July 6th, 1999, 8:30 a.m.
"Where would you like to go, Scully?"
It was a dazzlingly beautiful morning in Washington, D.C. In just
few hours, the temperature would start climbing, eventually reaching
close to 100 degrees. Couple that with high humidity and you had one
sticky, unpleasant day. But right now it was still agreeable, as
Mulder and Scully strolled out of the Hoover building casually,
neither feeling particularly guilty about playing hooky so early in
"The Mall," she said, simply.
"O.K., let's take 12th Street."
They walked side by side, his stride matching hers with little
inconvenience, so accustomed were they to one other's gait. They
crossed Constitution Ave., passing the National Museums of American
History and Natural History, the streets an obstacle course of
government workers, tourists, and errant bicyclists. Once they
reached the grassy expanse of the Mall, they kept on walking, headed
for the Reflecting Pool, Scully's favorite place to linger any day,
any time of the day.
They chose a sturdy bench, under a shady tree, and sat at either
end, facing one another, each leaning into the corner of the lengthy
seat. Mulder laughed, looking slightly wistful, and said, "I know
it's a little too late for regrets, but we probably shouldn't be
doing this. I don't know what's got into me today. I can't
concentrate worth a damn. Neither can you, for that matter."
"It's just hard to get back into the groove after a long
weekend...just think of this as payback for all those acid burns in
"Scully, it would take a hundred morning strolls to compensate
for that. Plus a few stolen afternoons, too. If you know what I
mean..." He gave her a sweet, enticing look, barely lascivious, that
sent an involuntary shiver down her spine.
She recovered quickly, responding, "Anyone stealing away my
afternoons, Mulder, will have me to contend with *me*...If you know
what *I* mean..."
Her sly, wicked grin clearly amused him, but she sensed an
underlying discomfort there too; sometimes he was inexplicably shy
when she matched innuendo for innuendo. She attempted to salvage the
situation by asking "So tell me what you guys did at Frohicke's
"Oh, a little bit of hacking, a little bit of cleaning house
mom. We took her out to a lake for the fireworks display. She has a
great sense of humor, loves to throw back a few as much as her son.
Langley and Byers are like her adopted sons, if you can imagine that.
Langley's mom isn't living, and Byers doesn't see his mom too much
anymore. She started treating me like another one of her brood. And
then she wanted to hear all about our girlfriends. Frohicke just
laughed and told her that only Byers had had any luck lately, such as
it was. Nice to know Frohicke portrays his friends in such a
Scully was grinning happily now. Whether it was because she was
entertained by Mulder's story, or whether she was so damn happy that
he had no dates to speak of, Mulder would never know. Or so she
thought... For his part, he'd already drawn his own conclusions,
based upon the fiery look in her eyes when he uttered the 'g' word.
He carefully disguised any smug satisfaction he may have felt,
inwardly pleased that she seemed to feel just as possessive about him
as he did of her. He continued with his train of thought, "Anyway we
hacked into some government agencies that I'd only dreamed
about...National Security Agency, C.I.A., A.T.F., and naturally the
"Jeez, Mulder. Someday, somebody is going to track down those
like rabbits in a forest, and you may be sitting there, right beside
them, when it happens..."
"No, no, Scully. Nobody's going to catch this sly fox."
her such a breathtakingly confident smile that she could feel a glow
surround her, lighting up her face like sparklers on the Fourth of
July. How appropriate, she thought. I blush in sync to the holidays.
Her mind raced, trying to think of a snappy response. "Even
succumb to the hunt once in a while. Odds are those three stooges
will get caught sooner or later. I know we depend on them a lot for
information, but sometimes I feel like I'm entering a den of iniquity
when I hear those eight or nine or however many locks there are click
"Didn't complain when they tracked down Diana for you, did
"Mulder, you're not playing fair! I hope you know now that was
necessity...considering the huge, gaping blind spot in your field of
vision..." She frowned at him, disappointed more than furious.
"Well, I'll have to admit to not wanting to believe the worst
"So, are you now agreeing that a background check of Diana may
been warranted?" she said.
"Well, yes, of course it was. From what we know now.
always 20/20, Scully. You know I'm really sorry about that. I
thought I let you know before, but I guess I'll have to tell you
again. I'm too trusting sometimes." She grimaced.
"Yeah, yeah. I tell you to trust no one, and now I have to own
to my hypocrisy. I learned a painful lesson, but I think we'll both
be better and stronger for it. At least, I hope you feel that way,
Scully. I hope you know how much I want you to feel that way..."
His expression was so openly sincere, his words so genuinely
apologetic, that she decided to put him out of his misery and said,
"Yeah, I do. I certainly do."
They were silent now, a little tapped out, a little weary of the
sound of their own voices. The silence calmed them both as they
stared across the reflecting pool aimlessly. They locked eyes
occasionally, politely smiling, an underlying current of attraction
dwelling just beneath the surface. They both knew it was there.
They'd played this game long enough that the rules of engagement were
codified by now, organized in their subconscious, available for use
whenever and wherever they were needed. And lately, that seemed to
be pretty damned often.
"Come on, Scully, we'd better drag ourselves back to our office."
*Our* office. Mmm...she thought. Maybe this little talk had
hastened some progress...
They walked back the way they had come, silent for several minutes
till Scully said, "Mulder, why don't you like seeing my Mom?"
He stopped dead in his tracks, unable to respond to her pointed
question. No reply was forthcoming, so she continued, "You know,
Mulder, my Mom really likes you. She'd like to see more of you, and
you really ought to spend more time with her if you're going to stick
around with me."
Mulder felt paralyzed with confusion, rooted to the grassy knoll
they stood upon. Scully turned and strolled away, the erotic swivel
of her hips no distraction at all to her befuddled partner. His brow
screwed up in consternation; his eyes, verdant green in the brilliant
sunlight, bore into the back of Scully's head, searching for
He found it soon enough, an uneven grimace sweeping across his
His eyes closed, his lips curved into a broad smile. He shook his
head gently, as though he could banish whatever cobwebs remained in
his foggy-bottomed mind. He brought his hands together, cracking
knuckles involuntarily, peering ahead to see Scully, some twenty feet
"Come on, Mulder. We've got plenty of work to catch up on
she said, not turning one inch toward him, projecting her confident,
gentle voice back in his direction. She crossed her arms, leaned her
head to one side, and patiently waited.
He caught up to her, glanced shyly her way, and witnessed a
little smile that took his breath away. He tried to return it,
gnawing at his lower lip, eyes glowing with inner pleasure that she'd
never misconstrue as anything but love. Reluctantly, they broke
their tenuous gaze, and she calmly strode away, setting the pace for
their return trip across the Mall.
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