disclaimer: the X-files belong to its originator, cris carter and
his associate producers and directors, and the writers who
sculpt his concept so that the actors can animate its spirit and
elevate ours. NO infringement on anyone's copyrights is intended.

loc's appreciated. post & (re)archive with my name. spoilers abound
MS(R? "I stand on fine line others cross over") story pg

Scully, Mulder, Skinner, victims in the month after small potatoes

ISMS ARRANGED by Mary Greten.

DR Dana Scully dosed Eddie with a muscle relaxant to inhibit his
polymorphic ability. So the ride to his booking was uneventful
for that, and for the silence that permeated the air even with
the windows open.

The air did help clear her head.

Since Mulder's "nick of time" burst into her apartment and her
almost immediate realization that the Mulder she had
considered kissing was not who he was and she watched him
change into the rapist she earlier that day entered into
national database, she had been on automatic pilot. Before
Mulder could recover from his shock at the scene in front of
him, she had Eddie on his stomach with her knee pressed
against the small of his back, holding his arms behind him
awaiting Mulder's handcuffs. Albeit Eddie didn't resist. She
didn't feel how hard she was holding him until she saw the
imprints of her nails on his skin. No blood was drawn but
her medical sense said too hard. When she handed him over
to Mulder, she warned "Go easy. Don't spoil the arrest.".
Mulder nodded. Both were in professional mode now.

Once Eddie van Blundht had been removed from their
custody, he was placed in a medical holding cell with the
diagnosis Scully thought most appropriate for his
unique muscular structure and a prescription to be dispensed
under penalty of aiding and abetting a dangerous prisoner to
escape. Sedated or no, Mulder went with the guards until
the guards strapped Eddie into a restraining chair
in chains. The guards were reluctant to do so until
confirmation of Mulder's tale of the luckless processing
officer of Eddie's prior arrest the day before who had been
coldcocked by the prisoner he swore was himself.

It described Eddie down the silent "h" in Blundht.

Mulder mentioned nothing of himself being coldcocked and
impersonated so well that neither his boss (presumably) nor
his partner could discern any definable difference. And
remembering the scene he broke in on, what did Eddie have
that he didn't? He stretched his neck. He was chafing under
his collar, if it was his collar. He couldn't remember. Did
Eddie change clothes with him while he was unconscious??

When Mulder found Scully, she had already answered the
pertinent questions on the arrest sheet and was wearily
staring into space. With the pen in her hands folded
over the form, she looked to him like a 12th grader pondering
an essay question on the English SAT's.

He sat down on the chair at the side of the table careful not to
infringe on her personal space which she allowed him do before.

He instantly became agitated. He could NOT sit. Here he was
trying not to intrude on her when that son of a bitch used
his likeness as a weapon to seduce, no, rape her. He balled his
fists in his pockets and paced.

Mulder's body roared. damn him. Damn Him. DAMN HIM.
He wanted to hear Eddie scream as he wedged Eddie's head
between a rock and a harder place then shoved the senior Van
Blundht's tail in Junior where the sun don't shine. He wanted
to slice off the rapist's rod with a god damn light saber. But
Mulder couldn't do any of those things.

He forced himself into a false and ill timed joviality.

"Well, Scully, that was another fine mess I go you into."

She looked up at him.

"Yes. Yes, Mulder. It was."

He wasn't prepared for that. "Was What??". But he couldn't
dwell on that now. She poised her hand to answer the next
question- the one he didn't want answered.

He needed to convince Scully not to give the specifics of
how the arrest was made. He tried to persuade her to disguise
Eddie's capture by reporting their activities as a
sting operation.

"Scully, there is no purpose for telling the truth here. They've
already found your reference to him in the national data base
and at least 7 warrants, not yet including assaulting and
impersonating a federal officer, at least four of which are for
rape and one for Social Security fraud."

His arguments to the contrary were not entirely dissuasive.
Whether he advised out of distress for her regard or his
own was moot. It would still be a lie hidden between two
truths and in total disregard of their tortured past four years;
she would not let him compromise that just to save them from
the jeers of their associates.

"I was not aware that the truth needed a purpose, Mulder."

But Mulder was adamant. Scully would not give it up. They
called a truce until Monday. In the meantime, each would
write a report to A.D. Walter Skinner and they would ask him to
decide how much of it to include in the arrest report. This
wasn't just about them, they agreed. She verified Skinner had
been fooled too. On Skinner's sole say so the X-files were re-
opened and under his watch thrived and strived to dismantle
that covert, puissant think tank whose arrogant credo was
"the best way to predict the future is to invent it". The
x-files was Mulder's baby, but Skinner was its godfather. And
Scully was ... well she was not always sure what she was or
even if she was truly necessary.

The officers at the "station", perhaps fended off by the
demeanor of the two F.B.I. arresting officers and the lateness
of the hour did not press the issue when Mulder came to them
with Scully's suggestion of holding Eddie over the weekend
after which his 48 hour clock before bringing charges would
officially start. The specifics would be filled in
before it ran out.

Because the two victims were max-ed, the drive back to
Scully's apartment the tenseness was less dense, the silence
less burdensome and the air less oppressive. But Mulder
fingers constantly grasped and released the steering
wheel and Scully stared into the street light-ed darkness. When
they arrived at Sully's apartment, Mulder was reluctant to just
drop her off. He needed to know what happened. How could she
have been so easily fooled? And more, much more than that,
he was worried about her. Should he call her mother, a sister-
in-law? If he asked, it would just elicit her standard signature
"I'm fine, Mulder". But he had to try. During his ruminations,
he noted that she hadn't made a move to leave. Did she even
notice the car was parked?

Tentatively and softly, he said, "Scully?"

Distractedly, she turned her head towards him.


"we..You're home."

"Oh...Thank you very much". She said absentmindedly then
turned away again.

She still didn't move.
Mulder considered shaking her out of her malaise when
desperation, the true mother of inspiration, prompted him to
tap her shoulder and say into her ear,

"Houston, Tranquility base here, the eagle has landed."

Her head swirled so quickly her face nearly brushed Mulder's
as he pulled out of her way. "This is my night for close
encounters", she thought without thinking. She looked
squarely at her partner, smiled that quirky pursed smile of

"Tranquility base?. No, Mulder, more 'Houston, we've
had a problem'".

"Want to talk about it.?"

"I've had a few psych courses to know that this problem
should not be allowed to fester lest it become an unspeakable
subject rendering the participants so totally reticence they
become unreachable, eventually ineffectual...I don't want
that to happen to us. I may not have the time."

Mulder did not hesitate. He got out of the car and, for what
was the only second or third time since they've been driving
together, opened her side door for her, which reminded her to

"Mulder, did you bother to open my apartment door before
you bashed though it?"

"Who remembers? Either way I'm spending the night on the
scene of the crime. We'll get you a new lock before tonight."

She nodded.

"I'll get rid of these clothes and cool down in a hot shower
while you ride shotgun at the door."

Mulder knew she would be a while under normal conditions.
He used the time touring her apartment to get a sense of what
she was doing before...

When espied the empty wine bottle and glasses
his senses left him. He snatched the offensive items
and hurled them, one by one, with all his bottled up
fury into the cold fireplace, slowly savoring the sound of each
breakage as if each was Eddie's head. Then he went about
the task of building a new blaze. He used the fire's mesmerizing
effect to steady himself for Scully's sake.

"Scully, how long you going to be in there? I've got to use the
toilet." Mulder inquired.

Besides really needing to go, he was well aware of rape
victims' obsession with becoming clean afterwards. But the
deed not consummated, the effect could be just as real if an
alternative rationalism for the symptom was the realization of

"I'm finished". She wore blue pajamas and white terry
cloth robe and a towel on her head. She handed him set of
towels, a pair of men's pj's and a robe.

"You got a spare tooth brush too?"

"In an unopened box on the sink."

He decided curiosity was not the better part of valor.

"Brother." He thought. "Brothers", he recalled.

His ablutions were of a shorter duration by necessity. Scully
had just finished drying her hair. The pj's and robe were a
near perfect fit. He twirled around to model for her with a silly
grin that if his hands were not spread out she half expected
him to be holding a bottle of wine behind his back.

"Cute, Mulder. You want some hot chocolate?. I'm hang
gliding on my third wind courtesy of 'station house' coffee,
definitely not good to the last drop, and a cold rinsing. I used
all the hot water, didn't I?.."

In the same motion of his hands. Mulder accepted her offer
and apology,

"Cold showers and I are old friends."

"You hungry?" she asked, "I have some fruit, cheese,

"Will you have some with me?"



"The mugs are in the lower shelf of the cabinet next to the
sink. Cutlery in the drawer below and the hot chocolate
packages below the drawer. Teapot is on the stove. You make
the hot chocolate while I put together a what would you call it?"
"a", she looked at the clock, "4 a.m. snack."

Despite his unfamiliarity with her kitchen arrangements, they
avoided a major collision. Eventually with hot mugs and snack
tray in hands, where to eat was suddenly panic time. Scully's
initially stepped towards the sofa, but the sight of it brought
her up short. Mulder side stepped her and sat himself down
precisely where he had seen Eddie as himself a few hours ago.
Scully took just a split second to follow his lead seating
herself where she had been then.

Almost as an apology for her quandary moment ago, Scully picked
up the nearest cup and held it high and toward Mulder. She glanced
at the remaining mug which Mulder took and lightly tapped Scully's.
Each took a sip. Mulder misjudged his own handiwork sipped too much.
He brought his hand to his mouth.

"Hot", he pronounced. "So, Scully, when to we begin our

She looked at him over her mug. "We've begun, Mulder."

Mulder was glad she dried her hair. The towel would have
made it seem like he was talking to a polar bear. Cuddly sure,
but it comforted him more to see her auburn hair.

"You first. Take your time" he said gently.

"Oh, I will. I am going to speak slowly and distinctly. I am
going to ask you only two questions, the same questions
Skinner will bounce on your head Monday morning ... You
NITWIT," She stood up mug still in hand, "why didn't you
phone me at the first opportunity. If not my cel phone then
here. You know the first thing I do when I get home is check
my messages. If not me, then a collect call to Skinner or left a
message with the receptionist in the main lobby for God's
sake. This whole "fine mess you got me into" could have been
averted and we wouldn't be sitting here undergoing self
imposed catharsis therapy, as if I needed more therapy. You
can't tell me you had no access to a phone before you crashed
in here. What, the HELL were you thinking, Agent Mulder??"

Her vehemence stunned Mulder. It was not often Scully lost her
temper. It was not often he had to look up at anyone and he still
didn't have to look up very far at Scully, but it seemed her anger
added two feet to her height... Or did he feel seven feet small.

"I didn't."

"You didn't what?" Scully having vented her ire in
Skinner's guise sat down to listen and eat a cheese and

"Think. At least not logically. I was ... embarrassed ... furious
..... that that little twerp could knock me cold, incarcerate me
where I couldn't be heard for hours, knowing he would be
impersonating me with you. All I could do was stew. At least
when I was in the Russian prison camp, I could be reasonably
sure you were safe. It was only when a something broke
somewhere that someone came looking for tools and found
me. Then all I could think of was getting back to you.

"To do what?"

He was puzzled. Didn't he tell her?

"To save you from him."

"So? You had to do it personally?"

He shook his head. "It seemed right at the time."

She handed him quartered apple. "Eat, Mulder, sleep rarely
comes on an empty stomach even with a clear conscience. I
know you have questions. God knows, I know I would, if I
were you. But I'm hungry and I can't talk over a growling
stomach mine or yours."

Famished, they devoured the whole platter full in
companionable silence, Please and Thank you's. Each offered
the other the last piece of whatever selection was left. A few
times they split the offerings each putting it near the other's
mouth for the taking. Better than cleaning up afterwards.

Too soon, it was Mulder's turn. But, he was back in form. He
leaned against the sofa his arm outstretched the back top
nearly touching hers.

"All right. Scully, what am I going to ask you?"

"No, Mulder, I'm not going to play by your never unalterable
rules. You have to ask."


"Because you wouldn't let me be Eleanor Roosevelt."

"Oh, that."

"That's part of it".

"Part of what?"

"The answer."

"To what?"

"The question you haven't asked yet."

"I, I feel like we're back on a that little mound in that
quagmire where we would have stayed till dawn if we weren't
found and we were only a few feet from solid soil."

"Mulder, the only people who are going to find us tonight are

Scully raised her arm and rested her head on her hand.

"Ask me! Mulder, I'm a doctor not a dentist."

"Didn't you see he wasn't me?"

"No, no, Mulder, I didn't."

"Well, what stopped you?"

This sensation of deja vu was unsettling her.

"Is this part of the same question or are you getting ahead of

Mulder blinked. "I meant to say, what was not different?"

"I'm not sure. Mulder, in lot of ways you're never the same.
You change signals in the middle of the game, I never know
what pitch you're going to throw at me. Is it really any wonder
I fumbled? I know. I mixed a metaphor."

"For example."

"Birds do IT. Bees do IT. Even educated M.D.'s do IT.. Then
you tell me I'm boring because I don't mind being myself or
not permitted that..."

"Eleanor Roosevelt" He intoned.

She ignored him. "Then when I correctly surmise your theory
of the day you ask if we should be picking out china patterns."

"So," she continued, "when Eddie came to my door in your
face -you should have seen "yourself"- grinning and holding a bottle
of wine behind his back and wanting to talk, 'really talk', I had no
reason to believe that his showing me a another side of you
was not you changing signals again."

"Did you like it?"

"What is IT?" She asked evasively.

"My "other" side."

She turned her face from him. THAT was the question she
didn't want to hear. But there was no avoiding it if this
purgation was going to work. So she faced him,

"I liiiked it." drawing it out as he had done when at their first
meeting she asked if he had read her paper on Einsteinium

Mulder bowed his head.

She had seen him like this too many times. Even in other lives
if she believed in re-incarnation. This time, she didn't comfort
him. She waited for the inevitable next question he had to ask.

"What was so different, this "other" side of me?"

He looked up. She looked down and away.

"This is my problem. This, if I was going to comprehend it
wasn't you, this was the clue I did not see. No, I did not want
to see. I can't blame it all on the wine, I had just eaten and at
no time did he have a chance to 'doctor' the doctor."

Mulder smiled at her attempted levity.

"He listened to me; he was totally focused on me." Still gazing down,
she persisted. "I know now this was not his charm; this was his
M.O. Mulder, no discredit to you or your talent. But Eddie,
given the chance fate denied him, would have made one hell
of a profiler."

"He definitely gave new meaning to the word "pretender".
Mulder agreed.

"Thank you, but I think I should know you better than that."

If love hurts; honesty is brutal.

"The fact is, that in the mainstream of life, you, and myself to
some extent, which is why I haven't left the x-files, are off
exploring a creek somewhere. Only, we never seem to return
to the mainstream at the same time or in the same place or
often enough."

"I'm sorry, Mulder".

Mulder recognized the self-blame mode she was in now.

Already as close as Eddie had been seated to her, he bent
towards her.

"We are in the same time and place now, aren't
we?" he asked.


"Well, what's stopping us?"

Her head sprang up and she looked at him. For the fourth
time that night, her eyes reflected sheer stupefaction. "Would
this case ever be over???" He moved closer, tilting his head.
She was bewildered."What is he doing?" "Why is he doing this?"

He came nearer. His hand on the sofa between her legs. She
closed her lips. He inched even closer.

"Not again," she thought. Hormones were taking over. She
opened her lips to receive him. This was no Doris Day movie.
Nobody was going to break the door down now. Her brain raced
to take in all the complexities that would ensue if she let
him in.

She raised her hand to his chest and stiffened her arm
pushing slightly.

"Mulder, are you sure you want to go there?"

"That's it, Scully,!!! "He cried out jubilantly, "That's what you
would have done with Eddie.!!! I know it!!! You should too"!!!!.

"uH!" She leaped backwards onto her feet looking down at
him half wondering who he was going to morph into next.
When he didn't. She stomped away from him,

"Mulder. I'm going to bed. There's an afghan and throw
pillow. If I had to get you one, I'd THROW it at you."

She was at her bedroom door now.

"When you write your report to Skinner tomorrow be sure to
use the spell checker. Yesterday "you" left the 'I' out of F.B.I."
She held up two fingers..."Twice".

Later that afternoon, Mulder sought the advice of the Lone
Gunmen concerning the installation of a new lock on Scully's
door. When he told them it was for Scully, they scrambled over
themselves deciding which type of lock and hinges offered the
best protection and which of their many associates, who
should remain anonymous, install it and still remain
anonymous. Finally, they said the hell with it, for Scully,
they would do it.

When she first learned the LGM would be repairing her door, Scully
was her usual skeptical self. Later, she admitted she
enjoyed watching the universe's latest version of the three
stooges at work. In someway their paranoia became a poignant
reminder of the futility of labeling people by only one
characteristic. They became endearing.

Mulder left and Scully visited her mother who just was not
going to believe this one. She could tell her mother what was
a matter of public record so no confidentiality would be
broken. Margaret Scully needed a good laugh. Mulder wouldn't
mind if it was at his expense; not if it would make
Maggie Scully laugh.

Very early Monday morning, Scully and Mulder stood at Skinner's
Office door with reports in hand before Skinner arrived.
When he showed up, as usual before his secretary,
his eyebrows rose creasing his forehead.

"In here, you two." He ordered.

Scully and Mulder sat stoically in their accustomed places and
waited for Skinner to finish reading their reports. After an
eternity, he looked up.

"Agents Scully and Mulder, I will take under advisement both
your recommendations regarding the arrest report and
forward your suggestions to "legal" for advice. Be assured I will
do my best to allay any embarrassment to your department so
long as it does not obstruct the prosecution of this case
on whichever charges the D.A. chooses."

"Yes, sir". They said in unison.

Skinner took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose.

"On a more personal note, I need to reassess whether the two of
you can continue working together beyond this point."

The two agents did not appreciate where this was going.

"Agent Mulder, your not following procedure after your
incarceration and the resulting placement of your gun in a
criminal's hands shows a lack of foresight that put your
partner's life, in particular, AND everyone in this building in
peril to the extreme.

"That is a suspensionable violation at least. I see no way I
can not impose it considering your ignoring the spirit
of other protocols the last of which put a child's life in danger.
You are officially suspended for 30 days without pay. Starting
tomorrow at 9 am and including weekends. Consider it a
forced vacation. I believe you still have a good deal of time
coming. Should you need it, I will approve your drawing on
that pay forfeiting the days off."

Mulder's face dropped.

"Do you have a problem with that, Agent Mulder.?"

"Yes, Sir."

"Too bad. You know your avenues of recourse. Consider
them carefully."

Skinner turned his head to Scully.

"Agent Scully, the X-files are now yours. I will permit you to
choose your own cases to pursue and to choose your assistant
and I'll do my damnedest to get him or her for you. My only
advice to you would be to stay close to home if at all possible."

Scully opened and closed her mouth in one movement.
Despite her misgivings, she couldn't risk the closing of the

"Agent Scully, you recommended that we invoke the victim's
rights act to provide psychiatric assistance to the five women
and their husbands in this case. I presume this comes from
personal experience."

"Only partially I think, sir. I was not physically raped. But
Agent Mulder did exhibit some classic victim's spouse

Skinner nodded indicating that he suspected as much.

"Other reports, I have read, regarding rape therapy, however,
suggests to me that in spite of your attempts to rid yourselves
of your hostilities, the actuality is that the effects will linger
for sometime. Therefore, I order you and Agent Mulder to
attend those sessions and using your experience and expertise
in the medical and psychological fields assist the
psychotherapist to elicit participation from the other patients
especially the husbands.

Is there anything else?" Skinner asked.

The agents glanced at each other and shook their heads.

"Then," said Skinner gathering up their reports for his files,
"Use your 24 hours wisely."

Skinner watch them leave, rose from his chair, filed the
reports and slammed the drawer with a force that
re-enforced the obligatory Spartan nature of his office.

On the way to their basement office, Scully and Mulder
used the time to collect themselves. Mulder took first
crack at breaking the tension.

"Well, Watson. You know my methods. Apply them."

"We are not amused, Mulder." If he could be Sherlock
Holmes, she could be Queen Victoria.

He came nearer to illustrate, "I won't be far, Scully."

She assumed her burden.

"We have 24 hours. I need you to help me choose my
replacement" She paused ..."now that I am you. I also need
you to brief me on current investigations that could be
considered "close to home". I need to know any of your
contacts who may be willing to work with me in the interim. I
need to learn how to ditch my partner if I need to...."

From among the candidates they pulled up from the personnel
data base, once they decided on the search parameters, Scully
selected an agent specializing in security. He was the size of
an NFL food locker. But Scully and Mulder having met him
once at a oversight meeting of the x-files were impressed by
his humor, intelligence and insight. Mulder even went so far
as to suggest recruiting him immediately if they had a larger
office; but now with Mulder...gone, space was not a problem.
Scully remembered he gave her his card should she ever need
him. She still had it and would call him personally. He was an
Army brat and Scully was Navy. Their father's spoke the
same language. At a quick glance, Agent Abel Baker's I.D. tag
prompted a gagging Scully to ask, "For real?".
His friends called him Charlie.

For once in his life, Mulder followed orders to the letter.
Showing up for the therapy sessions, staying away from the x-
files, but not from Scully during her infrequent off hours.
He visited his mother; listened to the LGM expound
on their lastest conspiracy theories. He had gained too much
respect for them of late to dismiss them as easily as he once had.
And when Scully was unavailable, he visited Margret Scully. He
followed leads on some of his own theories on inactive x-files
that would not require him to identify himself as FBI.
Then, there were always those tapes that weren't his, $29.95
plus postage and delivery alien abduction tapes, back issues
of Celebrity Skin, the sex line and basketball playoffs.

For her part, Scully kept the files up well and solved some in
the process. A few were perilous. Although Scully could "kick ass"
Agent Baker proved his worth, whatever the debt she owed to
get him. She played "Mulder" to the hilt posing theories of
extreme possibilities and hearing Baker say "You're kidding,
right??" and she, hearing herself reply "Think about it, Baker,
what else accounts for..etc". When not on an active case,
Agent Baker aquainted himself with past investigations and
questioned Scully extensively about her forensic explanations
and, if any, final conclusions. Scully could not have found a better
replacement for herself. She wrote memo to Skinner regarding that
eventuality. Agent Baker, was like a six months old St. Bernard,
bringing to her a youthful exuberance she had forgotten
existed and she relished his time with her.

On the same day that Mulder returned, Scully received a
message that Eddie Van Blundht wanted to talk to Mulder.
Scully did not understand why she got the message. She
positted that Skinner was being literal when he said
the x-files was hers now. More to the point, he did not say
"for the duration of Mulder's suspension." Scully refused
to let this happen without official clarification. Shooting
from her hip, She fired off a round of e-mail at Skinner.

Until then, Mulder was her responsibility. Now her problem
was Shakespearean: "to be or not to be" around when Mulder
found out. She called their therapist for his opinion which was
a definite NO and she knew the reason. There was no question
that Mulder's presence there had a positive effect on the
husbands of the victims voicing their concerns.
(One husband, clearly not of a scientific bent, wondered if
gene splicing and cloning meant that it was possible to replace
Eddie's genes in his wife's child with his own.)
But, none more so than when Mulder expressed his frustration at
the "system". With Mulder, Scully was never sure which 'system'
he meant. The other patients took him to mean the penal
attentiveness to curing a sex offender rather than punishing him
while the victims raised rapist's offsprings; so did the therapist.

But this was all an aside, Scully concluded. She had no right to
keep this from him. All she could do was tell him of Eddie's
request and of the therapist's strenuous objection.

Mulder decided to go rationalizing Eddie might want to
confess to other crimes.

Since Eddie did not ask for her then, she viewed the
conversation via the monitor outside the visiting room. Mulder
focused on Eddie's hat. Eddie related how his therapist just
kept bringing him more hats to raise his self esteem
regardless of the fact that other inmates keep beating him
up for them. Mulder had no sympathy to give.

Only her four years with Mulder could measure the effect of
Eddie's next words on him: "is Agent Scully here with you"
that Mulder was a "loser by choice", that Eddie based this astute
assessment on "EXPERIENCE" and that Mulder should "live
a little, God knows, I would if I were you".

Scully winced.

When Mulder realized that no other confessions were forth
coming, he terminated the visit.

Mulder's visage as he came out of the visiting room confirmed
Scully's assessment.

Staring straight ahead because it would tear her apart to see
him like this again, Scully offered,

"Mulder, I don't imagine this has to be said, you are not a

After walking a few paces, Mulder composed enough of
himself to reply,

"Yeah, but I'm no Eddie Van Blundht either, am I, Scully?"

Scully kept staring ahead. "Time", she thought sadly. "Time".

The ONE thing she couldn't give him no matter how much she had.