a/n: hi everyone! i'm no stranger to the fanfiction world, but it has been a few years for me, so excuse me while i stretch my muscles. i feel strongly that "once a fanfic writer, always a fanfic writer," because i know (at least for me anyway) once you get inside of these characters and know them well enough to write them, it creates a special bond, and sometimes you just wonder what they're doing from time to time. and i just completed my first year of college, so i will have enough space in my life for mulder and scully for at least the next few months. they give me a good excuse to write, which i have discovered is something i really love to do. when i went back to ff, i always thought it would be with another story that i've dedicated almost two and a half years to developing, but this is something i started during finals week and i feel has really taken up a space in my heart. it's different, it's fun, it gives me butterflies. i hope it does this for you too.

i'd like to pay tribute, through my return, to the fanfic authors that were there for me when i started almost four years ago now, and also to all who are reading in the present. but, most importantly, i'd like to thank my 6-year-old australian shepherd, leila, because when i asked her whether or not i should start publishing again, she didn't say no. i'd also like to thank her for her countless hours of service laying on top of my feet. i don't think i could have written as well without that small comfort.

with that said, we're ready to move forward. if you're still reading by this time, then i think this is the start of a long and wonderful relationship.

disclaimer: the x-files do not belong to me, i'm simply borrowing characters and situations for recreational purposes and my immense enjoyment.


Outside the Lines

by: dear pearlie

It wasn't unusual for Fox Mulder to have a bad day. Hell, he worked for the FBI. Most days were bad. However, having to work on a case where an entire troupe of girl scouts was ceremoniously killed and displayed around a campsite by their leader's schizophrenic ex-husband was not even inside the realm of what constituted a bad day. To top it all off, he had been the one to find them; his elevated ability to profile murderers made it possible for his squad to focus in on the ex as the primary suspect and thus spared the investigation days. But he hadn't been quick enough. Though it only took Mulder's unit three days to find the missing troupe, by then the girls had already been dead for two.

His partner, Reggie Purdue, had constantly assured him that there was nothing he could have done—the man had acted too quickly. But that did nothing to abate Mulder's waves of sickness as they inconveniently passed through him on the drive back to DC from West Virginia. The greatest frustration about this case was that the murderer had killed himself once he knew the FBI was closing in on him. The bastard would never be brought to justice in a court of law; the families of the little girls who were murdered would never find solace in the punishment of their loved ones' assailant. The man would never have to stand trial and explain to a courtroom full of people what possessed him to commit the reprehensible acts that he had. He wouldn't have to see the grief-stricken faces of the parents of his victims. He wouldn't have to feel remorse. He wouldn't have to feel anything ever again.

It's safe to say that that day had been a bit worse than just bad.

As the investigation was wrapping up, Mulder, a criminal profiler for the Violent Crimes division of the FBI, was told by his fellow agents and superiors to take some time off. The evidence was all clearly laid out; there weren't many questions left to answer. Save for a few reports here and there, Mulder wasn't needed and he knew it.

But he still couldn't get the looks of pure horror that were on the girls' faces out of his mind. He couldn't shake the image of their limp bodies laying on the ground from his brain. In really terrible cases, that was the norm. But this…

Mulder quietly walked into the loud bar that night. Head down, his stubble and bloodshot eyes that came as a result of not sleeping for three days making him look like he had already had a few, even though he was completely sober. That needed to change. He wanted to go back to his college days at Oxford, where he would get shitfaced every weekend and not remember the things he said, the crimes he committed, the women he fucked; then be awake and ready for Monday morning class without the slightest hangover. He wanted to black out… it didn't matter where. He just wanted to erase the horrible memories he had of this case from himself, so he sat down and put his credit card on the counter.

The bartender was concerned for him, he could tell the moment he sat down. She was around his age, but so small. Oh so small. Mulder bet that she would struggle to fit herself right under his chin. Yet she didn't seem dainty. Maybe it was the fiery red hair that gave him this impression, but she even looked a little feisty. Definitely not one to shy away from a conflict. It was Friday night and there was a group of men at the other end of the counter looking only about half as gone as Mulder wanted to be. Even though the moment he looked at the woman he had garnered a certain respect for her, concern was mutual.

Mulder knew it was just a complex. He hadn't been able to save the girl scouts, so he was projecting his need to protect on to some random bartender. A small voice in the back of his mind was telling him that he needed therapy from another psychologist in his unit, not from a bottle, but that voice was small and easily silenced. While all of these thoughts bombarded him, Mulder hadn't realized that he was staring right into the woman's eyes, and had been doing so for longer than appropriate. Drink? What did he want to drink? Rat poison. Jet fuel. He never wanted to see another horrible thing again.

"Jim Beam," was what he answered. The woman's eyebrow rose about an inch on her forehead. She knew something was wrong with that man. She worked in a bar, she had seen many many people throw themselves on the counter in order to drown their sorrows in alcohol. But there was something uniquely distraught about the man before her.

There was nothing she could do but turn around and pour the drink, though. She felt his eyes on her ass. That was nothing new. She wasn't disgusted, though, and even smiled a little to herself in amusement. That was new.

"So… wanna tell me why you're here?" she got up the nerve to ask him as he hungrily finished the drink she had just given him. A loud yell of enjoyment from the other end of the bar erupted, but she knew that those guys, left to their own devices, would entertain themselves as long as she kept their pitcher of beer full. She normally didn't like to get involved with the customers. Drunk people weren't exactly the best company, and being a young, pretty woman certainly has its disadvantages in some situations. She was just so drawn to the depressed man in front of her, though, like a moth to a flame.

"Crappy day," Mulder answered shortly, not wanting to seem curt with the lady, but also realizing that in his state, he could only bring other people down, not be uplifted by them. He wanted to bask in his misery alone. Plus, he didn't plan on being coherent for long anyway.

"I can see that. What's your name?"

"Fox." She gave him the same face that most people gave him when he revealed his first name.

"Well I think that deserves another one," she said and poured him a second drink. This earned a smile and a small chuckle from him. Her reaction was much different from the usual, "How unique," or, "What an interesting name." Honesty. He appreciated it.

God he has a beautiful mouth, she swooned to herself.

"That's the first time in my life that having a goofy name has worked out for me. Please call me Mulder," he informed her, noticing himself nursing the new drink instead of gulping it down, which would ensure speedier intoxication.

"Mulder. I like that. Mul-der," she tested his name on her tongue. She liked it and he liked the way she said it. Another outburst from the group of men he shared the bar with. Sensing her distaste for them, Mulder turned to watch the bartender shake her head.

"Since it looks like we're going to be buds, you'd better tell me your name."

"Are you talking to me or the drink?" she laughed.

"Oh, this guy and me, we've known each other for a long time," he raised the whiskey and tried to match her beautiful grin.

"Well my name is Dana Scully and it seems we have a mutual friend," she remarked, pouring herself a glass of the dark liquor as well and clinking it with his. With a good visual of her hand, he searched for a ring. How could she not be taken already? What did she lack that made her unqualified for a really spectacular husband or boyfriend? Mulder had a feeling that if there was no hope for Dana Scully, there certainly wasn't any hope for him, or anybody.

"Dana. Day-nuh," he mimicked her, accentuating more than she had with him. He didn't like the way his face looked, though, as her name left his lips. Jaw dropped, mouth open. He looked like he was disgusted with her, even though that couldn't be further from reality. Though he tried, Mulder's mind never stopped to take a break, and he searched for a way to give this beautiful woman the beautiful lip position she deserved. She noticed the gears turning in his head, but she had no idea what they were turning for.

"Scully. Scully. Sculleeeee," he tested, liking her last name more than her first. The high sound at the end of her name forced his mouth to constrict upwards, and he was practically smiling when he was done saying it. Yes. She made him smile.

"What are you doing?"

"You call me Mulder, I call you Scully," Mulder explained to her, as though it were the most simple thing in the world.

"I haven't been referred to by my last name since high school gym class."

"Will you drop and give me fifty?"

"Dream on."

Maybe it was the booze, but Mulder had surmised after five minutes of bantering conversation that Dana Scully was perfect.

"Why are you here Scully? How does a woman like you end up working in a place like this?" Mulder asked, his eyes darting down to the men at the end of the counter.

Scully had many reasons for working in that bar. But she only offered Mulder one.

"Paying off student loans is a bitch."

"I'll drink to that. Where did you attend?"

"I just received my MD from Stanford."

He almost spit out his drink. There was no doubt that she was intelligent, that much was blatantly obvious. But he had no idea he was sitting across from a woman with a medical degree. It excited him.

"Holy shit. What are you doing in DC? What are you doing in a bar?"

"We already went over that, Mulder."

"I'm sure there are plenty of seedy bars in California," he griped, knowing she was trying to avoid giving him information.

"I just… needed a change. And my parents don't live very far from here. I actually did my undergrad at the University of Maryland."

"My my Dr. Scully, you just continue to impress me."

"Oh, you haven't seen anything yet," she told him, deciding to play with fire and grabbed three bottles of vodka from the counter behind her. Mulder carefully watched her, almost in a trance, as she threw one bottle up into the air, then proceeded to juggle them.

"This," she began to explain to him without losing her concentration, "is definitely the most valuable skill I've learned thus far in my life."

Mulder gave a belly laugh. "I can see why you say that. I mean, it's practical uses are so vast."

Deciding she had given him enough of a show, she let the bottles fall neatly back into her hands and then gave a nice bow as Mulder clapped for her. Although she was at work, she hadn't felt so lighthearted in awhile.

"You know, your presence may save me a lot of money on drinks tonight."

"I hope that doesn't affect my tip."

"Here's a tip: I'm about to write my home number on a business card I'm taking out of my wallet right now."

"Well then you'll obviously need a pen."

Dana Scully was surprised with herself. She never flirted with guys on the other side of the bar. She never flirted with guys period. Yet here she was, handing this man she had barely known five minutes a pen to write down his phone number with. A phone number that she would take home and agonize over for a few days before realizing that it would never work. It wouldn't.

"Here you go, gorgeous," he smiled, and she lifted an eyebrow at him once again that night. Though she didn't get the chance to test out this theory, Scully knew she was probably going to make a remark about how she wasn't interested in anything she felt her new friend had to offer. She would have fucked up for herself, except someone fucked things up for her before she could get the chance to.

"Hey mama, why don't you get your fine ass down here and pour us some more?" a man from the obnoxious party at the end of the bar commanded. At first, Scully wasn't sure that he was talking to her. Men were rude to her all the time in that place, but she still hadn't gotten used to it. Even so, Scully had learned to swallow her pride, and filled up another pitcher of what they were drinking and walked over to them. Mulder could see the physical toll being spoken to like she was nothing more than a piece of meat took on Scully. It was clearly obvious that she was angered by their words, but she wouldn't do anything about it. Mulder tried not to either.

But they should have known it wouldn't be the end of the confrontation.

"Don't you think you guys have had enough?" Dana asked them, trying not to breathe the smell of their stale alcoholic breath through her nose.

"Don't you think you shout shut your pretty little mouth and let us enjoy ourselves?" the same man commented quickly. Again, it looked as if Scully had been physically affected by those words. They were the equivalent to a slap across the face. Mulder's fists clenched in rage.

"Yup, you've had enough. Keys," she instructed. The other three men handed over their keys with no problem, but the unruly man must have made it a goal to get as far under Dana's skin as possible. Or as far under something else of Dana's as possible.

"I'm not giving you these until you let me see those," the man said sinisterly, then darted his hands out over the counter to grab Scully's shirt. He didn't get a handful of anything, but he did get a face full of fist. Mulder's fist. It was so swift that the man was knocked off his barstool and into his party, and soon drinks and fists went flying everywhere. The bouncer, Chris, stepped in immediately, but not before Mulder could do some serious damage to the belligerent man's nose and jaw. He then had to hold back four men as Mulder shook his right hand out, but they were all drunk and it wasn't hard. Understanding a majority of what happened by the end of the incident, Chris ushered the four men out and called a cab for them. It was just him, Scully, and Mulder left in the bar.

"Scully, are you okay?" Mulder asked, walking back over to the counter where Scully stood stock-still with ice cold beer dripping down the front of her body. She didn't make a noise, only breathing heavily. This was her first experience with violence at the bar.

"Dana, I'm going to call a cab for you too. I'll lock up the place tonight," Chris offered, but Mulder interjected right away.

"Not at this time of night. I'll take you home."

It was a risk. They hadn't known each other for more than ten minutes and Mulder had already mutilated some guy's face for her. To some women, his chivalry would have been a major turn-on, but not exactly for Dana Scully.

She still hadn't protested to his invitation, though, and she didn't protest when he went around the bar and put his suit jacket over her shoulders either. Sopping wet and struggling for words.

"Are you sure this is okay for you Dana?" Chris asked, still concerned. After all, Mulder had started the fight. She looked up into his eyes, and what she saw there was genuine concern. Scully guessed she could let him take her home, if that's what he really wanted to do.

"It's fine Chris. Thank you, I'll see you tomorrow," she gave him a soft smile. Mulder breathed an audible sigh of relief when she agreed, then proceeded to put his hand on the small of her back and lead her out to his car.

The feeling when he touched her was like no other. It made the whole confrontation almost worth it. His hand was large and warm, and it made her feel safe even though he had just used that hand to beat someone in the face.

"Oh my God, Mulder, let me see your hand," Scully worried when she realized that he must be in pain. She was a doctor, after all, and in the streetlight outside he let her inspect his right hand thoroughly. While she was thinking about how wonderful his hands were, he was thinking exactly the same. Soft, but dexterous. Manicured, but ready to work. Her hands told a story about her life, her work-driven, appearance-important life.

"What's the damage?" he asked.

"You're lucky, but I still think you should wrap it when you get home."

"Come on Scully, I'm a bachelor. I can't take care of myself. You're going to have to wrap it for me," he joked, the mirth that filled his eyes making him a different person than the man who entered the bar that evening. His intentions were not lost on her, but he was still respectful, which Scully had learned was a difficult balance to maintain. He was either always like that, or he really wanted to get into her pants.

Either way, he couldn't come back to her place.

"You'll be able to take care of yourself," she said calmly, his smile leaving his face but the care he was showing her not faltering at all. Not a lot was said as he led her to his car and drove her home.

The moment of truth came as he pulled up to her apartment in Georgetown. It wasn't the most expensive area in Georgetown, but it was a nice place. He could tell she worked hard to be able to live in a good neighborhood.

"Are you sure you're alright Scully? That guy didn't touch you, did he?"

"No. He didn't lay a finger on me."

"Good," Mulder sighed, and there was a long silence between them. He really liked Scully, but now he would only be "that guy who got in a fight at the bar" to her. What future did that title hold? He was truly feeling hopeless when Scully turned toward him and put her hand on his.

"Thank you, Mulder, for stopping that man at the bar. I'm sorry it happened," she said, looking down.

"It wasn't your fault at all, Scully."

"Well, I just… most guys in the bar wouldn't do that for me."

"Well, I'm not most guys."

That could have gone unsaid. Scully knew that the man beside her wasn't like most guys. She knew that even before he punched the man trying to grab her chest. There was something about the way he looked at her, something about his attitude toward her that forced an immediate connection between them. It made it all that much more painful for Scully to remind herself that he wouldn't stick around once he found out the truth.

"There's no Mr. Scully that's going to get mad that we're sitting out here having a conversation, is there?" Mulder had to ask. She smiled and gave a half-laugh, shaking her head.

"There's no Mr. Scully. You're safe."

"Whew, I don't think I could take anyone else tonight." Her smile had not faded, and Mulder knew he wouldn't mind seeing her smile every day for the rest of his life.

"Thanks for everything. Here's your jacket." Removing his jacket from around her shoulders made her colder than just the night air hitting her would. She knew she smelled like beer, but she hoped to retain some of his scent as well.

"Want me to walk you to the door?" Mulder asked hopefully.

"No, I'll be alright," she said, not noticing the look of disappointment on his face after she did.

They exchanged goodbyes and she left his car, but hopefully not his life.

Scully smiled to herself when she saw him pull away only after she had arrived in her building safely.

"Hi Dane, you're home early," her mother greeted her when she walked into her apartment.

"A fight broke out at the bar and the bouncer told me he'd close up."

"A fight? Are you okay?" Scully should have lied. She knew her mother's feelings about her place of employment.

"I'm fine Mom, just had some drinks spilled on me." To avoid a harsher reaction, Scully left out some very crucial details from her night.

"Dana, you know I don't like you working at that bar. You have a medical degree, for God's sake, get yourself a job where I don't have to worry about you every night."

"Mom, you know that any entry-level job I could get with my degree wouldn't pay enough to keep me in this place. Plus, going any further in my career takes time and money, two areas where I'm pretty strapped right now. And I'm not moving back home."

"Then when is it going to be time? When is it going to be time to start your life? Don't get stuck being a bartender forever Dana."

"Mom, please. I really don't want to have this discussion tonight. How long has Anna been down?"

"She went back to sleep not even an hour ago. I think she may be coming down with something."

"Exactly what I need right now," Dana huffed, pinching the bridge of her nose. Her mother, Maggie, gave a sympathetic smile and wrapped her arms around her daughter's shoulders.

"I'm going to go now, dear. Same time tomorrow night, right?"

"Yeah."

"Alright, see you then."

"Bye Mom," Scully said, kissing her mother on the cheek, "thank you for watching her."

"Any time," Maggie said, opening the door. Before she could get fully out into the hall, though, she called for her daughter.

"Dana?"

"Yes Mom?" Scully asked, knowing what she was going to say.

"Don't hesitate to call me. For anything."

"I won't. Goodnight Mom."

After the door clicked shut, Scully had only a few minutes to sit and try to unwind before she heard cries emanating from the back bedroom. It was a shame because a certain hazel-eyed man had wriggled his way into her thoughts.

She casually threw off her beer-soaked shirt as she went to check on her daughter.


a/n II: some further notes on the story, this takes place around october 1988. i promise to try my hardest to incorporate what i know from that period in the show, but let's be honest, chris carter and his crew didn't always have much respect for timelines or continuity. if i have to fill in some holes or decide to go a different route with things, well, that's why it's called "fanFICTION" and i reserve the liberty to do so.

reviews are greatly appreciated!