The Marfa Murder Mysteries
By: Katie Phillips
Written: February 2004
Disclaimer: I know they belong to CC, I just want to know if he even thinks about them anymore.
Keywords: MSR, Casefile
Rating: R (to be on the safe side)
Archive: Sure, just let me know where. Feedback: PLEASE!!! Xfstories@yahoo.com.
Summary: Mulder gets tied up working on a case with VCU so Scully is forced to go undercover on her own down in Texas investigating mysterious deaths involving the world famous Marfa Lights. Problems arise and Mulder also goes undercover to make sure his partner is safe.
Many thanks to Sallie for not only doing the beta work on this
story but for also coming up with the title.
Author's notes: This story is completed and Sallie is busy doing the beta-work on the last part of it. As soon as she is done, I will post it.
"Thank you for coming, Agent Scully." AD Skinner motioned from behind his desk for her to have a seat. "I also asked Agent Mulder to join us but apparently he is still tied up at VCU."
"They've been working pretty much around the clock Sir, trying to catch that serial killer." Scully took her seat, crossed her legs and waited.
Before Skinner could speak further, the door opened and one very tired Fox Mulder entered the room. All it took was one look at him to see that his stint with VCU was taking its toll.
"Thank you for coming, Agent Mulder." Mulder nodded to Scully and took his seat next to her. "Are you making any progress on your case?"
"It's been slow going, Sir. We're hoping to catch a lucky break soon." Mulder rubbed at his eyes with the balls of his hands. He looked like he was in dire need of both sleep and a cup of coffee.
"I'm sure they're happy to have your help, Agent."
"Thank you, Sir."
"The reason I've sent for you both is because of something that's happening in southwest Texas." Skinner referred to the folder on his desk. "In a place called "Marfa" to be exact."
"'Marfa,' as in the 'Marfa lights'?" Skinner had Mulder's total attention now.
Skinner gave him a brief nod. "The area is going through a bit of a recession, and local authorities are trying to use the rumors surrounding these lights to help stimulate the economy. There's been a simple viewing area open to the public for years, but now they've decided to open up a more elaborate research facility and museum."
Mulder smiled. "Trying to find a way to sell more t-shirts, no doubt."
Skinner gave him a slightly annoyed look and continued. "The facility is set to open shortly with great fanfare, and practically every politician in the state attending. Unfortunately they've been having some problems."
"Problems Sir?" Scully was still trying to figure out what any of this had to do with her and Mulder.
"A few of the construction workers on the site have died under mysterious circumstances, and just last night a couple sitting in one of the viewing areas appears to have been electrocuted in their car." Skinner closed the folder and looked at both of his agents. "The El Paso Bureau believes that someone in the area is upset about the opening of the facility. They've asked for one or two agents to go undercover and give them a hand
catching the perpetrators."
"When do we leave Sir?" Mulder was eager to check out the mysterious lights for himself, and obviously had no problem leaving the VCU investigation.
"Agent Scully will be heading out first thing in the morning."
"Alone?" Mulder ignored the look Scully threw his way. "Without backup?"
Skinner ignored him, and directed his next words to Scully. "You'll be employed at the new facility in their information center and gift shop. This should give you full access to everyone and everything."
Scully nodded and waited for him to continue. "The town is very small so it's crucial you don't break your cover. The SAC out of El Paso will let you know the arrangements for contact with the Bureau."
"Meaning no disrespect Sir," Mulder began, before Skinner cut him off.
"I know you want to go too Mulder, but the VCU needs you. Their case is very much in the public eye, and the Bureau wants it wrapped as soon as possible. When you're done there, we can address you joining Agent Scully if the case warrants it."
Mulder scowled at Skinner but said nothing further. Scully shot him a look of sympathy before turning her attention to Skinner. "When do I leave, Sir?"
"First thing in the morning." Skinner passed her the file and an airline ticket. "Agent Mulder, I was hoping you could spare an hour or two this morning to go over everything you know about the Marfa Lights with Agent Scully." Skinner knew how disappointed Mulder was at not being assigned this case, and wanted to at least give him the chance to say 'goodbye' to his partner.
Mulder brightened a bit. "I can give Agent Scully all the time she needs, Sir."
Since Mulder had to return to VCU that morning, he and Scully agreed to meet around noon. Lunchtime came and went, with Mulder unable to get away. He finally hooked up with Scully around 8:30 that evening, at her apartment.
"Mulder you look exhausted." Scully opened the door and ushered him in. "When was the last time you slept?"
Mulder gave her a wan smile. "I got a couple hours last night, or was it the night before?" He shrugged and followed Scully into her kitchen where she had a pot of coffee brewing. "You know how I get when I start profiling someone, I can't stop until I'm done."
Scully nodded. She hated what working with VCU did to Mulder, and was glad he only had to help them occasionally. "Do you think you're close to being done?"
"I think so, but I'm really going to piss some people off with my profile. It's totally different from the one they're using now."
Scully and Mulder settled onto her couch, and he gave her a brief rundown of the case and his profile. Once again she found herself impressed with the way Mulder's mind worked, and his ability to see things that others missed. When he finished, she asked him about the Marfa Lights.
"Scully, they're one of the great scientific mysteries of modern time. They were first spotted during the late 1800's and have been seen constantly ever since. There are tons of theories about them. Some folks believe they're nothing more than car headlights bouncing off the mountains. Others think they're swamp gas or some sort of UFO."
"Is that what you think?"
"That they're UFO's? Only in the most technical sense, that they have yet to be identified. I don't think they have anything to do with aliens at all."
"But you do have a theory?" Scully put down her coffee cup, turning to give Mulder her full attention.
"Of course I have a theory, Scully." Mulder smiled at his partner. "The land upon which this facility has been built was supposedly Apache burial grounds. Their legend states that the Marfa Lights are Apache spirits roaming the earth. I think some of the spirits are mad enough to stop roaming and actually put up a fight."
Scully gave Mulder her patented raised eyebrow. "You're saying that these attacks are being caused by annoyed spirits?"
"Wouldn't you be annoyed if someone built a gift shop on your final resting place?"
"Most likely, but from what I've read, the burial grounds are located more to the south."
"As far as they know." Mulder said raising his own eyebrow.
Mulder and Scully spent the rest of the evening just talking, until Mulder realized how late it was. "Sorry Scully," he said getting up and returning his coffee cup to the kitchen. "I had no idea it was so late. I'll leave you to finish packing. I know you have an early flight and a million things to do before you leave."
Scully didn't want to see him go but knew he was right. She did have a million things to do. She followed him to the door. "You will remember to water my plants this time, won't you Mulder?"
Mulder smiled down at her. "You're plants are safe with me, Scully."
"That's what you said last time."
"I replaced the ones I killed, Scully." Mulder chuckled but then turned serious. "Don't forget our password. Leave me a message and I'll drop everything and get out there."
"I'll be fine, Mulder." Scully smiled. He looked like a mother sending her child off to college for the first time.
"Please, Scully?" Mulder threw her his best puppy-dog look.
"Okay, okay. If I get in trouble I'll call your cell phone and say 'iced tea.'"
"Thanks, Scully." Mulder wrapped his arms around her and held her close, putting his chin on top of her head. "I'm going to miss you G-woman."
Scully closed her eyes and savored the feeling of being in his arms. "I'll be back before you know it, Mulder."
Mulder said nothing. He gave her a kiss on the forehead before releasing her and walking out the door. Scully shut the door to her apartment, suddenly feeling very alone. She took a deep breath, straightened her shoulders and went to finish packing.
After a long conversation with the SAC in El Paso, it was decided that Scully would head directly for Alpine, a town about ten miles from the research center. A small apartment was waiting for her there with everything she would need to start work the next day. It was also arranged that she would check in with the SAC Thursday evening at 7PM, using a pay phone. During that conversation, the next check-in would be arranged.
The four hour drive from El Paso to Alpine gave Scully a good opportunity to observe her new surroundings. She had never been to this part of Texas before, and was surprised to see how dry and sparsely populated it was. She was sometimes able to drive for 10 to 15 minutes on the highway, without seeing another car.
It was definitely not Washington DC.
The town of Alpine was a small one, and Scully had little trouble finding her apartment complex. Her apartment was a small one bedroom and was nicely furnished. She had even been supplied with linens and a fully stocked refrigerator.
Scully unpacked and then went to explore the town. Alpine was a simple place, especially when compared to Washington, but it seemed to have everything she needed, and the people were friendly and outgoing. Scully found it hard to believe that any of the people she met were capable of murder.
Returning to her empty apartment, Scully placed a small bunch of flowers she'd bought in a glass, and put them on a knotty pine table next to the telephone. She had been told her cell phone would be relatively useless in this part of Texas. Unable to get a signal, she stared at it angrily, desperately wishing she could call her partner. After several minutes, Scully sighed and turned away.
The Marfa Lights research facility was about a twenty minute ride from Alpine, over twisting roads that wove their way through some very impressive rock formations. The formations slowly disappeared and Scully found herself traveling down a long, straight stretch of road.
She didn't see another car for miles, let alone another building. The only signs of mankind were the train tracks that ran parallel to the road, and the wires that lay between the two. The landscape was so barren and flat, that Scully was able to spot the research facility long before she got there.
She pulled her car into a parking space and quickly checked her reflection in the mirror. Agent Scully always straightened her hair, but Scully's alter ego had decided to go for the more natural look, and let the waves in her red hair come out. That, combined with her simple short-sleeved blouse and jeans, completed the picture. Scully smiled at her reflection. Even Mulder would have to do a double-take to recognize her.
The research facility was a hubbub of activity as construction workers and painters hurried to complete their tasks. Scully entered through the main door, taking a moment to review the exhibits that lined either side of the hall on the way to the information desk. The desk was large and contained a computer, a cash register and a display of books ready to be purchased by tourists eager to remember their experiences.
The desk was located by the door to the gift shop. It was an oddly shaped room that was filled with a variety of shelves, most of which still stood empty. Scully could smell the strong odor of paint as she approached the desk and assumed that the shop had just been completed.
There was a middle-aged man in jeans and cowboy boots leaning over the desk, looking at the blueprints spread out in front of him. At the sound of Scully's footsteps he looked up smiling, as his eyes went over her.
"You must be Ashley." The man straightened and walked over to her, hand extended. "I'm Stan, the overseer for this mess." He waved his hand, gesturing to the activity that was going on around them. Despite his joke, Scully could tell instantly that he was very proud of the place.
"Nice to meet you Stan." Scully shook his hand and then gestured herself. "Looks like there's still a bit of work to be done."
"That, my dear, is an understatement. We are scheduled to open on Saturday which only gives us four days. Thank God the politicians aren't showing up for another two weeks. With a little luck, we'll get all the bugs worked out by then."
Scully smiled, taking an instant liking to Stan. He wasn't a very tall man, maybe six inches taller than she, but he had kind blue eyes and was quick to smile. He patted the desk. "This will be your domain Ashley. You and Suzie Ortiz will be the two manning the desk and the gift shop. I'll leave it to the both of you to work out your schedule."
"We plan to have the facility open from 9 am to 11 pm everyday. I expect a few scientists to wander in here during the day to use our research library. Normally tourists won't bother coming by until after dark. We're hoping that by having a decent gift shop, and maybe in a month or two a little caf, that we can get folks traveling down Route 90 to stop in anytime."
Stan gave Scully the grand tour of the facility. It featured not only the gift shop and its storage room, but a small kitchen around which the caf would be based. There was a comfortable room for viewing the "official" Marfa Lights video, which Scully was told could be purchased for the low price of $9.95, and a nearby exhibition room that featured dozens of photographs and first-hand accounts of witnesses to the local phenomenon.
Passing through double doors marked 'no admittance,' Scully and Stan arrived at the research part of the facility. The room was filled with computers, slide projectors and files holding copies of all the research completed to that point. One wall was made completely of glass, and gave the researchers the opportunity to view the lights without having to deal with the elements. Several large stationary cameras, telescopes and binoculars stood ready at the windows.
Scully's tour concluded with a walk around the outside viewing area. It featured more stationary binoculars and was littered with picnic tables and permanent benches. There were also plenty of parking spaces allowing tourists to view the lights from the comfort of their own cars.
The tour completed, Stan left Scully in the hands of Suzie, who spent the rest of the day showing her how to work the register, enter inventory into the computer, and create interesting displays within the gift shop.
Halfway through folding her second box of t-shirts, Scully noticed a dark-haired man staring at her. Suzie noticed him too. "That's Carlos, Marfa's very own Romeo. I'm sure he heard about you and came to check you out for himself."
Scully hated to admit it, but Carlos gave her the creeps. "Does he work here?"
Suzie nodded her head. "He's in charge of the entire construction project. Considers himself to be very important, and compared to a lot of folks around here he is." She smiled politely at Carlos before steering Scully into the stockroom. "He's comes from money--oil money--and he thinks he can buy anyone or anything he wants. Too bad he has such a superior attitude, because he is kind of cute."
Scully peaked out through the stockroom door to see if Carlos was still hovering about. He was. He and Stan appeared to be deep in conversation. She had to admit that the man was good looking in his tight jeans, cowboy boots and hat. "Have you and he. . ." she began.
Suzie giggled. "You'll be hard pressed to find someone under the age of 40 that Carlos hasn't dated in one form or another. We went out for a month or so. It was fun at first, but I got sick of him talking about himself all the time." She looked at Scully who was still watching Carlos through the partially open door. "I don't want to set your mind against him. If y'all want to try him out yourself, you go right ahead."
Scully turned towards Suzie and smiled. "I would be happy to meet him, of course, but somehow I don't think he's my type."
Scully did meet him and everyone else associated with the research facility over the next few days. Carlos seemed to ooze charm, and apparently took an instant liking to her. Scully tried her best to ignore him, until she realized that it was in the best interest of the case for her to try and get to know him better. He had asked her to dinner, but citing how much work she needed to get done before Opening Day, they ended up instead, having coffee every morning before Scully headed into work.
Another person caught her eye as a possible suspect. Bobby Durham was a naturalist who had spent his entire adult life studying the Apache civilization. He wasn't pleased about where the research facility was built, and didn't mind telling people about it. He was about as non-Texan as they come, often walking around the facility in his Ramones t-shirt and Earth shoes. He reminded Scully a lot of Langley.
Before Scully knew it, Thursday had rolled around, and it was time for her to check in with the El Paso Bureau. She gave them a list of names to look into, and was told to call in again on Sunday morning at 9AM, to find out if anyone on her list had a criminal record or appeared anywhere at all in the FBI databanks.
Scully returned to her apartment to find Carlos leaning against her door, obviously waiting for her. "Howdy, Ashley. It's about time you got home. You left the facility over an hour ago."
Scully gave him a weak smile, thinking, not for the first time, how much she missed carrying her weapon. She opted against the sarcastic comment that was on the tip of her tongue. "Hi Carlos, I had some errands to run. Do you need help with something?"
She paused outside her door, not anxious to open it. She knew, without a doubt, that Carlos wouldn't be easy to get out of her apartment once he'd made his way inside.
"Concerning the facility? No." He smiled and took a step closer to her. Scully could feel his breath on her face, and resisted the urge to step back. "I figured since they let us go home early tonight, that you'd have no excuse not to have dinner with me."
Scully said nothing, groping hopelessly for a reasonable excuse not to join him. Thinking of none, she gave him another weak smile. Taking this to be an acceptance of his offer, Carlos took her by the arm and led her outside to where his pickup truck was parked.
Scully looked at the door and was thankful that she was wearing her jeans as she hoisted herself up. She waited for Carlos to settle in. "Where are we going?"
"There's a steak place down the street. I figured it was about time you got to sample the best of what Texas has to offer." Scully smiled and nodded, wondering if he was talking about the food or himself.
The dinner itself lived up to its reputation. Scully wasn't much of a red meat eater, but found her steak to be tender and quite flavorful. Unfortunately, she was not as pleased with her dinner companion.
She did have to admit that Carlos was a very good looking man. Practically every female eye in the place followed him as they walked to their table. Unfortunately, Carlos was only too aware of this fact, and acted as if Scully should be honored to be in his company.
He liked to talk about himself--a lot. Scully let him ramble on, using the opportunity to find out as much about him and his connection to the research facility as possible. Carlos had been brought on board almost immediately. He was known for his ability to sweet talk people into making donations. That wasn't his only asset. The research facility had been the brain child of his father, who had made a rather sizeable donation to the project.
Scully made a mental note to have the Bureau check into Carlos's immediate family, as she sipped her coffee and nodded through his monologue. After enlightening her about his importance to the research facility, he continued by outlining his entire life for her. By the time he was pulling up to her apartment building, Scully knew that he was the star of his high school football team, and was offered a full scholarship at Penn State but had turned it down to go to Texas A&M at his father's request.
As the truck pulled to a stop, panic engulfed Scully. She realized that Carlos may have been planning to come up to her apartment. She saw him reach for his keys to turn off the engine, and she spoke quickly without thinking. "Thank you for a lovely evening, Carlos." She reached for the door handle.
"Aren't you going to invite me up for coffee?" Carlos raised an eyebrow at her and gave her a suggestive leer.
"I don't think that will be a good idea," Scully said, looking down at her feet. "We do work together, more or less."
Carlos nodded and looked at her carefully. His frown quickly changed to a smile, as if he had just figured something out. "Playing hard to get, huh?" He leaned over, until his face was inches away from her. "I don't get discouraged that easily." Before Scully knew what happened, Carlos had his hand behind her head. He pulled her towards him, and thrust his tongue deeply into her mouth.
It had been a long, long time since Scully had received more than a chaste peck on the lips, and it took her a second to realize what was happening. She didn't respond with arousal, but with disgust. Her hand instinctively reached for her gun, and when she realized it wasn't there, she pushed him away, none too gently.
"Good night." Scully quickly climbed down from the truck, and couldn't get back to her apartment fast enough. All she could think about was grabbing her bottle of mouthwash and spitting the taste of him down the drain.
Carlos watched her hurry to her door, and grinned to himself. "No one says 'no' to me, missy. No one."
Walter Skinner looked at his watch and smiled when he heard a sharp knock on his door. He knew it was Mulder, eager to hear about his phone call with the El Paso SAC. He was frankly surprised that Mulder hadn't magically appeared at exactly when he'd been scheduled to make the call.
"It's open." Skinner suppressed a smile as Mulder tried to look casual entering the room. "Sit down. What can I do for you Agent Mulder?"
"I wanted to update you on the Baltimore case."
"Has something changed since the 5:30 briefing?" Skinner's amusement rose as he watched Mulder squirm in his chair. He knew he should put the agent out of his misery. After all, it was Mulder's profile that had provided a major break in the case.
"Not really, Sir. With a bit of luck we'll be able to pick up our suspect sometime over the weekend."
"Good work, Agent. I know you aggravated a few people when you came out with your profile, but they're whistling a different tune now."
"Thank you, Sir." Mulder paused staring down at the floor. "There is one other thing, Sir."
Mulder looked up and was surprised to find Skinner actually smiling. He could count on one hand, the number of times he had seen Skinner smile. "I don't suppose it has anything to do with the conversation I had with the El Paso SAC fifteen minutes ago."
Mulder shrugged but straightened up, his attention fully focused on Skinner. "Scully checked in right on schedule and provided us with a half dozen names to run through the system."
Mulder was about to speak but Skinner silenced him with a raised hand. "I've already forwarded a copy of the list to you." Mulder nodded his thanks. "The facility is opening Saturday, with Scully scheduled to check in again Sunday."
Mulder rose and was opening the door, when Skinner called his name. "Mulder, there was a message for you. Scully told the SAC to let you know that she doesn't need any iced tea, but would kill for some Starbucks coffee."
Mulder burst into his own smile. "Thank you Sir." He left the room knowing, at least for now, Scully was safe.
Friday passed in a blur as everyone rushed around, trying to get everything ready for the opening the next day. Stan, who normally was unfazed by anything, was starting to wear under the stress, while Suzie broke into tears, twice, when she was told that the Hershey bar order would not arrive until Monday.
Scully had hoped that Carlos would be too busy to bother with her, but wasn't so lucky. He managed to find reasons to swing through the gift shop at least six times during the day. "He's after you big time Ashley," Suzie had said when Carlos finally left the shop. "You didn't happen to turn down his advances, did you?"
Scully blushed a little and then smiled. "How did you know?"
"Carlos is wearing a look of determination I haven't seen since the mayor of Marfa refused to dedicate a small park in his family's honor."
"Did he get his way?"
"Oh yeah, Carlos always gets his way."
Scully was about to respond about how disappointed Carlos was going to be, when Stan came in holding a piece of paper and looking as white as a ghost.
"What's the matter Stan?" Suzie dropped her bottle of cleaning solution onto the counter and hurried over to him.
Stan waved the paper at them. "I thought it couldn't get any worse than Bobby Durham trying to get a court order to keep us from opening tomorrow." He saw the look of shock on the two women's faces and smiled. "It didn't work. He's just blowing smoke the way he always does. This, however," he shook the piece of paper again for emphasis, "may be serious."
Scully took the piece of paper and glanced at it. On it was a simple message. "Do it and you'll pay."
"Any idea what this means?" Scully watched nervously as Stan took the paper back and then showed it to Suzie. They were probably destroying any fingerprints left behind by the note's author.
"We've had a couple of strange incidents here. We thought they were just coincidences. Now I'm not so sure."
"Have you called the police?" Suzie was starting to look a bit pale.
"Yeah, Henry is going swing by on his way home and take a look at it." Scully was shocked at the laid back attitude towards such an obvious threat. "Can't they get here any earlier?" She asked, trying not to sound too much like an FBI agent.
"They're over at Jake's ranch, looking into some cattle rustling."
This reason seemed to satisfy Suzie. "They'll be here tomorrow, won't they Stan?"
Stan smiled at her and gave her an affectionate pat on the head. "Don't you worry Suzie, we've hired extra security for tomorrow. I expect everyone associated with this place, except for that peace-loving Durham, will bring along their guns."
That particular thought made Scully's head spin. It did give her an excuse to bring her own weapon, however. "Do you shoot, Ashley?" Suzie looked at her with her big, brown eyes. She smiled when Scully nodded. "Pistol or shotgun? My Daddy gave me my first shotgun when I was twelve. Still have it. I think I'll bring that one."
Scully rose early Saturday and showered quickly. She had only been in Texas for a few days, so she was surprised to find she was excited about the opening. She had had a chance to drive around the area, and could see how important, economically, the facility was. It simply had to be a success.
She donned her blue jeans and newly acquired cowboy boots, and slipped on a slightly-too-tight t-shirt before downing a cup of weak coffee. She grabbed a bottle of water and a granola bar as she dashed out the door.
When she arrived at the facility, things were already in full swing. Stan was strutting around like a proud father, while Suzie was standing on a chair, hanging streamers and balloons. "Howdy Ashley!" she called from her perch. "Grab a chair and start on those balloons, will you?"
Scully nodded and was heading towards the stack of balloons on the counter, when suddenly someone grabbed her arm. She looked up and saw Carlos looking down at her, smiling. "Sorry I've been too busy to give you the attention you deserve."
Scully resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "I've been so busy myself that I didn't notice." This comment invoked a glare from Carlos and snickers from Suzie.
Carlos chose to ignore the comment, giving Scully a tug towards him. He bent down so his face was close to hers. "Tonight, when the band starts playing outside, the first dance is mine." He let her go and began to walk away. He stopped and turned to face her. "And the last."
Suzie, Stan and Scully all watched until he left the room. Suzie immediately burst out laughing. "He is pretty confident of himself. If he gives you any trouble, give me a signal, and you and I will head into the safe confines of the ladies room."
Stan walked over to Scully and put his hand on her shoulder. "Think you can handle him?"
Scully nodded. "Too bad. I would love an excuse to shoot that SOB."
+++ end of part one +++
The Marfa Murder Mysteries Part Two
By Katie Phillips
Disclaimer information located in Part One
Stan opened the doors promptly at 10 a.m. and the visitors began to arrive. Most of the people were from the surrounding area, coming in search of free coffee and the entertainment that had been scheduled throughout the day.
Scully was stationed at the information booth and manned the cash register while Suzie roamed the gift shop answering questions and helping people choose the perfect t-shirt. The steady stream of people throughout the day made the time pass quickly. Before Scully knew it, it was nearing sunset. Another couple of hours and she would be done for the day. With a little luck, she'd be able to escape before Carlos spotted her.
Bobby Durham made an unexpected appearance just as the sky was growing dark. He smiled briefly at Scully and asked her how the day had gone. He was a nice man--even Stan had trouble holding a grudge against him.
"I'm a bit surprised to see you here Bobby," Scully said, offering him a commemorative booklet.
Bobby smiled. "It's not the facility I'm against, Ashley. It's the location of the southern--most parking area. All I've ever wanted was for it to be pushed back a couple hundred feet, off the Apache burial grounds."
"That doesn't sound like such an unreasonable request."
Bobby snorted. "I didn't think so either. Carlos and his family were dead set against it--thought it would cut out too many parking spaces and be an inconvenience to the visitors here." Bobby leaned against the counter and spoke in a conspiratorial whisper. "Between you and me Ashley, I doubt that besides tonight and the night the politicians are all here, that there will ever be a shortage of parking spaces."
Scully smiled and said nothing, although she thought he was probably right. She watched him as he wandered off to talk to Suzie, wondering if he was the kind of man whose passions would lead him to violence. She didn't want to think so, but knew enough to know that the most mild-mannered men could be the most vicious killers. She shuddered as the image of Donnie Pfaster popped into her head.
A few minutes later, Stan came by to tell them it was time to close up shop. "You can count the register tomorrow morning," he told them as he pulled down the gate that locked the gift shop. "The music is starting and you two have worked too hard today to miss out on the fun."
Scully's mind went immediately back to Carlos's statement about the first dance. She looked at Suzie and realized she was thinking the same thing. "Give me a sign Ashley, and I'll rescue you in a minute."
As a rule, Scully disliked country music, but here under the bright Texas stars it seemed to fit. She strolled along the observation deck, watching people peer at the Marfa lights through binoculars. The lights themselves seemed to sense the importance of the occasion, and were "dancing" more than normal. Scully smiled at the sight, thinking how much Mulder would enjoy all of this. She really missed him.
She was pulled out of her thoughts when Carlos casually slung his arm around her shoulders. "The music's playing Ashley. That's our cue."
Seeing Suzie nowhere in sight, Scully calmly turned to Carlos. "Let me freshen up a bit first, okay?" She smiled at him so sweetly he had no choice but to agree.
"Go ahead but don't take all night."
Scully smiled at him again and headed for the ladies room cursing the fact that there was only one entrance. It would make her plans for escape that much more difficult.
Carlos leaned against a concrete wall and watched the parade of women entering and leaving the ladies room. He had no intention of letting his woman sneak past him. He was going to spend the entire night with her and, if she was lucky, he would buy her breakfast.
Suzie spotted Carlos and quickly figured out what he was doing. Determined to help her friend, she set out to distract him. She was calling his name when a huge explosion shook the ground, and smoke began billowing from the ladies room.
Skinner heard the pounding on his front door, and checked the clock. It read 5:47 AM. He groaned as he swung his feet out of bed and headed for the door. There was only one person who would have the nerve to bang on his door at this early hour. He knew it was Mulder, he just didn't know why.
Mulder had been up most of the night rounding up the serial killer. He had once again gone against popular opinion, and ended up being correct. He single-handedly chased down the suspect and tackled him, holding the man until his backup had arrived.
The arrest had been made around 1 AM though. Something else must be wrong. Skinner immediately thought of Scully. He pulled open the door and found a very agitated Fox Mulder, grim-faced and twitching, standing on his doorstep. Mulder burst past Skinner, into the apartment.
"Was it her?" Mulder turned and looked at Skinner, his eyes filled with panic.
Mulder's look of panic was replaced by one of annoyance. "Was it her?" he demanded.
"Take a deep breath Mulder, and tell me exactly what you're talking about."
"There was an explosion at the research facility." he chuffed harshly. He paused a second, taking a deep, hitching breath in an attempt to calm himself. "In the ladies room. At least one person is dead."
Skinner's eyes grew wide and Mulder was surprised at how pale he became. "Where did you hear this?"
"The Gunmen have been monitoring the police stations in that area. Around 9 PM a call came in that there had been explosion, and that at least one female was dead. That's all they could get for me."
Skinner had grabbed his phone before Mulder had finished speaking. He gestured to the kitchen and mouthed to Mulder to start making coffee, as he brusquely directed the Bureau switchboard operator to patch him through to the El Paso office immediately.
Mulder started the coffee and continued his pacing, as he waited for Skinner to get off the phone. Finally, after about ten minutes, Skinner hung up.
Skinner took off his glasses and rubbed between his eyes before heading to the kitchen. He poured himself a large mug of coffee before turning to face Mulder. "As you already know, there was an explosion at the facility last night. Ten women were brought to the emergency room for treatment, and there was one fatality. The names have yet to be released."
Mulder turned to go, only to be stopped by Skinner's hand on his arm. "You can't go down there Mulder, not yet."
Mulder turned and glared at his boss. "Since neither you nor the Bureau has been notified about an injury to Scully, we must assume that she has been able to maintain her cover. Running down there now could easily undo everything she has done." Skinner gave him a weak smile. "I don't think she would appreciate you riding in on your white horse to save her, and blowing her cover in the process, do you?"
Mulder shrugged and Skinner released his arm. "Scully is due to check in with the El Paso Bureau at 10 AM. They're going to call me as soon as they hear from her or get any more information about the victims. Go home Mulder, and get a couple of hours sleep and I'll see you in my office at ten."
Mulder muttered his thanks and left Skinner's apartment, knowing there was no chance he would sleep.
Scully felt someone shake her gently, and forced herself to open her eyes. She squinted as the bright lights of the emergency room blinded her briefly. "Ms. Wilkes, the detective is ready to see
Scully nodded and slowly rose from the small couch on which she had fallen asleep. She was stiff and quite groggy, as she followed the police officer down the bright hallway into a small office. There, sitting behind a generic looking steel gray desk, sat a middle-aged detective who looked even worse than she felt.
"Have a seat. Can Clarence get you some coffee?"
"That would be great, thanks." Scully rolled her head from side to side trying to get out the kinks. She had read up on this particular detective. George White was a twenty-year veteran of the Marfa police force, with a spotless record. Even so, Scully had been specifically asked not to reveal her cover to him unless absolutely necessary. He had too many friends in town, and was known to chat a bit when he had a beer or two, which was practically every night.
White looked at Scully's hand. It looked like it had been quickly bandaged and showed spots of dark red where blood had leaked through. He motioned towards her injury with his head. "Shouldn't you have that looked at?"
Scully shrugged. "I will when we're done. The others seemed to need the attention more than I did, so I decided to rest for a few minutes." She looked perplexed for a second. "Just what time is it?"
White looked down at his watch. "Jesus, it's already 8:45. I can't believe I've been at this all night."
Scully's shoulders sagged when she realized there was no way she could check in with the Bureau by 10 AM. What she had to tell them would have to wait until their next appointed time, that night at ten. Scully sighed and addressed the detective. "As far as I know, this is what happened. . . ."
Mulder found the door to Skinner's office closed when he arrived there promptly at 9:55 AM. He gave two courtesy knocks before entering and taking a seat in front of Skinner's desk. He placed the duffle bag he was carrying on the floor next to him.
Skinner glanced at the bag but said nothing. One look at Mulder told him everything he needed to know. Mulder hadn't slept, and if there was no news from Scully, he would be on the next plane to Texas.
The only sound in the office was the gentle clicking sound made by the old clock hanging on the wall. It chimed when it reached the top of the hour, causing Mulder to jump in his chair. He exchanged a look with Skinner then rested his head on his hands.
When they had heard nothing by 10:15, Skinner sent Mulder out to get them both breakfast, promising to call Mulder immediately on his cell phone if he received any news. Skinner wasn't particularly hungry but knew that Mulder needed something to keep him busy. He also knew that Mulder probably hadn't eaten a thing since before the sting operation the previous night.
Mulder saw through Skinner's ploy, but agreed. Anything was better than sitting around Skinner's office waiting for the phone to ring. He returned fifteen minutes later to find Skinner staring at the phone. Mulder was surprised at how apprehensive the A.D. looked. Skinner looked up and nodded his thanks to Mulder as he accepted a large coffee and bagel. "We'll eat and if no call comes through by the time we're done, I'll starting making phone calls."
Mulder nodded and placed his coffee on the corner of Skinner's desk and ripped open his own bag. It was his favorite--egg, cheese and ham on an everything bagel, but it tasted like sawdust in his dry mouth. He managed a few bites, then pushed it away. He noticed Skinner had done the same, picking up the phone after the third or fourth mouthful.
It took awhile, but Skinner was finally able to track down the SAC in El Paso. Mulder watched in silence as Skinner systematically grilled the SAC about Scully. He hung up the phone a bit harder than he had to, and got up and walked over to the window.
"Scully has yet to check in. The procedure they established was that she would check in within an hour of her scheduled time, and if she couldn't do that, she would check in at the next scheduled time."
Mulder glanced at his watch. It was 10:40 AM. Scully still had twenty minutes. "When is the next scheduled time?"
Skinner turned and glared at Mulder, his own frustration at the situation showing. "Ten tonight."
"Twelve more hours?" Mulder jumped out of his chair and walked over to Skinner. "That's unacceptable! If you think I'm going to wait around until then. . ."
Skinner raised his hand to stop him. "I'm quite sure I know your feelings on this particular matter Agent Mulder." Mulder opened his mouth to say something and then promptly shut it.
Skinner brushed past Mulder and sat on the edge of his desk before continuing. "There's more." Mulder grimaced, and steeled himself for what might come next. "The Marfa Police Department is considering the explosion to be accidental. They don't consider this to be a Bureau matter so they have yet to release the names of the victims to the El Paso office."
Mulder's eyes widened in shock, and he was on the verge of another outburst, when Skinner cut him off. "They are, however, asking for the Bureau's help with the autopsy of the woman who died. They are in the process of driving her body to El Paso. They expect it there by this afternoon."
"This afternoon!" Mulder was practically beside himself.
"Calm down, Mulder. The SAC is going to call the agents bringing in the body and get a basic description of the victim. That should give us at least some indication of whether or not it's Scully."
Mulder agree it was better than nothing, and resumed his spot in front of Skinner's desk. He bent over and put his head in his hands, trying desperately not to think the worse. A few minutes later the phone rang. Mulder squeezed his eyes shut as he listened to Skinner.
"The face is unrecognizable? Okay, she's petite and, hold on a second. . . Mulder, do you know if Scully has any identifying marks on her body?"
Mulder barely looked up at this. "She has a tattoo of a snake on her lower back. It's in the shape of a circle with the head biting its tail."
Skinner gave Mulder an odd look before relaying this information. Mulder realized that Skinner was probably wondering how Mulder knew this particular piece of information. He put his head back in his hands when he saw Skinner close his eyes as if to collect himself before speaking. "That should be all the proof we need. I'm sending her partner down there on the next available flight. He'll assist you in wrapping this up."
Mulder raised his head when he heard the phone go back on its cradle. His eyes were brimming with unshed tears. "Is it her? Is it Scully?"
Skinner frowned and remained silent trying to understand Mulder's confusion. "Mulder, the woman they are transporting to El Paso is at least 5'8" tall and weighs, they're guessing, close to 150 pounds." Mulder gave a huge sigh of relief and smiled as he wiped an errant tear off his face. "I'm sending you there undercover. You'll be Scully's backup."
Mulder was out of his seat and heading towards the door before Skinner even finished speaking. "You're to check in with the El Paso Bureau as soon as you arrive. They'll set you up with a cover. You'll be heading to Marfa sometime tomorrow. And Mulder?"
Mulder stopped and turned back around. "Yes Sir."
Mulder smiled. "She got it in Philly a few years back. I've only seen pictures of it."
"I see." Mulder turned to leave. "Mulder, off the record..."
"It might be interesting to see that tattoo in person."
Scully didn't leave the hospital until after noon on Sunday. All she wanted to do was to go back to her apartment and sleep, but decided to check in with the El Paso office first. She wasn't supposed to call in until ten that night, but she knew that back in Washington Mulder would be worrying about her if he had caught wind of the explosion.
Scully placed the call shortly after one, only to be told that the SAC was on a very important phone call and couldn't be disturbed. Scully left a message that she was fine, and that she would report again within the next few days with more details about the explosion. She stifled a yawn while hanging up the phone, and headed for her apartment and bed.
Scully returned to work Monday night, surprised to find the facility looking like nothing had happened. She was certain that the ladies room, at least, would be sealed off from the public while the police investigated the explosion. She was about to check it out herself, when she heard someone calling her.
"Ashley, I'm so happy to see you." Before Scully knew it, she was in Suzie's arms having the wind squeezed out of her. "You gave us such a scare." Suzie pulled back, still holding both of Scully's arms and looking at her like she was proof of the second coming.
Scully quickly diverted the attention off herself. "I can't believe how clean everything is. I would have thought for sure that it would still be a mess."
Suzie released Scully and smiled at her. "The police looked around a little bit after they took all the injured women out, and then told Stan it was okay to start cleaning up." Scully sighed as she realized that all the forensic evidence had probably gone down the drain-- literally. "Stan and I spent most of Sunday scrubbing walls and the floors. Would you believe that Carlos even helped out some? He hauled away the garbage can and all the debris in his truck."
Suzie then proceeded to tell Scully about the swarms of people that had shown up on Sunday afternoon, most of them reporters, some from as far away as Fort Stockton. Suzie stopped her description of one particular male reporter, and motioned with her chin at something behind Scully. "Looks like you've got yourself another admirer."
Scully frowned. "What are you talking about Suzie?"
"Don't look now, but there's this really cute guy checking you out, and he obviously likes what he sees."
Scully sighed. She was beginning to get annoyed by the way the men in this part of the country openly gawked at her. She squared her shoulders and spun around, ready for a confrontation. Her jaw almost dropped when she saw the man to whom Suzie was referring.
Suzie saw the look on Scully's face, and the slow smile creeping over Mulder's face. She leaned over and whispered to Scully when Mulder started walking towards them. "Carlos isn't going to be happy about this." Scully gave her a quick dirty look. Suzie just grinned at her and gave her a little poke in the ribs with her elbow. "I told you he was cute."
Mulder managed to pull himself together as he walked across the room, quite pleased with himself for not running over and sweeping Scully up in his arms. If it weren't for her telltale red hair, he might not have recognized her. She looked so different with her hair falling in soft waves. As a rule, Scully hated her wavy hair, and went to great efforts to keep it as straight as possible.
It wasn't her hair that had thrown him off though, as much as it was her attire. Scully always looked like she had stepped out of a Talbot's catalogue. The woman standing in front of him was dressed in jeans and a simple t-shirt that clung to every curve, leaving very little to one's imagination. The cowboy boots she wore didn't add height that her normal pumps did. The result was a petite redhead who oozed sexuality. The fact that she seemed to be unaware of the effect she had made her even more appealing.
"Good evening ladies." Mulder approached making sure to make eye contact with Scully's companion first. "I'm Barry Livingston. Dr. Barry Livingston. I'm hoping to use your research facility here."
Suzie reached out her hand in greeting. "Hi. I'm Suzie and this is Ashley."
Mulder shook Suzie's hand and then reached for Scully's. She gave a little wave with her right hand showing him the bandage. Mulder dropped his hand and tried not to look too concerned. "Hurt yourself?"
"It's nothing, really."
"Nothing? Are you saying it's 'nothing'"? Suzie was outraged. "It's 'nothing' except you got hurt trying to save that poor woman!"
Mulder looked at Scully who simply shrugged, then to Suzie who seemed eager to tell the story. "Saturday night there was an explosion in the ladies room. Ashley was washing her hands when something in the garbage can blew up. It was one of those fancy garbage cans made out of metal, that looks like a bullet, and pieces of it went flying every where." Suzie was waving her arms in illustration. Mulder looked on in fascination, while Scully stifled a smile.
"Linda Jacobson had the bad fortune to be spitting her gum into the can when it blew. You know, my mother always told me not to spit out my gum like that, but to put it in a piece of paper and then throw it out. I guess she was right." Suzie paused as she gave the matter of how to correctly dispose of gum some thought.
She continued when she realized that she had an eager audience in Mulder. "Anyway, pieces of the can went flying. Some of them caught poor Linda right in the face. Ashley pulled them off, but they were so hot they burned her. Isn't that right, Ashley?"
Scully put on a straight face. "More or less."
"Why did it blow up?" Scully saw a look of pure innocence plastered on Mulder's face. He was playing the part of the research scientist perfectly.
"I'm no scientist," Ashley began "but if I had to make a guess, I would say that someone threw out some construction adhesive or cleaning solution. Add to that a match or a spark and. . ."
"Kaboom!" Suzie said extending her arms again. "The next thing you know they're hauling bodies out of here. The emergency room was overflowing." Suzie put her arm around Scully and gave her a squeeze. "George White told me how you insisted on everyone else being treated before you, and how you helped the doctors in the ER determine who was the most seriously injured. He said you used to be a Girl Scout Counselor, and that's why you knew so much about first aid."
Scully smiled, avoiding Mulder's eyes, and nodded. She was very glad that she hadn't confided much more in George White. The man did have a big mouth.
Mulder was about to ask more questions when the sound of footsteps caught his attention. Stan walked over to them, a huge grin on his face. "Doctor Livingston I presume?" Scully had to look down at the floor to keep from at laughing at Mulder's alias.
Stan pumped Mulder's hand with enthusiasm. "It's an honor to have a man of your prestige visit our little facility." Stan released Mulder's hand and turned his attention to the two women. "Dr. Livingston has done research on paranormal behavior all over the world, and now he wants to study our little lights." He turned back to Mulder. "Let me show you around." Stan led Mulder away.
"Now that's an ass. You'll have to let me know if it looks as good undressed as it does in those jeans."
"Suzie!" Scully was shocked by Suzie's assumption, but did have to admit that Mulder's jeans showed off his assets nicely.
"Don't 'Suzie' me. I know sparks when I see them, and there are definitely sparks between the two of you. I say with within the week, you are lying on your back in that man's bed, your ankles. . ."
"I got the idea Suzie."
Suzie giggled at her friend's discomfort. "Come on Ashley, you must admit he is good looking." She and Scully began walking toward the gift shop.
"Yeah, I guess he is."
"And you could think of a lot worse things than having him screw your brains out, couldn't you?"
Scully immediately thought of dealing with flukeworms and little gray men. "Yeah, I guess I could."
"See, I knew it."
Carlos emerged from the ladies room where he had just installed the new garbage can. He hadn't heard all of their conversation, but had caught enough. There was no way that he was going to let that gay college man near his woman--at least not until he had sampled her himself.
Scully tried to keep her mind on business, as she walked around the gift shop straightening shelves. She had been taken off guard by Mulder's appearance, but wasn't too surprised he had shown up. Part of her knew that as soon as Mulder heard about the explosion, he would be on a plane to Texas. The fact that Skinner permitted him to come, could only mean that his stint with VCU was finally over.
She was dying to ask him about the case and whether his profile had worked, but knew it could be days until they found themselves in a situation where it would be safe to talk at length. In the meantime, she would have to satisfy herself with whatever stolen moments they could finagle.
Suzie walked over to and gave her a brief squeeze. Scully liked Suzie, a lot, but was still having trouble getting used to being touched so much. In that way, Suzie reminded her of Mulder. He was always touching. "Ashley, you've got to go outside and check it out."
"Why, what's going on?"
"The lights are unbelievable tonight. They haven't been this active in weeks."
"Maybe after I finish straightening up." Scully turned toward the next pile of disheveled t-shirts.
Suzie promptly took the shirt from her hand. "The show will be over long before we get this place back in order. Go out for a couple of minutes, I'll cover for you."
Scully nodded and turned to leave, but stopped suddenly. "Why are you so anxious for me to see the lights?"
Suzie grinned and shrugged. "They're really bright tonight, Ashley." She paused for a second, her grin growing larger. "That, plus I spotted your professor wandering around out there. Maybe you could show him where to get the best view." She smiled knowingly at Scully.
"Suzie, you're impossible." Scully knew she should head back to the t-shirt table, but she couldn't resist the opportunity to see Mulder again, even if it was from a distance. "Okay," she agreed, smiling at Suzie. "I'll be back in five minutes."
"Take all the time you need. You won't want to rush through anything." Suzie winked at her and turned her attention to a man at the cash register waiting to buy a book.
The night had gotten cooler, and Scully wrapped her arms around herself as she strolled along the observation platform. The area was dotted with people, some in small groups and others obviously couples. She glanced around casually, trying to spot Mulder. Not seeing him, she walked over to an empty spot along the wall, and putting her elbows on it, rested her chin in her hands and watched the show.
Suzie was right. The lights were exceptionally brilliant as they darted and danced along the horizon. The night was almost silent. The hum of quiet conversation was occasionally interrupted by a loud 'Did you see that?'. Even the crickets and other night insects seemed to have taken the night off.
Scully sensed him before she saw him, as he quietly walked up to her and stood so their arms barely touched. They stood side by side in silence, each appreciating the presence of the other. It was Scully who finally broke the silence.
"Are they what you thought they would be?"
"Yeah, pretty much. I did some research on them before I headed down here. Didn't want to make a complete ass out of myself--at least no more than usual."
Scully was about to ask him about his case, when she heard the sound of approaching footsteps. "How long do you plan on being here, Doctor Livingston?"
"Please call me Barry. I've rented a room in Marfa, and plan to stay as long as it takes to me to get a handle on what goes on around here."
Scully nodded politely. "If I can be of any assistance, please let me know."
Mulder looked down at her and smiled. "Actually you can. Suzie told me that the dance that was interrupted on Saturday night is being held here tomorrow." Scully frowned slightly; she had totally forgotten about the rescheduled dance. "I was hoping you could help me work out the kinks in my two-step."
"Your two-step M..Barry?" She said biting her lip to keep from laughing.
"Does that surprise you?" Mulder was doing a good job looking offended.
"Well, it's just that you don't look like the country line dancing type, that's all," Scully said innocently. She thought about how Suzie had given her a crash course on the dance early Saturday morning.
"I'll have you know that my parents exposed me to a wide array of dance techniques while I was growing up." Mulder grinned down at her.
"Then I'll be happy to see what you can do," Scully replied, grinning back. She sighed. "I told Suzie I would be back in five minutes, so I'd better go."
Mulder nodded. "I'll walk back in with you. I need to get Bobby Durham's phone number. He's promised to take me on a hike tomorrow around the area."
Scully didn't realize how much she missed Mulder's subtle touches until she felt him guide her through the doorway, touching her gently with his hand. They walked into the gift shop together, where Scully dug up Bobby's phone number and Suzie, not-so-subtly, pried Mulder for information.
Mulder took the slip of paper from Scully and tucked it in his pocket. "Until tomorrow ladies." Mulder gave a dramatic bow, resulting in a wave of giggles from Suzie, and left. She watched him walk out to his SUV, while Scully began straightening up the books. "You're definitely in."
Scully looked up, puzzled by the remark. "Excuse me?"
Suzie grinned at her again. "You and the professor. I may have to push ahead my prediction a day or two."
Suzie wasn't the only one who watched Mulder walk out to his car. Carlos had also seen the interaction between Mulder and Scully, and was not at all pleased. Carlos was sure he was a much better catch than some lame professor who made his living writing articles and teaching classes. He was better looking, and definitely had more money. Tomorrow night he would make his move, and before Ashley knew it, the professor would be forgotten.
Mulder spent the entire day hiking the area around the research facility with Bobby Durham. The lack of shade made it brutally hot, but Mulder found himself enjoying the experience. Bobby was an excellent guide, and although rather outspoken about his political beliefs when it came to the Apaches, Mulder found himself liking Bobby very much.
Mulder's only unease came from Bobby's lack of concern when it came to the incidents at the facility. He appeared to be genuinely upset about the deaths, but seemed to think that the bad luck the facility was experiencing, was brought on by its owners.
"You're saying everything that has happened is because of bad karma?" Mulder lifted up the hem of his t-shirt and wiped the sweat off his face. That idea was crazy enough to have come from him. He took several gulps of water from his thermos, ignoring the water streaming down his chin before passing the canister to Bobby.
"More or less. If the Apache spirits have been angered, they'll have to be appeased." Bobby took his own large gulp of water before capping the bottle and putting in back into his pack. He had long ago stripped himself of his shirt and mopped at his brow with his bare arm.
Mulder picked up his own pack and slung it on his back, before resuming his pace alongside Bobby. "How do you do that?"
"I don't know. Only an Apache medicine man or woman could answer that question, and real ones are few and far between."
"Have you mentioned any of this to Stan?"
"I've been talking to Stan since the first set of blueprints was drawn up. He's a good man and I know he would never intentionally do anything to offend the Apaches, or anyone else. He brought my suggestions to the board, and they were systematically shot down."
"Who makes up the board?"
"A bunch of local ranchers, politicians and Carlos."
Mulder stopped abruptly causing Bobby to pause and look at him. "Carlos, the construction guy?"
Bobby laughed out loud. "Oh, he would love to hear himself called 'the construction guy.' Carlos's family has made significant financial donations to this project. The Lights have always fascinated his father. Carlos not only oversaw the fundraising efforts, but as you know, has overseen the design and construction of the facility as well. It's his baby as much as his father's."
Mulder paused a moment to let all this information sink in. He thought briefly about asking Bobby more questions, but thought better of it. He was, after all, supposed to be a professor, not an FBI agent.
End of part two.
The Marfa Murder Mysteries Part Three
By Katie Phillips
Disclaimer information located in Part One
Scully stood in front of her closet, systematically going through her limited wardrobe. She sighed as she looked at her choices. Last Saturday night she hadn't given a moment's thought to what she would wear to the dance, but tonight she did. She knew it was because Mulder was going to be there, but she refused to acknowledge the fact to herself.
After about ten minutes, she decided to dress in all black, from her black cowboy boots, to her black jeans and snug tshirt that Suzie talked her into buying earlier that afternoon. She pulled her hair up in a loose knot, letting small pieces fall around her face . Simple gold hoop earrings and her cross completed the outfit.
Scully spun slowly around, looking at herself in the mirror. She wasn't quite sure she liked herself in this particular style of clothing. She glanced briefly at the black cowboy hat sitting on her bed, but decided against it. That would definitely be too much.
Stan had closed the facility at four, so everyone could go home and get ready for the dance, which was scheduled to begin at eight. He wanted his employees to enjoy the evening too, so he had hired a few people to work the gift shop and serve refreshments.
Suzie and Scully arrived together, after Suzie had insisted on giving Scully a ride. Scully wasn't aware of it, but Suzie was trying to give Mulder an excuse to take her friend home. While Scully was dressed in head-to-toe black, Suzie was awash in an array of colors that showed off her Mexican heritage. Both women were greeted by whistles from the construction workers, who had already consumed an impressive quantity of beer from a large keg.
Carlos, who was enjoying a beer with his workers, immediately went over to greet the women. "I don't remember when I have ever seen such visions of loveliness." He bent over and kissed both Scully's and Suzie's hands. Scully fought to avoid rolling her eyes, while Suzie burst into giggles.
"Oh Carlos," she cooed, grabbing him by the arm. "You're such a flirt. I think the music is starting up. Come dance with me." Before Carlos knew what hit him, Suzie was dragging him out onto the viewing platform to dance, turning to wink at Scully before disappearing into the crowd already there.
Mulder stood on the other side of the room observing. He saw the way Carlos looked at Scully, and although he didn't like the look of naked desire that had shown in the man's eyes, he could definitely sympathize with him. Scully looked fabulous. No, not fabulous. Hot. Very hot. Mulder took a minute to pull himself together before going over to her.
He smoothed down his shirt, and thought again about what he had worn. Mulder was used to dressing in either designer suits, or old, disgusting running shorts and t-shirts. The whole college professor look was new for him. He did the best he could, by pairing his jeans and work boots with an old denim shirt he had brought from home. With the sleeves rolled up and his face showing quite the five o'clock shadow, Mulder hoped he looked like a professor who spent more time in the field than in front of his mirror.
Mulder was about to join Scully, when Stan walked over to him and shook his hand vigorously while pounding him on the back. "Glad you could make it to our little party, Barry. How was your hike with Bobby?"
Mulder dragged his gaze away from Scully long enough to answer Stan's questions. When he looked back at her, he found she was staring at him openly. Judging by the look on her face, his outfit was just fine. Stan glanced over to see what Mulder was looking at, and saw the same look. He smiled and slapped Mulder on the back again. "She's a pretty one that Ashley, and smart too. She came here looking to start over, after her man back east took to ignoring her."
Mulder turned back to Stan, eager to hear Scully's cover story. "I can't imagine anyone ignoring her."
Stan snorted his agreement. "She hasn't said much about it, except that they worked in the same office and that she had been in love with him for years. He never seemed to catch on, and she decided to let him go and get on with her life. I assume it was her boss she had a thing for. Who knows, maybe he was even married."
Mulder stared at Stan. Surely the story Scully had made up was a piece of fiction, not some variation of her relationship with him. "The man's an idiot." Mulder said softly. Stan laughed in agreement. "You're right there, Barry. Of course, his loss is your gain. From what I hear, Ashley has a little thing for you."
"She does?" Mulder suddenly felt like he was back in high school.
Stan leered at Mulder and gave him a gentle shove. "I think y'all should find out for yourself."
By the time Mulder had gotten away from Stan, Scully had disappeared. Mulder wandered out to the viewing platform, only to find Scully being whirled around the dance floor by Carlos. The man seemed to be enjoying the experience, but even though Scully was smiling, Mulder could tell she didn't share his enthusiasm.
"What took you so long?" Suzie came up behind Mulder, causing him to jump. "I left you a clear opening, and you blew it."
Mulder gave Suzie a long look. "Can I ask you something Suzie?" When she nodded, he continued. "Why are you so set on getting Ashley and me together? We only met yesterday."
Suzie smiled and linked her arm in his. "Because of the sparks."
"I felt them as soon as you two were introduced. You could almost see them flying through the air between you two. I thought it was lust at first sight, God knows I've suffered from that enough, but then when you walked her back into the gift shop last night, and you two said goodbye..." Suzie's face took on an almost dreamlike quality as she relived the moment. "It was like you two had known each other forever. That you had just found your...soul mate. Yeah, that's it. You two are soul mates."
"Ashley and I are soul mates?"
"Definitely. I can always tell. Ask anyone; I always know who is going to end up together."
Mulder looked down at Suzie and smiled at her. He liked her and her enthusiastic way of looking at things, but there were times that he thought her pony tail was tied a little too tight. This was one of those times. "Do you have a soul mate Suzie?"
"Of course I do." She looked out at where Carlos was spinning Scully around the dance floor. "He's just not ready yet."
The music stopped and Scully made her way over to where Mulder and Suzie were standing, Carlos right behind her. There was an uncomfortable moment when greetings were exchanged, and the two men's testosterone levels rose as they vied for Ashley's attention. The music started again and recognizing the song, Mulder grabbed Scully's hand and pulled her out onto the dance floor.
"The two-step. You promised." He was smiling at her as he took her in his arms.
"I've never really done this before." Scully was staring at her feet, a frightened expression on her face.
"Not to worry, you're in good hands." Mulder was right. Before she knew it, Scully was dancing like a pro. The song ended and seamlessly led into a slow one. Scully looked up and saw Mulder's intense gaze. She looked down, suddenly shy, and gasped as he pulled her into a tight embrace. Slowly they began to move around the dance floor as one.
They didn't speak. The song ended too quickly, and Scully found herself suddenly feeling a bit flushed. She excused herself to the ladies room, to splash water on her face and try and regain her self-control. It didn't matter how good it felt to be held by Mulder, or that they were acting undercover, they were still on a case, and they couldn't very well follow up leads if they spent the entire evening gazing into each other's eyes.
Scully leaned against the sink and looked into the mirror, surprised at the flushed face that stared back at her. If she didn't know better, she would say she looked aroused. She couldn't be aroused by Mulder so easily, could she?
Mulder sensed her unease, and backed off a bit when she returned from the ladies room. He too, was surprised by the depth of feelings brought on by that simple dance, although he was more likely than Scully to act on them.
He handed her a cup of punch, and they wandered around the viewing platform, watching the other couples dance and occasionally checking the Lights. The Lights themselves appeared to enjoy the party atmosphere, as they joined in the music and danced around the sky.
It was after watching the Lights, that Scully spotted Carlos out of the corner of her eye. He had a look of determination on his face, and Scully feared the slow song that had just begun had inspired him to seek her out.
"Christ, here he comes again," she muttered under her breath.
Mulder frowned. "I think I have an idea that might convince Mr. Romance that you aren't interested in him."
Scully brightened considerably at the thought. "You do?"
Mulder paused a second, as if considering what he was going to say. "Yeah, I think it might work, but first I need to know two things."
"'Do you trust me?' and 'Are you armed?'"
"Of course I do, and no, I left my weapon at my apartment."
"Perfect, come with me."
Carlos saw Mulder and Scully go around the corner, and promptly followed them. It took a minute to spot them. When he did, he stopped dead in his tracks. Scully was sitting on a lower portion of the stone fence, with Mulder firmly situated between her legs. He was holding her head in his hands, and was kissing her with a passion that Carlos had rarely seen.
He watched as Mulder pulled back, and Scully looked at him with eyes so full of wonder, that Carlos knew he had lost her. He sighed and shrugged, and turned around, wondering if maybe Suzie would like to dance with him again.
"Is he gone?" Mulder leaned his forehead against Scully's. She seemed to be having trouble catching her breath. Mulder refrained from smirking, and repeated his question. "Is he gone?"
Scully snapped out of her mini-trance, and looked over Mulder's shoulder. No sign of Carlos. Mulder's plan seemed to have worked, but at what cost? "What was that?" she whispered hoarsely, pushing him back slightly with her right hand while clinging for dear life to the fence with her left.
Mulder loosened his grip on his partner, and placed his hands gently on her hips. "I realize that it may have been a long time for you, but I thought you would at least remember what a kiss was."
Scully tried her best to glare at him and failed. "I know what it was. Was it really necessary?"
Mulder put on a look of mock dismay on his face. "It worked, didn't it? I'm sorry if it was so awful for you."
"It wasn't awful. It was .." Scully looked behind her and saw several people walking past beaming at them. Apparently Mulder's little demonstration was seen by more than just Carlos. "Great, now everyone is going to think I'm easy."
Mulder chuckled and leaned his head down until their foreheads touched again. He spoke so softly, Scully could barely hear him. "You're not easy Scully, but it's okay if Ashley is." He smiled at her. "I did have ulterior motives though, besides the obvious." He chuckled when Scully poked him in the ribs. "If everyone thinks that Barry and Ashley are sleeping together, it will give us the excuse to be alone together to work on this case."
Scully pulled back from Mulder, and looked at him for a moment or two. She searched his eyes, which were surprisingly neutral, and realized that he was letting the other, more forbidden aspect, of 'the kiss' go, for now. She put her hand up and stroked his face, and dropping her voice slightly lower, whispered: "Barry, I think you should take me home now."
The neutral look in Mulder's eyes disappeared immediately, followed by what Scully thought might have been desire. They became dark and intense... "I thought you would never ask."
During the twenty minute drive to Scully's apartment, Mulder filled her in on his serial killer case. As he had predicted, his profile annoyed his superiors until it resulted in a major break. After figuring out who the killer was, it was only a matter of time before they brought him in.
"So, who did the stake out?" Scully asked, glad to be discussing something safe.
"About half of the VCU was spread out in the warehouses."
"That's they caught him, in the warehouses?"
"Not exactly." Mulder got a bit quiet.
"What do you mean, 'not exactly'? Where did they catch him?"
"Actually, they didn't catch him. I did."
"You did, alone? After pitching a fit about me coming down here without backup, you go chasing after a serial killer alone?"
Mulder chuckled at her. "You are so cute when you mother me Scully. What can I tell you, I followed a hunch, and I was right."
"Idiot," Scully muttered, although she was grudgingly proud of her partner. "What good would you do me dead?"
"Dead? Don't talk to me about dead, Dana Katherine Scully. How do you think I felt when I heard about the explosion down here, and learned that one woman was dead? The Marfa Police Department didn't feel it was necessary to involve the FBI, so I had no idea. . . " His voice trailed off and Scully's heart clenched.
She reached over with her left hand and grabbed his right, giving it a squeeze. "I half expected you to fly out here waving your gun and your badge, as soon as you heard the news."
Mulder snorted and turned to look at her, his eyes telling her just how worried he had been. "I was going to, before Skinner talked me out of it. He reminded me that you would have kicked my badge-waving ass, if I had broken your cover."
"Damn right." Scully gave him a smile. "I'm still not sure what caused the explosion, and I don't know if we'll ever find out. The Police tried to be helpful, and let Stan clean up the mess as soon as the victims had been removed. They did a good job--not one piece of forensic evidence to be found." She pointed out the window. "See that apartment complex on the right? Go into the second driveway. My place is number #1013."
Before Mulder followed Scully toward her apartment, he stopped at the trunk of the car and grabbed a large briefcase. Scully looked at the bag and then at Mulder. "You were rather sure of yourself, weren't you Barry?"
Mulder walked up to Scully and slung his arm around her shoulders. "I was an Eagle Scout, Ashley. I always come prepared."
Once safely inside Scully's apartment, Mulder put the briefcase on her kitchen table and opened it. He began pulling out file folders, blueprints and several shiny black and green bags.
Scully peered over his shoulder. "Is this the information I requested?" She leaned around Mulder to pick up a folder, and one of the shiny bags caught her eye. She ignored the folder and grabbed it. "It isn't, is it? Tell me it isn't."
Mulder straightened up, and watched as his partner eyed the bag like a kid in a candy store. "Did you really bring me Starbucks Coffee, Mulder?" Reluctantly she looked away from the bag, and beamed at him.
"Scully, you're impossible to deal with until you've had at least two cups of that stuff. I figured if I brought you some, we could get this case solved in half the time."
"Thank you Mulder." Scully threw her arms around him and hugged him so enthusiastically that Mulder was taken slightly aback. "Gee Scully if I had known, I would have bought you a case of the stuff years ago."
Scully poked him and headed for the kitchen. "I'll start the coffee while you set us up on the couch."
Ten minutes later Scully was savoring her coffee, as she and Mulder slowly went through her list of potential suspects. It was a short list, consisting of Bobby Durham, Carlos, Stan, Suzie, George White, and those few construction workers who had been on the job since day one.
"Your little boyfriend has quite the history Scully." Mulder pulled out a rather large file and handed it to her.
"Who? Carlos?" She began to the summary Mulder had written up. Carlos had been arrested several times for displaying his rather violent temper, but each time the case had been dropped. Scully noticed that Mulder had written 'father = money = power' along the edge of the paper.
"What did you mean by that?" She looked up, only to find Mulder looking at her with a wide grin on his face. "What are you looking at Mulder?"
Scully looked down at herself and then around her. "Do I have something on my face?" She put down the folder, and skimmed her hands across her face and hair, looking for the object of Mulder's mirth.
Scully was getting annoyed now. "Care to share with the rest of the class, Mulder?"
"I know you don't want to talk about this right now, and knowing you, you may never want to talk about it, but I gotta tell you something Scully."
Scully glared at him. "Tell me what?"
Mulder leaned over to get a bit closer. "I've been with my fair share of women Scully, but that kiss was the hottest, most passionate one I have ever had. That's all." He sat back and grinned at her, as he watched pink rise from her collarbone to her head. God, she was sexy when she blushed and was angry.
"You want to talk about it?" Scully threw the folders aside and got up off the couch. "Okay, let's talk about it." She turned and faced Mulder who had followed her off the couch. "Why here, why now? We've worked together for the better part of a decade, been on countless assignments, and have even played husband and wife before, but you pick here in nowhereland Texas, to finally kiss me."
Mulder knew Scully was gearing for a fight, and deliberately kept his voice calm. "Are you telling me you think I should have kissed you before this, Scully?"
"Don't put words in my mouth, Mulder!" She was really working up a full head of steam now. "I know why now and not then. It's pretty obvious really. Prim and proper Dana Scully doesn't do a thing for you, does she?" Mulder just stared at her, his mouth open, unable to believe what he was hearing. He wisely decided to keep silent as she continued. "Ashley, though, likes to show off her assets a bit more. Is that what finally caught your attention, Mulder?"
Mulder took a deep breath and kept his voice calm even though his own anger was beginning to rise. "You are both of those women, Scully. Can't you see that? When you became Ashley you simply gave into your more rebellious side, that's all. You've done it before." The words came out before Mulder could stop them, and Scully's mind raced back through time, to her little jaunt to Philadelphia, and the tattoo at the base of her spine.
Knowing he had to do something, Mulder stepped over to where Scully sat, and gently took her by the shoulders. She shrugged him off, not ready to give up the fight yet. "So I'm acting out of rebellion? Against whom, you? Are you saying I dressed like this so I'd have an excuse to flaunt myself in front of you?"
"You didn't even know I would be here, Scully."
"Come on Mulder, I doubt there is even one person in the DC Bureau who thought for a moment that you would let me handle this case all on my own. I knew you would find a way to get down here, and you knew it too."
Mulder was shocked by her words, but had to admit she was right. "You're right Scully, but not for the reasons you think. I know you're capable, and that you could easily manage this case on your own. What I can't manage, is being away from you for weeks at a time."
Scully's head was spinning. Did she really dress the way she had on this case, to attract Mulder's attention when he eventually arrived? Did Mulder mean what he said about not being able to manage without her? And what about that kiss?
Mulder silently watched as Scully pulled herself together. She took a couple of deep breaths before addressing him. "I'm not sure what's going on here Mulder, but I do know it's interfering with this case. I think you should leave the files here and go."
Mulder said nothing as he watched her force her feelings down until they disappeared. He picked up his briefcase, and left without a word.
Scully stared at the closed door a long, long time, wondering if she had just blocked the pathway to any chance of a real relationship with Mulder. Tears threatened to spill, but she ignored them as she turned back to the couch, the folders and her now very cold coffee.
Scully opened her eyes and looked at her alarm clock. She slowly closed them again, only to have them snap open as she realized how late she was. It was already past eight, and she was supposed to be at work at nine.
"Damn!" she said to the empty room, as she began randomly pulling clothes out of her dresser and putting them on. She ran a brush through her hair and slapped on some makeup, and was out the door in under fifteen minutes.
Thank goodness there was a coffee shop on the way to work. She had been looking forward to a cup of the coffee Mulder had brought her, but there simply wasn't time.
Mulder. What was she going to do about him? Scully had been up half the night trying to figure out exactly why she had gotten so mad at him. So he found her attractive in clothes other than what she wore to work. So what? It wasn't like he didn't know it was her under the tight tops. Scully was always impressed by the way Mulder treated her as an equal, but for longer than she could remember, she also lamented the fact that he never seemed to realize that she was a real woman, as well. He finally does so, and she practically takes his head off.
If it weren't for their undercover assignment, Scully knew that Mulder would avoid her like the plague for a couple of days, and probably even stop the innuendos for a while. Unfortunately, they had chosen to play the parts of potential lovers, and in doing so, they would have to continue to interact on a more personal level, at least until the case was resolved.
Scully was beginning to realize that she was a bit leery of Mulder's attention, and more than a little afraid of her reaction to it. However, part of her couldn't wait for Mulder to resume his role of Barry Livingston.
Suzie smiled at her when she walked into the gift shop, still slightly bleary-eyed. "Somebody didn't get much sleep last night. I want to hear all about it."
Scully frowned at her for a second, before realizing that Suzie thought her tired appearance was brought on by an exciting night of sex with Barry. "I wish," Scully thought to herself, as she poured another cup of coffee. "Sorry to disappoint you, Suzie." She closed her eyes in near-bliss as she sipped her coffee. Another three or four cups, and she might feel human again. "Barry only stayed for an hour or so."
Suzie joined her, but made a cup of herbal tea instead. "Good for you. Don't be too easy. Make him work for it." She dunked her teabag in and out of her cup, before casually throwing it into the trashcan. Scully looked at her friend thinking how much she would miss Suzie when she returned to DC. It had been a long time, probably before Missy was killed, since she had female companionship her own age.
"So what did I miss?" Scully leaned against the counter and looked at her friend.
"Nothing too exciting. Carlos was pretty pissed off when he spotted you two making out like a couple of horny teenagers." Scully blushed with the memory. "He was angry and wanted to take it out on someone, so he came looking for me."
"I'm sorry Suzie." Scully squeezed Suzie's hand.
"Oh don't be. He took it out on me the best way possible...that was probably the best sex I've had in over a year. First he. . ."
Suzie was interrupted by the sounds of voices, as someone came in through the main entrance. She and Scully looked at each other, and went out to see who it was.
Stan was showing a middle-aged man around. When he spotted the two women, he guided his guest in their direction. "Ladies, I would like you to meet Joe Iron Horse. He's an Apache medicine man. I've asked him to take a look around, and tell me whether or not we need to have the Apache cleansing ritual done."
Scully didn't notice the small scowl on Suzie's face as she shook the man's hand. "What's a cleansing ritual?"
Joe Iron Horse smiled at her. He was around fifty, with straight black hair pulled back into a ponytail, and a face that told Scully he had spent most of his life outdoors. "The cleansing ritual will remove bad spirits. Stan thinks that might put an end to the problems y'all have had here."
Scully had met a few Native Americans in her day, but never one that said 'y'all'. She tried to hide her surprise at his accent. "Sounds very interesting. Are you going to do it?"
Joe Iron Horse looked at her and Stan, and nodded. "I can do it this afternoon, after Stan and I work out a price." Stan smiled enthusiastically, and smacked Joe on the back. "Excellent, excellent. Let's go back to my office and work out all of the details."
Suzie and Scully watched them leave before returning to the stock room. Scully noticed that the ever-effervescent Suzie was quiet. "You don't like him, do you?" Scully asked, as she poured another cup of coffee.
Suzie shook her head. "Oh I like Joe just fine--it's his claim to being a medicine man that bothers me." She saw the confused look on Scully's face and continued. "He knows the ritual, but he isn't a real medicine man. He does his 'act' mainly for the tourists."
"How do you know?"
"My mother was an Apache, and she taught me their ways. She kept up the traditions even though she married a Mexican." Suzie shook her head as if to clear herself out of her selfinduced funk. "Even though it will probably do no good, you should watch Joe do his thing this afternoon. He puts on an entertaining little performance."
"I think I'll do that." Scully wondered if Mulder would show up in time to catch the act, too.
It was a bit after noon when Scully noticed a strange fragrance. She was sitting behind her desk looking over the receipts from the day before, when she became aware of the smell. Suzie must have noticed it too. She popped her head out of the stockroom. "White sage."
"Excuse me?" Scully swiveled in her chair so she could see her friend.
"White sage. Joe must have started his little show. White sage is used to drive negative energy away. I imagine he is working his way through the building."
True enough, in a few minutes Scully spotted Joe Iron Horse, this time in full Native American dress, walking slowly through the facility. In one hand he held a large shell containing the substance giving off the strong-smelling smoke. In the other hand, he held a large feather, with which he seemed to dust everything in sight.
Suzie came up behind Scully, and whispered in her ear as Joe approached them. "The white sage is burning in that shell. Joe first exposes an area to the smoke, and then uses the feather to remove the negativity. He'll do us in a second."
Scully sat in fascination as Joe waved both the smoking shell and feather around her before heading into the gift shop. Suzie snorted at him before saying sarcastically, "I, for one, feel like a totally new woman after that experience." She gave Scully's shoulder a squeeze. "You should head outside in a couple of minutes. You wouldn't want to miss his little dance."
"Don't you want to see it?"
"That's okay. I've seen it before and even if I hadn't, I can do it myself."
Suzie shrugged and went to make sure that Joe didn't drop any ashes on her shelves.
Mulder arrived right before Joe Iron Horse finished his smoke and feather routine. He recognized the ceremony at once, and walked over to join Bobby Durham, who was also watching closely. Whereas Mulder watched with obvious amusement, Bobby looked quite peeved. He politely waited for Joe to put down his clam shell, however, before storming over to speak with him.
"Joe, what the hell? do you think you're doing?" Bobby demanded, thrusting his chin in the direction of the clam shell and its smoldering contents. "You know as well as I do that if you don't do this the right way, things will get even worse."
Mulder watched in interest, as Joe gave Bobby a look of total distain. "Bobby, what would you know? You're a white man."
Bobby laughed out loud at this. "And what are you Joe, about one twenty-fourth Apache? Spare me."
Joe glared at Bobby and looked around to make sure that Stan wasn't within ear shot. It wouldn't do him any good to be called a fraud by the leading Apache expert in the area. If Stan heard that, he would probably want his money back. He picked up his antelope skin bag, and brushed against Bobby as he headed outside. "Excuse me White Boy, I have work to do."
Mulder's interest was piqued now. He followed them, not wanting to miss a single thing.
The first thing Mulder noticed when he spotted Scully, was that the clothes she wore were those of Dana, not Ashley. He paused for a moment, wondering if it was a conscious choice or if she had done it without thinking. He shrugged off the thought; he would ponder it later. Right now he was far more interested in watching Joe Iron Horse, and trying to find out if Scully was still mad at him.
Not wanting to startle her, Mulder called out a soft greeting before walking up behind Ashley and wrapping his arms around her waist. He made as if he was nuzzling her ear. "I called the Bureau this morning. I requested a few things, and they should be at my apartment by tonight."
Scully said nothing, just nodded her understanding that she had heard him. Even though she still wasn't sure how she felt about what had transpired the night before, she felt herself lean against him as he switched from one side of her neck to the other. "Do you think you can stand being around me long enough to pop over for a while tonight? I could really use your help."
Mulder stopped his nuzzling and rested his chin on the top of her head, watching as Joe Iron Horse finished up his dance. "Do you think it will work?"
"I have no idea. Suzie seems to think he is a bit of a fake."
"So does Bobby." Mulder chuckled. "You have to admit, though, the man does put on a good show."
They watched in silence as Joe Iron Horse finished up his dance and relit the sage in his clam shell. He proceeded to wave it around as if to purge the outside, too, of all negativity. Having already witnessed him doing his purging routine, Scully turned and faced Mulder.
"I really should get back inside." She was perfectly aware that Suzie wouldn't care if she stayed outside another hour. She still wasn't comfortable around Mulder.
Mulder released her. "Okay, come over around dinner. There's a great Mexican place down the street from my apartment, we can grab a quick bite then just hang out." He leaned forward so his forehead was touching hers. He spoke so quietly she could barely hear him. "With all these people milling about, I should probably give you at least a little kiss. Nothing more than a peck, I promise. Is that okay?"
Scully smiled up at him. No matter what happened between them, Mulder was always the gentleman. "I think I can handle it."
Mulder smiled and bent to kiss her. His lips were hovering over hers, when a shriek shattered the air.
"The Indian, he's collapsed!" A middle aged woman in a jogging suit was jumping up and down screaming, and pointing towards Joe.
Scully and Mulder split apart and immediately ran to where Joe Iron Horse lay in a crumpled heap. Scully quickly checked his pulse, and finding none, rolled him over and began CPR. By the time the ambulance arrived ten minutes later, Joe was pronounced dead at the scene.
End of part three.
The Marfa Murder Mysteries Part Four
By Katie Phillips
Disclaimer information located in Part One.
More than once over the next couple of hours, Scully had to resist the urge to pull out her ID and reveal her identity. It was bad enough that she hadn't been able to save Joe Iron Horse, but it was even worse that she couldn't find out exactly what killed him.
Because of her undercover role, Scully was just another witness. She was therefore not privy to the autopsy results-- had they even bothered to do one--or any other piece of forensic evidence. She and Mulder had both given their statements to the police, and had been thanked for doing everything they could to resuscitate Joe. The police had assumed that Joe was the victim of a heart attack, but after some gentle prodding from Mulder, said they would consider looking into the death a little closer.
Mulder had spent the afternoon walking around the facility grounds with Bobby, trying to get a handle on what happened. He kept a close eye on the naturalist who, although upset by Joe's untimely death, didn't seem to be too surprised by it.
"Earlier you told Joe that he could make things worse. What did you mean by that?" Mulder asked, as he and Bobby squatted down where Joe had fallen. Bobby seemed a bit surprised by the question. "Apache spirits don't take kindly to unqualified people asking them to leave their burial grounds." Bobby looked over at Mulder. "You don't actually think that the spirits struck him dead, do you?"
"Do you?" Mulder responded with a raised eyebrow. "There are a lot of unexplained incidents in this area, the least of which are the mysterious Lights. If the theory of the angered spirits is correct, it would explain a lot."
Bobby chuckled at him. "For a scientist, you're very openminded. Hey, what's this?" Bobby began rubbing the sand in the area where Joe was standing before he fell. Mulder joined his efforts and soon the two men had revealed a small, 4 inch square piece of metal. It was slightly warm.
"What do you think it is?" Bobby asked again, as he stood up and brushed the dust off his jeans.
"I have no idea," Mulder lied. He had a theory.
When Scully arrived at Mulder's apartment, she was greeting by the piquant aroma of Mexican food as Mulder ushered her in. "I thought I'd save some time by ordering in."
Scully shrugged out of her jacket and threw it over a chair, relieved to see that Mulder was in full-fledge work mode. Chances were good he was too wrapped up in the case to question her about her actions the night before. She looked around the apartment as she walked into the kitchen to grab a plate of food.
Mulder's apartment was basically one large room, with a small kitchen area set off to one side. It sported a huge fireplace, some living room furniture, two dressers and a king-sized bed. Scully swallowed when she saw it. The tables were covered with the papers Mulder was using to process all the information presented to him.
"The files I asked for just arrived. They came in a pizza box." Mulder chuckled to himself. "The neighbors must think I'm quite the pig. First several large pizza boxes arrive, and then I go out and buy three bags of Mexican food. Have a seat Scully."
Scully sat on the floor in front of the coffee table, and cleared a small spot on which to put her dish. It wasn't until she took her first bite of enchilada, that she realized how hungry she was. "This is absolutely fabulous," she said between bites.
"Yeah it is," Mulder agreed, enjoying the sight of Scully eating with such gusto. It was a nice change from seeing her pick at a simple green salad. "Are you upset Scully, that you can't do the old slice and dice on Joe?"
"It's killing me. I don't even know for sure if they're considering his death anything but accidental. The only thing I've been able to find out, is that they 'assume' he had a heart attack."
"His death was far from accidental Scully," Mulder mumbled, his mouth partially full. "I can almost guarantee that." Scully raised a questioning eyebrow at him. "I noticed some black, smudge-like marks on Joe's moccasins right after he died, but didn't think much of it until later."
"And what are you thinking it means now? Are you going to eat all that guacamole?" Scully gave Mulder her best beguiling smile.
"Help yourself, there's tons more in the kitchen. This afternoon, Bobby and I noticed a small piece of metal in the ground near where Joe fell."
"God, this stuff is good. And?"
"I think maybe an electric current was sent through it."
"You think Joe Iron Horse was electrocuted? By whom? And why? Besides Mulder, I don't think I need to tell you that electrocution leaves telltale signs, such as burned or scorched flesh, and charred or melted footwear. Prior to death there would have been violent jerking, twitching, or convulsions. We didn't see anything like that with Joe Iron Horse. Surely the coroner would have noticed any burning of the flesh, and realized that a heart attack wasn't the cause of death."
"Bobby Durham wasn't too happy about a bogus medicine man being there. The person behind the murders may not have been too happy either, I don't know how to explain it exactly, but what if someone used a smaller amount of electricity than is usually fatal, just hoping to scare Joe Iron Horse. Maybe he had a bad heart, and the death was unintentional. We've been told that the deaths of the construction workers were 'suspicious,' and we know for a fact that the tourists were electrocuted."
"Agent Mulder, are you actually conceding that the other deaths were not caused by paranormal events? And you think they're connected to Joe Iron Horse's death as well? I may need to have a beer."
"Good idea, Scully. Grab me one, too." Mulder grinned when she moaned, got up from her seat, and returned with two beers and another helping of guacamole and tortilla chips. He opened the beers, took a long drink and continued. "No, Scully I don't think that these deaths are caused by the Marfa Lights. I think someone electrocuted all these people, not just the tourist couple. What if somehow he or she found a way to use a typically non-lethal charge to cause death by heart failure alone, without the signature scorching or burning? I just haven't figured out how or why yet."
Scully nodded. Mulder's explanation didn't sound as farfetched as some of his had in the past. "What do you suggest we do now?"
"You have tomorrow off, right?" Mulder leaned back against the couch and patted his stomach with satisfaction. "I thought Ashley would join Barry on a little hike around the facility grounds. I'll bring along some metal detectors, under the premise that I think that the Marfa Lights are drawn to certain types of metals. Do you know the approximate location of each of the deaths?"
"I think so."
"Good, we can check for metal plates in the ground. If we find them, we may have found our link."
"We have no motive and no real suspect."
"If we find what I think we're going to find, I think it will narrow down our suspect list quite a bit."
Mulder and Scully reviewed their notes and their lists of potential suspects in relative silence. No one on the list seemed especially likely to have committed the crimes, but none had air-tight alibis either.
Dishes were cleared and folders stowed away. Mulder got each of them another beer, and sat down on the couch, patting the seat next to him. "Come on partner, you look beat. Can I rub your shoulders for you?"
Scully hesitated for a second. She knew she was too tired to make the nearly one hour drive back to Alpine, but she was also nervous about sitting so close to Mulder. Her shoulder muscles felt like they were tied up in knots, and Scully was very much aware of the fact that no one gave better shoulder massages than her partner.
Mulder turned so his back was to the side of the sofa and he put one of his legs down on the floor, making a place for Scully to sit between them. Hesitantly, she settled herself in between his legs, and stretched hers out in front of her, leaning into his hands as he began his kneading. "Didn't sleep well last night Scully?" He spoke conversationally, as he worked on a particularly stubborn knot.
Scully rolled her head slightly at his prodding. "No, too much on my mind."
Mulder convinced the knot to surrender, and was now working on another. "Jesus Scully, you're as tight as a drum. Care to talk to Dr. Mulder about what's troubling you?"
"I think that would be difficult, considering it's Dr. Mulder who's the source of my problem. Oh yeah Mulder, right there. Do you feel that? That's been bothering me since I got here." Mulder moved his probing fingers to the spot, and Scully moaned again. After a little more pressure, Mulder felt her finally begin to relax.
"This is about more than the kiss, isn't it Scully?"
"I don't know, Mulder. You're the one with the psych degree; you tell me."
Mulder chuckled. Scully always sniped at him when he was right about her feelings and she didn't want to admit it. "I think, Scully, that you let your guard down, and were surprised that I had done the same. I think, or at least I hope, that the kiss we shared was more than you thought it would be." He stopped rubbing her neck and leaned forward so he could see her face. "Honestly Scully, I was only planning on giving you a bit of a peck, just enough to give Carlos the message that you weren't available." He flushed slightly. "I guess it turned into more than that."
"That was Barry kissing Ashley, Mulder. Not you and I kissing."
Mulder resumed his massage of Scully's neck, leaning back so she couldn't see him roll his eyes. "Well, Ashley and Barry aren't here now, if you care to see whether that really would make a difference."
"You don't have to cop an attitude, Mulder." Mulder could tell that Scully was about to go on the offensive again, trying to steer the conversation in another direction.
"No I don't, and you don't have to try pick a fight with me either."
Scully was about to angrily deny his remark, when she realized he was right. She was trying to divert him from discussing the two of them, and the feelings they might have for one another. "I'm sorry, Mulder. All I keep thinking about is how it's okay for Barry and Ashley to be together, but not okay for us. They don't have to go back to DC and work together."
"No they don't." Mulder said nothing more, instead pulling Scully back so she lay against him as he reclined against the arm of the couch. He settled his chin on her head and waited for her to ponder what was happening between them.
Mulder was afraid that Scully may have dozed off when she finally turned around to face him, tucking her legs underneath her. "I don't suppose one kiss could hurt anything."
Mulder tried to restrain himself, replying calmly. "No, I don't think it could." He leaned over and placed his lips gently on hers. He pressed a bit harder and felt her respond. He had every intention of moving slowly, but within seconds found himself exactly where they had been the night before-- each of them exploring the other, with a passion that surprised him.
They finally split apart, and Mulder placed a small kiss on Scully's forehead. He frowned when he saw the look of fear steal across her face. She was thinking again, thinking about all the possible negative repercussions. Mulder leaned back against the arm of the couch again, and maneuvered Scully into the same position she was in before their kiss.
Mulder just held her for a long time, his arms wrapped loosely around her, his hands on her hands, which rested on her stomach. He made gentle circles on the back of her hand with his thumb, as he patiently waited for her to relax. "Scully, sometimes you think too much."
Scully snorted. "I know Mulder, but I'm scared to take the plunge. Scared of what might happen."
Mulder kissed her neck and whispered in her ear. "You trust me, don't you Scully?" He waited until he felt her nod. "Then trust me not to let you fall." He placed small kisses behind her ear. "Don't think Scully, just feel. Can you do that for me?" Scully nodded again, and Mulder began his slow seduction, not proceeding until he felt his partner relax beneath him. "We'll take this as slow or as fast as you want. Okay?"
Hearing no objection, Mulder continued to speak softly as he slowly stroked and explored every inch of Scully's body within his reach. He whispered terms of endearments in her ear, and ignored the tingling in his legs as they lost circulation, instead concentrating on the small sounds Scully made when he touched her. After awhile he stopped talking briefly, to quench his parched throat with a sip of beer. It was then he realized why Scully had become so relaxed. She was fast asleep.
Mulder smiled when he looked down at her. Scully really could sleep through anything. He shook his head and watched her for a long time, until his legs really began to complain. Carefully he tried to extract himself from beneath his sleeping partner, his movement waking her up. She blinked once or twice, as if trying to remember where she was, and what she was doing. She looked up at Mulder who was sitting next to her grinning, and blushed. "Sorry Mulder. Don't take it personally, I was really tired."
"I know, I know. Some jerk pissed you off last night, and you were up all night thinking about it."
Scully smiled up at him. "How far did you go before you noticed I was asleep?" She sat up next to Mulder and stretched.
"I was rounding first, heading for second." Mulder wrapped his arm around her and gave her a squeeze.
"Too bad I fell asleep. What you were doing felt so good, I was thinking about letting you steal third." She leaned against him resting her head on his chest.
"What? No home run?" Mulder kissed the top of her head, enjoying the weight of her against him, as she wrapped her arms around his neck.
"On the first date? What kind of girl do you think I am?"
Mulder put his finger under her chin and tilted it up so he could look at her more closely. Although her eyes still showed signs of wariness, she was definitely in the mood to tease him, her mini-nap obviously having relieved some of the tension. "An intelligent, sexy one." He bent down to kiss her again, playfully groping at her until she erupted in giggles.
"Mulder, what are you doing?"
"Trying to get to second base."
Scully erupted in giggles as she tried to free herself from Mulder's grasp. He was too strong for her, and within seconds she was pinned beneath him. They stopped laughing, and Mulder looked down at her with such a look of naked desire that it almost took her breath away.
"Yes or no?" Mulder searched her eyes for the answer. Scully became perfectly still, and Mulder held his breath, fearing the worst.
"Yes." Scully said, as she pulled him down to her.
Scully opened her eyes, surprised to find the room bright with sunlight. She tried to move in order to glance at the alarm clock by the bed, only to feel Mulder tighten the arm he had around her waist. She rolled her eyes. Even asleep Mulder was possessive of her. Scully couldn't get annoyed with him though, not after last night and all the wonderful things he had done to her.
She snuggled back against him and closed her eyes, reliving the feeling as Mulder had slowly, systematically explored every inch of her body, first with his hands, and then with his mouth. Scully experienced sensations she hadn't thought possible--the things that man could do with his mouth. She had actually reached orgasm just from Mulder sucking on her ear lobe, but that was nothing compared to what he did to her when he explored between her legs.
The memory of his actions made her squirm against him. Mulder's lower body noticed the motion immediately, and sprang to action. Apparently the rest of Mulder noticed as well. He gave her shoulder a quick nibble, before speaking with a voice husky from sleep. "Morning Scully."
Scully turned over so she was facing him, and smiled. He moved to kiss her, when she stopped him with a hand on his chest. "Oh no you don't." Mulder looked concerned for a moment, before realizing she was teasing. "You made a liar out of me, Mulder."
"How's that?" Mulder propped his head up on his elbow and looked at her. He had always thought Scully was a good-looking woman, but seeing her now, after a night in his bed, he was struck by just how beautiful she really was.
"I said you wouldn't be hitting a home run last night." Scully tried to scold Mulder but erupted into giggles as he attacked her. "Stop, Mulder."
Mulder stopped his assault and glanced at the alarm clock. "Damn, ten o'clock already? I don't suppose we could let the Marfa Police Department solve this case on their own?" Scully arched an eyebrow at him. "Didn't think so. I'm going to grab a quick shower and cook you breakfast, okay?"
Mulder was out of bed and halfway to the bathroom, when he stopped and walked back over to where Scully lay watching him. He bent over and gave her a long, deep kiss. "Thanks, Scully. Last night was better than I ever dreamed, and I've had some pretty good dreams. Promise me that when we're done with this case, we'll sneak off for a weekend together so I can indulge in the rest of my fantasies."
Scully stroked his face with her hand. "Deal." Mulder smiled down at her, and gave her a gentle kiss on the tip of her nose.
Scully and Mulder arrived just south of the research facility a little after eleven. They parked the car, threw on their packs and started their exploration of the grounds. They didn't speak much. Mulder was wearing a listening device that pinged every time the metal detector he was waving over the ground discovered anything.
Scully had charted out the location of all of the 'accidents,' and they started there. Mulder's theory seemed to be panning out, as they found small metal squares several inches under the soil at the three of the accident sites. Satisfied with the results, Mulder stowed his gear in his backpack before taking a long drink of water and addressing Scully.
"I want to walk around out there a bit too." He pointed towards where the Marfa Lights appeared.
Scully took her own drink of water and wiped some dust off her face. "God, it's dusty out here. What are we looking for?"
Mulder shrugged. "I have no idea, but I'll know it when I see it." He glanced around to see if anyone was within earshot, before offering Scully his hand. "This is probably the only assignment where I'll be able to show any public signs of affection for you, Scully. I plan to take full advantage of it." Scully looked at him a long second, before taking his hand.
They hiked for an hour or so, before finding some shade under a large outcropping of rocks. Mulder had taken out his metal detector again, but had found no signs of metal other than that in the occasional rock. He put down his pack, took off the headphones, and carefully lay the equipment against the rock ledge.
Scully, who had brought a small blanket in her pack, spread it in the shade and began unpacking their lunch. "Any ideas Mulder?"
"About the Lights, not one." He plopped down next to Scully on the blanket, and grabbed a sandwich. He took a large bite before continuing. "I do, though, have a theory about the murders."
He began drawing a picture in the dusty ground to help illustrate his point. "I'm not sure that the killer intended to kill any one in particular. I'm beginning to think that the killings are result of the victims being at the wrong place at the wrong time."
Scully nibbled at her fruit salad. "How so?"
"I think that a series of those small metal plates were placed all around the facility and its grounds. I think, too, that strong electrical currents are sent to those plates at random intervals. The attacks on the construction workers and those kids in the car were random acts designed to scare people."
"What about the exploding garbage can in the Ladies Room, and Joe Iron Horse's death?"
"I think the garbage can was rigged to go off sometime during the celebration. I also think that someone wasn't happy about Joe's little dance."
"Didn't you tell me that Bobby and Joe had a fight right before he was killed?"
"Yeah, but I don't think Bobby is behind this. He doesn't strike me as the kind who would spend time jury-rigging an electrical system." Mulder had finished his sandwich and was leaning against the rock, closing his eyes and enjoying the warm sun on his face. "Tonight, I think you and I should pay a little visit to Carlos's office. If we can find the plans for the electrical system, we can email them to the Gunmen and have them take a look at them."
Mulder opened his eyes and looked at Scully. "In the meantime. . ." He pulled Scully towards him and kissed her. "Our bosses are always accusing us of screwing around on their time. I think it's about time we prove them right."
End of part four.
The Marfa Murder Mysteries Part Five
By Katie Phillips
Disclaimer information located in part one.
Scully plugged in her seatbelt and pulled a small piece of tumbleweed from her hair. She still couldn't believe that she had let Mulder strip her naked and make love to her for hours, while they were officially on the clock. She was also beginning to think that the dry air and constant sun were taking their toll on her skin.
"Sorry about your sunburn, Scully." Mulder sat down next to her, trying hard not to grin. "I forgot how fair-skinned you are."
Scully smiled back at him, wondering how she was ever going to manage to go without a bra for the next couple of days, until her skin recovered. "It's my fault too, Mulder. I know how easily I burn."
Mulder started the car and leaned towards her. "I'll spread some cream on all your burned spots later, okay?" He sat upright at the look Scully gave him. "What?"
"How many times can you...perform...in one day Mulder?"
Mulder chuckled to himself, thinking he might have a performance or two left in him yet. He realized he just might reach an all-time personal best.
Back at Mulder's apartment, Scully tried to ignore the stinging from her sunburn and the soreness between her legs, as she pulled on her black t-shirt. She looked at her reflection in the mirror, amazed that barely 24 hours ago, she was had not been with a man for nearly a decade. Since then, she and Mulder had been going at it like a pair of rabbits. Rather impressive, she thought, considering their ages.
The thought of more rabbit-like behavior crossed her mind, when Mulder re-appeared dressed head-to-toe in black. He shrugged on his leather coat and winked at Scully, no doubt recognizing the gleam in her eye. "Later Scully," he teased, as he picked up his cell phone and flashlight from the table by the front door. He glanced at his watch. "It's just after one. We should get going."
Scully nodded and slipped on her own black jacket. She instinctively checked to make sure her weapon and flashlight were where they belonged, before joining him at the door. "Okay, let's go."
Mulder went over his plan with Scully again, as they traveled the dark, winding roads towards the facility. "It should be pretty easy really. We'll backup what's on Carlos's computer, and then e-mail it to the boys. They should have an answer for us by mid-morning. Oh great. Isn't that Suzie's car?" Mulder pulled into the parking lot next to a red Ford Taurus. Scully studied the car for a moment before responding. "Yeah, I think so. I wouldn't worry about it though, she probably went home with Carlos tonight."
Mulder paused a second before getting out of the car. "You're probably right Scully, but if you're not, we'll tell Suzie that I wanted to observe the Lights during the darkest part of the night."
They got out of the car and walked silently towards the main door. Scully unlocked it, and they entered quietly. After a quick look around to make sure they were alone, Scully led Mulder towards Carlos's office. "It's right next to the research room," she whispered, pointing down the hall. "The second door on the left."
Mulder tested the door, and finding it locked, quickly pulled out his lock-picking kit. He had the door open within seconds. Clicking on his flashlight, he motioned for Scully to enter ahead of him, and then followed her into the office.
The room was sparsely furnished, and contained little more than a desk with a computer, and a large drafting table. Mulder ignored the prints lying on the table, and headed directly for the computer. Within minutes he was examining Carlos's files. "Whoa! This is unbelievable, Scully."
"What is?" Scully turned away from the drafting table, and looked over his shoulder at the computer screen.
"The lack of security here. This facility has no alarm system, and Carlos didn't even bother to use a password to protect his files."
Scully patted his shoulder. "I guess they're not as paranoid down here as we are back home. Did you find what you need?"
"I think so." Mulder pulled a diskette out of his pocket and stuck it into the machine. Scully left Mulder to copy the files, and walked over to the large picture window that took up most of one wall. In theory, this office would be turned into additional research space at some point in the future.
Looking out over the desert, Scully was once again awed by the enormity of the Texas night sky. The stars really were big and bright down here. She was about to turn away, when a small flicker of light caught her attention. It seemed to be a small fire.
"Mulder." The sound of her voice made him look up and frown.
"Take a look at this."
Mulder pocketed his diskette, shut down the computer, and walked over to where Scully was staring out the window. He squinted at the flickering light, before sweeping his flashlight around the office.
"What are you looking for?"
"Binoculars. I thought I spotted some when we came in." Catching sight of them, Mulder picked them up and aimed them in the direction of the flickering light. He stood staring for a second, before putting down the binoculars and turning to Scully. "We'd better get out there. I think there's another Native American ritual going on."
Scully checked for her weapon, as they pushed through the door that opened out onto the viewing platform. They moved quickly and quietly, all business now. About thirty feet from the fire, they stopped as the smell of white sage and the sounds of chanting and an occasional moan, reached them.
Scully squinted at the two figures, and then grabbed Mulder's arm. "Oh my God, Mulder! It's Suzie and Carlos. I think she's trying to kill him."
She was about to grab her weapon and spring forward, when Mulder grabbed her arm. "No, Suzie told me that she and Carlos were 'soul mates.' If she really believes that, she may be trying to save him."
Scully glared at him. "Whichever it is Mulder, we need to get over there and stop her." Mulder took out his gun, and motioned for her to go to the left while he went to the right. At his nod, they broke apart and ran toward the fire.
Because of his longer legs, Mulder reached the blaze first. He stopped dead at the sight of Suzie drawing what looked like a sharp knife, over Carlos's belly. "Drop it, Suzie."
Suzie jumped at the sound of his voice, and looked around to see from where it came. She didn't, however, drop her knife. Scully approached her from behind. "Federal Agent, I'm armed. Drop your weapon Suzie."
Suzie, recognizing Scully's voice, turned around knife still in hand, with a look of pure shock on her face. "Ashley?" She turned at the sound of Mulder's footsteps. "Barry?"
"Drop it Suzie." Mulder said quietly "Drop it and step away."
Scully waited outside the Marfa Police station interrogation room, sipping what she hoped would be her last cup of bad Texan coffee. The local authorities hadn't been too happy about having a pair of undercover agents poking into their business, and were doing everything they could to inconvenience Scully. She had been waiting well over an hour.
Under normal circumstances, Scully would have accompanied Carlos to the emergency room, but she felt the need to talk to her friend Scully hadn't thought Suzie capable of murder, and desperately wanted to know what had driven her to it. Scully drained the cup of coffee, as her cell phone began to ring.
"Scully, it's me. You'll never guess what happened."
"Mulder, I'm too tired for games. . ."
"Okay, okay. We were right about the electrical system of the facility being compromised."
"Really? How did you figure that out?" She glanced at her watch. It wasn't even 6 AM yet, too early for him to have contacted the Gunmen.
"Carlos told me."
"Carlos told me. Whatever Suzie slipped him in his beer did quite a number on his head. He was sure there, for awhile, that he was dying."
"And he wanted me to know the truth about what happened."
"He did it. He did it all." Mulder went on to explain to Scully how the resentment Carlos had felt over the years at having to do his father's bidding, had finally come to a head. He knew how much the research facility meant to his father, and he'd set out to slowly destroy it. "He altered the wiring, and installed a timer in the system, which sent out large surges of electricity randomly. He figured within a few months the facility would be closed."
"What about Suzie?"
"He is pushing to have all charges against her dropped. He claims she was only trying to drive the evil from him."
Thirty six hours later, Mulder and Scully sat in AD Skinner's office as he went over their report. The trip back from Texas had been somewhat strained, as neither of them wanted to broach the subject of their new relationship. They spoke only of the case, and even that conversation was limited to deciding who would write up their report. Since Scully had been on the case longer, they decided she would do it.
Skinner put down the report and looked at his two agents. He sensed something was amiss between the two of them, but decided against mentioning it, instead addressing their account of the events.
"Agent Scully, you mention several times that you and Agent Mulder were able to put together the pieces of this case by working together closely. How did you manage to find time alone without destroying your cover?"
Scully looked over at Mulder for a second, but answered the question herself. "Agent Mulder and I posed as lovers, Sir."
"Lovers?" Skinner choked on his reply, echoing her own words back to her. "I see." He paused a second before continuing. "The entire Texas congressional delegation has asked me to relay their thanks to you for handling this matter so efficiently. I'll put copies of their e-mails in both the case file and your personnel files, as well as send copies to DD Kersh and the Director. I will, however, leave out any specific details of how you handled your cover."
His eyes swept over his two agents and it looked for a moment like he was about to smile. "That is unless there is something else you'd like to tell me."
Mulder didn't even need to look at Scully before responding. "We have nothing more to report on the matter at this time, Sir."
"Very well. That will be all." Both agents turned to leave, and had almost reached the door. "Agent Mulder, a moment please?"
Scully looked at Mulder and then at Skinner, before leaving the office, and closing the door behind her.
Mulder turned and faced his boss. "Sir?"
Skinner stood up and walked over to Mulder, looking somewhat uncomfortable. "Off the record, Mulder."
"Yes Sir?" Mulder voice reflected his suspicion.
"I assume that you and Agent Scully will keep this latest development in your partnership to yourselves."
Mulder opened his mouth to deny everything, but closed it instead, giving the briefest of nods. Skinner looked at him long and hard before speaking. "Don't blow this, Mulder."
"I'll do my best not to, Sir."
Scully was waiting for Mulder by the elevator. One look at him, eliminated the need to ask him what had just happened with Skinner. It wasn't until the elevator doors closed, that he spoke. "He knows." Scully eyes grew huge, and she looked a bit pale. They stood side by side in silence.
Mulder finally took a deep breath and spoke. "Do you think Ashley would like to go out with me tonight?"
Scully gave him a long look before answering. "No, I don't think she would." She shook her head, and Mulder's shoulders slumped. He was always ready to accept defeat when it came to her. "She might not, but Dana would."
Author's notes: The Marfa Lights really do exist and are seen almost nightly outside of Marfa, Texas. I saw them myself last December and they are truly incredible. If you would like to find out some more on them check out their official website: www.marfalights.com.
If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to Katie Phillips
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