty anyway." 
                                    
                                    "They?" She asked as she walked back into the kitchen.
                                    
                                    "Yeah, I, uh, made some reservations at Charleston's."
                                    
                                    The whistle announced that the tea was ready and Scully replied
                                    from the kitchen, "Wow, fancy."
                                    
                                    Moments later Scully walked into the living room with two cups
                                    and handed one to Mulder. 
                                    
                                    Dipping her head to sip her tea, Mulder's low voice stopped her
                                    midway.
                                    
                                    "You look incredibly beautiful, Scully." He'd debated saying
                                    anything, for he knew that saying too much might cause her to
                                    flee to the bedroom and change into jeans and a t-shirt, but his
                                    feelings won over and he couldn't hold it in. 
                                    
                                    He had that sparkle in his eyes that she found irresistible.
                                    Scully quickly averted her eyes away from him and finished the
                                    sip she had almost abandoned.
                                    
                                    A small thank you escaped her lips after she tasted her tea and
                                    Mulder took a small sip of his tea soon after. 
                                    
                                    Taking a seat next to one another on the couch to finish their
                                    tea, they were silent briefly until Mulder finally spoke up.
                                    
                                    "So, are, uh, things going well with Jonathan?" He didn't want to
                                    know, but showing some interest in her life wouldn't kill him. 
                                    
                                    "Yes, they're going great, well, better than I expected."
                                    
                                    "Good good. He's a nice guy."
                                    
                                    "Very nice."
                                    
                                    It was interesting that through the entire conversation, no eye
                                    contact was made. They gulped the rest of their tea and Scully
                                    took the cups to the kitchen. When she came back into the living
                                    room, the gardenias he had given her were in a crystal vase and
                                    she placed them on the coffee table. 
                                    
                                    "Let me get my coat and then we can leave," she said, already
                                    half way to her coat closet. 
                                    
                                    After helping her with her coat, Mulder opened the door and
                                    ushered Scully out with his hand placed in a spot he had missed
                                    terribly   the small of her back. 
                                    
                                    So far so good, Mulder thought, allowing himself a small pep
                                    talk.
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    Charleston's 
                                    7:27 pm
                                    
                                    Mulder did everything a gentleman should do. He opened doors, let
                                    Scully listen to whichever radio station she pleased, appeared
                                    interested in everything Scully had to say. It was nice, but
                                    unnerving for Scully. This wasn't what Mulder was like. Or maybe
                                    it was and she had just never been introduced to the on-the-town
                                    Mulder.
                                    
                                    Mulder walked up to the host and confidently asked for their
                                    table, Scully by his side.
                                    
                                    "I'm sorry sir, what was the name?" Asked the smug host whose
                                    name, according to the gold nametag, was Lewis. 
                                    
                                    "Mulder. Fox Mulder."
                                    
                                    Mulder began to chew on his bottom lip, obviously nervous about
                                    why it was taking so long. 
                                    
                                    "I'm sorry, Mr. Mulder. It seems as though you lost your
                                    reservation," Lewis replied coolly. For some reason, Mulder
                                    didn't believe that Lewis was truly sorry.
                                    
                                    "_I_ lost it?" Mulder was trying to keep his temper.
                                    
                                    "Well, one of our elite regulars made a last minute reservation
                                    and your reservation had his table."
                                    
                                    "Scully, would you excuse us for a moment?" The hardened
                                    expression Mulder had taken softened at his request, so Scully
                                    stepped away to stand by a nearby pillar. 
                                    
                                    Mulder turned back to Lewis and gave him a long stare.
                                    
                                    "Alright, Lewis, I have a very beautiful woman whose heart I am
                                    desperately trying to win back and I cannot afford to have the
                                    evening begin like this."
                                    
                                    "Be that as it may, sir, there is nothing I can do. Now if you
                                    will please step aside, we have other customers who _have_
                                    reservations that I need to attend to."
                                    
                                    Before Mulder could allow his temper to win over, Scully took the
                                    wild look in his eyes as a cue to gently pull him away. 
                                    
                                    "Mulder, please. It's all right. I'm not sure I want these people
                                    having my business anyway," she said askance towards Lewis.
                                    
                                    Her comment did not go unnoticed by Lewis. Mulder just nodded and
                                    allowed Scully to lead him out the door.
                                    
                                    "Can you believe that, Scully?" He stopped them on the sidewalk
                                    and dry washed his face with his hand in frustration. 
                                    
                                    "As wrong as it is, I almost can believe it. Let's face it
                                    Mulder, we aren't exactly aristocratic."
                                    
                                    Mulder was looking at his feet, anger still in his eyes. Scully
                                    walked to him and gently squeezed his biceps, his eyes looking to
                                    her face at the gesture.
                                    
                                    "If it helps, I appreciate you attempting to take me to such a
                                    nice place." She smiled sweetly.
                                    
                                    Mulder sighed. "I do what I can."
                                    
                                    "I guess we should ask the valet to get your car."
                                    
                                    "Actually, there is a place not far from here that I just
                                    remembered. I have never been before, but I have always meant to
                                    go."
                                    
                                    Scully looped her arm around his. "Lead the way."
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    When they arrived at Lafayette's, Scully could hardly hold back a
                                    smile. This was a favorite of Scully's.
                                    
                                    It was a French Cajun restaurant with a very intimate setting.
                                    The lights were low and mellow blues music always played in the
                                    background. Seeing that it was based around the theme of New
                                    Orleans, it had pictures of blues artist legends and a slight
                                    Mardi Gras decor. 
                                    
                                    Scully would sometimes bring her mother here or a close friend
                                    like Ellen. She wasn't keen on being seen dining alone, so that
                                    was never an option. To be there with Mulder was a simple
                                    blessing and well worth not being able to eat at the 'It' place
                                    of D.C.
                                    
                                    They got a table without any trouble and their menus were set in
                                    front of them. Mulder ordered champagne, Scully's choice, and he
                                    looked over the menu.
                                    
                                    "You see anything you like, Scully?" His eyes remained fixed on
                                    the menu as he spoke. 
                                    
                                    "I think I am just going to get what I usually get," Scully said,
                                    tossing her menu aside and sipping her water.
                                    
                                    "Usually? I get the feeling you have been here before."
                                    
                                    "A few times," she shrugged.
                                    
                                    "I wish you'd told me. I would have taken you some place new and
                                    exciting."
                                    
                                    "No, this is perfect. This is a favorite of mine, ranking in the
                                    top three. Plus, I've never been here with anyone except for my
                                    mom and a few friends."
                                    
                                    Mulder smiled, about to reply, until the waiter interrupted by
                                    bringing the champagne. 
                                    
                                    The waiter didn't wear a name tag, for reasons unknown, but he
                                    had happily introduced himself before taking their drink orders.
                                    
                                    "Have you decided what you will be having?" Todd asked
                                    cheerfully. 
                                    
                                    Scully glanced at Mulder, who was frantically looking the menu
                                    over, then back at Todd. "We'll both have the Bon Ton Chicken,"
                                    she replied, taking Mulder's menu and handing it to Todd along
                                    with hers.
                                    
                                    "Alright, we'll have it right out."
                                    
                                    "Bon ton chicken? Was that even on the menu?" Mulder asked as
                                    Todd departed from their table.
                                    
                                    "Yes, it's fantastic. I have no idea what is in it, but I know
                                    you'll like it."
                                    
                                    "Thanks for ordering for me. I don't eat Cajun, well, ever."
                                    
                                    "You're welcome."
                                    
                                    They received their food and talked and laughed. Almost two hours
                                    went by without them noticing. 
                                    
                                    Mulder glanced at his watch, his eyes widening. "Whoa, we better
                                    go." He waved Todd over and asked for the bill.
                                    
                                    "What's the hurry?" Scully asked, draining the last of her
                                    champagne.
                                    
                                    "You don't think dinner is all I had planned, do you?"
                                    
                                    Todd set the bill down on the table and Mulder threw the money
                                    down, with an uncharacteristically large tip included. He stood
                                    and walked to offer Scully a hand up, grabbing her coat. 
                                    
                                    "How could I have been so foolish," she finally responded in the
                                    rush of leaving. 
                                    
                                    Mulder didn't realize he was still holding Scully's hand as they
                                    left Lafayette's.
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    Concert Stadium 
                                    9:52 pm 
                                    
                                    They had time to grab the car and find a parking spot, as long as
                                    running was involved. 
                                    
                                    "Mulder, what are we doing?"
                                    
                                    "We're going to a concert," he said, dragging her along behind
                                    him.
                                    
                                    "I gathered that, Mulder, but who?"
                                    
                                    Mulder stopped as soon as they reached the line, pulling out the
                                    tickets and pointing to a giant poster with neon lights
                                    surrounding it. 
                                    
                                    Cher.
                                    
                                    "Cher!" she exclaimed. 
                                    
                                    "The one and only."
                                    
                                    "You're kidding right?"
                                    
                                    "Does this look like the face of a man who would kid about such a
                                    thing?" He smiled at her.
                                    
                                    "Do I have to answer that?"
                                    
                                    The line started to move and it was only a few minutes before it
                                    was their turn. Mulder handed the man at the door the tickets and
                                    started making his way into the concert hall. 
                                    
                                    "I'm sorry, sir, but these tickets aren't valid."
                                    
                                    The smile that had been plastered on Mulder's face since the
                                    restaurant dropped.
                                    
                                    "What? How are they not valid?" Mulder dropped Scully's hand and
                                    to Scully's surprise, she missed the contact. 
                                    
                                    "They're the wrong color."
                                    
                                    "You have a color code?"
                                    
                                    "Yes sir, now please step aside."
                                    
                                    He was doing a lot of stepping aside tonight. 
                                    
                                    The bouncer took the tickets and threw them in a near by
                                    trashcan. Mulder sighed a heavy sigh and walked away, almost
                                    leaving Scully behind. 
                                    
                                    "Mulder, wait up."
                                    
                                    "I cannot believe they have a color system."
                                    
                                    "First off, Mulder, where did you get the tickets?"
                                    
                                    Mulder looked out into the distance, his eyes settling on a
                                    fountain not too far away.
                                    
                                    "Frohike," he said, realizing his mistake.
                                    
                                    "Come on, Mulder, let's take a walk ok?"
                                    
                                    Scully snuck her hand back into Mulder's and held tight. They
                                    didn't say much as they walked, just listened to the gentle click
                                    of Scully's heels on the pavement. 
                                    
                                    As they walked, they passed a jazz bar. The live music could be
                                    heard playing inside. Mulder almost kept them walking, until
                                    Scully halted them.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, stop. Listen."
                                    
                                    The tune of 'Moon River' could be heard and a wistful smile
                                    crossed Scully's face.
                                    
                                    "Let's go in, just for a little bit."
                                    
                                    Mulder stared at her. What she saw as a blank expression was
                                    actually him being captivated by the idea of a simple song
                                    bringing a smile to Scully's eyes. 
                                    
                                    "Okay," he replied.
                                    
                                    They stepped inside and were surprised to see there wasn't much
                                    of a crowd. 
                                    
                                    "It's the Cher concert," a voice behind the bar bellowed. "Some
                                    of our regulars are there tonight."
                                    
                                    Mulder and Scully just nodded and took a seat at a table not far
                                    from the bar. 
                                    
                                    "You want anything?" Mulder asked quietly, trying not to break
                                    the trance Scully was in. 
                                    
                                    "No, I'm fine."
                                    
                                    On the stage was a myriad of musicians. There was a man at the
                                    piano, a man on lead jazz guitar, a woman on the violin, a male
                                    bass player, a man on the sax who also had a trumpet propped up
                                    beside him. He was also the lead singer. 
                                    
                                    'Moon River' ended and Scully brought her attention back to
                                    Mulder. She had a far off look on her face and she seemed so
                                    relaxed. 
                                    
                                    "I haven't heard that song in so long," she said softly.
                                    
                                    The pianist began to play a tune and the melancholy look on
                                    Mulder's face dropped, his long absent smile claiming it's
                                    rightful place on his lips. 
                                    
                                    "Well what do ya know."
                                    
                                    Mulder stood up and offered Scully a hand, his eyes asking her to
                                    dance. It wasn't a moment later when Scully realized what song
                                    was being played.
                                    
                                    'Walking in Memphis', the original mellower Marc Cohn version.
                                    The violinist had stepped behind a basic drum set and kept the
                                    beat, hitting the symbols and singing back up.
                                    
                                    They were the only ones on the dance floor, but they didn't seem
                                    to care and neither did anyone else. The bartender was drying a
                                    glass, smiling as he watched. 
                                    
                                    The dance they danced wasn't too different from the one they had
                                    danced to this song only a precious few years earlier. Their hips
                                    swayed, occasionally brushing against each other and hushed
                                    laughs escaping their lips. Mulder threw in a fancy twirl here
                                    and there. For a man with such large feet, Mulder was sure light
                                    on them. 
                                    
                                    When the song ended, Mulder gracefully dipped Scully and brought
                                    her back up, their eyes meeting. They didn't pull away; they just
                                    began to dance to an unknown jazz instrumental.
                                    
                                    It was much slower than 'their song', so Mulder wrapped his arms
                                    around her waist. Scully brought her arms up to rest around his
                                    shoulders, her cheek resting on his chest. She closed her eyes
                                    and zoned the music out, listening to Mulder's heartbeat. 
                                    
                                    After the song ended, they pulled away from each other. The only
                                    cue Scully'd had that the song had ended, was Mulder stopping and
                                    his hold loosening. 
                                    
                                    "You want to sit?" He smiled and she smiled back with a nod.
                                    "I'll get us some water," he added. 
                                    
                                    Up until midnight they talked about an assortment of things. They
                                    looked back on interesting cases and shared memories of the
                                    little things that had made the case bearable. They steered clear
                                    of any subjects too serious, like Scully's abduction and cancer.
                                    
                                    Scully was leaning forward, her elbow propped on the tabletop and
                                    her cheek resting in her palm. Mulder had both elbows on the
                                    table, his hands clasped together and a magical smile on his
                                    face.
                                    
                                    They had danced a lot through the night and laughed even more. It
                                    wasn't until Mulder noticed the band packing up that he took a
                                    look at his watch. 
                                    
                                    "I guess I better get you home," he said, regretting that he had
                                    said anything. 
                                    
                                    "Why don't we take a walk around the park first," Scully
                                    suggested.
                                    
                                    If Mulder didn't know any better he'd think Scully actually
                                    wanted to spend time with him. 
                                    
                                    "You're brave." He stood and draped Scully's coat over her
                                    shoulder.
                                    
                                    Scully just smiled and headed towards the exit. Mulder followed
                                    after her, offering a friendly wave at the bartender. The
                                    bartender gave a thumbs up and a look saying, "you're a lucky
                                    man."
                                    
                                    Mulder smiled proudly and continued to leave. I really am, Mulder
                                    thought to himself.
                                    
                                    As soon as Mulder was outside, Scully looped her arm through his
                                    and they began to take a leisurely walk.
                                    
                                    Overall it was a wonderful night for a midnight walk. There were
                                    some dark clouds scattered throughout the sky, but the moon was
                                    full and bright.
                                    
                                    They walked along the path and Mulder made some random
                                    MulderComments any chance he could. They were rounding the corner
                                    and heading to the car, when Mulder noticed people leaving the
                                    concert stadium. He brought them to a halt in front of the
                                    fountain, giving time for the crowd to clear up before he
                                    attempted to drive out of the mess of people. 
                                    
                                    It wasn't until Mulder was walking towards the car that he
                                    realized Scully had made her way to the other side of the
                                    fountain. He approached just in time to see her throw a penny
                                    into the water. 
                                    
                                    "What're you doing?"
                                    
                                    "Making a wish."
                                    
                                    "Agent Scully doing such a mystical thing? I think you've had too
                                    much champagne."
                                    
                                    Scully turned to him and smiled. She almost thought she saw
                                    Mulder wink at her, but then noticed he was blinking water off
                                    his lashes. It was starting to rain. 
                                    
                                    "We better get out of here before it starts to pour," she stated.
                                    
                                    They walked to the car and Mulder attempted to open the door for
                                    her. It was locked. He began to feel around in his pockets,
                                    trying to find his keys to unlock the door, but was unable to
                                    feel anything resembling a key. 
                                    
                                    Taking a deep breath, he bent over to look into the window of the
                                    car. The keys were locked in. In the hurry to make it to the
                                    concert, Mulder had locked the doors but had forgotten to take
                                    the keys from the ignition. 
                                    
                                    "Scully, we have a problem."
                                    
                                    As if on cue, thunder clapped and the clouds unleashed their
                                    fury.
                                    
                                    Mulder looked to the heavens and closed his eyes. "Wow, things
                                    just keep getting better and better."
                                    
                                    Scully almost laughed, but thought better of it. A man without an
                                    ego was hardly a man at all, and Mulder's was hanging by a
                                    thread. Instead she grabbed his arm and pulled him to where they
                                    stood inside the entry of the stadium. 
                                    
                                    "We have two options, Mulder. We wait for the rain to stop, which
                                    I judge will not be soon, or we hunt down a cab."
                                    
                                    "I vote the latter. I can get my car in the morning."
                                    
                                    They took deep breaths and began to scurry down the street.
                                    Mulder had Scully pressed against him, his arm around her
                                    shoulders, as if trying to shield her from the rain. 
                                    
                                    They walked almost a block and a half before they spotted a cab.
                                    Running as quickly as they could, they hailed it and hopped
                                    inside. 
                                    
                                    Scully shivered as she gave the address to her apartment and
                                    Mulder continued to hold her to him. 
                                    
                                    When they reached her place, the rain had become a gentle
                                    sprinkle. Mulder told the cab driver to wait as he escorted
                                    Scully to her door. She let them both into the entryway of the
                                    building.
                                    
                                    "This evening didn't turn out exactly how I wanted it . . . at
                                    all. I'm sorry Scully."
                                    
                                    He had that sad, defeated look on his face as his head hung low,
                                    unable to meet her eyes. Scully was incapable of holding the
                                    laugh in this time.
                                    
                                    He heard her light snickering and looked at her, his brow knitted
                                    in confusion.
                                    
                                    "What?" He asked.
                                    
                                    "Mulder, I really don't see how this evening could have gone any
                                    other way," she started, "I think it went exactly how it was
                                    supposed to."
                                    
                                    A lop-sided grin crossed Mulder's face, but his posture still
                                    showed defeat.
                                    
                                    "I had a great time. In fact, I think what happened was probably
                                    better than what you had planned originally. You had a wonderful
                                    evening planned, but this ended up being a very . . . spontaneous
                                    night," she smiled.
                                    
                                    Mulder perked up at her word choice then turned to exit; ready to
                                    say a friendly goodnight.
                                    
                                    Before Mulder could turn completely to the door, Scully grabbed
                                    his arm and stopped him from taking another step. Before he could
                                    respond to her sudden protest on him leaving, her lips were on
                                    his.
                                    
                                    What started as sweet, chaste kiss ended up deepening into
                                    something much more. Scully's arms slid up Mulder's and she
                                    wrapped her arms around his neck. His hands slipped into her damp
                                    hair, his palms cupping her jaw line.
                                    
                                    Suave, you fool, he chanted to himself when it became apparent
                                    that he had deepened the kiss as far as it could possibly go and
                                    there was no turning back.
                                    
                                    When what seemed like several minutes past, Mulder pulled away.
                                    He tucked a strand behind her ear as he pulled completely away, a
                                    sheepish grin on his lips. 
                                    
                                    Scully's heart was beating at what felt like an unhealthy rate as
                                    she straightened her shirt. The color in her cheeks did not go
                                    unnoticed by Mulder and only caused his grin to grow.
                                    
                                    Scully smiled and picked up the coat, which had fallen from her
                                    shoulders, up from the ground. 
                                    
                                    "Goodnight Mulder," she said hurriedly as she opened and walked
                                    through the final entrance door of her building. 
                                    
                                    "Goodnight," he fit in, before she could shut the door. 
                                    
                                    To some, her hurried exit could have easily been misinterpreted
                                    as a regretful dismissal, but she was clearly flustered and
                                    Mulder just could not wipe the smile off his face.
                                    
                                    He had flustered Scully. The funny thing was, she was the one who
                                    had initiated the kiss. 
                                    
                                    Mulder exited her building and practically skipped down the
                                    stairs to the cab.
                                    
                                    Not a bad evening at all, he said to himself as he shut the taxi
                                    door.
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    Saturday Evening
                                    
                                    They walked silently, hand in hand, until Scully broke the
                                    silence.
                                    
                                    "I have a joke to tell you," she started. Jonathan waited
                                    patiently as he watched her search her mind. With a sigh of
                                    frustration she quietly finished, "Never mind, I can't remember
                                    exactly how it goes. Mulder told it to me the other day at the
                                    office. He's a lot better at telling jokes than I am."
                                    
                                    Jonathan stopped abruptly and released Scully's hand. 
                                    
                                    "What?" She asked innocently. 
                                    
                                    Jonathan provided a quiet, quick chuckle, bringing his eyes to
                                    Scully's. "That's at least the sixth time you have mentioned
                                    Agent Mulder tonight," he pointed out. 
                                    
                                    "I'm sorry," she said meaningfully. "I didn't even realize. I
                                    didn't mean to bring work into our date."
                                    
                                    Jonathan smiled a little and replied, "Well, Dana, you will be
                                    happy to know that you haven't talked about _work_ once tonight."
                                    
                                    Caught. 
                                    
                                    It was bad enough Scully had been unable to sleep the previous
                                    evening because her mind was fixed on Mulder and that
                                    unbelievable kiss, but to bring him into her date with Jonathan
                                    was unforgivable. 
                                    
                                    Scully shifted her weight to the other side of her body
                                    uncomfortably. Jonathan took her gently by the wrist and led her
                                    to a nearby bench. It was a beautiful night so they both had
                                    decided to take a walk by the lake. 
                                    
                                    Scully knew it was her turn to say something, so she cleared her
                                    throat and took a deep breath. Jonathan deserved to know why she
                                    was incapable of steering her mind away from Mulder for one
                                    second.
                                    
                                    "I'll be honest with you Jonathan. Mulder and I went on this
                                    date, sort of, last night. To some, even Mulder, it could have
                                    been seen as a complete disaster   I won't bother you with the
                                    details   but I haven't been able to stop thinking about it."
                                    
                                    Jonathan simply nodded in understanding, another smile hinting at
                                    his lips. He had strong feelings for Dana, but he was amused at
                                    what was obviously only apparent to him. 
                                    
                                    "Walk me through the date, Dana, beginning to end," he requested.
                                    
                                    "Why?"
                                    
                                    "Humor me."
                                    
                                    Scully took a moment to think. She laid her palms on her knees
                                    and straightened up on the bench. 
                                    
                                    "Well, he was surprisingly on time and he gave me a bouquet of
                                    gardenias," Jonathan's smile grew but Scully disregarded the
                                    unexpected reaction and continued. "We had some tea, then went to
                                    Charleston's only to find out that our reservations had been
                                    cancelled and taken by someone far more superior than us," Scully
                                    rolled her eyes for emphasis on the word 'far'.
                                    
                                    "We ended up eating at Lafayette's, which was a pleasant surprise
                                    because I love the place. We sat and talked for quite some time
                                    until Mulder realized that we would be late for his next plans
                                    for the evening." She paused, half because she wanted Jonathan to
                                    ask what happened next and half because of what Mulder's plans
                                    had _actually_ been. 
                                    
                                    "Which were . . ." Jonathan prodded.
                                    
                                    "The Cher concert," she stated simply.
                                    
                                    Jonathan's eyes widened. Dana didn't really strike him as the
                                    Cher 'type', of course neither did Mulder. Sensing Jonathan's
                                    disbelief and confusion, Scully attempted to briefly explain.
                                    
                                    "Neither one of us are really huge fans of Cher, it was kind if
                                    an inside joke if anything. We had this case awhile back that
                                    indirectly involved Cher and . . . ok, that is a completely
                                    different and irrelevant story."
                                    
                                    Cher indirectly involved with an X-Files case? There was more
                                    mystery in what these two did than he realized.
                                    
                                    "Anyway, turns out that the tickets Mulder had gotten from a
                                    close friend were invalid so those plans were also thrown out the
                                    window. To cool off I suggested that we take a stroll. As we
                                    walked we passed this jazz bar with live music and a song I love
                                    lured me in there. The music took us over and we ended up dancing
                                    and talking more until around midnight."
                                    
                                    It was interesting to see how calmly Jonathan was taking all
                                    this. It was far different than the way Mulder had taken the
                                    explanation of her first date with Jonathan.
                                    
                                    "We took a detour through a nearby park," she continued, "back to
                                    the car. Only find out Mulder had locked his keys in the car."
                                    
                                    Jonathan was trying hard not to laugh. So was Scully.
                                    
                                    "Remember the storm last night?"
                                    
                                    Jonathan nodded, immediately realizing what was to come.
                                    
                                    "Well, the rain chose that time to come pouring down. Luckily, we
                                    were able to get a cab. We were soaked, Jonathan. He walked me to
                                    my door and apologized for the evening."
                                    
                                    Jonathan noticed the hesitation as he sensed she was about to say
                                    more. Scully cleared her throat.
                                    
                                    "What could have just been a kiss on the cheek, _I_ turned into
                                    something more. Much more. As soon as the far from platonic kiss
                                    ended, I quickly bid him a good night and all but ran to my
                                    apartment. 
                                    
                                    "I see."
                                    
                                    "I'm sorry Jonathan, but I guess you needed to know."
                                    
                                    "Don't apologize, Dana, I'm glad you told me. It's kind of
                                    interesting really."
                                    
                                    "How's that?"
                                    
                                    "First off, let me point out something you may have missed.
                                    Something so very simple. I don't know too much when it comes to
                                    love   the medical field and science being my forte   but I'll
                                    tell you something I do know. Gardenias . . . gardenias are a
                                    symbol of hidden desire, secret love. Somehow I think Mulder knew
                                    that."
                                    
                                    Scully brought her attention directly to Jonathan, her eyes wide.
                                    
                                    "Second, I've seen how he looks at you. I know I have only been
                                    around him a few times in the time we have been dating and, trust
                                    me, I have been trying to deny what I see in his eyes when he
                                    looks at you. It's love, Dana."
                                    
                                    A lump formed in her throat as Scully sat in silence, trying to
                                    process everything.
                                    
                                    Jonathan continued. "I don't know what happened on that case,
                                    previous to you and I dating, that caused you to believe
                                    otherwise but it was a huge misunderstanding." He took his hand
                                    in hers and placed it in his lap. 
                                    
                                    "Dana, I know you wanted to move on and it was a pleasure to
                                    almost be the one that you moved on with, but you can't hide from
                                    the truth. The truth is, you love him too."
                                    
                                    Scully wiped a tear from her cheek as her lips pulled into a
                                    full-fledged smile.
                                    
                                    "Like I said, I don't know much about love, but I know it when I
                                    see it. What you two have is the real deal."
                                    Placing a kiss on his cheek, Scully hugged him and whispered a
                                    thank you. They stood up and looked at each other briefly before
                                    it hit Jonathan that this wonderful woman was meant for someone
                                    else.
                                    
                                    "You're going to be a hard woman to forget, Dana."
                                    
                                    "Hey, it's not like this is some bitter break-up. You have become
                                    one of my favorite people and intend to keep in touch with you,"
                                    Scully smiled. "No forgetting allowed."
                                    
                                    "Come on, let's finish our walk, then I'll take you home."
                                    Jonathan took Scully's hand and they continued down the path. 
                                    
                                    Then something dawned on Scully. Jonathan had a thing for red-
                                    heads, Scully having seen and heard about a few of the women he
                                    had dated since arriving in D.C., so the thought that came to
                                    Scully was brilliant.
                                    
                                    "Jonathan?"
                                    
                                    "Hm?"
                                    
                                    "Do you happen to know of Kimberly Cook?"
                                    
                                    A sheepish grin crossed Jonathan's face and he looked down at
                                    Dana. "AD Skinner's secretary? I've seen her around. Why?"
                                    
                                    "Oh, just wondering," Scully replied in an almost singsong
                                    teasing manner.
                                    
                                    They walked in the moonlight, finishing their final walk on their
                                    last evening together. Scully was devising two plans; how to go
                                    about introducing Jonathan to Kimberly and how to go about
                                    admitting her love to Mulder. 
                                    
                                    XxX
                                    
                                    Sunday Evening
                                    Mulder's Apartment
                                    
                                    Mulder stood in front of his open refrigerator as he considered
                                    his Sunday dinner options. In the freezer was a _very_ frozen
                                    pizza and an old microwave pasta dinner. Of course, he always had
                                    his week-old leftover Thai rice and beef.
                                    
                                    He opted for the pizza.
                                    
                                    While taking the frozen pizza from the cardboard box, a knock
                                    sounded at the door. Mulder preheated the oven as he exited the
                                    kitchen to answer the door. Being that it was almost nine, he
                                    wasn't really sure who would be stopping by. 
                                    
                                    Avoiding the peephole, Mulder swung open the door, his eyes
                                    settling on the one person who he both ached and dreaded to see.
                                    Scully. 
                                    
                                    The dread was only there because he had no idea what to expect
                                    after Friday night. Neither of them had bothered to contact the
                                    other since and although Mulder was confident that the kiss had
                                    been a very good thing, he was still paranoid. He had ached for
                                    Scully for quite some time, but now it was a deeper ache.
                                    
                                    It took a while for Mulder to realize he had yet to greet Scully.
                                    
                                    "Hey," he greeted.
                                    
                                    "Hey," Scully echoed.
                                    
                                    "You wanna come in?" 
                                    
                                    "Yes, thank you."
                                    
                                    Scully stepped in and looked around, her fidgeting showing some
                                    nervousness that did not go unnoticed by Mulder. 
                                    
                                    "Have a seat," he pointed to the living room couch, "I'll be back
                                    in a sec."
                                    
                                    As she made her way to the living room, Mulder scurried into his
                                    kitchen and threw the pizza into the heated oven. He dry washed
                                    his hands together and headed to the sofa.
                                    
                                    "So what brings you to my humble abode?" Mulder settled in beside
                                    Scully and smiled.
                                    
                                    Scully took a deep breath and turned her attention to Mulder,
                                    feigning a confident exterior. Her insides were all twisted with
                                    uneasiness.
                                    
                                    "Before we get into anything, I need you to clear something up
                                    for me."
                                    
                                    Get into anything? Mulder thought. The bigger question was, was
                                    it a good thing to be getting into?
                                    
                                    "Shoot."
                                    
                                    Without skipping a beat Scully asked, "What were your intentions
                                    and reasons for our date Friday?"
                                    
                                    "I already told you my reasons, it was a celebration. As for
                                    intentions . . . I didn't really have any, other than to assure
                                    that you had a good time."
                                    
                                    Scully shook her head, "No, I think there was more to it than
                                    that."
                                    
                                    "Meaning what exactly?"
                                    
                                    Scully sat back, gathering her thoughts. She wasn't aiming to be
                                    accusatory towards Mulder and make him defensive, it was just
                                    coming off that way. In all actuality, she was hoping he would
                                    admit what he felt before she did.
                                    
                                    Clearing her throat, Scully shifted the subject in a slightly
                                    different direction. 
                                    
                                    "Last night, on my date with Jonathan, I told him about our date.
                                    Everything about our date," she made sure her eyes told Mulder
                                    that she had told everything including the kiss to Jonathan. "We
                                    broke up," she finished.
                                    
                                    Mulder ran both hands over his face, his elbows coming down to
                                    rest on his thighs.
                                    
                                    "God, I'm sorry Scully. Why did you tell him?"
                                    
                                    "Before we get into this any further, you need to know that it
                                    ended mutually."
                                    
                                    Mutually?
                                    
                                    "But why?"
                                    
                                    Her nerves were on edge and her stomach was fluttering, if she
                                    didn't force herself to get to the point, she was going to scream
                                    in frustration. That wasn't exactly how she wanted to let Mulder
                                    in on her feelings.
                                    
                                    She'd thought about it all day, never really settling on a plan.
                                    Her original plan had failed, getting him to say it, and she
                                    hadn't bothered with a plan B. From here on in it was all
                                    improvised.
                                    
                                    "Why the break-up or why did I tell him?"
                                    
                                    Don't play dumb Dana; it doesn't look good on you, she thought.
                                    
                                    Mulder looked at her and shrugged. "Both, I guess."
                                    
                                    "I told him because . . . on our date I kept bringing you into
                                    the conversation. Not intentionally, it just kept happening. I
                                    couldn't get my mind off you, off our date. Off that kiss."
                                    
                                    Mulder took his gaze from her and turned away, his smile bashful.
                                    
                                    "He finally pointed it out to me," she continued, "and had me
                                    tell him everything. He listened patiently and let me finish
                                    before he said anything. When he finally spoke, it was an
                                    epiphany for me."
                                    
                                    Turning his body to Scully, Mulder placed his back against the
                                    cushions and waited for Scully to enlighten him on what Agent
                                    Jonathan Little had pointed out to her.
                                    
                                    "The first thing he told me was the symbolism behind gardenias."
                                    
                                    Mulder shot his drifting eyes back to Scully's. 
                                    
                                    When he had purchased the flowers, he'd had no idea what to get.
                                    Roses were too intimate, but daisies were too friendly. He'd
                                    approached the woman at the counter and asked her for any
                                    suggestions. She of course had asked what the occasion was. Not
                                    able to keep it to himself, Mulder explained everything to the
                                    woman, down to his secret love for his partner. Mulder still
                                    couldn't forget the twinkle in the elderly lady's eyes when she'd
                                    recommended the gardenias and why. 
                                    
                                    Now Scully knew. 
                                    
                                    "Mulder?"
                                    
                                    Mulder shook his head and brought himself back to the present.
                                    Scully was waiting for him to say something.
                                    
                                    "Gardenias, yes," is all he said. 
                                    
                                    Scully rolled her eyes. "Mulder, I asked if you knew what they
                                    meant when you bought them."
                                    
                                    Mulder had never lied to Scully, unless for her own good.
                                    Starting now would be a bad move, so he just offered a nod as his
                                    response.
                                    
                                    Scully desperately wanted to smile and throw her arms around
                                    Mulder, but contained her emotions and moved on to the what else
                                    Jonathan had told her. 
                                    
                                    "Before I say anything else, I need to ask you again. What were
                                    your reasons behind our date, Mulder?" She asked gently, her hand
                                    coming up to lie on Mulder's forearm. 
                                    
                                    In a meek voice Scully rarely heard, Mulder replied, "I wanted
                                    you back Scully. I wanted to prove to you that . . . that when I
                                    look at you I see a woman that I have grown to respect. A woman
                                    with a beautiful mind and heart. A woman that I see as beautiful
                                    in every aspect."
                                    
                                    Holding back tears, Scully searched his face before concluding
                                    everything she meant to say for the time being.
                                    
                                    "Jonathan went on to point out two things. They are one and the
                                    same, but one is going to have to come from you and one from me.
                                    As cowardly as this may sound, I would rather you look into your
                                    *heart* and find what it is that needs to come from you before I
                                    say or do anything."
                                    
                                    What was it that he was supposed to say? Maybe he should call
                                    Jonathan for a hint, since he was the guru in all of this. Then
                                    it hit him. Scully had given him all the hint he needed. She'd
                                    clearly stressed the word 'heart'.
                                    
                                    Mulder nipped at his bottom lip, taking his eyes from Scully
                                    briefly to stare at his hands. His eyes moved up his arm and
                                    settled on Scully's hand, which was still resting on his forearm.
                                    He took the hand from his arm and entwined his own fingers
                                    through hers. 
                                    
                                    "I've felt something for you for a long time, Scully. A long long
                                    time. Longer than I have let show. I think it all started back
                                    when I found out you had cancer. Before that I had cared for you
                                    so deeply since your abduction, but what I felt -what I feel now
                                    has been going on for an almost unbearable amount of time. What
                                    I'm trying to say is . . . I love you. I've been in love with you
                                    and have continued to fall in love with you for a long time. I
                                    know I have a lousy way of showing it, but it's real and it's
                                    true."
                                    
                                    During his confession, Mulder had begun to absent-mindedly play
                                    with Scully's fingers, avoiding eye contact. 
                                    
                                    Halting his hand with hers, Scully took both his hands and
                                    brushed her lips across his knuckles. Her eyes were shining with
                                    unshed tears.
                                    
                                    "I love you too, Mulder," she dropped his hands and wrapped her
                                    arms around his neck. "I have for so long. I'd never realized how
                                    deep and unyielding my love for you was until last night."
                                    Pulling away, Scully's face fell serious. "Maybe I was afraid."
                                    
                                    "I was too," Mulder admitted.
                                    
                                    "Why do you suppose that is?"
                                    
                                    "I know why I was afraid."
                                    
                                    Scully looked over his features, taking his face into her palms.
                                    
                                    "Why, Mulder?"
                                    
                                    "It's simple, really. Everything I love has a tendency to be
                                    taken from me."
                                    
                                    Not knowing how to respond to such a sad proclamation, Scully
                                    brushed her lips across his sweetly. Mulder deepened the kiss,
                                    wrapping his arms around her waist.
                                    
                                    If Scully didn't know any better she'd think she could hear a
                                    soft ding.
                                    
                                    "Pizza," Mulder moaned.
                                    
                                    Pizza? 
                                    
                                    Mulder pulled away, his nose and hers meeting in an Eskimo kiss.
                                    
                                    "My pizza, in the oven, it's finished."
                                    
                                    The confused look on Scully's face dropped and she began to
                                    chuckle. 
                                    
                                    "Then by all means, go get your pizza."
                                    
                                    Mulder stood. "Save my place?" 
                                    
                                    Scully just smiled and nodded. 
                                    
                                    With a thousand watt smile, Mulder rushed to the kitchen to
                                    retrieve his pizza.
                                    
                                    When he returned, Scully was reclining languorously. He set the
                                    pizza down on the coffee table along with napkins and two beers.
                                    It felt like old times, even though these were incredibly new. 
                                    
                                    Mulder sat down, his arm draping around Scully's shoulders,
                                    pulling her into his body.
                                    
                                    "You had dinner yet?"
                                    
                                    "Nope."
                                    
                                    "What do you say I put in a movie and we enjoy this fresh pizza
                                    made by yours truly?"
                                    
                                    Scully bent her head back to look Mulder in the eyes, a lazy and
                                    unmistakably happy smile gracing her lips. 
                                    
                                    "Depends on the movie," she joked. 
                                    
                                    "Your choice, although rental is out of the question, so your
                                    choices are limited."
                                    
                                    It wasn't that he wouldn't rent a movie for Scully, he just
                                    didn't want to leave.
                                    
                                    Scully shook her head before placing it on Mulder's chest.
                                    "Surprise me."
                                    
                                    Brushing his lips across her forehead, Mulder stood up and walked
                                    to his movie collection. Scully didn't know it yet, but Mulder
                                    had thrown out his offensive movies long ago. 
                                    
                                    Naming movies from comedies like 'Caddyshack' to old horror
                                    classics like 'The Invisible Man', Mulder and Scully bantered
                                    over which flick would be best. They finally settled on Alfred
                                    Hitchcock's 'Rope'.
                                    
                                    After eating a few pieces each, Scully's appetite surprising
                                    Mulder, they snuggled in each other's arms and enjoyed the
                                    intense thriller. 
                                    
                                    There were still things to talk about, but there was always time
                                    for such things. Even Scully was simply enjoying the artlessness
                                    of resting in Mulder's embrace.
                                    
                                    Forgiveness had finally found its place in Scully's heart, along
                                    with love and new understanding. 
                                    
                                    
                                    The End
                                    
                                    
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