Just Observing

Title: Just Observing

Author: Vickie Moseley

Spoiler: The Firestorm, VS9

Rating: PG

Category: A V

Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended.

Archives: Two week exclusive on VS10, then anywhere with

permission

Authors Notes: This is a post ep for The Firestorm and sort of a

‘pre ep’ for Justice Interrupted. The man is an Assistant Director in

the FBI for cripes sakes, he had to know what his agents were up

to!!

Thank you Dawn, for the quick turn around and the inspiration!

Just Observing

By Vickie Moseley

Chicago OHare International Airport

Lariat Rental Counter

2:35 pm

Scully handed the keys to the rental car agent and accepted the

receipt, folding it precisely twice and tucking it into the back

pocket of her purse. Without missing a beat, Mulder reached over

and placed his still bandaged hand on the small of her back as they

started walking down the concourse.

Walter Skinner waited and followed a few steps behind, watching.

Sure, he’d had a valid reason for coming with the X files Division

on this assignment. He’d been badgered by Accounting for years

about the unorthodox expenditures, the out of line medical bills

and in general, the excessive cost overruns of this, the FBI’s

smallest division. In a good quarter, the X files Division easily

outspent other divisions five and six times its size. And all with a

wink and a prayer for explanation.

But there was a totally different reason he’d decided to join in on

this little escapade. It gave him an excuse to watch them together,

in the field.

It wasn’t like he hadn’t observed them before. He’d been with them

in the field plenty of times. He could vividly recall the time he’d

called them up to help him investigate the death of a tobacco

company whistleblower only to put Mulder’s life on the line. He’d

lived under that dark cloud of guilt for the entire six weeks of

Mulder’s recovery. But this was different. He was watching them

with a different eye.

The office betting pool on the status of their sleeping habits had all

but closed its window. It had been a long time since the bet was no

longer ‘will’ they do it, but when ‘did’ they do it and what was the

preferred position for their first time. Of course, that was pure

conjecture, he hoped. He knew Mulder regularly had both his and

Scully’s apartments scanned for listening and viewing devices, but

one could never be too careful. Still, no photos had surfaced,

however grainy, and the prize money was still safely stashed inside

the second desk drawer of the motor pool clerk, placed in her

protection because her desk only had one key. The first person to

get either a signed ‘confession’ or valid physical evidence of the

fateful day would walk away with a cool five hundred dollars.

He’d had his money on April 10, 2000, missionary, for almost two

years already. Under Kim’s name, of course.

But all that speculation was not his concern. What was his concern

was the number of times Mulder had managed to end up in the

hospital in recent months. The frequent visits for various and

sundry serious injuries and their subsequent days of recovery were

starting to be more of a nuisance than even the agent’s penchant for

losing weapons, cellphones and in at least two cases, Bureau fleet

cars. As his immediate supervisor, Assistant Director Skinner had

to determine if Mulder was a danger in the field. But even more

so, as a friend, Walter Skinner needed to make sure Mulder didn’t

get himself killed, for his own sake and Scully’s.

Was their closeness causing Mulder to lose his perspective? Was

Scully watching his ass instead of his back? Was an intimate

relationship sliding over onto company time and making it harder

for them to work together? Those were the questions Walter

Skinner needed answered.

He thought back on the case at hand. It wasn’t by accident that he

offered to drive everyone to the airport. He wanted to see how

much of a stir that would cause. He’d not been oblivious to the

heated debate they’d waged with their eyes in his office. But when

he arrived at Scully’s apartment, she’d been ready and waiting, but

offered him a cup of coffee for the road. At Mulder’s place, he was

equally ready for the road, and answered Skinner’s ring almost

before the AD had a chance to press the button. Apparently, they

weren’t above spending a night apart. Score one for them.

During the case, they’d been complete professionals. Even when

he gave them ample opportunity to push the envelope, the most

he’d managed to catch them at was a little post trauma hug. No

smear of lipstick on Mulder’s collar, no love bites on Scully’s

throat at any time. To be honest, he was a little disappointed. But

again, it spoke to their professionalism and that scored them

another point.

He’d had to admit, the fire had him scared. But what he realized,

after Kara was out of the house and safe on the lawn, was that

there was nothing he or Scully could have done to stop Mulder

from trying to save that girl. If there was ever an opportunity for

Scully to fall apart with worry, watching her partner brave a

roaring house fire had to be pretty close to the top of the list. And

through it all, she’d handled herself with utmost calm. The woman

was a rock.

Mulder, in the same way, reacted just as Skinner would have

predicted. As Skinner was trying to find a ladder to get to the

second floor from outside the house, Mulder was braving the blaze

inside, and had even managed to get past the flames to find Kara

huddled in her room. Then, ignoring his injured hand, Mulder

helped the girl over to Skinner and then the ladder, then climbed

down himself. Dangerous action, yes. Necessary, absolutely.

Was the fact that Scully was anxiously waiting down on the lawn

in any way a deciding factor in his decision to risk his life?

Obviously not.

Scully’s actions were equally commendable. Ensuring that Kara

was safe and being examined by the EMS, she turned to her

partner. The only difference Skinner could detect in their behavior

was that Mulder didn’t stand there and argue with Scully over the

oxygen mask in place over his mouth and nose. If sleeping

together managed to make Mulder a more agreeable patient, every

hospital in the DC metro area would be sending them Frederick’s

of Hollywood catalogs before the week was out.

He almost expected something to happen later that night when they

got back to the motel. A kiss in the hallway in a dark shadow

perhaps, or Mulder waiting until Skinner fell asleep and then

sneaking down the hall to Scully’s room to spend the rest of the

night. He’d feigned sleep for at least an hour until he realized

Mulder was snoring so loud, he couldn’t fall asleep if he tried. He

ended up turning the television on low and falling asleep

somewhere around the third installment of ‘Amazing Discoveries’

and the ‘Ultimate food chopper’. When he woke up, Mulder was

still dead to the world in the other bed, but at least he’d stopped

snoring.

It was almost infuriating, the way they’d behaved. He couldn’t help

wondering what they were doing in the down time, on weekends

when they were alone and had no one from the Bureau looking

over their shoulders. Did they stay at his place or hers? Did he

bring her breakfast in bed or did she do that for him? Skinner

shook his head as they boarded the plane, trying to dispel the

images from his mind. It was their business. He’d come here to

make sure their business wasn’t any of his and he’d come away

convinced.

Now, he was back to being just curious.

As luck would have it, his seat was an aisle seat toward the back of

the plane, and they managed to get two seats together a couple of

rows up. From his angle, when he was sure the flight attendants

wouldn’t trip over his long legs, he could see them as Scully took

their briefcases and jackets and stuffed them in the overhead

compartment while Mulder stood with a frustrated scowl on his

face waiting for her to take her seat. Then she turned and although

Skinner couldn’t see her face, he had a near perfect view of

Mulder’s. Whatever she whispered to him made the man’s eyes

positively light up with a fire deep and abiding. He gave her a

smile that brightened the whole compartment and settled down into

his seat next to her. Skinner watched as Mulder shifted in his seat

and finally seemed to be leaning toward the aisle. It didn’t take an

investigative mind to see that Scully probably had her head resting

on her partner’s shoulder.

Oh yeah, Walter Skinner smiled to himself and sighed. They were

definitely doing each other. And one of these days, they’d let him

in on the secret. But for now, that $500 was going to continue to

gather dust.

The end.

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