A movement caught his eye and he looked over. Scully was bent over looking in one of the bottom files. The motion pulled her slacks tight, showing her strong thigh. His eyes traveled up, taking in the curve of her ass.
As she looked farther back in the drawer, she squatted. Her thighs parted with that movement and he stifled a groan.
She turned then and stood. “Mulder? You okay?”
Oh god, had he made a sound? What the hell was wrong with him? This was Scully for god’s sake.
She moved toward him. “Mulder?”
“Oh, yeah, just stretching. I’m fine.” He couldn’t kick himself with her watching. “It’s been a long week.”
“Oh.” A long week? “I heard you talking to Frohike earlier. Big plans for the weekend?”
He blinked, plans . . . with Frohike? “Yeah, I have plans, but not with the guys.” God, did she think he was a complete loser? He could answer that one - of course she did.
“Oh.” He was really acting strangely. Even as she waited for a next statement, he rose from his chair and pulled his suit coat from the back.
“In fact I need to go ahead and cut out. We’re through here, aren’t we?” He was already moving toward the door.
“Uh, sure. Have a good weekend, Mulder.”
“Yeah, you too.” He was already out of sight.
He moved around the others to get to the bar and ordered a beer. He didn’t want to be here, but he couldn’t be with her and after being with her, being alone seemed so much . . . lonelier.
Mulder looked around, not at all comfortable sitting here. He was used to sitting at the end of the bar or alone in one of the booths. If he wanted to be around other people, that wouldn’t work.
He smiled at the group of people that took up a position beside him at the bar. The women smiled back immediately.
It wasn't long before he was encompassed by the group. They worked together at the Treasury building and were kicking off the weekend together. It took even less time before the blonde had moved in and the others drifted off to other areas or left for home.
He was a little overwhelmed, the blonde, her name was Shelley, had given him her number on a napkin. That hadn’t happened in a long time. He’d had no time or, be honest, desire to see a woman besides Scully, but that wasn’t an option, so . . .
On impulse he called her Saturday morning. He didn’t really expect her to be free, but was pleasantly surprised when she was. He remembered she enjoyed music, crowds, so he took her to a club. Not his idea of a fun evening, but he was trying here, maybe he could learn.
They’d danced a few times. He’d forced the feel of a shorter woman against his body away. He’d had a drink, she’d had two. He excused himself to go to the men’s room. Things were going okay. He was no Casanova, but he hadn’t sent her running for a cab, either.
When he’d exited the men’s room, he stopped at the edge of activity to take a deep breath.
He turned at the soft voice and spotted Holly. She’d always be ‘the girl with the size seven shoe’ in his mind. “Hi. Having a good evening?”
“Pretty good. My friends wanted to hear the band. Is Agent Scully - “
Before she could finish her question, Shelley joined them. Her hand came to rest on his arm quite possessively. “Ready to dance, Fox?”
“Uh, sure. Shelley, this is Holly. We work together.”
Shelly nodded to Holly, but kept a territorial hand on Mulder’s arm. Holly, obviously embarrassed, nodded, murmured something and excused herself for the ladies’ room.
Mulder glanced after her. She’d assumed he’d be here with Scully. Little did she know.
It was after one when he took Shelley home. He didn’t accept her invitation inside. Her disappointment was only partially hidden. Before she let him leave, she invited him to dinner at her place on Tuesday night. He accepted; more than a little surprised at the invitation.
It was nice leaving work on time, he decided. Scully had seemed a little surprised that he was anxious to get out, but he hadn’t offered an explanation. She no doubt assumed he was with the guys again. It wasn’t any of her business that he had a date, right?
Shelley had gone to a lot of trouble, a roast and vegetables, a home made pie. The candles and wine were more than he had expected. But it was the make-out session on the couch that really got his attention. She was hot and horny and obviously interested in him. The wine had relaxed him enough to enjoy this kind of attention and he was really enjoying himself.
That is he was enjoying himself until she jerked back abruptly and just stared at him. “What? What did I do?” He wiped at his mouth. He hadn’t bitten her; his hands weren’t anywhere they hadn’t been on the dance floor.
“Who the hell is Scully?”
He blanched. Had he . . . oh shit. “Sh-Shelley, I’m - “
“Not, not exactly.”
“You’re still together.” That wasn’t a question.
“She, uh, we work together.”
Shelley’s eyes were glacial now. She rose from the couch and rearranged her blouse. “You must work together very closely. I think I’d like you to leave.”
“Shelley, really - “
“Now, Fox.” She was moving toward the door.
He rose uncertainly, but she didn’t look very forgiving. He stopped at the door, which she held open. “Can I call you? Uh, may I - “
“No, thank you.” He actually felt a shiver run up his back. She shut the door firmly as soon as he stepped outside. He shut his eyes and shook his head. God he was bad at this. Why didn’t he learn that? There was a reason he didn’t date, not like Scully. She really didn’t have time because he wouldn’t allow her to have it.
Okay, he’d messed up with Shelley but that didn’t mean he couldn’t try again. If he was going to keep his distance from Scully, he needed to pick someone whose name started with a K or something. Of course he was going to screw up some other way, no doubt.
Still he chose a different bar for happy hour the next Friday.
Mulder was MIA again and Scully was more than pissed, she’d gotten to concerned now. He was leaving on time every day, he wasn’t throwing innuendos; in fact he seemed to be distancing himself from her completely.
They had begun to have a little fun together; they’d been easier around each other until a couple of weeks ago. Now she felt . . . abandoned.
She glanced over at his desk and saw the message light on the phone. Maybe he’d left word that he wanted her to meet him for something.
She pressed the button and picked up a pen.
“Fox, it’s Shelley. Look, I’m sorry about the other night. I . . . I overreacted and I apologize. You just caught me off guard and, and pressed a button you couldn’t even know about. I’d like to see you again, if I haven’t . . . well, you have my number.”
Scully stared at the phone in horror. A snake couldn’t have caused a stronger reaction. Shelley? Who the hell was Shelley and how long had he been seeing her? Obviously the distance she’d been feeling was real.
She needed to get out of here. Hearing that message that thrown her more than she had any right to be. She quickly gathered up her things. He was probably already gone for the evening, though he hadn't said he was leaving. In any case, she didn't want to see him.
Rather than the elevator, she moved to the stairs, hoping that she could get out of the building without being seen. She actually looked around before she stepped into the garage, then moved purposefully toward her car.
She stopped, it
was a feminine voice, but -
"Hi. You probably don't remember me. I'm Holly - "
"Holly, of course I remember you." Be nice, but get out of here, she was screaming to herself. Instead Holly fell into step beside her.
"I, uh, I was surprised to see Agent Mulder at The Pub last weekend."
Scully nearly missed a step. "The Pub?"
"I guess I knew you two were professional, not . . . I didn't mean to embarrass him, asking about you like that. I guess he told you what a fool I made of myself. That woman certainly didn't look happy for me even to speak to him."
"Don't worry about it, Holly. A lot of people have the wrong idea."
"I guess so. It's just when he looks at you . . . Sorry, I'm being stupid again. Well, have a nice weekend." Even in the dim light of the garage, Scully could see her blush, and the look of . . . sympathy?
Scully managed to smile and murmur something appropriate, then hurried to her car. He'd gone out with "Shelley" then. He'd screwed it up somehow, she shouldn't be surprised. But if he wasn't with her, where was he? And what did Holly mean about "when he looks at you?"
She shook that off and pulled out into the heavy traffic. It wasn't like he was cheating on her. She just . . . missed him. She especially seemed to miss those late night phone calls after she was in bed. He'd call with some fact or point he hadn't thought to make earlier or just to touch base and she'd grown used to that. Yes, at first she had thought him arrogant and sarcastic to the extreme, now she knew that act for the protection it was. He couldn't help it if he was also sexy as hell - she almost lost control of the car when she realized what she was thinking. She needed to get a grip.
The next day at work was excruciating. She'd answered another blinking light on his phone. This one from someone named Karen and she'd hung up before the message finished. He must be handing out this number like candy. If Skinner or someone really needed to get in touch with her, they had her cell. She wasn't going near that damn phone again.
She realized he was getting ready to leave and grabbed her purse. Damn him if he was going to get out before her tonight. "See you Monday, Mulder." She headed for the door.
"Scully? Uh, you okay?" He'd been wanting to ask that all day, she seemed . . . sad. But she was really keeping her distance.
"Of course. Have a good weekend."
"No, Scully. Really, are you okay?"
"I'm fine, Mulder." She didn't turn to look at him and he wilted into his chair as the door closed behind her. Shit.
He'd met Leslie at the Old Dominion rather than The Pub. He didn't want to run into Shelley again, or Karen. He still wasn't quite sure how he had screwed up with Karen. He knew damn well he hadn't called her by the wrong name.
"What is it, Fox?"
He dragged his attention back to the present. Oh yeah, he was getting better at this dating crap.
"It's not nothing. Come on, I'm picking up something. Am I rebound girl?"
"What? Uh, no."
"Are you sure?"
"I wasn't seeing . . . " She stared at him and damn if her eyebrow wasn't rising. He watched it rise, but of course it was another eyebrow he was thinking about.
"Who is she?"
His shoulders slumped. "She's a co-worker, well, she's my partner."
"Were you seeing her?"
"No, she isn't interested . . . "
"Does she like girls?" Leslie's eyebrow was up there again.
"Then she's interested."
Leslie chuckled. "I shouldn't have to explain that. So what is your relationship?"
"What happened today?"
"Nothing. She just seemed . . . sad somehow."
Leslie could have been x-raying him then and he wanted to squirm under her attention. Maybe if he kissed her or something, but now she didn't look especially receptive.
"Fox, I think you need to work this out." His confused expression caused her to go on. "With your partner. It's not fun for me to know you're distracted by another woman and it's not fun for you to be distracted. Go talk to your partner. Be honest with her and if things don't work out, you have my number."
"Talk to Scully?"
"Ahh, so that's who Scully is."
He blanched. Had he said her name to Leslie when . . .
She had to laugh then. "It's okay. Why don't you take me by my place and then see if Scully is home."
She opened the door after looking through the peephole. She'd known it was him before she looked anyway, and tightened the sash on her robe.
"Uh, Scully, may I come in?" He stood uncertainly at the threshold.
"Yes." She stepped aside, but offered nothing more.
He eyed the robe and very nearly didn't take that step inside, but she had moved, at least semi-inviting him in.
"What is it, Mulder?" She looked up at him. Without the heels he seemed so damn tall.
"I, uh, I wanted to make sure you were okay." He finally said, standing just inside her apartment.
"I told you I was fine." But she didn't meet his eyes.
"Yeah, I know." He moved past her then, and to her consternation, took a seat on the couch. "I need to talk to you about something."
She stiffened, not Shelley, he wasn't seeing Shelley, but . . . "Yes." She was grateful her voice didn't shake.
"I . . . I think I've hurt you and I'm not exactly sure . . . " He took a deep steadying breath. "What have I done?"
"Nothing, Mulder. I told you - "
It wasn't the word; it was the look on his face, the abject defeat that caused her to sink onto the couch beside him.
"Are you still seeing Shelley?"
"Who?" How had she heard about Shelley? It took him a moment, while she just looked at him. "Oh, Shelley. No. How did you . . . "
"I know you've been very busy lately and I thought . . . "
He closed his eyes and leaned back, shaking his head. "No, I haven't been busy. I've tried to be busy, but something always . . . " He forced himself back upright.
"You're seeing a lot of women?"
"No! I . . . I tried, but . . . "
"You tried?" She asked completely confused now.
He sighed and looked away from her. "I . . . damn it, Scully!" She jumped but he didn't even seem to notice. "I work down there in that tiny little office with you day after day and, and it was just getting to be too much! I thought it was because you were the only woman I saw. I couldn't just sit and watch the way your hips move under that gray skirt, or watch your breasts under that silky green blouse. I thought maybe I could get it under control if I actually went out and, and saw other women. But something always went wrong."
"I don't know what to do. I know we're partners. I keep telling myself that over and over. I respect you, Scully, and I trust you and . . . and I know you don't want . . . "
"I don't want what, Mulder?" Her voice was soft now, comprehension dawning.
"We need to be professional. I get that. I hear the rumors, though, I know you do. And Holly said . . . " he looked up. He had not meant to say that.
"Holly said she saw you at The Pub."
He closed his eyes. Leslie had been dead wrong. Coming here was the worst thing he could have done.
"She told me she had embarrassed herself and was apologizing. I guess for listening to those rumors."
"Shit," he ran his hand through his hair. "I should get out of here. You look like you're ready for bed. I'm sorry - "
"Will you call me?"
"After I get in bed, will you call me with one of your wild ideas or - "
"I'm sorry about that. I didn't mean to - "
"Because I miss those. It's almost like having a bedtime story read to me."
His mouth had fallen open and she allowed herself to peruse that beautiful lower lip.
"You don't mind the calls?"
"I look forward to them. I like the sound of your voice when you're lying on your couch and just being Mulder with me."
"You, you like . . . "
"And I like the fact that you noticed my breasts in that green silky blouse. I paid enough for it. It's nice to know it worked."
He just sat there then, without a clue of what to say. Was she moving closer?
The kiss caught him completely off guard, then when her teeth lightly closed on his lower lip he realized he was kissing her back and, and his arms were around her. And she had on nothing under that robe . . .
She was smiling at him, really smiling. He needed to remember to send Leslie some flowers and a thank you note.