Something to Talk About

By Mary Kleinsmith (

Spoilers: Pilot, Small Potatoes

Summary: When Scully gets fed up with the rumors at the Bureau, she decides to really give people something to talk about

Rating: PG.

Classification: UST, MSR a little near the end

Archive: Yes, anywhere

Disclaimer: Mulder, Scully, Skinner, and everything related to them belong to Chris Carter and 10-13, with magic added by David, Gillian, and Mitch. I'm only borrowing them.

Author's Notes: This one has been in the works for awhile now, but I was newly reinvested after the recent April Fool's Day challenge presented on one of the lists. St Patrick's Day references thrown in as an extra bonus. I hope everybody enjoys it!

April Fools - Something to Talk About

By Mary Kleinsmith

March 14 - Dublin, NY

"Honestly, Mulder," Dana Scully said as their rental car pulled up in front of the motel. "I really think we're wasting our time here!"

"How can you expect me to ignore multiple reports of sightings of this type? If they're accurate, can you imagine what a find?"

"I know, but seven separate people seeing a leprechaun in March in a town called Dublin is just too much! And now it's going to stretch into an overnight trip?" She was clearly exasperated, he could see, by the flash in her blue eyes.

"Hey, what harm can it do to check it out thoroughly? Another night in a motel room won't kill you."

"Sometimes, I wonder," she muttered under her breath as she rubbed her back where she knew it would be sore the next morning from a cheap, lumpy mattress. But Mulder didn't hear her, as he was already opening the trunk and retrieving their overnight bags.

The man at the front desk was polite and had a kind face that reminded Scully of her father. "We'd like two singles, please," Mulder asked, reaching for his wallet.

"I'm sorry, folks. I have only one room left. It's got two double beds, but I'm afraid that's the best I can do."

"Is there another motel nearby?" Scully questioned.

"Sorry again, Miss. Only one in the area." He waited patiently for the pair to make their decision.

Scully and Mulder shrugged their shoulders at each other. "Okay, we'll take it," Mulder spoke up. "How much?" Mulder settled up the account as the clerk handed Scully the room key.

"I'm afraid I only have the one key. Will that be okay?" the clerk asked.

"Yes, that's fine, thank you." Scully smiled as she picked up her bag and headed down the dimly lit hallway, her partner following closely behind her.


Dana shivered slightly as she pulled down the cover on the bed farthest from the window in the small hotel room. She wished that she had thought to bring something warmer to wear to bed; the running shorts and oversized T-shirt no match for the cool New York spring. She envied Mulder his sweat pants as he emerged from the bathroom and began climbing into his own bed.

"You're cold?" he noticed instantly, even though she thought she was hiding it pretty well.

"A little, yes."

Without further conversation, Fox went to the thermostat and turned it up a bit. "It should be better soon," he assured, returning to the bed.

"Thank you," Scully said simply. She wondered if Mulder was sacrificing his own comfort for hers, but since she had no desire to start an argument, she accepted his gesture. Once she'd crawled under the covers, she reached for her book; at the same moment, he reached for the remote control for the old television set, grunting in frustration as he realized that the thing was permanently fastened to the night stand.

Mulder skipped through several stations before settling on a Discovery Channel special on outer space. Watching while she read her book, Scully was surprised when the show, which had Mulder totally fascinated, didn't make the faintest hint of extraterrestrial life.

When the program ended after an hour, Scully smiled. "Wow, Mulder. A whole show and not a single alien."

"I have always been fascinated by outer space, even before what happened to Samantha." His voice had dropped on the name, as if the very mention of it tore his heart. Probably does, Scully thought.

"I have to admit," Scully said, "it's always interested me, too. Just something about the unknown, I guess. Maybe that's part of the reason I've stayed on the X-Files so long."

"You mean it wasn't my charm and rapier wit?" Fox asked sarcastically.

"Well, that was part of it, too, naturally." Scully smiled.

As the room fell silent, Scully sensed that there was something Mulder wanted to say. "What is it?" she asked, not knowing if he would deny that something was on his mind.

"Would you . . . ." He paused for a moment, tinged red, then began again. "Would you tell me what you and Eddie Van Blundht talked about that night in your apartment?" After a moment of stunned silence, Scully realized how long this was in coming. She had been surprised, actually, that he hadn't made this inquiry years ago. She'd always sworn to herself that if he ever asked about any part of that evening, she'd honestly tell him what he wanted to know.

"I remember it so clearly, despite the wine," she began, turning to lie on her side with her head propped on her hand. He adopted a similar position opposite her, his eyes glittering in the partial darkness with interest as her story unfolded. "You . . . I mean he came to the door late that night with a bottle of wine. I was about to ask you if you were nuts, coming over so late like that, but you - I really did think it was you - had that face on."

"What face?" Mulder asked, smiling.

"That face that you get when you need to talk. So I invited you in.

"And you couldn't tell it wasn't me?" he asked, incredulous.

"Well, Mulder, he looked exactly like you! And once he was inside, he just kept filling my wine glass while I kept drinking so as not to be rude to you! Pretty soon, I wasn't quite in my right mind."

"Okay, then what?"

"Actually, after that it was kid of fun. He asked me all about my childhood, school days . . . I even told him about my senior prom."

Mulder looked thoughtful at her words. "You know, it just occurred to me . . . that night on our first case together, I told you just about all there was to know about me and my past, and for the most part, you've told me nothing about yours," he grinned.

"What do you want to know?" she grinned back.

"All of it - starting with the prom."

They talked until well after 2:00 am, when Scully finally nodded off in the middle of a sentence. Mulder, who was tired himself, shut off the light and rolled over, feeling that, for once, he wouldn't be plagued by nightmares unless they were of leprechauns at Scully's high school prom.


Accounting Department

J Edgar Hoover Building - March 21st

"Hey, Cindy," the blond clerk whispered to the woman at the next desk.

"What?" her coworker asked, not happy at the distraction.

"Take a look at this!" Melanie asked excitedly. "I told you there was something going on there."

"So what?" Cindy asked again. "It's a hotel room bill on Agent Mulder's expense report. They come through all the time, or hadn't you noticed?"

"They don't come through like this every day. There's only one room listed on his credit card!"

It slowly dawned on Cindy what Melanie was thinking. "You're imagining things, I swear."

"I'm not imagining that Agent Scully's report doesn't have a hotel room on it at all. They had to have stayed in the same room!"

The clerk's expression changed from disbelieving to curious. "Let me see those . . ." Her eyes scanned the documents in question. "Holy cow, you're right," she giggled. Normally, that one report wouldn't have been enough to convince her, but how could Mulder and Scully expect everybody to ignore how close they'd obviously become over the past six years? And when Scully had - for appearances only, Melanie was sure - gone on vacation alone awhile back, nobody missed how lost Mulder was without her.


March 28

Mulder had his nose buried in a file when Scully strode into the office, a puzzled expression on her face. "Mulder, I think working on these X-Files is making me paranoid."

"Paranoid?" he repeated, raising his eyes from the paperwork to meet hers.

"Yeah. That or we've got our very own X-file here in the Hoover Building. People are acting really strange out there. Haven't you noticed? It's been like this for days!"

"I'm afraid I didn't notice anything, Scully. But then again, people don't usually spend any more time than they need to with 'Spooky Mulder'." He said it easily, but she cringed for him, wondering how he could take so nonchalantly the isolated life to which his fixation led him.

"I know plenty of women who work here who wouldn't mind spending some time with you, but that's not the point. The point is that something's going on. Every time I walk into a room, conversation stops. I even saw one of the secretaries laughing." She paused, gauging his reaction. "So, what do you think?"

"You know what I think?" Scully shook her head. "I think you're right - I'm making you paranoid. Now let's forget everybody else and finish this report. Skinner hates it when they're late."

The report took the better part of the day to complete, but was finally ready to be signed. Mulder scribbled his signature on the document next to Scully's as she said, "I'll run this up to Skinner's office while you're finishing here." She eyed Mulder's cluttered desk disapprovingly. "Then we can head out."

"Hey, you want to get a pizza?" Fox asked. For some reason, he didn't want to go home to his empty apartment; he felt the need for some company.

"Sure, why not? After all, how many times do we actually get out of work at a decent hour? We can celebrate." She smiled as she scooped up the papers and left the basement office.


Scully heard voices as she approached Skinner's office, and she recognized them as belonging to her boss and his secretary. The building had quieted considerably as most of the people cleared out a few minutes ago, and their voices carried so she could understand every word before she even entered the outer office where Kim normally sat. The secretary's chair was empty now; her voice indicated she was in the inner office. Neither person saw Scully peak around the corner.

"I do trust you, Walter, but I don't understand what you mean."

"Come on, Kim, I know you better than that. I also know this building and all the offices in it. Everybody's talking about something and I want to know what it is. Now give." He gave her a look Scully had never seen him use before, somewhere between disapproving parent and con artist.

"Okay, but I'm only repeating this under the condition that you understand I haven't been part of the way this is spreading." She waited for Skinner's nod, then, "it involves two of your favorite agents, who currently occupy an office in the basement." There was no doubt who she was talking about, and Scully stepped unconsciously closer in order to be sure not to miss anything. "The rumor is that they're investigating more down there than just the X-Files," Susan continued.

Skinner's eyes grew wide as he understood her genteel way of explaining. "Oh, please!" he said, but there was a hint of doubt in the exclamation. "I know Mulder and Scully are close, but there's got to be something more fueling this rumor."

"There was something about a tryst in a hotel room while they were on assignment - some versions even say they broke the bed." She blushed, looking up at her boss. Even though they'd worked together for some time now, some things were just not discussed with an ex-Marine Assistant Director.

"Is this true?" Skinner asked her. "Do we know if it has been substantiated?"

"Well, there was a mention of expense reports, but that's all I've heard."

"In that case, could you please call down to Accounting and have them send up Scully and Mulder's expense reports for the last two months? If there's a problem, I want to know about it."

Scully ducked out of the office, fuming, before Kim could return to her desk. It was fortunate for the rest of the Hoover Building's workers that it was late, because if Scully had encountered anybody on her walk from the AD's office to the basement, she just may have used them for self-defense practice. Re-entering the X-Files office, she slammed the door as hard as she could. It didn't make her feel better. Mulder's head, however, shot up instantly.

"What's wrong?" he asked, noticing the report still clenched in her fist and the flash in her eyes. "I thought you were going to deliver that?"

"I'll send it by inter-office mail in the morning," she ground out between clenched teeth.

"Why are you so angry?"

"Let's go. I don't want to talk about it here." She grabbed her trenchcoat on the way out the door, too upset to notice that it nearly hit Mulder in the face as he followed behind her. He was dying to know what could make his normally unflappable partner so upset, but knew better after six years not to ask until she was ready to talk.


Mulder sat back slightly, watching Scully take a sip of the gin and tonic the waitress had just brought. They'd decided to eat at the restaurant rather than getting their pizza to go, giving them a quiet atmosphere where he hoped Scully would talk about whatever was bothering her.

She shivered slightly as she took a larger drink. "Are you cold?" he asked, noting that the heat in the place seemed to be working fine.

"No, I guess not," she sighed. "I'm really sorry about snapping at you back in the office; you deserve better than that from your partner. I do know that."

"Are you ready to tell me what happened? Will you? It wasn't another one of those damn 'Mrs. Spooky' comments, was it?"

Scully looked like she almost wanted to laugh. "Not really. Well, not in the way you mean, anyway."

"Seriously, Scully. I've never seen you so angry. What's going on?"

"I have been this angry before, Mulder," she answered as she avoided looking him in the eyes. "You've just never seen it. I'm Irish, you know," she added, lightening her tone. She was obviously trying to allay her partner's concern. Now that they were away from the office, however, she wasn't sure she wanted to broach the subject.

The silence descended on them for several minutes - time enough for the waitress to bring their salads. Once she was gone, Mulder pushed her further. "You're not having trouble with one of those chauvinist agents back at the bureau, are you?"

"No," she answered abruptly, not wanting him to misunderstand. "I just get frustrated sometimes. I wish I had a dime for every ugly remark ever said about us or the X-Files division."

"What was the remark that broke the proverbial camel's back?" She hesitated. "Dana, you may as well tell me because you know I won't give up." He noticed her blush as she opened her mouth and then shut it again. His voice grew low, conspiratorial. "Scully, we know more about each other than most family members. What is it you think you can't tell me?"

Her shade deepened to crimson as she finally spoke. "Do you remember earlier when I was talking about how odd everybody was acting at the bureau?" She waited for his nod, then went on. "Well, I overheard some people talking on my way up to Skinner's office." She neglected to tell him exactly who had been involved in the conversation. "Seems that the whole place is rampant with rumors of what they think is going on in our basement office. . . . Activities that aren't on our reports."

She stopped, hoping that what she'd said would be enough for him to get her meaning. He looked at her blankly for a moment before the light dawned. His brows rose well past the lock of hair that seemed determined to fall onto his forehead. He obviously didn't want to say the words either, as his blush matched her own. Finally, he stammered a bit before saying, "well, don't let it get to you. This happens any time a man and a woman are partnered together. I think this is no more than standard gossip. And even if it's not . . ."

"Even if it's not," she repeated. "I just hate that some people are so narrow minded that they can't believe a man and woman can be friends and partners without being lovers." There, one of them had finally said it.

"I know, but I'm afraid there's not much you can do." They sat in silence before an evil grin spread across her face.

"We can teach them a lesson."

"A lesson?" He wasn't sure whether to be worried at the flatness in her voice or just plain sorry for the person or people on which her wrath would be released.

"Yeah. Everybody from Skinner to the clerks in the mail room. We'll give them something to talk about."

"Scully, I've never known you to have a devious thought in your life," he laughed. "What's the plan?"


The next morning, putting their plan into action, they arrived at the bureau together in Mulder's car. The attendant in the parking garage didn't bat an eye until he peered into the window with a cheery, "Good morning, Agent Mulder." He found himself speechless as he spotted Scully's left hand resting on Mulder's thigh. Fox smiled into the guard's dumbstruck expression and drove into the lot. If that were any example, this was going to be fun! After all, all they were doing was yanking a few chains the same way theirs had been yanked on so many occasions over the years.

There was no regulation on or off the books about coworkers or even partners being in a relationship in their off time, so that couldn't get them into trouble as long as it didn't affect the work. And it wouldn't, since this was all for the "viewing public's" benefit anyway. The guard who handed them their ID's had worked there for years and seen a lot, yet it was still a surprise to him to notice Mulder pull his arm from around Scully's waist as they came through the doors, then resume the position once they were through the gate. He looked on in wonderment as Agent Mulder leaned over and whispered something in Scully's ear, to which Scully giggled (giggled?) and blushed.

As the elevator doors closed, Scully laughed as hard as Mulder had ever seen her. "You're really loving this, aren't you?" He chuckled. "I didn't know you were such a good actress."

"I'll have you know, I played the lead in our college production of 'Pygmalion'," she replied slyly. "Everybody raved. Compared to that, this is a piece of cake!"

"I'm sure it was great - the student body is just lucky that it wasn't My Fair Lady. Instead of having a packed house, they just might have had an empty one." Mulder's affectionate smile softened the remark, communicating to her that it was derogatory in regard to only her singing voice. She couldn't let it go, though.

"Oh, and your voice is so much better, huh?" She grinned.

"You have no idea," he rebutted before he broke into a fairly decent imitation of Elvis doing It's Now or Never. The elevator doors opened on the basement floor just after he finished the first refrain.

". . . my love won't wait."

"Work won't wait either, Mulder. We'd better get at it, too. We have other things on our agenda than just making the rest of the FBI squirm."

Half an hour later, they were settled in, seemingly buried under a sea of backlogged paperwork. When the phone rang, Scully jumped a mile. "Too much coffee, Scully?" Mulder laughed as he lifted the receiver. "Mulder."

"Mulder, this is Skinner. I need to see you and Scully in my office immediately."

"Yes, sir. We'll be right up." He hung up the phone, realizing that Skinner had done likewise before he'd even finished his response. "Skinner wants us up there now."

"Good, I was hoping he would," Scully said maliciously. "He's included in my plan as well."

"Uh . . . Scully, are you sure that's such a good idea? I mean, he is our boss."

"Since when are you so afraid of him. He's made us squirm often enough. I'd say it's past time. He may be our boss, Mulder, but what I heard was totally unprofessional."

"But from what you told me, he didn't participate in spreading the rumors."

"Yes, but he didn't squelch them, either. Besides, if we start letting this person and that person in on the joke, it'll never work. It's all or nothing, and I want them all." Scully smiled wickedly as she preceded him into the hallway.

Kim was seated at her desk when the pair of agents arrived to see Skinner. "I'm sorry, but he had to take an important phone call. Feel free to take a seat." She motioned toward the couch, and watched as the agents exchanged a nod before sitting side by side.

Several minutes later, her attention was drawn to the report she was typing when the intercom buzzed. Raising her eyes to tell the partners that Skinner was ready for them, Kim was struck dumbfounded when he noticed that Scully was whispering in Mulder's ear, while Mulder was resting his hand high on her thigh.

"Ahem!" she said, once, then again, until she had their attention. "The Assistant Director will see you now." Both agents rose simultaneously, Mulder straightening his tie while Scully smoothed out her skirt. What the hell was up with them? On second thought, Kim decided she didn't really want to know.

"Welcome, agents," Skinner said as he waved them to the chairs in front of his desk. "I've had an opportunity to review your report, and wanted to go over some of the details."

Mulder sat in the chair on the right, his right leg crossed over his left, while Scully mirrored his position, left over right, in the left chair. Dana was barely able to keep her attention on what their supervisor was saying as she watched his face intently. She wanted to see every nuance as she moved her left foot an inch or so, rubbing her ankle against Mulder's. He returned the gesture, developing a sensuous dance that Skinner couldn't ignore.

Losing all track of the points he wanted to discuss, Skinner stared dumfounded at his seasoned, experienced agents as they sat in front him literally playing footsy. He found himself in a position he'd never have dreamed, and had absolutely no idea what to do about it. He'd known for years that Scully and Mulder were close, even hoped, somewhere deep inside, that they'd find a way to be together as their love for each other dictated. But to have them demonstrating it right in front of him? It was improper behavior for on the job, there was no doubt about that. So should he say something? Or turn a blind eye and get on with his report.

Walter Skinner realized that, as rare as it was, he was blushing. Clearing his throat, he said, "everything . . . you're report . . ." He coughed again as Scully ran a moist tongue over her lips, her eyes on Mulder instead of her boss. Finally, he gave up - wanting no more than to have these two out of his office before they decided to consummate their partnership right here in front of him. "I just wanted to commend you on a job well done, agents. Thank you for your report, you're dismissed."

Mulder and Scully shrugged their shoulders at each other and stood to leave, his hand in hers as they closed the door behind them. Inside the office, Skinner ran a crisp white handkerchief over the sweat of his brow. He couldn't take too many more meetings like that, and had to decide what to do about his agents.

In the hallway, Mulder and Scully made their way to the elevator, looking in gratefully when they saw that nobody else occupied the car that arrived. Once the doors closed on them, they both broke out laughing.

"Did you see his face?" Mulder laughed, bent nearly in half and holding his stomach. "I thought he was going to self-combust right on the spot!"

"Oh, Mulder. I wish I'd had a camera. That was just too funny!" Scully wiped at the tears beneath her eyes, not caring that she was smearing her makeup.

"As much fun as that was," Mulder said when he could finally talk again, "I'm not sure how long I can keep this up with a straight face. What's your plan, Scully?"

"Just a couple days. I figure that April 1st is a decidedly appropriate day to let them off the hook. And long enough for us to get some satisfaction from it."

The elevator rattled to a stop in the basement, the agents spilling out into the hallway laughing like they never had before. As they entered the office, their joviality died down, and after a few moments of total silence, Mulder began pulling on his lip.

"Scully, are you sure this is the best way to get even with them? It seems like this is just giving them what they want."

"Sure I'm sure. Mulder, when we finally tell everybody how badly they've been had, they'll be so embarrassed, they'll never spread another rumor again."

Mulder couldn't help but wonder what would happen if they didn't believe that it had all been an act. But he couldn't deny Scully the fun she'd been having. It was seldom enough that they got to relax; laughing was a real luxury. Another thought came to him.

"This isn't the first time there have been things said about us. Why is this time so different?" he asked curiously.

"Because I'm sick of the lack of respect in the Bureau," she responded succinctly. "You're an Oxford-trained psychologist, Mulder. And one of the best profilers law enforcement has ever seen. How many lives have you saved since you took over the x-files? Lives that would have been lost because these cases were buried down here? You deserve better than all those 'Spooky Mulder' comments." Her face showed anger, but not at him.

"You helped save those lives, too, Scully."

"I know, but they're not as hard on me as they are on you for some reason. And that makes me feel badly for you. Do you know how it makes me feel when I have to see the pain in your eyes after one of their comments. Nobody has a right to make a friend of mine feel that way."

Mulder blushed, then took Scully in his arms in a hug. "Thanks. No partner ever covered my back quite so thoroughly before."

"And none ever will again," she added, "because I'm here for good."


Two more days of rumors, encouraged by Scully and Mulder's act, had inflated them to an unbelievable extent, and Scully was loving every minute of it. The latest even had them newly married, after an abrupt elopement, and she knew she wasn't imagining the stares that her naked ring finger was getting. Nobody'd ever been so interested in her hands in the past! She was so deep in thought that she didn't hear Mulder's approaching footsteps.

"So, you ready to let them off the hook?" She spun around at his words, nearly knocking over the pile of folders sitting on the corner of his desk.

"Jeez, Mulder! Give a girl a little warning, will ya?" Mulder chuckled, but didn't apologize.


"Well what?"

"Are you going to let the rest of the bureau off the hook this morning? Or wait until the last possible minute of the day?"

"Not that they deserve it," Scully smiled wickedly. "But I think we'll get it over early on. Somehow I feel they've squirmed enough."

"I find it fascinating that the concept of our being in a normal relationship unsettled them so much," Mulder stated. "I mean, Skinner had a wife, Johnson has a girlfriend. Heck, Starnes and Beidman were partners first, and then married. Why are we so different?"

"I have no idea, Mulder. I just know that having to be around us when we're acting like we've been the last few days is like itching powder down their pants. And since they were so willing to believe it, they shouldn't be unsettled by it."

"It's just all those agents' hearts breaking over the idea that they don't have a chance with you, Scully," Mulder smiled with affection. "Frohike isn't the only one with a crush on you, or hadn't you noticed?"

Dana looked uncomfortable for a few moments before clearing her throat and changing the subject. "Be that as it may, this time, I want them all to learn a lesson about gossiping. It's not nice." She made it sound so simple. "Besides, I'm sure the clerical pool is just as unhappy that you're seemingly no longer available."

Mulder laughed. "When was the last time I asked out a member of the clerical pool." He paused while she seemed to search her memory, then answering for her. "Never. Not in the seven years we've been partners have I ever encouraged them."

Now it was Scully's turn to chuckle. "You just don't understand the female mind, Mulder. All you have to do to encourage them is to look like you do. That face alone is enough encouragement." Things suddenly became uncomfortably silent as Mulder tried to decide what she meant by the remark. Did she really think he was handsome?

"Are you ready for the final act?" Scully asked, breaking into his thoughts.

"Yeah, I guess. I should warn you, I'm not much of an actor."

"You've done okay so far. And it only has to be for a few minutes before we let them off the hook."

"Okay, g-woman. May as well get it over with!"


The traffic in the main hallway outside Skinner's office parted magically as the two agents burst forth from the elevator. The timing was perfect, chosen specifically because the bullpen nearby, the halls, and Skinner's office would all be well-populated. The woman, Agent Scully, stomped through the hallway furiously, with Agent Mulder hot on her heels.

"Scully, wait! Where are you going?" He called out to her, drawing the attention of everybody not already watching.

"Why?!" she demanded, turning on him angrily. "Why? So you can mollify me with sweet nothings and then sneak off to meet up with that tramp?!"

"Scully, I swear! There's nobody else!"

"Save it, Mulder," she snapped back. "You've used me for the last time! It's bad enough that I've let you do it professionally for seven years; I refuse to let you do it privately as well. Have you taken her to our bed? Or have you been using some tawdry motel for your rendezvous!"

"Listen, Scully," Mulder said gently, trying to calm the woman. "There's never been anybody but you - not in seven years. And there never will be, I promise!"

"You're damn right there won't be," Scully said, obviously overwrought. "And I'm going to make sure of that." Slowly, she drew her gun from the holster tucked in the small of her back, bringing a bead on Mulder. "Nobody will ever take my place!"

The crowd surrounding them stood dumbfounded, frozen in shock, as Scully pulled the trigger. Mulder went down like a bag of wet sand, face down, as Skinner rushed to his side. When had things gotten so out of control? The agent had barely hit the floor when Scully turned the gun on herself. "Together, forever, Mulder," she said with a sob. Then a second gunshot, and she fell beside him on the floor.

Skinner rushed to Scully's side, noting that, while Mulder was not moving, she still was. The crowd pushed in closer, and he called ineffectually to give them a some room. "Scully! Scully, can you hear me?"

"Sir . . ." came a whisper from her prone body.

"Don't worry, we're getting help for both of you. You'll be okay." Skinner sounded frantic, and she lifted her head a little higher.

"Sir, just one thing."

"What?" he asked, all eyes on the three of them on the floor.

"April Fools!" she shouted in his ear as she jumped to her feet. Gasps were heard all around as they watched Mulder do the same. The two agents grew breathless from laughing, while everybody else looked on, still stunned.

Skinner, however, recovered first. "What the hell is going on here?" he asked sternly.

"Well," Scully said as Mulder took up a position close beside her. "Everybody was so willing to believe that something was going on between Mulder and me. I just figured we'd give them something to talk about." She smiled proudly at their act, exuding a warmth and humor so strong that it was impossible to stay angry at them for long.

"You mean," Skinner said while trying to repress a smile, "that all this has been an act? The hand holding? The footsy?"

"Yes, sir," Mulder admitting, speaking for the first time since the "shooting".

"The motel room receipts?"

"No, now that was real. If you'd just asked us, we'd have explained that it was the only room available, and that it had two beds in it. Nothing went on that night, but everybody was so willing to believe it had."

"I guess, agents, then I have only one thing I can do." Skinner looked sternly at the pair, and Scully worried about what he'd say.

"Sir, it was just a joke. And it was all my idea, so if you're going to reprimand somebody, reprimand me. Mulder just went along with it."

"Excuse me, agent, but I don't believe I was allowed to finish what I was saying. I guess there is only one thing I can do." He paused again, half expected her or Mulder to interrupt again, but none came. "And that is to congratulate you on a job well done." This time, it was Scully and Mulder who looked stunned as the stern-faced Assistant Director broke into a wide grin. The grin developed into the beginnings of a laugh. "We, ladies and gentlemen," he added to the crowd gathered, "have been royally had. And we've also been taught a lesson for sticking our investigative noses where it didn't belong. I think we can all be thankful to the X-Files division for being our teachers."

And then, to Mulder and Scully's astonishment, the entire bureau, starting with Skinner, began to applaud. Their blushes were clearly evident as the assembled staff shook their hands or pounded them on the back before returning to their duties. "This one will definitely go down in the books," one bystander stated as he walked away.

Eventually, there was nobody left in the corridor except themselves and Skinner. "I'm sorry, agents, that the rumors got so out of control. I should have realized and put a stop to it."

"That's okay. We gained enough pleasure to make up for it when we were in your office the other day," Mulder grinned.

"I know I wasn't by normal, imperturbable self, that's for sure," Skinner laughed this time. "But what do you do when you're the boss and your staff is sitting in front of you playing footsy?!"

"I'm glad you're taking this with the humor with which it was intended, Sir," Scully said more seriously. "I'm sorry if it was inappropriate, but I didn't think a simple denial would work."

"You're probably right about that. Bureau rumors are typically very hard to squelch. But I somehow think you've killed this one pretty thoroughly. I just have one question, though."

"What's that, sir?" Mulder asked.

"Why aren't you dead? She shot you, Mulder, and I saw you go down."

"Precautions, sir," Mulder said, showing the bullet proof vest he wore beneath his suit. "Besides, did I forget to tell you the 'novelty' I picked up on our last case in Los Angeles?"

"What novelty is that?" Skinner questioned as he watched Mulder and Scully exchange smiled.

"A box of honest-to-God movie-type blanks. We loaded them into Scully's clip before we headed up here."

All three laughed, as Skinner commented, "very efficient and safety conscious of you. And now that you've sprung your April Fool's Day prank, why don't you take the rest of the day off. I think it'll take the rest of the bureau at least that long to recover."


Walking through the parking garage on the way to their cars, it was small relief to feel, for a change, that no eyes were on them. "What a relief to have that over with!" Mulder remarked, sighing.

"Most definitely. I just hope they've learned their lesson."

"I'm sure they have. Scully, you were incredible! You shouldn't have gone into medicine - you should have gone to Hollywood!"

"You weren't so bad yourself. I only wish you could have seen the faces on those people after you went down. I think they were scared to death!"

"I'm sure they thought that you'd finally gone around the bend, just like Spooky Mulder."

"Ugh. I hate that name, Mulder. Maybe I'll have to go to work on that, next." She laughed, smiling slyly from her place beside him.

"Please, no!" Mulder laughed along. "I don't think Skinner's heart can take it." He paused, calming. "I do appreciate the thought, though. There aren't too many people in this world who would give a damn about my reputation or my feelings."

Just at that moment, Scully's heel caught in a crack in the pavement, sending her falling until his strong arms wrapped around her to cease her decent. "Whoa!"

Scully blushed as she found her face so close to her partner's that she could feel his breath on her eyelids. A moment passed between them, and suddenly his lips were on hers for a fleeting moment. Mulder withdrew, and she studied his face intently before reaching up to pull him down into a longer kiss. This time, when she broke the kiss, there were smiles on their faces.

"Maybe we'd better take this someplace a little more private," she suggested, interlacing her fingers with his. "We wouldn't want to start rumors, would we?"

"How about lunch, then, Miss Scully? I know a very private, intimate restaurant not far away."

Scully just nodded, smiling warmly at her partner. "Your car or mine?"

The End