As Usual

By joan the english chick

Disclaimer: Mulder, Scully, and any other characters you recognize are property of 10-13 Productions and 20th Century Fox, and are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended. This story is property of the author, and may not be reproduced, retransmitted, or posted anywhere without my express permission.
Spoilers: This story doesn't contain any actual spoilers, but I would place it after "Herrenvolk" (third-season premiere) in show timeline. The X-File referred to in the story is not any actual case, just something I threw in for plot purposes.

I stand by the window and watch Scully and Mulder approach their car and get in. I can still smell her perfume lingering in the room. As usual, Mulder is driving. I wonder idly whether Scully ever minds, ever insists it's her turn to drive.

Coffee break is over; time to get back to work. I turn from the window and sit again at my desk, whereon the latest X-Files report lies. I flip open the file folder and scan its contents. As usual, it's easy to tell which parts were written by which agent. Scully's reports are neatly word-processed and spellchecked, formatted to fit the pages, her data concisely summarized, her points elegantly made. Her handwritten notes are tidy, penmanship flawless. Mulder's typed notes are messy, full of spelling errors and misplaced line and paragraph breaks; his thoughts are scattered, his handwriting a glowering scrawl that gives me headaches.

Shaking my head, I step to the copier and make two copies: one for myself, one for Him. I slip them into my briefcase. The original, of course, goes through the usual channels; I put it in the outbox and turn to my other paperwork.

Six o'clock. Almost everyone else is already gone - except the nightshift of course; the FBI never really sleeps. I shut down my computer, gather my things and head for home.

The parking garage is mostly deserted, especially in the removed section where my reserved space is located. Lurking by my battered old car I see Him and sigh inwardly. I can no longer stand the smell of his filthy cigarettes, since I myself gave them up almost fourteen years ago when the kids started coming.

He looks at me as I approach, but doesn't ask; He knows the answer. Of course I have it. As usual. I put my briefcase on the hood of the car, open it and take out His copy of the X-Files report. I'm pretty sure He doesn't know I keep a copy for myself as well.

I hand Him the report and He opens it, scanning through it. He puffs His cigarette and laughs His slimy unamused laugh.

"They still don't get it," He says, shaking His head. "After all they've seen, Scully still trusts in science, and Mulder in everything else." He looks up at me, closing the folder. "See that they never receive the final autopsy report."

"Yes, sir."

"Anything else? Skinner?"

"Nothing, sir."

He frowns calculatingly. "Are they involved?" He means Mulder and Scully; He means sexually, He means romantically.

"You asked me that last month, sir." Last month, I said I didn't think so.

"I'm asking you now."

I take a moment to consider it, to review the way I saw them a few hours ago. Scully, small, formidable and longsuffering, thinks of Mulder as a wayward younger brother who needs protecting. Mulder, large, brilliant and obsessed, thinks of Scully as a precious younger sister, who needs protecting. If I had to guess Scully's romantic Mr. Right, it would be as far from Mulder in temperament as the man before me from Mother Teresa. Scully would need a man who could be counted on; dependable, stable, secure. Mulder's wild style, spontaneous, flighty, given to leaps of intuition and maniacal hunches, makes the perfect professional and intellectual foil but would be emotional anathema to her. Mulder, on the other hand, probably couldn't tolerate a woman who would demand as much emotive vulnerability as Scully would. He's too private for that.

Of course, I'm no shrink, but not for nothing was I voted Class Cupid back in high school. Foreseeing the outcomes of potential romantic liaisons is almost my personal clairvoyance.

"No, sir," I say, and He, who has waited patiently through my ruminations, nods curtly. I know from His look that if He found it convenient for Mulder and Scully to become involved, He would give that task to me. I would not find it difficult....or distasteful.

He drops His spent cigarette to the concrete and grinds it out with His foot. He points a finger at me for emphasis. "You will inform me the absolute second this changes," He says. This is not a request, not even a command; it is a statement of fact. I nod obediently and watch Him turn and walk away. I unlock the car door and get in.

Although rush hour traffic has thinned, it still takes me over half an hour to get home: I am late. I park in the driveway and let myself into a house that smells of baking potatoes and chicken and broccoli. I put my briefcase on the floor by the front door and shed my coat just in time for the attack.

Kenny leads the attack, hurtling around the corner from the living room like a hug-bomb. "MOMMY!" he shrieks, dive-bombing to wrap his little arms around me like a steel trap. I hug him back and tousle his already tousled hair. Behind him come Eric, with a shy smile and a fierce hug, and Mollie, whose only words are of field trips, permission slips and lunch money.

"Hi to you too," I tell her, shaking my head at adolescent egotism. I pry Kenny's grubby little fingers from my belt and head for the kitchen. The cats join the attack, both sniffing my feet cursorily before looking up to inform me with disdainful yowls that they have yet to receive their fair share (namely all) of the chicken they smell.

In the kitchen, I find Pete taking the potatoes from the oven and Katy setting the dining-room table. Her front teeth clutch at her lower lip in concentration as she aligns the silverware with meticulous precision. She pauses long enough to accept my greeting kiss.

Pete sweeps the potatoes into their serving dish and comes to kiss me. He wears an apron, his hands still sport remnants of chicken fat, and his kiss tastes of the sparkling grape juice we now drink in lieu of wine. "Just in time," he says cheerily.

"I'm sorry to be so late," I tell him ruefully. He shakes his head.

"No problem."

"Mollie!" I call as we carry the food to the table and the other children take their places. Our teenager appears, sulky but hungry as usual. The salad bowl passes around.

"Mom," says Eric earnestly, "what's an ambulance chaser?" The other kids look alert and curious.

"A what?" Katy asks.

"I heard one of the teachers say Principal Davis is dealing with an ambulance chaser," Eric explains. "What is it, Mom?"

"That's more in your father's line of expertise," I say teasingly. Pete chuckles.

"Great, give me the tough ones," he groans. The joke flies over the children's heads and they all look expectantly at Dad.

We finally get the kids to bed, although we have no illusions that they'll sleep just yet. Mollie will sulk another hour or two; Eric will turn on his flashlight and read; Kenny will be bouncing off the walls and Katy is likely plotting world domination. But we settle in comfortably to watch a nighttime drama and then the eleven-o-clock news, and then we head to bed.

I want to tell Pete about the latest developments with the X-Files, but I know I mustn't. He reads this in my eyes and smiles sympathetically, resting a hand on my shoulder as we brush our teeth side by side. When we get in bed, he pulls me close, and although I thought I was too tired for sex, he begins to caress me and I decide I'm not that tired after all.

The next morning, getting the kids to school is a fight as usual, seeming almost impossible to accomplish, like a basketball shot that looks like it's going to miss until the absolute last possible instant when the ball wobbles on the rim of the hoop and then, miraculously, falls through. The kids in various degrees of wakefulness finally board the bus, and I get in my car and back it out of the driveway so Pete can get his out. I park by the curb and go to his window, which he rolls down so I can kiss him goodbye before he drives off.

I go back inside and have just enough time to clean up the breakfast mess before I, too, must leave for work.

I arrive at my desk before things have really gotten going. After starting a pot of coffee, I settle myself in and listen to the overnight voicemail, writing down the pertinent details on my pad. Then I turn to the newest task from Him. I call the coroner's office, identify myself, and ask for confirmation of the address to which they will send the autopsy report.

"Oh, no," I say when the clerk reads me Scully's name and office number. "That's not Agent Scully's office number, someone must have copied it wrong. Let me give you her correct location." I give him my own office number. When the package arrives at my office, addressed to Scully, I will turn it over to Him, as usual. Scully will never know what happened to it.

As I hang up, Skinner enters and crosses to his office, giving me a nod and a smile which I return. I get up and find that the coffee is finished brewing. I pour two cups, leave one on my desk and take the other in to Skinner. He is already distracted by the day's business, and merely nods his acknowledgement.

When I return to my desk, the phone is ringing. I sit and pick it up, dropping into my professional voice as usual.

"Good morning, AD Skinner's office, how may I help you?...."

Read the sequel

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joan the english chick
Last updated 24 November 1997