TITLE: Under Scrutiny (1/1)
AUTHOR: Shoshana
EMAIL ADDRESS: shoshana1013@excite.com
DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT: Anywhere
SPOILER WARNING: Everything through Alpha.
RATING: G
CONTENT STATEMENT: MSR
CLASSIFICATION: SR
KEYWORDS: Mulder/Scully romance
SUMMARY: The agents meet with Skinner and then go on a short road trip.
DISCLAIMER: These characters do not belong to me.
FEEDBACK: Would love it.

Under Scrutiny
By Shoshana

     It was Tuesday. Mulder and Scully sat inside Skinner's
office waiting for him to finish an urgent phone call that had interrupted
their meeting. Actually the meeting had yet to begin, they had just seated
themselves when the call came through and Skinner excused himself, nodding
and uh-huhing into the phone as they sat there in front of him.
  
     Mulder knew this was just a routine meeting, receive their next
assignment, tie up loose ends on any previous cases, blah, blah, blah. He,
unlike Scully, firmly believed that they would never hear a murmur from
Skinner about their private lives. He had tried to tell her last evening
that she was being utterly paranoid, that Skinner was not listening to
gossips around the water cooler, discussing their love life. And if he
heard something in passing, he would probably disregard it as foolishness.
Mulder secretly relished turning the tables on Scully. He was ordinarily
the delusional one, capriciously harboring groundless fears. So, he wasn't
expecting anything unusual at today's meeting. He would be wrong.

     Skinner got off the phone and picked up the latest case file from his
desk. "O.K. agents, you will be going to Vermont tomorrow, for as long it
takes, to investigate a murder-suicide that local authorities are reluctant
to close until certain aspects of the case have been resolved. The mother
and daughter have similar puncture wounds around their abdomens. No toxic
substances were found in blood samples and otherwise they appear to have
died from point-blank gunshot wounds to the head. The husband has an alibi,
but there were large insurance policies on both victims and previous
domestic violence in the household. Here's your plane tickets, Kimberly has
the name of the motel you'll be staying at and where to pick up your rental
vehicle."

     "Sounds great, sir. We just have a few loose ends to tie up today and
we'll get back to you as soon as we have anything to report," Scully said.

      "Agents, there is one other thing I'd like to discuss with you
briefly." Mulder nervously glanced over at Scully, observing that her steel
countenance had ever so slightly blinked. "I received this in the mail
today. No return address, plain brown envelope."

     He pulled a photograph out from beneath his desk blotter. It clearly
showed them kissing at the motel in Virginia Beach. Although it had been
quite dark that night, someone had used a sophisticated camera to catch the
shot. The clarity of the image gave no doubt that it was them.

     "I don't think it's my place to tell you how to conduct your private
lives. Since I do not consider either of you in a supervisory role to the
other, that role having been rendered superfluous by the nature of your
partnership, F.B.I. regulations do not apply in this case."

     "Sir, I can explain..." Mulder offered.

     "Hold off, Agent. I have more to say. As your supervisor and someone
who considers themself to be your friend, I would advise you to use more
discretion from now on. This photo is obviously not tabloid material. I'm
sure it's only meant as a warning that somebody is interested in your every
move. Have your apartments checked out for bugs and cameras. Watch
yourself on the road. That's really all I have to say on the subject and I
apologize in advance if I've intruded on your privacy."

     Scully and Mulder were both silent, surreptitiously glancing at each
other, waiting for the other to speak first. Mulder finally did.

     "You haven't sir. We appreciate your concern and candor. I expected
such a thing to occur sooner or later. We won't let our guard down again."

     "Please don't. You are two of my most valuable agents and I'm not
willing to lose you. You have my full support for any precautionary
measures you'd like to implement."

     Scully finally found her voice, "Thank you, sir. I'm sure everything
will be fine. Sir, what will you do with that photograph?"

     "I'll shred it."

     "May I have it please?"

     Mulder's eyes widened for a fraction of a second, amazed at her
request.

      "Sure, here you are." He handed it to her and she put in her suit
jacket pocket.

     With that, he dismissed them and they stopped with Kimberly briefly.
Mulder sheepishly followed Scully down the hall, not at all eager to
converse till they were totally alone. They skipped the elevator and took
the stairs.

     "Well, that went well," Scully said sardonically when they reached the
office. She unlocked the door, let them in, then secured the deadbolt with
a flourish.
     
     "Um, yeah. Gee, Scully you have way more intestinal fortitude than I
do. I never would have asked for that photo."

     "Well, no matter what the source, I wanted to have it. Nobody should
be able to steal my life away from me. As, Skinner said, we haven't done
anything against regulations. There 'are' married agents out there, though
I don't know any that are still partnered with one another."

     "Just what are you proposing, Agent Scully? I thought we were taking
things slow and easy?" he said with a silly smile.

     "Oh, you know what I mean, you goof. I just don't want surveillance by
anyone, the Consortium, the military, or whomever felt it necessary to
invade that private moment of our lives, to be able to taint that moment. I
won't let them do that. It's my life and I'm getting it back from them."

     "I'll have to agree with that scheme. I don't want to hide in the
shadows because someone might be watching. I was surprised by Skinner's
attitude, though. 'Go check your apartments for bugs, this is not my
business.' I thought for sure he'd just split us up, or reassign you to
Quantico till this blew over."

     "Mulder, it's never going to blow over. They'll tail us till we have
no use to them anymore. We'll just have to be more careful and aware of our
surroundings."

     "Starting with you moving over to my apartment today. At least,
temporarily."

     "Won't that just compound our problems? Make us more of a target?"

     "No, I don't think so. You're over there half the time, anyway. And
after the CDC invaded I had the guys install video cameras in every room.
I've been paying Langley to review the tapes. No one can break in and
install new devices. They also sweep for bugs every week, just in case."

     "So what about my home, my apartment?"

     "We'll have them work on it while we're in Vermont. It won't take
long."

     "I thought your waterbed was out of commission," she grinned.

     "There's just an ordinary bed now. I thought I'd try sleeping in a
real bed for a while. Or maybe I thought I'd just get lucky." He sent her
a broad smile. "But you're welcome to it tonight." Doubly broad smile.

"To tell the truth, I really don't want you to spend any more nights alone
until we find out a little more about who's tailing us."

     She sighed, walked over to him and gave him an affectionate hug around
the waist. He reciprocated and kissed her softly on the head. She looked
up and said, "Alright, you win. I'll feel better with you around. But
Mulder, are the video cameras on all the time?"

     "We can selectively turn them off, if that's what you're getting at,"
he beamed. "And there are none in the john or bedroom. You wouldn't want
to entertain Frohicke twenty-four hours a day, would you?"

     "Mulder, I don't even think I can entertain you twenty-four hours a
day, much less Frohicke."

     "Oh, we'll have to see about that..." And he gave her a quick kiss on
the lips before releasing her, then turned to gather some items they might
need in Vermont.

     "Masher," she flirted back, as she grabbed her laptop and started to
read her E-Mail.

Wednesday morning, the airport.

     "Our plane is late Mulder, let's go to the lounge and throw back some
iced teas."

     "Scully, are you coming on to me?"

     "No, I'm just really, really thirsty and the vending machines are
awful."

     Before they got up from their uncomfortable plastic seats to head to
the lounge, Mulder spotted her. A woman across the room was watching them
and had risen from her seat slowly. He decided to tempt fate and took
Scully's hand despite her minor protest. He whispered to her, "There's
someone watching, just play along."

She gave him a dubious look, but didn't relinquish her hand. At the
lounge door, Mulder turned around and spotted the woman not twenty
feet away. The watcher pretended to be interested in reading her
boarding pass and retreated to a chair nearby.

     He whispered to Scully, "Well, at least we know who to look out for.
This time. I say we just forget about it. Like Skinner said, unless they
have incriminating photos, why worry? I don't like being followed, but it's
not the first time."

     Scully sighed resignedly, they entered the bar and waited for their
flight out.
     
Vermont, Larchmont Motel, 6:30 p.m., Wednesday

    "Did you bring that sweeping device, Mulder?"

    "Yeah."

    "Well, get in here and sweep. I want to get out of these nylons."

    "Want help with them?"

     "No, yes. I mean no, not with nylons. Yes, with checking out the
room."

     They had connecting rooms this time and he put down his bags and
grabbed the device. A few minutes later, while she was patiently arranging
her bags, he was done.
  
     "What about cameras?, " she said.

     "Well, to tell the truth Scully, I don't think we can ever be
completely sure there's nobody watching. Like they say, there's no place
like home. For complete security, that is. Just remember, they're a lot
more interested in getting the two of us in a compromising shot, than either
us alone. Anyway, I suppose it will keep us out of mischief, if you know
what I mean..."

     "Mulder, this is insane. We've already shared enough paranoia to last
us ten years. I'm not going to go along with it. Whatever happens,
happens. I am not going to chase you out of my room if you touch me or kiss
me. The hell with the watchers. Who are they going to give the pictures
to, my mother? She already knows. And like Skinner said, we can't lose our
jobs over this. You and I are going to care as much or more about each
other in spite of any glossy photos that the Consortium gets to leer at."

     "Are you sure that's how you feel? I've been waiting for your reaction,
not wanting to prejudice you either way. I couldn't give a damn, myself.
Although, I'd rather not have strangers leering at you."

     "Ah, Mulder. We'll only be here a couple days. Let's do our work and
enjoy ourselves otherwise. Speaking of enjoyment, order us a pizza and
let's get down to going over the interviews from today."
  
     She ruffled his hair and pushed him toward his room as he muttered,
"Forever your slave, ma'am."

Thursday night, Scully's apartment

     "Oomph, what do you have in that one, Scully?"

     "Hey, be careful. That's my maple syrup stash for the next year or
so."

     "Ah, they've been here already. There's a note on the T.V. It says
open the hall closet. Hey look! You've got your own phalanx of security
monitors here. They just took some old sets and wired them together. They
also have a feed over at their place."

     "Oh great. Nothing like the latest in home security. I hate to tell
you Mulder...it was nice of you to make haste with all these precautions,
but I think I'd really rather have my closet space back. The paranoia stops
here."

     "I guess I'll have to agree to that if I want to stay in your good
graces," he said winsomely.

     Scully surveyed her apartment and said, "I'm sure glad we wound up that
case quickly. I couldn't wait to get back home. Now, how do we shut all
those cameras off, Mulder?"

     "Don't you want any of them on?"

     "No, not now. I want to pop popcorn, drink wine and neck on the couch.
I don't want Frohike leering at me from the other side of a monitor."

     He crossed the room, took her in his arms and said, "How bought if we
just go straight to neck on the couch? That's the part that most intrigues
me..."

     She grinned with delight and they jubilantly flicked off all the
monitors.

fin