Summary: While waiting to pick Mulder up at the airport, Scully has an unexpected encounter.

Disclaimer: I don't own the universes or the characters.

Rating: PG-13, for themes

Time Frame: Mid-fourth season "X-Files": some time before "Welcome to The Hellmouth."

WEATHER PERMITTING

Scully replaced the receiver and cursed under her breath. O'Hare was socked in, and Mulder was trapped in Chicago for the night. * Knowing him, he'll probably use the time to check out Al Capone's vault, just in case Geraldo missed the proof that Elliot Ness was secretly an alien bounty hunter * She chuckled involuntarily at the uncharitable thought, and headed for the exit. She was bored, and heading home to catch up on her reading seemed like a decent distraction. As she passed the airport bar, the soft sound of music reached her ears, and she paused. * What the hell--it's early. A drink or two wouldn't be the worst thing in the world *

She walked inside: the lighting was dim, and the seats mostly empty: Dana saw a young couple sitting in a corner booth--she was giggling at something he had said, and he was grinning at her. Scully sighed and sat at the bar: she could hear "The Way You Look Tonight" playing on the jukebox--some things never change. She signaled to the bartender and ordered a rum and Coke. She sipped tentatively at the drink and smiled as the warmth slowly began to spread through her body. * Nice, but it's still going to be a slow night * She frowned and idly picked at the napkin in front of her.

"Glenfiddich. Neat."

The voice was very deep, and very British. Scully turned her head slightly and saw a man in his early forties, with dark hair and intense green eyes. He was wearing a tweed suit and carrying a medium-sized briefcase, which he placed on the floor next to the barstool . The bartender reached for the bottle of single malt scotch and poured a dollop into a shot glass--only to put substantially more in when the Englishman gave him a stern look--and placed the glass onto the bar before retreating. The newcomer lifted the glass and was about to drink when Scully surprised herself by saying, "You certainly know your Scotch."

The man paused and turned to Scully, raising an eyebrow. Scully--who had confronted more than a few formidable individuals in recent years--was not about to be intimidated by a bar patron, though she did shiver ever so slightly as she elaborated, "Not only did you order the best brand of scotch in this place, you behaved as if you expected to find it here-- airport bars aren't notorious for having the good stuff."

The man seemed to hesitate, then inclined his head before replying: "One has to know what to look for, and I've been here once or twice--it helps to know the ground where one finds oneself." He sipped at his drink, and added, "Of course, as a federal agent, you would know that."

Scully blinked, and wondered briefly if there was a flashing sign on her forehead. The man smiled at her confusion and explained, "When you turned, I noticed the bulge in your coat where a holster would be, and we're past the security checkpoints. I didn't think that an airport security agent would drink here, so that leaves either a federal agent or a terrorist--and a terrorist wouldn't call attention to herself by engaging me in conversation. Unless--of course--you're a very clever terrorist, in which case I'd request that you shoot me somewhere that won't show; after all, it's always nice to leave a pleasant-looking corpse."

Scully stared at the man in sheer disbelief for several seconds, until she saw him grinning at her, and her laughter preceded his by only a split second. When she recovered, she favored him with a cool look and replied, "After a few hundred autopsies, I'd have to agree with that sentiment." She extended her hand. "Dana Scully, FBI."

"Rupert Giles, formerly of the London Institute of Medieval Studies." The man reached out and shook Scully's hand firmly, then commented: "I'm afraid I don't have a job title at this moment, Agent Scully. . .so I suppose you'll have to call me Rupert--for the sake of convenience, of course."

"Of course." Scully released Rupert's hand, then glanced at her watch. "And since I am off-duty, you should really call me Dana--if you keep calling me Agent Scully I might conclude you want me to shoot or dissect someone, and that just won't do." She winced inwardly as the last comment passed her lips. * Easy does it. You'll frighten the poor man * Even as she entertained the thought, she knew somehow that this one would not scare easily. She inclined her head at a vacant booth, and Rupert followed her over, signaling the bartender for another round as he did so.

They spoke for some time, as other travelers drifted in and out, paying no heed to them. Rupert described his duties at the Institute, and Scully--who had more than a passing interest in history--was fascinated at some of the stories that the Englishman had to tell about the artifacts he had catalogued over the years. The fascination had caused her to want to show off a bit, and she described her own position at the Bureau, and explained what "X-Files" were. She had expected either a mirror of her own fascination or open skepticism to be visible on Rupert's face; instead, she saw a small smile and heard him say quietly: "Really? Interesting work, I suppose."

Scully scowled: she knew polite condescension when she saw it. She began telling stories of her experiences since meeting Mulder--avoiding ones that were personally painful to her, but telling the other ones in opulent, gaudy detail, omitting some of her own skeptical reactions to Mulder's theories about what they had seen in favor of playing up the most absurd interpretations of what had happened. By the time she was almost done, she was painfully aware that she had gone over the top, and she was certain that the polite, blank expression on Rupert's face was a courteous substitute for mocking laughter. She finished the last story, and waited for him to say something.

Rupert chuckled, and the dim light struck sparks in his eyes as he looked at her in silence for a moment before speaking. "You're looking at me as if you think I'll find you mad, or merely frivolous. The things you've told me of are unusual and wondrous, but this world is a strange place, with places in it for much that is unimagined by the average man. As one of my countrymen said some time ago--"

"'There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,/ Than are dreamed of in your philosophy'?" The quote from "Hamlet" came automatically to Scully's lips.

Rupert raised an eyebrow. "Well, yes--but I was actually going to say, 'There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarrely inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.'"

Scully blinked in mild confusion, then recognized the source of the quote-- Douglas Adams. She smiled as Rupert glanced at his watch and commented, "My flight leaves in half an hour." A slow song began playing on the jukebox, and Rupert stood up, turned, and bowed slightly as he asked, "Would you like to dance?"

Scully nodded, and let him lead her to the small dance floor. She slipped into his arms as if they were made for her, and they danced quietly. After a few moments, she whispered, "So where are you going, anyway? New job here in the States?"

"Yes. Southern California. I'm going to be a librarian at a high school in Sunnydale, California." Rupert spoke in an even, measured tone that suggested that he was not quite used to the idea of his new position.

"Really? Aren't you a little. . .overqualified to be a high school librarian?" Scully commented, wincing inwardly at her lack of tact. She looked apologetically at him, and noticed his rueful expression. "Sorry, that was very rude of me--"

"No, it was an honest reaction--and you'd be right, if that was all I was doing there." Rupert commented, watching her in the dim light with a humorous glint in his eyes. "However, I have other duties there--I'm to serve as a mentor for an exceptional individual. It should be quite challenging."

Scully smiled, and asked: "A high school student? Someone who is destined for bigger and better things?"

Rupert looked away, and Scully could see a vaguely haunted look in his eyes as he whispered, "If she's lucky." The song ended, and Rupert released Scully, hurriedly reaching for his briefcase. "Dana, it's been a genuine pleasure--I hope our paths cross again someday."

Scully could tell that their last exchange had disturbed him, but chose not to press him. She handed him a business card. "Call me if you come back through here--and let me know how things went with your student." She extended her hand, and Rupert shook it firmly as Scully added, "Take care of yourself."

Rupert inclined his head. "You do the same. If I encounter any information that would assist you in your work, I'll try to pass it along." He turned and left the bar, and Scully watched him leave in silence. When he moved out of sight, she sighed and turned to leave--only to see Mulder there, watching her with a smirk. "Mulder, when did you get here?"

"The fog cleared unexpectedly--I was still at the airport, so I took advantage. I didn't think you'd still be here, so I didn't call." Mulder hefted his overnight bag and commented, "I see you made a friend. What's his story?"

Scully watched him coolly, and decided not to be forthcoming. "Oh, he's just a high school librarian who's on his way to Sunnydale, California. Nothing to write home about."

Mulder noticed Scully's poker face, but decided to let it go. He frowned, and abruptly realized why the name sounded familiar. "Sunnydale? I've seen that name pop up a lot--the 'death by misfortune' rate there is the highest of any city in the country. Not exactly the place that a mild-mannered librarian should be headed towards."

"Sometimes people can fool you," replied Scully, thinking of Rupert and an unknown high school student he would be advising. She looked at Mulder and added, "Let me know if you see anything with X-File potential in Sunnydale-- might be a good excuse to make a trip back home."

Mulder nodded absently, though he suspected that a visit to San Diego was not Scully's primary motivation. They left the airport and got into Scully's car. As they drove off, Scully spotted a jet heading west, disappearing into the night sky.

* Good luck, Rupert *

As always, comments are welcomed and desired.