The month that passed between the capture of Eddie Van Blundht (of the silent H) and Agents Mulder and Scully's follow-up visit to him in stir was perhaps the longest month in recorded history. It certainly seemed so for the aforesaid feds, passing as it did in a mind-melting drag of taut silences and averted gazes, of monosyllabic conversations and mysterious absences. Casework piled up. Leads were not taken. No banter enlivened the basement, and cel phones did not ring. Agent Mulder's hair went unruffled. Agent Scully's lower back went uncaressed. Both faces wore identical sullen scowls. The J. Edgar Hoover Building was abuzz with rumor. The obvious rift between Mr and Mrs Spooky was *the* hot topic. Casework piled up. Leads were not taken. Speculation filled the offices and breakrooms, and many bets were made. "He's knocked her up," some whispered. "He's thrown her over," others claimed. "She caught him with a secretary," some snickered. "She found out he's gay," others smirked. They knew about the rumors. They saw the speculative sidelong glances, heard the stifled comments. Mulder responded by hiding out in the basement. Scully coped by stalking the halls with an imperious, I-dare-you glare. Assistant Director Walter Skinner bided his time, pulling out what little remained of his hair, fed to the back teeth with the whole situation but as yet unwilling to risk driving a bigger wedge between the two by bringing up the subject. He was ready to assassinate them both. So when Eddie Van Blundht (with an H) requested a visit from that damn good lookin' Agent Mulder, Skinner was only too happy to pack his uncommunicative subordinate back off to Martinsburg--with his sullen redheaded partner in tow. AD Skinner had not ridden into town on the proverbial turnip truck; and he had not become Assistant Director of the F-BEE-I by being unobservant. Correctly assuming that something about the Martinsburg case had caused the great Mulder/Scully divide, he astutely concluded that a return engagement might provide the catalyst for mending the split. And if not...Well, he could always take a tip from Eddie and quicklime the bodies after he murdered them both for behaving like idiots. *****X***** Mulder's exit interview with Eddie-it's-Dutch-or-something was all that and less. Loser! A loser by choice! Fatboy, Baldingboy, TAILboy can't-even-get-laid- without-morphing-into-somebody-else had the cojones grandes to tell *him*, the DAMN good looking Fox William Mulder, that *he* was a loser! And most galling of all-- it was TRUE, wasn't it? Who, after all, had melted FBI Ice Queen Dana Scully into a puddle of pre-coital goo right on her own sofa? Oh, not him, to be sure--but the Anti-Mulder! Eddie Van Blunder himself! This was too much to be borne. No, scratch that. The fact that said Dana Scully had witnessed the entire exchange via monitor...oh yes, *that* was beyond endurance. Mulder scrawled his name on the sign-out sheet, certain that within moments his head would implode and then he wouldn't have to deal with any of this happy horseshit ever again. He was looking forward to this occurrence. Something about the whole ludicrous situation stirred something in Scully. His blank and stoic expression, coming hard on the heels of the look of piteous martyrdom he'd affected all these weeks, drove her to speak. "I'm sure you don't need to be told this, but you're *not* a loser." Silence. She didn't look at him, and he didn't look at her. More silence. Then: "Yeah." An expulsion of breath. "But I'm no Eddie Van Blundht, either." Pause. "Am I?" By some miracle of control Scully held her tongue until they were back in the car. Critical mass was soon attained, however; a hull breach occurred in her brain, and Mount St Scully erupted. "What the HELL did you mean by that?" "Nothing. Nothing at all." "Liar." "I'm not!" "Liar! Liar-liar-liar!" "Scullleeee..." A warning tone. "Just drop it." "Uh-uh. No way. This ends here and now. It's driving me crazy, Mulder!" "Driving *you* crazy?" He swerved the rental car onto the shoulder and slammed it into park. "Driving...you...crazy. And what do you think this is doing to me?" "I wouldn't know! This is the first time you've spoken to me in polysyllables since--since--you know." "Oh yeah, I know all right. Well, just think for a minute, Scully, about how I felt when I burst through that door and saw--saw ME, on top of you!" "Mulder, you were tracking a suspect whose MO was seducing and impregnating his victims. What the Hell did you think you'd find?" "How the Hell was I supposed to know?" "Hmmmm, let's see. You're a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of *Investigation*--a position which does presuppose a certain amount of investigatory skill..." "Oooh, you're funny today. You should take that act on the road. And then maybe once EDDIE gets out of prison, you guys can hook up. God. What is it with you and guys named ED, anyway?" "I didn't know it was him! I thought it was you!" "Ah! So all this time, all I had to do was get you drunk--" "I WAS NOT DRUNK!" "THEN WHY THE HELL WERE YOU MAKING OUT WITH *ME*?" Suddenly Scully's anger vanished. "Because you're my best friend? Because it was more fun than writing my damned monograph on brain-chemistry anomalies in recidivist offenders? Because I wanted to? I don't know, Mulder. You got me." He leaned toward her slightly, a look on his face that she saw in her dreams almost nightly. "DO I have you, Scully?" "After what you saw, do you even need to ask?" "I'm still no Eddie Van Blundht," he cautioned, moving to take her into his arms. She laughed and closed the distance between them. "I'll learn to live with it. That is, as long as you let *me* pick the china pattern. If your taste in ties is any indication of your aesthetic sense..." *****X***** The J. Edgar Hoover Building was a place of mourning. The Spookys were back to abnormal and all bets were off. Only Assistant Director Walter Skinner gloated over his good fortune. Maybe now the two of them would settle down and get back to work, for God's sake. So pleased was he by the sweet united glow that enveloped his two best agents that he was even willing to let the little extra charge on the expense voucher--from the rental car company, for "upholstery cleaning"--slide. He figured it was worth it.
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