SPOILERS: Detour (you probably wouldn't get it all if you haven't seen it).

TIMELINE: Right after Detour.

DISCLAIMER: I don't own FM or DS, nor do I claim to. CC and 1013 Productions do, so blame them!


TANGENTS

By Winam

"Scully?"

At the sound of my name, I pried my eyes open, rubbing them with the heel of my hand.

It was dark.

And we weren't in Washington DC.

"Mulder... Don't tell me you got us lost again."

"Um, not exactly."

"Then where are we... exactly?"

He ran a hand through his hair, causing another strand to droop on his face. "I passed a sign a mile back welcoming us to Boise, Virginia."

"Right." I puffed, annoyed at not being home. Annoyance is a perfectly normal emotion to feel around Mulder, who had no sense of time. You couldn't even shoot some sense into him. Ask me, I've tried.

"Um, Scully."

"What?"

"Do you mind if we stopped for the night? I know we're only 100 miles from DC, but I don't think I can drive in a straight line any more. I'd rather take my time than risking coming home in a body bag."

I sighed. "Mulder, I feel okay. I'll drive."

He shook his head. "Uh-uh. You've had less sleep than I did last night. And I don't count half-hour catnaps as sleep."

"Mulder, I assure you I'm fine."

He silenced me by resting his fingers on my lips.

"Please, Scully... Let's not argue over a simple thing like this. I know we both have enough leave coming to sacrifice at least one day. I'll even promise to cover your butt if Skinner gets suspicious."

He smiled wryly, hopefully even. Although he shouldn't have had any reason to doubt. He could get away with almost anything when looked at me with those sleepy eyes.

Bedroom eyes, I once joked to my friends. Afterwards, I would punish myself for being so stupid, coming up with a thousand and one reasons why I shouldn't start thinking of Mulder as a potential lover.

Lover.

The word itself frightens me.

Lover. Love.

Was that what I felt for him? Love?

Maybe. It nearly drove me crazy to hold him so close in the forest. I had his head in my lap. All night. I didn't dare to go to sleep, afraid that he'll disappear. He slept so peacefully, unusual for Mulder who was a confirmed insomniac. I didn't even mind him snoring. Somehow, the sound reassured me, kept the monsters at bay for at least one night.

"Scully? What do you think?"

Then, I realised that Mulder was waiting for my answer.

I sighed in defeat. "All right, we'll stay. Just for tonight, though."

"Cool. You gonna bring more pate?"

I smiled. "Let's just stick to cold pizza and cable tonight, Mulder."

"Hey, I'm impressed. From pate to pizza. Your standards are definitely improving."

**

After driving around for half an hour, Mulder finally found a motel. It reminded me of the Bates Motel, complete with a flickering vacancy sign.

Not a good sign of things to come.

I voiced that particular thought to Mulder, who chuckled. "And I thought I was paranoid."

Mulder haggled two rooms from an uncooperative teenage clerk who seemed to be more interested in gluing his eyes to the TV. From the array of moans emanating from the back room, he was probably watching a dodgy porn flick. Mulder had a disciple.

I hauled my suitcase up to my room, collapsing on the bed out of sheer exhaustion. The forest ordeal had definitely gotten to me. It helped that the bed was unusually comfortable. The mattress sagged a little in the centre, but compared to the hard, cold ground it was heaven. I dozed off before I even realised my eyes were closed.

I had managed to grab a total of two, possibly three minutes of sleep before I was awakened by a loud crash from the next room.

God, what was it now?

"Mulder, you all right in there?"

No reply. Oh-oh....

Reaching for my gun, I flicked the safety off and tiptoed to the connecting door. I slammed the door opened, and scanned the room.

No Mulder in sight.

"Mulder?"

"In here." came the muffled reply from the bathroom.

I rushed to the door and flung it open.

"Ow!"

"Oh, god. I'm sorry." I apologised, flicking the safety back on and dropping the gun on the counter.

Mulder was lying prone on the floor, bathroom door wedged against his side. The floor was flooded with water spurting from the basin.

I rolled my eyes. "Dare I ask what happened?"

He smiled sheepishly. "Um... I guess it's time to call the plumber."


Something a little more light-hearted - and there's even another chapter!