House of Cards by Jennifer T. Brooks
E-mail: Jenntou@excite.com

Synopsis: This story picks up where the movie left off, but it is not a flick fic. Mulder and Scully are still assigned to the X-Files under Kersh and have been given a new office. Scully tries to cope with her changing relationship with Mulder with the help of her friends. As the house of cards that she has made her life out of starts to fall down around her she must come to terms with her changing relationships with everyone around her. A disturbing family secret is brought to light with leaves her devastated. Spoilers: "Fight the Future" and all of seasons 1-5. Assume that the 6th season has not taken place (the shows don't fit into my time line)
Rating: NC-17 for sexual situations and language.
Keywords: Scully angst, Mulder angst, Skinner angst, Scully torture, Skinner torture, Mulder/other, Scully/other, Scully and Mulder UST/MSR. Hell this has a little bit of everything in it..
Disclaimer: All characters in this story except for Blake and Claire belong to Chris Carter, Ten Thirteen productions and Fox. No harm is intended and no profit is being made. Dr Susan Lowenstein is borrowed from Pat Conroy's brilliant novel "The Prince of Tides". My Dr. Susan Lowenstein is still played by Barbra Steisand and her office is now in Washington DC. Marriage vows are courtesy of the marriage ceremony performed by District Court Magistrate Deborah L. Clanton in Kentwood, Michigan. They are used without permission. Ike's E Street Bar and the Lasertaruim are figment's of my imagination. If these places actually exist, it is purely coincidental.
I have been a lurker for years and now have the courage to write, please be kind but honest in feedback. I'm taking liberties with locations, and character histories so don't write me telling me that I've gotten facts wrong..
Special thanks to Rad for her early cements and to Zoe J. my wonderful beta reader/editor extraordinaire. Her input made what you are reading possible, without her it would have been much different and not as good. Thanks Zoe.

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"It's a troublesome world. All the people who are in it
are troubled with troubles almost every minute.
You ought to be thankful a whole heaping lot,
for the places and people you're lucky you're not."
            Dr. Seuss
            "Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky you are"

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Chapter 1
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FBI Headquarters
June 22, 1998
8:00 a.m.

Dana Scully walked quietly into the office expecting to see her partner of five years, Fox Mulder.

<Five year's,> she thought to herself. How had she managed to stay sane?

She thought back to their first case in Oregon and how naive she had been about the job, the FBI and life overall. Sometimes she wished that she could go back to the days when she was a carefree skeptic, when life was simpler. When had the world become so complicated? When had everything changed or started to change for her? When had life become so difficult?

To make matters worse there was the issue of Diana Fowley. What was she to Mulder? Although Scully had no right to know what the nature of the relationship was, she felt a slight tinge of betrayal that Mulder had never mentioned her to him. He seemed entirely too nonchalant about the whole matter.

"I can't let this bother me," Dana thought to herself as she sorted through the morning mail.

A half hour later Mulder came into the office accompanied by Diana Fowley.

"Good morning, Scully," Fox Mulder said to his partner, greeting her with a smile. "Nice job they've done with our new office."

"Good morning Mulder, good morning Agent Fowley," Scully replied in return.

"You can call me Diana, Dana. It's only appropriate if we are going to work closely together." Diana made her way over to Fox Mulder's desk and sat down in the chair in front of it. Dana was glad that office requisition gave her a desk this time. Sitting behind her own desk gave her some personal distance from Mulder and didn't make her feel quite so exposed. She felt a tinge of guilt at wanting to distance herself from Mulder but after everything they had been through in last month she needed to gain control over her feelings for him. She felt like she grown close to him over the past month, too close for her, and she needed to stop things and regain some of that distance between them.

She was so caught up in her own thoughts that she didn't even register that Agent Fowley was speaking to her.

"Earth to Scully," Mulder said while gently waving his hands in front of her face.

"What," Scully stammered surprised by Mulder's motions.

"Diana was stating that she's going to be working closely with us now."

"In what capacity?" Scully asked as she looked at Diana.

"I've been assigned as your supervisor for the time being."

"I wasn't aware that we needed supervision," Scully responded coldly. Mulder saw the expression on her face and knew what she must be thinking and feeling. He knew that she'd never express those feelings. It was one of the reasons he was attracted to her, but also found her refusal to show her feelings annoying at times.

"Scully, the X-files division is being opened under violent crimes. Skinner seemed to think that the unit would have a better chance at long time survival if it was embedded in an existing division. Since Diana is already a VC supervisor and worked on the X-Files in the past, Skinner found her to be the natural choice to head the unit."

"Great, Welcome to the X-Files Agent Fowley," Scully responded coolly.

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FBI Headquarters
June 22, 1998
8:20 a.m.

Mulder and Scully spent the next hour working in complete silence. Mulder didn't like their new office. It was fine as far as offices went but he found it to be a little sterile looking.

Mulder and Scully had each been given their own desk in a small office that was half the size of his former office. He was glad that they did have a window, which he saw as the only perk of the job.

The office was located in the violent crimes section of the building, most agents were assigned to individual cubicles in a large room, with senior agents sharing offices. He was thankful that if he had to share an office this small, that it was with Scully. He was also grateful that she had a desk, although he did take pleasure in being able to look at her shapely legs whenever he wanted with their former arrangement.

"Scully, what do you really think of Diana being our supervisor?" Mulder asked.

"It's fine," Scully replied as Mulder rolled his eyes.

"Is anything not 'fine' with you?" Mulder asked and then regretted as soon as the words left his mouth.

"Not everything is *fine* with me. However, regarding the matter of our new supervisor, I have no opinion."

"Everyone has an opinion on everything Scully. People have toilet paper preferences for God's sake. This is me you're talking to, you don't have to keep the claws in check. If you hate Diana and want her dead, I would understand it. I'm not going to tell anyone what you say to me in confidence. You should know that. I just want to honestly know what you feel." Mulder looked at her tenderly hoping that she would open up to him. She had been acting very distant ever since they returned from Antarctica. He thought the whole experience had brought them closer together and now she was acting as if the past five years had never occurred.

"Mulder, I'm indifferent about the whole matter. Who the supervisor is does not matter to me, what I find hard to take is the insinuation that we need supervision," Scully replied.

"You sound so clinical about it. I hate Kersh and you know that if I knew that there was no way that my actions could be traced back, I would have the gunmen doctor a picture of him in women's lingerie and post it all over the building." Mulder was particularly proud of this remark because it garnered a raised eyebrow and a partial smile.

"Mulder, I don't hate Diana and I really don't like her either. I guess I'm just neutral on the subject."

"Finally an honest answer from the elusive Agent Scully. Do you want to get some lunch?".

"Mulder it is only 8:30 am, don't you think it is a little early for lunch?"

"It's never too early to eat. We'll make it a brunch. You chose the restaurant."

"Mulder I'm not hungry, besides I have things to do on my lunch hour."

"Like what?"

"Personal things, Mulder."

"Scully, you aren't sick again?" Mulder asked looking worried.

"No Mulder, I'm fine."

"If you are going to the gynecologist, I suppose I could sacrifice some time and go with you to hold your hand."

"I'm sure you would, but that's not where I'm going. You honestly aren't going to take your lunch hour at 9:00 am are you? We've only been working for an hour."

"I need food to fuel my creativity."

"So that's what you call your neurotic obsessive behavior? Creativity?"

"You wound me Scully."

"Mulder, do your work and stop trying to delay the inevitable."

"Yes mom," Mulder replied.

They soon settled into a comfortable silence and continued to work.

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FBI Headquarters
June 22, 1998
12:30 pm

At 12:30 pm Diana Fowley walked into their office and asked to speak with Scully privately. Dana followed Diana into her office and noticed that her personnel folder was sitting on Diana's desk.

"Please have a seat Dana. Since I'm now your supervisor I'm required to go over your personnel file with you and your job description. It also gives me a chance to get to know you a little better. I'm sorry that didn't come out right," Diana Fowley said blushing.

"What I meant was that these required reviews give me a chance to get to know all the agents under my charge a little better."

"I understood what you meant Agent Fowley," Dana Scully replied.

"Hmmmmmmm......" Diana kept muttering while looking through her file.

"Everything looks good so far. You have an exemplary record Dana. I didn't know that you went to Stanford and the University of Maryland. And to graduate Magna Cum Laude, none the less. Quite impressive. You also graduated Magna Cum Laude from medical school. You were offered a residency in pediatric surgery at Johns Hopkins which you turned down to join the FBI. We were lucky to get a talent such as yourself, Dana. These files appear to tell a lot about a person on the surface but they wind up creating more questions than answers about the person contained within. Dana, why the FBI and not a lucrative career in surgery?"

"Agent Fow..." Dana started.

"Please call me Diana."

"Okay Diana, I could have had a lucrative career in surgery but I didn't feel that it was the correct career choice for me at the time. I would not have been professionally satisfied with was I was doing."

"Are you professionally satisfied with your career with the FBI? Are you happy here Dana?" Diana asked the younger woman.

"Working for the FBI has challenged me."

"That's not what I asked Dana. Does it make you happy?"

"No," was Dana's simple answer. Diana looked at the agent across from her with concern. Here was a bright agent who had everything going in the world for her but happiness.

"What would it take professionally to make you happy?" Diana asked.

"I'm not miserable by any means Diana..," Scully hesitated. She hadn't ever expressed her dissatisfaction with her job before. Opening up to people was not something that she did well or wanted to do. It made her uncomfortable thinking that this woman sitting across from her, her new supervisor, could see through her so clearly. She would have to build up that wall a little better to keep Diana Fowley out.

"Dana, I want all agents in my change to be happy with their jobs and careers in the FBI. An unhappy agent does not make a good one."

"Diana I didn't mean to give you the impression that I'm unhappy with the FBI or the direction my career has taken. I also didn't know that career counseling was in your job description. I have a lot of work to do getting the X-files reorganized. Are you finished?" Dana looked coldly at her supervisor sitting across from her.

"Dana, I didn't mean to be intrusive or offer you career counseling. I was just trying to understand you a little better. I apologize if you have been offended."

"Apology accepted. Agent Fowley I know that you were not purposely being intrusive, I just feel that some things are no ones business. I'm paid to do a job by the citizens of this country. My job satisfaction has no bearing on this at all. As long as I'm doing my job, as long as I continue to receive superior annual reviews I should be allowed to remain an agent. Never once in my 8 years with the bureau has anyone questioned my happiness or job satisfaction. I find it a little odd that now someone wants to know wether or not I like my job a little circumspect. If you want to question me or offer me advice keep it to my professional life, not my personal. May I be excused? I have work to do," Dana responded to Diana Fowley as she stood up from her chair.

"Yes, you may leave now. I do look forward working with you. I have heard a lot about you. If you ever need anything or just want to talk please don't hesitate to come to me. It is what I'm here for. Please send Agent Mulder in."

As Agent Scully left her office Diana Fowley wondered what the hell she had gotten herself into by agreeing to head the X-Files supervision. Working with Fox Mulder was one thing but his partner Dana Scully was going to be a whole other ball game. Who made Dana Scully so distrusting and paranoid? Surely working with Fox hadn't done that.

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FBI Headquarters
June 22, 1998
1:00 p.m.

Dana walked down the short corridor to her office. Mulder was sitting at his desk looking through case files. He looked up when he noticed Dana Scully standing before him.

"Agent Fowley would like to meet with you now, Mulder."

"How did your meeting go with the boss?" Mulder asked.

"It went fine." Fine, there was that word again. The one word in the English language he despised. He knew that she was an intelligent woman and he thought many a time that she could come up with a better acronym to describe how she felt. He was thinking that for Christmas he would get her the book '1000 Synonyms For Fine'.

"Would you care to elaborate on that a little more?"

"I don't trust her Mulder. The questions she asked were less than appropriate. She was essentially on a fishing expedition and I wasn't going to let her hook me," Scully said as she sat down behind her desk.

"What kinds of things did she ask you?"

"You'll see for yourself now Mulder. It's your turn. She wants you in her office right now."

"I'm scared. Can't you see the fear in my eyes and the tremble of my hands? I'll be back in a few. Do you still want to go to lunch when I'm through?"

"I'm not really hungry, Mulder."

"Suit yourself. I for one am starving."

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FBI Headquarters
June 22, 1998
1:15 pm

"Good afternoon Fox. Did Dana explain what the purpose of this meeting was?" Diana Fowley said to Fox Mulder as he sat down in the chair across from her desk.

"No. She just said that you wanted to meet with me," He said calmly remembering what Dana truly said about the purpose of the meeting.

"Yes, I'm meeting with all the agents under my charge going over job responsibilities and their personnel files hoping to understand the people that work under me better. Since I already know you well that's not necessary."

"Then why the meeting?" Mulder asked while reclining in his chair.

"It's imperative that I treat all agents the same. If I meet with one, I meet with all."

"That's fair," Mulder responded. "So what do you suppose we talk about. This is supposed to take an hour isn't it?"

"Fox, do you mind if I ask you a personal question?"

"You can ask anything that you want. But that doesn't mean that I'm going to answer it," He said while reclining further and putting his feet up on her desk.

"Go ahead and make yourself comfortable, Fox."

"Go ahead and ask your question, Diana," Fox Mulder replied.

"Okay. Have you told Dana about our relationship?"

"No, why would I?" Mulder responded flabbergasted.

"Well, you've been partners with her for the 5 years and from rumors that I've heard it seems that you both are a little more than just friends. I have heard everything from you two having sex in the mens restroom to you taking her over your desk down in the basement office."

"Why Diana, you sound jealous."

"No, no, no," Diana stammered, "Okay, maybe I am."

"Diana there is no Scully and I. We lead separate lives outside of the bureau. I don't see her socially. We've never had and never will have a relationship. Why am I even telling you this?"

"Because you always did have a soft spot for your ex-wife."

"True. God, this is so weird talking to you about another woman."

"If she were just another woman I don't think you would have a problem talking to me about her."

"Okay, she's not just another woman. She's my partner and best friend. I honestly love working with her. She challenges me. She's one of the smartest people that I have ever known. But this is weird talking to you now about her because you are also our direct supervisor. How the hell did you manage to pull that one off? They don't usually let spouses or former spouses for that matter supervise or work with one another."

"Well since the marriage was annulled, officially there was no relationship."

"I hadn't thought about that. Did you want to come and supervise me or did they place you here?" He asked.

"Contrary to what you may believe Fox, I wanted to come here. I didn't seek out the position, but when it was offered to me I didn't turn it down. I missed you these few years that I was away. I always wondered what was going on in your life and if there was a special lady."

"Oh God, Diana, please tell me that you aren't going to ask about my sex life?"

"Foxy, you know that I'm curious and since you did bring it up -is there a special someone in your life?" Diana Fowley asked.

He rolled his eyes at her question. The way that she asked it reminded him of his mother. "I'm dating my job, I don't have time for personal relationships, Diana."

"Could the reason you are so involved with your job involve one Dana Scully?"

"Scully?"

"Yes Dana Scully. Why do you call her by her last name? Dana is such a beautiful name."

"Out of habit I guess. At first I called her Scully to distance myself from her because I didn't like her and thought she was a spy. By the time I realized that she wasn't a spy I was so used to calling her Scully, that it was too late to change and start calling her Dana."

"Nice avoidance of trying to answer my question Fox. Is she the reason why you don't date anymore?"

"You really get to the point, don't you Diana? Yes. She's the reason I don't date anymore. Now are you happy?"

"Finally some honesty here. Inquiring minds want to know more. What exactly are your feelings for her Foxy?"

"I don't know why I put up with you sometimes. You are the only person in the world that could get away with calling me Fox or Foxy for that matter. You're so lucky that you are my ex-wife."

"I would prefer to be know as your best and oldest friend in the world."

"Why don't you want to be associated as being my ex-wife Diana," Mulder responded acting hurt.

"Gee, could it be that the wife title connotes an understanding that I have performed my marital duties, if you get my drift."

"Don't act like the thought of sleeping with me disgusts you Diana," Fox teased back.

"As cute as your little ass is Fox, you simply weren't my type. Now back to my original question. What are your feelings for Dana?"

"Why, if I'm not interested are you going to go for her?" Mulder asked half jokingly.

"Maybe."

"What?" Fox asked incredulously.

"You heard what I said," Diana responded coyly.

"You aren't serious Diana, are you?"

"I'm totally serious, Fox. There's something about Dana that find extremely attractive."

"Diana, Dana isn't a lesbian."

"How do you know? Did this come up in conversation before between the two of you."

"Well no. But I just know that she couldn't be."

"Mulder, you can't just look at someone and know that they're gay."

"I knew that you were Diana."

"You did not. I had to tell you."

"I had a feeling like you might be, but I thought it would've been rude to ask you."

"You are such a liar, Fox. You were totally floored when I told you that I was gay."

"Well you didn't chose the best time to tell me Diana. Waiting until a man is drunk, barely standing, naked, and ready to perform isn't an opportune time to inform him of his partners sexual preference. Any man in my situation would have felt the same thing. You had several, no make that months, to tell me before things went that far."

"Fox...." Before Diana finished her sentence they were interrupted by a knock on the door.

"Come in," Diana replied.

Dana Scully walked into the room "I'm sorry for interrupting your meeting, but I've been called down to do a priority autopsy and just wanted to let you know before I left."

"Are you going to come back after you're done?" Fox Mulder asked.

"I don't know at this time. It all depends on how long it takes me."

"Well I'll see you tomorrow then Scully."

"Bye Mulder."

Diana Fowley observed their interaction from behind her desk. When Dana closed the door behind her Diana whistled. "If you don't want her please let me know soon Fox, because I wouldn't mind getting to know her better."

"Oh god, why do these things have to happen to me? My ex-wife has a crush on my partner."

"How can you not be affected by her Fox. She's brilliant, opinionated, passionate about her work and not afraid to tell me where to shove my questioning."

"Not to mention that body," Mulder interjected.

"Exactly how well do you know that body Mulder? Have you seen her naked?"

"God, you always get right to the point don't you Diana?"

"You know me Fox, if I want to know something I'll ask it. Besides as close as we were before, you know that you can't keep a secret from me. All those women you dated while we were married, you always described them to me in detail after the dates and didn't seem apprehensive about it. Why now?"

"You know why. Those women didn't mean anything to me. I told you about them because you asked about them. With Scully it's different. I feel like if I get into a discussion about her bra size with you, it somewhat cheapens her."

"Cheapens her? I don't understand Fox," Diana replied.

"Maybe that wasn't the best choice of words. I guess it somehow reduces my feelings for her to mere sexual lusting, which mind you is accurate, but what I feel for her is so far beyond that."

"Sounds like love to me Fox."

"I don't know if I would call it love. Listen, can we keep this between ourselves? I don't want Dana to know how I feel. It might make her uncomfortable because she doesn't share these same feelings with me."

"Okay, that's fair. When did your feelings for her begin to change?"

"I really can't pinpoint it. We've always been just really good friends. We would hang out together on weekends, debate political ideologies, watch movies and run together. Over time she started occupying more and more of my free time. I didn't mind because she was my best friend. I could totally be myself around her, something I have only had with one other woman, which happens to be you. One day I just woke up and noticed that I saw her in a different light. She was still my best friend Scully, but she was also something more to me. It is really hard to explain this. I don't know when or how it happened or what she or I did to make it happen, but I do care more for her than just a friendly type of care."

"That was brutally honest Fox. You know that I'm here if you ever need to talk about Dana Scully or any other woman for that matter. Our hour is just about up. Get back to work Agent Mulder," Diana told Fox as she tried to sound like an authoritarian.

Mulder rose from his seat he embraced Diana tightly and whispered in her ear, "I'm glad you are here Diana. I really missed you."

-end-

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House of Cards - Chapter 2
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FBI Headquarters
July 23, 1998
10:48 a.m.

Fox Mulder was perplexed by his partners lack of interest in anything these day. She seemed to be distancing herself from him.

<Like you could tell in the first place> he thought to himself.

Ever since their little adventure in Antarctica he thought that they were closer than ever and he was finally going to get his chance with her. He cared very deeply for her, but he knew that it wasn't love. He didn't feel that he knew her well enough to love her, but yet in a way he did know her. How could he love her when he didn't know basic things about her like what her favorite color is, what animals she had as a child, etc. But yet in another sense he knew deeply personal things about her like what she feared most. When did his life become so complicated? Why couldn't he have normal relationships like most people. Why couldn't he have a normal functioning family? Why was his job so damned difficult? Why was the only woman in his life a five foot two inch pistol packing FBI babe who seemed to be devoid of emotion? He needed to change things and quick. He sure wasn't getting any younger, but the question was how? How was he going to change things? What did he want out of life? What did he want people to remember him for when he died? A paranoid man with no friends? He decided the best thing for him to do when he was in this kind of mood was to take a jog.

Since Dana Scully wasn't in the office this morning he didn't have to worry about changing in the men's restroom. He quickly put on a pair of black running shorts, a white tank top, a pair of white socks, and his running shoes and headed out the door.

Dana came back from her meeting at Quantico and was surprised to find an empty office. No note or anything explaining his absence. She decided that there was a lot of paperwork for her to catch up on. Minutes later she was interrupted by a soft knock on the door.

"Come in." she replied.

Agent Fowley slowly opened the door and entered the room, "Dana, I just got notice today that you and Fox are scheduled for annual physical training next week at Quantico. This year they aren't allowing participants the option of staying in local hotels or commuting. All field agents are to stay in the dormitories at Quantico for the first night and the remainder of the time will be spent in field training. You are to report there tonight at 12 am."

"Field training?" Dana asked.

"A nice word they have come up with for roughing it in the wild."

Dana thought for a minute before responding. "Why the change in protocol?"

"I was informed of the field training this morning in a meeting of Division heads. It seems that the training is warranted due to several incidents in the past six months of field agents not being able to survive in the field for more than two days at a time. It has been decided that all agents in the next year will need to re-qualify on their weapons, physical fitness skills, and outdoor survival skills. The complete training will last two weeks. Since you and Fox don't have any open cases, now would be the opportune time to do it. Think of this as a little camping trip."

"Does Mulder know?"

"I informed him earlier this morning when he came in. Why don't you take an early lunch and the rest of the afternoon off to pack."

"I think I will Agent Fowley."

"See you in two weeks, Dana. Just so you know, they are grading each participant and it will be part of your file. This is being done to discourage agents who don't realize the seriousness of this training. I'm sure that you will do fine and make this division proud."

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Later that evening
Apartment of Dana Scully
8:59 p.m.

Dana was trying to figure out what to pack when she heard a knock on the door. She went over to answer it without even looking in the peep hole, knowing that it had to be Mulder.

"Evening Scully, almost packed for our little trip into the forest, part two?'

"Very funny Mulder, and no. I hate these things. I don't like the short notice. I don't like not knowing what we're going to be doing, and most of all I don't like camping in the woods."

"Scully, it's not camping, it's survival training. Think of the adventure."

"Mulder, if I wanted adventure or survival training I would have joined the Navy."

"I'm really surprised that you don't like camping Scully. All these years I thought you were my model for nature woman."

"Think again, Mulder. I'm the model for modern convenience woman. I don't despise camping, I'd just rather have a warm bed, running water and air conditioning."

"Scully, say no more. You are ruining a long running fantasy I've had about you."

"Very funny, Mulder. Are you finished packing?" Dana Scully said as she swatted Mulder on the arm.

"Finished hours ago. I, for one, am looking forward to this little trip into the woods."

"At least one of us is. I still find it suspicious that they send the two of us there in the middle of a heat wave and give us a 10 hour notice. This reeks of a conspiracy."

"That's my line Scully, get your own. It won't be that bad. Two weeks of hell and then we get another year on easy street."

"Easy street? What are you high? You consider the constant threats to our lives and health, easy street. I think you need to get a new version of reality Mulder."

"Scully, shut up and pack or we'll be late."

"It's not like we are going to miss out on the best hotel room Mulder, they are making us sleep outside where it is hot and sweaty."

"Hot and sweaty, oh another fantasy about you is coming back."

"Mulder," Scully said while giving him the look that he had better keep his thoughts to himself or face grave bodily injury.

Mulder took the warning and chose to remain quiet while Scully finished packing her clothes. Mulder entertained her with camping stories of his youth. By 10 p.m. they were all packed in her car and off to Quantico.

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Quantico, Virginia
July 25, 1998
3 am

Dana Scully woke up to find her sleeping bag soaking wet. She looked around the tent to find the source of the water when she realized that it was pouring rain outside and what she thought was the sound of wind was actually the patter rain beating down on the sides of her tent. <Shit> She thought to herself wondering what time it was. A quick check of her watch revealed that it was 3:00 am. She knew that she didn't have to be ready until 7 am for the morning exercises but decided to get a head start. She quickly changed into her dry clothes, glad that she had spent the extra money and gotten an water proof knapsack. She wondered if Mulder was soaking wet in his tent.

Upon exiting the tent she found that the world was in a quiet slumber around her. She heard Mulder stirring in his sleep and quietly tiptoed around his tent to the clearing in the woods where the foot trail began. 5 miles later she felt exhilarated from her run and slightly sweaty. She knew that there was nothing that could be done about the wet conditions, for they were officially roughing it, which meant no showers for the week. Scully was glad that she brought her dry shampoo or else by the end of the week she would have looked positively awful, as if she didn't at that moment. Approaching the clearing where the tents located, she quietly tiptoed around the other tents toward hers. As she unzipped her tent she heard someone behind her. She turned to see that it was Mulder who was holding his index finger up to his lips to let her know not to speak. He motioned for her to follow him to the clearing in the woods were the trail was.

Once they reached the clearing he grabbed her arm to pull her closer to him so that he could talk to her without arousing attention.

"Scully. What the hell do you think you are doing at this time of the morning?" he asked harshly.

"I woke up to a wet bed and decided to go for a run to warm myself up."

"What did you wet the bed?"

"Very funny Mulder. No the monsoon left my tent in about 6 inches of water."

"We have physical training in a few hours Scully. You obviously look like you just ran quite a distance. How are you going to manage to complete the training without looking so exhausted that they wonder if you are capable for the job. You know that we're being graded on our performance."

"No Mulder, we're being evaluated separately. Don't worry I'm not going to ruin your perfect score. I'm going to do it like I normally do Mulder. This isn't an issue, stop trying to make it out to be. I went for a little jog. There was no harm done. I will be able to do my exercises and pass them without one person looking at me wondering what is wrong."

"If you say so. How was the trail at this time of the morning?" He asked changing the subject.

"It was fine Mulder. Nice and peaceful. Not too muddy."

Mulder and Scully sat down on a log in silence and watched the sun rise. About 10 minutes before the wake up bell they climbed back into their own tents so as to not arouse suspicion as to why two members of the opposite sex were out of their tents together.

*******************************************

Quantico, Virginia
July 25, 1998
7:30 am

The three mile jog was nothing, Scully thought as she mindlessly ran. I could go another 20 miles, she thought. Mulder ran beside her in silence wondering exactly how long of a jog she took this morning.

<Couldn't have been that long or else she would have been dragging,> Mulder thought.

He focused on the trees ahead wondering how old they were and if they contained any of the green larvae they founds in the trees in the pacific northwest. When they reached the end of the trail they were divided into teams of two for problem solving exercises.

Mulder remembered the warning that Diana gave him that they were being evaluated on all the exercises. Everyone received individual and team ratings on how well they had done and that information went into the employee's personnel file. Those that didn't take the training seriously often found themselves reprimanded. Mulder was secretly glad that he had been paired with Scully. He knew that she would take everything they did quite seriously and give it 100 percent. He didn't expect anything less from Miss Magna Cum Laude.

During the afternoon session they had firearm practice, and some classroom training on outdoor survival skills. Mulder knew that at the end of the week they would be dropped off in some location to find some suspect within a given amount of time. They had to use the skills they learned in the training sessions and their physical prowess to find the UNSUB. This exercise was the only reason that Mulder wanted to go to the training other than the fact that it was required and Diana and Skinner had ordered them to go. He found all the physical exercises and tests mundane, but playing in the woods was fun.

Mulder also hoped to use this training as a chance to get a little closer to Scully and find out what was going on in that red head of hers. She had been distant since they arrived at Quantico and he wanted to know why. He hoped that he wasn't the reason for her silence. He thought it was ironic that to most outsiders they seemed to have the perfect partnership, but that could not be further from the truth. Partners have open communication and share themselves. All Scully did was shut herself off emotionally and erect walls that he didn't think anyone was capable of climbing over.

*******************************************

Quantico, Virginia
July 27, 1998

For the next few days Mulder and Scully settled into a comfortable routine. Morning physical fitness training, firearms practice, lunch and afternoon survival skills practice followed by more physical fitness training. Mulder was secretly glad that he and Scully jogged together on a daily basis or else he would have been in big trouble. Several agents had already succumbed and had to be taken to the infirmary due to heat exhaustion. Mulder thought that they were being nice calling it heat exhaustion. He thought it was more like fat ass disease.

For all the meals they were given Meals Ready to Eat (MRE's) and water to drink. Scully would always pick through her MRE claiming that it was disgusting and that she was going to go for a walk. With all this exercise they were getting, Mulder was constantly hungry and eagerly ate whatever she didn't want. For this particular lunch she only ate a bit of the fruit salad and gave him the rest. She told him that she wanted to go for a walk to get away from the rest of the agents who were eating lunch around them. He saw her jog up to the start of the trail system and then disappear behind some trees. What he didn't realize was that she went running again. She kept a close eye on her watch so that she would be back in time for the firearm training.

At the firing range she effortlessly hit one shot after another. Mulder stood beside her amazed at her skill. Several other agents stopped to watch were wondering where she learned to shoot. To him Scully looked like she was staring off into the horizon shooting her gun. In reality Scully just numbly held her gun and fired. She saw the target in her mind and it wasn't a bulls-eye, it was the men that took her and did tests on her in the arctic. She hadn't told Mulder what had happened and that she remembered them and their "tests". Tests that they said were necessary to do, tests that would somehow help the human race. She didn't care about the human race at the time. All she cared about was saving herself from the pain and the embarrassment of what they were doing to her. Most of all she had wished that Mulder would find her and take her away from the awful place. When she ran, she was running away from them, from what they did to her, from what they took away from her. When Dana ran she felt that it was the only time that she had control over her life. For her not to run, was for her to die.

Running was her life. She needed to run. She had to run. To live. She knew that Mulder would not have been able to understand her or her needs at this point in time. When she looked at him she saw him and Diana Fowley. She didn't know why it bothered her so much that they were lovers in the past.

<It bothers me because I love him, > She thought to herself.

<But he doesn't feel the same way about me and never will. To him I'm just a substitute for his sister. He'll never see me as anything more than his faithful sidekick.>

<I'm not going to let him or anyone else hurt me again. I don't care if they think that I'm cold or a bitch. Let them say what they want. They'll never take my dignity or self respect away again.>

Somehow Mulder managed to get included in the group of people and emotions Scully wanted to shut herself off from.

There, she admitted it to herself but was unwilling to go any further in her self-analysis.

The next few days went by in silence for Mulder and Scully. Scully ran during all her free time and Mulder chose to relax and catch up on some reading. He was somewhat dismayed to find that she wanted little to do with him during the training. Sure she talked to him when necessary and gave everything to the training, but he still couldn't get over the fact that their friendship was breaking up in front of his eyes. Thursday morning they were to pick one person from each team to run a 10 km marathon with gear strapped to their back.

Mulder knew that he could probably do it but that it would be hard. Scully volunteered to go for their team and Mulder accepted. Bonus points were to be given by the team that finished first. Mulder really wanted those bonus points because they added up to extra time off with pay and allowed them more time to find the UNSUB in the woods.

Mulder walked Scully down to the starting line. There were about 25 other men competing with Scully. She was the only woman although about 25% of the field training participants were women. Scully started the race at the back of the pack. Mulder thought she looked quite sexy in her FBI T-shirt and shorts. They were a little big on her but Mulder knew that she was wearing the smallest size possible.

Mulder heard the gunfire and saw the racers take off and Scully start to run. They were quickly out of his view and he knew that it would be awhile before they would be back. He decided to take the time and get some pistol practice in since he would be representing their team later on that day. He knew that he was not nearly as good as shot as Scully was and wondered why she volunteered to do the running part instead of the firearms.

He assumed that it had to be because she knew that she would win the firearms competition hands down and needed a challenge. That was his Scully, always having to prove that she was the best.

Coming around the bushes Scully was in a trance like state as she followed the runners ahead of her. She heard people breathing heavily around her but didn't feel a thing. All she felt was numbness. She felt nothing.

<Is this what my life has been reduced to? > She thought.

She decided to pass a couple people as she ran and ran.

Mulder fired his gun at the target repeatedly. He found that it helped to think of the cigarette smoking man as he kept aim on the target. His accuracy rate was getting much better. Not as good as Scully's, but still an improvement.

He heard a commotion and knew that one of the runners was rumored to be close to finishing. He looked at his watched and calculated that the person must be doing a 5 minute mile, almost unheard of. He went with the rest of the agents down to the finish line in time to see none other than Dana Scully cross the line. Mulder thought at first that he wasn't seeing straight. His Scully finishing in that good of time? She received pats on the back and words of congratulations from all the agents. One of the trainers announced that she had broken the trail record by 4 minutes. She just shrugged her shoulders as if this were a common occurrence. Mulder just stared at her in amazement. When had she learned to run that fast. He was dismayed to realize that on their daily jogs she must have been holding back for him.

Mulder and Scully stayed as the other runners started coming in. Scully wouldn't leave until the last man passed the finish line and she offered him a word of congratulations for finishing. Eight men ended up not being able to finish. Not finishing was certainly a black mark in the personnel file. He knew that there were going to be 16 pissed off men that night, not only the ones that didn't finish but their partners as well. He was glad that he was paired with Miss Over Achiever.

They ate dinner that night in silence. Scully didn't have much to say to Mulder other than ask him how the pistol practice went. Mulder was too amazed by his partner who continued to astonish him daily to be much of a conversationalist.

*******************************************

Monongahela National Forest
July 30, 1998
7:30 am

Dana Scully and Fox Mulder were dropped off in the middle of Monongahela National Forest with a team of 6 other FBI agents. It was up to the team to agree on where to sleep, where to look and how to apprehend the suspect.

The FBI academy instructors had divided all the agents up into teams of six and dropped them all off in different parts of the forest. They were all the same distance from the UNSUB and all had an equal chance of finding him or her. The group that apprehended the suspect first got to sleep in the dormitories for the remainder of the training. The rest of the groups had to sleep in the tents and were subject to more physical exercise. There would only be one team that won.

Mulder's team, referred to as Team Alpha, was given one road map of the area and little more. Each agent was given a flashlight, unloaded weapon, compass and the clothing on their backs. They were told to be ready for all the elements and this exercise was designed to simulate the conditions upon which other agents found themselves unprepared. This was a test to see if they could find and apprehend a subject under rough conditions. They were given two days to find and apprehend the suspect.

They were dropped off on the main road leading to the park. Due to Scully winning the running competition and Mulder coming in third on the firearm competition, they were the agents in charge on Team Alpha. Mulder decided to let a cocky agent named Samuelson lead the group while Mulder and Scully lagged behind the rest of the group. Mulder was bored and tired from all the exercise and lack of sleep. He was looking forward to this little excursion but now only wanted to take a bath and have a nice long nap on his couch.

"At least at Quantico they gave us a tent and food," Mulder mumbled to Scully.

"But as I clearly recalled, you seldom slept in yours anyway Mulder," Scully said teasing him. She had heard him leave his tent in the middle of the night several times during basic training. She assumed that due to the length of his absence, and the rumors circulating, that he was paying a nightly visit to Natasha, an attractive blond that was a profiler in the VCS for the past 6 years. She liked Natasha and got a long well with her.

"And what are you insinuating, Agent Scully?" Mulder asked.

"Nothing. Just making an observation," Scully replied.

"Scully, how the hell did you manage to run that fast?"

"Mulder you sound surprised."

"I guess that I am," Mulder replied.

"Why because I'm a woman?" Scully asked sounding irritated.

"No, it has nothing to do with the fact that you are woman. Okay maybe it does. If a man cannot finish in that time, a man that's larger with longer legs, mind you, I don't see how you could."

"Maybe you'll never know Mulder."

"With the time that you made on that course you should be competing in the Olympics Scully, not working for the FBI," Mulder said sincerely.

"How do you know that I'm not training for the Olympics. I always wanted to see Sydney."

"You're training for the Olympics Scully? When do you find the time?" Mulder asked not sure of she was telling the truth or not. She had hidden so much of her private life from him that he did not find the idea of her training for the Olympics inconceivable.

"Calm down Mulder. I didn't say that I was training. I just thought it was rude for you to assume that because I'm a woman I wouldn't be able to run as fast as a man would. I find your caveman attitude less than endearing."

"It's not that you're a woman, it's just that you are short."

"Mulder, I cannot believe you just said that. Height doesn't matter in speed. What matters is the amount of fast twitch muscle fibers that you have. The more that you have, the faster oxygen goes to then, the faster that you run. It all has to do with genetics. Blame my parents."

"I think I just got very turned on," Mulder said as Scully swatted him on the arm.

"Hey Mulder and Scully, we need to formulate a plan for getting the perp," Samuelson called to them interrupting their conversation. They made their way to the rest of the group.

-END-

*******************************************
House of Cards - Chapter 3
*******************************************

Monongahela National Forest
July 30, 1998
Later in the day

Mulder decided that they needed to work up a profile on the perp before they went off in search of him. Samuelson was treating this whole activity as if it were nothing more than a game of hide and seek. Samuelson was annoyed that he was on a team with Spooky Mulder. He felt that they were being slowed down. The rest of the team quickly agreed with Bob Samuelson.

"Look Mulder. You have a half hour to inform the group of where you think he's hiding before the rest of the team does it my way and we go looking for him. You are wasting precious time. There are 9 other teams out there looking for him. I'm not going to lose this game."

"Samuelson, you know it isn't as simple as a game of hide and seek. The UNSUB isn't going to be sitting in a chair in the middle of the forest waiting to see who can run to him the fastest. He's hiding and the only way we're going to discover the hiding place is by working up a profile. I cannot do a good profile in 30 minutes. If you all want to leave, fine. Don't let me stop you. However, you aren't going to find him your way."

Mulder's last comment really pissed off the rest of the group. They were tired of his cocky attitude and his partners aloofness and decided as a group to go off on their own. Bob Samuelson decided to be the spokesman for the group. "Look this isn't working out. You obviously have your own weird ways of doing things in the X-Files. We're wasting valuable daylight sitting out here waiting for you to have a divine inspiration. We'll make a clean break. We go our way and you go yours."

"Fine, if that's the way you want it." Mulder responded coldly watching the four agents go off into the woods together. He was surprised that Scully had not said a thing during the whole altercation with Samuelson.

"Cat got your tongue Scully?" he asked.

"Mulder, what's the point in saying anything? It was obvious that there was a difference in philosophies. I really couldn't stand Bob Samuelson in the first place. He's a moron who isn't taking this exercise seriously. We're better off without them," Scully said giving Mulder her support.

"Thanks Scully. I'm glad to know that at least someone likes me and doesn't think that I'm crazy."

"Mulder, you know that working up a profile is the only way we are going to find him or her. The academy instructors aren't going to have him sitting in a chair in the middle of the forest as you so aptly put it. They're going to make sure that the suspect is so well hidden we could walk on top of him and not know it. We have a lot of work to do tonight on the profile. How about we set off on catching him tomorrow morning after we've gotten a good nights sleep. My bones are tired and need some rest."

"I'm surprised that super agent Scully needs rest. I thought you were my wonder woman."

"Even wonder woman needed her rest Mulder," Scully retorted.

"Point taken. How about we find ourselves some leaves to make a little nest out of tonight."

"Sounds like a plan G-Man."

They spent the next half-hour gathering brush and other debris to keep them warm during the night. A quick check of the compass on Scully's jacket showed that the temperature had dropped to 40 degrees and they had no tents or sleeping bags with them. Once they were comfortable they set out to work on a profile, "Scully have you noticed how similar the profile is to Eric Rudolph?" Mulder asked.

"The abortion bombing suspect?" she asked.

"The one and only. Look here at what information they have given us. Person is accused of bombing several abortion clinics. They don't know if it was a group effort. No notes sent claiming responsibility. All bombs were manufactured the same way indicating it is the same individual responsible. Bomb materials show an increase in violence. Hello, this smells to be Eric Rudolph to me."

"Smells like?" Scully asked.

"You know what I mean Scully. This doesn't smell good. So what do we know about the bomb suspect Scully," Mulder asked steering her back to the profile.

"Well looking at this material, I would have to say that it's the work of one man, not a group. The sophistication of the bombs and the increase in violence seem to indicate that this individual is somewhat intelligent and is growing more angry. He's obviously some type of pro-life militant. He refuses to see woman as equal. The fact that a woman should have a choice to do what she wants with her own body is lost on this sick individual. I'd say he was probably a conservative right wing republican," Scully said agitated as she was waving her arms around.

"Pro-life militant Scully? I'm surprised to find out that you're pro-choice. I always pegged you as a pro-lifer."

"Why, because I wear a cross? Just because I'm Catholic does not mean that I blindly follow the teachings of the church. I'm at odds with them over several issues, pro-choice being one of them."

"Stop Scully, you are ruining another fantasy that I have had of you."

"Which one. The one where I'm the obedient little Catholic who follows all the teachings of the church including the one where the man is the head of the household and woman's job is to stay home and procreate, obeying her man," Scully said.

"No, that wasn't it, but you've given me a new one. Thanks."

"Anything to help, Mulder."

"So Scully, if you ever got pregnant would you have an abortion?" Mulder asked her not quite believing that he had the nerve to ask her that.

"Mulder, I can't believe that you would ask me that after Emily. Don't you realize that I would do anything to have the ability to have a child?" She said as tears slowly formed in her eyes.

Mulder realized the implication of what he'd said and gave himself a mental kick in the ass. He gathered Scully in his arms as the tears trickled down her cheeks. "I'm so sorry Scully. I didn't mean to be insensitive. Please forgive me."

"You're forgiven," Scully responded as she leaned into his embrace.

After a few minutes of him holding her and enjoying the feel of how well she fit against him she made an effort to disentangle herself from his embrace. They still had a lot of work to do. The spent the next hour going over the profile and plan of where they thought the suspect might be.

"Scully, what do you say we call it a night?" He said as he lay down in the bed of leaves and gestured for her to join him.

"Okay. But let me make this very clear that I'm none to pleased to be sleeping in a bed of leaves where several thousand of species make their home."

"Don't even try to give me the girly girl act Scully. I have seen you eat a cricket, which mind you was one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen you do."

"Don't even start on disgusting behavior Mulder, you're the king."

"I'm a man, it is to be expected of me to act in a manly man sort of way. The whole crotch grabbing, burping and farting antics come with manhood. You however are a lady and are supposed to act accordingly."

"Okay, if you want to be manly man taking care of his girly girl, why the hell am I sleeping on the floor of a forest. Surely you could have rented a hotel room."

"Hey, a man only rents a lady a hotel room when he knows that he is going to get lucky."

"Whose to say that I wouldn't have put out for you tonight Mulder. But I don't see a hotel room anywhere around here so I guess we will never know." Scully then turned her back from Mulder and pulled more leaves over her to keep her warm. Mulder just stared at her with his mouth open not quite believing that she said what he thought she said.

*******************************************

Monongahela National Forest
July 31, 1998
4:00 am

"Wake up Scully. I know where he is," Mulder whispered to Scully while slowly shaking her upper torso.

"No. Sleep Scully," She responded.

"Wake up. Hurry, we've to get to him before the rest of the groups find him." Mulder continued to shake Scully lightly,

"Scully wants to sleep. Scully is tired. Leave Scully alone."

"Scully is going to lose and have to sleep out in a tent for the rest of the week unless she gets her lazy ass up off the forest floor."

"Okay. Scully is getting up." Mulder was amazed at the speed to which she woke herself up out of the deep slumber and was mentally ready to go. He wasn't sure which remark got to her, the remark about finishing last or having to sleep in a tent again.

"Okay Mulder. You woke me up, now tell me where he is so that I can go back to sleep."

"I've been studying this map," Mulder started before Scully interrupted him.

"You've been studying the map? It is 4 am! Why weren't you sleeping?" She asked.

"I was cold and couldn't sleep with all the tree roots poking into my back."

"I had the same problem but you didn't see me up working in the middle of the night."

"Well maybe some of us are more dedicated to the partnership and the goals than others."

"Whatever," Scully replied.

"I think that he's hiding along the river. Somewhere. If you look on the map here this area over here where Samuelson and Team Alpha were headed, there is a large clearing that extends for miles. No suspect is going to make himself a sitting duck out in a field like that. Where is a suspect who we know to be smart and resourceful going to hide? Somewhere were there is food to eat -berries and edible plants which could be in the meadow. But notice that the meadow has no visible sources of water around, and unless he's skilled in drilling for his own ground water and has the tools with him I don't think that he would be there. The most logical place for him to hide is along water. It also makes for an easier getaway if he's spotted."

"Mulder. That all makes sense. Furthermore if you look where the water is located it is an equal distance from all entrances to the park which means that all teams would have an equal chance of nabbing him. But, due to the fact that the water runs parallel to several roads in the area which lead to towns, it would make sense that no one would think he would be so naive as to hide out in plain site."

"I love the way your mind works G-Woman. Problem is which way do we head?"

"Do you think we can narrow down his location a little more?" Scully asked Mulder.

"I suppose so, but in the meantime we should be heading toward the water. Maybe when I see what the area looks like a little more I'll get an idea of where he can be hiding."

"Okay, but I really want to sleep in a bed tonight. The idea of wandering blindly through a forest for another day isn't my idea of fun."

"This comes from the woman who reads the American Journal of Medicine for fun? Like you are trustworthy in the fun department."

"You don't think I know how to have fun?" Scully asked Mulder as they continued to walk through the forest.

"No, I think that you think you are having fun, but whether or not what you are doing is what the rest of the population would consider fun is a whole other question."

"Just because I don't engage in juvenile antics doesn't mean that I don't know how to have a good time."

"Okay what do you do to have fun?"

"Well I do go out with my friends."

"And which friends would these be? Claire and Blake?" Blake and Claire where somewhat of a mystery to Mulder. He knew that she went regularly on vacation with them, but she never talked about them other than mentioning when she was doing something with one of them. He assumed that they were friends of hers from medical school.

"Yes, Claire and Blake."

"Scully you go to poetry readings with Claire and Blake is gay."

"So. Are you implying that because Blake is gay that he and I don't know how to have fun. I really never pegged you as homophobic before Mulder."

"Believe me I probably have the most open mind in the universe. Trust me. I have personal experience in this department."

"What you have a friend that's gay?"

"You could say that Scully."

"Is this anyone that I know. I know all your friends and none of them is gay to my knowledge. Who is it?"

"I plead the fifth."

"So, I do know this person? Who is it?" She was really curious now.

"Scully, I can't betray a confidence and tell you. I'm sorry."

"Okay. If you aren't going to tell, your best friend whom you know would never betray your confidence, then I'm just going to have to guess."

"Guess all you want Scully. I'm not going to tell you."

"Okay, lets start with the gunmen. It can't be Frohicke or Byers because he's married. Maybe Langly? No he doesn't look the part. But he could be. I've never heard him talk about any women or men for that matter. Is it Langly? You'd better tell me or the next time I'm over there I'm going to tell Langly that you told me that he's gay."

"You wouldn't Scully. Then again with that temper of yours you probably would. No, Langly to my knowledge isn't gay. If he is he hasn't told me about it."

"So if it isn't the gunmen that leaves Allan Shepard, Walter Skinner, Tom Morgan, Brad Pittmam, and Hank Siebsma."

"Why do you automatically assume that it has to be a guy?"

"It's a woman?"

"No, I didn't say that. I just found it was curious that you didn't mention any females on the list somehow implying that if a person was gay they had to be a male."

"It *is* a female. I can see it on your face Mulder."

"Can't we just drop this discussion Scully?"

"No, I want to know which person that I know is gay."

"Does it matter that they're gay Scully. Would you honestly feel any different about them if you knew their sexual orientation?"

"As much as I would like to say no, it does matter to me if they are female."

"Why? Are you worried that they're going to come onto you?"

"Well, yes."

"Sometimes you are so shallow, Scully. Does every man you meet try to get you into bed besides my circle of friends?"

"Well, no."

"Then why would you assume that every gay woman that you meet would want to have sex with you?"

"I know that it isn't rational, maybe it goes back to my upbringing. Somehow being a man and gay is acceptable. I don't know Mulder. It's hard to explain."

"Try explaining it to me. Does it somehow relate to you being a women attracted to men. You see men as exquisite sexual creatures and the joining of two men as beautiful, but the joining of two women as somehow disgusting."

"That's it exactly Mulder. I know that I shouldn't feel any different as to who the gay person is. But lesbians and bi-sexual females do bother me. So whose the lesbian?"

"You know that I'm not going to tell you. You would act different around the person which not only is wrong, but the person would know that I told you."

"Well that narrows it down. It has to be someone I'm around a lot. I can eliminate Kimberly, Holly and Mary due to the fact that they are married to men. That leaves Diana, Shawn, Rebecca, Tracy and Rose. It can't be Diana due to her well-known history with men. The rest of the group are all regular daters. I give up. I must be forgetting someone."

Mulder was glad that she had dropped the topic for the time being. He wanted to ask her about what rumors he had heard about Diana's past history with men but didn't want to arouse her suspicion.

*******************************************

Monongahela National Forest
July 31, 1998
5:00 pm

Scully was hot, sweaty and tired. She wanted nothing more than to crawl under a big tree and take a nap. But Mulder thought that he was close to the suspect and wouldn't allow her to rest. She hadn't asked for a break, she just knew by the determined look in his eye that he didn't want to stop. So she kept up with his pace silently cursing his name for the blisters she was going to have on her toes when they were done. She knew that it wasn't his fault that she was wearing her new Gore-Tex boots that had not been adequately broken in. She really wanted to be in a comfortable pair of running shoes.

Mulder was hot, sweaty and tired also. He saw the look of determination on Scully's face and knew that they wouldn't stop until they found the guy. Miss Magna cum Laude expected nothing less than excellence. He knew that she had to be mad over him placing third in the firearms competition, although she hadn't said anything to him about it. She would have placed first if she competed. He wasn't sure that he would have even placed in the marathon. As his feet ached he silently cursed her for her physical endurance. He figured with the way that she ran she could probably go another 20 miles today before she would even begin to feel fatigued. He resolved to start running a longer course once they got back to DC. Next year he was going to do the marathon and win to prove to her that he was just as good as she was.

After 9 pm as the sun was beginning to set Scully grabbed Mulder's arm to slow him down. She motioned for him to be quiet and to lower his head so that she could whisper something in his ear.

"Mulder, I think he's somewhere in this vicinity."

"Why do you think that Scully?"

"Look at the river over there. The brush almost covers it. If he wants to make a quick get away it makes sense for him to be somewhere like that where he could float down the river without being visible. You would only be able to see him from in the river. So far all along the river it has been wide open. No one would be dumb enough to enter the river from there. They would be a sitting duck."

"You're right Scully. I've noticed that there seems to be more edible mushrooms and plants in this area than where we started out. Where do you think his hideout would be."

"Maybe a cave or a tree or a bush. The undergrowth in some areas is pretty thick around here. He could easily climb a tree which would make him extremely difficult to find if he had climbing gear with him. Are there any lakes or caves around this area on the map Mulder?"

Mulder got out the map to check. He knew that they had only minutes of daylight left to find the guy but was determined that they were close enough that they would look through the night if they had to.

"The Seneca Caverns are somewhere around this area Scully. Bet we'll find him hiding in one of them. Care to do a little spelunking Agent Scully?"

"Why I thought you'd never ask."

A half-hour later then came across the 12th cavern they had seen that night. Scully noticed that it was closer to the river than any other of the caverns. It was close enough that someone could easily get into the river from the cavern with minimal detection. She grabbed Mulder's arm.

"Mulder look how close it is to the river. He has to be there."

They both quietly crept to the entrance to the cave. Neither wanted to go first and were waiting for the other to make the first move.

"Fine, I'll go Mulder but if a bat even comes near me you owe me a month of paperwork."

"I'll protect you from the bats Scully," He teased her.

They slowly crept into the cave making a minimal amount of noise. Scully looked at her watch and say saw that it now was 10 pm. Quickly calculating the trip back to Quantico she realized that she wouldn't be in bed until at least 5 or 6 am. <So much for a good nights sleep> she thought. She continued to lead them through the cave. She had been spelunking with an ex-boyfriend in college and had even participated in the local search and rescue chapter. She liked being underground where there were things waiting to be discovered.

She made up the line about the bats because she knew that she would never hear the end of it if Mulder found out about her caving experience.

Mulder watched Scully make her way through the cave quickly. She was a little to quick moving around in near darkness to be an amateur.

<Is there anything that Scully doesn't know how to do? > Mulder thought.

He kept following her because he sure didn't know where he was or how they were going to get out. He hoped that she remembered the way back and wasn't relying on his eidetic memory.

Scully entered a room in the cavern and suddenly stopped. Mulder didn't see that she had stopped and ended up running right into her.

He looked up to see why she had stopped.

Walter Skinner sat against the wall of the cave wearing a pair of night vision goggles reading Tom Clancy's latest novel.

"Sir, I sure hope that you are the UNSUB we were hunting and not here camping out for fun," Mulder said dryly.

"Sitting in this cave for the past day has not been my idea of fun, although I have managed to catch up on my reading. I'm glad that I won't get stuck with this detail for another year. Congratulations on finding me. How did you manage? For the past 3 months they've been using this same hiding place and so far no one has managed to find it," Walter Skinner said as he slowly got up off the ground and shook his legs out.

"Call it beginners luck," Mulder responded.

"Where's the rest of Team Alpha? Are they waiting by the mouth of the cave for you?"

"No sir, we had differences in opinion and they chose to go their own way," Dana Scully responded.

"Agent Scully, I hear congratulations are in order for you setting the new course record for the marathon." She was wondering when he was going to acknowledge her presence in the cave.

"It was nothing sir," Dana responded quietly, "What are we to do now that we've found you?"

"Well since it is late," He said checking his watch, "The bureau will put you up in a local hotel for the night and we'll head back to Quantico tomorrow morning. I need to radio in that you found me so that they can call in the rest of the teams. The rest of the participants will be spending another cold night in the forest."

Scully and Mulder watched while Skinner pulled out some type of emergency locator system and activated it letting them know that he had been found. He packed up the rest of his gear and led them back to the cave entrance. He walked over to the stream and pulled an inflatable raft out of the bushes. It was so well hidden that it couldn't be seen unless someone pointed it out. Mulder and Scully helped Walter Skinner inflate it and put it into the water.

Ten minutes into the trip down stream Walter Skinner shut off the motor and motioned for them to help him deflate it and carry it to the road. The climbed up a steep embankment to a dirt road where Skinner told them to wait.

Skinner was still amazed that he'd been found. He was sure that even the best agent in the FBI couldn't find the hiding place. But he knew that if anyone was going to find it, it would be Fox Mulder.

"So Mulder, how did you find the place?" Skinner asked.

"Well, Scully and I did a profile last night and based on the profile we decided that he would be here," Mulder said while looking over at Scully. She nodded at him as if to say he could go on and tell the AD whatever he wanted and she wouldn't contradict him. He knew that she was the one totally responsible for them finding Skinner and he felt guilty at stealing the attention that should have solely been hers.

"Well Mulder, I want you to do a presentation to the group next week telling them how you found me."

"Sir, is Scully going to be assisting?"

"I don't think that will be necessary. Surely she has autopsies to do. Since you are the one that did the profile and found him, you should be the one to give the presentation."

<Shit. I'm in deep shit. Skinner thinks I did it all when I didn't, > Mulder thought as he looked over to Scully. She looked impassive to him as if she didn't care about Skinner's mistake. Mulder kept his mouth shut thinking that Scully would have said something if she was upset.

After sitting on the side of the road for twenty minutes a humvee picked them up and took them to the nearest town. Walter Skinner went into the Days Inn and reserved two rooms for them with instructions that someone would be around to get them the next morning at 11 am.

The desk clerk handed Mulder and Scully their keys and toiletries for the night. They were told that the FBI would be sending someone by their rooms tonight with a change of clothes. They got into the elevator and made it to their rooms without ever saying a word to each other. The rooms were not adjacent so there was no need to open the connecting door.

-end-

***************************************************
House of Cards - Chapter 4
***************************************************

Seneca Falls, West Virginia
Days Inn Hotel
August 1, 1998
12:05 am

Dana slowly sat on the bed of room 222. She wanted nothing more than to take a long bath and go to sleep. She decided that first she should call and see if she had any messages. She was certain that being away for almost two weeks she was bound to have a few calls.

<Who are you kidding. Who'd want to call you? You have no friends, > She thought to herself angrily.

<Well I have to check anyway in case mom, Bill or Charlie called and needed something.>

<But why would they need me. It's not like they can rely on me. I'm not a dependable person. I don't know where in the country I am going to be. My plans change at a moment's notice. >

Dana Scully called into her answering service to find that she had 10 calls. Three were from her mother wandering when she was going to come back. One was from Blake inviting her to the movies. Claire also called letting her know about a book she had read by Sebastien Japrisot entitled "A Very Long Engagement" which Dana just had to read. Four calls were telemarketers. The last call was from Dr. Susan Lowenstein telling Dana that she was concerned about her since she missed her last 3 appointments.

"I forgot to call her. She probably thinks that I'm dead," Dana said to herself aloud.

Dr Susan Lowenstein was a psychiatrist Dana had been seeing for over four years. She saw her twice a week and because of this Susan knew more about her than anyone in the world. Susan knew such intimate things about her, things that she never would and never would be able to share with anyone else, except for Blake and Claire. She knew that Susan was probably concerned that she had missed three appointments. She decided to call Susan at home to let her know that she was alright. The last thing that Dana needed was for her shrink to call her mom. Maggie Scully didn't know that Dana was receiving professional help on a regular basis.

"Hello," Susan answered her phone.

"Susan, this is Dana. I'm sorry to be calling you so late. I'm so sorry that I missed my appointments and forgot to call you to cancel."

"Is everything alright Dana?" Susan asked.

"Yes. I had do go to a last minute training exercise at Quantico. Basic, firearms and survival. I have been outside for the last two weeks and have not had access to a phone," Dana explained.

"It's alright. I just got a little concerned after you missed three appointments. It isn't like you and I was afraid something had happened."

"Afraid that something had happened to me or afraid that I had done something to myself?" Dana asked.

"A little of both."

"Susan, I told you that I'm not going to do anything to myself."

"I know that you may say that Dana, but with your past history, I can't put that thought totally out of my mind. You have a lot of issues to deal with, issues that would have broken the soul of a weaker woman."

"I'm fine no, Susan."

"Okay, you're fine then. How is your appetite?"

"Fine."

"Dana, would you stop using that goddamn word. You promised me last new years that you would come up with another word to describe how you are feeling or at least make an effort and admit your feelings."

"I'm trying Susan."

"Well try a little harder. It's annoying."

"Okay, how about I'm feeling just splendid."

"A little antiquated, but better. So how's your partner?"

"He's okay. I just left him for the night."

"You sound a little tense Dana. Anything happen between the two of you?"

"Anything sexual, or anything in general?"

"Which ever one you want to tell me about," Susan responded.

"Well there's no sexual us. Mulder just doesn't see me that way. Sure he teases me, but it is more like how my brothers tease me. I have tried giving him hints that I'm interested in more than friendship but he hasn't responded. As far as anything in general, he has truly managed to irritate me once again. We had a field exercise as part of training. I won't torture you with all the details. Anyway, I found the suspect and Mulder took all the credit. The AD just assumed that because Mulder was a man, that he had to have solved the puzzle."

"Ouch, that must have hurt. Which AD was it? Your new AD Kersh?"

"No, that's what made it hurt even more. It was Skinner," Dana said while her eyes started to tear up.

"Dana honey, I'm so sorry."

"I know. It was like he turned a knife in my gut assuming that I wasn't bright enough to solve the puzzle."

"Why didn't you say anything?"

"What good would that have done. Mulder knew that I solved it. Who cares if Skinner knows."

"I think that you do care Dana, even though you act as if you don't. Deep down you still care for the man deeply. Calling him Skinner now instead of Walter as a means to depersonalize your relationship with him isn't going to change the past. You need to start dealing with your past Dana instead of running away from it."

"Easier said than done. I have tried so hard to put all this behind me but I can't seem to escape it. I just want the voices in my head to stop screaming at me and leave me alone."

"Only you can exorcize your demons. The less contact you have with Skinner the easier that it will be on you."

"I know that, but I can't escape him. He and Mulder are friends. They play basketball together in a league. Even though he isn't my AD, I still see him everyday."

"How does he react to you?" Susan Lowenstein asked.

"He seems to have no reaction. Why should he have a reaction. I'm just his ex-girlfriend, nothing more."

"Dana you know that you were much more to him than that."

"If I meant so much to him why didn't he leave his wife for me? Tell me that? He didn't leave his wife because he loved her more than he loved me and I never could compete with her. When I gave him the ultimatum, he chose her and not me. He didn't want me," Dana said while sobbing.

"You never gave him the chance to chose you. You could have told him about the bab.." Susan said before Dana angrily interrupted her.

"Don't say it. Don't say the word." Dana cried out.

"Why because if I don't say it, it doesn't mean it is real? Is it somehow going to change the fact that you were pregnant with Walter Skinners child and never told him."

"Don't do this Susan. It hurts too much." Dana cried.

"You need to get this out Dana. Thousands of women have abortions every year in this country. You chose what was best for the child."

"No, I didn't. I went against all the teachings of the church. I was selfish and chose what was best for me. Our baby was innocent. It didn't deserve to die because of me."

"Dana you were confused at the time. You should have told Walter that you were pregnant and carrying his child. He had the right to know. But you didn't and you can't change the past. You need to except it for what it is, learn from the experience, and move on. Dwelling on it isn't going to change anything."

"I couldn't have told him. He would have chosen me for the wrong reasons. He would have chosen me for the baby, not because he loved me enough to leave Sharon. I couldn't do that to him. He would have hated me for the rest of my life. It would have ruined his career and mine."

"What you did was for the best Dana. You shouldn't feel guilty for making a responsible decision, as hard as it may have been." Susan thought that Dana sounded tired and depressed. She was worried about her. "You sound tired. Why don't you get something to eat and then go to sleep. Call me as soon as you get back into town and we can set up another appointment. If you are going to be delayed there longer call and leave me the number. You've worked too hard to start relapsing into your old addictions. You know you can call me anytime of the day or night."

"Thanks Susan. I think I'll grab a bite to eat and then call it a night. Thanks for letting me use your shoulder once again to cry on."

"No problem Dana. You are like a daughter to me, you know that I care for you deeply and want to see you get well."

Susan and Dana said their goodbyes. Dana decided to skip the meal and opted for a hot shower instead.

**************************************

Seneca Falls, West Virginia
Days Inn Hotel
August 1, 1998
10:45 am

Mulder was on his way back from the complementary continental breakfast when he ran into Scully in the hall. He noticed that she was wearing exercise apparel.

"Where did you get the exercise clothes Scully? They only gave me a pair of jeans which mind you is a little too snug in the ass, some woman must have picked them out, and a FBI T-shirt. Where did you get the sweat pants from?"

"I asked for them nicely at the front desk."

"You aren't serious?"

"No. I got them from the gift shop this morning."

"The gift shop doesn't open until noon today."

"You'd be amazed at what people will do for you if you just ask nicely, Mulder."

"Didn't you like your FBI t-shirt and jeans?"

"I haven't tried them on yet. I was just out for a run. Oops, I need to run and take a shower before some the FBI academy gopher comes to get us. I'll meet you here in about 15 minutes," Scully said as she started to walk away.

"Need any help scrubbing your back Scully?" Mulder called out after her. She seemed to either not hear him or was ignoring his comment as she entered the stairwell and shut the door.

*******************************************

Somewhere in Virginia
August 1, 1998
Mid afternoon

The FBI academy gopher that came to pick up Scully and Mulder ended up being some 24 impressionable female with large breasts who was enraptured by Mulder. Scully knew from the moment that she saw her, Agent Candy Black, that it would be best for her to sit in the back seat and feign sleep. This was going to be a long ride.

<Candy! What the hell kind of name is Candy? > Dana thought.

<And not Candy as in Candace, but plain old Candy. >

<And to think that I thought that my name was bad. >

Dana listened to Mulder try to explain to Candy how they'd found the suspect in the cave, but she didn't seem to get it. Scully noticed that he conveniently left out the part about her being the one to solve the puzzle. Sometimes it was easier for her to keep her mouth shut and left him take the credit. If he wanted to impress this young agent, fine, she'd let him. It wasn't as if he were interested in her anyway. He deserved to have a stable relationship with a female. Maybe Candy was the one for him.

"Scully, what do you say we stop to get something to eat. I'm getting kind of hungry."

"Sure, that sounds fine Mulder. I'm kind of thirsty."

They ended up eating at the local Burger King. Scully really didn't like Burger King or fast food restaurants for that matter, because there was nothing healthy you could eat there. She opted for the salad with fat free dressing and a large diet coke. Agent Black ate a chicken sandwich and a side salad. Mulder ate the big King, king size fries and a chocolate milkshake. He ended up finishing his meal before the rest of them.

"Hurry up ladies, there's a game on tonight that I don't want to miss."

"Heavens forbid we interrupt your television watching. Call Byers and have him tape the game for you," Dana Scully suggested.

"Good idea once again Agent Scully. Let me call him while you finish up your meal."

Mulder left the two of them while he went into the men's restroom to call Byers on his cell phone. Meanwhile, Agent Candy Black took the opportunity to question Dana Scully.

"Agent Scully, how do you manage to work with Agent Mulder on a daily basis?"

"What do you mean?" She asked innocently. She knew damn well what *Candy* was getting at. All women asked her the same thing. She found it annoying that professional women, her peers, couldn't understand how it was possible to work with a man and not be sexually interested or involved with him. So much for the equal rights movement.

"He's so good looking, so smart," Candy gushed trying to contain her excitement.

She shrugged her shoulders, and her voice softened. "I've worked with him for the past five years and it hasn't been a problem."

"Are you two involved?"Candy asked as she leaned closer to Scully.

"No, not that it's any of your business. We're professionals who follow agency rules which prohibits a relationship between partners. There will never be a relationship between the two of us."

"That's good to know. So what's he like?" Dana Scully was getting nauseated by this line of questioning. Candy was acting more like a high schooler and less like an FBI agent very passing minute.

"What is he like?" Dana asked trying to clarify what Candy wanted to know.

"Yeah, what are his hobbies, favorite movies, favorite bands. Tell me all that you know about him."

"Agent Black." Scully started.

"Please call me Candy." Candy Black interrupted.

"Fine, Candy, if you want to know personal information about Agent Mulder you are going to have to ask him."

"Do you think he would answer me? Do you think that I have a chance with him? He's like 10 years older than me, which I normally don't do but in his case I would overlook his age because of his good looks. Am I his type?"

Scully looked at the younger well-endowed blond woman sitting across from her. If Mulder had a type that she was aware of she was sure that Candy Black had a shot. Sure, she asked Scully stupid questions and acted like a school girl with a crush, but she could be really intelligent. She didn't see why Mulder wouldn't go for the leggy blond.

"I don't see why not. Why don't you ask him."

"Okay, I think I will. You are really much cooler than what people told me about you. I expected you to be a arrogant and aloof. bitch."

"Candy sometime in this life you will realize that people are seldom what they appear to be. You really should judge people for what you think about them, not other peoples opinions." Scully said as she gathered up her trash and got up to throw it away. She saw that Mulder was coming back from the bathroom.

"Hey Scully, Byers said he would tape the game for me, but I owe him a favor to be repaid at a later date. Are you two ready to go?"

"Yeah, the academy gopher appears to have a crush on you. If you aren't interested please turn her down nicely because she seems like a nice girl."

"Thanks for the warning Scully."

They rode the rest of the way back in silence. After Scully's warning that Agent Black was interested in him he decided to play it safe and act like he was sleeping. Scully sat in the backseat and knew what he was doing. She wished that he would get the balls and just tell her that he wasn't interested or make up a mythical girlfriend. But no, Fox Mulder had to take the cowards way out and act like he was sleeping.

*******************************************

FBI Headquarters
Washington DC
August 15, 1998
3:30 p.m.

Time had passed pretty quickly between the agents since they got back from their little trip in the West Virginia countryside. Mulder had presented to the academy how he had solved the UNSUB exercise and had been given a commendation. All the top brass were there for the lecture and there was talk about Mulder joining the team that made up the exercises for next year. Mulder never once told anyone that it was Scully that solved the puzzle. She wondered if he truly believed that he solved it with all these awards and commendations coming his way. Since she was on this team she got to spend the rest of training in the barracks. However, there were no awards or commendations for her.

She continued to see Susan Lowenstein twice a week. She knew that she should probably be seeing her three times a week but she wasn't sure that her health insurance would pick up the extra weekly session. She had seen Walter Skinner a couple of times since they returned but he never really said much to her. She decided that she needed to get away from Washington, Mulder and Skinner for the weekend. She decided to call her friend Blake.

"Hi Blake, its Dana," She said into the phone.

"Darling, it is so good to hear your voice. I thought that you were ignoring me. Did you get my message?"

"Yes. I was in field training for a couple of weeks and didn't have access to a phone. I apologize for not phoning you sooner."

"It's okay. I realize what a busy and mysterious life you lead as an FBI agent. How is that delicious partner of yours?"

"He's fine. Listen, do you want go away this weekend?"

"I would love to. There's a little town in South Carolina that I have been wanting to visit. I'll make all the travel plans and be by to pick you up at 6:30."

"Great. Did I ever tell you how much I love you Blake? You're the greatest."

"Too bad that you aren't a man or I would be in heaven. As cute as your little red headed body is, you just aren't my type. See you tonight."

Scully was glad that she had maintained her friendship with Blake over the years. She met him when she was 16 at the clothing store where she worked. Blake was 20 years old and the department manager of the young mens section when Dana was hired. Claire was hired into their department a year later. She and Blake immediately hit it off. In the beginning she had a major crush on him. She had never met a man who understood women so well. He was almost too good to be true. She actually got up the nerve and asked him on a date when he had to turn her down gently and tell her that he was gay. From that moment on their friendship deepened.

Scully decided to leave Mulder a note and went to Diana Fowley's office to ask for a couple days off.

*******************************************

Dana Scully's apartment
August 15, 1998
7:00 pm

"God woman, would you hurry up. We're going to be late," Blake said to Scully as he grabbed her underwear out of her drawer and put it in her suitcase.

"I think that I'm perfectly capable of packing my own underwear, thank you very much." Dana said as she pulled the underwear out of her suitcase and put it back in her drawer.

"Dana, you need to bring underwear. So I put it in the suitcase! Who the hell cares? You're wasting time."

"Blake, sometimes you are a pain in the ass. You want to pack for me? Fine, pack my underwear, bras and socks for me while you are at it."

"I knew that you would come to your senses sooner or later. We should only be there for a couple of days so you don't need to bring everything you own."

Fifteen minutes later they were packed and headed for South Carolina in Blake's new BMW 325i convertible.

"I love this car Blake. I'm glad you came to your senses and picked this one over the Porsche," Dana said as the wind whipped through her hair.

"Sometimes I regret the decision but I do manage to get quite a few dates out of it."

"How's the store?" Dana asked him. Blake Maxwell owned a chain of trendy upscale boutiques along the east coast. One of the benefits of having Blake as a friend was that he was always giving her new outfits that he said she just had to have. Half of the stuff in her closet wasn't suitable to wear to work and she was sure that Mulder and the gunmen would pass out if they saw her in some of Blake's gifts.

"The store is fine. I got you two new Donna Karan suits that I thought would be just perfect for you. They are at my house, remind me to give them to you next time you are over. Oh, I also picked up a few things for you to wear on this vacation."

"Blake, you know that you don't have to buy me clothes."

"I know, but I love you Dana and love giving you beautiful things."

"I feel the same way about you. So where are we going?" Dana asked reclining the seat back a little more.

"Well I made reservations in Charleston but we can go to my beach house in Cape Fear if you would rather go there." Once Blake's chain had started to turn a profit he started investing in real estate. The house in Cape Fear was just one of many properties.

"You chose Blake . I'm just glad to get away from Mulder. Oh shit, I had an appointment with Susan this afternoon. She's going to get worried if I don't call her."

"So how is the lovely Dr. Lowenstein?" Blake asked. He had been the one to introduce and recommend Dana to Susan. He had been seeing Susan professionally for about 5 years at the time. He had not seen her for a six months due to a friendly argument they got into over who was the world's best soprano.

"She's fine."

"Dana Scully. You were supposed to work on not using the world fine. Chose another word," He said as he grabbed her small hand and playfully smacked it.

"Okay, she's how she always is."

"The intrusive proverbial Jewish mother."

"Exactly. Let me call her and let her know that I haven't committed suicide."

Dana pulled out her cell phone and dialed the number she knew by heart. Susan answered after two rings.

"Hello, this is Dr. Lowenstein."

"Susan, it's Dana."

"Dana, I was wondering what happened to you when you didn't make your appointment this afternoon. Is everything alright. You sound like you are calling on your cell phone."

"I'm fine. I just decided to go away for a long weekend."

"With Mulder?"

"No with Blake."

"Blake! How is he doing?"

Dana put her hand over the phone and told Blake, "She wants to know how you are doing. What should I tell her?"

"Tell her that I was perfectly normal heterosexual male until this kooky shrink with no taste in music messed with my head and made me like boys."

"Susan, Blake is distraught over your rift with him. He apologizes for his bad taste of music and is begging you to come back to him," Dana said as Blake grabbed the phone out of her hand.

"Dana is a liar. We all know that she cannot be trusted."

"Blake, it is good to hear your voice. How are you doing?" Susan Lowenstein asked her old friend.

"I'm fine. I thought I'd take Dana out of town for the weekend. She seems depressed."

"I'm really worried about her Blake. She doesn't take care of herself. Last time I saw her she looked like she wasn't eating again. I don't know if she's over exercising again or not, so you might need to watch her. She had a run in with Walter Skinner a couple of weeks ago," Susan told him in confidence. Blake had dragged Dana to Susan Lowenstein after she fell apart and tried to kill herself after having an abortion. Blake held her hand through all the counseling sessions for the first two years she saw Susan. Dana had signed a release letting Susan talk to Blake about her. Susan knew that if one person totally understood Dana and could reach her it was Blake .

"Thanks for letting me know. I'll call you later and give you an update. And by the way the worlds greatest soprano is Lesley Garrett," Blake said as he hung up the phone not giving Susan a chance to respond.

-end-

*******************************************
House of Cards - Chapter 5
*******************************************

Cape Fear, North Carolina
Blake Maxwell's Beach House
August 16, 1998
3:00 am

Blake Maxwell decided to cancel his reservations in Charleston and stay at the beach house in Cape Fear instead. Dana had been sleeping for several hours and he wasn't in the mood to drive 6 or more hours to get to their final destination.

The beach house was nothing elaborate. The house sat up on stilts due to the constant flooding. He was glad though, because it gave him a place to park the car. The house had three bedrooms, one bathroom, and a large airy kitchen that opened into the living room area. He knew that he could have afforded a mansion on the beach but didn't want to have to bother with hiring people to take care of it for him. He liked the cozy feel of the house and wished that he had more time to spend there. He bought the house specifically for him, Dana and Claire. They each had their own bedroom which was decorated to their tastes. Of course Blake had paid for everything, but if you can't share your wealth with your friends who can you share it with. Thinking of the house he was reminded that he needed to call Claire and see if she wanted to join them for the weekend.

Blake pulled into the garage under the house and woke Dana up.

"Dana, we're here. Time to get up. I really don't want to have to carry you into the house."

"Okay. Okay. I'm up." She said while rubbing her eyes.

Both were too tired to unpack the car and elected to go straight to sleep.

*******************************************

Cape Fear, North Carolina
Blake Maxwell's Beach House
August 16, 1998
7:00 am

Dana woke up to the smell of bacon. She didn't even bother to put on her robe as she wandered out into the kitchen. She saw that Blake was hard at work preparing breakfast.

"Sleeping beauty finally decided to join the living," Blake said as he saw Dana out of the corner of his eye. "I made some bacon and eggs if you are in the mood.

"Actually, I'm not really hungry right now. Maybe later," Dana said as she grabbed a coffee cup and proceeded to pour herself a cup.

"Dana you need to eat. Look at you. You are much too thin. We need to put some meat on your bones."

"I'm not too thin. I'm happy with my body size right now. I feel healthier now than I have been in a long time. I eat, but only when I'm hungry."

"If you say so," He said while turning his attention back to the stove. "I thought while we're here we should call Claire and see if she wants to join us."

"That's a great idea. She would've been really mad if we went away and didn't invite her."

Blake picked up the phone and hit the speed dial for Claire's cell phone.

"Hello, this is Claire Bradshaw. I'm not in right now, but please leave a message and I will get back to you as soon as possible," Her voice mail said.

"Shit, got the voice mail," Blake said to Dana.

"Yes, this is Lex, I'm on death row right now and I heard you were a mighty good attorney and I was wondering if you could represent me. They said I was an ax-murderer, but I don't own no axe. They set me up. Please say you'll be my attorney. You can reach me at the Cape Fear mental institution," Blake said imitating a 300 pound hillbilly named Lex.

"You're awful Blake."

"Yeah, but she'll know it's us," Blake laughed. Although they only worked together for a couple of years, the friendship they formed was deep and lasting. Claire was now a successful attorney in New York City and Dana and Blake didn't get to see her as often as they would have liked.

A half hour later Claire called them and told them that she was on her way down and that they needed to pick her up at the airport.

"Blake, I was here first. I'm not riding in the backseat," Dana said emphatically.

"You're the one that wanted me to get the car and you are really the only one that can fit back there. Claire and I are too large."

"No. I want to ride up front," Dana said as she started jumping up and down acting like a two year old who didn't get her way. They always made her ride in the back because she was short.

"Stop complaining and get in the back shorty," Blake said as he got in the drivers seat and started the engine.

*******************************************

Cape Fear, North Carolina
Blake Maxwell's Beach House
August 16, 1998
8:00 p.m.

They picked Claire up at the airport and drove to the house in silence. Dana was mad because she had to sit in the back. Claire was tired after the plane trip and Blake was trying to remember the words to The Artist Formerly Known As Prince's song "Lets Go Crazy". Dana was irritated at him for singing the lyrics over and over again.

"I know that I'm missing something. What comes after "When you call up your shrink in Beverly Hills, you know the one?", I can't remember the rest of the line. I need some help here."

"If I tell you will you shut up?" Claire asked.

"Yes, Claire."

"It goes 'Dr everything will be alright.' There are you happy?" Claire asked.

"But what comes after that?" Blake asked.

"Something like "instead of asking him how much of your mind is left ask him how much of your time." I don't know. You have money, buy the damn CD and listen to it," Dana said.

"Great idea. Lets go to the local K-Mart and pick it up."

"No Blake. I'm tired, lets just go to the CFMI and call it a night." Claire said. They had started calling the house the Cape Fear Mental Institution after he bought it. They noticed that when one of them had a major crisis in their life they sought refuge at the house.

"Claire it will just take a minute," Blake said as he pulled into the parking lot of the K-Mart. "You can wait in the car if you want. Come on Dana, lets go shopping."

Claire waited in the car while Blake and Scully went shopping. Dana secretly liked going shopping with Blake because he was very generous and always paid for everything. She knew that although she could afford to buy the items herself, Blake really enjoyed indulging her. He had a family of his own but they stopped speaking to him once he told them he was gay. The people he considered his family was Dana and Claire.

"Dana, lets go look at the lingerie. You need to wear something better to bed other than that ratty T-shirt you wore last night. If I had known that your sleep wear was in such disarray I would have brought you some from the store."

"Blake, I'm not getting lingerie from K-Mart."

"I supposed that would be a fashion faux-pas. Well lets at least see what they have. Look at this underwear. It's positively darling. Dana, you have to get this. Please, please. I won't make you try on any teddies."

"Okay. Fine. I'll get the underwear but nothing else. We're supposed to be here buying your CD."

"Oh that's right. Lead the way."

The trip for the one CD turned into 20 new CD's, new underwear for Dana, a new clock radio/CD player for each of their bedrooms, a new blender and new towels. Claire finally came into the store to join them after they had been gone for 20 minutes. The total purchase came to $800.

*******************************************

Cape Fear, North Carolina
Blake Maxwell's Beach House
August 17, 1998
11:00 am

"Wake up ladies. We're losing sunlight." Blake yelled into Claire's bedroom where Dana and Claire had spent the night. He noticed that Dana was wearing the new underwear.

"Okay. Give me a minute. I need to find where I put my swimsuit," Dana said.

"Oh, don't worry about it. I have new swimsuits for both of you in the trunk," He said as he hurried down the hall get the swimsuits and other goodies out of his car.

"God Claire. You know that he probably picked some totally slutty number out for us so that we would attract all kinds of men. Men which he is going to look up and down hiding behind his ray bans. It happens every year," Dana said.

"I heard that Dana." Blake yelled from the living room. "Here's your swim suit Dana and here's yours Claire," He said while handing them their suits.

Dana's was better than she expected. One year he got her a plastic suit which all three of them had to tug on to get her into it. They had a harder time getting her out of it and Blake elected to cut the suit off of her instead. The suit that Blake picked out for Dana was a plain iridescent electric blue bikini. He picked the same style out for Claire but in a iridescent red color. He reclined on Claire's bed and watched while Dana and Claire changed into their swimsuits. They had each seen each other nude so many times that they no longer felt uncomfortable being nude around each other.

Blake noticed that Claire appeared to have gained a little weight around her stomach. He bet with her busy schedule that she didn't have time to work out. He knew a nutritionist in NYC that he would offer to send her to. Dana on the other appeared to have lost a lot of weight.

"Dana, look at your ribs. They're sticking out," Blake said as he went over to her and traced her ribs with his fingers. Dana tried to brush his hands away.

"It's just the suit Blake."

"No, I saw you before you put the suit on and I could see your rib bones and hip bones clearly. You need to gain some weight," Blake said tenderly as he continued to run his hands along her ribs and hip bones.

"He's right," Claire said, "You've lost a lot a weight. You are almost too skinny now. Next to you I'm going to look like a beached whale."

"I doubt that Claire. You still look as beautiful as ever," Dana said to her.

The three friends made their way out to the beach and set up camp for the day. Blake bribed Dana and Claire to go down to the water and flaunt their bodies to bring men to him. Blake pretty much had a steady stream of men to look at for most of the afternoon. He noticed that Dana seemed attracted to one of the men and wasn't surprised to see her disappear into the beach house with him.

"She's doing it again. Must have been a bad couple of weeks," Claire said to Blake quietly.

"I hate when she gets like this Claire."

"I know. But what can we do about it? She needs to hit rock bottom before she will let us help her. She thinks that sleeping with someone is going to make her feel better and there isn't a damn thing we can do to stop her."

"What if we call Mulder?" Blake asked.

"No. We promised her that no matter how bad she got that we wouldn't call him."

"I know that we promised her, but look at her. She's destroying herself with this behavior," Blake pleaded with Claire.

"I'll tell you what. We won't call him but we can at least go and stop her."

"You aren't serious? I can't believe you are suggesting that we go in there an interrupt them?"

"Why not? We've done it once before," Claire said.

"Yeah and look where it got us. One very pissed off Dana Scully who wouldn't talk to either one of us for two months afterwards."

"I'm willing to take the risk. One of these days she's going to fuck the wrong guy and end up dead or with AIDS."

"Okay, I'm sold. Let's go save her from herself," Blake said as he got up and followed Claire into the house.

They walked quietly into the house and saw Dana lying on top of the coffee table while her fling of the week (FOTW) was going down on her. From the position Dana was lying she could not see them.

"Oh God yes," Dana screamed while clutching the FOTW's head between her thighs, "Fuck me now."

The FOTW licked his way up her body and entered her roughly before looking up to see Claire and Blake watching him.

"What is this a fucking peep show. Get the hell out," The FOTW yelled at them.

Dana looked up to see her best friends watching some guy whose name she didn't even know pound himself into her. She was going to kill them. Before she could tell them to get the hell out of the house Blake and Claire grabbed the man and pulled him out of her. Blake grabbed the guys clothes and pushed him out on the deck. "I never want to see you around here again. That's my wife," Blake told the man.

Dana laid motionless on the table, making no effort to cover herself. "I cannot believe that you just did that. You have no right," Dana yelled.

"The hell I don't. You think I want to watch another friend die of AIDS. He wasn't even wearing a condom Dana. How stupid and irresponsible of you. I expected more of you," Blake said softly to her.

Claire got her comforter and wrapped it around Dana. "Come on Dana, lets get you into the shower and cleaned up. Then we can all talk."

Dana went with Claire willingly into the bathroom. While she took a shower Claire sat on the toilet and entertained her with stories about her co-workers at the law office where she worked. When Dana was done with her shower she did her hair and make up while Claire took a shower. They assumed that Blake was in the kitchen making dinner based on the smells.

"It's about time ladies," Blake said as they entered the living room in the new clothes he had given to them.

"Dana I know that you are probably furious that we interrupted your coitus this afternoon. But I didn't know what else to do. I was going to call Mulder but Claire stopped me. I can't sit by and watch you destroy your life like this. If you want to have sex with someone you just met, fine, but at least practice safe sex. You are a doctor. You should know better."

"I'm sorry that you had to see me doing that."

"It's not the first time," Claire replied.

"Well I intend it to be the last time."

"That's what you said the last time."

"This time it is going to be different," Dana assured them.

"Dana, what is causing this behavior?" Blake asked her. "Is it Mulder this time or Walter?"

"I don't know. I'm just so mad at both of them."

"Fine be mad at then but stop taking it out on yourself. You are a beautiful desirable woman who could have almost any man in the universe, gay men aside. You don't need to pick up one night stands to prove that you are desirable," Blake assured her.

"I know Blake. Susan tells me that same thing weekly. I just can't help how undesirable and ugly I feel that the two men that I want don't want me."

"So accept that and move on. There are plenty of men that do want you and want you for who you are, not for what you can do for them sexually."

"It is easier said than done."

"How are you going to know unless you try? Make me a promise Dana. Promise me that you will not sleep with a man until he has taken you out on a least three dates and you know his name."

"Okay. I guess I can promise you that for right now. I wasn't looking at getting laid today. Although I must admit I enjoyed that orgasm."

"We could tell that you were enjoying yourself. Hell I got an erection watching you, and you aren't my type."

"I'm glad that I could give you a lift," Dana said while winking at Blake .

"Well you sure as hell didn't do a thing for me," Claire chimed in.

"I'm glad Claire or that would qualify us for the most dysfunctional friendship. The homosexual, the lesbian and the slut. I think it would make for a good movie," Dana Scully said.

"One more thing and I'll shut up on the subject. It makes no sense to me how you can be mad at Mulder and distance yourself from him when you've never told him how you feel. That being said, it's getting late, lets go dancing," Blake said to his two friends.

"Okay, but we get to dress you," Claire said with a mischievous smile while looking at Scully.

*******************************************

FBI Headquarters
September 20, 1998
9:00 am

Dana Scully sat at her desk looking out of the window. The leaves were beginning to change and fall was on its way. Her thoughts took her back to what had happened to her over the summer. The best times that she had were the weekends she spent with Blake and Claire at the beach house. She had kept her word to them and had not had any one night stands. She hadn't seen much of Mulder outside of work. She knew that he was upset with her for not attending any of his basketball games. She just didn't want to be around Skinner and since he was a member of Mulder's team there would be no way that she could avoid him. She had grown more distant from Mulder over the past month. He refused to give her the recognition she deserved for finding the UNSUB in the cave. She knew that she was being petty in holding it against him, but she couldn't help herself. Dana was also irritated that Mulder was an hour late and had not called in.

"Sorry I'm late Scully," Mulder said as he walked into their office, "But I had a meeting with Skinner this morning." He said as he sat down behind his desk and started going through his mail.

"What was the meeting about? Why with Skinner? Kersh is our AD," Scully said.

"Just some things he wanted to talk to me about. It has nothing to do with the X-Files."

They soon settled into their comfortable morning routine, although Dana Scully could not stop wondering what Skinner and Mulder were talking about. She was certain that he would never tell Mulder about their affair.

Diana came into the office several times to ask them about their progress on several cases. She stood a little to close to Mulder and payed a little too much attention to him for Scully's liking. Around noon he excused himself for lunch.

"See you in an hour Scully. Got a lunch date." Mulder said as he got up from behind his desk and left their office.

Scully was stunned. Mulder had a lunch date and she had no one to eat with. Such was the price to pay for being arrogant and aloof. She wondered who Mulder was eating lunch with. After fifteen minutes of mentally torturing herself she decided to go the cafeteria and get something to drink. She noticed Mulder was eating lunch with Natasha.

<So that's who he's dating. > She thought to herself.

She left the cafeteria without getting anything to eat. She realized at that moment that Mulder never wanted to be anything more than friends with her. He didn't see her as a sexual being, and he never would. She needed to get on with her life like he had.

When Mulder returned from lunch with Natasha he noticed that Scully was even acting more withdrawn than she usually was.

"Have a nice lunch Mulder?" She asked him.

"As a matter of fact, I had a very nice lunch," He replied.

"Oh really, where did you go to eat?" She asked him.

"Oh, I just grabbed a bite to eat from one of the vendors down on the street," He told her not realizing that she saw him and Natasha together in the cafeteria.

"Who did you eat with?" Scully asked him.

"Oh, just an old friend from the academy. It was good to see him again."

"Well I'm glad that you enjoyed yourself," She told him seething. He was lying to her and she knew it. Not only did was he never going to love her for more than a friend, he obviously found that he couldn't trust her anymore or he would have told her the truth about lunch. Neither of them would realize it at the time but this was the beginning of the end of their friendship.

*******************************************

The fall went by quickly for Dana Scully and Fox Mulder. They each retreated into their own circle of friends. Mulder was dismayed to see his friendship with Scully ending for no apparent reason. He tried to engage her in conversations and invited her over to his apartment all the time. She always had excuses and couldn't make it. He knew that she was purposely avoiding him but there was nothing that he could do about it. He had talked to Diana about his problem with Scully because it was beginning to affect their partnership. She looked like the cancer had returned but each time he asked her about it she assured him that she was fine. Diana also told him on numerous occasions when he asked her that she had seen the results of Dana's latest physical and she didn't have cancer. As to whatever else health problems Dana had she wasn't allowed to discuss them with Fox Mulder noticed that Scully seemed to change into someone else. She was playing the part of the aloof arrogant bitch that people thought she was. She acted no differently to Mulder than she did to the rest of the agents she came across. Several people had stopped Mulder what had crawled up Scully's ass and died. At first he defended her, but he was now having a hard time making up excuses. The more withdrawn she became the less Mulder cared to draw her out of her shell. He was once attracted to her and wished that they could have been more than friends. Now, he was glad for the day to be over so that he could spend his free time with Natasha. Natasha was the one highlight in his life. He was glad that he found her. The thought of having to spend all his time with neurotic depressed Scully really made him even more thankful for Natasha. The fact that she was divine in bed didn't hurt either.

End of chapter 5

**************************************************
House of Cards - Chapter 6
**************************************************

Circle Centre Mall
Indianapolis, Indiana
December 16, 1998, 4:09 p.m.

Scully paced back and forth in front of Parisians department store constantly checking her watch.

"Where the hell is he?" She muttered to herself not fully realizing that other people could hear her.

<It is 4:09, correction it is now 4:10 p.m. and Mulder is nowhere in sight even though he promised me that he would be here at 3:30.> Dana Scully was beyond worried, she was royally pissed off. She hadn't even wanted to stop by the mall but Mulder pleaded and begged her to go on their way back from Chicago. He wanted to get a gift for someone even though he wouldn't tell her who. She knew that it had to be for Natasha. God, she was beginning to hate that woman. She didn't understand why they had to drive back from Chicago. They flew there, why couldn't they fly back. Mulder, as usual, fed her some crap about the FBI office in Indianapolis needing their help on a case. She was suspicious when he wouldn't tell her what the case involved. She was certain Mulder was keeping his mouth shut because it involved aliens or UFO's.

At 4:30 Mulder chose to make an appearance. "Where the hell have you been Mulder?", Scully yelled at him as he approached her, "Your ass was supposed to have been here an hour ago." She said as she pointed at her watch face.

"What do you mean an hour ago. I'm on time. You said to meet here at 3:30. It's 3:30 right now." He said while looking at his watch.

"Mulder it is now 4:30. We're on Eastern time right now, not central like Chicago, and if you would have set your watch like I reminded you to on the way back from Chicago we wouldn't have had this problem. Furthermore this place has many clocks and you could have seen what time it was on any of them." She said gesturing to the large clock suspended from the ceiling that they could be easily see.

"I truly am sorry Scully, don't get all bitchy about it. It was an honest mistake. I didn't do it on purposes to make you mad, I just lost track of time. Let me make it up to you. My treat for dinner."

"First of all I wasn't bitchy and I'm not that hungry Mulder. I had a snack a little while ago," Scully replied defensively, not knowing why she lied to him about having eaten earlier.

"Okay, I have an idea then."

"Why do I feel like this is something I'm going to regret?" Scully said as she eyed him suspiciously.

"Live a little Scully. Since you aren't hungry right now, what do you say about eating in a couple hours and going out and having some fun?"

"Going out and having fun? Where? Here? In Indianapolis?" Scully said cynically.

"Sure, here. One of the store clerks told me that there's some sort of entertainment complex on the fourth floor. She said that there are several nightclubs up there that are worth checking out. Care to join me for an evening of fun?" He knew that she would say no, but he felt like asking her anyway. He didn't know why he was even bothering with her in the first place. She was to morose and depressing to be around. All she ever wore was black clothes these days. She never wanted to have fun anymore.

"What kind of mall has a nightclub Mulder? Besides, I don't have anything to wear to a nightclub. Somehow a regulation suit doesn't quit seem like party clothes," She said while gesturing at her clothing.

"Scully, my dear, it is your lucky day. We're in a large mall with lots of stores and we have plenty of time to pick you out an outfit. Please, please say you'll go. It will be fun, just like old times." He was desperate. He decided that this trip was going to be the trip that either kept their partnership together or made him turn in her reassignment request.

"I don't know why I even put up with you and your fun ideas. They always end up getting us into trouble. If you lead me anywhere near woods I will personally kill you Mulder. Consider it my gift to the cigarette smoking man," She said as she crossed her arms over her chest and continued to stare up at him.

"No woods Scully, scouts honor. We can get an outfit for you," He said while crossing his fingers. He was surprised to see a glimpse of the old Scully coming out.

"Don't you need one to?"

"Why do you think I was late?"

"What would you've done if I had said no?" She said as she arched her eyebrow.

"I would have gone without you." He was totally honest with her. He decided that if she didn't want to go he would have left her in the hotel and gone himself.

"Oh," was all Scully could respond.

Mulder and Scully then set out to find something for her to wear. An hour later Fox Mulder found the perfect dress for Dana Scully in Victoria's Secret.

"Please try it on Scully," Fox pleaded. He said as he picked it up off the rack and handed it to her. He knew that she would never wear something like this. It was so unlike her. His dowdy depressed partner would never try on something like this much less buy it.

"Mulder, I'll look like a slut in it," She said emphatically.

"Oh, a trashy Dana Scully. I'll have to get pictures for Melvin."

"Melvin, who the hell is Melvin, Mulder?"

"Melvin Frohicke"

"Oh god he does look like a Melvin. And I'm not wearing that dress," She said as she put the dress back on the rack.

"Scully it is just a dress, it can't hurt to try it in. You don't have to get it if you don't like it." He took the dress back off the rack and handed it to her. He was pleasantly surprised to see that she was actually considering buying it.

"I'm glad that I have some control in what I wear. I'll try it on, but don't say that I never do anything for you. I want to make it clear that just because I'm trying it on doesn't mean that I'm going to buy it," She said as she slowly walked back to the dressing room.

In the dressing room she picked up the skimpy black dress and looked at it. She couldn't believe that she was actually going to try something like this on for Mulder. She wore clothes made out of a lot less material for Claire and Blake all the time, but they were her best friends. Mulder was different. He was at one time her best friend, but he had never been the same type of friend that Blake and Claire were. She trusted him with her life, but not with her heart. She silently wondered what it would take to seduce Mulder. He wasn't the only one who deserved some happiness.

The dress that Mulder picked out was a dress made for a 5"9 model who weighed 130 pounds and was curved in all the right places. This wasn't a dress for someone her height and weight. She did like the dress though. It was your basic black dress with spaghetti straps and a lowered back that came down to about an inch above her knees. The style of the dress was nice, but the fabric was divine. It was made of some silk blend and felt wonderful to the touch. She tried on the dress, but thought that it was a little lose in some areas. She wasn't sure that she was ready to do tight in front of Mulder. He had never see her like that.

"Mulder," She called out hoping that he was standing outside of the dressing room stall.

"Yeah Scully, need me to help you into the dress?" He said with a hint of flirtation as he tried to peek over the dressing room door.

"No, this dress is a little loose, can you get me the next smaller size?" She figured if she were going to go tight she may as well go tight all the way.

"Sure, the tighter the better. I like my women in tight clothes Scully." Mulder said envisioning what Scully must look like in the dress.

"Well, I for one am not your woman or anyone else's' woman for that matter. Are you going to get me the dress or am I going to have to get it myself?" She said as she took off the dress she had on and placed it back on the padded hanger.

Mulder thought about not responding so that he could see her in the dress but decided against it and went to get her another size "Scully, what size do you want?" Mulder asked.

"Get me a 2/3 please."

"G-man at your service."

Minutes later Mulder returned carrying the desired size but only after he stopped to look at the bras and underwear. He picked up a pair of matching black lace underwear and bra for Natasha. He knew that she would look wonderful in it and he couldn't wait to give it to her. If only he could survive this trip to Indianapolis with Scully.

He also saw a pair of leopard print ones and decided to buy them for Diana. He knew that she would get a big kick out of them. He supposed he got them out of habit. In the past whenever he went on a trip they always would bring each other the tackiest/smuttiest article of clothing they could find. He had the clerk ring up the purchase while Scully tried on the smaller size.

Minutes later she joined him at the counter and noticed that he had just bought something.

"What's in the bag Agent Mulder?" Scully asked.

"Oh just a little something I picked up for myself," Mulder responded coyly.

"I didn't realize that they carried your size or style in here Mulder. This is a woman's store."

"Oh really, I didn't notice," Mulder said with a grin on his face.

Scully rolled her eyes. Sometimes it was better to just ignore things that Mulder said than to get into it with him over such a juvenile issue. Dana Scully was beginning to feel like her friendship with Fox Mulder was back on track. He was once again joking around with her, something he hadn't done in months.

The drive from the mall to their hotel, The Courtyard by Marriot, took roughly five minutes. Mulder was animated the whole time pointing out various tourist attractions. She silently wondered when he had time to visit the city in the last couple years and why he hadn't told her about it.

Open their arrival at the hotel they got the keys to their customary adjoining rooms. Mulder then proceeded to open the connecting door on his room. Scully was surprised to see that Mulder opened his door at all. For the past 4 months he had shut himself off from her. She was starting to wonder about his change in behavior over this trip. She figured that he must have had a fight with Natasha and wanted her to cheer him up.

<He has got another thing coming to him, > she thought.

<I will never be a substitute for another woman again. >

<Sure you say that, but you are probably going to make a fool of yourself. You know that you would settle for any man that came your way tonight.>

<No, I made a promise to Blake and Claire. I have to date the guy first before I sleep with him. But I know Mulder really well so if he shows any interest in me tonight I'm going to be all over him. I wouldn't be breaking my promise because in my opinion the past six years working with him has been one long date.>

Scully then proceeded to do her makeup and hair and put her dress on. Mulder was in his room watching television. He really could care less with Scully did tonight. He missed Natasha and was anxious to get back home to see her. They had been dating since August. He had never really thought that he might date her until Scully went Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde on him. He wondered if Scully was suffering from some mental illness. He hoped that was the excuse for her behavior as of late. It was hard for him to watch the woman that he loved more than anyone in the world disintegrate in front of his eyes and him not being able to do anything about it. He cared for her enough to try to help her but she didn't want his help. After a while he just got sick and tired of trying to help her. She distanced herself from him every opportunity she got. She had done more medical consultations and autopsy's in the last 4 months than she did in the last two years combined. Scully always came up with excuses as to why she couldn't go on cases with him. The only reason why she was with him now was because Diana ordered her to go. She was still an excellent agent and was performing in her job wonderfully. But it was at the expense of her personality. The better she got at her job, the more attention she paid to it, the more that the person who made up Dana Scully was pushed to the back burner. The colder Scully got toward him the less he started caring about what she thought. He had Natasha now to fill his mind and bed. He no longer needed Scully like he once did. He didn't know who she was anymore and he no longer cared to find out.

Mulder walked to the connective door and knocked on it.

"You can come in Mulder," Scully called from somewhere inside the room.

Mulder stepped inside the room and surmised that Scully must have been in the bathroom.

"Are you almost ready?" He asked.

"Yes," She said as she stepped out from the bathroom. He had never seen her look so nice. The dress fit her like a second skin and left nothing to the imagination. He felt a small tingling in his groin. When did she become so fit? He shook off the evil thoughts about his partner and what he would like to do to her in bed. The old Scully may have surfaced for one day but that still didn't excuse her behavior for the past 4 months. She had a lot of making up to do to him before he would ever trust her again.

*******************************************

Courtyard by Marriot
Indianapolis, Indiana
December 16, 1998
7:30 p.m.

"Hey Scully, you want to grab something to eat downstairs? I noticed that there's a TGI Friday's attached to the hotel," Mulder said as he escorted Scully to the elevator.

"Sure Mulder, I'm kind of thirsty," Scully replied.

"I figure after we eat we can go over to the mall at check out the club. Sound like a plan?"

They made their way to the restaurant and proceeded to eat. Dinner was fairly uneventful. Mulder insisted that they sit in the bar section so that he could watch the Pacers and Nicks game on television. He ate a large steak and baked potato while Scully silently picked at her house salad with fat free French dressing. She wasn't even hungry. It was only after Mulder told her to order something because he didn't want to look like a loser and eat alone, that she got a salad to appease him.

After dinner they took a cab to the mall.

"I cannot believe you dragged me to a mall at night Mulder. No one goes to a mall at night. Dance clubs don't belong it malls Mulder. This is just too odd, what is even odder is the fact that I cannot believe you got me to go here with you," She said looking at him questioningly.

"Well I'm happy that you could take time out of your busy little schedule Scully and humble me with your presence," Mulder said jokingly. He still couldn't believe that he had gotten her to go with him.

"Hey, which club would you like to go to first Scully?"

"Oh, I get a choice. Well, how about that club straight ahead called Flashbacks. It looks fairly normal as far as the people going into it," She said pointing at the neon sign that hung above the entrance.

"Okay then Flashbacks it is," Mulder said taking her arm and escorting her into the nightclub.

"Damn this place is small Scully," Mulder yelled above the music. "Lets get a table and then order some drinks."

"Okay," Scully yelled back in Mulder's ear.

They found a table for two near the back of the club next to the dance floor. From the table they could not only see the dance floor in front of them but also the city behind them through the large plate glass windows. "This is beautiful," Mulder yelled to Scully across the table as she nodded in return.

"What can I get you two to drink?" Asked the blond haired waiter, "Beer is $1.00 a glass, special tonight."

"We'll take two," Mulder answered as Scully looked at slightly irritated for ordering for her.

Ten minutes after the delivery of the two glasses of beer the waiter brought Mulder a Long Island Iced Tea "courtesy of the bachelorette party in the corner."

Scully was soon brought another beer "courtesy of that table of men near the bathroom. They said to tell you that they find you really hot and they want to know if that's your real color of hair."

Scully murmured back, "There's only one way they will ever know." The beer was really impairing her senses fast due to the scant amount of food she had eaten. The waiter must have told the table of men what Scully had said because there was a loud eruption of cat calls from the table a couple of minutes later.

"Scully, I can't believe you said that," Mulder said astonished. He was beginning to feel the effects of the alcohol on his brain too. For once he didn't care how drunk he got. He was going to have fun with his partner tonight if it was the last thing he did. They deserved this night. This night might actually set their partnership back on track.

"Mulder lets dance," Scully said unexpectedly.

"Scully you know how I hate to dance," Mulder said still shocked for her even wanting to dance. The new anal retentive bitch from hell agent Scully would have never danced. He wasn't even sure that his old faithful partner Scully would have danced. This must be a new Scully emerging. He wondered if she had multiple personalities that he didn't know about.

"Okay, then I'm going to dance alone," Scully said as she went to the dance floor. She couldn't believe that Mulder didn't want her. She was even wearing the padded seat and hip briefs from Victoria's Secret to give her more butt and hips. Here she was ready and available and Mulder wouldn't even look at her. He ogled every single woman in the place except for her. She was going to show him that if he didn't want her there were several available healthy males that did.

Mulder had never really thought about Scully dancing, it just wasn't something he ever thought that she would do.

<I really don't know a whole lot about her, do I? > He thought.

He turned his attention to the dance floor where Scully seemed to have selected a partner for herself, a very preppy looking young man in his twenties, who was grinding his pelvis into her ass. This was something he definitely never saw her doing in his dreams, and it was something he didn't want to see her doing either. He got up from the table and quickly interrupted their 'dirty dancing'.

"Excuse me, I'd like to dance with the lady," Mulder said to the young blond man.

"Sure dude," The boy answered back after seeing that Mulder had a good five inches on him. Mulder proceeded to dance with Scully in a more respectable manner. Two minutes into the dance the DJ stopped the music and came on over the intercom announcing a dance contest. The winning couple would receive $100 in cash and some CD's.

"Mulder I will not lose this contest," Scully said while trying to remain upright. The alcohol had really taken effect on her by this time.

"Follow my lead, Mulder." A contest was a contest to her. If Mulder didn't want her she was going to show him that she really knew how to dance and for that reason alone he should want her.

"Whatever you say Scully," He said not really even wanting to dance with her.

Bizarre Love Triangle from New Order came on over the sound system and Scully started dancing to the beat gyrating against Mulder in an almost obscene manner. If he were not a participant in this act he would have sworn it was the start of a porno. He could not believe what a good dancer Scully was either. He never really thought her to be a night club kind of woman, but he was obviously wrong. Scully was so good at what she was doing, several of the participants stopped dancing to watch them. Soon everyone in the club was gathered around with their eyes on Mulder and Scully. Mulder had long since given up his hands off Scully pose and had his hands all over her dancing to the beat. As he was dancing he realized that he had never had this much fun at a nightclub.

As expected Scully and Mulder won the contest and several beers were brought over to their table on the house. Scully pocketed the $100 cash and perused through the CD's.

"Hey Scully," Mulder asked interrupting her drunken concentration.

"What Mulder," Scully said without looking up.

"Where the hell did you learn to dance like that." The alcohol was really beginning to impair his thought processes.

"Blake taught me."

"Gay Blake taught you how to dance? That figures. How often do you do this?"

"Do what? Dance or go out and pick men up." Scully was too drunk to realize what she had said to Mulder but Mulder wasn't drunk enough and he understood the implications of what she was saying.

"Well lets start with dancing."

"Okay, I go out every Friday and Saturday night and sometimes on Tuesday," She said honestly. Maybe the thought of her having a social life would make him want her.

"No really," He said not quite believing that conservative Agent Scully went dancing three nights a week.

"I told you Muldy. Three nights a week," She said as her speech was beginning to become affected by her extreme alcohol consumption.

"How often do you pick up men?" He asked bravely not knowing whether or not she was going to answer him. The fact that Scully led this secret life was fascinating to him. All thoughts about missing Natasha were pushed to the back of his mind as he questioned Scully.

"All the time until Blake and Claire stopped me. They were mean and said I was a slut and needed help," She said sounding depressed.

"Why did you go pick up men Scully?" Mulder asked still amazed at her honesty with him when she was drunk. He would have to remember from now on that if he wanted the truth out of her all he had to do was get her drunk.

"Because he didn't want me." She said softly.

"Who didn't want you?" Mulder asked.

"Can't tell you. He made me promise to him that I would never tell anyone."

"Why can't you tell me? You know that you can tell me anything," He said trying to gain her trust.

"I used to trust you, but no more Mulder," Scully said sadly looking into the bottom of her beer bottle.

"Why don't you trust me anymore Scully?" Mulder asked.

"It hurts to much to trust," Scully said as she got up from her seat and staggered over to the dance floor. The young preppy blond was out on the dance floor and still looked interested in Scully. Mulder watched her go wondering what the hell had gone wrong in the last three months to make her distrust him.

End chapter 6

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House of Cards - Chapter 7
******************************************************

Flashbacks, Circle Centre Mall
Indianapolis, Indiana
December 17, 1998
2:30 am

Mulder was getting tired of watching Dana Scully dance with one loser after another. He wanted to do nothing more than to go back to the hotel and sleep but every time he asked her if she was ready to leave, she told him to leave without her. He was tempted but knew that in her state of inebriation she was likely to end up going home with some homicidal maniac who would kill her. He was also mad because when he told Natasha he would call her after they got back, he wasn't counting on Scully wanting to stay out until 3 am. She looked more like the two dances and one beer type of girl. He had lost count of how much she had to drink and how many men she let dance with her suggestively. He finally got fed up with waiting for her and went to get her.

"Scully, we're leaving now. Say goodbye to your little friends," Mulder said as he grabbed her arm and started pulling her off the dance floor.

"Okay, okay. You really need to learn to have some fun Muldy. I gotta go pee first."

Mulder patiently waited outside of the bathroom while Scully was took care of her business.

Inside the restroom as Scully was washing her hands she saw two young women smoking a joint. The older one of the two who identified herself as Lindsay approached Dana. "You rock lady. The way you moved out there was pure magic. Would you mind teaching me a few moves?"

"Sure, no problem. I'll demonstrate on your friend and you watch, okay?" Dana said to the brunette.

Dana showed the girl a few moves but felt odd dancing with a woman. As a token of gratitude Lindsay offered Dana a toke on her joint which Dana gladly accepted.

"I'm going to get into so much trouble," Dana laughed between tokes. Soon Dana Scully wasn't only drunk but was high.

"Listen ladies, thanks for the smoke. Keep working on those moves. I gotta go or Muldy will be mad. He always wants to ruin my party," Scully told her new friends. At that moment Mulder walked into the bathroom to catch sight of his partner Dana Scully holding a joint. He was absolutely livid.

"Scully, we're leaving now!" He said while dragging her out by the arm "Bye girls, nice meeting ya," Scully called out to her new friends.

Mulder didn't say anything to Scully as he dragged her outside of the nightclub and down the escalator to the entrance of the mall. Once outside of the mall Mulder began yelling at Scully.

"What the hell were you thinking Scully. What are you, an idiot? What the hell possessed you to smoke pot in the restroom?" He said screaming at her.

"I sorry Muldy," Dana Scully said as she started to cry.

"Don't cry Scully. I'm sorry I yelled at you. Lets get you back to the hotel," Mulder said immediately regretting that his harsh words had caused her to cry.

"Okay. I'm tired. Can't walk no more. So tired. Need rest," Scully said while staggering around on the sidewalk.

"Don't go to sleep Dana. The cab will be here in a minute," Mulder said while trying to keep her balance.

At that moment a cab pulled up in front of the mall and drove Scully and Mulder back to the hotel. Once at the hotel Mulder checked the front desk for messages. He had four messages. One from the field office in Indianapolis asking them to be there at 7:00 am instead of 8:00. Another message was from Skinners' secretary Kimberly informing them that Skinner would be on his way out to Indianapolis tomorrow. Another message was from someone named Dr. Lowenstein for Scully. Dr. Lowenstein? He had never heard about her talk about Dr. Lowenstein before. He wondered if she was hiding something from him again. Was she sick again? He would have to see what he could get out of her tonight while she was still drunk. The last message was from Diana making sure that her agents got to Indianapolis safely. After getting his messages he looked over to see Dana lying on the lobby couch in most unladylike manner. He went over to retrieve her, not meaning to notice that she was wearing green underwear, and took her up to his room. Once inside in his room, she collapsed on his bed.

"Oh no Scully. You aren't sleeping in my bed. You are going to your own room. Come on, lets get you up," Mulder said pulling on her arms.

"Too tired Muldy, can't move. Let me be," Dana pleaded barely awake as she flopped back down on his bed..

Mulder wasn't sure what to do with her. He tugged of her arms to try to get her to sit up in bed when he noticed that she had passed out. He then picked her up, carried her into her room and placed her on the bed. He then contemplated what to do about her clothing. He knew that she shouldn't sleep in her dress, but he did not want to have to be the person to take it off of her. He debated which would make her more mad in the morning, her being left in the dress or waking up in something she knew that she could not have possibly put on herself. He decided for the latter, it was her own fault she got so drunk. He carefully tried to take the dress off her and laughed when he noticed that she was wearing padded seat and hip briefs. No wonder she had more curves than he thought she normally did, they weren't hers. He was astonished to see how much weight she had lost since he had last seen her naked in Antarctica. As he removed her bra he noticed how each of her ribs poked out angrily.

<How could I have not noticed how thin she had become, > He wondered to himself as he traced each of her ribs across her skin. He then noticed how her hips jutted out unnaturally. She was unhealthily thin.

<The cancer is back and she was afraid to tell me. I have been acting like an insensitive asshole to her for months all the while she was dying, > He thought as he carefully dressed her in a T-shirt he found in her suitcase and carried her to her bed.

"Good night Scully," He whispered as he kissed her goodnight on the forehead.

The next morning Dana Scully woke to the worst hangover of her entire life.

"Oh God," She muttered as she stumbled out of bed and staggered to the bathroom. She never noticed her partner, Fox Mulder, sitting in a chair in the corner of the room. She immediately threw up all the contents of her stomach in the toilet. After flushing the toilet she stood to wash her hands. It was then that she noticed Fox Mulder standing in the doorway to the bathroom with a look of concern on his face. "Oh!" Was all she could say upon seeing him.

"Scully..." Mulder began.

"Mulder, don't even say a thing. I feel like shit and don't want to hear a thing from you right now," Scully replied shortly.

"Dana, I'm concerned."

"What is there to be concerned about? I went out last night and had some fun. End of story."

"Scully, you weren't just out having fun. You were smoking pot to have fun. As a law enforcement officer you should be well aware of the criminal consequences for possession and consumption of illegal narcotics."

"Just what I needed to make my day complete, a lecture from you," She said as she washed her face.

"If you would behave like a rational adult I wouldn't have to lecture you."

"Like you've any right to question me. Do I lecture you on your extra curricular viewing habits?"

"My habits aren't illegal Scully."

"Okay, fine. I did something illegal, big deal. You gave me the lecture, told me what a bad girl I was to appease your conscience, now get over it."

"Scully, what are you going to do if you get called in for a random drug test?"

"Why would they test me? I'm the by-the-book-always-in-control FBI-agent-pathologist. They aren't going to suspect me of anything."

"You know that's not how the random test works Scully."

"Look, if I get tested I'll deal with it then. Right now it isn't an issue."

"It is very much an issue. How often do you use pot? Is marijuana the only illegal drug you are using or are there others?" He asked her.

"What I use and if I even use at all is none of your damn business," She said defensively while trying to exit the bathroom.

"Bullshit, it's not my business. I don't want someone covering my back who is all strung out on coke or who knows what else," He said while blocking the door.

"Oh, so now I'm a coke head?"

"I don't know, you tell me. It sure would explain your irrational psycho behavior of the last three months. If it's not drug you sure as hell have some kind of mental problem," He said to her rudely.

"Look I don't have to put up with this verbal abuse from you. As for my behavior, if anyone has acted like a psycho it is you. I'm just doing the job that I'm paid to do. What I do in my personal life is my own business, not yours. If I wanted a complete psychological analysis from you I would have asked you. I would like to get ready. Would you please leave my bathroom?" She asked him.

Mulder knew that she was trying to end the conversation about her behavior but getting her to talk was the only way he could figure out what was causing her seemingly irrational behavior, he decided to try a new approach.

"Who is Dr. Lowenstein?" Dana's face paled once the words left Mulder's lips.

"Who told you about Dr. Lowenstein, Mulder? Did Agent Fowley tell you?" She asked defensively.

Mulder was perplexed. "Scully, you would tell me if your cancer was back, wouldn't you?"

"My cancer is still is remission, not that my current health is any of your business, and you still have not answered my question. Who told you about Dr. Lowenstein?"

"No one told me about the good doctor. This Lowenstein character called you last night and left a message at the front desk. Why would Diana have told me about it?"

"Could it be that you are so chummy with her."

"I'm not chummy with her."

"I know that you had a relationship with her Mulder, no use trying to deny it." She needed to get the topic off of Dr. Lowenstein and Diana was an easy target.

"I worked with her before you even graduated from medical school, Scully. How would you know if I had a relationship with her?"

"I've heard the rumors and I can tell Mulder, by the way you look at and talk to each other that it is obvious that the two of you were once more than just acquaintances."

"So now you are listening to the rumor mills. This is a first. Are you also listening to the rumors that the two of us have been having a clandestine affair for more than five years. Or have you also blocked those memories out of your head."

"How dare you suggest that I'm blocking memories."

"What else do you want to call it? Convenient loss of memory? The Bill Clinton Syndrome?"

"Grow up Mulder. Just because what I experienced doesn't give you proof of the existence of extra-terrestrial biological entities, doesn't mean that I'm somehow purposely blocking those memories from you. Not everything is about you," She said angrily.

"I never suggested that it did."

"You have been implying that from day one."

"Oh, and please tell me how I have been doing that?"

"You have a Ph.D., figure it out for yourself," Scully said as she tried to shut the door on him.

"What, are you trying to ignore me now by shutting the door? Closing me out isn't going to solve anything."

"I don't intend for it to solve anything, for nothing needs solving, apart for your egotistical megalomaniacal ways," Scully said as she shoved him hard enough where he lost his balance and fell to the ground outside of the bathroom door. She quickly locked it and turned out the shower to drown out the series of cuss words coming out of his mouth.

************************************************

Fox Mulder could not believe that Dana Scully had shoved him so hard out of the bathroom that he lost his balance and fell to the ground. He was now more certain than ever that she was suffering from some sort of mental disorder.

He couldn't tell what she was thinking anymore or what was going on in her life. Was she using drugs regularly? Did she go out and pick up men frequently? Was she jealous of him and Diana? Was she starving herself?

He wasn't sure about the drug use, although her mood swings might explain it. He didn't know if she went out and picked up men frequently, but what she had told him last night at the club suggested that at one time she did. Was she jealous of him and Diana's relationship? In her questioning of his and Diana's behavior sounded almost jealous. Did it bother her that they may have had a relationship in the past? If it didn't bother her, why would she have asked? Was she starving herself? She sure looked like it to him. He didn't know though, he couldn't be sure. He thought anorexic's never ate and he had seen Dana eat several times. Maybe she was just on a diet.

He was sick of her and her attitude. She was once again living in her little world of denial. She had acted like she didn't care about anyone or anything expect work for the last three months. He was tired of her constant negative attitude and the way she hid things from him. He refused to ever try to engage her in a conversation again. He made up his mind to turn in her transfer papers once they got back from Indiana. If she wanted to play bitchy aloof agent, then that was what she was going to get. He walked back into his room and locked the connecting door.

Meanwhile, Dana could not believe the nerve Mulder had. She thought that he was the paranoid one with the problem. She didn't understand why he always thought that she was hiding things from him. He needed to grow up and realize that the world was not out to get him. She didn't mean to push him so hard but she didn't know how else she was going to get him to leave. Dana was also confused as to what she felt for Mulder. Yes, she was jealous that he and Diana had slept together. She wanted Mulder, but knew that she could never have him. He had made it clear the night before that he was just not interested in her. Yes, she was stupid to have smoked the pot and gotten caught this time. She couldn't help herself. She was drunk, horny and lonely and the opportunity was there. She wondered if that was what ruined her chance with him. The disintegration of their relationship was partly her fault, she just wasn't sure how to fix it.

She decided at that moment that for the rest of the time in Indiana she was going to act ultra professional so that Mulder wouldn't think that she had a serious drug problem. She didn't think that he would turn her in, but she could never be too careful. If she worked long hard hours, people would respect her more as a dedicated agent. Dedicated hard working agents didn't have time to use drugs and wouldn't be under suspicion. She wondered if that approach would restore the rift.

She looked at her watch and saw that it was 5:30 am. She really wanted to speak with Susan Lowenstein but knew that she wouldn't be in right now. She decided to take a shower and get ready.

*******************************************

Minton Capehart Federal Building
Indianapolis, IN
December 16, 1998
8:00 am

The ride to the FBI office was uneventful. Scully was surprised to see Skinner there.

"Sir, I didn't know that you would be joining us," Scully said to Skinner as she got a cup of coffee trying to avoid eye contact with him.

"Didn't Agent Mulder tell you that I was coming?" He asked surprised.

"No sir, he didn't."

"I was called here on other matters involving this office. I was asked to help out with this meeting. I have to fly back to D.C. tomorrow afternoon for another meeting, so my time here is brief. You are looking a little tired Agent Scully. Is everything okay?" He asked.

Even though their affair didn't last he still had feelings for her. He even made the deal with the cigarette smoking man for her. He knew that she most likely hated him when he ended their brief but passionate affair. He told her that he was going to go back to Sharon, but that wasn't the real reason. He could never tell her that the real reason he ended the affair was because of her mother. He ran into Maggie Scully in a grocery store in Alexandria. It was good catching up with her and he was more than surprised when she told him upon hearing that he was in the FBI that she had a daughter named Dana who was an FBI agent. He knew at this instant that an involvement between him and Dana was wrong and that she would never forgive him if she found out that he had slept with her mother.

Walter Skinner had not seen Maggie Scully in 32 years the day he ran into her in the grocery store. The last time he had seen her was when Mary had been born and he visited her in the hospital.

Walter Skinner and Bill Scully were stationed together in Annapolis in 1963. Walter was stationed there working on a top secret project for the Marines while Bill Scully was an officer in the Navy. During their tour there Walter and Sharon Skinner became close friends with Bill and Maggie Scully. He and Bill had gotten along fabulously, having a lot in common. Sharon and Maggie were another story. Sharon was resentful of the fact that Maggie had two beautiful children, little Bill and Melissa, while he and Sharon had none. They desperately wanted children but couldn't manage to conceive one, Sharon blamed Walter saying it was his fault. Although Sharon and Maggie were friendly, for their husbands' sake, there was no love loss between the women. Walter liked Maggie and grew frustrated at his wife's treatment of her. He constantly had to apologize to Maggie for something that Sharon did or said to her. Sharon was fragile and resentful of the time that Walter spent over at the Scully household looking after her and the kids while Bill was at sea. Bill was his best friend and he promised to look out for his family while he was away.

Over time he developed more than friendly feelings for his best friends wife. He knew that Maggie and Bill were having marital problems and that Maggie wasn't happy with Bill being gone so often. In a moment of passion, they consummated their relationship. Both immediately regretted what they had done and knew that it could never happen again. Maggie was so guilt torn over her affair that she cut off all contact with him and Sharon. Once Bill returned from sea she confessed her affair to him and they sought marital counseling. Once their daughter Mary was born Maggie and Bill were able to put her indiscretion in the past and go on.

Walter visited Mary and Maggie in the hospital before he and Sharon moved from the area to his next assignment. The child had beautiful, gorgeous red hair, so unlike Bill and Melissa Scully. Mary Scully's hair reminded him of his grandmother Skinners hair when he was a child.

Years later when he ran into Maggie Scully in Alexandria the reunion was bittersweet. For Maggie it brought up all kinds of memories better left forgotten. But Walter was glad to see the woman he once loved once again. He saw how shaken up she was over seeing him that he didn't have the nerve to ask her about Mary or Bill.

He supposed that part of the reason that he made the deal with the cigarette smoking man for Dana's cure was that he felt some kind of obligation to Maggie.

"Earth to Skinner, earth to Skinner," Mulder repeated as he waved his hands in front of his boss' face.

"What, oh I'm sorry. Just a little tired from the red eye. Please excuse me." Walter Skinner walked away and went to the podium in the front of the room.

"Good morning agents, my name is Walter Skinner and I'm an Assistant Director with the Washington office. I have been called her on other matters but have been asked to give this presentation. I'm sure that you are all aware that Indianapolis is facing another year with a record homicide rate. Random killings, that's what is being fed to the press. Most of you know that many of the killings, about 50 so far have been linked. The victims vary across all races, all ages and genders. What links the victims is the manner in which they died. All died on apparent drug overdoses. At first the IPD thought nothing of it, just a bunch of junkies over dosing. It was only after the wife of a city council member died in the same manner that they became suspicious that they had a serial killer on their hands and contacted us. We don't know how the victims are selected. We don't know how the killer or killers gets the victim to inject themselves with the drug. All we know is that the bodies are starting to pile. It is your job to find out what is happening, why it is happening, and how to stop it. You'll notice two new people, Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully have come from the Washington office to assist on the case. They are in charge of all unexplained phenomena cases the bureau comes across. This case is within that jurisdiction due to all the unanswered questions. You will all report to SAC Miller and must turn in daily progress reports. I know, you all don't feel that you should have to and I agree, but we are under immense pressure to catch this person/persons and must show all our effort if the DOJ and Reno calls us on it. You have been given your assignments and are dismissed."

"I don't see why we're here, Mulder. This is a waste of time," Scully said to Mulder.

"You heard the man Scully, due to the unexplained nature of the crime, they need our assistance. In other words, we need you two out of Washington." He asked not quite sure of the reason himself. He was still bothered by her conduct the night before.

"Mulder, you don't really think that do you?"

"Why wouldn't I. It is entirely plausible. Lets go get our assignment." He almost called her partner but stopped himself.

Mulder and Scully were given the task of re-interviewing family members of three of the victims. It was a shit job and they both knew it. They spent the afternoon fielding questions from nosy neighbors inquiring why the FBI was involved. All the men interviewed asked Scully straight out "what a pretty little thing like her was doing in a man's job."

Scully calmly ignored their taunts and questions like a pro. Mulder was amazed that she didn't go off on them.

<Score one for Scully, > He thought.

******************************************

Indianapolis, Indiana
January 2, 1999

What Mulder and Scully thought was going to be a simple one week stay in Indiana turned into the three week and counting assignment from hell. No one could get a grip on what was happening and Mulder missed Natasha so much that he really didn't care if every citizen in the state injected themselves and died. He just wanted this assignment to be over so that he could go home. He had missed Hanukkah and New Years. He certainly didn't want to spend Valentines day in this city. Scully on the other hand didn't seem to care about how long they would be there. She threw herself into the assignment doing all autopsies and a lot of field work. Christmas day came and went without her seeming to notice. Most of the agents that worked with them could not stand Scully. She was too by the book for them. All that seemed to matter was protocol and getting the job done. There was no time for having fun or joking around. Many had voiced their complaints to Mulder as to how he could manage working with her. He wanted to tell them that his request for her transfer was already in place. Diana was just waiting for them to get back to DC before she was reassigned. Since Fox Mulder was the senior agent in the unit and technically her boss he had the authority to reassign her. He knew that she wasn't going to be happy about it, but it really didn't matter at this point in time.

"Scully, I'm going back to the hotel. It's 9 pm, we've been at it since 7:30 am," Mulder said while grabbing his coat.

"Go ahead Mulder, I want to look into a few more things," She said to him.

Normally he would have waited for her but she had been doing this for the last 7 nights and he wanted a break. He didn't function well without adequate mind rest. He went back to the hotel without her and didn't hear her enter her room until 1 am.

*******************************************

Minton Capehart Federal Building
Indianapolis, Indiana
January 5, 1999
8:00 am

Mulder and Scully walked into the office to discover that Walter Skinner was in Indianapolis for the day. They were told that he wanted to meet with them immediately.

"Agents Mulder and Scully. I know that you two have been invaluable to the IPD and Indianapolis Bureau. However, due to the lack of evidence and the fact that the killings have stopped I can no longer justify the taxpayer expense of your involvement in this case. You will work on the case today, but tomorrow morning travel arrangements have been made for you to go back to DC. I'm sure that Diana Fowley has already informed you of this Agent Scully, you are being reassigned on once you return. That's all agents, meeting adjourned," Walter said as he got up from his chair.

<I'm being reassigned. Mulder asked for me to be reassigned. He no longer wants to work with me, > Scully thought to herself.

<Shit. Shit. Shit, > Mulder thought, <I didn't want to be in the room when she found out. I thought Diana was going to tell her when we got back from DC.>

Mulder looked over to see her reaction. He noticed that there was none. He expected her to at least get mad or ask Skinner why she was being reassigned. But there was no emotion.

<She isn't even upset about it. She really is a cold-hearted bitch. I would have at least expected her to say or do something about the reassignment.>

All guilt that Mulder had over having her reassigned was gone.

Scully quietly got up from her chair and left the office. She was not going to cry in front of either of them, the two men who systematically were ruining her life. She wasn't going to let them have the satisfaction of seeing her hurt. She quickly made her way down to the front of the building and hailed the first taxi she saw to take her back to the hotel. Once at the hotel she packed her clothing and computer equipment and caught the hotel shuttle to the airport. She was lucky that there was a seat open on the 2 pm flight to Dulles. She sat in the waiting area telling herself that she wasn't going to cry.

******************************************

Minton Capehart Federal Building
Indianapolis, Indiana
January 5, 1999

Mulder could not figure where the hell Scully went. He thought that she went to the bathroom but she had been gone for 20 minutes and no matter what business she was taking care of, it certainly wouldn't have taken twenty minutes. He secretly hoped that she was crying her eyes out.

"Skinner, have you seen Scully?" Mulder asked as he spotted the balding man coming out of his temporary office.

"No, why. Maybe she's following up some clue. She's your partner, you should be keeping track of her. Listen, I know this is not my place to ask this, but....Why did you ask for her to be reassigned?" Skinner asked.

"Personal reasons, you've seen how she has been acting this past year. I got to a point where I could no longer take her mood swings. She's not the same woman she was a year ago. She still does her job well, but the aloofness has really been getting to me. I think she's pissed that she was reassigned. Diana had not yet told her about it. She was waiting for us to get back to DC."

"Oops. I had no idea. She seemed to take the news well."

"That's what I'm afraid of, she took the news a little too well. I need to talk to her and explain why she's being transferred," Mulder said as he walked away.

By 7 p.m. when she had not turned up at the office, morgue or any other location he thought she might be at he decided to check in with the hotel and was informed that she checked out of the hotel at noon and took the shuttle to the airport.

"That fucking bitch," Mulder said aloud as he hung up the phone. He was livid. He had spent the last 8 hours searching for her and she acted like a coward and got on the first plane for DC. He had had it with her. She had broken protocol by leaving an assignment early without permission. He decided to call Diana and let her know. Who cares if she get a reprimand. He didn't owe her any more favors.

"Diana, its Fox," Mulder told his ex-wife, "We have a problem. Scully found out about her transfer from Skinner and took off."

"I know Fox," Diana Fowley said, "She was just in here a little while ago to turn in her badge."

"Her badge? You mean she quit," He asked incredulously.

"She quit. What he hell went on in Indianapolis, Fox?"

"Did she give a reason why she was quitting?"

"Not really. She said that you had been nothing but a wonderful agent to work with and that she valued the time she spent as your partner, but it was time for her to move on with her life."

"Diana. Everything is going wrong. This isn't supposed to be happening. I honestly don't know what to do. Skinner sent us home due to lack of progress on the case and she just took off without informing either one of us. This is so unlike her. How did she seem?"

"That was the odd thing about it Fox, she was a little to calm and clinical about the whole matter."

"What the hell is wrong with me Diana. Am I a sadomasochist or what. She treats me like shit and ignores me. I have told myself time and time again that I'm over her and am not going to care about psychotic behavior and then she does something like this that pisses me off but also makes me concerned for her. I don't need Dana Scully and her baggage. I have Natasha now. Why can't I be satisfied with just her?"

"Fox, I think you are happy with Natasha but there's a part of you that will always love Dana Scully no matter what she does. Just so you know, I didn't accept her resignation. I gave her two weeks leave for her to decide what she really wants to do. The reassignment went through so there's nothing that can be done to stop it, but that doesn't mean that she has to quit the bureau."

"Do you know where she's being reassigned?"

"Well there's good news for her in that department. She will be out under Kersh and back under Skinner in the VCS."

"VCS, what the hell are they going to make her do?"

"There's an opening for a profiler with her qualifications. It is some new project they are working on. Walter thought that if she couldn't be in the X-Files at least she could be doing something other than teaching."

"But the only problem with that's that I'm still going to have to see her almost ever day and she knows that I'm the one that requested her transfer."

"Fox, yes you are responsible, but look at how long you put up with her behavior. If I were in the situation I don't know if I would have had her reassigned though. As her supervisor, she was doing her job very well. The only reason I allowed the transfer is because of the obvious problems in the partnership. Even she could see that there were problems and that the two of you no longer worked well together."

"I know but it doesn't make it easier. Look I have a few things to wrap up here in Indianapolis. My flight leaves tomorrow morning at 9 am. I'll see you a little after that and we can talk."

"Bye Fox. Take care," Diana Fowley said as she hung up the phone.

End of chapter 7

******************************************
House of Cards - Chapter 8
******************************************

Office of Dr. Susan Lowenstein
Washington DC
January 6, 1999
8:00 am

Scully sat on the couch of Dr. Susan Lowenstein waiting for her to finish a phone call. Through she had been seeing Susan on a regular basis for the past 10 years, this was one part of her life that she never wanted anyone to find about. Once she joined the bureau she had been ordered to seek counseling several times. Karen Kosoff was nice enough; she just didn't feel comfortable talking to her as she did with Susan.

She had managed to keep her visits to Susan a secret from Mulder but now that he knew that she was seeing a Doctor named Susan Lowenstein it wouldn't take him long to figure out that the doctor was a psychiatrist. She was sure that he would have the gunmen hack into the office data base and get all her confidential information. She would have to talk with Susan and get her assurance that no personal information was to be kept in the computer. There were some things about her that Mulder never could know.

"He has made me so paranoid," she said matter of factly to Susan Lowenstein as she sat in the leather high back chair across from her.

"Who has made you paranoid?" Susan asked. Susan was an attractive woman roughly 40 years of age, with shoulder length blond hair and a thin frame. People often said that she looked a little like Barbra Streisand.

"Mulder"

"Oh. How has he made you paranoid Dana?"

"Just the usual things. I always check out the credit report, motor vehicle, criminal record, and social security records of everyone I ever come across. I'm paranoid that someone is always following me and conspiring to cover up things that I should know about. Just the usual. Just now I was contemplating asking you where you kept my records. He knows about you Susan. When you called the hotel in Indianapolis, he got the message from the front desk. It is only going to be a matter of time before he finds out your occupation and has his little computer trolls hack into your system for my personal information."

"Dana, those are hardly normal fears as you should be well aware. No one wants to see your personal files."

"I know that they aren't normal fears. Fear and terror has become so commonplace to me that sometimes I must stop and remember that this life that was chosen for me isn't a normal one, to say the least."

"This life chosen for you? Those are an interesting choice of words."

"It is how I feel sometime. As if I'm a pawn somehow."

"Do you view Fox as someone who is controlling your destiny?"

"Yes," Dana whispered looking away from Susan.

"Dana I have been seeing you for the past ten years. I feel I know you very well. Although you've overcome a lot of obstacles I continue to see a pattern of self destruction."

"What do you mean?"

"You look horrible as if you aren't eating properly or enough. Your preoccupation with Fox Mulder - what he must be thinking about, his effect on you - is evident and sometimes frightening. In all the years I have known you, you've worked hard to overcome your co-dependant tendencies and I see you falling into the same old pattern. I want to prescribe a medication for you, to regulate some of these erratic mood swings I have been seeing as of late."

"You think I'm crazy?" She asked as she leaned toward Susan's desk.

"No Dana, I don't."

"You are lying. You do think that I'm crazy. Have you been talking to my mother? She told you I was crazy, didn't she?"

"Dana, I don't know what you are talking about. I have never spoken with your mother, although I would like to. I think it would help me better understand what you are going through. Why you act the way you do?"

"Is there something wrong with the way I act?"

"No Dana. You just don't make some of the wisest decisions."

"Like what, Susan?"

"Dana, as your doctor I don't think it's wise, or helpful to engage any further in this discussion," Susan said as she closed her notebook and took a sip from her cup of coffee. She hated when Dana got argumentative in sessions. Normally she was easy going, although hard to pull information from, but sometimes her refusal to see what was wrong with her behavior was down right annoying.

"That's Bullshit Susan. I want to know why you say the things you do about me."

"I'm sorry Dana, perhaps I should not have said anything. It was unprofessional and I apologize. I want to help you Dana, not make things worse for you. Perhaps we should end this session on that note and start again tomorrow with a clean slate."

"Fine." Dana said as she got up from the chair. "I'll make an appointment with Lois." Susan was still mystified as to why Dana Scully had demanded an immediate appointment today upon her return from Indianapolis. She recalled Dana crying from the airport telling her that everything was wrong. Dana never did tell her what went on there.

*******************************************

Cape Fear, North Carolina
Blake Maxwell's Beach House
January 8, 1999

"Dana honey. Cry, scream, yell. I don't care. Please show me some emotion. For the past two days you've barely said 5 sentences to me. Please tell me what is wrong," Blake Maxwell pleaded with Dana Scully. She had been sitting on the couch of the beach house for the past few days staring out at the ocean.

"I'm sorry Blake, I just have a lot on my mind."

"Inquiring minds want to know."

"Okay fine. I turned in my resignation."

"You quit?"

"I tried to quit. Diana gave my two weeks to think about it."

"Why did you quit?"

"Mulder had me reassigned. I did something really stupid and will be reprimanded for it anyway. I had nothing to lose."

"Oh honey," Blake said as he gathered her in his arms, "What did you do."

"Walter told me that I was being reassigned and taken off the case in Indianapolis."

"Ouch."

"Mulder or Diana could have at least told me about it. The news coming from Walter was the worst. He just sat there impassively and told me. Absolutely no emotion on his face. I couldn't be in the same room much less the same city with the two of them. I got the hell out of there on the first plane."

"Maybe you will get a better partner with your new assignment."

"I don't want a new partner. What Mulder and I had worked."

"Until Natasha came into the picture."

"Ruin the bad mood I'm already in. I don't want to hear the names Natasha, Mulder or Walter Skinner ever again. I just want to go away where nobody knows who I'm and start over."

"You know what Susan says about running away from your problems Dana."

"I know, they are always going to follow me no matter where I go," Dana said imitating Susan Lowenstein.

"Maybe it is for the best that you no longer work with Fox Mulder. The past six years with him has not been good to your physical or mental health. The man seems nice enough, even though you won't let me talk to him, but the mental mind games you two play with each other are bad."

"I don't play mind games with him," Dana said emphatically.

"What do you call, if he doesn't want me I'm going to act like a cold aloof bitch? Or how you told me your wore that slutty dress in front of him, which I'm proud of you for doing, to try to get him to want you and when he didn't you closed yourself off from him. Your need to punish him is only causing yourself pain. He has Natasha. He doesn't want you Dana. Face it and get over it."

"It is easier said than done Blake. How can I ignore six years of feelings for him."

"Dana, it wasn't like you were lusting after him for all those six years. You told me hundreds of times that although you cared for him, hell even loved him, that nothing could ever come out of it because not only was it unprofessional, it would ruin the friendship and partnership. I think that you've proven that yourself. You haven't even slept with the man and you've destroyed the partnership."

"I know and now I'm being reassigned. How more fucked up can my life get. I barely see my mother or brothers and my partner hates me. You are Claire are the only friends I have. I do not know what I would have done without you guys in my life. Thank you for being there for me," Dana said as she hugged him.

"No problem. Now lets work on a plan to get you back in the good graces of Fox Mulder if you truly want to go back to the X-Files."

"No, I think I want the reassignment. Let him get paired with a horrid green agent. Then you'll see him come crawling back to me."

"Listen to yourself Dana. You need to let go of this need for revenge. You need to either kiss and makeup with him or make a clean break. I think the clean break is the best idea. Work on trying to be his friend again if you truly feel that you need for him to be in your life. You are also going to have to be nicer to Diana. She seems like a nice woman from what you've said about her even if she and Mulder did have a clandestine past. Use a relationship with her to get to Mulder. I don't even know why I tell you these things. They always come back to haunt me when you go off on one of your doomsday moods."

"I don't have doomsday moods Blake."

"You do too. What do you call 'Blake they all hate me, why are they all out to get me, I wish I was never born'."

"Okay I admit that I have said those words but I have never used that tone of voice."

"Sure. Fine. Whatever," Blake Maxwell responded.

**********************************

FBI Headquarters
Washington, DC
January 17, 1999
8:05 am

"Agent Fowley, can I speak with you for a minute?" Scully asked as she entered Diana's office.

"Sure Dana. Come on in."

"I have decided to accept the transfer and stay with the bureau."

"I'm glad Dana. You are too much of an asset for the bureau to lose. I'll call your new AD and supervisor and let them know of your decision. For the rest of the day you can work on the X-Files and I assume you can start your new position with VCS tomorrow."

"Thank you Agent Fowley," Dana Scully said cheerfully as she went to the office that she and Fox Mulder shared.

As she entered the office she noticed that Mulder was already there working and appeared to have been there for hours. He looked up when she entered the office and sat down behind her desk.

"Good morning Mulder," She said to him after several minutes of silence. She figured that if he wasn't going to say anything to her she would break the silence.

"Morning Scully. You look well," He said. The last time he had seen her was in Indianapolis.

"A little vacation does wonders. How are things going here with the X-Files?" She asked.

"Same old stuff. A couple of new cases but nothing really interesting," He said not really knowing what to say to her.

"Mulder, just so you know. I know that you were the one that requested my transfer. I'm not mad at you and don't blame you. I enjoyed the time that I was assigned to work with you and wish you all the best with your new partner," She said sincerely. Blake had told her that this was the way to win back Mulder's trust.

"Are you sure you are okay with this Scully."

"I'm perfectly fine with it. I'm looking forward to my new assignment down the hall. If you ever get bored you can stop on by and visit."

"Great. I think I might do that. Do you need any help moving your stuff over there?"

"I don't have much stuff here Mulder. I didn't get a desk until last summer so I never really had the opportunity to accumulate personal items," She said not trying to sound bitter about the desk situation.

"Sorry about that. Listen do you want to go to lunch today?" He asked. He still felt guilty about having her transferred but knew that it was for the best. Besides, he wanted to tell her the news about his engagement to Natasha.

"Sure," Scully replied.

They spent the rest of the morning working on paperwork. It was if the last 7 months had never occurred. The old skeptical Scully was back, but Mulder wasn't sure how long it would last. He kept on waiting for her to switch back into her aloof bitchy self.

*******************************************

Subway Fast Food Restaurant
Washington DC
January 17, 1999
11:30 am

Mulder and Scully sat eating in Subway enjoying their respective sandwiches. Scully had the vegetarian delight while Mulder was enjoying a foot long meatball sub with extra cheese. He was really surprised to see her in such a good mood. He decided that now would be the time to tell her that he was engaged.

"Scully, I need to tell you something." Mulder said nervously.

"What, the gunmen finally have evidence that UFO's do indeed exist?"

"No, I'm getting married." There he said it. It was out. Now all he had to do was wait for her response.

"Congratulations," She said as she got up from her seat and leaned over to hug him. "I'm so happy for you. When is the wedding?" She asked as she was secretly dying inside. She knew that one day he would find someone and settle down, she just didn't expect it to be so soon.

"We've set the wedding date for June 12th. Natasha wanted to have a summer wedding. Can you believe that I'm finally getting married? I never thought that this would happen," Mulder said.

<Why, because you never had room for anyone in your heart except for Samantha?> Scully thought.

"I'm happy for you Mulder. If anyone deserves the chance at happiness it is you. Natasha is a wonderful woman and I'm sure the two of you will be very happy," She said sincerely.

"It means a lot to me Scully that you are okay with this."

"Why wouldn't I be okay with it Mulder. I want you to be happy."

"I know. You sure that you are okay with this?"

"I'm pretty sure unless there's something you are keeping from me."

"No, just that the wedding is June 12th. I think that Natasha is going to ask you and Diana to be bridesmaids." Scully cringed. It was one things for Mulder to be marrying someone other than her, but that didn't mean that she had to be a bridesmaid right along Diana Fowley.

"Doesn't she have sisters or cousins who could be in the wedding party?" Dana asked.

"No, she doesn't. Her parents died when she was a child and due to her having no living relatives she was raised as a ward of the state in foster homes," Mulder confided to her.

<Great. First she's marrying Mulder and now I find out that she's an orphan. I can't hate her. She too deserves happiness even if it is at my expense, > Scully thought.

"Well if she has no one else, I would be happy to be a bridesmaid. But you had better tell her that I'm not going to wear pink or lavender. I barely know the girl Mulder."

"I know, I said the same thing, but Natasha pointed out that you are one of the few women in the agency that have been nice to her. She deals with a pretty tough lot over in VCS. She's an outcast over there not only because she's a woman, but because she's dating me. They are going to have a field day when they find out that we're engaged."

"I wish you the best of luck Mulder."

"Do you really mean that Scully?"

"Oh course I do. I wouldn't have said it if I didn't."

"Scully, what happened to us this past year?"

"I don't know Mulder. I wish that I could explain it to you but I can't."

"Can't because you don't know what happened or because you do not want to talk about it?" Mulder asked her frankly.

"A little of both. It's all very complicated and hard to explain."

"Was it something I did?" Mulder asked.

"No, Mulder it was never about you. Okay maybe it was partially about you. After we came back from Antarctica I saw us becoming closer as friends. Although I wanted to be good friends with you, I didn't want it to affect the partnership."

"So you pushed me away?"

"I didn't mean to push you way Mulder, it just sort of happened before I realized it too much had been said and done at that time to correct it."

"It is never too late Scully."

"It is too late. I have been reassigned Mulder."

"I'm sorry about that Scully."

"It's over and done with, no use in bringing it up Mulder."

"Are you okay with it?"

"At first I was hurt but now I have come to see that you probably didn't have many options available."

"Is that why you left Indianapolis?"

"It is part of the reason. Can we not talk about this now?" She asked.

"Sure. I just want to say one more thing and then I will drop the topic, alright?"

"Fine."

"I have a lot of regrets over what happened to our friendship and partnership. If I could change the past I would. I miss having you as a friend, talking to you on the phone at night, seeing you cheering at my basketball games, and eating pizza and watching bad movies with you. I can't change the fact that you are no longer my partner but I can change the part about you no longer being my friend. I guess what I'm saying Dana is that I would like the chance to be your friend again," Mulder said as he waited for her response.

"I would like that Mulder." Scully said as she smiled at him.

*******************************************

Office of Dr. Susan Lowenstein
Washington DC
February 3, 1999
11:30 am

"What is on your mind today Dana?" Susan Lowenstein asked the petite agent sitting across from her.

"Everything. Nothing. He's so goddamn frustrating."

"I assume we're talking about Fox Mulder."

"Who else would we be talking about?"

"I was hoping that someday you will come in to me tell me that you've found the man of your dreams. I have been hearing about Fox Mulder for five years. I want to hear about a new man."

"I'm sorry Susan, but my life doesn't involve just Mulder."

"Name three other men actively involved in your life?"

"Skinner, Blake, and uh, Grant and Paul."

"You boss and ex-lover doesn't count and neither does Blake. Grant and Paul? Who are they?" Susan said suddenly intrigued that she was finally going to get to hear about some new men in Dana's life.

"Some men that I know," Dana said while trying to avert her gaze.

"How well do you know them Dana? Are they casual acquaintances?"

"I know them well."

"How well Dana?"

"Well enough."

"Stop avoiding the question and answer it. Where did you meet Grant?"

"I plead the fifth."

"Dana, where did you meet him?"

"I met him in a bar a couple of months ago."

"I see. What is your relationship with him?"

"Casual friendship. I don't know how I would classify it. He's someone that I know."

"How well do you know him?"

"I know what you are alluding to Susan, and it is none of your business who I sleep with,"

"Very defensive, Dana. Does Mulder know about Grant and Paul."

"Of course not."

"That's interesting. Normally co-workers talk about who they are dating. At least that's what my experience over the last 30 years has been. Normally when people keep personal information from co-workers it is for a reason. What is your reason? I thought you are Mulder were close."

"We're close, Susan. It is just too hard to explain. He wouldn't understand if I told him."

"Why wouldn't he understand. From how you've described your relationship with him, you two are nothing more than close friends. Would you say that this would be a safe assumption?"

"Yes, no. I don't know"

"Which is it going to be?"

"Our relationship borders on something more than friendship, but can never be more."

"Why do you say that? Why can't you be more than friends?"

"To be more than friends would complicate everything."

"Life is complicated Dana. I have yet to meet someone who leads a simple existence. "

"Well I do. So much of what I see everyday, the monsters I chase down, the people who I determine the cause of death for, is complicated. I don't need my personal life to be the same way. I want simplicity. I want peace."

"To let yourself not feel love is tragic Dana. Admitting feelings for someone complicates things. Do you think that this little game you play with Mulder, and he's probably playing with you, is simple and uncomplicated? You probably spend a lot more time and energy in complicating your relationship with him than if you would just admit that you care for him more than friends, and get on with your life."

"I hear what you are saying Susan, I'm just not sure that I can take the next step."

"You are one of the strongest woman I know, It should not be a problem. Are you afraid of rejection?"

"Yes. I know that he cares for me, but is it because he pities me?"

"The only way you are ever going to know is if you ask him."

"I can't ask him Susan."

"Why not?"

"He's getting married in six months," Dana said neglecting to tell her in their previous sessions of Fox Mulder's pending nuptials.

"I see. How do you feel about it."

"At first I was shocked and then hurt. Now I guess I'm just mad."

"Mad at him or yourself."

"A little of both. I'm mad of him for him not wanting me. It should have been me that he's marrying, not Natasha. I'm also mad at myself for not acting on my feelings and letting him know how I feel."

"It isn't too late Dana. Regret is a hard thing to live with, I for one should know. It is better to know than to live with what if's. Do you like this woman he's marrying?" She was expecting Dana to go off on a tangent about what a bitch the woman was.

"That's the hard part. I really like Natasha. What is there not to like about her? She's beautiful, intelligent and extremely nice. Diana and I are bridesmaids in the wedding."

"Are you sure you are up to standing in front of a church watching Fox Mulder declare his love for another woman?" Susan asked astounded that Dana had even agreed to have been a bridesmaid.

"I have no choice. I couldn't have said no. Natasha is an orphan, she has no family. I can't be mean to her."

"There's no law that says just because a person was raised without parents that they are any more deserving of sympathy and understanding than anyone else."

"I know that Susan. I can handle this. I just have to accept that Fox Mulder loved Natasha and not me," Scully said listlessly while looking out the window.

End of Chapter 8

*************************************
House of Cards - Chapter 9
*************************************

Quantico, Virginia
February 15, 1999
11:20 am

Scully spent most of the day at Quantico consulting on a case as a forensic pathologist. She was meeting Mulder for lunch at 12:00 pm.. Although she normally enjoyed consulting on cases, she did not in this instance. Tom Colton, now working out of the Richmond Field Office was there, and it unnerved Scully. She knew that she shouldn't let Colton bother her, but she sometimes could not help it.

"Dr Scully, are your findings consistent with this theory?" Special Agent in Charge Drew Fowler asked her. Drew Fowler had been with the agency for 15 years. Dana didn't know him very well and knew from his reputation as a womanizer that she didn't want to know him either.

"Excuse me, would you mind repeating the question?" She said as she realized that she didn't hear what he had asked her.

"Could the cause of death be consistent with poisoning?" He asked once again.

"It is possible, but the amounts needed for a lethal dose would be so small that no trace evidence would remain. At this point in time I cannot think of any poison currently available that would do that. Has anyone checked with the CIA to see if the Russians are manufacturing new poisons?" She asked Tom Colton and Drew Fowler.

"We have not. I'll get someone to check on that." Tom Colton replied.

At noon, they decided to take a break for lunch. Dana found Mulder talking to some of his old friends from the academy that were stationed at Quantico. He saw that she was ready and they walked quietly to his car.

"Don't you want to eat in the Cafeteria, Special Agent Scully," Mulder joked.

"No, Special Agent Mulder, and after eating the food for several years you should be the first to not want to eat it again."

"It's not that bad Scully, you just have to have an iron stomach," He said patting his stomach.

"Well I for one don't have one. I want more normal food."

"Normal food? Alfalfa sprouts, tofu or some other foul smelling natural food that you are into now?"

"I would settle for a fruit plate, Mulder," Scully said as they reached his car.

"How about we eat at Shoney's then?"

"That's perfectly fine with me. I haven't been to one in over a year."

"Then Shoney's it is," He said as they got into the car and he started the engine.

Upon their arrival at Shoney's they were seated new the buffet bar. Dana sat quietly across from Mulder as he ate a 12-ounce steak.

"You really should try a piece Scully," He said while holding out his fork with a rather large piece of steak on it.

"No thank-you, Mulder." She said as she turned up her nose at the thought of eating meat.

"What's wrong. Afraid of what a steak might do to you."

"Don't forget Mulder, I have seen what E. Coli does."

"You only live once. May as well take your chances."

"I would rather not take my chances with that. I'll take them elsewhere."

"When is the last time you ate meat Scully?"

"A couple years ago. I did an autopsy on someone who died of trichinosis and decided that I didn't want to check out that way."

"What way would you like to check out Scully?" He said as he leered at her.

"I would like to die as naturally as possible. I don't want to end up on a table and having someone try to determine how I died."

"I always assumed that's how I would go. I don't mind the thought of people poking around my insides, though. I just hope that whoever does the autopsy is respectful and keeps my manhood intact. I'm going to need it for my next life." Dana Scully rolled her eyes at his last remark. She knew after their encounter with Melissa Ephesian of his strong conviction of an afterlife.

"Of course they would be respectful. It is part of the oath of the profession. Death isn't something to joke about. People that come across my desk rarely die from natural causes and don't ask to be there, to be studied."

"Could you ever work on someone you knew?" Mulder asked.

"I have, although I prefer not to. There's too much that could go wrong, too much at risk. A defense attorney could claim that I somehow botched the autopsy because I was an interested party, that I somehow manufactured the evidence that made their client guilty. I wouldn't want someone to go scott free for something like that."

"How do you manage to do it?" He asked.

"Do what?" Scully was confused as to where this line of questioning was leading. In the six years she had known him he had never once questioned why she was a forensic pathologist.

"Cut people up for a living," Mulder replied.

"Same way that you somehow manage to watch me 'cut up' several people."

"It isn't the same though. I'm just watching. You are the one sticking your hands inside dead peoples gut, removing their brains."

"Mulder, I hate to be one to give you an anatomy lesson, but one doesn't remove a brain through the chest cavity," Scully said as she started to laugh.

"You know what I mean."

"I know. It is my job. How does anyone manage to do what they do for a living? How does an accountant add number after number for years. How do plumbers stick their hands in people toilets? You just do it."

"I beg to differ what you do isn't the same as fixing toilets or adding numbers. What you do on a regular basis is considered weird and creepy."

"Weird and creepy?" She asked while arching her eyebrow.

"Yeah," Mulder said while shaking his arms and shoulders to show her that he thought it was freaky.

"And you consider what you do a perfectly normal occupation?"

"No. But I'm not cutting dead people open."

"I consider getting into the minds of psychopaths, understanding them and what they do, far worse. If you question anyone's occupational choice it should be your own."

"Touche'' Dr. Scully, point well taken. So do you want a bite or not?"

"I'll pass." They finished the rest of lunch in silence. Mulder paid for both of their meal and drove her back to Quantico for her meeting.

****************************************

Apartment of Dana Scully
Georgetown
March 7, 1999
8:30 p.m.

January and February passed quickly for Dana Scully as she settled into her new job with VCS. She found that she was a natural in the new position and was quickly receiving recognition from the FBI administration for her skills. She did a lot of consulting with other state and local agencies and spent most of her time away on business. She saw Natasha and Mulder regularly as they met with her to go over their wedding plans. She was getting used to the idea of Mulder marrying Natasha which was easy because of Natasha's very likeable demeanor.

She spent most of her free time with Blake and occasionally Claire. Blake had agreed to procure the bridesmaid's dresses for Dana, Diana and Natasha's best friend Wendy. Dana spent many hours trying on dresses for Blake. He was determined that she was going to be a vision in light blue, the color that Natasha had selected. Dana was certain that if Blake were not in her life she would have slowly gone mad.

Tonight Natasha, Diana and Wendy were at Dana's apartment for the unveiling of the bridesmaid dress. Blake was there to conduct the fittings and make sure that everyone would look lovely.

"This ladies is the dress that I have selected," He said as he pulled out a beautiful light blue gown that was tea length. The dress had spaghetti straps and a dipped back. It was the kind of dress that one could wear several times again to the opera or other formal occasion.

"Where did you find this dress Blake?" Natasha asked him, "I have been looking through books at bridesmaid dresses for months and have never seen anything close to this. This is absolutely perfect." She got up off the couch and hugged him.

"Well it helps when I own a clothing store and know what to look for." He told them not wanting then to know that what he really had done was send a picture of the wedding gown and a picture of Dana to his friend Calvin Klein to design a gown. The three other gowns that Calvin Klein had designed with Dana in mind as a gift to Blake were hanging in her closet. Blake didn't think that the group needed to know where the dress came from.

Dana, Diana and Wendy each tried on their dresses while Blake decided on what alterations were needed. The dress was flattering on all the woman and they loved the feel of the fabric. Diana and Blake seemed to hit it off. Dana didn't think that Diana knew that Blake was gay and wondered if she should tell her. Blake took her aside.

"Dana, I didn't know your former boss was a lesbian."

"A what?"

"She likes women."

"She doesn't. I would know."

"Yeah, like you knew about me."

"How can you tell? Did she tell you?"

"Oh course not. I can tell these things. Besides with the amount of attention she was paying to your breasts while I was doing your fitting, there was no question in my mind," Blake whispered.

"She wasn't. You lie," Dana said blushing.

"Dana. She was checking you out."

"Are you sure? I thought that she and Mulder were involved."

"Well she could be bi-sexual then. Didn't you once tell me that Mulder told you that he had a friend that was gay? Maybe she was the one that he was talking about."

"But she has quite reputation for getting around with men, not women, in the bureau."

"Hello Dana, she could be bi-sexual like I said. You two would make a cute couple."

"You don't want me to hurt you do you? Besides you know that I like men. Not women."

"You'll never know until you try Dana," Blake Maxwell said as he walked back to the group leaving Dana alone with her thoughts.

<So Diana Fowley is attracted to me. > Scully thought.

*******************************************

Apartment of Dana Scully
Georgetown
March 8, 1999
1:30 am

Diana Fowley walked slowly across Dana's bedroom, her wine glass in hand.

"Dana, I have wanted you for so long. It has been hard for me to work so close to you for all these months and not be able to touch you or tell you what I feel," Diana said as she took her hand.

"Diana, I only realized recently how much I care for you, how attracted that I'm to you," Dana said while reaching up to stroke her cheek. Diana moaned at her touch.

"Oh Dana, I never thought that you would feel the same way about me. Do you know what you do to me?" She asked.

"Diana stop talking," Dana said as she reached up, grabbed Diana head and lowered it to her own. She roughly kissed Diana on the lips and was surprised when Diana started responding my gently running her hands up to Dana's breasts and kneading them through her shirt.

"Oh God, Diana," Dana said as she continued to savage her mouth with kisses. She worked up the nerve to slowly insert her tongue.

The two tongues dueled for possession of each other's mouths while Dana and Diana started roughly undressing each other. Once nude Diana led Dana over to her bed and lay on top of her.

"Oh my God," Dana said as she sat up in bed looking suddenly, looking around the room.

"It was just a dream. It was just a dream," She muttered to herself as she grabbed her phone and dialed Blake's number.

"This had better be good Dana," Blake said as he answered his phone, seeing her number on his called ID.

"Blake, you took that course in dream analysis. I need you to tell me what my dream meant."

"That was like 10 years ago and could this wait until tomorrow morning?" He asked.

"No. It has really freaked me out."

"This isn't that reoccurring nightmare where that liver man cannibalized you, is it."

"No, this is much worse and embarrassing."

"Okay, it must involve sex. At least the dream will be entertaining for me to hear. If I'm going to be woken up in the middle of the night I would rather it involve torrid tales of sex."

"Blake, I dreamt that Diana and I were about to have sex."

"You're kidding," Blake Maxwell said before he started laughing.

"No, I wish I was. What does it mean?"

"Probably nothing more than the power of suggestion. I just told you that she was interested in you. It is only natural for you subconscious to play the what if game in your dreams."

"Okay. I was worried that I was turning into a lesbian."

"Dana, you aren't turning into a lesbian, you just had a weird dream. Besides, there's nothing wrong with being a lesbian. I can think of a lot of worse things that you could become. Go back to sleep dear," He said.

They talked for several more minutes before they hung up the phone. Dana tried to go back to sleep but ended up staring at the clock for the next several hours. She finally gave up and got ready for work early.

*******************************************

Georgetown University Hospital
Intensive Care Unit
April 15, 1999
12 am

"Maggie," Walter yelled out to her as he saw her in the lobby.

"How is Dana?" He asked with concern in his eyes.

"She's very weak. The doctor said she lost a lot of blood and they aren't sure if she's going to make it. I have tried to find Fox, but I don't know where he is," Maggie told him wondering why he was here. Dana had never told her mother about the problems that she and Fox Mulder had gone through the past year. She wasn't aware that Mulder was engaged to be married in 2 months to Natasha. She assumed that Mulder and Scully were still best friends who shared everything.

"I'll call an agent to go and look for him Maggie. What the hell happened?"

"What have you been told? How did you know what happened?"

"They haven't told me anything. Since Dana had her badge with her when she was brought in and her medical records are on file the hospital staff called the bureau to report it. Since I'm her Assistant director I was routed the call. I got here as soon as I could. How is she?"

"I don't know what happened Walter. I was watching Unsolved Mysteries on TV when I got the call that Dana had been brought in with a life threatening injury. They haven't let me see her and they won't tell me what is wrong."

At that moment the a doctor approached Maggie Scully and identified himself as Dr. Nimj. "Mrs. Scully, we have Dana stabilized at the moment. She's in critical but stable condition."

"What happened doctor?" Maggie interrupted.

"Dana was shot while on what we're assuming was an afternoon jog. The police said that Dana was apparently jogging by herself when she was robbed at gun-point. We don't know if she tried to fight her attackers, but that's what eyewitnesses are saying happened. Anyway, the bullet pierced her lung and lodged in her spine. She's in surgery right now to remove the bullet."

"Her spine? That doesn't sound good Dr. Nimj. Is she going to be able to walk?" Maggie cried out. Walter took her hand to try to comfort her.

"We don't know at this time. There's a lot of swelling and the paralysis may only be temporary. Time will only tell."

"When can we see her?" Walter asked the doctor as Maggie cried into a tissue.

"She'll be in surgery for a couple of hours. I suggest that you two get something to eat, call family members and rest. It is going to be a long night."

Maggie and Walter watched as Dr. Nimbi went back into the ICU and left them to face the agony of waiting to find out if Dana was okay.

"Walter, please find Fox. Dana needs him here," Maggie pleaded.

"Let me see what I can do." He used his cell phone to call Mulder's office, home and cell phones. No answer on each account. He decided to call Diana Fowley.

"Hello," Diana Fowley answered while yawning.

"Agent Fowley, this is AD Skinner. Do you know the whereabouts of Agent Mulder?"

"Why? Is he in some type of trouble?" She asked while looking at him sleeping across the room.

"No, he isn't in trouble this time. However, it is imperative that I get a hold of him as soon as possible. Agent Scully is in the emergency room at Georgetown University Hospital. She's in critical condition."

"Oh my god AD Skinner, what happened," Mulder heard the urgency in her voice and sat up in bed.

"What has happened?" He asked Diana, not aware that Skinner also heard him.

"It appears that Agent Scully was out jogging and was robbed. The robber shot her and now she's critical," Walter Skinner explained to Diana Fowley.

"Sir, I'll find Mulder and we'll be at the hospital as soon as possible."

"Thank you, Agent Fowley." Walter Skinner hung up the phone and headed back to the waiting room.

"Maggie, Diana Fowley is going to find him and bring him here as soon as possible. While we're waiting is there anything I can get for you?"

"No Walter, I'm fine. I can't believe that this is happening. I keep hoping that this all is a bad dream and I'm going to wake up and everything will be all right again," Maggie said while sitting down in her chair.

"Did you get a hold of your children and let them know what is happening with Dana."

"Yes, Bill said that he would be out on the first plane. He's still very protective of her. I wasn't able to reach Charlie directly because he's out to sea. He won't be allowed to come back and see her but hopefully they will allow him to call her once she's out of danger."

"What about your other child?" Skinner asked.

Maggie looked at him perplexed, "I only have three children Walter, since Melissa died."

"What happened to Mary?" He asked, not knowing a polite way to ask such a sensitive question.

"Mary?" Maggie replied not sure of who he was talking about.

"I don't have a child named Mary."

"Maggie, I could have sworn that you had a baby girl that you named Mary. She must have been born a year or two after Melissa."

"Oh, you mean Dana?"

"It couldn't have been Dana or I would have remembered the name when I first met her. When I visited you in the hospital after you gave birth you told me that you named the child Mary. Don't you remember?"

"No, and this isn't something I want to talk about right now." Maggie suddenly got up from her chair and left the room. Walter Skinner was puzzled as to what he had said to upset her. He wondered if Mary had died as an infant.

Twenty minutes later Fox Mulder came running into the ICU with Diana Fowley close behind demanding that he be allowed to see Dana Scully. Walter Skinner heard the commotion and went out to investigate. Maggie still had not returned to the lounge.

"Fox, please calm down. The are still trying to stabilize her. No one has been allowed to see her yet," Walter Skinner said.

"What are her injuries?" He asked.

"I was told that she was shot. The bullet pierced her lung and lodged in her spine. Right now they don't know of there will be permanent paralysis. I don't know anything more than that."

"Oh my God, she can't walk. This will kill her. I need to see her. I need to see her. I NEED TO SEE HER NOW," He yelled. He felt guilty over their rift. She was going to die and she would never know that he still cared deeply for her. He acted is if he didn't but he was only trying to protect himself so that she would never be able to break his heart again. If she lived and was paralyzed it would be even worse.

"Calm down Agent Mulder. May I remind you that this is a public hospital," Walter Skinner told Mulder. Diana sat quietly in a chair observing the conversation. She saw an attractive middle aged woman enter the room and assumed that she was Maggie Scully. Mulder noticed Maggie enter the room and walked over an embraced her.

"Mrs. Scully, I'm so sorry that this has happened. Have you seen Dana yet?"

"No Fox, they won't let me."

"Let me go and see what I can find out. I promise to be on my best behavior." Fox Mulder walked out of the room in search of a nurse who he could ask questions. He found one at the nurses station.

"Excuse me Miss, but could you tell me what is going on with Dana Scully and when we will be allowed to see her?"

"Are you a relative?"

"You could say that," He replied.

"She's out of surgery and in recovery. The bleeding appears to be under control but she has lost so much blood already and we are having trouble keeping a steady pressure. The doctor wanted to put her on a respirator but was unable to due to the stipulation in her living will. All we can do now is wait for her body to heal itself."

"Thanks. I'll tell the rest of the family," Fox Mulder walked the hallway back to the waiting room dragging his feet. He could not believe that Dana was in such bad shape and there was nothing he could do about it.

"Fox, what is it?" Maggie asked as soon as he entered the room.

"They say that there isn't much they can do at this point due to her living will. They will let us know when we can see her," He collapsed in the chair and buried his head in his hands. Diana went over to comfort him.

"I cannot lose another child," Maggie cried out, "This cannot be happening. First Melissa and now Dana. I have buried one daughter and cannot go through this again. Oh God." Maggie Scully collapsed on the floor sobbing. Fox saw her and got down on the floor besides her and cradled her in his arms.

Diana and Walter looked at each other not sure of what they should do. At that moment the nurse came in and said that Dana was stable enough for them to see her, but that the visit had to be short.

Maggie Scully walked into the room first and was shocked at the sight of Dana. She had not seen her daughter in nearly six months and had not realized how bad she had gotten. Dana was lying on the bed with only a sheet covering her. Tubes were going in and out of her arms and a heart monitor kept track of every beat her heart made. She didn't look good. Maggie slowly approached her bed. Walter Skinner, Fox and Diana stood in the doorway watching the scene.

"Dana, honey, it's mom. I'm here for you. Can you hear me?" Maggie Scully gently picked up Dana's frail hand. It looked so tiny compared to hers. "Dana, I love you. You are going to get better," Maggie pleaded with her daughter.

At that moment an alarm on the heart monitor went off. The nurse in the room shouted into the phone "code blue" . Teams of doctors came running into the room. Maggie stood silently by, tears streaming down her face as she watched the doctors trying to revive her daughter. Dana was dying in front of her own eyes and she couldn't do a thing about it.

"Mrs. Scully, you'll have to leave while we work on her. Once she's stable we will let you know."

"Please don't let her die. She's the only daughter I have left," Maggie pleaded.

Walter, Diana and Fox were standing in the hallway waiting for her. When Dana started to crash they all quickly left the room.

"How is she? "Fox Mulder asked.

"Not good, oh god she looks terrible. I need to be alone for a little while. Fox would you mind staying here in case they stabilize her quickly. I don't want her to be alone."

"Sure, no problem, Mrs. Scully."

"Walter, would you mind coming with me there's something I need to talk to you about." Diana and Fox looked at each other questioningly.

"Do you mind if we go down to the chapel to talk?" Maggie asked Walter, not looking at him.

"Sure, anywhere you want is fine."

*******************************************

Georgetown University Hospital
Hospital Chapel
April 15, 1999
6:30 am

Once inside the tiny chapel at the Georgetown University Hospital, Maggie lit a candle and knelt at the altar to say a short prayer for Dana. Walter Skinner wasn't a religious man so her stood quietly by and listened to what Maggie was saying. He could hear much of it only the names Dana and Bill. Once finished with her prayer, Maggie joined Walter in the last row of pews.

"What did you want to talk to me about Maggie?" Walter asked confused as to why he was here. He thought that everything that he ever had with Maggie was in the past and wouldn't be brought up again.

"I need to talk to you about something I should have done a lot sooner. God, this is hard. I don't know where to start. God, please give me the strength to go through with this."

Walter Skinner was starting to get concerned, but didn't say anything. He felt that his silence would make it easier for her to tell him what he had to say.

"Walter, remember when you asked me about Mary earlier?" He nodded. "Well I didn't want to talk about Mary and I think you know why?"

"I have no idea what you are talking about Maggie. I only brought up Mary because that was the last time I saw you until we met in the grocery store years ago."

"Walter, I didn't want to talk about Mary because Mary was your daughter, not Bill's."

"My daughter. Oh my god. I had a daughter and you never told me. I had always wondered but I thought that you of all people would have the decency to tell me. How the hell could you not have told me about her. I had a right to know. Why didn't you tell me Maggie. I loved you. I would have helped raise her. You knew how much I wanted a child." Walter Skinner was clearly irate but at the same time sympathetic to the woman he once loved. Maggie was openly crying.

"I'm sorry Walter. There's no way I can explain what I did. At the time I did what any respectable married woman my age did. I kept the pregnancy a secret. Bill found out of course and when the doctor told us the due date he knew that he couldn't be the father. I loved him, Bill and Melissa and wasn't willing to risk my marriage. My upbringing forbade me the option of having an abortion. I confessed what I had done to Bill and Father McAllen. We went to marital counseling for a year. Bill managed to forgive me and we decided to raise the child as if she were his. He was a wonderful father to her Walter."

"Maggie, I had a right to know. You know how much I want a wanted a child, how hard Sharon and I tried to conceive. I wouldn't have taken Mary away from you. I would just have liked to be a part of her life."

"At the time I did what I thought was best for her and my family. What I did with you was incredibly selfish of me and never should have happened."

"I don't regret what happened for a minute Maggie. I was in a loveless marriage and my brief time with you I knew that I was loved. I will always cherish the memories of the short time we had together." Walter took her hand. "Maggie what happened to Mary? Did she die?"

"Oh no, Walter she's very much alive."

"I would like to meet her. I want to be a part of her life. She doesn't have to know that I'm her father."

"Oh Walter, you already are part of her life."

"I don't understand Maggie, I have never met a Mary Scully."

"Walter, we changed Mary's name to Dana."

Walter stood up abruptly "Dana Scully, FBI agent Dana Scully is my daughter?"

"Yes."

"Oh my God." Walter said as she got up and ran out of the chapel. He barely made it to the men's room before he threw up all over the floor. He started shaking and sweating. He thought he might be in shock. The same Dana Scully that he occupied his bed and his heart was his daughter. He had slept with his daughter. He collapsed on the bathroom floor sobbing.

End of Chapter 9

*******************************************
House of Cards - Chapter 10
*******************************************

Georgetown University Hospital
April 19, 1999
8:00 am

Walter Skinner walked up and down the hallway outside of the chapel deep in thought. He could not believe that he was a father, much less her father. He remembered the first day that he met her in the cafeteria in the FBI building. He thought that she was an intern for she looked about 22 years old. She was sitting with Jack Willis, a man had been friends with for years.

"Hey, Willis," Walter Skinner said as he approached their table. "I don't believe I have met you before," He said to Dana.

"Dana Scully," She replied coolly as she shook his hand.

<Oh that Dana Scully.> He thought. He had heard a lot about her from Jack but he never realized what she looked like. Jack and Dana had been dating for 6 months and Jack wouldn't stop raving what a phenomenal woman she was in bed. Walter knew that Dana was probably 20 years younger than Jack and used to tease Jack endlessly about robbing the cradle. Jack had always said that if he ever got at look at the cradle in all her glory he would rob it also. Looking at Dana, Walter Skinner decided that she was definitely attractive and he could see why Jack went for her.

Now to realize his friend Willis had been fucking his daughter. He was disgusted, repulsed at the notion.

Maggie had told him about his being Dana's father five days ago. He had spent the last four days drinking himself into oblivion. This morning he woke up with an awful hangover and the realization that he was going to have to see her sometime. He knew each time he raised the bottle to his lips that alcohol wouldn't bring a cure to the relief of the anger and disgust that he felt. He knew that he could not erase their relationship. He knew that eventually he would have to stop drinking and face reality, face Dana. He figured that he may as well prolong the truth as long as possible.

Someone deep down inside his soul he knew that he was going to have to face her. He wished that she never had to find out the truth, but he knew Maggie Scully and her Catholic guilt. Dana was going to find out and there was nothing he could do to stop it.

As he dressed he thought back over the years. Surely somewhere along the line he would have known that she was his daughter. Hoe could he not have made the connection with her last name? Why had he never asked or looked into her personnel file to see what he parents or siblings names were? Once he knew who her mother was why had he never asked her about her sister Mary? If only he had asked about Mary he would have discovered that she didn't exist. He liked to think that he would never have started a relationship with her and they wouldn't be in this awful mess.

Looking back over their time together he found himself looking for glimpses of himself in her. Sure, they discovered that she shared a lot of things in common, things at they time they attributed to their compatibility. He now saw them as pieces of himself manifest in her.

<Stop torturing yourself, Walter,> He said to himself. He finished dressing and grabbed a cup of coffee on his way out of his apartment.

*************************************************

Walter Skinner slowly made his way to her hospital room. He tried to stop the endless thoughts about her, but could not get her out of his head. He wondered if when he saw her he would feel fatherly. Or if the longing for what could have been between them would still be there. He damned the day that Maggie Scully came into their lives.

He paused outside the door to her hospital room, hoping that Maggie Scully wasn't inside. Once he saw that the room was free from visitors he slowly made his way to the bed. He was surprised that he didn't feel fatherly toward her. He felt more fear and apprehension of what would happen once she opened her eyes. He approached her bed and noticed that she looked a little better.

He didn't know what he should do. Should he act concerned? Could he hold her hand without her thinking that he was a former lover coming to pay a visit.

He decided that touching her was probably not a good move and instead opted to sit in the chair beside her bed and watch her sleep.

Dana Scully awoke to find Walter Skinner sitting besides her staring at her.

"Sir, I didn't expect to find you here," She said amidst half closed eyes. She still refused to call him Walter in front of anyone except Claire and Blake. Walter was too personal for her liking. Sir was much more removed.

"I'm sorry to disturb your sleep Dana," He replied to her.

<Dana, how long has it been since he has called me Dana,> She thought.

"How long have you been here?" She asked.

"You were brought in five days ago. The doctors put you into a coma to give your body more time to heal. How are you feeling?"

"I'm fine, just a little groggy. What is the extent of my injuries? All I remember is being shot by some man that tried to mug me while I was out jogging. Guess I should have just given him the money and not fought back." Dana was surprised that she was able to form a complete sentence in his presence. She felt strange talking to Walter Skinner. Ever since he ended their affair he had not had much contact with her that wasn't business related. She found it strange that he was visiting her in the hospital.

"That correlates with what the eye witnesses said. They were impressed at how long you fought the guy before he shot you."

"So, what's my prognosis Sir?"

"I'll let the doctors tell you that."

"Well since they aren't here can you get me my chart so I can see for myself?" She asked.

"Dana. I really think it is better that you wait for them."

"Fine, I'll get it myself," Dana said.

"You've just had surgery. I don't think that it is a good idea for you to be moving around. I'm surprised that you are even awake. Relax, let the doctors do their jobs." Walter Skinner tried to assure her.

"Okay, fine. Do you know where my personal items are?" She asked him.

"I have your gun and badge, but your clothing was a loss."

"What about my cell phone?"

"Mulder has your cell phone."

"What did you guys do, divide up my belongings?" She joked.

"The hospital gave me to gun and the badge and when the cell phone kept on ringing the nurses got sick of hearing it and gave it to Mulder."

"He's been answering my phone?" She asked.

"I assume so. For your sake I hope that he hasn't been calling 976 numbers on it. Speaking of Mulder I need to find him. Is there anything I can get for you besides your chart?" He asked.

"Can you bring me that phone?" She said pointing at the phone sitting on the bedside table.

She waited until Walter Skinner left the room before she called Blake Maxwell.

"Blake, this is Dana."

"Oh my god, I thought you were dead. I saw some report on the news about some FBI agent that was shot and in critical condition. The physical description they gave matched you exactly. I have been trying to reach you for days. Every time I call your cell Mulder answers. What is he doing with your cell and why aren't you returning my messages?" Blake Maxwell asked.

"That FBI agent was me. Before you get all upset know that I'm fine. I'm in Georgetown University Hospital right now and I really need a visit from you."

"My god Dana, are you okay?"

"I guess. Right now I'm on some serious medication to minimize my pain and movement. But I'll be fine."

"Let me grab a few things and I'll be down in few. I assume that you haven't called Claire yet. I'll take care of it while you rest. Love you." He said as he hung up the phone.

***********************************************

Georgetown University Hospital
April 19, 1999
11:00 am

Blake Maxwell rushed into Dana Scully's hospital room carrying a bouquet of roses.

"I saw these and knew that you just had to have them," He said as he placed them on her nightstand and leaned down to kiss her.

"You are looking well for a woman that the media portrayed as partially dead," He said while looking her over, "All these wires and tubes going in and out of you are making me nervous."

"They are just making sure that I pee and eat on their schedule."

"Well at least someone is making you eat. It probably beats what they are serving in the cafeteria, anyway." Blake said as he sat down in the chair beside her bed.

"Hey, I eat enough."

"Yeah right. And that would be why I could probably tell you exactly how many ribs there are in the female body by just counting yours?" he asked her.

"Look, you think I'm too skinny. I think I'm alright. I have been working with Susan and a nutritionist on getting my weight back up."

"Well I'm glad to hear that. So can I see your scars?" He said as he leaned closer trying to see if he could see any scars or marks of her attack.

"Why do you have a fascination with my injuries?" She asked as she tried to back away from his peering gaze.

"I need to see how your latest medical catastrophe it is going to affect your swimsuit choices this summer," He said being totally honest.

"Only you would be so vain Blake. I'm sure underneath the bandages I look like a surgical patient. Anyway, I'm supposed to meet with a plastic surgeon in a couple of weeks. He should be able to minimize the scars."

"I sure hope so because if you are all covered with ugly scars it is really going to limit the selection of men this summer at the beach house."

"Heavens forbid my life threatening injury and disfigurement ruin your summer fun," Dana joked. She was glad that Blake had come by to cheer her up.

"So are there any cute doctors of orderlies worth mentioning?" He asked her.

"Why do you want me to feign an emergency where you can summon them and play the concerned friend?"

"Now that you mention it,"He started.

"No Blake I'm not going to pull that number for you again. Besides, I just woke up this morning and I haven't seen an orderlies or many doctors. The only person in my room this morning worth mentioning was Walter," She said while avoiding his gaze.

"Walter, he was here?" Blake asked astonished as he leaned in closer to Dana.

"Yes. It was strange too. I couldn't figure out why he was here. When I woke up he was sitting in the chair you are now sitting in and he was staring at me like he was studying me or something. It was creepy."

"Dana Scully creeped out. Now that's a thought. What did he want?"

"I'm really not sure. He didn't say why he was there. It is customary for AD's to visit their charges when faced with life threatening injuries, but did he really need to be there when I woke up?"

"Strangeness. Where are your mom or Mulder? I would assume that they would be the ones at your bedside, not Walter."

"Oh Skinner was the first one you say when you came to?" Mulder asked as he entered her hospital room, "That would have made me go back to sleep for at least another week." He walked over to her hospital bed and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "Glad to see you decided to join the living."

"Mulder, this is Blake Maxwell. Blake this is Fox Mulder," Dana said introducing them. The men shook hands and looked each other over.

"So, you are the infamous Fox Mulder, ex-partner of Dana." Blake said impressed by what he saw. He had seen pictures of Fox Mulder but the pictures didn't do him justice.

"And you would be the best friend Blake who Dana does things with all the time, but whose existence I doubted much like her mythical brother Charlie, because she could never produce a picture of you when I asked." Fox Mulder responded not expecting Blake to be as tall or good looking as he was.

"Dana has lots of pictures of me," Blake said looking over at Dana.

"Blake, I couldn't show him any of those because I look really bad in them," Dana tried to explain.

"Well at least I look good in them which is what counts," Blake replied.

"Blake, before I forget, thank-you for your help in finding the bridesmaid's dresses. Natasha is really pleased with them."

"It was my pleasure."

"Natasha said you owned a clothing store. What is it called?" Mulder asked expecting it to be a really small store.

"Chaz," Blake replied.

"Chaz as in the chain of upscale stores?" Mulder asked.

"Yes, I own the chain. All 47 stores."

"When Natasha said that you owned a clothing store I thought she was mistaken. I thought you found the dress at a store, not that you owned the store. I had always assumed that you were a friend that Scully met in medical school along with the mythical Claire who I have also never met," Mulder said as Blake started to laugh.

"I don't think that you would ever find Claire or I in medical school."

"How did you meet?" Mulder asked as he looked over at Scully for her reaction. Blake also looked over at her to see if she would mind if he told Mulder. Dana nodded her head to give him the go ahead.

"I met Dana when she was an obnoxious 16 year old who came to work for me."

"You've known Dana for that long. Do you also know Claire?" Mulder said somewhat upset that this stranger occupied a much larger part of Dana's life than he thought. Mulder realized that Blake probably knew Dana much better than he did or ever would.

"We also met Claire at the store. I have known them both for around 18 years."

"Is Claire also in the clothing business?"Mulder asked.

"No, Claire is an attorney. She works for some big firm in New York City. It has too many names for me to remember and she always gets mad whenever Dana or I butcher the name so we all refer to it as The Firm'."

"You know Mulder, you are allowed to ask me questions," Scully spoke up interrupting the friendly conservation between the two men in her life..

"I know Scully. This is all to fascinating. It's like you've been leading a secret life. I have worked with you for years and never once have I met your friends. Why do you think that's?" Mulder asked her.

"Could it be that I like to keep my private life and work separate. Besides, it is not like you didn't know of their existence. I have told you about them."

"Yeah, but you never mentioned that Blake was mister multi-millionaire and Claire was an attorney. I just assumed that they were doctors like you." Mulder said as he started to raise his voice in an argumentative manner.

"You never asked what they did for a living Mulder. It wasn't an issue," Scully said raising her voice defensively.

"Dana, sweetheart, you are awake." Maggie Scully said as she entered Dana's hospital room and interrupted the brewing argument between Dana and Fox Mulder. She then noticed that Blake Maxwell was also in the room.

"I have been awake for a couple of hours now, Mom."

"It is good to see you again, Blake," Maggie said as she went over and hugged him.

"I'm just sorry we had to meet over Dana's sick bed," Blake replied.

"How are things with the store?" She asked.

"Things are going well. We're expanding overseas so I'm having to put in a lot of extra hours. It is thrilling but also exhausting. Did you get the invitation to the Palm Beach opening?"

"I did, but I don't know if I will be able to make it. When was it again?"

"June 10th. Plenty of time for you and Dana to go and be back in time for Fox's wedding," Blake said not aware that Dana had not told her mother that Fox Mulder was getting married.

"Fox is getting married?" She asked.

"Yes, I'm getting married June 12, didn't Dana tell you?" Mulder said.

"No, she didn't mention it Fox. I guess congratulations are in order," Maggie said and she went over to Mulder and gave him a hug. "Have you been engaged long?"

"Since January. Didn't Dana tell you that she was a bridesmaid?"

"No, I'm sure that's one of the many things that she has neglected to tell me this past year," Maggie Scully said as she looked at her youngest daughter. She noticed that Dana avoided her eye contact.

"Mom, I was sure I told you," Dana said trying to cover for her omission..

"I think I would have remembered that, Dana. Fox, I would love to come to your wedding, that's if I'm invited." Maggie said irritated that her daughter had embarrassed her like that. Dana should have told her the news.

"Maggie, you should see Dana in her dress, absolute perfection," Blake said as he tried to steer the direction of the conversation away from Dana not telling her mother about Fox and Natasha's wedding. He knew of Maggie famous temper and dislike for being the last one to know.

"I would have liked to have been told about the wedding before now. Four weeks isn't a lot of time to shop for a gift."

"What difference does it make?" Dana asked irritated at her mother for only being concerned about wedding etiquette. Here she was just out of a coma and all anyone wanted to talk about was Fox and Natasha and their little wedding. She realized that in a couple of weeks he was going to walk down the aisle and pledge his love to another woman and that there wasn't a damn thing she could do about it.

"This is all so sudden. I didn't even know that you were dating anyone, Fox. I thought with your and Dana's jobs there was no time for a personal life. At least that has been what Dana has been telling me. How is the wedding going to affect your work and partnership with Dana?" Maggie asked.

"Dana and I aren't partners," Mulder said surprised that Dana had not told her mother about him reassigning her. He then realized that was why Maggie Scully was being so nice to him, she had no reason not to dislike him. Dana never told her mother that he had asked for her transfer.

"You are no longer partners? Did they dissolve the X-Files division again?" Maggie asked genuinely confused as to why her daughter had not told her that she and Fox no longer worked together.

"No mom, the X-Files is still there, I'm just no longer a part of it. I now work in violent crimes," Dana said irritated at everyone in the room. She wished that her mother and Fox Mulder would get out of her room and leave herself and Blake alone. "I'm getting tired, could you please have this discussion somewhere else?" Dana asked.

"Sure, well I'm glad to see that you are looking better Dana. Fox, would you care to join me for a bite to eat in the cafeteria? I would love to hear about this lovely woman you are marrying and all about your wedding plans," Maggie said to Fox Mulder.

"Sure, Mrs. Scully. See you later Scully," Fox Mulder said as they left the room.

"Blake, please shut the door," Dana asked him as soon as Mulder and her mother left the room. Once she saw that the door was closed she said to him, "Can you believe her? And she wonders why I don't tell her anything."

"Dana, I'm sure she was trying."

"Well she ought to try a little harder. She would rather discuss wedding plans that my personal health."

"Maybe she didn't want to talk about your personal health because you never want to talk about it to anyone, me included."

"Why are you defending her Blake? She was barely civil to you."

"I'm not defending her. I'm merely pointing out a fact that her not asking you about your health is completely normal."

"Stop defending her, you are my friend. You know that she can barely stand the sight of you, why are you taking her side?"

"I'm not on anyone's side Dana."

"Yes you are."

"Dana, get a grip. So your mother and I don't get along. I know that she has a deep aversion to homosexuals even though she denies it, it no longer bothers me. I don't obsess about it and you shouldn't obsess about other things she says and does."

"Easier said than done. I don't think my mom dislikes you because of your sexual preference."

"Please Dana. She gave me that whole homosexuality is a sin speech several times."

"Yeas, but it was followed by the we love the sinner but not the sin' speech," Dana said, "I think the reason she doesn't like you has more to do with the fact that I moved out of that oppressive household when I was 17 and in with you and Claire. I don't think my parents approved of my living with a man."

"Whatever the reason, there's no sense in dwelling on the past. You have some major butt kissing to do with your mother to get her over this hump. I can understand you not telling her about Mulder getting married because of her fantasy of the two of you having a large church wedding as all, but I can't believe that you didn't tell her that Mulder had you reassigned."

"What good would that have accomplished? She would have ended up accusing me of doing something to cause the reassignment and would have given me the I told you that you had no business being an FBI agent speech'."

"You don't know that she would have blamed you."

"The hell I don't. Every time in my life when I have gone to her with a problem somehow she has always managed to turn it around and blame me."

"You mother loves you more than anything, Dana."Blake tried to reassure her.

"I know that she does, and I know that she would do anything she could to protect me."

"Dana, you would be a lot happier if you would just accept your mother for who she is. Sure, she could have done things differently and been more supportive of you, but she was the best mother she knew how to be to you and your siblings. She wasn't perfect and she never will be. She loves you and cares for you the best way that she knows how, accepting that will make your life a hell of a lot easier. Accept Maggie for who she is, not for who you want her to be."

"You have spent way to much time on Susan's couch," Dana said.

"Well her advice works. I'm much happier now that I have come to terms with my parents wanting nothing to do with me. They are who they are and no amount of hoping is going to change that."

"I know that I need to accept many things, one of them being that Mulder is going to marry another woman in a couple of weeks."

"Dana, have you ever told him how you feel about him?"

"No, I'm sure that he knows that I care."

"Caring and loving someone aren't the same."

"I know. Susan has made me realize these past few months how incredibly destructive and self centered my behavior has been for the last year. I have loved Fox Mulder for years but it was only when he tried to kiss me that one night in the hallway and my subsequent rescue from Antarctica that I began to realize how strong my feelings for him were. I pushed him away by acting cold and ultra professional. I didn't want for him to get close to me. He wasn't supposed to realize what I felt for him. I vowed after the WSF (Walter Skinner Fiasco) that no man would ever make me lose control of myself again. The harder I pushed him away the more pissed off he became and the less that he cared for me. Yes, my behavior had it's desired effect. At the same time I was pushing him away I wanted him to want me and when he didn't it made me even more mad and I pushed him away harder. I am a mess." Dana said as she stared out the window.

"No, you are human," Blake said taking her hand and holding it.

"I can't repair what I have done."

"Yes, you can. You have already started repairing it. Mulder is talking to you again. He wouldn't have been here if he didn't care about you."

"But he's marrying another woman."

"You could always tell him how you felt on the chance that he feels the same way."

"No, that's wrong. He deserves this chance at happiness. He wouldn't have asked Natasha to marry him if didn't love her. I can't interfere with their happiness. I had my chance and blew it."

They were interrupted by a knock on the door. Before they could respond Dana's doctor entered the room.

"I heard that you were awake. Sorry that it took us so long to get to you this morning. We're a little understaffed today. My name is Doctor Sinwain. I need to ask you to leave sir that I can complete my examination," Doctor Sinwain said to Blake.

"No problem. I'll be back later Dana," Blake said as he kissed her on the cheek and left the hospital room.

"Dana, I don't have to tell you how lucky you are. You were brought in five days ago with a gunshot wound to the chest. Upon initial examination is was presumed that the bullet was lodged in your spine, but upon removal of the bullet that wasn't the case. There was trauma to the spinal cord due to the bullet being lodged in such close proximity. Damage to your lung was minimal. We induced a coma to help your body heal. You were experiencing slight paralysis at the time you were brought into the ER which was part of the reason why it was thought that the spinal cord was damaged. I expect a complete recovery at this time."

"Great, how soon can I get out of here?" Dana asked.

"It is going to be at least another week before you can leave the hospital and another week before you can return to work. I need to check the wounds now," He said as he lowered the hospital gown.

"Dana, I know that you are a doctor and should know this, but since I'm a doctor also I feel that it is my responsibility to inform you that your body show the classic signs of anorexia."

"I know Dr. Sinwain. I'm currently under treatment for it," Dana said while avoiding his eyes.

"Who is your doctor?" he asked..

"Dr. Susan Lowenstein. She used to practice in New York City, but now has a practice in downtown DC."

"I know Susan, I used to date her cousin Cheryl. She's a great woman. I'm sure you are in excellent hands. As for your wounds, they are going to heal much more slowly than if you were in excellent health. This is part of the reason why your hospital stay is longer than one would normally have to stay for these kinds of injuries. We tried to minimize the scaring and were able to extract the bullet from your chest," He said as he pulled her hospital gown back up, "I'll be back later on to check on you. Feel free to take a shower, but ask for assistance first." Dr Sinwain then left the room leaving Dana alone with her thoughts.

End of Chapter 10