Title: The Ugliest Tree You've Ever Seen
Author: Erin
Characters, Pairing: Mulder and Scully
Rating: G
Summary: Mulder and Scully got the last room at the motel...
Warning: This was written June 18, 2001. It was a response to a smut challenge which -SHOCK- I didn't meet. I don't remember the specifics, but it something to do with a Claw game, a broken a/c, a broken door, a non-opening bottle anything that wasn't alcohol and a painting of a tree. I also don't remember what YahooGroup it was for. But I digress. I'm also posting as it, for posterity.
Disclaimer: The original characters belong to FOX, Chris Carter and their respective actors. The OCs are mine.

Special Agent Fox Mulder's gaze followed the slowly moving door with the least amount of enthusiasm as it crept open. He looked into the room and let out a deep sigh. Another crummy motel in another podunk town on another bogus case. When would the X-Files once again see some real action? Mulder knew that the cases he'd been assigned to were to keep him out of the office and out of Assistant Kersh's hair... what there was of it anyway.

Mulder let a smile slip at the thought, but erased it as he plodded through the doorway. Talk about low-class accommodations... there wasn't even a TV set. Mulder closed his eyes, tried to relieve some of the stress in his neck from a full day of driving, and silently prayed that nothing else would go wrong tonight.

With that, the air conditioner unit sputtered and went silent. Mulder rolled his eyes. 'Shooting myself in the head right now would be more productive,' he thought. He sighed again and dropped his overnight bag onto the waist-high dresser against the wall. Next to that, he dropped a small neon green and pink gorilla. Years of practice with "The Claw" had once again paid off.

Mulder let out another sigh and sat on the edge of the bed, looking around the room from his new seat. As he swept the room from left to right, his gaze stopped directly ahead of him.

"Dear God!" he exclaimed. Special Agent Dana Scully, his partner of over seven years, pushed in the doorway with the same amount of enthusiasm as Mulder had moments before. Mulder stood up, as if to hold the door open for her, but took the bag she was carrying under her arm instead. She gave him a dirty look and pushed on through the door.

Mulder returned to his seat on the bed and opened the bag. He looked at the contents, then to his partner, then back into the bag with a slight whimper. He reached in and pulled out a large bottle.

"I thought you were going to buy something with a little more... kick," he said as he examined the label. Scully dropped her bag and pushed the door shut as she replied,

"That was all they had Mulder." She grimaced at the door, which had pushed back to her. She turned the knob and tried pushing it shut again, but to no avail. The door wouldn't close, but Scully kept fighting it.

"I thought you went to the liquor store across the street?" Mulder asked, trying to open the bottle.

"I did, Mulder." She pushed hard on the door and had to laugh as it swung back to her. "That was all they had." Mulder frowned and stood up.

"This is 7-Up." She turned and gave him a look that he knew all to well. It was the 'shut-up-now-and-you'll-live' look he'd caused her to create. Mulder looked back to the bottle and tried opening it again. After a moment, and a quiet curse from Scully, Mulder handed the bottle back to Scully and traded places with her. As she moved towards the bed, she tried to open the bottle. Mulder tried slamming the door, but it only swung back to him faster. He kneeled down to get a better look at the latch as Scully set the bottle on the table. She began to remove her jacket and moved towards the A/C.

"It's hot enough in here, ya think?" she asked, not really expecting an answer. After fiddling with the knobs for a second, Scully's response was to hit the panel.

"Yeah, that'll do it," Mulder stated as he reached for the chair next to him. After a moment, he wedged the chair under the knob, but the door still wasn't closed. He reached over to the table and grabbed the bottle of pop, and proceeded to sit on the new doorstop. Again, he tried with all his might to open the bottle. It was only a stupid twist-off cap!

"Ya know... I'm starting to think that there's a damn good reason why the Bureau has a travel agent..." Scully appeared from the bathroom with a wet washcloth.

"Okay," she said as she took the bottle from Mulder, "you picked this place." She tried to open the bottle with the washcloth as Mulder sighed.

"Okay, this was the only place with a vacancy."

"Fine, but did you have to get the 'Honeymoon Suite'? Wasn't there anything else?" Mulder simply reached for the bottle. "Fair enough…" She gave up on the bottle and sat down on the end of the bed and took a few deep breaths. She was going to lose her mind tonight. There was no arguing it. She looked up to the ceiling, but stopped just above eye-level and the most confused look swept over her face. She turned her head sideways, and then to the other side, then back to the other side.

"What in the hell?" Mulder looked up for a moment and noticed that his partner had found the 'nasty' sharing the room with them tonight. He placed the bottle on the dresser and sat next to Scully.

"I think it's a tree..." he said, motioning to the sight opposite them. Across from them, hanging where a mirror usually would in any other motel room, was a large picture or what seemed to be a landscape. In the middle was a large, brown... thing... that really couldn't be identified. After a few moments, Scully sighed and continued to look at the painting.

"Do you think the artist had a stroke while painting it?" Mulder laughed.

"Must've been fatal..." The both started laughing for a moment, then stopped. Both then looked towards the door and sighed.