XXXX Note: This is the TEASER/SPOILER for this story. I am posting it because of a high demand for me to please, for goodness sakes already, POST SOMETHING!!!!! <grin> This story will be taken off of my site in two weeks, and re-posted when it's finished. I don't know when that will be, though. I don’t imagine it will be long, but I'm just not sure. So, you've all got until April 14th to get your fill. Have fun!!!!!

~~~~~ As always, feedback cherished and adored at leiaj@bellsouth.net

 

* Author's note: this is the DIRECT follow up to (in the universe following) "The Way I Saw It" but you'll probably understand this even if you haven't read the other story. Its ok. Don't fret. *grin* But if you HAVE read the other story (particularly, the ending) and you think this story is going to be lovey dovey----turn back now. This is Mulder/Scully tension at some of its highest (and hopefully, most amusing.) Although there IS MSR in here (what did Scully say--you have to know where to look?? *grin*) But I love writing Mulder and Scully arguments (they're a lot of fun) and since we all know that arguing perpetuates... well, making up.. keep on reading...

Usually, I start out my stories with shippy lyrics or a shippy poem to "kick everything off." I try to evoke the mood by doing this, and now is no exception. Recently, I read this poem and pondered the "implied romance" of its ending. Mulder and Scully's lives are filled with such chaos and strangeness, I sometimes wonder if maybe one day, maybe after having had enough, they'll run away from it all. Lord knows I would, if I were them. Thus, this is where the title of this piece came from. Please read, enjoy, and analyze to your hearts content. I had a lot of fun with this one.

Hey diddle diddle.

The cat and the fiddle.

The cow jumped over the moon.

The little dog laughed to see such sport,

and the dish ran away with the spoon.

********

For Jill. Thank you.

********

The Dish and The Spoon

By Jaime Lyn

***

Starting with Diana
Friday, April 23rd,

10 pm

_______________

Thunder crashes. Wind blows... Rain falls... It happens without failure all the time. Life is so simple and easy that way. Like for instance, thunder never argues with lightning over which should come first. Rain never argues with wind over why one comes second. Storms are made up of partnerships that never question each other. Never. They’re sickeningly powerful that way.

"Damn it, Mulder! watch where you kick!"

People, on the other hand...

"Shut up, Scully, just---"

But then again, I hate storms. And I hate people too. People and storms, though both are head to head in a tie right now for my ultimate hatred.

"What was that Mulder?"

Not that I ALWAYS hated people, mind you. Actually, when I was a child, I got along well with pretty much everyone. I did. And all I had to do was smile, batt my little eyes, and I’d get got oohhhs and ahhhs from everyone in the neighborhood. I loved them and they loved me. Of course though, when I was four, I loved everything. I loved my friends and my relatives. I loved my dog Katie. I loved the fire-hydrant down the street. I loved the trees…

I loved my parents too.

That is, until my father ran off with the barmaid from down the road---some bleached blonde airhead that was more chest than actual "woman," and that "Brady bunch family" fantasy of mine went straight to hell. After all, 'Marcia, Marcia, Marcia' I was certainly NOT, and my mother wasn't exactly the picture of stable morals, either. And that's besides the fact that I never spoke to my father again. I never wanted to. I didn’t care. I didn't need him---or anyone else, for that matter.

But regardless of whether or not my father’s an asshole, he did teach me something. God help me, he DID teach me a lesson with that one. Because on that day, on that day that I watched him drive off with Marcy-whats her face, I vowed that I would never rely on another human being for anything. I would never become that co-dependent. Not ever. Not if my life depended on it. After all, look what had happened to my parents.

So I went through college and that principal suited me just fine. A few relationships here and there, but nothing that I would have called spectacular. Then I got through Quantico and it helped me out wonderfully: trust no one. Good. Great. I never did. Next lesson.

But then, along came Fox Mulder---spooky extrordinaire, and I broke my number one rule. I let him in. I let myself be dependent on him. I never meant to, but I sat back and watched it happen anyway. I berated myself for years after that, using my time away from him to "shake him off," like a bad habit, but the fact still stands that I had wanted it. I had wanted it, I had wanted HIM, and if I could have done it over again, I would have done it the exact same way.

And that still bothers the shit out of me.

But then again, that’s also part of the reason that I hate his partner. Dana Scully. Dana "up on a twisted pedestal" Scully. I just… I hate her. Hate her with a capital "HATE" that transcends any common sense or real ground that I should have for disliking her.

And the thought occurs to me (often) that I don’t hate her for the right reasons. I don’t hate her because she’s a flake, or because she’s ignorant or high-pitched and whiny. She's not any of those things. And I don’t hate her because she’s there, and I don’t hate her because she’s his. I mean, know she’s his. I do. And let me just tell you--- right now--- I could care less. She can have him. They can have each other. I don’t care. So, no. That’s not it.

I hate her because of who she is; because of WHAT she is.

I hate her because she stays with him. Because she knows how. Because she’s noble and loyal and everything I couldn’t be---to Fox and to myself. I hate that. I really do. I hate her because she knows how to stand there and argue with him----like right now---like she wants to kill him---yet she retains the capacity to love him without fault---to march into work with him the next day. To stand beside him. To back him up. She loves him and she knows how to stick around. To be dependent on him-to need him.

I don’t understand that. I never could. So tonight, I had wanted to take that away from her. I could have cared less what Fox wanted or thought, I could have cared less about the repurcussions afterwards---- I just wanted to take it away. I wanted to take him away---from her. I wanted to make her heart suffer the way my heart suffers ninety pecent of the time. But now....

Well, anyhow, back to the situation at hand...

Thunder sounds above and I jump---wind howls, and I have to peel a leaf off my face. Damn storm…

Mulder slaps mud off of his cheeks, not looking at his partner. "You heard what I said, Scully."

She narrows her eyes.

"No. I'm sorry, Mulder," she retorts sarcastically, "But I didn't quite catch that last part. Why don't you repeat it?"

Oh yeah, and remember the thunder and lightning analogy? About how partnerships are really like severe thunderstorms?

"No, sorry. I can’t." He shakes his head, clenches a fist, and continues to speak with his back to her. "So why don’t you just NOT say anything at ALL for maybe a minute or so?"

Try to apply that analogy right now. Just imagine Fox Mulder and Dana Scully with News Channel 5 warnings on their foreheads...

I fold my arms and step a few paces to my left, just in time to hear a very loud, very Scully voice spit, "Why don’t you go to hell?!"

I shake my head and turn to them. Although there are parts of me that would sometimes kill for what they have---most of the time---- there are also parts of me that would much rather shoot them and put them out of their misery. ---And mine.

"E-NOUGH!" I call, just loud enough for them to hear.

Inside my head, I can hear dialogue from this old movie I once watched with my mother. ‘I want you to take the yearling out to the barn and shoot it.’ I sigh and shake my head. Sure, you can shoot rabid animals, but what do you do with two fighting FBI agents?

Through the downpour, I can see her glaring at me. Fine. Good. I hope she’s mad. I don’t know what’s gotten into her, but she’s acting like an idiot.

GOD! I mean, what is this elementary school?

I am seriously starting to regret EVER having come out here. I just don’t care anymore. They can HAVE each other.

***

FLAHSBACK:

Diana's Beginning:

Friday, April 23rd,

7:30 pm

_______________

"Is there anything else you need, Agent Fowley?"

Agent Whitmore is standing right behind me, sounding anxious. I turn, shooting him a cordial look. He’s probably one of the more annoying agents I’ve ever come across, but at least he’s helpful---if not just the least bit conceited and overbearing.

"No," I reply, trying on a forced smile that probably looks more like constipation than friendliness. "I just have to do a few things. That’s all."

He nods and tips his head, as if to say, "well alrighty then, little lady. I’ll see you tomorrow. Let me just ride off on my horse, Silver. Hi-ho Silver, AWAY!" I bite down on my lip and squelch the remark I would just love to make, instead, tipping my head in a manner similar to his. What is it with men and needing to act like Cowboys to the rescue? I mean, do they honestly think that we buy all that macho crap?

Whatever.

I turn and make my way down the hall, stopping just short of the gray elevator doors. I look left, then right, pressing the elevator car-call button. I look more like a guilty spy than a federal agent…

Ok, I know I shouldn’t be doing this---I shouldn’t be going down to snoop, but I can’t help it. I can’t.

I remember that my mother used to tell me, all the time, how curiosity killed the cat, how snooping is wrong….wrong, wrong, wrong… Of course though, my mother isn’t exactly the most wonderful example of wisdom and morals. After all, we’re also talking about the woman who once walked into a plate glass door and apologized to it. And another time, my aunt caught her on the neighbor’s washing machine "doing the laundry"--- with Mr. Lawson, and I DON’T mean "the delicate cycle." ---but now I’m getting away from the subject---

The door pings.

Just a little peek, I think. Just a peek. I have the right, after all. I mean, those WERE my files before they were HER’S. Before they were Dana Scully's. And Mulder WAS MINE before he was…

No. I’m not going to get into that.

I step inside and press the "B" button for "Basement" and the door closes shut on me.

I stare at the wall and start to hum softly---not that I hum regularly, but… But there’s some idiotic song stuck in my head. ---some annoying tune that I have been humming on and off all morning, and I can’t remember what the hell the name of it is… What is that show again? The one with the guy and those people on that island? The shipwreck and the… the… the guy? God, What the hell was his name?

You know--- "Mary-ann. The billionare, and his wife…" Or something like that.

My god, what is his name? The little guy with the hat? I knew it this morning, and it’s not like this is brain surgery but…

The doors swing open to reveal the basement.

I shake my head.

Right, Diana. Focus. Task at hand: find out what those two are up to.

Slowly, I make my way down the hall and push open the door to his---excuse me, THEIR office. (Although I smile as I run my finger over the name plate that says "Fox Mulder." Little Miss perfect Scully doesn’t seem to have one of her own… Aw, too bad…) Anyhow, it’s not hard to get in here. --Not that they ever lock this door with the deadbolt--as if anyone in their right mind would want to go poking around in here anyways. Not anyone but me, that is.

Remind me to have my head examined.

Stepping inside, I can see that Fox is just as messy nowadays as he always was---using his desk as a filing system that only he and God understand. Several folders are spread out on his blotter in no particular order, and one of them has apparently knocked over his brass name-plate. Next to it sits his Quantico coffee cup---the blue one with the gold FBI seal. Closer inspection of it reveals faint lip-stick marks on the side facing away from the desk.

I narrow my eyes, contemptuously.

He lets HER use his coffee cup? He lets that stuck-up, overbearing, bi----

No. Stop that, Diana. Fine. That’s fine. I don’t care…

You know, when it comes to decieving other people, I'm fine. But when it comes to decieving myself...I’m a miserable liar…

I clench a fist and try my damndest to keep from grabbing that mug and throwing it up against the wall. Oh how rewarding that would feel… How--No. I will NOT be that petty. I will NOT. I don’t care if she uses his cup. I don’t care. I don’t---I really don’t I--

Am full of shit.

Shaking my head, I force myself to turn away from the sight of her lipstick on his mug. I need to. I need to turn away--- or else I am going to steal the damn thing and smash Dana Scully over the head with it tomorrow…

And that certainly wouldn’t help me any, now would it?

My eyes casually find the bulletin board.

Funny, when Spender and I worked in here, we never put any posters or pictures up. We never had any clippings or headlines or anything. Of course, that could also be due to the fact that neither one of us really CARED one way or the other what this place looked like…

But now I digress.

Jesus, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many useless items in all my life. I run a lazy index finger over one headline: "Alien baby eats mother." And then another: "Modell, murder suspect escapes. Man hunt persists."

There are also various pictures and other useless junk. For instance, right next to this one headline that reads, "Crop circles found in Nevada," there’s a Marvin the Martian postcard, and then, about five inches over from that, there’s a picture that looks like it was taken in a bar---a dimly lit bar, but a bar, nonetheless. It’s Scully, I can see that it’s her, but there are also other people sitting at nearby tables. ---And I think that’s his hand lying on the table next to her. Anyhow, she’s smiling (low and behold, she really is) and she also appears to be blowing out some sort of sparkler, sitting on top of a…a what the hell is that? A snowball? Do they still make those things?

I roll my eyes.

A little farther up from that, there’s a picture of a silvery UFO with---oh ha ha.---Isn’t that just adorable?--- two drawn upon, light grey post it notes stuck in the center. One of them is of a stick figure that looks as if it were hastilly drawn---a man, obviously, with goo-goo eyes and a crazy expression, his hands flying in the air. Underneath it, in neat script (her handwriting, I’m assuming,) it says, without any preamble, "Mulder." Next to it is another post it note with a similar stick figure.--A woman, most definitely, with one eyebrow raised in over exaggeration, arms apparently crossed, and orange highlighted hair. (---Fox always did have a strange sense of humor.) Underneath it, in messy capital letters---Fox’s chicken scratch, it says, "Scully." Both post it notes have been positioned---with push pins--- atop the UFO, next to each other.

Aw. Isn’t that sweet?

Yeah. Sure. Can I throw up now?

Ugh. I can just see them. The two of them---Scully getting bored, drawing a stick figure of him, and then sticking it on that picture---just to see his reaction.---Then Fox retaliating by drawing one of her, coloring the hair a god-awful orange---and sticking it next to his. It is, by far, the saddest, sorriest excuse I’ve ever seen for a story book romance.

What pathetic lives we lead, sometimes…

I turn away and find the desk again, from the other side this time, because I’ve stepped around the woobly excuse for a desk chair he uses.

He really should get that thing fixed.

Anyhow, I am now standing at a fairly good angle to read Fox’s blotter----or should I say, his appointment book. (Like I said, disorganized to a fault.) And I can see that he’s been working on… what is this? Looks like an abduction case… maybe extra terrestrial in nature--knowing him. I shake my head and stifle a laugh. Was there really a time when I gave a shit about this stuff? When I valued it more than my career? I sigh. No. No, I don’t think there ever was---

Hey. Wait a minute. What is this?

I shove away a folder to see Fox’s scrawling handwriting-on the upper righthand corner of the blotter.

"M. S. April 23rd. Scully, 9pm."

Oh no. no no no no no…

M.S? M.S?! No, that couldn’t possibly mean what I think… It couldn’t, it just…

Wait? April 23rd?

I look down at my watch and the date is confirmed--April 23rd, indeed. I grit my teeth and smack the desk with an angry fist.

"Son of a---"

I shake my head and turn to leave the office, whirling on my heels, not even caring that I’ve just knocked numerous papers off his desk.

No. Oh no. Oh, I DON’T THINK SO! Dana Scully may have taken the X Files, and she may have taken Fox away from me, but she will NOT--and I mean NOT--- take away our one and only tradition…No. Not like that Marcy whatever her name was took my father away from me--and my bedtime stories and my holiday cheer and my... Oh no no no…

I stalk out of the office.

M.S. M.S means "meteor shower," in "Fox Mulder-talk" and if this means what I think it means, it means that Fox is planning on taking his precious, wonderful Scully to go see the meteor shower tonight. Shit. I had forgotten all about that and now he's taking her. He’s taking her. That son of a bitch is taking HER.

DAMN IT! THE METEOR SHOWER was OUR THING! Every fucking year! (Until I left, that is…)

I narrow my eyes and mutter to no one in particular, "over my dead body."

I clench my right fist even harder. Fuck!

Think, think, think, Diana. Calm down and just… think..

It’s only 7:30, I think. Only 7:30. I still have time. I can still intercept them…Yes, that’s what I’ll do. I don’t care how petty or stupid or….

I slam the door closed and it rattles the shelves.

***

BACK TO NOW:

STILL DIANA:

10: 07 pm

______________

Thunder booms even louder overhead, signaling that the weather is not going to give up any time soon. Great.

Agent Scully turns to Fox and shoves rain water out of her eyes.

"Are you going to try and push again?"

He doesn’t turn around to face her. Oh great Fox. That’s great. Why don’t you start another argument while you’re at it?

He shrugs. "Why? It’s not going to do any good."

I turn away, disgusted. I don’t even want to know what she’s going to say to that. I don’t care. I can just FEEL another argument coming on.

And sure enough, from behind me, I hear her call, "So you’re just going to stand there?" then, the retort, "it would appear that way, wouldn’t it, Scully?"

Wind… more wind and I squeeze my eyes shut. How in the hell are we going to get out of here?

I fold my arms across my chest and study my feet---or at least, what I can see of my feet through the pounding rain and relentless wind. God I hate thunderstorms.

"---No---" I hear. "No I am NOT going to shut up, Mulder. I am just as agrivated with the situation as you are, ok? So just listen to me for one second. If Agent Fowley gets in and taps the accelerator again, and you and I push a little harder this time, then we might be able to get your car out of the mud. But we can't even try unless you lose this attitude you're harboring and just push the god damn---"

"Scully, I’m not throwing my back out just to prove to you that pushing isn’t going to do any good."

Thunder, lightning, rain. All this water and no flash flood. WHY no flash flood? There’s never a flash flood when you need one.

"How do you know, Mulder?"

Alright, think, Diana. Just think--what was it that my old ex boyfriend from college taught me about cars? Robert whats his face? Oh god, try and remember... He grew up in the glades down in florida… Mud everywhere---all the time. Ugh, what was it he used to say about what to do when the car gets stuck in the mud?

Think, Diana...

"---enough, Scully. And I’m not going to sit here and debate mechanics---"

"---- know that, Mulder? Why don’t you----"

"----never said that you----"

"---semantics, Mulder, so excuse me, Mr. Goodwrench---"

Oh god, I can’t think with them screaming…

"---your voice, Scully, is going through my skull---"

Yeah, mine too, buddy.

Sigh. Oh damn it all to hell. I can’t remember what Robert used to say.

I look down.

My feet are soaked through to the bone and I think I can feel fish swimming around in them. My shoes are heavy and I don’t even want to KNOW what color my feet are.--I was wearing blue socks today, you know… More rain, more wind, more arguing.

"You want something ELSE to go through your skull, Mulder?"

I grit my teeth and stare up at the sky beseechingly. Someone strike me down with lightning, please. I'm begging you.

Mulder grimmaces, wiping rain water out of his face, kicking the muddy tire of his red 97 Taurus, which is, at the moment, completely stuck. The wind is whipping across his shoulders, the rain slapping against his back and forearms. Lightning crashes with the thunder overhead, and he squints, turning to face Dana"oh so wonderful" Scully, once again.

"Whatever, Scully. You do that," he spits back at her, and she glares at him.

He mutters something that gets lost in the wind and rain.

God, how I hate all this rain. Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day...

Hey, when did I learn that one? When I was in fifth grade? No.. second grade... Yeah. That was when Billy Spencer stole my lunch money and I beat him up on the playground.

"This is NOT my fault, Mulder!"

Nevermind them… THINK, Diana!!

I step around them and slosh over to the driver's side, shoving dirty, sopping brown hair out of my eyes. If I ever get this damn car moving, I am going to leave them here. I swear I am. I SWEAR to god I am going to leave them in this ditch. They deserve each other.

"---and don’t put words in my mouth. I don’t appreciate---"

"YOU don’t appreciate---"

Annoyed, I open the car door and bite on my lip to keep from screaming. Keep calm, Diana. Keep calm. Just keep calm. I slam myself down onto the driver's seat and turn the key again. (I’ve tried this about ten times already, but since I’ve got nothing else to do…) The car roars to life beneath me and I push down on the gas pedal. Sputter, sputter. Engine running but no movement. Fuck, fuck, fuck.

From outside the open door, I hear "So what am I, Scully? Your liability? Is that it?!"

I bang my arm against the steering wheel.

"Next time, don't DITCH me, and I won't have to come after you!"

I close my eyes and try to concentrate... Rain, rain, go away...

"I DIDN'T DITCH YOU!"

Is there steam coming out of my ears? I think there's steam coming out of my ears.

"You said you wanted to stay home. So fine. I didn’t think you were going to need to know my every single movement!"

Slowly, I open my eyes and focus on the window. Rain, rain, wind, and more rain. Probably the worst storm in weeks. Maybe even a month. I should pay attention to the weather more often…

"What was I supposed to do, considering your wonderful track record, Mulder? Did you think I wasn’t going to worry?"

Oh Christ, I can’t take this anymore. What am I? The babysitter?

I clench a fist and stick my head out the open doorway, squeezing my eyes shut again just long enough to scream "SHUT UP!! The both of you!! Just shut the HELL up!"

Sharp, blinding rain starts to pound me in the face as I lean further out the car doorway to stare at them. They've now turned to stare back at me---arms folded, clothes drenched, twin dour expressions on their serious faces. Ha. Would you look at that? They look like the spitting image of Tweedle dumb and Tweedle Dumber, --from the Alice and Wonderland Story, god help me. But at least now they're quiet.

I shake my head decisively. This is hell on Earth and I have parked right in it.

***

SCULLY HAS A STORY TO TELL:

Friday, April 23rd, same time….

***

Ok, before I say anything else, let me first accentuate the fact that this is NOT my fault. It's not.

It's... it's Mulder's fault. All his fault. It's his fault that my only pair of Calvins are covered in mud. (And they were damned expensive, you know…) HIS fault that I'm standing here like a drowned rat. HIS fault that my car is now compost on the side of the highway. HIS fault that he lost the AAA card that could have had us out of here (had Diana’s cell phone not died). But mostly, it's HIS fault that I came running out here like the calvalry calling because he can't pick up a phone (ANY phone) to say, "yeah, I'm fine. I'm just going to take a road trip with my ex girlfirend. Everything's ok. I'm fine, Scully." No, he can't do that, now can he? That would take actual THOUGHT, now wouldn't it?

Of course, though, to be fair, I can't lay ALL the blame on Mulder, now can I? After all, it IS DIANA'S fault that he came out to this place at all. (I'm sure she said something to entice him or drag him--considering I had said no ….That manipulative, lying…)

So anyway, it's HER fault that they ended up here. And, if I am any kind of good judge of character, it's probably ALSO HER fault that his cell phone is lying somewhere inside his apartment---instead of on his person. (Five bucks says that she hid it somewhere before they left---so I wouldn't be able to find him..) It’s petty sounding, I know, but I'm no idiot. Though lord knows I'm dumb enough to follow him to the ends of the earth---and lord knows I'm guilty of following him here tonight. But then again, I probably would have come after him no matter where he went--if I knew he was with HER... That unrelenting, petty, miserable...

Where was I?

Oh yeah.

Anyhow, this is NOT my fault. Actually, it all started a few hours ago----right as I was about to relax---and doesn't it ALWAYS start out that way? See, I was just standing there, in my bathroom, about to get into the tub, when the phone rang. And if Diana wants to blame this all on me, then she can blame me for answering the phone. Because lord knows I wouldn't be here if I hadn't decided to answer my phone...

***

FLASHBACK TO EARLIER THAT DAY…

SCULLY'S STORY…

April 23rd, 7:45pm

***

"Mulder---"

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and then had the sneaking suspicion that you’d had the exact same conversation before? --Not like déjà vu, but more like it was an echo of the last time you’d talked to that person?

"Scully, I---I’m not trying to ruin your evening, you know."

No. No I know you’re not Mulder, but five bucks says that will be the ultimate outcome.

"I just thought I’d…take you out somewhere…"

Yeah. Uh huh. And If I thought that this "somewhere" was a nice Italian restaurant with a jacket and tie rule, and not a crop circle in Nevada, I might be a little more privy to indulge you…

"Scully?"

Exaggerated arms splay along the back of my couch as I lounge melodramatically. The problem with the phone, I am finding, is that you can’t bang it up against a wall and give the person on the other end a concussion. It would be so much easier if you could. Talk about reaching out and touching somebody…

I shake my head.

"All I said was that I wanted to stay home, Mulder. It wasn’t meant as a blow to your precarious ego."

Oh yes, I’ve definitely had this conversation before. Different times of the day, different dates, different situations, but the same conversation. Over and over and over and…

"Yeah, I know. I heard that part of it, Scully."

My hand reaches up to brush away a small lock of hair that falls over my ear and onto the key pad.

"Alright," I sigh, resignation giving way to a silent longing. "So why are we still having this conversation?" Water running in the next room begins to sound loudly in my ears. Oh how welcoming… How nice…I think my bath tub is calling me…

"Because it’s the only free time we’ve had in months… MONTHS, Scully, so just… Come with me."

I shake my head and bite my lower lip.

God, how a part of me would just love to say ‘yes.’ To drop everything and go with him. To believe that somewhere, someplace, perhaps in the middle of that endless crop circle, he’ll grab my arms and pull me close; that he’ll whisper in my ear, those three little words I’ve been aching to hear from him for a month already… A month… God, has it really been that long since the ki---

"You know you want to come, Scully…"

Yes I do, oh god, yes I do…

"So come on. Just come with me. Come on, Scully…"

No. No, I don’t. I won’t. I mean, I don’t. I can’t…

My god, what am I thinking? My partner telling me he loves me in the middle of a crop circle? Is that my fantasy? God lord, what am I thinking?? I can’t be THAT pathetic, now can I?

"I’ll buy you lunch tomorrow…."

I shake my head, fighting off a smile.

"Salad and the works at ‘Petes’ Scully, whatdya say? Come on…"

I bite my lip. Stand your ground, Dana. Stand your ground…

"Scully…"

Oh lord.

A switch to Mulder-whininess usually means that he’s bored and has nothing else to do. Arguing is more his style---teasing me is more his style. Whining is just his way of telling me that he’s bored and somehow, in some form, it’s all my fault. ‘all my basketball buddies are out of town, there are no conspiracies afoot, the Knicks aren’t playing, and I’m bored to tears so what are you going to do about it, Scully?’ It just never fails. God forbid I should sit in my apartment and not think about aliens or monsters or HIM for five minutes.

It would never work, but god forbid I might at least TRY…

"Mulder, I’m tired."

Well, that IS the truth. I AM tired. I am… I just. I am. Really. It’s not that I don’t want to go with him, I mean, I do-I really, really (God I really do,) but I’m tired. And I need some "me" time. I really need some "me" time. Alone. Without him.

I hear him sigh and mutter, "Oh come on, why?"

Why? Why, Mulder? Oh I don’t know. Maybe being your partner has something to do with that one…Maybe it’s the X files or running around on empty 23 out of the 24 hours in a day… I roll my eyes and he cuts me off--- before I can even utter the comeback he knows is forming on my tongue.

"Sorry," he says, "I know. I know you’re tired."

I close my eyes. Yeah. Sure, ok… BUT… (And I know there IS one, somewhere…)

"But… but, I just…"

Yup, there it is. See? I told you…

"I just thought it would be nice, you know? You don’t want to go?"

Oh no. Don’t you do this to me. Not the ‘Mulder-guilt." That’s not fair. That’s really not fair.

"Mulder. Honestly, it’s not that I don’t want to go, it’s----"

Hold up--wait a fucking minute here.---all he said was that he wanted to take me out. He never even said where it was he was planning on dragging me…

I pause, then add, "Hold on here, Mulder..."

He breathes.

"Yeah?"

I frown.

"Where exactly is this undisclosed place you were planning on taking me?"

I hear him chuckle nervously and I shift my weight.

"Um, Surprise location," he says, lightly, then, "Come on Scully, just you and me."

Oh god…. I close my eyes. Just you and me… Just you and me, he said. The thought of it sends shivers up my spine… My heart is screaming at me---reminding me that it would willingly give up entire functioning organs to spend a nice, romantic evening with Mulder. To fall into his arms and hear him whisper to me that he loves me---that he---

No. wait. Halt.

The rational part of me starts to take over and silence my heart. What did he say? Just you and me? Think about that one Dana. Think real hard. And just where have you heard THOSE famous last words before? And when have they ever not included the local PD, lights in the sky, and, eventually, hospital beds and saline Ivs?

Just you and me. Yeah right. Just you and me and the local law enforcement and maybe, just maybe, a restraining order…

"Mulder---" I start, but I don’t get very far.

"Oh come on Scully," he whines again, not exactly pathetically, but in just the right tone to make me feel like the shit of the universe for wanting to do my own "thing," instead of going with him.

I hear nothing from his end for a moment. Nothing but the TV until finally, he takes a deep breath and ventures, "Ok, is this a woman thing, Scully?"

A WHAT?

Oh god, now I don’t know whether to laugh or simply punch him in the head. I mean, ‘A WOMAN thing?’ Good grief, did he REALLY just say that?

Ugh.

95 percent of the time, I don’t think that Mulder even recognizes that I AM a woman-- that ‘Dana Katherine’ DOES just so happen to come before ‘Scully.’ So in that sense, it’s an odd thing to hear…from him, anyways…

But then again…

See, on the other hand---there is the other five percent of the time---the five percent when Mulder actually DOES recognize that I AM, in fact, a member of the opposite sex. And usually when he DOES realize it, something happens to him. His ridiculous asinine ‘male rule book’ has to kick in and translate the situation--to put it into terms which he can explain--- Answers that he can understand. Ok, allow me to elaborate:

First, my wonderful male partner recalls events in terms of person and gender:

Situation: Mulder, the man, asks Scully, the woman, if she would like to accompany him to God knows where. Mulder, the man, persists, while Scully, the woman, refuses.

Then, he evaluates:

I want to go out but Scully wants to stay in. Why would she possibly want to stay in? We aren't on duty, the Knicks aren’t playing, DATELINE’s on tomorrow night, and the NBA playoffs aren’t on till next week, so she couldn’t want to watch TV. There's nothing on. And since I’m not around, she can’t possibly have anything else useful to do. So why doesn’t she want to go out?

Thus, having attacked all angles, he concludes with the only explanation he can think of:

.Scully has PMS.

Gotta love the way the male brain works, huh?

Anyhow, I widen my eyes at the wonderfully faulty correlation that I KNOW he must have just made and manage, "Excuse me?"

To his credit though, he responds, taken aback, (as if he doesn’t know what I’m talking about) and exclaims, "What?! What did I say?"

I roll my eyes and shake my head.

"If you meant to insinutate, Mulder, that I-"

"I didn’t mean to INSINUATE anything, Scully."

I frown. Ok, so either I heard him wrong, or he’s lying through his teeth.

"Ok," I reply, rubbing my temple with the balls of my fingers. This is getting more and more stressful by the minute… "So then what did you---"

"Nothing," he insists, again, and then continues, " I just thought that there was some… I dunno, some "Woman thing" that you did in your spare time. Don’t all women have ‘things?’ "

I snort.

"Nice logic, Mulder."

He chuckles.

"So do you?"

I bite my lip.

"No, " I retort, a little too quickly.

"Really?" he replies.

"yes…"

Liar.

"Really, Mulder…"

Liar, liar, liar…

I’m a liar. I’m a liar and he knows I’m a liar…

"So then you’ll come?"

And once again, male logic rears its ugly head: No woman thing? Great! Ok then, for sure you’ll want to come, Scully.

"No, Mulder."

He sighs.

"Fine."

Ok, so he believes me, but I’m still a liar.

Because I admit it…

I DO have a "thing."

I’m by no means a frivolous woman, nor am I a loafer by any stretch of the imagination, but I have a "thing." It’s just a stupid "thing" though, really. I swear. But it’s not a stupid "woman thing." I swear, it’s not. And it’s not a "life or death "thing," and it’s not an "Oh god, I just need to do this every month" "thing," but it is definitely a "thing," and it’s my "thing," and so help me god, when I do it, I don’t like to be disturbed. It’s my monthly, "Dana takes a bath and reads a book in bed" thing, and if it takes every last ounce of breath in me, I swear I am going to do it tonight. I swear it. ----even if I have to turn down Mulder’s offer… Even if.

Well, what can I say? When one’s life becomes a constant barrage of disturbances, (at least once a day, usually) disturbance after disturbance, day after day, there comes a time when that one person just needs to sit down and do her "thing" and not be disturbed. But then again, when that person has a partner who calls her every five fucking minutes for something either nonsensical or completely off-base, it makes it hard to concentrate---On any one "thing," be it my monthly, "bath-thing," or my daily making coffee "thing."

My heart interrupts my musings: Stop that, Dana. Admit it already. You LIKE that he calls every five minutes. You LIKE the sound of his voice. You like the feel of it in your ears. You wish that he’d whisper it to you. You wish he’d carry you to bed with that voice. You do, you…

No. Stop that right now...

And that’s when I hear, "Scully, can you hold on?"

I stare up at the ceiling, rolling my eyes skyward.

I get up to trek over to my bathroom---mostly to make sure that in the time it took to argue with Mulder, the suds hadn’t staged mutiny against me and overflowed out of the tub. I can smell the bath beads from all the way in the living room… Ahh… my monthly "thing" is calling me.

"30 seconds Mulder," I reply distractedly, stepping through the open doorway to my bathroom, feeling hot, sweet- smelling steam pelt me in the face. Oh god. It feels so damn good that I think I may just hang up on Mulder right here and now and crawl underneath the soapy water. God, wouldn’t that be funny? ‘Special Agent Dana Scully disappears in bath tub----death being ruled as suspicious.’

"Right, right," I hear quickly from the other end, then, in a know-it-all-voice-"I’ve interrupted that ‘whatever thing’ you DON’T do at the end of the month, haven’t I?"

I manage a little half smile and run my index finger along a few soapy bubbles collecting on the wall of my tub.

"Just hurry it up," I manage, trying to keep the laughter out of my voice.

I can’t see him, but I can feel him smiling…

I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that Mulder knew I was lying. That he knows I have a monthly, "thing." After all, he knows me better than anyone else on this planet..

I close my eyes and let my fingers drift farther down beneath the bubbles. Mmmm… I wonder if he knows the specifics of it? If he wonders whether or not I have scented oils. If he suspects that I have an end of the month "bath-capade." The thought that he might makes my heart race and my hands sweat and… oh god, that sounds so stupid doesn’t it?

It’s not that I MEAN to think this way about him, really it’s not. I KNOW it’s wrong. It’s SO wrong. I KNOW it is…

But I just can’t help it. I can’t. I plead insanity. He just… he just drives me up a wall… if it’s not me wanting to choke the life out of him, then it’s me wanting…wanting… HIM… and…And well, ok ok, It’s not like NOW is the first time I’ve ever had these thoughts. I’ve always HAD them---I think---I've always agonized over touching his lips---over wanting to run my hands down his back---wanting to kiss his tears away---hard and with little breath in between each press of lips on lips.

But LATELY, I think these things everyday. Wheras once I could shove it all down---my wanting him---my being… in lov-that is, my CARING about him----to the back of my mind, these past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about it nonstop. Everyday. Every time I look at him. Every time I think about him. Every dream that I have, every night.

It’s disturbing, really.

So of course, I try to look at it rationally---to organize the situation into terms I can understand and accept. (In terms of the idea that Mulder is, in fact, my very unattainable partner…) I try to attribute my rising need for him to circumstantial evidence. (it doesn’t work, but I try anyhow..)

Even though I know that it’s not true, I let my brain maintain the fleeting notion that this is current. That I only CARED for Mulder before, and I only THINK I love him now. I try to tell myself that my heart is just confused. Why? Well, because only last month, he kissed me. Mulder kissed me--full on the mouth, long and hard, and I kissed him back. So in rebuttal to this, my brain maintains that I only responded in a common manner---in a typical way, and any red-blooded female would have responded similarly. Anyone would have kissed him back and thought about it afterwards.

My heart, however, continuously reminds me that this approach is bullshit.

Because I know that it was inappropriate, unprofessional--- that I shoudn’t have done it because of the way I DID feel about him before it happened but… But I wanted it. Badly. And I can’t help but think about that kiss-about him---all the goddamn time---particularly, right now, about him jumping into this bath with me and..

No. Don’t go there. DO NOT.

"So what are you saying, Scully?" I hear him ask , undeniably amused. "Would this be a regular 30 seconds, or 30 seconds in football regulation time?"

Oh lord...

"I mean it, Mulder," I sigh, playing with the cordless antenna. "30 seconds."

He doesn’t answer me, just clicks over to his other line.

I adjust the phone to my other ear and tap my fingers impatiently. Tap, tap, tap….

I kneel on the floor of my bathmat so that the rug brushes my knees… Tap, tap, tap…

I crack my neck, blink a few times, and start tapping out the theme song to "Gilligan’s Island" as I wait. For whatever reason, that stupid song’s been in my head all day…Ugh. Have you ever noticed that? One morning you wake up and brush your teeth with the TV on, go from the bathroom to the bedroom to the bathroom again, answer the phone, make a cup of coffee, and STILL get the most annoying theme song stuck in your head for the rest of the day. It never fails.

Tap, tap, tap, tap…

A three hour tour… a three hour tour…

Tap, tap, tap…

With Gilligan on my fingers and nothing else to do, my mind starts to wander towards thoughts of slipping inside the tub… nude and content, bubbles flying every which way, rivulets of water bouncing off my partner’s lean, strong---

"Scully, I’ll talk to you later."

What? What was that? He clicked back over?

Damn. I did it again. Fuck!

I clear my throat with a blush--- even though my train of thought was nothing more than fantasy. Lord, I feel guilty even still. Mulder can’t see or know what I think about him---not unless I tell him, after all, but the idea that I think such things about him still strikes me as very wrong. I should NOT be thinking things like that… Ever…

But nevermind that now. Something sounds strange---something in his voice... Mulder sounds nervous.

I physically shake off my fantasy and revert to "fully-on alert-Scully mode."

"What is it?" I ask, quickly, rising up off my bath mat. "What’s wrong?"

He responds, quickly, a little too quickly for my taste.

"Nothing. It’s just Diana. She and I need to go over a few… things."

My brows furrow in confusion. WHO?? It’s just WHO?? Fleetingly, I try to squelch the bile I always feel rise up in my throat at the sound of that woman’s name. Diana. Diana Fowley. One minute my partner is talking with me and pleading with me to go trekking to god only knows where with him, and the next he could care less. All because of her. Diana. Diana Fowley. Why the fuck is that anyway? God, I hate her.

"She’s on the phone?" I ask, trying to sound casual, though I have to clench my fists to keep the anger out of my voice. Yes, stupid, I think to myself. OBVIOUSLY she’s on the phone, and my, aren’t WE the rocket scientist tonight??

Yikes. Where IS that anger coming from? I need to control that.

"No," he says, albeit breathlessly, "She’s ah, she’s coming over here."

I bite my bottom lip and clench my right fist even harder.

Sure she is. Over my dead body, maybe.

I shake my head, brow furrowed. What? Now where the hell did that voice come from?

"Wait a minute, Mulder," I manage, alternately squeezing and un-squeezing my fist as a stress diversion tactic. I drop back down to the bath mat, slowly. "I thought you wanted to go somewhere. You’ve been hounding me for ten minutes already and now… you don’t want to go? Mulder, Is everything alright?"

He sighs, then replies with, "Fine, Scully. I just forgot about something I was supposed to do. That’s all."

I narrow my eyes. Bullshit, Mulder, I think. Bullshit.

I bite my lip and, carefully venture, in a calm voice,"something that concerns just you and Diana?"

He sighs.

"I'm sorry, Scully."

And thus folks, we ALL know what that means...

"Right, Mulder."

I've been ditched...again.

Calm, calm, calm, calm.....must remain in control...

"I'll make it up to you , Scully," he promises, and I swallow, hard. Diana, I think bitterly. Of course...

I dig my nails into my palm and manage a careful, "There's no need, Mulder. Just do whatever it is that you need to do. I told you, I was going to stay here anyhow."

Bullshit sounds so much better when you sugarcoat it...

I can hear him breathe a few times, before answering, "ok, Scully."

Ok... Yeah, sure. It's all good. It's all ok. It's not like me and my pathetic brain weren't going to have a field day worrying about you all night anyhow...

"Mulder?" I ask.

He sighs again. "Yeah?"

I bite my lip, my heart racing for no apparent reason.

"Would you just…" I close my eyes. "Just call me later---at least so that I know everything’s ok?"

I hear nothing for a moment, as if he’s processing my request, then, "Look---I’ll ah, I’ll talk to you later, Scully."

Damn it! He always gets defensive sounding when I act like I don't trust that woman. --As if I don't reserve the fucking right to hate her, based on the evidence thus far presented. As if I don't reserve the right to be suspicious of a woman who pops in and out of nowhere at convenient times, grabbing him by the... well, grabbing him by the dick when it suits her. And it's not as if he hasn't acted in a similar goddamned way.... in regards to *every* *single* man who's ever come into my life.---Like Brent--for instance---that poor guy I went out with last month. First, Mulder did a background check, (insisting that Brent was really "Lupha, the psychic serial killer" and not an insurance salesman), then (when the FBI database cleared Brent's prints) he called me all evening until I had to finally shut my phone off. And when that didn't succesfully sabotage everything----he came by and spied on me from behind (of all things) a potted plant. (Yeah, like indoor ficuses always resemble hunched over, paranoid, lanky guys....) So, Oh, sure. He can get all defensive, he can get all territorial---"let's pee in a circle around Scully," when it suits him, but when it suits me? Oh god, no. We can't have THAT, now can we? I shake my head, annoyed.

"Wait--Mul---"

But then there is nothing. Nothing but a dial tone.

Great.

He hung up on me. The son of a bitch hung up on me. First he calls me, then he begs me to go god knows where with him, and then he hangs up on me??

And to think I fantasized about that damned, stupid, selfish, no good…

I narrow my eyes and force myself not to think about it. No. No I won’t do this. I won’t drive myself crazy over this. If he wants to go and talk to Diana instead of me then that’s fine. That’s good. I wanted to do my own thing anyway. I wanted to lie here in this tub and close my eyes and…

And what?? And think about him for the rest of the night? Go over that kiss in my head again and again until I give myself a brain anyerism?

Gritting my teeth, I take the phone and smack it down against the tile. God, how I want to just bang it up against a wall--good and hard. If I can only pretend it’s Mulder’s head, then I---

NO! I. Will. Not. Think. About. Mulder.

I won’t.

I won’t and I will repeat this as often as necessary. I will not have impure thoughts about my partner. I will not imagine killing Diana Fowley in a thunderous rage. I will NOT act like some stupid jilted lover.

Mulder and I are NOT, nor will we ever be lovers. His personal life is none of my business. NONE.

Ok, now I need to keep thinking that. Keep on that train of thought…I can do it. I can…

Even though curiosity and jealousy are beginning to gnaw their way up my spine and ruin my evening.

Rolling my tongue inside my cheek and smacking the side of the bathtub like an insolent 5 year old, I rise to my feet and pitter patter into my bedroom. The feel and smell of the inviting steam follows me, but I ignore it. I make my way into my bedroom, shoving open the door unceremoniously. It bangs against the beige paint on my wall and echoes into my ears. Irritated, I fold my arms and begin to pace. I shake my head and sigh as I pass my dresser, turn, take five steps, and happen upon my other dresser. Pivot, 5 steps, sigh, pivot, 5 steps more. I crack my neck and take a deep breath.

Softly, I hum, "three hour tour… a three hour tour…."

I pace a little further.

"Gilligan…"I pat my arms against my thighs, nervously, " The skipper, too…"

Then I cover my head with my hands. Oh god, I think I have just reached the epitomy of pathetic. Hold up-losers, freaks, and people with no lives--I think we have a winner. Yes, Dana Scully takes the cake. She is now THE most pathetic woman on the face of the planet. Let’s hear it for her folks!

Funny how my inner sarcasm sounds suspiciously like Ed McMahon.

5 steps again, pivot, turn, face buried in hands.

I peek an eye out from my fingers and spy my rumpled shirt and jeans--- lying on my bed---right where I left it hours ago---- when I had donned my robe.

"I won’t do it," I mutter, staring at it like a woman possessed. "I won’t, I won’t…"

She could be manipulating him, a practical voice inside my head rationalizes. It could be a trap. She might have a case. It could be important. You have every right to be curious and concerned. Every right to go over there… every right…

Yeah. But then again she might just have nothing on her mind but HIM. Nothing but him and HER.

From somewhere deep inside me, that ugly voice rears its head again.

Over my dead body.

"This is your fault, Mulder," I manage, then make my way over to the bed to grab my jeans. Futiley, my brain tries to warn me, even as I pull my jeans on over my Vicoria Secret’s underwear. I will not do this I will not do this I will not do this….

I say it over and over to myself as I get dressed, muttering, "this is all your fault, Mulder," at least five more times to illustrate my point to the white comforter.

Thank god it doesn’t answer me, though. At least I’ve still got my sanity--if nothing else---though I might not have much of it left after I pump half a dozen bullets into little Miss Fowley’s---

No, stop that Dana.

I close my eyes and think to myself, repeating: I am not jealous. I am not jealous. I don’t care. I just want to make sure everything’s ok. It’s my job. It’s my duty. It’s my goddamned right.

Chicken shit, my heart tells me. Chicken shit, Dana…

Sigh.

Right. I know that.

_______________

*End of Teaser sequence, cut to commercial… Blah, blah, blah…. So, do you want to read more? Heh heh….Well, thus far there are about oh….8 parts to this story with only umm…I'd say 3 left. It shouldn't take me that long to edit (yeah, that's what I'm doing right now…) and when the entire thing is done, it will be re-posted in its entirety. Remember, get your fill before April 14th. Cuz then it's gone, gone, gone, till… Um…. I'm not quite sure when… <grin> Remember, (and this is a totally shameless, delirious plea) send all feedback to leiaj@bellsouth.net . Come on. Give your feedback a good home. I'll name it and love it, and promise to walk it every day… lol.