-*-A Midsummer Night's Fiasco-*-
Mulder sang to himself as he laid the tablecloth over his battered kitchen table. "You need coolin . . . baby I'm not foolin . . . I'm gonna send yaaaa back to schoolin . . ." The dry - cleaning alone had been seventeen bucks, because his only tablecloth had been a sort of yellowy color. "White! White!" he had yelled at the girl behind the dry - cleaner's counter. "Can't you use bleach or something?" She had sighed after the third time he'd come back and yelled at her, and said patiently, "You could have bought a brand new tablecloth for the money you just spent getting this one dry - cleaned three times."
Mulder's mouth gaped open. He hadn't thought of that. "Well," he said sheepishly, "just try it one more time, okay?" She had worked a miracle, and even though the bigger stains were still partly visible, the tablecloth was pretty darned clean.
"Way down inside . . . I'm gonna give you my love . . . oh! Wanna whole lotta love. . . ."
Tonight was going to be the night, he thought smugly. This was the night when he, Fox W. Mulder, was going to score. He was gonna blow Scully's socks off. Candlelight, moonbeams, fireworks, you name it. Yeah. Ooh, waitaminute, he thought. I can't just call her "Scully." Smacks too much of the office. "Dana. DAna. DaNA," he muttered. "I gotta get this right." He was not a loser! And she was going to know it. He set out the plates, fine china he'd wheedled from his mother. He actually owned four dishes: a pea - green plastic Tupperware cereal bowl, a matching plastic glass, a Corel plate, and a Corel saucer. He had one fork, three spoons, and seven matching knives. He had no idea where they'd come from, but they wouldn't do. When his mother had been looking for the china in the attic, he'd stolen two place settings of her best silverware and two candlesticks, reckoning that she never used them anyway.
Just as he was getting out the candles from the desk drawer, he heard a loud knocking. "Ah, that'll be the catering," he said with a drawl. Fox W. Mulder never left anything to chance. Unless he was at work. He sauntered over to the door and flung it open.
"Enter, my good -- men?" he got out. Three men stood in his hallway, looking right, looking left, looking very nervous. One was short, with wild gray hair. One had a suit and a beard. The third looked like Kurt Cobain's older brother --
"What are you guys doing here?" asked Mulder. He was very afraid of the answer.
"We got a tip, Mulder," said the wild - haired one, known to his friends as Frohike. "Our informant said that the Lone Gunmen headquarters was going to be blown up by an anti - antigovernment group. We need somewhere to hide for the night, and you were the only one we could think of with a spare bedroom. Can we store our stuff here and crash on your floor?" He indicated a large pile of electronic equipment behind him.
Mulder groaned. "Guys. . . ." "
Mulder, every minute we're standing out here, we're in danger!" said Byers. Langly chimed in with, "Come on, man. Danger lurks around every corner!"
Mulder peered around Langly, down the straight, un - cornered hallway. "Um, yeah. Look, guys, this just isn't a good --." He turned around at the sound of a thump, to see Byers disappearing down his hallway towards the spare room. Frohike followed him, carrying an armload of electronic stuff. He groaned again, and turned back to see Langly staring down at his hands.
"Mulder, are those candles?"
* * *
"Guys, you have to be quiet if you're going to stay here tonight." Mulder tried to explain the finer points of silence to his friends, and got the feeling he wasn't succeeding. He had tried to keep the Gunmen out of his living room, but it hadn't worked. Frohike was examining his china, and Byers was checking football games on TV. Langly was on the phone.
"So," said Frohike. "Does this have anything to do with the lovely Dr. Scully?"
Mulder snatched a $75 saucer out of his hand. "Do you mind?"
"Yeah, who's coming over," added Byers.
"Well, Mulder had his tablecloth cleaned," said Frohike, running a(greasy!) finger over the starched fabric. "So it must be a woman." Mulder ground his teeth. "Hey, you should really quit that habit. It's really bad for your teeth."
Langly had finally gotten off the phone. "Um, Mulder, I had to call my source, see, and he's at the Capitol building, but, um, I needed to scramble the message, so the call went through a satellite over Japan. Okay?"
"Get. In. The. Back!" Mulder said, moving very threateningly toward the Gunmen. They scattered, and Mulder just caught a $70 cup with the tips of his fingers. His growl could be heard through the whole building. Another knock on the door. Mulder set the cup precisely back where it had been before Frohike's little fingers, and stomped over to answer the door. This time it was the catering guy, and he looked pretty apprehensive. He was wearing a red jacket and little red hat. "Your order is ready, sir. Would you mind coming down with me to get it? I heard some growling and I'm afraid I'll be attacked by some kind of large animal. Or small animal. Perhaps, a little dog."
"Sure," said Mulder. "Let me get my jacket." He walked downstairs with the caterer. They had just gotten the last of the bags out of the truck when an unmarked car pulled up to the curb. A lovely redhead climbed out of the front seat, wearing a gray "Calvin Klein" T-shirt and jeans. "Hey, Mulder," she called out. "Whatcha doing?"
"Ack!" said Mulder (he actually said that). "You're early, Scully!"
"So what," she said. "We're just going over some autopsy reports and expense paperwork, right? Hey, what's in the bags?"
"Scully," Mulder said, looking directly at her, "get back into the car."
"I'm not ready yet," he said. "Get in the car and come back up in five minutes."
She looked at him for a minute, and gave him a milder version of the Look. "Okay, but you're lucky I brought my Green Mile book on tape."
Mulder practically flew up the stairs with the nervous deliveryman in tow. He paid the man and pushed him out the door.
"By the way," said the deliveryman, "do you know where there are any fortunetellers in this town? I mean the crystal ball type."
"No!" said Mulder. "But I'm sure that with my $89.75, plus tip, you can find something. Now go!"
He heard footsteps coming up the stairs, and recognized Scully's tread. As he shut the door, he heard an "oof!"and the caterer apologizing to the person he'd bumped into. About half a minute later, there was a knock on the door. Mulder took a deep breath and walked toward the door. This was it. Frohike poked his head out the door and said, "Mulder can I have a drink?" Mulder whirled, glared, and pointed toward the hall. Frohike grimaced and pulled his head back in. Mulder remembered that he had to light the candles, and ran frantically toward the kitchen, looking for matches. The knock came again. "Just a minute, Scully," he yelled and finally found them, then ran over to light the candles. Whew! Then he ran over to open the door. When she smiled at him, he just froze up and stood there, staring at her. She was so pretty! It should be illegal for her to wear tight blue jeans. Yow.
"Mulder, what the heck is your problem tonight?" she asked irritably, then walked past him towards the candlelight. "And what is going on here?"
Mulder finally got his facial muscles moving into a smile. "Well, you've had a hard time lately, and so I thought this . . . would, well you know, sort of a relaxing dinner kind of thing."
"Uh huh." She didn't look convinced. "Look, you're the real Mulder,right? No aliens have kidnapped you? No mutant virus taken over your brain?"
"Sure, Scully. It's me."
"Then why in the world," she said quietly, "are you being so thoughtful?"
"Well, I was going to order you a desk, but Supply said they were all out of desks, and I was going to get you a nameplate, but they said it would take two weeks to get it right, and so I just thought I could make up for being stupid a lot by feeding you."
She started to grin. "Food. The universal peace offering. All right then, I accept." She threw her paperwork on the couch, then stared at the rest of the apartment. "Mulder! You cleaned up! And are those candles?"
"Have a seat, and soon your food will be served."
* * *
"And so I said to her, 'Why is there a mackerel in your bathtub?' And she said to me, 'If you think this is bad, you should see my rain barrel.'
"Scully, you had the weirdest life."
"I doubt yours was any better."
"Well at least I didn't deal with women who stored fish in their bathroom utilities." Mulder and Scully both jumped when the phone rang. Mulder smiled and said, "I'm having too much fun. I'll just let the answering machine pick up." After four rings, "This is Mulder. Leave a message." An irate voice filtered through the line. "Fox William Mulder! I can't believe you! First you come and finagle my dishware, then you can't keep your hands off my silverware! And my best candlesticks! I was having a dinner party, I'll have you know, and now it's ruined! Bill will be so upset because I can't have a candlelight dinner like he wanted! You'd better have those back ASAP, young man, or prison won't be good enough for you!" The voice abruptly cut off.
Scully and Mulder looked at each other. "Mulder, you stole this silverware from your mother? I'd wondered how you actually had a matching set."
"Scully, what's Cancerman's first name?"
"Bill, I think."
They looked at each other, at the answering machine, and said simultaneously, "naaaah."
The Lone Gunmen had not been idle during this interlude. While Mulder and Scully talked, a minute instrument drilled a tiny hole in the wall of the living room. A small electronic device was inserted into it and hooked up to a laptop.
"Lucky Mulder doesn't have any plants," said Byers. "No obstructions. Ooh, they look happy! Scully's smiling!"
"Smiling," said Frohike moodily. "He's making her smile."
"Frohike," said Langly, "we won't let him have her. We know she was meant for you."
"She's taking his hand," said Byers. "Caressing it with her shapely white hands, smiling up at him. . . ." There was the brief sound of a laptop being closed on someone's hand. "Yeeeowch!"
"Mulder, what was that?"
"Oh, probably just the neighbor's cat. Will you excuse me for one second?"
"Sure." The hallway door creaked open. Mulder walked in, glared indiscriminately, hissed a few expletives, and walked back out.
"Sorry about that, Scully. I thought I should shut the window."
"Look, Mulder, don't you think we ought to go over some paperwork?"
"In a minute, Scully. I just thought we ought to talk for a minute more. I like talking to you."
"I like talking to you too, but those expense reports won't get done by us sitting here."
Frohike moaned. "She likes talking to him. She's an unreachable goddess."
"Look," said Langly. "We'll just start bugging him. Then they won't have time to talk."
"But we'll get kicked out of the house!"
"Well, you know that dumb story about the bomb was just an excuse to get out of the house and spy on Mulder anyway."
"Do you think it's right to spy on your friends?"
"No, but it's safer than the alternative."
* * *
"So you tried out for cheerleading? What happened?"
"Well, the head cheerleader said something snide about my jump, so I kind of -- "
"Hit her in the face."
"Well, she broke my nose. So much for the weaker sex."
"Oh, Mulder! That's terrible!"
"Yeah, and I got suspended. The worst part was the written apology. But I made it into an anagram. The first word of every sentence spelled out 'My nose may be crooked, but you're just plain ugly.' She never found it out, as far as I know."
She laughed, then folded her napkin and placed it on the table. "Much as I love hearing about your childhood, I think we'd better get to work."
"Scully, I want to ask you something."
"Do you think I'm a loser?"
* * *
"Uh oh, Frohike, time to make your move. He's getting serious. I can tell by the way he's leaning forward. It's a typical 'getting ready for a kiss' move."
"Well someone has to go out!"
"You go. You're in love with her."
"I can't! It's too embarrassing."
"Let's draw straws. The one with the short piece of Langly's hair has to go in first."
Intense silence ensued. "It's you, Byers."
"Shoot! Okay, boys, cover me."
* * *
"Mulder, I think your, well let's face it, obsession for the truth puts you in a different category than most people."
"So you're saying I'm just a different kind of loser."
"No, I'm just trying to say -- " The hall door creaked open.
"Don't mind me, guys. Just going to try and find some aspirin."
"Byers? What are you doing here?"
He smiled bashfully. "Hey, Agent Scully. Well, we had a bomb threat,and Langly decided it would be safer to move base for one night, and Mulder was the only one we could think of, and. . . ."
"Byers, the aspirin is in the bathroom."
"Oh. Thanks, Mulder."
"Byers, the bathroom is back by the bedroom."
"Yeah. Well, hi, Agent Scully. Don't eat anything with yellow spots."
"Um. Hi, Byers. Hope your apartment stays intact." Byers crept back into the hall. Scully rose from the table, headed toward the couch and her briefcase, oblivious to Mulder's grimaces of disappointment.
"Now can we get to expense reports? I think you just fed me in order to get out of doing them."Mulder got up, following Scully, and sat down next to her.
He gave her a charming smile. "You have guessed my secret. Now I'm going to have to kill you."
She smiled back at him (that beautiful smile!). "No, that's the CIA." They worked on the expense report for about an hour and Mulder tried to make conversation but she only answered with "mmhm." He knew she was just trying to get the report done and she wouldn't talk until then. When they finally closed the last folder, he leaned forward to her again. "Look, Scully, you really don't think I'm a loser? I mean, I haven't got a life or anything. I spend my life hopping from Chinese takeout to Chinese takeout, hoping for the perfect egg foo young. Ten to one it's not the lifestyle of Hugh Hefner."
"Mulder, I think your work is indispensable. Why do you think I've stuck around so long? It's certainly not the pay."
* * *
"He's leaning again. Time for Plan B."
"Yeah," smirked Frohike. He located the small plastic dome in Mulder's hallway, and lit up a cigarette right underneath it. Since he hadn'tsmoked since college, he started coughing. A little red light on the dome began to blink. "Battle stations!"
* * *
"You think that even though you don't have a desk? Even though you're Mrs. Spooky?"
"Mulder, I don't care what people say about me. In fact I've spent my years at the bureau fighting what they say about women. You don't think a little thing like Mrs. Spooky could hurt me after all the sexual slurs that they lay on me? I mean, Ice Queen, for heaven's sake. Just cause I won't put out."
Mulder's mouth dropped open. "I didn't know you -- "
"Knew about it? Oh come on, Mulder. You men are so transparent."
"But Scully, we were talking about me." He didn't want to admit he'd heard the rumors before he met her, and had laughed just as loudly.
He moved closer to her and made as if to take her hand. She looked at him in surprise, and MEEP! MEEP! MEEEEEEP! MEEEEEEEEEEEEE went the smoke alarm. Scully covered her ears. A loud banging started to come from the wall that Mulder shared with a neighbor. Then the floor and ceiling both started pounding at once. Mulder sprinted into the hall.
The Gunmen were huddled in the corner looking petrified. The hall was a haze of cigarette smoke. Mulder coughed and grabbed a chair from the bedroom. He dragged it over and unhooked the smoke alarm. When he disconnected the plug, the noise didn't stop. Mulder stared at the possessed plastic thing which was going EEEEEEEEEEEEEE at one hundred decibels. He threw it on the floor but it still kept going. He was going to jump on it when Scully grabbed it. She pulled the batteries out of the back and it died from EEEEEEEE to eeeeeee to silence. She sniffed and laughed. "You guys. Didn't you even think to open a window?"
Frohike took courage and crept toward her. "We were afraid that if someone saw us in the window, they'd take a shot at us, oh Enigmatic Dr. Scully." Then his nerve broke. "Scully, I love you! Won't you please go out with me? Please? I'll even keep my hands to myself! I'll wear a tie! Please!"
Mulder scowled. "Beauty and the Beast," he muttered.
Scully gave him a dirty look. "Sure, Frohike, we'll go out for pizza next Friday. Call me, okay? But you'll have to keep your hands to yourself, and I'll bring a couple friends. You bring Langly and Byers. And if you even mention the word 'score,'" she smiled sweetly, "I'll rip your lungs out. I know right where they are."
Frohike's smile widened. "Oh, baby. Can I call you Dana?" Scully shook her head and Frohike subsided.
Mulder sat down on the floor, pouting. "Why don't you ever go out with me, Scully? At least I remembered your birthday."
"Yeah," smiled Scully, "and look what happened then." She patted him on the head as she left the hall, dropping the smoke alarm and batteries next to him. As he stared despondently at the smoke alarm, seemingly his only friend, he could hear her gathering up her things. She poked her head back into the hall a couple minutes later. "Bye, Mulder. See ya, guys." The two Gunmen who weren't in a love- dazed coma waved. Frohike just grinned wider. Mulder said, "Bye, Scully." As the door shut behind her,he muttered something.
"What's the matter, Mulder?" asked Byers.
"Seventeen bucks for dry-cleaning! Eighty-nine for the catering! And she still won't tell me if I'm a loser! I mean, Frohike has a date for next Friday!" shouted Mulder. He walked into the living room, surveying the cleanup he'd have to do. He only turned and ran back into the hallway, fists clenched, when Frohike poked his head out and enquired, "Hey, Mulder, want to go out for pizza next Friday?" Many thumps later, the Gunmen sat outside Mulder's door. Electronics were piled up all around them.
"Well, I think that went very well," said Langly. "Plus I got a free call."
"Let's go on back to the HQ," smiled Frohike.
"Could you quit that smiling?" asked Langly.
"No, I can't."
Byers suggested maliciously, "Just think about how many days there are until Friday."
"Ooooohhhh." The Gunmen grabbed their stuff and walked into the night, satisfied with a job well done.
Note: I love & appreciate feedback.. firstname.lastname@example.org. flames can be sent to email@example.com. The song Mulder sings is called "Whole Lotta Love" and it's to be found on Led Zeppelin's second album, track one. Also, I have no idea whether Mulder really has a spare bedroom. In this story, he does.
Finished 27 June 1997. Hope you enjoyed it.
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