"Is that all you have to say for yourself?" Skinner said grimly, looking from one to the other of the agents stood before him. Scully stood there, looking contained and politely annoyed, with her eyes on her watch. By her estimation, Skinner was on the downward spiral of this tirade and Mulder was starting to sweat blood. She was about three minutes away from a sharp exit.
"I felt the action was justified in the light of-" Mulder could never resist pushing just a little bit further than necessary. Scully flinched slightly as Skinner's voice hit a new level.
"NECESSARY? Would you like to see the stack of paperwork this MAYHEM has produced on my desk with the..."
Scully blocked out the lecture with the efficiency of years of practise. She was more than ready by the time Skinner's eyes fell on her.
"Thank you Agent Scully, that will be all."
Thank God. Scully turned, met Mulder's Help look with an apologetic You're On Your Own shrug and shut the door behind her. There, she shook her head. Mulder just didn't have the knack. The whole trick to a good story was knowing when to shut up and let the ranter release a little steam. In all the time he spent with Skinner, on and off duty, she was permanently amazed Mulder didn't work out these little survival details. Skinner was a breeze, properly handled, it just took skill, flair and attention to detail and-
Scully's stomach jumped a mile. She pulled her 'professional' look together and turned, flicking her hair with just the little toss that usually softened her partner's less receptive moods.
"Hey. I was just coming to meet you-"
"Are they done?" The demand was accompanied by a sharp nod at Skinner's door. Scully smiled.
"They're 'doing'. It'll take a while but it'll be fine- he'll rant, Mulder'll cry, they'll make it up and go home happy, what can you do?"
"I can ask you just what happened when Mulder thought he ditched you, little girl."
Arms were folded across a slim, blue suited chest. Scully mentally winced at the tone. Oh NOT good. She perched nonchalantly on the desk, resting one immaculately slacked knee over the other, thinking carefully about keeping the casual tone in her voice.
"You know Mulder. One clue that hits the bell and he's gone... I get the phone call later."
Blue eyes informed her that the day she managed to make a lie of that proportion sound convincing, was the day Mulder brought a martian home to meet Skinner. A long finger tapped a notepad.
"Dana- who do you think retrieves the faxes around here? You handed Mr. Lyle Winterson into the hands of the Nashville police at 17.03 yesterday afternoon. Your call for back up was noted at 16.59. Now either backup is becoming phenomenally good, or you relied on Mulder doing his Mulder thing and went after your own arrest."
"Mulder was chasing the psychopath!" Scully said indignantly.
It worked on everyone else that tone. That air of cool self sufficiency. Her partner's head was already shaking.
"Mulder went off to talk to a witness, little girl. You went after the psychopath. With your best, 'Oh Mulder Look Who THIS Nice Man Turned Out To Be' air of innocence."
"That is NOT what happened-" Dana hissed, her cool slipping rapidly. Her partner's look warned her to lower her voice NOW.
"We will talk about this later. My apartment, seven pm, bring some salad and be late if you dare."
The door to Skinner's office opened. Mulder emerged white and shaking his head a little as though not quite believing what he'd just heard. Skinner still looked tense but satisfied, as though he'd managed to release a little steam.
"Kim, I'll take those messages now."
Kim gave one last, fulminating look at Dana and took a neat stack of papers from her desk.
"There you go sir."
Both Mulder and Scully skulked out of the office followed by two separate I'll Deal With You Later glares.
Kim changed into jeans and a loose shirt, hanging the blue suit neatly up on the door. A lot of her wardrobe was blue. Dana liked her in blue. Although she liked her in things a little less formally cut.
Dana was in serious trouble.
Kim mentally turned off wandering thoughts concerning her partner and concentrated instead on what she intended to give said partner for dinner. Skinner had told her once, if Mulder was doubtful of his reception he was really late. Most of the rest of the time he was just late. Dana, when trying to look convincing, was inevitably early. She was in the hallway at six forty five, smile a little frayed around the edges, salad in one hand and a bunch of flowers in the other.
"I guess the traffic wasn't as bad as I thought."
"How nice, they're lovely, come in, you're not off the hook." Kim hooked an arm around her neck as she passed and stole a quick but thorough kiss. Dana trailed her into the kitchen. Kim set the flowers in water, willing to stake a bet that at this moment on the far side of town, her boss was making dinner for another worried and fidgeting brat. The supervision and management of this particular dynamic duo took up a lot of the bureau's extra curricular time. Which the pay packet did not reflect.
"Can I help?" Dana said, still sounding capable. Kim turned, brushing her hands off, and set her hips against the counter.
"No. You can wash your hands, hang that jacket in the hall and face that corner over there until this is ready. I am NOT pleased with you, young lady."
Dana's eyes surveyed her, the full lower lip hesitated, not sure whether to risk the Oh God expression that worked so well on Mulder.
"I wouldn't." Kim warned. Dana sighed and went for the full blown, eyes rolling, hair rumpled pout.
"Look, after the number of times he's ditched me-"
"I didn't ask for excuses, I told you to find that corner." Kim pointed towards the bathroom and waited. One deflated FBI agent slowly turned and made her way down the hall, losing the confidence for a rather less self contained, head down posture.
Hands washed, jacket hung up, Scully stood meekly in her corner, her folded arms the only give away that she was not yet quite resigned to this idea, her red head bowed against the wall.
Not for nothing do I date a red head, Kim thought, admiring the line of slim, rather slumped shoulders and the soft curve of a red bob.
"Alright Dana. Come and sit down."
Scully turned, slowly. "Kim?"
"If you're going to go berserk..."
"Berserk? Is that a medical term?"
Green eyes glared. "Can we get it over with now? Please?"
Kim hesitated. The glare gradually softened into pleading. There were a lot of things that Kim could resist, but Dana Scully with that look on her face wasn't one of them. She sighed and got up from the table.
"Go and get it."
"Go and-" Scully looked at her, taken aback. "That isn't how this works, I've seen Mulder in action- we talk, we reason, we negotiate-"
"You bullshit." Kim interrupted. "Which is exactly how you got into this mess tonight. And the AD and Mulder handle things their way, we handle them our way."
"I thought we followed bureau policy." Scully said under her breath.
"Since when do you take any notice of bureau policy?" Kim lifted her eyebrows at her recalcitrant partner. "Are you going? If I have to get it-"
"I'm going, I'm going."
Scully scuffed without enthusiasm to Kim's room and retrieved the horrible, wooden backed brush off Kim's dresser. Kim had already taken her seat on the sofa, held out her hand for the brush and simply patted her lap. Scully felt herself going nearly as red as her hair. Slowly, fumbling, eyes on her hands, she unbuttoned and unzipped her tailored slacks, letting them slide down out of her grasp, then stepped out of her high heels. Without them she felt ridiculously small. Kim's hand slid up her arm, gripped her elbow and drew her firmly forward until her hips met Kim's denimed lap and her face was against the sofa cushions. Dana took a firm grip of the plush material and felt Kim adjust her grip, feeling about six and a half. This was unfair. This was not right. Federal agents should not have to put up with this from lovers who ought to understand these things. They needed a union meeting on this.
"What is it," Kim said mildly above her, "I'm annoyed about Dana?"
Scully swallowed on a mouth full of sarcasm and tried to think tactically.
"I made an arrest without back up."
"You called back up. You just didn't intend to use them. And you stood by, let your partner find a way to give you the slip and then went behind his back to make an arrest."
"Dana!" Kim said sharply. "Apart from the fact I KNOW you, who do you think types and reads all the files in that office? How many times do you think you can get away with strolling into the lion's den and then look all surprised when Mulder comes galloping to the rescue? One day someone apart form me is going to see through that sensible look you cultivate and cotton on that there's a little more forethought going on under that hair of yours than the AD or Mulder would believe!"
Damn. Scully had a brief go at turning around to see her lover's face. It didn't work. Kim's hand on her back held her still. The other gripped the back of her underwear and drew the skimpy silk firmly downward.
"I knew Mulder would turn up!" Scully pleaded, reaching the point of desperation. "I didn't make the arrest ALONE alone- OW!" she added passionately as the brush made it's first contact with her bare cheeks. "Kim come on, there was five minutes in it-"
"That's five minutes too many! You do NOT go walking into the homes of psychopaths, whether or not Mulder is bringing the cavalry! You do NOT co operate with being ditched!"
"How can I-" Scully argued, wriggling, "How can I not co operate!"
"DON'T play dumb with me little girl!" Kim brought the brush down again, firmly, first on one reddening cheek, then the other, her arm tight around Scully's slim and twisting waist. "You've worked with the guy for years, you know him as well as anyone knows that maniac, if you haven't worked out the signs now when he's planning to ditch then you've got no right being in the FBI!"
"OW! Kim!" Scully twisted, hard. The brush stung like blazes, each impact making her eyes sting and her body involuntarily jump in reaction. Kim moved her sights a little lower and began to spank steadily and with unnecessary attention to detail just above the top of Dana's thighs. The sting there was too much to cope with. Scully ducked her head as her eyes filled with tears, grinding words into the fabric of the sofa.
Ow. Shit. Ow ow ow-
"Okay I'm sorry, I won't ditch him again-"
"'Ditch' is a verb that needs banning from FBI policy. It's an over used verb. I'm SICK of typing it. You ditch, he ditches, they ditch, they have ditched, we all ditch-"
"I'm sorry, I'm really sorry, I won't-" Dana paused, breath hitching involuntarily, "I swear I won't make an arrest again without someone else there-"
"Without your partner there or backup!" The hairbrush snapped down again, "I know the regulations, Dana."
"I promise!" Scully wriggled hard, no longer able to cry quietly. Kim gave her another four, well placed spanks and laid the brush down.
"You are staying here this weekend. If I know my boss, Agent Mulder won't be short of things to do until Monday. You are going to spend the weekend with me, keeping away from monsters, aliens, lunatics and trouble, and you are going to write me out a complete copy of the policies and recommendations for arrest procedures. Do you understand me?"
Dana slid down to her knees. Kim pushed her hair out of her hot face, not without sympathy. Dana looked a mess when she cried. It was the red hair that did it; red eyes with it looked nothing less than pathetic.
"Put the hairbrush away and wash your face."
"I won't ditch him again, I promise." Dana stumbled to her feet and clung to Kim, burying her head in the taller woman's chest. Kim wrapped her up and rocked her.
"Good. And letting him ditch you is also off the list. You MUST know the warning signs."
"Pretty much." Dana admitted, snuffling. Kim drew her back, tipped up the elfin chin and kissed her.
"Wash your face."
That is not, Scully thought, heading for the bathroom and very tenderly re arranging her clothing, the only part in need of cold water.
She was interrupted by the bleep of her cell phone from her jacket pocket. Mulder's voice was soft and a little furtive. Scully could well understand why. With a quick glance to make sure Kim was occupied, she leaned against the wall and kept her voice low.
"Mulder. What a surprise. Keeping busy?"
"Like you wouldn't believe." Mulder sounded like he had a cold. "Look Scully- I just wanted to say, I'm sorry for ditching you yesterday."
"I'm sorry for letting you ditch me."
"I kind of got carried away."
"We both did. And I'm sick of that verb."
Mulder stifled a snort. "You ditch, I ditch, we all ditch-"
Scully glowered at the phone and wondered just what the content of HQ staff meetings involved.
"Sure Mulder. You have a nice weekend."
From the sarcasm in her partner's voice, the staff meeting had resulted in a universal policy document on ditching.
"Yeah. A long, QUIET weekend."