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A Vacation of Sorts
Special Agent Dana Scully sighed hitting the print button on her computer. For the first time ever she really hated her job. She hadn’t joined the FBI to sit in the back of a van listening to the mind numbing drivel of a supposed suspect. She was a medical doctor and a field agent, not a peeping Tom. For five days she’d listened, courtesy of the bug placed in the apartment, to the man and his cronies get stoned off their faces and they hadn’t learnt one thing that would justify the round the clock surveillance. And that’s what she’d scathingly put in her report, that it had been a colossal waste of government time and resources.
She scowled at the closed office of Assistant Director Kirsch. And he knew it had been a waste of time. With Skinner no longer their supervisor, this assignment and every other one Mulder and she had been given for the past six months, were punishment for not playing by the so called rules. As were the closure of the X-files and their relocation from their private basement office to the communal desks on the floor. Kirsch wanted to keep an eye on them and he didn’t want them to forget it.
Scully glanced across the room at her partner. In typical Mulder fashion he had his feet resting on top of his desk while he flicked through a magazine with a front cover proclaiming a woman had given birth to a three-headed baby. Mulder wore his disdain for Kirsch like a mantle and didn’t care who saw it. Whatever work he was given was done as quickly as possible, not to score brownie points but so he could devote the rest of his day to research the bizarre and unusual that was his life’s passion.
"Hey, Scully." Mulder scooted his chair across the aisle to her desk. "You still going to your friend’s wedding?"
"Yes. I leave tomorrow." She eyed him suspiciously. "But you know that, Mulder."
"The invitation was for two, right?"
"Feel like some company?"
Scully gaped at her partner in disbelief. "You want to go to Australia to the wedding of people you don’t even know the names of, just like that?"
"I heard it was bad luck to go stag to a wedding, and I’d hate for you to be cursed, especially when I’m available to lend a hand. You know, I’m on vacation from five o’clock too." His eyes were total innocence.
"Bad luck, huh?" She folded her arms across her chest, not buying his pitiful explanation. "This bad luck didn’t worry you a month ago when I put in my leave application."
"Didn’t know about it then." He tapped the magazine still clutched in his hand. "Just read about it."
"Why the sudden urge to go to Australia?" She knew how his mind worked.
"I like your company?"
"Mulder…" Her patience was wearing thin.
"The beaches are supposed to be the best in the world?"
"Mulder!" Scully would have stamped her foot in exasperation but she still had a smidgen of decorum.
His eyes quickly scouted around the room to make sure no one was listening, opened the magazine and placed it on her desk. "Look at this."
Scully scanned the article that had captured his curiosity. It was about a string of murders that had occurred over the past month. ‘Eye witnesses’ had claimed that the women who were killed had all been seen with a man with glowing eyes. The cause of death in all cases had been brain damage, to quote the ‘technical’ text ‘…the brains were like mashed potatoes…’, but police could offer no explanation as to how the victims brains were ‘mashed’.
"You want to go halfway across the world because of an article from some trashy magazine?" To tell the truth, it wasn’t really a surprise.
"Sure, why not? We’ve investigated X-files on a lot less." Mulder shrugged. "Besides, the glowing eye thing was on the international news last night."
She eyed him doubtfully. "It was?"
"Uh huh. Apparently the Australian police have issued a bulletin in all the nightclubs and restaurants warning women. They think he may be wearing some sort of contact lenses or using eye drops to create the glowing effect."
"But, Mulder, I’ll be on vacation," Scully complained. "It’ll be the first real vacation I’ve taken in years. I want to relax on the beach, get a tan, just sit and relax and do nothing!"
"How can you relax when there’s a serial killer with glowing eyes, killing women, and only redheads I might add, and turning their brains to mush, in the very town you’ll be staying in?" Mulder’s eyes were wide.
"I’ll take my gun and shoot the first person with glowing eyes I meet," she replied dryly.
"I can’t let you go there alone."
Scully studied his face. She knew that besides the overwhelming desire to go on another X-files adventure, Mulder was deeply concerned for her safety. She felt herself wavering.
Mulder saw that she was about to cave and hurried on. "You don’t have to investigate anything, you can have your relaxing vacation and I’ll do all the nosing around." He added an extra to sweeten the deal, "I’ll even upgrade your ticket to business class."
"Okay," she sighed admitting defeat. "You can come."
"Agent Scully, Agent Mulder." A deep voice from behind made them jump like kids caught with their hands in the cookie jar. They swiveled their chairs around to see AD Kirsch looking down his nose at them. "I expect your reports on my desk before you leave."
Scully reached across and removed the report she’d just printed. "You can have it now, sir." Her tone was flat.
"Mine’s already in your tray…" Mulder deliberately added "sir" as an after thought, pushed off Scully’s desk and rolled his chair back behind his desk.
The black man took the report with a frown. He’d meant to catch the two agents off guard but had failed once again. They always seemed to have the upper hand despite the fact that he was their superior and controlled their future employment at the FBI. Kirsch strode to his office and slammed the door.
"So, Scully, what does one wear to an Australian wedding?" Mulder wadded up a piece of paper and flung it at his nemesis’ office.
She grinned at the juvenile act as she started tidying up her desk. "The invitation said smart casual, but remember it’s almost summer over there."
Mulder was doing his own version of clearing his desk. He swiped one arm across the top, bulldozing everything in a tangled heap into an open drawer. "Ah, can’t wait to hit those tropical beaches."
They headed for the elevator.
"Shall I pick you up in the morning?" he asked, helping Scully with her overcoat.
"Okay." She wrapped her scarf around her neck. "Don’t forget to upgrade my ticket. A deal’s a deal."
Mulder grinned slyly as he pulled on his gloves. "Already did that this morning."
A A A
Scully finished the last of her packing and then made a quick phone call to Clarisse to let her know that Mulder would be accompanying her to the wedding.
"I’m sorry for leaving it to the last minute," she apologized.
"Don’t worry about it." Her friend assured her. "I’m glad you won’t be alone. Anyone I know?"
Scully hesitated. "It’s Mulder."
"Are you two finally together?" Clarisse sounded hopeful.
"Oh, it’s nothing like that. He’s just a friend." She quickly nipped that idea in the bud. "He’s just concerned about the murders that are happening down there. Have the police really issued a warning about a man with glowing eyes?"
"Yes, can you believe it?" Her friend said incredulously. "I mean if a guy approached me with glowing eyes I’d get the hell out of Dodge. It’s too freaky for me." Clarisse paused. "Dana, I did the autopsies. Except for a slight rash on their foreheads, there wasn’t a mark on their bodies to explain how their brains were scrambled, and yes, ‘scrambled’ is the term I put in the reports. There was no other way to describe them."
"It hasn’t been made public yet, but the cops think seven other women reported missing have also fallen victim to this mad man." Her friend was silent for a moment. "I know it’s a lot to ask…with you being on vacation and all, but…ah…since you’ll be here anyway and considering the type of cases you’ve dealt with, I was wondering if you could give a second opinion. It wouldn’t be official, but I don’t want to miss anything."
Scully sighed. So much for a relaxing vacation. Well, at least Mulder will be happy. "Sure, I can take a look for you."
"Thanks. I’ll see you in a couple of days."
Scully said her goodbyes and hung up, mentally cataloguing the extra items she would now have to take. She knew Clarisse’s lab would have everything needed for processing a body, but there were a few tools of her own that Scully preferred to take along. While she rummaged around in her medical kit excitement grew within her. It was almost like old times. A mystery killer, unexplained deaths and Mulder working by her side. Knowing Mulder he undoubtedly already had an off the wall theory to explain the glowing eyes and cause of death, and it would be up to her to either confirm or shoot down his conclusions.
Adding her miniature tape recorder and a spare packet of cassettes, Scully refused to admit that there was something more to her excitement. When her old school friend had asked if Mulder and her were finally a couple, despite Scully’s denial, she had felt a pang of longing. Mulder was her best friend, they had been through more ups and downs than ten married couples put together and were still closer than ever. However they had never spoken about the deeper feelings that were simmering just under the surface. This trip, specifically going to a wedding together, was too much like an extended date. Scully wasn’t sure she was ready to take that next step.
After a moment of thought Scully added her gun and FBI identification to her luggage. With Mulder on the prowl he was bound to be in thick of things. More often than not a gun was ineffective against whatever they discovered, but the familiar metallic bulge on her side at least gave her the illusion of security.
The next morning Mulder picked her up as arranged and they headed for the airport. Scully studied her partner from the corner of her eye. There was an air of pent up exuberance around him that she hadn’t seen for a long time.
He noticed her covert glance. "What?"
She grinned. "It’s nothing. It’s just nice to see you back to your old self again. You seem almost happy." Until this moment she hadn’t realized how tense Mulder had been at work since the closure of the X-files. Away from the office politics, Scully realized his nonchalance had all been an act that had fooled even her.
"What’s not to be happy about?" He gave a wide smile pulling into the airport long-term parking lot. "I’m away from Kirsch’s evil eye, I have an X-file to investigate and I have the best partner I’ve ever worked with by my side. Life doesn’t get any better."
A snort of laughter escaped. "Only you would think chasing a killer is fun."
"A supernatural killer, Scully," he corrected. "Don’t forget the glowing eyes and scrambled brains."
She rolled her eyes. "I’m sure there’s a perfectly scientific reason for both of those anomalies." Yep, Mulder was back. "And I’ll prove it to you once I look at the bodies and autopsy reports." She watched his expression become animated when her words sank in.
"Scully! I’m impressed. How did you swing that?"
"Clarisse is the chief medical examiner for the Sunshine Coast," she admitted. "She asked me unofficially to take a look."
Mulder’s grin widened. "Oh, I like having friends with friends in high places. Makes my life a lot easier."
They checked in their luggage, collected their boarding passes and headed for the transit lounge. While Mulder took a side trip to the newsagent, Scully settled into one of the easy chairs reserved for business class ticket holders. Have to remember to thank Mulder again for the upgraded ticket, she thought studying her fellow passengers.
Her eye fell on a gray haired man pacing the room, who kept glancing at his watch.
"For cryin’ out loud." She heard him mutter. "Only Daniel could be late while being stuck in a room he’s not allowed to leave."
A blonde woman glanced up from her laptop. "Technically he’s not late yet. We still have five minutes before boarding."
"But he has his watch set ten minutes fast, so in his world he’s still late." The man kept up his long legged strides.
"Sir, you’re supposed to be on vacation." The woman shut down her computer. "Shouldn’t you try to relax?"
He gave an impatient sigh. "Relax…yeah, right." He stretched himself out on the chair next to her. "And yes, we’re on vacation Major, so it’s Jack, not Colonel or sir, got it?"
"Yes…Jack. How about Jonathon?" she asked impishly.
He shot her a dirty look. "Not if you expect me to answer."
A young man with dark blonde hair and glasses was hurriedly making his way over to the couple, with a red haired woman close behind.
"Get lost going to the bathroom, did we?" the gray haired man growled sarcastically.
Scully took in the new couple’s flushed faces and their slightly mussed clothing and hid a smile.
"Oh, you’d be amazed at how wonderful the view is from the storage cupboard." The redhead grinned while the man tried desperately not to flush. "You two should try it out sometime."
Now it was the other couple who squirmed in their seats. The boarding announcement was made and the two bounded to their feet, grateful for the distraction. The young couple’s laughter echoed across the room as they followed their friends.
Scully watched them with a touch of envy. The blonde man had draped an arm across the redhead’s shoulder while she’d tucked her hand into his back pocket. Their relaxed carefree pose of affection made her suddenly wish that her and Mulder had taken that crucial next step. He whispered something in her ear and her eyes darkened with desire. He lowered his lips to hers and Scully could almost feel the love radiating between the two.
"That’s sweet, isn’t it?" Mulder said softly appearing by her side.
She sighed wistfully. "Yes, it is."
"Oh, for cryin’ out loud, will you two knock it off?" The colonel had caught sight of the kissing pair. "Can’t you keep your hands to yourselves for two minutes?"
"Nope." He tightened his hold on his partner unperturbed by his friend’s gruff rebuke. "I can’t get enough of My Angel and I don’t care if the whole world knows I love this woman. Besides, Jack, we’re on vacation, why should we try to restrain ourselves?"
"Because you’re going to drive me nuts!" He practically threw his boarding pass at the flight attendant, who having witnessed Jack’s outburst was trying to hold back a grin.
The redhead broke away from her lover’s embrace a sudden light of determination in her eyes. She tugged the major after her, trying to catch up to the frustrated man. "Jack, wait a sec."
Reluctantly he slowed and she began talking to the couple in a low whisper. Scully saw their eyes widen with a touch of panic before changing to wonder. Whatever the younger woman was suggesting had shocked them, but it was becoming more appealing with every second. By the time the last member of their group rejoined them the older pair were giving each other hesitant smiles and were holding hands.
The redhead shot her partner a triumphant wink before tucking herself under his arm again.
"Wonder what that was about?" Mulder mused, helping Scully stow her hand luggage.
"I don’t know." Watching the ‘new’ couple, Scully could now see how much they cared about each other. How did I miss that before? From what she’d overheard the two worked together. Were they in the same position that Mulder and she were in? Obviously from their hopeful expressions, the redhead had devised a way around the non-fraternization rule she knew existed within the military. For a split second Scully was tempted to ask what the loophole was. Maybe she could adapt it if…no when…they decided to take the plunge.
Lost in thought she watched the blonde man pull out a travel blanket from his luggage and lay it over the roomy seat, tucking it around the cushions. His lover hugged him tight and then blushed when he murmured something only she could hear.
"I’m warning you two…" The older man poked them in the ribs, but his voice was no longer annoyed.
"We’ll behave, Jack." He pushed his glasses up with a grin.
"Yeah, we promise." The woman settled herself on the blanket wrapped seat. "At least for a little while."
The major started laughing, and grudgingly the colonel joined in.
Mulder was buckling his seatbelt but he too was studying the four friends. "You know, I know him from somewhere."
"You do?" Scully asked in surprise. "Which one?"
"The one with the glasses." He frowned in concentration. "I haven’t met him, but his face is familiar."
Scully adjusted her own seat belt. "Well, you’ve got the whole plane ride to think on it."
"Hmmm," Mulder replied absently. "It’ll come to me eventually."
The long hours of the flight passed and Scully struggled to concentrate on the book she’d brought along. Her attention kept being diverted by the four friends at the front of the cabin. Not that they were rowdy or causing a fuss. In fact except for the occasional round of laughter, they kept pretty much to themselves. It was the easy camaraderie that existed between them all that intrigued her. The teasing remarks, the knowing glances, the almost sixth sense they had around each other was amazing to watch. Judging by the glances the other passengers were giving the group, she knew it wasn’t only herself that sensed it.
At one point Scully was walking the aisles to stretch her legs and she couldn’t help smiling as she took in the scene before her. All of them were asleep, except for the man with glasses. The redhead was sitting sideways on her lover’s lap with her bare feet resting on the colonel’s thighs. The colonel had made himself comfortable using the blonde man’s shoulder for a pillow, snoring softly. He had one arm draped over the major’s back who had snuggled into his embrace, their fingers interlocked.
The blonde man glanced up from his book, which was resting on his lady’s legs, when he felt Scully’s look.
She flushed in embarrassment. "Sorry, it’s just you all look so cozy."
He grinned wryly. "With the way we’re arranged, we may as well have gone economy."
"You don’t seem to mind."
"Nope, I find it pretty darn great." He lowered his voice, "Hey, can you do me a favor?"
"My bag’s under my seat, can you pull it out and find my camera? It should be in the front pocket."
"Sure." She crouched down and quietly hunted around in the bag until she found the desired item.
"Can you please take a photo of those two?" He gestured to the military people wrapped in each other’s arms. "They’re going to deny this ever happened and I want proof to say that it did."
Scully grinned. "Sneaky."
"You know what they say, all’s fair in love and war. And this particular battle has been raging for seven years."
Scully snapped off the picture. "Did you want one of all four of you?"
"That’d be great." He flashed her a bright smile. If her heart didn’t already belong to Mulder she could have easily been attracted to the man.
She quickly took the second picture and tucked the camera away.
"Thank you." He held out his hand to her. "I’m Daniel by the way."
"I’m Dana." She shook his proffered hand. "Glad to help."
She made her way back to her seat but not before she heard a quiet whisper from the colonel, "I want copies, Space Monkey."
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