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Disclaimer: Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, Walter Skinner and any other tangentially mentioned characters created by Chris Carter remain his copyrighted property, as well as the copyrighted property of 1013 productions and Fox Television, a unit of 20th Century Fox. No infringement is intended.

Do not post to ATXC newsgroup, I will

Original Posting Date: April 1997

Archive to: Anywhere as long as my name and the story remain intact, and you let me know. Thanks.

Classification: MSR, but mild enough for non-shippers, I'm sure!

Spoilers: Up to US5

Chapter Rating: PG

Story Rating: PG

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Opening Doors 1/1

Special Agent Jack Dale watched as Fox Mulder and his partner left Skinner's office. His gaze followed them as they wound their way through the people coming and going from room to room, watching as they stopped to let the kid with the mail cart swing by. Dale's eyebrow twitched as Mulder, one hand placed in the small of Scully's back, reached around her with the other and opened the door for her. Leaning into the door, Mulder deftly guided Scully through and let in swing closed behind them. He watched as they paused outside the glass door, talking for a moment, then went their separate ways.

Dale thought about Mulder's opening the door for Scully. He'd seen him do it before, in the office, in the field, getting into and out of cars. Dale was surprised by Mulder's actions. Actually, to be truthful, he was surprised at Agent Scully's lack of reaction. Humph. Special Agent Doctor Dana Scully. Hmph. Dale had noticed her right away after transferring out to the DC office. He'd made a few inquiries and from the feedback he'd gotten he'd made the decision to stay well clear of the woman. Rumor had it her temper matched her hair and her blood ran colder than the ice-blue of her eyes. He'd even seen her in action once, during a take-down of suspected "Oklahoma City copycat" bombers a year ago. She'd fought like a hellcat, only her tiny form distinguishing her from the other agents that night. Dale snidely wondered if she did everything that way, hell-bent on keeping up with the guys. He preferred his women softer, someone who liked getting flowers and having doors held for them. Not someone like Agent Scully, you didn't open doors for somebody like her. You let them do it and stayed the hell out of the way. Catching sight of Mulder walking past the 'bullpen' windows again, Dale got decided that now was a great time to get some coffee.

XxXxXxXxXx

The sharp sound of the phone jarred Scully from her thoughts. Reaching over the open casefile in her hands she picked up the phone with a distracted, "Scully."

"Um, Agent Scully, it's Kimberly, AD Skinner's assistant? Um, you'd better get up here right away." Scully stared at the now dead receiver in her hands for a second, then bolted out of her chair and out the door.

What the hell could have happened? We left Skinner's office not 20 minutes ago? We? Oh great, where the hell is Mulder? Popping out of the elevator doors the minute they began to slide open, Scully raced down the hall, only to stop short at the sight in front of her. At first she thought she was seeing a repeat of Mulder's attack on Skinner a few years ago, when his water was laced with LSD. Looking closer she noticed that it wasn't Skinner on top of Mulder, but another agent, pulling him off of...Scully didn't know the guy's name, but she'd seen him around before. Several more agents were pulling Mulder and the unknown agent apart, one of them, Paul Jameson, pushing him toward Skinner's office.

Now completely perplexed, Scully followed Jameson and a still-muttering Mulder into Skinner's office. Taking a first-aid kit from the tight-lipped Kimberly, Scully moved in front of Mulder. He irritably waved her off, wiping his lip with the back of his hand. "Mulder, what the hell was that all about?" Jameson's voice was low, angry. He knew and liked Mulder, and had quietly supported him and his work for years. Thank God Skinner had left the office immediately after his earlier meeting with Mulder and Scully.

Mulder looked from Scully to Jameson then back to Scully before looking at the floor. He knew he was going to catch hell from Scully for this, but he also knew Jameson wasn't going to let him out of the office without an explanation. He didn't owe Jameson anything, but he liked and respected the older agent. Shrugging his shoulders and avoiding Scully he looked at Jameson and tried, "He took the last Snickers bar?"

Jameson snorted and shook his head. He'd bet, judging from Mulder's looks and non-answers that he knew just what had happened. Hell, he'd snuffed out enough speculation about the two young partners himself. Jack Dale was relatively new to the department and obviously too dumb to know when to keep his mouth shut.

"Look Mulder, Skinner's out for the afternoon. I'd suggest you make yourself 'unavailable' for about the same amount of time." Paul glanced at Scully, who had fixed her partner with a dead-eye stare that made him glad he wasn't the object of her regard.

"Agent Scully." He waited until he had her full attention. "I'm sure you two have an out-of-town case to pursue, don't you?" He smiled as Scully caught his meaning and let himself out of the office. He'd go see Agent Dale and have a word or two with the youngster.

One...two...three...four...fi– Mulder's mental count was interrupted by Scully, who planted her tiny frame in front of Mulder and shoved him down into the couch behind him.

"TELL me, please, just tell me, that wasn't about what I think it was?" Scully's eyes were narrowed as she searched his face. Opening the first aid kit, she again began to blot the blood from his lip, daring him to push her away now that they were alone. "Uh, Scully, well...I was really hungry, and...OUCH!" Mulder winced as Scully pushed a little harder than necessary on his lip.

"Sorry."

She didn't sound sorry. His face was a mess. They both fell silent as she continued wiping his face.

"Which one was it this time?" At his surprised look, she quirked her eyebrow at him, letting a small smile cross her lips. "Which nickname? 'Ice Queen'? 'Tamale'?"

Mulder jerked his head back and stared at her in shock. She knew?

Scully snorted at his stunned look and pulled his head forward again.

"Give me a little credit partner, I'm not nearly that dumb." "Mmph, I never...mmph...ouch...said you were...dumb, Scuwwy." His lip pinned by the antiseptic-covered cuetip she was holding to his cut lip, Mulder mangled her name. His eyes smiled into hers.

"I know, I was just wondering which of the ridiculous myths about me you felt compelled to dispel, defend or put to death?" She stepped back after putting a small butterfly bandage above his left eye. It added a sort of rakish look to his appearance.

"C'mon, let me have it."

Mulder shrugged. Now that he'd had time to think about it, he knew what he'd done was dumb. It really was a good thing Skinner was gone, he wasn't sure how he'd get himself out of this otherwise. Geez, attacking another agent because...because...

He looked over at Scully, to where she stood leaning against the front of Skinner's desk, arms crossed, head tilted, the light from the window framing her hair while she waited for him to answer. He sighed. Scully'd wait there all night he knew.

"All right. It sounds dumb saying it now, but he said...He asked me if..." Mulder stopped. Both of Scully's eyebrows were now arched high across her forehead, threatening to disappear into her scalp soon. "Hell, he didn't ask or say anything Scully, it was what he implied." He paused, then shrugged, knowing it was useless to explain. "I didn't like it."

Scully studied Mulder, watching him as he shifted in front of her. She had an idea of what this was about, and she knew she'd never get Mulder to tell her the whole thing. Following a hunch, she leaned forward and walked back over to him, pulling him off of the couch.

"C'mon, we'd better get busy packing, or we'll never make it out of town, to wherever it is we're supposed to go. And Mulder?" She turned to face him, waiting until his was only inches from hers. He unconsciously leaned toward her to catch what she had to say. Leaning into his personal space, her breath brushing his cheek, she said softly, "I like it when you open doors for me. Just because I'm good at my job, and can outshoot you," she grinned at him, "doesn't mean that I don't enjoy all of that 'gentlemanly' stuff you do. Heck, I even like getting flowers... from people I love." Closing the last bit of space between them, Scully pressed her lips to his cheek, breathing in his musky Mulderscent, before turning and leaving Skinner's office. Mulder stayed where he was, frozen. Kimberly poked her head in a minute later, giving Mulder a funny look.

"Agent Mulder?" He looked at her, eyes distant. "Agent Scully said to tell you that she'd meet you at JFK in an hour, something about the case in Arizona?"

Mulder nodded, a grin splitting his face as he left Skinner's office at a jog. Whatever case Scully had decided they'd pursue for their "get the hell of Dodge" trip, he knew it was going to be an interesting few days. If he pushed it, he'd have time to stop by the florist on the way to the airport...