Scully bristled and narrowed her eyes almost imperceptibly in her partner's general direction as he fumbled with heaps of files. "Perhaps, Spooky," she said icily, "if you bothered separating the goat-sucking, fat-slurping, pituitary/liver/tumor-eating, inbreeding, cow-exsanguinating, organ-harvesting, genderbending, hokey-pokeying, cerulean blue necrophiliac files" - her voice was steadily rising in intensity as the temperature in the room dropped degree by degree and Mulder turned his back to the overflowing cabinet that had been the focus of his attention a few seconds earlier to stare at Scully in something akin to shock - "from the smallpox- carrying, embryo-stealing, cigarette-smoking, pesticide-spraying, bounty-hunting, cockroach-crunching conspiracy files in the first place..." She paused to breathe and watched as a small mountain of files began their descent from the top of the cabinet and her partner tried - unsuccessfully and with considerably less grace than usual - to catch them. She smirked.
Mulder dropped the few papers he had actually caught and watched the rest flutter to the ground at his partner's feet. "Well, Your Royal Frostiness," he said, dusting his hands off on his slacks, "since you're so much closer to the ground, why don't you pick those up for me?"
Scully glared at him, silently fuming.
He smiled at her.
She hated those damn dimples.
Just like she hated arriving at work punctually only to find her desk covered with unfinished reports - Mulder's unfinished reports, incidentally - and her partner's assertions that while he organized the files, she would finish his reports.
"It's all very logical, Agent Scully," he'd told her. "You write better reports. I'm tall enough to reach all the files."
Had he always been that cocky?
He had then dumped a pile of expense reports onto her desk, followed in quick succession by his instructions, his ideas, and the way he wanted the stupid things done.
She honestly couldn't remember a time that his quirks had annoyed her so much.
So, of course, it was natural that she had cracked when the first soggy sunflower seed shell had lodged itself in her hair.
"Dammit, Mulder," she'd snapped, whirling around and hurling the offensive shell at her insensitive - and clueless - partner. "What the hell am I, your concierge? Why do I have to write your reports?"
That was when he'd made the crack about her height.
She pursed her lips and glared at Mulder's back. He had summarily dismissed her from his thoughts as he went back to the filing cabinet, no doubt expecting her to pick up all the files he had dropped as any good little partner would.
"I am not picking up those files, Mulder," she informed him quietly.
He was flipping through a file that had caught his attention. "Fine, don't," he told her with a shrug, not taking his eyes from the file in his hands. "But disorganization doesn't bother me nearly as much as it utterly incenses you, my dear anal-retentive skeptic."
She opened her mouth with a ready retort, then snapped it shut. He was completely right. He knew that it was only a matter of time before she would be compelled to pick up the papers littering the floor. She hated it when he was right.
"Given the ass you're making yourself out to be, Mulder, I would have to say you're just a bit more anal than I am."
Had she said that out loud? She was about to gasp a hasty apology when Mulder next spoke.
"It has been twenty-nine days since our last spat, Scully. You're a day overdue."
It took her a moment to realize what he was saying. She gasped in barely-contained outrage. "Excuse me?"
He shrugged once again, still seemingly engrossed in the file. "If you would like to go home, take a nice bubble bath, put a heating pad on your back, and pop some Midol, don't let me stop you, Scully."
And how the hell did he know her monthly rituals anyway? At least he didn't mention the┘.
"SaveMart is having a sale on Ben and Jerry's, you know. Two-for-one Chunky Monkey, Scully."
That was it. "It's so nice to know that a BS in physics, a medical degree, and special agent status in the Federal Bureau of Investigations gains me such respect in your eyes," she muttered.
His head shot up at that and a glimmer of genuine surprise was nestled in the dark recesses of his eyes. "I've always respected you, Scully," he said.
His sincerity and his obvious unwillingness even in the heat of an argument to let her believe he didn't respect her were worth forgiving him for knowing about Chunky Monkey.
But leave it to Mulder to ignore - or perhaps not even notice - the easy way out.
"However, others who don't know how pleasantly enigmatic you are on normal days are usually a little, well, put-off," he continued, seemingly oblivious to her reaction. "That's why I try not to accept cases around this time of the month."
She didn't know how to respond to that. Hurling the stapler at his head was not a viable option. Not that she would not enjoy the satisfyingly hollow clunk it would make on his melon of a head. But, as a medical doctor, it would be up to her to staunch the flow of blood and her freshly-laundered white blouse was not up for yet another bloodbath.
And then, of course, the bastard would no doubt make her write the report on the incident.
"You are quite possibly the single most insensitive man on the entire planet," she told him honestly. "And if you happen to be correct about sentient extraterrestrial life, all the little gray women out there will no doubt agree that you are unrivaled for the distinction of Most Insensitive Male in the Cosmos."
"Do you suppose they have 800 numbers?"
Scully stared at him, unsuccessfully trying to decipher what was actually happening between them. Granted, they had had their share of catty arguments, but...
Maybe it was yet another strange cosmic syzygy. Yes, she decided. The House of Mulder's Head was no doubt ascending into the House of Mulder's Ass, creating a strong dominance in the imbecility of her pig-headed partner.
She heaved a sigh and plopped back down onto her chair, reaching underneath her to retrieve yet another soggy shell. She looked at it disconsolately for a moment before flicking it into her partner's cup of coffee. It was a silent but not unappreciated victory. The shell was followed quickly by a rubber band, a paper clip, and a dehydrated piece of tofu she found on her desk from yesterday's lunch.
Knowing Mulder, the tofu would bother him the most.
Scully hastily dropped the eraser she had been preparing to launch and stood. Mulder, surprised as well, promptly lost his somewhat tenuous balance atop the chair and both he and the stack of loose papers he had been holding ended somewhat unceremoniously on the ground.
Skinner waited until the papers finished their graceful, fluttering descent to the ground before asking, "Am I interrupting something, Agents?"
"No, sir, why do you ask?" Mulder nonchalantly crossed his arms and leaned against the cabinet... only to dislodge yet another vulnerable series of papers. Scully closed her eyes. Skinner rolled his.
"Your floor is covered with papers, Agent Mulder, and your partner is throwing office supplies into your coffee."
Mulder looked at Scully, askance. She ignored him and instead asked Skinner politely, "Is there something we can do for you, sir?"
"Please limit your arguments to a few decibels below the upper tolerance range for the human ear, Agents," said the assistant director pointedly. "The stockroom sent a complaint."
Scully shot Mulder a venomous look. He averted his gaze.
"I was not promoted to Assistant Director to babysit forlorn tofu-wielding special agents."
"Yes, sir," said Scully, her eyes downcast.
"Be in my office at 8:30 tomorrow morning. We need to review your last expense report," said Skinner, turning to leave. "Oh, and Mulder?"
"Write your own damn reports."
"You were throwing tofu into my coffee, Scully?" Mulder demanded plaintively, walking over to his desk to assess the damage.
"The stockroom heard enough of our argument - our very personal, very embarrassing argument, incidentally - to file a complaint and you are worried about your coffee?"
Mulder was using the paper clip to fish out the tofu. "Well, yes, I'm worried about the coffee, Scully. All we have left down here is your stupid Sweet 'n' Low. I hate Sweet 'n' Low, Scully."
Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable.
Mulder's cell phone trilled shrilly and he gestured for Scully to get it from his coat pocket as he meticulously balanced the errant piece of tofu on the paper clip.
She heaved a melodramatic sigh and retrieved his phone from his pocket. Before opening the line, she blew sharply on the perilously-balanced tofu and sent it right back into the coffee, splattering Mulder's tie in the process. She grinned. The coffee stains almost made the tie more tolerable.
"Agent Mulder's phone, Agent Scully speaking."
"You make such a good secretary, Scully," Mulder murmured in her ear. She picked up the eraser she had dropped and tossed it into Mulder's coffee with an innocent smile. Another coffee splotch! At this rate, she could have Mulder's entire tie collection fixed by the end of the month.
"What are you doing calling a cell phone, Langly?" Scully said into the phone. "What happened to land lines being more secure?"
Mulder took the phone from her. "What do you want, Langly?" he asked, watching as Scully idly dunked his favorite pen into his coffee. "Where?" Pause. "Are you sure?" Pause. "We'll be right there." He snapped the phone shut and stuffed it into his suit jacket. He headed for the door, grabbing his trenchcoat on the way, and said, "Come on, Scully, we've got a date with the Gunmen."
She sighed, folded her trenchcoat over her arm, and locked the office door behind her. She could hear Mulder already at the opposite end of the hall, impatiently punching the elevator call button. She sighed again.
"You don't know where we're going?"
"Look, Scully," said Mulder patiently as he guided the Taurus on the desolate highway, "Langly said it was a big and that it was going down in an hour. He didn't have time to tell me exactly what we're doing or where exactly we're doing it. He just said to follow this highway until we see them."
"Who is "them"? "Them" with a capital "T" them? Or "them" as in the Gunmen? Or "them" as a sweeping generic pronoun you typically use when you have given in to your suspicious and paranoid nature and are trying to keep me in the dark?"
Mulder shot her a look. "Don't have enough office supplies to keep you entertained, eh Scully?"
"You spilled your own coffee on your own lap, Mulder," she said, looking out the window to watch the desolation sweep past. "I didn't need to bring any office supplies with me."
"Hopefully that made room for plenty of Midol?" he muttered, returning his attention to the road.
If she punched him in the face, he would no doubt lose control of the car, she reasoned silently to herself. And then she'd have to explain the bruise. She sighed... then perked up. If she punched him in the chest, he could still keep his eyes on the road and any marks would be hidden by clothing. She would have to wrap her hand, though, so any evidence that it had been indeed her hand that had inflicted the wound would be obscured. Her trenchcoat would be perfect... It was all part of being in forensics, no problem. In fact, she could probably kill him with her own hands and make it look like suicide. Hmmm...
"If you smack me, we'll spin out on this gravel and die. And that won't look like suicide."
"How the hell did you┘ ?" Scully began.
"You think I'm emotionally unstable, Scully. You know plenty about me to say something that would do irreparable damage to me, but you won't do it precisely because it would be irreparable. So you'd punch me instead. Once you get tired of talking yourself out of it, of course."
"Don't profile me," was the only response she could make to his matter-of-fact reasoning. "I'm your partner, not a serial killer, dammit." She looked at him balefully. "And just because you tempt me to hurt you the way you hurt me doesn't mean that I'd actually hit you."
"I don't mean to hurt you."
It was said with sincerity and Scully melted just a little bit. "I know you don't. And that's why I've never said anything that would really hurt you either, Mulder." She sighed. One day, she promised herself, they were going to take the fact that they knew each other inside and out and put it to good use... like being able to converse like civil, rational adults. Maybe, if they worked really hard they could even manage to see from the other's perspective. She sighed again.
"I don't want to see from your point-of-view, Scully," Mulder commented, doing another one of his famous mind-readings. "I don't much like PMS from this angle. I can't imagine it would be any better from yours."
"Mulder!" she protested.
She didn't have the time to form a comeback. A flash of light enveloped the car and with the screeching of tires, everything went black.