"I suppose it goes without saying I have a bad feeling about this, Mulder," Scully whispered as low as she could, her voice barely audible except to her tall, lanky partner's back. Above her, she could see his head nod imperceptibly.
The dank, dark, and disturbing warehouse their suspect had run to loomed over them like a rusted skeleton, broken windowpanes the only source of light in the complex. Inside, the rotting remains of hundreds of wooden crates were mounted like pine-forest canyons; any path amongst them could be lead to the perpetrator. The problem was in knowing which one of the paths the man had taken.
Scully of course had done the sensible thing, she had called for back-up nearly as soon as they arrived, as Mulder had jumped out of the car, run first to the suspect's vehicle, then to the front of the building. There at least he waited till he heard the sound of Scully's clipping heels, turning to ensure she had her weapon drawn and was near him before he entered. Now they stood at the first crossroads in the maze of packing boxes, he jerked his head right as Scully tightened her hold on her gun.
This was had become the typical formation they had started taking into any dangerous situation, he in the front leading off, she in the back holding cover. There was nothing macho or political about it, despite the fact he was the man and the senior agent. Mulder was nearly a foot taller than Scully, and despite his long limbs, he moved much more quickly than she did at times, thus allowing for him to both be the primary first target with reflexes enough to move out of the way if need be. Scully could then move to cover to watch his back, her better aim and cool under fire enabling her to ensure that Mulder had sufficient enough protection behind him that he could chase after the suspect. In most situations it was an effective enough pairing, though, as she glanced at the top of the wall of boxes, nothing could necessarily stop them from being attacked from above. Her blue eyes tried to peer into the darkness above them to see their suspect, but there seemed to be nothing in the shadows.
Too late, Scully realized, that while she had been staring into the blackness above her, Mulder, with his wider strides, had already moved forward and down the walkway, around a corner up ahead, and she had failed to see in what direction he had moved. Swearing silently to herself, Scully crept as softly down the concrete floor as her shoes would allow, not for the first time wondering why she allowed her vanity to get the better of her in footwear, especially when silence was required. She hoped that Mulder had stopped just around the corner that he was waiting for her patiently to catch up. As she carefully tip-toed to the edge of wooden crate wall, she bit her lip, leaning close against the pine wood barrier on her left, smelling it's earthy scent as she held her gun at the ready, her face creeping past the sharp edge little by little, till she could see past it enough with one eye, enough so that she could try to locate her now missing partner.
He wasn't there. Frustration warred with the need for silence, as she turned her head the other way to see if he had gone right instead of left. She couldn't call out to him to locate him, so she decided to take her chances by just picking left and hoping that he had gone that way. She took one cautious step in that direction, leveling her gun in front of her as she attempted to look in every direction at once, ensuring she could either glimpse Mulder, the perpetrator, or both.
She sensed, rather than saw, that someone was moving behind her as she whipped her gun around just in time to see a large, male shape lunge at her, her gun firing but missing him as he took one arm to knock it aside, nearly causing her weapon to fly out of her grasp. Scully stumbled at the force of the assault, falling backwards as her shoes were unable to keep her balance, and she hit the cold, concrete floor hard. She hadn't realized she had cried out till the sound of it echoed somewhere in the cavern of the rafters above.
She still had her gun in her right hand, she tried to bring her arm up to aim again, but her assailant was quick, and was on top of her before she knew it, pushing her wrists to the floor, steel hands grasping the slender bones, as he slammed her right hand down in an attempt to force her to drop her gun. She tried to will her fingers to hold on, even as the digits started to become numb from the abuse. The man's weight sat heavily on her knees; she was unable to wedge them out enough to place a well-aimed kick to the groin. It was the first line of defense she had learned as a child. A tremor fluttered in her heart as she breathed in the sweat and sour smell of blood, and it crept into her brain before she could cry out the name of her partner to draw his attention.
"I just want to be left alone," the suspect leaned into her face, his long, lanky, greasy hair brushing the skin of her nose, as his dark eyes glittered down into hers. "I just want you two to leave me…"
There was a blur above them as something swooped in, knocking off the weight from off Scully's legs and lower abdomen, and rolling everything in a huge tumble down the concrete corridor. Scully coughed briefly as she tried as quickly as she could to scramble up, her aching right hand once again leveling her weapon as in relief she was able to finally register the perpetrator laying fearfully quiescent on the floor, his large hands up, as Mulder stood angrily over him, his weapon aimed firmly at a spot between the man's eyes, with a glower on his face that spoke of the wrath of hell should Scully turn a blind eye and let him have at the suspect. The man below them trembled slightly at the fury in Mulder's eyes, and glanced at Scully pleadingly.
"Mulder, I've got you covered," she finally murmured softly, not that he needed covering when he was like this, but it was much more her way of diffusing his legendary temper. It was effective, as she could see the tension loosen in his shoulders and arm, though his expression didn't change as he stared blackly down on their man, the sirens of the arriving back up wailing in the distance.
"You all right, Scully," he finally barked, as voices from the entrance of the warehouse started coming closer, footsteps echoing against the walls of wood and roof of metal.
"Yeah," she breathed, nodding absently as he finally glanced back at her. He didn't lower his weapon, and neither did she, till the first of the blue-uniformed police officers arrived on the scene, rushing to the suspect to remove him from the direct line of Mulder's fire. It was only then he lowered his weapon, as she did, and he crossed to her in two long strides, his eyes, still wrathfully dark, sweeping her first from head to toe, before he grabbed her right wrist in a hold that was surprisingly gentle, given his mood. Scully felt both intimidated by the behavior and slightly warmed by it. Yet, the words out of her mouth were neither frightened nor appreciative, but rather irritated.
"I'm fine, I'll just have a nasty bruise later," she tried to slip her hand away as he turned it over, giving her a doubtful glare as he finally let it go.
"Flex it, it's fine," he sounded briefly like her mother, and she tried not to laugh. When he was in this mood, it only served to piss him off.
"Last I knew, I was the one with the medical degree, not you," her tone was light, despite the way her heart still fluttered erratically inside of her, the adrenaline finally starting to wind down. Placing her gun in its holster, she glanced over at the suspect, who was being led away now, her mind recalling his words as he loomed over top of her.
"He just wanted to be left alone," she sighed sadly, as Mulder turned in the direction of her gaze.
"Yeah, well he could have perhaps gotten that point across without jumping my partner," he growled, but without the heat that his words would have had moments before. She knew his temper was subsiding.
They stood there, watching the police filing in, an awkward silence between them as Scully absently rubbed her wrist, and Mulder put his weapon away, straightening his suit jacket, and then as was his habit, placing his hand right at the small of her back to lead her out. It was a gesture that Scully was familiar with, one of those old-time, gentlemanly gestures that Mulder used with many women, suspects, other women in the office, and herself. It was neither demeaning nor possessive, but it was reassuring, as if a reminder of his presence behind her even when she herself wasn't looking.
She cleared her throat awkwardly as she murmured "Thanks," lowly, as the two wended their way through the officers and out into the open area outside of the warehouse where they had first entered.
"For what," he asked, sounding truly surprised by her gratitude.
"For covering my back there, I lost you because I wasn't paying attention."
"I missed you for the same reason," he shrugged.
"Still, thanks for coming to the rescue like that."
"It's what partner's do, Scully, we have each other's backs," he finally smiled. "Where would I be if you didn't have mine?"
Scully considered that for the briefest of moments, "The loony bin."
"See, I knew there was a reason I had to save you, Scully," he chuckled as the hand on her back reached up to pat her shoulder, squeezing it softly. "Without you, there would be no one to keep me grounded and humble."
She reached her good, left hand to grasp his larger hand still on her shoulder. "That's what partner's do, Mulder."