Seeds of Trust|
By Mary Kleinsmith (Buc252@aol.com)
Summary: Building trust is no easy task, but our agents are up to it.
Disclaimer: They don't belong to me, and I'm not profiting monetarily from this.
Dedicated to After the Fact, and it's premiere as a list.
Seeds of Trust
By Mary Kleinsmith
"Your saying that time just disappeared. Time can't just disappear, it's a universal invariant!" Scully was obviously frustrated.
They both looked as the car started of its own accord.
"Not in this zip code."
"We're getting drenched," Agent Scully said as she felt a torrent flow down her back. "Let's get back to the hotel."
"You don't believe me, do you?" Mulder said, but it sounded more confrontational than hurt or angry. She waited until they were inside the car to address his question.
"I'll believe it when we have more evidence to back it up. We need to have the vehicle's systems checked out, see if there's a valid mechanical reason for it to have behaved the way it did."
"And if they don't find anything?" Mulder questioned again as he put the car into gear and proceeded down the road. "Will you believe then?"
Mulder was studying her closely, she could tell, despite the dimness of the car's interior. What could she say that wouldn't come back to haunt her later?
"Let's just wait and see what happens. You never know what evidence can develop by then."
They rode in silence for a time, and were almost to the motel when Mulder took a closer look at his new partner. "Your teeth are chattering - you must be freezing. I have a blanket in the trunk; do you want me to get it for you?"
"Thank you, but it's really not necessary. At this point, I think getting to the motel is just as good a choice. We'll be there by the time you could get it. What are you doing with a blanket in the trunk of a rental car, anyway?"
"Past experience has taught me to be prepared. You know, a blanket, orange paint, first aid kit, yada, yada, yada."
"Ah. A boy scout."
"No, an ex-Bureau profiler," he corrected as he pulled the car in front of her door. He'd have to go a few extra yards in the downpour, but he wanted to keep her as dry as he could. His mother did manage to teach him to be a gentlemen, despite everything.
"Why don't you take my coat," he offered, beginning to shed it. "You can put it over your head to keep you dry."
"Thanks for the offer, but I'm afraid there's nothing that's going to keep me dry, and since I couldn't get any more wet . . ."
"But . . ."
"Look, Mulder. I appreciate the thought. But I'm a grown woman, an agent, and a doctor, not your girlfriend. You don't have to take care of me. I've been doing that myself for quite some time now."
"Sorry," Mulder apologized, looking chagrined. "It's been awhile since I had either a partner or a friend of the female persuasion. I'll try not to be so machiavellian from now on."
"Just back me up when I need it, and we'll do fine, don't worry," she said, turning for the door handle. "You ready to make a run for it?"
"As ready as you are, Agent Scully," he said, smiling. Despite everything, he was growing to like this woman. As a partner only, of course.
They made a mad dash for their respective doors, getting little or no protection from the slight overhang the motel provided. Once inside, Scully couldn't wait to get out of the sopping clothes which seemed determined to suction to her body in all the most uncomfortable places.
She made her way to the bathroom, quickly stripping off each layer of clothing while trying to keep the water from getting on anything that was currently dry. Her jacket found a place on the hook behind the door, with her remaining clothes being dumped into the sink where she planned to wring them out later.
Luckily, the motel was very conscientious about keeping its patrons in towels, and a big, warm, fuzzy one felt comforting and warm on her cold skin. She wrapped it about herself, choosing a second, smaller towel to dry her disheveled hair after struggling to pull out the ponytail. If she continued with the X-Files and Mulder, she'd have to think about a shorter, easier-to-manage cut, she thought to herself.
Once she was finally no longer dripping, she made her way to her suitcase, finding a clean and dry pair of underwear and bra that she slid into. Being the hour it was, it would probably have been more practical if she'd just put on her pajamas, but they never seemed to be as warm and comforting against her skin as the inside of her robe, which she donned next before sitting in front of her laptop to put some of her thoughts on paper.
Working with Fox Mulder was definitely proving to be interesting, if nothing else. Despite other's assumptions that he was just a nutcase who was half a bubble off, she found him a paradox. He could make the most unbelievable premises sound credible, and the most unlikely theories seem perfectly reasonable. But she wasn't a believer just yet. Even things that seem fantastic have to be rooted in science. However, she was more than aware that, as much as science had uncovered in the last several hundred centuries, they had just that much more to learn. Separating the undiscovered science from the fantasy was going to be where she and Mulder would have their biggest tests, she felt.
Needing to get all these thoughts out of her head before beginning her official report, she typed a bit in her personal journal before moving on. There was a great deal to be said about her new partner, and she wished she'd had the advance notice to be able to read his file as acutely and thoroughly as he'd apparently read hers. He actually read my thesis, she thought, amazed.
Scully remembered turning in that paper. The teacher had respected it, given her a good grade, but it had not been a big hit with the other students and the TA's who'd read it. Either they seemed to be so daunted by the idea of questioning Einstein that they laughed it off, or the paper went totally over their heads and they had no idea what they were reading, she presumed. She knew her facts were straight, her hypotheses fully feasible.
The fact that Mulder had read, understood, and accepted her paper was a shock. She'd known from his reputation that he was no empty-headed jock, but it was a pleasant surprise to find out that his intelligence was far and above his strongest feature - despite the fact, she admitted to herself, embarrassed, that he was a very handsome man.
She typed this all in her journal, added a password - which she'd never done before, nor had felt the need to - and closed the file. Not that she thought Mulder would read her private thoughts if he were to stumble onto her computer, but there's no reason to leave it to chance. He could stumble over it looking for another file, and the last thing she wanted was for her partner of three days to read what she thought of him - positive OR negative.
Scully had only typed a page or two of her report before the power went out. "Great!" she said, irritated, as she realized that most of what she'd written had gone unsaved. She'd have to redo it when and if the power came back on again. What else could go wrong today?
Figuring there was nothing else to do tonight, she made her way to the bed in the darkness, using her sense of touch to turn down the bed and get ready to climb under the covers. She reached for the knot she'd put in her robe's belt when there was a tapping at her door. Whoever was out there must have been getting soaked, she thought.
She rushed to open the door, revealing her new partner holding a candle in his left hand as he lit it with his right. "I thought you might need one of these," Mulder said, handing the pillar of wax to Scully.
"You carry candles with you on business trips?" she asked, astonished. The surprises just kept coming with this man.
"No, I carry a flashlight. Which had just enough battery life left in it to make it to the registration desk. The night clerk had these on hand. I guess it happens quite often 'in this neck of the woods.'" He did his best to imitate the local dialect as he pulled a second candle from his pocket and lit it as well. "So what were you working on when the lights went out?"
"My report, naturally. Some day I'm going to start believing them when they say 'save often.'" She chuckled grimly.
"Lost it all, huh?"
"Not all, but a good deal of it."
"There are benefits to a good old pad of paper and a pen."
"Except then I'd have to try to read my own handwriting later. You know what they say about doctors . . ."
"Oh, yeah." The look on his face told her that he found it easy to forget that this little redhead was a physician. They fell silent, Mulder standing uncomfortably in her doorway. Finally, he scuffed his toe. "I guess I'll get back to my room. Call or knock on the wall if you need anything, okay?"
"Thanks, Mulder," she said, trying to convey her sincerity.
"No problem. I'll see you in the morning."
She felt bad, sending him back out into the rain, but knew that she was in no position to get caught in a motel room in the dark with her partner of less than a week, even if it was totally innocent. Women had to tread lightly in the Bureau, despite the claims that it was "equal opportunity," and past mistakes on her part didn't help matters.
Now that she had a little light, a hot bath sounded particularly nice, so she took her candle and went into the bathroom. Shedding her robe, she felt something on her skin near the line of her underwear. Bumps . . . and they'd supposedly "lost" nine minutes . . .
Grabbing her robe, she made a bee-line for her partner's room.
GRAVEYARD, LATER THAT SAME NIGHT
"C'mon, let's get out of here."
"Where are we going?"
"We're going to pay a visit to Billy Miles."
"I am so sick of being wet," Mulder said as he slid into the driver's seat. Beside him, Scully was fastening her seat belt.
"Tell me about it."
He drove carefully, while taking surreptitious glances at the woman beside him as she wrung as much water as she could from her pony tail. He couldn't believe it. He'd fully expected his skeptical spy to be running for the hills by this point, but she seemed as dedicated to this case as he was. She also wasn't as uncompromising as he'd dreamed she'd be, willing to entertain the fantastic despite her disbelief, on the chance that it would solve the case. It was clear that, with Dana Scully, the case - and the victims - came first.
The previous night, he hadn't known what had gotten into him, revealing so much of himself to this person he hardly knew. It was a trust he didn't normally extend to people he'd known for years, let alone for a few days. But, deep down inside, he trusted her, without being able to identify exactly why.
Perhaps it was her own trust in him that made him realize that this was the beginning of something special. He'd be lying if he said he wasn't shocked for half a second when she'd dropped her bathrobe in his room, revealing a practical yet pretty set of underclothes. How much trust would it take for a woman to do that, he wondered, realizing that she assuredly must have heard all the rumors. "Mulder's insane." "He's not playing with a full deck." "He's spooky, and so is anybody who associates with him."
He imagined the reaction of her teachers, coworkers, superiors even, when they heard that she'd accepted the assignment with him.
"So, what do you think?" He said, shaking free of the wandering thoughts.
"About the case?" she asked.
"No, about your new assignment. Think you'll stay longer than it takes to write up the report on the first case?"
"Mulder, I'll be the first to admit that there are things that can't be explained using the knowledge we currently have. I can't imagine a better place to be to learn."
"Meaning you believe?" he asked, shocked.
"Meaning that I'm going to need more information before I do. But I'm not discounting anything until I have proof, either way."
Mulder grew serious, despite his trust in her. "You know what I said last night about your being part of their agenda?"
"Yes, but I'm not . . ."
"You are, or you're supposed to be, at least. Whether you want to be or not. They want you to debunk the Work, and expect you to play the dutiful agent and do as you're told. And if you don't, they're not going to be happy with you, you know that, right?"
"I grew up with two brothers and an older sister. I stopped letting people bully me a long time ago," Scully said. "I'm going to report on the truth - no more, and no less."
"Meaning that you're going to make me work for every bit," Mulder smiled, feeling comfortable with this small woman.
"Hard work is good for the soul, Mulder. Didn't your parents ever tell you that?"
"I did hear that somewhere," he admitted with a slight grin, thinking how it was definitely not from his silent and sullen mother or his frequently-intoxicated father. He didn't know that he'd let this show until she laid a comforting hand on his arm.
"I'm sorry, Mulder. Didn't mean to dredge up bad memories."
"Scully, if we're going to work together, you have to stop worrying that what you say every second will remind me of the difficulties in my life. Just be yourself, and indulge me a little if I seem moody. Remember, I'm not used to working with a partner."
"I didn't get a long look, but your file said you'd had one before."
"Okay, I'll restate it. I'm not used to working with a partner who is going to make me work to justify my insights."
"Well, you'd better get used to it, because I intend to stay on this assignment for a long, long time." She paused, smiling at Mulder. "And when I get home, I'm going shopping for a better raincoat!"
They laughed together, enjoying the camaraderie for the first time. He didn't know if it would last, but for now, he felt like he was in a good place, and he hoped she felt the same.
The End . . . and The Beginning