A Well-Dressed Agent?
Category/keywords: Pre-Ep, MSR, is Mulder!Embarrassment a category?
Spoilers: Signs & Wonders
Archive: Anywhere, just keep my name attached. Written for After-the-Fact's Signs & Wonders episode challenge
Summary: The trip to Blessing, Tennessee treats Mulder to several pitfalls along the
Feedback: Please? It would make my day!
A Well-Dressed Agent?
"My luggage is WHERE?!" Mulder is incredulous, and I know there's nothing I'm going to do to calm him.
"I'm sorry, Sir. It appears that your suitcases were accidentally routed to a flight that went to Los Angeles. We're tracking it down now and will get it back as soon as we can. We'll have them delivered to your hotel." She examines the name and address I'd scribbled on the card.
"What am I supposed to do without my clothes? I'm an Agent with the FBI - I can't just go running around in the same suit day after day!"
"They'll be here tomorrow evening, the next day at the latest, Sir. I'm very sorry, but that's the best that I can do." The young clerk is apologetic, and I feel bad for her. After all, it hadn't been she who had put them on the wrong conveyor belt. Still, she is feeling my partner's wrath.
Time to step in, I think. "Mulder," I said, taking his arm. "we'll pick you up something along the way. It'll be okay."
"There are several very nice men's stores here near the airport," the clerk suggests. "I can give you some specifics if you'd like."
Mulder grumbles, and walks away, picking up one of my suitcases - which hadn't been lost.
"We'll find them on our own, I guess," I smile at the girl. "Thanks for your help."
I catch up with my partner fairly easily, and, thankfully, getting the car isn't nearly as much trouble as getting our - or rather, my - luggage was. Before we know it, we 're climbing into the vehicle. I pray the air conditioning works; it's getting insufferably hot already.
Mulder sheds his light jacket in silence, throwing it into the back seat. He'd chosen to travel casual this trip, which means that he's lost all his dress clothes in his luggage. God knows I love that man, but he could infuriate the Pope with his grousing.
"How the hell am I supposed to investigate a case in jeans and a T-shirt?" he asks rhetorically.
"We can stop and get you something at the first store we see," I suggest, but Mulder shakes his head.
"Nah, don't bother, Scully. I just want to get to Blessing and get to work on the case. I'm sure there'll be a store there."
"Are you sure?" I ask. "I somehow doubt they'll have Armani in a small town in Tennessee."
"Yes, I'm sure. I don't intend to replace my entire wardrobe anyway. I only need enough to get by for a day."
He sounds certain, so I don't push it. I think one of the reasons our relationship works so well is that we give each other the space we need. Not that we need much space lately, I think lasciviously as I admire the way his T-shirt sleeve stretches over a bicep.
Over the last few months, Mulder and I have been enjoying a new aspect to our relationship, and it's proving to be fun as well as wonderful and sweet. We'd loved each other for years, been in love with each other for years. Now we've finally taken the last step. I guess we're still in the 'honeymoon' phase, where we're all smiles and giggles as long as we're not on a case. It's been arousing and freeing, but it's also been something I never expected. I never thought a romantic relationship with Mulder would be fun.
As we drive, his jaw becomes not quite so tight and his neck muscles relax. He's letting go of the inconvenience even now, and I know I can help a bit. Reaching for his right hand on the steering wheel, I interlace my fingers with his, bringing our intertwined hands to rest on the seat between us.
It's a three hour drive from the airport to the small town of Blessing, and the rental's air conditioning gives up around hour two. We both try the different dials and gages, but nothing seems to make the air it's blowing change from warm to cold.
"What else can go wrong?" Mulder says, flicking off all the switches. "An hour more in this heat and I may melt."
I have to giggle at Mulder's melodramatics. He's no more sensitive to the heat than I am, but he's definitely better at complaining about it.
"Well, at least the power windows still work," I say as I open the ones on my side. The wind that comes in the windows is cooling to a degree, but I still am glad that I shed my suit jacket miles ago. See, where Mulder dressed casual for the trip, being the ever-dutiful agent, I did not. And yes, I'm envious of his comfort.
We drive for another half hour, with me trying the entire way to control the way the wind is blowing my hair into knots.
"Man, talk about the middle of nowhere," Mulder remarks, taking in our surroundings. This may be a state route, but there is nothing but pasture and farmland as far as the eye can see. And not a vehicle in sight, either.
"Yeah, we haven't passed a car in ages," I vocalize my thoughts.
"This wouldn't be a great place to break down," Mulder added. "I'll bet our cell phones are even sporadic."
"It's most likely. Or not at all. I haven't seen a cell tower since we entered the county either," I responded. I tend to notice those kinds of things. I call it anal, but luckily, Mulder says it's cute.
The sun is low on the horizon, but we're making pretty good time. I estimate we're about fifteen minutes out of town when the last sliver of the sun still shines onto the empty lands. Just enough to vaguely illuminate something.
"Hey, Mulder," I say, feeling mischievous. "Look over there!"
In a small outcropping of trees, about a hundred feet off the road, stands the most serene-looking pond I've ever seen. The meager light that remains reflects off its surface. Mulder draws the car to a stop at the side of the road nearest it.
"How desperate are you to cool off, G-man?" I ask with a grin.
"Not that desperate. Besides, I didn't bring a suit."
"Neither did I," I admit. "Are you suggesting that you're incapable of improvising?"
"Improvising a swimming suit? I'm wearing every stitch of clothing I currently own." I can't believe he's this slow on the uptake.
"Well, I'm going anyway," I say, striding off towards the cooling water.
"Scully!" he calls from behind me, but it doesn't slow me down. I, naturally, reach the pond first, and am glad to find a tree with low-hanging limbs nearby.
By the time Mulder catches up to me, I'm stripping off my blouse, followed by my skirt.
"What exactly do you have in mind, Agent Scully?" he asks me with a wiggle of his eyebrows.
"Don't tell me you've never gone skinny dipping, Agent Mulder."
"Not in a stranger's pond in the middle of nowhere, no," he laughs, but he's also removing his jeans and T-shirt.
"Oh, Mulder!" I say in surprise. "Don't just drop your clothes on the ground. They'll get wet."
"Scully, we have no towels, and I have no intention of hanging around waiting to . . . ahem . . . air dry when we're done with our swim. They're going to be wet anyway."
"Still, it's just . . ."
"Goes against your basic instinct for neatness and orderliness does it?"
"Oh, shut up!" I say, exasperated, before I turn and dive into the water. It's so refreshing, I wish we could stay here all night. He runs back to the car and gets his light jacket, using it to protect the rest of his clothes from the grass.
Mulder's splash soon follows my own, and I'm sure we lose track of time as we allow the water to cool down our bodies. Mulder gets flirty, and we spend even longer, doing . . . well, doing the things that adult couples do together.
At one point, I push Mulder away.
"Did you hear that?"
"Hear what?" he asks, kissing my neck.
"It sounded like rustling in the brush."
"Probably just a squirrel or a rabbit, jealous because you're cuter than their girls."
"I hardly think that's likely, Mulder," I said, but we resume our kissing. No creature, human or animal, or anywhere in between, makes a difference when he's kissing me like this.
I'm not sure how long we've been oblivious to our surroundings, but when he finally frees my mouth, I'm out of breath, and tingling all over.
"Y'know, suddenly that motel room sounds really inviting," I suggest. As much as I like wide open spaces, water is not the place for the activity in which I most want to engage at the moment.
"Yeah, it does," he says, nuzzling my neck. We swim towards shore, where I arrive first, if only for the pleasure of watching his lithe body skim through the water toward me. I'm so lucky to be able to see him like this, and unlucky that it took me so damn long to let it happen.
I feel his eyes on me, in turn, as I pull myself from the water and let the air dry my skin. It's an ability I've developed in our time together, to know when he's examining me and allow it - even relish it.
The moment is fleeting, though, and soon he's pulling himself out of the water as well. I turn to examine him with the same care that he'd paid to my form. He's as enthralling as any work of art in any museum as he stands in the light breeze, dripping off.
Squeezing the water from my hair, I walk carefully in the dark to the tree where I hung my clothes, but I stop when I hear the rustling noise again. What the hell . . .
I feel Mulder stop behind me, coming to an abrupt halt at what I <think> I see in the meager moonlight.
There, on the banks of the pond that, obviously, lies on private property, is a fairly young goat. One who has, to my astonishment, just finished making his late-night meal out of Mulder's clothes!
"Hey!" he shrieks, shooing the animal away and falling to his bare knees in an attempt to rescue his clothes, but there are none there to be had. I'd always heard that a goat will eat just about anything, but what a day to find out that it's true!
All that's left are a few cotton threads from his shirt and jeans, and he runs his fingers through them as if he can magically turn them back into their former form. I try very hard not to, but I can't help but giggle.
"It's not funny, Scully," he beseeches with a whine. "These were the <only> clothes I had! They lost my luggage, and now I don't even have what I was wearing! What'm I supposed to do, wander around town, or even into the motel, naked as the day I was born?!"
"No, I wouldn't advise that," I say, trying hard to keep from smiling. Yes, for practical purposes, this is a pickle, but it's also simply hilarious. "What would you like to do?"
"I don't see too many options," he looks up at me from the ground. "You'll have to go into town and find a store, and bring me back something."
"Mulder, it's the middle of the night."
"Not really. It'll be dawn in an hour or so. If you leave then, you should be into town by the time the shops open. Get me something, bring it back here." He looked around cautiously. "I'll be the one hiding in the bushes."
"Mulder, are you sure?" I ask, feeling uncertain myself.
"Give me a better alternative, Scully. I'm open to suggestions."
I see goose bumps on his arms, and realize that while I've been sliding into my clothes, Mulder hasn't had the luxury. It's not freezing out, but the night air on exposed skin could be chilly. The temperature really dropped once the sun set. That will change once the sun comes up, which leads me to my suggestion . . .
"Your plan will do," I agree, beginning to shed the clothes I've just donned. "But whatever will we do to keep you warm until sunrise?"
The wide smile he develops as I lower myself into his waiting arms tells me I don't need to explain further. Time flies, and before I know it, it's time for me to be taking off for town. I don't particularly want to leave him, but he's giving me no choice. I even offer one of my coats to wrap around himself while he waits in the car, but while Mulder is usually very secure in his masculinity, that apparently doesn't apply when it comes to wearing my clothes. So with a kiss and a promise of more later, I leave him in the bushes, sitting with his knees drawn up, as he had in a bathtub in Rhode Island so long ago, to await my return.
Okay, I knew that it would be a small town, but this is ridiculous. There's little more here than a gas station, a general store, and a handful of churches! I need gas anyway, so I stop at the run-down building with the pump in front. Small-town friendly, a manly-man comes out to pump my gas for me. After all, little ol' me could never do it myself.
He does prove to be good for something, though.
"Can you tell me if there's any place in town where I could buy some clothes?" I ask as I pay my bill. The attendant studies my business suit the way a parent peruses a disobedient child.
"No place around here is gonna sell anything like that if that's what you're looking for. Best we can do is the Amvets store."
"That'll do," I say as I sign the receipt. "How do I get there?"
If the gas station was small compared to what we have back in DC, the Amvets Thrift Shop is even less than I expected. The women's section is mildly respectable, but the entirety of the men's section is two racks of pants, one of which is jeans, one round rack of shirts, and a similar one of jackets. I know Mulder and how fussy he is about his jeans, although he'd kill me if I said it to his face, so I stick to the dress-pants rack.
His size must be popular in town because there's almost nothing that'll fit him just right, so I have to resort to taking some items in the next size up. The jacket is at least two sizes two big, I estimate, but I can't tell for sure because the tag is missing. Still, it's better than nothing. At least he'll be able to wear them until the airline locates his luggage.
Taking my armload of clothes to the checkout counter, I go back for pleasantries like socks and boxers. I can't imagine Mulder agreeing to wear somebody else's used underwear, but the alternative is to go commando in somebody else's pants. I think the lesser of two evils will win out in this case.
I return to the spot of our impromptu swim as quickly as humanly possible without breaking every speed limit on the books. It would be just my luck to run into a Rosco P. Coltrain wannabe who's just dying to write me a padfull of tickets, law enforcement or not.
I recognize the spot where we'd parked the car just the night before, and have to laugh as I take in the sight for the first time in broad daylight. The "No Trespassing" sign stands out boldly against the lush, green fields. I could say I wish we'd listened, but I'm not totally sure I do. The swim was just about worth it.
Scanning the trees that surround the pond, I'm at a loss when I don't find Mulder, hiding there amongst the branches. Surely he wouldn't leave the vicinity without any clothes. Unless, of course, he didn't have any choice, I think, glancing back at the sign. Could the owner have dragged him off?
"Mulder!" I call, not caring any longer who or what I disturb. When there's no answer, I yell once more.
"Right here," he finally responds in a groggy voice. I follow it around the circumference of the miniscule lake to find him reclined in the grass. He's somehow found the only spot for miles where he can't be seen, but the sun still shines down upon him, bathing him gloriously in his naked splendor. Okay, so that sounded a little poetic, but I get that way when I talk about the man I love. And, of course, his body.
I can't help but giggle again as his body responds to my presence before he's even opened his eyes. If nothing else, we're very aware of each other. "I come bearing gifts," I say with a smile. "But that's nothing compared to what <you're> bearing."
"Very funny," he laughs, reaching for the bags in my hands. If he notices that no two of them are alike, he doesn't say anything as he begins to remove the contents.
The fact that nothing has tags is not lost on him. Despite how down to earth he is, my partner and the love of my life is a clothes snob, and the pants have no name on them.
"Scully, where did you get these?"
I sit down beside him in the grass, fighting my body's own impulses when we're this close. We're on a case, I tell myself, but I'm not completely listening. I'm also not completely listening to Mulder's question until he repeats it.
"This doesn't quite look like my normal designer," he jokes. "Where did you go shopping?"
"Mulder," I say, getting comfortable. "I don't think you have any idea just how small the town where we're headed is. The only store with clothes of any kind was the local thrift shop."
"So I'm wearing somebody else's old clothes?" he says, more for clarification as he pulls on the underwear. He's surprisingly quiet about that. "Teena Mulder would be crushed!"
"Yeah, well, what would Teena Mulder think of her only son running around the countryside of Tennessee buck naked?" I have to laugh at the expression my mind superimposes on his Mom's face.
"I haven't been running anywhere," he clarified, extricating the next item from the bag and examining it. "Plaid, Scully?!"
"It's a perfectly good, shirt, Mulder, so quit whining."
"It was the only one in your size, so just hush up. I wasn't nearly as lucky with the rest." You'd think a guy would be grateful.
"If this is lucky," Mulder grumbles as he pulled on the shirt, "I'm never, ever takin' you to Vegas."
He eventually finishes dressing, but not before making his displeasure over the obviously immensely-too-large sport coat known to the world at large. I swear, if I didn't love him so much, I'd shoot him dead right here.
Finally, he turns to face me. "So, how do I look?" He's adorable, I think, knowing he'd kill me if I told him that. He looks like a little boy, wearing the clothes his mother tells him he'll grow into. But I have to say <something>.
"You looked better before you got dressed," I murmur, drawing closer to him until I'm able to run my tongue along his lips.
"What say we go find that motel, Agent Scully?" he asks when he's done returning the gesture.
"There's no place I'd rather be," I say as I lead him back to the car. Yes, we're on a case, but we haven't officially begun the investigation, and there's something else I need to investigate at the moment. After all, if nothing else, it's my medical duty to check for sunburn, right?