At precisely 8:30 am, a loud knock sounded upon Scully's door, thus marking the arrival of her always scarrterbrained, yet somehow strangely punctual Mulder. From within the bedroom, Scully turned her head, dropping a plastic covered suit upon her bed.
He knocked again and she sighed.
"Use your key, Mulder!" she called loudly, hoping that he heard her.
Scully turned then, and grabbed her hairbrush from the dresser, tossing it into her duffel. Her hands self-consciously smoothed the back of her short-cropped red hair, and she crossed her room to the doorway, semi-anxiously. She sighed. Sometimes, she hated that she felt this way, like some sort of sex-deprived teenager every time that Mulder was around, but she just couldn't help it. She knew it came with the territory of hightening their intimacy,that it WAS a common side effect of a newly budded relationship, but.... But it drove her absolutely insane; that her heart raced the way it did; that there wasn't a thing she could do about it. And it wasn't that she didn't love him more than...well, more than her own life, because she did, with a ferocious certainty, but... But she hated giving that control over to anyone; especially to the man she had to work with, day in and day out. Of course, she would never tell him that. No, of course she wouldn't. It wasn't THAT important, she didn't think...
Scully sighed and stepped into the living room, watching her partner peek his head inside her front door.
"You decent?" he asked.. Scully rolled her eyes.
"You coming in?" she replied. Mulder nodded and crept inside, shutting the door behind him.
They stared at each other awkwardly.
"I'll just be a minute," she told him and he nodded.
The air strained.
Neither of them moved.
Mulder's legs shifted and Scully's eyes darted around. Their gazes locked and fell away, their feet shuffled, their hands figited, but neither of them made any movement towards or away from the other, whatsoever.
Mulder sighed and rolled his eyes. "Scully?" he asked.
Scully shifted her weight again and nodded, "Yeah?"
Mulder stifled a nervous laugh. "This is ridiculous."
Scully nodded again. "You're right."
Still, neither of them moved.
The air strained some more.
Finally, Mulder managed a sheepish grin and walked over towards his quiet, red-headed partner, undoubtedly unsure of himself. He never did understand what he was supposed to do at this part. Was he supposed to take her hands in his? Give her a kiss? Wrap his arms around her? She was still his partner, still his Scully, but now she was… HIS Scully? Did that make any sense? Damn, their new relationship was all so surreal. And strange. Yes, he thought, most definitely, it was strange.
Scully looked away, just as nervous as he. Apparently, she didn't know what to do either.
At last, though, Mulder approached her, uncomfortably, and settled for placing a nervous hand on her shoulder and a kiss on her cheek. She smelled like vanilla, he noticed, and so he leaned in closer, kissing the corner of her mouth a little more comfortably than he had before. When he pulled away, Scully looked down at her feet as if embarrassed. Then their eyes met again, and her hand traced the contour of his left cheek, tenderly. She smiled that warm Scully-smile of hers, and he was undone.
"Ah, Scully?" he asked, softly.
She ran her hands through his hair, threading fingers through the dark strands.
Their eyes connected, their souls melded, his heart stopped and jump started.
“Was going to say----“
She watched him expectantly, half lidded. All at once, he felt… complete. All he knew was that he needed her. He felt more deeply for her than for anything else on the planet, including his own life and so... And so...And so, he chickened out. Completely.
"We've ah, we've got to get going in a few minutes…”
Fuck, he thought, darting his eyes to avoid her penetrating gaze.
Scully nodded, disappointment evident on her face even though she tried to hide it. Slowly, she disengaged her hand from his hair, away from the nape of his neck, and nodded uncomfortably. "Right," she murmured, creeping away. "I just have to um, get---" she gestured towards her room. "A few things. Give me a minute."
Mulder nodded and mentally cursed himself as she walked away. Stupid shit, he muttered in his head. Stupid, useless, ridiculous, no good...
Why didn't I just fucking SAY IT? he silently yelled at himself, dropping to her sofa like a deflated balloon. Good lord! I. Love. You. Scully. Four words. Four fucking simple words. That’s it. What the hell is wrong with me??
Shaking his head, he kicked up his brown dress shoes onto her coffee table; something he knew that she hated, but something he continued to do anyway. Stupid, stupid, stupid....he thought it over and over. Stupid, stupid...
Mulder sighed and reached for the nearest article of reading material, hoping to take his mind off his full blown idiocy, and knowing full well that "a minute" in women time, in “Scully” time, was not the same as "a minute" in his time. It was like running on a football clock.
Mulder shook his head and looked down.. Hmmm... what have we here?
The corner of Mulder's mouth quirked upwards when he fixed his eyes upon the only piece of literature on Scully's wooden coffee table: One Roosevelt Senior High School: class of 1982 yearbook. He stifled a laugh and yanked it up eagerly, perusing through pictures of football players, band members, cheerleaders, and other such high-school related paraphanalia.
"Hey Scully," he called to the bedroom, bemused.
"Hey What?" she called back.
"Did you used to date a lot in high school?"
There was no answer for a moment, as he was sure he had her completely baffled. He could see the wheels in her head turning, her brain making the connection. Why would Mulder say such a thing, she would wonder? Why would he ask me such a thing unless….
Silently, Mulder counted to five....And sure enough, not five seconds later, he heard her curse something he couldn't make out from his vantage point. And THAT, of course, was followed by quick footsteps coming swiftly towards him, then the sight of his skeptical Scully with her hands on her hips, a raised eyebrow gracing her lovely features. Mulder waggled a suggestive eyebrow her way.
"Your senior year, right?" he asked, flipping the page causally. Scully rolled her tongue inside her cheek, unamused.
"Put it down," she ordered.
He grinned. "Say Scully, were you in the band?"
Her teeth gritted. "I mean it Mulder."
He looked back at her, a full fledged smile pushing up the corners of his mouth.
"No way," he said, "This is great stuff."
Yeah sure, Scully thought. High school. My personal hell. Great stuff, indeed...
"Student Council?" Mulder asked, flipping to page five. Scully folded her arms in return, sending him a deadly silent warning.
He ignored it.
"Cheerleading?" he continued, shooting her not only an amused glance this time, but also a suggestive quirk of his upper lip.
She glared at him. Damn it, she thought, annoyed. That's what I get for leaving this thing out...
He grinned even wider. "Let's see... Where are the class pictures..."
Finally, Scully could take no more. She shook her head and made an underhanded lunge for the yearbook, extending her arms to try and deflect it from her partner's pesky grip. She missed, however, and Mulder's left arm quickly found her waist instead, dragging her over the arm of her couch to rest upon his lap, securely. She squirmed for a moment, but Mulder had her, no doubt about it.
"You know something, Scully," he remarked, adjusting his arms to face her. "You're getting slow."
Scully raised a speculative eyebrow and brought a lazy arm to rest upon Mulder's shoulder. Her heart began to thunder out a powerful storm within her chest. Mulder's gaze fixed upon her, and she let her hand run a slow circle near his collar bone, her eyes sparkling at him, coyly.
"Oh yeah?" she asked, skeptically. "Last time I checked, I could still kick the shit out of you."
Mulder grinned and brought a hand to rest upon her cheek, lightly tracing the contours of her jaw line. His pulse began to pound out her name: hammering out "Dana Scully," over and over, and his head began to throb with a familiar longing.
"Well then," Mulder challenged, affectionately, "if you say so, bring it on, Agent Scully."
Scully grinned at him nervously, as if coming to a desicion, and she threaded a hand into his hair, dragging his head with crafted slowness down to hers.
"Gladly," she replied, boldly, and her lips swiftly caught hold of his. Their mouths fused together, slowly, lazily, pulling in and out---to the left and to the right---and Scully's back arched, her mouth let out a low sound akin to a whimper. Oh God, she thought, her mind losing focus with reality for a moment, Oh god....I need this.. need Mulder.... need him... so much....
Mulder's hands moved slowly down the side of her face, down the angle of her neck, and began to run a course up and down her back, reveling in the taste of her on his lips...
Scully opened her left eye, arms still tight around her partner's neck. Their lips reluctantly disengaged, and Scully followed her eyes towards the sound; most likely, she thought, her high school yearbook crashing to the floor beneath them. Well, she mused, at least I managed to get it away from him...
She sighed and focused her eyes on the fallen yearbook.
But the sight that greeted her was not what she had expected to see. What she saw made her face pale, her eyes widen. Her heart dropped into her feet, and the only thing she could think of was, 'oh my god. no.' Mulder pressed a gentle kiss at the base of her neck, not noticing, and she shoved him away, absently. He frowned at her, confused.
"What?" he asked, and she slowly pointed down at the yearbook, confusion washing over her face.
Mulder's gaze followed her outstretched finger, and when he finally saw what she had intended for him to see, his eyes widened as her's had.
"Oh wow," he managed, and leaned down to sweep the yearbook off the floor. Scully pulled herself awkwardly from Mulder's lap, ordering her heart to slow down as she fixed her hair. She ordered herself to concentrate, to fix her brain upon the task at hand, to keep from wanting a repeat of Mulder's touch, of his lips every time she saw him.
It was damned unprofessional, she thought. That's what it was. Damned, fucking unprofessional, and she seemed to be the only one in the relationship who was unable to get ahold of herself when it came time to focus. Damn it. Damn him. She was always so focused, so in control, and now it was slipping away...slowly...Sometimes, she mused, Mulder's eerie self control, his calm in light of their new intimacy----annoyed her.
Shrugging off distractions, Scully cleared her throat and leaned over to get a better look at the picture, a yearbook snapshot of a young girl of about 18, hair freshly coifed, slender figure all dressed up for a dramatic performance, her lips grinning widely back towards the camera. The headline read "Drama Queen."
No doubt about it. It was the late Jennifer Green---formerly,
Jennifer Farrady, Roosevelt Senior High, class of 1982.
"So, you weren't in the band, huh?"
Scully rolled her eyes and clawed at a bag of peanuts, futiley. She looked up at Mulder and sighed, giving him a look that could have killed several airline passengers.
"Would you just give it a rest already," she muttered, tearing relentlessly at the thin strips along the top of the Delta peanut packet.
Mulder grinned. "Nope," he replied blithely, flipping to page 7. He looked down at Scully's hands, amused, and yanked the peanuts from her, tearing the bag open in one fail swoop. He popped a few in his mouth and then handed the crinkled blue package back to her. She took it distainfully and gave him another dirty look.
"I could have done that," she muttered and shook her head, setting the bag aside.
Mulder ignored her comment and studied the yearbook, raptly. "So, what exactly DID you do in high school, Scully?"
Scully pursed her lips and tapped her fingers against the traytable, irritated. She turned and looked at Mulder, folding her arms across her chest, rolling her tongue inside of her cheek. Mulder furrowed a brow and leaned back against the gray airline seat, reaching a hand across the armrest to brush away a red lock of hair that had fallen into Scully's gaze. She watched his hand sweep across her cheek and she closed her eyes, wearily.
"Mulder," she sighed. "Can we just not talk about this now?"
Mulder quirked a curious eyebrow at her. "Why?" he asked. "It's relevant to the case. You went to school with this girl. Theoretically, you might have run across her in passing once or twice. I think that's important, don't you?"
Scully stared at him, dully. "No.”
Mulder shrugged. Scully rolled her eyes and shook her head at him, wryly. "You know something?" she berated, "you are so full of shit, Mulder." She yanked the yearbook from him, swiftly. "You're lucky I even consented to bringing this thing along."
Mulder stared at her, playing hurt. "Why?" he asked, feigning a pout. Scully shot him a look.
"Coincidence, Mulder," she answered. "Sheer, ironic, coincidence and nothing more. This has nothing to do with anything. I'm only humoring you."
Mulder quirked an amused eyebrow and nodded. "Right, for shits and giggles, right...."
Scully suppressed a glare and chose to ignore his last remark. He was damned lucky that she loved him, she thought, wryly. Damned lucky, indeed.
Like a hungry elephant, Mulder sucked down another peanut, grinning idiotically. Before he could open his mouth again, Scully started, "What you REALLY should be doing, Mulder, is going over that witness statement packet you've got in front of you."
Mulder sighed and ran fingers through his hair. His eyes found hers and his arms folded across his chest. "Been there, done that," he told her, and took a sip of the Oj in front of him. "Come on, Scully. I told you. I went over those transcripts twice, I even memorized them. A lot of those statements came from technicians—lighting people, construction, the ones who do their little turns on the catwalk…”
When Scully failed to acknowledge his newest little jab, Mulder continued, “Besides, I know the basics. The lighting guy, Ed-whatever-his-name-was saw the entire fall. Ben Plunket and Sarah Jamison--they were the first to see the body. Sarah---"
"Sarah Jamison---“ Scully interrupted. “That sounds familiar... Was she was the one who claimed to have heard Jennifer's last words?"
"Yeah," he said, distractedly. "But according to this, she said she couldn't remember much of it. The report states that she leaned in and heard Jennifer breathing, then heard her rattle off a bunch of names or something, but she was in shock at the time they interrogated her, so she might have forgotten relevant details. I want to question her myself when I get there."
Scully scratched her head lightly and leaned in closer, furrowing a brow. "You think it'll come back to her, then?" she asked. "Or do you think she's holding back purposely?" Mulder looked at her thoughtfully.
"I don't know," he answered. "But I have this feeling that whatever it was that Jennifer had to say before she died--whatever Sarah heard---was important. Something that could shed light on a few other shady things."
Scully cocked her head to the side and stared at him. "You mean like motive, Mulder? Considering that this is probably a simple homicide or a fall from a catwalk?"
"I don't know, Scully," he said, thinning his lips into a plaintative line. "I think I'm missing something here, it's... I can't explain it. At any rate, I won't know for sure until we get there."
Scully frowned, confused. "What do you mean, you're missing something? What are you missing?"
Mulder reached over and took some peanuts from the forgotten pouch on Scully's tray table and popped one in his mouth. "I just get this feeling that I'm not seeing the connection, Scully. there's a correlation between Jennifer and this girl who rushed to her side when she died---Sarah Jamison. Everyone else stood back screaming. Sarah didn’t. She rushed to her side. Maybe it was because she knew something. I’m trying to look between the lines---to---“
Scully raised an eyebrow. “to read into something that isn’t there?”
Mulder blinked, took a breath, and stared at her, straightfaced.
Scully smiled half-heartedly and Mulder mocked her expression, rolling his tongue inside his cheek. He went on, “ANYWAYS…” pausing for further interruption, though Scully only eyed him quietly. “Like I was saying, why wasn’t she screaming like everyone else? Why approach the victim the way she did?”
Another Scully frown and matching eyebrow.
“Could be shock, Mulder,” she answered. “That is, to seek the obvious before immediately jumping to the most highly unlikely.” Mulder shot her a look but she went on, “To state, simply, different people respond to disturbing stimuli in different manners. Some scream, others sustain an air of disbelief. It’s not uncommon for---“
She sighed and shook her head. “No, of course not, why would I be right?” she gritted her teeth, annoyed. “Fine. What do you mean by no?”
She took a short breath and peered over his shoulder at the packet to her right. She suppressed a frown and looked away, watching her partner think. The whole thing was only a few hours old and yet, already, it was starting to drive her batty. The hour of traffic, the packing, the case---or lack of, should she say….She had only been over everything briefly----VERY briefly, as a matter of fact, but thus far, she was not impressed. She was not even mystified, actually… Just bothered. Annoyed that she was flying into New York on a Friday, yes, but there was something else…
Mulder frowned---as if thinking of something else at the exact moment she had been. “The rattling of a list of names,” he muttered, as if to himself. “Was she trying to warn someone?
He turned to look at Scully again, clearing his throat. “I just think there's something in between the lines that I'm not reading---though there's not much headway I can make until we get there."
Scully sighed. She was so used to this, she could proabably could have had the conversation in her sleep. It was "vague Mulder" rearing his ugly head again, and it was getting damned annoying. "But you don't know what that is, yet," she replied, wearily.
Mulder shook his head. "Nope."
Scully nodded and traced her finger around the edge of a crime scene photo. "So then, I’m guessing you're still subscribing to this theory that Jennifer Green was pushed by...by..." she cleared her throat, uncomfortably. "Someone nobody can see or identify."
Mulder nodded back and mumbled, "uh huh," through a mouthful of peanuts. Scully snatched the photo from her tray and shoved it back inside the folder, cursing silently at the lack of legroom offered in tiny Delta airplanes. Why it was that the Bureau felt it necessary to assign their agents medieval torture seating like this, she would never understand. After all, there was saving a buck for expenses, and then there was just being cheap.
Scully got up carefully and cracked her neck. Mulder eyed the faded yearbook lying next to her carefully tailored pant leg, and she coyly kicked it back underneath her chair. Mulder glanced up at her curiously and raised an eyebrow, allowing his index finger to wander towards her arm, tracing errant circles upon her jacket sleeve. She ignored him and snatched the witness statements from his tray.
"So who dunnit, then, MacGuiver?" she asked, casually flipping through the packet.
Mulder waggled an eyebrow, his fingers still caressing her arm. "Not who," he insisted, lowering his voice, "more like 'what.' "
Scully eyed him skeptically. "You know something Mulder," she mused, deadpanned, "I think you're right. I think I MUST be getting slow, because I honestly should have seen that one coming."
Mulder nodded, thoughtfully. He let his fingers trail downwards, languidly down Scully's lower arm, and then even slower towards the base of her hand. She supressed a slight shiver.
"You know what you need, Scully?" he asked, and she raised her head skeptically.
"I'm afraid to ask," she replied.
He grinned at her. "A walk down memory lane."
Scully raised a rather unconvinced eyebrow.
"Come on, Scully," Mulder prodded, "let's say---"
He threaded his fingers through hers and caressed her palm, gently. His head bowed, his shoulders moved in closer, and he tipped the finger from his opposite hand underneath her chin. "Come on, Scully," he repeated, in a lower, huskier,---hopefully, more romantic sounding voice.
Scully blinked, the corners of her mouth turning up smugly. "Oh give me a break, Mulder," she chided. "You're not THAT sexy."
Mulder opened his mouth wide, as if in shock.
"Liar," he accused, and ran an absent finger along her jaw. Scully
bit the corner of her tiny cupids bow lips and blushed, looking at Mulder
with barely hooded affection. He took a breath and stared back at
her---at those eyes he always somehow found himself in. They shined
softly for a moment, conveying more than words ever could, and then
she broke their gaze to stare out the window, silently. They did not speak
again until the plane landed, but their fingers remained intertwined throughout
the rest of the flight.
More coming soon.....