TITLE: Ruby (1/8)

AUTHOR: Ary GH

E-Mail: Nc-17 for language, violence and sexual content

CATEGORY: FBI adventure with an erotica twist and plenty of angst

SPOILERS: Up to season 5,but definitively before 'The End'

KEYWORDS: M/S angst, M/S romance

SUMMARY: When your friendly neighbour psychopath starts killing redheads, Scully is requested to go undercover ... as a stripper.

DISCLAIMER: No, they are not mine. No, I'm not getting money for this.
No, I didn't ask Master Carter for his permission.
And no, I hope this isn't the last time I do it.

ARCHIVE: Anywhere you like, as long as you keep the title, my name and e-mail together and in one piece.

FEEDBACK: Yes, thank you! Very much appreciated, specially since this is my first attempt at a long story. Oh! And please bear in mind than English is not my native tongue, so forgive any grammar mishaps.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: Someone once told me it's damn hard to write a good erotica story that actually had a plot. Whomever it was: you're absolutely right.

What started as some mind candy (some naughty undercover work to get our friends in the mood for some naughty under covers workout) soon bloomed into an X-like adventure, with plenty of angst, violence, self-hatred, suicidal attempts and a very real bad guy to catch before it was too late.

And then came the sex. Or, to quote my own Mulder,
"the intellectual masturbation". Sex talk left,
right and centre. And guilt. Plenty of it.

All this to say that this story may not be your usual brand of smut. Still, it makes a good read,
even if I say so myself.

I wish to dedicate this story to all my good on-line friends who've been kindly encouraging me to finish this for over a year. Thanks for your patience,
awesome beta-reading and insightful comments.
And for Alex, Cary and Chris, three great men whom I'm lucky enough to call friends and who have been kind enough as to let me peek inside their world of male fantasies.

Special, special thanks to Jay Fox. He beta-read and even re-wrote a few things here and there. I couldn't have asked for a better 'father' for 'Ruby.
Thanks a lot, Jay!

Erin: you know you shouldn't be reading this.
You or any other kid out there. So do me a favour and get out of here. This is NC-17. You want to get me in trouble with your parents, or what?
Once again, may CC have mercy on my soul.

"RUBY"

SOMEWHERE IN WASHINGTON D.C.
JULY 31 11:15 P.M.

I had been looking everywhere for her. And I was getting tired of these games she was playing. I had asked her to stop it, to get help, to talk to me about it... but she refused it. I had done everything in my hands to help her get through this... this phase she was going through.

For I am sure it is just a phase. I am sure she is still in love with me, as deeply as in the beginning, more deeply if it was possible. But I know what kind of woman she is. I know she has a tendency to feel restless once in a while. I know she likes to play this weird games with me. But only because she loves me.

But she is getting out of control. I could feel it, I could sense it, I was sure of it. And I had spoken with her. Pleaded. Requested. Begged. And she had promised she would stop. And I believed her.

Until tonight.

Tonight I had gone home, looking for her. The minute I came inside the house, I knew. Like a sixth sense, I knew she was out here,
somewhere, playing this stupid games, ignoring her promise. It was exactly like those many times before, just the same thing. But this time... this time I was taking matters into my own hands.

I began searching for her in the streets and alleys of the city. I almost knew I would find here around here, in the seediest part of town, mingling with scumbags and human had-beens. I could feel anger rising to a boiling point. She had broken her promise, and she should face the consequences. She would face the consequences.

Once or twice I thought I had found her. But they weren't her. The colour was close, but it was fake. I could tell from the way their skin shone, from the absence of freckles, from the lack of spark in their eyes. They were not the real thing.

She was. The real thing. Ruby hair, ivory skin, ocean of freckles, and the unmistakable Irish spark in her eyes. She was one hundred percent Irish, just like my mother had been. Just like myself.

People always thought we were siblings.

People could be so stupid sometimes.

Finally, I found her. She was standing on a corner, leaning slightly forward if a car came by. I don't remember seeing her wearing that black leather miniskirt before. Or the red halter top, for that matter.

But the mid-thigh boots were hers. She had bought them after watching that hooker movie, the Cinderella nonsense about a "pretty woman". And she loved those boots. She even wore them during summer, regardless of the heat. And she always wore them when she was out, playing her games. Always.

She turned around when she heard me approaching. She evaluated me carefully. She continued to play the game, even in this moment.

"Looking for some fun and games, darling?"

I grabbed her shoulder. "Sarah ... I warned you."

The last thing I see are the red traces the knife makes in her white flesh, her pale blue eyes staring lifelessly at me as I plunge in over and over again.

"I warned you, Sarah..."

FBI BUILDING AUGUST 5 4:06 P.M.

I rubbed my eyes, feeling overwhelmly tired. I had spent the last two days working with VCS, doing a profile on a new serial killer. A psycho with a penchant for killing prostitutes and strippers.

His MO was brutal and effective. He slashed their throats with a hunting knife and then stabbed their chest until it was a barely recognisable pulp. He didn't waste time dumping their bodies, for he left them lying in the same spot he had killed them.

The other remarkable characteristic was that the victims, all 14 of them were redheads. Natural redheads.

The DC police was baffled and worried about the mixed feelings this particular case had stirred. The general public couldn't care less for the victims, they were hookers and nude dancers, after all, but was upset with the prospect of finding a savagely mutilated corpse lying on the street.

It hadn't helped that the last person to stumble into a body had been the daughter of a Congressman. That's when the FBI had been called in. The case had been promptly handed to VCS and they had been quick to request a profiler to help them identify the killer.

Skinner had also been quick to drag my ass into his office, demanding I gave my full attention to the matter. That's how Scully ended doing autopsies for two days in a row. The same two days I had spent in this office, surrounded by pictures, evidence found at the sites and forensic reports, trying to get into this psycho's head, trying to figure out what made him tick.

So far, my profile wasn't very precise. My description of the suspect could be applied to one third of the male population in the area.

It was clear that he was killing the same person over and over again.
What I had yet to discover was who this person might be. His mother?
It would explain his need to destroy the victims breasts, and if he viewed his mother as a sexual being, it would also explain why he went after the hookers and the strippers.

Or maybe he was getting even with a former lover, one who had cheated on him. If she had been fooling around he would certainly consider her a tramp. But that wouldn't explain why he was slaying the breasts. It would make perfect sense if he attacked the genital area, but, the breasts?

The third and last option was his wife. Or ex-wife. Someone who had given birth. Someone who had...

My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the door opening. I didn't have to turn around to know who had came in. I'd recognise those footsteps anywhere.

"Mulder?"

I turned around to meet my own personal redhead. I knew I was dead wrong on her being mine, but I've come to feel rather territorial about her. She's mine, just as much as I'm hers. If she wanted me,
that is. I've never allowed myself to delve too deeply on our mutual feelings. If that makes me a coward, so be it.

"Yes, Scully?"

She sat down wearily. Dark circles under her eyes, shoulders slumped.
Her hand was massaging her neck. God, she must have been as tired as I was.

"I went over all the reports three times. I couldn't find anything. The fingerprints I found where so smudged that we'll never get more than a 70 match, and that's being very hopeful. No traces of blood other than the victims."

"Any other bodily fluids?" I ask, moving closer. I hold her eyes as she answers.

"Yes. I found semen and saliva on two of the bodies, but the samples tested as coming from three different individuals. There's no way I could tell you if they belong to the killer or to the victims uh.
previous clients," she replies looking down at her hands.

"So the lady had a busy night?" I observe in idle observation.

"The lady had the wrong kind of busy night," Scully replies, looking up with a weary nod. Our eyes meet again for a moment. She looks defeated, bone tired. I lay a hand on her shoulder.

"Mulder, I know the saliva wasn't the victim's too. I just...I can't tell if it was from her murderer though either."

The defeat in her voice is palpable. I decide to get her refocused here so she'll shake it off. A little facetiousness to goad her. It usually works. This time is no exception.

"So, you're saying that even though this guy is so sloppy he's clever enough not to leave a trace?" I ask baiting the verbal hook.

"You could say that. Either that, or he's just very lucky"

"Oh, come on, Scully. What are his chances of being "just lucky" 14 times?" I raise and eyebrow in perfect imitation of her usual sceptical expression. She catches my attempt to bolster her up again.

She smiled. "You want an exact figure or will an estimate do?"

I smiled back. "I didn't know forensic medicine included a statistics course."

"No, but it did taught me never to discard something because it was too obvious."

Scully dived into her pocket and produced a small plastic bag. She lifted it up in the air so I could see what was inside. There, barely visible, was a human hair. A red human hair.

"The victim's?"

"No. It doesn't match the victim's hair. The shade is different, the length doesn't match and the texture is coarser."

"Dye?"

"No, it's not chemically treated. I'll have to wait for the DNA lab results, but I'm pretty sure of why it's different. This is a man's hair."

My eyes grew wide with astonishment. "Are you sure?"

"As I said before, I'll have to wait for the lab results, but I'm 80 sure it is a man's hair."

My mind was running in three different directions at the same time.
If Scully was right, this meant that the killer was a also a redhead,
and that changed things, if not drastically, significantly.

For one, our suspect pool was considerably reduced. There weren't that many redheads out there, and once we had the lab results, the number of suspects would be even less.

Also, the motivation would change. I was eager to digest this new piece of information, so I began shuffling papers around, trying to come up with different ideas in the light of this new element.

"Mulder. I'm going home to shower and change. On my way back I'll pick up the lab results and some Chinese take-out and bring them to you, ok?"

I nodded at her in appreciation and busied myself with the profile.
When I heard the door locked, I looked up. The third thing on my mind had been to kiss Scully. You see, every time she comes up with something that will help our investigation I'm overwhelmed with the need to kiss her. I guess it would be the perfect demonstration of my increasing awe and respect, although I also have the feeling that she wouldn't understand it.

Most of the times I can ignore this kissing urge. I've been close to doing it two or three times in the past. On every single occasion I had been both physically and mentally exhausted, and I had had to really fight this feeling. Today, however, I'm a little beyond exhaustion. I'm also tired of fighting my feelings for her.

It is a really dangerous combination.

I decide to immerse myself in the profile. It is the lesser of the two evils.

Profiling can take away my sanity. Scully has already taken my soul.

A couple of hours later I looked up. Scully still wasn't back. I was beginning to feel restless. I needed to go out for a run, to shoot some baskets, to get fresh air... anything to get me away from the terrible feeling of constrictment that had descended upon me.

I was considering waiting for her outside when the phone rang.

"Mulder."

"Mulder, it's me. I got a call from Skinner requesting a meeting in half an hour..."

"I'll see you there."

"Mulder..." her tone of voice was tentative, "you haven't been requested to attend this meeting."

I felt something similar to shock by this news. "What? Why? What did I do this time?"

Scully was amused. "When will you learn that not everything is about you? I'm having a meeting with Skinner and Stan Carlbadier regarding some undercover work. This doesn't affect you."

But it does, Scully, it does. Everything about you affects me. I was careful to keep this thoughts to myself.

"So you don't want me to meet you there..."

"No. Wait. On second thought, I'll meet you there. That way I won't have to go looking for you to deliver your dinner, and I won't have to go into the meeting smelling like Chop Suey."

I was certain I could hear her smirking over the phone. "Ok. Sounds fair to me. Where are you?"

"Race you to the elevators."

"You're on."

And I hung up. I didn't like the idea of Scully discussing undercover work with Stan Carlbadier, one of the best undercover supervisors VCS has. I had worked with him before and he was a thorough agent, genuinely concerned with his people wellbeing, and an overall nice guy.

When I came out of the elevator Scully was already waiting for me. A bag full of steaming Chinese take-out boxes was standing next to her.
She was holding another bag full of bottles: iced tea and root beers.
"You're late."

I winked at her. "My dominatrix was keeping me busy on the phone."

"No excuses, Mulder. You lost." She handed me the food and the drinks. "Save some Chicken Kung Pao for me, ok?"

With that, she was gone. I looked down at the bags in my hands and sighed. As hungry as I was, I wouldn't start eating until she came back from the meeting. Eating alone was not an exciting prospect compared to eating with her.

I sighed once again and returned to the office.

Forty-five minutes later the door opened again. Scully came in and,
without a word, slumped into a chair. She mechanically reached for the food, barely registering that the bag was still unopened.

I had suspected something was wrong the minute Skinner requested to see Scully alone. I KNEW something was wrong by looking at her face, still focused, after the meeting.

I allowed us to eat in silence before tackling the issue. I noticed Scully was eating half-heartedly, as if her thoughts were some place far away...

"So?" I prompted her.

"So, what?"

"What did Stan Carlbadier wanted you for?"

Scully hesitated before answering. "Nothing much. Just a little undercover work on the sideline..."

" You know Scully, I'd never considered using Stan Carlbadier and a little undercover work in the same sentence." Noticing my humour attempt had gone by unnoticed, I decided to try it again. "Scully,
Stan Carlbadier is like the major leagues... nothing is just a little when you work with him. So, what's the scoop?"

She began shuffling some papers around. "I'm... not supposed to tell you the exact details of the operation..."

"What! I'm your partner, for Christsakes!"

"That's precisely the reason. See, they need you in here to keep working on that profile. If you were to follow me you could jeopardise not only my assignment, but yours as well."

"So I'm supposed to stay chained to this stupid desk while you're out there running around facing God knows what kind of dangers and not worry about it, is that right?"

"Carlbadier said he'll talk to you about this later."

"I'll be sure to remind him of it."

We continued eating in silence. Scully is deep in thought, and I am steaming. How dare those motherfuckers? I hadn't been chained to a desk since my days with Patterson and those days were definitively over.

So I could jeopardise the mission, uh? Sure. Fine. Whatever. If VCS doesn't want to see me around, they won't. That doesn't necessarily mean I'm not going to be around...

If those bastards think I'm going to let them jeopardise Scully's well being in one of their "special" missions they still don't know Fox Mulder very well. I've almost lost her one too many times to let her protection in the hands of those careless slobs.

"Well?", I prompt her once more.

"Well, what?" she replies. I have to hand it to her. She's mastering the art of not answering when she doesn't want to.

"What do our little friends at VCS want you to do?"

" I told you... I can't tell you."

"I know. I know. I can jeopardise the whole mission. At least tell me who are you supposed to play..."

"Mulder..."

"A doctor? Lawyer? Indian chief?"

"Damn it, Mulder."

"All right, what then? A landlady? Some long-lost relative?"

"No," she states flatly.

I can see her shifting uncomfortably on her chair. At least two dozen loud alarm bells are starting to ring in my head.

"They've requested me to go undercover as a dancer..."

I carefully consider this new piece of information before continuing my interrogatory. "I wasn't aware of your artistic background, Scully."

"I took ballet lessons once in a while when I was a kid... and I tried to attend dancing lessons at least once a week while at the university", she answered, defensively

"My mistake, then. So, you're going to be a dancer... why?"

She shook her head. "Can't tell you..."

More negatives. I could see Scully biting her lower lip, like she did when she was worried, puzzled or deeply embarrassed.

"Then tell me where, Scully. Where in the name of God would you go undercover as a dancer?"

My words come out harsher than I expected, but, for some obscure reason, knowing the answer was becoming an obsession.

"At a stripper's night club"

"Why you? I mean, you don't look the part..." I hated being so cold,
but I was getting uneasier by the minute.

"Because they need a redhead ... a natural redhead."

"But why do they need a r..." I interrupted myself. I looked down at the profile I was working on.

All the pieces fell into place. VCS was desperate trying to catch this guy, having exhausted all the usual means to do it. So now VCS was setting him a trap. With Scully as bait.

I felt anger boiling inside my head.

"Oh, no. You're not going, Scully. It's too damn dangerous."

"I know what I'm getting into, Mulder. I know the risks."

"Somehow, I'm not sure you're getting the whole picture, Scully.
This guy is a total wacko, If he lays a hand on you..." I shuddered at the idea, " You'd be dead before your backup arrives!"

"Don't you think I know, Mulder? I did those damn autopsies, in case you have forgotten!"

I was desperately trying to stop her. "Even so, I don't think you have what it takes."

"Goddamit, Mulder! Stop protecting me!"

"I'm not protecting you, it's just that you don't have the necessary experience to work undercover."

Scully was beginning to loose her patience. "I am a trained agent, for Christ's sake!"

"Yeah, and one assigned to ME."

Her eyes grew big and dark. "You're pulling rank on me, Mulder?"

"If it is what it takes to prevent you from taking this assignment,
then the answer is Yes, I'm pulling rank on you, Scully, and you're not going. That's final." I grabbed the phone. "I'm calling Carlbadier and pulling you out of the mission."

Our screaming match had reached such level that neither of us heard the door open until we heard Skinner's voice.

"And as YOUR superior, I'm telling you, Agent Mulder, that Agent Scully IS going to this assignment, whereas YOU are not. Am I making myself clear?"

"But, Sir ..."

"Am I making myself clear, Agent Mulder?"

I looked at Skinner's stone face. I knew it was useless to keep this going on any longer.

"Yes, sir."

"Very well, then. Agent Scully, Agent Carlbadier is waiting for you... he'll take you to meet your contact at the club."

"Yes, Sir." Scully hurriedly collected her purse and jacket and left the office without as much as a glance thrown my way.

I could feel Skinner's glare in the back of my head.

"Would that be all, Sir?" I swear to God I wasn't trying to be sarcastic...

"I'm not trough with you Agent Mulder," replied Skinner, while he turned around and locked the door.

Turning back again, he motioned me to come closer. I did. Years of experience have taught me not to mess with him when he's in this mood.

"Agent Mulder," his voice is low, tense, "I don't like the idea of putting Agent Scully in unnecessary danger any more than you do," he grates out.

I set my jaw and prepare for the lecture. But he surprises me. He gives a world weary sigh. He runs his fingers up under his glasses and pinches the bridge of his nose. When he removes his hand his eyes are somewhat less dark. But his jaw is still stiff as he continues.

"But look - Mulder. You have to consider how precarious your situation is with the Bureau right now. The only reason you have the X-Files is because you're useful to VCS. Therefore, when they say come you are only allowed to ask when. No more, no less."

I nodded gravely. As much as I despised the rules I still knew some of them... like those who could make the difference between keeping the X-Files and being kicked out of the FBI... and Skinner had appealed to the Golden Rule of All Rules: whether I liked it or not, my ass officially belonged to the VCS.

"However, once your profile is finished, you're allowed to join the other field agents in this killer's manhunt." He paused and gave me a stern look. "Besides, I am not responsible of what you do in your free time."

I gave Skinner one of my patented questioning looks. He gives me back one of his patented unreadable ones.

"You've been working down here for more that 48 hours. That entitles you to a day or two off. Regarding you finished your profile, that is."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Skinner was giving me... well, you could say he was giving me permission to look after Scully.

"Finish that profile, Agent Mulder. That's all I'm requesting." Skinner turned around to leave. When he reached the door he turned around and tossed something my way.

"I believe this is the evidence you need, Agent Mulder."

And with that, he was gone.

I looked at the object Skinner had tossed to me. A matchbook. From a stripper joint.

I sat down and contemplated the evidence and information surrounding me. I checked the lab results Scully had brought and forgotten on her desk. I was beginning to get a clearer picture of this guy...

With a sigh of determination I sat down on my desk, starting to sink deeper and deeper into this guy's psyche. Redhead killing redheads.
Brutal killings, the release of a deep hatred. Payback for a hurtful betrayal...

Somewhere in a lost part of my brain, the image of another redhead was dimming into the background.

I began to type furiously.

I had finished printing the profile when Stan Carlbadier came into the office.

"I was looking for you, Mulder", he simply stated as he sat down.

"That makes two of us, Stan. I was about to go looking for you to give you the profile."

"You done already?" The question held a mixture of admiration and suspicion.

"Yup. I must say that, without Scully's discoveries during the autopsies, I would still be struggling to understand this guy."

Carlbadier began skimming over the written profile. "Are you sure we are looking for a redhead, Mulder?"

"Positive."

"That'll make things a lot easier for us." He sighed and placed the file on top of the desk. "I didn't come looking for you to talk about the profile, though..."

I just sat there, looking at him. I was still angry at their idea of risking Scully's well being, and damned if I was going to help him by making this any easier.

"I'll go straight to the point. I know you don't like us using Scully as bait for this guy. I don't like it either, but we don't have much choice. She's the only available agent at such short notice, and she knows what we are dealing with here."

He paused, waiting for me to say something. But I remained silent.
I couldn't trust myself not to say something I'd later regret.

"Damn it, Mulder, I wouldn't do it if there was another way out of this mess! But it's done and I'm not changing my mind about it. I came down here to tell you that when you finished the profile you were free to go home."

"Go... home..." I muttered, clenching my jaws. "I don't get a chance to go out and play with the other kids, do I?"

"Mulder, you're tired, you're not assigned to the team and you're too emotionally involved to be of any use..."

"I'm what?" The hell with composure, I've never been the ideal FBI agent to begin with.

"You heard me. I don't want you at the stakeout. That's final. You got a problem with that, take it to Skinner. You did your job and now you're officially back in the X-Files..."

"Yeah...go chase some aliens, Spooky and leave everyday criminals to the good guys."

Carlbadier and I turned to the door as one. Standing there, smiling wickedly, was Tom Pain-in-the-Ass Colton. I opened my mouth to reply to his smartass comment, but Stan beat me to it.

"Agent Colton, hand in your badge and gun. You're suspended".

"What! I didn't do anything! I was backing you up in your decision to leave Spooky out of the game..."

"You heard me, Colton." Visibly upset, Colton dropped his gun and badge on top of the desk. "That's be all. I'll have Skinner's secretary call you at home when we're ready to determine your return to this section."

Colton opened his mouth as if to say something, thought better about it, and turned around to leave.

"And, Colton?" Tom turned around, half expecting the whole thing to be a joke. "Next time you address Agent Mulder by any other than his last name, I'll personally kick your ass out of the Bureau."

Carlbadier completely dismissed Colton and turned back to look at me.
"Asshole", he muttered.

I felt somewhat uncomfortable, not being used to have someone else do my battles for me. I wasn't sure if I should thank Stan or just let the whole thing go unmentioned.

"Stan..."

"Go home, Mulder. Get some rest. Come back tomorrow noon. We'll discuss then if you get a chance to play bodyguard for Dr. Scully."

With that, he turned and left.

I grabbed my overcoat and followed suit. I had a redhead to catch.
Two, actually, if things got really bad.

STARDUST NIGHT CLUB AUGUST 9 11:23 P.M.

The Stardust Night Club wasn't what I had expected. Perhaps I had been misled in my assumptions by the image of the Vegas Stardust.
Never been there, mind you, but I had seen "Showgirls" enough times as to feel acquainted with the place.

It's Washington twin was more of a distant cousin. It wasn't ritzy or flashy. No big marquee on the outside, no fancy signs announcing their dancing stars, no red carpet or anxious valet waiting to whisk your car the minute you got out, hoping to earn a juicy tip.

No. The Stardust Night Club in Washington D.C. was a dark and distinguished building, with a classy neon sign at a first-floor level and a very discreet double door entrance. Everything was nice and tasteful, lest anyone think that government employees liked to get down and dirty in their spare time.

Inside, things were a little different. For one, it was brighter.
And the atmosphere went from discreet to outright blatant. The testosterone overload in the air was so thick you could almost taste it. It reminded me of a huge and decadent bachelor party.

Finding Scully's contact wasn't very difficult. It was just a matter of finding the right hand to squeeze with a twenty among the club's staff. Both the bartender and the bouncers had seen Candy, one of the club's employees, arriving earlier that night with a petite redhead.

Doug, one of the bouncers, told me that Candy was the one in charge of the new dancers. He said she had been working in the club for six years and the only employee with more seniority was Oscar, the owner.
It seems this guy Oscar trusted her unconditionally and never questioned her choice of dancers.

He pointed her out to me when she briefly appeared behind the stage's curtains. She filled the "blond bimbo" stereotype up to the nines,
chewing gum included.

"You sure the owner trusts her?" I asked, doubtfully.

Marty laughed. "Don't let appearances deceive you. Underneath that bubbly blond exterior lies the brains of a nuclear scientist and the commercial instincts of a Wall Street broker."

"If you say so"
"Me and everyone else. She's busy right now with the crash course for the new dancer, but she'll be free in an hour, tops. Have a drink,
enjoy the view, and I'll introduce you two on our next break."

"Sure, why not?" I mumbled trying to sound excited at the prospect.

At least, Scully was still around and I could keep an eye on her.

Half an hour later I was deeply in conversation with Mike, the bartender. I told him this is my first time at the Stardust and asked him if the girls are nice. He tells me they are.

"But... how nice?" I kept asking. I wanted to make sure Scully was safe inside as well as outside.

"Well... Oscar, the owner, would throw out any girl, no matter how popular, if he suspected she was doing drugs... and he won't pick up girls from the street just because they're busty. No, no. To work at the Stardust the girls need to audition. We are a decent business".

I tried to look disappointed. "So, no hanky-panky going on?"

A broad smile crossed Mike's face. "No... unless you got enough cash on you and the lady in question finds you slightly attractive".

I raised an eyebrow in my best Scully imitation. "That so?"

"Yup. You see, after a dancer has left the stage, most guys will try to place a wager ... it's like bidding for the chance of getting a private dance. The highest bidder gets the privilege of the dance."

I was both curious and worried. Private dance my ass, I thought.
"And what can you expect from a private dance session?"

"That would depend on the girl... and how much cash you've got on you... 50 dollars to get a lap dance... 500 bucks could get you a night to remember... "

So much for the decency of the club. "Thought you said they were no street girls..."

"No. No street-girls for the Stardust... only top-quality, 5 star escorts and call-girls... most of the ladies here get their kicks out of champagne and caviar, and you better have a limo waiting for them at the door... "

The phone rang and Mike went to answer it. I was feeling uneasy. I looked around to see what kind of guys went to the Stardust for a little fun. Most of them looked like respectable, married men all dressed up pretty much like me. A couple of biker type here and there, but ,mostly, it looked like a respectable place.

Still, the idea of any of these guys laying a hand on Scully made my stomach churn. I sighed. Maybe no one would find her as appealing as the other dancers...

Sure. And maybe Scully would come out dancing with little grey men as a chorus line.

I caught a glimpse of Scully's hair behind the stage's curtain. I moved closer and thought I saw a concerned look on her face. She was biting her lower lip in apprehension while looking at the dancer performing on the stage.

I looked at this girl. Tall, long legs, nice breasts, black, wild hair. A couple of years ago I would have been drooling all over the place for her. But that was before I fell for Scully. Now I can only think in terms of red and blue. What can I say? I'm addicted to her.

But I could see why Scully was feeling uneasy. She's the most modest, private person I've ever met. I couldn't imagine Scully stripping down to barely nothing and keeping a cool facade...

I was sure she'd do it. I mean, she's a professional. She'd get the job done. But I seriously couldn't believe she'd be able to pull this off without blushing from her head to her toes.

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed Scully and Candy returning from the backstage. I quickly mingled with the crowd, hoping Scully wouldn't recognise me. I followed them outside just in time to see Scully getting into her car and driving away.

"Remember, 9:30 a.m.!", called the blond after the moving vehicle. I could see Scully waving her hand.

My car was parked behind the club. I got in and drove to Scully's apartment. When I got there, I saw that her car was parked in its appointed slot, and the lights were on inside her place. I grabbed my cell phone and speed dialled her number.

"Scully". To an outsider, her voice would have been crisp and professional. But I know her better. And I know she's deeply annoyed and would have anyone's head for breakfast if provoked.

"It's me." I've never taken the time for niceties like saying hello or goodbye and Scully doesn't seem to mind... at least, not much.

"What is it, Mulder? Weren't the lab reports clear enough for you to understand them? Or are you expecting me to run out to perform another autopsy at 2:00 in the morning?" She's in her sarcastic mood. So maybe we'll change annoyed for a more suitable term. Royally pissed off comes to mind.

"I just wanted to see if you're okay..." Playing it cool seemed like a good strategy at the moment.

"Well, you know I'm home and in one piece, so you might as well drive back to your apartment, cause I'm not in the mood for midnight visits, ok? I'm fine." And, with that, she hung up.

I couldn't believe it. Damn it! She knew I was outside. I wondered if she knew I had been following her. I hoped not. When Scully gets this angry it is advisable to stay out of her way. And of her firing range.

I sighed. At least I knew she was safe at home. And I also knew she was meeting Candy at 9:30. I wasn't expected at the office until noon. That should give me enough time to see what was she going to do and where she would be. It would also give me enough time to figure out how to convince Stan Carlbadier to allow me to keep an eye on her.

Officially, that is.

Sighing, I turned on the ignition and went home. And although I was exhausted both mentally and physically, I was also feeling restless. I was familiar with the sensation. It is the same high I always experience after a profile.

Sleeping was out of the question. So was chatting with Scully to help us both to relax. That left only one thing to do. I plopped down on the couch and sat there watching one of those videos that weren't mine.
I sighed again. If I couldn't unwind enough, the next day was going to be a hard one.

If I had only known what lay in store for me ...

/