TITLE: Professor Morris
AUTHOR: Shoshana
EMAIL ADDRESS: shoshana1013@yahoo.com
DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT: Gossamer and by request.
SPOILER WARNING: The Truth
RATING: PG-13
CLASSIFICATION: VRA
KEYWORDS: MSR, Mulder, Scully
SUMMARY: Mulder's first day on the job.
DISCLAIMER: These characters do not belong to me.
NOTE: This is the seventh in a series of short vignettes.

Big Brother Bill
Mother Maggie
Sister Tara
Mr. Mulder
Daughter Dana
Doctor Morris
Professor Morris
  
Thanks to my wonderful beta reader Sallie!

Professor Morris
By Shoshana

Giggly coeds file out of the lecture hall, sharing private silliness
and sparing a few glances for their new instructor. One brave soul
stops by his rostrum and asks if he needs any help getting back to
his office. Professor Morris shakes his head no, repressing a
snicker and managing to smile innocuously at his new students.

Mulder had only been on campus a few times before class started for
the brief summer sessions, meeting very few colleagues or students.
Word must travel fast at a small college in the San Fernando Valley;
seventy per cent of his class was female. Even with the latest data
concerning female college enrollment, that was a little too high for
coincidence.

He is never letting Scully set foot on campus.

He is both embarrassed and flattered by the attention but he tried
valiantly to assume his best poker face for the hour and a half he
lectured today. The class was supposed to be an hour longer, but he
didn't have enough introductory material to fill another hour. The
next lecture required they crack open their textbooks to understand
its content.

He is teaching Introduction to Psychology four mornings a week this
summer, plus Child Psychology in the afternoon. That class is
smaller but he's certain he is in for more bold scrutiny from his
youthful charges. His wedding band didn't seem to deter the
admiration from his audience, who come to school dressed like teenage
singing idols, bared midriffs and short skirts galore.

It's enough to tempt any man, he thought, even those as committed to
their partner as he is, has been, for years. They were married in
spirit and would someday be able to stand in front of God and
everyone else, using their own names again. Thoughts of the future
inevitably bring forth photographic images of his son, which had
recently been smuggled across the country for their perusal.

William was safely living with his grandmother, somewhere in New
York state. Skinner included no more details than that, just the
photos. He, of course, had taken them, having escorted Maggie Scully
to her new home. Bill and Tara already knew, according to Charlie,
who had been in the DC area on business a few days after Maggie flew
into Dulles.

Mrs. Scully had never returned to her modest home in Maryland. A
Marine politely guided her to the baggage claim, picked up her
suitcase, then escorted her to an unmarked van waiting outside the
terminal. She had tried not to look dismayed while Skinner calmly
explained quite a few of her earthly possessions were in the sturdy
van they were riding in and the rest were already on their way to New
York.

Mulder didn't expect any cheery family reunions in the near future.

He finishes signing his roster sheets, slides them into his
briefcase and heads over to the psych office. There is plenty of
fresh coffee there, but he is hungry and tired, amazed at how much
energy teaching can sap from him in just a few hours. He has to
stick around for a staff meeting this afternoon and he's not
familiar with the neighborhood, so he'll have to use the Student
Union. The staff made a point of telling him the food was edible
there and he thinks he will just breeze in and out of there as
quickly as possible.

By the time he has dropped off his paperwork, and walked over to the
non-descript building a block away from his own, he is sweating
bullets beneath his conservative button-down shirt and khakis.
Scully insisted he dress appropriately, at least on his first day.
He should feel whipped, allowing her to choose his work clothes--but
no, he feels loved and cared for more than ever.

The crowd is thin since it's still too early for the lunch rush and
he has no problem getting a burger and fries from a national chain
that's contracted for food service. Scully would wrinkle her nose in
distaste at his bacon double cheeseburger and he smiles at that
thought. He's only sitting by himself for a few minutes when a
woman he recognizes from his department approaches, warily.

"Would you like company, Dr. Morris?" Edie asks.

Mulder swallows a bite and smiles warmly, this woman has been very
helpful to him once this morning and seems to be someone he can rely
on. "Sure, no problem. Please call me, Sean, Edie. I meant to tell
you earlier but we were both in such a rush to get to class."

He chides himself for not standing up when she approached the table
but chalks it up to the casual atmosphere of the Union and the fact
his mouth was full at the time.

Edie smiles and drops her tray to the table, rearranging her salad
and drink to her satisfaction, then pouring dressing on the former.
She is in her forties and has been teaching at the small, liberal
arts college since she got her doctorate fifteen years ago. Mulder
knows this from the school catalog, the one he conveniently read and
memorized yesterday afternoon.

"How's it going?" she asks, feeling welcome to chat.

She'd been approached by the new professor with a flurry of
questions a half hour before his class started this morning. He
seemed like a nice man, a little too old to have all those blond
streaks in his hair, but nice, nonetheless. He was dressed more
conservatively today than the day she'd met him in the department
office. She couldn't blame him for not dressing up to spend five
minutes at work, but she was curious when she'd seen what he'd
chosen to wear, muscle T-shirt and baggy shorts, just like his
students. He has to be my age, she thought, and he still looks so
young.

"Really well, so far. I'd forgotten how much energy this took out
of you though--"

Mulder realizes his slip up after he's spoken. His curriculum vitae
states he's been teaching for fifteen years, recently at a college
back East. He thinks fast, trying to cover himself, "I guess a few
months vacation was all I needed to fall out of practice," he says,
hoping Edie buys his explanation.

She takes a bite off her fork, nodding her head in agreement and
Mulder relaxes. There's no trace of doubt in her eyes and he
chastises himself for being careless his first day of class.

"You certainly have a crowd for your morning class," she remarks
coolly.

Mulder's gut tightens, his mind whirling round, trying to come up
with a diplomatic response to her comment. He knows female teachers
might resent popular male teachers. He has no logical explanation
for the amount of young women in his class, other than word of mouth
before classes started.

Since he's grown a beard and stopped wearing nicely tailored
clothes, he hasn't felt very stylish, certainly not as dapper as he
used to feel in a nice Armani suit. It was nice to feel well-dressed
and attractive, but frankly, he'd only cared about one person's
opinion on that matter for years. Apparently Scully was just as
pleased to see him in Dockers and a shirt. She approved of his
outfit last night. Ten minutes later, after she'd undressed him
carefully, she was just as happy to see him in the buff. It was one
of the happiest nights they'd had so far in southern California,
both of them very relaxed and optimistic about their future.

"I guess they like to get their classes over early in the day during
the summer," Mulder tells her, hoping she'll change the subject.

"Yeah, most of the kids like to hit the beach before they go home to
study," Edie replies, with just a hint of a warm smile.

Maybe she wasn't trying to antagonize me, Mulder thinks. You must
be the most paranoid of men alive, in any profession. You have to
make this work, he says to himself. It's important we're employed
and dissolve into the woodwork. Like aliens dissolving into green
goo, he quips silently.

He can't think of a single thing to say. He should have plenty of
things to ask this woman about the school or their field or anything
else, but he's stymied by his unease around strangers right now.
He doesn't care so much about himself as Scully; he will do whatever
it takes to protect her from discovery by their enemies.

"Have any kids?"

The question threw Mulder for a loop; he could not imagine something
that would confound him more at this time in his life. Yes, I have a
child. He's with his grandmother in a safe house someplace in New
York State. No, I can't really tell you this, you inquisitive witch,
nor anyone else on the planet other than family and the few surviving
friends who have managed to survive me and my search for truth and
justice.

His internal sarcasm knows no bounds but his survival instinct,
compounded by his extreme irritation with this woman, makes him
say, "No," in the curtest manner possible.

She'll probably never discover the truth behind his lie because
he'll never return to this college after he's allowed to see his son
again. If he's allowed to see his son again.

He wasn't prepared for her initial inquisitiveness, but he is now.
He is done eating and he excuses himself in as polite a tone as he
can manage, pushing his chair beneath the glass top table before he
leaves.

He bades her farewell and heads toward the rest room, where he
enters the very last stall, locks himself in, and lets the tears
flow.

fin

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