text file (18k)

Stuck at a party with their fellow agents,
Spooky and the Missus decide they've had enough
of the gossip about them.

DISCLAIMER: Not mine; they belong to CC, FOX, etc.

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Out of sheer boredom, Dana Scully swirled the remnants of her warm beer round and round, watching the amber liquid eddy around the bottom, before finally draining the glass. A sigh was followed by another glance at her watch, which indicated to her dismay that time had not accelerated and that a good twenty minutes remained before she could make a respectable departure from the bar. And another look at the empty seat across from her confirmed that her partner had indeed stood her up. Or maybe this qualified as a ditch. Either way, she wouldn't let him forget about it anytime soon.

Their presence here had actually been requested by Skinner himself. The event was a retirement party for Agent Dennis Masters, and the Assistant Director had personally asked--or, rather, insisted--that all the members of the task force from the Bailey case be in attendance. It was on that case that Masters had sustained the injury that now forced him to retire early, and Skinner thought it was an important show of solidarity for all the members of the team to wish the agent a final farewell.

In lieu of an office party, a gathering had been arranged at a local bar, one that catered to federal patrons, and scheduled for later in the evening. Casual attire had been specified, so Scully had gone home for dinner and changed into jeans and a comfortable blouse before making her obligatory appearance. She had deliberately noted the time and place to her partner before leaving him at the office, but her effort had apparently been in vain.

Scanning the small clusters of agents seated at various tables and finding only faces familiar from the Bailey task force, Scully wondered if the A.D. was concerned that no one would show up for the party if they hadn't been required to. Masters hadn't made many friends over the years, and he cycled through partners like most people do socks. The fact was, the shot that he took in the leg was due to his own ineptitude, and everybody knew it. At best, the man could be considered a bumbling idiot; at worst, he was a menace to everyone who worked with him. It was fortunate that he hadn't managed to seriously injure anyone but himself on that case. After his recovery, he had been relegated to desk duty, but he soon decided that early retirement was a better option.

The irony, perhaps, was that of the team members, the bungling Agent Masters was Mr. Popularity compared to Mulder and Scully. The "Spooky" comments that had begun from their first day on the assignment were so commonplace as to be expected and thus were deflected easily like water off a duck's back. But the teasing turned into outright ostracism when Mulder dared to contradict the opinions of the team's star profiler, and Scully's staunch defense of her partner only fueled further gossip. In the end, Mulder was right, of course, and his unorthodox approach solved the case, but the resulting praise from his superiors merely earned the pair further disrespect from their peers.

Which is why Scully was now sitting in a booth alone in the midst of the party.

Since it was a weeknight, the bar was not filled to capacity, but there were a fair number of people besides the FBI crowd. The atmosphere that swam around Scully was a little smoky and moderately noisy; unfortunately, the mild din was not enough to drown out the surrounding conversations. Every now and then, when the jukebox in the corner went silent between songs, she could clearly hear snippets of dialogue drift over from the booth directly behind her.

"Looks like Mrs. Spooky got stood up tonight. Here's your chance to make your move, Johnson."

"Are you kiddin'? I'd have an easier time meltin' a glacier. Nah, I want me a piece o' that tasty little blonde over there."

Scully was grateful when laughter erupted from the booth on the other side of her and muffled the continued conversation to the rear. She was used to similar sexist comments from many of the male agents and barely even flinched at them anymore. But she couldn't entirely suppress the sting of truth about the absence of her own male counterpart.

Another glance at her watch. Ten more minutes and she would make her exit.

In a further effort to alleviate her boredom, Scully let her gaze wander over the unfamiliar patrons of the establishment. At this stage in her life, this was not her typical social scene, and she idly considered if it ever really had been. While her thoughts drifted, her eyes settled on a pair of women seated at a round table toward the center of the room. One was a blonde, dressed in a tight black skirt and low-cut blouse, and Scully wondered if this was the "tasty" one who had caught the eye of her fellow agent. The woman's companion was a busty brunette in equally tight clothing and, in Scully's opinion, wearing far too much make-up for her naturally attractive features.

The two women were obviously evaluating the selection of males in the room, neither apparently intending to go home alone that night. Scully watched, somewhat amused, as their focus shifted from one table to the next, punctuated by low comments and giggles while they narrowed their options. In mid-survey, their attention was drawn away by the arrival of the latest customer. The entryway was beyond Scully's line of sight, but she could tell by the looks on their faces that these two thought they had struck gold. The only question now was which would be the first to pounce.

Curious about the object of their affection, Scully leaned out of the booth just far enough to see the door. As she spotted the newest entry, she was stunned immobile with recognition: in a gray suit sans tie, with sleeves rolled up and the jacket draped over his shoulder in a pose worthy of a GQ model, stood none other than her partner, Fox Mulder.

A pang of possessiveness shot through her, and Scully silently reprimanded herself. She had no more claim on this man than the two bimbos--ladies--who were now ogling him. In fact, the brunette seemed just his type. She couldn't stop herself from watching to see just how he would react once the woman made her move.

Mulder stood just inside the doorway, oblivious to the machinations of the two women straight ahead of him and the observations of his partner. Scully watched as his eyes scanned the room from left to right, first looking over the barstools, then moving toward the center tables. Her heartbeat accelerated in apprehension of the ensuing seduction, but to her surprise--and the obvious disappointment of the twin vixens--his gaze merely skidded over the pair without any hesitation or hint of interest.

Just as she returned her attention from the disappointed duo back to Mulder, his eyes stopped their motion. He had found what he sought, and with the dawn of recognition on his face, his visage was immediately transformed, melting his impassive expression into a beatific grin. He launched into a purposeful stride, and Scully sat there transfixed as his eyes, now locked onto hers, did not waver during his silent transversal of the room.

In a fluid move, he settled into the vacant seat across from her. When he picked up her empty glass and pointedly examined its dregs before motioning a waitress over to their table, Scully felt like a spell had been broken, and the percolating frustration that she had momentarily forgotten now returned full force.

"Nice of you to show up, Mulder. I was just about to leave."

The waitress appeared, and he ordered a beer for himself and another for his partner before turning to answer her.

"Actually, I wasn't going to come. I was on my way home, but somehow I ended up here anyway."

"What changed your mind?"

Mulder smirked and leaned out of the booth far enough to look at her around the table and scan her from head to toe before replying, "The thought of you in that outfit."

In spite of herself, Scully blushed, although she didn't bother to respond to his comment. He began looking around the bar again to see who else had shown up, but still was apparently unaware of the women a few tables away who were casting them surreptitious glances while whispering over their drinks. The advent of the partners' own beverages brought Mulder's attention back to their table, and he took a swig before resuming the conversation.

"So, what did I miss?"

"Not much, really. I already paid my respects to Masters. Skinner's with him, although he didn't appear to be particularly enjoying the conversation, last time I looked. And I wasn't about to put him out of his misery. I, on the other hand, have been drinking alone, thanks to the absence of my partner,"--Scully emphasized that last phrase, and Mulder winced guiltily--"and studiously avoiding the company of our more unsavory colleagues until enough time has elapsed for me to make a discreet exit."

Mulder didn't comment on her critique of his negligence but instead took another gulp of his beer and retorted, "I guess I better get this over with."

Without sympathy, Scully watched him as he stood and made his way over to the booth where Agent Masters was engrossed in conversation with a bored-looking Assistant Director. She couldn't help it as her eyes wandered over to the blonde and brunette, whose own eyes were glued to her partner--or more accurately, to his backside--as he crossed the room.

Less than thirty seconds later, he had returned, apparently feeling that few words were needed to convey his support to the retiring agent. As he resumed his seat, Scully heard a fragment of conversation waft over from the neighboring booth again, only catching one word clearly: "Spooky." Raising the glass to her lips, she clandestinely glanced over at her companion to see if he had heard it as well. His glare through the paneling next to her head indicated that he had.

With a sigh, she set down her glass. Mulder's eyes then met hers, and for the first time that night, she could read in them a genuine apology. In a room full of people, the two of them sat here alone, isolated. As much as he didn't mind this position for himself, Scully knew that he always felt guilty for bringing her to this place along with him. On any other occasion she might have said something to assuage his angst, but this time she remained quiet, self-indulgently allowing him to suffer a little to compensate for leaving her to face these wolves alone.

The partners nursed their beers in silence, tacitly acknowledging their sweaty pints to be the hourglasses that would mark the end of their term and the fulfillment of their obligation. Forgoing small talk, both were lost in their own observations, taking in the sights and sounds around them of people enjoying themselves.

Amidst the strands of conversation and soft laughter, bluesy tones from the jukebox wafted through the hubbub, and familiar lyrics began to penetrate Scully's consciousness.

"People are talkin', talking 'bout people,
I hear them whisper, you won't believe it."

She recognized the Bonnie Raitt song and listened more intently, ruminating on the words whose pertinence she had noted before.

"They think we're lovers, kept under covers,
I just ignore it, but they keep saying,
We laugh just a little too loud,
We stand just a little too close,
We stare just a little too long,
Maybe they're seeing something we don't, Darlin'."

As if to accentuate the lyrics, Agents Johnson and Roarke, previously seated behind her, had chosen that moment to stand up and walk by them. As they passed, both cast the partners a sideways glance, and Roarke leaned over to whisper something that made his companion laugh loudly and slap him on the back while they strode away.

"Let's give them something to talk about."

The words conjured up devious images for Scully as she suddenly felt very weary of all the gossip and jokes at their expense.

"Let's give them something to talk about."

Then her eyes met Mulder's, and she knew immediately that he was thinking the same thing.

"Let's give them something to talk about,
How about love."

Finishing his drink with one swallow, Mulder stood and held out his hand to his partner. Following suit, she took the proffered hand and let him lead her over to the small dance floor where a few other couples were swaying to the music, mostly in obvious foreplay rather than as an attempt at artistic movement.

Mulder turned to face her, and his hands settled on either side of her waist as her arms wrapped around his neck. They had never danced like this before, but no one there would know it for how natural they looked together.

"I feel so foolish, I never noticed,
You'd act so nervous, could you be falling for me?
It took a rumor to make me wonder,
Now I'm convinced I'm going under."

As the song continued, Scully did her best to ignore the true import of the words and focus on the show they were putting on for their fellow agents. However, she did find Mulder's lips now brushing against her neck a bit distracting.

"Thinking 'bout you every day,
Dreaming 'bout you every night,
Hoping that you feel the same way,
Now that we know it, let's really show it, Darlin'."

Scully started as she felt Mulder's hands drift down to her ass and squeeze. She pulled back to look at him and was greeted with his smug grin at what he had just gotten away with. Her death glare chastised him enough to remove his hands to a safer location, although it didn't wipe the grin off of his face.

"Let's give them something to talk about,
A little mystery to figure out,
Let's give them something to talk about,
How about love, love, love, love."

Feeling she owed him something in payback, Scully leaned close and began to gently nip at his jaw, working her way up as he graciously bent further down to allow her access. When she reached his earlobe, her final bite wasn't nearly as gentle, earning a glare for herself.

But as the refrains grew softer and the song petered out, Mulder met her with a coup de grace and the grand finale to their little charade. Returning his hands to her buttocks, he pulled her closer and captured her lips with his own. Her eyes closed involuntarily, and rather than fight against him, she tightened her grip around his neck and let all thoughts of their audience and performance melt away as she reveled in the feel of his lips caressing hers.

Scully was flushed and breathless when he finally released her and rested his hands on her hips to steady her as she dropped back down on her heels. His glance over her head brought her back to herself and her flush was now with embarrassment as she realized what they had just done.

But Mulder only smiled and placed his hand on her back as he turned to lead her back toward their booth. While they returned to the table, she looked around and saw that most of the agents were now staring at them.

With a false courage perhaps enhanced by alcohol, Scully straightened her spine and refused to appear shamed by their behavior. As they reached their seats, she quietly commented to her fellow conspirator, "Well, if the rumor about the office pool is true, I'd say a lot of people will be cashing in tomorrow morning."

Mulder had picked up her jacket and now chivalrously held it out for her to don. As she turned her back to slip her arms through the sleeves, he leaned in and replied: "In that case, Agent George Hale is about to become a very wealthy man."

"Mulder?!" she exclaimed in disbelief and pivoted to face him. She wasn't sure whether he was serious or not.

Her doubt was only furthered by his retort. "Don't worry. I'll treat you to dinner with the proceeds." With a cryptic smile, he then bent over to pick up his own jacket still draped on the seat.

Tossing a few bills on the table to cover their drinks, he was now ready to make their exit. As he joined Scully, his gaze skimmed over her head to evaluate the lingering aftershocks of their exhibition. Holding back a grin, he placed a hand on her back and led her toward the door. While they walked, he leaned down to her ear and confided, "I don't think Skinner will ever invite us out of the basement again."

But as they passed through the bar to leave, it wasn't Skinner's reaction that attracted her attention.

Seated at a table in the center of the room, a blonde and a brunette watched with envy as the demurely dressed redhead was escorted out by the most tantalizing man to greet their hungry eyes that night.

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Author's Notes: After writing this story, I decided to go to Gossamer to see if "Something to Talk About" had been written about before, only to find that there are already multiple stories with this title, and most of them relate to this song. I guess that just goes to prove that this song really does apply well to Mulder and Scully, or that great minds think alike.

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